Monday, July 9, 2007

The Early Seventies and beyond - Quill, The Sidewinders, Fat, Milkwood, Swallow

Remember! To click on any chapter go to this address:

1)The Quill
2)The Sidewinders
6)Duke & The Drivers
7)James Montgomery
8)Stormin' Norman & Suzy
9)P.J. Colt
10)Billy Squier's PIPER
11)Orchestra Luna (1974)

The Quill

The Quill has two distinctions that put them into the history books! They were the opening act at Woodstock and their leader helped create the intro to Andy Pratt's classic "Avenging Annie."
Though they performed in the 1960s this Cotillion release was in 1970, thus we start the music of the 70s with QUILL
Reviewby Joe Viglione
Quill opened up the Saturday festivities at Woodstock in 1969, though some may say the real claim to fame for Jo Unk Khol (aka John Cole) is the sound effects he makes (uncredited) at the beginning of Andy Pratt's 1973 classic "Avenging Annie." The group's self-produced album is one of the better offerings from "The Bosstown Sound," as was Pratt's 1971 Polydor release Records Are Like Life. Perhaps it is no coincidence that both were recorded by the mysterious Boston-area engineer who went by one name, Aengus. Steven McDonald originally wrote in AMG that "Quill came and went in 1970, leaving a single album behind as evidence of their existence. The band hurtled into the depths of psychedelia with results that are both painful and entertaining." McDonald went on to call the music "a self-indulgent mess with some promise and much racket." Actually, the six compositions by John and Dan Cole, along with N. "Red Rocket" Rogers' "Too Late," deserve to be remembered a little bit better than that. Perhaps the entire album was too far out to include "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" or "Journey to the Center of the Mind," titles like "Thumbnail Screwdriver" and "Tube Exuding" giving the impression that these were bad Ultimate Spinach or Eden's Children outtakes. That's far from reality. The music is more toward the entertaining than the painful end of McDonald's spectrum. And though they, like Sweetwater, failed to catch on as other acts from the Woodstock festival did (unlike Ten Wheel Drive, who were said to have turned the gig down to settle in near obscurity), there is something special in these grooves and the pastel/half-psychedelic cover with esoteric lyrics spread across the inside of the Unipak gatefold. Despite the zany pseudonyms the bandmembers embraced, this record has more smarts than anything Zager & Evans ever put to plastic. There are jazzy overtones mixed in with the mayhem and experimentation far beyond anything Ultimate Spinach, the dreadful Eden's Children, and even the beloved the Beacon Street Union from that "Bosstown Sound" era attempted to create. Maybe it was the marketing, maybe it was the damage caused by Eden's Children, there's no doubt Quill deserved a better fate. If only Cotillion, the label that released the Woodstock triple and double LPs, had put this and other groups out as part of a "Woodstock" series.

The Sidewinders 1972

Reviewby Joe Viglione

The Sidewinders opened for Aerosmith just as "Dream On" was starting to break in the early '70s and, with Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye producing, singer Andy Paley had the distinction of fronting the only true power pop ensemble to record in the early days of the Boston scene. The Modern Lovers were the essential punk band, Orphan with Jonathan Edwards were the folkies, and J. Geils had the blues market, leaving the most commercial sound to the Sidewinders. Though Billy Squier would join the Sidewinders, he had yet to bring them "Telephone Relation," one of their two best songs, and the lack of material held back not only this album, but the eventual Paley Brothers disc for Sire featuring Andy and his brother Jonathan Paley, who would join Elektra's the Nervous Eaters. It's not that this self-titled debut doesn't have its moments -- "The Bumble Bee" is a cool instrumental, "Told You So" brings back memories of Moulty & the Barbarians, and "Rendezvous" (the best song on the album) could work for a contemporary teeny bop artist. That was the dilemma with rock & rollers choosing pop, something that the Atlantics would find out a few years later. The pretty guitars of Eric "Rose" Rosenfeld and Mike Reed are a perfect setting for Paley's voice. But Rosenfeld was a monster guitarist, like Squier, and this album hardly showcases his skills. You can hear elements of Barry & the Remains on side two's "O Miss Mary" and "Got You Down"; maybe they were emulating Barry Tashian's group that opened for the Beatles, when perhaps they should've been putting some Kinks riffs into this material. "Slip Away" has the most creativity here, but only hints at the potential. "Reputation" isn't as mean as Joan Jett or the New York Dolls could make that concept. Andy Paley would go on to produce the Shag film soundtrack for Sire, as well as Madonna on the Dick Tracy soundtrack, and this effort of his, with photos taken at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, is a true artifact of early-'70s Boston music.

FAT 1970
Reviewby Joe Viglione

Engineered by legends Roy Cicala who worked with Genya Ravan, Lori Burton, and John Lennon, along with Shelly Yakus (spelt Shelly Yokas on the album jacket) of Stevie Knicks and so many others fame, Fat is comprised of five men who, other than this outing, appear to have remained pretty much unknown. According to urban legend, this production by Eddie Jason saw only 400 copies released by RCA. For a band coming at the end of the debacle known as "The Bosstown Sound," this actually plays better than Eden's Children and Ultimate Spinach. With a cover photo of five dudes dressed like they are going camping, no image whatsoever, these longhairs deliver a decent set of tunes, despite the fact they aren't stellar musicians. There is a spirit here, however, from "Shape I'm In" on side two, to the lengthy "Journey" and "Highway." "Black Sunday" is inspired and has a sound very influenced by Quicksilver Messenger Service. Via default they seem to have created a strange amalgam of East Coast blues and psychedelia that Ultimate Spinach was searching for. "Country Girl" has Cream riffs galore, and where you might expect a folk tune, it rocks out. Where Alive & Kickin' released the same year on Roulette and were woefully deficient on the musical side of things, these cats have a style and a sound. Peter Newland's voice and harp reflect the darkness James Kaminski and Michael Benson lay down with their guitars. Not a bad recording for a band with no look and riffs that Bachman Turner Overdrive would explore and exploit just four years later. "Duck Sweat" is the bluesy rock that the cover indicates, but "Lonely Lady" and "Mine Eyes Have Seen" take the group into other directions. An interesting artifact.


MILKWOOD How's The Weather (Early Cars) 1972

Reviewby Joe Viglione

For fans of the Cars this release pre-dates Rick & the Rabbits -- the name that Modern Lover Jonathan Richman gave Richard Ocasek and Ben Orzechowski prior to their becoming Captain Swing, the band that evolved into the Cars. Recorded at Aengus Studios in Fayville, MA, where Andy Pratt created his classic "Avenging Annie," the trio includes Jas Goodkind on lead acoustic and electric guitars, supplemented by various friends. Track three is the only non-Ocasek original, written by the late Ben Orr, and "Lincoln Park" is an example of why Cars fans have called this Ocasek and Orr's Crosby, Stills & Nash phase. Greg Hawks was working with Martin Mull and his Fabulous Furniture, but he appears on this album playing baritone, soprano sax, and doing the horn arrangements. Jeff Lass plays the keyboards here, although Hawks would join the Cars and create a sound so admired that Paul McCartney would fly Greg to England to perform on his "Motor of Love" on the Flowers in the Dirt album. "Bring Me Back" is a wonderful early Ocasek essay, and this album shows the '80s pop ensemble in a delicate and charming light. Only "Timetrain Wonderwheel" hints at the direction Ocasek would eventually take. The vibe is like America's "Sandman," and this is as close to Panorama as you are going to find here. The experimental sounds and jams make it the strongest track on How's the Weather. Hawks' horns are nothing short of brilliant, and they play like his innovative keyboards that were so essential to the Cars' eventual success. The vocal phrasings on this song are significant, and "Timetrain Wonderwheel"'s importance as an artifact of a band prior to its greatness cannot be ignored. "Makeshift Pawn" opens side two and sounds like a low-key David Gates or England Dan/John Ford Coley. Hearing the material is astounding when one thinks of the sci-fi overtones of "Moving in Stereo." These guys had the chops and passion in "The Light Won't Burn" as well as "Winter Song," but there's no denying that there's little hint of the change in direction that would bring Ocasek, Orr, and Hawks to superstardom during the '80s. "Along the Way" truly sounds like Crosby, Stills, Ocasek & Orr.

SWALLOW LPs 1972, 1973


Reviewby Joe Viglione
The first album from Swallow was produced by Jean Paul Salvatori, who put together the excellent Bootleg Him! double LP of Alexis Korner material this same year, 1972. Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of Ultimate Spinach, later with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, appears on "Come Home Woman," an original from bassist Vern Miller Jr., who was part of the band who opened for the Beatles in 1966, the legendary Barry & the Remains. Miller's presence adds collectability to this debut. "Come Home Woman" would have been perfect for Alexis Korner, come to think of it, a bluesy lament which begins with Baxter's wonderful guitar work and picks up steam, letting George Leh open up and battle the horns -- the voice and instruments stir things up so fine. "Aches and Pains" is one of the four Vern Miller Jr./George Leh co-writes, and it is gospel-tinged blues which spills over onto "Common Man." There's real personality here, music perhaps a little too earthy for the Blood, Sweat & Tears crowd, but authentic to the max. Recorded and mixed where Aerosmith cut "Dream On" and where Jonathan Edwards of Orphan tracked "Sunshine," "Out of the Nest" is post-Bosstown serious singing and playing. When it is all instrumental, as on pianist/tenor saxman David Woodford's "Shuffle," Boston veteran Parker Wheeler gets a chance to give a counterpoint to J. Geils Band harp player Magic Dick. The harmonica on "Shuffle" admirably replaces George Leh's distinctive vocal. Leh's got that Nick Gravenites gravel growl on "Something Started Happening," a tune with charging dynamics, perhaps this band's strong suit. Miller's "Brown Eyed Baby Boy" is a plea for love with a solid hook that would work well for the Remains since that group started recording again in the new millennium. The Staple Singers' composition "Why Am I Treated So Bad," also covered by Cannonball Adderley and the Sweet Inspirations, adds another dimension to the mix, the organ of Bob Camacho getting to have its say. Mick Aranda's creative drumming is also worthy of note. Out of the Nest is an excellent document of early-'70s Boston roots rock/blues music with just a touch of jazz. This would make a nice two-fer CD with its follow-up, 1973's self-titled Swallow.


Reviewby Joe Viglione
Duke & the Drivers had fun living out their fantasy on ABC Records but, under the aegis of the redoubtable Buddy Buie and with help from the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Boston's Swallow were very serious about their craft, and it shows on this collection of understated blues-rock. Vern Miller, Jr. of the Remains, George Leh, and New England personalties Parker Wheeler and Phil Greene (the extra "e" is missing from the legendary engineer's name on this disc) are four of the nine musicians who make up the large outfit. On one of the all-time worst album covers -- a green martian hand holding the nose of the man in the moon (presumably, so he can swallow) -- the nine musicians are displayed above a moonscape, their names out of order with the photos. In 1973, the Atlanta Rhythm Section emerged from the remnants of the Classics IV and, with J.R. Cobb and Barry Bailey of that group on this disc, along with B.J. Thomas/Friend & Lover/Billie Joe Royal producer Buie, one would think Warner Bros. would have been more serious about this outing. Most of the titles are by Miller, making the album a statement by the man Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band calls his favorite bass player. Two co-writes by Leh are included, along with two Randy Newman songs, "Illinois" and the often covered "I'll Be Home." Although Buie co-wrote all the hits of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, his magic is not added here, and perhaps that is what is missing. The record is better than decent -- it is very good -- despite the fact there is no hit to launch it from obscurity. Greene went on to engineer Beaver Brown, New Kids on the Block, and the sessions this writer did with Buddy Guy in 1986, while blind singer Leh developed a following and great reputation performng around the Boston area. "Georgia, Pack My Bags" isn't a hit, nor is "Rockin' Shoes"; perhaps the closest thing to a potential chart climber is "Don't Tell Mama," some kind of answer, not to Etta James, but to Savoy Brown's minor hit from their 1971 Street Corner Talking album, "Tell Mama." At least they showed respect for their elders! There was much potential here; it's too bad the label and/or management mishandled the look of the album, and failed to give this large group a couple of songs their musicianship could work with to reach the masses. But, for fans of the legendary Remains, it is another chapter in the career of Vern Miller and an essential item in order for their collections to be complete.


Biographyby Joe Viglione
Blue blood young men turned musicians, this aggregation got together sometime in 1973 jamming on obscure rhythm & blues titles for fun and somehow it clicked. The name Duke & the Drivers evolved out of one of their myriad parties where they played for friends and consumed a cocktail called an Orange Driver, grain alcohol vodka and some orange drink. When people asked the name of the band, it was up to the harmonica-playing saxophonist who doubled as comedian, Rhinestone Muddflaps (birth name Ando Hixson), to say "Duke's not here." When people asked where Duke was, they got the standard reply: "Out drinking the orange drivers," and thus the name Duke & the Drivers were born. Contemporaries of the J. Geils Band with album jackets less ominous than the diesel driven' Bachman-Turner Overdrive, it was original bassist and owner of the Boston based Jelly Records, Greg Morton, who got them booked at the legendary Western Front outside of Central Square in Cambridge, MA. They went into the club with only 25 minutes of music in their repertoire, extending the tunes into an early version of what would become jam band style, taking an intermission, and going back to perform the same elongated set again. Rhinestone Muddflaps would wear lights on his head, rubber gloves on his hands, and trampoline skates, honing an identity as the comic out front. Other bandmembers included drummer Dr. Feelgood Funk (birth name Danny McGrath ), Sam Deluxe on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals, Joe Lilly (of Lilly Pharmaceuticals ), electric and slide guitarist/vocalist Cadillac Jack (born Henry Eaton, later to be a newscaster and district attorney), and Mississippi Tom Swift on keyboards and ARP strings.With success on the club level, the goal shifted to obtaining a major-label recording contract. By December 1973, they were opening for Lou Reed's legendary "Rock 'n' Roll Animal" band at Boston's Orpheum Theater and generating a buzz. They performed dates with the Leslie West Band as well as Blue Öyster Cult with ZZ Top opening for Duke & the Drivers on the Blue Öyster Cult show. Personal manager Peter Casperson of Boston's Castle Music Productions signed them to ABC Records in 1973, with their debut album produced and engineered by Eddie Kramer appearing in 1974. That album, Cruisin', featured a minor hit song, "What You Got," and the band started to make some real noise. Prior to the recording, Greg Morton was replaced by bassist Koko Dee, the first of many personnel changes. A second album was recorded, Rollin' On, with percussionist Dr. Feelgood Funk being replaced by the drummer from the band Orphan, the late Bobby Chouinard (dubbed Bobby Blue Sky for his role with Duke), who would go on to work with Billy Squier, Alice Cooper, and many others. Rollin' On failed to generate another radio hit and the band started feeling the pressure. Shortly after the LP's release in September 1976, the group broke up. With bookings to fulfill through 1977, Tom Swift contacted drummer Mark Highlander, who had opened for Duke & the Drivers with his group the Connection in 1975, both artists being managed at one point or another by the man who orchestrated Aerosmith's comeback, Tim Collins. Ando Hixson left, as did Koko Dee with Greg Morton coming back to play bass. Vocalist Joe Lilly took a leave of absence and was replaced by his brother George Lilly and a reconstituted band holed up at the legendary Cambridge Music Complex practicing for three to four weeks until their debut at three sold-out shows over the 1977 July 4th weekend at The Frolics Ballroom in Salisbury Beach, MA. In August 1977, they recorded a 45 RPM "Looking for a Fox" b/w "Wonderful Love" at Northern Studios in Maynard, MA. Their summertime tour took them to Cleveland's Agora Ballroom, a concert broadcast live on WMMS. They opened for Starz at the Tomorrow Theater in Youngstown and performed on bills with Elvis Costello, Pat Travers, and others. Worcester/Boston radio station WAAF broadcast the group live from Northern Sound on the day Elvis Presley died, August 16, 1977, with approximately 1,000 people jammed into the studio atop a Woolworths five-and-dime. Despite the success of the live broadcast, the popularity began to wane and the group filled out its contractual obligations, ending it all at a high school gig in April 1978. There were reunion shows in the '90s and in 1993, a "20th Anniversary" commemorative live CD of a performance on a radio show from the '70s (Rock Around the World) was released featuring Bobby Chouinard on drums. The band still gets attention, the 45 of "Looking for a Fox" used on a national televised broadcast of the New England Patriots football team in 2001. Drummer Mark Highlander is still active, teaming up with bassist Danny Klein of the J. Geils Band for their blues group Stone Crazy.


Reviewby Joe Viglione
The only photo of the band has six faces peering out of a rearview mirror on the back cover. Duke & the Drivers look like the J. Geils Band, and listening to "Ain't Nothing a Young Girl Can Do for Me" with blindfold on will make one swear it is indeed the J. Geils Band. That was part of the charm of this '70s blues-rock act out of Boston. Eddie Kramer's production, especially on the big regional hit "What You Got," is immense. No, it didn't land in the national Top 40, but it should have. The arrangement sounds like Grand Funk Railroad's Top Three hit from December 1974; J.Ellison's "Some Kind of Wonderful" and the thunderous drums from Rhinestone Mudflapps (aka, the late, great Bobby Chouinard) are explosive dance stuff. The song should have catapulted them to fame and "Lovebones" from side two would have been a nice follow-up. The demo to "Lovebones" had a magic of its own and would be a nice bonus track addition to a CD re-release of this first effort. A blues-rock band covering Gamble & Huff, Otis Redding, Don Covay, and Ike Turner in a world that was home to the Cars and Aerosmith was risky stuff indeed, more so because this band walked on sacred ground with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Regardless, "What You Got" is a classic, and the reformed J.Geils Band would do well to consider adding it to their repertoire. The urban legend is that management for the band hired a flatbed truck parked outside of the big Top 40 radio station in Boston asking why they weren't playing "What You Got." It got added into rotation and brightened up the airwaves for awhile. Cruisin' has some fine moments recorded with great care by Eddie Kramer, and is worth searching for.


by Joe Viglione
Duke & the Drivers were contemporaries of the J. Geils Band and opened for them on many a bill. Where Eddie Kramer produced their first LP, Deke Richards came aboard to oversee this second and final album for ABC Records. In the early '90s, the band would release a CD of a live performance thanks to original bassist Greg Morton, owner of Jelly Records. Their penchant for reworking old blues tunes and putting the "Duke" stamp on them is evidenced here. Two titles from Eddie Bocage, who co-wrote "Keep a Knockin'" with Little Richard, appear on this disc, "Check Your Bucket" and "Check Yourself." "Bucket" was a Boston-area favorite when the band opened for Leslie West and Lou Reed in the '70s. The title track, "Rollin' On," written by guitarist/vocalist Sam Deluxe -- whose real name is Joe Lilly of Lilly Pharmaceuticals -- sounds like an extended sequel to the Bachman Turner Overdrive hit from the year before, "Roll on Down the Highway." Duke & the Drivers were very clever in being blatant about their inspirations, but camouflaging all the musical stuff that turned them on. The result is hardly original, but that is their charm. The only other original on the album is Cadillac Jack's "Love on My Hands." "Jack" is actually Henry Eaton, who became a newsman for Boston's WLVI, TV 56, and in 2001, is an elected official, Assistant District Attorney or something. A far cry from rocking and rolling on Boston stages. The song is another Boston R&B meets the Philly sound. It sounds cool decades after the fact, but when recorded it was totally annoying. Pre-rap, rockers were really against disco, and this song is some weird hybrid of the two. "Check Yourself" has Sam Deluxe sounding so much like Peter Wolf one wonders if it is a tribute band with sax performing on this cut. D. Greg's "Let Me Be Your Handyman" reads like an inverted "Sunshine of Your Love" riff with sentiment heavily borrowed from Jimmy Johnson's 1960 hit "Handyman." "I'll Take Good Care of You," written by producer Deke Richards, opens side two. It is very unlike Duke & the Drivers, the sound of Philadelphia over a melody and keyboard fragrance which may have inspired Billy Joel's 1983 hit "Allentown." The similarities are striking. Recorded at Northern Studio in Maynard, MA, and the Sound Factory in West Los Angeles, Rollin On fits nicely next to the J. Geils Band's earthy R&B-flavored rock.


James Montgomery Band

Release Date 1974
Recording Date Jun 1974-Jul 1974
Label Capricorn

by Joe Viglione
James Montgomery's 1974 release on Capricorn/Warner Brothers has the harp playing vocalist in fine form. With Otis Spann guitarist Peter Malick, the six-piece ensemble crafted a serious album of blues-pop with production by Tom Dowd and the man who would hit with the Bee Gees shortly after this, Albhy Galuten. Side two is more accessible. "Sing You a Love Song" is written and sung by drummer Chuck Purro, and that's the interesting thing about the James Montgomery Blues Band: Four different musicians share the lead vocals, and only one of them is the star. Guitarist Peter Bell shares the lead with Montgomery on the Otis Redding tune that ends the album, "Ten Page Letter." This title, along with five others, was recorded in June of 1974 at Atlantic Recording Studios in New York, with Tom Dowd assisting engineer Gene Paul; "I Can't Stop (No, No, No)," "Schoolin' Them Dice," "Sing You a Love Song," and "Try It" were recorded in July at Capricorn Recording Studios, Macon, Georgia. Another interesting thing is that the bluesier tunes were placed on side one and the poppier songs made it to the second, but both studios' sessions are pretty evenly represented on each side of the disc. Keyboardist David Case sounds up on "Any Number Can Play," and Montgomery does a terrific job with Allen Toussaint's "Brickyard Blues." During this interesting period of Boston rock & roll, James Montgomery's band escaped the "Bosstown Sound" tag by sticking to its roots. Too bluesy to be mistaken for the J. Geils Band, Montgomery is a well-loved personality in New England, and this record is a respectable outing by a very talented bunch

The follow up to their debut album on their own label, probably called FANTASY RAG,

Reviewby Joe Viglione
"Wrongside Boogie" on the major-label debut by Suzy Williams and Norman Zamcheck, aka Stormin' Norman & Suzy, takes a cue from Bette Midler's first Top Ten hit, 1973's "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, but doesn't take the concept far enough. Former Gridley, CA, resident Suzy Williams emulates Bessie Smith on the vocals and, perhaps not so strangely, Jack Richardson's production presents this music as a period piece as well. That's a mistake. The Guess Who mentor could have given some of the gloss he gave his Canadian band to this Boston-based outfit during a time when Suzy's identifiable voice could have found its way onto pop radio. He oversees eight of the nine songs, with the title track supervised by Sandy Linzer of Four Seasons/the Toys fame. That tune, "Ocean of Love," borrows heavily from Barbra Streisand's adult contemporary radio hit version of Laura Nyro's "Time and Love" from earlier in the '70s. The direction this duo needed was the sound of a Streisand record like Stoney End, not the melody. Suzy does her best "Second Hand Rose" throughout the disc, and she is a character but the presentation is limiting. A song like "Green" veers off into jazz territory when it needed a jolt of Spanky & Our Gang. The strongest number is the final one, "Stay Awake Awhile," with a dreamy groove and sublime backing vocals. Suzy takes the song to a place beyond Rod Stewart and the Faces' "Flying," and this sounds like the sequel to that classic. Ocean of Love is an admirable effort, but too much of an anachronism. With talents like Linzer and Richardson at the helm, it could have been so much more.
PJ COLT with Skunk Baxter

Skunk Baxter played with so many people, Buzzy Linhart, Carly Simon, The Ultimate Spinach and many others. Check out his credits

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter Credits

PJ Colt 1976

Reviewby Joe Viglione
This self-titled album from singer P.J. Colt gets into the history books thanks to the participation of Jeff Baxter, who performed with Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, and many others. Some reference guides list this album's year of release as 1970, others as 1976. There is no copyright on the disc, making 1970 seem like the release date; it certainly looks and sounds like a project from the early '70s. There are two standout tracks, "Grave Down by the River" and "Growing Old," although the record is pretty consistent and listenable all the way through. Colt originally released the song "Growing Old" on a single and an album by Boston band Dirty John's Hot Dog Stand on Amsterdam Records in 1970. The track has a spacy opening, while Colt's vocal sounds hauntingly like early Michael McDonald. "Growing Old" follows "Blues Train," a competent cross between Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and the Velvet Underground's "Train Comin' Round the Bend." The musicianship shines throughout; guitarist Baxter emerged a star after his involvement with "the Bosstown Sound" of producer Alan Lorber on the third Ultimate Spinach album, which is a testament to talent winning out. Ray Paret did the production here, listed in the smallest of type. He certainly did not get in the way of the band, musicians who cook on Bonnie Bramlett's "Someday," "Black Jesus" -- actually, on every track. Ed Costa's keyboards and the plethora of backing vocalists are all tastefully combined in the straightforward production and mix. There's a significant cover of Van Morrison's "Crazy Love," a song suited to Colt's vocal style, while the rendition of "Honky Tonk Women" -- try though it may -- does not achieve what it seeks: the drunken barroom Leon Russell atmosphere and attitude. Colt's originals are listenable blues-rock, from the funky opening track "Once in the Morning" to the blues-drenched "I'm Tired Now." Drummer Jim Wilkins, pianist Costa, and guitarist Baxter collaborated to pen the tune "Leave Me Alone," one of the album's more rocking and commercial numbers.


Reviewby Joe Viglione

Billy Squier wrote a great song when he was in the Sidewinders, a song that didn't make it to their Lenny Kaye-produced RCA album but is here in all its glory. "Telephone Relation" is an exquisite pop tune, overshadowed only by the even poppier "Who's Your Boyfriend," which should have been as big a hit as "The Stroke," "In the Dark," and "Everybody Wants You." The great thing about Piper is that Squier emerged with authority as a solid front man, guitarist, and singer/songwriter. The elements that make this disc so good are what is wrong with solo efforts by the Cars' Elliot Easton or Alice Cooper's Michael Bruce. Squier took his former singer Andy Paley's pretty-boy stance and re-evaluated the formula the Sidewinders were toying with. Piper rocks a bit harder than the Sidewinders and lighter than Squier's solo work. Pop suits Squier better than the all-out assault of hard rock his later work is known for. Piper and the excellent follow-up Can't Wait are two essential albums by this very talented artist.



by Joe Viglione

The promise of the first Piper album's classic track "Who's Your Boyfriend" is realized with the title song from Piper's second and last disc before Billy Squier found fame and fortune on his own, Can't Wait. Co-written by Squier and Boston magazine contributor/liner note essayist for Frank Sinatra, James Isaacs, everything is turned up a notch, starting with this sublime pop sensation, the song "Can't Wait." Billy Squier sounds more comfortable singing lead, and where his future producer Eddie Kramer mixed the first album, future Rolling Stones engineer Chris Kimsey does the boards and co-production on this disc. "Anyday" and "Blues for the Common Man" certainly have that early to mid-'70s Rolling Stones feel, as does the beautiful "Now Aint the Time." Hindsight is always 20/20, but Piper had the potential to breakthrough as Heart, Cheap Trick, and other star acts of the time garnered mainstream acceptance and longevity. Who's to say that Squier's stardom as an arena rocker would be matched had he evolved with these musicians. It is tough to compete with drummer extraordinaire, the late Bobby Chouinard, and guitarist Jeff Golub, who worked with Squier shortly after this, but songs like "Drop By and Stay" have an appeal that works for both the metal heads and housewives content to hear something poppy on the radio. "Drop By and Stay" was co-written by Squier and former Elektra A&R rep, Maxanne Sartori. Sartori was instrumental in the success of Aerosmith and the Cars, and "Drop By And Stay" is one of the albums highlights. "See Me Through" may not be as intense as the Stroke, but that is its charm. The band really sparkles and shines on this collection. "Little Miss Intent" is a precursor to "Everybody Wants You," Squier's 1982 Top 35 hit. Where John Cougar performing a cover of the Doors "Crystal Ship" on MCA prior to his success is an embarrassment, this early material by Billy Squier is not only something to be proud of, it stands the test of time and should be recognized as important music, not just the early work by an '80s star.

ORCHESTRA LUNA now on CD from the Market Square Records label in Europe

Release Date: 07/02/2007The Orchestra Luna album began the musical legacy of Rick Berlin, the composer/singer who goes by his birth name, Richard Kinscherf, on this Epic Records debut in 1974. The seven-piece ensemble was truly groundbreaking in a world that doesn't take kindly to innovation. Where the Who were content to write rock operas, Kinscherf and his band put opera to rock. This adventurous mix of songs, written as if they were Broadway show tunes backed by a rock band with jazz and classical influences, might sound like a bit much, and 11 minutes and 53 seconds of "Doris Dreams" never had a chance of Top 40 success, or an edit that could get it there, but that idiosyncrasy is part of what makes this album so daring, and special. Co-produced by Rupert Holmes, the man who gave us "Escape (The Pina Colada Song," a monster smash in 1979, and the cannibal anthem "Timothy" in 1971, the choice might not seem appropriate on the surface. But Holmes' unheralded work for Barbara Streisand and the Broadway musical Drood actually makes him a perfect choice to oversee this project. "Miss Pamela" has wonderful Randy Roos guitars blending with Rick Kinscherf's pretty keyboards, keyboards that could have inspired Billy Joel, sounding very much like his 1978 hit "Just The Way You Are." It's when Kinscherf's expressive vocal kicks in that all comparisons to traditional pop go out the window. The cover of the Adler/Ross classic (you gotta have) "Heart" is a standout here, as it was in their live show. Seven of the nine tracks are penned by Rick Kinscherf, and themes that resound in "Fay Wray" (the heroine from the epic King Kong) travel throughout the artist's career.



Joe Viglione, Boston superstar and otherwise known as The Count, produced one of my all-time favourite albums I'm a Star which includes an ace version of the Velvets' Foggy Notion, and the stunning 'We're Gonna Run the Night Away'. Still big on Lou Reed too, judging by his website. For more music stuff go to Varulven.

The night I met Willie Loco:

at the Plymouth Rock Party - which I audiotaped - Willie playing "Mass. Ave" with THE MEZZ

Joe Harvard's site says:
It puts Asa Records right there with Garage Records and Joe Viglione's Varulven one of the first local labels. Asa Brebner also went on to be member of Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, start a band with ex-Dire Straits guitarist Dave Knopfler, and form/front a couple of excellent bands: the Grey Boys and Idle Hands.

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