Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tokyo Union's Scandinavian Suite

Tatsuya Takahashi & The Tokyo Union - Scandinavian Suite TBM-1005 (Jpn) (1977)

Big band pyrotechnics by the 20-piece Tokyo Union. This is no sleepy Scandinavian voyage, more a groovy collection of orchestra and electronics in the shape of six varied stormers written by legendary Japanese bandsman Bingo Miki and perhaps a little more accessable and funky then some of the big band outings released under his own name around the same period.

Familiar orchestral colours are melded with more progressive and funky arrangements and styles of the period culminating with the monstrous cop-show theme sounding "Children At Play". A surprising and original jazz album that's a pleasure from start to finish.

Yoshifumi Tada, Hiroshi Abiko, Motoharu Suzuki & Tomokazu Saio - trumpets
Eijiro Miyazaki, Kiyotaka Uchida & Koichi Okada - trombones
Kenichi Sudare - bass trombone
Keiji Hori & Hiroshi Yaginuma - alto saxes
Seiji Inoue - tenor sax
Takemi Ishikane - baritone sax
Masahiro Kanayama - piano
Yoshinori Ishida - bass
Kazuhiro Ebisawa - drums
Kenichi Araya & Takao Naoi - guitars
Yuji Imamura - percussion
Mickey Yoshino - synthesizer
Tatsuya Takahashi - leader & tenor sax

Part I Midnight Sunrise
Part II Sketches Of Munch
Part III The Legend Of Garbo
Part IV Anderson Fantasia
Part V Sibelius' Testament
Part VI Children At Play

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

London All Stars

Le London All Star - British Percussion Barclay BB-86 (1965)

It's always nice to share a rare record but what about an album that many cite as not existing at all!

Picture the scene, February 1965 and Eddie Barclay, the millionaire playboy owner of Eddy Mitchell's label, the eponimous French Barclay asked Bob Graham, the most prolific and often uncredited session drummer to emerge from the UK pop scene, to produce an album for the French market. Credited to Le London All Star, "British Percussion", released in September 1965, was a stereo showcase, and featured a stunning array of British musicians.

The higher calibre of studios and musicianship in London attracted many acts from abroad. The French pop star Eddy Mitchell was a regular visitor, recording at least eight EPs in London. For Mitchell's releases the session men were dubbed "The London All Stars". Graham recalls: "Charlie Katz rang - 'please be at Pye records, don't ask who the artist is'. I plodded along there, said to (engineer) Bob Auger 'who is it tonight?' - 'Eddy Mitchell', 'who the hell is Eddy Mitchell?". Every record on the Barclay label credited to The London All Stars features Graham, Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan. Other French acts like Francoise Hardy, Michel Polnareff, Eric Saint-Laurent and Sylvie Vartan would also record in London.

Graham used his session colleagues - guitarist John McLaughlin, bassist Alan Weighell, drummers Andy White and Ronnie Verrall. Jimmy Page's contribution was significant. He played lead on every track and co-wrote three with Graham. Before the album's release, Barclay offered Graham a job. "I was taken on as the head of Barclay Records UK. I didn't speak much French, I had an interpreter with me all the time. My job was to produce English artists for the French market. When I joined Barclay I began to stop playing, I just got so tired from the work load. I was tired of playing music I didn't like. Clem Cattini took on a lot of the drumming when I moved from session work".

Finding English language acts for the French market was a somewhat random process. "We put ads in the trade papers - 'artists wanted for auditions'. I produced the In-Betweens (the precursors of Slade) for Barclay at Pye Number 2. I also produced an EP from the singer from Billy Gray and the Stormers, he was called Le Frizzy One. That was Carter, Lewis and Jimmy Page". Ultimately, the French didn't take to the British acts: "You could not get anything English off the ground in France. I got pretty fed up flying backwards and forwards twice a week and I decided to call it a day with Barclay".

But what of the music I hear you ask. Well, it's a joy from start to finish. A bombastic blend of mod groovers that's hard to match - a supreme and swinging blend of jazz and R 'n' B. Banks of trumpets, trombones and french horns blare to the incessant "Mohawk" meanderings of Kenny Salmon's organ. Not only do we have Led Zep's Page on lead but an early outing for John McLaughlin on rhythm guitar makes this an important date. Mr.Page himself once stated,”No such record was made”, and numerous other collectors have also declared this record as myth.

Recorded in Pye Studios, London in a single session - this is history in the making. Their version of 'Image' is perhaps the finest I've ever heard. The real sound of "Swingin' London".

1) Stop The Drums
2) Mexican Shuffle
3) Coming Home Babe
4) Drum Stomp
5) Watermelon Man
6) More (Theme from Mondo Cane)
7) Beefeater
8) Image
9) Night Train
10) Spanish Armada
11) Lord Byron Blues
12) Salvation

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Waltel Branco

Waltel Branco - Assim Na Terra Como No Céu Fermata FB-298 (1970)

Here's an oddity perhaps someone can throw a little light on. Massively groovy soundtrack work by Waltel Branco from TV novelas made in 1970. The bulk is lifted off the classic 'Assim Na Terra Como No Céu' however it features titles that were not on the original soundtrack release.

All tunes are penned by Branco but musicians include Roberto Menescal, Jose Roberto (Azymuth), Umas & Outras and the enigmatic Orquesta CBD amongst others. Very funky in places with many tracks infused with the progressive and complicated arrangements of turn-of-the-decade Brasil. Essential...