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Music Blog

Never let it be said that I would pass on the opportunity to mouth off about music. So this page will now be the place for that. As a 40 year veteran in the BIZ, I have a lot to say about music. I could go on about some really horrible stuff in this blog but what you - the discerning consumer and hardly ever satiated music junkie wants to hear about is "what's good" - or at least what I think meets that standard. Maybe you'll agree and find that what I like - you'll like. Maybe not. We'll soon find out. 

Not everything on this page is lost but not forgotten vinyl but a lot of it may be. So in no particular order, I'll begin this with a record that it seems many people still don't know existed and to this day has not been released on CD except for a couple of bootlegs you can pay high prices for at Amazon. To be honest, the boots I've heard don't match up to my "converted from vinyl" copy that I made a long time ago. 

  The Buckingham Nicks album

It was 1973 and almost no one had ever heard of Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. As a Philadelphia music journalist back in the day, of course I had. And I loved this album from day one. It was released on Polydor and went nowhere in spite of incredible tracks like "Frozen Love" - "Crying In The Night" & "Without a Leg To Stand On." And to prove the label was wrong to drop these guys, the tracks "Crystal" and "Don't Let Me Down Again" went on to be huge hits once the duo joined one of my all time favorite bands, Fleetwood Mac in 1975.

Having long been a fan of Fleetwood Mac even before BN joined them, I still hadn't been able to see the band perform for one reason or another until the self-titled album came out in 1975. But just before that release date the band started to tour with no word from Warner Bros that Bob Welch and Danny Kirwan had left the band. So I showed up at The Palladium on 14th street in NYC to see my guys, once and for all. When the band came out on stage I immediately knew Bob and Danny weren't there. I was heartbroken. But with a "What The Hell" twist of my head I recognized Lindsay and Stevie and my shit was blown away. Two of my faves were now one. Suffice it to say that it was a magic performance. Lindsay had long hair that flailed during his solos like an out of control bobble-head doll and Stevie was - well - skinny - and her voice was superb. The Welsh Witch was born that night as they debuted "Rhiannon." What a show! So here in all its glory is the Buckingham Nicks album. Pops and clicks are minimal. Brilliance is not.





  And now for something completely different!

1972 was probably the most influential year in my musical evolution. Not to be compared to the late 60's as a whole or even the early 70's in general but '72 changed everything. It marked my life with such releases as the first Loggins and Messina, Carl and the Passions, "Saturate Before Using" by Jackson Browne, the first Graham Nash/David Crosby album, "Bare Trees" by Fleetwood Mac, the first amazing album by Aztec Two-Step, "Ennismore" by Colin Blunstone, "Wind of Change" by Peter Frampton, "A Good Feelin' to Know" by Poco, the first Eagles album, "Harvest" by Neil Young, "St. Dominic's Preview" by Van Morrison, the first LP by Dan Fogelberg, the debut from Bill Quateman, the first from Casey Kelly, Batdorf & Rodney, "Fables" from England Dan & John Ford Coley, Rick Nelson's "Garden Party album, "My Time" by Boz Scaggs, The first Vigrass & Osborne, "Blue River" from Eric Andersen, "Toulouse Street" from the Doobies, "Extraction" by Gary Wright, the exquisite Live album from Procol Harum, the Paul Simon S/T solo and hiding in the cracks was the first and only album from "Good God."

Right from my own backyard in Philly loomed this awesome Jazz-Fusion quartet that everyone talked about but no one ever heard of. Ironic, eh! Featuring Zeno Sparkles (Larry Cardarelli) on guitar & vocals, Cotton Kent on piano, sax, marimba & vocals, John Ransome on bass, Hank Ransome on drums with Greg Scott on sax and featuring Johnny Almond of Mark/Almond Band on tenor Good God threatened the musical landscape of all other bands with their fire and brimstone fusion, making all other bands seem like freshmen at the senior prom.

With only 4 originals and 2 covers by John McLaughlin (Dragon Song) and Frank Zappa (King Kong), their impact was drastic and undeniable but no one at Atlantic Records seemed to understand what they had and the band died a quick death. The album finally was released on CD recently and can be purchased at Amazon on the Flawed Gems label, if all copies haven't sold out by the time you read this.





  More from Philly!

1968 was a powerful year for me in rock history. I was eighteen and searching for my future when along came Elizabeth and all of a sudden I was wrapped up in music more than ever before. Having seen this band perform many times, mostly in churches no less, I fell deeply for their psychedelic and mind bending music. Not many bands since then have impressed me as much but of course, I was pretty impressionable back then - like a dry sponge soaking up as much music as possible. However, to this day I find that these songs work incredibly well and the production is so cool that I find myself comparing this album to many others with Elizabeth coming out on top more often than not.

There's just something very special about this album. I tend to hear it as The Association on acid - and I happen to love The Association. Of course, this is an album that cries SIXTIES psychedelia more than most but that's part of its charm. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it but maybe not.

Fronted by Steve Weingart (lead guitar, harpsichord, organ and vocals) and Bob Patterson (rhythm guitar, acoustic 12 string and vocals) with Jim Dahme (rhythm guitar, flute and vocals), Steve Bruno (organ and bass) and Hank Ransome of the above mentioned Good God (drums) and released "minimally" on Vanguard Records in 1968, this album went nowhere but meant a lot to me and a host of other music fans. I've spent most of the last 47 years trying to find it on CD - and recently found a copy but you may not be so lucky. So here it is in all it's quirky splendor. Elizabeth! Enjoy!!!



  One of many albums from 1972 that made a serious impact on me was the American release of "Lifeboat." Another UK release of some of these songs under the same album title only made the picture more fuzzy here in the States, a complication they surely didn't need.

The album should have been a big breakthrough with its catchy adult pop songs like the fantastic leadoff single, "I Don't Want To Love You But You Got Me Anyway" followed by what became a hit for Rod Stewart, "Sailing." The band had the attention of some cool people but that didn't keep this truly remarkable album on US radar for long. I doubt I've gone a month during the last 40 plus years without listening to it. That's gotta tell ya something good. If you listen to no other song on the album, check out "Real Love."



  Another great "unknown" album from 1972 came as the second release, "Fables" from England Dan & John Ford Coley. At that point in time no one had ever heard of them except for writers and music junkies who loved great music even if the general public had no clue. This music fit in perfectly with what was going on at the time like Dan Fogelberg's first album, Jackson Browne's first, "Distant Light" by The Hollies, the first Loggins and Messina, Carl and the Passions, the first Graham Nash/David Crosby album, the first amazing album by Aztec Two-Step, "Ennismore" by Colin Blunstone, "Wind of Change" by Peter Frampton, "A Good Feelin' to Know" by Poco, the first Eagles album, "Harvest" by Neil Young, etc.

After absorbing their first album which slightly missed the mark later set by "Fables" but had some truly fine songs, this duo compiled what feels like a concept album if only due to the brilliance of the tracks themselves. One song after another is an example of captivating lyrics and well crafted melodies. My faves are "Simone," "Free The People," "Candles Of Our Lives," "Stay By The River" and "What I'm Doing" but the entire album flows from song to song without variance in quality.

The irony is that when they got sappy with their 3rd album, "Nights Are Forever" in 1976 featuring the hit "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight," they became a huge hit and stayed there for a few years before breaking up in 1980.

You can find this LP for just under $200 at Amazon but it has never been released on CD. Figures!



 
In 1971 when this album was released I was stationed in Viet Nam but when I went to my next post in Washington DC in 1972 I found the best record store in the world called Orpheus Records in Georgetown where I found many of the albums on this page. And Nigel Olsson’s Drum Orchestra and Chorus was no exception. Drawn in by the stunning cover and the credits on the back that showed Dee Murray and Caleb Quaye on Guitars along with Mick Grabham and the late Kathi McDonald as a featured vocalist I just had to buy this one and run home to listen. From that day forward I have loved this record and always wondered why it has never been released on CD.

The songs were all written by Nigel with Mick and Caleb except for “Nature’s Way” from Spirit and Randy California and Rick Nelson’s “We’ve Got a Long Way To Go” and Gary Wright’s “I Can’t Go Home Again” and Leon Russell’s “Hummingbird.” Kathi sings on the last two which is a real treat. She was the replacement for Janis when Big Brother needed her and she did a fine job with that band as well.

I suppose most people have no idea this album ever happened but for me it has always been one of my top 200 albums of all time. Maybe you had to be there in ’72 for it to make that kind of impact but it still makes that impact on me.



 
The Great Lost Orleans II Album
It was 1974 and Orleans was playing The Spectrum in Philly. I was backstage with a ton of writers who all wanted an interview with John and Johanna so we all started our appeals to the Warner Bros Rep whose decision it was to divide the writers into those who would interview the band and those who would interview John & Johanna. So this writer starts talking to the Rep about the band's second album "Let There Be Music" when I stuck my nose in and said, "That's not their second album. It's their third!" The writer looked dumbfounded and the Rep stared me in the eye, knowing I was correct and said, "Hey - you come with me!" So I got to meet John and Johanna and we had a really nice time while I showed off my knowledge of their music - which they loved. Most would. So here's the lost second album. It features older versions of "Dance With Me" and "Let There Be Music" which are completely different from the "Third Album!" Enjoy!




 
A true collector's item, Friends by Feather from 1970 is an album it took me until 1972 to find, long after it missed the mark on radio and with the buying public. But this little gem has stuck with me for decades with it's semi-Ides of March feel (without the horns) and with a somewhat country rock feel. The lead singer is John Townshend of the Sandford Townshend band ("Smoke From a Distant Fire"). The rest of the band is far lesser known but accomplished nonetheless. This one came along before Loggins & Messina but it comes close to that in mood. The songs are all catchy and appropriate for the times. It sounds like the early 70's but not dated to my ears. Check it out.


 

"Strange Alliance" by Tommy Keene

"I first met Tommy Keene in 1980 when he was the guitarist and second songwriter in a New York City band called Pieces with Kenny Aaronson (bass), Frankie LaRocka (drums) and an unmentionable lead singer who had not one tenth of Tommy's talent. It was as clear then as it is today that Tommy was a star, an amazing guitarist and a great songwriter.  He has never let me down in any of those categories.  For more than 35 years Tommy continues to inspire many more fans than me.  And this, - "Strange Alliance" was the beginning of his legend, known to many but owned by few, unfortunately.

I am still quite proud that I was a part of this recording in some small was when I was his manager. In addition to the 8 songs originally released on the vinyl version, I've added 9 more unreleased tracks that the world needs to hear including one song recorded with the band Pieces called "It's Like Fire." If you've never heard this music before, get ready for what I consider to be brilliance."

- Dean Sciarra

BTW - I took advantage of my position here to replace the album cover that was originally released on the vinyl copy in 1981.  The photo was unflattering so I've replaced it with one I feel does more justice to Tommy.

Please Note: you can purchase the original album plus two bonus tracks on a reissued vinyl release by going here!