Saturday, 10 February 2018

"Streetnoise" by JULIE DRISCOLL, BRIAN AUGER & THE TRINITY (November 2013 JAPAN-Only Vivid Sound/Ghostown SHM-CD In Mini LP Repro Artwork with 2004 Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...In Search Of The Sun..."

I've always had a 'thing' for double-albums - studio or live. There's more to listen too obviously but also there's always more to deal with. There’s loads to gawk at – minutiae to ponder as you pour over the indecipherable artwork, script writing, cool types on the inner sleeve looking like models and art-school dropouts and those pseudo-noodle-gazing statements across four labels about 'Tribal Love Rock' and 'Eye Of The World' and all that oneness Devadip word cabbage. I love it.

Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde" (1966), Zappa & The Mothers "Freak Out" (1966), "The Beatles" (1968), The Who’s "Tommy" (1969), Fleetwood Mac’s "Blues Jam At Chess" (1969), Muddy Waters "Fathers And Sons" (1969), Beefheart's “Trout Mask Replica” (1969), "Jesus Christ Superstar" (1970), Eric Burdon & War’s "Black Man's Burdon" (1970), The Byrds "Untitled" (1970), The Allman Brothers Band "At Fillmore East" (1971), The Rolling Stones "Exile On Main St." (1972), Stephen Stills "Manassas" (1972), Deep Purple's "Made In Japan" (1972), Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything?" (1972), The Who's "Quadrophenia" (1973), Genesis "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" (1974), Thin Lizzy's "Live And Dangerous"  (1978) – 2LP magic the whole damn lot. Which brings us to the fab-and-funky plug-my-moog-in-baby "Streetnoise" from May 1969 – a forgotten and underrated gem in that long pantheon of cool twofers.

Apparently there was discord in the fledgling British group come album number three. But despite having no tunes when they went into to record the beast - Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger simply whacked out eight of their favourite cover versions and then conjured up seven originals between them with "In Search Of The Sun" provided by The Trinity’s Bassist David Ambrose. Working well under pressure - something brill was born - a 16-track double-album that stills sounds ludicrously fresh to this day over 50 years after the event. And with the Soul/Dance orientated 'yuth' of 2018 digging those Hammond Organ grooves and neck-jerking funky instrumental workouts – "Streetnoise" is an album's that become more in demand than ever. But what version to buy...

Loving the original Marmalade Records gatefold cover (British release) - I wanted the best visuals and sound. So I've plumbed for this wonderful sounding 2013 Japan-Only SHM-CD reissue that affords you full repro artwork and the latest remaster on a better format CD. Here are the Indian Rope Men...

Japan-Released 23 November 2013 - "Streetnoise" by JULIE DRISCOLL, BRIAN AUGER & THE TRINITY on Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4218 (Barcode 4540399260884) is a Japan-Only SHM-CD Reissue in Mini LP Repro Card Artwork and plays out as follows (74:09 minutes): 

1. Tropic Of Capricorn [Side 1 "How Good It Would Be To Feel Free"]
2. Czechoslovakia 
3. Medley: Take Me To The Water/I'm Going Back Home
4. A Word About Colour
5. Light My Fire [Side 2 "Kiss Me Quick, He Has To Part"]
6. Indian Rope Man
7. When I Was A Young Girl
8. Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In)
9. Ellis Island [Side 3 "Looking In The Eye Of The World"]
10. In Search Of The Sun
11. Finally Found You Out
12. Looking In The Eye Of The World
13. Vauxhall To Lambeth Bridge [Side 4 "Save The Country"]
14. All Blues
15. I've Got Life
16. Save The Country
Tracks 1 to 16 are the double-album "Streetnoise" – released May 1969 in the UK on Marmalade 608005/6 and June 1969 in the USA on Atco SD 2-701.

The two-sided colour foldout is a copy of the Castle Music/Sanctuary inlay put out in 2004 with LOIS WILSON liner notes (a noted writer for Mojo magazine). It has great photos of Jules and Brian, rare foreign 7" picture sleeves, trade adverts, Melody Maker covers etc. And although it doesn't give any mastering credits – I’m pretty sure this is the Sanctuary Records Remaster done at The Town House in the UK in 2004. The repro Mini LP Artwork is gorgeous - gatefold stippled card sleeve with that cool inner spread (the original British issue) – there’s an OBI and separate foldout white page with Japanese writing (blank on the other side – shame I can’t read it) and this release is part of the 'Brian Auger's Straight Ahead Collection' SHM-CD Reissue Series by Vivid Sound/Ghostown (see full 17-Title list below). Let’s get to the music...

As the high-hats open Side 1's "Tropic Of Capricorn" and those funked-up Brian Auger keyboards kick in (he sounds like Keith Emerson whose swallowed a Rotary Connection Cadet Records pill) – the Audio is superb – kicking with all the hedonistic punch you would want. Chris Thacker gets his drummer's moment too as the Hammond Organ grooves and flies. "Tropic Of Capricorn" is the first of four Auger originals on the 2LP set – the other three are "Ellis Island", "Finally Found You Out" and "Looking In The Eye Of The World".

Driscoll now kicks in with her first original – her voice striking and unique. The subtitle to Side 1 "How Good It Would Be To Feel Free" turns up in the lyrics to the diverse and at times chillingly beautiful "Czechoslovakia". Fighters in close formation – ready for the invasion – she sings as the Funk slows to an Acoustic Guitar amble – but then descends into an unwise clatter of percussion trying to ape that country’s horrible political turmoil. And although "Czechoslovakia" returns to the Acoustic and Voice for its final coda that aggressive and hard-to-listen-to portion beforehand ruins the song for me. But all is redeemed by a seriously soulful moment - "Take Me To The Water". On the original album it’s simply credited as one song but it’s actually a two-track medley – Nina Simone’s "Take Me To The Water" followed by Rudy Stevenson’s Gospel stormer "I’m Going Back Home" – the later taking the bopping number to a preacher finish. Marmalade tried it as the album's lead off 45 in the UK in September 1969 on Marmalade 598018 with the far better "Indian Rope Man" on the B-side - a cover of a Richie Havens song from his "Richard P. Havens, 1969" double-album on Verve. Mods and R&B dancers have regularly wet themselves with excitement when that fantastic dancer hits the turntables. The acoustic and austere "A Word About Colour" ends Side 1 - smart lady Julie speaking about race and breaking down barriers.

Side 2 opens with a rather lame version of The Doors classic "Light My Fire" but that's quickly forgotten when you're hit with the seriously groovy "Indian Rope Man" - up there as the best B-side ever surely (The Beatles "Don't Let Me Down" is another). A Traditional "When I Was A Young Girl" gets the boozy drunkard treatment by Driscoll - all public alehouses and early graves - an ominous set of Hammond notes plonking away for seven minutes as she sings and eventually wails of aching heads and broken hearts (go send for the Preacher boys while we’ve time). Sounding utterly amazing (great Remasters) we get the first of tw covers from the "Hair" Musical - Galt McDermott's Love Tribe People giving it some "Let The Sunshine In". Knowing the Musical was huge - ATCO Records in the USA used it as their lead-off 45 on Atco 45-6685 in June 1969 with "Save The Country" as the flip-side but to no joy.

Side 3 opens with a tribute to one of Auger's musical heroes - the Trumpeter Don Ellis - and man does Brian deliver. The instrumental "Ellis Island" is four-minutes of driving Funky Organ Fury where BA just lets rip - racing up and down those keys - an amazing dancer and boogaloo tune. In fact I can't help thinking that "Ellis Island" must be one of 'the' great 7" single 'lost opportunities'. This sucker might have done a "Frankenstein" - taken the pop world by storm as an instrumental - capturing the Mod sound. I love this track and after "Indian Rope Man" - one I play most often. That's followed by the album's sleeper - "In Search Of The Sun" where Dave "Lobs" Ambrose who penned the truth (the Bass player) gets a rare vocal turn. Side 3 ends with two more from Auger - the groovy instrumental "Finally Found You Out" (get your Talcum Powder out lads) and the wistful piano vocals of "Looking In The Eye Of The World" - a lonesome nation-for-nation plea for peace.

Side 4 is probably the most introspective and Jazzy-Soulful. Opening with Julie's "Vauxhall To Lambeth Bridge" - London's coolest gives us six and half minutes of Acoustic sight-seeing - walking down by the Thames River as Big Ben winks his eye at the hot chick with the short hair (tonight the old clock is feeling lonely too). Now we go full-on Jazz with "All Blues" - an Oscar Brown, Jr. and Miles Davis homage - fabulously languid like the best parts of "Kind Of Blue" (some Blues are glad, some Blues are sad). Two covers end Side 4 - the second of the "Hair" tracks "I've Got Life" where the singer has no smokes, no job, no coins - but has life (and at least that's free). We finish on Laura Nyro's piano-upbeat "Save The Country" where Jules urges people and children to come on down to the river and wash themselves in the glory streams singing "we shall overcome".

Re-listening to "Streetnoise" has been a joyful experience - I've played it so many times before but on this reissue I feel like it's my new best pal - a face from the past welcomed back and hugged with real affection. And ain't that the best...

Covering the years 1967 to 1977 - titles in the 2013 and 2014 
'Brian Auger's Straight Ahead Collection' 
SHM-CD Reissue Series from Japan are:

1. "The Definitive Recordings" - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4211/2 [2-Discs] (Barcode 4540399260785) - released 13 Nov 2013
2. "Language Of The Heart" - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4213 (Barcode 4540399260792) - released 13 Nov 2013
3. "The Mod Years" (1965-1969: Complete Singles, B-Sides And Rare Tracks) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4214 (Barcode 4 540399 260808) - released 13 Nov 2013
4. "Mod Party" - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4215 (Barcode 4540399260853) - released 13 Nov 2013
5. "Open" (1967) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4216 (Barcode 4540399260860) - released 4 Dec 2013
6. "Definitely What" (1968) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4217 (Barcode 4540399260877) - released 4 Dec 2013
7. "Streetnoise" (1969) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4218 (Barcode 4540399260884) - released 23 Nov 2013
8. "Befour" (1970) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4219 (Barcode 454039926089) - released 4 Dec 2013
9. "Brain Auger's Oblivion Express" (1971) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4220 (Barcode 4540399260914) - released 18 Dec 2013
10. "A Better Land" (1971) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4221 (Barcode 4540399260921) - 18 Dec 2013
11. "Second Wind" (1972) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4222 (Barcode 4540399260938) - released 18 Dec 2013
12. "Closer To It" (1973) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4223 (Barcode 4540399260945) - released 18 Dec 2013
13. "Straight Ahead" (1974) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4224 (Barcode 4540399260952) - released 29 Jan 2014
14. "Live Oblivion - Volume 1" (1974) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4225 (Barcode 4540399260976) - released 29 Jan 2014
15. "Live Oblivion - Volume 2" (1976) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4226 (Barcode 4540399260983) - released 29 Jan 2014
16. "Reinforcements" (1975) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4227 (Barcode 4540399260990) - released 29 Jan 2014
17. "Happiness Heartaches" (1977) - Vivid Sound Corporation/Ghostown VSCD4228 (Barcode 4540399261003) - released 26 March 2014

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