Saturday, 31 January 2009

Earth Disciples - Update

Listen to 'Spirit Of The Bells', via the above Youtube clip.

UPDATE to the UPDATE! Since originally posting, EMI have made this album available for download via iTunes. I don't think the band will benefit from any sales, which is sad, and I'm still keen to unearth their follow up album and put the lot out, remastered etc, so anyone with leads, please get in touch.

I recently had an article published about the Earth Disciples album Getaway Train in the UK mag Drummer. During my research for the article I got in touch with drummer Reggie Harris. Here's a short quote from Reggie that didn't make it into the article:

“The story of The Earth Disciples is a long one, starting in Chicago, Illinois. The bass player (Reggie Austin), guitar player (Jimmy Holloway), and myself, met in high school, and played in Reggie Austin's brother's band (Johnny Robinson, piano). We played high school dances and local events. Oscar Brown Jr., a well-known jazz artist from Chicago, came to our school to do a show, including local talent from school and [the] surrounding area. The show was called Opportunity Knocks. At the end of the show Oscar took us on the road to New York, and on to Los Angeles. After the tour, some band members returned home. I stayed in Los Angeles. Oscar was looking for a pianist, and that’s when I met Rudy Reid. I moved in with Rudy and called Jimmy to come and play. After Jimmy moved in, we wanted to be reunited with Reggie Austin. We sent for him in Chicago; The Earth Disciples were formed.”

Guitarist Jimmy Holloway was the son of famous jazz saxophonist Red Holloway. Sadly, Jimmy passed away quite some time ago. I've speculated as to whether Reggie Austin's piano playing brother, Johnny Robinson (brothers with different surnames?), is the same Johnny Robinson who did Memphis High, but I don't know. Since my piece was published I've also tracked down bassist Reggie Austin. The two Reggie's are pleased to find there's still interest in their music after all these years.

My wish is to have the album remixed and re-mastered for re-issue, and, get this: there's another album in the can somewhere... At least there should be, as the Earth Disciples certainly recorded a follow up. The prospect of a de-luxe 'Complete Earth Disciples' package is quite exciting to me. If you dig these righteous soul brothers, leave me some feed back and comments, as I'm trying to gauge the level of interest in them and the viability of a reissue.

The pic of the single above is from my copy of the 7", and the image below is from my copy of the album. Left to right they are: Reggie Austin, Reggie Harris, Rudy Reid, and Jimmy Holloway. My thanks to Reggie Austin for this inside info. He also has some good stuff to tell about the shots on the loco, but that'll have to wait for another time!

ps - If anyone knows the whereabouts of Rudy Reid, please get in touch!

And just to reiterate: if you want to hear the Earth Disciples, message me in the comments section. I'm exploring possible reissue options with the band and trying to find the masters and who has licensing rights etc. I cottoned onto the band thanks to the excellent Four Brothers Beats blog, which seems to have gone 'invite only' at some point, meaning that if you're not one of the select invited few you'll not be able to download via that route. Throwback Music have also listed Getaway Train before, but again, it's invite only (as of my last visit), so currently there are no active download options I know of. As I'm looking into helping the remaining Disciples find a way to make the music available again commercially I don't feel it'd be right to just give it away here, much as I'd like to share the goodness!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Azteca - Pyramid Of The Moon (1973)

I first heard Azteca here (but the link no longer works, I'm afraid), courtesy of Alpax's posts over at the 'Call It Anything' blog.

A monstrously huge ensemble, sometimes numbering as many as 20, formed by brothers Pete and Coke Escovedo (father and nephew of Sheila E, most famous herself as an associate of Prince), Azteca put out two monster latin-jazz-rock albums on Columbia in the early 1970s: a self-titled debut, in '72, and this one, in '73. There's a link personnel wise here with my previous Courtial post, in that Coke Escovedo, Errol Knowles and Bill Courtial are on both.

Check the personnel on this album! The connections go way deep: Santana, Herbie, the west coast Latin scene. Some heavy cats, and a hip chick! What can I say but, if you're not already familiar with this excellent group, get hip! What a magical musical time this was. Azteca's debut has been reissued and can be bought new (when in stock!), albeit at a fairly steep price (it's a Jap import, put out on Sony Japan, so unless you hail from those Pacific isles you'll most likely end out paying quite a bit for carriage and excise, never mind the cost of the actual CD).

Also noteworthy is the superb artwork, by Bruce Steinberg, a real renaissance man of the funky West Coast scene (most famously associated with the mighty Tower Of Power), who sadly died fairly recently (Dec 2007). His Aztec style roundel, which the band used on both their album covers, incorporates guitars, horns and a circular keyboard motif... Moy groovy Mr Steinberg!

Azteca reformed in 2007, leading to a new album and a DVD, neither of which I've yet had the pleasure of seeing or hearing. Make friends with them on MySpace.


Someday We'll Get By
Find Love Today
Whatcha Gonna Do
New Day Is on the Rise
Mexicana, Mexicana
Red Onions
Love Is a Stranger
A Night in Nazca


Errol Knowles, Wendy Haas, Rico Reyes - Vocals
Pete Escovedo - Percussion & vocals
Tom Harrell - Trumpet
Pat O'Hara - Trombone
Bob Ferreira - Tenor sax, Flute
Mel Martin - Tenor, baritone and soprano saxes, flute
Bill Courtial, Neal Schon - Guitar
George Muribus, George DiQuattro, Mike Nock - Keyboards
Flip Nunez - Organ
Paul Jackson, Tom Rutley, Tony Juncale - Bass
Lenny White, John Brinck - Drums
Coke Escovedo - Timbales
Victor Pantoja - Conga & vocals

Courtial - Don't You Think It's Time (1975)

Another redirect from the goat. This one's been posted a number of times... I first heard it here. I'd just like to add my own reflections to what other folk have (or haven't) said about this album.

Keb Darge included 'Losing You' on his Deep Funk Vol. 3 comp (that's where I first heard of these super-bad super-dudes), and I've also heard that it was on a Luv 'n' Haight Cali Soul comp too. 'Losing You' has a killer piano driven groove, akin to the (new) Rotary Connection's 'Black Gold Of The Sun', but faster, with brilliantly executed and punishingly speedy right handed 16ths from drummer Geoff White.

I love everything about this album: from the nutty but natty duds the guys are sporting on the cover - kind of Renaissance, or Dutch 17th century - to the wonderful grooves within. Title track 'Don't You Think It's Time' is reminiscent of mid 70's Herbie grooves like the opening section of 'Hang Up Your Hang Ups', and the deliciously titled 'Corn On The Cob' is an ace funky fusion instrumental workout with a good taut groove. And there's plenty more to enjoy!

Here's a YouTube video I found of 'Losing You', the best known track from this album:


Don't You Think It's Time
Thank You Baby
Time To Explain
Best Of Friends
Poem For Helen
Losing You
Love Nevermore
Take The Time
Corn On The Cob


Bill Courtial - Guitar
Errol Knwoles - Vocals
Pete Escovedo - Congas
Edward Williams III - Bass
Geoffrey White - Drums
Jose Najera - Percussion

Tom Waits - tracks from Paradise Alley (1978)

I'm really only interested in the Waits tracks on this album: the Paradise Alley OST was released originally by MCA in 1978, to coincide with the general release of a Sylvester Stallone directed strong-man movie of the same name. This was Stallone's directorial debut, and the first of his many attempts to recapture the magic and glory of his original breakthrough achievement with Rocky, for which he both wrote the story and, of course, starred in the title role (John Avildsen directed that movie).

I've not seen the film, but I would like to! - UPDATE: got it on rental from Lovefilm, and will be watching it soon, yay! - Stallone himself sings several of the other tracks, which is, ummm... interesting. It was hearing all the live versions of 'Annie's Back In Town' on various Tom concert boots that lead me to finally seek out the Paradise Alley OST. 'Annie's Back In Town' is a really great song, but the other Waits contribution to this OST, 'Meet Me In Paradise Alley', whilst okay, is a bit workaday, judged by Tom's own high standards.

I can't remember where I found the poster image, but the shot of Sly & Waits at left is from a scan of the back cover of the album, which I found at the fabulous Tom Waits Library, a brilliant Waits fan site run by Dutch dude Pieter Hartmans.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Tom Waits - Tonight In Person (BBC), 26/7/79

At long last, a new downloadable post. Sorry for the delay... Life can get busy! This is an MP3 version (at 224 kbps) of a great soundboard recording taken from a performance Waits recorded for the BBC. Apparently there is a film version of this concert. If anyone can share that then please get in touch, and I'll post a link. Waits performs brilliantly, including a number where he improvises a bit and then does a rap about finding a clothing store open at 3am and buying a suit! This goes by the name of 'With A Suitcase', and is unique to this gig I believe. Waits is occasionally accompanied by sax, upright bass and drums (don't know who I'm afraid, that info would be appreciated). The audience clearly dig Waits, but are typically polite and British in their reserve. 'On the Nickel', performed solo at the piano, is a personal favourite. And 'Kentucky Avenue' always blows my mind.

'Red Shoes' is interesting in this format: it's hard to hear exactly what's going on keys wise, but there's some minimal Hammond type sounds, and interesting use of acoustic piano. Is he strumming the strings? ' Step Right Up' sounds somewhat turgid here, especially when compared with the Small Change version, on which Shelly Manne plays like a monster. In fact I don't think this tune translates so well to the live setting, at least not as far as the recordings are concerned. Being there would doubtless have been something else. 'Burma Shave' makes a showing in one of it's many and varied 'proto' versions, which makes for interesting and enjoyable listening. I might do a 'Burma Shave' special posting at some point, 'cause the evolution of this number is fascinating, and what a great song he finally waxed for the Foreign Affairs album, sublime in my view!


Wrong Side Of The Road
With A Suitcase
I Never Talk To Strangers
Step Right Up
On The Nickel
Red Shoes
Burma Shave
Kentucky Avenue
Small Change
Closing Time


If anyone can tell me who plays with Tom on this I'd be grateful. The image at the top of this post is sourced from the fabulous tom waits library (a brilliant if scarily obsessive Waits resource), and is a still from the video footage of the performance.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Sleeping On It... Wake Up To Hutson!

Shoot... bit of a winter recess for me there. I only just got into this blog lark, and things got so busy I couldn't post anymore for a spell there. So, I'm gonna get ready and post me a whole bunch more of those Mitchell and Waits boots. For now tho' just a quick 'heads up' for Leroy Hutson's sublime Hutson album.

 This recording is so damnably good it's forcing me to go out and get a new set of decent speakers, as cranking up the Harmann Kardons on my Powerbook just ain't cuttin' it! 'Lucky Fellow' is the standout track, but in truth the whole album stands out like a beacon of brilliance, and that's no mean feat in an era flooded with sonic loveliness. I'm not posting a link to a download on this one, you gotta go through the proper channels and pick up a copy of the Soul Brother Records reissue. Glad to see some fellow UK cats keeping the faith on this stuff. Can someone - anyone - enlighten me as to how to get playable/streaming sample tunes into ye old blog? I'd like to have 'Lucky Fellow' available here as a taster.