Music Reviews

Marvin Gardens "1968 review -
"We all sat around and smoked pot and drank and played Monopoly for endless hours." Bassist Michael Lindner.

This (70 + minutes) album collects all the available tracks by a late '60s S.F. band named Marvin Gardens (the name comes from the singer's apt.), a band few if any people outside the Bay Area have heard. They were a "second wave" band that began playing after the well known S.F. bands had been playing for some time.

The band featured (originally) a folk singer named Carol Duke -vocals/guitars, Michael Lindner-bass, Tim Hazen-keyboards/vocals/ mandolin, Dave Ray Costuras-drums/vocals/trumpet, and Fred Waxler-guitars/clarinet. They also employed things like kazoo, slide whistle, and all manner of percussion to fill out their songs.

Duke (originally from Texas) had a smooth, yet pleasingly thick voice that she used very well. At times she can sound like Janis Joplin without taking things to the emotional level Joplin did. She brought a number of songs to the band which had been playing around S.F. for a while. Songs included here like Dylan's "Down The Line", Leadbelly's "Titanic", Eric Anderson's "Close The Door Lightly", Buffy Saint-Marie's "97 Man", Hoagy Carmichael's "Baltimore Oriole", and other tunes show Duke's eclectic influences.

The band played different venues like the Fillmore, the Lion's Share, The Matrix, various benefits (Haight Ashbury Medical Clinic) and street fairs. Unlike many S.F. bands, Marvin Gardens was never a jam band in the Bay Area tradition. They preferred to work out their arrangements, especially in the studio. Live they would veer away from their stock arrangements which gave their live stuff more excitement. Duke was always out front with the band on vocals. Instrumentally they had a tight sound.

This album collects demos (for Warner Brothers), an extremely rare (100 copies?) EP recorded at Pacific High Recorders, and a slew of live tracks from The Matrix recorded by owner Peter Abram, who also recorded a number of other well known bands who played there. Where are all those tapes? They would be well worth releasing if the quality is equal to these live tapes. Everything is from 1968--hence the album's title. The sound is very good to decent/good (the live tapes), Abram obviously new what he was doing. The band was only together for a short while and by 1969 they had drifted apart.

Their sound had strains of Country Joe & The Fish (the organ sound), John Cipollina influenced guitar (hear the live "I Know You Rider" and "Baltimore Oriole", or "Ananias"), and Duke's combination Joplin/folk vocals always out front. Plus they had the Bay Area whackiness (kazoo, whistle, some of the arrangements like "The Whisper Song" or "Good Night Ladies") reminiscent of Country Joe/Fish, The Charlatans, or Sopwith Camel. At times they never seemed to take themselves too seriously which gave their music that Bay Area "wink and a smile" sound and feel. There's a certain S.F. vibe that run all through their music that identifies them from that area and era. Live they had that Bay Area ballroom sound from that period. The band was harder sounding live that gave their music a nice edge and electricity.

The packaging--a wallet style cardboard package with a pocket for the 32 page booklet and a snap-in tray for the disc. The graphics and booklet are typically good from the High Moon label--similar to other releases. Check out the female dancer on the back of the package photographed at one of the band's gigs--pure late '60s S.F.--and a good example of what I saw at that time. The booklet has a good essay on the band, period photos, and some nice reproductions of period posters along with other ephemera. And when you combine the good quality sound, this is a nice presentation of the band's long forgotten/basically unknown music.

This is one for fans/collectors of late '60s Bay Area bands. While they didn't seem to have that certain "something" or lasting power to put them over the top, this album is ample proof they were one of the better relatively unknown bands playing the area. The three "stars" isn't a true reflection of some of this music. Living in Palo Alto while in college I heard a number of lesser known bands (Dry Creek Road, Sun Bear, Savage Resurrection to name a few) like this and always enjoyed their music. Oftentimes bands like this took musical chances different from the more established bands which made hearing them worthwhile. Marvin Gardens is just such a band. There's a real period vibe all through this music that places them squarely in the whole late '60s/S.F. period. And for my old ears much of this music is curiously good. This continues to grow on me the more I hear it. If you're not steeped in that whole era you may not hear this the same way--it may just sound quaint and run of the mill. To each his own. review by: Stuart Jefferson

Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet (Butterscotch Records)
Carolina Eyck, composer & thereminist with American Contemporary Music Ensemble 

If you thought the theremin was only for corny sci-fi film soundtracks and intergalactic sound effects, think again. It may be October, but the theremin makes (electromagnetic) waves all year round.

Just ask Carolina Eyck, one of the world’s foremost theremin virtuosi—in fact, she quite literally wrote the book on it. For the past decade, her performances in classical and contemporary music around the world have helped promote the instrument and build its repertoire.

For Eyck’s latest project, she composed and recorded Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet: an entire album of works highlighting the theremin’s unique capacity for improvisation and imagination. Oh, and she didn’t collaborate with just any old string players, either: the album features American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) members Caroline Shaw and Ben Russell on violins, Caleb Burhans on viola, and Clarice Jensen on cello.

Conceptually, the album was inspired by Eyck’s vivid childhood memories of the woods of Northern Germany where she grew up. In keeping with the whimsical, free-spirited explorations of childhood, Eyck composed the Fantasias for the 12” vinyl LP format—meaning that all performances were recorded in full takes with no editing. The string players tracked the scores first, and then Eyck overdubbed her deft, fluid, single-take improvisations—hence the title Fantasias.

The result is an organic virtuosity that leads the listener through the hazy and nostalgic soundscapes of Northern Germany, each piece an open window into Eyck’s imagination. And to add another layer of whimsy, the titles for each piece were devised by Eyck and the album’s producer, Allen Farmelo, by scanning multiple Scandinavian languages for pleasing lingual combinations.

The album begins with “Oakunar Lynntuja (Strange Birds),” Eyck’s nimble hands flittering up and down the theremin’s two antennas to produce the sound of metallic birds chirping amidst a forest of angular strings.

Then, as if having drifted into a fairy tale, “Nukkuva Luohla (Sleepy Dragon)” picks up with a sputtering sparkle of strings. A snarling theremin grumbles across its lowest registers like a drowsy dragon tossing and turning—and the strings flicker about like sparks from its snoring breath.

The strings swell and tumble like waves in the next fantasy, “Metsa Happa (Jumping River).” Eyck’s theremin melodies playfully hop in and out of the rolling river, soaring high above the waves and diving deep beneath their iridescent surface.

Another idyllic forest scene inspires “Dappa Solarjos (Dappled Sunlight).” Wavering string arpeggios imitate the forest of mottled leaves, with Eyck’s theremin painting the full spectrum of sunlight: light and dark, daytime and dusk.

The album closes with a more abstracted fantasia: “Nousta-Needad (Ascent-Descent).” A staggered string backdrop sets the stage for Eyck’s theremin as it hums quietly up and down from its highest, airiest registers to its lowest, earthiest grumbles—at times even crossing the realm into a distinctly humanlike voice.

It’s incredible that an instrument played with no physical contact by the performer could ever sound so human—that music once confined solely to intergalactic sound effects could ever be so intimate. These fantasias are proof of Eyck’s profound understanding of her instrument and, perhaps even more inspiring, her playful and imaginative musical voice.  Review by: Maggie Molloy

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Live: Volume 1 

All-Star Performances by Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Cream, Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Page, Metallica and James Taylor Make This a True Collectible!

FEATURES a show-stopping performance by Prince on While My Guitar Gently Weeps in addition to legends like.....
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Cream, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Metallica, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ron Wood, Joe Perry, Tom Petty, Green Day, James Taylor, Al Green, Chuck Berry and more.
Unforgettable musical collaborations like Tom Petty with Prince and Mick Jagger with Bruce Springsteen.
Original members of Cream take the stage for the first time in 25 years for a blistering Sunshine of Your Love.
Jam-filled performances of chart-busters like Johnny Be Goode, Train Kept a Rollin, Ironman, Blitzkrieg Bop, and Can t Get No Satisfaction.
Live from Rock Hall Induction Ceremonies: We ve picked ten unforgettable, live performances from 1993 through 2009.
Rock Legends: The biggest names in rock, performing in intimate settings and jamming in combinations not seen anywhere else.
Perfect for Music Collectors: It's a vinyl ticket to the very best from the Rock Hall induction ceremonies--a "must-have" for any LP library.

For over a quarter century, rock and roll s biggest stars have gathered annually on one special evening for an exclusive party: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. Honoring music s most influential figures with the most prestigious of awards, it s also an evening where both artists and fans celebrate rock and roll with once-in-a-lifetime performances.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame LIVE: Volume 2 Limited Edition

Collectible All-Star, Jam-Filled Performances by Paul McCartney, Eddie Vedder, The Who, Axl Rose, Lindsey Buckingham, John Fogerty, Johnny Cash and More! 

For over a quarter century, rock and roll s biggest stars have gathered annually on one special evening for an exclusive party: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. Honoring music s most influential figures with the most prestigious of awards, it s also an evening where both artists and fans celebrate rock and roll with once-in-a-lifetime performances. For the first time on vinyl, Time Life has pressed a selection of the most memorable moments in the history of the induction ceremony, previously only available in digital and physical formats. ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME LIVE: VOLUME 2 LIMITED EDITION is a unique, collectible vinyl album pressed in bold red/orange swirl featuring an unforgettable set list including the biggest names in rock n roll. 

Some of the most compelling moments have come from the newly inducted artists themselves, performing the songs that helped get them to that Waldorf stage like Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham s poignantly simple acoustic take on "Landslide."
Bruce Springsteen has been perhaps the most convivial and collaborative of the many superstars who have repeatedly graced the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame stage. He s the best party guest one could ask for, as evidenced by his performance here with rock front man Axl Rose on the Beatles' "Come Together" at the 1994 ceremony (when John Lennon was inducted as a solo artist).
CCR founder John Fogerty, an artist who has also relished these jams, performs "Green River" with Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson of The Band.
Includes a Musical Tribute medley to Wilson Pickett.
Also includes performances from legendary talents like The Who, Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Doors, Solomon Burke, The Young Rascals, Eddie Vedder and more.

Live from the Rock Hall Induction Ceremonies: We ve picked ten unforgettable, live performances from 1990 through 2006 for this special LP.
Rock Legends: The biggest names in rock, performing in intimate settings and jamming in combinations not seen anywhere else.
Perfect for Music Aficionados: LIMITED EDITION VOLUME 2 is a 180 gram red and orange swirl vinyl it s a ticket to the very best from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Second in a Series: Volumes 3 will roll out though 2016, allowing fans to collect even more of these beloved performances on vinyl.
Collectors: It s a must-have for any LP library.


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