Proto-Metal

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The combination of blues-rock with psychedelic rock formed much of the original basis for heavy metal.One of the most influential bands in forging the merger of genres was the British power trio Cream, who derived a massive, heavy sound from unison riffing between guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, as well as Ginger Baker's double bass drumming. Their first two LPs, Fresh Cream (1966) and Disraeli Gears (1967), are regarded as essential prototypes for the future style. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced (1967), was also highly influential. Hendrix's virtuosic technique would be emulated by many metal guitarists and the album's most successful single, "Purple Haze," is identified by some as the first heavy metal hit. Vanilla Fudge, whose first album also came out in 1967, have been called "one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto_metal#Antecedents:_mid-1960s

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INDIAN SUMMER Indian Summer

Album · 1971 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
INDIAN SUMMER was one of the many one and done prog acts to emerge in the late 60s and stick it out for a few years before disbanding. In its three year existence after forming in 1969 in Coventry, UK, the band released one self-titled album in 1971 on the Neon Records label which hosted other up and coming acts like Spring, Tonton Macoute and Raw Material. The band consisted of lead vocalist / keyboardist Bob Jackson, guitarist / vocalist Colin Williams, drummer Paul Hooper and bassist Malcolm Harker who all made their mark on the college and university circuit which caught the attention of Jim Simpson who was the manager of various bands including Black Sabbath and Bakerloo.

The band performed a lighter version of progressive heavy rock with a strong emphasis on keyboard runs much in the vein of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep but delivered its recipe of organ-fueled rock with more restraint. The album featured eight tracks that added up to almost 50 minutes of playing time which surely must have been the upper limits of playing time on vinyl LPs at the time. INDIAN SUMMER's sound was sort of the light and fluffy version of heavier rock with a gentle melodic approach that offered there standard guitar, bass and drum blues-based grooves of the day fortified with hefty keyboard excursions that sounded a bit more like a late 60s act than something that would've emerged in the year 1971 when the world of progressive rock was going gangbuster with inventive freewheeling experimentalism.

While the music doesn't stand out as anything spectacular for the day, Bob Jackson's vocals certainly sounded unique with a passionate display of wide ranges of singing styles and enunciating his lyrics in a certain way. While the musicians on board are all competent with moments of virtuosic display inserting themselves into the mix, the composiitons themselves were fairly average and not something that really gets my juices flowing in the same way that Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster or Uriah Heep were able to master so elegantly. INDIAN SUMMER sounds more like a Deep Purple lite and delivered a delicate touch to the whole organ dominated heavy rock thing. The compositions are decent but personally i'm not sure why this album is as revered as it is when so many far more dynamic bands existed at the same time.

It didn't take long for the band to start falling apart. After the release of this album in March of 1971, bassist Malcolm Harper left the band to take over his father's engineering firm and although ex-The Sorrows bassist Wez Price continued with the band on the touring circuit the band basically went broke and realized their day would never come and like many others of the same era basically left their mark with a single album and disappeared from the scene. Overall INDIAN SUMMER delivered a nice listenable album but just lacks that extra bite that a heavier rock band needs to animate the music. I know this has its fans and it's become one of those sought after obscurities from the early 70s but for my tastes this band just didn't have enough pizazz to keep the album mesmerizing from beginning to end but there are certainly exhilarating moments such as at the end of the track "Black Sunshine." If you like the delicate touch with only occasional outbursts of instrumental heft then this one is for you!

THE WHO A Quick One

Album · 1966 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After taking the world by storm as a part of the British Invasion of the USA and abroad, THE WHO didn’t lose any traction after a series of singles and its debut release “My Generation" which catapulted the band up to the top of the charts. The band didn’t waste any time with a proper followup which came in the form of A QUICK ONE which slipped in the calendar year 1966 in December exactly a year after the debut. The album finds THE WHO moving beyond its mod R&B style of the debut and unusual in that guitarist Pete Townsend who was the primary songwriter stepped down and let the other members contribute songs, presumably due to time constraints resulting from touring schedules.

There are actually two versions of this album. As was the case with all the big acts coming from the UK, this album features a US release that was retitled HAPPY JACK and the original UK release titled A QUICK ONE. The only difference is that the US version featured the top 40 song “Happy Jack” whereas the UK version lacks this song and instead has the unusual cover song “Heat Wave” which was a huge hit for Martha & The Vandellas. Other than that the album pretty much follows the same track order and same quirkiness which found the band stepping out of its streamlined 60s mod pop and started experimenting. While not a full blown art rock album that the band would become famous for, A QUICK ONE certainly is a quirky and unexpected sophomore release from one of the British Invasion’s most popular acts.

The album starts innocently enough with the catchy “Run, Run, Run” which implies a return to the same mod pop rock that was the staple of “My Generation” but the album throws a curve ball with the second track “Boris The Spider” which was written by bassist John Entwhistle when he was drunk and wrote a song about a scary spider in his room. The song was so off the wall that it became one of THE WHO’s concert staples. The other Entwhistle oddity is the instrumental track “Cobwebs and Strange” which not only reinforces his obsession with the world of arachnoids but also demonstrated how THE WHO could turn a traditional polka into a bonafide 60s psychedelic rock tune. The oom-paa-paa beat along with the trombone and tuba add another layer of absurdity to the album.

Many of the other tracks are more standard in that they could be released as pop tracks or hit singles. The track “Whiskey Man” was released as a single and hit the top 10 and the track “Happy Jack” on the US version also hit the top 40 but other than that A QUICK ONE really didn’t generate the hit singles action that would begin with the band’s next album “The Who Sell Out.” THE WHO also activate their proto-prog instincts on A QUICK ONE with the six movement closing title track which narrates the story of a girl who had gone missing for period of time. The track includes a harmonized a cappella segmented basically a bunch of different songs stitched together. The track exceeded 9 minutes long and was sort of a proto-rock opera that wouldn’t be fully realized until “Tommy.”

For my tastes this second release by THE WHO is a much more interesting one than the debut. I love the quirky, even silly tracks that just show up when you least expect it. They add a pizazz to the otherwise more standard mod freakbeat style THE WHO was going for at this stage. Really no bad tracks on here except i highly recommend the US version titled HAPPY JACK with its title track rather than the UK version with the ridiculous Martha & The Vandellas cover. That song sounds totally out of place and THE WHO were not even close to sounding like a Motown band from Detroit. Luckily the 60s would see the bigger bands writing all original material with THE WHO being no exception. Sure, this isn’t the best that THE WHO ever created but it’s an interesting second step in their canon before they hit the big time. Personally i like this one.

VANILLA FUDGE Vanilla Fudge

Album · 1967 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
VANILLA FUDGE was an unusual 1960s band in the fact that these New Yorkers that formed in 1966 successfully created an entirely new sound in the world of psychedelic soul rock all without writing a single song of their own on their debut release. Add to that the band somehow cemented itself into the history books as one of the earliest bands that forged the way for not only progressive rock but the world of heavy metal, both of which would become major dominant musical forces in the decade to come. Starting out as The Electric Pigeons and then truncating to just The Pigeons, the band changed its name to VANILLA FUDGE which referred to a group of white guys singing and playing music created by black singers and musicians.

VANILLA FUDGE was organist Mark Stein, bassist Tim Bogert, guitarist Vince Martelil and drummer Carmine Appice. While Stein handled lead vocals, the entire band engaged in intricate harmonies influenced by bands such as The Beatles and The Rascals only VANILLA FUDGE was a pioneering band in bridging the world of black soul music with the brave new world of psychedelic rock. The band’s eponymously titled debut emerged in 1967 and found instant gratification as it literally shot up to the #6 position on the Billboard album charts even before the release of the crafty cover of The Supreme’s 1966 smash hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was released as a single and too shot up the charts. Graced with an impeccable sense of harmony and by playing cover songs at half the original speed, VANILLA FUDGE delivered an irresistible new perspective on well known songs on its self-titled 1967 debut.

This first album was unique in the band’s five album run that lasted only three years as it featured no original songs whatsoever however the band did contribute three very short self-made instrumental intros that were listed as separate tracks but in reality served as nothing more than short snippets that connected the cover songs. With no original songs to showcase VANILLA FUDGE made it count in their unique and original approach into how they interpreted each song. The band excelled at crafting a mix of top notch soulful harmonies with Mark Stein’s vocals showing a particularly engaging style that mixed traditional soul singing with bouts of wailing and extended vocal techniques. The use of acid rock organ runs, energetic drumming excursions and heavy guitar moments earned the band the reputation as one of the few American acts that bridged the gap between the world of 1960s psychedelic rock and the future worlds of prog and metal.

Following only a year after The Supremes hit #1 on the Billboard singles chart with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” VANILLA FUDGE’s version shot up to the top 10 as well only stalling at the #6 position. The single was enough to keep the band’s album racing up the charts and propelling VANILLA FUDGE into the big time. The success allowed the band to tour with Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and eventually the band would tour with Led Zeppelin as their opening act. The band was a major influence on Deep Purple with its emphasis on the use of bombastic organ heft and harder rocking moments of guitar and drumming. The album walked a delicate balance between beautifully delivered soulful harmonies laced with tender orchestrations and the contrasting hard rock, the likes of which had never been attempted.

To be honest i’m not a fan of cover albums for the most part and the mid-1960s found many newly established acts not ready for prime time releasing albums that relied too heavily on cover songs to fill up space but VANILLA FUDGE is the exception as they definitely reinterpreted a diverse set of covers all the while drenching them in the sounds of the organ-fueled excesses of acid rock and heavy psych. The album flows perfectly from beginning to end and the band members really did take full command of the cover songs and make them their own. VANILLA FUDGE’s debut is an excellent slice of traditional soulful pop songs transmogrified into proto-prog and proto-metal splendor. This one really is a unique moment in history since the band would follow with the avant-garde sophomore release “The Beat Goes On” before delivering an album of all original material on “Renaissance.” While i don’t want to love this one, i can’t help myself! It’s a brilliantly bold move from a band that masterfully crafted one of the most uncanny hybridization albums of the entire 1960s.

JANE Together

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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UMUR
"Together" is the debut full-length studio album by German rock act Jane. The album was released through Brain Records in the spring of 1972. The origins of Jane are found in late 60s the German psychedelic band The J.P.s (Justice of Peace), who by 1970 had regrouped and changed their name to Jane.

Stylistically the material on "Together" is a slow- to mid-paced, heavy, and blues based type of psychedelic rock, dominated by Werner Nadolny´s omnipresent organ playing and the guitar solos of Klaus Hess. Pink Floyd is an influence, but so are artists like Deep Purple and Procol Harum. Lead vocalist Bernd Pulst has a rough voice and a decent delivery suiting the material.

So the band are generally well playing and they have a style of music that they want to play and perform with both passion and conviction. It´s not exactly the most unique sounding music style and Jane don´t step outside the box much, but they arguably do what they do with great skill and conviction. "Together" is relatively well produced for the time, and uponc conclusion it´s a recommendable album to those who enjoy heavy psychedelic rock which is loaded with organ and blues rocking guitar solos. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

IRON BUTTERFLY In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Album · 1968 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
IRON BUTTERFLY is synomous with being one of the most famous one-hit wonders in the entire history of rock music. IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA, the band’s second album and surprise hit single is perhaps a testament to how an endless series of mishaps, happenstance and unplanned moments conspired into capturing the zeitgeist of an entire generation and somehow against all odds ended up becoming one of the biggest selling albums in all of music history. The San Diego based IRON BUTTERFLY was just another acid rock band that permeated the late 1960s led by organ player and vocalist Doug Ingle who was the primary songwriter and lyricist. The band was fairly typical of the era and delivered a rather average garage band style of psychedelic rock. Like many bands IRON BUTTERFLY was also plagued by lineup changes and after the release of the band’s 1968 debut “Heavy,” things got even more turbulent. The band was part of the L.A. psychedelic scene along with bands like The Seeds and The Strawberry Alarm Clock but never really stood out in any particular way.

It actually seemed like a sophomore album might never materialize due to the fact guitarist Danny Weis quit the band just before the recording sessions were due to take place. In a state of desperation the band replaced him with Eric Braun who had started to learn how to play the guitar three months prior. The title track was also a pure fluke in its creation. It’s peculiarity was the result of nothing more than Doug Ingle going on a drunken binge one evening and uttering unintelligible lyrics to drummer Ron Bushy who misinterpreted what was supposed to be “In The Garden Of Eden” that he could only make out as IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA. If that wasn’t strange enough, after writing five songs that would become the A-side of the original vinyl LP release, what would become a huge hit was nothing more than a soundcheck never intended to be recorded but by sheer chance was accidentally caught on tape while the band was waiting for their producer Jim Hilton to arrive at the studio.

While the usual method was for IRON BUTTERFLY to write structured psychedelic pop rock songs, the band just decided to improvise for over 17 minutes with the results being the entire B-side of the original album. The band’s ATCO Records for some reason thought that all the mishaps would make a great B-side and took the chance releasing the unedited 17-minute track as a raw performance that included all the unintended mishaps but somehow thought it might resonate with the psychedelic haze that permeated the summer of 1968. The gamble obviously paid off and the album became a massively huge hit outselling every other album for the next year and by 1969 had surprised a million copies in sales. The title track was released as a single but butchered down to a mere 2 minutes and 52 seconds. Since the appeal of the track was the long jamming session that featured trippy organs, impromptu drum solos and a repetitive psychedelic guitar riff with mumbled lyrics, the album was instantly endearing to the post-flower power crowds that wanted a bit more acid fuzz in their rock music.

Likewise the rather pop oriented five tracks on the A-side also appealed to the hippie crowd with short tributes to “Flowers And Beads” and the flower power themed “Are You Happy” which provided the perfect gateway to the unconventional title track that followed. Due to the fact the appeal in the album was the 17-minute title track which was never released as a single in its entirety, the only way to obtain it was to buy the album thus the album for a brief moment became the biggest thing in the USA outperforming bands like The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the biggest names in the world of psychedelic rock. The fact that the album has gone down in history as both a critical step towards the later world of heavy metal and progressive rock has only cemented its status as one of those essential albums that one must hear and own despite the fact the album really doesn’t exhibit any particular traits of a classic band that stands the test of time. The album basically was a complete surprise hit that absolutely nobody could’ve planned if they tried and proof that sometimes fate determines things more than any amount of calculated planning. To date IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA has sold more than 30 million albums! Amazing!

Perhaps if i was there in the summer of 1968 and in the midst of the hoopla i would be as enamored with the whole IRON BUTTERFLY thing but honestly i can’t say find this album as anything more than an average standard psychedelic pop rock album of the era. It’s true that the phenomena of the title track does indeed make this a legendary release and for that reason i do own a personal copy because after all the title track is a part of the overall culture for better or for worse. From a critical point of view the first side of the album is decent with catchy psychedelic hippie songs that are quite listenable if rather unremarkable but there’s no denying that the legendary title track was and remains unlike anything that came before or came after and serves as a significant musical milestone as far as experimenting with rock music is concerned. The sloppiness and rather amateurish performance really only highlights the slacker drop out and do your own thing ethos of the era. After all 1968 was a very turbulent year politically across the world so a nonsensical anthem that was nebulous and could be interpreted differently by individuals and still resonated collectively was obviously exactly what the doctor ordered. A true anomaly of history yet will be in the collective consciousness for eons to come. This has to be one of the most unlikely hit albums of all time!

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BLIND FAITH London Hyde Park 1969

Movie · 2006 · Proto-Metal
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stefanbedna
Blind Faith -London Hyde Park 1969 dvd. An excellent concert.Quite simple concert.A beautiful day and a hundred thousand people in London´s central Hyde Park listens Blind Faith in their first big gig.Absolutely wonderful.For me the historic value of this concert.Rating 4,0 stars for me.Concert will be held 07/06/1969.Performers lineup eric clapton lead guitar,steve winwood phenomenal vocal and keyboards, rick grech on bass and of course phenomenal ginger baker on drums.This is an example of the unique combination of two large groups of Cream and Traffic rights in the Great introducetd in London´s Hyde Park.Really very interesting concert series watch it again on dvd.I highly recommend.

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