I've spent the past few weeks simply enjoying 1969. There are the 5 new Sony releases which I talked about a few weeks back - those are all eye-opening. I've also been enjoying the brand 6 CD Rhino release which includes several never-heard-before cuts, as well as the brand new Arlo Guthrie release called "Tales of '69". The Arlo release is not recorded AT woodstock, but was recorded less than a week before, so it's interesting to compare & exciting to listen to. I had actually never hear Alice Part 3, or even knew of it's existence. Fantastic.
The Ken Bielen Woodstock tapes were also released during the past few weeks. Not exactly easy listening - these are audience recordings made on a dictaphone recorder. It's a wonder this material survived at all. It manages to add 15 unique recordings to our Woodstock collection, which with all the recent "finds" has grown from 22 CDs to 24 CDs. There's still more out there, I'm sure - but it's worth the wait. The best thing about the Ken Bielen tapes is it reminds us that the experience from the ground was not as grand as the 2 hour movie could lead one to believe.
I made many sidetrips, as usual - spent 8 hours lisening to all my Jimi CD's, then turned around and did it again a day later. I pulled out all my Janis CDs and listened to those, as well as Johnny Winter. I took a few side-trips through Delany & Bonnie & Donovan simply because I wanted to hear them.
But, that's not all folks! My personal absolute favorite band from 1969 was Child/Steel Mill - mostly because I saw them live about 15 times during those years. I was a young guitar player and wuld get as close as I could to see their guitar player named Bruce play the most wonderful guitar licks - I learned by watching lots of power chords and lead playing. The band went through changes, with great organ playing by Danny along the way, and a player named Steve added in the mix to play bass. The drummer, Vini, has been busy recently - and this has me grinning from ear to ear, literally. I still pull out my live tapes every summer but Vini has been working with some players to attempt to recreate the era on CD - in the studio. A few years back he released Chronicles, and it's a blessing to hear crisp clean versions of Come On, The Wind And The Rain, Boppin The Blues, KT88 & more. This month he has released a second CD, with All Man The Guns, and a personal favorite, Resurrection. There's much more good news: Sherlock Goes Holmes is fantastic, and I love the full band version of Cowboys by the Sea. The full band version of that one I have on tape is extremely muddy, so this is a revelation - and interesting to compare with the solo demos. There's a few more that were popular in 72 - Down To Mexico, Crow Liquor, Sweet Melinda & Lady Walking. The version of the Train song included here is not as powerful as the demo or the one Robbin Thompson officially released; but it's still great that it's included. I am excited that Vini continues to mine the old tapes for these gems, and it is my prayer they continue to record crisp versions - I'm hoping next time he'll do versions of Jambalaya (Roll Over, Roll Over), Sister Theresa, and a host of others. By my reckoning, there is at least 5 or 6 more CDs of superb material to share with folks who love the power rock blues sound that Bruce and company were famous for before he went on to join a major label and turn to pop.
I'm not sure my nostalgic journey is over - you'll know when the blog returns daily that I'm refreshed and ready to start sharing new finds with you. In the meantime, "Hail Hail Resurrection!"
Notes: Arlo's CD is not yet available on Amazon, but a quick google search for "Tales of '69" will help you discover it. Vini's website for the new versions of Steel Mill/ BSB Band songs is http://www.steelmillretro.com - Long live Dr Zoom & The Sonic Boom!
Listen to "Dead Sea Chronicles" online!
Buy Dead Sea Chronicles by Steel Mill.
Buy All Man The Guns by Steel Mill.
Watch Steel Mill from 3 weeks ago:
The original line-up in San Francisco playing America Under Fire:
The "muddy version" of Cowboys of the Sea is on You Tube!
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