The Best Of The Blues box set


Artist: Various
Genre: Blues
Title: The Best Of The Blues
Released: 1973
Label: Sin Qua Non
Format: Vinyl

Yes, this is a box set on vinyl, one of my infamous pickups at record fairs. You guys know me, I struggle to resist a $3 box set and the like. (I’m actually a bit picky, but still….)
Anyway, what we have here is a three record blues set encompassing the blues and the subsets therein such as Chicago Blues, Delta Blues, Piano Blues, East Coast Blues, Harmonica Blues, etc.
The artists on this collection include: James (Jimmy) Witherspoon, Richard Holmes, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ray Charles, Johnny Lee Hooker, Brownie & Sonny, Big Joe Williams, Leadbelly, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, Jimmy Reed, Memphis Slim & Otis Spann.
There are very early recordings as well as somewhat later recordings. Some portions of the set though were electronically re-recorded to simulate stereo. I wish they would have left things alone, some things sound their best in mono. Usually, “electronic enhancement” or “electronic stereo” sounds absolutely awful, but in this case somehow it did not do too much damage, it sounds o.k.

I gave it 5 stars for music because it’s the blues and you can’t go too wrong with Blues.
I gave 4 stars for sound even though there are portions that are electronically simulated stereo, because in this one case it is not real bad.

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Herman’s Hermits – On Tour


Artist: Herman’s Hermits
Genre: Classic Rock
Title: On Tour
Released: 1965
Label: MGM
Format: Vinyl
Musicians:Peter Noone – vocals, Derek Leckenby, – lead guitar, Keith Hopwood – rhythm guitar, Karl Green – bass, Barry Whitwam – drums
Producer: Mickie Most
Engineer: Val Valentin

Herman’s Hermits On Tour (also called Their Second Album!), is the uh, second album released in the US and Canada by MGM Records for the band.
In spite of the title, this is not a live LP. Listening to this LP will also make it easy to tell when it was recorded. I do not know the full provenance of it, but it could be that the recording studio as well, was not state of the art or the engineering may have been bare-bones. The mix overall is good, but that’s about all one can say. I will mention that in my opinion, one of the things that detracts from this LP is Peter Noone’s voice, which I find to be a bit too shrill.

The LP starts off with “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat”, which is nothing to write home about. Track two is the song “I’m Henry VIII, I Am”, which is somewhat a novelty song and the song Herman’s Hermits is known for. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Henery_the_Eighth,_I_Am Spelled “Henery” but pronounced “‘Enery” in the Cockney style normally used to sing it) is a 1910 British music hall song by Fred Murray and R. P. Weston. It was a signature song of the music hall star Harry Champion. In 1965, it became the fastest-selling song in history to that point when it was revived by Herman’s Hermits, becoming the group’s second number-one. The lead solo on the Hermits’ version was played by the group’s lead guitarist Derek “Lek” Leckenby.  “The End of the World” is a 50’s style ballad. It is originally a country pop song written by Arthur Kent and lyricist Sylvia Dee, for American singer Skeeter Davis. It had success in the 1960s and spawned many covers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_the_World_(Skeeter_Davis_song)
Track four is “For Your Love” originally done by The Yardbirds. This rendition is pretty straight forward except that in this recording, the snare drum is predominate. I do like The Yardbirds version a bit better, but this one isn’t bad. Track five, “I Gotta Dream On” is the signature Herman’s Hermits sound. Rounding out side one is the song “Don’t Try to Hurt Me” (Keith Hopwood). This is one of the better songs on the LP and it is more of a sixties rock style.

Side two starts with “Silhouettes” (Bob Crewe, Frank Slay). This is a song made famous by the doo-wop group The Rays in 1957. A competing version by The Diamonds was also successful. Herman’s Hermits recorded the song in 1965 after hearing the song on American Armed Forces Radio. It became their third hit in the “British Invasion” of the US. Information from Peter Noone and others indicates that guitarist Vic Flick played on the track, and not Jimmy Page as previously thought.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silhouettes_(The_Rays_song)
“Heartbeat” is the second track on side two and has a late fifties style about it. “Heartbeat” is a rockabilly song credited to Bob Montgomery and Norman Petty and originally recorded by Buddy Holly in 1958.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heartbeat_(Buddy_Holly_song)
“I’ll Never Dance Again” is the third song on this side and is nothing worth noting in my opinion. Just your typical tiring 50s ballad. Track four, “Tell Me Baby” – is the standard Herman’s Hermits sound. While the closing track to the LP, “Traveling Light”, sounds like a failed attempt at country music.

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Gordon Lightfoot – Back Here On Earth


Artist: Gordon Lightfoot
Genre: Folk
Title: Back Here On Earth
Released: 1971
Label: United Artist
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Gordon Lightfoot – 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar, vocals, Laurice Milton “Red” Shea – Lead acoustic guitar, John Stockfish – Bass
Producer: Elliot Frederic Mazer
Engineer: Charles Edward Tallent & William Edward Blachly

Back Here On Earth is Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot’s fourth studio album, released in 1968 on the United Artists label.
Back Here on Earth was Lightfoot’s last studio recording on the United Artists label which he left after releasing the live album Sunday Concert in 1969. Unlike most UA pressings, this one is not too bad, but still not great. It is still a little insufficient on depth of sound.

This LP is basically the music one expects to hear from Gordon Lightfoot, including content. Although, I will point out that on the third track on side one, the song “Long Thin Dawn” features harmonized vocals, which are not all that good on the chorus, which causes the song to lose a bit of that Lightfoot charm, but the content is still there. The stand out songs to me on this LP are “Bitter Green” and “Marie Christine”, which oddly enough is also about a ship.
Reaching track one “Cold Hands From New York”, on side two we find that this song, while containing the solid Lightfoot content and style, turns out to be an annoying two chord progression with almost no variation for all four minutes.
Overall though, this is a good LP. Don’t let the cover fool you, it is not full of ballads if that is not your thing. In fact, there is only one ballad on it.

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