Velvet Mountain-An Anthology 1970-1972 Doppel-CD, Original Recording Remastered
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Cochise war eine englische Country-Rock-Band, die von 1970 bis 1972 drei Alben veröffentlichte und bedeutende Musiker wie Mick Grabham (Procol Harum) und B.J. Cole (Pink Floyd) hervorbrachte. Auf Esoteric Recordings erscheint nun exklusiv die 2CD "Velvet Mountain - An Antholgy 1970-1972). Die 30 Tracks umfassende Zusammenstellung enthält das komplette Material der Band, darunter alle drei Alben und einen raren B-Seiten-Song. Remastered! Das Booklet bietet ein neu verfasstes Essay.
Mit dieser Kollektion erhält man das komplette Schaffenswerk der Band.
3 Alben sind auf zwei CD's verteilt.
CD 1 :
"Cochise" (erschienen 1970)
Die musikalische Ausrichtung , Arrangements und Gesangspassagen erinnern an Jeff Lynne's "Idle Race" und "The Move".
Allerdings immer mit einer Portion Country - Einfluss!
"Swallow Tales" (erschienen 1971)
Die sechs Titel sind noch Countrylastiger und sind eher im Balladenbereich angesiedelt. Wenn es mal lauter wird könnte man meinen Small Faces oder CCR aufgelegt zu haben.
CD 2 :
Die ersten vier Titel stammen noch von "Swallow Tales".
"Another Day" ist wirklich Klasse!
Mit "So Far" (1972) folgt das letzte Album der Band.
Ob "Cajun Girl" , "Diamonds" oder "Thunder In The Grib" ,
die Band klingt blues-rockiger lässt aber immer noch etwas Platz für Elemente des Country.
Irgendwie werde ich dabei an eine softere Ausgabe Led Zeppelin oder Free's erinnert...
Fazit: Tolle dreiteiliger Pappaufmachung mit sehr sauberen Klang. Die Dynamik ist sehr ansprechend , auch wenn der erste Titel der CD 1 eine leichte Verzerrung des Gesang's aufweisst!
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Cochise was (and I hate using this label) a "second tier" band--not a headliner-but still playing some good music. Their sound was an amalgamation of English and West Coast influences both in their music and vocal style. The band had a few personnel changes from album to album, but the mainstays--Mick Grabham on guitar, and B.J. Cole (who also played in Juicy Lucy) on steel guitar and Dobro,along with Rick Wills-bass, played on through to the last. The lead singer's spot (along with the drummer's) would change but didn't seem to hurt the band's sound.
Their first album , "Cochise", (produced by The Pretty Things Dick Taylor) was issued in 1970, and had a very distinctive cover shot of a women's breast and body looking somewhat like sand dunes by Hipgnosis, and the title, "Velvet Mountain", hmmm, what does that allude to? I can still remember seeing that album cover as an import in the record bins and thought any band that uses a photo like that has to have something going for them. And I was right--except for possibly Paul Simon's "59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)", which still sounds a bit peculiar to my ears--to each his own. But the interplay between Grabham and Cole was pretty cool sounding--tough electric guitar meshed with the sweet strains of a steel guitar.
The next album has a new vocalist which didn't really alter the band's sound much if at all. The second album "Swallow Tales" (1971) was produced by the band and their sound doesn't really change all that much, with Cole's compositions being a bit out of the ordinary. Again, Cole's and Grabham's guitars are the stars here. Check out "Down Country Girls", "Lost Hearts", and "O Come All Ye Faithful" for examples of this album's sound.
The third album, "So Far" (1972), has a different drummer but (still) retains the major players. The sound is a bit harder being produced by Vic Smith (The Jam associate), and also includes the live track "Dance Dance Dance" by Neil Young. But overall this album wasn't as good as their first effort. There's also a bit of orchestration here on "Thunder In The Crib". But by the time this album was released the band was breaking apart. A number of band members went on to have good careers in music--Grabham played with Procol Harum, Cole did session work and played with Juicy Lucy, Rick Wills and Willie Wilson played on David Gilmour's first solo album, Wills played with Foreigner, while Wilson played with Pink Floyd on "The Wall".
This is another good example of the depth of quality English bands during the late 60's/early 70's. Yes Cochise's first album is probably still the best of the three, but each album has worthwhile music for fans (like me) of this period in Britain. Should this be your next purchase? Only if you already own the albums from more well known, "better" bands from the era. But along with Quiver, Bronco, Locomotive, Skin Alley, T2, Cressida,and other lesser known bands, Cochise is worth adding to your music library because their best tunes are worth hearing as examples of another band that just didn't quite have what it took to "make it' into the big leagues.
Unfortunately even with my penchant for all things Bronco, Matthews Southern Comfort and Brinsley Schwarz (see reviews) - there are only sporadic moments of greatness on offer here and its easy to hear why the slightly plodding Cochise sank without a trace despite popping out three albums at the beginning of that most receptive of decades - the Seventies (1970, 1971 and 1972 and some stand-alone 45s). Still - if you're a fan of them and like-minded Americana music (The Band, Poco, The Flying Burrito Brothers and even America) - the presentation is superlative and the audio absolutely top notch (from original master tapes). There's a lot to get through so let's get to the nitty gritty...
UK released 29 April 2013 (7 May 2013 in the USA) - "Velvet Mountain: An Anthology 1970-1972" by COCHISE on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22388 (Barcode 5013929438842) is a 2CD Remastered Retrospective with 30-tracks and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (58:41 minutes):
1. Velvet Mountain
3. Trafalgar Day
4. Moment And The End
5. Watch This Space
6. 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
7. Past Loves
8. Painted Lady
9. Black Is The Colour
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut LP "Cochise" - released July 1970 in the UK on United Artists UAS 29117. Produced by DICK TAYLOR
10. Love's Made A Fool Of You - November 1970 UK 7" single on Liberty LBF 15425 (A-side - a Buddy Holly cover version)
11. Jed Collder
12. Down Country Girls
13. Home Again
14. Lost Hearts
15. Strange Images
16. Why I Sing The Blues
Tracks 11 to 16 are Side 1 of their 2nd studio album "Swallow Tales" - released April 1971 in the UK on Liberty Records LBG 83428.
Disc 2 (60:22 minutes):
1. Another Day
2. Axiom Of Maria
3. Can I Break Your Heart
4. O Come All Ye Faithful
Tracks 1 to 4 are Side 2 of their 2nd studio album "Swallow Tales" - released April 1971 in the UK on Liberty Records LBG 83428.
5. Words Of A Dying Man - November 1970 UK 7" single on Liberty LBF 15425 (B-side of the Buddy Holly cover version "Love's Made A Fool Of You" on Disc 1)
6. Cajun Girl
7. Blind Love
8. Dance, Dance, Dance
9. So Many Times
11. Thunder in The Crib
12. Up And Down
13. Wishing Well
14. Midnight Moonshine
Tracks 6 to 14 are their 3rd and final studio album "So Far" - released May 1972 on United Artists UAS 29286 (not 28286 as is mistakenly credited on the back cover). The track "Dance, Dance, Dance" (a Neil Young cover) was recorded 'live' at Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1971.
STEWART BROWN - Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar ("Cochise" album only)
JOHN GILBERT - Lead Vocals on "Swallow Tales" and "So Far" albums
B.J. COLE - Pedal Steel Guitar and Dobro on all albums (Cello also on "Cochise")
MICK GRABHAM - Lead and Acoustic Guitars, Piano, Organ and Vocals on all albums (Lead Vocals on "Dance, Dance, Dance" on "So Far")
RICKY WILLIS - Bass on "Cochise" and "So Far" albums
JOHN WILSON - Drums, Percussion and Vocals on "Cochise" album
"WILLIE" WILSON - Drums, Percussion and Vocals on "Swallow Tales" album
ROY O'TEMRO - Drums and Percussion on "So Far" album
The three-way foldout card digipak has two picture CDs - photos beneath the see-through trays - LP artwork for the three albums on the flaps and a quality 16-page booklet with new liner notes from MICHAEL HEATLEY (with thanks to founder member Mick Grabham). It comes with the usual plethora of trade adverts, publicity photos and discography info and is very nicely done. But the big news is the stunning audio care of PASCHAL BYRNE (done at Audio Archiving) that lifts the original master tapes off the ground in a big way. I had the first two LPs on original British vinyl back in the day and they sounded o.k. - here they are full of beans - great clarity and without ever overdoing the treble knob. Onto to the music...
The debut sported some typically provocative but strangely off-putting nipple artwork from Hipgnosis – then beginning their long association with Pink Floyd and all things oblique yet cool. Problem is that the artwork doesn’t reflect in any way the music contained within. From the outset you can hear how heavily influenced the five-piece was by the emerging Americana scene across the pond - so "Velvet Mountain" is sub Band territory while "China" is so America. Some of the tunes are stuff like "Past Loves" is a grower. But a dreadful cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "59th Street Bridge Song" and Stewart Brown's frankly dead vocals do for so many. BJ Cole makes his Dobro presence known on his own "Trafalgar Day" where our heroes liken their lovelorn loins to that of Nelson but it descends after a promising opening into dreadful guitar wailing. Stewart Brown wails on "Moment And The End" and you wish he wouldn't.
But things get better with "Swallow Tales" which is way more Country than the debut - PJ Cole's Pedal Steel to the fore and John Gilbert sounding like the enthusiastic vocalist this kind of music needs sing of 'hound dogs' that need to 'scratch an itch'. The song quality picks up with Mick Grabham's "Home Again" - his jangling guitar sound akin to the Byrds and serious dollops of Gene Clark and Gram Parsons. "Lost Hearts" gets all Spanish in its rhythms and begins a duo of BJ Cole songs - the second being "Strange Images" - far better than the lame first (it features Caleb Quaye and Nigel Olsson of Hookfoot). Over on Side 2 "Another Day" continues Mick Grabham's melancholic songs underpinned by Cole's lovely playing. It comes as blessed relief to hear the unmistakable larynx of Steve Marriott on "Why I Sing The Blues" (plays Piano on the track also). After a very Ozark Mountain Daredevils "Can I Break Your Heart?" (sweet vocals and production values) - the album ends on a short but slightly pointless Pedal Steel instrumental of that Gospel Traditional "O Come All Ye Faithful".
Things funk up with the opener "Cajun Girl" on album number three - a great slinky guitar groove supplied by new drummer Roy O'Temro. Dave Elliott provides "Blind Love" - a lovely song that feels like early Seventies Hollies (Gilbert's voice is akin to Allan Clarke). Quite why a live cover version of Neil Young's "Dance, Dance, Dance" is slapped into the middle of Side 1 is anyone's guess - but after an inaudible spoken intro - you can partially hear why - they rocked in a Country way when live. Back to the Pedal Steel and Country Rock for "So Many Times" - a sweetheart of a melody penned by the band's permanent Bassist Ricky Wills. They rock with "Diamonds" - Grabham finding his inner Crazy Horse even if BJ Cole accompanies him too much. That Country rocking continues with "Wishing Well" and the LP ends on the decidedly funky "Midnight Moonshine".
Of the three albums - "So Far" is probably the most accomplished - but in truth none of them light up the turntable in a way that would have had punters take real notice. Having said that - with the great presentation and audio - fans should dive in - but I'd advise others to nab a listen first...