Wednesday, 6 January 2016

White Summer - self titled [1976] vinyl re-issue

Here's a review of the first official vinyl re-issue of White Summer's privately-pressed 1976 album. For a private release, the album has a great production, each instrument stands out, and the sound is easily on a par with major label records. There is an extremely diverse mix of rural rock, humour, funk, heavy metal and existential prog here, the band are just doing what ever they like without any pressure to sound a particular way.

"Without A Sound" opens the album in a subdued way. It's a plaintive electric folk song with picked guitar and great bluesy licks, at two minutes long it serves as an nice intro to the album and shows some of the diversity within. Second track "BMF" turns up the heat with an intentionally misleading funk disco riff and lyrics that seem to be poking fun at such things, which develops into a great heavy southern rock riff one third-in. The simple lyrics layout the band's mission statement; "Let us play for you, some funky tunes, you know we do some rock an pop, but we like heavy metal blues. I just wanna play music, every day!".

Track three "Misty Morning" continues the heavy Southern rock riffage and the fourth track, "Sail" is the first long, experimental track. Mostly instrumental but with a vocal section in the middle, it goes through many textures including Latin and jazz rhythms by the end. Next track, "The Tank", is another longer one with minimal vocals which also goes through many phases including some brooding acid psych, ending on a really heavy coda.

Track six "Riding High" is definitely a highlight for me. As you can guess from the title it's a road song that would have gone perfectly on the Vanishing Point soundtrack, "Picked up a hiker, turned me on to a high....cruising down the highway, feeling free as the wind, I don't know where I'm going, I don't know where I been". Musically, it's one of the most directly rocking tunes on the album and keeps up the pace all the way through.

Towards the end are a couple of upbeat country rockers about lost loves, "All Good Things" & "For Your Smile", and "Laugh When I Die" takes a dramatic turn in pitch with with a downer-rocker that has some super heavy, almost Sabbathian doom riffs. The album ends on White Summer's nine minute prog epic. Using a ton of studio effects and existential lyrics which battle things out between God and Satan, it reminds me a little of J. D. Blackfoot's "The Ultimate Prophecy".

So, I am left feeling reminded a little of Captain Beyond's debut. White summer don't employ an over-all concept like that record did, and they certainly don't take things as seriously, but Rick Lowe (guitar and vocals) does an amazing job, his vocals sound like Rod Evans and all the songs are packed with bluesy leads and note bending that really emphasises the Southern rock influences.

Retail links: Vinyl or CD. (These both also have digital download links)

01. Without A Sound 2:08
02. BMF 2:30
03. Misty Morning 2:45
04. Sail 6:22
05. The Tank 5:12
06. Ridin High 3:13
07. All Good Things 2:30
08. For Your Smile 2:19
09. Laugh When I Die 3:41
10. Omega 8:53

The Following is taken from :-

"First ever vinyl reissue with original artwork of this US private pressing from 1976.
Progressive hard- rock with psychedelic touches, melodic vocals, top level musicianship and stunning lead guitar all over.

Originally from Benton Harbor, Michigan, White Summer was formed in 1973 by a trio of eighteen- year- olds who shared a mutual love for Hendrix, Cream and Grand Funk among others. They were: Jim Watkins (drums and vocals), Rick Lowe (guitar and vocals) and David Wheeler (bass). White Summer played many shows at high school dances, outdoor festivals and nightclubs, becoming in the following years one of the top rock acts not only in Michigan but also in Florida, where they relocated at the end of the 70s.

White Summer’s first album, known as the “White Album” due to its simple design, was recorded at Uncle Dirty's Sound Machine Studio in Kalamazoo, Michigan, by Bryce Roberson who had formerly been an engineer at Chess Records. Self- financed by the band, 1000 copies were pressed and sold in the Michigan area.

Sought- after by collectors worldwide, this is the first ever reissue featuring original artwork.
24- bit domain professional remaster from a mint original vinyl copy (master tapes were lost).
Insert with liner notes by original member James Watkins and a previously unseen photo"

Blackhorse, Texas Southern Rock feature

Fox Huntin' has to be one of the best opening tracks on any album, ever! Baying hounds introduce one of the most driving riffs of all time, at first you think this might be Motörhead, but then the unmistakable Southern accents and bluesy leads come in and you find yourself in Southern hard rock heaven. Much of this 1979 album is on the verge of heavy metal, and that gives it a unique sound, there wasn't anything heavier than this in Southern rock at the time, that's for sure.

John Teugue  -  Gary James  -  Paul-Anthony Middleton
From Mineral Wells, Texas, power-trio Blackhorse self-released this record to sell at gigs. Gary James was on lead guitar, John Teague was on drums, Paul-Anthony Middleton was on bass and they all shared vocal duties. They made a name for themselves playing around the Dallas Fort Worth area, in clubs such as Motherload's, but their most-remembered gig was at KZEW's Zoo World free concert in the Dallas County Convention Center in 1980, clips of which can be found on Youtube. Along the way they supported other Southern heavyweights like Point Blank.

Live @ KZEW Zoo World 1980
Although the record is technically only a demo, the quality is remarkable. The fizzing guitars sound great, the playing is on the dime. The shared vocal duties, sometimes call and response, sometime in harmony, are perfect, and other than a couple of slower, but no less-good bluesy ballads, the pace never relents. Velvet Angel, The Party's Started, Hell Hotel and Dave's Song motor along and this is one record that doesn't tail off in intensity toward the end like so many others do.

There have been a couple of limited re-issues, an early '90s bootleg CD being the one that brought them to the wider attention of rock fans. 

One old fan remembers: "I worked as a bartender at Spencer's Corner in Ft. Worth late 70s and Blackhorse were once banned from the club because the rock n roll bar had a "No cowboy hats" policy and the drummer always wore one. Those dopes running the club (Spencer Taylor) would not back off the policy so Blackhorse wrote a tune (Spencer's Corner) that called them out. Eventually they played there again in 1979 I believe."

John Teague and Gary (under the name Jesse 'Ropeburn' James) reappeared in the mid-eighties in The Cauze (youtube). Unfortunately they were a very different proposition to Blackhorse, and made an album of silky smooth keyboard-laden AOR. But Blackhorse did reform in 2008 and play some shows, until Gary's untimely death in 2015. If you got to see them at any time you were very lucky indeed!

In the words of Blackhorse themselves: "Blackhorse is a three-piece of intense power and emotion whose concert apperances have been aptly hailed by critics as "kick-ass". This debut album is their story. So ... TURN IT UP and enjoy one of the best rock & roll albums ever".

Follow the Blackhorse facebook page.

Gary James – Lead guitar, vocals
John Teague – Drums, vocals
Paul-Anthony Middleton – Bass, vocals

Produced by Paul-Anthony Middleton
Associate Producer – Rick Hatfield
Engineer – Bob Hickey
Cover Art – Vicky Sheets

A1. Fox Huntin'
A2. Lucille
A3. Velvet Angel
A4. The Party’s Started
A5. Momma Gonna Love You Tonight
A6. Cannot Find My Way Home
B1. Hell Hotel
B2. You've Got The Way
B3. Slow Down Tom
B4. Dave’s Song
B5. Spencer's Corner

Release infos

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Bare Sole - "Flash" [1969]

Clockwise from left - Rich Foster (lead gtr)
Dave George (gtr, vocals), Brian Harrison (bass)
Ron Newlove (drums)

In a new semi-regular section for The Day After The Sabbath, here is the first feature on an official archival release of some truly lost and obscure psychedelic rock n' roll. The UK's Bare Sole first came to my attention in a bootleg compilation called "Do What Thou Wilt". I was impressed by the song "Flash" with it's groovy heavy blues riff and rough n' roll attitude.

The majority of the seven tracks included in the first ever official Bare Sole release are more laid back or pop-centric than that track, save for "Let's Communicate", which has a nice dragging pace which makes it heavy in a druggy, fuzzed-out way. The rest of the CD is a variety of garage R&B/Merseybeat, which, while endearing and enthusiastically-played, has a raw improvised feel and basic production. Aside from a couple of the more concise tracks, it has more of a jam session sound than a structured album.

Worthy of investigation, the Sommor label (distributed through Guerssen Records) has over-seen a decent remastering job on the tapes, which sounds better than any Bare Sole bootlegs that you might come across elsewhere, and there is a ten page booklet with an exclusive band biography and liner notes written by The British Music Archive's Greg Smith.

Retail link:


01. Let’s Communicate
02. Flash
03. Woman- A- Come
04. Ain’t Nobody Here
05. Jungle Beat
06. Sole Blues
07. Woman- A- Come (Version 2)

The following is taken from :-

The loudest band from Hull in the '60s, Bare Soul played raw, in-your-face psychedelic hard rock and heavy blues.

Bare Sole's brief existence at the tail end of the 1960s reflected the realistic trappings of their geographical situation. Musical icons Mick Ronson and Robert Palmer would eventually rise to fame outside of their native Hull, but Bare Sole sadly only managed a hand full of out of town gigs and a tour of US air bases in Germany. As it was, their entire existence fitted inside just over a year, but at least their inspired musical legacy has survived, thanks to a 1969 recording session held at Fairview studios.

Assisted by writer and producer Keith Herd and galvanised by an enthusiastic local poultry farmer, Bare Sole captured their primitive garage mannerisms inside of one fiery recording session. Aside from Decca's rejection of their demo tape, Bare Sole continued playing along-side acts such as Family, Status Quo, The Move and The Small Faces, but the inevitable decision to quit came in 1970 and their story came to an end.

Presenting Bare Sole's entire recorded history, taken from the master tapes of their 1969 recording session. Their seductive garage rock boasts explosive doses of fuzz, wah wah and Farfisa organ, a sound that recalled an earlier and more primitive sound, but a sound that also may have unwittingly sealed their fate.