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Forgotten Promises [1967 – 1975]

Engelbert Humperdinck

Pop - Released September 3, 2021 | UMC-Decca

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Sorcerers

Jan Dukes De Grey

Rock - Released April 30, 2021 | UMC-Decca

Jan Dukes de Grey are best remembered for their 1971 apotheosis, Mice and Rats in the Loft, an album inspired equally by Jethro Tull and the Incredible String Band. Sorcerers, the group's debut, arrived two years earlier. Back then, Jan Dukes de Grey were still the duo of multi-instrumentalists Derek Noy, the band's songwriter and lead vocalist, and Michael Bairstow. The pair had come together in early 1971 and immediately garnered attention, and were one of Decca's final progressive signings. Sorcerers arrived later that year, jam-packed with 18 songs showcasing the duo's folkie leanings and expansive musicianship on guitars, woodwinds, brass, keyboards, and percussion. Every number conjures up its own time and place, from the quiet pastoral delights of "28th June, Village Song" to the urban pulse of "City After 3.00 AM," the homage to the vast expanses of an idealized "Texas," and the Eastern promise of "Turkish Time." Moods shift dramatically from the anger-drenched "M.S.S." to the medieval musings of "Dragons" and the wonder of a "Butterfly." With most songs clocking in at under three minutes, there's little time for experimentation, and thus Jan Dukes de Grey are far less adventurous than many of their contemporaries. However, their subtle use of multiple instruments within a pure folk context definitely has its charms. For those who prefer their folk without all the excessive excursions into eccentricity, Sorcerers will cast a mighty spell. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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J.R.E.

Jazz Rock Experience

Jazz - Released April 30, 2021 | UMC-Decca

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Every Time You Move

Hunter Muskett

Folk - Released April 30, 2021 | UMC-Decca

4 stars out of 5 -- "Packed full of earthy, original songs, it masterly skirts the boundaries of baroque pop and folk-rock." © TiVo
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A=MH²

Clark Hutchinson

Rock - Released March 26, 2021 | UMC-Decca

Psychedelic raga-rock guitar-dominated instrumentals can be a gas -- just listen to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's "East-West" or the Mystic Tide's "Psychedelic Journey," or even some of Robbie Krieger's solos on long Doors tracks. It can also be a bore, as demonstrated by this 49-minute rarity, comprised of five long, doodling Indian-blues-fusion instrumentals, though some vocal chanting is heard. It might be a cliché when complaining about such albums to whine that it only sounds good if you're stoned, but that axiom does seem to apply to these pieces, any one of which grows tiresome, the effect multiplied when five of them are strung together. Sure, there's some skill applied by the players, who are reasonably nimble, using throbbing Indian-influenced tempos as the backdrop. They're songs and musicians in need of some kind of structure, however, and the incessant high-pierced pitches of the guitar become grating. The results are not so much far-out as they are the sort of thing you might hear blasting away for a minute or two at a time in the background of drug orgies in some low-rent psychsploitation flicks. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Hide & Seek (The Lost Collection)

Tom Jones

Pop - Released March 13, 2020 | UMC-Decca

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Undead

Ten Years After

Rock - Released June 22, 2015 | UMC-Decca

Recorded live in a small London club, Undead contains the original "I'm Going Home," the song that brought Ten Years After its first blush of popularity following the Woodstock festival and film in which it was featured. However, the real strength of this album is side one, which contains two extended jazz jams, "I May Be Wrong, But I Won't Be Wrong Always" and Woody Herman's "Woodchopper's Ball," both of which spotlight guitarist Alvin Lee's amazing speed and technique. Side two is less interesting, with an extended slow blues typical of the time, a drum solo feature, and the rock & roll rave-up of "I'm Going Home." © Jim Newsom /TiVo
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Ten Years After

Ten Years After

Rock - Released June 22, 2015 | UMC-Decca

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Stonedhenge

Ten Years After

Rock - Released June 22, 2015 | UMC-Decca

"I'm Going Home" from Ten Years After's previous release put them on the charts, at least in the U.K. (the band's U.S. breakthrough was at Woodstock a year after its release), but the four-piece was already experimenting with ways to expand their basic boogie rock template. Stonedhenge was the result, as producer Mike Vernon helped steer the band into a more jazz- and blues-oriented direction. That's especially evident in the swinging "Woman Trouble," but this set is generally more prone to broadening the sound without losing TYA's basic concept. It doesn't always gel -- the four short pieces that feature each musician alone on their instrument is an interesting idea that ends up as a distraction -- yet the album boasts some terrific performances by a group that was hitting its peak. Canned Heat, who TYA supported in America and who were also trying to push their own boogie envelope, were a big influence, born out by the very Heat-sounding "Hear Me Calling." Alvin Lee keeps his fleet fingers in check, preferring to work his style into a more organic fusion. Tracks such as the creeping "A Sad Song" successfully build tension without the need for speedy guitar solos. The eight-minute "No Title" takes the basic TYA blueprint but slowly creates a moody atmosphere for three minutes until Lee cranks out a terse, loud extension on its main riff that sets the stage for Chick Churchill's eerie organ solo. The quartet and their producer also experimented with primitive panning and tape manipulation to impressive results. The closing "Speed Kills" returns TYA to its basics, perhaps as a way to let its existing fans know they can still churn out the rocking when needed. The album was remastered and expanded in 2002 by adding informative liner notes from drummer Ric Lee, four extra tracks including the tiresome, 15-minute "Boogie On," and an edited single version of "I'm Going Home," U.K. artwork (the initial U.S. edition was an embarrassing botch job), and pristine sound from the original tapes. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo

The Decca Years 1965 - 1967 (5 CD)

The Small Faces

Rock - Released May 1, 2015 | UMC-Decca

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The Small Faces were at Decca for 18 months -- long enough to become stars, long enough to sow the seeds of a legend, long enough to cause enough confusion that would color said legend over the decades. The Small Faces left Decca when they left manager Don Arden, the towering impresario who signed the group when they were still in their teens, gave them enough cash to seem flush, found them songs he owned the publishing to, and looked the other way when the boys popped pills. Once the parents of Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Ian McLagan stepped in, ties were severed and the band bolted to Immediate, the label run by fellow teen mod renegade Andrew Loog Oldham, so Arden retaliated by cobbling together From the Beginning, a collection of singles, covers, and demos for tunes that would soon show up on their near-simultaneously released Immediate debut The Small Faces (the same title as the group's 1966 Decca debut, for those trying to keep track at home). While the band began galloping toward the psychedelic present on their final singles for Decca -- "My Mind's Eye" is a lysergic journey and "All or Nothing," their first number one, seems eager to shake off the confines of rock & soul -- the switch in labels provides a neat division between the group's early and mature work, so while Universal's 2015 box The Decca Years 1965-1967 lacks the band's biggest and best hits ("Here Come the Nice," "Itchycoo Park," "Tin Soldier," "Lazy Sunday," "The Universal," "Afterglow of Your Love," a run as good as any other British band of the '60s), it nevertheless provides an intensely concentrated blast of the band's mod peak and provides a useful companion to 2014's box Here Come the Nice, which it mirrors to the point of opening with a disc of "Greatest Hits" (aka the singles) before delving into the familiar and the rare. Although the period it covers isn't the band's peak, The Decca Years trumps Here Come the Nice by virtue of not focusing entirely on the unheard, a move that fates the 2014 set to the dedicated. These five discs contain all the singles, along with the two complete albums (alas, with none of the bonus tracks -- largely mono mixes, but some alternates -- from the 2012 reissues), a disc of BBC sessions, and a disc of rarities. Generally, the sound is improved from the 2012 reissues -- punchier, heavier, emphasizing how the group kicked up a bottomless groove (not much can save the shaky audio of the BBC sessions, though) -- and if there are duplications here, well, that's just part and parcel of listening to the Small Faces; even when they're given attentive care, there's no eliminating the mess. More than the various reissues or compilations, The Decca Years 1965-1967 winds up showcasing just what made the Small Faces special. Where the Who often seemed hell-bent on a stylish destruction, the Small Faces partied, laying into Sam Cooke with abandon, delivering the Arden-forced trifles with more wallop than they deserved, creating a noise so unholy Led Zeppelin ripped it off ("Whole Lotta Love" steals as much from Steve Marriott as it does from Willie Dixon) and then, just as these 18 months drew to a close, delivering a wildly original blend of pop art, overamplified soul, and impassioned rock. Here, on this big and sometimes unwieldy box, that evolution is not only clear, but seems vital. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Eden Kane

Eden Kane

Pop - Released May 1, 2015 | UMC-Decca

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The Bachelors

The Bachelors

Pop - Released May 1, 2015 | UMC-Decca

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East Meets West

Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Rock - Released May 1, 2015 | UMC-Decca

The least known, and by far the scarcest, of all Rolling Stones producer Andrew Oldham's orchestral assaults on the pop hits of the age, East Meets West is his tribute to two of his own musical heroes: Brian Wilson and Bob Crewe. These dozen tracks take on five songs apiece from the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons, with two of Oldham's own idiosyncratic compositions, "The Lonely Beach Boy" and "There Are But Four Seasons to Every Year," rounding out their respective sides with tight panache. There is little here to rival the best of Oldham's other work in this field; the album's prime interest today lies in its rarity and the alleged presence of Mick Jagger among the backing choruses. But his discerning eye for the musical underdog can be deduced through his song choices; "Wendy" and "Warmth of the Sun" are rarely selected among the Beach Boys' best numbers, but the orchestrations here do ensure both become worthy of a second glance. Similarly, "Dawn" and "Huggin' My Pillow" will top few Four Seasons best-ofs, but, again, Oldham brings out hidden beauties within each. The overall sound of the album is somewhat lighter-weight than the arch-Oldham acolyte might hope for, and his traditionally inventive production takes something of a backseat to simply letting the strings tell the story. But it's an enjoyable album all the same, with liner notes that never fail to entertain. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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Rain Dances

Camel

Rock - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC-Decca

The band's fifth release, Rain Dances is Camel at its best, offering the most consistent and representative package in their saga. The addition of Caravan-cofounder Richard Sinclair proves profitable, as do a few colorist touches by Brian Eno on "Elke." Mel Collins' woodwinds are among the highlights, especially on "Tell Me" and the title track. From beginning to end, this project flows gracefully. © Matthew Plichta /TiVo
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The World Of Edmundo Ros

Edmundo Ros

Lounge - Released January 1, 2009 | UMC-Decca

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Classics And Collectables

Engelbert Humperdinck

Lounge - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC-Decca

This Engelbert Humperdinck disc mixes previously released material from the vocalist's output of the '60s and '70s. The 30 tracks feature such easy listening hits as "Release Me," "The Last Waltz," and "Spanish Eyes." If you're looking for the best deal on Humperdinck's Parrot hits The Ultimate Collection on Hip-O is the definitive buy. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Live At The BBC

Marianne Faithfull

Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC-Decca

This compilation -- which boasts fine sound -- features 15 tracks Marianne Faithfull recorded for the BBC in 1965 and 1966 (including two versions of one of the songs, "Go Away from My World"); also included are five brief between-song interviews that give listeners a chance to hear her poshly accented, articulate speech. This was the era, of course, in which Faithfull was still a fairly high-voiced pop-folk singer, and not the far earthier one she'd become when she emerged with a much deeper and more gravelly voice upon her late-'70s comeback. While it's a little disappointing there aren't more surprises -- every one of these songs was also recorded on her mid-'60s studio releases -- it does, as one would expect, afford listeners the chance to hear her do these songs in somewhat less elaborate arrangements than the versions that found official release at the time. On occasion, this can work to Faithfull's advantage; her cover of the Beatles' "Yesterday," not one of the highlights among her 1960s singles releases, is stripped of its too-fussy arrangement so that she's accompanied only by guitar. That's from a December 1965 session on which guitarist Jon Mark is the only backup musician, and those three songs are by far the folkiest of this lot. Still, the other sessions go down well, too, including not only the hits "As Tears Go By," "Come and Stay with Me," "This Little Bird," and "Summer Nights," but also some relatively unheralded highlights of her early repertoire like the brooding "The Sha La La Song" and "Tomorrow's Calling." Faithfull's early British Invasion-era work is generally underrated, and this collection makes for a worthwhile addendum to her discography that some listeners might find more dignified and less dated in some respects than her more gushily produced studio records. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Blues From Laurel Canyon

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers

Blues - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC-Decca

Mayall's first post-Bluesbreakers album saw the man returning to his roots after the jazz/blues fusion that was Bare Wires. Blues from Laurel Canyon is a blues album, through and through. Testimony to this is the fact that there's a guitar solo only 50 seconds into the opening track. Indeed, Mayall dispersed the entire brass section for Blues from Laurel Canyon, and instead chose the solid but relatively limited backing of Mick Taylor (guitar), Colin Allen (drums), and Stephen Thompson (bass). Instantly, it is apparent that John Mayall hasn't lost his touch with the blues. "Vacation," the album's opener, reminds one exactly why this artist is so celebrated for his songwriting ability. The staggering Mick Taylor (here still in his teens) truly proves his worth as a blues guitarist, while Steve Thompson (also in his late teens) works superbly with one of the genre's most interesting drummers, Colin Allen. Blues from Laurel Canyon is as unerring as Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, and equally as musically interesting. Not only is this one of the finest John Mayall albums, it is also a highlight in the blues genus. © Ben Davies /TiVo
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Crusade

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers

Blues - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC-Decca

The final album of an (unintentional) trilogy, Crusade is most notable for the appearance of a very young, pre-Rolling Stones Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Taylor's performance is indeed the highlight, just as Eric Clapton and Peter Green's playing was on the previous album. The centerpiece of the album is a beautiful instrumental by Taylor titled "Snowy Wood," which, while wholly original, seems to combine both Green and Clapton's influence with great style and sensibility. The rest of the record, while very enjoyable, is standard blues-rock fare of the day, but somewhat behind the then-progressive flavor of 1967. Mayall, while being one of the great bandleaders of London, simply wasn't really the frontman that the group needed so desperately, especially then. Nevertheless, Crusade is important listening for Mick Taylor aficionados. © Matthew Greenwald /TiVo
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Shades Of A Blue Orphanage

Thin Lizzy

Hard Rock - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC-Decca

Named after the musicians' previous bands (Bell's Shades of Blue and Lynott and Downey's Orphanage), the disappointing Shades of a Blue Orphanage proved that Decca Records had absolutely no idea of what to do with Thin Lizzy. The complex arrangements of the title track and "The Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes" are as overblown and disjointed as their titles. "I Don't Want to Forget How to Jive" is a lame, '50s-style rockabilly number, and "Call the Police" is only saved by Lynott's captivating tell-tale lyrics -- something at which he would later excel. Lynott is equally eloquent and personal on the piano-led "Sarah," written about his grandmother and not to be confused with the song by the same name written for his daughter seven years later. The album's few, truly bright moments are confined to the aggressive hard rock of "Baby Face" and the charming, descending riff of "Buffalo Gal," a melancholy, mid-paced ballad in the style which would become a Lynott trademark. © Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo