Sweet Child, released in 1968, at the peak of Pentangle's career, is probably the most representative of their work. A sprawling two-record set, half recorded in the studio and half live at the Royal Festival Hall, showcases just how versatile Pentangle was in their unique brand of English folk, jazz, Celtic, blues, and pop styles. Some of the live covers are easily their finest performances. Furry Lewis' "Turn Your Money Green," sung by the delightful Jacqui McShee, swings sweetly, buttressed of course by John Renbourn and Bert Jansch's guitar tapestry. Charlie Mingus' "Haitian Flight Song" features a great solo by bassist Danny Thompson, who was easily one of the finest musicians to grace the instrument. The studio tracks are uniformly excellent as well, especially "The Time Has Come," which turns waltz time inside out. McShee, Renbourn, and Jansch all turn in career performances on this track. But these examples merely scratch the surface of Pentangle's peak. In all, Sweet Child is an awesome and delightful collection, and probably their finest hour.
The Beat Goes On is the second album by the American psychedelic rock band Vanilla Fudge, released in early 1968. The album doesn't contain any real "songs", but rather a sound collage featuring many different elements: the voices of world leaders past and present, the band reciting pre-written mantras and reflections, and excerpts of songs (done "Vanilla Fudge style") by The Beatles and Sonny Bono. While not as successful as their debut album, The Beat Goes On was a moderate hit despite the band's reservations, peaking at #17 on the Billboard album charts in March 1968.
Doug Sahm once sang, "You just can't live in Texas if you don't have a lot of soul," and, as a proud son of the Lone Star state, he seemed bent on proving that every time he stepped in front of a microphone. Whether he was playing roots rock, garage punk, blues, country, norteño, or (as was often the case) something that mixed up several of the above-mentioned ingredients, Doug Sahm always sounded like Doug Sahm – a little wild, a little loose, but always good company, and a guy with a whole lot of soul who knew a lot of musicians upon whom the same praise could be bestowed. Pulling together a single disc compilation that would make sense of the length and breadth of the artist's recording career (which spanned five decades) would be just about impossible (the licensing hassles involved with the many labels involved would probably scotch such a project anyway), but this disc, which boasts 22 songs recorded over the course of eight years, is a pretty good starter for anyone wanting to get to know Sahm's music.
When ex-Impressions leader Jerry Butler joined forces with Philadelphia writer-producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, soul music history was made. There's not a clinker on these two records; that they hit #29 and #41 on the pop charts, respectively, each with a host of pop and R&B hit singles, is testament to their widespread appeal. Jerry, currently the Commissioner of Cook County, has graciously lent copious quotes to Gene Sculatti's notes on our exclusive Collectors' Choice Music release…these two albums belong in every library.
After several years of few recordings, Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers re-emerged with totally new personnel on this Prestige LP. The strongest performance is a quartet feature for the great trumpeter Woody Shaw on "I Can't Get Started," but the other three selections (which include such musicians as George Cables or John Hicks on keyboards, bassist Stanley Clarke and Ramon Morris on reeds) are also worth hearing and sound surprisingly "contemporary" for the time. An interesting set.