Roine Stolt’s The Flower King

Manifesto of an Alchemist

Inside Out

Relatively fresh off his amazing 2016 collaborative album with Jon Anderson (“Invention of Knowledge,” under the moniker Anderson-Stolt), Swedish prog vet Roine Stolt perhaps takes a cue from his experience of reassembling bits of unfinished Anderson songs that had accumulated over the years — this time applying it to his own odds and ends dating back 15 years or so.

With his Flower Kings outfit inactive and FK keyboardist Tomas Bodin waylaid by tinnitus, Stolt enlisted bandmates Jonas Reingold and Hasse Froberg, along with a few other musical cohorts, to form “Roine Stolt’s The Flower King” and realize his latest creation.

The cognoscenti will recall that Stolt’s 1994 solo album, “The Flower King,” is considered to be essentially the first Flower Kings album. This new group’s name, therefore, accurately signals that this is neither a Flower Kings proper nor a Stolt solo record.

Stolt has said in interviews that the recording process was relatively quick, compared with his old band’s modus operandi, and that the music benefited from this.

“A lot of the guitar work is actually my spontaneous ‘demo’ guitars and that goes for much of the synth work, too,” he says in the album’s press release. ‘I didn’t want to ‘process’ ideas too much as there is much power in the initial creation — I wanted to keep it that way.”

As always there are obvious influences from prog heroes past, as in the opening two tracks (“Rainsong” and “Lost America”) comprising a 10-minute opus, impressively calling to mind the stylings of guitarists Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin — simultaneously.

There are plenty of keyboards to enjoy on “Ze Pawns,” a jazzy guitar ballad boasting some nice synth-Rhodes-organ touches, as well as dynamic (and dynamically recorded) drumming by madman Marco Minnemann of supergroup instrumental power trio The Aristocrats.

“High Road,” clocking in at more than 12 minutes, pays tribute to not one but two classic groups: It starts out a tad “Topographic,” gives way to shades of ELP midway and then comes full circle by revisiting the initial theme — with an added tip of the hat to gone-but-not-forgotten Chris Squire via Stolt’s workout on Rickenbacker bass.

Other highlights include the three instrumentals: “Rio Grande,” a Genesis-like number in the vein of “Dance on a Volcano” and “Los Endos” only less intense; “The Alchemist,” an instrumental bit of sax-laden funky jazz fusion that would do The Headhunters, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever proud; and “Six Thirty Wake-Up,” a dreamy affair complete with flute.

Tracks
1. Rainsong
2. Lost America
3. Ze Pawns
4. High Road
5. Rio Grande
6. Next To A Hurricane
7. The Alchemist
8. Baby Angels
9. Six Thirty Wake-Up
10. The Spell Of Money

Total time: 69:41

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Dave Davies

Decade

Red River/Green Amp

• “The Great Lost Dave Davies Album”
• “The Album That Almost Never Was”
• “Hidden Treasures, Vol. 2”
• “More Unfinished Business — Dave Davies Kronikles, 1971-1979”

Any of the above could serve as alternate titles to Kinks guitarist Dave Davies’ new solo album, “Decade.”

Like 1973’s “The Great Lost Kinks Album,” it contains songs that never made it onto any Kinks LPs.

As with 1987’s “The Album That Never Was” and its more official, expanded counterpart “Hidden Treasures,” the new record is a decades-later facsimile of what might have been.

And in the same vein as 1999’s “Unfinished Business — Dave Davies Kronikles, 1963-1998,” it summarizes his output within a specific, albeit more narrow, period of time.

Predating his official solo debut “AFL1-3603” in 1980, “Decade” rounds up 13 songs and demos recorded 1971-79 mostly at Konk, the London studio base set up for the Kinks in 1973. The tapes were found in attics, closets and even under a bed, Davies has said in interviews.

With the help of two of his sons, the reels were able to be restored and then the music enhanced sonically while retaining the flavor of the era. Little reportedly was added outside of some vocal and guitar parts on a couple of tracks.

Among musicians making cameo appearances are Kinks members Mick Avory on drums (although Davies also plays drums on certain cuts) and John Gosling on Hammond organ.

Shades of the band’s “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” and “Muswell Hillbillies” LPs can be heard, replete with acoustic and the occasional resonator guitar.

The pensive “Same Old Blues,” while not a blues tune, is among the standouts. However, “If You Are Leaving” features the aforementioned steel-bodied guitar sounds, “Mystic Woman” boasts some tasty electric slide and “The Journey” (one of two instrumentals) makes good use of a mandolin.

Other highlights include “Islands,” with its interesting time signature change; the jaunty “Give You All My Love”; “Mr. Moon,” whose lead guitar riffs emulate sitar runs; and the second instrumental, “Shadows,” which plays up the use of multitracked acoustic and electric guitars.

In the end it’s a solid and pleasantly anachronistic affair that outshines the artist’s previously prime (and consciously conceived) effort, “AFL1-3603.”

Tracks
1. Cradle To The Grave
2. Midnight Sun
3. Islands
4. If You Are Leaving
5. Web Of Time
6. Mystic Woman
7. Give You All My Love
8. The Journey
9. Within Each Day
10. Same Old Blues
11. Mr. Moon
12. Shadows
13. This Precious Time (Long Lonely Road)

Total time: 51:40

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Grateful Dead

Pacific Northwest ’73-’74: Believe It if You Need It

Rhino

This three-disc distillation of the concurrently released, 19-disc “Pacific Northwest ’73-’74: The Complete Recordings” arranges 20 songs from five of the six previously unreleased shows that comprise the Grateful Dead’s two short exploratory runs through the region.

Unlike the individually numbered, limited-edition (15,000) box set that goes for nearly $200, this $20 version is not chronologically sequenced. “Believe It if You Need It” instead hopscotches between June 1973 and May 1974, creating what could be considered a virtual-reality performance arguably even better than the real thing.

As with last year’s “Cornell ’77,” it’s exquisitely mastered in HDCD by Jeffrey Norman from original master tapes transferred and magically restored by Plangent Processes. This time around, the artwork is by First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers.

The 1973 and 1974 offerings on “Believe It” were recorded just before release of the group’s studio albums “Wake of the Flood” and “From the Mars Hotel,” respectively. Besides selections from those, there’s also a nice assortment from Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir’s first solo albums as well as a few from “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty.”

Because multiple sources were used, some songs finish with quick but clean fadeouts. Tracks that originally segued from and/or into others are mostly left that way. An unexpected treat is “Eyes of the World > China Doll,” a stunning instance of poetic license in which two songs played four days apart are fashioned into a standalone fantasy medley — an impressive feat, especially considering that the former came from a “Trucking’ > Nobody’s Fault But Mine > Eyes of the World > China Doll.”

Another highlight is the 47-minute “Playing in the Band,” reputedly the longest ever performed; there are no side trips here, just a big fat midsection of unadulterated improvisation.

In 1973-74, the Grateful Dead were riding high. They’d just left Warner Bros. and started two of their own labels — Grateful Dead Records for group recordings and Round Records for solo projects — as well as designing the 600-speaker Wall of Sound for their ’74 performances. Those were undoubtedly heady times, and “Believe It” makes a strong case for the era being the band’s most exhilarating.

Tracks
DISC ONE
1. China Cat Sunflower (Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR 5/19/74) >
2. I Know You Rider (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74)
3. Bird Song (PNE Coliseum, Vancouver, British Columbia 6/22/73)
4. Box Of Rain (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 6/24/73)
5. Brown-Eyed Women (Hec Edmundson Pavillion, University of Washington, Seattle 5/21/74)
6. Truckin’ (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74) >
7. Jam (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74) >
8. Not Fade Away (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74) >
9. Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74)
10. One More Saturday Night (Portland Memorial Coliseum, 5/19/74)

DISC TWO
1. Here Comes Sunshine (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73)
2. Eyes Of The World (PNE Coliseum, 5/17/74) >
3. China Doll (Hec Edmundson Pavillion, 5/21/74)
4. Playing In The Band (Hec Edmundson Pavillion, 5/21/74)

DISC THREE
1. Sugaree (PNE Coliseum, 5/17/74)
2. He’s Gone (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73) >
3. Truckin’ (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73) >
4. The Other One (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73) >
5. Wharf Rat (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73)
6. Sugar Magnolia (PNE Coliseum, 6/22/73)

Total time: 3:54:00

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Koch Marshall Trio

Toby Arrives

The Players Club

Every once in a while, someone usually regarded as a rock guitarist comes out of left field with an organ trio album that just blows the socks right off unsuspecting listeners.

A couple of relatively recent examples, both from 2008, are “Hi-Fi Stereo” by Reverend Organdrum (a side project for Jim Heath, aka Reverend Horton Heat) and “The Haunted Melody” by the Steve Howe Trio (yes, Steve Howe of Yes).

Now comes Greg Koch with “Toby Arrives” by the Koch Marshall Trio. Like Howe’s offering, it’s also a father-and-son effort with dad on guitar and son playing drums.

Koch has a sizable back catalog of often instrumental music where getting “out there” is the norm and many genres are covered. But this KMT debut sees a more disciplined Koch distilling his normally “all over the map” sound into a potent blues-jazz blend.

As with many good things, the album coalesced by happenstance. Koch’s drummer son Dylan had been doing gigs in the Twin Cities with a guitarist and an organist, and was always telling his dad to check out the latter sometime. As chance would have it, the organist was going to be in Milwaukee and Dylan persuaded a reluctant Greg into agreeing to a jam. Hammond B-3 player extraordinaire Toby Lee Marshall, expecting only a possibility of a jam at the Koch home, was flabbergasted when Greg took him and Dylan to a studio where drums and an organ were already set up and mic’ed — and the rest is history.

The opening title track is what its name implies: the first of two recorded during that initial March 2017 encounter. Five more tracks were laid down in April, followed by a final one in July. Everything was tracked live in the studio except for an acoustic guitar overdub on “Sin Repent Repeat,” the awesome electric-bottleneck showcase that serves as the set’s denouement.

“Blues-jazz” may be a sufficient modifier in the aggregate, but the trio manages to touch on several sub-subgenres. For instance, the aforementioned “Sin Repent Repeat” has strong gospel overtones.

“Enter the Rats,” with its finger-lickin’ chicken-picking, transitions seamlessly into the ZZ Top-flavored “Boogie Yourself Drade.” For prog fans, the 10-minute “Mysterioso” draws inspiration from Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth and Joe Satriani.

“Funk Meat” is another fine display of chicken-picking that starts out sounding like the theme to an alternate-universe “Sanford and Son” and then throws in a contrapuntal snarl or two from Greg’s 1958 Gibson Les Paul reissue. That ax is also used on the title track, but for the rest the Gristleman uses his 1955 Fender Telecaster Custom Shop model.

With all the great virtuosity, tone and recording/mixing/mastering (by Steve Hamilton at Makin’ Sausage Music), it’s no wonder Ed van Zijl of the Netherlands-based Mascot Label Group made “Toby” the first release on his Players Club imprint — and signed KMT to a multi-album deal.

“I am and have always been a lover of great guitar playing,” van Zijl said when Good New Music took a shot in the dark and reached out to him via email. “(On) The Players Club … you will find freestyle jam music all based around the guitar. It might be instrumental, it might be vocal. The artists do not get any instructions from me, only my trust and belief in them.”

Van Zijl added, “I want an outlet for great musicianship and to let the artists do what they are good at, what they love, and have them not make any compromises whatsoever for commercial reasons.”

When asked if anyone else was lined up for future Players Club releases (“Toby Arrives” and Tommy Emmanuel’s “Accomplice One” are the only entries so far), van Zijl replied: “We currently have two more artists recording for TPC: Vernon Reid … (and) Jan Akkerman. … We have more on our target list, of course, who we will announce in due time. I do not know release dates yet for the above albums, but I estimate fall at the earliest.”

Van Zijl said he has plans for taking the Players Club concept on the road, as well.

“Once we have enough albums out, we want the artists to tour together and in the right circuit,” he told GNM. “Imagine Vernon Reid and Jan Akkerman together — that would make a cool package. Just an idea so far. It will take a little time to start that up as that part is never easy, but touring is part of the plan.

“We just did our first Provogue label tour in Europe under the name Rockin’ the Blues … (and did) seven shows in three countries. You can find plenty of that on YouTube. 2019 will see more countries and shows, and I hope to launch it in the U.S. in two or three years.

“(For) The Players Club we will do something similar … but in a smaller and more specialized circuit with maybe residencies in certain towns.”

Go Ed!

Tracks
1. Toby Arrives
2. Funk Meat
3. Heed The Boogaloo
4. Let’s Get Sinister
5. Mysterioso
6. Enter The Rats
7. Boogie Yourself Drade
8. Sin Repent Repeat

Total time: 50:48

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Rusty Young

Waitin’ for the Sun

Blue Elan

“Fifty years in the making.”

While that statement about Rusty Young’s debut solo album might be a stretch, it’s accurate in the minds of diehard “Poconuts” who know that the 50th anniversary of Poco is coming up next year.

Over the past half-century, various members of that seminal country-rock group have recorded a number of solo offerings: Randy Meisner (three), Jim Messina (three), Richie Furay (seven), Timothy B. Schmit (six) and Paul Cotton (three).

Young, sole original member of the still-performing group, quietly bided his time while he and bandmate Paul Cotton kept the group a going concern as — one by one — Messina, Furay, Schmit and even drummer George Grantham moved on. In 2010, Cotton also exited.

As Young gradually evolved from sideman to frontman, the pedal steel guitarist also added acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, lap steel and Dobro to his stringed-instrument arsenal.

When Poco was on hiatus in the 1990s, Young took a shot at Nashville stardom with an all-star group of like-minded country-rockers that recorded not one but 2½ unreleased albums: the first for RCA under the moniker Four Wheel Drive (with Bill Lloyd, John Cowan and Patrick Simmons) and the second 1½ for Warner Bros. as the Sky Kings (after a legal snag forced a name change and Simmons departed). The Sky Kings recordings eventually saw the light of day as a limited-edition compilation on the Rhino Handmade label.

Young’s long-awaited solo record presents the multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter freshly emerged from short-lived retirement, happy to have finally done his own thing and on his own terms.

As Young tells it on several recent radio interviews, he was approached by a record label after one of his occasional gigs with Messina.

“When Rusty asked us what kind of album we wanted,” says Blue Elan president Kirk Pasich in a press release, “we said, ‘What kind of album do you want to make?’ ”

After a year spent writing about 20 tunes, Young headed for Johnny Cash’s cabin studio in Hendersonville, Tenn., and laid down tracks with current Poco compadres Jack Sundrud (bass), Michael Webb (keyboards) and Rick Lonow (drums).

The results proved spectacular, with highlights such as the scene-setting title track; the tender ballad “Heaven Tonight”; and the sensory instrumental “Seasons.”

Other standouts include “My Friend,” which joins previous nostalgic numbers such as Poco’s “When It All Began” (from their 1989 reunion album “Legacy”) and Furay’s “We Were the Dreamers” (from his 2015 album “Hand in Hand”), and features cameos from Furay and Schmit; and the rollicking “Honey Bee,” which boasts assists from Messina and Grantham.

Tracks
1. Waitin’ For The Sun
2. My Friend
3. Honey Bee
4. Sara’s Song
5. Heaven Tonight
6. Hey There
7. Seasons
8. Innocent Moon
9. Down Home
10. Gonna Let The Rain

Total time: 36:37

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