Monthly Archives: October 2020

Rob Benson Airplay Under the Whispering Tree

AIRPLAY on Only Rock Radio, Cator Web Radio, Activate Media/Boston, Banks Radio, Australia, Sweet Sunday Soul, Valley985FM, interview soon on BTDRadio, Plastic_EP Australia. Shipped to 105 Media Outlets, more airplay pending. Publicity Joe Viglione Media

October 1 Valley FM 89.5 @Valley895FM
Sep 29 @RobBenson1102 Under The Whispering Tree as played on
@SweetSundaySou1, thanks to @JoeViglione
Eastern time: 7:15 pm October 20, 2020 on Only Rock Radio

Restoring Old Photographs History of NE Music Scene

You are invited to help us restore the old photographs that I post here and on Facebook. varchives{@} The Varulven Archives.

Rock star as roadie back in the day! The band Susan hired me and my company van to drive them to a college gig sometime in the 1970s. All I wrote on the back of the photo “college gig.” Oh well… Pre-Ricky Bird Band Members Charles Leland – Vocals,bass, John Kalishes– guitar, Tom Dickie – guitar,vocals, Mick Leland – drums,vocals Photo Joe Viglione (C)2020 Joe V’s History of New England Music Photo enhancement Carolyn Sharp Heggarty 10-18-2020

From YouTube:

Recorded live at The Rat – Boston – 1976.
In 2001 the legendary building that housed Boston’s infamous Rat was demolished, but this recording (catalog #528, same as the address for the establishment on Commonwealth Avenue in the heart of Boston) remains as evidence of what transpired in that “cellar full of noise.” Inspired by Hilly Kristal’s Live at CBGB’s, this is truly the companion double LP to that disc on Atlantic, though the Boston compilation came close but failed to obtain major-label release. Recorded September 27, 28, and 29th, 1976, at the dawn of the “new wave,” important and historic live recordings of some of the scenemakers live on within these grooves. Long out of print, it is considered to be the Holy Grail of Boston rock and roll. Nat White 1 year agoCan somebody give me information about this band?Al Desimone 1 year agoThis was a Boston based band with the exception of the lead guitarist, Ricky Byrd, who went on ot perform with Ian Hunter, SouthSide Johnny, Roger Daltry and ultimately Joan Jett. Ricky hails from Flushing NY, though born in the Bronx. I was in a very early band with Ricky when he was at ther tender ages from 15-17. The lead singer and bass player, Charles LeLand passed away recently. You can hear their one and only studio LP here

The John Kalishes SUSAN photo was reversed with this program I have no idea how my photo reversed itself in the past almost 50 years, but it did. Anyone who wants to improve the photo, have at it! It’s appreciated as we chronicle the history of the New England History of New England Music, rare photo I snapped at the Rat of the band SUSAN! Keep in mind, the photo somehow reversed itself in the 50 years or so since it was taken, thus, as a commentor notes, John Kalishes is actually a right handed guitarist More stuff here:
Around 10:45 pm 10-17-2020 I did the mirror image routine!
The John Kalishes SUSAN photo was reversed with this program I have no idea how my photo reversed itself in the past almost 50 years, but it did. Anyone who wants to improve the photo, have at it! It’s appreciated as we chronicle the history of the New England music scene.
You are invited to help us restore the old photographs that I post here and on Facebook. varchives{@} The Varulven Archives.for my eventual book on the scene that we are building chapter by chapter. Chapter 21 is the new Boston Rock and Roll Anthology. Photographs enhanced and chosen will be credited to the image re-builder in our booklets. (C)2020 History of New England Music by Joe Viglione music scene

Below is the image as found in my archives at the bottom of a box on
Thursday, October 15, 2020…somehow it reversed itself over the years.
how does THAT happen?

History of New England Rock

Joe Viglione on Australian TV show Plastic EP October 15, 2020 7 PM

The late John Kalishes and Susan at the Rat some 45 years or so ago…what happened to this photo? Looks like another photo of the same gig superimposed on it? Notice RAT backwards! (Photo credit Joe Viglione) Here’s a Facebook comment from Tom McGee,
Susan soundman: ” My band, I would have been mixing sound, John Kalishes with his 1965 white Strat, Mick Leland on drums, and Tom Dickie on vocals. Charles Leland on bass would have been on the right of John. John died young in 2000 and was best man at my wedding in 1977 – still married 43 years later! “
Voyager at Boston recording studio across the street from WBCN May 16, 1987
recording for the Massachusetts Hard Rock Heavy Metal Anthology
Photo: Joe Viglione Archives

Interview with As It Is Director Jaylie Jo Wayling

Jaylie Jo Wayling
Director: AS IT IS  video

The first official video from the new booklet/CD Boston Rock and Roll Anthology Chapter #21 is “As It Is” from the duo Karmacar, Track #3 on the new compilation.
We interviewed the filmmaker on her production of “As It Is” as we launch an online video compilation of the album.
 Q: How did you choose “As It Is” with all the songs Karmacar has in its repertoire?

A: “As It Is” was the newest addition to the upcoming album and we felt it was the best song to capture the essence of Karmacar.

Q: What theme did you want to convey with your camera?

A: I wanted to create a theme surrounding nature as Heidi and Nic enjoy walking through London parks and taking in the surroundings. We thought it was important to display a spur of the moment adventure.

Q: What equipment did you choose for taping/filming and then editing?

A: For filming we had a basic set up in order to be able to move location quickly. I used my personal DSLR: Canon 1300D and it was later edited by Nic.

Q: Who chose the location?

A: Golders hill park was a place we were all fond of and we collectively decided that it would be a perfect place to create a beautiful vibe for the music video.

Q: Were there discussions on wardrobe and makeup?

A: Heidi and Nic chose their own outfits which they felt reflected them best.

Q:I love the intro where singer Heidi-Jo is wearing something matching with the flowers, and the make a wish dandelion.  Was there a storyboard written?

A: Everything filmed was spur of the moment, as I like to let the location inspire each shot I take and let my imagination run wild. When walking, we found a patch of dandelions and instantly wanted to find a way to incorporate them!

Q: The music and lyrics are by Nico Barchiesi & Heidi Jo Hines. Recorded and mixed by Nico Barchiesi & Heidi Jo Hines at home using a Yamaha AW16G audio recording workstation.  How did you match up the audio to the video?

A: Nic managed to match up the audio using a software on his computer.  

Q:The camera work is amazingly steady.  Is it all hand-held or did you use a tripod?

A: Most of it was filmed handheld! It was difficult to find smooth ground in order to place the tripod but we made it work.

Q: You are the granddaughter of Jo Jo Laine and Denny Laine. I know Jo Jo would be so proud of you for such quality work.  What are your future video plans?

A: Aw I appreciate that, I hope she would be! I hope to create more music videos with Heidi and Nic as I am excited to explore the narrative behind some of their songs. I am also currently working on creating some short films. I’m really enjoying experimenting and building my skills.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

A: If you want to listen to some beautifully serene and vibey music during these difficult times make sure to check out Karmacar on Youtube and Facebook and your stresses will melt away. Sending love to you all! 

Karmacar site: 

Track 3 “As It Is”  Karmacar

Track 1    3d   “Everything But Peace”

Track #2  Pamela Ruby Russell   “Space and Time”

Track #3  Karmacar  “As It Is”

Track 4  The Complaints “Downtime”

Track 5   Phil DaRosa   “Faraday”

Track 6  Kitoto Sunshine Love “Proud Soul Heritage”

Track #7  Slapback “Guardian Angel”
Here’s “What You Should Know” by Slapback

Track #8  Empty County Band  “Until The End”

Track #9  Blackenstein Instrumental

Track 10  Tom Mich “Table Scraps”

Track #12 Mad Painter  LETTER

Mad Painter: Letter Live on WMFO

13)Joe Black  Monster

14)Empty County Band    “Skeptical”

15)Pamela Ruby Russell  “Walk Thru Fire”

Walk Thru Fire LIVE  1999

Greg Walsh’s New Ghosts  June Gloom    Counting Down to Zero (from 1) is the track on the disc

Track #16  Love You  Kitoto Sunshine Love

Peter Calo, guitar
Steve Holley – drums
Dave Maxwell  Piano
Thomas Hebb  Bass

Track #17  Karmacar  “Who’s Foolin Who?”

Track #18  Joe Viglione “I Thought About You”

Track #19  Dalia Davis “Eleven and a Half”
Spotify – no video

Dalia Davis on Plastic EP Melbourne Australia

Track #20  Fire in the Field  “Bossman” Live by Mike Moore

Track #21  The Ballad of a Rock Star – Matty O’


The Story of Ballad of a Rock Star

Mastered by the legendary Rob Fraboni, Grammy winner with Keith Richards

Rob Fraboni has recorded sound for over 40 years. He’s consulted and worked with many of rock’s pre-eminent artists.
Names like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Band, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, The Beach Boys, Bonnie Raitt, Hubert Sumlin, and many more.
In his best selling autobiography, Life, Keith Richards says about Rob, “His knowledge and his ability to record in the most unusual places are breathtaking. He worked as a producer on “The Last Waltz”; he remastered all the Bob Marley stuff. He’s one of the best sound engineers you can ever meet.”

Matty O Lyrics are here:


Keith 98.6 Produced By JERRY ROSS

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

Sublime is the only way to describe Keith’s biggest hit, the top 10 “98.6” and the almost as wonderful Top 40 hit which preceded it two months before, “Ain’t Gonna Lie”. This twelve song album is resplendent in Kal Rudman’s obtuse, exaggerated liner notes which years later read like so much unnecessary nonsense and hyperbole. The artist deserved a more classy approach. All three albums by Keith are highly listenable adventures, and though one tune here, “White Lightin’, would have been better left on the cutting room floor, there’s a real nugget in the cover of “Tell Me To My Face”, written by Graham Nash, Allan Clarke and Tony Hicks from The Hollies Stop! Stop! Stop! album. That’s the disc where those three Hollies wrote all the tunes on their own, and it’s a wonderful find. In fact, the Alice Cooper group lifted their melody for “Billion Dollar Babies” right from this composition, almost note for note. The rendition here has Arabian nights instrumentation, clever, classy and memorable. For the most part the album is solid material, Fischoff, Powers, producer Jerry Ross and arranger Joe Renzetti dominating the album with adult pop, a stunning amalgam of Chris Montez meets Tony Hatch. Ross, Renzetti, Fischoff and Powers have the perfect voice/vehicle for their smartly crafted melodies and the singer is always in tune with very appealing vocal chords. It sounds like they modeled this material after what Burt Bacharach and Hal David were doing for Dionne Warwick and the pity here is that Keith didn’t get the chance as Dionne did to send songs like “Our Love Started All Over Again” way up the charts. You can hear hints of Gene Pitney, elements that combine and make for a refreshing sixties moment that got away. Such a shame, for the brilliance of “98.6” was no fluke, Keith was the real thing. Maybe it was Kal Rudman’s incessant gushing that held this creative collection of melodies back? Still, “98.6” remains as a truly special pop moment, a song as monumental as Al Anderson’s “No Good To Cry” and, thankfully, not as obscure.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

“Sugar Man” leads off Keith‘s follow-up to his debut album. Written by Sandy Linzer and Denny Rendell, producer Jerry Ross seems to be pulling out all the stops. Out of Crank is a good Keith record, but not as strong as the album that preceded it, nor as listenable as his highly experimental The Adventures of Keith that followed this release. “Candy” feels like his hit “98.6” with a bit of show tune flavor. “Easy As Pie” also has that “98.6” vibe, producer Ross knowing a good thing and clearly trying to capitalize on earlier success. The cover of Spanky & Our Gang’s “Making Every Minute Count” doesn’t have the strength of the hit version, also on Mercury. Keith has a radio-friendly voice for pop, and he had enough edge to keep him from falling into the Brian Hyland/Tommy Roe zone of teeny bop. The Renzetti/Ross “There’s Always Tomorrow” is one of the highlights, as is “Daylight Savin’ Time,” Ross knowing how to write a good hook. The verses are distinct enough but the chorus is pure “98.6.” When you talk about typecasting, this album is a perfect example. Still, the sequel to Keith‘s biggest hit is great, albeit blatant. “Times Gone By” is a pleasant departure, co-written by Ross/Gamble, the team that composed Bobby Hebb‘s “You Don’t Know What You Got Until You Lose It.” Keith‘s own “Happy Walking Around” is his first original to show up on either this or the earlier recording, and it is the most innovative thing on this disc, a good indication of the substantial path he would set out on. “Be My Girl” by Spector/Sands is in the same style as the rest of this album, very pop, and nothing to be ashamed of.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

“Alone on the Shore” opens the third album by Keith, the one name handle for James Barry Keefer. The shimmering pop that was created by Bobby Hebb producer Jerry Ross and arranger Joe Renzetti on the first two Mercury discs is replaced by original compositions and the arrangement of the meticulous Larry Fallon. Fallon is credited for arranging The Looking Glass hit “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl,” however, he is the actual producer on that disc. He is one of the industry’s underrated talents, and he allows Keith‘s band of David Jiminez (guitar), Joe Coyle (ryhthm guitar), Dave Fiebert (bass), and Rick Fox (drums) to experiment in ways that are admirable. This LP plays more like latter day Donovan, another one-name pop maestro. “Alone on the Shore” and “Trixon’s Election” are heady pop tunes, maybe too deep for Top 40 at the time. Even Buffalo Springfield knew enough to temper their politics with radio friendly music. The sounds here are an intriguing mixture of ’60s garage rock with British pop, flavors of The BeatlesThe Small FacesKaleidoscope UK, and other psychedelic rockers. The production by Ted Daryll allows this group to stretch out. “Waiting to Be” is five minutes and thirty eight seconds of psychedelic jam. Keith wrote only one song on his second album, none on his first, so RCA Records showed some kind of faith in the artist allowing him to compose/co-write all ten titles on The Adventures of Keith. These are adventurous tunes, and worth listening to. It’s a natural progression from the second album’s Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner‘s (yes, the one and the same from Tommy James & the Shondells sessions), arrangement of the Spanky & Our Gang hit “Making Every Minute Count” to the short one minute and fifty six second “Melody,” which begins like a track from one of the first two Keith albums, diving into the progressive nature of this recording, and back to the pop sensibilities of the first two LPs. “The Problem,” which is the last song on side one, was issued as a single with the excellent “Marstrand,” the first track of side two. “Elea-Elea” is another five minute plus track, and one of the album’s standouts. Great melody and all the indications that Keith should have been a major, major pop star. Where Donovan had Led Zeppelin performing on “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and the Jeff Beck Group behind him on “Goo Goo Barabajagal” helping churn out the hits, Keith and his band crafted an album perfect for FM radio, perhaps a bit ahead of its time for an artist known for covering the Hollies. But Keith‘s musical direction here is impressive and reiterates how clever his three Top 40 hits prior to this release really were.

Roscoe Shelton

Roscoe Shelton Biography Artist Biography by Joe ViglioneRoscoe Shelton is a pivotal and influential voice who paved the way for other soul artists as the blues and rock genres were finding some common ground in the world of pop music. His latter-day producer, Fred James, noted that Roscoe was one of the few blues/R&B singers of the ’50s to make the transition to soul.
Eighteen years after his birth on August 22, 1931, in Lynchburg, TN, Roscoe joined the legendary Fairfield Four, a gospel quartet from the ’30s and ’40s. It is important to note here that Shelton’s friend Bobby Hebb also played guitar in the Fairfield Four, though not while Shelton was with the act. After singing lead for that group Roscoe spent four years in the military. Upon his release from military duty he joined a spinoff of the Fairfield Four, which became known as the Skylarks. Between 1956 and 1957 the Skylarks recorded for Nashboro Records, a gospel label owned by Excello Records proprietor Ernie Young. After his gig with the Skylarks, Shelton performed live with his childhood friends DeFord Bailey, Jr. and Bobby Hebb. Hebb noted that Shelton sang spirituals before he went into the blues.
It was never a problem for the singer and guitarist to get together. They would see each other in the neighborhood quite often. And it was the same with DeFord Bailey, Jr., son of the legend he was named after, who lived only two or three houses away from the Hebbs when Bobby and DeFord were children. Bobby Hebb was a sideman with DeFord Bailey, Jr. — considered the first electric bass player in Tennessee — and they had a variety of singers including Roscoe Shelton. Roland Grisham would perform on guitar when Hebb had other commitments. They traveled regionally — a variety of places including Clarksville, Fedville, and Tullahoma, TN, where Hebb’s father was from.
Roscoe Shelton SingsAccording to writer Bill Dahl in the CD liner notes to Roscoe Shelton Sings, Roscoe recorded at Excello Records between October of 1958 to February 1961, the material showing up on his album debut, 1961’s Roscoe Shelton Sings. Bobby Hebb played guitar on some of the original Excello sides, including a minor hit, “Something’s Wrong,” written by Shelton/Hall. Roscoe would cover only one composition from his friend and neighbor, the song-a-day man Bobby Hebb. That tune from circa 1959/1960 is entitled “My Best Friend,” with lyrics slightly altered from Hebb’s original. Forty-fives were being released on various labels after the debut album, Roscoe recording for Ted Jarrett’s Valdot label in 1962, those sides getting licensed to Battle Records. In 1964-1965 the work was issued on the Simms imprint, resulting in the hit “Strain on My Heart.” Simms was absorbed by Sound Stage Seven, a label operated by former DJ John Richbourg, aka John R of Rich Records fame. Sound Stage Seven released the singer’s music between 1965 and 1967, hitting with “Easy Going Fellow.” The SS7 material featured songwriting and production from Allen Orange, delivering the aforementioned hit “Strain on My Heart,” which went into the Top 25 on the R&B charts of Billboard magazine, followed by another hit, “Easy Going Fellow.” “Sea Cruise” author Huey “Piano” Smith contributed a couple of tunes as well, recordings that were issued along with over a half-dozen singles at one point in time, collected on the 1966 album Soul in His Music, Music in His Soul. And consider that was a five-year delay between long-players for the gifted singer — too long a span of time for someone who contributed so much to the changing times. Ten years older than Otis Redding and the fellow born six months before Otis, Wilson Pickett, there’s no doubt that Shelton’s pioneering work impacted the styles of both legends. Redding and Shelton eventually performed at the Apollo Theater on the same bill. Just listen to the Wilson Pickett growls and the Otis Redding inflections to see where they got some of their classic vocal moves.Though music was made for Ted Jarrett’s Ref-O-Ree imprint between 1958 and 1969 along with one 45 for Jarrett’s T-Jaye label in the ’70s and another in the ’80s, Shelton left the music business for the private sector in 1970, becoming the dorm administrator for Meharry Medical College in Nashville. The gap is huge between the work on Sound Stage 7 in 1966 and the 1994 release of material by Shelton, Earl Gaines, and Clifford Curry under the title of the Excello Legends. This was actually recorded for what was to be a reactivated Excello Records, but the company sold out to AVI, the disc getting licensed to Magnum and finding re-release in 1998 on Ripete.
Let It ShineFred James produced many of Shelton’s recordings in the ’90s and the new millennium, touring the U.S. and Europe with the singer several times. Those records include Let It Shine and She’s the One from 1996, and the Earl Gaines and Roscoe Shelton 1998 recordings entitled Let’s Work Together. A 1996 duet with Mary-Ann Brandon (wife of producer Fred James) found release on Road Records’ Matches from Motel Rendezvous album in 2003. Several more CDs were released up to the singer’s passing in July of 2002. In 2004 the Grammy-winning Night Train to Nashville collection included “Say You Really Care” from Rosco Shelton Sings, bringing this singer’s work additional appreciation and a new audience.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]
Soul in His Music, Music in His Soul features sublime vocalist Roscoe Shelton interpreting a dozen tracks by songwriters Huey “Piano” SmithAllen Julian OrangeBobby Hebb, and others. Recorded by DJ/producer John Richbourg aka “John R” of Rich Records and Cape Ann Music publishing, the material eventually emerged on the Sound Stage 7 label as this collection. A total of 11 of these 12 titles were released over seven separate 45 rpm records – that’s almost the entire album issued as singles to radio and the public years before Cyndi LauperTina TurnerHeart, and Fleetwood Mac would make multiple releases from an LP the norm. When Shelton left Excello Records circa 1961, he released a song written by his guitarist from the early Excello sessions, Bobby Hebb, coincidentally on Battle Records, the same label Hebb released a 45 on. Battle #45913 had Ted Jarrett‘s “Worry” on the B-side with “My Best Friend” as the featured track. Written by Bobby Hebb in 1959 or 1960, Shelton changed the lyrics slightly in the middle-eight, making this unique from the songwriter’s original version. The double-sided single “Love Comes and Goes” b/w “Mastermind” was released on John R‘s Sims imprint, Sims 190 to be exact, written by Huey “Piano” Smith of “Sea Cruise” and “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” fame. “Strain on My Heart” was issued as Sims #217 and became an R&B hit in 1965. “Keep Your Mind on Me” came out as Sims #240, while “The Fire Still Burns” was issued on Sims 245. Amazingly, the singles kept finding release with “I Know Your Heart Has Been Broken” on Sound Plus #2122 while another R&B hit, “Easy Going Fellow, found fame in 1966 on Sound Stage #2555. “Who Walks In (When I Walk Out)” b/w “You’re Living Too Fast” got issued on Sound Plus #2114/ Sound Stage 7 #2563 — staggering when one thinks of the outreach to radio this important artist received. From the strings of “You’re Living Too Fast” to the R&B groove of “Who Walks In (When I Walk Out)” the seven compositions from the pen of Allen Orange most likely had his guiding presence to help them along in the recording studio. Though all the tracks here got scattered across the Deep in My Soul CD collection about 40 years after this initial release; the tracking on Soul in His Music, Music in His Soul works wonderfully and is worth a listen if just for the superb original context.

Roscoe Shelton Sings

Roscoe Shelton Sings! AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]In 1995, AVI/Atomic Beat expanded Roscoe Shelton Sings to 25 tracks, reissuing the music on the logo where it was originally found, the majestic Excello Records imprint. Bill Dahl does an excellent job in his five pages of liner notes, chronicling the material Shelton recorded for Excello during the three-year period from the first session, October 3, 1958, up to the last Excello date Shelton taped for the label on February 2, 1961. In those 28 months something very special was captured, and the reissue wisely keeps the tracking in its original order before adding the bonus tracks. Dahl mentions that Shelton was “reasonably sure” that “Sunny” author Bobby Hebb performed on the first sessions. The musicians were neighbors and it is indeed the lead guitarist who appeared on the Dave “Baby” Cortez Top Ten hit “Rinky Dink” in 1962 who plays on the exquisite “Something’s Wrong,” a minor hit for Shelton. With regard to “Crazy Over You,” “Why Didn’t You Tell Me,” and other tracks, Hebb said, “It sounds like something I might have done at that time. I was playing that particular style — within four frets’ reach.” Shelton’s grasp of mood and nuance is tremendous, the band setting the table perfectly on “Think It Over,” giving Roscoe a perpetual groove to ride. He provides different shades of pain on “A Fool Wrapped Up in Love,” the song titles posing questions or making statements on the various romantic states the singer explores with his dynamic and underexposed voice. The packaging is tremendous, complementing these sounds from the succinct but important initial phase of Shelton’s equally small but vital catalog. You can feel bits of Nat King Cole as well as Sam Cooke on “Are You Sure” and Jackie Wilson’s dancehall verve on “Lonely Heartaches,” but these are merely flavors as Roscoe Shelton delivers his own unique impressions on these early and essential sides.


AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-] It is interesting how the pop divas of the ’70s and ’80s took some risks, Olivia Newton-John with “Soul Kiss”; Linda Ronstadt singing in Spanish or performing with Nelson Riddle; and Helen Reddy’s 1983 project, Imagination. This is her longtime producer Joe Wissert taking Reddy where Kim Fowley attempted to go on Ear Candy, and doing an amazing job. “Handsome Dudes” is not the first time Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil are covered by Reddy, but it works better than “Songs” on Love Song for Jeffrey. The Dane Jeffries title track might as well be the Go Gos or Missing Persons; it’s a really great new wave pop tune, served up on a vinyl 12″ with an extended dance remix for good measure. Side two is more of this new-styled radio pop, and both “Looks Like Love” and “The Way I Feel” are among the best work Helen Reddy has ever created. Both songs should have been huge hits, and the entire album is more sophisticated in idea and execution than any that came before except, perhaps, Live in London. There is real drama throughout “Guess You Had to Be There” and serious depth in the vocal, the naïve sheen of hits like “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” and “Angie Baby” traded in for sweeping pathos. “Yesterday Can’t Hurt Me” is Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter delivering a solid and driving composition more defined than their work with the Grass Roots. Wendy Waldman and Eric Kaz have already struck artistic gold with the aforementioned “The Way I Feel,” and Reddy goes back to that well for the album’s conclusion, “Heartbeat.” It’s another snappy, moving, modern-sounding delight. With superb songwriting, crisp production, and her best rock performance on record, Imagination is one of Helen Reddy’s finest albums. Not as popular as those which contained her chart hits, Imagination is worth seeking out. It’s a sleeper that deserves another shot at success. Each song works in its own way, Randy Goodrum’s “A Winner in Your Eyes” just another of the great numbers on this move to MCA after a long run on Capitol. Very impressive.

Smooth are the performances and orchestration on this 1978 double-vinyl set. There is no date of this performance by Helen Reddy, recorded at the London Palladium. This expands her greatest-hits album and allows the entertainer to display her personality as well as some of her deeper album tracks. Of the 26 songs here, only Leon Russell and Harriet Schock share the distinction of having two compositions each covered by the songstress. Russell’s “This Masquerade” and “Bluebird” follow Ralph Shuckett’s “Rhythm Rhapsody” to start the concert off. Reddy sprinkles a hit or two per side until the medley, adding nuggets like Gale Garnett’s timeless “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine,” which is a perfect selection for Reddy to sing and her audience to hear. Harriet Schock’s “Mama” from the Music, Music album is one of the longest tracks at four minutes-plus, and gets a lengthy audience response. Cilla Black’s 1964 hit “You’re My World,” like the aforementioned Gale Garnett hit from the same year, suits Reddy well. Live in London is a title used by scores of artists, from the Beach Boys to Petula Clark, Deep Purple, April Wine, Judy Garland, Glen Campbell, and so many others. This recording has lead guitarist Lenny Coltun conducting the Gordon Rose Orchestra with guitarist Ritchie Zito, keyboard player Tom Hensley, and others supplying the sound. Reddy gives renditions of Billy Joel’s “The Entertainer,” “Poor Little Fool” by Jeff Lynne, who shows up on the All This and World War II soundtrack with Reddy and who wrote this dramatic number for her, as well as Adam Miller’s “The West End Circus.” There’s Alan O’Day’s unconventional “Angie Baby” to open side two, and the song works better live, oozing with a thick and smooth sound. Producers John Palladino and Helen Reddy do a commendable job of capturing so many instruments and vocals and putting them into a wonderful mix. The album gets high marks for sound quality and performance, a classy snapshot of Helen Reddy’s complete repertoire of hits from 1971-1977 with the exception of “Somewhere in the Night” and the flip of “I Can’t Hear You No More,” “Music Is My Life.” For the fans of Helen Reddy this is a treat and a very necessary part of her collection.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Helen Reddy’s second album contains two originals, as well as covers of material by John Lennon, Carole King and Toni Stern, Randy Newman, Donovan Leitch, Leon Russell, and Alex Harvey. Over the years Reddy would continue to cover material by Carole King, Leon Russell, and Harvey; both she and Bette Midler covering Harvey’s “Delta Dawn,” with Reddy getting the chart hit. Here her rendition of his “Tulsa Turnaround” is intriguing and gives a good indication of the direction her music would take. These are very personal readings of Paul Parrish’s”Time” and Leon Russell’s “I Don’t Remember My Childhood”; the accompaniment is laid-back and subdued, unlike Reddy’s Love Song for Jeffrey album. Producer Larry Marks has a haunting foundation for David Blue’s “Come on John,” and one wonders if like Mama Cass on “I Call Your Name” or Janis Joplin’s “Happy Birthday John Lennon,” Reddy isn’t singing this to the Beatle? Her rendition of Lennon’s solo tune, “How?,” is a rarity for the singer — and as sparse as the Plastic Ono Band, minus what backed her on the soundtrack to All This and World War II when she performed “Fool on the Hill.” The album Helen Reddy has a cover photo of the vocalist wearing a red and blue dress in ankle-deep water, a resting point before her cluster of Top 40 recordings. Donovan’s “New Year’s Resolution” and Carole King/Toni Stern’s “No Sad Songs” give the singer a platform to help craft her sound. It’s a nice glimpse of the naïve side of Reddy and a pleasant listening experience, though it was the only one of her early albums not to find representation on her Greatest Hits. Because there was no big hit on the record, it is not as well known as her other recordings, but it definitely has charm and is an essential part of her collection of music.…/helen-reddy-capitol…
My review of CENTER STAGE by Helen AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione [-]
Center Stage is a masterful album from Helen Reddy, combining, as she says in the liner notes, “two areas of my career: the recording studio and the theatrical stage.” There are 14 selections, all from different shows, beginning with Cole Porter’s “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” from Anything Goes to “The Party’s Over” from Bells Are Ringing. The former, in particular, is culture shock for Reddy’s radio fan base. It is like nothing the fans of her hits are used to, and for Cole Porter’s legion of fans, it might be equally jolting. The voice so recognizable as an adult contemporary pop vehicle does what Reddy’s friend Petula Clark did on the soundtrack to Goodbye, Mr. Chips, an album composed by Leslie Bricusse and conducted by John Williams: it makes a transition. “I Still Believe in Love” is more of what the fans know and love. After all, it’s Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager penning the tune from They’re Playing Our Song. It’s followed by “A Boy Like You,” a Weil/Hughes composition from Street Scene, and both tracks two and three are her hit “You and Me Against the World”revisited, her emotive voice plucking the heartstrings. “Surrender” changes the pace; a five-piece vocal ensemble consisting of Peyce Byron, Sabrina Cowans, Michele Mais, Wayne Moore, and Brenda Silas Moore push the artist to heights she hasn’t sought on her hits. It’s one of the highlights of the disc, and a career moment in her vast repertoire. Richard Hillman duets with the singer on “You’re Just in Love” from Call Me Madam, and it is exquisite. Bruce Kimmel’s production is seamless, and this collection becomes more special as the listener goes deeper into the disc. Joseph Baker arranges and conducts “Tell Me It’s Not True,” a special performance here, as Reddy states in the liner notes, she has “sung it so many times on Broadway and in the West End.” “Tell Me It’s Not True” and “Speak Low” give the singer a new arena to play in; to those not familiar with the works from where this material was culled, the album works simply as a new Helen Reddy disc, but with a twist. Sade should be so classy decades after her initial fame.Steven Orich’s orchestrations are impeccable, as are the arrangements by Ron Abel. There was a hint of this when Reddy performed “The Fool on the Hill” for the 1976 soundtrack All This and World War II, but not on the scale she gives us 22 years later. Dusty Springfield tracked Where Am I Going, Olivia Newton-John gave us Warm and Tender, there’s the Linda Ronstadt/Nelson Riddle trilogy, and Petula Clark’s The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener (the album, not the title track), but where those albums were conscious efforts by the singers to move into a new direction, this is Helen Reddy giving the world the scene she is into — the theater. Dionne Warwick gave us hits from Bacharach & David’s Promises Promises, but Reddy chooses “Knowing When to Leave” from that Broadway musical. The song selection is tremendous, and the performance is a milestone for a singer who has already conquered other formats.Center Stage is a delightful treat and will be a considered a classic years down the road, on that you can be sure.

AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione  [-]

In 1987, Capitol re-released this ten-song disc on CD with five additional tracks, including Helen Reddy’s last three hit singles; this vinyl set contains the ten biggest tunes that built the singer’s legend. Just as George Martin remixed the songs by the group America that he did not originally produce for their “best of,” some of these productions feel like different mixes rather than the sound radio listeners were familiar with. It’s the same voice, and the same musicians; however, “I Am Woman” has more pronounced horns, bigger drums, and Reddy’s voice is clearer than on the original album. It certainly sounds like a superior mix, not what radio listeners were used to, unless the mastering job on this Greatest Hits release contains more defined mastering than the 45 rpm. There’s a special thanks to producer Joe Wissert, so it is very likely he expanded the sound of the Jay Senter recording from her second album; Larry Marks’ work from her debut, I Don’t Know How to Love Him; and possibly some of the Tom Catalano productions as well. Hearing these ten powerful hits together is a strong argument against Reddy’s detractors — she climbed the charts with about as many songs as her friend Petula Clark, and both were embraced by adult contemporary radio. Leon Russell’s “Bluebird” is absent, but the sublime Harriet Schock composition “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” is here, the last of her singles from this era to go Top Ten, and second to last adult contemporary number one. It’s a brilliant tune, and striking performance. Francesco Scavullo did the photography, as he did for so many stars, from Janis Joplin to Barbara Streisand and Diana Ross. “You and Me Against the World” is moving and soulful, taking a Paul Williams composition and showing some of the heart Reddy would bring to her Center Stage disc many years later. The original vinyl ten-song version of Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits is a concise package culled from six of her first seven albums.

THANKS ERIC GRIGS FOR APPRECIATING MY WRITINGS: “Sure, I understand it’s a schmaltzy product, but it fits in beautifully alongside the earnest, breezy early 80s soft pop that was dominating radio at the time, so you have to greet it with that type of listening ear. Collaborator Joe Wissert provides lush production on it, pushing Australian-American Reddy to branch out in unexpected ways. Particularly, the title track: a floating synth dream that Joe Viglione of AllMusic remarked “might as well be the Go-Gos or Missing Persons; it’s a really great new wave pop tune, served up on a vinyl 12” with and extended dance remix for good measure.” We are talking about Helen Reddy, right? The same Reddy that People magazine disparagingly called the “1970s Queen of Housewife Rock?” Yes. If I had one critique of the song, the chorus needs a better hook—but the verses are mesmerizing. The music captures an etherial, dreamy quality that’s hard to get right. Suddenly, steel drums are dropped in that shouldn’t work at all, but somehow they fit brilliantly with the soft pulsating vibrations of the synthesized beats.