July 2, 2012
Here's another one of those hard to get LP/CD out of print treasures for the audiophile world. It was first released in 1973 by Sheffield Lab as an LP, then remastered for the CD format sometime in the 1980's. If you can find a mint pre-owned copy this on either format, it's surely gonna cost an arm or nearly a leg at least!
I first came across a track called Camarillo(track 4 on the CD, the track's available on You Tube too, just search) during my IASCA car audio competition days. I was captured by the layers of instruments in the music, starting with a healthy dose of blues influenced bass line as foundation, piano/keyboard and harmonica providing the main rhythm and topped by a healthy horn section, including a big fat mama tuba! And that tuba goes really low too. Camarillo was one of the judging tracks used in the IASCA competition. I knew this song by heart, but never had the faintest idea about the artist behind it. Well now I know.
The recording quality is one of best I've heard, yes even amongst others coming from the famous Doug Sax and the Sheffield Lab catalogue! The result of a live studio, direct to disc recording format, all the artist and musicians rose to the occasion. Remember, these were the days when they were recording a whole side of 26 minutes or so of an LP, all in one continuous un-edited take, no filters, no auto tune and certainly minimal equalisation, if any was used. Any musician with lesser grain of salt would've break out in cold sweat on the thought of this.
The music is a raw instrumental fusion of Jazz, Funk and Blues, in dynamic US of A style. There are a total of 8 tracks on the LP, the CD getting an extra bonus track in the form of a B take of an instrumental version of Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay, which is one of my favorite tracks. The track is relatively noisy, which was probably why it was left out from the original LP release, but that's what exactly why I like this track so much! The un-filtered and un-edited raw track, with studio chatter and microphone clipping noise, sounds just like a group of live band jamming in your hifi room, it's like the whole studio event captured "alive". The other outstanding dynamic percussion track is called America, which never gives you a dull moment. In fact the whole album is musically very enjoyable too. Come to think of it, this is an album recorded nearly 40 years ago, yet it's musical integrity and recording quality still stands the test of time.
Now, this is the probably the best way to make an audiophile recording, which only Doug Sax of Sheffield Lab fame knows how. It's an art slowly fading in to obscurity, fast giving way to commercialism. Ahh........ the good ol' days!