Another Monday in October means another entry in Monday Magick's month-long tribute to the Donovan composition "Season of the Witch". This week's cover comes from 'Bang, Bang You're Terry Reid', the 1968 debut LP from British Rock vocalist and guitarist Terry Reid.
Reid's cover, featuring Keith Webb on drums and Eric Leese on organ, clocks in at over ten minutes and boasts a monster bassline courtesy of an unknown bassist who sadly goes uncredited in the liner noted. The majority of the tune is in a mellow, bluesy mode, with lots of lackadaisical vamping from the trio of musicians involved, recorded with a pretty hefty reverb. But there are sections where the guitar and drumming get heavier, the organ howls, and Reid's vocal enters a screamy register that really showcases why Jimmy Page offered him the vocalist job in the band that would become Led Zeppelin prior to linking up with Robert Plant.
After releasing 'Bang, Bang...' Reid turned down the invitation from Page, and later turned down the chance to front Deep Purple. He released a string of albums which culminated with a live record, 'Live in London', in 2013. The now 65 year old Reid still tours.
The start of another October means the return of our month-long celebration of the Donovan composition "Season of the Witch" here on Monday Magick. This week's entry is an especially trippy contribution from British singer and actress Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger and the Trinity from their 1967 Marmalade Records LP 'Open'.
This, admittedly relatively lengthy, version sits somewhere in the middle of a triangle made up of Donovan's original, Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Stephen Stills' funky-as-fuck cover, and Lou Rawls' soulful rendition. Driscoll's vocal is about as soulful as you can expect from a white girl from England, and the band gets pretty open throughout, mixing Blues and Soul licks, jazz-inspired keyboard work from Auger, some psychedelic vibes, and plenty of stone-cold grooving. It's all funkier, and witchier, than it has any right being. And the video, which captures vintage imagery from the freaky "tune in, turn on, and drop out" era, replete with some pretty explicit occult symbolism, is classic in its own right.
After 'Open' Jools and the band released several more albums through the end of the '60s. Driscoll continues recording and releasing her own brand of "experimental vocal music" today. Auguer recorded with a whole host of Rock, Pop, Jazz, and Blues musicians, both solo and as a studio musician, throughout the years. Thankfully they're both still very much alive and kicking.
I'm feeling a little off this week and really just needed to spend some time after work relaxing and vibing out. So when it came time to pick this week's Monday Magick entry I went looking for something that sounded smooth over something with in-your-face occult qualities. Ultimately I chose "Sorceress", a magically-titled instrumental jam from Jazz-Fusion pioneers Return to Forerver's 1976 LP 'Romantic Warrior'.
Penned by the group's drummer Lenny White, the sort-of Earth Wind & Fire-esque "Sorceress" features elements of Funk, Disco, Rock, and new-agey electronic flourishes. During its seven-plus-minute run-time it moves from Stanley Clarke's heavy bass grooves, to Chick Corea's dreamy electric piano tinkling and otherworldly synthesizer squeals, to urgent guitar riffing from Al Di Meola, with Corea's more straight-ahead piano soloing bridging it all. It's spaced-out, but with a classy, almost classical feel, and certainly conveys an air of magical sophistication that is befitting the song's title.
After the release of 'Romantic Warrior', the band's sixth studio LP, Corea and Clarke released one more LP as Return to Forever without White and Di Meola. Most of the players affiliated with the band through the years went on on to great success with other projects. The core members, Corea, Clarke, White, and Di Meola, did eventually reunite for the album 'Forever' in 2011.
Swedish Metal outfit Ghost use vintage film clips to weave a tale of rebellious school children, blasphemous scientists, secret societies, illumination via initiation, and spiritual transformation in their new video "From the Pinnacle to the Pit".
It's almost as if their method is science, but their aim is religion, if you get my meaning.
"From the Pinnacle to the Pit" is from their newest album, 'Meliora', which is out now on Loma Vista Recordings
Once again my obsession with conspiracy-themed talk-radio pays off by exposing me to another potential Monday Magick featuree! This week's entry is another "lost classic", an orchestral Folk-Pop number titled "Jerome", from 'U.F.O.', the supernatural-tinged debut LP from the mysterious Jim Sullivan, which was re-released not too long ago by re-issue specialists Light in the Attic Records.
Though he made a cameo in the counter-culture classic 'Easy Rider' I was unaware of Jim Sullivan or his music before today. I was introduced to the song "Jerome" earlier today thanks to an episode of Los Angeles-based paranormal pop-culture radio program West of the Rockies and was immediately enchanted. The song's melancholy lyrics, which speak wistfully of finding a "magic man", plucky acoustic guitar, rattling percussion, and swelling string accompaniment burrowed their way right into my consciousness and I knew then and there what I'd be sharing when I got home from work tonight. Sure, the song isn't overtly about the supernatural or occult, but it's unmistakable shout-out to magic and sort of vague, almost hallucinogenic lyricism made it a shoe-in for inclusion here on Monday Magick.
While the supernatural qualities of Jim Sullivan's music may be questionable, the backstory which surrounds him is shrouded in what can only be termed "high weirdness". After releasing a self-titled sophomore album in 1972 the singer-songwriter disappeared without a trace while traveling through the New Mexico desert, leaving his guitar, some recordings, and a box of his own LPs behind in his abandoned VW bug. A few folks have linked the New Mexico desert where he vanished with the U.F.O. phenomenon that provided the title of his debut and postulated that there may be a connection between the two and his ultimate fate. I don't know about that. But I do know his music is pretty magickal.
Ethiopian-American singer/songwriter Kelela drops some new school Rhythm & Quad-style soulful Bass music set to alternatively dreamy, clubby, druggy, and sexy visuals in her new video for her single "Rewind".
"Rewind" is from Kelela's 'Hallucinogen' EP, due out October 9th on Warp Records.
This week's Monday Magick is a very special entry in honor of the Labor Day holiday. That special song, "The Great Work", by Belgian Prog-Rock outfit Hypnos 69, comes from their 2010 LP 'Legacy'.
Normally Monday Magick entries are classics from yesteryear which I'm already familiar with, or more recent material which I just fine relevant. "The Great Work" is not a song I had heard before today. Aware it was Labor Day I decided to search YouTube for songs that had the word "work" in the title which might also have an occult connection. I focused on the phrase "the great work", which is a term well-known to occultists, alchemists, Hermeticists, Rosicrucians, Thelemites and others. It has vaguely different ultimate meanings depending on the tradition, but is usually a reference to mental, spiritual, or physical transformation of some kind. Uniting with ones "Holy Guardian Angel" or obtaining the "philosophers stone" are but two examples of "the great work". This great work, Hypnos 69's song "The Great Work", is vintage Progressive Rock emanating from a wholly modern source. It's almost 20 minutes worth of swirling, spacey instrumentation exhibiting influences from Jazz, Funk, Classical, Folk, Middle Eastern, and stoned-soul Psych-Rock, adorned with lyrics which allude to a whole array of occult concepts. It turned out to be a perfect choice!
'Legacy', which "tells the tale of the Apple of Eden, the Philosophers Stone, the Egyptian mfkt, or the Biblical Manna and how it got lost on the Dark Rivers of Time" according to the band's Bandcamp page, is Hypnos 69's most recent album. From what I can gather from several online searches they appear to be active performing on the live concert and festival scene to this very day.
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