After a few unsuccessful stints with groups in his native London, Phil Cordell began recording material on his own, starting with this infectious psych jam released as a single in 1969. As with most of his recordings, he recorded all the instruments and vocals for Red Lady himself. In addition to releasing one full length album under his given name, he also released albums under the names Dan the Banjo Man and Springwater throughout the 1970s. He scored a minor hit in Germany and Switzerland with I Will Return from his Springwater release and then topped the charts again in Germany as Dan the Banjo Man with a song also titled Dan the Banjo Man. All of that is precursor to the creation of the video below, which remains one of the most beautiful and bizarre things I’ve seen on the internet for a while:
Sandy Bull emerged from the acoustic folk and fingerpicking revival of the 1960s, and while his first release, a collaboration with Billy Higgins entitled Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo, hinted at his later experimentation, 1969’s E Pluribus Unum showcases his innovative blend of fingerpicking techniques and electric experimentation. He was a master of many string instruments including the banjo, pedal steel, and the oud, which he’s holding shown in the album cover for E Pluribus Unum.
Another remarkable thing to keep in mind listening to No Deposit-No Return Blues is that Bull is playing every instrument on the record, including percussion. Not only did he make use of overdubbing in the studio, but he also performed with pre-recorded tracks when playing live, as demonstrated by the live record Still Valentines Day, 1969 put out by Water in 2006. While the oud is featured on No Deposit-No Return Blues, to get a better idea of what it sounds like I’d suggest giving a listen to this improvisation from that live record.
Vanguard has released a number of compilations of Bull’s work from the 1960s, including improvised material, classical pieces by Bach, and more blues-oriented stuff like this track. One of my favorite labels, Drag City, put out a live album by Bull which also credits the Ace Tone Rhythm Machine, thought to be the first commercially-sold drum machine. To hear Bull perform live with his oud and this early drum machine check out this track from the Drag City album. In 2010 his daughter KC released a documentary about her father also called No Deposit No Return Blues that I couldn’t find a full version of online but which I would definitely want to see.
This track comes from a vibrant rock scene in 1970s Zambia affectionately referred to by collectors/enthusiasts as Zamrock. According to this Guardian profile, the Zambian government issued a law mandating that 95% of music on Zambian radio must be from native Zambian artists, and many groups put their own spin on the psych sounds that were creeping into the country from the United States. While the scene was short lived because of an economic recession which hit the country in the late 1970s and the influx of more outside radio programming, it has left behind a wealth of fuzzed-out garage gems. Paul Ngozi, an alias which translates to Paul Danger, is credited with introducing the Zamrock sound through his solo work and releases under the name The Ngozi Family. Another group, W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend to Cause Havoc) released a number of albums throughout the 1970s and are closely associated with the Zamrock sound.
Amanaz released only one album, Africa, in 1975 on a label called Zambia Music Parlor that released a lot of the Zamrock material from the period. It has been reissued by Now-Again Records, who also put out a fantastic psych compilation called Forge Your Own Chains which I can’t recommend enough. Now-Again has been releasing a lot of material from this period in Zambia and if this album is any indication there is a lot of good music to (re)discover.
megaritual is the brainchild of Australian multi-instrumentalist Dale Paul Walker, and his latest, Eclipse, represents a maturation of forms laid out in two earlier releases, Mantra Music (Vol. 1) and Mantra Music (Vol. 2). While the first two releases were Walker-only joints, he is joined on eclipse by bassist Govinda Das. Blending Indian-style raga forms with heavy guitar rifts is a clever concept, and Eclipse combines the two masterfully into a one-track release which is both meditative and apocalyptic. You can name your price to get it, along with the other two megaritual releases, and if you dig Eclipse then I’d recommend checking the two earlier EPs out as well. I wasn’t able to find anything in the way of physical releases, at least at present, but I’ll edit the post should anything cross my path. For now fire up those ear cans and rock the fuck out.