Sunday, April 15, 2007

AFFINITY - Affinity + If You Live

Affinity is made up of Linda Hoyle (vocals), Lynton Naiff (keyboards, percussion), Mike Jopp (guitars, percussion), Mo foster (basses, percussion) and Grant Serpell (drums, percussion). Back in 1970 they released a great album simply called Affinity. It has now been re-released on CD containing 8 bonus tracks later released as "If You Live" (the original CD release only had a couple of the bonus tracks). It now contains all of Affinity's studio output. A subsequent CD has been released that contains live tracks recorded as an instrumental quartet (without Hoyle).
Rooted firmly in the jazz-rock of the late 60's, Affinity reminds me in many ways of Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and Trinity (their Streetnoise is one of my desert island disks.) Affinity embraces the same era and style and any fans of Auger/Driscoll/Trinity would do well to pick up this CD. It's no mistake that the first instrument listed under Naiff's name is the Hammond B3 Organ. Other than Hoyle's voice, this is the dominant instrument on Affinity. And, like Auger's band, they draw on a number of outside writers for material (Annette Peacock, Bob Dylan and Mose Allison to name a few.)
The original LP:
"I Am And So Are You" opens the album. The additional brass on this track, arranged by John Paul Jones, is something I could do without. The overall sound of the track, especially the guitar solo, dates this track but Hoyle's vocal is great.
"Night Flight" is an original Jopp & Hoyle composition that gives the band something to sink their teeth into. Hoyle's vocal soars over the band. Naiff cooks on his solo. The fade out ending is unsatisfying but it's a fine piece overall.
The Everly Brothers' "I Wonder If I'll Care As Much" is a pretty throwaway.
Annette Peacock's "Mr. Joy" is next. It's a fairly simple repeated pattern with a Hoyle vocal workout on top of it. One of the highlights of the CD.
"Three Sisters" is another original, this time from Naiff & Hoyle. It's funny but on the previous piece written by the guitarist the keyboard solo was a high point. Here on the keyboardist's track, the guitar solo is great.
John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky wrote the next piece: "Coconut Grove." While a lighter piece like "I Wonder..." this one works much better. Tasteful and enjoyable it gives the listener a break before the original albums finale.
Dylan wrote "All Along The Watchtower", and Hendrix played it like he owned it. But Hoyle sings it like it's personal and at nearly 12 minutes Affinity take their time putting their personal brand on the song. Marred only by an overly long ending and a few ugly effects, that now only serve to date the work, this is a wonderful piece overall that features three keyboard solos. It left promise of good things to come from this group and inspired me to order the live instrumentals CD (even though the live instrumentals were recorded prior to Affinity.)
The Bonus Tracks: (released as "If You Live")
"Eli's Coming" (Laura Nyro) is a Hoyle vocal tour de force. She layers fourteen vocal parts making this impossible to reproduce live. An interesting work it was recorded in October, 1969. Three Dog Night's version was released at the end of October, 1969 on Suitable For Framing making me wonder if Hoyle was inspired by it.
"United States of Mind" was recorded at the same time as "Eli's Coming" and is much more poppy and psychedelic in feel than most of the tracks here.
The original "Yes, Man" is a demo from the beginnings of their second album. It moves into a more progressive rock mode. While interesting there are too many changes that just don't feel right. I wish I could have heard what it would have finally become.
From an early (1968) FM broadcast Affinity take on Mose Allison's "If You Live". This jazz/blues tune is a gem highlighted by a beautiful guitar solo from Jopp.
"I Am The Walrus" is certainly familiar. Also dating from 1968, it's a pretty straight forward version. Hoyle's voice is quite well suited to this but could have benefited from some better dynamics.
"You Met Your Match" attempts a more R&B style and this demo doesn't really work either.
"Long Voyage". This Carol King tune is weak and doesn't really demonstrate any of Affinity's strengths.
"Little Lonely Man" is from a 1970 AM radio broadcast and was written by Foster & Hoyle. Another poppy tune, it features nice solos from Naiff & Jopp.

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Anonymous said...

And thanks a lot for sharing this "hidden" treasure! Linda's voice is absolutely amazing, especially on track "Eli's Coming"!!
Great blog and great posts, thank you again! JK

Anonymous said...

Hi . . . This is a real find! Brings back a lot of good memories hearing this album once again. The bonus tracks are especially nice, have never even heard some of these before. You post some really great material. Thank you very much for sharing this one with us. MW