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Kala — Tumbleweed Dreams
(Sing Song SINGSONG153, 1976/2021, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2021-11-04

Tumbleweed Dreams Cover art

The story of Phil “Shiva” Jones begins in Australia in the 60s, where the singer / keyboardist / percussionist scored a hit record in 1967 with “If I Had a Ticket,” and soon after emigrated to England in search of a spiritual master, found in Swami Ambikananda, who in turn gave most of the future members of Quintessence their names as well as a new philosophy and lifestyle. Quintessence was one of Britain’s most popular and powerful live bands in the period from 1969 to 1972; the music of the six-piece was a mash-up between the hippie ethic of the Grateful Dead mixed with Ravi Shankar and other Eastern forms, and during that period were to be found playing at many of the UK’s major festivals, as well as scoring a record deal with Island Records, where they cut their first three (and best) albums. When the deal with Island ended at the end of 1972, vocalist Jones and guitarist Dave "Maha Dev" Codling formed a new band, Kala, which released one self-titled album and a single in ‘73, which, along with several additional live and demo tracks was reissued as After Quintessence: The Complete Kala Recordings 1973. But Kala, suffering from personnel issues and poor label management was not to last beyond one album, and at the end of the following year Jones would find himself emigrating to the United States. So, even though Tumbleweed Dreams is credited to Kala — which pretty much ended at the end of 1973 — it actually consists of fifteen studio and rehearsal recordings by two bands that Jones fronted between 1975 and the mid-80s in the USA: Room 101 and Big Children. The songs show an evolution from the country-fied boogie sound of 1973’s Kala to a harder-edged American rock sound, reflecting his own personal embracing of American life. Jones sings and plays keyboards on all of these previously unreleased tracks, with various other players on guitar, bass, drums, saxes and additional keyboards. The set launches with the bluesy “Blue Law,” giving an idea of what’s to come, all players firing on all cylinders, and Jones’ commanding presence throughout. The title track has a bit more of a country feel but still squarely in the rock idiom. Other standouts include the bluesy-country number “Snake Oil,” the reggae-tinged “Give It All Away” (presented in two different versions), and the the jazzy “Warm Lovin’” where Jones shows a different side of his vocal persona — but to be completely honest there isn’t a bad track among the fifteen, and although the sprawling mostly-spoken eleven-minute experimental closer, “Sunrise,” seems radically different from the rest, it still sparkles with beauty and charm, and perhaps points in a direction all the way back to his Quintessence days, or forward a decade or so where Jones became “Shiva” once again in Shiva’s Quintessence, but that’s another story for another day.

Filed under: Archives, 2021 releases, 1976 recordings

Related artist(s): Kala

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