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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Time Machine A Vertigo Retrospective

This 3-CD set is a tribute to the swirling Vertigo label of its golden-era of 1969 to 1973. And it is filled with some bands and artists that hit the big time like Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Rod Stewart, and Gentle Giant to name a few while others were too obscure or ahead of their time with bands like; Colosseum, Gracious!, Jimmy Campbell, Affinity, and Manfred Mann's Chapter Three. Ahead of their time? No, they were fucking awesome on this compilation of the Vertigo label. Disc one starts off with the hard rockin shuffle of Colosseum's The Kettle. The piece appeared on their first album Valentyne Suite to feature a newcomer keyboardist Dave Greenslade, unfortunately the album was released without this track in the US called The Grass is Greener in 1970. Of course The Kettle is a heavy metal classic that could have gotten airplays back in the 1970's. You have some killing artists like Juicy Lucy, Affinity, Clear Blue Sky, and Cressidsa's jazz ballad of To Play Your Little Games. This box set shows that they were virtuoso performers to get the Prog gates open into another world of a new dimension that you never seen before. Disc Two contains the weirdness of the Vertigo label with artists such as Dr. Z's Evil Woman's Manly Child and Jimmy Campbell's stoner folk classic Half-Baked from his self-titled album while May Blitz get the proto-thrash metal treatment with For Madmen Only. You get the Vertigo treatment of a whirlpool terror of Jade Warrior, Patto, Tudor Lodge, Beggars Opera, Warhorse, Freedom, Magna Carta, and the glam rock cult heroes the Sensational Alex Harvey Band with their punk rock classic Midnight Moses appearing on the second disc. The last disc covers the end of an era for the Vertigo label featuring classic prog with germany's Atlantis with their 9-minute blues rocker Living at the End of Time and Status Quo's fast bullet train single Paper Plane. Other artists and bands to close it up include Vangelis experimental's Let it Happen from his post-Aphrodite's Child album Earth, while Gravy Train goes sinister with their flute and guitar work on A Ballad of a Peaceful Man and Black Sabbath's classic Spiral Architect gets the closing of a life time. The booklet is a treat to show the history of the band's line-up and history of the Vertigo label, ads, and Mark Powell's liner notes. A brilliant Time Machine to back in time where Prog was king back then.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Man - Live at the Padget Rooms Penarth

This 2-CD set reissued on the Cherry Red label Esoteric Recordings, is the holy grail for Man fans. The complete concert on 6 tracks never before heard since the original release in 1972. Most of the pieces appeared on the previous Man albums on the United Artists label with their first two including Man and Do You Like it Here Now, Are You Settling In? This was the last line-up of the original members of the group to include Deke Leonard guitar & vocals; Micky Jones guitar & vocals; Martin Ace Bass & Vocals; and Terry Williams drums. This group were paying an homage to the psychedelic scene and the West Coast that was happening in America at that time. They were a crossover between the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. You have the guitars going into a battle zone of the rhythm and lead voice section between Deke and Micky on the 24-minute composition Spunk Rock as they duke it out at the Padget Rooms to get the crowd all pumped and headbanging with its Hendrix and Jimmy Page relative solos on the first number while Many Are Called, But Few Get Up and Angel Easy gets a magical spell for 9 and 5-minutes of Prog and heartpumping country foot stompin' rock treatment. H. Samuel another composition to Spunk Rock, has the audience and their fans being glued to the group as they play excerpts on the self-titled album with the sinister guitar work on Would the Christians Wait Five Minutes? The Lions are Having a Draw as Terry Williams does his Jazz relative solos Billy Cobham style while Martin Ace does soulful basslines to fit the scenery. The Avant-Garde on the 11-minute mark, they're scatting and going into the space rock mode including their guitars going into darker territories with Alchemist. I bet Man were thinking "Let's suprise the fans with this Jam and have their jaws dropped thinking to theirselves 'What the hell just happened?" The tension on the last 2-minutes has Man going into a climatic climax with feedback amps going haywire while the guitar is into a whammy mode and hitting the pedals like Mr. Hyde and ends with a silence. This is a total classic right here! If you thought the original Romain was only six-minutes long on the first Man (United Artists) album, think again. This time they are cookin! The 20-minute live version of this hard blues rockin' classic just went harder than before. The first 7-minutes is Deke and Micky doing their Led Zeppelin tribute to fill the void and then they get the crowd going for more as they sing their hearts out. The final track Daughter of the Fireplace is essential with Deke singing his heart out with his guitar going heavy metal including Micky Jones as they take their blues rocking sound to get you going for more.