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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gracious - Gracious!

It seemed like it was recorded today for this short-lived band in the early '70s. It was showing the darker world of obscure prog, but opening the door to see what was on the other side of the fence of Progressive Rock. Gracious self-titled debut album realed on the Vertigo label in 1970, their first album was showing their world of darkness and the sinister post-apocalyptic view of hell. Heaven, an ambient piece. Set with an improvisation on the Mellotron, it goes through various motions then goes into an homage of The Moody Blues take of a pre-Tuesday Afternoon style inside the pearly gates. Introduction is a dreamy opening to the number in which the guitar and harischord fill the dream like segment while Fugue in D Minor pulls it with a folky tradition of acoustic guitars and the harpischord to pay tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach. Meanwhile, Hell suprises itself with its arrangement of an electric piano sounding like the pit world of the Apocalypse of St. John then goes into a prog version of Black sabbath style then a humorous ending of the Ragtime Big Band sounds of Jazz in the 1930's. The Dream, a 16-minute avant-garde epic is a technique of medieval proportios. A rumbling introduction of the guitar and the drums as it shifts to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata then an Atmospheric nightland sound of slumberland and then BOOM! the hard rock arranging comes out of nowhere with a Jimmy Page relative guitar solo to ha ve a 12-bar blues style then a Bebop Jazz almost Coltraneish sound on the keyboards. The last 7-minutes of the piece goes into a symphonic jazz composition as a snippet of The Beatles Hey Jude comes in and then becomes a Deep Purple exercise and mixing it up with a funky Salsa music and you get a suprising climax of an early mellow sound of Yes meets King Crimson's debut album.

Gentle Giant - Octopus

The last album to feature big brother Phil Shulman of the Shulman brothers, Gentle Giant's fourth album went into a virtuoso mode and going a little further with their arrangement and compositions. They went ahead and got the Prog wagon almost rolling, but with the roots of classical music, heavy rock, traditional jazz, and a sense of humor that was almost strangely strange.
They crystal with baroque italian symphonic music that went with the fusion technique of The Advent of Panurge and The Boys in the Band. Think of Me with Kindness goes into a mystical ballad transition while they go a little proto hard rock on A Cry for Everyone with Gary Green's guitar work and Kerry Minnear's keyboard work. A Dog's Life is an acoustic folk ballad set to a string quartet and odd little notes to the keyboard making more crazy like Mozart made a 13-minute suite of mellotronic bliss. Knots, an odd little number has the Shulman bros. and Gary Green and Kerry going barbershop and then go funky/buckwild with the 18th century classical rocker of Raconteur Troubador. The finale of experimentations on River sets it up into a Hancock fusion style that ends with an improv from the band.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Genesis Live at the Rainbow 1973

This rare recording was recorded at London's Rainbow Theatre on October 20th, 1973. Frontman Peter Gabriel was at his game including Steve Hackett, guitar; Phil Collins, drums and vocals; Tony Banks 12-string guitar and keyboards; and Mike Rutherford, bass guitar. The recording unlike the previous Genesis Archive 1967-75 box set released ten years ago where Gabriel had to redub his vocals and Hackett dubbing his guitar part also because they felt they didn't give it their best. But here in its entirety is the full performance and it has been called 'The Lost Live Album' as they were promoting their album Selling England By the Pound as they got the audience blown away by their compositions between each song.
Phil Collins who was in his mid 20s whose roots was in the sound of Jazz, The Beatles, and Jazz Fusion drum sounds from Billy Cobham and Chester Thompson who joined the group after Gabriel left for their Wind & Wuthering tour. Collins plays the drums as a madman on pieces like Firth of Fifth and The Battle of Epping Forest. Steve Hackett leads the band into his guitar work and uses his definition on the classical fingerpicking guitar style and his virtuoso style while Tony Banks is almost a keyboard wizard on the recording with the dark mellotronic introduction to Watcher of the Skies and the solo on the moog composition with Firth of Fifth and the echo sound with The Battle of Epping Forest.
There are some of the most suprising compositions and the symphonic prog sounds of Genesis has done in this rare bootleg that defined the golden-era of Genesis. And this is the real deal to get a real kick out of.

Genesis 1970-1975

In a tiny little english garden, lived a 5-piece band who came from an english public school from Charterhouse and sang about Giant Hogweeds, bizarre fairy tales, greek sex of Salmacis, and erotic liminal female lamia's to be hungry for sex. Genesis's golden-era of the prog movement featuring vocalist Peter Gabriel, guitarists Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips was one of the most important periods in the history of Progressive Rock. Peter Gabriel's role as a frontman is a tour de force when he was in the band--sense of humor storytelling, the bizarre head shaved in a funny way, and the costumes he wore; The fox's dress, the old man mask, the Sunflower, and the infamous Slippermen costume, and with Hackett and Phillip for their creation with Genesis as guitar players--are superb and virtuoso's they were in their hey day of Genesis's experimentations. On this 6-CD/DVD set including a bonus CD (sixth CD) that features extra DVDs including the Lamb tour while the music from the album plays in the background, the Shepperton performance, Brussels TV program, and the 1974 french Melody TV performance sees Genesis from an underground following to a little mainstream from 1970 to 1974. In 1970, Genesis released Trespass. It was a cross between a catholic church, hard rock, lushful ballads, and an homage to the folk story-telling. Anthony Phillips and original drummer John Mayhew had a real sense of warm sounds to the English countryside when they joined the group with a darker sound. Anthony Phillips and Mike Rutherford take in turns of fingerpicking in the Tolkien related epics of Stagnation and Dusk while Gabriel uses his voice with sadness on Looking for Someone and Visions of Angels then filled with anger in the hard rock marching 9-minute anti-war prog piece The Knife. During that time, Genesis did some BBC sessions after being signed by Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label which had Van Der Graaf Generator, Lindsifarne, Audience, and the comedic Monty Python. The BBC sessions feature some piano work and in a darker tone with Shepherd while the folk homage comes up with Pacidy and Let Us Now Make Love. On the sinister tales of the Grimm brothers with Nursery Cryme in 1971, now adding guitarist Steve Hackett and drummer Phil Collins, sees Genesis going Lewis Carroll and reinventing the Prog genre. With Tony Banks keyboard sound including the clavinet introduction to the marching epic The Return of the Giant Hogweed and the ballad sounds of the Mellotron on Seven Stones and The Fountain of Salmacis. The main highlight is the 10-minute epic The Musical Box which has become a live favorite as Peter shows his sexual side wearing the old man mask while Hackett's guitar solo is intensive while doing his pre-Van Halen guitar work and making the piece a magical quality of epic proportions. Foxtrot released in 1972, finds Genesis in the form of Art Rock and Science-Fiction mini-opera's. A cover done by Paul Whitehead who done the Nursery Cryme cover, features a woman in a fox's head has gotten the band and frontman Peter Gabriel to transform himself into the man of costumes. A classic among prog classics including the Sci-Fi epic Watcher of the Skies, an homage to Arthur C. Clarke and the political economic crisis with Time Tabel and Get 'Em Out By Friday, the classical guitar set across the english coutnryside done by Hackett with Horizons, and the famous 22-minute epic that's been also a live favorite among Genesis fans, Supper's Ready. On the sense of humor that Genesis had, Selling England by the Pound relased in 1973, showed the group going a little mainstream press nationwide in America. The album showed the gritty world of England's downfall of the corporation business into a needle in a haystack. The acapella inro to Dancing with the Moonlit Knight starts off with line 'Can you tell me where my country lies? said the unifaun to his true love's eyes.' and then goes into a melodic/upbeat tempo while the hit single going up to no. 17 in the british single charts I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) has a comedic Monty Python rock style, as the daydreamer Lawnmower narrates on what he does for a living to cut the grass and wants to become a superstar. Phil Collins comes in the picture with the beauty folky ballad More Fool Me while the highlights on Selling England by the Pound are the epic trilogies that are a wonder gem. Firth of Fifth starts off with Tony Banks classical piano composition intro and then it becomes a vitruoso take for Steve Hackett's guitar work and Tony's moog. Hackett's solo goes up across the heavens while Gabriel does a folky jazz flute arrangement. The Battle of Epping Forest which was based on a news coverage between two gangs fighting over the rights of the Equal protection rights, is more of a political prog statement than your typical pre-Dungeons and Dragons concept on ice as the time signatures go a little Zappa-related in the tune. The Cinema Show should have been a prequel to Shakespeare's classic to Romeo and Juliet as if they had an X-rated erotic sex between the two, then head to a movie in this moody and arraning epic. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway which was Peter's last album with the band released in 1974, a concept album for the insanity, tells the tale of a Puerto Rican street punk named Rael who lives in the subways of New York City, goes into a surreal fantasy land to find his brother John as he meets various people and creatures that are not your typical Disney bullshit. The album showed Gabriel moving away from a sunflower on Supper's Ready to The punk flying on a winsheild in a futurisitc city of New York. The Lamb shows some amazing highlights: the Avant-Garde experimental keyboard madness of The Waiting Room, the future proto-punk new wave sound of Back in NYC, the crisp ballads of The Carpet Crawlers, Chamber of 32 Doors, and The Lamia. But its the dynamic explosions that comes in that you've never expected on The Lamb. The booming introduction to the self-titled track and the sci-fi pre '80s blade runner taste which would make Gabriel and the band sound like a robotic computer with Riding the Scree and The Colony of Slippermen.

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.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Strange Pleasures Further Sounds of the Decca Underground

This 3-CD compilation is almost a lost treasure chest. From the Cherry Red Esoteric label and Prog chief and fan, Mark Powell, he decided it was time to do a sequel to the 2003 tribute to the DECCA label on Legend of a Mind The Underground Anthology. Strange Pleasures is almost another psychedelic trip down memory lane where Legend left off with a mystery on what is behind the other door of the experimental scenery. These 49 tracks on the box set stays in focus around the underground scene in London from various Psychedelic bands that hit the big time in the Marquee or were too obscure for the BBC. Tracks like the darker beauty of Al Stewart's Turn into Earth, Genesis earlier take of their homage of the psychedelic Bee Gees with In the Beginning, and the classical symphonic orchestra prog masterpiece Twilight Time by the Moody Blues in 1967. When you listen to these gems, you began to see that the DECCA/DERAM label were on a train mission to see what was going on in the London scenery during that chronological period in 1967 to 1975. The Accent's proto garage rock of psychedelia music with Red Sky at Night and Bill Fay's (admired by Wilco) folk ballads by the mellotron on Some Good Advice and Garden Song. The First CD ends as 1969 comes to an end of the flower generation with Egg's jazzy fusion of I will be absorbed and Alvin Lee's Ten Years of the hard rockin' pounding sounds of Bad Scene. As the second CD begains, you could tell its like a time machine train with the chugging sounds of Caravan's If I Could Do It Again, I'd Do It All Over You, Denny Gerrard's medieval taste of prog acoustics on Atmosphere, and T2's own take of early Pink Floyd with JLT. This compilation is one of the best and the songs from various bands are a clean cut in the golden-era before the Prog scene started to dwindle at the end of '75 when Punk and Disco came into the scene. As the final third CD begans to conclude Strange Pleasures, it starts with one of the earliest songs from one of British Heavy Metal heroes of the early '70s that was the answer to Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy's take of the wah-wah blues rocker Things Ain't Working Out Down the Farm, Ten Years After hard rockin' I'm Coming On while Gong's guitarist Steve Hillage's canterbury supergroup Khan took the epics into the solar system with the 9-minute Space Shanty as Steve Hillage and Egg's Dave Stewart take the virtuoso landscape into a spaceship ride while the avant-garde scene goes strangely further with an unknown band that I'm beginning to dig from the DECCA label called Zakarrias and their acoustic rocker Cosmic Bride. Mark Powell keeps the music of the Progressive Rock genre into a ray of light as Bill Fay comes back into the framework with the darker ballad of jail sentences of trail by error on Time of the Last Persecution. All in all, this is one of the best Prog compilations I've enjoyed listening to and you will also when you buy this to get a real kick out of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The post aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Still Survivng and Never giving up!

To all Prog and Prog Metal fans who read this,

I Just want to let you know that I'm alright. My family are okay also due to Hurricane Ike. The house is fine and it didn't get hit. We (the family and I) were very lucky not to get hit. We had no Power for 13 days in a gruesome hot 84 degree fahrenheit inside my house. But finally got power back yesterday afternoon.

We lost power on Fri Sept. 12 and had to use portable TVs and a small Sports Radio that my Dad had about 19 years ago. It still works to this day. And watched the debris and broken trees and traffic signals that lost power also. Not to forget the Curfew which was a sticky situation. Plus the destruction of Galveston, Texas. For me, I've been there a couple of times when I was a kid.

My parents, my sister, and I would go there to go to the beach, look at the sites, Moody Gardens and the Grand Opera House. Now, when I watched the destruction of Galveston, it almost looked like a Nuclear Holocaust. I don't want to scare anybody, but the destruction looks like a War Zone including Bonar Peninsula. My thoughts and prayers and concerns also are with the citizens of Galveston and hope to rise and start again including Kemah, Texas.

When the hurricane passed, it was almost like 'What the hell's going on?!' and 'When are we getting power back?!' it almost a tension situation, but like I said it will take a while to get this sorted out. We didn't get any damages from Hurricane Rita four years ago, but now with Hurricane Ike's destruction to Galveston, I just hope everyone will rebuild and start a new beginning.

My house in Houston is fine, just a couple of small shingles that came off the roof. No Water Damages to the house, it was REALLY hot inside the house, but now we have power back on Sept. 23. I'm still truckin'. Don't worry, I will get back on track to write reviews for Prog albums and hopefully get the writing machine going.

For now, take care of yourself and each other,


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Aphrodite's Child - 666

While the concept albums was ruling the prog genre at the beginning of the 1970s, the globe was turning around and around as it lands in the outskirts of Greece that has one prog band that took the concept album into the layers of hell! That band of course is Aphrodite's Child. Formed in 1967, they started out as a greek psychedelic love-song band. They had some amazing songs like; It's Five O'Clock, End of the World, Let Me Love, Let Me Live, Spring, Summer Winter and Fall, and Rain and Tears. But all of that would change when Vangelis took the concept album into the obscure territory with this double concept album based on the Apocalpyse of St. John. 666 is an amazing masterpiece filled with heavy rocking guitar sounds from Silver Kouoluris, bizarre greek folk tales, ambient and atmospheric music into flameish annihilation!

The key tracks on 666 are the Pete Townshend guitar sounds with Babylon as Vangelis bangs the bass drums while Demis Roussos sings about the fallen empire of Babylon the great, The 5-minute epic heavy metal track on The Four Horsemen as Silver takes on the guitar solo into obscurity while Irene Papas makes her erotic X-rated porn sounds in the avant-garde climax of Infinity. And the space sounds of Aegean Sea and The Waking Beast allows the listener to go deep into pure heavy moods. And the climax of all epics, the 19-minute experiemental strange twist of All the Seats Were Occupied as the battle between good and evil fight for the final showdown with Heaven & Hell to duel it out.

Sadly, Aphrodite's Child's 666 was their final album in 1972. They called it quits as Vangelis enjoyed a mainstream success with film scores such as Chariots of Fire, the Sci-Fi cult classic Blade Runner, and the dreaded Oliver Stone pretentious tale of Alexander while Demis Roussos went a little more pop sound with We Shall Dance and From Soveniurs to Soveniurs by cross-dressing and singing like a greek version of Pavarotti. Concept album based on the apocalypse of hell? Pure fucking insanity right here!

Ash Ra Tempel - Ash Ra Tempel

Germany's answer to Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. There is one band to take these two prog bros. into the outer limits and in the black hole with their Freak Out sinister epics that will make you scream for mercy. Krautrock's space cadet trio Ash Ra Tempel. Released on the Ohr Label in 1971, Ash Ra Tempel's self-titled debut album is the ultimate solar system trip. Manuel Gottsching on Guitar, Klaus Schulze who left Tangerine Dream after their first album Electronic Meditation on Drums to join with Manuel in 1970, and Hartmut Enke on Bass Guitar were on a cosmic roller-coaster ride that was beyond the atmospheric music with Heavy Metal jam sessions, experimental sounds similar to TD's early days in the late '60s. No wonder Julian Cope dug this band so much!

The opening 19-minute stoner rock track Amboss, starts off as a egyptian ambient guitar sound from Gottsching as it sets the mood for this explosive hard rockin' sound that is set towards the Monolith. The next 3-minutes featuring Klaus and Harmut, are following Manuel into a maximum space metal adventure into hell and beyond as you turn this motherfucker up LOUD on your iPod. Traummaschine (Dream Machine) a space rock beyond space music that is similar to TD's Journey through an Electric Brain, this reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey on this last number. They are on a sonic new age sound with Planet sounds on the Guitar and female vocalists setting the scenery by harmonizing the voices in an isolated scenery in a darken room. Klaus is doing an Indian tribe on the percussion instruments while they travel the Universe for the last 13-minutes in a raving light speed ride into Planet Tempel. Space Metal and Krautrock going together in the Milky Way? They never dissapoint!

Second Hand - Reality

The London Scene in the late '60s from the Underground-era was an amazing time period for bands such as Pink Floyd, Family, Traffic, and The Soft Machine. But there was one band that took the Psychedelic and Prog-era into a full proto-metal version of Procol Harum. That band was Second Hand. Formed in 1965, they were known as The Next Collection until they were signed by Polydor Records and changed their name to Second Hand and released their debut album in 1968 called Reality. This is humor, political, post-apocalyptic, and almost a Fairy tale quality of their first album.

Unlike their musical influences from The Creation, Small Faces, and The Who, Second Hand were a combination of The Action meets The Who meets Procol Harum with their first album. The opening track, A Fairy Tale starts off as a mellotronic homage to The Who's 1965 classic I Can't Explain and starts off into a childhood wonder about a mother telling her son a story before bedtime while Rhubarb! is a rumbling hard rock political statement into hell. The homage of the circus and '30s big band jazz music with the one and only Denis James the Clown. Steam Tugs is a bluesy mellotron number that shows that you can have a good time at a house party with the sexual soulness inside to be covered with the blanket of steam tugs and looking back the childhood-era of the 1950s with the Traffic/Dave Mason pop sound of Good Old '59 (We Are Slowly Getting Older).

The World Will End Yesterday is another proto-metal number set into a ballad that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in a fictitious planet; A tribute to Denis James again with him being a DJ in a ballad; An emotional garage classic psychedelia music to Mainliner is almost bizarre and tiwsted that would make the band almost take an acid trip. The 8-minute piece Reality becomes more symphonic prog in a Deep Purple way and the finale of The Bath Song is another rock opera that is mysterious of the killing of an innocent vicitim while taking a Bath. Second Hand would release two more albums before calling it a day in 1971. The two members from Second Hand Kieran O'Connor and Ken Elliot would later form the Sci-Fi band Seventh Wave in 1974. An X-ray cover of a skeletal hand at a London Hospital that is twisted and weird? Who would have thought about that!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rare Bird - As Your Mind Flies By

While most of the Prog bands were following in the footsteps of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper, there was one band that took the underground scene in London into the world of Religion. That band was Rare Bird. The music wasn't just like Yes and Rick Wakeman's bombastic tradition of King Arthur on ice and gigantic baloon lobsters filling up the stage, it was more of a beauty and the Canterbury sound material-like sound. The group was founded in 1969 with Mark ashton on drums, the soulful voice of bassist Steve Gould, and two keyboardist that would get Wakeman wish that he was in this band with Graham Field and David Kaffinetti to get that dark image and almost medieval rock. While their first debut self-titled album is a classic, their second album, As Your Mind Flies By is another classic with heavy organs and an ultimate sonic sound.

The opening track What You Want To Know, a sexual encounter with a love one that becomes an organic ballad with a 10 feet high man that tells the girl about he feels about her in a Otis Redding piece becoming more of a Genesis tune. Hammerhead is a sinister taste of the bibilcal gods duking it out in the battlefield. The classical music harpischord love-soung quintet of Down on the Floor becomes a baroque tradition in the 1600's in jolly old england. The wedding music of Prog in I'm Thinking is a special treat while it goes into a bluesy fast speeding tradition and then becomes a gospel rockin' sound about the good years flashing back before getting married and the 19-minute epic Flight, gets a real rollercoaster ride of Prog epics.

Rare Bird would have various members including Nic Potter of VDGG fame. They released three more albums before calling it a day in 1975. Even though they wehre ahead of their time, They are the best Prog Rockers that would defintely get a real kick out of.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Amon Duul II - Tanz Der Lemminge

While the Krautrock scene was changing the waves in the early '70s with Ash Ra Tempel, NEU!, Can, Cluster, and the Cosmic Jokers, there was a band that had a combination of the Grateful Dead meets Pink Floyd. Amon Duul II were one of the bands that took the Krautrock genre on the bandwagon with its musical genres of avant-garde experiementations and atmospheric sounds. The group was founded back in the psychedelic-era of the late '60s after the fall of Amon Duul. They released their debut album Phallus Dei (God's Penis) a classic krautrock album along with Yeti in 1970 which according to MOJO's disc of the day "Hippy-punk communards from Munich chase drug refracted pagan gnosis!" and in 1971, Tanz Der Lemminge (Dance of the Lemmings)

A science-fiction star trekish experimental album with the space music taking you to a different world of weird insanity. The first three tracks are 15 to 19-minute suites that takes the listener inside the monolith with bizarre titles such as Restlesss Skylight-Transistor Child, Syntelman's March of the Roaring Seventies, and the foundation club to Norma Jean among the cult with the Marilyn Monroe - Memorial Church.

While the suites are like something out of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 stoner classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, the last three shorter tracks take a steeping breath of psycedelia. Chewing Gun Telegram has a reminiscent of a hard rockin sound of the Grateful Dead while Stumbling over Melted Moonlight is a prequel to their kraut punk classic Between the Eyes with its fuzztone bass sound and the gritty technique. Toxicological Whispering becomes a jamb band session into the mind of Jefferson Airplance. Weird, bizarre, and something you would defintiely get stoned over, Amon Duul II doesn't pull any punches.

CAN - Delay 1968

These were pre-Monster Movie sounds before Can released their 1st album in 1969. Delay 1968 was originally going to be their first album in a bizarre title called 'Prepared to meet thy Pnoom' catchy title ain't it? But the record company wanted them to do something different and that was when they released their first album Monster Movie. Here with this album, you could tell Can weren't sitting on their asses and doing nothing, but more of a darker session feel on the 1968 delay.

The pounding rhythm introduction on Butterfly, is a combination of PiL and early Faust recordings with a mixture of Punk Blues that would make a screeching terror sound from any Velvet Underground album. Pnoom is a 20-second avant-garde jazzy number as it goes into the heavy nugget stax destruction soul number of 19th century man. Thief which would later be covered by Can fans Radiohead, is the killing track. Mixed with a dark guitar solo from the late Michael Karoli and Malcolm Mooney's gothic voice, the band go into an evil territory. Man named Joe an R&B/Punk tradition again, but this time an homage of the 50's rock scene in an experimentation style while Uphill is a tradition of Iggy & the Stooges meets the Jimi Hendrix experience into a metal funk jam session while Little Star of Bethlehem closes the album into a hip-hop '60s style from Malcolm and then becomes a soulful Krautrockin' Mothers of Invention madness.

A mixture of soul, '60s garage rock, early Pink Floyd, and a bit of Hendrix meets Lou Reed's Transformer? They know the score!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

King Crimson - Red

They have already put the Prog Rock genre on the English map with the release of their debut album released in 1969, But it was time for King Crimson to take a break after the release of their seventh album, Red. The Crimso were now a trio after David Cross on violin left the band to become more of a session musician while a little help from former members of the group Ian McDonald and Mel Collins on saxes to help out with them.

John Wetton, Robert Fripp, and Bill Bruford were now the prog version of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. From the heavy introduction of Robert Fripp's guitar work on the opening self-titled track, is a torturing work of guitar solos, metalish sounds of the bass, and an explosive drum work, makes the album so damn good. The melodic dreamland beauty of Fallen Angel, is almost a prog love-song, that Crimson would have wished they were a jazz rock version of the fabulous mop tops, the Beatles while the heavy sound comes back in and in a high voltage sound of the thrashing piece of One More Red Nightmare.

The last two tracks shows them in their arranging and composition format. The 8-minute live performance at the Palace Theater on Providence, makes it spot-on with a grunge fusion sound of the Mahavishnu Orchestra while the closing 12-minute piece Starless, becomes more of an epic from the sounds of an early version of King Crimson of In the Wake of Poseidon and then into a heavy metal miles davis sound and then climaxes it similar to the finale of In the Court of the Crimson King.

Sadly, Robert Fripp broke Crimson up after the release of Red. He later worked with Brian Eno on No Pussyfooting and Eno's 1st solo album, Here Come the Warm Jets to the Berlin trilogy with David Bowie. In 1981, he reformed King Crimson in a new line-up including Bill Bruford. But this time with Frank Zappa's guitarist Adrian Belew and Peter Gabriel's bassist Tony Levin and released Discipline. It had been seven years since King Crimson released an album.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nektar - Remember the Future

There were a few of the spae rock bands that would take the Progressive genre into the milky way with Pink Floyd, Ash Ra Tempel, Gong, and Hawkwind. But a band from Germany would take the Space Rock genre into a Rock Opera tradition. Nektar were more like Pink Floyd's kid brother plus a cult following in Europe and the US during the '70s as they reached up a rocket to the stars with their fourth album to their previous classic A Tab in the Ocean with a mixture of Funk, harmonizing vocals, and brilliant guitar work to Remember the Future. For those of you who may or may not know what the story of Remember the Future is about, It's the tale of Bluebird who was rejected from his home planet and forced to leave because of the way his skin is colored blue and the way he flies across the sky that didn't mixed very well with the people who rejected this kind of thing for him. He leaves his planet and head towards Earth where he befriends a young boy who is blind. As the boy asks Bluebird where he's from, Bluebird talks to the Boy about where he's from as the guitar and the music follow him into the story. During the second act of the album, Bluebird gives the young boy a miracle cure by giving him new eyes to see. As the boy is given new eyes, he is suprised to find out who the person he was talking to was a creature from a different planet. While the story seems like something out of an H.G. Wells novel or story, the music itself is fucking brilliant.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Carmen - Fandangos in Space

Among supporters including David Bowie who got them on the 1980 floor show at the Marquee after his farewell Ziggy Stardust concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, these Californian flamenco/glam/prog rock band blew Aladdin Sane away. Carmen are one of the bands in the 1970's that would take that genre into a different land. Fandangos in Space is almost a story-telling album because of the tales that deal with space, spain, battle dome of the bulls, and thirlling guitar sounds including some amazing footwork also that is 100% perfect.

Tony Visconti, who produced Bowie, T. Rex, and progsters Gentle Giant, did an amazing job producing Carmen's first album because he nailed it so perfectly its almost that Genesis were becoming a salsa-rock fairy tale band. The two tracks that are explosively well to get the album started. Bulerias and Bullfight, are really high voltage that would set the footstomping by going into a faster tempo with the gypsy women's stories and the goriest bulls waiting to attack the humans on a hot and humid day and night.

Alongside the first two tracks, you have the 1-minute spanish classical pete townshend fingerpicking guitar sounds of Poor Tarantos while Stepping Stone becomes a funky flamenco guitar style in the morning sun. Sailor Song, a darker ballad that deals with the rise and fall of a Sailor who wants to be saved and refuses to die, and the self-titled track is almost solar system rockin' sound that is 6-minutes to perfection which later becomes an acapella clapping mexican funeral arrangment music for the Fandango herself to be buried.

Carmen never had the success after the 1980 floor sow. The group would later release three more albums before calling it a day in 1976 after the release of their final album of The Gypsies. Carmen are an excellent band I really dig and the hot day goes to play in the nightless sky.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Faust - So Far

Whenever you think of strange and bizarre weird music, you think of Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, and Henry Cow. But if you have a band from Germany in the 1970's that go into pure avant-garde punk experimental madness, then you've come to the right place at the right time with Faust and their second album in an album cover that's black with So Far. They were the band that would have Miles Davis be very happy with and to be a part of. This album show's Faust that they couldn't get into the whole bombastic feel of Yes, ELP, or Genesis type of sound.

This is more of the Velvet Underground meets Bowie meets John Coltrane in a twisted local environment that would make the doors screech open to. The opening of the banging drums, one piano chord, and a punk-rock chugging of a guitar chord with the humor taste of bubblegum music of It's a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl, is an ultimate killer. You have the quirky lyrics of 'It's a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl, It's a Rainy Day Sunshine Baby.' Really fun lyrics to really piss and sneer all of the other teenybopper music. On the Way to Abamae is a folky acoustic guitar instrumental composition while it goes into the 10-minute heavy guitar sounds that would blow the speakers up on No Harm, an homage to Iggy & the Stooges in a Krautrock way with lyrics like ' Daddy take a Banana, tomorrow is Saturday! ' This track is another killer that would make you turn the volume noise up a notch!

Mamie is Blue, an avant-garde extraordinare pice of music that has amps going into total destruction while the previous self-titled track, is more of a brass Parliament Funkadelic meets Edgard Varese arrangment. The last four tracks, show a little bit of comedy and vaudeville ragtime fun. I've Got My Car and My TV, an anti-car and TV commerical message for the viewers watching, the Zappa-style sounds on Picnic on a Frozen River and Me Lack Space while the last track closes it up into a swing paris jazz rock style of In the Spirit brings it to an end. So Far is one helluva album. Play this along with The Faust Tapes and turn it up. You are warned again!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come - Galactic Zoo Dossier

Whenever you think of Arthur Brown, you think of the god of hellfire with him wearing a helmet that's up in flames wearing a pre-KISS make-up that may have influenced the heavy metal glamsters of the 1970's with Arthur Brown and the single Fire from the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. But you've never seen the other side of Arthur Brown. After the break-up of the crazy world, he formed Kingdom Come in 1971 with their debut album Galactic Zoo Dossier, a mixture of space madness, weird haywiring music, strange narrations of the bible that could have been erotic in the twilight zone or in the outer limits. If this is more of the crazy stoner version of Pink Floyd's Meddle, this is it!

Tracks like the punk space rocker of Internal Messenger sounds almost a combine twist of the Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow meets Hawkwind's In Search of Space with screeching guitar sounds and pure lunatic voices of Arthur Brown that he would do during the late '60s. Galactic Zoo and Metal Monster are almost a lunacy of crazyness and a freak out experimentation of sinister avant-garde noises to keep you frightened for someone underneath the bed, The guitar delay, bass walking sound of Simple Man is a mellower dark composition with VCS3 synths creeping up the doorway. Night of the Pigs, an oinking political army marching Robert Calvert like story with guitars into metal territory while Sunrise is more of a mellower blues soul tradition into the milky way and goes into a sneering hard rock solo.

Galactic Zoo Dossier is one of the most insane albums that I've listened to from Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come. Man, those stoners surely were going nuts on their instruments in Space and the Solar System.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Traffic - Heaven Is In Your Mind

Alongside Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, and the Sgt. Pepper-era of the Beatles who were considered the proto-progressive rock of the psychedelic scene in the late '60s, a group from Birmingham, England took Proto-Prog into the world of make-believe. Traffic had a traditional sound of Jazz, Soul, Ragtime, and stories in candy houses with the walls made out of cheese. Formed in 1967 after Steve Winwood's departure of the british invasion's sound of the Spencer Davis Group who had hits like Keep on Running, Gimme Some Lovin', When I Come Home, and I'm a Man. Steve Winwood formed Traffic with Dave Mason on guitar, Jim Capaldi on Drums, and Chris Wood on flute and sax. The group was later signed on the Island Record label from Chris Blackwell to make their debut album Mr. Fantasy (Heaven Is In Your Mind).

This is Traffic's earlier look on the psychedelic scene to come up with Beatle related songs and Folk meets Soul meets Jazz in a funky way in this US version of Mr. Fantasy. The opening of the psychedelic single of the sitar-harpischord indian related sound of Paper Sun, blows the door away with its 4/4 time signature, Dealer is a folk-rock tune about the drugs that the dealers gives to his victims and watches them suffer in a deathly quiet hush, Coloured Rain a mid-pop like song that makes you feel good in the morning and in the afternoon with a bit of LSD related rain coming down from the sky, Hole in my Shoe could almost be a prog epic from the mind of Dave Mason writing a children's fairy tale with mellotrons and the drums doing 4 beats per measure from walking to the music, No Face, No Name, Number is a beautiful haunting acoustic melody from Steve Winwood as he sings very emotional while the organ and the mellotron plus the acoustic guitar, follows him along into a beauty of love.

Heaven Is In Your Mind is a Jazz-R&B soul rock track that Winwood and Capaldi sing the vocals about packing your bags and headed up the escaltor to guide your visions in Heaven to believe in yourself; Berkshire Poppies and Giving to You are really strange tracks. Dave Mason is bringing his pop-related fairy tales in a twist of Alice in Wonderland meets Hansel and Gretel with music performed by the Beatles. Dave goes into a storybook mode in gumdrop lands while the next track is more a jam session of the 12-bar faster blues composition with weird scatting voices and dating, Smiling Phases a tradition of Otis Redding in a Bee Gees way, and Dear Mr. Fantasy, a heavy blues rock number that crosses between Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience guitar work that brings the house down.

Traffic had a little success until they hit it big in the United States at the Fillmore East and West after Dave Mason left to pursue a solo career in 1968. They hit the big time when they released their golden seed in 1970, John Barleycorn Must Die in the roots of Jazz, R&B, and Folk songs that Bob Dylan could have wrote in England. Even though the band spilt up in 1969 and came back in 1970 and then broke up in 1974 and lost two members Chris Wood in 1983 and Jim Capaldi in 2005, The legacy of Traffic's music keeps Feelin' Alright.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Family - Music in a Doll's House

Family's debut album released in 1968, is a wonderous prog-psychedelia album. This is a true massive undertaking for a group who were the proto types for Traffic and the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis. Produced by Traffic's Dave Mason, Music in a Doll's House is one of the albums you'll play over and over again to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea. Tracks like the banging classical introduction of The Chase gives a good feel to start off the album, while the beauty of the melody of calmness with the mellotron of Mellowing Grey, and the heavy harmonica blues rocker of Old Songs for New Songs show Family in the influences of the Blues, Folk, Jazz, and a bit of an homage to Steve Winwood's previous group before Traffic, the Spencer Davis Group in a psychedelia format. The music can also be very JRR Tolkien like sound with the barbaric psych song of Me My Friend which is almost very Middle Age Rock music from the Medieval-era of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, they also do a take of Proto-Metal with a string quartet with a little bit of the Spencer Davis punk track of I'm A Man with Peace of Mind. Almost Beatle like material on that track, but very Hendrix to the mix of Traffic. Family's first album is one of the best albums I've listened to. I've listened to it about 5 times now on my iPod and they really show a prog rockin' sound with their influential roots inside the Doll's House.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Van Der Graaf Generator - Pawn Hearts

VDGG weren't your typical prog rock band that was filled with goblins and dragons, they were more of an evil version of a combination of King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King meets Genesis's Nursery Cryme. Their next album, Pawn Hearts is a true defying achievement. The album is filled with nightmare tales from Peter Hammill, screeching saxes from David Jackson, keyboards going haywire by Hugh Banton, and Drums as uzi's from Guy Evans. Even though they had some killing and heavy songs like Killer, After the Flood, The Sleepwalkers, White Hammer, Childlike Faith in Childhood's End, and Darkness (11/11), they filled up the sound of terror and filling up the room like a Progressive Rock version of Jekyll & Hyde rock opera routines to jump out of the lake with dark material and alarming effects to keep you from jumping. Lemmings (Including Cogs), is an electrical wave of evil above the cliff top of insanity. Keyboards and Saxes going off like a ticking time bomb while the drums go into a mellow and attack mode. Peter Hammill sings like a madcat as the music follows him into the mystical darkness. Man-Erg is one of the most glorified tracks on Pawn Hearts. It starts off a ballad in the first 2 minutes of the track, and then it goes into a nuclear and post-apocalyptic musical scenario while Pete screams out the line 'How can I be free?! How can I get help?! Am I really me?! Am I someone else?!' this part and the rest of the track is almost a sneering jazz like scenery as the saxes, drums, organs, and Peter's vocals go into a massive embellishment. And if that wasn't scary, this next piece is almost perfect for Prog-Rock's Halloween tradition. The 23-minute piece A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, is almost on the edge of your seat as if a Mad Scientist wrote a rock musical about a lighthouse keeper planning to commit suicide or live his life and start a new beginning. It has this piece going into a haywire version of Zappa's 200 Motels with David Jackson's saxes going up to maximum volume, organs and mellotrons scaring the shit out of the neighbors and the ocean scenery of shock treatment, but still a heavy fucking mind-boggling track. If HP Lovecraft were alive today, he would definitely get a real kick out of it for his sexual beheadings and Re-Animators. This album is one of the best I've listened to from VDGG. It's more of another combination of the sound effects of the Haunted House meets Goth music in the 21st century that will crawl up behind you. It's massive, disturbing, and shocking to get you fit shaped for the torture chambers! All in all, buy this album and turn the volume way fucking up!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute

After the relase of their debut album in 2003, The Mars Volta's career almost turned into a difficult situation. Jeremy Ward who was the sound manipulator on the Tremulant EP and the De-Loused album, passed away of a heroin overdose. He was relpaced by Juan Alderete who was part of the Thrash Metal scene in the 1980's with Racer X. The Mars Volta would later do another concept album based on a diary that Ward discovered while working in the Repo business. The album deals with Family Searching, darkness, betrayal, love, and regret. All of that and Frances the Mute is the true bodyslam of Progressive Rock.
It starts off with Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus which begans as a calmer guitar introduction and then it goes into experimental territory with odd time codes, King Crimson meets Miles Davis of the Bitches Brew-era. This track shows that they ain't turning back for no reason. The Widow has more of an eerie and darker ballad of Pink Floyd's Remember a Day; The next three tracks are truly in your face punk salsa prog rock. L'Via L'Viaquez shows their Hispanic roots of Latin music with Electric Harlow sounds and Fusion guitar styles that Rodruigez does paying homage to Robert Fripp. The next two epics show their atmospheric and punk edges top ticket to the outer scorches of oblivion.
Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore is a mixture of Can and a bit of Funeral Rock music that will send you to the chambers of hell and beyond the outer limits. If you're ready to take the next challenge get ready for an epic suite that clocks it up for about 30 minutes! Cassandra Gemini is a true Progressive Rock suite because you need all the ingredients for a mad jam session. This is a combination of Van Der Graaf Generator meets Bad Brains meets Faust with a bit of a String quartets and the ending of a reprise of Cygnus in the classical guitar mode. Not bad for a band to get the concept album going with the help of Pink Floyd's artwork man Storm Thorgerson to make a strange album cover that is almost similar to The Division Bell in a car format. You never know what will happen next.

The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium

After the fall of At the Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodruigez Lopez wanted to take the experimental music to a higher scale. They soon formed the Mars Volta and relased their EP Tremulant EP, and their conceptual madness, De-Loused In The Comatorium which is almost a strange but brilliant rock opera on what would happen if the Mars Volta would do their own concpet album based on Lewis Carroll's psychedelic story of Alice in Wonderland. The true origins of De-Loused is based on Julio Vengas from At the Drive-In who suffered from a coma after he took a dose of morphine and then came back and took his own life in 1996 of suicide. De-Loused is a mixture of King Crimson, Salsa Music, early Floyd material, and the homage of '70s Krautrock mixed with Punk. This is the true album that the Mars Voltat knows they're roots very well. The beginning track, Son Et Lumiere/Intertiatic ESP is a real kick in the gut piece. Mixed with Fleas' funky bass punk sound, Cedric's wailing voice, and Omar's guitar going up to a higher ground. You have the sense of a true nature. While you listen to this shocking but suprising track, they defintely go into shock treatment. Roulette Dares(The Haunt Of) is more of a Crimso meets Black Flag track. Tira Me a Las Aranas and Drunkship of Lanterns are more of a slow acoustic darker ballad into the tunnels of spiders and then it becomes a pumping heart of the Mahavishnu Orchestra punks and Robert Fripp guitar style. The last five tracks are most a cimatic roller-coaster ride with faster time signatures, reverbing sound effects, midsts of the jungle, and the fall of the comatorium. Eria Tarka is a thrilling mellotronic journey into hell, the 12-minute Cicatriz ESP is the ultimate trip of shrilling eerie guitar sounds into the abyss, This Apparthus Must Be Unearthed is the moment of death with Punk like Prog of soothing and metal jazz for Cerpin Taxt, Televators is more like something out of the 1973 british horror classic The Wicker Man where the hero makes his scrifice in the jungle and falls to this death while Omar's classical guitar sets the scene while Cedric's voalcs helps the details of Julio's death. And if you think that the album's over and done with, think again, the 8-minute hardcore experimental track Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt is a true heavy metal mixed with a little bit of Rush meets Can's Deadlock (Part II). The album and the group were off to a running start to take Prog Rock into jam band territory.

Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans

Yes had already hit the Prog scene with successful albums with The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge. It wasn't until 1974 that they were about to go into Concept Mode. During this time period, Bill Bruford left Yes to join up with Robert Fripp and King Crimson. Session drummer for the Plastic Ono Band with John Lennon's Alan White joined the group to work with Yes and their controversial concept album based on the book by Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi, Tales from Topographic Oceans. This album is one of these concepts that will send you to the land of the Ritual aquarium seas of ambition.

This shows Yes in their prime within the spell of Avant-Garde electronic noises from Rick Wakeman. They wanted to take the boundaries of Progressive Rock a little furter and top it off with some strange Atmospheric sounds that would take you to different worlds. I was kind of suprise of hearing this album from start to finish becasue for me, 20-miunte epics on four tracks is a huge challenge because no one dared to release a 2-LP set with strange and bizarre epics and going on tour to play the whole album in its entireity. From the tales of the dawn of light ( The Revealing Science of God ), The Fruit of Life ( The Remembering [High The Memory] ), and bizarre languages with crazy effects of the Moog ( The Ancients [Giant Under the Sun], Ritual [Sous Sommes Du Soleil] ), They really show a level of madness.

For Rick Wakeman, he felt it was too spacey and felt it was like crap. During the Topographic Oceans tour, Rick would eat a lemon curry during the performance and after the tour, he left Yes to join up the Royal Festival Hall to make one of the most successful live albums of a Rock musical with a Symphony Orchestra of Journey To The Centre of the Earth. After he left, Yes turned to swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz who was part of a trio called Refugee that featured some of the members of The Nice and released Relayer. Tales is one of the highlights in Yes's career and reaching up to the heavens. 20-minute epics to make you go into the mystical caves? Why Not?!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Top 5 Strangest Prog Albums

Aphrodite's Child - 666

1971, this greek trio featuring Demis Roussos and Keyboardist Vangelis who would now later become famous for film scores such as Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, 1492, and Alexander. These guys released this double concept album that would take Hell into Atmospheric music meets Folk meets Heavy Metal territory. You have some unbelievable tracks like the fast guitar strumming live audience sound of the fall of Babylon, the 5-minute hard rock epic of The Four Horsemen, Ambient of early Tangerine Dream sound and Narrations filling up the room with The Seventh Seal and Aegian Sea, and another epic that clocks in 19 minutes and 44 seconds that will send you into the world of apocalypse of weirdness combining the flames with All the Seats Were Occupied. Even though it's weird and crazy, it's fucking brilliant!

Pink Floyd - Ummagumma
Pink Floyd were in Avant-Garde/Live territory when they released Ummagumma in 1969. This was a big change for the Floyd because they weren't the pop single like band they had with Syd, they were going into different areas of instrumental experimentation. The four-part keyboard Zappa like role of Sysyphus shows Rick Wright in a Mellotronic greek figure that will have Caligula happy. Roger Waters bringing his Folk roots in the birds and the river with the mellower Grantchester Meadows and brings The Mothers of Invention into a small cave with chipmunks as he brings his Scottish tradition to tell a weird story with strange noises with Several Species of Small Furry Animals. Gilmour comes along with a 3-part mellower and atmospheric heavy sound on the guitar with The Narrow Way while Nick Mason closes it up with the Japanese like music of Avant-Garde with The Grand Vizer's Garden Party.

Pink Floyd - The Wall

This album was almost the beginning of the end of the Prog-Rock era in 1979 when the Floyd relased their landmark concept album The Wall. The story is about a burned out rock star (similar to Brian Jones and Syd Barrett) who has barracaded himself in his Hotel room as he flashes back through his childhood years in post-WWII, abused by the School teachers, and sexual intercourses with groupies and his wife. After he becomes isolated with everything he sess in his flashback, he builds the Wall brick by brick that the Floyd plays. The situation for him turns to evil as he has a nervous breakdown and then becomes a rock and roll version of Adolph Hitler and his companions the Marching Hammers to kill everyone to be on the Run and Run Like Hell. This album ain't your King Arthur and the Knights tradition for the heart. The Floyd's music on this, is amazing!

Henry Cow - Legend
Let's say that if the Mothers of Invetion and The Soft Machine form together to create a mixture of Jazz and Avant-Garde RIO insanity to the mix, they would combine and form Henry Cow and their debut album relased in 1973 Legend. Saxes going from Bebop and Fast Funky swing arrangements on Nirvana for Mice which is really a mad-like track. Nine Funerals for the Citizen King and Teenbeat Introduction are strangely strange but oddly normal filled with mellowingly sounds that would have Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band would have almost sounded similar to. Those tracks and the album cover of a sock goes perfectly well.

Ange - Caricatures
Ange were more of a french version of the Peter Gabriel-era of Genesis when they released their debut album Caricatures and they really show a taste of Hammond Organ becoming the mellotron with a dark twisted puppets to scare you at bedtime. They have an influential sound of Classical music, Metal, and strange stories in french. The album has some amazing cuts like the mellower sadness with Dignite, Jazz metal goes haywire with Tels Quels, and the 13-minute epic of Caricatures, sure brings the attention of dark humor. Ange are really good for evil to come around the corner.

Magma - Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh

Let's Say that a Band from France would combine the concept of Opera, Jazz, Science Fiction, and a chanting voices of 'Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West' would frighten the shit out of Wagner and Beethoven of the Classical Music-era from a group like Magma and their Zeuhl-like Space Rock Opera of Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh. Founder and Drummer of Magma, Christian Vander decided to take the foreign language translation into a space-like language called Kobaia. The story of MDK is about the planet (Kobaia) and the people who live there are moving to another planet to find a new beginning and a new life, but Nebher Gudahtt who is also part of the planet, he wants to them to stay in the planet, but no one is following him and refuse to take his suggestion.
The music is almost very Rhiengold like Space Opera sound. You have the crossover between Edgard Varese, Richard Wagner, John Coltrange, and a crossover of Frank Zappa meets Ange. Even though it's a crazy idea to make a Outer Space opera version of Das Rheingold, It is a real kicking ass album that will send you into the darker side of the Milky Way. Not bad for a Zeuhl Band to take the concept into a Galaxy far, far away and to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Egg - The Polite Force

Egg's next album would be a combination of weird and crazyness that could really be more brilliant and strange noises that will leave you suprised. The Polite Force is a massive underground album that has the recipes that you need. Avant-Garde effects, Bach, Fuzztone Organs, and the travels to the cores of asylums! They were taking the album to a territory that no band had ever done before. There are some moments that show Egg in their formation in the autobiographical Soft Machine-like tradition of A Visit to Newport Hospital which talks about the group's formation in the Canterbury circuit. The Jazz-like compostion of Contrasong shows the band into a Bombastic view with a horn section that will have Miles Davis send you down the corridor. Egg then becomes more weirder with maybe their omage to the Beatles Revolution no. 9 with Bolik which has some ambient madness and noodling plus a Bach tradition to go along with it. The last track on this album is their Magna Carta with the 20-minute arrangement of Long Piece No. 3. This is pure crazyness right here. You have the mixtures of ELP's Tarkus, Deep Purple metal sound-like organs, and a bit of shrieking noises again that will give you goosebumps into massive structures of hell. This album is a true combining force of Evil, Ambition, Alarming Organs, and strange twisting figures that will keep you going for more!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 5 Italian Prog Rock Albums

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - Darwin!

This concept album is based on the life of sociologist and the thoughts of the origins of species, Charles Darwin. Banco doesn't pull any punches with their superior album. They would use ragtime music, haunting oboe sounds, baroque classical music, and harpischord's of the 19th century screeching out from the synths with an operatic rock sound that the original three tenors would get a kick out of.

Premiata Forneria Marconi - Storia Di Un Minuto

PFM were one of the Italian Progsters that Greg Lake of ELP and King Crimson fame enjoyed and he got them signed on their own Prog label Manticore. Their first album is a mixture of 18th century sounds. Their debut album Storia Di Un Minuto (History of a Minute or Story in a Minute) is a mixture of synthesized anthems of fairy tale dances (E' Festa), the stories for September Impressions with a Genesis mellotron style of Impressioni Di Settembre and the two-part epic like folk metal of Dove Quando would almost have an operatic feel that would have the three tenors get a kick out of.

Le Orme - Felona E Sorona Picture the scenery. An Italian version of ELP writing almost a rock opera in two sets in an opera house. More of a outer space rock musical to be more precisely. The story takes place on two diffrent planets. One planet is Felona, who is filled with Joy and Happiness and wants to be free with everybody. The second planet is Sorona, she is filled with sorrow and isolation and filled withdarkness across her home planet. The two planets are with a master who combines the planet in an ultimate climatic showdown as Le Orme fills it up with mellotron limits, moogs going up to the milky way, and Carl Palmer influential drum patterns mixing it up with folky acoustic guitar ballads and Jazz like fusion Bass patterns.

Museo Rosenbach - Zarathustra
A more sinister and darker approach for group doing a concept album based on the book that Frederich Nietzche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra, not to be confused with Strauss version of the classical music anthem for 2001. Museo Rosenbach's debut album is a perfect gem for Prog lovers. This shows an italian version that crosses over of King Crimson's first album meets Genesis Nursery Cryme in a dramatic way. You have the 20-minute epic that will send Edgar Allen Poe to write a musical version with Nietzche of House On Haunted Hill with mellotrons that turned evil, Black Sabbath influential guitar sounds mixed with a snarling drum introduction and a Hammond Organ from hell. You might want to play this along with any Horror film and scare the shit out of Trick-or-Treaters with.

Jacula - Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus
Kind of a strange band with a strange title ain't it? But for Keyboard and Guitar player Antonious Rex, he must have been a very strange musician or maybe to become a part of Satna's calling when he formed the group in the late '60s and would defintely scare the shit out of them with their second album. Mixed with heavy organs, female vocalists, a strange cover, flute solos coming from hell, and dark occults that would be perfect for Halloween. You have some monks chanting the lord's prayer and Rex speaking in a devilish voice as he goes into a Tony Iommi guitar like solo on Absolution. The darker but mellower acoustic guitar and violin narration of Long Cold Black Night which sets the scary stories into musical campfire turmoil, while U.F.D.E.M. sets the mood with church-like organs becoming massive with synths as Doris Norton's operatic rocking vocals turns up the devilish heatalong with the scariest organic music of skeletal callings for Praesentia Domini. They sure know how to scare other 20th century artist like Philip Glass, Bram Stoker, and the cult hero of the Candyman with bees coming out of his mouth to be immortal. Not bad for a dark band to scare you in your sleeps!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother

Pink Floyd were already hitting the London scene in the late '60s with their cult hero Syd Barrett after the release of singles Arnold Layne and their psychdelic debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It wasn't until 1968 where Syd was taking the drug scene a little too far after the release of See Emily Play and the pop humor grocery store sing-along track single, Apples and Oranges. Childhood friend David Gilmour replaced Syd after the release of A Saucerful of Secrets when Syd said goodbye with the folk experimental track Jugband Blues.

They had a talk about what they were going to do after Syd left, they decided to move forward to a planet where no man has gone before. Their 1970 album, Atom Heart Mother is an explosive and almost bombastic concept for the Floyd with the Symphony Orchestra, wires in people's brains, the summer of 1968, Sun's rising above the english country houses, and a good old fashion psychedelic breakfast.

The opening track that clocks in at 23 minutes and 44 seconds of Atom Heart Mother, is the gem of a perfect symphonic sound. You have Rick Wright doing some odd sounds on the keyboard, David Gilmour's space guitar work, Roger Waters doing a little bass solo, and Nick Mason's drum sounds becoming more quiet and calm. The track would almost become more of an alternate soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 which I will get to later on. It's almost atmospheric and strange, but absolutely well made.

If is almost a science-fiction folk ballad from Roger Waters becoming more of a fingerpicking type of guy on the acoustic guitar and David Gilmour doing his Outer Limits sound on his guitar also. Summer '68 is another ballad this time from Richard Wright. It's more of a Rick's taste of the culture of the song about 1968 with the hippies and the love-in's before leaving to serve his country in Vietnam.

Fat Old Sun is David Gilmour's number about the sun reaching over the sky as the song is more of a calming acoustic guitar introduction with Gilmour's taste of vocals. And then at the last 2-minutes of the number, he goes into a rockin' guitar solo. It is so good, you know it's absolutely excellent!

The last track Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast, is your mouth-watery 13-minute experimental piece of their roadie Alan Stiles (who cooked breakfast for the Floyd), orders some breakfast and then it becomes more of a flourish/acoustic/prog number while he munches away while the band plays along as he enjoys the composition.

Now about the Kubrick situation. According to legend, Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick heard the album and he loved it so much, he asked the Floyd to compose a film score for him to do his next film which is one of the most controversial films made of all time A Clockwork Orange. The floyd refused to do it because they didn't know how the film was going to set the scenery.

Atom Heart Mother is Pink Floyd's masterpiece along with Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall, Meddle, and Dark Side of the Moon. This was the beginning of the Floyd's career up into Space. Even though to this day they hated working on this album, they really kicked the temperature up to 200!

Egg - Egg

If there was one band that took the Canterbury Prog scene into dangerous musical asylums, it would be Egg. Egg was a trio similar to ELP, Soft Machine and Le Orme. They had the mixtures of fuzzy organs, classical bach traditions, and english country garden avant-garde Jazz metal. So they weren't your typical bombastic and gigantic Moog Synths that Keith Emerson had for Karn Evil 9, but more of a trick of the tail twist of evil nature of forbidden fruit.

Their debut album released in 1970 simply called the self-titled album Egg, is a massive arranging and composition of pure weirdness. From the opening carousel jazz like number of 'While Growing My Hair', which is more of a tradition of the Soft Machine's early days in the late '60s more of 'Joy of a Toy' type of introduction. As I mentioned before, they have a classical music style and pay tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach of the Tocatta suite with the fusion and classic organ like sound of 'Fugue in D minor',

'I will be absorbed' is more of a jazzy feel, and the full length version of the next suite in its entirety because of some situations of the rights issue with one of the composers with 'Symphony no. 2 in 4 movements.' You have the Zappa feel and the Edvard Grieg fast tempo organ tradition of 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' into a canterbury version of The Nice that will have your head explode!

Egg had a small fanbase in Europe, but the group would later relase two more albums (The Polite Force and the Civil Surface) until they broke up in 1975 with their last third album. Today, there's an archival album called The Metronomical Society which features BBC Sessions, and rare live recordings in Egg's true style of insanity!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rare Bird - Rare Bird

Rare Bird's 1st album is almost a perfect taste of sinister progressive rock. It almost carried a darker tale of epics and lost for love. But for these guys, they know their genre of Prog very well. Everything on this album, is like a mach made for political views, knights, Pictures of Dorian Gray in a female version with the Devil, and an absolute jazzy fuzztone sound of music. Tracks like the humor sound of the omage 1950's rockabilly sound of 'Times' is catchy and very funny to the rockin' sound of teddybear elvis music while 'You Went Away' is a lush break-up song of going to the war and dealing with their privacy. You also have the anthem of all Prog anthems that was a hit in '69 with 'Sympathy' which deals about Sexual Fantasies and the political protest to stop starvation and war. 'Natures Fruit' is almost another humor song that is quite bubblegumtype of sound, then it becomes more of a swing jazzy sing-along piece. Then the last two tracks is like putting a cherry on a piece of lemon pie. 'Bird on a Wing' is almost a battlefield stompin' music and a love songy ballad about a bird flying up to the heavens to search for a new land, The banging of the Tom-Toms and the eerie keyboard introduction of the harmonizing darker, plus sinister whisper vocals with the 'God of War'. And then two extra bonus tracks. 'Devil's High Concern' is more of a conceptual taste of heavy metal and similar to The Nice. The story of the Queen's last days as she sees the pictures of the lover's that she had and then makes a deal with the Devil with Mystical fuzzy Organs. The mono version of 'Sympathy' is almost a half-speed piece that is almost pure perfecto genius and ends it on a organotic note. Rare Bird's debut album is a true diamond for them. They have relased their next album in 1970 with As You Mind Flies By which is also a superb and killer album. But they never had any success and never saw the light of day after the release of the first two albums. The music of the Sympathy and Rare Bird's music flies into a new generation of fans and new prog-nuts!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine

1968, the year when music started and the world changed. Martin Luther King and RFK were assassinated, the War in Vietnam was still going on, and the riots were in flames. It wasn't until this group from the Canterbury scene that took the psychedelic scene in london that took the genre of Jazz Fusion and Experimental music into another direction. The Soft Machine is one of the bands that took that direction with their self-titled debut album with a taste of instrumentals, Robert Wyatt's mellow vocals and his drums, Kevin Ayers using a speaking tone with the Bass Guitar, and Mike Rateledge's fuzztone organ that would set the world on fire!

I have enjoyed listnening to this album and the group also. They were the true pioneers in the Canterbury Progressive Rock-era. Apart from this, they don't back down to this because of the way they constructed the music from start to finish. Everything on their debut album is like a clean jewel that has been restored and waiting to buy it for the perfect person to enjoy.

Since this album has some amazing cuts on the Soft Machine debut album, there are some crazy tracks that they push it close to the edge. For example, the 7-minute instrumental experimentation 'So Boot If At All' which is is them doing some strange instruments that carry the Syd Barrett tradition of 'Matilda Mother', 'A Certain Kind' is the warmer taste on riding in your SUV on a beautiful sunday afternoon with Robert Wyatt's lush vocals and the story of the girl he loves to be and marry with while Mike's jazzy bebop sound on the organ.

The two rockers 'Save Yourself' and 'We Did It Again', pushes the Soft Machine into Proto-Prog-Punk territory that his beyond hell and chants of a revamp tradition of the Kinks 'You Really Got Me.' 'Lullabye Letter' is filled with anger and frustration song as Wyatt talks to his girlfriend in the song while having sex and making love as the band becomes a fuzztone sound of Pink Floyd.

Other tracks including the mellow heavier two part introduction of 'Hope for Happiness' is a class of proportions of Wyatt's skeleton's in the closet side, the low-key anthem of organs for the Trumpeter's narration of Kevin Ayers speaking tone of voice in 'Why Are We Sleeping?' and his prog fusion of techniques of space in 'Joy of a Toy.'

They were pre-Floyd and pre-fusion back in those days. They were showing their true side of the music scene of the late '60s than Jefferson Airplane and Cream were doing. The Soft Machine's debut album is a pro-choice and early punk prog to get you cookin'

Amon Duul II - Carnival in Babylon

Amon Duul II had the taste of Metal, Punk, and Prog to the mix. They wanted to do something that was beyond the lanterns of space from their previous second album, Tanz Der Lemminge. Their third album, Carnival in Babylon is almost the rebirth of dark sounds and the shrilling taste of mad worlds. Once again, the group was already following in the footsteps of the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd to name a few, but this album shows the true example of Outer Space music in the planet Krautrock.

The opening track 'C.I.D. in Uruk', is more of a psychedelic kraut hammond organ with evil light that is mixed with emotional acoustic guitar ballads with almost a Syd Barrett guitar sound, 'All the Years 'Round' is more of Amon Duul's emotional side with a softer taste of Surrealistic Pillow and female vocalist Renate Knaup-Krotenschwanz takes over the vocals as she takes the listener into the watery abyss mixed with fantasies and love including the lyric 'Are you ready for the take off/Are you waiting for the show?' this is more of germany's answer to 'White Rabbit' in a Krautrock version of Grace Slick.

The funky introuduction and shrieking guitar sounds of 'Kronwinkl', almost becomes a fairy tale for Amon Duul II to make it more dramatic and very sinister, The band becomes more of an Indian-Acoustic tribe with 'Tables are Turned' and so far, so good with the guitar becoming more of aghostly dead sound, 'Shimmering Sand' is more of a metal like tale of the ballad of a man who searches for a new land in a new generation of the sand that shimmers, and the 10-minute piece that has almost the word 'epic' written all over it. This is a taste of funk and more of a fusion take of Hendrix's own band from 1970 the Band of Gypsys that would take you into a different world of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This is one of the best albums in Amon Duul II's career because they were the band that you couldn't escape from or hear. They had a sense of darker tales of the babyloniac morals of the Carnivals of Babylon. I have listened to this album twice and it's still powerful and I've enjoyed this big time. So if you want to get high along with other stoner albums including Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Amon Duul II's Carnival in Babylon is the next stoner album you defintely want to get into!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kevin Ayers - Joy of a Toy

Soft Machine's Kevin Ayers wanted to do a solo career after he left the band in 1969. He wanted to take the concept of the solo material a little further with weird lyrics, folk music, and add a bit of Mike Rateledge's fuzztone leslie hammond organ and out comes Kevin's 1st solo album, Joy of a Toy. This is a true extraordinary album to come out during that time period because he decided after his departure from the group, he wanted to take his first solo album a bit of like a Canterbury version of The Wind in the Willows meet Alice in Wonderland. And Kevin did! Joy is one of those albums that you will play forever. Songs like the mellotron-ragtime number 'The Clairetta Rag', is a perfect song that has Kevin singing about the girl next door to his house, The Syd Barrett and bizarre track in 3/4 'Oleh Oleh Bandu Bandong' has everybody chanting the words like a cult surrounding the temple, including the drums keeping the tempo going, and Avant-Garde noises from the piano, the loco-motive chugging sing-along on 'Stop This Train (Again Doing It)' and the dreams of a young girl into the darkness for 'The Lady Rachel (Lullabye for Children)'. The Bonus tracks on this album, are the ultimate catch for this album for the Canterbury singer-songwriter. You have the lost session with Kev's friend Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd fame doing a guest appearance on guitar on the catchy 'Religious Experience (Singing a Song in the Morning)'which is brilliantly good and of course the lyrics which goes 'Singing A Song in the Morning/Singing it again at night/Don't even know what I'm singing about/ But it makes now feel I feel alright.' The next is the fuzztone altercation of the Soft Machine's earlier take of Ayers 'We Know What you Mean' and turning into 'Soon Soon Soon', and the darker versions with Organs and candles with 'The Lady Rachel' in two different version in a Mono sound and a Single Version also. I have listened to Joy of a Toy for the second time now and it's one of the best and superb albums that Kevin released and he brought the kicks to a higher level. And we know what you mean, We Know What you See, and we completely understand Kev!