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Friday, July 31, 2009

Astra - The Weirding

Among their influences from the Europrog sounds of Aprhodite’s Child, Pink Floyd, Magma, King Crimson, and Yes, basically they have an amount to please their fans that goes to show you that is happening in the San Diego area of the 21st century. It is now called the Second Wave of Psychedelic Prog or SWOPP which Classic Rock Magazine is now calling it and for me, they are right on the money with it! The band, Astra have a unique and crystal touch of crossing between the experimental sounds and the floyd’s torch is handed over to these 5 awesome men who can bring the music to a growing audience in the San Diego area. Formed in 2001, they started out as an underground Psychedelic band named, Silver Sunshine when they were heavily influenced by the Psychedelic scene in the London Underground as they moved forward into their musical taste of the Progressive Rock genre.
Bringing the genre back from the dead and reviving it with an instrumental array of the Moog Synthesizer, Guitars, Bass, Drums, and of the glorified Mellotron, their music is a captivated experience like no other and like nothing you’ve ever listened to before. “We don’t like to always be super heavy” Richard Vaughan leading member of Astra, says during an interview with Classic Rock Magazine “We also, like to do melodic thoughtful stuff.” Well they combine the two as Apples and Oranges cooked medium rare.
With 17 and 10-minute suites and bizarre strange titles which were heavily influenced from Sci-Fi novels, The Weirding is very much an Outer Space album. But in a roundabout way, there are no dull numbers to provide some of the revival’s arrangements. The Rising of the Black Sun, a 5-minute opening number is a magical ride in its glory, but with the shattering sounds of the ride cymbal and its spacey guitar solos that will get the band making history one day, its atmospheric ambient instrumental introduction and its pulse driving hard rock sound is very eerie and disturbing at the same time, but it’s a shattering introduction.
Unlike strange titles for a Prog epic that will have your spine tingling, the 15-minute title track is just abiding. A haunted melodic beauty that was beyond the King Crimson Lizard-era of the 1970s, the number goes into a mode of development mode that no one has ever done before. It becomes farfetched into a territorial experimentation of a Grateful Dead mellotron jam session before coming back into the story-complex mode of Cosmic Rock. Equivalently, with its Moog Synthesizers going off the wall, Silent Sleep and The River Under have a participation as a triple with their heroes, Pink Floyd, Premiata Forneria Marconi and Le Orme than Yes and ELP, while the 17-minute Ouroboros has a taste of portrait of a 15th century Italian painting that maybe could have been a film score done by Scandinavian progsters Trace and Robert Fripp’s mind-blowing guitar virtuosos. Also, there’s an interesting influence of Prog Space Folk on Broken Glass as The Dawning of Orphiucus has a lurching quality of Tangerine Dream meets Camel in the late ‘70s. The closing number, Beyond to Slight the Maze which sounds like a story from The Outer Limits, is back into the core of Keyboard Wizardry like no other in its Science Fiction glory and it showcases how Astra can be the next prog rock band of the 21st century in about 5-minutes. And they’ll hit the underground scene like a bat out of hell.

Mellow Candle - Swaddling Songs

Emerging from the streets of Dublin, Ireland and arising from the underground folk scene in their home town at the beginning of the ‘70s, this spectacular, lost classic, and mesmerized music from Mellow Candle who are one of the unsung heroes from the Female Prog Folk bands to come out of that era as the ‘60s were drawing to an end. The power of two female vocals and three male musicians playing their hearts out to their only debut album from the Deram label released in 1972, it seems to fit perfectly as they sing Folk traditions and dreaming about a universal landscape of a magical world of mesmerized beauty.
Swaddling Songs is a combination of the pounding rhythms like The Poet and the Witch, Dan The Wing, and the finale instrumental vocalized composition of the monk na-na and do-do-do harmonization’s on Boulders on my Grave. Elsewhere, there is also a classical lukewarm beauty on the arrangements with; Messenger Birds, the baroque 15th century rocker introduction which deals with the Snowy Lady and her silvered fate on Heaven Heath. Most of the songs they did on here are very Fairport Convention meets Renaissance meets Trader Horne as if they mated together and wrote some fairy tale-like songs that could really get you jumping to when you hear these numbers while closing your eyes and imagining they right in front of you performing for your family and their kids when they sing. Meanwhile, some of the compositions have the mixtures of Sandy Denny quality that are Balladry-like and very John Martynish also.
The piano crisp featuring the vocal arrangements of Allison Williams on the narrative musical beat of Messenger Birds (which tells the story of a mother and a child riding with the seagulls and take them to a better land where they won’t have to hear the bitterness of war or hear his tears crying to move away to a new dimension where they will live in peace and be happy in a safe location) while the tempo becomes a pulse of a mensural level on Buy or Beware (which deals with on how we spend our money and how the warnings might become aware of what we lose all of our cash over food, drinks, or your crazy faces that you make) while the groove becomes more of a tango folk rock dancing composition between Allison and Clodagh Simonds on the medieval 20th century of the 1920’s that would have been a perfect number for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and the dreams we dream about when we were kids about unicorns and the crown of thorns with Vile Excesses.
Lonely Man is almost a Richard and Linda Thompson composition with its heavy blues rock feel featuring some great guitar solos done by David Williams who takes over throughout the number while the drums are keeping the tempo going which are done by William A. Murray and bassist Frank Boylan is doing some magnificent bass lines that fit the girls vocal arrangements as they pummel like a band that won’t stop the folk train going. It’s hard to imagine on why Mellow Candle didn’t make it in the big time and fade away like a candle that is blown out, but the true force of Swaddling Songs is doesn’t lack anymanifestation and no bad song throughout the entire album, but all in all, its one of the most memorable albums that has been released.
And 37 years later, its never going to die and the vocals of Allison Williams and Clodagh Simonds who were almost like Sisters between the two of them when they sing, their voices still blow you away and captivate musicians worldwide in the folk and experimental universe.

Supertramp - Crime of the Century

When Supertramp’s third album, Crime of the Century came out in 1974, People began to take notice about them and they knew it was a magnum opus for them and the songwriter duo’s Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. They were heavily inspired by the Beatlesque take of the British Invasion and the music of what was considered the Prog genre; Traffic, Spooky Tooth, and Jethro Tull. And of course, Crime of the Century had all the ingredients it needed. No wonder Paul McCartney who mentioned Supertramp in a Rolling Stone interview as his “favorite band”.
Formed in 1969 in the streets of London, Supertramp were a band that were desperate to reach high water mark and to be better than the Beatles with Songwriting, Ambition, and the energy of their influences they shared and putting the salute to classical mixed with blues, and heavy darker tones they would do. They started out as a band called the Joints which was helped by a man who came from the Netherlands named Stanley August Misesegaes who was a millionare and fan of rock music, wanted to help a band to get moving and soon he called his buddy singer and keyboardist, Rick Davies to help out.
They soon got bassist and songwriter Roger Hodgson on board after he read an ad in the Melody Maker done by Rick Davies, and found guitarist Richard Palmer and drummer Robert Millar as they were the first slot of the Isle of Wight festival in 1970. Their first two albums; the self-titled debut and the controversial album cover of the late Rusty Skuse who show her glory of her tattoos of Incredibly Stamped, both of those albums flopped. And Richard and Bob left the group to pursue other careers while Rick and Roger stayed put and added new members saxophonist John Helliwell, bassist Dougie Thomson, and percussionist Bob Benberg to the line-up while getting Ken Scott who was famous for working as a producer with; David Bowie, Procol Harum, and Lou Reed, would make one of the most landmark albums in music and the band’s career also. Followed by their previous album, Crime of the Century was their third album – a groundbreaking and dynamic masterpiece which dealt with lonesome, politics, greed, and isolation that was between the core of the manifestations that we all had to deal with from time to time. Davies and Hodgson contributed unbelievable ballads on Hide On Your Shell, If Everyone Was Listening, and the bombastic views of Schizophrenia with a double persona on the eerie classic, Asylum. For any headphones album to take a view of how the disgrace of how the government and classroom treats you like dogshit, though, the other side takes a gigantic leap forward and the ol’ middle finger salute to them. Songs like Bloody Well Right which features some raunchy funk guitar solo done by Hodgson as the hard rock wails some shattering moves with Rick’s angry vocals while John is doing a bluesy solo on the Sax and dealing with the question, Remember the things that you complain about? Well you’re Bloody Well Right about the whole goddamn lot! Rudy is another eerie ballad which has a Jazzy up tempo bossa nova beat while Dreamer is more of a quirky situation on becoming the biggest star in the universe and is more of a reminiscent of Elton John. And the finale title track is giving the Government’s run for their money in this symphonic prog quartet feel in this 5-minute ballad which has a Pink Floyd meets The Moody Blues in an orchestral way.
Still to this day, Crime of the Century remains one of the albums that would have been the prog version of Coldplay in the ‘70s, it is unlike any other album that you’ll hear again in the past, present, and future and their triumphant landmark breakthrough.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Procol Harum - Reissues

Most of the psychedelic-era in the underground movement of the late ‘60s to find a way to push the musical revolution a step further and being considered ‘one-hit wonders’, all it takes a five-piece band to release some hit singles and make some dynamic albums that have been considered a classic among their fans with gospel, blues, haunting, and dark at the same time. And no other band that genre pushed that envelope a step further that took those types of genres and mixed it all together as Procol Harum.
Alongside the British Invasion in the underground movement along with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Nice, and Pink Floyd, Procol Harum didn’t sing about leaving your girlfriends or did any bubblegum music nonsense, nor pick up groupies after a concert, they wanted to be themselves and be on who they are. These first four albums from 1968 to 1970 reissued on the Salvo label, finds them writing songs and making symphonic technology to a glorified essential masterpiece, all of it is a work of those two men, Gary Brooker and Keith Reid who have a majestic imagination than to appear like sex gods.
More of its Psych sound and the melodic lines than their self-titled debut album released in 1968, entered the world by storm and among their supporters including Paul McCartney, Bernie Taupin, Elton John, and Jimmy Page, it just goes to show you they could do no wrong. Beginning with the tight gripped punch in the face number, Conquistador, Brooker’s vocal arrangements which is a cross between Steve Winwood, Ray Charles and Otis Redding, its part of the soulful take that he does in an angelic way as if the gods have watched him and praised him like a Magician. From there, we get to the way of the variations of the compositions, from the suggesting darker tones of A Christmas Camel, Cerdes (Outside the Gates Of), and the last instrumental piece, Repent Walpurgis to the homage to Traffic with Mabel, She Wandered Through the Garden Fence, and the bonus track which seems very Carnival Rock music on Good Captain Clack, each of these songs including their pastoral hit single A Whiter Shade of Pale and the Italian version of Shine on Brightly, dwell a dimension where the listener can soar upon into a world of unknown lands.
Procol Harum’s presence goes through the landscape and becoming the first band to make an epic, seems like an huge explosion with Shine On Brightly released the same year in September. A glorified introduction of Quite Brightly So is part gospel and part driving force: A magnified opening number as it segues into the marvelous titled track and based on the album cover which was done by David Bowie’s friend George Underwood, turns the psych power into a church-like asylum into a quantum leap of wonder; The Sgt. Pepper influences of the upbeat Mr. Kite homage in Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) which seem very 19th century in a Carousel Rocker format while they do a blues puzzle box sound with Wish Me Well that is almost straight out of Traffic’s Medicated Goo. Rambling On is a ballad turned soaring composition about a man who always wanted to fly like Batman who he had seen the ‘60s movie version of the TV show starring Adam West and Burt Ward; Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) is a militant funeral number along with a classical guitar solo along with a horn section seems very Barbershop like but it fits well to the song. And then, we get to the holy grail of epic suites of all epic suites of the 17-minute number In Held ‘Twas In I. Beginning with Brooker’s spoken introduction and then a shattering moment on the guitar, piano, and drums while it goes into a cavernous musical harmony from the piano and the vocal arrangements and then Keith Reid comes in quietly on Glimpses of Nirvana and then goes into the Carnival music again with ‘Twas Tea Time at the Circus whilst it heads back into the melodic gentle music after a warhead explosion as the vocals done by Keith Reid on In The Autumn of my Madness. Meanwhile on Look To Your Soul, it becomes an Entr’acte with the sinister guitar solo while the drums are pounding mercilessly and the organ is doing an epic battle soundtrack sound and then it becomes a mournful ballad as Gary Brooker harmonizes the vocals. The music all of a sudden becomes a glorified broadway rock musical number as we come to the Grand Finale. It is revealed that everything is fine, and god’s in our hands as the band do sort of a ballet music style on the piece that climatic like no other (in a bombastic way).
A Salty Dog finds Procol Harum on the symphonic ground and one of their crowning achievements – if its about a ship looking for new land. A masterpiece, classified work, it has the band featuring a symphony orchestra with the lovely title track and Wreck of the Hesperus which explodes in this dynamic energy that it only can never let go while the gospel barrelhouse piano brunch hits a major note with The Milk of Human Kindness. Elsewhere, they decided to go proto hard blues rock on The Devil Came from Kansas and Juicy John Pink which seems odd but fits perfectly. Later, there is a lukewarm acoustical love song on Too Much Between Us and Boredom which has this Jethro Tull flavor to the mix. Gary Brooker decides to go a little George Harrison like with this homage to The Beatles on All This & More and back into the slower blues rock ballad sound which is almost a tribute to Janis Joplin which features lead guitarist Robin Trower taking over the lead vocals based on a real street name in the borough of southwark in London called Crucifiction Lane and then it closes with the progadelic take of the Phil Spector sound on Pilgrim’s Progress.
Home released in 1970, moves away from the epics and the hit singles to singer-songwriting techniques as they become more of Steve Winwood and Traffic’s little brother on here. Whisky Train is more of a prequel to Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory as you can tell that Steve was listening to this and wanted to go into the Jam improvisations on this heavy rockin’ jam; Dead Man’s Dream in which Keith Reid mentions it was a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, but its dedicated to Dustin Hoffman’s character Rizzo in the 1969 controversial classic, Midnight Cowboy; Still There’ll Be More is a pissed-off number which deals with people who get a high blood pressure and threatening them really bad including the line “I’ll blacken your Christmas/And Piss on your Door” why not? Nothing That I Didn’t Know is a British Folk dark celtic number about a young girl’s death from suffering which features a glorified sinister accordion during the finale; About To Die, a suicidal song that the band tells the story of a young man who is near his fatal death as the candle fades, its very Paul McCartney influential sound, but it fits like a charm; the final part of the death trilogy is Barnyard Story, a funeral mourning song and meeting the heavens that is very lushful; Piggy Pig Pig a diminished tribute to Piggies and Polythene Pam in this heavyweight material; Whaling Stories peaks in as a 6-minute masterpiece with a darker feel and the anti-pop song of all anti-pop song; the finale Your Own Choice is a drinking sing-along song which deals with since you’re grown up, you can do whatever you want. You get the general idea, Procol Harum’s music wasn’t just a bunch of pompous bullshit, but more of a glorified mastering group of prog proportions.

Murple - Io Sono Murple

Jesus Christ! It’s an Italian tour de force! It’s been a while since I’ve done an Italian Prog review since il Balletto Di Bronzo, Metamorfosi, and The Top 5 Italian Prog Rock albums included on the Prog Blog review site. Since I don’t know a little bit of Italian, but we can always find someone interesting to make a concept album that is 17 and 16-minutes long on two tracks for 33 minutes which in English means, I Am Murple. It’s definitely a positive idea throughout a narration and set to the music of Murple, who were a cross between ELP, Genesis PFM and Banco, appeared almost like shining stars that burned brightly to make Italian Rock music. The concept album of their only debut album released in 1974 which are written in Italian, tells the story of a Penguin named Murple leaves his home in the Icy Home of Antarctica as he encounters the terrifying Evil Man as he kidnaps him and makes him his slave inside a circus and then taking him into the devilish nightmare of the Zoo called Antarplastic. The story might be strange and odd, but the music itself, is a quantum leap of epic proportions.
For me, this is a good idea because along with other tracks that remain to be in suites along with; Tarkus, Thick as a Brick, A Passion Play, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Echoes, it all fits like a diamond in the Smithsonian institute instead of being tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4 that are 3 minutes and 33 seconds and make them look like Singles. This one didn’t. They did it exactly right on the money with this album from beginning to end. Examples including the first track which begins as a guitar tapping and then going into a sonic territory and very Moog like atmospheric beauty in the Ice land goes into the African tribe on the percussion and then all of a sudden becomes flourishing organ sound which is very Floyd-like sequel to A Saucerful of Secrets whilst it goes into the cabaret drum roll. And then, KAPOW! It becomes a hard rockin’ take of early King Crimson with the gong and back into the mourning sounds of the organ, back into the attack mode and you got to ask yourselves ‘How the fuck can a short-live band be so goddamn good?! Why aren’t there any other bands doing this sound?!” well the evidence is right here is in the tapes themselves.
The memorable pieces including the piano ballad turned classical baroque Italian music with Senza Un Perche and Nessuna Scelta has some magnificent dynamic improvisations, also it has this angelic choir and then it becomes an homage to Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso’s Darwin! album it starts off with the bass doing some interesting notes and then the keyboards and drums hitting the right patterns at the same time as it moves into a pastoral rocker that would have made the Mars Volta very happy with to croon over with as if they imagined they’ve listened to this before going experimental on the punk’s asses. Also, the glorified piano beginning on side two, is an homage to Keith Emerson and Dave Brubeck ala Classical Piano technique on Preludio E Scherzo while it goes into Chopsticks routine and then goes into ELP ballad mode with the heavy guitar solo and the Moog and vocals fit the goal on Tra I Fili while it goes into 4/4 time signature as it becomes more of a waltz and lukewarm sunrise beauty like if the Penguin is singing about being trapped in this hellsome prison rock opera style. The band split up after the release of this album, but then came back in the 21st century in the year 2007 and released their first album in over 33 years with Quadri di un’esposizione. Madagascar and Happy Feet bombastic talking animals, eat your fucking hearts out! Because there's a new penguin in town along with a band that knows to make you bow down on your knees!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fruupp - Reissues

Among the underground prog rock bands, Fruupp always and still are one of the best underground cult bands to come out of Northern Ireland. Adding their taste of symphonic music, mixing it with; Jazz, Classical Music, and Story-Complex songs in an Irish sort of taste that will make your skin crawl, These four albums finally reissued on the Esoteric label, shows Fruupp they couldn’t let go without a sign of warning, if they’re paying homage to Genesis, Gentle Giant, early Yes, and Family. Formed in 1970, they settled as a foursome which featured; Stephen Houston on Keyboards, Vincent McCusker on Guitar, Martin Foye on drums, and Peter Farrelly on Bass guitar and lead vocals. The band played in small clubs and doing some gigs as the opening band for Genesis and Queen while taking a break from the road and touring and then going into the studio and recording their only four albums which are here in this review.
Future Legends released in 1973 on the Dawn label, their first album, became a lushful watermark debut, which features some melodic beauty and dynamic plus dramatic melodies that will blow your socks off. Songs like the Beethoven medieval rocker, As Day Breaks with Dawn which has this fast-tempo beat and soft and lukewarm finger picking guitar sound while Peter is doing this ghostly sound on the vocals and then a 1-2 beat including a synth following the beat which is very Italian-like sound while Graveyard Epistle and Lord of the Incubus are very symphonic meets sinister backgrounds to fill the tone of the number that is very pastique and very Peter Gabriel-like on the pieces. Highlight is the 5-minute Old Tyme Future, a combination of classical piano meets a cross-over between early symphonic prog, emotional ballads, and the mind of ballet dancing for the ladies.
Seven Secrets which was their follow up to their debut album, sees Fruupp go into more of a Christian Prog Rock territory with a taste of the rural life with an influential background, this time the band go back to their early roots of the baroque classical music taste-test again with the introduction of the 8-minute piece, Faced with Shekinah, one of the touches of the symphonic music of the 18th century in Ireland starts off very Ina Boyle like and then becomes a Tchaikovsky roller-coaster rocker puzzle piece with a taste of Gentle Giant’s first four albums while Wise as Wisdom is more out of a lost track from Giles, Giles, and Fripp’s first album; White Eyes, Elizabeth, and Three Spires are almost a tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and Bilbo Baggins ala rock musical style. And the tour de force Garden Lady, just proves to show it doesn’t give up with Farrelly’s uprising vocals while Stephen Houston is doing a magnificent organ solo and McCusker is doing an ELP style on his guitar which goes to show you can still enjoy prog a lot better than the kings of prog from Yes or Jethro Tull could influence today’s music generation.
The Prince of Heaven’s Eyes which was Fruupp’s first concept album released in 1974 and the last one to feature Stephen Houston before a born-again Christian and appearing on the Trinity network, this is one of the best albums that put them on the map of all concept albums before they were called dull which they are not. It tells the tale of a young boy name Mud Flanigan, who travels after the death of his family to search for the end of the Rainbow. And it not a bad album, it’s a stupendous masterpiece, Crystal Brook, It’s All Up Now, Prince of Darkness, the country twangy instrumental Jaunting Car, and parts of the female friend, Annie Austere are imperial awe.
After Stephen Houston left, John Mason took over as they released their final album, Modern Masquerades which was produced by King Crimson’s Ian McDonald, sees the band going into a Jazz Fusion style ala Yes meets King Crimson John Wetton-era style. Pieces like; Misty Morning Way, Masquerading with Dawn, and Sheba’s Song carry the magic, but it wasn’t the same as they broke up at the beginning when Punk Rock was happening in ’76. But these 4 CDs defined Fruupp’s background to get into their taste of music. What next a classical rock opera?

Demon Fuzz - Afreaka!

Let’s get the facts straight, a mainstream soul band is not my cup of tea. But in retrospect in the underground scene in England at the beginning of 1970, musical composer and percussionist, Paddy Corea, keyboardist Ray Rhoden, lead vocalist Smokey Adams, bassist “Sleepy” Jack Joseph, drummer Stephen John, guitarist Waldron Joseph, and trombonist Clarence “Brooms” Crossdale, this seven piece band had a huge following in the city of Morocco in 1968 as they became a huge following as they became of the weirdest named Demon Fuzz. “After we finished with Morocco and came back to England” said Paddy Corea during an early interview, “We were still using the Soul sound in our act, but we put more of our progressive numbers into it.” Sharing a bill during the Hollywood Music Festival in Newcastle along with Family, Traffic, and the Grateful Dead, they were signed by Dawn Records, as they released their only album in September, 1970. Afreaka! had been famously today in the future been sampled by club DJs in the hip-hop universe and had been out of print for quite a while and has been the eBay collective vinyl section that goes up from $60.49 to $81.00 and from all bidding websites that want to get their hands on this lost classic including a bizarre cover of a wrestler that is very Kinnikuman style in a twisted African way!
But here’s the good news, the album finally got the Remastered treatment it deserves in 2009 done by Esoteric Recordings – the sister of Cherry Records and the chief of the Esoteric label, Mark Powell. A record collector of all record collectors, Powell’s hope to give the album the credit it deserves for its fans of Soul, Latin Rock, and Psychedelic Soul and bring it back to life in print. For all of its ‘late ‘60s soul and Latin Rock kings including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Sly and the Family Stone, and the Original Santana’s first two albums. If the influences of heavy guitars and the homage’s to Jimi Hendrix meets Proto-Punk taste of Miles Davis gone Fusion of this 9-minute jazz garage rock soul Funkadelic groove of Past, Present, and Future, the Anti-War protest and the Civil Rights issue including a touch of the blaxploitation movies of the golden-era of the early ‘70s that could have been a part on the Superfly or The Mack soundtrack of Disillusioned Man and the twisted jumble of African’s own touch of Soul Rock in the early ‘70s of the Super Eagles meets Osibasa meets Assagai meets Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Contou Dahomey on Another Country which is the beginning of early DJ on the drum beats and the organ going psychedelia on your ass!
If that weren’t enough, then look out for the 8-minute sinister taste of the Jethro Tull-type of mourning brunch on Hymn To Mother Earth which starts off with Paddy doing this brilliant solo on the flute while the organ is going up in the sky including a terrific bass line and the vocals come in as if they were in a psychedelic church waiting for their gods to give them 100% credit and then it becomes a Motown-like meets dynamic blues rock touch throughout the song and one of those songs that wished it could have been a single on the Dawn label but never saw the light of day. The North African homage is growing like a chanting funeral on the finale with Mercy (Variation No. 1) a very darker number that starts out like an African tribe with the organ and the sax doing a sneering solo and then it becomes ala Jazz Fusion from beginning to end which will have your mouth watering to hear more of this unbelievable band that were way ahead of their time and its worth the wait to hear instead of today’s bullshit we hear on the fucking radio today. In 2025, this album will be played throughout the entire solar system and groovin’ forever!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Procol Harum - Secrets of the Hive: The Best of Procol Harum

Though most of the Progressive Rock kings were being slammed by critics as they were performing at gigantic stadiums and selling out to the mainstream devil as they begin to dwindle in the late ‘70s, but for one band that never did anything like that as they were ahead of their time and they still are growing strong from two composers of Keith Reid and Gary Brooker, Procol Harum made some excellent albums in the psychedelic-era with the first four albums in the late ‘60s and the beginning of 1970. The band called it a day in 1977, after releasing their last hit single in the UK top 20, Pandora’s Box and then reformed back in the ‘80s with various line-ups, but their compilations has it ups and downs, including The Best of Procol Harum in 1973, Procol Harum Greatest Hits (US Version) in 1996, and the 2002 release on the Metro label of the title track which featured from their self-titled debut album to Home released at the beginning of 1970.
With 57 tracks on this beautiful 2-CD set, celebrating their 40th anniversary, and four decades later, Secrets of the Hive: The Best of Procol Harum is by far one of the best compilations to relive of Procol Harum’s story from the past, present, and future from their psychedelic-era to the glory days of Progressive Rock. Beginning with their hit single of the gospel soulful R&B funeral ballad of the hit single, A Whiter Shade of Pale, A Christmas Camel, Quite Rightly So, to the early beginnings of Proto-Hard Rock with Long Gone Geek, Disc One shows their anthology of the sounds of when Reid and Brooker moving away from the pop scene of the mainstream and writing their own songs and pleasing their audiences. The unbelievable live version recorded for their Edmonton Hall performance of the sinister mourning take of A Salty Dog, shows proof of Procol Harum’s songwriting technique, which doesn’t show off and doesn’t suck big time in a classical composition of their magnum opus including a symphonic touch of their song based on the Spanish Explorer of the 15th century, Conquistador. Having some amazing songs that would blow you away such as, All This and More, Homburg, Shine on Brightly, The Devil Came From Kansas, and Grand Hotel which are included for the first time before the band took a day off in 1977 with the release of their Jazz meets Carousel Music ala synthesized of the baleful single, Pandora’s Box.
Although it could have been a 3-CD set with some absence is the 17-minute epic, In Held ‘Twas I, The Dead Man’s Dream, Lime Street Blues, The Milk of Human Kindness, and the masterpieces Skip Softly (My Moonbeams) and Rambling On, but the compilation has done a good job of covering from the late ‘60s to the 21st century from their 2003 songs including; Into the Flood, Weisselklenzenacht (The Signature), A Dream in Ev’ry Home, and (You Can’t) Turn back the Page. From the ‘80s and the 2000’s Brooker and Reid, The Prodigal Stranger, Into The Flood (Live at Edmonton, 1992), and The Well’s on Fire which was a tribute to the September 11th attacks in 2001, all show their magnificent glory on this 2-CD set.
From line-up changes and going to hell and back, including a lawsuit which dealt with organist Matthew Fisher suing Brooker claiming that he wrote part of A Whiter Shade of Pale and winning the case but only getting 40% of the authorization instead of 50% which he wanted on the copyright, but all in all, this compilation is a must have for anyone who’s a huge fan of Procol Harum or a younger generation of fans who are discovering Prog music could really get a kick out of this on how important Procol Harum are one the best bands to come out from an amazing time period.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Genesis - Genesis Archive 1967-1975

Through many of the scenes of the Art Rock scene, some of them were heavily criticized of being pompous, bombastic, and of course, the ‘dinosaur rock’ bands, as if the mainstream wanted that genre to be destroyed and listen to good ol’ Rock & Roll, they were heavily wrong and fucked up in the ass. The teamwork between Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett, Genesis always remained a favorite among prog fans as a five-piece and made some great albums from 1967 to 1974. Even though they went from that from being a sell-out pop band in the late ‘80s with Phil Collins who sold the band to the devil, but the early days or the Peter Gabriel-era, have done some amazing live performances and some compilations including Turn It On Again…The Hits in 1999 and Platinum Collection in 2005 in which Nick Davis did some New Stereo Mixes on the 3-CD set, who wanted to give Genesis the green light in a 5.1 Remastered sound instead of a fucked-up quiet sound that would have make you very proud of.
52 tracks on a four disc set including an amazing booklet which featured memories from the late Tony Stratton Smith, Richard MacPhail, and Chris Welch to name a few including photos of the band in their heydays, Genesis Archive 1967-75 is one of the best box sets to tell the story of Genesis Progressive Rock which they were completely ahead of their time in a mysterious and bizarre way.
Disc’s One and Two starts off with the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour recorded live at the Shrine Auditorium on January 24, 1975 in Los Angeles, California which would be the last time in which Peter Gabriel toured with the band before going into a solo career after the tour was over. It features some amazing live sounds done by Tony Banks including an electrifying keyboard introduction to the self-titled track while the band do a twist of hard rock and weird guitar sounds and glorified prog sounds on Counting Out Time. Some of the vocals and instruments which were re-recorded in 1995 while they were doing the project because they believed they didn’t do a good job including Peter Gabriel who was in the Slippermen costume during the Colony of Slippermen, but it still kicks fucking ass. The group are very experimental also, note the twisted keyboard sounds done by Tony Banks on the avant-garde madness The Waiting Room, the shattering moogs on Anyway, and the mellotronic beauty on The Chamber of 32 Doors, Broadway Melody of 1934, The Lamia, and Fly on a Windshield. Steve Hackett’s ambient guitar and virtuoso licks are 100% positive on Firth of Fifth, Silent Sorrow in Empty Boars and the sitar live version love on the humor comedic rocker I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). Disc Three features a short set list in which has been known as the lost live album and infamously bootlegged recorded live at the Rainbow during the Selling England Tour in October, 1973 with a darker tone introduction spoken by Peter and then segueing into the lukewarm crisp of Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. Maybe Phil Collins was taken aback including the band of Gabriel dressing up as a sunflower, a knight, or the cosmic lawnmower. And then it features some interesting B-sides including the folky hobbit-like story of Happy The Man and the 7-minute rocker Twilight Alehouse while Watcher of The Skies is a single version remixed very well, which might get your brain saying ‘What the fuck was that about?!’ Disc Four are rare demos and unreleased tracks including a BBC Session in 1970 from the Genesis to Revelation and Trespass-era which has some interesting songs including a duet from TB and PG on the ballad, Shepherd while it becomes more Bee-Gee like sound on most of the tracks, but there’s a huge variation in these lost tracks and that should keep the band going on for more before listening to this in all of its glory.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Supersister - Reissues

In the Canterbury scene, and in the jazz world, everything can go a little bit crazy and weird at the same time. But in the global world of Progressive Rock, you can tell that you can have both at the same time all thanks to a band that came out of the underground circuit in the Netherlands. Supersister weren’t just a Canterbury band alongside the Soft Machine and Caravan, even though they’re a little bit happy of being considered prog in the 1-minute humoric parody of Corporation Combo Boys, they always have a taste of that knowledge of humor and the admiration of Frank Zappa. Its strange but beautiful at the same time with the time signatures and odd key moments with lead vocalist and keyboardist who is the combination between Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt, Robert Jan Stips or the bass techniques of Ron Van Eck while Sacha van Geest is doing a Jethro Tull relative flute solo jazz style or the mellow and pounding drumming of Marco Vrolijk that would take these four guys some unbelievable situations and moments throughout their short-lived period from 1970 to 1974.

On their debut album, Present From Nancy, released in 1970 on the Polydor label, Supersister are stupendous as they play like madmen with memorable moments with fuzz tone styles of the organ as if they were paying tribute to Mike Ratledge and wonderful instrumental pieces and weird songs including Introductions, Memories are New, Mexico, Dreaming Wheelwhile, and the homage to the Byrds on Eight Miles High. To The Highest Bidder, more twisted than ever with some heavy duty experimental style that is almost an homage to Germany scene of the early ‘70s including Klaus Schulze and early Tangerine Dream albums in compositions like; No Tree Will Grow (On Too High A Mountain) and Energy (Out of Future) while the music becomes a faster roller-coaster ride on A Girl Named You and Higher.

Pudding En Gisteren which is almost a grand ballet piece that could have been a part of the Avant-Garde scene of Andy Warhol’s scene it still carries the passion of the first two albums. There is no bad track on here that would make the dance composers to give them the middle finger. The melodic ballad turned proto-punk style of Radio, the backward tape gone haywire with Supersisterretsisrepus and then go into the comedic classical piano style on Psychopath, the 12-minute strange composition of mixtures of Canterbury, melodic gothic graveyard ballad, and then go into the quirky doo-wop sounds of the ‘50s that might have got them to get a taste of their funny bones with Judy Goes on Holiday and the dysfunctional ballet music of all ballet music of the 21-minute title track.

After the departure of Marco Vrolijk and Sacha Van Geest, and adding new members to the band, they decided to give it another go as a concept album ala Jazz Fusion style based on Alexander the Great with Iskander in a mad scientist way. Beginning with the haunting saxophone solo on Introduction that seems a haunting sound very shofar like sound for Yom Kippur as it segues into the Miles Davis funk style taste of Dareios the Emperor (Bitches Brew style), the flute solo turned into a bloody aftermath with a touch of Herbie Hancock meets Egg ala Dance Music meets Jazz meets Punk on Confrontation of the Armies, The Battle is more of the scenery of the battling for peace for Alexander The Great as the music changes in weird places including Babylon which has chanting and a twisted sax solo similar to the Soft Machine’s self-titled Third album. Supersister remains one of the most underground cult bands and they still pack a punch and kick plenty of ass from these fine dutchmen for all Jazz and Prog fans to go fucking crazy over.