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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pink Floyd - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Named after the seventh chapter from The Wind in the Willows which was the late great Syd Barrett’s favorite book in his childhood years in Cambridge, their psychedelic debut album blew down the door down as it was following into the footsteps of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was one of the most exciting albums to come out of that era as it became British boom in the underground circuit. Although it’s up there along with their sonic sound landmark with Dark Side of the Moon, 42 minutes and 11 seconds of unbelievable tour de force, the Syd Barrett-era of Pink Floyd became the anti-punks of the generation, but it’s a big step of shattering rock pieces and almost fairy tale-like stories of insanity from Syd’s vision.
Beginning with the early days of Space Rock with the freak-out psychedelic 4-minute introduction with Astronomy Domine, it has a huge calling to the solar systems between Jupiter and Saturn as if they were dancing along to the music as they duel it out with Neptune and Titan with the stars that have been frightening that starts off Syd’s echoing guitar solo in the midsection as he just goes off into the outer limits while he and Rick Wright take the vocal arrangements up a notch of the LSD trip in this. Strange lyrics are also a part of Syd’s background with the dance rocker featuring Rick’s eerie organ solo of a Siamese cat who some can’t explain who he is and who is on your side by the name of Lucifer Sam while Matilda Mother is almost similar to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and has a very English countryside background in this fantasy rocker that is similar Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow. As Flaming reminded me of the Milton Bradley game Chutes and Ladders with its game that would have children try to play in the English courtyard.
Even though The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is one of the quintessential masterpieces in Pink Floyd’s career, it’s very strange also. The beginning of ‘bah-boom, ch-ch’, the hawking sounds done by Roger Waters and the jungle-esque quality to the mix in this Jazz and Experimental Rock orientations in the Vietnam War, Pow R. Toch H. is bizarre in a good way along with the upbeat fast-sped garage rocker of Roger Waters debut as a songwriter in Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk. In this number, the Floyd are going guitar and keyboard crazy throughout the entire tune as if they are the Mad Scientists flying off the fucking wall as it features a sinister climax that will have you in goosebumps. And then we get into the Freak-Out which was almost a fan favorite at Joe Boyd, who produced the Floyd’s debut single Arnold Layne, UFO club, with the 9-minute psychedelic groove of Interstellar Overdrive. Featuring a distorted riff done by Syd and Roger, along with Nick Mason’s drumming making it sound very surprising and Rick Wright’s farisfa organ setting the scenery it becomes a free-for-all instrumental while they show their Tolkien homage in a Whimsical Folk beverage of childhood stories about the adventures of Grimble Gromble in the Gnome.
And then it becomes very interesting for Syd before his mental breakdown with his homage of the ancient Chinese tome of the I Ching (The Book of Changes) with Chapter 24 as it has a spooky tone done by Rick as Syd explains about the translation of the six stages of the 24th chapter in this funeralistic story. The Scarecrow tells the tale about the figure as he decides what to do with his life while Bike closes the album with the dark comedy that would come about. While there’s a taste of grandeur, the album feels magical, you feel that you are inside the mind of Syd Barrett.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Beatles - Revolver

Though Rubber Soul was a success, their next album would be a move away from the hit singles of From Me to You, She Loves You, and I Want to Hold Your Hand with the release of the psychedelic opus. Revolver shows the Beatles at their creative procedure, with a flaming fire that won’t burn with however they want to do their music of freedom. It’s impossible to talk about their seventh album, in which in their pre-Sgt. Pepper-era, they showed their fans and the listeners a new sound that was unbelievable and have a tightrope with magnificent songs that all go according to plan.
There are beautiful things that are going on Revolver: You have the eerie acoustical daydream and the tribute to the Tibetan book of the dead period with Lennon’s I’m Only Sleeping and Tomorrow Never Knows which features the first time to hear backward guitars, tape loops, John’s voice through a Leslie speaker, the drumming is in ¾ time signature to give it that Avant-Garde feel while the music goes fucking insane throughout this psychedelic timothy leary LSD trip, Paul on the other hand is doing two ballads, waking up to the sunrise, and a tribute to the Soul scene horn section also with melancholy beauty of Here, There, and Everywhere, the lukewarm piano sadness of the whimsical touches on For No One, the classical arrangements with dealing death of a family member with Eleanor Rigby, the lines; “Eleanor Rigby died in a church/who was buried along with her name/nobody came/Father McKenzie wiping her dirt with his hands as he walks from the grave/no one is saved” tragic, but very poetic also, the Soul sound of the ‘60s tributes to Motown and Stax with Got to Get You into my Life, and the quirky upbeat dance beat of Good Day Sunshine. Meanwhile, George Harrison is creating magic with his lyrics. The pounding piano rocker of I Want To Tell You, the heavy and dark side of paying taxes including a hard guitar solo and a shattering riff of politics to pay up with money to the Taxman, and the tribute to Indian music comes in after his famous sitar work on Norwegian Wood comes back into the segue with the Tablas and again the Sitar with the sinister monotonous Indian-raga music Love You To while Ringo’s child-like sing along song of a folk acoustic number sailing to sea and greeting people with Yellow Submarine is childish, but quirky at the same, still a great song also that became an Animated film after Revolver in 1968. Elsewhere, John’s back again with some more surprising lyrics that will give you a chill to the bone. She Said She Said, which is a tribute to John’s experience meeting with Easy Rider and The Trip star, Peter Fonda talking about LSD and taking Acid with the Beatles while And Your Bird Can Sing has a very edgy harmony to it, and then back to the drugs situation which deals with drug dealers with Doctor Robert another tribute to the bad trip with a hard rock sound to it and then featuring a church-like organ sound with the line “Well, Well, Well/You’re Feeling Fine/Well, Well, Well/He’ll make you/Doctor Robert” almost like giving the sunshine acid to a stoned person in a good way!
While the Vietnam War and protesters had nearly tried to take over the Hippie and Flower generation of the ‘60s of the Psychedelic scene, The Beatles Revolver stills packs a punch quality to it, its superb remastered quality featuring the clapping rhythms from the fab four, and the dynamic guitar solos from John and George, to move away from the suits into ultimate power clothing that would make every girl faint when they come in. All in all, Revolver is the ultimate trip and gives it a good meaning on what it was like to be young again in the ‘60s.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Blood Ceremony - Blood Ceremony

It has a heavily influenced ‘70s rock occult feel mixed with Metal and Dark Prog-Folk quality to the mix: Add the sounds of Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Comus, Trees, and Fairport Convention, and you got yourself a 21st century Prog-Folk-Metal element for anyone to get a huge surprise waiting for them to get their hands on. It isn’t just an album, but more of an approach for Blood Ceremony’s take of Progressive Occult Metal mixed with some dark values to the mix.
Their musical inspirations is beyond the beyond, guitarist Sean Kennedy, bassist Chris Landon, drummer Andrew Haust, and the master of vocals Alia O’Brien brings down the house in this. Taken their name from a Spanish-horror film in 1973, Ceremonia Sangrienta and formed in 2006 in their hometown in Toronto, Canada, they sure know to scare the shit out of audience from their cult following at their home base. But the album itself is by far one of the most heart-stopping albums I’ve listened to. With the doom hard rock sound, folk-metal exercise and minds that are fucked up in the torch of the early metal gods of Black Sabbath’s golden-era of the 1970s.
This isn’t just a friendly bullshit mainstream album, this is raw in your face and I don’t give a fuck album at its very best in a Dark-Prog sense. They bring the house down and dealing with elements in the Horror Film genre and what may come across the darker elements that would have gone before, but its almost an album that is perfect for a Halloween night every October to scare the little bastards with their eerie music to make them scare shitless and not give them any fucking candy. But enough of my talk about my Halloween trick or treater’s, let get straight on to the album. There are five centerpieces on the Blood Ceremony’s debut album that is spot on and right on time.
The heavy groove with Children of the Future mixed with baleful flute solos with a demonic guitar riff and solo, a groove that is very Dalek-like and becoming very upbeat in the mid section that is coming straight out of an alternate soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso. More post-apocalyptic is the opening introduction HP Lovecraft-inspiration 6-minute, Master of Confusion which starts off with O’Brien’s dark organ intro as it goes into a complex chaos of the nightmare of hell. The vocals fit that scenery into the dimension with a guitar while the fuzztone sound of the bass becomes a crashing darker reflection. Hop Toad is very adante upbeat rocker which intersperses metal and quadruple waltz which has never been done before in a heavy prog metal sound throughout various prog groups who would do a quadruple doom occult waltz on a number like that, but it kicks fucking ass! Meanwhile it’s almost similar to the graveyard scenery in a pool of blood as the riffs are similar to Black Sabbath’s Evil Woman (Don’t You Play Your Games on Me) with Into the Coven as it starts off with O’Brien’s flute solo again and then becoming a witchcraft number. And the 1-minute homage to the british folk scene of the mind of Comus with A Wine of Wizardry, its very Tolkienish to say the least, but it’s a calm number as it segues to the territorial Zeppelin meets Ian Anderson style of Rare Lord.
In making to create a terrifying album, O’Brien could have become the master of medieval renaissance festivals the way it should be done in a darker way. But she and the band bring us to a standstill to those gripping moments that we’ll see in the near future with evil, darkness, and baroque, but awesome at the same time to get your blood boiling in your body.

Pavlov's Dog - Pampered Menial

For David Sukramp, who’s vocal arrangements similar to Rush’s Geddy Lee, Pavlov’s Dog’s debut album, Pampered Menial, which was released in 1974, is a lost classic to new heights, and featuring magnificent mellotron arrangements while adding the guitar to give it a lushful eerie solos that could have been apart of their next album, At the Sound of the Bell. Also, adding the fact that it’s very album-orientated or shall I say pomp rock to say the least which it isn’t, but their debut album is very crystal clear and very catchy at the same time.
Let’s not forget, this is a remarkable and powerful record, which would have made Pavlov’s lead singer Sukramp not a household name in the AOR industry, but a cult band at the same time for 35 years, which has a real kick to it if your are a Rush fan as you enjoy the album from start to finish. Listen to the heavy and ballad rockers including; Late November, the shattering power chord riffs of Song Dance, and the homage to the wild west of the eerie ballad, Fast Gun. While you listen to these songs, you can hear a band’s influential backgrounds with the hard rock sounds of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple as if they formed together in St. Louis.
While the acoustic fingerpicking ballad of the opening number of Julia, which could have been the hard rock love song of all love songs, Natchez Trace is a pounding and sinister number with a Yes influence as if they were metal to the core. Theme from Subway Sue is very hard-edged. It has a very balladry moment on there to give Sukramp’s vocal arrangements to reach the high notes in a climatic ending. One of the most unbelievable songs that is beyond the prog rock tendencies are the lukewarm pieces that would have been perfect for the dance floors. Episode which almost reminded me of Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell, has an emotional violin solo at the beginning and Sukramp’s vocals along with the emotion to go along with, here’s a surprise kick to the number, almost a funeral or a break-up song to say goodbye to a love one as the piano sets the scenery in a crying atmosphere that will have tear-jerker’s go fucking nuts over to.
And then, this is where the two-part finale kicks in. Preludin begins with the violin playing in a renaissance festival which is a tribute to Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant, with some medieval boundaries to the core as it fits the musical quality for the finale with Of Once and Future Kings, which is very sci-fi and futuristic at the same time also as if Rush were listening to this number during the making of 2112. It starts off with an amazing guitar solo and the vocals setting the scenery. Then becomes a fast rocker for a split second then heads back into the baroque 15th century mellotron atmosphere of a waltz while the drums come in out of nowhere to do a triple as it goes back into the hard rock boundaries again, with the guitar going Floydish and very experimental at the same time.
After the release of Pampered Menial, the album got excellent reviews from Max Bell who considered them the ‘future of rock. There was also tension in the band and their manager who at the time decided to let Sukramp leave, but he refused. After the release of At The Sound of the Bell which was released in 1976, the band decided to call it a day. Still to this day, Pampered Menial remains one of the most underrated albums or a cult classic album to be preferred along with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, it remains a magnitude: Ahead of their time and nothing like we’ll never see again in the near future in the 21st century for new bands to follow Pavlov’s Dog and the torch to carry the Pomp Rock industry of the ‘70s

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Here is an early sneak preview of the remastered edition of the Beatles 1967 landmark album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. After they stopped touring in 1966 with their final performance in San Francisco at Candlestick Park, they realized that they weren’t just entertainers, but more of artistic boundaries and like singer-songwriters. Some felt that Beatlemania was over and gone for good. “Well it took five months to record (Sgt. Pepper)” Paul McCartney mentioned in an early interview “I remember reading in one of the papers saying ‘oh the beatles have dried up,’ and I was rubbing my hands saying ‘you just wait’. Thus, Sgt. Pepper was born and this is where the Beatles really experimented at the Abbey Road studios, doing unbelievable compositions and going beyond the ride of marmalade skies. It’s impossible to talk about Sgt. Pepper: a psychedelic ‘60s retrospect and remained a mind-boggling adventure. But when you look back on it with its roots of Progressive Rock and moving away from the stadiums, it still sometimes obscure, fun, and amazing songs that you would sometimes sing to your children or have a puff while you get stoned listen to it from beginning to end for the first time.
Some felt that Sgt. Pepper is an overrated album, well it isn’t, but you get the opening rockin’ suite is one of the powerful tracks, featuring McCartney surprising vocal arrangements and Harrison’s orientated guitar riff. The title track and the psych-pop sing-along number featuring Ringo’s vocals on With a Little Help from my Friends that features a bass line which is has a jazzy riff that couldn’t be let go of while Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Getting Better features dream-like space quality and having a bad luck in school and beating up woman and feeling not cool with it from the chorus that has like nothing you’ve ever heard of. Even though the album is a classic, it is also strange from time to time.
The twisted circusque rocker with a weird synth based on an 1840’s poster which Lennon found on Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! the eerie Indian sitar droning atmosphere which Harrison does beautifully well on Within You, Without You while the symphonic horn section goes extremely loud on Good Morning, Good Morning and the crispy psych-folk based on a groupie with Lovely Rita. However, there are some beautiful tracks that would make you feel emotional.
The classical rocker of a young daughter leaving their parents behind and moving on to a new life with She’s Leaving Home and the 1930’s homage which Paul would do on the White album on the jazz bass line on When I’m Sixty-Four, the harpsichord ballad of the rain leaving marks in the house and fixing it up where it won’t come in with Fixing A Hole which seems very Baroque and Pet Sound-like quality. And then the climatical climax of the true story from different newspapers of holes in the wall, car crashes, blowing a mind at the same time with A Day in the Life which is an odd and bombastic number, with Lennon’s ghost-like vocal arrangements and haunting guitar chords while Paul is singing about coming to work very early in the morning and then finishing up with a sinister orchestral finale like you’ve never heard of before.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eloy - Eloy

Originally released in 1971, Eloy’s self-titled debut album was an interesting surprising, psychedelic crazed musical statement, but when you look back on it, it could have been recorded in outer space and on a spaceship heading for the solar system by jamming non stop, a cool idea to get your head bogged into the groove. Lead by guitarist Frank Bornemann, who is now the only member left in the Eloy line-up and now is a producer and engineer in his hometown in Germany, and engineer Conny Plank who’s famous for working with the Krautrock kings of; NEU!, Guru Guru, Kraftwerk, Can, and the heavy metal-gods of the Scorpions, and engineered their only debut album, it is the sound of Space Hard Rock with virtuosity Hawkwind meets Deep Purple stylistic complexity. With the start of a guitar going insane with a bumping and feedback going off the roof, Today comes at you with its homage to Mark I of the Rod Evans-era of the Deep Purple-era and then it goes into a punk experimental mode as drums and the scatting vocals which seems similar to Purple’s hit single Hush, Bornemann’s heavy guitar licks is kicked in with the shuffling and Blackmore style while lead vocalist and keyboardist Erich Schriever delivers a punching vocal lines including a scatting peak of magnificent proportions, but in retrospect, it sounds very odd to put it in there.
But with the heavy rhythm section on Something Yellow, it almost reminded me of a german version of Black Sabbath with its militant bridge section and then going back into the sinister wah-wah frenzy that makes it so goddamn brilliant and then going for the Adagio by going really fast in the beat measure as it heads back into the blues metallic section to close it up with a heavy drum solo and then adding some guitar lick to the core while the title track of Eloy has a mixture of mind-heavy rock and then adding the congas to give it a tension spree as it heads back into the sci-fi lyrical contents. Song of a Paranoid Soldier which is almost an anti-war song dedicated to the War in Vietnam tells the story through the mind of a soldier who is a democrat and coming home to his family instead of killing innocent civilians in this Floyd meets Stooges meets King Crimson relative number that would have given the hippies the middle finger and Voice of Revolution has the same subject value about peace and freedom in the punk-mode style representing The MC5 techniques and for social injustice.
And if that wasn’t enough of Eloy’s music, the last two numbers is where it gets cooking. The atmospheric eerie composition Isle of Sun, which features organ and piano doing some spooky solos while it deals with figuring out the way to stop the murderous killing is to find an island in the german isles and look for a new beginning and look for the foundations they have in the hearts and minds of their own thoughts and their hopes for a brand new day while Dillus Roady is a tribute to their roadie simply named Dillus, who is an obsessive heavy music fan and helps Eloy equipment, get them drinks and heads them home in this humorotic twisted blues number dedicated to him. Also, I forgot to mention the bonus tracks in the new reissue released on the Repertoire label which are only three tracks released as singles. Walk Alone is a dark melodic turned arpeggio Sabbath rocker as Daybreak which has a shuffling chug about who you are and looking for a job in the daytime while Vibrations of my Mind is hard metal like no other with a Jethro Tull sound quality to the mix ala Cream meets Zeppelin blues rocker.
Through various line-ups, Eloy are still going strong, and kick some sci-fi ass along with the floyd. A debut album paying homage to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple? Cool!