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Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking a long break and taking criticism

Now during January and a little bit of February of this year, I will be taking a long break from album reviews because of school next week. And from last year and this year and course 2010, I have posted reviews from King Crimson, Queen and now Jethro Tull, and I've received some criticism (yep, think about someone throwing a bottle of pickles at you at a concert and saying, "You Suck!") from some of the comments who think they are unreadable.

Now I'm not doing this for the money, nor getting famous, nor being a celebrity, I write reviews because I enjoy it.

And yes, some of my reviews are impossible to read and some are unreadable. Now am I one of the best writers ever? No. This is where you draw a line in the sand, yes there will be drawing a line in the sand on some who have mixed opinions on the blog site, and some would say some nasty comments about the reviews.

Now I've been doing reviews since 2008 and I knew that doing the reviews for those three bands and the reissues, I knew that I would be in the crossfire for writing about the reissues about them. And you know what? I would shrug it off.

Now am I going to stop writing album reviews based on Progressive Rock and Symphonic Metal? No, there is no stop sign for me (criticism is welcome), Now, do I have any regrets starting a blog about writing reviews on Progressive Rock? No.

And for me, I don't take it personally, I just keep going like a train chugging 400 miles per hour.

I will keep writing them, until the day I die.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Goblin - Roller

One of the most inspiring and spine-tingling bands to come out of the 1970s Italian Prog Rock scene alongside il Balletto Di Bronzo, Quella Vecchia Locanda, PFM, Banco, and Le Orme, Goblin were one of the most influential bands to come out of the woodwork and give you a bone-chilling adventure like no other. Although they weren’t like ELP, the music was haunting, jazz fusion, avant-garde, and terrifying at the same time thanks with their help from horror filmmaker Dario Argento and the scores with; Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, Tenebre, and Phenomena.

Their non-soundtrack album, Roller, is a touch of Canterbury Jazz Fusion and a dosage of the early Le Orme turning it into an eerie post-apocalyptic nightmare, which is evidential on the pipe organ thriller opening title track that features Claudio Simonetti’s sneering keyboard sounds while Massimo Morante and Fabio Pignatelli along with Agostino Marangolo, go at each other as Fabio’s fusion-like bass lines fill the haunted house with a twisted adventure. A lot of time changes go through Roller, to make it a ride that will take you out of this world.

The underwater atmospheric Coltrane-like sax on Aquaman is Claudio and Maurizio Guarini’s homage to the early beginnings of new age music while Snip-Snap is a shrieking moog fest, bass funk, and Herbie Hancock meets Gentle Giant beats that almost was left off during the Headhunters sessions. The instruments when you listen to them are not going at it each other, but it’s almost as if they would have recorded it with Hancock and Stanley Clarke as the Fender Rhodes is the grooving beat to have people dancing to the rhythm as they really know jazz fusion very well.

The classical guitar and piano tribe on Il Risveglio Des Serpentine, sees Goblin calming down after the storm on the first three tracks as they go through a 15th century concerto through the realms of Claudio and seeing where his roots came from in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s. With the classical touches behind them, it’s the title, Goblin, which puts the cherry on the hot fudge Italian sundae.

You can hear the early influences of Suspiria in the 11-minute composition and back into the fusion ring again as they go through a dark watery cave from the opening into a vicious freakout session as guitarist Massimo Morante goes at it as Claudio lets him have it with his Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin guitar lines that almost put a smile on his face as Fabio does his Hugh Hopper meets Jaco Pastorious bass lines to fill the void. Then they’re back into the Canterbury sounds with a touch of the Funkadelic taste with the finale, Dr Frankenstein.

Here, Fabio shines on with bass lines as he goes through each of the frets through the wah-wah ala Jazz Rock style! I just wish the track could have at least go on for about 11-minutes, but these men aren’t showing off, they are having one hell of a blast. An underrated album that needs a lot of attention for Jazz Rock fans to sink their jaws into. Should you go into the waters with Goblin’s music? Damn straight!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jethro Tull - Aqualung [40th Anniversary Edition]

Although it’s the famous guitar riff intro that any 11-year old kid wants to learn to play guitar instead of playing the intro to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, there’s always something beyond the influential boundaries of Folk, Prog, and Hard Rock. And of course, Jethro Tull has been doing this since day one and clearly, there is no stop sign for the band.

It’s hard to imagine why their sound was very stadium and arena rock and a part of the progressive rock genre. With Ian Anderson’s songwriting about a homeless bearded man sitting on the park bench eyeing on 15 year old girls and becoming a pedophile and taking the context with a sense of humor and often darker territories that no other song writer ever thought of doing. 40 years go on, and Aqualung can only be considered one the masters of Jethro Tull’s work that is not just a masterpiece, but a stunning and crowning achievement in their works.

While the Floyd were writing a symphonic and orchestral work with Atom Heart Mother, Jethro Tull’s Aqualung dealt with the issues of god and how the religious freaks would go into an extreme way that they weren’t telling you and the album was telling the listener that while the first two tracks deal with a mini rock opera, the rest of the album is how hard it is to be a normal person and wondering how it feels to be part of the strange faults that the organizers in the religion can be a danger zone.

And while the album skyrocketed in the American and British charts, it was a turning point for them as they were going through changes like no other as if they were about to embark on the yellow brick road for success, controversy, and infamy that would lay ahead of them as they were getting ready to open the door to see what would ideas that Anderson would have from brainstorming. Like the eruptive title track, pieces like; the haunting 7-minute anti-religious song My God featuring Anderson’s mind-blowing flute solo, the lukewarm folk crisp acoustic melody of Mother Goose and Wond’ring Aloud, chugging punches of Hymn 43, and the hit single of the train to destruction of Locomotive Breath, makes you wonder that the new stereo mix is a lot better than the 25th anniversary edition.

Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, has done one hell of a job giving it a cleaned up work and the instruments and Anderson’s vocals are right in your face and he knows his Prog music very damn well. The sound quality is jaw dropping and almost like you want this in your collection of good music in your Prog CDs and Vinyls. So if you have the quieted version of the 25th anniversary edition, get the 40th anniversary edition and make it worth the wait.

While the stereo mix is volcanic, the unreleased tracks are really out of this world. A new mix of the rompous drinking sing-along of Lick Your Fingers Clean and an earlier take of My God, Wind-Up, and Up the ‘Pool makes you understand why they never made it to the final takes of Aqualung. Now there might be some discussion on these songs should have been on the album as double album, but dare I digress, this is a must have for any Tull fan to sink their jaw like teeth into and probably get the super deluxe edition with the Vinyl, DVD and Blu-Ray edition on there, it would have Ian Anderson’s feet tickling for joy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Greenslade - Live 1973-1975

While they could have been bigger than ELP and given the mighty pomp and circumstance trio and huge run as if they would have been on the opening bill for them, Greenslade’s music was more of a laid-back symphonic sound combined with jazz fusion like a lushful flower growing so brightly, that it would fill the nursery house with an explosive organ solo like no other. Here with these Live recordings that the band did from the time they promoting from their sole self-titled debut album to their last album, Spyglass Guest, makes it a wonderful experience to hear the band going at full throttling drive from 1973 to 1975.

And since we are in the new year, this is the 40th anniversary of the band’s formation and when you listen to the live recordings, it feels that you have got your ticket and sitting right there in the front row watching Dave Greenslade from Colosseum, as he uses his fingers with electricity and thunder storming the organ like a mastering wizard while drummer Andy McCulloch from King Crimson and Fields, storms the drums like Billy Cobham meets Elvin Jones as Tony Reeves comes up with some fusion-like bass lines while Web and Samurai’s lead vocalist Dave Lawson shines like a knight in shining armor in his vocal arrangements as the four of them create magic that is beautiful and touching.

Among the four piece line-up, they take their music very well and seriously getting it right and seeing where the time signatures would take them, there are some dazzling live versions of the instrumental and song pieces which really had struck a chord that would have Greenslade fans go ga-ga over and have their jaws dropped from beginning, middle, and end. The blistering volcanic versions of Sundance, Drowning Man, Feathered Friends, and the homage to Apollo 100’s Joy and The Nice’s era of the Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack on Spirit of the Dance which had Lawson and Greenslade himself going at it playing rhythm and lead organ and Rhodes style!

They do it not just to rip off Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman, but if you imaging them, watching these two men, smiling to come up with a solo and laughing it off to see who would win the running race as Tony Reeves comes up with some Lake-like bass lines as McCulloch is just enjoying this with the drums and having a good time. The sound quality is very damn good with two of the keyboards, bass, and the drums in front of the audience as if they were tapping their feet and clapping along to the rhythm from the band members.

As 2012 is here, and maybe hoping for the original Greenslade to reunite one more time to give a huge voltage and maybe a new album, the future is still bright and no stop sign for them, this live album and the first two albums (Greenslade and Bedside Manners Are Extra), are highly recommended to get you into the music of Dave Greenslade, if you want to get into more of the symphonic or paying tribute in the styles of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, this is the band that you must get into. Underrated? Yes, Brilliant? Yes! The credit they deserve? Absolutely!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Can - Tago Mago [40th Anniversary Edition]

40 years ago, putting on Can’s Tago Mago back in 1971, was almost a very dangerous decision that you had to make to go on this ride that you will never forget. With its loud and shrieking guitar sounds from the late Michael Karoli, rambling voices sung into the insane asylum done by Damo Suzuki, and the disturbing front cover that looks like the nuclear bomb had just exploded, could be the album that put the kings of the Krautrock scene, making one of the most influential albums to give birth of Post-Punk, Experimental music, and Alternative Rock from the realms of; Public Image Ltd, Magazine, The Fall, Flaming Lips, and Radiohead.

After Malcolm Mooney left after Soundtracks and Damo Suzuki joined in 1970, the band went from the sound of the Stooges into the realms of Terry Riley and early Mothers of Invention combined into a massive freakout like no other. The music was very avant-garde, chamber music going into a massive haywire altitude of 150, and the grooves became very dark, evil, and sinister and that was how Can was going to take Tago Mago like the soundtrack of a utopian world going into a world of hell after religion, art, and politics go into a battlefield with massive violence.

Each of the members had to improvise and decide how their next album was going to sound like. Karoli’s guitar playing became very eerie, Irmin Schmidt’s keyboard playing add an annihilation background, drummer Jaki Liezeit would do some jazz fusion like sound on the drums while bassist Holger Czukay would bring the sound fusion and funk into a world musical structure on the bass that would have made Shuggie Otis smile and have his feet tickled.

While they came from a musical background, Holger Czukay mentioned in the November issue of Classic Rock Presents Prog talking about the making of Tago Mago to Rob Hughes, “It was Chamber Music, but loud.” “I personally was always thinking in terms of chamber symphonies. A little bit loud and noisy mayber, but the same thing. And not bound only to words. It’s a very original piece of work. You cannot repeat something like Tago Mago, it’s impossible.”

And Czukay was right one the money, there’s no way you couldn’t make an album like Tago Mago. I mean you want to try it? Go right ahead and do it, but let’s cut the crap and get straight to the music. From the mellowing introduction of Paperhouse with its calmed down guitar lines and cool vocal lines of flying through the dreamland clouds told through Suzuki, is very laid back while Mushroom is a dooming view of nuclear war featuring both instruments going into a sneering tone as Damo sings dangerously about the mushroom cloud hovering into the sky as Jaki’s drum beats would later become very much pre hip-hop sampler to influence breakdancing.

It goes into a hypnotic boom after the explosion as it goes into Oh Yeah with the tape going backwards of Damo’s voice and Jaki and the band go into a fast mode into the world of hell as the 18-minute avant-funk rock of Halleluwah becomes a jam session. With Czukay’s punk-funk bass line from D, F, G that comes with Karoli’s homage to Hendrix, and Schmidt’s keyboard playing takes the listener into an insane mode like no other and going fucking batshit nuts!

Then everything becomes nightmarish as Aumgn starts off where it becomes a sequel to Paperhouse with Schmidt’s atmospheric new age touch of the keyboards with some space rock structures and then it goes into an avant-garde haywire effect of tape loops, fiddle screeches, Suzuki vocalization’s spreading through the album as if he’s going through a trance meditation as Schmidt and his keyboard follows his voice so high, that you almost think he’s going to make it to the top as Jaki pays tribute to the Floyd’s Ummagumma-era as if he’s writing The Grand Vizer’s party as he takes a dramatic turn to punch it up to level 200! Peking O, on the other hand, is more strange and weird than Aumgn as if they are paying tribute to the Doors Celebration of the Lizard.

Avant-Garde music over the top as Damo takes it to a meditation level up a notch with the keyboards and going through speeches as if he’s singing this in the asylum with the band talking and screaming to an organ and a drum machine as it goes through a church like choir into a bossa nova dance beat gone wrong to an African tribe music tape going into a full speed mode. Bring Me Coffee or Tea is the closer, which is the calm after the storm of Halleluwah, Aumgn, and Peking O.

It has a mellowing Indian tribe musical effect with a jazzy upbeat, and the melodic structures that is completely out of this world. Also included are three live tracks that they did in 1972 featuring a haunting and dazzling version of Mushroom, the 29-minute shrieking turned Zappa like effect of Spoon which at the time they were promoting Ege Bamyasi, and Halleluwah in a B-grade quality shows them grooving out and having a good time.

Tago Mago is not an easy album to listen to, and yet 40 years later on, it still influences to this very day that goes into heaven and into the post-apocalyptic structures of hell as if they recorded the soundtrack for 28 Days Later. Now if you want proof of insane music and shrieking time signatures, just ask The Mars Volta and they can tell you how much they have a love of CAN.