Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express - "Straight Ahead" [1974] @ 320 (British Jazz-Rock)

I had a tough time trying to find a review for this album, so instead I decided to post a profile of the artist instead...

Brian Auger was raised in London, where he took up the keyboards as a child and began to hear jazz by way of the American Armed Forces Network and an older brother's record collection. By his teens, he was playing piano in clubs, and by 1962 he had formed the Brian Auger Trio with bass player Rick Laird and drummer Phil Knorra. In 1964, he won first place in the categories of "New Star" and "Jazz Piano" in a reader's poll in the Melody Maker music paper, but the same year he abandoned jazz for a more R&B-oriented approach and expanded his group to include John McLaughlin (guitar) and Glen Hughes (baritone saxophone) as the Brian Auger Trinity. This group split up at the end of 1964, and Auger moved over to Hammond B-3 organ, teaming with bass player Rick Brown and drummer Mickey Waller. After a few singles, he recorded his first LP on a session organized to spotlight blues singer Sonny Boy Williamson that featured his group, saxophonists Joe Harriot and Alan Skidmore, and guitarist Jimmy Page; it was Don't Send Me No Flowers, released in 1968.

By mid-1965, Auger's band had grown to include guitarist Vic Briggs and vocalists Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, and Julie Driscoll, and was renamed Steampacket. More a loosely organized musical revue than a group, Steampacket lasted a year before Stewart and Baldry left and the band split. Auger retained Driscoll and brought in bass player Dave Ambrose and drummer Clive Thacker to form a unit that was billed as Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity. Their first album, Open, was released in 1967 on Marmalade Records (owned by Auger's manager, Giorgio Gomelsky), but they didn't attract attention on record until the release of their single, "This Wheel's on Fire," (music and lyrics by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko) in the spring of 1968, which preceded the appearance of the song on The Band's "Music from Big Pink" album. The disc hit the top five in the U.K., after which Open belatedly reached the British charts. Auger and the Trinity recorded the instrumental album "Definitely What!" (1968) without Driscoll, then brought her back for the double-LP, "Streetnoise" (1968), which reached the U.S. charts on Atco Records shortly after a singles compilation, "Jools & Brian", gave them their American debut on Capitol in 1969. Driscoll quit during a U.S. tour, but the Trinity stayed together long enough to record "Befour" (1970), which charted in the U.S. on RCA Records, before disbanding in July 1970.

Auger put together a new band to play less commercial jazz-rock and facetiously called it the Oblivion Express, since he didn't think it would last; instead, it became his perennial band name. The initial unit was a quartet filled out by guitarist Jim Mullen, bass player Barry Dean, and drummer Robbie McIntosh. Their initial LP, "Brian Auger's Oblivion Express", was released in 1971, followed later the same year by "A Better Land", but their first U.S. chart LP was "Second Wind" in June 1972, the album that marked the debut of singer Alex Ligertwood with the band. Personnel changes occurred frequently, but the Oblivion Express continued to figure in the U.S. charts consistently over the next several years with "Closer to It!" (August 1973), "Straight Ahead" (March 1974), "Live Oblivion, Vol. 1" (December 1974), "Reinforcements" (October 1975), and "Live Oblivion, Vol. 2" (March 1976). Meanwhile, Auger had moved to the U.S. in 1975, eventually settling in the San Francisco Bay area. In the face of declining sales, he switched to Warner Bros. Records for "Happiness Heartaches", which charted in February 1977. "Encore", released in April 1978, was a live reunion with Julie Tippetts (née Driscoll) that marked the end of Auger's association with major record labels, after which he dissolved the Oblivion Express and recorded less often. In 1990, he teamed up with former Animals singer Eric Burdon, and the two toured together during the next four years, releasing "Access All Areas" together in 1993. In 1995, Auger put together a new Oblivion Express. As of 2000, the lineup consisted of his daughter, Savannah, on vocals, Chris Clermont on guitar, Dan Lutz on bass, and his son Karma on drums. This group issued the album "Voices of Other Times" on Miramar Records one week before Auger's 61st birthday.

review by William Ruhlmann @ http://www.music.com

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link in comments

Saturday, May 27, 2006

New York Rock & Roll Ensemble Discography

Hi everybody! I am glad to post one of my favourite band here. There is a lot to say for that band but i am lazy on writting. :) So here is some copy paste from wiki: The band was formed by three Julliard students (Michael Kamen, Marty Fulterman ---now known as Mark Snow--- and Dorian Rudnytsky). Rudnytsky apparently introduced the others to two rock musicians (Brian Corrigan and Clif Nivison) from Toms River New Jersey where Rudnytsky went to high school. Reportedly, the group played together for the first time during a Halloween dance in 1967 at Julliard and were signed by Atlantic Records shortly thereafter. Their debut in discography was in 1968 with a self-named album. The New York Rock & Roll Ensemble broke the tradition by using classical music instruments in rock songs and rock instruments in classical pieces. This fusion, daring at the time, impressed legendary conductor Leonard Bernstein so much that he invited the group to appear at one of his Young People's Concerts with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra where they performed their signature song "Brandenburg" which was based on the first movement of Bach's Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. Brandenburg showed the group at their best: starting off with a "straight" rendition of Bach's music (featuring two oboes, guitar and cello); then migrating slowly but surely into a straight rock song all the while continuing to use Bach's original music for its musical base. Because Brandenburg was the one song that showed the widest range of their musicianship, the group typically performed that song when they made television appearances on The Tonight Show, The Steve Allen Show and similar TV shows of that era. Brandenburg appeared on the group's second LP "Faithful Friends". This LP had higher production values than their first and contained many of the songs that were part of their live act. Their third album, "Reflections", was the product of their collaboration with Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. Because this album was such a great departure from their "classical/rock" roots, it apparently sold poorly when released. Ironically, this album is now the group's biggest selling album because it was re-released in Europe a number of years back and has apparently sold well since that time. In 2005 the well known and..Read more here

Discography: new york rock & roll ensemble (1968) , faithful friends (1969) , reflections (1970) , Rollover (1971) , freedomburger (1972)

Click the album names or covers to download. Keep Listening!!!

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King Crimson - "Power To Believe II" (videoclip)

This videoclip taken from "eyes wide open" dvd (2003). Here there is a good review of this dvd: Anyone starting out to produce King Crimson’s rock family tree had better invest in some wall-sized sheets of paper. Over 35 years the band’s line-up has changed almost as often as its musical style, with players chosen to suit the Mellotron-driven prog-rock of the early days, the chamber jazz phase, the ambient diversion, and the recent variants on what can only be called rock and roll plus. And yet there is one common trunk running down the tree in the shape of founder, guitarist and electronics master Robert Fripp, the undisputed leader and shaper of the band’s formation and music. As long as Fripp wants it to, King Crimson will survive. The current survivors are featured in this two-DVD set, which covers almost five hours of live footage from the Kouseinenkin Kaikan in Tokyo earlier this year and – more prosaically – the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London in 2000. The time gap is wide enough to keep the overlap in track listings at a minimum, but short enough for the band line-up to stay the same; Robert Fripp on guitar, Adrian Belew on guitar and vocals, Trey Gunn on the absurdly complex-looking Warr ‘touch guitar’, and... read more here

Click here to download high quality version of this clip. Keep watching (too) :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Eddie Henderson - "Realization" [1973] @ 320 (Spacey Jazz Fusion) Kindly submitted by micaus

Just why this album was released on Capricorn Records is hard to understand. The label was set up with the Allman Brothers in mind and also featured Sea Level, Allman keyboardist Chuck Levell's band. This release just is not in the mould and explains why it didn't get much response when at the time.

But it follows a line of ground breaking albums from Herbie Hancock and his then fusion/electronic band. In a trio of albums, Sextant, Crossings and Mwandishi Hancock explored virgin territory with an electronics expert at its core. The whole new direction would not have been possible without Hancock's vision and Dr. Patrick Gleeson's noises. In addition to the Hancock canon, this rich vein of invention produced 2 gems from Henderson and a criminally overlooked masterpiece from Julian Preister, "Love Love". This has recently been re-released on ECM and is an essential purchase.

This is the first of the Henderson albums. A brilliant trumpeter, he only played music as an aside, as he is in fact Dr Henderson, M.D.. Indeed, after a few more albums he returned to doctoring for some years.

The band is a cracker. Hancock on a bank of keyboards, Lenny White & Billy Hart on drums, Buster Williams on bass and Bennie Maupin on wind instruments. Over a big groove, Hancock, Henderson and Maupin solo with the added feature of Gleeson's electronic colours. This is far out and spacey. So much so that this and the other albums referred to have become a source of samples for many a DJ.

This is a brand of fusion that was developed on his second album, Inside Out, which I hope to post soon.

Album, writeup, and scans provided by micaus. Thanks!!

Keep Listening!!!!

Download Here

Monday, May 22, 2006

Isotope - "Isotope" [1974] @ 192 (British jazz fusion)

Issued in 1974, Isotope's debut album is very different from the other two that the band produced. For their first outing nearly the whole album was written by one person - keyboardist Brian Miller, with Gary Boyle contributing just the final track. Consequently Boyle's guitar is not quite as evident as on their second album, and the funk of their third has yet to appear. This makes the music sound softer, although when the guitar kicks in that flies out the window - witness the superb solo on 'Oh Little Fat Man'. 'Sunshine Park' is more or less a solo keyboards piece, but it is tracks like the Mahivishnu soundalike 'Bite On This' and the excellent 'Upward Curve' where the band excel.

Miller has written some first-rate tunes for this album, and the playing is exemplary. Apparently Miller and bassist Jess Clyne had a jazz background, and after this album they returned to it, which was why ex-Soft Machine stalwart Hugh Hopper was drafted in for the second album. Miller and Clyne's influence is certainly evident on some tracks where the music seems more jazz than jazz-rock - on 'Windmills And Waterfalls' for example - but once Boyle's guitar appears the fusion takes over.

The CD re-issue is certainly worth getting if you want a good example of British jazz-rock fusion at its best.

Highly Recommended.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

John Berberian Discography (excellent oriental fusion)

Hello Friends! This is one of the greatest artists to come out of the middle eastern style of ethnic jazz/rock and this is one of the greatest meeting of east and west in a name: John Berberian! Here There are 4 albums of him and his company waiting for your ears. You can click the album covers to download the albums. Remember to support artists/bands that you like to listen by buying their albums. It is also good ethic and respect to musicians and their work. First you may download and listen..then you can buy the original one.It's up to your understanding and economic situation. Anyway I am not an ethical teacher. There are 2 more albums from him and 2 albums that he played as a guest member.i am thinking to share these works in next posts. As usual here is a bit information copy/paste about him:
John Berberian is acknowledged as a master of the oud, the premier stringed instrument in common use within the middle eastern music community. Berberian has commanded the respect of musicians of middle eastern music, worldwide. He has been featured in numerous concerts and dances throughout the United States, Canada and South America. Berberian is known for a series of successful Armenian and Middle Eastern recordings and has recorded with such major companies as: MGM, RCA, Roulette, Verve and Mainstream Records. Berberian's parents were Armenian immigrants that came to America in the early 1920s with a rich musical culture. His father was an accomplished oud player, as well as instrument maker. Oud masters of Armenian, Turkish, Arabic and Greek heritage frequented his family's home.
Berberian worked with apprentice Andre Markarian, who grew up in a home filled with Armenian and Middle Eastern music. As a younger member of the longstanding Armenian community of Massachusetts, Markarian laments, "I sadly watch some of the most beautiful parts of my Armenian culture fade into history. Among these is our traditional musical heritage. With the ever-decreasing number of Armenian instrumental masters, 2000 years of musical richness slips through the fingers of this present generation of Armenian youth."
Berberian and and apprentice Andre Markarian worked on a musical style known as taksim (improvisation), a form deeply rooted in traditional Middle Eastern folk music. Mastering the taksim requires knowledge of modes, proper form and technique.
Happy Listenings :)

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Soft Machine - "Softs" [1976] @ 320 Kindly submitted by micaus

Mike Ratledge had gone along with his distinctive keyboards and Robert Wyatt has long been in a wheelchair by the time this Soft Machine album appeared. All the trademarks that had endeared the Softs to fusion lovers and the Canterbury scene had gone. There were no original members, although Jenkins, Marshall and Babbington had been in the band for a while. Not only that, but there was a new guitarist, John Etheridge, "sellout" was the cry.

To be fair, this version of the Softs had little in common with the band that produced the incredible "Third". The change in band members led to a completely different style, so much so that they could, and maybe should have, been called by another name. If they had done so, it is possible that this wouldn't be dismissed as the last gasp of a once great band. But dismissed it was. Even the cover was a dramatic departure, with its modern neon design, a little too slick.

Pity, really, as on its own terms, its a great album. The sound is largely the result of Karl Jenkins' increasing interst in composition and the wonderful guitar of John Etheridge. The latter is an overlooked genius of the instrument and should be held in the same catagory as Allan Holdsworth. He's that good. His guitar work is a study in when and when not to play, that is the gaps in his solos are as important as the notes. He also a very melodic player.

This is an album that has not lost its appeal over time, it still sounds fresh and is one that should be heard.

--Album, scans and review submitted by fellow contributor micaus. Thanks!!

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Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer - "Like Children" [1974] @ 320 (Jazz Fusion Duo) Thanks to micaus for this recommendation and review

In the early 70's fusion was the next big thing, young jazzers with all the chops discovering electricty, volume and audiences. There is no doubt that the bad name fusion garnered at that time flows from the release of what was, quite frankly, rubbish.

There were, however, glaring exceptions, the electric Return To Forever's, "Hymn Of the Seventh Galaxy" and just about anything put out by Weather Report and John Mclaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. From the latter came an intensity not heard before in fusion and one couldn't help be struck by how heavy it all was, this was not music for the faint hearted. McLaughlin was a very hard task master, so it was not a surprise when the first Mahavishnu Orchesta broke up.

Jerry Goodman had been in the jazz-rock band Flock and was already known as a great violinist. After he and Hammer found the mselves unemployed, they turned to the fledgling Nemperor records to record this duo album. It does not have the virtuosity of their former band, and I'm sure that's deliberate, but the range of instruments they play and the compositional strengths make it a lost gem. Hammer takes on the drumming duties and Goodman shows that he's a competent guitarist as well as a violin master. On listening to this again, one realizes that this really is a fine album. Well worth a listen.

Thanks again to micaus for this review and the cover art!

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Indian Summer - "Indian Summer" [1971] @ 192 (Classic UK Progressive Rock) Kindly submitted by masymas

Often named as a classic, this one-shot album of this British group from Coventry shows us the some of the finest progressive rock of this time, with vocals of Bob Jackson and excellent guitar work by Collin Williams. And excellent means: not screaming, but subtle. So often in this period, many groups appeared and disappeared, and Indian Summer was one of them, a pity. Good use of the hammond organ and mellotron, with a touch of blues as well. If you like early Yes, Pink Floyd, or Tomorrow, you will surely enjoy them. Highlights include "God is the Dog" and "Emotions of Men". The artwork is done by Keef, a well known designer in that time... This album needs to be in your prog. collection! 4 stars out of 5.

Much thanks to masymas for submitting this album and review.

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Berberian & The Middle Eastern Ensemble - "Middle Eastern Rock" [1969] @224 (eastern fusion)

Coming soon!!

[Edit]: Thanks for the comment..
it is impossible to visit all that great blogs :)

becouse of my work i am not able to touch in
every site..sorry i must search better

upcomming Berberian discography soon..

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Might Of Coincidence - "The Birth Of Might Of Coincidence" [1971] @192 (swiss folk psyche)

Hi all! After downloading and listening that album, i said wow! Before posting this to blog, i search for the band info, but i could not find any good information..so this time you may not like the copy paste work :) Thanks to Cassandra for advising that band to me..and here is some copy paste: the group recorded and released the album in the UK on the Entropialabel. The music is described as stoned, haunting and with anemphasison flute and bongos."Very dense sound on all six tracks, reaching apeak on the final track "Minima Into Space" with instrumentaldistortion and strange vocals creating an unusual and disturbingsound". It also says it's very similar to Comus...

If you know a good info for the band..you are very welcome to share link on comments section..so i can add info for this great band.

Happy dreamy listenings :)


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Phantasia - "Phantasia" [1972] @ 256 (Ultra rare US psychedelic) Kindly submitted by Mark

Reissue of US psychedelic ultra rarity recorded 1971/72. The original albums (a complete one and a one-sided) are legends for all psychedelic/garage collectors, only 25 copies pressed of each -- not many people have the pleasure of having seen a copy. The music is creeping slowly and sensitively in your mind, whether stoned or not, it takes you wherever you want. Those are the complete sessions, 55mins in mastertape quality presented the first time to the public -- extremely informative booklet (20 sided), with outstanding artwork and colour photos. One of the best Psychedelic albums, playing in the same league as Fraction, Music Emporium, Hunger, Mystic Siva, Damon.

Highly Recommended.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Flock - "Dinosaur Swamp" [1971] @ 256 (early American progressive Rock w/ Jerry Goodman) Thanks to micaus for this recommendation

The Flock deserve more than a footnote, but not the full-fleged treatment that an entry in The Anal Annals of American Progressive Rock would surely give them. They released three separate albums all of which had separate ideas behind them, and with steadily decreasing results. Their first album focuses on classical violinist Jerry Goodman, with counter-point done by a horn section (this was a Chicago band, after all) and guitarist Fred Glickstein. Shifting between styles within songs was the key to their success, as was letting Goodman stretch out as much as possible. The second album, Dinosaur Swamps reigned Goodman in, hampered itself by changing styles too much, and was way over-produced. But both of these albums are certainly a different form of progressive rock - sort of Chicago with Seatrain's violin. But Goodman then left for John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra and the band fell apart in 1971. It was revived by Glickstein and the rhythm section in the mid-70s without horns, but with a token violinist and a synth-loving keyboardist. The final Flock album was self-consciously "progressive" and laid claim to being one of the first "progressive" bands while stumbling all over themselves to imitate crappy popular "progressive" music like Styx (another Chicago band). In short, a deserved, obnoxious flop.

Dinosaur Swamp shows that band more at home with their prog and jazz sensibilities. This is even more progressive than their self titled debut, and completely bewildering - right down to the intricate gatefold artwork which almost indecipherable. This is a very dense sounding album - usually Glickstein (using both guitar and keyboards) and Goodman are playing at the same time, and frequently with the horns (who get a larger role). Either the group or producer John McClure is fascinated with sound effects that have already become passé for the beginning or endings of songs, like making foghorn noises (the opening of the Steve Miller Band's Sailor anyone?), speeding up the track, or hideous laughing/calliope from hell noises. The songs aren't much better, because the band has too many musical ideas. You have psychedelia ("Hornshmeyer's Island" which alternates between quiet versus and loud, helium-voiced choruses), blues ("Crabfoot" with percussion solos, backwards noises, a strange horn noise section that's not quite a John Zorn wet dream), a romantic folk ballad with Salvation Army style horns ("Mermaid") and even a strong country feel on "Big Bird". The biggest surprise is that the group almost completely fails to capitalize on Goodman. Sure, he's playing, but he doesn't have any lengthy solos, only spots now and again, and a couple of interesting tones (wah-wah on "Crabfoot", and an underwater tone that makes it sound like a mellotron on "Hornschmeyer's Island"). The last track, "Uranian Sircus" has ridiculous spoken versus, a chorus of "Uranian Sircus is on it's way to town!" and fun production tricks like reverb and slightly phased vocals. Repetitive, annoying, but sort-of interesting in a grotesque manner. Actually, there's quite a bit of nice playing within these tracks when they get a chance to stretch out, but there's so many ideas to wade through that frequently the band doesn't get there. Because they never get around to playing, or are changing too much the weak nature of their lyrics (Hornschmeyer's Island" has a few 'gems') and the inter-song filler (the intro to "Big Bird", Glickstein's guitar lines in "Lighthouse") shines through. While their debut provided ample space for each person in the band (apportioned by talents, of course) with almost everyone going at once it's neither overly structured or organized chaos, but like an large object made out of Legos - done in stages, fun for the assemblers, perhaps interesting to look at for a short while, but with a utility approaching zero. In trying to do everything the Flock amply demonstrate they are not the musical equivalent of an uncollapsed wave function, but instead a band that had too much time on their hands, too little quality control, and little knowledge about their strengths.

--- http://jhendrix110.tripod.com/Flock.html#DS

Jerry Goodman fans, if you don't already have a copy of this recording, what are you waiting for?


Rick Canoff (sax)
Fred Glickstein (guitar, keyboards, vocals)
Jerry Goodman (violin, guitar, vocals)
Ron Karpman (drums)
Frank Posa (trumpet)
Jerry Smith (bass)
Tom Webb (sax)

Keep Listening!!!!


Alas - "Alas" [1976] @ 224 (Amazing Argentinian prog/fusion)

Alas was one of the most amazing prog bands from Argentina, not only in the technical aspect (all three members were proficient performers) but also in the creative aspect – their style is based on a highly rich amalgam of jazz fusion a-la Return to Forever/Weather report, ELP-tinged prog pomposity, tango-based textures and academic flavours, all of them cohesively gathered in a powerful, original sound. Alas was, in many ways, a world of its own in their country’s prog arena, yet their sound portrayed a distinct peculiarity that could only be emanated from the very heart of Buenos Aires’ Creole folklore.

Their debut album’s repertoire consisted of two sidelong suites, both of them bearing a notable predominance of instrumental input. The first one, ‘Buenos Aires es Solo Piedra’, is the jazziest. The first and antepenultimate motifs sort of operate as the main centers of the whole sequence, providing an air of exuberant mystery for it. The ‘Sueño’ section is the only sung one, very ethereal indeed: the ethereal stuff is perpetuated in the immediate section, which turns to explore minimalistic places with its musique concrete-inspired tricks. There is another soft section before the arrival of the last one – ‘Tanguito’ brings some pleasant tango airs, like a dreamy sound that meanders in an unknown place of the listener’s subconscious mind. The second suite is the most bombastic, meaning it is the most akin to progressive rock parameters. ‘La Muerte Contó el Dinero’ is a showcase for ELP’s influence on Alas’ style, but of course, Moretto’s vision combined with the threesome’s particular drive keeps them well away from any cloning temptation. The first section is a sung intro based on a delicate electric piano motif augmented by subtle touches of lead guitar and drum kit’s cymbals. The lines are really powerful, as if predicting some sociopolitical disaster (which, sadly, came to be around the middle of that year 1976). The three following sections determine the suite's nuclear motifs, and that is when things get electrifyingly ELP-ish, yet, like I said before, never getting to rip-off land. The organ and the synth paint amazing flourishes and leads all the way, while the rhythm section keeps an inventive pace in a most robust manner. After the first sung section is reprised in ‘Vidala Again’, a series of eerie sounds emanated from the synth, bass and percussive implements arrives like the birth of something new that gets in the landscape and spreads around. The sound of a storm announces a drum solo: what’s the point of a drum solo after such an ethereal passage? Well, this drum solo serves as an anticipation of the final outburst, which is the reprise of sections b, c & f: ‘Final’ brings an air of conclusive splendour to this suite, in this way providing a coherent closure.

The bonus track comes from a single the band originally released the year before this album. While being less demanding, it is very neat, indeed, offering a candorous sample of jazzy 'joie de vivre'. If only it hadn’t been placed after ‘La Muerte…’ - it somehow kills its climax. Well, if you program your CD player by locating the bonus between the two suites, the experience will be more rewarding. But even if you don’t, Alas’ debut album is so good that it can only motivate an excellent emotional experience in the listener’s soul: “Alas” is an album that any decent prog collector should have.


Gustavo Morretto – Keyboards, Winds, Vocals
Alex Zucker – Bass, Guitar
Carlos Riganti – Drums, Percussion

Highly Recommended

Keep Listening!!!!

The original link has been deleted, the new link is in comments.....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Alphataurus - "Alphataurus" [1973] @ 320 (Powerful Italian Progressive Rock)

The self-titled Alphataurus album was one of my earliest ventures into the world of Italian progressive rock, and today stands, in my eyes, as one of the unequivocal classics of the scene. Stylistically, the group falls squarely into the heavy progressive mold, sitting nicely alongside bands like Il Balleto di Bronzo and especially Museo Rosenbach. Alphataurus incorporates something of a bluesy, hard rock-ish vibe in along with frenzied Hammond riffs and thundering mellotron movements, combining for a shuddering attack of unparalleled power and energy. The vocalist has a raspy, earthy tone that lends itself perfectly to the alternately exquisite and violent instrumental underpinning. Despite the aggressive stance of the band, the melodies here are absolutely gorgeous when the band wants them to be, rising from the cacophony like a butterfly.

The 12 min+ opener gives the tone for the rest of the album giving you a delightful cross of early Crimson, VDGG and ELP with some of the best Italian vocals. The second track follows suit even if it sounds a bit derived of a few Golden Earring tracks (Eight Miles High and the eponymous album AKA Wall Of Dolls), but is definitely endearing because of those seldom heard influences. Croma is a short instrumental track that will remind the Theme One VDGG track. Side 2 starts with a slow evolving synth line as a lenghty intro, but once the track gets under way, it does not seem to get a life of its own maybe the weakest track on the album. As for the closing track, it is maybe the most typically Italian prog track on this record and shows their inventivity at its fullest extent with a superbly syncopated middle section.

The entire album is pretty much flawless, with a tendency to go for total balls-to-the-wall ferocity. Alphataurus is an unparalled heavy prog classic to my ears, don't miss out on the kick ass gatefold artwork either.

this review was compiled from other reviews @ http://www.progarchives.com

Highly Recommended

Keep Listening!!!!


Titus Groan - "Titus Groan...Plus" [1970] @ 256 (Underrated UK Progressive Rock) Thanks to guadalupe for this recommendation

Amazing and underrated prog work from the early UK era. Sounding like a heavier version of Fruup the album Titus Groan featured on the Dawn label. It has been re-issued on See For Miles with some extra tracks. Drums and Bass impress on the track "Liverpool" which has a very dynamic almost Squire-like bass riff at the end. The mock-medieval "In the Hall of Bright Carvings" is a 14 minute epic and one of the undiscovered gems that can be found on many of these rare UK prog LP's. Great vocal harmonies give way to some splendid organ work and the track is very reminiscent of early Gryphon at times. Other Mervyn Peake inspired tracks litter the album (as they do on Fruup LP's) but overall Titus Groan are hard to define. For instance parts of the LP, like the opening track, "If It Wasn't For You" have a kind of Brass Rock Chicago sound while elsewhere you'll find Bob Dylan covers ("Open The Door, Homer"). A very varied and worthwhile example of the early UK prog style, a band that undeservedly sank in the huge swell of popularity created by the giants of the scene like Yes and Genesis.

Titus Groan, the book, formed the first part of Mervin Peake's imaginative, haunting "Gormenghast" trilogy, one of post-war Britain's finest literary achievements. Titus Groan, the group, arrived some 20+ years after its first publication, and embraced, in music, some of the novel's gothic atmosphere while adding their own slice of English progressive rock. By 1970 at least two divisions of "underground" music had emerged. One included the likes of Family, the Pretty Things and Traffic; groups whose pedigree stretched back into Beat and Rhythm and Blues. In their wake came a succession of newer bands whose histories were neither as long nor as detailed but who welcomed the "new" music as an opportunity to stretch. In common with several labelmates, Titus Groan first came to prominence at the Hollywood Pop Festival of the weekend beginning May 23rd 1970. Here, the Red Bus Company, a London Agency, masterminded three days of "love, peace and music" on a site near Newcastle Under Lyme with a bill which included Ginger Baker's Airforce and the British concert debut of the Greatful Dead.

--much of this review by David Abel @ http://www.gepr.net

Personnel: Stuart Cowell - keyboards, guitar, vocals
John Lee - bass
Tony Priestland - sax, flute, oboe
Jim Toomey - drums

Keep Listening!!!!


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spectrum - "Milesago" [1971] @ 224 (Adventurous Australian Progressive Rock) Kindly submitted by micaus

Spectrum were the most adventerous of the early 1970's Australian progressive bands. The leader, singer and main songwriter, Mike Rudd, has said that they were so concerned with the serious music that they scorned anything like a single. To make the point, their first release was a single, no doubt released at record company insistance, the brilliant "I'll Be Gone" and was a minor hit. The band, however, refused to put it on their first album, "Part One". Harvest, the famous English prog label released the record, bearing the valueable SHVL prefix. An original is quite expensive today.

The album was made up of four long tracks featuring the loud organ of Lee Neale, the chords and slow guitar of Rudd and his distinctive voice. In concert, they used plenty of volume and improvisation was an intergral part of the live experience. I recall seeing them support a tour of blues legends. Normally the support band has great trouble gaining any interest and audience respect. Not so with Spectrum, at the end of the short set, the crowd wanted more.

By the time they recorded their masterpiece, "Milesago", they had honed their sound and songwriting skills. Although seroius, there was a need to lighten up, hence "A Virgin's Tale" and "What The World Needs Now (Is A New Pair Of Socks)". This lighter approach led to the band developing an alter ego "Indilible Murtceps" under whose guise they went on to make some great records.

It is a double album, again on Harvest, but with the SHDW prefix. Nonetheless, a quick trawl through Ebay will reveal that a good original is worth a small fortune.

This, of course, has nothing to do with the music, it is prog with a rock bent, coloured by the voice and guitar of Mike Rudd and with great variety in the songs. Rudd is not a flashy guitarist, but he is an excellent songwriter and arranger, such that he used his limitations to the band's advantage. It has always been one of my favourite albums and is essential for any lover progressive music.

After Spectrum folded a few years later, bassist Bill Putt and Rudd formed Ariel, their stab at pop. They had some success, but the music was vastly less interesting. Putt and Rudd still perform as Spectrum, but they are now deeply rooted in acoustic blues, a far cry from this masterpiece.

Highly Recommended

Review, Album, and Scans submitted by fellow contributor micaus

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Bubu - "Anabelas" [1984] @ 192 (Excellent Argentinian Progressive Rock)

Excellent Argentine ensemble who put out the excellent Anabelas. Just reissued by Music Hall so you should pick this one up. Crimsonesque progressive with a cultural influence.

Anabelas is an excellent album, featuring mature composition, great group playing, and a very nice sense of dynamics and texture. There is an intensity to this music which is controlled beautifully over the 3 long pieces (including a 20 minute instrumental) found on this CD. A solid, adventuresome rhythm section provides the foundation for the great contrapuntal themes woven by sax, flute, violin, and electric guitar. When I first heard this, I was immediately reminded of Magma. The expanded ensemble of Magma is here, along with the harmonically and thematically intricate compositions. Having said that, Bubu is far from a Magma clone. The thematic development is reminiscient of pieces like Kontark, but it is presented with more of a classical flavor, especially in the three and four voice counterpoint, than the jazzier intricacies of Magma. Perhaps most significantly, there is not the heavy, brooding mood that permeates many Magma works. Anabelas does have an ominous feel at times, but it is not nearly as overpowering as that of Magma. Ther are free jazz wailing sax outbreaks interspersed with quiet contrapuntal passages, and even an aggressive guitar lead or two. But, far from random, these events all fit nicely into the well planned thematic development and sense of forward motion which alternately builds, relaxes, and builds again through the final recapitulation of the main themes. No noodling, and very little soloing, to be found here. There are (Spanish) vocals on two of these pieces, and they are definately part of, rather than an excuse for, the music. I know that some folks aren't too fond of vocals in languages other than English, but these do not detract anything from the music. For those who are into more intricate prog, there is plenty of dissonance and structural complexity to delight. And for those who look for solid, thought-out compositions, this will not disappoint.

Bubu are an outstanding representative of Argentinian Progressive Rock. The band touches across many different styles yet imitates no one. Bubu are a band to influence not to be influenced. As a matter of fact, fans of Atavism of Twilight will recognize some themes from Bubu's 19+ minute track, "El Cortejo de un dia Amarillo." There is, however,recognition of past masters, the most obvious being King Crimson and Magma. The Crimson influence is mostly through the guitar of Eduardo Rogatti which is Fripp-like in many places and is the closest this band comes to imitation. More obvious as an overall influence, however, is Magma as Bubu performs driving marches with dramatic vocals (often with no lyrics) and Wagnerian intensity. You can also hear shades of the Canterbury scene from Henry Cow to Soft Machine, Italian Symphonic, jazz, fusion, Stravinsky and much more. The music is not schizophrenic despite these seemingly very different styles; the band is completely focused and in control. There are seven band members plus an eighth listed as composer and arranger of this complex music. And complex it is. With violin, flute, sax, guitar, bass, drums and voice there are many different forms of interaction between instruments. The band switches from high intensity multi-layered and intricate themes to simple and sonorous violin passages. Bubu is a band to challenge your listening skills and is a great place to start to get into the more "adventurous" styles of progressive rock.

For ten or fifteen years I've been looking for something that uses jazz licks with rock structures as well as the best bits of King Crimson's Lizard do. I've bought God knows how many meaningless fusion CDs looking for the way I knew jazz-rock fusion should be, but I hadn't found anything remotely like what I wanted until last week, when I came across Anabelas by Bubu. It's quite varied music, with what sounds like free improv. for first few seconds followed by all sorts of progressive rock and jazz, but consistently interesting and a bit challenging without being inaccessible. This stuff is so good it's made me contribute to the GEPR for the first time!

Highly Recommended!!

This review was written by Jason Grossman at http://www.gepr.net

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see July archive for download link

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Idiot Flesh - "Fancy" [1997] @ 224 (Wildly experimental avantgarde)

I wasn't quite sure at first if the 3rd and final official release from San Francisco based Idiot Flesh was quite right for this blog, but then I thought 'why not?' This is my favorite album of theirs, but be warned, it is NOT for the faint of heart. Pushing their quirky and sometimes shocking style even further on this release, they may sound quite heavy and abrasive to some listeners. This is a cacophonous beast at play, guaranteed to send your neighbors rushing to lock their doors and windows. Case-in-point, the track "Teen Devil Worsipper", taken from the actual scrawlings of teenage satanist Jonathan Kintaro, who killed his mother. Although the subject matter is a bit heavy, it is delivered in a catchy manner, almost summoning images of Primus had they had Peter Hammill as a frontman. Any band that can run the gamut from a 10-minute onslaught devilishly deconstructing T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (“The Straw”) and follow it with a short, sacrilegious satire (“Cheesus [Dance Mix]”) deserves to be heard. Other highlights of the album are brilliant remakes of The Residents' "Bach Is Dead", and Sesame Street's "Welcome to the Neighborhood". The guitar mastery displayed in the song "Drowning" would make any Joe Satriani-head cream, and "Chicken Little" turns into a blinding fusion of Flipper and King Crimson. Idiot Flesh are a group of humor and extremes, as illustrated in the screamingly hilarious "Cheesus," a bogus commercial for "the snack food that dies for you", and their often over-the-top live performances. The large troupe of "onstage cast" members the band brings along on tours generally mingles with the audience, prompting people to join in the festivities. When they're not doing that, the supporting members are juggling fire, dancing, playing an array of instruments, performing puppet shows or helping the on-stage band members get their costumes to inflate on cue. Using instruments in ways not generally noted at concerts (like a bass guitar mounted on its side and played like a percussion instrument, lots of saw blades and other goodies), plus incorporating some rather prominent trombone parts, Idiot Flesh is anything but a generic rock'n'roll band.
Highly Recommended for fans of experimental music.

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MacKenzie Theory - "Bon Voyage" [1974] @ 256 (Excellent obscure Australian Fusion) Kindly submitted by micaus

MacKenzie Theory formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1973, centered around the guitar of Rob MacKenzie and the viola of Cleis Pearce. At the time there was a very active music scene in Australia with many bands experimenting mainly in the blues/rock direction. However there was a growing awareness of the fusion, and in particular Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. It is from this music that MacKenzie Theory and other bands such as Ayres Rock, drew there influences.

They, however, created a style that was unique, no guitar pyrotechnics, but rather etheral chords behind and Pearce's electric viola. The use of a viola instead of a violin was inspired, the deeper tone better suited the music than the high pitch of a violin. MacKenzie was the real leader of the band and the sound centred on his spacy guitar style and very open compositions. Pearce's viola adds a colour that is perfect for the music.

They made just 2 albums to a muted commercial response, available only in Australia and long since deleted. First was "Out Of The Blue" in 1973, was recorded live in the studio, a cheap way of recording an album. Despite this, it worked, as it caught the spontanity of the band and showed off their jazz credentials. Following the first album they toured around the country, trying to summon some interest, but didn't really succeed.

When the time came for the second album, it was clear that the band was about to fold, hence the title. Again it was decided to record live, this time in concert. A keyboard was added to the mix with a new rhythm section. The preference for long improvised instrumentals is evidenced by the fact that album comprises of just 4 tracks and I suspect that these are edited. MacKenzie's love of jazz can be seen in the title of the last track,"Supreme Love", an obvious play on John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme".

There were a few musicians at that time playing the violin in fusion, most noteably, Jerry Goodman in The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jean Luc Ponty and Michal Urbaniak. Pearce sounded like none of these. Likewise, no one sounded like MacKenzie on guitar and it is this that creates the unique sound and makes the band so interesting. Futhermore, their excellent musicianship and improvisory skills make this a forgotton classic.

The band had cased to exist by the time the album came out and from the cheap cover one assumes that label boss, Michael Gudinski (later to "discover" Kylie Minogue), couldn't see a profit. Both MacKenzie and Pearce disappeared from the scene completely and as far as I am aware, have not played since.

Highly Recommended

Artist info, art, and album submitted by fellow contributor micaus.

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(one note: I uploaded the album with the wrong name on the album folder, my mistake. oops....)


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Trace - "Birds" [1974] @ 192 (Keyboard dominated Netherlands Prog)

Trace was a Dutch band that played extremely energetic and inspired keyboard heavy classical rock. Their second album is reportedly their finest, and indeed comes off like a more light-hearted and less mechanical Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Trace is somewhat notable for it's membership, featuring keyboard whiz Rick van der Linden from Ekseption and drummer Ian Mosely, later of Marillion. Though I've heard fairly unanimous bad things about the classical adaptations on the Ekseption album, van der Linden's playing on Birds is phenomenal. This is high-energy, unabashedly pompous stuff that is just a lot of fun, making use of every kind of vintage keyboard imaginable.The album is made up of a bunch of short tracks and then the epic "Birds" suite. Of the earlier tracks, "Bouree" is a blast, kicking off the album in grand fashion and setting the tone. The highlight of this first part of the album is without a doubt "Opus 1065", an adaptation of a Bach piece that is absolutely stunning. Darryl Way's violins are used incredibly here. Definitely one of the nicest rock adaptations of a classical piece I've ever heard. "Penny" is a fairly boring jazz workout, and is rather tedious as anticipation builds for the incredible title suite. "King-Bird" is no disappointment. This track has it all, as it works through it's various themes, borrowing liberally from classical pieces throughout (don't ask me which ones) and mixing it all with the frenetic keyboards and general rock and roll machismo. The band also must have saved their strongest original material for this one as well, as there is hardly a weak point on the whole thing. Occasionally, vocals appear for the first times on the album, and aren't overly unpleasant despite the slight accent. This is a keyboard album for sure though, the clear attraction being van der Linden's generally bombastic but electrifying playing. One of the best Dutch albums I've heard for sure.

--Greg Northrup, 2001, The Giant Progweed

Rick van der Linden - Kawai grand piano, Hohner D6 clavinet, Hohner pianet, Hammond B3-M3 Organ, Neupert harpsichord, A.R.P. 2600 Synthesizer, Solina String Ensamble, Mellotron 400D, Church organ of the St. Bavo church in Haarlem, EMS synthi-A, Optigan music maker, Steeldrums, Riha classica Ian Mosley - Drums, Timpani, Chinese Gong, Duckcall tamborine Jaap van Eik - Vocals, Fender precision bass, Fender stratocaster, Fender fuzz-effects, Phased guitar Guests:Darryl Way - Acoustic/Electric Violins on [4]Coen Hoedeman - assorted monkeys on [1]

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Idiot Flesh - Tales Of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death [1990] @ 224 (Eclectic experimental avantgarde)

Idiot Flesh was an experimental/avantgarde group that later developed into the San Francisco based Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. They released 3 albums and a single EP during their existence in the 1990s. "Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death" was their first outing. There are many different genres and styles all mixed up into a circus-like atmosphere of craziness. Like SGM, Idiot Flesh worked off a mix of dark and threatening-sounding influences, but with less cohesive melding and far more jump-cuts: They would snap on a dime from Metal to Industrial to RIO to 20th Century Classical Quotes and then off the map to Funk or Vaudeville or Country and back just as fast. (Sometimes they resembled a really evil version of Gentle Giant.) As a result, they often sounded more overtly "prog".
Idiot Flesh also used to put on an even more theatrical performance than SGM does: Besides the gargoylish makeup and costumes, they used elaborate props, including giant foam-rubber masks, sets, and inflating suits. Their shows often opened and closed with rackety vaudevillean routines done in and through the audience. On top of this, they worked with many auxiliary sideshow performers, such as the fire-dancer Beefra the Cook, Hatcha and Datcha the Siamese Twins, a Punch and Judy show, and a number of others. All of this made touring a nightmare, although they did manage to get on the road several times a year.
Artistically, the band seemed to aim mostly at repeatedly whapping audiences upside the head to jolt them out of seen-it-all indifference. This worked: they had quite a following in the Bay Area. However, they never seemed too clear on what more they meant by all the quick changes and bizarre visuals. The lyrics didn't help much - they usually put forth sardonic jokes, ruminated about the contradictions of performance and the ironies of pop culture, or wallowed in a self-conscious dark ugliness. Most of the words to Nothing Show derived from their obscure, involved band-mythology. Sometimes Idiot Flesh just seemed like the World's Best Novelty Band (well, West Coast of the US, anyway), although they always offered a wild ride and never failed to deliver on that promise. But at the end, they had started to do more, had begun to find an emotional core in all the routines and style-changes, appeared to have found out what they wanted to say with them. And, although the usual tensions and frustrations caused the Idiots to go the way of all Flesh, much of what they'd become at the end continued on into Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Highly recommended.

much of this review was pulled from one by John Hagelbarger on http://www.gepr.net

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