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Old 08-15-2008, 08:05 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Great review Boo Boo, I hate to admit it but Hawkwind slipped right past me back in the 70's, my brother had one of their albums but he was going through his hippy phase so I never really talked to him about the new bands he was into. I have Warrior On The Edge Of Time, and Hall Of The Mountain Grill now and I like them both, what other Hawkwind albums would you recommend?
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Old 08-15-2008, 11:05 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Opa-Loca: Instrumental jam, a really odd one, with just a basic up-tempo beat that dosen't change during the whole song, along with psychedelic moog and flute. It's so simple, but I quite like it.
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Old 08-15-2008, 12:24 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Great review Boo Boo, I hate to admit it but Hawkwind slipped right past me back in the 70's, my brother had one of their albums but he was going through his hippy phase so I never really talked to him about the new bands he was into. I have Warrior On The Edge Of Time, and Hall Of The Mountain Grill now and I like them both, what other Hawkwind albums would you recommend?
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:06 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Octopus - Gentle Giant - 1972

Personell:
Derek Shulman - Lead vocals, Alto Saxophone.
Raymond Schulman - Bass, Violin, Guitar, Percussion, Backing vocals.
Phillip Shulman - Saxophones, Trumpet, Mellophone, Lead and backing vocals.
Gary Green - Lead guitar, Percussion.
Kerry Minnear - Keyboards, Moog synthesizer, Vibraphone, Cello, Percussion, Lead and backing vocals.
John Weathers - Drums, Percussion, Xylophone.

Gentle Giant is my favorite of the lesser known prog bands, and this is probably my favorite album from them. Gentle Giant made their debut in 1970, formed by the Shulman brothers, they were known for their very unique sound even for a prog band, their rich vocal harmonies and consistant use of counterpoint, polyphony and several other classical techniques, the band consisted entirely of talented multi-instrumentalists who all contributed greatly to the bands rich multilayered but very playful sound. They're compared to Yes for their eclectic range of styles and for their symphonic compositions, but other than that they don't sound like Yes or any other prog band. Contrary to the prog stereotype theres no showboating between the musicians, and the chemistry is just magic, one common element in their music is a technique called racketing which is a melody that carries itself through one instrument at a time, which is especially notable here. Gentle Giant have an eclectic sound but their sound from album to album never changed much, but it's a sound that at least for their first several albums never wore thin.

And this, their fourth album, is one of their finest, it's the first to feature John Weathers on drums (who brought a more solid drum sound than previous drummers, and an interesting personality overall) and the last to feature Phil Shulman, who left the band around the time of this albums release.

The songs here are actually not very long for a prog band, clocking around just 3 or 4 minutes, but they manage to get everything done.

The Advent Of Panurge: Fantastic opener, but I can barely describe it, it fluctuates between so many styles and moods, yet it's a short and rather simple song for Gentle Giant, some classical here, some psychedelic rock there, sounds gimmicky when I describe it like that but you just need to hear these guys yourself, their sound is just way too hard to describe.

Raconteur Troubadour: A lovely medieval kind of ballad with a baroque style string arangement, excellent song that marries different classical elements together for a surprisingly poppy outcome.

A Cry For No One: Compared to most 70s prog bands GG do have some traditional rock elements that pop out of nowhere every now and then, so in addition to their more progressive stuff they're still not above doing a simple classic rock song. Though this is a pretty good one, and theres still a lot of prog going on and some cool twists.

Knots: One of the bands most memorable songs, and for good reason. Their really odd vocal harmony style is in great form here, starting out as an acapella that eventually builds up into a great catchy pop song with many twists. Sounds like the oompa loompas on lsd, f*cking love it.

The Boys In The Band: Great instrumental, great showcase for the band, Weathers especially lets loose with some great drums, great use of brass and moog too.

Dog's Life: A ballad, about a dog. :-/ GG never take themselves too seriously, especially here, a silly but likable little song.

Think of Me With Kindness: The real lowpoint of the album, it's not bad, but just a rather dull sappy piano ballad, dosen't really fit in here at all.

River: But this sure as hell puts everything back on track, this is a brilliant closer and easly my favorite track on the album. Great violin riff, with some great organ and "wind" like moog effects. Somehow the song progresses into a very psychedelic section with beautiful vocals and eerie moog, and then somehow leads to a bluesy guitar solo (whih feels a little out of place but is still a really good solo) before coming back. An awesome atmospheric piece.

Maybe I'm a bit too specific in describing the music and not anything else about the songs (like the lyrics or meaning, don't f*cking ask me), but hey, you should take a gander at some of the progarchives user reviews, they're no help at all, they just go on about every needless detail and talk about how a song isn't good because the "guitar and drums are not in the appropriate time signature".

Theres no excuse for any prog fan not to have this album, it's an essential for sure. One of my absolute favorites.



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Old 08-20-2008, 05:11 AM   #35 (permalink)
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Knots: One of the bands most memorable songs, and for good reason. Their really odd vocal harmony style is in great form here, starting out as an acapella that eventually builds up into a great catchy pop song with many twists. Sounds like the oompa loompas on lsd, f*cking love it.
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:53 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Good timing Boo Boo,,,I just started listening to Gentle Giant this week, I ahem, have their whole discography now and will take my time checking them out the same as I did with KC. I was reading some reviews in another forum and they trashed most of the later GG catalog as rubbish, and only considered 4 of their albums worthy of owning. I don't mind reading other people's opinions about music but in the end I will make up my own mind. Another good review from your prog hoard.
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:36 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Knots is one of the best songs ever. The rest of Octopus is almost as good.
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Old 08-21-2008, 03:39 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Good timing Boo Boo,,,I just started listening to Gentle Giant this week, I ahem, have their whole discography now and will take my time checking them out the same as I did with KC. I was reading some reviews in another forum and they trashed most of the later GG catalog as rubbish, and only considered 4 of their albums worthy of owning. I don't mind reading other people's opinions about music but in the end I will make up my own mind. Another good review from your prog hoard.
Yeah they kinda went downhill after Free Hand.

Anyway, this is a perfect excuse to post this.



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Old 08-22-2008, 09:01 AM   #39 (permalink)
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In Absentia - Porcupine Tree - 2002

Personell:
Steven Wilson - Lead and backing vocals, Guitar, Piano.
Gavin Harrison - Drums, Percussion.
Colin Edwin - Bass.
Richard Barbieri - Keyboards.

Porcupine Tree was formed in 1987 by Steven Wilson first as a solo project but eventually evolved into a band, their influences range from the space rock of Pink Floyd and Hawkwind (more notable in their early work) to ambient, electronic and metal, over time the band developed a more accessible sound. This is the 7th Porcupine Tree album, and it's the first to embrace more metal influences, though overall it's still a very mellow album, somewhat contrasted by some very dark themes about death and insanity.

This is basically a concept album, and the songs can be interpreted in different ways and very often reference each other. The first side is notably lighter (I use that word relatively because the lyrics are still pretty ****ed up) and the second is darker, very much in the spirit of Floyd, but it dosen't actually sound like Pink Floyd, so please ignore all those foos who write the band off as nothing more than a Floyd ripoff. This is a fantastic album, maybe a bit too commercial sounding for some prog fans, and the radio friendly riffs and processed vocals will surely turn others off as well, but nonetheless I think this is an excellent record.

Blackest Eyes: Starts off with an almost Tool-ish kind of riff but ends up being a very mellow song, I like this song, it's a very upbeat sounding song, so I was surprised to learn that it's about rape. Maybe a bit christian rock sounding at times, but this is a really good opener.

Trains: This is one of my favorites, the lyrics are about Wilson's childhood, it start out with acoustic guitar and mellotron, before everything else kicks in, somehow Wilson managed to throw a Banjo solo in there (or at least it sounds like a Banjo). A very damn good song.

Lips of Ashes: I don't know what this song is about, but if I had to guess I'd have to say it seems to be about f*cking a corpse. Yet this is a very beautiful and angelic song, with gorgeous guitars. God I hope I'm wrong about the necrophilia thing.

The Sound of Muzak: To break away from the main themes of this album, this is a critique of the music industry, with Wilson explaining that "The music of rebellion makes you wanna rage but it's made by millionaires who are nearly twice your age". I guess Wilson ain't much of a Who fan. Not quite as memorable as the other songs on here, but I like it.

Gravity Eyelids: Finally things are getting more proggy. This a f*cking gorgeous song, and it's easly my favorite. A very serene sounding sound, it starts out very mellow with some ethereal piano and mellotron, but the song eventually turns heavy. Wilson really has fun with lyrics that could be interpreted different ways. Since this song has been interpreted to be about a variety of things, either it's about a troubled relationship, or it's about a murder, or it's about child mollestation, or it's about.... butt ****ing? God songmeanings.net is no help at all. Seriously.

Wedding Nails: PT embrace their metal influences fully with this instrumental track. Wilson really shows off his guitar licks here, awesome guitar riff.

Prodigal: Another real highlight here, and this for me is one of the most moving songs for me, it's about contemplating suicide. I really love the vocals (Wilson obviously uses processing to create all the vocal harmonies, since no one else in the band sings) and melody here, great guitar too, especially the solo at the end.

3: Really lovely one here, starts out with a simple drum and bass beat, eventually a string section comes in. And the vocals which simply repeat the lyrics "Black the sky, weapons fly, Lay them waste for your race". So yeah, know you know why they called it 3. I really love this one, the strings combined with the great bassline and the guitar that comes in later.

The Creator Has a Mastertape: So after all this stuff about rape, murder, suicide, war, necrophilia and possibly butt ****ing, Wilson finally brightens things up... with a song about a guy who tortures and kills his family. Happy music. Musically this one is quite different from everything else so far, with a more uptempo rhythm and an industrial metal kind of thing going for it.

Heartattack In a Lay Bay: This is such a moving song, and quite a contrast to the rest of the album, lyrics deal with love and death, yet it comes out being a more uplifting song for this very dark album. An absolutely beautiful song.

Strip the Soul: According to Wilson he was inspired to make this album after reading a story about a family that lured people into their homes, raped and killed them and buried their bodies around their house, this song deals with that directly. A very grungey sounding song at first, with a little Opeth sneaking in at the end. It uses practically the same bassline as 3. Really love this one.

Collapse The Light Into Earth: This has been a really depressing album so far, so Wilson widely ends things on a more uplifting note, though it still deals with the main theme of death, I think this is about the victim coming to terms with fate, or something like that. Good ballad and a great closer for the album, really wraps everything up nicely.

If theres one criticism to be made here it's that it's not quite prog enough, but while Porcupine Tree are certainly a prog band, they always make melody and the lyrical themes the top priority, they certainly don't lack chops, and theres certainly some great licks here to admire, if not enough to please some of the more stingy prog fans.

I really love this album, it's so dark but beautiful at the same time.



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Old 08-22-2008, 09:12 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Nice review, I'm giving PT a bit of a spin today since I haven't listened to them in so long.

Have you heard Drown With Me from the bonus disc (also appears on Futile EP)? It's quite a beautiful song, somewhat harrowing given the lyrical matter yet somehow uplifting. It also has the most eloquent 2 note solo I've ever heard. Definitely one of my fav PT songs.
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