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Old 01-24-2013, 12:49 PM   #51 (permalink)
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Hooray! Rabbiting On has received 1500 views




A big thank you to all those who have taken the time to read my ramblings since I started this journal on Sunday 14th October 2012 (102 days ago). A bouquet of Martian fireflowers also goes to those who have commented.
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:07 PM   #52 (permalink)
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Very well deserved.
Isn't it great though to look at your viewcount increasing? I was really depressed about my journal initially, given the low comment count, till I glanced at the viewcount, and suddenly my day took an upswing. Now I watch it regularly: waiting for the one hundred thousand mark! (I estimate about March/April on current trends...)
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:26 AM   #53 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Now I watch it regularly: waiting for the one hundred thousand mark! (I estimate about March/April on current trends...)
^ Thank you. I have got a long way to go before I can match that illustrious score, TH, but it is testament to your enormous hard work and effort.
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:21 PM   #54 (permalink)
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Remedy Lane by Pain of Salvation (InsideOut Music 2002)

Don't find fault, find a remedy




Remedy Lane Tracklist

1. Of Two Beginnings – 2:24

Chapter I
2. Ending Theme – 4:59
3. Fandango – 5:51
4. A Trace of Blood – 8:17
5. This Heart of Mine (I Pledge) – 4:01

Chapter II:
6. Undertow – 4:47
7. Rope Ends – 7:02
8. Chain Sling – 3:58
9. Dryad of the Woods – 4:56

Chapter III:
10. Remedy Lane – 2:15
11. Waking Every God – 5:19
12. Second Love – 4:21
13. Beyond the Pale – 9:56

Concept, lyrics and music by Daniel Gildenlöw, except the instrumental
part of Rope Ends, which is by Daniel Gildenlöw and Fredrik Hermansson


Remedy Lane Lineup

Daniel Gildenlöw: Lead vocals, guitar
Fredrik Hermansson: Keyboards
Johan Hallgren: Guitar, backing vocals
Johan Langell: Drums, backing vocals
Kristoffer Gildenlöw: Bass, backing vocals

Produced by Daniel Gildenlöw and Anders 'Theo' Theander


Before buying albums by Yes, Budgie and Uriah Heep, as a young person in the seventies, I was attracted to these bands by the Roger Dean imagery displayed in the form of: album covers, posters and promotional booklets in record shops like Harleqin; advertisement graphics in music papers such as Sounds and Melody Maker; colour photographs of the band on stage, amidst their light show and dry ice and in revelatory books like the NME and Melody Maker Annuals of 1974. Experience of the actual music was very rare to the point of being almost non-existent. Yes appeared on the BBC's Sounding Out TV programme during a school summer holiday and a Radio One disc jockey once played the single version of Roundabout. It was Dean's futuristic fantasy landscapes, the bands' long hair and hippy clothing, reviews in the music press and word-of-mouth accounts of live shows from older acquaintances (usually my friends' older brothers) which made them irresistably appealing to me. It may seem ridiculous now, but I bought several albums on the strength of the album cover artwork, as displayed in the record shop bins. I was rarely, if ever, disappointed by the music. Forty years on, bands have a different approach. Gone are the hand painted fantasy images and in come modern computer inspired graphics. All the artwork, 3D animations and some of the photography for Tragedy Lane is credited to Pain of Salvation's frontman, Daniel Gildenlöw. Initially, I found the artwork unattractive . . .

I should point out at this stage, that Pain of Salvation are a band of whom I was aware, but whose music I had not heard, until this album for the purpose of this review. Reading around the subject, I learned that Pain of Salvation are a long established band from Sweden and Remedy Lane is their fourth album. Tellingly, frontman Daniel Gildenlöw, as a multi-instrumentalist, has been part of the touring lineups of progressive rock bands The Flower Kings and Transatlantic. Besides containing Roine Stolt, both bands are notable for the dexterity and complexity of their musicianship and their similarities with early progressive rock bands, such as Yes. Attributed to Pain of Salvation are labels like progressive rock and progressive metal (an irritating and unhelpful label at the best of times), so I was interested to see into which camp they fell, but fearing the worst (so-called progressive metal).

As stated earlier, I found the artwork unattractive, with dull and depressing imagery: the front cover has two vector-drawn figures, one sitting behind the other as though to implore the one in the foreground. Behind them are the same two figures reversed left to right. Around the figures is a circle with some scripted lettering, including, 'Let me go . . . ' The back cover has an illuminated vector drawing of a single figure in front of a dark, rocky landscape. Lyrics begin on the second page of content, in front of the rocky landscape, as the first has additional poetry with the ubiquitous vector figures. The pattern of lyrics and poetry, annotated with dates and locations, continues throughout the booklet.

So what about the music? Opening track Of Two Beginnings, begins with bubbling instrumentation and vocals in the style of Fish imitating Genesis-era Peter Gabriel. It is a short track, but at the halfway point, transforms itself into a Faith No More-sounding passage. Two Beginnings' position in the tracklist, preceding 3 x four-part 'chapters' makes it seem like an overture. To the Faith No More and Marillion hybrid of the 'overture' are added spoken-word vocals, rather like Mike Portnoy with Dream Theater, for second track Ending Theme (which confusingly is the first part of Chapter I). Daniel Gildenlöw is a capable singer, but adds his own dimension in an angst-ridden delivery, which is not encouraging. Fandango has an unusual time signature, consisting of spiky guitar and piano, counterpointed with gentle harmonies. A number of observers have commented on how Pain of Salvation are characterised by an 'abrupt switching between heavy and calm passages' and it is clearly evident at this early stage, along with an extremely adept musicianship. Melodic and intricate guitar parts follow with more FNM passages. Amongst the soft and harsh passages, ideas come and go seemingly at random, giving no shape or form to the album. A glimmer of light comes in the revelation that this album is reassuringly progressive.

Track four, A Trace of Blood, has an excellent driving, melodic intro, which settles into an imaginative riff, where Gildenlöw uses his voice to create a percussive sound, but the lyrics are jarring with phrases like, 'Through roads of agony,' and 'Lost the will to live.' A Trace of Blood is complex with heavy guitar and kick-drums, having elements of Dream Theatre and Flower Kings added to the aforementioned bands. The sprightly instrumentation of this track certainly made me sit up and listen. In the booklet we are shown a blurred picture of overlapping man, woman and child with indeterminate figure. Fifth track, This Heart of Mine (I PLedge), closes Chapter I by taking us back to Fish-era Marillion territory and more uncomfortable, melodramatic lyrical motifs, such as, 'I pledge to love you till I die,' although the superb solos are like Yes's Steve Howe on Relayer (Atlantic 1974).

Undertow opens Chapter II with unorthodox counterpointing piano and guitar. Eerie guitar effects, whispery vocals and echo-y drums are redolent of those on Pink Floyd's Animals (Harvest/EMI 1977), but gradally become replaced with phrasing and harmonies like Geoff Tate's for Queensryche. The booklet has two flying figures in black and white. Daniel Gildenlöw seems to be exorcising terrible anxieties through the gothic gloom of his music. Rope Ends has an accompanying picture of a vector-woman hanging by the neck and the opening line, 'Another day of emptiness.' Paradoxically, it also has a heavy choppy opening riff, which is more Dream Theater than Dream Theater and a jaunty vocal phrasing like the resurgent British beat groups of the late seventies/early eighties (Contempt, Vapours). It develops an interesting instrumental jazz-y guitar and keyboard passage at the halfway mark, so when Daniel Gildenlöw shouts, 'Go,' you get the impression he is genuinely enjoying himself. It is odd how Pain of Salvation manage to give interminably depressing material such an uplifting feel.

Chain Sling continues the upbeat vocal pattern added to psychedelic jangly guitar. A big chorus without a real hook gives it a stage musical effect. The lyrics and an additional poem in the booklet are superimposed onto an ethereal dancing girl in front of a leafy tree backdrop. As is so often the case, Gildenlöw's vocals employ Mike Patton's gestures and harmonies. Chapter II finishes with Dryad of the Woods, an incongruous, but scintillating instrumental based around acoustic guitar and synthesizer. This is supremely melodic and the time change towards the end is marvellous. Chapter III opens with another dynamic, albeit short, synthesizer-led track, Remedy Lane. Johan Langell's drums have a big sound, like Nick Mason using drumsticks on bongos. Although the tracks span different 'chapters', this is the strongest and most coherent part of the album. Waking Every God reminds me of when Manfred Mann recruited the soulful Noel McCalla to harmonise with the great Chris Thompson, and, although commercial-sounding, contains some of Daniel Gildenlöw's best vocals. Curiously, the booklet images of trees and orange nothingness are more anodyne.

Second Love is an unashamedly commercial close-harmony track, which at best could be a Patrick Swayze song, especially during, 'You came like the wind'. At worst it could be something by Nickelback, yet, strangely, the progressive elements are still here, including Genesis vocals, Mike Oldfield instrumentation and a Brian May guitar solo. Second Love represents a stroke of heroism and, in another age, may have given them a hit single. If Of Two Beginnings is an overture, Beyond the Pale is a finale. The band throw in everything but the kitchen sink and there is little point, at this stage, in naming again all the influences, but, rest assured, they are present, particularly Mike Patton's distinctive roar. The lyrics part of the booklet finishes with an out of focus tormented-looking person, while the credits have an image of some town-dwelling birds and a photograph of the band.

I began by not liking the turgid imagery or the idea that PoS could be progressive metal (whatever constitutes progressive metal), but I have to admit I warmed to Remedy Lane because of the outstanding musicianship and variety of ideas. Nevertheless, Remedy Lane lacks a certain spark, which manifests itself in lack of coherent structure, shape or form. The band wear their many influences on their sleeve, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but they do not match their predecessors for immediacy. Ultimately Pain of Salvation is a complicated creature, which requires a good deal of analysis and would stand considerably more. Perhaps this is the fascination for their fans. I would definitely seek out another album, but whether I could stay the course is another matter . . .

February 2013

Last edited by Big Ears; 02-15-2013 at 01:34 AM.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:23 PM   #55 (permalink)
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An impressive review and sure Pain of Salvation are a very difficult band to dissect and listen to. Are you sure you don't write reviews for a magazines etc?

Also why are you calling the album Tragedy Lane, or have I missed something here?
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:56 AM   #56 (permalink)
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That is very flattering US, but, no, I am not a professional writer and definitely don't write reviews for magazines, etc. All I can say is that my writing has to be good for my job, but it is no guarantee. I have read a number of reviews on forums and have thought the authors must be professionals, but when I have asked them about their background, they have not replied.

You have not missed anything, my error with the name is due to a lack of concentration. Thanks for pointing it out!
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:46 AM   #57 (permalink)
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Snakecharmer by Snakecharmer (Frontiers 2013)

Moody and Wisefield supergroup to the rescue





Snakecharmer Tracklist

1. My Angel
2. Accident Prone
3. To The Rescue
4. Falling Leaves
5. A Little Rock & Roll
6. Turn Of The Screw
7. Smoking Gun
8. Stand Up
9. Guilty As Charged
10. Nothing To Lose
11. Cover Me In You
12. White Boy Blues


Snakecharmer Lineup

Chris Ousey: Lead vocals
Micky Moody: Guitar, slide guitar, vocals
Laurie Wisefield: Guitar, vocals
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards, vocals
Neil Murray: Bass
Harry James: Drums, vocals


In a recent interview for Classic Rock magazine, Micky Moody and Laurie Wisefield said Snakecharmer was formed to play classic Whitesnake songs live, but that they would like to add a couple of new songs to the set. Slide-guitar specialist Moody was an original member of David Coverdale's solo band, which became Whitesnake, and departed soon after the Slide it In album of 1983. He was also a member of Juicy Lucy, Snafu, Moody Marsden and Young & Moody, before forming a series of bands specifically to perform Whitesnake material, much of which he had co-written: The Snakes, Company of Snakes, M3 and Monsters of Rock. The latter consisted of Moody, Wisefield, lead singer Chris Ousey, former 'Snake Neil Murray on bass and Harry James from Thunder on drums, but they became Snakecharmer after recruiting Adam Wakeman on keyboards. Laurie Wisefield was guitarist and singer with innovatory rock band, Home, and joined Wishbone Ash for There's the Rub in 1974. After leaving Ash, following the Raw to the Bone album in 1985, he worked regularly for Tina Turner's touring band and has been a member of the musical cast of the Queen musical, We Will Rock You, since it began in 2002.

The first track on the album has impact, but the repetitive phrase, 'You're my h-angel,' becomes irritating after a few listens. Nevertheless, the twin guitars of Moody and Wisefield are hard to fault, while Murray and James are their usual reliable selves. On Accident Prone, lead singer Chris Ousey's stylings are like a smooth David Coverdale or Paul Rodgers; Adam Wakeman's playing is along the lines of a restrained Jon Lord, especially during the latter's spell with Whitesnake. In the CR interviw, Moody and Wisefield said Wakeman was very in-demand and that they would have to find an exceptional keyboard player to replace him, when the time came. To the Rescue is the most bluesy track so far, with the emphasis on Moody's impeccable slide and Ousey at his most Rodgers-like. It is perhaps the closest to Moody's pre-Coverdale past with the underrated Snafu; Wakeman this time sounds like Ian McLaglen during his tenure with Rod Stewart and the Faces.

Falling Leaves has a slow start, a choir on the chorus and a superb dynamic guitar solo, but it fades. What were they thinking? This is some of the best guitar playing I have heard in years . . . and they fade it out. Track 5, A Little Rock and Roll, has some of Chris Ousey's best singing and distorted/phased guitar with Wakeman in eighties-Deep Purple style. There is an effective second 'distant' voice, as favoured by electronica star Moby, but this is no dance tune. After a Status Quo intro (Moody worked with John Coghlan's Diesel and Bob Moody), Ousey's voice follows and harmonises with the guitar on Turn of the Screw, underpinned by solid work from Harry James. There is yet another excellent guitar solo, prompting the thought that they don't make them like this anymore. Adam Wakeman's keyboards open and close Smoking Gun like his father's work with Yes, albeit briefly. This would be one of my (minor) complaints about the album, that, being guitar dominated, Wakeman is a bit underused - rather like Derek Sherinian in Black Country Communion, whom Snakecharmer resemble in revitalising seventies hard rock.

Track 8, Stand Up has a riff reminiscent of Foreigner, while Chris Ousey even sounds like Lou Gramm. Variety comes in the form of the middle and end guitar solos, but it is Neil Murray's distinctive bass that stands out on this track. Like Don Airey, Murray is a true veteran of British hard rock bands, which read like a who's who, including: Cozy Powell's Hammer, Colosseum II, Whitesnake, Badlands UK, Gary Moore, Forcefield, Phenomena, Vow Wow (Japanese, but based in the UK), Black Sabbath, The Brian May Band and many others. Guilty as Charged has a Led Zeppelin riff, filtered through Rush. A Jimi Hendrix-inspired solo is followed by more slide. This is a toe-tapper, but the word 'penetrate' grates in the lyrics. Although words like 'h-angel' and 'penetrate' are jarring, the lyrics and delivery are far from being a weakness on the album.

Nothing to Lose is a boogie that tends to plod, although the dual guitars soar and scream to wonderful effect. Wakeman's piano playing technique is strong, but should have been louder in the mix. The penultimate piece, Cover Me in You, has my favourite Snakecharmer lyric, 'Cover me in your kisses, cover me in your sweet love, cover me . . . in you'! A bonus track, White Boy Blues, is included and sounds very similar to the opener, My Angel, but without the hook. If, like me, you are a fan of seventies hard rock and are saddened at the demise of Black Country Communion, Snakecharmer is for you. I would not be surprised if, instead of performing Whitesnake covers and a few originals, Moody and Wisefield find themselves playing some barnstorming Snakecharmer sets with a few Whitesnake songs for the encore!


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Old 03-05-2013, 10:29 AM   #58 (permalink)
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Snakecharmer by Snakecharmer (Frontiers 2013)

Moody and Wisefield supergroup to the rescue




Snakecharmer Tracklist

1. My Angel
2. Accident Prone
3. To the Rescue
4. Falling Leaves
5. A Little Rock & Roll
6. Turn of the Screw
7. Smoking Gun
8. Stand Up
9. Guilty As Charged
10. Nothing to Lose
11. Cover Me in You
12. White Boy Blues

Snakecharmer Lineup

Chris Ousey: Lead vocals
Micky Moody: Guitar, slide guitar, vocals
Laurie Wisefield: Guitar, vocals
Adam Wakeman: Keyboards, vocals
Neil Murray: Bass
Harry James: Drums, vocals


In a recent interview for Classic Rock magazine, Micky Moody and Laurie Wisefield said Snakecharmer was formed to play classic Whitesnake songs live, but that they would like to add a couple of new songs to the set. Slide-guitar specialist Moody was an original member of David Coverdale's solo band, which became Whitesnake, and departed soon after the Slide it In album of 1983. He was also a member of Juicy Lucy, Snafu, Moody Marsden and Young & Moody, before forming a series of bands specifically to perform Whitesnake material, much of which he had co-written: The Snakes, Company of Snakes, M3 and Monsters of Rock. The latter consisted of Moody, Wisefield, lead singer Chris Ousey, former 'Snake Neil Murray on bass and Harry James from Thunder on drums, but they became Snakecharmer after recruiting Adam Wakeman on keyboards. Laurie Wisefield was guitarist and singer with innovatory rock band, Home, and joined Wishbone Ash for There's the Rub in 1974. After leaving Ash, following the Raw to the Bone album in 1985, he worked regularly for Tina Turner's touring band and has been a member of the musical cast of the Queen musical, We Will Rock You, since it began in 2002.

The first track on the album has impact, but the repetitive phrase, 'You're my h-angel,' becomes irritating after a few listens. Nevertheless, the twin guitars of Moody and Wisefield are hard to fault, while Murray and James are their usual reliable selves. On Accident Prone, lead singer Chris Ousey's stylings are like a smooth David Coverdale or Paul Rodgers; Adam Wakeman's playing is along the lines of a restrained Jon Lord, especially during the latter's spell with Whitesnake. In the CR interview, Moody and Wisefield said Wakeman was very in-demand and that they would have to find an exceptional keyboard player to replace him, when the time came. To the Rescue is the most bluesy track so far, with the emphasis on Moody's impeccable slide and Ousey at his most Rodgers-like. It is perhaps the closest to Moody's pre-Coverdale past with the underrated Snafu; Wakeman this time sounds like Ian McLaglen during his tenure with Rod Stewart and the Faces.

Falling Leaves has a slow start, a choir on the chorus and a superb dynamic guitar solo, but it fades. What were they thinking? This is some of the best guitar playing I have heard in years . . . and they fade it out. Track 5, A Little Rock and Roll, has some of Chris Ousey's best singing and distorted/phased guitar with Wakeman in eighties-Deep Purple style. There is an effective second 'distant' voice, as favoured by electronica star Moby, but this is no dance tune. After a Status Quo intro (Moody worked with John Coghlan's Diesel and Bob Moody), Ousey's voice follows and harmonises with the guitar on Turn of the Screw, underpinned by solid work from Harry James. There is yet another excellent guitar solo, prompting the thought that they don't make them like this anymore. Adam Wakeman's keyboards open and close Smoking Gun like his father's work with Yes, albeit briefly. This would be one of my (minor) complaints about the album, that, being guitar dominated, Wakeman is a bit underused - rather like Derek Sherinian in Black Country Communion, whom Snakecharmer resemble in revitalising seventies hard rock.

Track 8, Stand Up has a riff reminiscent of Foreigner, while Chris Ousey even sounds like Lou Gramm. Variety comes in the form of the middle and end guitar solos, but it is Neil Murray's distinctive bass that stands out on this track. Like Don Airey, Murray is a true veteran of British hard rock bands, which read like a who's who, including: Cozy Powell's Hammer, Colosseum II, Whitesnake, Badlands UK, Gary Moore, Forcefield, Phenomena, Vow Wow (Japanese, but based in the UK), Black Sabbath, The Brian May Band and many others. Guilty as Charged has a Led Zeppelin riff, filtered through Rush. A Jimi Hendrix-inspired solo is followed by more slide. This is a toe-tapper, but the word 'penetrate' grates in the lyrics. Although words like 'h-angel' and 'penetrate' are jarring, the lyrics and delivery are far from being a weakness on the album.

Nothing to Lose is a boogie that tends to plod, although the dual guitars soar and scream to wonderful effect. Wakeman's piano playing technique is strong, but should have been louder in the mix. The penultimate piece, Cover Me in You, has my favourite Snakecharmer lyric, 'Cover me in your kisses, cover me in your sweet love, cover me . . . in you'! A bonus track, White Boy Blues, is included and sounds very similar to the opener, My Angel, but without the hook. If, like me, you are a fan of seventies hard rock and are saddened at the demise of Black Country Communion, Snakecharmer is for you. I would not be surprised if, instead of performing Whitesnake covers and a few originals, Moody and Wisefield find themselves playing some barnstorming Snakecharmer sets with a few Whitesnake songs for the encore!


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Old 03-10-2013, 05:58 AM   #59 (permalink)
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The Tall Ships by It Bites! (TIBMP 2008)

Once bitten, twice assured




The Tall Ships Tracklist

1. Oh My God (5:49)
2. Ghosts (4:47)
3. Playground (5:34)
4. Memory of Water (4:51)
5. The Tall Ships (6:19)
6. The Wind That Shakes The Barley (8:14)
7. Great Disasters (5:01)
8. Fahrenheit (5:18)
9. For Safekeeping (5:29)
10. Lights (4:56)
11. This is England (13:51)
12. When I Fall (4:41) (European edition only)
These Words (6:03) (Japanese special edition only)

The Tall Ships Lineup

John Mitchell: Lead vocals, guitars, bass guitar
John Beck: Keyboards, backing & harmony vocals, bass guitar
Bob Dalton: Drums, backing vocals

Produced by It Bites!


It Bites! are unlikely to thank me for saying so, but they are best known for the late-eighties hit single, Calling All the Heroes, from their first album, The Big Lad in the Windmill. Coming at a difficult time for heavy and progressive rock, Calling All the Heroes was quite an achievement, reaching number six in the UK singles chart and the band even appearing on BBC One's Top of the Pops. It became a millstone, however, with the record company demanding more of the same, whereas the band wished to follow a more experimental approach. They split in 1990, amidst alleged disputes over control, and singer-guitarist-writer Francis Dunnery went on to work with Robert Plant on the Fate of Nations (1993) album. He was discarded when Plant reunited with Jimmy Page, and embarked on a solo career. Following a number of reunions with different frontmen, It Bites! returned with Arena guitarist, John Mitchell, who also took on lead vocals.

With Oh My God, It Bites! start as they mean to carry on with sharp Yes-like harmonies, bright keyboards and tasteful guitar playing. The vocals tend to be high and the pace is continually fast. Previously, John Mitchell had been employed by bands like Arena as a guitarist first and singer second, but he has been a hidden vocal talent. Like his famous predecessor, Francis Dunnery, he sings in a high register and has an excellent voice - you never hear him sing out of tune. Also like Dunnery he is an outstanding, but slightly understated, guitar player. The pace does not slow for Ghosts, with John Mitchell sounding like Ray Wilson of Stiltskin on Scared of Ghosts and even uses the phrase, 'Walking in Your Footsteps,' from the latter's second single. Ghosts has a catchy synthesizer melody and an adept guitar solo. The third track, Playground, is a marginally slower ballad, with symphonic keyboards and pounding drums from Bob Dalton. He is a fine drummer, never too showy nor shuffling, but always appropriate to Beck's keyboards and Mitchell's guitar.

Memory of Water has a slightly distorted voice, organ backing and, again, swift guitar. The middle instrumental section is quite heavy with a characteristically speedy guitar solo. The title track, opens with soaring harmonised guitar and keyboards, reminiscent of Dave Flett-era Manfred Mann's Earth Band. If anything, the guitar is getting even faster, but The Tall Ships is an epic piece, being one of the longer songs on the album, at just over six minutes. Mitchell's singing is superb throughout, on what is a beautiful arrangement. It closes suitably enough on a haunting hornpipe synth. Organ playing across two channels develops into a second epic work, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, another of the longer tracks, this time at more than eight minutes.

Great Disasters has a scat-***-nonsense vocal motif, along the lines of, 'Dumbri umbri ayoh, dumbri umbri ayoh, ee oh ho ayoh o-oh oh oh, oh ayoh o-oh oh oh,' reminiscent of The Police, while the arrangement is similar to other seventies high vocal/ bright guitar groups like 10cc, Pilot and City Boy. There is even a touch of Billy Joel in the lyrics and it ends on synth like an A-ha song produced by Alan Tarney. TypicalIy of It Bites! a downbeat song is disguised by very upbeat instrumentation. Indeed, Great Disasters is a master stroke and this is the track to which I keep returning . . . and returning. I need not bother, as it has taken permanent residency in my head! I have read there is a radio edit, but have not been able to track it down.

Farenheit (great name for a song) is catchy and has Mike Rutherford-style guitar in the foreground with multilayered synths and organ in the background. It Bites! are unfairly labelled a progressive band with 'pop' tendencies, but this song is the closest on The Tall Ships to a commercial ballad. The pace is beginning to slow, with sparse sections, although Mitchell's guitar is rarely far away from hard rock and he could not play a bad note if he tried. The Genesis connection and sparcity of voice/ piano/ synthesizer remain for Track 12, For Safekeeping, with Mitchell in Peter Gabriel vocal style added to big guitar chords, Supertramp piano, Beatles 'sighing' harmonies and trademark soloing. Lights is another catchy song carried along with a particularly high voice, sparring guitar and keyboards, and chorus in a stirring manner akin to Big Country. It contains the curious line, 'So let’s go out tonight, I feel the space between us.'

Of all the tracks on The Tall Ships, This is England, the longest piece at over thirten minutes, is intended as the magnum opus. It is another song in the second half of the album with a sparse intro, this time a quiet glockenspiel-sounding synthesizer and voice. The first part brings to mind Prefab Sprout, particularly in the voice, yet the pulsing keyboards, spiky guitar and punchy drums are all It Bites! At around the five minute mark, Beatles harmonies and cello sound introduce the 'This is England and you love me,' line, followed by psychedelic wurlitzer-style keyboards and a surreal spoken word passage. The final third (at about ten minutes) has almost a hymn in, 'There once was a vicar who walked in this garden . . . ,' Linking all the parts of This is England are the lyrics, but, otherwise it sounds like three distinct songs, and serves as a prototype of the band's next studio record, a concept album, Map of the Past (2012).

The European bonus track, When I Fall, has many of the aforementioned elements, that is high voices, harmonies, sparkling guitar, catchy melodies, with a deliberate scratchy record sound effect and a paradoxically dissonant and supremely melodic guitar solo. The Japanese 'special' edition of The Tall Ships has a close harmony track called These Words, which really should have been on the European release. Thankfully, The Tall Ships received high praise from the media and fans alike, prompting the lineup to release a couple of stopgap live albums and eventually a studio album in Map of the Past. Let us hope there is more to follow from this scintillating band.


March 2013
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Old 04-13-2013, 09:36 AM   #60 (permalink)
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Frumpy 2 by Frumpy (Philips 1971)

Old-fashioned, but certainly not dowdy or shapeless




Frumpy 2 Tracklist

1. Good Winds
2. How the Gypsy Was Born
3. Take Care of Illusion
4. Duty

Frumpy 2 Lineup

Rainer Baumann: Guitar
Carsten Bohn: Drums
Karl-Heinz Schott: Bass
Jean-Jacques Kravetz: Keyboards
Inga Rumpf: Vocals

Produced by Rainer Goltermann


These days there is a bewildering array of categories for progressive rock bands, like: proto prog, neo prog, prog metal, math rock, symphonic prog and heavy prog. In the early nineteen-seventies, there were just three broad groups: first were the almost household names, for example, ELP, Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd, who enjoyed strong album sales and played large venues; next came those bands, such as, Greenslade, Camel and Steve Hillage, who had moderate chart success, but rarely broke out of the club scene; and finally there were the avant-garde and Krautrock bands, for instance, Tangerine Dream, Can and Kraftwerk. Although the term seems derogatory now, it was often synonimous with quality and tended to be a collective term for German electronic experimental music. However, it also included heavy, progressive and jazz-rock bands from Germany (Birth Control, Jane, Grobschnitt, Guru Guru), as well as those from continental Europe (Golden Earring and Wigwam). British expatriots based in Europe, Gong and Nektar, were even branded as Krautrock. The Krautrock bands were relatively obscure and could be glimpsed listed in Virgin's mail order advertisements in the Melody Maker or on the back of Brain label compilations in record shops. Frumpy were one such German heavy and progressive rock band, with a bluesy feel, and I have to confess, before commencing, that I had heard of them, but never heard them. Frumpy 2 is their second and most highly regarded album.

The dissonant slide guitar and Hammond organ of Good Winds is redolent of Yes's much later Shoot High, Aim Low, making one wonder if the latter stored away memories of their support act for future reference. Inga Rumpf's voice is almost masculine in its depth and psychedelic in the use of echo, while also being buried in the mix. At around 3:40 minutes, the noisy first part gives way to a lengthy instrumental passage beginning with the classically trained keyboard player Jean-Jacques Kravetz's church organ-like Hammond. After two minutes, he is allowed free reign, with a rising solo sounding like a combination of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson. Rainer Goltermann's production adds dynamism and the passage is propelled by the rhythm section of Carsten Bohn and Karl-Heinz Schott. Kravetz is joined by Rumpf's aaah-ing and the section culminates in a guitar solo. Rumpf closes the track with a final chorus.

If Good Winds predicts eighties Yes, the next track, How the Gypsy Was Born, reflects Stones of Years from ELP's contemporary Tarkus, although Rumpf is bluesier and grittier than on the opener. A cult figure of German heavy rock, Rumpf's raw blues technique seems partially at odds with Kravetz's symphonic progressive leanings. Kravetz and guitarist Rainer Baumann, on the other hand, play solos off of each other in a similar style to John DuCann and Vincent Crane of Atomic Rooster. At the halfway mark, Good Winds, appropriately, evolves into a heavy version of Paul McCartney's Eleanor Rigby, before becoming another whirling Hammond and Jon Lord-style 'Space Truckin' workout. Bohn's bouncy drumming compliments the organ perfectly.

Kravetz hits the ground running on Take Care of Illusion, which continues in impact where Good Winds left off. This is Rumpf's show and she provides a powerful performance, enough to send shivers down the spine of this listener. Baumann adds a great guitar solo, before the track closes on the vocals following the keyboards.

Rumpf gives a folk-blues feel to Duty, a song about a deserter betrayed to the Nazis by his parents. Kravetz compliments her with a touch of mellotron strings. Whereas Take Care of Illusion belonged to Rumpf, this is Baumann's tour de force, on which he plays an extended, but tasteful, guitar solo with plenty of wah-wah - in a Jimi Hendrix/Robin Trower/Tony McPhee style. By the second half he is soloing over a basic beat that sounds like a cross between The Groundhog's 3744 James Road and Roxy Music's Bogus Man (both of which came later). The keyboards re-enter giving an indication of what it would sound like if dancehall star Klaus Wunderlich were to join the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Carsten Bohn and Karl-Heinz Schott's playing is particularly original and devoid of cliche on the closing track, but they deserve credit for being the driving force of the band. Bohn went on to work for jazz-rock luminaries, Jan Hammer, Jack Bruce and Colin Hodgkinson.

Frumpy 2 is chock-full of ideas, which constantly come & go and ebb & flow. Throughout, Kravetz's keys are dominant, but balanced with guitar and spurred on by a tasteful rhythm section. If you like the heavy rock inclined, keyboard-led progressive rock bands of the seventies, such as ELP, Yes, Refugee and Atomic Rooster, you will enjoy Frumpy 2. Indeed, all of their seventies material is worth hearing as is Jean-Jacques Kravetz's solo album, Kravetz (1972).

Although sometimes compared with Deep Purple, Frumpy also had a lot in common with Atomic Rooster. When Chris Farlowe joined Vincent Crane's band on vocals, Rooster successfully combined their doomy progressive rock with a soulful feel. Yet, Inga Rumpf's vocals do not quite fit with Frumpy's symphonic approach. Ironically, when Frumpy later became the Free-like blues rock band, Atlantis, Kravetz remained, but his keyboards slipped more into the background, while Rumpf came more to the fore (sounding like a female Paul Rodgers). Surprisingly, it seems the difference was in the guitar players. The first two Atlantis albums, Atlantis and It's Getting Better (both 1973), although different in style from those of Frumpy, compare favourably in quality to the latter's seventies output.

Over forty years later, Frumpy are classified on Prog Archives as 'eclectic prog', which is actually a fair summation (considering the definition of eclectic, from the Oxford online dictionary, is [adjective] deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources).


April 2013
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