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Old 01-05-2017, 02:26 PM   #131 (permalink)
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Told ya he had a pretty diverse discog.
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Old 01-05-2017, 04:36 PM   #132 (permalink)
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Told ya he had a pretty diverse discog.
You did.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:39 AM   #133 (permalink)
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Album title: Ummagumma
Artiste: Pink Floyd
Nationality: British
Label: Harvest
Year: 1969
Grade: B
Landmark value: Given that this was essentially the first official live Floyd album and also featured compositions from each member, as well as being the first produced entirely without Syd Barrett, I'd say it ranks pretty high amongst the classics of prog rock, but I wonder does it really deserve to? Even the band have all dismissed it as “horrible” (Gilmour), “a failed experiment” (Mason) and “a disaster” (Waters). It was, however, received very favourably at the time, and is probably only seen as “the worst of rock excess”, as one critic put it in 2001, after the takedown of prog by punk rock, with Floyd being one of the major targets accused of being overblown and pompous.
Tracklisting: (Live)Astronomy domine/ Careful with that axe, Eugene/ Set the controls for the heart of the sun/ A saucerful of secrets (Studio)Sysyphus (Parts 1 -4)/Grantchester Meadows/Several species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict/ The narrow way (Parts 1-3)/The Grand Vizier's garden party (Part 1: Entrance; Part 2: Entertainment; Part 3: Exit)
Comments: AS the live tracks have already been discussed within the confines of their original studio versions, (other than "Careful with that axe, Eugene", which is a great instrumental but I can't write too much more about it) I'll jump right to the solo material, which opens with a thirteen-minute classical piano driven composition by, who else, Richard Wright, which, while excellent, certainly can't escape the accusation of being indulgent. You know, after a rather unexpectedly relaxing listen to Zappa I find this hard to get through; it's so up its own arse. I like Wright, but frankly this never needed to see the light of day, and doesn't give me much confidence for the rest to follow. The last part, at least, is soothing and relaxing after the somewhat histrionic effects of the previous two. Waters's effort seems to be more in the vein of a laidback folk song, very low-key and seemingly on acoustic guitar, the birdsong is a nice touch, but then in typical Waters fashion, where everyone else has one he has to have two, and so “Several species ...” is another of his, following hard on the heels of “Grantchester Meadows”, and as different to it as can be. A real experimental, pscyh, avant-garde piece, it's the only one I know from here, as I had heard it before when some guys I knew were discussing crazy song titles and were trying to get this right (they didn't); it's nonsense but it's damn funny anyway.

Gilmour then gets his chance, with “The nervous way”, and unsurprisingly it's very guitar based. It's good, there's no doubt about that, but it's clear it's a moment of pure indulgence for him, a chance to play around with some of his toys, although part three is the closest of what I would call a proper Pink Floyd track, with nice vocals from Gilmour and some cool slide guitar. Meanwhile Mason's three-part “The Grand Vizier's garden party” of course contains an extended drum solo: to paraphrase the spoken lead-out on their classic Dark Side of the Moon, matter of fact, it's all a drum solo. Almost. Of the eight minutes it runs for, seven are skinbashing. Sigh. There's some nice flute from his wife and some interesting effects, but still, sigh.

Favourite track(s): Grantchester Meadows, The nervous way (part 3)
Least favourite track(s): The Grand Vizier's garden party
Overall impression: I'm never really sure what the idea is with this album. For a band who had put out basically two proper albums (and one soundtrack) prior to this, I don't see the need for a live recording, but even if so, if that was all it was, then fine. It would then not be featured here until much later, if and when I decide to include live albums. But then you have each of the band members indulging themselves, basically solo, for the other half of the record. As Richard Wright himself later admitted, “pretentious”, and I would certainly agree with him.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:44 AM   #134 (permalink)
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I do think there are a lot of failed experiments on the studio disc, but the live album portion is impeccable imo.
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:41 AM   #135 (permalink)
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I do think there are a lot of failed experiments on the studio disc, but the live album portion is impeccable imo.
It is; that's why I said if it had just been a live album, no prob bob. But I don't get this idea of "let's mix live material with stuff that would be better suited for our future solo albums, should we make them". Confusing.
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:29 PM   #136 (permalink)
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Album title: To Our Children's Children's Children
Artiste: The Moody Blues
Nationality: British
Label: Threshold
Year: 1969
Grade: A
Landmark value: No more so than any other Moody Blues album, I think. Another concept
Tracklisting: Higher and higher/Eyes of a child I/Floating/Eyes of a child II/I never thought I'd live to be a hundred/Beyond/Out and in/Gypsy (of a strange and distant time)/ Eternity Road/Candle of life/Sun is still shining/I never thought I'd live to be a million/Watching and waiting
Comments: I suppose back then it must have seemed like the dawn of a golden age, Man walking on the Moon, and it's this great human event that apparently inspired this album. However, as we know, we did sod-all on the Moon other than blow billions in taxpayer dollars, and Neil Armstrong's first steps seem a long way back now. And they are. Nearly half a century back, would you believe? But the Moodies obviously envisaged some bright future for their children (and their children, and theirs) that so far at least we have completely failed to realise. Well that's the thinking behind the album, but what about the music? “Higher and higher” opens with something like a crash, then a rising noise effect (to signify the launch of the Apollo rocket?) before a choir comes in, then we have a narration against a rocky guitar piece, not bad at all. “Eyes of a child I” is a lot more laidback and gentle, the vocal slowly rising into the tune, then “Floating” is slightly more uptempo, though hardly a rocker. Quite a lot of Beatles in it I would think.

“Eyes of a child II” basically takes the same melody but pumps it up, though it lasts just over a minute, and so does the next one, enigmatically called “I never thought I'd live to be a hundred”, giving us the first Justin Hayward vocal and a nice acoustic guitar accompaniment. They'll come back to this later. The only instrumental is “Beyond”, which is uptempo and catchy, some nice flute mixing with electric guitar, though it then slows down kind of oddly into a keyboard-driven sort of dirge, then, um, comes back to the original theme. Okay. There's some very nice orchestration here, that's not in doubt. The Beatles influence returns with “Out and in”, another ballad, this time with Mike Pinder on vocals. “Gypsy (Of a strange and distant time)” is a bit rockier and gives us Hayward back on vocals while “Eternity Road” tails it back a little, even though there is some good guitar work on it. Some fine fluting too there from Pinder. It fades into “Candle of life”, with the first duet vocal, between Lodge and Hayward. Like the piano line, and the song itself is quite laidback with a sort of bitter edge. Love the orchestration in this.

Nice jangly guitar in “Sun is still shining”, it's quite uptempo in a laidback kind of way, god work on the tambourine at the end. It leads into the followup to “I never thought I'd live to be a hundred”, which this time is suffixed by “a million” but lasts only thirty-four seconds and is the penultimate track, as “Watching and waiting” takes us out easily, very gentle and relaxed, with a fine vocal from Hayward.

Favourite track(s): I pretty much like everything here.
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Good album. Nothing terribly special really that I can see, but pointing the way towards a development in the Moody Blues' sound that would go on to stand them in good stead as the wave of progressive rock began to break over England, and then the world.
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Old 01-17-2017, 02:22 PM   #137 (permalink)
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We're actually getting close now to the end of our trip through 1969, with only two albums remaining to be reviewed. With that in mind, and given that there are still three “oddball” albums to be looked into, make sure you're not wearing your Sunday best and come with me as we scale the bricks and spend some more time

These albums are proving to be a mixture of eclectic material just on the fringes of prog rock and ones that are completely outside it, yet still linked to it in a very tenuous way. This one I have no idea about, but it looks interesting and Wiki thought it eligible for its list, so who am I to argue?

Catherine Ribeiro is a French experimental and avant-garde vocalist, who performed with Patrice Moullet on this first album, whereafter she changed partners (musically speaking) and, I'm told, this was the pattern for every album she recorded after that; she also changed the name of the band to Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes. Given the quip I made about the title of this one, I don't know if that was the reason, but it does sound damn funny. Give Ribeiro her due though; she has so far recorded about thirty albums, and even in her seventies is still recording now, with her last release in 2006. Impressive.


Album title: Catherine Ribeiro + 2Bis
Artiste: Catherine Ribeiro
Nationality: French
Label: Disques Festival
Year: 1969
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Tracklisting: Lumière Écarlate /Sœur De Race /Les Fées Carabosse /Voyage 1/La Solitude/ Un Sourire, un rier, des Éclats/Le Crime De L'Enfant Dieu/Le Point Qui Scintille
Comments: Nice acoustic guitar then her voice is pretty out-there, shaking and howling then dropping down to a gentler register but still sounding pretty raw. It's all in French of course so I have no idea what she's singing about but she certainly seems to be singing with passion. Reminds me a little of that mad wan that Batty tried on me in the Torture Chamber, singing about diseases or something. Can't recall her name. Scary bitch. The next one is purely acoustic, and a lot more easy on the ear, almost pastoral. I could see this being labelled as a sort of prog rock track, sure. It's called “Sœur De Race” which I think might mean “saviour of the race” or something, while the next one is on what sounds like classical or Spanish guitar and hops along at a faster pace. It's quite interesting how Catherine dominates every song; even though the guitar is obviously driving the tune here, she's seldom absent and comes to the forefront every time. Powerful personality indeed. Goes a bit mad at the end, almost like providing human feedback. Intense!

Sounds like our man Patrice might be trying to grab some spotlight for himself here, with a big dirty riff opening this, and then what sounds like violin and some very cool congas. This may very well be an instrumental. Yeah, it kind of is, though Catherine throws a few sharp barking laughs and moans in along the way. That man is something else on that violin. This is excellent. “La Solitude” starts out very gentle and relaxed, then burst into something of a diatribe, accompanied by a fast classical guitar (maybe Spanish; classical is mentioned in the track listing so I'm going with that). Great vocal, very emotional. Almost a Beefheartesque hard guitar in “ Un Sourire, un rier, des Éclats”, quite choppy and also sounds like this may be a live track, though surely that's unlikely on your debut album? Well, maybe. Another good guitar intro, more rocky at first this time for “Le crime de l'enfant Dieu” with rather a lot of laughing for such a serious title, then we end on “Le point qui scintille”, good fast Spanish guitar (or classical) and a sort of playful vocal from Catherine.

Favourite track(s): Sœur De Race, Les Fées Carabosse, Voyage 1
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Decent stuff; probably would appreciate it more if I could understand the lyrics, but not a bad album. Wouldn't be mad about it though.
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:45 AM   #138 (permalink)
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Album title: Dracula's Music Cabinet
Artiste: The Vampires of Dartmoore
Nationality: German
Label:
Year: 1969
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Tracklisting: The Torture chamber of Dr. Sex/ Crime and horror/ The Fire-dragon of Hong Kong/ Murder in the Ohio Express/Dance of the vampires/Hello Mr. Hitchcock/The executioner of Dartmoore/Killers end/Soaked body/A handful of nitro/Dr. Caligari's creeps-cabinet/Frankenstein greets Alpha 7
Comments: Very little information seems to exist on this act. Why, if they were German, did they choose the name Vampires of Dartmoore, a place in England, and why add the extra “e” (Dartmoor is spelled this way)? Only two of many questions which I suppose will never be answered. What I do know is that the creative genius behind the effort were Horst Ackermann and Herbert Thusek, apparently both known for their work in the field of jazz. Who plays on the album? No idea. What's the premise behind it? Not a clue. Is it good? Well, now there we can at least answer one question...

A dark creepy voice bids us welcome, there are screams, footsteps, creaking doors, an organ, sounds of some girl being smacked and what may be someone being sliced up, with a kind of kitschy smooth jazz tune going on and someone moaning as if in pain or pleasure, and the opening piece ends on a female scream. Next there's some nice striding guitar shuffling along, very funky and jazzy, bringing in organ and, um, slide whistles as well as sax, the sound of someone walking downstairs, a demonic laugh, a woman screaming, more slapping sounds, the sound of a struggle, breaking glass. All very weird. Dogs barking now. This goes under the name “Crime and horror”, while there's a distinctly oriental flavour to “Fire dragon of Hong Kong”, which mostly runs along on a peppy organ (Hammond?) but occasionally breaks for a moaning vocal.

“Murder in the Ohio Express” is carried on a bright guitar line, but occasionally breaks to allow what sounds like an effect meant to convey the motion of a train with the music in the background. Someone is shot. The music surges back up. And it just goes on like that. The next one has springs, lounge keyboard and a really nice melody but it's hard to concentrate on the music with all the odd effects being thrown in. Think someone's gasping out their last breath or something, then “Hello Mister Hitchcock!” croaks a creepy voice, “In two minutes you will be dead!” while happy keyboard hums along, and the man counts down the time, finally telling Hitchcock he is dead. The next one appears just to be a simple instrumental, very similar to the music that formed the background to the previous track, followed by a jazzy little upbeat tune interspersed with ambulance or police sirens. And gunshots. It's kind of like watching a movie while listening to some background music, or more like watching a movie while someone else listens to music, and occasionally the door opens and their music gets louder, then recedes as the door is closed again. Not too surprisingly, “A handful of nitro” features a lot of explosions, and there's maniacal laughter, footsteps, creaking doors and a grandfather clock in “Dr. Caligari's creeps cabinet” and we end as we began, with a big helping of weird and some weird on the side.

Favourite track(s): Um...
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: It's hard to know what to think of this. I have no idea why this project was created, other than perhaps as a bit of fun for the two guys involved. It certainly is a fun album, but it's so out there, so verging on the edge of being frankly ridiculous that it's hard, even impossible, to treat it in any way seriously and make any sort of critique of it. Still, I reckon I would listen to it again for fun. Would definitely recommend it. Everyone should hear this at least once.
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:15 AM   #139 (permalink)
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Back to the serious albums we go.

Album title: Renaissance
Artiste: Renaissance
Nationality: British
Label: Island
Year: 1969
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artiste: The hit single “Northern lights”.
The Trollheart Factor: 0.01
Landmark value: I doubt it has one, other than being the first album (I think) by a prog rock band to feature a female lead. Why did I always think these guys were Canadian?
Tracklisting: Kings and queens/Innocence/Island/Wanderer/Bullet
Comments: What can I tell you about Renaissance? Nothing really. I only ever knew of them, as above, from that single, and even then I didn't realise they were prog. It will however be interesting to hear a prog band fronted by a female singer – don't think we've had that before, Catherine Ribeiro excepted. Only five tracks, but two of them are in the eleven-minute bracket. Powerful classical piano intro to “Kings and queens” (that sounds like a real prog song title, doesn't it?) which is one of those eleven-minuters. Hmm, doesn't sound like a female when the vocals come in. Maybe Jane Relf shares vocal duties with her brother Keith, who used to be with the Yardbirds apparently. John Hawken is certainly giving it socks on the piano here. Excellent work. Okay, that is definitely a man's voice also on the second track, bit boppier but slowing down into a quite beautiful piano sonata about halfway through. I think Hawken must have been seen as the heart of this band; he's certainly driving most of the melodies so far. Speeding up now, again on the piano, great stuff.

Ah, now I hear Jane Relf's voice as we hit “Island”, a slow, acoustic guitar-controlled ballad with unsurprisingly some great piano although as the keys come in it shifts the pace up slightly, with a superb harpsichord solo halfway through. Actually, it's almost as if the song itself ends and then Hawken throws this in as an extra. I'm not complaining! And it just gets better as the harpsichord continues into “Wanderer”, the shortest track on the album at just over four minutes, and features the almost operatic voice of Jane Relf again. Very hippyish man. The closer then is the other eleven-minute opus, and at this point it would probably surprise me if it wasn't opened with a big piano – ah. It's actually sort of muted tribal drums that kick in “Bullet”, though the piano does come through. The song has a very African feel to it, with a kind of chant going on in the background against a pretty funky piano line. It features Keith Relf back on the vocals. Ooh, harmonica! Always like harmonica. Some really nice soft guitar on this too. Weird effects near the end, very atmospheric.

There's an extra track here on the Spotify copy that doesn't appear anywhere on their Wiki page, but it's only a short one, so I'll include it, not knowing if it should be there, or if it's a bonus track or only available on reissues or something. It's Jane again on vocals and it's a nice sort of uptempo bluesy tune called “The sea”.

Favourite track(s): I like everything here.
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: A pretty impressive debut, though if a selling point was to have been that they had female lead (I don't know if that was the plan, or if things just happened that way) then maybe they might have used her voice on more tracks. A real talent though in John Hawken, who really makes this album.
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Old 01-25-2017, 07:33 PM   #140 (permalink)
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Nothing says the sixties better than the words hippy commune, and that's where our last actual band to be featured for 1969 began, in a political, artistic and radical commune in Munich. Perhaps disturbingly, it seems future founders of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group were also members. Hmm. Anyway, apparently many of the members of the commune – which was called Amon Duul – didn't think that talent or musical ability was that necessary for what they wanted to do, but others did, and so the more musically proficient (and you would have to say, based on their success, the more serious) members split into a faction which became known as Amon Duul II, in order to differentiate it from the other, less musical Amon Duul. This is supposedly widely believed to be one of the first Krautrock albums.

Album title: Phallus Dei
Artiste: Amon Duul II
Nationality: German
Label: Liberty Records
Year: 1969
Grade: B
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: Seen as the first Krautrock album, as above, and therefore also makes Amon Duul II the fathers of the entire Krautrock scene, if true.
Tracklisting: Kanaan/Dem Guten, Schönen, Wahren/Luzifer's Ghilom/Henriette Krötenschwanz/Phallus Dei
Comments: Sounds like sitar and drums with a nice bassline opening the album, and now we get some vocals, though they appear to be spoken in German (obviously) while some woman croons or moans behind the male voice. Picks up a fair lick of speed as it goes along. Some very cool guitar indeed bringing the song to something of a crashing close and we're on to the second track, which is a little more pastoral, almost like someone running up octaves on a fretboard, while a weird and warbly voice says something I can't understand and laughs a lot. Music is decent though. Next one seems a bit more cohesive, very nice rapid acoustic guitar and percussion, no vocal yet ... oh. Sounds like he's rapping in German, though of course I guess rapping wasn't even a thing this early. Well, talking fast and in rhythm certainly.

Pretty atmospheric opening to the title track (all twenty minutes of it), kind of like a film score or maybe incidental music to same; lots of weird sounds, effects, someone chanting or moaning, someone shouting and now we have a snarling sax. I'm willing to bet Frownland loves this album. In fairness, it's not as harsh as I might have expected, but it's a little formless in terms of being able to review it. Eventually a bassline is laid down with some percussion then some good fast guitar and a violin join in. Sounds like a rendition of “While shepherds watched their flocks by night” to be honest, then it all dissolves into a mad tribal drumfest with lots of yelling and cheering.

Favourite track(s): I can't honestly say I enjoyed any of that; I doubt I could remember much of it but similarly
Least favourite track(s): can't say I hated anything enough either.
Overall impression: ? Well, all I can say is that if that's the serious musicians I'd hate to hear the other side! No, seriously though, it's clear these people could play; they just chose to do so in a ... different way. Still, if this is Krautrock, or proto-Krautrock, ain't likely to be for me.
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