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Old 03-04-2022, 08:11 PM   #241 (permalink)
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Album title: Tago Mago
Artist: Can
Nationality: German
Label: United Artists
Chronology: Second
Grade: A
Tracklisting: Paperhouse/ Mushroom/ Oh Yeah/ Hallejuwah/ Aumgn/ Peking O/ Bring Me Coffee or Tea
Comments: We came across Can’s Monster Music way back in 1969 (I actually forgot about it and had to go back to add it during the 1970 part, that’s how important Can are seen as) and here they are two years later, with a double album that is cited as perhaps the most influential album ever, not only on prog rock but on rock itself. Must be worth a listen. Like a lot of Krautrock albums, several of the tracks are in double-digits, with one at seventeen minutes and one at eighteen, and there are only seven in all, but they make up a total running time of well over an hour.

We kick off on “Paperhouse”, with a sort of bluesy/folk feeling to it, slow and kind of swinging rhythm, goes into one of those extended jams, bringing in a nice lazy blues feel, then “Mushroom” is a lot shorter with a kind of sterile vocal, guitars that must have given Mark Ribot ideas, then the vocal explodes in a kind of Peter Hammill way. Not much in it though. Loud thunder and then falling rain brings in “Oh Yeah” with a boppy beat and some nice guitar work again, piano and very infectious drumming. “Halleujwah” is the longest track (just) at eighteen and a half minutes, trundling along on a powerful drumbeat with a sort of chanting vocal, almost two separate songs as in the fifth minute it fades out and comes back on rippling piano after about half a minute, the melody similar but at the same time different.

The weirdly-named “Aumgn” starts with a sort of staggered piano line and feedback in a kind of suspense/horror music theme, very echoing, turns very spacey and experimental. This is the other really long track, running for one minute less than the preceding one. Lot of strange vocal/choral effects, sounds and so on. Lots of tribal drumming and rising wails on something or other - I would say synth but probably too early? “Peking O” has a sort of eastern flavour when it starts on sonorous organ and then susurrating percussion, but this is the least musical and most experimental of the tracks, at least so far, with discordant piano, rapid-fire, nonsensical speech of some sort, hammering percussion, and nothing I can make sense of.

“Being Me Coffee or Tea” has… you know what? I’ve lost interest now. This is almost impossible to describe or review, so let’s just leave it at that. Influential it may have been, but this album has bored and confused the hell out of me.

Favourite track(s): You’re joking, right?
Least favourite track(s): Everything
Overall impression: I found this a hard slog. Not my thing at all. Respect it for what it is, but I never want to listen to this again.
Personal Rating: 1.0
Legacy Rating: 5.0
Final Rating: 3.0
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Old 03-04-2022, 08:13 PM   #242 (permalink)
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Album title: Second Album
Artist: Curved Air
Nationality: English
Label: Warner Bros
Chronology: Second
Grade: B
Tracklisting: Young Mother/ Back Street Luv/ Jumbo/ You Know/ Puppets/ Everdance/ Bright Summer’s Day/ Piece of Mind
Comments: Fades in on buzzy organ as “Young Mother” opens the album, rising guitar climbing through the mix before the voice of Sonja Kristina takes the vocal, very clear and very lovely. Darryl Way’s violin takes command and it’s a nice start for sure, some really sweet arpeggios as it fades out and into “Back Street Luv”, which was a top five single for Curved Air, and, I think, their only one, therefore their most famous song. Love the powerful organ intro. Yeah but after that it’s nothing special. Not sure why this became a hit. Much better is “Jumbo” with its orchestral backing and soft piano, a waltzy ballad but that’s let down by the next track, a pretty average sixties-pop-sounding “You Know”, but “Puppets” is better, piano-driven with a sense of Carole King about it.

More uptempo and bouncy is “Everdance”, on which Way breaks out the violin almost as a fiddle but again the song is nothing to get excited about, and the less said about the woeful “Bright Summer’s Day ‘68” the better. That leaves us with one final track, and it should be an epic, running for over twelve minutes: it will either save or damn this album, but to be honest it’s going to take a lot to achieve the former. Starts well anyway with a powerful dramatic intro, mournful violin and a crooning vocal from Sonja. Kind of reminds me a little of later ELO, though I could do without the rapid-fire singing; don’t see the point in it.

The piano interlude is very nice, and in fact leads into a pretty sweet long instrumental section, which has a little of jazz in it, but not enough to annoy me. Sonja comes back in with the vocal, but she’s not singing this time but speaking, kind of like poetry. I guess it works though I’m not sure what the idea is. She lapses back into song soon enough, then fades back out again to allow the boys to take control, this time on bubbly organ with whirly sound effects and a nice steady bass line. So does it save the album? Very nearly.

Favourite track(s): Young Mother, Jumbo, Puppets, Piece of Mind
Least favourite track(s): You Know, Bright Summer Day ‘68
Overall impression: A serious disappointment after the mostly decent debut. This is poor, people, poor. Almost pulled it out of the bag right at the end, but even that pretty majestic closer can’t paper over the cracks of such a weak and ineffectual album.
Personal Rating:2.0
Legacy Rating: 2.0
Final Rating 2.0
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Old 03-04-2022, 11:32 PM   #243 (permalink)
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Shame you couldn't get into Acquiring the Taste because I love that album and it's probably my favorite from GG with only Octopus being the other close contender, it has a hazy dreamy vibe to it that hits different from everything else they've done, Edge of Twilight and Black Cat are the standouts for me.

That cover art was certainly a choice though.
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Old 03-04-2022, 11:37 PM   #244 (permalink)
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Shame that you don’t like Tago Mago the drums are such choice cuts especially ya gotta dig tha groove o’ em u feel u dig
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Old 03-05-2022, 01:03 AM   #245 (permalink)
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Tago Mago is one I struggled to get into at first but it did eventually click with me, Ege Bamyasi is still my favorite though.
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Old 03-05-2022, 06:12 AM   #246 (permalink)
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Re Gentle Giant: If you look back I did a whole feature on them during the 1970 segment and came to the conclusion that they were very good, but just not good enough to command my attention. The fact that they only became retrospectively famous, as it were, kind of backs that up. I think they tried to be too much, all things to all men sort of thing. I just couldn't see the attraction at all. Kind of like a lot of early Yes or ELP maybe. Just one of those bands.

As for Can, well, you know me and Krautrock/experimental stuff, is all I'll say. I really struggled with that one though.

Thanks for reading, both of you!
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Old 03-05-2022, 11:47 AM   #247 (permalink)
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Soft machine being one of the big names in the Canterbury Scene we are constrained to give it a listen.
Their later stuff is better and more "important" imo, but their first two albums show off their Canterbury Scene side and lean less into jazz fusion. The s/t might be more up your alley.

And for Can I think you should check out Future Days. Has that Can magic but doesn't throw you as much into the deep end like Tago Mago. You'll probably have similar issues with it though.
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Old 03-05-2022, 03:22 PM   #248 (permalink)
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As this is going chronologically, I think you'll find I've already done Soft Machine's first album, this being their fourth. I'm certainly prepared to give Can a shot, but I would be surprised to find myself becoming a fan (Canfan?) - I guess we'll see.

Good to have you along, my old adversary!
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Old 03-05-2022, 03:29 PM   #249 (permalink)
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Okay then. This is where I began to rethink things and decided to put the new system into place. This first batch, then, will follow that "factsheet" idea.

Note: do remember, if you think an album I'm "glossing over" here is too important, one I might really like or you just want to add one more ton weight to my heavy workload, in the hope I'll fall down the stairs, make your case. If it's strong enough I may revisit the album. But I'm certainly not promising anything and if I instinctively think there's going to be nothing there for me, it's likely it'll be a no.


Album title: From the Witchwood
Artist: Strawbs
Nationality: English
Label: A&M
Chronology: Third
Grade: B
The Trollheart Factor: 1
Factsheet: Personally, I only know of Strawbs from one song, a single my sister used to have called “Part of the Union.” Silly song but quite catchy. Other than that, and despite the fact that I’d actually quite like to hear this, I’ve counted up at least another twelve important albums released in this year that I have to feature, so there’s no room. No, even the fact that this was the last album to feature later keyboard king Rick Wakeman before his move to Yes can’t change that. On we go.

Tracklisting: A Glimpse of Heaven/ Witchwood/ Thirty Days/ Flight/ The Hangman and the Papist/ Sheep/ Canon Dale/ The Shepherd’s Song/ In Among the Roses/ I’ll Carry On Beside You.
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Old 03-05-2022, 03:31 PM   #250 (permalink)
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Album title: Fillmore East - June 1971
Artist: The Mothers
Nationality: American
Label: Bizarre/Reprise
Chronology: Fourth or twelfth, whichever
Grade: B
Factsheet: This, on the other hand, I’m relieved not to have to feature (I wouldn’t have anyway, as it’s a live album and I generally don’t review those) - I’ve had about as much of Zappa as I can take. This is some sort of live recording of a satire on the egos of musicians or something, and I can imagine, from the synopsis on Wiki, how crazy and scattergun it is. John Lennon and Yoko appeared on one of the nights apparently. Rather them than me.
Tracklisting: Little House I Used to Live in/ The Mud Shark/ What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are/ Bwana Dik/ Latex Solar Beef/ Willie the Pimp Part 1/ Willie the Pimp Part 2/ Do You Like My New Car?/ Happy Together/ Lonesome Electric Turkey/ Peaches en Regalia/ Tears Began to Fall.
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