Saturday, 28 February 2015

Georg Hahn and Wolfgang Nocke's sublime Delphine (Germany, 1984)











Well, what would you say to a cover like that?  That the music must be good, it has to be, it cannot be a disappointment with such effort put into its appearance?  Well, if records were like women, it might not be the case, given how uninteresting most beautiful women are in conversation...  but records are not women, thank god, they don't talk to you for hours at the end of the day describing in minute detail each boring thing that happened to them at work and assuming we know every one of their colleagues and how much they hate that one woman at work who is such a lazy bitch and everyone hates her...  no, this is even more interesting on the inside.

A really gorgeous jazzy new age album with keyboards, strings, flutes, and indescribable quantities of good ideas and beauty.  The long composed track on side b called "The Forest" is the stunning highlight, divided into three parts, "Lichtung," "Wind," and "Herbst:"  







This track to me, is heaven.  Dig the herbst these artists put into that composition.  The unabashedly beautiful classical European chamber music tradition shines through the forest like a morning sunrise.  It should have closed out the album, because, with a kind of abrupt static shock to the skin there follows a track called "Samba" which, as is customary in these cases, is utter garbage and irredeemably awful, at least for myself.

I note on reading the gatefold that Nocke is the artist for this (beautiful, inside and outside) work.  Each painting was 'put to music':  thus the cover is Delphine (track A1), the inner is Dschungel (A2), and the rear is called Venedig (A3).  The amazing flute playing is from Klaus Dapper, and Wolfgang Florey plays the cello with such emotion.  Hahn is responsible for all composition, arrangements, and naturally, keyboards (as well as accordion on the track called "Pierrot").


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

La Camargue from Germany 1982 (gorgeous acoustic guitar duelling)





A gorgeous cover painting as we can all agree.  The Camargue of course is that French marshy park that is as famous to them as it was boring to us upon visiting it some years back.  Of course to this we will hear the French say, "Je suis la Camargue!" to which I can only answer, "super, vachement chouette!" and "s'il vous plait garcon, ne pisse pas dans mon cafe!"  But truly, we love the French, especially their toast. How could we forget the time we brought our two kids there many years ago and were told strollers were not allowed on the grounds of the aeroport Charles de Gaulle and our six-month old boy was forced to walk even though he had not yet learned to crawl?  We all learned so much that day! Or the time the Starbucks in Paris near the city hall told us they didn't have milk for our coffees?  Or recall that beautiful cafe in front of la Cathedrale de Chartres where we couldn't sit because children were not allowed on pain of arrest?  Or when we went to Galeries Lafayette and fed our kids croissants to keep them occupied and were told to clean up their crumbs in the womens shoe department or we couldn't purchase anything?  How quickly we ran away from that floor-- a tragedy for my wife, less so for myself.  Or that time we went to Versailles and my wife suffered a nosebleed and rushed to the only washroom on the palace grounds (which cover 100s of  hectares) but had to stand in line for half an hour behind dozens of uncomfortable women who didn't permit her past?  And then some kilometers down the grounds I finally found another washroom to my relief-- but upon entering saw all the toilets had overflowed and poop was seeping down the floors?  Sure, I thought, this must be an authentic evocation of the revolution, when the peasants stormed the palace...  or what about that little chichi toy store behind the Palais Royal where the owner yelled at our children for touching the rubber giraffe toy?  No, they certainly were not welcome there, and yours wouldn't be either, unless you go to Fauchon at Place Madeleine and pay 8 euros for one little eclair au chocolat, 2 cm long.  Perhaps it seems a little impolite to make fun of the French at this time, but I am Charlie too, aren't I?  ...aren't I?  Non?  Well OK it's obvious I will never be accepted as Charlie, not even if I spoke the language perfectly, wore a beret, and bought a baguette every morning and carried it in the back of my bicyclette, no, they will still sneer at me behind my back and behave as if I am trampling all over their precious land, me and my kids who spilled crumbs all over Paris next to the never-picked up dog poop on sidewalks...  so I guess it's time to start a new movement here, "je ne suis pas Charlie, monsieur!  et ne pisse pas dans ma biere-- merci!!"

Oddly enough this record is from Germany.  The players are Rainer Pomplun and Uwe Schreckenberger (what a name!)

The beautiful title track:


Monday, 23 February 2015

Mean and Dirty - Patchwork Library - Music DeWolfe from 1978



Here's a fabulous library record that I hope wasn't available heretofore.  In any case, I will post a lossless by permission of the record's rightful owner and lay it open to the group to remove any scratches and clean it up just like what was done (several times in fact!) with the Don Juan record, and I thank you again for taking the time to clean up that scratchy record (not 'scratches' in Russia, of course, just beauty marks).

What we have here is a typical library group of different moods and atmospheres but with enough of that seventies funky vibe to make it really a joy to listen to.

I'll just use the first track as example:






And I note with some degree of amusement, as should you, the price of this item (which was not so high by luck on ebay naturally).

http://www.discogs.com/Patchwork-Mean-And-Dirty/release/2852731

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Simeon Schterev Quartet (1978, Bulgaria ) [recommended]




More fantastic Bugarian fusion?  Yeah, you better believe it.  Similar to the Vesselin Nikolov but with more basics of the fusion style, including synthesizers and standard riffology.

Here's the superb Sunset-sunrise track;






Many thanks again to my friend for discovering this record!!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Mark Emney (composer) with 1983's Spectrum, New Southern LIbrary [with lossless]




Boy these library records are really hit and miss.  There are some incredibly brilliant ones, of which I'll post a masterpiece shortly which I bought to rerip, it was posted before in the blogosphere.  I don't know if this one was posted before or not but I bet it wasn't and if it was, I would surely have forgotten of its very existence.  It just seems as if it was 'phoned in' inside of actually composed in a meticulous manner as we are so accustomed to from such brilliant artists as Alessandroni or Giordano.  And it's pretty rare for me to not find anything worth listening to one whole library record.

Here's a track called "Daydreams and Beyond:"


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Scarabäus - Demi Sec, a 1987 Swiss record that is (thankfully) ten years behind its time.... (no download)







Basically a typical guitar-driven fusion album from the late seventies, with percussive tracks, acoustic guitar ballads, and--  wait a minute, it says 1987 on the back...   What?? 1987???  no way!
Thank god some musicians are completely oblivious to the fashions of their time, as we saw with those progsters like Ezra Winston who made symphonic albums when everyone else was listening to MC Hammer's idiotic raps.


Here's the track called "Bosco" which will take you straight back to 1978, guaranteed:







And now an uptempo number called "Fany Fank (?)"







Monday, 16 February 2015

Masabumi Kikuchi in the OST for Hairpin Circus, 1972 -- wow!




killer, killer, killer....    just killer......

It was an absolute shock-- once again-- when my friend sent me this record, a fusion soundtrack from a 1972 Japanese movie.  The artist was highly prolific actually in this period, as you can see from his discography.  Subsequently I tried to listen to most of it but this remains his best work, along with the albums made with the M. Kikuchi Sextett, Re-Confirmation and Collaboration.

What about the movie?  A google review:

Shimao is a former race car champion who retired after winning the GP of Macao, during which the only other Japanese driver taking part perished in a brutal crash. Shimao now leads a calm domestic life with a pretty wife and a newborn baby and makes a living as a driving instructor, until he encounters a group of young joyriders - the kind of amoral, hedonistic youth that have populated popular Japanese cinema since the Sun Tribe days - led by a feisty girl in a Toyota 2000GT, who race each other across the expressways and docklands of Tokyo. Bored by his bourgeois life and his hopeless students, Shimao can't help but envy these reckless young rascals and starts to miss the speed and thrill of racing. The girl taunts him every chance she gets and finally convinces him to strap himself into the passenger seat and relive the past. This he does indeed, when an innocent driver is pushed off the road in a hairpin and crashes into a concrete wall. When Shimao reads in the paper the following day that the innocent driver died in the crash, he decides to take action and climbs behind the wheel again to beat the speed tribe at their own game. Hairpin Circus is sparse on plot and dialogue, but heavy on car action. Lengthy car races and chases make up the bulk of the film's 84-minute running time, while the Kikuchi jazz score vies for aural dominance with an unrelenting chorus of revving engines. The result is quite hypnotic, an almost abstract, purely kinetic form of action cinema with a finale that verges on oneiric as Shimao and the girl, chasing each other through the nighttime city streets, seem to literally get high on speed.
Ripe for rediscovery, Hairpin Circus is quite a ride indeed.

Unfortunately, imdb doesn't add much useful info.

 "Sadness:"




We hear echoes of Soft Machine (in the 4/5 era) and all the best of the best fusion from the seventies.  Dig it bros.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Symposium: Edith Hill and Selah and The Children, USA 1972







When a record features a quote from the amazing American poet e.e. cummings on its cover one must take notice:

the snow doesn't give a soft white damn
whom it touches

Neither perhaps will this gorgeous music give a damn whom it touches, but it surely will evoke emotions in everyone with open ears and heart.  The album features singer Edith Hill with a jazz band by the name of Selah, who apparently never released anything else.  A group of children sings out of tune on some tracks, which to me detracts a little, but it does provide a unique atmosphere.  A poor mp3 was circulating in the past, and I felt only a lossless again would do it justice.

Celestial Infinity by Selah:






All musical arrangements are by Stephen Correll the keyboardist for the Selah.  A blurb on the back discusses how serious and interesting this music is.  We don't need any encouragement of course to respect what was accomplished that long ago day, 42 years ago now, when this was recorded.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

The Exceptions Part One; Simply Us from 1971 (updated, download with permission from the artist)










This is one hell of an underrated album of totally unknown pop songs.

I really couldn't believe it when I heard it.  Let's start with the first track which after the opening, delivers an absolute smash, an uppercut to the solar plexus, "Don't ever let go:"


 


I mean that is just pure pop gold.  Golden baby, golden.  And danceable, to boot.  
As Christopher Walken said, I 'put on my pants one leg at a time just like you, but when they're on, I make hit records!'  That 'hey there' hook should have made it-- could have made it-- a top 10 hit on AM radio.

Listen to another stunning track, which recalls Bacharach at his best seventies schmaltzy timeless beauty:


 



How I pray these tracks could be popular one day...

Of course, whether or not you enjoy this record depends entirely on whether you have a taste for this kind of seventies pop music.  At the least one has to admit they were hugely talented musicians. And it turns out they made another record, and it's called 'The Other Side...'  Moreover, bandmember Randy Wills now owns and runs a recording studio in Topeka called 'Exceptions Studio' -- here is their website.  The search is back on for more...

And let's close out with the ending number, the Banjo Man, a name I was dreading to hear, but listen to what they do with this one:







What do you think of that F minor 9 Harpsichord chord that interjects itself in there after the chorus?  It really takes it away from the "Old Man River" musical number / Jimmy Webb vibe that starts it out, adding a kind of sparkly color.  Gorgeous stuff.

Gotta love the louche prohibition-era cover photo too.  Incidentally, the names of the artists are Craig Senne, Randy Wills, and Steve Greene.  As you may have guessed from the title they play all the instruments and created all the wonderful arrangements.

This one should really pass the test of time-- it's a keeper.


And what about those sepia-toned pictures, do they take you right back to childhood the way they do to me:




I love it-- do kids still play on railroad tracks today?  I think not...









could it be the long-lost Debbie Miller, from Karlos Steinblast's I Need A Woman?



Addendum:

Listening to this album repeatedly, I am struck by how well-crafted all these songs were, as I said above, standing comparison with Bacharach's hits quite favourably.  Notice the early year of the release (Randy informed me of this), which makes sense since this was the time when there was a taste for strings-filled pop mixed with funky moves.  Speaking of strings-filled, when I first heard this I assumed they had an orchestral backing-- looking inside the gatefold with its magical photos you will see the performers added all those layers of instrumentation themselves with keyboards, etc., and you gotta hand it to them, it was done highly tastefully and in such a subtle manner that you can hardly believe these are 'fake' instruments.  Pay attention to the keyboards on the opener for the second side (especially the fuzzy funky arpeggios added to the second stanza) and the highly progressive play at the end:






Btw notice that songwriting is handled by the duo of Randy Wills and Craig Senne, who are both equally accomplished.  (The latter wrote the above Banjo Man song.)  We know Randy runs a recording studio in Topeka, what happened to Craig I wonder?  Do they still perform or communicate?


It almost seems like it would make the perfect musical if you take the record as a story from beginning to end: 

Let's start with a young hip record collector entering a used record store in Kansas, spinning this, touching and examining the gatefold, the pictures, hearing all the songs, shocked at their quality, he then tracks down the artists locally, hears their whole life story-- perhaps get a trio of highly talented youths, high school friends (Many Times) then throw in a love story (When She Smiles), a band trying to make it big with huge loads of skill and passion (Don't ever let go), working at day jobs, playing and rehearsing, going through tragedy or adversity (Drinkin his time), eventually perhaps all getting married years later and having a young daughter (I just don't know how to love you) who needs extra care (that old movie about the jazz trumpeter whose kid gets polio and has to give up performing to care for her comes to mind-- what was it called? five red pennies or something?) for example, she is diagnosed with childhood leukemia (hope no one remembers Erich Segal!) and almost dies, he has to give up the dream of stardom, slowly over the years (Banjo Man)... until-- flash forward again to the young listener, who finds out thankfully the daughter is alive and well, a beautiful young adult (potential romance hinted at), it's just the dream that has died.  Last scene: the daughter playing the piano, perhaps performing with her father, hinting that she will carry on his dream.  It's a kind of "Mamma Mia" (the musical) meets the Commitments story I suppose.  (It's been done before, I realize.)  Add in some atmosphere about the spirit of the early seventies: the longing for a new world, for utopia, the spirit of peace, the desire to make things better (It's not as bad as it seems), the backdrop of the war in Vietnam (as in the movie made from the musical Hair) the hope and naivete that permeates every word they sing here...  That incredible, beautiful, sixties-seventies spirit, now lost in cynicism, which I've mentioned so many times before. Of course you can close out the show with the made-for-musical Banjo Man track as their goodbye and their hope for a better world, and have the TV reporting on some depressing story, such as Iraq/Syria in the background, they start up with the chorus, cue to the TV playing the harpsichord instrumental bit, as everyone watches, go back to the singers returning to the chorus, keep cutting to the TV doing the instr. bits, as if responding...  Hey-- if someone actually comes up with the script, please give me credit for the idea!  You saw it first here on www.progressreview.blogspot.com   :-)

So, similar to my past discoveries in my blogging days: the amazingly talented songwriter J. F. Murphy, the one-record-wonder Ilian, crazy guy turned preacher Karlos Steinblast, the gorgeous Finnish Joni Mitchell Carita Holmstrom, and of course the wonderful multi-instrumentalist Kurt Memo, let's spread the word and give these guys the respect they really deserve, today.  Anyone who wishes, who enjoys it, should propagate this album on other blogs, other media (I'm thinking youtube or facebook here, which I don't frequent).

And finally I'm going to take the liberty of closing out by quoting Randy with whom I corresponded for permission:

"The song 'I just don't know' was definitely a tribute to the style of Burt Bacharach and his Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid soundtrack ... we appreciated too many different styles of music so we just put them all out there...  We were put down for that…  And we were loved for it...  I'm glad you appreciated it.  At least we knew how to write melodies , unlike 99% of what you hear today!"

Free Funk Trio in 1987: Aventure Du Pont




Second installment from this wonderful Swiss band that plays progressive fusion and funk.
As with the previous work, the song titles are particularly amusing and engaging.  Unlike the previous, the music is a tad disappointing, meandering a little excessively to my taste like the Mississippi stuck in a wet season.  Oddly enough the totality was recorded live in Switzerland.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Arthur White Group's Heaven's Door opens to fabulous fusion






What better way to follow up Valentines Day with this magnificent and unknown album that seems to be about death (at least 5/8ths of it) and that mixes proggy warm pop with light fusion.  It's an odd mix for this kind of theme, but then again, why not?  The long sought album by Dreamworld here (remember that one?) was similarly blithe and nonchalant about the subject, though of course there was a religious message there which I think is absent here.  Overall however I find the music highly entertaining and enjoyable, more inventive than the aforementioned album.

Here's the magnificently gorgeous and quasi-pinkfloydian title track:





I love that funky fusion sound with the rhodes electric piano, a sound designed almost it seems to me like those neurosurgical electrodes stuck directly in the part of the brain responsible for pleasure feelings or happiness or satiety...  that's what this music is like to me...


What do we do when we die, part act a play?
rage in our way, run for all exits yelling fire,
turn the only cheek, accept the compromise,
regular diocese everted, musical confessional
last chair knocked off, hurting each other
to a final reading of torn-out pages—
with its over-statistic scenes, spilled milk bills,
the go-getters run aground, in different heats,
the silence handing us off betimes
then different trials biased from the beginning,
single-blinded, reach a point of indecision
that finally fully overtakes us, hemming
unto hemlocked out drunk or otherwise;
what seemed so unreal becoming
so much more so, in fact to the utmost,
all down to the final abstract—
shall we surprise our conclusion,
ambush an angel?
picking through the landfill mountain
for a few dollars…  sure, theatergoers all


copyright © 2014 me

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Completing the discography of Georg Lawall, part 3, his Rock Opera from 1982, and the dreaded Boogie and Blues LP from 1979




What could have possessed him to put together a rock opera in the early eighties, complete with symphonic backing and rock band?  At least it's not a mystery why this was completely forgotten in the mists of time.  Had it been released ten years before when there was a taste for these things, it might have been remembered, at least slightly.

And the music?  well, it varies between good and bizarre.  So that's quite a wide continuum of possibilities and you can gauge for yourselves whether this enormous space allows the consistency one would earnestly hope for in such a project.  At least (I thank god) the songs don't run into each other or I would have never had the patience to listen to 24 minutes at one sitting, never mind two sides of that same or slightly less length.  As always, without any exception, one can expect a reggae song, at least one, on these early 80s German albums.  From a promisingly composed overture unfortunately too often these projects wind up sounding like off-off-Broadway musicals with overly simplistic numbers and too many different styles without any unifying feature other than, presumably, the plot.  (And what a plot this story must have had!)  There were even times when I was listening to this record where I thought my kids were playing some other song in the background close by, it sounded that chaotic.

One thing that absolutely floored me was the presence of Li Garattoni, the beautiful singer (her album is a masterpiece of progressive jazzy pop), as one of the characters Indi (she sings tracks A3 and B5), and the musicians aiding Georg Lawall include Fuchs, Goos, and Knut Rossler i.e. the members of the Fuchs-Goos Band posted earlier here.

As for the cover, it is simply awful.  The rainbow, the Michael Jackson-like character carrying a violin, the peace symbol a la Max Ernst surrealism-- it just doesn't work,  It doesn't work at all. 

I'll post the Li Garattoni song "Die Geier" which is in the B5 position, the way she sings the melody is quite entrancing:





Gotta love that beautiful voice.

Of course all music and lyrics were by Lawall.  I will not mention, to avoid embarassment, how the overture was recycled from 'Bittersuss in Stuttgart".








What about the other album, the Boogie and Blues?  I am chagrined to say I did purchase it, and I will post it after the other.  Luckily it was quite scratchy.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Reinhard Glöder Quartett The Glassblower 1982





A basic modal jazz, acoustic-aimed, similar to Riot, the Sokal Scherer just posted, all those other German jazz groups that were so beautifully accomplished.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Free Funk Trio's first from Switzerland 1984 - recommended!





These guys really mastered the progressive angular slightly atonal fusion style, with only guitar drums and bass, similar to the Strangeness Beauty I posted earlier from Canada, or like the earlier posted Das Pferd but with less electronic, eighties influence.

And this record is quite good.  It's quite remarkable what this trio is able to accomplish with so few fingers in total!

Information here.  Song titles are particularly amusing and creative.  Their next album will be coming by soon too.

The remarkable track A2 Babylon Leisciva: