Friday, 30 May 2014

Frank Robson ST, 1974

Yes, the cover is a little bit ridiculous, but many thanks to my friend for purchasing this record and reripping it, a poor mp3 was circulating for some time, and this really deserved better.  I'd be particularly curious to know if the formidable song "A House without a Name" became a radio hit, which it should have been, being multiple orders of magnitude better than any old hit song they play ad nauseam on the radio stations...  The title track from the next album "Stay Awhile" is just as brilliantly beautiful.

Here are those two hit songs:

Why aren't these songs played on the radio every day, like "Michelle, ma belle" which everyone should surely be sick of by now, for some new interest?  It boggles my mind.

His voice, though deeper, recalls to me Al Kooper, as in the gorgeous album "Super Session" he did with Bloomfield and Stills, and I really love the intensity of his passionate vocal cords.  A natural singer without a doubt.

From my friend:

"Frank Robson, UK singer, pianist and organist, moved to Finland in 1967. Before that, he had been playing for some time with the Small Faces, among others. In Finland, he has sung and played in bands, for example, Mosaic, Blues Section, and Tasavallan Presidentti. Robson has also released five solo albums. Robson has two daughters, one of whom, Jenny Robson, is a singer."

I wonder what happened to him after the mid-seventies, he no longer became active?  Anyone know?

Wait a second-- five solo albums?  I only have two!  Once again the hunt is on...

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Uschi Brüning Und Das Günther Fischer-Quintett, 1973 [strongly recommended]

Obviously, after hearing the glorious latter half of the above amalgam as it appeared on the utterly unforgettable vinyl "Kombination", I checked through the discography to see what else might be interesting.  The albums credited to Manfred Krug + Günther Fischer-Quintett looked terrifying to me, in fact, I never got past the first track on "No. 3" which is the abominable "Que Sera Sera" -- a song so damnable, that, it is said, the US military has begun using it in their patented torture protocols for suspected terrorists along with those bizarre black hoods, and naked women, and in fact, in their newest weapon, the long range sonic gun which apparently can 'shoot' music at high volumes (on the order of 150 decibels) in a very narrow beam directly at, for example, Somalian pirates interrupting important Walmart shipments of tupperware to Dallas, or innocent senior citizens protesting against the Government reading each and every email and sexually explicit text message they write, such songs (like "Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign" which is my personal most-hated song) are employed for good effect.  In the meantime my own patented long-range sonic acoustic gun, which I call 'my two boys,' has still not yet been developed and deployed by the great ol' US Army... which I hope never happens, of course...  There is a (Hungarian?) folk song entirely composed by Gunther Fischer in the middle of side b that is instrumental, improvised in fact, of which perhaps the first 15 seconds are interesting, after that it begins to drag as we get to the fourth and fifth minutes, some perhaps will be tempted to fast-forward, others, to use it in their nice new US sonic guns (which will soon I am sure be legalized like all other guns there, perhaps even mandatory) directed at a nearby squirrel in one's backyard; the great US gov't itself could use it in a later campaign against the Iranians guilty of the unforgivable sin of modernizing themselves past the nineteen-forties when the atomic age is said to have begun at least for western powers (plus Israel), and if that war starts, which I hope it won't, as usual it won't be the leaders who will suffer but instead tens of thousands of repressed citizens will be sacrificed for a regime they had neither stake nor faith in...  luckily, there will be very few US casualties, we can be fairly confident.

Anyways, back to this release, which is formidably good, fresh, tasty, full of inventive songwriting, as you'd expect from this period in time when culturally everything was fermenting, like the genital tract of a very popular and reckless prostitute...  I am not too enamoured of the voice of Uschi, never mind that the name always reminds me of the immortal swedish softcore porn star Uschi Digard (or rather:  here) who was omnipresent in European movies of the seventies, including several of the great Russ Meyer's; here of course she (I mean the singer) bears the most unfortunate resemblance to Janis Joplin, not quite of the same level of interest for most of us men.

First of all consider the first track, "Welch ein Zufall" (i.e. what a coincidence).  I was quite blown away here by the chord progression Gunther wrote, it starts in a nice bouncy typical sixties G minor to A minor repetition, but subsequently I almost fell out of my chair when the verse transitions into  A♭ major, which then drops down to E minor.  Surely a completely verboten sequence!  Then, picking up the E minor, we get a relatively standard upgoing series from E minor, F♯ minor, G, A7, ending up at a tonic of B minor prosaically going to E7.  Without more ado after the chorus the verse starts up again with the G minor / A minor.  Pretty cool, right?  Esp. the anomalous A♭ to E minor.  We can understand how it works if you interpret the A♭ as an F minor going down to E minor.  Brilliantly unexpected though.

Then the album closes out with a really beautiful ballad written again by Gunther and orchestrated with a nice topping of delicatesse.  I wonder how important it might be track down the rest of his compositions on the strength of this last track, he was clearly quite skilled with almost pure Burt Bacharach aptitude at crafting popular-sounding songs with just a nice edge of originality, unusual chord changes, and utter interest especially when compared to the standard pop song progressions like 1, 2 minor, 5th.  This particular entry has a couple of unusual changes in it too including the verse dropping to the 7flat chord, that is, verse starts in G and ends not in D7 or G, but in F, which was a hallmark of early AM radio, e.g. Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I get to Phoenix".  As I understand it, in this song she is telling him not to come back again, because they were friends, just friends, and she thought that was enough. Believe me, she says, if it wasn't so, she would be saying other words to him.  Wonderful stuff.  What a romantic sound and song.

Here it is:

One last note, obviously this recording was made in East Germany, behind the Berlin Wall...  I'll save the commentary about communism, the greatest crime perpetrated against humanity, by humanity, for a later post, or more accurately, many previous ones on prognotfrog.

Fantastic album.  Great find.  And all thanks go to me, this time-- not my friends! lol

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Negasphere - Castle in the Air (Japanese classic prog from 1984)

From our pnf friend Apps, rateyourmusic:

"Among the lesser known names of the Japanese prog scene, Negasphere started in 1977 under the guidance of bassist/keyboardist Kawasaki Kaoru.In 1981 they were joined by Majima Hiroyoshi and Kaoru devoted himself only to the keyboard parts.Reputedly the band had a self-titled live cassette out around the time.Problems with the line-up prevented the band from recording an official LP and the problem was solved with the addition of ex-Mahojin Sugano Shiro on drums, Yata Toru on keys and Tokutake Hiroshi on bass.Finally a LP entitled ''Castle in the Air'' saw the light in 1984 on L.L.E. Records.

The sound of Negasphere was exactly in the middle of GENESIS-inspired mellow Symphonic Rock and the more fiery Symph/Fusion style of U.K. with good arrangements, extended instrumental parts but also a very mediocre recording quality.The band keeps a nice balance between vocal moments and long professional instrumental sections and there is always a mood for changing themes throughout.So a calm, mostly symphonic section with dreamy keyboard work and sensitive guitar parts is often followed by sharp and often double synth attacks, dynamic interplays and powerful grooves with an evident HOLDSWORTH edge on the guitar solos and a sound close to WAPPA GAPPA or MONGOL.Vocals were never the strong point of Japanse bands and Negasphere make no exception.Still the lyrics are sung in English with a bearable performance by Hiroyoshi.The biggest flaws come from the below average production and the plastic sound of electric drumming.

A very rare record by Negasphere yet a recommended release for fans of 80's Japanese Prog and all those who love the combination of 70's Classic Prog with Fusion."

Just a quick note, indeed there is a highly collectible live album from 1981 this one:
Needless to say-- it's their best work by far, but the sound is not very good.  Strongly recommended.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The fusion that's Heliocentric (USA,1979)

I really couldn't resist buying this without knowing anything about the contents when I saw the highly attractive surrealistic cover with the metronome oddly flat on the table and thus nonfunctionable, the window showing a reflection of the metronome in front of a sandy path outside and self-referential other window, the blind handle echoing the pendulum, etc.  The artist here is Norm Scutti, who also plays drums.  He is rounded out by Al von Seggern on horns, Jeff Pressing on keyboards, and John Leftwich on bass.  The whole was recorded in March 1979 in San Diego, California, thus, 35 years ago...

The rear features the following little blurb worth reading:

"This album presents nine original compositions with each piece exploring a different musical territory.  The use of untraditional harmonic changes and rhythmic concepts evident in this music evolved from the group's inception.  We began as a group whose premise was aleatory or spontaneous music.  From this grew a sensitivity to dynamic interplay which has resulted in a unique group sound.  This sound together with the writing creates a raw spontaneity in the recording.  With a minimum of overdubbing we feel the loose gut-level funky side of small group playing shines through.  What follows is a brief description of the compositions..."
--Norm Scutti and Al von Seggern

For example, the first track Afferent Connection is described as "contemporary latin-folk in 6/16 meter with solos alternating between all members of the group..."

Ridiculously, the drummer has two spoken tracks at the ends of each side, in which he explains the group, thankfully only for a few seconds.  I don't think I've seen such a curious exposition before on a jazz record and it seems to me quite unnecessary.

Note that the first side is entirely composed by keyboardist Jeff Pressing, while on side 2 there is more involvement from the others.  An entirely improvised track is credited to the whole band ("Town of Dog").

I don't think the spontaneous aspect is very much to the fore here (thankfully I might add, with the exception of "Town of Dog"), rather, the laidback acoustic jazz sound most reminds me of Listen featuring Mel Martin which I ripped some time back, minus those annoying steel drums of course.  Despite the promise of "untrad. harmonic changes and concepts" (i.e. progressive composition) the amount of unusualness evident here is slightly below our stratospheric standards at this late stage in the game where like the jaded and debauched Romans in Petronius' Satyricon, we are always seeking some new unheard chord progression, dissonant interval or rifflike angular melody to punch our jugulars and entertain our palmares-weary receptive auditory neurons and higher cortices...

The spoken prose poem or very short story that accompanies "Town of Dog" is well worth listening to for its amusing plot and subversively surreal changes and original phraseology (but not the improvised music).  I will paraphrase the majority of it but not quote it verbatim, not having the time for it:

"In the Town of Dog there lived six cats.  Two of them, Hibble and Thnork, were employed as wine-sniffers, by the local vineyards.  This, many said, was what was responsible for their chronic inebriation, matted fur, and good-hearted sense of humour.  Though there were those who felt their sense of practical jokery bordered on the macabre.  Let me tell you about one of their exploits.

Douglas, who went to trade school, studying to be a plumber, now enters the story inasmuch as his brother, Frank, tripped over Hibble and Thnork as they were making an important grain purchase for their hogfarm.  What was worse, he was carrying his bombastophone, on which he was a performer of international repute.  Unfortunately the instrument fell, and was cracked beyond repair.  Needless to say, Frank had few kind words for our friends, Hibble and Thnork.  Their escape was via one of the many cubbyholes, cut into the sides of the store and a very narrow one, it was indeed.  In fact, Hibble's tail became entangled by some wiring which had become stuck to the outside of the opening...." 

And this is how the story ends.  Really love it.
Here is a wonderful track called Leaf:

(Gotta love how they employed electric instruments back in the day...  Where is all that electricity now??)

And here is their surreal cat story for those who wish to hear it:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Alex Blake - Especially For You (Japan, 1979)

First of all I wanted to draw your attention to comments made by the sax player, Randy Keith, from Spaces - Border Station.  It's so interesting when an artist is able to give insight into a recording!  Please read comments at the bottom here.

After hearing the "Dreams" song from Danny Toan I felt I had to get this and listen to the original version, which has vocals, written by Alex Blake.  So the whole record is ripped for you here.  Unfortunately, both the record and the original version are relatively ordinary, humdrum, funk-rock with very little merit.  There are a few bass solos that are to me slightly agonizing if not downright traumatic. This record was released in Japan, as you can see from information here.

From discogs:

American (but born in Panama) jazz double-bassist and composer.
Played with : Lenny White, Billy Cobham, Pharoah Sanders, Randy Weston and others.
He also recorded as a leader.

More information, from jazz times:

“I started playing professionally when I was 12 years old,” says the Panamanian-born, American-bred bassist Alex Blake. “The music I was playing was Latin; I was playing with great percussionists like Kako and Patato.”
He’s also played with some of the biggest names in jazz: Dizzy Gillespie, Manhattan Transfer, Freddie Hubbard, Lenny White, Randy Weston, Billy Cobham, Sonny Rollins—”You name the groups, and I’ve played with them…I can’t even remember some of the groups I’ve worked with, there’s just so many.” Blake also toured Europe when he was 16 with Sun Ra and played an extended gig in Chicago, far away from his New York home. “I was kinda skipping school a little bit; my parents were a little pissed off.”


So how did the nearly 50-year-old Blake, who’s been around the world and back with high-profile bandleaders, elude entry in The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz and The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz ? And how did he only now release his aptly named second album as a leader, Now Is the Time: Live at the Knitting Factory (Bubble Core), featuring his quintet with Pharoah Sanders? “I had offers, and I wanted to do an album, but I had other things in mind; and I was so busy on the road, going out with the Transfer…I love writing, so I have a lot of material. Over the period of 1970 to now I don’t know how many tunes I’ve written…”
Blake’s first album as a leader, Especially For You (Sony), came out in 1979, but only in Japan; Now Is the Time marks his American debut. Bubble Core co-owner Adam Pierce, who plays vibes, bass and percussion in the dub-jazz duo The Dylan Group, saw Blake in performance and was so knocked out by the bassist that he offered to release an album. While the Bubble Core is eclectic, it has focused mostly on experimental electronica and rock; Now Is the Time marks its first straightahead jazz release—and it’s an auspicious debut.
In addition to Sanders, Blake’s quintet includes pianist John Hicks, drummer Victor Jones and percussionist Neil Clark. On Now Is the Time the group tears through three Blake originals and a cover of Guy Warren’s “Mystery of Love”—though “On the Spot’” is based on the changes to John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.”
“I was in Norway with Pharoah Sanders last year. We were rehearsing and we started going through a couple of tunes…and all of the sudden this tune started coming up in my mind, and the first couple of changes were like ‘Giant Steps.’ At first I said, ‘No, no, no, I’m not gonna go there,’ but it just kept staying there; it just wouldn’t go.”
Blake cites Richard Davis, Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman as bass playing influences, and also Jimi Hendrix and Eric Dolphy. Despite having a strong background in Latin music, however, Blake’s compositions don’t reflect that experience; but his bass playing does. “It’s a strumming technique; it’s like having a guitar and congas and putting them together with the bass. It’s a construct of strumming and playing the congas; that’s the percussive side of my playing. That’s the concept of my playing.”
Blake demonstrates his full arsenal of percussive techniques and lyrical lines on a remarkable solo performance of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help”: His bass playing sounds like an a cappella jazz singer improvising on the melody. It’s one of the few times Blake spotlights his own playing during the gig.
“On this album I was in the crossfire trying to decide whether to play a lot of solos or not. I didn’t play a lot of solos on this album; on the next album I plan to really do a lot of solos. I was more emphasizing the writing. Plus, I was so burnt out from travelling and playing and travelling and playing and so on and so on…the total energy wasn’t there.”
You wouldn’t know it from his spirited performance on Now Is the Time. ..

And now have a listen to the original Alex Blake version with vocals (please be forgiving):

This piano intro reminds me a lot of the unforgettable skit of Dana Carvey on SNL 'Choppin' Broccoli'.
And doesn't that chorus sound so muddled?

It's interesting to me how Danny Toan managed to craft such a gorgeous song from such unpromising material.  I've mentioned before how dreadfully I despise the downgoing minor chord progression especially starting from A minor (that is, A minor, G, F, sometimes including an Fsharp before, sometimes ending in the E), e.g. "While my guitar gently weeps"-- and of course the reason it usually starts from A is because that's the easiest version to play on the guitar-- god forbid someone should try to write such a progression starting from Eflat minor!  After "Stairway to Heaven" everyone sounds derivative when they try to use it.  Of course, Jimi himself (earlier) reinterpreted Dylan's bland song "All Along the Watchtower" and made it rock gold, with the echoey acoustic guitars hammering away at those tired old chords, and the laidback electric soloing and wah-wah running like a complex weaving pattern all through the song.  In that case I can still listen to the progression with enjoyment, but then I've been a lifelong Hendrix fan.  Also observe how Danny took what is just a bridging section between chorus and second verse, with the stepped up 4th intervals, and made it into an intro for the song-- these stepped chord pattern intros have been used before, e.g. Joni Mitchell's Jericho, or Fruup's masterpiece Gormenghast song (in my opinion the most brilliant use) but Danny tightened it up (which it really needed) to make it a true intro-- just genius.

Again, Danny's Dreams Come and Go:

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Heikki Sarmanto with Pentti Saarikoski, Maija Hapuoja and Juhani Aaltonen: 1989's Salakuljetettu Ikoni [Smuggled Icon]

Another album shared by my wonderful friend... Thanks!!  
in his words:

"Another secret Masterpiece of Heikki Sarmanto!
Salakuljettu Ikoni (English: Smuggled Icon [religious Orthodox-Catholic Icon])
This album was made for Siemens for promotional/gift use! Therefore it is very Limited Edition, been released under the same name on CD but with very different content!

This Lp is rather rare, very rare! We are privileged! =)
Give an attention to the vocals of Maija Hapuoja and the wonderful Sax of Juhani Aaltonen.
Lyrics are by famous Finnish poet Pentti Saarikoski, unfortunately in Finnish."

From pnf (reprinted by permission):

"Composer and pianist Heikki Sarmanto is a leading Finnish jazz scene figure who has been internationally praised for his symphonic, orchestral and jazz ensemble works. During the early 1960s, Sarmanto studied at the Sibelius Academy in Finland. Shortly thereafter he won a prestigious award for the International Competition of Jazz Composition in Minneapolis, MN. He also performed in numerous Finnish jazz recordings including Christian Schwindt’s “For Friends and Relatives” (RCA Victor) and Esa Pethman’s “The Modern Sound of Finland” (RCA Victor).

 Sarmanto entered the Berklee College of Music in Boston, in 1968 where he honed his piano and composition skills with coaching from Herb Pomeroy, Charlie Mariano and Margaret Chaloff. In 1969 he released the first recording under his own name in 1969 titled “Flowers in the Water” (EMI/Columbia), which was taken from a live recording at the University of Jyvaskyla.
 In 1970, Sarmanto was chosen “Jazz Musician of the Year” in Finland. Back in Boston, he joined fellow musicians Lance Gunderson (guitar), Craig Herndon (drums), George Mraz (bass) and fellow Finn Juhani Aaltonen (saxophone) to record what would be released 38 years later as “Boston Date” (Porter Records). This quartet, with Pekka Sarmanto replacing George Marz, would be known as the “Serious Music Ensemble”. They would go on to record “Counterbalance” and “Like a Fragonard” (EMI/Odeon) in Finland. These two powerful recordings showcase both of Sarmanto’s amazing abilities as a piano player and composer. They incorporate elements of jazz, folk, improvisation and even rock to make a distinctive statement.

 In 1971, he was awarded top honors at the Montreux Jazz Festival in both piano and combo categories. Sarmanto continued to record for EMI/Odeon with the big band recording “Everything is it”. Throughout the 70s, Sarmanto continued to record albums that ranged from big band to arrangements based upon poetry...

 In the 80s, Mr. Sarmanto was chosen by Sonny Rollins to arrange and conduct his “Saxophone Concerto”, which premiered and was televised in Tokyo in 1986. Some of his key works include “New Hope Jazz Mass” dedicated to Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, which was received with unequivocal praise at the opening of Saint Peter's Church in New York, and also Suomi Symphony, which premiered to rave reviews at Carnegie Hall in 1988.

 He was instrumental in founding the internationally lauded UMO Jazz Orchestra and was appointed its artistic director in 1999. Sarmanto headed the Jazz Studio at the Sibelius Academy which is highest institute of Finnish music and now home to the foremost jazz department in that nation....

 He has toured the United States, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa and continues to actively expand his musical horizons. Porter Records along with Heikki Sarmanto and EMI Finland have begun to re-release a substantial body of Sarmanto’s previously unavailable early work for both the enjoyment of new and old enthusiasts of jazz."

Back to this particular album.  We have here the perfect representative of progressive music again, a combination of the gorgeously operatic singing of Maija Hapuoja  with the most magnificent compositions incorporating both jazz and European chamber music-- in other words, my perfect, dream combination...
 And there is no hint whatsoever that we are here in the year 1989, instead, it sounds like we are back in those gloriously inventive and creative seventies still...  again, damn those eighties, why did they have to happen...

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Günther Fischer-Quintett's Kombination from the GDR, 1978 [lossless, new fresh vinyl rip]

Wow.  This is the kind of high-powered fusion I love and revere and miss so desperately whenever I visit those local jazz festivals at which middle-aged or old folks try to scat and swing and invariably get up to start dancing in the aisles in a most caricatural manner, spilling a drink or two on me (like their alka-seltzer).  Not only their dancing style but their fashion sense of course provides us with endless amusement, at least, those of us who are younger than 40, who might number only in the dozen however amongst an attendance level in the tens of thousands.  Cf. my commentary here, about the local festival in my city which I long ago abandoned, particularly since their choice of music invariably becomes more conservative and old-fashioned, time-travel-like, alzheimerly as the years go by, the same stupid standards reappearing each time, as if they had no memory of the past-- I am reminded of Oliver Sacks' case studies of those who have a stroke and are unable to form long-term memories, and by long-term we mean any memory older than a minute or so: these same jazz fans seem completely unable to recall they have heard "Summertime" already in their lives so many times, acting as if it's a brand-new piece of music.  But among all crimes against humanity there is nothing worse than when some fat old octogenarian gets up and starts getting into "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing, doo-wop--doo-wop etc. etc." at which point I begin to vomit spasmodically-- admittedly, partly because I had far too many beers already to drown out the pain of this feculent audio, but I mean, let's get real-- said old lady was probably a baby when that song was written back in the days of war rations when you had to forcibly extract your mercury dental fillings to help the wartime effort for rectal thermometers and people were forced to buy copper pennies for a few dollars from the government to smelt into wiring to use in B-52 bombers' electric connections so there'd be no problems, other than a millisecond's pang of guilt, in dropping A-bombs with inappropriate names on foreigners-- I've mentioned before how much I hate swing but even more so I hate dixieland jazz with its retarded simplicity, its insistent pentatonic badgering or rather hammering over the same neuronal synapses-- imagine if you were forced like a schoolchild to rewrite over and over the same phrase, "I will not listen to any decent music" over and over again, that's what dixie jazz is like, I'm sorry Woody Allen, but both pedophilia and dixieland are not my cup of ovaltine...

But this album is not that kind of jazz.  It's inventive, interesting, exciting, and even has some Terry Riley/Soft Machine elements to it... So please enjoy this crystal-clear and brand new rip!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Jean-Louis BUCCHI's Reportages from 1986 {Koka Media Vol. 45, Library Record}

I think the name is well-known to all progressive fans for the otherworldly beauty of his magnum opus, Sunflower, to me one of the true masterpieces of French prog.  When you scan his discography you'll see he went on to make a few library records after that one, some of which are quite worthy, esp., Blue Prism.  This record, his last in that database, was the only one I hadn't yet heard, and bear in mind that it comes almost a decade later than Sunflower, and a lot had changed, musically, since then.

And indeed a lot has changed when it comes to hearing this record...  definitely we are in the synthesized, dreaded drum machine, digital casio eighties by this time.  Damn those eighties... why did they have to go and ruin the seventies?

Having said that though, there are here and there some interesting chord changes or melodies that suggest the genius of the former composer and his indubitably profound classical training, but how few and far between they are...  we are fishing for table scraps here perhaps like a hungry dog...

As a punishment, I'll upload this as a lossless rip.
I'll also upload the mp3 for those (like me) who feel this might be more appropriate.

B4's "New Realist" demonstrates the education:

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Xavier Gernet - Forme De Rêve, from France 1979

A beautiful 'chansonnier' style French record (popular songs with orchestration).  It might be that only the French have a taste for this particular style that was made by famous by artists like Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel.  For myself because I partly grew up with the style I have a nostalgic kind of admiration that stayed with me forever.

Both music and lyrics are by this (forgotten) artist Xavier, except track A2 where Christian Gaubert contributes music. Notice (on the back) the involvement: bass is Jannick Top, Claude Engel is on guitar.  Unfortunately they don't add a zeuhl element here.  The stand-out track is "Mimmie" which was clearly his big radio hit.  The lyrics are to me what really transport it into the realm of pop culture heaven.  A quick translation:

"I lift up my collar that is not too big, look, now it's raining,
I go down, sheepish, the grand boulevards that are all blue
not shaved and very tired, in the corner of the eye,
I put on my smile to make good the big game

I go to Mimmie my old ex, who gives me the eye,
every day I loiter, or, I try to find better
Mimmie her life is her friends, one day out of two,
in her little bed we pretend we are two

I have under my arm a cool thing to make things blue,
'Slow burning love' by James Taylor, it's the best,
I go see Mimmie, my old ex, who gives me the eye,
every day, I loiter or I try to find better...

[bridge section]

When it's done, we get out of bed, we eat a bit
sometimes she cries, it's her heart that's breaking a bit,
so I say, it's better like this, dear friend
she leaves in the dark for hours, after that she's OK

Because it's late, along the grands boulevards I walk a bit
not shaved, tired, and not really feeling much better,
something not too cool is flowing at the corner of my eye,
inside a little hollow, look, it's raining now..."

I would say that's about as perfect a little pop song as ever was written, especially in conjunction with the melancholy music.  I particularly love the circularity or the delicate way he repeats the ideas: first she goes for a walk, she feels better, but then he goes for a walk and feels worse.  Is the beginning the same time period as the end, i.e. he is simply remembering what happened, like a screenplay?  I won't get into the sad commonness of the situation in which a man takes advantage of his ex while seeking someone better... Sadly this artist didn't put out another record.  Though the remainder of the record is a little behind this little pop masterpiece, it does have a few bright moments.

But we can certainly try to have this particular song immortalized:

Monday, 12 May 2014

Carita Holmström & Teppo Hauta-aho - Two Faces (1980)

I do hope people haven't had enough yet of this wonderful artist, whose first two albums I already shared some time ago.

In keeping with the title and her training as a jazz artist, there is a serious dichotomy here between sides one and two, the latter of which is essentially entirely a throwaway surface with cover versions of not only trad. folk but the old John Lennon song "Dear Prudence" (admittedly, a beautiful song, but just not one I want to hear sung by anyone but John) and some old jazz standards like "Good Morning Heartache" (same story, you can't really do better than Billie Holiday on that one).  But let's go back to the first surface or πr² of this vinyl.

Here we once again have Carita at her best, her compositional skills blend together folk, pop, and a classical sensibility with some in-depth jazz training.  Notice that all the music on the first side was written by her save track A2 by Heikki Sarmanto the great Finnish composer.  (She contributed two passable tracks to side two as well.)

I'll present to you the first track:

Full information:

Many many thanks to my friend for sharing this with me and with all...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Happy Mothers Day...

As usual I find these manufactured holidays mildly problematic, if not somewhat philosophically questionable.  Here, we are being asked to celebrate the mothers-- and yet, as dependent as we are on them for our very existence (which already introduces ontological dilemmas into the equation), it almost seems we are begging the question here, for we would not exist without our mothers, some of us of course would still be here without our fathers, which is why I will indicate that Fathers Day is also a difficult proposition.  Should we be cursing our mothers for bringing us into this world?  Some may with quite justifiable reasoning do exactly that, those who live in the poorer countries forced to relieve themselves in nearby farmer's fields from which they derive their daily bread.  As well we are really merely pledging allegiance to the instincts of nature-- for isn't it this that makes the mother love her children?  Isn't this why the mother can't help herself: yelling at them to brush their teeth in the morning, eat all their broccoli, and punch back the schoolyard bully? Surely we are not so self-absorbed as to think she loves us for ourselves, or for our talents, as groupies do rock stars, we might as well be idolizing endocrinology, or a given hormone du jour, perhaps, as medical research seems to suggest, we should be calling this 'oxytocin day'?  Do we have a migration day, in which we worship the instinct that causes songbirds, or for example, the wonderful monarch butterfly to travel to Mexico each winter, in a path that requires several generations of butterflies and caterpillars to complete?  Surely the ants should get together and decide democratically if Hallmark should institute such a holiday for us all-- and the cards we'd give to the butterflies would of course feature such  beautiful orange colours!  And when they'd open the cards, rather than a tinny song, they'd get a puff of pollen or nectar!  And what about the first eukaryotic cells that divided by fission before sexual reproduction was created, did they celebrate Fission Day?  And what about lions-- the female not only rears the children single-handedly, she is the only sex that hunts!  The male lion can merely sit in the shade and sleep, with his harem of a dozen mothers, and take the food the mothers killed, and of course he gets first choice.  Then he proceeds to select the wife for the night.  In leonine cases I am willing to say, Happy Mothers Day, because they surely do a lot of work, compared to the humans.  Of course once again Fathers Day then becomes problematic, as the male lion is known to commit infanticide on the babies that are not his.  The fact that he is quite unlikely to celebrate this holiday and bring flowers to his harem and massage the mothers' backs, as opposed to the reverse, is beside the point-- I mean, like most of you men out there, mothers day obviously is just an abstract conception, a theoretical construct, not something I would really do anything about, naturally.  No, indeed, this mothers day business is surely too existential for me...

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Iliad's Themes in Search of a Movie, from 1985

What a wonderful title, right?  I posted Iliad's Sapphire House, which was just a gorgeous gem, and the album called Euphonia with its intricate closer in 7/8ths time.  Incidentally I will delete both this link and the previous one out of respect for this amazing artist who had such a gentle soul.

Here we finally have a photo of the artist sitting in an empty movie theatre.  A reprise of "Beyond the North Wind" adjusts the track only a tiny bit, the highlight this time is the Detective scene that opens side B.  Really it should have been used in a soundtrack somewhere, without a doubt.

The first track recalls the infamous "Chariots of Fire" which I doubt anyone who lived through the eighties could ever forget, it is said that song was played a total of a trillion trillion times (ten to the power 24) through the course of that decade, which is once for every star in the known universe, roughly.  It was never quite clear to me why the radio stations as well as the international astronomical society decided to play that song that many times but suffice it to say I avoided radio like the plague back then, mostly due to the omnipresence of both that theme song and that movie.  I was quite surprised, much later, to discover that the Vangelis whom I reviled as a result of this crime, had actually made some quite interesting progressive rock albums in the early seventies.  Nonetheless, it is thought almost certain that the music critics of the 22nd century will burn his popular material in the new coming age of progressive rock reappraisal that will take humanity by storm soon and finally lead to it being considered, correctly, the classical music of the future...  yeah, right...

But back to Sandy Owen.  How unfair was it that this amazing composer with such a gift for soundtrack sounds, was dismissed over the pop simplicity of others?  If there is any karma at all, I pray for him to be honoured again for what he did musically.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Cairo, Different Strokes, from Germany 1980 (no download...)

Here's an album I found.  Musically it's a bit disappointing, being AOR-smooth hard rock with pop elements, of no or little interest to the progressive fan (which is why I'll spare you the listening).

But I am and was stunned by the cover art, which is credited to one H.J. Bergmann, and is called "Brudermord" as in Cain and Abel, presumably.  Sadly a google search on that name doesn't provide more art to contemplate:

Is it a mistake in the method of searching, or was he a friend of these musicians?  It's hard to believe he wasn't more renowned, considering how beautifully he made this, I love particularly the faceless Francis Bacon quality to the white man on the left, and the large triangular foot planted on the earth given to the black man.

Anybody know more about this artist?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

American Danny Toan's Big Foot from 1979, Bonus: First Serve from 1977

From my friend:

"Danny Toan (born in 1951) is an American Fusion guitarist.
One can call his style in the farthest sense 'jazz rock.' His publications under his own name date from the 1970s; he was introduced to the German professional audience by an interview in the contemporary publication "Fachblatt Musik Magazin",in about 1980.  From this some name recognition resulted as a so-called ''Musicians' Musician'' a musician who was known particularly to insiders of the music scene. In 1976 he belonged to the volume Fuel of Larry Young (Spaceball) and to Larry Coryells Eleventh House (Aspects). In 1978 he was involved in the recording of the albums Me, Myself and Eye the Charles Mingus Band and Sunbelt by Herbie Mann.
The other destiny of Danny Toan and his today's stay are unknown to date."

A few comments.  There is a track that is utterly magnificent for those who like me essentially grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix, old enough to remember him as the master of the Fender Stratocaster, it's called "Dreams Come and Go Away" appropriately enough.  I beg you, if you love music (as I know you must if you are reading this and looking for the kinds of sounds I present on this blog), listen to this track all day long, turned up nice and loud as Jimi would have wanted it, perhaps leave out the heroin or LSD he probably would have reached for, and just admire the proficiency of this amazing, forgotten artist, who perfectly captured not just the basics of the Hendrix style such as the fourth intervals going up and down, the reverbed solos played in octaves, the melancholy progressions, the slides with his super long fingers, that syncopated way of playing chords slightly behind where they are supposed to be that is his main hallmark, but furthermore get a sense of how he captured his soul, that yearning that went so deep:  "When I'm sad, she comes to me, with a thousand smiles, she gives to me free... take anything you want from me, anything, fly on, little wing..." 
Incidentally, this song was composed by Alex Blake.

Please note when you see the credits for this particular record, the presence of some very famous names. First of all you have J. Kuhn on piano whose own discography is the size of a phone book, but the rhythm section is John Lee and Gerry Brown, how can you go wrong with those two behind you?  They contributed compositions on side one as well.

Absolutely a magnificent, not at all expensive, completely lost masterpiece of electric guitar fusion-- sometimes to me recalling the other great American guitarists Coryell in his fusion phase, Tony Palkovic (featured once on prognotfrog), Tony Dupuis (pnf as well), etc.

As a bonus I have a quick rip of the first album-- not quite as good in my opinion, too easy-funky, for those who, like me, were blown away by the second one and need to hear more from this artist.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Comedia's Nubes, from 1989, Argentina

So don't judge this based on the picture of the artists on the back, their appearances which of course were normal for those who recall the fashions of the eighties, of which the most notorious now is the 'mullet' hairstyle...  And I think we all know how wonderful, and uplifting, it is to see a man, usually in his 50s, sporting a mullet without irony somewhere today, usually in rural parts of North America...  Because this music is squarely in the late-seventies chamber prog-fusion tradition and really, doesn't make any allowances whatsoever for the fact we moved on into those "I want my MTV" eighties with neon-bright colors and jumpy dance moves and bought digital drum machines, casio keyboards, and that tinny weak sound electric guitars acquired (and grew our hair long in the back).  

No not at all, we are back to the past here, a past in which progressive songwriting and classical chamber music could be successfully fused together into a gorgeous harmonious whole that made no compromises whatsoever to anything a record company producer or radio station deejay would care to say or criticize...  This is art, simply.  And I wonder what those executives would have made of this record back in 1989, with its insistent complications and difficult chords and melodies?  Luckily there was still a strong fusion tradition back then, but it was definitely on the wane worldwide.  Nevertheless, today we must thank god that there were those who had enough foresight to make LPs such as this despite everything going against them-- just imagine all the masterpieces that were never recorded because there was no appetite anymore for progressive or inventive composition...

Note the presence of the great Litto Nebbia as producer here, he himself made some gorgeous progressive records in his prime.  Briefly, from the back: Comedia was founded in 1981, performing in Buenos Aires, and released their 1st album in 1989.  The music is a mixture of folklore and jazz, sometimes in the style of Hermeto Pascoal, with chamber music, ethnic music, and jazzy fusion aspects.  

For sure, the more progressive works of those two men are the best comparison here, there is, however, no actual singing, only wordless vocals.

Leo Heras .....clarinet and soprano sax
Marcelo Moguilevsky ......clarinets, flutes and voice.
Marcelo Doctor ......drums and percussion
Cesar  Lerner.....keyboards

I sampled the first track, quite representative with the woodwinds and the electric piano sound and utterly original compositional skills.  Notice how orchestral or European/classical the sound of the clarinet playing becomes throughout the song, but then the voice adds in that beautiful soft South American touch of heart and soul and tropical heat.

Many many thanks to my wonderful friend for sharing this with me and with us!  How these people find these stunning treasures I don't understand and I am in awe of...  Was I kidding when I said, with regards to Clareon, there are many old gems still waiting out there to be discovered?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Violinist David Rose and his 1980 album 'Behind the Line' + Distance Between Dreams (1977), Worlds Apart (1979), and Live in 1978

David Rose is well-known to the progressive fan for his work on the magnificent French band "Transit Express"-- not just one of the best fusion bands, but one of the all-time best French progressive artists ever.  They made three beautiful albums in the mid-seventies that are a must for fans of this genre.  Then David made some solo albums-- four, as far as I know, with several of the musicians he knew from the French groups he had played with, incl. the great Perathoner, the best known is "Distance Between Dreams" from 1978, but the musea CD re-release of a 1978 live set is possibly the best music you can hear from him, at least in my opinion, featuring the beautiful ballads "Starset" and "Le Petit Prince" -- a song that just sends me straight to heaven every time I hear it.

So given the aforementioned, I felt I should have a listen to the remaining album I haven't heard from his discography, which is this one.  And I can't say I'm glad I heard it.  In fact, I would go so far as to say I wish I hadn't.  For those who require his earlier albums, I can share those of course, "Distance" is wonderful proggy fusion, and "Worlds Apart" from 1979 definitely has its moments, though they are few and far between, at least they are present, unlike the absence that marks today's post.

A representative track, the last one, "Magic Morning: "