Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Canadian Doug Riley and Dr. Music with the rare 1977 fourth ST album Transcription...
A beautiful and comprehensive blog post on soundological investigations discussed this Canadian artist at length in the past along with some tasty samples. I beg you to read what he wrote as it is so detailed and the research work is quite impressive. You will note also on a quick curiosity search their records are all available online, except the last two which an early Santa Claus will shortly present. (Santa will have more treats in store closer to his day!) Note also mention of the Doug Riley solo album called "Dreams" (1976) which is really gorgeous, for electric piano lovers in particular.
For us progressive fans their masterpiece without a doubt was the third album, "Bedtime Story" which came just before this record. Earlier, their music was basic horn rock along the lines of early Chicago, B, S &T, etc. Some astonishingly beautiful hits appear through the haze such as the "Sun Goes By" track, a staple for Canadian radio stations. But here, in the latter seventies, the late discozoic era as I called it before, the music is clearly fusion big band along the lines of Ted Moses with only a nod to commercial hornstyle pop. I will however express my disappointment that unlike Moses, Doug was not able to fill a long-player exclusively with original compositions & arrangements and had to resort to cover versions such as Stevie's Too High in the A4 position, and even a James Brown song that goes on way too long. As usual, the vocalist is mildly irritating with his full-cheeked sound much like a human hamster with a load of hibernatory acorns or too much Quebec Poutine behind his (long-sideburned) jowls-- though admittedly, he reached his nadir on the Bedtime Story album when he sounded as if he had just left the dentist's chair before the anaesthesia wore off. For example his Too High interpretation:
As a welcome relief from that, have a listen to one of Doug Riley's superb compositions:
Full credits here. it's always worth mentioning we do get our money's worth here, with side b being more than 27 minutes long! But overall, not as progressive as its predecessor, with much of the music sounding like Tim Eyermann's later work.
Finally, I was highly amused by the very dated Marshall McLuhan quote on the back:
"Dr. Music... Fourth World... Right hemisphere... The Fourth World is the electronic environment that surrounds this planet earth... it is Total..."
How could he have known acoustic music would stage such a huge comeback within less than a decade, at least in jazz? That fusion's days were almost over? That science would bust apart the silly simplification of right/left hemisphere (thanks in part to functional MRI imaging), like the stupid old myth about only ten percent of the brain being used? Or that the electronic environment that surrounds earth would turn out to be computers and internet, something he never could have forecast? And that this record with its breathless predictions would not play a part in that world at all-- at least not until this post today...