Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Kiyoshi Sugimoto is a Japanese jazz guitarist who made this wonderful fusion album in the heyday of the genre. There is some lightness to the composition here (including some highly George Bensonish discoid funk styles with female harmony vocals), but also enough decent originality to keep us hooked on the 200-lb test line all the way until the very end as we are reeled onto the deck of the boat, and proceed to slowly suffocate like a bluefin tuna, and indeed the last track doesn't disappoint, being the best of the lot. It's called Moving:
And it comes right after a pretty acoustic guitar solo track called I'm blind to all but you.
Incidentally his earlier record called Our Time, from 1975, is much more blues/funk oriented and was a bit disappointing in comparison, though it had its moments. A good comparison would be the later, post-80s Karl Ratzer albums.
Monday, 11 December 2017
Sparse information is to be found in the database. Of course this was requested earlier due to the lone sample that can be found on youtube. (Which appeared once on a compilation CD). Overall, typical American light style vocal fusion along the lines of Feather's Chen Yu posted long ago, perhaps slightly better written in terms of composition, and more in the progressive direction of female vocalist-led Grits, of Rare Birds fame. The verso scan has all the information missing from the discogs entry, as you can see.
The band is from Indianapolis, Indiana, apparently, the singer is Joan E. Hall (who contributed the great A2 track), percussion by Ron Brinson, songwriting duties jointly Wayne Hall (bassist, woodwinds, ocarina, and voice) and Brian E. Paulson (keyboardist). Hall wrote the youtube track, Bumpum Cars, which you can hear above by following the link.
Of note, Brian Paulson appears to be the same musician who was in the great unreleased band Pre, information extensively recorded here. (American progressive rock band active 1972-1973, who recorded an album's worth of material at the time but only saw its first release in 1992.)
And Pre had some fantastic classic progressive rock songs in their sole release, which is highly recommended. He seems to have mellowed out on this record however, contributing the first 2 tracks on the second side which were somewhat disappointing.
Joan Hall's track is called Mysteries Eyes [sic]:
The chord changes and the oddness of the melody are what make this song so memorable, as well as the passion she brings to her vocal treatment. I love the production heavy on different keyboards too.
Inside you can also find printed the following silly story from the band that begins:
The legend of Hugo Smooth (or one theory)
In the 14th century Hungarian Village of Browbeat lived a simple man named Garbonzo Quick. He lived alone on a vast hill overlooking a grove of juniper trees, at least a thousand years old, and inhabited by monks of a fourth dimension and only visible to Garbonzo. The locals paid no attention to the stories about dancing monks chanting in the night and let Garbonzo sit harmlessly on the hill telling his tale and playing a small wooden flute that no one could hear...
From then on the story becomes both ridiculous and utterly bizarre in a way that only presumably drug-influenced stories really can be. I'm reminded of my wife's usual comment: They were all on drugs back then...
Thanks to the commentator who suggested this one.
Saturday, 9 December 2017
Teo Macero in Impressions of Virus and the Virus OST from 1980, plus more (Teo 1980, Impressions of Chas Mingus 1983, and Acoustical Suspension 1985)
I covered a lot of Teo in the prognotfrog days I think and have slowly collected most of his material including the later stuff which is available on amazon such as Impressions of Mingus, one of his most underrated albums, and probably some of the best composition I've heard in the 15 to 20 years I've been obsessed with this genre. I'll upload a copy for a brief time, plus more.
Of his post-50s albums the best were 1985's Acoustical Suspension, the Virus OST from 1980, and this one, which was missing for some odd reason from the discography already available. I think he's well known as a producer at Columbia Records for Miles in the seminal ultrafamous jazz albums Kind of Blue and Bitches' Brew. Unfortunately his own compositions are scattered all over the place in these years, and it wasn't until the 80s that we hear collected together some more of his own writing, but this turns out to be brilliant. The compilation record called Teo from 1980 has some incredibly gorgeous material from way back when he did Jazz Composers Workshop with Chas Mingus in the 50s going up to the more easy listening string-driven style he exploited in the 80s, but also some lovely C minor organ/elec guitar style rock in a track called Love/Match Point:
I would love to know from what movie or album that came from originally.
But on the Virus OST there's some absolutely stunning material, and those would be the choice words I would use to describe a track called mm 88, with its uniquely bizarre reverbed electric guitar, background brass and synths:
The album called Impressions of Virus doesn't disappoint either, and in some sense this year must have been the ne plus ultra summa cum laude for this particular composer, at the top of his game (at the age of 55!), all music written by him. Really, I can't exaggerate enough about the invention and creativity he put into these two Viral LPs. First track:
Stunning music, superbly and expertly mixing classical and jazz with more modern electric sounds to perfection.
It would be nice to know how this particular album relates to the Virus OST but unfortunately all inner and liner notes are in Japanese. Maybe someone could provide a brief translation?
Acoustical Suspension from 1985 continues with the advanced composition applied to a fusion big band formula, almost European in its elevated intellectual context of ideas. The title track:
But my favourite later album is his homage to Charlie Mingus, partly because he really nails some of the personal cliches of Mingus music like the extended melodies that go on for more than 16 bars (e.g. Porkpie Hat), the uplifting crazy happy use of modal bop (Something like a Bird), and the depth of his pain and yearning (Allegro non troppo, Meditations) as heard on my favourite jazz album of all time, "Let my Children Hear Music" (I believe Teo got a credit as producer for that one).
From that record, his homage to Mingus' Chill of Death:
I believe this homage is also great due to the admiration, respect, & love which Teo held for the great bassist, who had passed away in 1979 from the horrific progressive illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (which slowly but torturously took away his ability to play music).
So I've included all the following for your enjoyment: the Virus OST, Impressions of Virus, Teo, Impressions of Chas, and Acoustical Suspension. If anyone knows of any others worth hearing, please let me know.
The Fusion album is purely atonal btw and disappointed me. It reminded me a lot of David Bedford's Star's End with Mike Oldfield.
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Will the proggy wonders never cease??
Japanese jazz pianist and keyboardist. Born in Shizuoka in February 1945.
Very little to see here. But, oh dear, is there ever a lot to hear here on this beauty discovered by my friend, out of the random blue of online record stores, completely out of left field, so far left it's outta this galaxy and probably even out of this corner of the universe.
The first track (Overture) pretty much presents to you the high achievements here, the perfect mix of classical, fusion, and progressive rock influences from the likes of early ELP:
It recalls to me the Lofstrom Music album I posted before, but with a bit less finesse and more rocky ELP qualities-- which is a good thing of course. Or perhaps you could compare it with the Fumitaka Anzen album Juma Densetsu from 1981 so famed in prog circles. But to be honest and give the artist his due credit, this is brilliantly original in a way only a genius artist can accomplish, with a melding so perfect one wonders how he could have pulled it off without a lifetime of prog practice, rather than, historically, being a simple jazz pianist interpreting those stupid standards to the ends of time.
To quote my friend:
Hideo Ichikawa is one of the most famous jazz pianists in Japan. He tried to make a rock album for the first time in 1980. This is it.
It was inspired by a Japanese SF novel "Yousei Den." So to speak, it is an imaginary OST album.
He said in a interview "I listened to rock music albums for the first time since I was born to make this album."
Kohichi Hirai is a rock guitarist. The chemistry between the jazz pianist & the rock guitarist made this album a masterpiece.
Quite amazing. A masterpiece for sure. Hard to believe, in fact.
And as long as there's still music like this out there, undiscovered, uncharted, I promise to keep this up. Wish Tom could hear it.
Monday, 4 December 2017
Fanastic artwork, as usual with this artist.
This album was mentioned in the earlier Hiro post as the rarest item in his discography after the UFO Encounter. Perhaps not surprisingly it's subpar compared to all the others, except the "Folk and Rock Best Collection" which as the victim of low expectations fully bore out the lowness of said expectations.
There's an odd mix here of completely generic songs, piano solo ramblings, and then the very occasional progressive sound or move here and there, but separated by long stretches of noncoding junk dna type music. The opening track with acoustic piano, called Nothing, gives you an idea of what I mean:
I'm sure everyone out there has the remainder of his output at this point.
Saturday, 2 December 2017
Obviously an artist who needs no introduction in prog circles. So I'll go ahead and introduce him and his bio.
Note that he made 5 albums in the glory period of 1970 to 1973: Milk Time (the Gorilla album), Hiro Yanagida, Hiro, Hirocosmos, with the rare Sons of Suns being the one most are not aware of, though it turned out to be quite disappointing. Personally I found 1973's cosmos to be the most perfectly and professionally executed with a minimum of filler. Then there's a five year break until this record which is a homage to the Close Encounters UFO fad that those alive in the late 70s will well remember.
The record is divided into Musical Side and Dramatic Side, despite this both are quite similar funky fusion instrumentals with some quite gorgeous female vocalizing that recalls the Japanese artist Anri Sugano. (I pray I wasn't the only one who hugely loved that particular album from her.)
A5's Crystal Ship is really stunning:
On closer listen some time later I noticed the lyrics are quite good, overall the song sounding like a poem set to music, so I transcribed it as best I could (note that the verso scan does depict them):
Drift, all in the darkness, in my empty heart
Look, for my bright world, with my lonely heart,
Light is always fade, darkness surrounding me,
I only stay in the narrows, without light or sound
I hear echoes of your voice, from the sky, from the stars,
Your voice is an indicator, of my virgin sail--
My Crystal Ship.
Sail, get a strong jet stream, my ship, runs so high,
Star of the Polaris, leading me to you--
Crystal Ship reflects, twinkling stars misty light
I only stay in the narrows, without light or sound
I hear echoes of your voice, from the sky, from the stars,
Your voice is an indicator, of my virgin sail--
My Crystal Ship.
So nice how, rather than a silly sci-fi account of flying saucers, the ship in question is her empty heart in dark space, waiting for the sound of her love's voice. Well done, and so much more sophisticated and artistic than the English world's plentiful scifi / UFO albums, of which there were legion in the 70s. Notice also how perfectly professional the electric keys solo and following this the electric guitar solo full of bent notes, are in the middle, sounding like absolutely the best studio musicians from off a British or American pop LP.
Well done, guys.
And then the B1 UFO Landing instrumental taken from the dramatic side is simply breathtaking:
Those of us who remember the simple silly theme song from Close Encounters and its soundtrack, which I bought at the time, will be shocked when they think of how much superior this album is, musically, but also how neglected it was, in the rest of the world-- obviously....
Can we right these wrongs of the distant past? I sure hope so.
Wednesday, 29 November 2017
Naturally this album won't be as good as its predecessors, simply due to it emanating from the year 1991 (the year Guns 'n' Roses was eclipsed by Nirvana!), but for completeness finding it became a necessity, given the outrageous quality of the two others from Fernando Egozcue. And again thanks to my S. American correspondent for his help in drawing my attention to this remarkable artist.
Out of respect for Mr. Egozcue and the generosity of my friend for both disinterring and ripping this little treasure, I'll just present to you the best track, B1's 500 Motivations, with its nod to King Crimson Frippian progressive guitarwork:
And let you all enjoy this one.
Monday, 27 November 2017
While we're on the subject of gentle seventies folky-female singer-songwriters, here's this one I neglected from before. The first track is the best, and it recalls the somewhat musical-song-influenced items we heard before from my favourite Melisma and even the Street and The Sea, which I was told to remove due to a near future cd release (which apparently has still not happened)):
The remainder slowly goes down the very gently inclined slope of appreciation however.
Saturday, 25 November 2017
This is the last album in Karsten the bird of beauty's discography I was curious to hear and it comes in the year 1984, just after the remarkable Signature album. Unfortunately in the credits you can see he wasn't involved as composer, despite the fact the music sounds like a more acoustic and stripped down version of his own works. Specifically the composers are Johannus Á Rógvu Joensen (tracks: B1, B3) and Sunleif Rasmussen (tracks: A1, A2, B2).
Here's the first track:
Later on side b some very advanced music, almost atonal, appears on the part of Rasmussen on electric organ, with the album closing out in a very melancholy manner, not so surprisingly.
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
The next album after Sweet Communion sadly was a bit disappointing, as we get closer to the 80s, a frequent experience in the English countries (oddly enough not usually in continental Europa).
A blurb poem on the top of the back:
Every Life's a Story, every life's a song.
Some will end in glory, some never belong.
Everyone could write a book others could learn from
So won't you please listen to the stories in life's songs.
Here the music is just a little bit more generic and average to the point where we have little to hang on to most of the time throughout this 240 degrees rotation of an hour. Perhaps, though arguably, the best song is called Aegean, and recalls the title track of the 1978 record:
And with that, we will close the good book on Karen and her kin...
Monday, 20 November 2017
I introduced you to this Christian Singer Songwriter earlier with the great Sweet Communion record, this is the first solo album she made way back in 1973. You get a good feel for the 70's-indebtedness of her songwriting style here, with all those beautiful 70s pop cliches we have heard so many times before. But they are incredibly well done. As might be expected this album is a bit more raw than Sweet Communion but still benefits from a remarkably adept production and arrangement.
The stunning song for Bobbi:
It's so nice how those strings carry the chords through, like big beautiful clouds following you down the countryside as you walk in a spirit full of joy.
Plenty of other goodies in here, in my opinion.
What a talented songwriter she was! And such a beautiful voice.
Saturday, 18 November 2017
Just to quickly review, Escoude played with the cellist Capon (4 Elements, Gousti) who I covered extensively in the past. Originally I got into him due to his involvement in the highly intellectual French chamber prog band Confluence, still one of my favourites. In addition, Escoude made other records with other artists, obviously, as can be seen in the database. Again mention should be made of the 1983 trio combo with Lockwood and Catherine, which I recently posted. This record came just before, and features a lot of Philippe Catherine-like invention on that gypsyish basis advertised in the title. He's playing with Olivier Hutman, Nicolas Fiszman, and famed drummer Jean-My Truong (Ergo Sum, Perception, Tangerine, Yochk'o Seffer, etc., did they have a shortage of percussionists back then in France?).
So this one is not quite as good in my opinion as the 1983 work but it's still at a very high level of musical quality, thankfully. Needless to say it's all instrumental. What I enjoy most about Christian is when he gets into his very introspective phases, thinking deeply about a particular jazz phrase or unusual chord and expanding it into its possibilities, meditating almost, mulling over this or that pretty turn, I guess similar to Catherine but unlike the latter's exploding amp, more inward-looking.
For example in his witness to Place Victor Hugo (16e arrondissement in Paris, look out for the dog poop as you circle the Egyptian obelisk carefully, and don't do it for too long, or some crabby old lady carrying a baguette invariably will yell at you for spending too much time staring at their stolen monuments, usually from Napoleon, as if Paris isn't 100% economically propped up by money coming in from incessant tourists and other naive visitors, believe me, I promised my wife I would never go back there, how romantic that experience was almost getting run over by zooming cars spewing out diesel exhaust in our faces as we step on their precious pavement, but how romantic can you be in a city in which restaurants treat like you a family of rabid hyena made of rotting meat:
Ah oui, la France: it's a love-hate relationship, just like Italy, isn't it? There is one thing I will say with no guilt or compunction whatsoever though, I've tried wines from all over the world, some of the best ever in days past, and I can honestly say French wine is crap for the price you have to pay. And the vintage system! I am not going to try to nail down in which year you have to buy a certain wine, it's too much work, too unreliable, too randomly arbitrary, and give the French way too much allowance for being hard to please. Oui, bring me to the guillotine, guys! And drop it as I smash a bottle of your Bordeaux on my chopped off head! I understand those blind taste tests in which oenophiles pick Chilean, Aussie, or US wines over the 'famous' French Chateaux... I totally understand. You can't argue with that kind of scientific objectivity. Et s'il vous plait n'ejacule pas dans mon vin, garcon! Ou pas de pourboire pour toi!!! Merci! What? Tip is already included here? Yeah no wonder, with service like this!! You know what, we'd never put up with this back home! Vous etes un fromage, vous-meme!
Sorry if I offended anyone. Returning to the record, I'll show you another fromage oops I mean track called Bibillou--
I like this of course because it reminds me of those 1976 glory days: Elements, with the great Capon... A little bit of that 70s magic beauty.
Both samples by Christian incidentally though not all the music is. Lucky for us French music is far superior to the wines.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
The number of luminaries here is quite astonishing as can be said by the tags next door to the right, but plus that, all of the following appear: Michael Naura, John Taylor, Peter Giger, Eberhard Weber, Stan Sulzmann, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, et al. Think of how many of these artists, perhaps all of them, have appeared in some album or another featured on this blog!!
Herbert Joos and Fourmenonly have a track written by the former called Count Down. It's a free jazz piece and will appeal to those who have a taste for that inchoate genre. Certainly the Daybreak album from his was a huge fan favourite here on this blog.
Michael Gibbs is one artist not previously mentioned whose work I've loved dearly due to its highly well written nature, particularly in Chrome Waterfall Orchestra and In the Public Interest. Or let's not forget the formidable work Just Ahead from 1972's Mike Gibbs Band, an album I've listened to all my life and keep on discovering more beauty in. (Unfortunately the other mid-70s album which was a homage to Shakespeare called Will's Power was quite disappointing for me). (I can post all the Mike Gibbs albums if there's interest.) He presents us here with three pieces, the first of which is the gorgeous Mother of the Dead Man by Carla Bley, which appeared earlier in the aforementioned live Just Ahead. The other two are his own compositions called Just A Head [sic] and Fanfare, which first appeared in Tanglewood 63, not a bad album, though not comparable to the previously mentioned 70s masterpieces.
As usual, there is a throwaway jazz number which is the Jim Hall Group's Body and Soul interpretation, and equally as usual, I have to write the same comments about the sheer excruciating boringness of ordinary jazz standards, the nightmare of having to hear them millions of times in one's lifetime, like Paul McCartney's grotesque Yesterday, etc., etc.
Then this nice big thanksgiving dinner closes out with the beautiful Volker Kriegel group and a composition by Eberhard Weber called Electric Blue-- not quite as strong a dessert as one would have liked unfortunately, since it turns into a very mushy free-for-all improvisation after about the two minute mark-- making the proportion of written material to wanker material about 1 to 100. And it's 18 minutes and 40 seconds long!!
FULL CREDITS AND SAMPLE:
A1 Fourmenonly - Count Down [Comp. by Herbert Joos]
Bass Clarinet, Flute – Wilfried Eichhorn
Drums, Flute – Rudi Theilmann
Engineer – Hans-Heinrich Breitkreuz
Piano, Flute – Helmut Zimmer
A2 Michael Gibbs Orchestra - Mother Of The Dead Man [by Carla Bley]
A3 Michael Gibbs Orchestra - Just A Head [by Mike Gibbs]
A4 Michael Gibbs Orchestra - Fanfare [by Mike Gibbs]
A2 to A4 Credits
Bass Guitar – Roy Babbington (tracks: A2 to A4)
Bass Trombone – Geoff Perkins (tracks: A2 to A4)
Concert Grand Piano – Dave MacRae (tracks: A2 to A4)
Conductor – Michael Gibbs (tracks: A2 to A4)
Drums – John Marshall (tracks: A2 to A4)
Engineer – Werner Münchmeyer (tracks: A2 to A4)
Piano, Organ – John Taylor (2) (tracks: A2 to A4)
Producer – Michael Naura
Production Manager – Karl-Heinz Schlüter
Saxophone, Flute – Brian Smith (tracks: A2 to A4), Ray Warleigh (tracks: A2 to A4), Stan Sulzmann (tracks: A2 to A4)
Trombone – Chris Pyne (tracks: A2 to A4)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Henry Lowther (tracks: A2 to A4), Kenny Wheeler (tracks: A2 to A4)
Vibraphone, Percussion – Frank Ricotti (tracks: A2 to A4)
Vocals – Norma Winstone (tracks: A2 to A4)
B1 Jim Hall Workshop Group - Body And Soul [comp. by who cares?]
Bass – Red Mitchell
Drums – Daniel Humair
Engineer – Günter Simon
Guitar – Jim Hall
B2 Volker Kriegel Workshop Group - Electric Blue [comp. by Eberhard Weber]
Cello – Peter Warren
Bass – Eberhard Weber
Drums – Joe Nay
Engineer – Hans-Heinrich Breitkreuz
Guitar – Volker Kriegel
Percussion – Peter Giger
Piano – John Taylor (2)
Saxophone, Piccolo Flute – Stan Sulzmann
Violin – Zbigniew Seifert
Monday, 13 November 2017
Mr. Mikkelborg was for some time in my favourite fusion band from Denmark of course, Secret Oyster (on the album Sea Son mostly, but also my favourite Astarte) whose sax player Karsten we've been following closely this last while.
Obviously he is famous and well known in Denmark as a jazz artist and composer. The bio from discogs:
Danish trumpet player, composer, conductor, band leader. Born in 1941.
He plays trumpet and flugelhorn since 1956, claiming to be an autodidact.
Professional musician since 1960. Also known for his usage of electric trumpet.
This early work from 1970 is interesting for its very advanced composition. He wrote the music, conducted the big band, and played trumpet on track B1.
He also played on the following amazing records: the 3 Entrance LPs, the one-off Alpha Centauri from 1981 (recommended), the two libraryish light fusions of the Iron Office franchise, plus many other LPs in conjunction with other jazz artists, in this period and following.
I think the 70s Entrance albums were the best of that lot.
The Fourth Movement from the Ashoka suite, called Peace:
The whole reminds me a lot of the advanced jazz composition we've heard before from Teo Macero or Charlie Mingus in his more creative and inventive sixties period.
Tons of stuff to admire in here.
Friday, 10 November 2017
I've tried to complete his discography in these pages because he made so much beautiful music, first of course with Secret Oyster, later on with his own solo stuff under the "Birds of Beauty" designation. In this album he plays music with his band whilst Hans Christian Andersen is read. The notes from the LP state, specifically: Frits Helmuth reading the fairy tale "Vinden fortæller om Valdemar Daae og hans Døttre (The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters)" by Hans Christian Andersen accompanied by the music of Karsten Vogel.
Thomas Clausen we knew from before, and he's on keys.
As usual, the lush and gorgeous, slightly melancholy music that was a hallmark of his in Secret Oyster and the other albums I've posted from him in the past reappear on this 1980 LP. You may find the talking a little distracting as I did, but the music is amazing.
Just check out the Prelude:
Equally beautiful is his gentle and tender epilogue, you shall see.
Whilst you might observe that the most Secret Oysterish tune here is the B2 no-talk track on Alchemy:
Alchemy indeed: auditory transmutations from gold, right?
The one disappointment is that the music isn't louder in the mix. Anyone have a program to remove talk and leave only music?
I could really use that here at home-- no, I don't mean because I'm married......
Apologies for being a little careless with the song starts and stops here & there. The problem is the tracks all run into each other throughout.
Wednesday, 8 November 2017
Look at that library cover! does it make you want to salivate? If not, don't read any further here...
Slowly but surely we're knocking down all the pins to finish up the Sposito discography-- note additional discography here (into new age territory again, apparently, hate that awful incense stink). This one is from a series in the late 80s called Strumentali, it's the middle one according to this, admittedly possibly incomplete database. I won't be surprised if the prices jack up for them as happened with the missing Gianni Marchetti albums: Iris, America, both never appearing for sale under 400 euros nowadays, after being featured in this blog. And there is little to no doubt that Marchetti stuff would be a pure waste of moolah, even his masterpiece Solstitium wasn't worth 200 euros in my humble opinion. On the other hand, my wife is willing to buy a pair of shoes for twice that price. Funny world, huh? Good thing there's no money left over for her after the records are all bought...
Remember it was a commenter who first mentioned the name of Sposito, god bless him.
(Incidentally I always wanted to thank the guy who mentioned singer-songwriter Colin Blunstone (in conjunction with French singer Olivier Bloch-Laine) because his first album was really remarkably fantastic, with the pure and gorgeous little gem called Her Song. And I was completely unaware of both LP and artist. Overall actually he is most similar to Nick Drake, both vocally, and melancholically. A great suggestion.)
Returning to the subject at hand, Gianni Sposito, both Denebola, disappointing, and the magnificent Cosmo were shared, followed by the stunningly gorgeous 80s soundtrack to Riflessi di Luce. (I've listened to the theme from that one literally hundreds of times and only got it 2 months ago. Incredible. Unfortunate that only 20 minutes from the original LP survive there.)
Track A2, called Zach, already hits it out of the ballpark for me:
Anyone can explain why the titles are apparently people's names (side a) and other unusual words (side b)? We've seen this in other libraries, notably the Oscar Rocchi ones. Btw the name of the record comes from an explorer as can be seen here.
But sadly, overall this record is not quite as strong as its predecessors here on the blog. Doesn't matter, the search will continue with regards to this highly underrated composer. Discography not yet complete or over...
Note we are lucky enough, again, to be privileged with the sound of a near mint to mint record, almost CD quality here...
There's nothing like that NM vinyl sound, so enjoy it!
Monday, 6 November 2017
Once in a while we turn to Xian singers for some stunning songwriting. That's the case here for sure.
Karen Lafferty (nice to see she's wikipedia) was a member of the Maranatha Singers who made a string of Christian albums in this decade starting in 1974. I'll start by quoting the wiki entry:
Karen Lafferty (born February 29, 1948) is an American Contemporary Christian musician from Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Lafferty graduated from Eastern New Mexico University and unsuccessfully attempted to join a Campus Crusade for Christ musical ensemble shortly after. Intending to pursue a career in secular music, she moved to southern California, soon beginning to perform at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. She toured the Netherlands as an opener for Children of the Day in 1973 and released her debut album on Maranatha! Music two years later. Following the release of her second album, Sweet Communion, she toured Europe as a headlining act.
While on tour, Lafferty noted how popular American music was, even though, for most professional American musicians, touring Europe was not financially viable. In response she founded a nonprofit, Musicians for Missions, in 1981, which sought to train young Christian musicians for mission tours where they could perform live shows. She later moved to Amsterdam to direct the organization.
Lafferty is the author of the praise and worship song "Seek Ye First", first released on a 1974 Maranatha compilation.
Of course I never heard the hymn in question before but now you can listen to everything obviously on youtube. A beautiful song you'll agree, but very derivative of seventies pop cliches, especially with that descending diatonic chord construction which was so popular back then, e.g. in the famous karaoke song "Have you Never been Mellow," or, I think, Ennio Morricone's theme song to "Once upon a time in the West."
In fact, referring back to the former song, she reminds me a lot of a Xian-imbued or born-again Olivia Newton-John (wouldn't that be nice, to literally have her born again into her youthful prime?). It also recalls to me the mid-seventies albums which Roberta Flack did e.g. Feel Like Making Love, with the studio diversions into progressive extensions. Musicianship and arrangements (by Jim Stipech) are just superb, so beautifully professional and haunting, with instruments that are quite unexpected popping up here and there: an accordion, a harp, or flute and english horn combination.
On this album, Sweet Communion, all songs save one were written by Karen. The music is very strong and inventive and altogether this one is an improvement over the first (Bird in a Golden Sky) in terms of the professionalism of the sound. It's clear the title track is the most beautiful, and very delicately so in a manner that could only have been achieved in this period in time:
Isn't that just amazing? Truly an underrated artist.
On the other hand I don't know anything about the former group Maranatha Singers, if anyone can provide a quick review please go ahead and comment.
Friday, 3 November 2017
More and even rarer from Renato Anselmi: 1988 Flower Library Album Antiche Civilta (i.e. civilizations)
A truly lost and shockingly progressive album from the famous unknown artist we presented second last post, Renato Anselmi (from Swiss Emphasis). In places this reminds me most of Third Ear Band's masterpiece MacBeth, which I hope everyone is well familiar with (as well as the bloody 1972 movie by rapist Roman Polanski of which it's the OST), though the acoustic ethnic component is less in evidence here. Despite this the blurb on the back actually says "A selection of music as played in the Roman [side a] and Greek Empires [side b]" which is a bit misleading since the advanced composition in parts could only have been accomplished by a very drunk and circused-up Roman, to my mind, exampli gratia, listen to the Hitchcockian Psycho opening to the Ides of March:
Another sample, videlicet the first track, gives you a sense of why the doom-laden dark music reminds me so much of the sonotractus to MacBeth:
Altogether a great and worthy addition to our library music libraries, and you can thank me for pulling this one off ebayus.com and allowing everyone a chance to hear more wonderful music from this maligned and neglected genre, at a cost that is not prohibitive, thankfully.
Sadly all compositions are quite brief, on the order of 2 minutes, so that with 14 we are left with barely a half an hour of music... too bad!
There's absolutely no doubt we can look forward to more music from this ne plus ultra musician in the future, & thanks Renato-- bitte Mr. Anselmi...
As well some more great library to come very shortly! Ergo everyone get excited...