Friday 29 January 2016

More Ch. Brull Library: H. Thieme's Themes in Beat from 1973 [CBW 660]

I will return to the April Orchestras in a little bit, in the meantime, this just in.  A wonderful gift from my library collector friend which is sure to enchant all those fans out there of which I know there are many.

Information, a little sparse, can be found here.  Not a cheap LP as you can see (average 225 USD), making it quite costly an act of benefaction.

Wednesday 27 January 2016

April Orchestra Part I: Vol.'s 31 to 40 [1978 to 1980]

These records all of the same pattern but different bright colors remind me so vividly of my childhood stamp collection...  Countries would put out pictures with varying background colours all of which we then had to gather.  Does anybody still indulge in such an apparently hopeless hobby?  

Well let's admit this hobby we have now is no less useless...

Volume 31 is a masterpiece in terms of easy listening, romantic, accessible compositions.  To me Dany's Love Song is just pure heaven, clearly evoking those blissful classic euro-seventies movies full of laughter, summer scenes, and tasteful nudity:

Compositions by Vasori (above track) and Caravelli.  This, as far as I can tell, was their 'magnum opus' since the quality of their compositions suffers both before and after.

Volumes 32 and 34 I posted in the preceding here.  They are highly recommended for fusion fans.

Volume 33 being classical-oriented is seemingly of little interest, but features the stunning Morricone.  Unfortunately-- despite being from 1976, His Desert of Tartars OST is completely forgettable, surprisingly, for this Italian genius.  All three soundtracks that were borrowed for this edition are actually easily available online.  Thus 33 not worth the purchase.

Volume 35 is fusion stolen from two easily accessible albums: Imán, Califato Independiente's Camilo del Aguila and  Pražský výběr's Thirst (truly a masterpiece!).  No interest in purchasing this.

Volume 36 is electronica written by Daniel Borreau and Francis Rimbert.  This kind of music drives me to distraction but I know boasts many fans out there.

Volume 37 was mentioned earlier as recycled music from Progres 2's masterpiece Dialog S Vesmiren and mastersmallerpiece's Combo FH's Veci.

Volume 38 features the amazing Jannick Top and has enough fusion for once to really drown out the complaints.  Wonderful, and recommended.  Another top album from the franchise, as they say in Hollywood.

Volume 39 returns to the romantic but very accessibly enjoyable soundtracky music of the volume 31.  Many good tracks.  Compositions by a host of artists I am not familiar with.  Check the database.

Truly stuck in the 80s now, like quicksand, with no hope of extricating oneself,  Volume 40 is sure to disappoint us a little, despite the involvement of the preceding duo of Vasori-Caravelli, now having abandoned most of their progressive thoughts.

Perhaps in later posts I will attempt to cover the earlier volumes to 30, though the boredom of slogging through so many tepid tracks is the true constraint here, or rate-limiting reaction as they say in chemistry.  Quick review though: the first ten volumes were squarely in the soundtrack-easy listening category, with many compositions to my surprise by Catherine Lara, well-known in progressive circles.  (It's important not to confuse these with the RCA Sound editions with same numbers but entirely different (mostly Italian) music, it only went up to no. 16.)  Subsequently in the late teens, as if having some odd rebel-against-the-parents stage, the editions feature funk-soul music from Philly, with band MFSB featuring.  Really bizarre.  Then by the twenties we are suddenly treated to modern classical artists blasting out a full orchestra all from the former Czechoslovakia-- why?  Who knows?  Notable is Vol. 28 with fusion from Jiri Stivin and Klapka posted on pnf before.  Not until the Volume 31 below do we return to earth for some 'normal' music.  What a relief.  So that series of AO's 23-30 (obv. except 28) is not only not available, but hopefully, never will be available.  Anyone who wants can request the editions already avail.

Monday 25 January 2016

Kratochvil and Svoboda in April Orchestra's Vol. 32 from 1979 [bonus Vol. 34 from 1980]

I had to listen to this again after the last post.   It's just outrageous how good the compositions can get on this little library record.  Once again, we have the whole history of human musical invention collapsed into one little 33 and a third vinyl disc, like a neutron star: modern compositions in the old wild-haired classical tradition, the black creations of syncopation and rhythm and those oh so emotional flatted blues notes (the 3rd, the 7th, the satanic 5th) from jazz, the warmth of 20th c. pop, the energy of electric instruments anonymously devised by some crazy inventors who thought 'why can't we plug an acoustic instrument into a high voltage outlet and turn it up loud to see what it sounds like...' and the world was never the same again.

I implore you to drop your jaw upon hearing the piano creativity of Svoboda's Reminiscence '80 part ii:

Kratochvil's Planantissimo clearly harks forward to his work with Jazz Q:

Later his Monsieur, Moi Pas Flirter (which is followed by a companion Oui, monsieur, OK pour le flirt track at the end-- brilliant naming!) brings such an emotional resonance to the textures of the instruments, with the vibrato of the synths in the background playing unusual chord movements to an acoustic guitar tune (the chick?), which is taken up by a wonderful electric guitar later on (the stud?)-- it just makes me want to weep over the loss of this music today:

Unbelievable.  And there is not a bad track on this entire record.  As I said before it was a shock to me when I found out, after an entire adulthood spent listening to American jazz and fusion, that after a slight delay Europeans mastered the style and took it far forward in some ways, even more of a shock to hear that behind the iron curtain, in countries in which it was an utterly forbidden thing to play or even listen to, jazz and fusion flowered into such beautifully spectacular and unforgettable masterworks of beauty.

Check the full information here.

, the much more uneven Vol. 34 which features ultra-famous Jiří Stivín (two of whose tracks are well worth hearing), more (slightly less impressive) Svoboda pieces, and three astonishing, drop your heart tracks from one Petr Klapka.  (Ah ha-- it turns out we know him well, he played bass and composed for Mahagon, featured here before!)  Mentioned are the outstanding pieces.  Not to be mentioned are the terribles, which wholly a third of this 33 is blighted with.  But listen, if you get discouraged, to Klapka's Sale Temps pour une valse:

Or his even more atonal Clopin Klapka:

If this gentleman did any records of his own I beg you to let me know!!

I should also draw your attention to the amazing Vol. 37-- which is really just recycled music from the fabulous albums of Progres 2 and Combo FH as well as two short excerpts from 1980 progressive fusion masterwork Capricornus by Luboš Andršt.

Saturday 23 January 2016

More Czech fusion: Mezinárodní Sdružení Pro Novou Akustickou Hudbu: 1989's Ornament

Will it ever end?  The boundlessly inventive fusion compositions?  

Firstly, in the words of my friend:

"This is all I need to say:

Indeed, if you're not familiar with at least one of those names already you probably shouldn't be reading this...
"International association for new acoustic music," is the overlengthy name of the band btw.  Does it matter when the music is this good?  Consider the philosophical tone which chamber composition accords to their "Allegory:"

Obviously this is similar to all the Eastern fusion along the lines of M. Urbaniak, Impulse, the great Jazz Q (of whom Martin was a member), the Czech Naima I posted earlier, etc.  But it's incredibly interesting.  

Next consider the charming and bouncy track translated as "The Nerd" with its clear classical references:

Incidentally Martin Kratochvil did an April Orchestra, viz., number 32, which is just simply phenomenal in terms of its very advanced, occasionally atonal progressive compositions and energetic sound, along with compatriot Milan Svoboda.  (The latter was a member of another great outfit more in the big band style, the Pražský Big Band -- all albums recommended too!).  For those who need these I can up.  Easily available already, I believe, particularly on soviet groove sites -- god bless 'em.

Again many thanks to my friend for this little treasure.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

Joanne Grauer's Mystical Lady, year unknown [1978?]

Now that we are older and more open minded we can accept these utterly uncompromising artists who felt they had to demonstrate their range in a record like this: one song is straight jazz, one is fusion, one is experimental piano progressive, with modern composition, some songs are Xian, extreme Jesus-loving psalms.  Obviously, the critical apparatus of the time would have, and probably did, savage such daring-- with their monochromatic vision of what rock or pop artists 'should do,' that is, choose a style and stick to it.  Even Led Zep were attacked for mixing folk with their hard rock, which is really hard to believe nowadays when you appreciate the beauty of their acoustic numbers...

Joanne was a jazz pianist from California who had a long career as such before making a couple of records in the seventies that really branched out her style.  The one featured today was first released in the US presumably with a different cover, year unknown, and then resuscitated in Japan some years back-- thank god for humanity's 'cultural patrimony.'

There is a presumably autobiographical song called "Mystical Lady" that I've listened to hundreds of times since I received this from a friend and it never ceases to amaze me, because she put her whole soul into the song, and it fills me with a kind of ethereal, almost spiritual fascination, due partly to its great beauty, partly to what she is evoking in the lyrics:

Reading the liner notes, we find this was a poem by guitarist James Dutch about Joanne herself, which she set to music.  Some of these notes were written by her friend Judee Sill.   (Given Judee passed away in 1979 of an OD, we can safely say this record was released in the period from 1976 - 1978, closer to the end probably.)

For funky fusion we have "Inside Outside."  Notice the astonishing chromatic riff going up and down that shows up on the recap of the theme at the end of the track played by an unusual electric instrument.

Again conferring with the liner notes, it turns out it was a Fender Rhodes piano with a 'ring modulator.'  The more progressive oriented composition are much longer and I won't upload those, you can discover them for yourselves.

An amazing mystical lady.  She put her heart into this album and it really deserves to be better known.

Monday 18 January 2016

Kernbeisser's Brokdorfer Kantate from 1979 [Büdi Siebert]

From discogs:
Basically the same band as HerrGottSax, known for just the one album, a curious 1979 Polit-rock conceptual oddity which is largely the project of Büdi Siebert using lyrics by Peter Paul Zahl.

Album information can be found here.   First of all, Budi Siebert is responsible for some of the most beautiful advanced German fusion that can be heard with his two records Hmm in 1983 and HerrGottSax's Seibold Seiergesichts Sündige Saxofone from 1981.  These are strongly recommended to all progressive fans and I can upload them both if requested.  His discogs bio goes as follows:

Büdi Siebert is a German multi-instumentalist, composer and producer, he plays reeds, flutes, percussion, keyboards and guitar. He has been active since the early 1970s, was a producer for Eigelstein Musikproduktion, and from 1998 to 2003 he was teacher for film music at the Filmakademie in Ludwigsburg.

This record, his first presumably, is quite an astonishing mixture of progressive classical pop and jazz compositions, mostly sung, unlike the instrumental tracks on the later material.  Lyrics are by Peter Paul Zahl, who made a progressive album of his own that is recommended-- kinda.  Not that many pleasant memories of that one for myself maybe, since it was, I think, political folk rock.

As a sample of the kind of sax-drenched chamber music we hear on this particular expedition have a listen to a representative track, definitely hinting at the superb compositions that would later appear on Hmm and HerrGottSax:

What I love the most about this record is that flows from beginning to end as a seamless whole, like an oratorio conceived all in one bout with the same feeling and tone throughout.  Really quite a masterpiece, so why so forgotten?

Saturday 16 January 2016

Best of Hawai'i: Greg Yoder is the Dreamer of Life [1976, recommended] and Golden Throat [197?]

I can't share Golden Throat due to its rarity, but I will excerpt three songs (the best ones, frankly) so you can form your own opinion about it.  First of all, continuing in the vein of songs about "Stupid record companies" and their elusive, hard to get contracts, we have Golden Throat's bluegrassy Contract Song, presumably a celebratory ditty:

Worse songs than this one are played every hour on the radio nowadays, and were, at that time.  But
my favourite ballad is a simply gorgeous and tender track with ethereal chord changes and fifth - sixth (?) harmony vocals.  The melody that jumps up by a fifth is the unusual aspect to this one.   (Rachell Cypriano is the female vocalist's name, and I thought she had an entry in the Home Grown series.)

Whilst the band is clearly showing off its AOR - progressive knowledge in the opening to the freaky instrumental jam-packed African Sham:


Moving on to the next entry, Greg Yoder was a San Fran man who moved to Hawai'i in the early seventies and after achieving some local fame in the Waikiki area, recorded this one-off LP full of gentle meditative and happy should've-been hits.

"I got a wino father who ain't got no dollar but shure 'nuff he got soul,
He's sorry for the things he did, sorry for the way he said, 'this will never go:'
He's a dreamer of life, still got a long way to go
Gotta get it together before his time runs low..."

And I think we all know the kind of man he is referring to here in this beautifully penned tune.  It's a song that almost seems made to be sung out loud in the car, especially that na-na-na outro part, preferably I guess a jeep or convertible with the top down.

The Golden Lady tune shows his skills at excellent chord changes:

It's quite astounding how the chorus, backed up by those cloud-like strings, changes chords in that descending chromatic pattern and then ends on such a completely unexpected major chord. (From Bflat down to A ?)

So please enjoy Greg-- that beautiful groovy dreamer of life, and do seek out his compatriots Golden Throat...

Thursday 14 January 2016

Last of Home Grown Hawai'i with installment IV [1980]

Look at the wonderful cover!

It's the last of the series, but let's get this over with, quickly...  As usual assorted songs about smoking pot and laying back and beautiful tropical scenery, quite often both together.

Track B4: Joan Komatsu and Lorene Godfrey - Kahalu'u

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Home Grown Hawai'i III [1978]

It's not clear how much more of this Pacific propaganda music we all can take, but there are two more quick entries to have a listen to.  Though clearly well-intentioned, it might be that the employment of amateur or unknown musicians here detracts.

Track B3: Miles Lee and the Hawaiian Electric Band - Blue Pacific Nights give you an idea, bear in mind this is a mixed bag with folk, bluegrass, etc.:

Not the kind of souvenir the progfan would have liked from this wonderful bunch of islands.

Monday 11 January 2016

Dale Jacobs Group's Cobra in 1979

Inevitably we cannot expect a better album here in 1979 in comparison to its predecessor and our low expectations are accordingly fulfilled.  

Note the wonderful chord changes in the last track which to me recalls Lyle Mays in his 1986 solo album, called "Almost Home:"

As before, RIP Dale Jacobs...

Saturday 9 January 2016

what's it to ya (USA, 1975)

Look at the happy foursome ridin' in their great big huge metal Pontiac with shark fins on the back that went 2 miles per gallon but who cares, the newly-built interstates were empty and the beaches were surrounded by woods and tall grasses and the white sands sprinkled with huge seashells and horseshoe crabs and with a beautiful blonde in a bikini you could spend the long stretched out day there sunburning yourself to future melanoma in the endless summer and never see another human being-- the closest person probably on the opposite rim of the Atlantic...

Back then, that year before the bicentennial, what did we care for anything...  what did we know about how life would change, how the world would slide, how could we have known, then, that those were the best days we humans as a whole would ever know...

But lie back and play track A4's gorgeous breezy three-part harmony on your monster eight-track deck:

That beautiful Southern easy kind of feelin' just takes it home when the gee-tar starts to play...

Dig the progressive sounds that start off side b, that great synth / electric guitar riff that heats up the tune redhot till the boys take the harmony up like another Apollo launch off Cape Canaveral:

Who could have known that we wouldn't go on to settle bell-bottomed platform-shoe people on the moon in a colony, and take it on as the next, the 51st, extraplanetary state, for the United States of the Solar System?  Back in those days when the US of A ruled the planet earth and its moon...  But with the Trumpeter man in charge, we'll get back there-- right, big D???  All we have to do is get rid of all them Mexicans and Muslims, and we got a chance again, y'all...  right, D?  hey I got a great idea! let's build a wall around the whole middle east too, just like our best friends in Israel did for the West Bank-- to keep 'em out of the rest of the world!!  what? what's that?  I'm fired? and Gary Busey got the job?   And Omarosa is secretary of state?  Aw, dang it...

Thursday 7 January 2016

Waterfall's beautiful Beneath The Stars from the British Empire or rather United Kingdom in 1981

Look at that classic cover!
In this late year for Britannia straddling the new wave divide it would have been a shock to hear a record harking back to Renaissance and the Strawbs' folk prog style whose popularity peaked a decade earlier, and surely they could never have hoped for commercial success... and quite obviously they didn't care, and that uncompromising attitude is exactly what we recognize and celebrate today: for this record is plentiful and fecund with gorgeous songs that would have been much more appreciated before-- many many years before.  Consider the evocative "You are golden like the sun and silver like the moon" which reminds me so much of my youngest son with his light blonde hair and dark blue moods:

Whilst the addition of a fiddle adds a Comus-like dimension to the Old Lady's Song:

The unique aspect of this song is the descending chord progression which, in the chorus, is gorgeously echoed by the "gone away, how can I say, he's gone away."
They released two other records before this one that are sadly disappointing in side by side comparison, possibly due to the strength of this particular one.  Anyone who needs them can request below.
Many many thanks again to my great dear friend who '(re)discovered' this record for myself, and thereby for the world at large.

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Dale Jacobs Group Live at Puccini's in 197?

A stunningly original and well-written set of fusion, keyboards-based instrumental compositions by this unique Canadian talent.  

From the discogs bio:
Vancouver-based keyboardist, author and producer of film-scores, radio specials and live performance sound. Dale Jacobs is also a designer of electronic equiment, truly fascinated with the world of synthesizer.

Sadly, there are only two records from him from this period both of which will appear in these pages-- I am ignoring the unlikely to be listenable 1989 album.  
(Plus, as it turns out, one hard-to-find and mysteriously rare LP called "Tropical Show" from 1978-- it will be interesting to see if that ever surfaces.)

There is some argument as to what year this Live at Puccinis was released.  When you listen to it, I am myself a bit sceptical that it could have been created and recorded in 1971 considering how advanced the sounds are with a full complement of fusion's best tricks in the tracks.  Nonetheless the costumes of the artists on the cover clearly look early 70s.

One of my favourites languidly creates a long and wonderfully evocative phrase with the synths and is called "It's Only the Perfect Love," it seems a bit indebted to the old jazz standard "My one and only love," but of course goes light years beyond it:

And this god-given inspired performance closes out with one last look at summer, long a distant memory for us here in the frigid, snow-snafu'ed Northern hemisphere:


Sadly, Dale died of lung cancer in the year 2000 in California.  Requiescat in pace; another genius forgotten by his companions on earth...

Sunday 3 January 2016

Home Grown II [1977]

Slightly more professionally recorded tracks highlight this next instalment in the compendium of Hawaiian artists celebrating their island homes.  Remember, this series was in service of the habitat for humanity charity "Habilitat" which explains the wonderful ads and T-shirts in the pictures above.

Brothers Blend's "Children of the Island:"

Nohelani & Cypriano's soulful track "Lihue:"

Friday 1 January 2016

Olomana from Hawai'i, Like a Seabird [1976], And so we are [1977]... Happy New Year!

These guys play a delicate but beautiful CSNY-like folk with dual acoustic guitars and lots of peaceful easy feelin'.  The addition of what I thought to be a mellotron in track A5, from the rarer second album, made me sit up in my chair, and laugh unintentionally out of sheer surprise:

Our prog-angel the Holy Mellotron turned out to be a string trio on scanning the lyrics sheet unfortunately.

And there are lots of treats on the first, gorgeously-covered Seabird album too to discover.

From discogs a brief bio:

The original Olomana was a duo consisting of Jerry Santos and Robert Beaumont [who wrote most, but not all, of the music here -Ed.]
Beaumont passed away in 1982. Presently Olomana consists of Jerry Santos, Haunani Apoliona, Wally Suenaga, and Willy Paikule.

Note there is a third record from 1980 which I will listen to someday.

Mahalo to these great Hawaiian artists!