Wednesday 31 January 2018

Aussie Jeannie Lewis: Free Fall through Featherless Flight (1973) and Tears of Steel (1976)

I love that 2nd cover, just so wildly different.  And the upside down foot on the verso of her first!  Great concept.  Oh the creativity of those long ago days!

The first album which is really just SSW pop-rock with relatively little in the way of progressive moves, can be zoomed through relatively quickly, though a heartbreakingly titled track called Fasten Your Wings with Love stands out:

Listen to how she ascends to the summit of that high C in the course of the chorus a la Bianca Castafiore, high enough to shatter the uppermost glass windows of the burj khalifa.  Quite awe-inspiring vocal cords there.

There is nothing here to prepare you for her 1976 double album, which doesn't just dip its toes into progressive rock, it takes a long bath in it, though unfortunately not consistently throughout.
When I first heard the song called "Face" I really almost fell off my chair, this time, hearing its abrupt changes from one minute to the next:

Almost like a cubist version of a crooner's song.  This was written by another Aussie called Peter Boothman.  I thought for sure the artist herself had written the lyrics:

If we peeled off the layers 
would you be afraid to appear
with a mask made of clay

You can see that the songs are selected from a very wide range of sources, including Graham Lowndes (note that he made two highly recommended folk albums in those days), Jimmy Webb (our old favourite the Moon is a Harsh Mistress, not as good as Radka Toneff's however), Paul Williams, David Bowie, etc., but I'll let you discover these riches for yourself.

Suffice it to say you can look forward to hitting the title track: Tears of Steel - 14 minutes long, with "lyrics" by Pablo Neruda.

Album is dedicated to her father.  Thanks Jeannie...
More to come from  her.

Monday 29 January 2018

Back to Anders Koppel with the 2-LP Album from 1987

When I saw this one hasn't been available thus far, digitally, I thought I better grab it.  On the one hand his 1977 work was magnificent, on the other hand, we know he headed down a bit of a dark side street in his Bazaar phase.

So there's a lot of material here to slog through, not all of it good of course, many a promising composition turns silly halfway through as if we were watching one of those 1960s Hollywood comedies in which everyone starts running around in circles followed by a small firetruck.  I personally can't stand dixieland music or simple blues and it drives me crazy to have to listen to either one.  On top of that, on side b the tracks run into each other which caused me a great deal of frustration and grief.

First track is called Indgang:

Pay attention to the long tracks, of which there is one on each of sides c and d, they are well worth hearing.

Note that all regular instruments are played by Koppel, which is admittedly rather impressive-- especially since both electric guitar and keyboards are equally highly proficient.

A collection of musical pieces used for films, theater and commercials.

Friday 26 January 2018

Ken Narita's 1972 album

Another fabulous pop-rock Japanese SSW monster discovered by my friend, let those blissful finds keep on a-truckin'...  Narita-san seems to have made a few back in the day, at least one other album preceding this was disappointing for me and very simple in composition compared to the intricacy in evidence on this parcel, which in contrast is colored in by some really jaw-dropping arrangements in the standard seventies-pop manner.

The song about "green" really grew on me, with its repeated melancholy minor verse resolving into a Carpenters-like chorus (Superstar, maybe?), surrounded by an outrageously well charted string section, with harp tinkling and electric guitar soloing all over the place around the singing.

 A few songs are just as good.  Similar, really, to School Band, but less dynamic.
Great little gem.  Thanks a million!

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Buki-Yamaz from 1975 to Live 1978 (new rip of first)

I think we all know this light fusion band from Denmark which again featured some Latin sounds added (as was the case with Tequila, or even Dopo Jam), a proper rip was requested for their first and accordingly is presented today; for me the best work was the second though, which had a bit of an edge in the compositional beauty dept.:

(The second track, called Rainflower.)

Note that Aske Bentzon, who played the flute so perfectly throughout these works, made a great solo album subsequently, called Badminton, check it out: it fits in nicely as a continuation of the oeuvre of this band.  Kasper Winding, the drummer of Buki, is his half-brother apparently.  Our old favourite Kenneth Knudsen (Anima, Coronarias Dans, Entrance, and Secret Oyster) played synths on the first album, but disappeared by the second.

Aske travels to paradise:

Monday 22 January 2018

Cardboard Village's 1973 Sea Village

Let's go with a total change in direction today.  I recall one commentator mentioning what a relief it is to hear a bit of gentle acoustic folk as a break from all the fusion here.

Relatively advanced songwriting in the folk dept. is featured on this 1973 one-off from US band. 
B6's gentle Three-dollar Hat:

Saturday 20 January 2018

Danish Bazaar in Live 1978, Gibbon Jump, Nimbus, and Live 1987

From discogs:

Danish worldmusic/folk band formed 1977 as Peter Bastian, Anders Koppel and Mehmet Ozan collaborated on the soundtrack for the 1977 movie "Aftenlandet". They were later joined by Flemming Quist Møller. After the first album "Live" Ozan left the group that after several stand-in's were used remained a trio. The style is folkmusic from the Balkans, Africa and Brazil.
In May 2012 the band announced they would disband after the summer concerts.

So yes of course this is highly ethnically propulsed and whether or not you enjoy it depends on your liking or perhaps tolerance for ethnic incursions in music.  I personally am left cold by the tablas plus sitars and other drony sounds that seem to stay in the same key or chord for way too long like a pungent incense stick reek that gets on your nerves in those third world stores full of woven handmade naturally sourced crap.  And I think most of us who live in the Northern hemisphere are getting just a bit tired of those ethnic incursions if you know what I mean, at the risk of being politically incorrect, with the notable exception of the majority of our political leaders who make those condescending fatherly decisions for the rest of us.

On the track called Zyrak from the 1980 work it's our old prog friend the tritone of course that provides the plaintive sound of the starting chord (i.e. E on top of a B flat chord), which later cleverly resolves to a key of F major thanks to the peregrinations of a sexy sax blowing hard, getting more and more aroused-- oops, he just got fired from his job for that:

I suppose what I would most complain about in these albums is the simplicity of the ethnic fusion, such a far cry from the standout Matao for example, or from the intricate inventions of my old favourite artist and also favourite point of reference Georg Lawall.

From Nimbus, the 2nd track is passable, again recalling the Samla Mammas crew:

I threw in the 1987 Live album which is really just Koppel playing supermarket hammond sounds with rhythm section backing, in a very random and all over the place overdrawn set of classical-themed compositions, as if he were trying to entertain a delegation of Turkish nougat dealers wearing fez's too low over their ears.  He could do much better than this.  And more Koppel to come, soon...

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Joachim Sherylee and Jacky Giordano albums, by request

There's a ton of music here to go through, or perhaps to slog through, and in no way could I describe myself as an expert on library records, there are many out there of course who know far more than me.  All I can really do is present some of my favourite tracks from these albums and hope you haven't heard some of these before.  Here's his probably incomplete discography.  Many albums as usual are hidden under aliases, such as the requested Joachim Sherylee ones.

I suppose 1974's Challenger is the best known from him, but I didn't think it was the best, though the track called See Off shows his compositional abilities in the dreamiest of moods:

An earlier album called Rhythmes et Melodies, perhaps his first release (?) from 1973, I thought was simply average, disappointingly lacking anything too strong to cling to.  It's not included below.

For funk fans though the years 1975 to 1978 were his golden age, with just a never ending series of dynamic and interesting beats topped by that beautiful fuzzy organ plus guitar sound.  Not so much progressive composition, but 1977's Music Report just knocked me out, reminding me most of the famous April Orchestra album by Puccio Roelens: dynamic and well-written 70s funk instrumentals.  What could go wrong?  The gorgeous title track of Music Report:

Well, what went wrong is that electronic music in the late 70s beat up the funkosphere, so that following the 2 organ albums, Giordano jumped on the 'simple electronic' bandwagon of Jean-Michel Jarre where musical simplicity and atrocious repetition in the style of Etudes for Children was valued.  I include here the later albums Electronic, Sequences, and Paysages 2.  Here and there though the great composer could still shine brightly with a beautifully written complex track like Wind of Sun:

Unfortunately most of that album (Electronic) was written by Benoit Hutin, who is noticeably inferior.

I want to save some last words for my favourite Giordano album which is Paysages 1. This is cowritten with someone unknown to me called Paul Baile who went on to make the third in the series (anyone know if it's worth pursuing?)

It presents a completely different style of music, the A.R. Luciani / Milan Pilar school of melded pop - classical composition, but with the utmost delicacy and just exemplary composing acumen and imagination.  Is it the combination of the two that worked so well?  Distinct to the remainder of the Giordano oeuvre the instrumentation involves harp, flute and other chamber instruments.  Thus Glistening Dream is representative:

How to explain?
So the search for the most beautiful music carries on.

I forgot this excellent one:

Monday 15 January 2018

The missing Entrance: 1984's Palle Mikkelborgs Journey To...

When I saw this one was missing from the Entrance discography I had to get it.
Compositions here are all by Palle.  I will refer you back to this post for some of his lengthy story.  There is obviously less fusion to dig into, more slapstick 80s digitalese, given the late year, but here and there flashes of the old brilliance:

The last track, which turned out to be quite gorgeous with its choir plus orchestra ambition (remember Thijs Van Leer's Pedal Point?\) is called A Simple Prayer and it's based on words by St. Francis.  Rereading them today it all seems so outrageously quaint considering the mores of our more advanced times:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace...
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon,
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope...

I believe that for the millenial twitterati today, if you replace everything the Saint said with its opposite ("opposite talk" as my kids call it with their friends) then everything works out perfectly:

Grant that I not console as much as be consoled [by professional disaster specialists]
to understand as to be understood [anti-vacciners especially]
to love as to be loved [like the Kardashians]
for it is in receiving that we give [right Jeff Bezos?]
and it is in being born that others die [in faraway wars]
to eternal life [those life extension pills should be here any day for those silicone valley venture capitalists who will be able afford them]

Yes, we have come a long way from those Christian prayers, haven't we?  It's amazing what progress we make, as a society.

Saturday 13 January 2018

Stan Samole's Beauty's Song by request, Florida 1981

Continuing on with the requests here for the time being, this record came a bit late in 1981 with respect to the golden age of fusion which produced for example Watercourse Way by Shadowfax (to which this music bears a resemblance if you remove the electric components).

This artist made other albums later in the CD era, noteNote the home page.  It goes without saying that for us, this original from the 70s won't be equaled by the later work.  Others, of which the artist will be one, might disagree, obviously.

It also recalls the Friesen albums of which we amassed so many in the past, particularly with the importation of Eastern music elements.  In fact the scripture-like buddhist or hindu poem on the back states:

The wave subsides and the wave rises,
The flower withers and the flower blossoms.
There is no end to human wants
And human achievements.
Nothing is permanent and nothing is fleeting.
Then for whom shall we cry?
Whom shall we invoke
with a new thought and new form?
Everything eventually blossoms.

--Sri Chinmoy

The first and title track is both representative and remarkable:

And note the side-long track on the second called Waves wherein the musicians plug in their instruments with a little bit of voltage, gratifyingly.

Many thanks to the one who requested this priceless beauty... A nice break from troubled times I would say. Sadly short LP, though.

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Anders Koppel ‎– Aftenlandet & Regnbuefuglen (1977)

From Wikipedia:

Anders Koppel (born 17 July 1947 in Copenhagen) was a co-founder in 1967 of the rock group Savage Rose. From 1976 to 2012 he was a member of the trio Bazaar. He plays in the trio Koppel-Andersen-Koppel which includes his son, saxophone player Benjamin Koppel. Koppel has twice received the Danish film award Robert for best film score (1994 and 1996). His first daughter Sara Koppel is an animator and artist, and the second daughter Marie Carmen Koppel is a gospel, soul, and jazz singer.

Koppel has composed music for eight ballets for the New Danish Dance Theatre and music for more than 150 movies, 50 theatrical plays and three musicals. He has also composed more than 90 works for classical ensembles, chamber music and 20 concertos, among them two saxophone concertos and four marimba concertos.

He played the piano as a child with his father, composer Herman D. Koppel, and later clarinet with several television and concert appearances. He began playing the organ in 1966.

This early album from him features a very eclectic mix of folk, some classical composition, mixed with fusion, perhaps reminiscent of (Swedes) Kebnekajse.  On the other hand, it's not very much like the lighter ethnic fusion which he later produced with the band Bazaar-- whose first few albums I highly recommend.

I've always loved the Samla Mammas-like sound of the track called Toget:

Sunday 7 January 2018

Philippe Caillat's Fire Brigade, by request

Advanced and angular electric guitar-based fusion along the lines of the popular Claude Barthelemy (Jaune et Encore, etc.).  An earlier album called French Connection, Dirty Rats, is highly recommended as well.  I might as well throw it in here for those who don't have it.

Wednesday 3 January 2018

Jochen Schrumpf ‎'s Saguitarius plus some later Ceddo material

From discogs:

German jazz guitarist (born 26/11/1952), resident in Dortmund. Apart from his own band Ceddo, he's also played with: Bescay, Cape Coast Syndicate, Human Steps, Kollektiv, Missus Beastly, and many others.

Of course he was especially brilliant in the first eponymous album of Ceddo with its crazy cosmic psychedelic weirdness, and I'm sure everyone here already has a copy.  Though they went on to make a few more records, they were all of diminishing strength unfortunately and the later we travel ahead from 1979 the more disappointing they became for me.  So already by 1982, the solo album Saguitarius [sic] tends to follow a very basic and light template, one which has been followed so many times by so many others before as we all know so well.  As well the album is almost entirely acoustic, which will disappoint the fusion fan.  Some tracks are recycled from the Ceddo catalogue, like Nano Nano.  An Acoustic version of Plicker Plocker (why the childlike names?), which appears on Step by Step as the conclusion, gives you an idea:

In the later albums the diminishing rate of returns overwhelms me totally, though here and there we can hear some flashes of brilliance shine like fireworks, perhaps emanating from a very distant city.  In another country.  One that exists in the imagination, perhaps.