Monday 30 July 2018

Tom Pohlman's magical Prayer for John, USA 1970

A mystically beautiful folk record from 1970 from a one-off artist called Tom Pohlman (actually quite similar to the Entourage-related Bob Brown I just posted) thematically addressed to John. (See below for info.)

If you click on the first link there above this sentence you'll notice there's a record available to you for purchase, in the amount of 1600 dollars.  The lowest it sold for apparently on discogs was in the 700s.  So really, be prepared for the fury of your wife.  Or, instead, you can just follow this blog and save yourself a whole load o' cash.  I remember long ago reading Tom Hayes saying that albums described for example on popsike or record collector's guide as 'superb loner folk or psych' really just boil down to simple songs with vocals on acoustic guitar with nothing progressive to get us excited about.  Well this record really does fit the bill here.  Consider how beautiful the instrumental ST opener to the second side is:

The Ganges' soaring emotional grace and beauty just left me speechless:

It's a shame the vocals were so badly recorded (on what is a private pressing I guess) it's very hard to tell what he's saying.

Can you believe it?  After so many albums hunted for, caught and bagged, eviscerated and set up on the wall as trophies?

Thanks be to all those who help in the quest, as always... Please, I beg you, don't let the flow of beautiful gems ever end.... that would surely break my heart... 
(though have the opposite effect on my family...)

PS. Note the following information clearly contemporaneous from this post:

1970 folk music recorded in the Baltimore area, including musicians Tom Pohlman, Bill Campbill, Howie Bloom, Mike Parloff, Jim Queen, Mark Seidelson, and Janet Miller. Corner and edge wear, splits beginning in about 3 places, light rings front and back...

A Prayer for John (U. of Md. Diamondback) by Dave Bourdon 

Tom Pohlman is looking for the right girl. In that way, perhaps, he's no different than any other guy on campus. 
What sets Pohlman's search apart from others is that while he has met the girl he seeks, he does not know her name, anything about her personality or background. In fact, he knows only one thing about her. She is a human being. 
Pohlman met her while walking back to his dorm room. Crossing the mall, he spotted her crying underneath a tree. 
"When 1 saw her," he recalls, "it seemed like the whole tree was crying, too. I went over and said, 'Either you have a very bad cold or you're crying'...she said she was crying and I asked what the matter was. She said 'you wouldn't understand' and I said maybe I would. 
"Then she told me her brother had just been killed in Vietnam. 
"It really set me back. I sat down and said that perhaps I did understand a bit because my father had died last June." 
Pohlman spent about five minutes comforting the girl. Finally, he says, "I asked her if she was religious and she said yes. I asked her if it would be prying if I asked her brother's name and she said it was John. I told her I'd say a prayer for John." 
The chance meeting was still preying on Pohlman's mind that night. An amateur songwritier, he took his guitar, pencil and paper and walked to the floor stairwell. In half an hour he had composed a soft ballad intitled "A Prayer For John." 
But when he woke the next morning, he realized he "could not use it unless it was all right with the girl. It was a personal thing even if it didn't mention any names. It was as much her song as it was mine." 
The search began. Pohlman posted notices in every girls' dorm asking "the girl who was crying for John" to contact him. 

He also advertised in the Diamondback. For his efforts, Pohlman has thus far received false alarms and prank calls. 

At this moment, then, the fate of Pohlman's song is in limbo. Although he is quite opposed to the war, the song has no political overtones for several reasons. Essentially, he says, the song was meant to mourn the death of a human being, to express the sorrow of a close death, whether by war or any other cause. He says it best, "John is a human being. That's all John is. That's all I know about him." Another reason for his political abstention is that "perhaps the girl has feelings about the war. I'm sure she wouldn't like to hear he died for nothing." 
Pohlman still has hopes of finding the lost girl, but he realizes his chances are dimming. "But mainly," he says, "I hope she's not crying anymore." 
published in The Crescent student newspaper, November 21, ...~

Friday 27 July 2018

Back to Swiss Sisyphos with their long-awaited first album, Way to Express, from 1980

I reviewed these Swiss prog rockers before.  They are most notable for the fact they continued producing records from this original one in 1981 all the way down to the present day, with apparently the same lineup, albeit making use of a great deal of recycling.

The instrumental opening of A Rebel is Not the Devil, despite one annoying skip, is simply superb:

As before some of the harder rocking bluesier tracks are a little paint-by-numbers in the hair metal style with the commonest electric guitar cliches of solos.  Still, there are enough oddball chord changes and unique licks to make this quite an enjoyably spent 2/3 of an hour.  As Caesar would have approved: "Rockituri te salutant!"

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Whiplash's Getting to Know Us from 1980, USA

As the fortune teller predicted, we now switch away from the jazz and fusion of the past summer to return to our roots, US-style prog along the lines of Ariel - Perspectives, Spaces - Border Station, Jester, or the much beloved Canadian Machines have Landed, etc.

But similar to the case with Luna Sea where side a was more simplistic and commercialized and side b more driven in the progressive fusion direction, we really have just half an album here.  For those looking for the wonderful banging of a rock rhythm section and dying again for the electric excitement of amplified guitars, this is anyways a blissful change.  Consider the last part of Fugitive (A Suite in Three Movements):

Pretty good, right?

The information here suggests the band only made this LP, not so surprisingly.  Checking the credits on the verso scan makes it clear the other entry in the discogs database is a mistake.

Monday 23 July 2018

Gabriel Jonáš, Karel Růžička and Emil Viklický ‎in Klávesová Konkláva from 1978

I love the overdoing of the accents, like those millennial females who go overboard with the caked on makeup and thick brown painted eyebrows...  Not sure if y'all are sick of the slavova fusionova and jazzova, definitely I'm gettin' there, but here's some more (maybe return next post when I will give you a totally different taste).

In the course of hunting down the Vikliky oeuvre I encountered this rarity which looked promising, especially when one recalls the magnificence of the Gruntz Klavier Conclaves (not to mention the American version with the many hands...)

Here's Bubliny:

Perhaps not the ideal quality for these pages, especially after mentioning Gruntz, but oh well, this is how we learn what's worthy: one piece of 12 inches at a time.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Zebulon from Germany 1980

A fusion album which is oh so similar to the others from this era in Deutschland, like the exemplary Nimbus though inevitably and sadly not as good,  but with titles like "Opium Haut Opi Um," Pudding Explosion," and "Zombie D' Amour:"

you know there will be some progressive tendencies, at least...

Thursday 19 July 2018

Ken Narita's First Album from 1971


So thanks to our friend PR for covering my holidays as a locum-- I appreciated the respite from the chores of posting, and let it be said most of my summer is still unfortunately spent babysitting young children who are still not yet, thanks be to god, addicted to social media and the internet in general plus texting on their phones.  Yes, let it be said there is much to recommend the innocence of childhood-- by innocence I mean unexposed to the uber-idiotic youtube that is.  And I suppose I have some of that childhood spirit too since I wish said summer holiday would last much much longer, without the intrusion of electronics.  PR? Not in the Cape again are you?

As I mentioned before in relation to his 1972 album, this one is not quite as strong, but still pleasant in the usual early 70s SSW Japanese style (as in the early Fukamachi I posted).  Note it's not recorded in the database.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Czeslaw Bartkowski - Drums Dream (POL - 1977)

I often avoid albums in which the drummer is the leader. Drums are a rhythm instrument. Who wants to hear a self-indulgent time-keeper playing a lead role? But when the backing band features the likes of Tomasz Stańko on trumpet, as this release does, you can expect a strong group effort. Bartkowski shines, but so does everyone else. This is among the best releases I've heard in the Polish Jazz Series.

Friday 13 July 2018

Bob Brown and Joe Clark with the Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble (Limited Time Only)

First up, all apologies (cf. Curt) for the extended holiday but all thanks too to PR for kicking in to give me a break at the beach (my turn, sucker...)

I was stunned when a friend sent to me the CD compilation of unreleased Entourage Music Group material, a band (discography here) I had never even heard of, but which was highly reminiscent of some of the best chamber music compositions on the Evergreen College albums-- remember those?  So we're talking intellectual progressive jazz here, along the lines of Oregon for example.  Going back into their (only 2) LP releases it's obvious we are dealing with some highly trained musicians with strong classical musical educations.  In particular, the guitarist reminds me so much of Ralph Towner on a track called Neptune Rising:

Alternatively you could say it's like the fabulous Icarus from Paul Winter that so blew me away last summer.  The thoughtfulness and emotion and intellectual drive just drive me to tears.  Speaking of which, one of the best tracks from the CD compilation has exactly that title:

Reminds me a little of a modernized version of Ravel's famous string quartets.  Subsequently reaching back into the oeuvre of these fine talents, I found the founder / leader of the group whose name is Joe Clark, created a mini-masterpiece with SSW Bob Brown in 1971 called Willoughby's Lament, consider this track called Interlude:

That series of chords accompanied by violins that follows each chorus really gets to me...
Will the musical wonders never cease?

The Entourage Music and Theater Ensemble was an ambient music group. The group was active from 1970 to 1983 and performed in theaters in combination with dance ensembles. 

The primary members were founder and director Joe Clark (2) on saxophones and keyboards; Rusti Clark on viola and guitar; Michael Smith (9) on drums and percussion; and Wall Matthews on guitars, keyboards, and percussion. 

Entourage formed in Baltimore, Maryland in the early 70's, relocated to Millbrook, New York, then moved to New London, Connecticut in the mid-seventies and finally re-settled in the Baltimore, Maryland area. The group disbanded after the death of Joe Clark in 1983.
From wikipedia

I didn't include the CD, but bunched the remainder into one big file.  Enjoy....

Thursday 12 July 2018

Krzysztof Sadowski and His Group (Polish Jazz, Vol. 47) – Three Thousands Points (POL - 1975)

Another from the Polish Jazz Series, featuring Krzysztof Sadowski on Hammond organ.

Sunday 8 July 2018

Sami Swoi - The Locust (Polish Jazz, Vol. 67) (POL - 1982)

More from the Polish Jazz Series; this time a release from Sami Swoi, a well-known (in Poland, anyway) big band, playing "Round Midnight," a blues medley and more. 

Saturday 7 July 2018

Michel Urbaniak - Constellation In Concert (Polish Jazz, Vol. 59) (POL - 1973)

Another Urbaniak release from the Polish jazz series.  Posted in lossless, but will post in MP3 if requested.

Friday 6 July 2018

Michal Urbaniak's Group - Live Recording (Polish Jazz, Vol.24) (POL - 1971)

Like the Mini Jazz Club series, there's a generally sublime series of recordings of Polish jazz, of which this recording is #24.  It's pre-fusion Urbaniak and has an intensity I find lacking in his later recordings.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Piotr Figiel - Piotr (POL - 1970)

With all of the attention this blog has given Czech jazz and jazz-rock, we thought it would be a good idea to spend a bit of time posting some Polish jazz.  This release, which is heavy on the Hammond organ is certainly a product of its time, but in a very cool way.  And who doesn't like Hammond organ?

More Jun Fukamachi and probably the last one, this time for real: the rare 1982 Soundtrack to "Die Frau Mit Dem Roten Hut"

Sadly with this album I will have to close the book on the wonderful discography of Jun, who has given me, and hopefully you, so much pleasure in the last few months discovering his lost works.

From our wonderful resource the imdb,

In 1923 a Japanese comes to Munich and immediately falls in love with a street artist with a red hat, without knowing her past is. She turns to the Japanese, for the first time she thinks she has found her really great love- exotic strangers attract her. They say a lot, but they do not understand each other - but they can show their love. Nevertheless, the relationship is doomed to failure from the beginning. Disappointment, death and loss.

Not enough info in the synopsis to tell us the quality.

Clearly B1 競輪選手の死 whatever it's called introduces some really progressive composing:

The closing theme is just lovely--
Remember those days when soundtracks could have genuinely great music on a par with the best albums, not filled with has-been hits, facile radio pop songs, or generic symphonic orchestral garbage?