Wednesday 31 October 2018

Francois "Faton" Cahen in Piano Concerts, 1975, by request

I referenced Francois Cahen earlier with the album he made with Didier Lockwood called Thank You Friends, which was just delightful, but most know him anyways as the keyboardist and leader of the great Zeuhl group Zao who made a string of gorgeous fusion albums in the seventies.  This album was missing, it was his first and unfortunately was recorded live and therefore the sound suffers, as you can see with a track called "Belette Bleu:"

Note the Zao-like tendencies in the lyrical phrasing and harmonies.  Since I don't have a taste for solo piano albums, nor for the inferior recording quality found in live albums, for me this is a venn diagram shaded intersection of sets of utter unexcitingness.

I'll included some of the other stuff I have from him including 1978 Tendre Piano Solo, 1979 Great Winds, 1986 Piano Reves, 1989 Couleur Rubis, and 1986 Faton Bloom.
The material he recorded with Malherbe is superb, bringing out the best in both worlds. As well the Malherbe 'solo' album from 1979 Bloom is outstanding.
Some of the tracks in the first two are recycled Zao songs for solo piano, disappointingly.

Monday 29 October 2018

Back with Jun Fukamachi's OST Mishione from 1980 and probably the last from him here

Oh boy do I love Jun Fukamachi.

This past spring and summer I listened to all his records again over and over and explored every hidden crevice and nuance in his works.  So it was important to me to collect all the tangential materials from this period, such as the early lyrical albums I posted, and more importantly the undigitized elements, such as this album, that were always far away in hard to reach places (like Japan).  The sound sample from the discogs database page for this record, in particular, sounded really attractive, you can hear it for yourself here.

Unfortunately, because the tracks are side-long for both a and b, I still haven't yet identified where that theme song type passage appears on the record, and that is partly due to my lack of patience made much worse by advancing age and loss of the ability to multitask.  The movie itself you can watch, and enjoy, if you are able to understand Japanese on-- where do you think? youtube.  But this must be one of the few times where a movie cannot be found, even in synopsis form, on imdb.

Listening to Fukamachi in detail, so to speak, only convinced me what an unrecognized genius he was, especially in this period of the early 80s when Daisy Chain and Woman with Red Hat came out, and on to Alien (which I included in one of those big packages earlier).  He was at least as inventive a composer and magnificent as keyboardist in the progressive fusion genre as the better known German Joachim Kuhn and Dutch Jasper Van't Hof and that sure ain't fair.  In particular, unlike the North American artists of a similar caliber like Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea, he had that flair for very emotional expression, dramatic musical movements, and symphonic-style (classical) composition (and you can find all these components in the soundtrack to Mishione) which as I've said repeatedly are usually European hallmarks.

Anyways, with this I think we can finally close the big musical book on the brilliant Jun Fukamachi's discography.  At least for now.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Eje Thelin in Club Jazz 8 (1973) and his Group's Hypothesis (1979)

Given the expected unpopularity of that last post I won't let you suffer long before going back to more progressive music.  And if it's original, never before heard music that you want, then you've got it made here with this rip because we're dealing with the dreaded free jazz style on this early album from Eje Thelin, a Swedish trombonist and composer, who passed away at a relatively young age (1938-1990).

I wasn't aware of the Swedish Club Jazz series until now and it seems they are underrepresented in the digital sphere (perhaps for good reason).  Some out there know a lot more than I do and it would be nice to get some more information from those who might have heard the records in question.  They all seem quite rare and it's interesting to me that our old post Wallgrens appears in a 1974 release of the series.

To give you an idea, I'll post the shortest of the four long tracks that make up this album, Club Jazz 8.

Desperately turning our attention now to the more fusionary Eje Thelin Group who put out a few great albums in the 70s, I am given permission to share what's surely his best work, the 1979 album Hypothesis.  First of all notice that like Peter Wolf all their album covers were black and white.

On the title track instantly you can see what a mellowed-out man Eje became some six years following the Club experience, reminding me of the great Freddie Hubbard in the 70s:

Note how that laidback intro leads to the more uptempo and intense body of the song. This is a Thelin composition btw.

The track called Curved Space was written by Arne Lothman, the pianist.  Starting with a simple B flat minor 6 arpeggio with enhancements from both acoustic piano and electric guitar, the track very very slowly builds to the oddest chords supplemented by a synth soloing above.  It's a rare song where the notes played above a persistent chord (80% of the song consists of B♭m6) add so much interest.

Truly a lost treasure I'd say.  I don't know though why there are not one but two versions of the tired old Jimmy van Heusen standard Here's that rainy day on here.

Friday 26 October 2018

Charlene's Songs of Love (USA 1976)

Pure seventies pop bliss here.  Also a complete change in direction.

Readers of these pages will understand I have a soft spot for this style of music, having been quite young when exposed to, and thus imprinting on, Olivia Newton-John and similars (on these pages, cf. Mariangela, or the Allee Willis demos).  The song "Never Been To Me" of course was a monster hit not just back then but again in the late nineties with its use in the Aussie movie "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."  But it seems that, setting that aside, the remainder of the record is completely lost, or at least was completely lost, to time's digitizing tendencies, despite the possibility there could have been other material on it worth hearing.  Most of the LP, incl. that song, was written by the team of Ron Miller (also producer, along with the legendary Barry Gordy) and Ken Hirsch.  Note the cover of a really under-rated Stevie Wonder composition, one of those we never hear on the radio, satellite or otherwise: "I love you more each day."  [Was that one from Music of my Mind?  Certainly from his early 70s heyday.]

Of course, a lot could be said in complaint about this record, and I hope no one will be impolite enough to initiate those issues, but the biggest point of detraction perhaps is that every song sounds the same.  The opening with a tinkly upper treble piano (e.g. I honestly love you) that builds up inevitably to the loudly belted out chorus, Celine Dion-style, becomes a bit much by the end.  The track called "Rings" though is absolutely adorable in the usual 70s naive pop way, as the different rings (i.e. telephone rings, doorbell rings) follow each other to the inevitable conclusion:

Note how cleverly the arrangement uses syncopated/polyrhythmed xylophone (or vibes) tinkling on top to represent the bells.  As well, her harmony vocals give it an extra interest in that they are, at least I think they are, separated by a sixth rather than the third (or triad chords) one would have expected.  A sparklingly brilliant bottle of pop, it's a song written I take it by Eddie Reeves and Alex Harvey, for the former's wedding.  It was first performed in 1971 by an artist I didn't know, called Cymarron.  This version though is a distinct improvement on the original simple, more countryish rendition, being favourably treated by the very professional studio arrangement.  The craft of songwriting at its most magical best, courtesy of the 70s...

As is so common in pop history, she never managed to 'get past' her super-hit and to this day she is really only known, or cursed, for this.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Austrian composer Peter Wolf and the masterpiece Tutti (1980), plus 2 from the band Gipsy Love (and more)

Well, let's not focus on the top cover wherein the composer tries to impress us with his Beethovenisch scalp credentials-- and in fact, if we really wanted amusement, consider what happened only two years later on this album, or later in those inimitable eighties here.  (Also note how all the above album covers are black and white.)

From discogs:

Pianist and keyboardist, producer, composer and arranger (born 1952 in Vienna). 
Wolf studied classical piano at the Vienna's Conservatory of Music and won the European Jazz Festival as a solo pianist at age 16. He came to America in his early 20s and began playing keyboards for Frank Zappa. [Wow!! - Editor]  He was studio keyboardist and arranger from 1980 to 1985 and started his production career in 1985 with the Starship album Knee Deep In The Hoopla. 
Wolf has scored a number of major motion pictures and also written and performed on 6 of his own albums for the Polydor and WEA labels.  He co-produced and arranged the Commodores' #1 album Nightshift, Heart's biggest selling album entitled Heart, Go West's album Indian Summer, The Pointer Sisters' album Only Sisters Can Do That, Chicago's album The Stone of Sisyphus and Thomas Anders' album Souled.

Note that Allmusic also has a brief bio.

On the 1980 masterpiece album-- and I don't say that lightly, believe me-- we have 5 stunning progressive fusion tracks, one after the other incomparably gorgeous, recalling the American producer/fusioneer Arif Mardin (and his 1974 Journey one of my all-time favorite albums), famous French library artist Laurent Petitgirard and his epic suite-- or more recently, the composer Doug Lofstrom.  What I can say is that every minute of this record has something of interest, something new, some odd chord change, some completely unique melody, unusual instrumentation with acoustic and electronic mixed up, and it all combines into one totally coherent whole from beginning to end.

Usually when I hear a song called Bolero I quickly approximate the dextro second digit to the fast forward button, but I was unable to do anything with it this time (perhaps for the first time in musical history with a 'bolero'): check out how from an incongruous intro with backwards-played tape, he manages to create sustained interest over the persistent rhythm with sounds and chords that constantly shape-shift, obtaining plenty of assistance from the synthesizer, rather than repeat a hundred times until your patience is so exhausted that by the final chord you want to smash a fist into the speakers:


On a track called Credo you'll be pleasantly surprised by the National-Health-like female vocal harmonies (unfortunately, artificial). 

The opener, the Hollywood track, with melody played by synths, compares favorably with some of the best orchestral fusion I've ever heard in my life:

Going back to the beginning of his discography now, for the first solo release from 1969 A Change in my Life I think we have a very inauspicious start, made all the worse (for me) by the fact that copies of it are selling in the hundreds on discogs. Then, on the Gorilla album, he joins forces with a very familiar artist (for us on this blog at least), viz., fellow Austrian (guitarist) Karl Ratzer (I posted a slew of his albums a couple of years ago, all are worth hearing), the lovely Tom der Clown:

And I might add, lucky for us the fashion for clowns (and circuses) is over given the inherent and inevitable creepiness of clowns. Except, of course, in the genre of horror movies, where they surely belong.

Looking more closely at Mr. Wolf's discography I then realized both he and Ratzer where members of the early seventies Chicago-like or Blood, Sweat and Tears-like band called Gipsy Love, who put out two very nice and original vocal releases.  Viennese Winter from their second album is a Wolf composition, and I always loved / was amused by the intro about 'the spaceship, floatin' above my head:'

Quite a bit of progressive material is to be found on these 2 albums throughout the otherwise pedestrian pop soul, you will see.

And I'll leave the 1975 album, the poetic and incomparable Andre Heller's music for lovers (and loosers [sic]), for you to discover on your own...
It seems that, like the great arranger Claus Ogerman, he didn't write a whole lot of music but what he did put out was magnificent, perhaps because he distilled so many great ideas in such a small body of work.

Monday 22 October 2018

Singer Lena Nyman plus Egerbladh 1976 and with Rune Andersson1974

Who the heck is the girl on the bottom?

Lena Nyman was/is a Swedish actress, as you can tell from certain spoken passages that remind me of the godawful and thankfully forgotten Ingmar Bergman movies of the 70s that my father used to rave about and today seem so hilariously dated and over the top (note the two collaborated in this movie).  Back when I was into European art movies I became aware of the infamous "I am curious (yellow)" which turned out to be idiotic, and guess what, she was the star of that movie.  (Pretty sure you could find it on youtube.  I don't recommend you try though.)  Very few people would be familiar with it today I'm sure, it was released in 1967, "the summer of love" and, I suppose, achieved notoriety due to the fact she spent half the movie completely naked, which was unusual for the time.  I guess after that she had to cover up her body because she moved into the musical sphere where she made a string of albums in the 70s, starting with these two I am presenting today, and mostly with songwriter Rune Andersson.

Musically I was hoping for something along the lines of our brilliant discovery Carita Holmstrom but this is slightly more generic acoustic seventies pop in the singer-songwriter vein, that is, think James Taylor minus any arrangement or production, and also, take out all the bluesy songs, and on top of that, remove most of the inspiration (I mean, James Taylor, objectively, was a fantastic songwriter even if you hate him you can't argue with the number of his successes).

In the 1974 album whose name I will not copy and paste she appears in collaboration with Rune Andersson who put out an album a year for something like 2 decades, unbelievably prolific or perhaps unrestrainable, considering the simple quality of his songs.  An example of their work, with the aforementioned over-serious and thus hilarious intro:

The 1976 album wherein our former posting (that is, this) Berndt Egerbladh wrote the music is a bit more listenable, the same influences of classical and jazz bubble up, as you can determine for yourself:

Finally, I must apologize for saying I don't think she's very effective as a singer, with one half of her brain seemingly on the theater stage performing drama.  Perhaps she should have continued with the naked movies, which, apparently grossed millions.  ('Grossed' in its two definitions here.)
Anyways next post we'll have a complete change in direction again, back to the well-clothed fusion I so much love.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Swedish pianist Berndt Egerbladh: Nybyggarland and Kristallen Den Fina

The top photo takes me back to my childhood so vividly.  Too bad today's kids (including mine) to be found only in urban niches like the common pigeon or the raccoon will never share that same sentiment.

This pianist mixed classical and folk songs with a slight jazz tinge.  I like when he pulls out the electric piano for some track, the tension between composed fugue-like structures and the modern (maybe not anymore!) Roland sound is quite entertaining to me.

From the first album, the third track, Lullaby from Vasterbotten:

Note the involvement here of the great Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer (who himself made a string of lovely fusion albums in the seventies up until Presens).

The title track from the second album:

Friday 19 October 2018

Finally, the EGBA Omen upgrade [with lossless]

I won't say much except to comment that Ulf Adaker, whose eighties work Chordeography I posted a short time ago, wrote virtually all the music on this 1981 record except track A3 (which is by keyboardist Stefan Blomqvist).

Just crank it up and think back to a time when educated composition, extreme originality, and electric instruments worked together to create such perfection for us, for one short, short period that was very soon fated to end completely.

I've included a wav for lossless lovers for that express purpose, and listen to the lovely textures of Egeiska Havet-- beginning with that odd scale on the reverbing electric piano leading into the octave-walking bassline and the laid-back Sunday-afternoon groove:

It's a strong album, and I could've selected any one of its tracks as an exemplar. Shame on the person who ripped it in mono so long ago...!

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Back to the dreaded Lajos Dudas with Monte Carlo, 1981

This is the third album to be ripped in this series and it's from 1981 (I think?).  Earlier we had Sunshine State feat. Toto Blanke, and Contrasts.  Here as marked on the cover he is accompanied by the great Hungarian guitarist Attila Zoller who had a long and prolific career in the German jazz scene playing with such famous names as Doldinger and Mangelsdorff since way back in the mid-60s.  (He even made a duo album with the Japanese pianist Masahiko Satoh in 1971 which I'd love to hear.)

At times, they really approach the dynamic inventiveness plus free freak-flag-high jazz spirit of the early Association P.C. minus maybe the top inch of their over-the-top lunacy.  Compositions are by Dudas with the exception of A2, Rumpelstilzchen with its ingenious riffs, which is by Zoller:

I see that A1, the Blues song, was "awarded best composition by the 11th International Competition for Jazz Themes in Monaco, 1982."  (Or perhaps, a very reliable time machine predicted it would win that award the year after this was released.  Mine are not as reliable.)

Tuesday 16 October 2018

The Edgar Winter Group's Shock Treatment in 1974

Obviously, after listening to yesterday's Mannequin it occurred to me that although I heard the first album by Edgar Winter, thanks to the smash monster instrumental "Frankenstein--" which honestly, should be THE anthem of 70s rock in my opinion, I had never listened to their other albums, & it turned out there were 2 in that period.

In fact the second album, called Shock Treatment from 1974, turned out to be quite listenable with at least half the songs worthy of a second run round, the other half being by-the-numbers blues rock with scarcely more than 3 chords per song and usually in the key of A or E (maybe C in the case, presumably, of a song written on the piano).  And there was clearly a progressive influence, with the addition of mellotron gracing a couple of tracks.  The closer, called Animal, moreover, went all-out progressive with its oddball chromatics and messed up chords:

A shock treatment here indeed, and every day it surprises me there are gems from the 70s like this one lying around that I never knew about or heard before, in a lifetime spent listening to this music.

Then the third album, "With Rick Derringer," closed the book on this band with another instrumental that attempted to copy the supernatural magic of their huge hit Frankenstein, but didn't quite make it. But it too is well worth hearing.

Bio from discogs:

In 1972, American blues rock multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter brought together Dan Hartman, Ronnie Montrose, and Chuck Ruff to form the Edgar Winter Group, the legendary band that created such classic rock hits as the number one "Frankenstein" and the ever popular "Free Ride". Released in 1973, the band's debut album, 'They Only Come Out at Night', peaked at the #3 position on the Billboard Hot 200 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 80 weeks. It was certified gold in April 1973 and double platinum in November 1986. The album has continued to attract critical acclaim, with the All Music Guide labeling its songs as "red-hot".

Look at "all the pretty boys" he put in his band...

Monday 15 October 2018

Canadian band Mannequin from 1982

This Canadian band, one of a gazillion bands of the same (banal) name, made one ST album in 1982 that is quite similar to Baby Grand which was so popular this past spring, so we're talking hard rock - AOR.  Right off the bat I'll say it's not as good, of course.  But it will be a joy for all those, like me, who grew up on bands like Styx (and later Van Halen) with the high-pitched harmony vocals atop hard guitars and intense rhythms, and a general feel for tongue-in-cheek playfulness.

The first track called Bobbie:

Notice that heavily overused A minor descending chromatic bassline, so famous from Stairway to Heaven, which is back in the news again as the estate of Spirit (not the composer himself, who passed) has won an appeal to retry the issue of plagiarism with regards to their song "Taurus".  Thoughts about that one?  I think everyone can agree the last thing that comes to mind when you listen to the latter song is oh, that sounds like Stairway to Heaven!  Not to mention the descending A minor pattern was used already by George Harrison in "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" and countless other composers beforehand... in fact Led Zep (Jimmy Page) had already employed it earlier for Babe I'm Gonna Leave You.

Listening more carefully to the lyrics I noticed there's a lot of odd gender bending stuff in there-- weird, or maybe, in the era of hair metal, not so surprising.  On the other hand, today, if you mentioned a gender-unsure person needs psychiatric help, you would get into a lot of trouble...