Thursday 30 January 2020

Karen Jones (ST, year unknown), by request

This was requested by a folk fan some time ago, and looked interesting to me.  The ST album is listed here, presumably it's the first and thus hails from 1970, the other album from 1971, which looks worth acquiring too, but quite rare online.

The following heart-breaking blurb on the back:

Karen cares about each person around her.  A friend's happiness is as important to her as her own.  Personal relationships are the framework of her life.  Karen's music flows directly from her life with people.  Here are the songs she has chosen to sing for you.
--David McCallen

The overall feel is similar to the Paula Moore from earlier, but nowhere near as good.  It's for the most part straightforward folk with some added instrumentation in an easy listening vein.
She wrote half the songs here.  One she didn't pen is the Gray-Peterson track bearing her name:

Note that the LP is less than thirty minutes and thus way too short.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Francois Jeanneau, Terrains Vagues (1983)

Recall this was the next album from him and was missing heretofore, mentioned in the earlier post of his super-formidable (spoken with a French accent and a baguette in the beret) seventies material.  Trickily, it appears under the artist title of Francois Jeanneau Pandemonium.  The compositions are strong, but the overall sound is the typical contemporary jazz we have heard so much of.   I don't think it's as good as the Orchestre Nationale stuff either.  Perhaps the best song is the Hotel one:

Anyways, for completion's sake, here it is.
Speaking of completion, does anyone have the ST title, which oddly came later:
I notice there's an interpretation of Stravinsky's famous Tango in there too.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Edwin Sadowski's Saitentriebe from 1987 with Toto Blanke

Of course as I've mentioned before, the Toto Blanke oeuvre never ceases to be of interest, even in the late year of 1987, 'barely' 32 years ago, 'long before' the internet destroyed the music industry, before the smartphone destroyed our attention spans.  On this GDR release it's the guitarist Edwin Sadowski though who is the mastermind composer, arranger, and all-round brilliant flame (see the credits here).  Although the set only comprises the three musicians (percussionist Schneider rounds them out and straightens them out too I might add), it sounds like a whole lot of other people are in there thanks to the brilliant guitar-synthesizer add-ons of the side-long, ST b side, which, to me, totally pushes it over the edge from excellent to unforgettable.  Here we have what amounts to an entire movie's worth of drama and atmosphere, cinema noir of course, full of original scenes and interplays between electric guitars of constantly varying timbres and effects.  In terms of points of comparison perhaps the most similar albums are from Eastern Europe, like the Pavlicek/Kocab Black Light album, or the better known 1991 Russian Sepsis Liturgy of Madness.

Because it's so long though I have to content you with a shorter track, a Tango to Sylvia which also plays up some really untango-esque harmonies:

Note how although it clearly ends as a two-guitar tango thankfully without percussion, it 'playfully' starts off with an atonal fugue-like introduction.

I have to wonder if maybe there are other brilliant albums by Sadowski hidden from the database still waiting to be discovered out there.

Thursday 23 January 2020

Back to Carita Holmstrom in the ultra rare CD Duo! (1994)

I think you can safely ignore the cover photograph, totally unrepresentative of the musical contents.  I can't possibly explain it away, not should anyone for that matter. so let's drop the matter altogether and move on with the music review.

This is an artist who has never really disappointed us (me?), you can see all the albums I posted from her by using the search function, and for this reason I waited literally years for this album to turn up finally for sale.  It's pretty rare, I don't think you'll see another one come up for many years, unless you live in Finland, which doesn't happen to many people at all--perhaps a few million? sometimes? And it's really amazing that in the specific year of release, 1994, when alternative, heavy metal, so-called electronica, the new punk rock were all hitting the music scene like a tornado or rather four simultaneous tornados wiping all the older genres away, she made this incredibly progressive chamber music song collection with her long time collaborator Teppo Hauta-aho.  Just consider this one she wrote, giving it the English title of Just for the record, with cello accompanying her piano:

Information is here.  One track was recycled, oddly, from Aquamarin where it was called Nattvakten, here renamed Yövartija and cut off in a very odd manner.  In case you want to verify the discography, you will find We Are the debut here, the second album Toinen Levy here, Two Faces, Aquamarin and Growing , and now finally this one at the bottom.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Stephan Diez's Mirrors 1978

Love the traditional buddhist artwork on the cover.

Requested following yesterday's post, the other requested album I don't have (Enjoy,1996, with Charlie Mariano and Stephan Diez).  It's surprising I didn't post this before in this blog given how similar it is to countless other instrumental guitar-based jazz-rock albums I've posted from this time period.  The ethereally beautiful acoustic track (the only acoustic one) called Friendship:

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Klaus Lenz Jazz & Rock Machine - Sleepless Nights (DDR 1980)


Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Charles Green, Klaus Lenz
Trombone – Bertl "Harisharan" Strandberg, Meinolf Humpert
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Norbert Stein
Alto Saxophone, Sopranino Saxophone – Zbigniew Namyslowski
Electric Bass – Jochen Schmidt
Guitar – Stefan Diez
Piano, Synthesizer [Arp], Electric Piano [Fender] – Mike Herting
Drums – Stefan Krämer

Looking at the lineup above, it's hard not to think we're going in circles.  First of all Klaus Lenz was featured here with Fusion and earlier with Modern Soul Band, twice.  His two 1970s fusion albums are masterpieces, I put them here (Aufbruch und Wiegenlied).
Then, sax player Namyslowski was featured here with Jasmine Lady.
Norbert Stein was in the remarkable EP I ripped called No Nett back here, which I still love dearly.
The amazing Jochen Schmidt made a beautiful, just beautiful album in 1986 called New York Evenings posted there at that link, earlier.
Finally Mike Herting made the album about the amazon (the rainforest, not Jeff Bezos' empire) and Brazil here
Something like a dozen albums related by musician to this post in total.
Stefan Diez, btw, made a great fusion album called Mirrors (in 1978) which I should've posted here but didn't and I'm hoping you all have that one already and are well familiar with it.

With this true all-star band you expect miracles, and it's close to a miracle indeed.  Consider the track called Unit which opens up the second side, with its big band arrangement that moves through such great sounds and riffs, btw this is a Klaus Lenz chart:

And the beauty of this record is that it's full of great ideas and compositions, perhaps because many contributors provided material.  The title track for ex. is by Namyslowski:

I'll let you discover the rest yourselves.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Train's Coo-coo out! (Germany 1977)

Dumb title, beautiful album, a new and improved formidable rip.  Of course, the usual German fusion like the preceding CCC but not as good.  The track called Permutation is the only acoustic number, but really gorgeous:

If in the mood for more energetic progressive fusion, consider Sputnik:

Info here.

Friday 17 January 2020

Curt Cress Clan, CCC 1975 [limited time only]

Undoubtedly, a masterpiece of German fusion, with the highest energy, the most amazing ideas, enjoyable from beginning to end, on a par with the best German one-offs or almost one-offs such as Chameleon, Surgery, Virgin's Dream, Cyklus, Ex Ovo Pro, Zebulon, our very own Nimbus, etc., etc.  First of all notice that in addition to the drummer namer himself, the line-up for this one-off band from 1975 included Volker Kriegel and Ack van Rooyen, two very familiar artists.  In case you're curious as I was, the latter plays cornet on occasional tracks.  Most of the songwriting duty, which always interests me, is between Curt Cress and the bassist, American Dave King, who of course I've never heard of.  Some tracks by keyboardist Kristian Schultze.   Not surprisingly Kriegel stays out of the limelight here--his own albums of this period were absolutely chock-full of gems.

The Schultze-penned track called Fields sounds like one of the best library funk tracks of the 70s I've ever heard in my life:

I beg you, oh holy decade, to serve up to me more music like this, please please please...
Or like this:

No Answer, by Cress/King

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Real Ax Band - Move your ass in time/Nicht Stehenbleiben, 1977, limited time only

Here's one that really knocked me off my feet (to quote from the great Stevie).

From discogs:

German ProgRock band, late 1970s.
A collection of Embryo affiliates venturing on to pastures new with a more accessible music than most Schneeball jazz-based bands, drawing on Latino, Afro and funk styles.

There's a wonderful energy that travels through the whole LP like a classic shiny new 1970s Concorde with its isosceles wings and pointed down snout, filled with acid, pot, groupies, colourful whiskeys and aperitifs, and the concomitant resulting happy vibes, racing across the Atlantic to some concert with half-naked women, who sing here and there too with the men, presumably, with all of the male members (I'm talking about the band here).  Funky electric guitar riffs smash through the instrumentals, original ideas and chords everywhere.  Similar German albums are Peter Wolbrandt's So Weit (1979), or Alto's great first album from 1978, or some passages in the previous Carsten Bohns.  Consider the fantastically titled track Women and Children First, and notice that the quite Zappaesque vocals start up after a few minutes of interesting hard riffing,

I mean there's so many great ideas in there.  First of all the echo effect of the electric guitar then electric keyboard playing the upgoing arpeggios.  The riff played with the third interval added, like Jimmy Page always loved to do (e.g. Black Dog).  The way it suddenly modulates after the 2nd riff, moving on to yet another, a third riff.  Then the shocking appearance, just before the vocals, of diminished chords played one after the other, like Beethoven loved to do.  Back in those symphony days, that were unfinished.  Then of course the aforementioned slowed-down basso chanting, like Zappa loved to do.  An incredible track.  That one, worth the price of admission to this concert for sure.  But believe me, there's plenty more good stuff in there, just like on those Air France Concordes the Ledded Zeppelin loved to fly on.
Just to finish up with the band, I believe they went on to make more albums, all of which I found disappointing.
Enjoy this one.

Monday 13 January 2020

Carsten Bohn's Bandstand, 3 albums, limited time only

Look at that gorgeous artwork for Mother Goose Shoes!  My god, I miss those beautiful records...

He was in the 1975 Dennis Hypothalamus album well known to all prognoscenti, he was in Frumpy which for me was utterly forgettable krautrock of the most generic I-IV-V variety, in an experimental album in 1978, but for the most part his creative energy served him well in the trilogy of albums under the Carsten Bohn Bandstand moniker.

I love this music with all my heart, it's emotional, sexy, funky, and at the same time very interesting, never ordinary, stuffed with great hooks and pretty melodies.  I presume Carsten wrote all the music as it seems he performs not only on percussion but also on piano, guitar, and vocals.  Not sure why he even needed a band.  The late-seventies pop-rock or art rock sound recalls some of David Bowie's Young Americans-era music and luckily he doesn't sing like David with all that exaggerated 'emo' intonation, which was so direly and inexplicably copied later in the eighties and onwards.

The first album as you might expect is just filled to the brim with beautiful, warm songs.  The one called Now What I've always loved dearly, the baritone vocals with the sustained chords on the organ,and acoustic guitar just kill me:

The subsequent track Pretty Formal Normal Instrumental also indicates how progressively fusionary his thinking was at this time:

Track 4 from the middle 1979 album, Do Me No Paradise is such a lovely and sexy song, would've been a shame had it not been a radio hit in the era at least in Germany, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't:

Inevitably by the 1980 final album here with its homage to CB Radio-- does "Smokey and the Bandit" ring a bell?-- the inspiration has slacked somewhat, as per the LPDP (Law of Postseventies Declining Progressiveness), it even starts with the old atari-like video game digital sounds, the first track off the second side is the best I can muster:

Friday 10 January 2020

Petites Annonces, France 1981 (by request)

Here's an album that was requested not so long ago which I dug up and then had to leave on the back burner due to the series of American posts followed by the Japanese ones and the great Masahiko Satoh.

As you can tell from the cover, perhaps very unfamiliar to anyone under the age of 30 (aka a so-called (oddly enough) millennial, the term petites annonces refers to the classified section of the newspaper.  This is where, unbelievably to the aforementioned 20-year-olds, people had to type and write up their own personal ad to send by mail to the newspaper to be published, which they had to wait weeks for, or even more astonishingly, they would call up the newspaper from their home phone and verbally describe (to another live human being! in real time! in real life!) what they wanted written-- for example, they would say, "I need someone to mow my lawn, preferably from the local neighbourhood" (uber didn't perform this service for you back then).  They would also leave a home phone number as a communication.  That's a phone that you don't carry around with you, in fact, it's physically stuck inside your house.  It doesn't move.  Doesn't leave the house.  Doesn't use Uber to go out.  Like grandma who has Parkinsons.  Incredible, right?  Btw, for the really young folks, a newspaper is a (physical) piece of paper with news on it you receive on your doorstep, and, believe it or not, this really happens-- sorry I meant this really happened, once upon a time.  (You get it on your doorstep, because it doesn't come via internet instantly.  Someone has to throw it onto your doorstep, usually at 6 AM, thereby waking you up, and the kids too, when they hit the front door.  It's not Uber.  It's a guy who drove around the neighbourhood, in a car, throwing newspapers at peoples' homes.  Not delivering food to them.  Just delivering the news.)  And furthermore, the news was reliably true.  It wasn't half fake information.  How did we know that?  Well, we didn't, but people tried really hard to make sure it was true.  Who were these people?  Well, they were called journalists.  They went around looking for things that happened, for real.  They didn't just make things up like you guys do in school, or look on and copy and paste.  They had a job where they looked for things that really happened, not made-up things for amusement, or things that instagram, facebook, twitter, were paid to write.  We believed those newspapers.  Why? Well, because if you don't believe anything, you might as well be living in a fascist dystopian conspiracists' reality (which, today, we call Trumpworld) where the news is made by snapchat, Tiktok, and Whatsapp.  I guess you kids know that things are true on youtube because real people are doing really important, newsworthy things, like swallowing laundry detergent pods.  I mean, it must be so so hard for you younger folks to understand this.  It must be so weird.  Especially the part about information written on paper, that people trusted.  We didn't even rate them with stars, like Uber drivers.  Not even once in a while when we were bored.  We never did.  And then you actually had to turn the pages, to go from one story to another, and move your whole arm to do it, not just your thumb, right.  People had to turn their necks to read that stuff.  Btw, paper is this hard flat thing that was made from trees, it was white, and you put ink on it to read.  Can you believe it?  Yes, the ink is like those multiple tattoos on your body, you know how you had 20 of them by the time you were 20 years old and they say all these really deep things that you've never read?  You know, or like those pictures of Justin Bieber just after he vomited that you put on your butt?   Btw, trees are those big brown things with green leaves next to you, if you look to the right of your phone over there, not the ones with the electric wires, those are transmission poles.  They make the oxygen you breathe, not and Jeff Bezos.  Although you can probably ship it through amazon, if you have a prime membership.  You can give oxygen a five star rating for keeping you alive.  (And give trees a 'like' too, they really need it, much more than Uber.)  Alive is like when you're looking at your phone, you know, like when you're taking selfies in the bathroom mirror to post instantly on instagram, and you're not a bot, or a robot.
Can you imagine????  omigod, you millenials...

Now for the older folks, the classifieds have disappeared of course and were at one time replaced by craigslist, which became taken over completely with ads for local prostitutes, thereby being replaced in turn by kijiji, which is now over-run by thieves and crooks who will do anything to steal what you are selling, the latest scam using fake certified checks-- you know those checks that in the old days were impossible to fake...   Yes, it's really quite amazing how technological progress has improved our society.  Just look at the evolution of porn, once an underground thing that was completely hidden from everyone, especially children, for example magazines were kept high up out of their lines of sight in corner stores, then it became mainstream in the mildest manner with Playboy, etc., which was replaced by videos, you had to rent those in a seedy store where kids were not allowed, which was replaced by pay per use sites where you had to have a credit card, presumably children didn't yet have those back then, which led today to completely free internet porn available to everyone, even 2-year olds.  In this way now a ten year old girl can easily watch the most sick and perverse intercourse, if she wanted to, with complete freedom, with zero restrictions, in her bedroom.

Yes, the progress of our society is truly a miracle.

Anyways, back to the music, which is 40 years old, way older than a millenial, thank god.  The opener is quite auspicious without a doubt, unlike what one would have said about the decade-starting year of 2010:

Its title means one measure, two tempos and three movements, obviously.  So it starts quite strong out of the gate.  We have progressive fusion ideas chock-full. Thereafter a track called Experimental really gives you an interesting sound, perhaps derived from library tracks like Teddy Lasry's, with an ostinato on piano plus bass and swirling spacey synths and an acoustic piano improvising about:

Unfortunately, side b is more in line with basic, simple jazz, and disappoints the further you go-- a bit like the way the old newspapers transformed into facebook's fake news and network tv became (nausea) youtube.

Information can be found here.  Note that the guitarist is Voindriot, who has appeared before on this blog, here and here.  The compositions are collective.  To my complete shock, a very familiar keyboardist appears on certain tracks, Cyrille Verdeaux.  Everyone should be familiar with his work.
At any rate, we have here a beautiful side one.  Enjoy it, along with your kijiji, 5-G or perhaps 8-G smartphone, and tiktok fake news.

(I know what tiktok is, that's just a joke. And apologies to anyone insulted by the above rant.)

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Players with Colgen: Galaxy,1979, Wonderful Guys, 1980, etc. (7 albums)

Recall Hiromasa Suzuki with his Colgen Band?  It turns out this collective made a string of 7 fusion albums starting in 1979.  In fact the album from 1981 I posted from him earlier this year borrowed three tracks from the Players first release, possibly more.  I once again find myself in the position of having to thank the perceptive commenter who drew my attention to this fact in the earlier post.  Today, we can all thank him.  Especially since there is quite a riches of wonderful fusion to go through in these, overall, and unlike the previous post the quality does not decline precipitously.  Looking at what I've liked on my personal device (ipod classic number 6 so far in this lifetime, more in the afterlife) I can see that starting right out of the gate with 7-8 great tracks in the first 2 albums, we are only reduced to 4-5 great tracks by the end which came in the mid-eighties with the live album that basically just rehashed earlier hits.  And that's quite remarkable, as per the LPDP (Law of Post-70s Declining Progressiveness).  A very slow downslope for this artist.

Incidentally, I guess I didn't quote the Japanese wiki for mastermind keyboardist Suzuki's bio earlier.  In those days of course, so long long ago (last April) we didn't know about the wonders of machine learning and AI and the miracle of The Great Google's translation capabilities, which are such a miracle of software development-- Great God, please bless those blessed billionaires who rule us today, those four of them, blessed, blessed billionaires:

Hiromasa Suzuki (Hiromasa Suzuki, 1940 May 26 - 2001 May 21 ), the Tokyo Metropolitan born jazz pianist - composer - arranger . Since the nickname is "Korgen", the nickname is "Korgen".

And that's for sure.  Plus later the very interesting:

Dental born as the son of a physician , Keio University to go to, but the jazz piano and committed to, Masahiko Sato , Yuji Ono wins the name as "Keio trio" with. The nickname `` Korgen '' was originally from Sato, but Suzuki, who was called `` Second generation Colgen '' in a group that Sato came to the United States and participated in after that, was nicknamed `` Colgen '' one day it became established.

You know inevitably, I almost pray that 'deep learning' doesn't progress much beyond this point, where you can expect a combination of humour, poetry, and entertainment out of every translation: "was nicknamed colgen one day it became established."

Computer has no humour, however, at the end:

Although suffering from cancer, he once performed a “survival live” after surgery, but died on May 21, 2001. 
60 years old died.

Moving on to the music, the track called Unsweetened absolutely, again, rips it outta the ballpark for me (in the immortal words of my wife, "sometimes you never even make it inside that ballpark"):

And indeed we are outta the ballpark again for the second track of the second album called Wonderful Guys, lucky for me there's a hot dog stand right outside it, too bad no beer though:

I would really, really like to get inside the stands again, dying for a beer, but outta the ballpark for the intro to 8:30 off the Madagascar Lady collection:

And I will honestly say, the title of the album was so unpromising I was pretty sure I would hit disappointment avenue, which happens to be a dead end street, with a multitude of afro-rhythms and simple fuzak, but this was not meant to be.  The entire album is convincingly compelling, and it was released in 1981!  As if in a Kafka story, I find myself unable to find the entrance to the ballpark, although as I move on to the Space Travel album from 1982 with its unfortunate big band aspects and fuzak plus vocals, I'm back to sitting in the highest stands with cheap popcorn and some idiot just knocked over my plastic cup:

Monday 6 January 2020

Eberhard Schoener's Time Square, 1981

So I once again find myself in the position of thanking a requester or commenter.

I would never have bothered to listen to this because of the other earlier seventies works I've heard from Schoener, which were in the drony electronic style I find so dull.  Usual comments about how they don't bother to change keys, one whole side of an album will stay in C minor and never stray, almost like the musician fell asleep at his synthesizer out of boredom and omitted to press the button for the next chord.  I mean, you could move to F minor for just a few seconds, it wouldn't kill you.

I didn't even know he went on to make more albums following the initial stages.  You can see his discography here.  Anyways, the commercial impulse I think pushed him into better territory with shorter, more composed songs, and he hit gold here.  I think it's appropriate to describe this and the later ones as art rock melded with electronic, sometimes in the minimalist style that was prevalent in the early eighties, but often he strives to create really beautiful visions, musically, and this album in particular is just full of those.  I didn't think the other one (that precedes this), Events, or the later ones are in the same league though.

As usual, take a look first at the cover art, I mean it's just superb.  The dart going through the window, with the woman, her shadow reflected repeatedly on the back wall, and the small autumnal tree, either nonchalantly unaware, or uncaring, just tell a whole movie's worth of story.  It's so beautiful, because it's so evocative, and mysterious.  (You can see on that release page the artwork credits.)  Much of the music is woman-centred, as if the whole thing was dedicated to someone he knew and loved.  Compositions and lyrics are by Schoener, with one exception.

The stunning, standout track is The Nine Lives of A Cat which tells the story of a (young) woman's life in stages, as if she had 9 lives.  It's a somewhat trite concept but the language used is pure poetry.  The song ends when she is looking in the mirror at the age of 30, very much aware that there are still lives ahead of her:

This kind of songwriting, with subtlety, great beauty, and nuanced emotions, is as I always say the kind of thing that's totally missing today.

One final note, I wanted to see who was the operatic singer for this song.  Would you believe it's someone we all know already: the girl who sang the gorgeous wordless vocals on The Great Gig in the Sky from Dark Side of the Moon!
Her name is Clare Torry.   Note that she never got to release a full length album in that period, just singles.

I include the lyrics to the song, with the repetitions omitted:

Watching in a mirror she saw a child
gay, in despair, or bored...
and thankful to be loved
There were lives she still didn't know
because a cat has nine lives

Watching in a mirror she saw a young girl
first love changed her, she learned to take care
but thankful to be loved
There were lives she still didn't know
because a cat has nine lives

Watching in a mirror she saw a loved one
sensitive, self-conscious, and full of doubt
but still, thankful to be loved
There were lives she still didn't know
because a cat has nine lives

Watching in a mirror she saw a wife
lonely, happy, possessive,
still thankful to be loved

Watching in a mirror she saw a mother
taking care, aggressive, tender
still thankful to be loved

Now I'm thirty years old
watching in the mirror
all that belongs to me is mine
mine alone, and yet I believe
there are still lives I don't know
because a cat has nine lives

Hard to believe he wrote that. It's tragic to me that such beautiful music is completely lost to humanity.