Friday 30 October 2020

Stefan Nilsson again with the earlier Det Är Nu Först Jag Ska Börja (1980)

This album features Stefan on acoustic piano.  Note that he's accompanied at times by saxes, marimba or vibes, and harmonica on the first track which is a complicated blues number.  I was curious about it since it came just before the Music for Music Lovers masterpiece, in 1980.  But too many of these pieces sound like etudes written for a classical composition class, same drawback as the Romantic Piano LP I ripped earlier this week.  The slight progressive ideas of the third track are the best material:

I'll hopefully be back later on the weekend with more interesting material.  The hunt continues.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

The amazing Stefan Nilsson: Music for Music Lovers (1983) Romantic Piano (1985)

It seems almost criminal that his solo works are almost forgotten.  On this blog I presented the stunning progressive songwriting collaboration he made with Thomas Korberg (from the well-known Swedish band Made in Sweden, followed by Solar Plexus)-- an LP which remains for me one of the most beautiful albums I have ever heard in this lifetime of seeking out advanced and unique music; but following this he made three more albums of which the (prog) highlight is Music for Music Lovers (1983).   For music lovers indeed-- no simple-minded commercialese-enamoured lowlife with a small acoustic cerebral hemisphere could ever enjoy this intellectual, advanced, delicately varied, and very thoughtful album and I can only imagine what a horrific reception it must have received in the year 1983 when everyone was obsessed with Duran Duran, simple chords on digital drums, and I want my MTV.  The title track pretty much says (musically) it all:

Before anything more, Stefan Nilsson:

Swedish composer and pianist, born 27 July 1955 in Kukasjärvi, Sweden.

On this blog we have already heard plenty from him when he played super-energy fusion with his band Kornet.  Boy do I miss those days.  I wish the fusion trend could've lasted forever.  Following which, he was in the short-lived one-off band with guitarist Coste Apetrea (from Samla etc.) De Gladas Kapell.

Subsequently Stefan made this instrumental piano concerto-type record with an easy listening style string orchestra-- well, I should say it's more of a complete classical orch, don't want to insult anyone-- presumably to showcase his classical composition skills.  I can't imagine how unpopular this must have been in the mid-80s when already 'muzak' had such a bad rep.  This is not as progressive as the previous record, though he is capable of some very intriguing composition as in the track very atmospherically called Morning Mist:


Stefan Nilsson - Steinway piano, keyboards, QX-1 sequencer
Strings from the Royal Opera House Orchestra
Conducter - Örjan Fahlström
Orchestra leader - Zahari Mirchew
All songs composed by Stefan Nilsson (except 5, Michel Legrand)
String arrangements - Stefan Nilsson
Produced by Stefan Nilsson

Monday 26 October 2020

Peter Sprague in Dance of the Universe Orchestra, You Make me Want to Sing (1978)


It's true, both the artist name and the title of the album are a little nauseating. And the cover too!
But pull out the ondansetron then because the music is really not that bad.  At least, some of it isn't, the covers or rather jazz standards must be excised of course, like the metastatic carcinomas that they truly are, but then some beautiful shapes can be discerned in the twilight.

The band made only one album, in 1978.  It's the usual mix of light jazz with some female vocals, a bit of that scat (short for scatological perhaps?) annoyingness, sometimes elevating to better composition, for example Dance with the wind, by Peter Sprague:

Friday 23 October 2020

Back with the Sound of Derrick from Eberhard Schoener from 1998 (limited time only)

This album was requested by many people over the time period since I posted the Schoener albums which I raved about earlier here, and here.  So I got curious to see what the fuss was about, despite the very late year, and the fact it's a soundtrack (no info on this on imdb).  It's hard to believe that those earlier albums were just before this pandemic, in what seems now like a totally different world-- how could we really have known, even in the most pessimistic scenarios, what trouble was waiting for us in the half year to follow?  I mean, people have very low tolerance for any kind of pessimistic talk which is the most common response I hear from ordinary folks when faced with a casual prophecy about the realities of climate change in the future-- a comment along the lines of, 'don't worry, the scientists will figure something out' is typical.  In reality, the scientists are telling us at this point to panic, they are not saying 'don't worry'.  And the scientists have 'figured it out' too-- unfortunately we're not following most of their advice.  Exactly like the pandemic when there were very clear early warnings, wherever you might have lived, that were ignored over and over again-- even something as simple as 'stock up on masks for your health care personnel' was ignored.  So for climate change, which is a far more prolonged and drawn out process, I don't have too much hope left except if the aftermath of the pandemic leads to politicians listening more, but that seems unlikely.
Who can be positive now about future problems?
At least we have this beautiful music to keep us happy in the intermission periods.
Like the previous two postings, this album is highly accomplished and runs over a wide range of styles from chamber-classical to electronic material to apparently commercial songs for the benefit of popularity, such as it might have been.  The composition is very much typical of the Schoener we were acquainted with in the late seventies. It's wonderful stuff, and there's a lot to listen to in here.  
I'm grateful that those who requested this did so.

Consider the track called Mr. Gentleman, which is quite approachable albeit classical-based and well-written, the vocalist here is Helen Schneider:

I would have to also mention there are a lot of filler tracks which I hit delete on instantly, whether symphonic-type lead-ins like on library albums or rap-like stuff, or spoken passages presumably taken from the show in question.

I was also happy to see our complicated lady, Esther Ofarim, reappears in a song (which sounds like a Send in the Clowns ripoff) as does Sting (!), the British singer Clare Torry (remember her? she sang the 'Nine lives of a cat' composition) as well as Andrea Bocelli.  Perhaps an odd mix of folks altogether. 

But Clare Torry's contribution (or Schoener's piece for her) is called When Colors Die, and is eerily wonderful in its dark excitement:

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Back with more James Newton Howard in Tiger Lily's version


This album is the same as the other ST James Newton Howard album I posted earlier, except for one change, the removal of the track Newton's Ego (a very good track too) and its replacement with the long and relatively boring piano improvisation (?) called Stars. As usual I lack the focus to listen to 14 minutes worth of track without falling to the ground by the wayside with my face into a puddle of mud and had to divide it up, not entirely successfully, into three pieces which it naturally falls into like movements.  So, for ex., here is the one that's a bit modal, which I called Stars Part 2:


As a pianist, his virtuosity is undeniably brilliant.

Part of the big interest of this record too is that it's one of those 'tax scam labels' I think which I talked about (really just quoted a more knowledgeable guy) here in this post.

It would be so cool if you had the time and money to buy every album to listen to from Tiger Lily to see if there are lost treasures in there!!

Monday 19 October 2020

Charly Antolini in Atomic Drums, Knock Out, Antolini Live, Countdown, Special Delivery (1972 to 1980), and the Catch Up Albums (1975, 1976)

From discogs:

Jazz drummer, born 24 May 1937 in Zürich, Switzerland, now living in Munich, Germany. Appears on records since the 1950s with artists like Bill Coleman (2), Wolfgang Dauner, Eugen Cicero, Stuff Smith, Baden Powell and Lionel Hampton or Benny Goodman in the 1980s. He also played in the dixieland group "The Tremble Kids" and the German big band of "Süddeutscher Rundfunk". Has been a band leader and session musician. At present he tours regularly with his band "Jazz Power".

Perhaps everyone knows the two Catch Up albums which were made in the mid-seventies with the great bassist/composer/library guy Milan Pilar and pianist Max Greger Junior, they were really wonderfully accessible fusion explorations with some nice ideas and that sweet sweet variation in moods typical of Euro-fusion, at times delicate and thoughtful, at times super-high energy.  The remainder of Antolini's discography was somewhat disappointing, being quite percussion-dominant, which is not conducive to resolving my frequent migraines problem, though the 1980 LP Special Delivery in which he assembled a big band to play some funky more jazz-based fusion was the best that I heard.  

I bought and ripped the LP so you can get off on the beautiful sound of the instruments, bar the (boring, sorry to the percussionists out there) drum solos that necessarily permeate the opus.  Thank god we are gifted today, in the age of social media, with the ability to fast forward without more than moving one finger, as opposed to moving our entire bodies as we were forced to do back when this record was first made, walk over to the record player, lift up the needle, and advance to an unknown place somewhere into the future of musical time.  Thank god we have social media too!!  And thank god for twitter! Boy is it ever helpful for politics!  Just miraculous.  I mean, the things that social media has done for democratic institutions, it's just priceless.  Should be canonized by the pope just like that teenager who made the website for miracles.  And I recommend you ready that story--a heart-warming story indeed.  It is.  Anybody have a clean doggie bag?

Notice the compositions are handled by such luminaries as bassist Wolfgang Schmid (I should do a post just on his stuff, starting with his Wolfhound and moving on he produced some really amazing fusion in his own right which I collected long ago), and keyboardist/arranger Dieter Reith, also a well-known, highly visible Goth Fusioneer.  His stuff also probably well known to all fusion fans.

Again you'll note I added the compositional credits which to me, but no one else I think, are highly valuable.  Wolfgang Schmid's The Pump contribution melds together disco and fusion in an altogether successful (?) manner:

I subsequently found a wonderful Milan Pilar library from 1980 I hadn't known before full of interesting progressive ideas, funky sounds, amazing atmospheres painted in music, etc., it's this one, and I included it down below:

And what a wonderful cover photo too!!

Saturday 17 October 2020

A decade of Matthias Frey from Psi Horizonte (1977) to Art Profiles (1988)


This guy is like a German Chick Corea in the staccato style of playing he employs, limiting ourselves to the acoustic Corea that is, not the fusioneer.  Typically Germanic too is the ethnic/turkish involvement here and there, with percussionist Trilok Gurtu appearing for example.  A few of his albums are really hard to find, especially Ziyada from way back in 1979, Ohrjazzter and Secret Ingredients from the mid-80s.  Shouldn't be surprising that this music is not very popular.  He never compromised his style throughout his career, all the way through to the remarkable Art Profiles in 1988 which I bought and ripped for this blog some 6 years ago, and which is still my favourite composition so I included it here in this package.

On the other hand when you add in the first album with the fusion band Psi, it's remarkable how that fusion excitement was lost once you stepped into that neon-coloured short shorts portal that led into the 80s.  Speaking of favourite fusion albums, PSI which came out in 1977 and which I think must've been all written by Frey, is one of my top twenty from Europe without a doubt.  The progressive just doesn't let up in song after song.  Here it's hard to say if we're dealing with progressive rock or just really good fusion because the melding of the two is so perfectly done.  Too bad it was a one-off like so much German fusion.

The one complaint I would have is that after listening to album after album of jumpy piano plus percussion it gets just a little too similar and dare I say boring, so you can only really pay attention (at least I can) to one LP at a time with this guy.  Until you get to Art Profiles, which is really stunning in its variety of moods and themes. 
I suppose I should delve further on in his discography past that one but as usual I'm quite terrified by the idea of getting into really new agey fuzak stuff which I'm sure happens sooner or later.  Especially when you take a look at the titles of some of those later works.

Friday 16 October 2020

Gonda - Kruza - Pleszkán - Keyboard Music (1986) plus Gonda Sextet (1976)


Beautiful cover painting!  And surprising for the late year, 1986.  Looking on the back I see the 'cover' has been credited to Gyémánt László and the graphic design to Henk István.  I'm entranced by the way he has depicted the chest of the woman who looks to be in either jeans or casual pants, like a modern day statue of the revolution.

I'm guessing the database isn't complete for Gonda Janos, since it seems awfully sparse to me.  You might be familiar with the great album he made in 1976 with Gonda Sextet with its very dark and Hungarianly pessimistic ethnic-progressive fusion sound.  I was curious about this record because of the involvement of Richard Kruza, who I posted before, here.  The third guy is jazz pianist, Pleszkán Frigyes, who contributed two tracks.  Gonda does most of the heavy lifting here, we have mostly jazz piano but occasionally some brilliance and synthesizer work shine through.

A3 Zene Három Tételben - Music In Three Movements by Gonda is very clearly progressive and stands out to me as the best written composition:

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Back to the New Sound Quartet with the lost I Tarocchi (1980)

I think everyone out there, or at least almost all, will be thrilled with this post.  I don't think it was digitally available before, sadly.  But you can be happy now.

As before we have that wonderful seventies library music sound with all that entails, including the amazing keyboardist Oscar Rocchi once again (now with appearances numbering in the hundreds in this blog). You'll notice I credited composers here so you can see who is the writer for your favourite tracks. Oddly enough it's not Rocchi that shines here but all the musicians have contributed and all have some great ideas.  The discogs database is here for reference.  Though from the outset you can be forewarned: this is not as good as Crazy Colours, unfortunately.

The guitarist Ernesto Verardi made the most amazing track about stars, with its multiple electric guitars weaving just an intricate material of luxurious cloth and intertwined fibers, note the soft reverbed rhythm guitar on the left with the additional ornamental phrases added on the right, plus the dual guitars playing lead melody, and how the song builds through some really unearthly chord changes from the tonic A strumming (into some flat minor keys!) & eventually modulating down to resolve into a final mellow E major:

As I've said before, that track is like magic.  I can't believe it.
Worth the price of admission just for that one piece.
And those chord changes are of a type you will only hear in these seventies records, in my opinion. 
Or at least I would be shocked if you presented to me a current album that sounded just like that song.
Now I wonder what other treasures can be found in Verardi's discography, of which I am totally one hundred percent ignorant?

On the other hand Cappellotto who in addition to having too many duplicated consonants in his name I admit is totally unknown to me as well, contributed an utterly lovely track about the moon, note the spacey synth:

As for our most beloved Oscar Rocchi, I saved him for last.  Everyone will agree his best composition on this LP is the tarot about lovers, with its pricelessly shiny, cascading, waterfalling, sparkly, loving electric keyboards sound:

So beautifully arranged too, with the 'fake trumpets,' 'fake strings,' all the digital instruments pretending to be a full orchestra but with all the right touches, like a master's painting with a wealth of detail, the more you look, the more you find.

Today you can all enjoy this little lost gem.

Monday 12 October 2020

Lesley Duncan, 5 albums


Singer and songwriter (born 12 August 1943 in Stockton-on-Tees, England - died 12 March 2010 in Scotland on the Isle of Mull). Sister of the songwriter Jimmy Duncan.
Active from the 1960s well into the 1980s, she recorded several solo releases and sang backing vocals on numerous albums. As a songwriter she was best known for Love Song, recorded by Elton John in 1970.

There are five albums here from this underrated artist that I had never known about before, the plethora of images above is due to varied covers I included because as usual I'm entranced by the lovely classic seventies artwork.

From the first album, the song called Love Song was covered by Elton John but written by her, and then dolled up by Olivia Newton John some years later, but in her original is just timelessly classy:

My only objection here would be that her voice is not as crystalline as my childhood favourite Olivia's but the understated production is supernal for sure.

From the second album called queasily, but typical for the times, "Earth Mother" the title track is surprisingly well thought-out and not silly-hippy as you would have initially surmised a prima facie, approaching the extremely inventive pop of Carita Holmstrom:

The third album is even better, more refined, more composed, more arranged in a professional production manner similar to Christian-American star Karen Lafferty, featured multiple times here but the fourth called Moon Bathing reached an apex of beauty in the songwriting, consider Heaven Knows:

And the fifth album (Maybe It's Lost), unfortunately, just missed the summit of the former.  We all have to reach a peak sometime, and for me sadly I have to recognize it's in years past, distant past even. Except when it comes to collecting tons and tons of LPs where I'm currently at the peak.

Beautiful stuff though in these 5 works.  It's not as 'perfect' (or proggy) as our lovely discovery Carita Holmstrom's seventies albums, but very very good.  

And look at that beautiful innocent smile: