Monday 30 November 2020

Björgvin Gíslason's second album Glettur from 1981

I have no idea why I didn't post this one too with the other one back in 2014, which had the amazing hit song Doll in a Dream.  You can find it back here.   Must've been an oversight. I was just thinking about that track and what happened to the follow up album which was, of course, more commercialese compared to the brilliant first then I tried to find it on here where I've kept kind of a repository of my favourite 'discoveries' of the last 7 years since the blog started because that's really what this is.  But no luck.

Anyways the artist discography is here.  Note that he made a third album shortly thereafter which is pure new wave/pop junk (to us, not to those who love those genres!).  I haven't heard the later ones, that came in the new millenium, and maybe someone could suggest if they're worth seeking out. The situation reminds me a lot of the discography of Swedes Dimmornas Bro who came roaring out of the gate in the late seventies with their highly inventive progressive debut chock full of interesting compositions, just screamingly wild and tasty, but seriously deteriorated by the time the follow up Mal came out, and then became utterly uninteresting by the third.  And with us of course three strikes and you're out.

Anyways, this is about comparable to the second Dimmornas Bro, so, it will inevitably disappoint those who loved the first Bjorgvin album as much as I did with the bedside doll.  I guess it's also similar to the Ginga Rale situation.

Track 2 gives you a great idea of the kind of commercialized funky fusion we're dealing with here for the most part, like the recent Wellander:

Title track with its over-dramatic intro chords:

Anyways, still enjoyable for those fusion lovers out there.
A huge one coming up next for all y'all to look forward to.

Sunday 29 November 2020

John McLaughlin Montreux Concerts, limited time only

Requested by the commenter whose hard drive crashed.  I'll post a limited time only for obvious reasons.  For those who don't have the patience to listen to it all the way through, like me, there is one CD that really stands out.  

It's described thusly in the database, and it's CD 15:

15:1 –John McLaughlin & The Heart Of Things Seven Sisters 14:05

15:2 –John McLaughlin & The Heart Of Things Social Climate 9:47

15:3 –John McLaughlin & The Heart Of Things Mr. D.C. 12:53

15:4 –John McLaughlin & The Heart Of Things Tony 7:21

15:5 –John McLaughlin & The Heart Of Things Acid Jazz 12:53

15:6 –John McLaughlin & The Heart Of Things Jazz Jungle 9:40

Tracks 15:1 to 15:6 Recorded July 11,1998 Stravinski Auditorium.

The backing band called The Heart of Things seems to have been a nonce band (one-off, for this occasion?).

Saturday 28 November 2020

The unknown Galigai from 1982

Again, a beautiful cover, especially for the times (1982).

Another remarkably unknown but gracefully crafty set of compositions that highly deserve to be better known and heard widely.  The amazing thing here is the fact this quartet plays a mostly acoustic set of instruments but achieves quite an amazing variety of tones and emotions with just those building blocks: acoustic piano (sometimes the electric, or synth), electric guitar, and rhythm section.  Sadly only this one release from this group. I always confuse it with the very similarly named and similarly sounding, but not as good, Masal Galgal album which came out 20 years later.  (Note that Masal was the band of Jean-Paul Prat, who made his own amazing prog composition called Masal earlier, in 1984.)

Sentier des Meilliers (so far as I can tell the last word is a name, not an actual word, also, not a misspelling for Meilleurs as you can see from the scans despite google insisting in its translation pages that the word is a mistake):

The peaceful sound is just heavenly, note the unison electric guitar and acoustic piano playing the melody which is so rarely heard today.  As well the long and drawn-out melody never ceases to amaze me, particularly how it verges into those unexpected arpeggiated punctuations that slice up the track between bass solos.  Really remarkable.

Friday 27 November 2020

Orchestre Sympathique 3 from Canada (1979 to 1982)


That top cover is so remarkable, isn't it?  I miss those old album covers that showed both artistry and cleverness, so totally lacking today.
I posted the 1981 Live in Detroit long ago here.  The other two album are of course well worth hearing, although you might notice they recycled many tracks from one release to the next.  Surprisingly, the last album is the best one.
From that one, the Midnight Sun:

I love the way these artists are such incredible virtuosos on their instruments, with 4 players occasionally sounding like an orchestra. So typical of the fusion artists of the 70s.

Thursday 26 November 2020

Neil Larsen and Buzzy Feiten in 3 albums

Gotta love that bottom picture with the tight pants and the over-expressive staged hand gestures.  Not to mention the craftily styled hair.
A lot of people seem to have jumped the gun here and predicted this post.
This is Full Moon related stuff, as you saw these guys played in the 1982 album posted last time.

Neil Larsen is described as a multi-instrumentalist, Buzzy Feiten is the guitarist here.

There's a handful of good songs in there, with less and less as you move from year to year from 1978's Jungle Fever, through 1979's High Gear and 1980's Larsen-Feiten band.  Subsequently comes the second ST Full Moon album from 1982 posted before.

From the first album, From a Dream:

From High Gear, Futurama:

From the 1980 one, the best track is the instrumental (most of the album is simplistic vocal commercial funk-pop) Aztec Legend:

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Full Moon, USA 1972 & 1982

As is so often the case, a band I knew nothing of that a friend alerted me to, it has a mix of funk, soul-pop, and surprisingly (maybe not, given this was the early 70s), some progressive fusion.  So the mixture is similar to fusion-pop bands Australian Ayers Rock, or Canadians Lighthouse, Dr. Music, perhaps most similar to Americans Cosmology from long long ago on this blog, plus countless others posted before.  Information can be found here for this one, and the next one that came a decade later (!) with a marked deterioration in quality as per the law of declining progressiveness.

The homage to Malibu from 1972:

Moving a little East for the Sierra from 1982:

Not too bad, at this very late stage in the crazy game of finding really good new music.   
("New" music.)

Monday 23 November 2020

Ginga Rale Band Part Two: Information from 1984, by request, plus two singles from the same band as Rockdream


I posted the masterpiece, brought to light by Tom Hayes of course, earlier here.   Database information for this 1984 release here.  This is very similar to the situation with Epidermis discussed earlier, where an initial foray into extreme progressiveness led to more toned down, watered down, digital-80s-compromised music further on down the road.  Or the band Trilogy, with their Nachtlieder which was actually pretty good.

Like Trilogy, this album is still hugely enjoyable in some places imho.  Consider the track called Seven to Eight, which demonstrates a stunning facility with complex fusion:

What a shame they gave up on the progressive!

The hard rock and electric guitar edge is mostly gone in favour of angular jazzy, horn-based fusion along the lines of so much German fusion posted here in the past, like Das Pferd, Part of Art, etc.  Obviously, there is the huge (and dumb) Duran Duran influence too.

The singles under the moniker Rockdream were disappointing average eighties rock, the new wave style with electric guitar.  Notably, the 45 inch covers were very interesting:

Saturday 21 November 2020

Jean-Marc Padovani in Demain Matin (1983), by request

Here's a cool little requested jazzy fusion album from 1983 when artists (especially in France and Germany) were still capable of progressive and intelligent compositions in this genre and format.

It's very similar to the recent Pandemonium and Francois Jeanneau opuses of the 80s showing the same now-lost taste for angular riffs or melodic patterns and bizarro chord changes to throw you off every once in a while.  As usual for jazz artists there are the usual long solos which are kept to a relatively short 2-3 minute total timeline.  The artist is a clarinetist and saxophonist and put out albums every couple of years starting with this first one and you can see he was productive all the way through the CD era to the current digital era.
On the release information note that the familiar Barthelemy appears here on guitars, Texier on bass, and keyboardist is Siegfried Kessler, well-known in the French jazz-fusion-prog scene (from his works with Serge Bringolf (e.g. Agboville) and Yochk'o Seffer.

The title track has a diminished chord intensity that to me recalls a little bit old French prog-masters Carpe Diem, minus the synths and airy vocals:

Thursday 19 November 2020

Marco Persichetti's Il Tempo etc.

Mentioned before as one of my favourite library records of all time, along with Rocchi's Magic Keys.  This little gem came out in the surprisingly late year of 1984, and demonstrates absolutely zero evidence of that Orwellian year versus belonging actually to the mid to late seventies.  God bless those artists who ignored their zeitgeists!  And for library artists of course, we have been surprised by this before.  I don't really know if this amazing composer made more, other than that subsequent Noi Quattro which was equally gorgeous and expensive.

Consider the second song, E Volando con Te:

While the title track really really recalls the magic of Rocchi we know and love so much:

Pretty sure everyone out there who has not heard this before will be shocked and delighted by the magical enchantment and variety of the emotions crammed together into this mini masterpiece.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Bill Mays and Bob Shanks return in Explorations 1980: A Journey into the world of flute and piano music

Lovely cover.  So reminiscent of the times...

Here's the information for this one.

The first side is the suite composed by Bill Mays which is a bit all over the place, disconnected, a bit ADHD, in the sense it mixes classical composition, sometimes baroque even Mozartian, not at all amateur but a lotta Amadeus, with the more fanciful flights of flute jazz we have heard before on other fusion records, especially the Europas.  But it's strictly acoustic piano from Bill with the flute from Bob Shanks.

The second side is given over to jazz interpretations of classical pieces, some very famous like the Girl With the Flaxen Hair which has been reinvented so many times in the jazz canon, not sure if you know this CD for example by Israeli group Platina, I remember learning it in the conservatory piano programme and hating the multiple flats that made it so difficult at the time until I realized I could just play it as written and ignore the flats, as if it was in C.  But that's cheating. The whole point about learning piano is the difficulty of it-- as a millenial being would have so much trouble understanding. Wait, what? Not just by watching youtube? That's so dumb...

Going back to side one, Bill's Suite gets better as you go further along, as if moving forward in time from centuries ago to the current (!) 1980 progressive jazz time.  Of forty years back.  The Star Sail of part 4 is just wonderful, note the high virtuosity of Shanks coupled with the very delicate breathing, technically as beautiful musically as anything I've ever heard:

Sunday 15 November 2020

Back to Bill Mays in Kaleidoscope (1992)

Peter Sprague who appeared earlier in the preceding posts reappears, but not Magnusson, at least on this occasion.  And this occasion is surprisingly good for the late year, though marred unfortunately by those dumb standards incl. the horrendously Yersenia Pestis-like Body and Soul which is given a kind of ethereal touch with classical-influenced high-pitch piano key wanderings, interesting to hear though ultimately when that stupid melody kicks in, disappointing.

However there are two tracks here that blew me away, the ST Kaleidoscope:

and the one called Adirondack with the subtitle Wedding Serenade:

These two tracks are absolutely perfect music, as far as I'm concerned, or IMHO as my kids would put it.  There is nothing that could make these better, artistically.

I threw in here a mostly acoustic and mostly solo Peter Sprague release from 1980 I thought would be interesting, but isn't really, called Bird Raga.  There is another from him with the lovely title of Na Pali Coast, a name which will be familiar to those who have ever visited Hawai'i, but there is a track missing and the names have been mixed up, I threw it in too.

If he's reading this, my guitar-loving reader who lives in Hawai'i will surely jump up off his chair. Or surfboard.
Lucky those who are 'locked down' in a beach town!

Friday 13 November 2020

Howard Roberts Quartet with Bill Mays in 1981's Turning to Spring


If only, we were turning to spring...  More like turning to the dead of winter.  Or turning to the rolling over in the grave.  Or turning into zombies.  Turning to the makeshift morgues...

For a big change in mood for these very dark times here's another pretty and laid-back jazz album that is almost identical to the predecessor post featuring again the keyboardist Bill Mays that will bring you back, I guarantee you, to a time long before pandemic viruses.  Bill's compositional contributions are the highlight here. Note the delicate expressiveness achieved on the electric keys + guitar interplay on No Hurry:

On the database page you can see the credits for songwriting are all over the place, luckily there's only one throwaway jazz standard in Hoagy Carmichael's hoary old Skylark who I'd love to shoot out of the sky with a skeet rifle in mid-song.

Most likely the name Howard Roberts is well known (ha ha ha!) among the true progressive cognoscenti because in the first half of the 70s he put out two tremendously inventive and creative progressive fusion albums in Antelope Freeway (1971) and Equinox Express Elevator (1975) and I hope everyone knows and has those already.  So far as I know that pair were the only masterpieces, and I see tons and tons of dross in his long, long discography. 

More from Bill Mays shortly.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Bob Magnusson Quartet, Bill Mays, Bob Shanks, Road Work Ahead (1981)

Here's a lovely little totally unknown release by a bunch of artists I never heard before. Leader Bob Magnusson from NYC plays bass in this group while his quartet adds Peter Sprague on guitar, Jim Plank on percussion, & Bill Mays on keyboards.  Like so many other jazz records a blurb appears on the back with elaborate and fawning descriptions of the music, amusing to read, since it hails from a bygone, pre-social-media era when you didn't have to be cynical, adolescent, and conspiracy-minded to stand up and speak to the world.  So for ex. the track called As Our Children Sleep sure enough was written by Bob for his kids and the title suggested by them (-and wouldn't it be interesting to see the kinds of comments this would pick up in a place like twitter or even youtube if I reprinted that description):

The track called Zephyr by Bill Mays demonstrates a lot of creative ideas:

I'll surely be back with more from these guys.  I threw in a lossless for once because it's so lovely to hear the near mint condition of the record and crystal clear sound-- for all those out there with big-ass speakers still sitting in their living rooms to be used here, I salute you.

Monday 9 November 2020

Lesley Duncan Rare and Unreleased, 1977 to 1986 [limited time only]

Information can be found here.
I noticed this when I assembled together the other seventies albums she made, which I so hugely loved, surprised too that I had never come across the artist before, especially since I knew the Love Song track from childhood (which reappears on this cd in a different version).
Unfortunately this did not blow me out of the water, but it has some really nice soft touches here and there.  It makes sense since it comprises leftovers from the wonderful official releases, beginning in the late seventies.  Worth it, for completion's sake.  

Note the last song called Tomorrow which really grew on me, despite the relatively trite theme done so many times in this naive and heartfully sincere period in time now so completely lost thanks to social media with its dumbass adolescent comments and stupid memes:

There are some tracks that pander to that awful 80s style but luckily not many, incl. an 80s version of Bob Dylan's Masters of War tune.  Quite surprising to hear that one.

I can't justify posting more than a limited time only. Look at the beautiful photograph that they placed inside the CD booklet!

Saturday 7 November 2020

3 from Valerie Carter (Howdy Moon 1974, Just a Stone's Throw 1977, Wild Child 1978)

Truly a beautiful woman.  A natural beauty, incredible to look at.  
Especially with that so retro pouty-lips look on the Wild Child cover, so typical of the times.

Valerie Carter [Valerie Gail Zakian Carter] is an American singer-songwriter. Carter is perhaps best known as a back-up vocalist who has recorded and performed with a number of singers including Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, Christopher Cross and, most notably, James Taylor.
Carter has written songs for Judy Collins ("Cook with Honey" from Collins' 1973 album True Stories and Other Dreams), Jackson Browne ("Love Needs a Heart" from his 1977 album Running on Empty) and "Turn It into Something Good" (from Earth, Wind & Fire's 1980 album Faces) to name but three.
She has recorded six albums of her own and was purportedly the inspiration for the Jackson Browne song "That Girl Could Sing."

[Note that in the seventies there were only 2 releases 'of her own', the other 4 came later.]
Of note too is the fact that the James Newton Howard I featured recently is arranger of the second.

The music here is standard-issue female singer songwriter with not just folky influences along the lines of the earlier Lesley Duncan post but the all-important Joni Mitchell influence-- such a huge, huge part of the decade for female artists.  Not to deny her brilliance, I've mentioned before multiple times I love Joni's music to death and she wrote some of my all-time favourite songs like For Free, Jericho, and the oddly co-opted by the Xmas season, River, from the Blue album.  And I've also drawn attention to the fact she put out an amazing long progressive track called Paprika Plains on the otherwise blah and bland Don Juan LP.  Anyways, this post is not about Joni.  Consider Heartache, from the 1977 album:

(It's amazing how much this foreshadows that 'Lilith Fair' female alternative ssw style that became so so huge in the nineties with artists like Sarah McLachlan.)

The Joni influence is obvious on Back to Blue Some More, which, not said to detract, is quite an intelligently composed song, with its permutations in the chords for the middle section:

The title track for Wild Child is pure melancholy magic:

The feeling is just heartbreaking.
I was amused to hear Allee Willis' wonderful composition The Blue Side (from that double-LP demo set that I loved so much and so few people noticed) appears here.

Her wiki entry is unusually exhaustive.  It begins:

She recorded the eponymous Howdy Moon as a member of folk group Howdy Moon in 1974.
She later left the group to release her first solo album, Just a Stone's Throw Away, in 1977, under ARC/Columbia. Just a Stone's Throw Away featured guest appearances from artists such as Maurice White, Lowell George, Bill Payne, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Deniece Williams.
In 1979 Carter went on to release her second album Wild Child, again under the ARC/Columbia imprint. Wild Child was produced by James Newton Howard.

In 1996, Carter returned with The Way It Is, in which she covered songs by Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison and Warren Zevon.

Continuing, curiously:

Personal Life:
In August and October 2009, Carter was arrested in St. Petersburg, Florida, for possession of drugs. She successfully completed all of the court's requirements, and she became a graduate of Judge Dee Anna Farnell's drug court program on May 25, 2011. American singer-songwriter James Taylor appeared at her drug court graduation ceremonies in a congratulatory effort on behalf of all of the graduates.  

It Ends:

Carter died of a heart attack on March 4, 2017, at the age of 64. She is survived by her mother, Dorothy "Dot" Carter, and sister, Jan Carter, who continues the Official Valerie Carter Fan Club as an active Facebook group.

I threw in the Howdy Moon record too, it's very charmingly simple.  
Has nice moments, purely folk rock/ssw/soft rock. It's too bad the guys didn't allow her more songwriting opportunity, as her 3 tracks really stand out.
Valerie's backup vocals are noticeable for their exquisite girlishness (and high pitch) and beautifully done vibratos.

Wow, what a lovely group of long hairs!  
Gotta love the expressions on their faces-- how did they do that??  Or rather, with what drug, as my wife would say.

The lovely Cook with Honey song mentioned above showcases that formidable voice: