Sunday 31 January 2021

Mark 'Moogy' Klingman, 1972, by request

The kind of album those coke-addled Rolling Stones critics of the seventies (now all passed away presumably from hepatitis C or liver failure) would have gone nuts over with the standard blues rock chord progressions and most importantly the hoarse loud baritone vocals that Joe Coker sorry Cocker I believe first made famous and huge.  So many times as a kid I was led astray by those dumb reviewers and bought LPs that turned out to be terrible, who were so musically ignorant and so self-absorbed in their writing styles they had no idea how to appropriately describe any kind of musical style except in the most vague descriptions like "rock" (and sometimes they didn't even bother to include the genres), which is what this is, as if you took all of Elton John's bluesiest songs and removed most of the guitar and arrangements and reduced it to a homogenous whole e.g. the song Crying in the Sunshine, one of the songs that sounded to me like a Nyro copy (nothing wrong with that, I used to adore her when I was young): 

Wikipedia has a very detailed bio that covers his full history with Todd Rundgren and Bette Miller and that explains to me why Todd's Utopia wound up doing a well-known benefit concert for him not so long ago in 2011 before he sadly passed away from bladder cancer.

Note that he made another solo album some years later.  Anyone know if it was better, or different?  I don't mind buying it if someone can swear it's good, since it seems to be unavailable in digital format.

Saturday 30 January 2021

Spectre (USA 1982)


Another 1000 dollar record bites the dust...

One of a million Spectre-titled bands these AOR hard rockers only released one private pressed in the late year of 1982.  It must have been requested by someone or I don't think I would've paid attention to whether it was available.  At any rate, no one needs to pay an arm and a leg to find out if the music is good, you can ascertain for yourselves today, and beg your wife for mercy in the unlikely event you do decide to purchase this vinyl thereafter.

The recording and sound are poor, for sure, they could've done a better job in the studio. And the music is pretty average for the time. Just as you'd expect there is at least one track with the descending minor pattern (the Stairway to Heaven or While my Guitar Gently Weeps chord progression).  First track:

What is the explanation for the high price tag?

Friday 29 January 2021

John Fox's Emotions from 1983 with the Munich Chamber Orchestra

From discogs:

John Fox (born 30 April 1924, Sutton, Surrey, England - died 10 February 2015, Banstead, Surrey, England) was a British composer and conductor of light music. He was a regular conductor and arranger for the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Radio 2. In 1971 he founded the John Fox Orchestra for a concert given to the 75th anniversary of George Gershwin. He also composed several pieces for piano or orchestras (often performing with his second wife, Joy Devon) and was a prolific producer of library music.

This was co-composed with Mac Prindy here aka'ed Otto Sieben (which is via whom I arrived at this particular release).  The music is very programmatic, that is, all tracks are abstractly named Emotions and stand as a cohesive suite of soundtrack-like passages played beautifully by the full orchestra, perhaps a long symphony for chamber orchestra would have been a better description, but in 16 small movements.  There is nothing easy about this listening, no fusion, nothing rock-compromising, though overall it is very melodic, there is no baroque element, instead a lot of movie OST influence.  It would be fitting to be played in a symphony orchestra as I always say instead of the usual tired old pieces by the traditional European composers we are so so sick of and have been sick of and sick from for the last two hundred years.  

I really love this stuff of course, others might not have a taste for it, especially with the absence of any rock or beat element.  Emotion 14 presents a slightly more different sound with the addition of a grand piano for emphasis:

Not my rip, but heartful thanks to the ripper

Wednesday 27 January 2021

The best fusion library I know: 'Impulse' 1976 with Brian Miller, Frank Ricotti, Stan Sulzman, et al.

Says the generic blurb:

"Strong Themes Suitable for Film, Radio and TV with easy cutting points"

Here's the blurb I'd write:

"Beyond-brilliant miraculous fusion masterpieces that will stand the test of time for billions of years to come"

First up, information here.  Simply an outrageous set of instrumental compositions, shockingly well-written and progressive and original, and for once 'all killer, no filler' with no boring improvisation, just composition.  Similar to the much longer and tiny bite-sized brilliance of the other great fusion library masterpiece, Ceccarelli's Rythmes from 1976, it's hard to believe there's so much incredible thought that went into this virtually unknown LP that must have passed completely unnoticed back in the day.

The standout is keyboardist Brian Miller, a man who for me achieved his own self-actualized climactic heights of brilliance in the two-album band Turning Point released in the late 1970s, but who also was in Isotope and the much-worse Rock Workshop.  Consider Alpaca:

Stan Sulzmann has appeared on this blog before, most recently here, and his track called Sojan is also amazing:

The album closes out with one by Frank Ricotti too!

Monday 25 January 2021

Ray Russell Part 2, in Bands Running Man (1972), Mouse (1973), Chopyn (1975), Magician (1979), 2 Trolls (1978) , RMS (1982)


This guy popped up in innumerable bands throughout this period, as a session guitarist I guess mostly, sometimes in genuine rock groups.  He was in two Rock Workshop releases prior to this series, which I didn't like at all (being ordinary, beneath our highly erudite & sophisticated tastes).  The first release featured here (Running Man, 1972) is mostly bluesy hard rock with occasional prog touches-- resembling the old Finnish protos like say Elonkorjuu, but maybe not as good.  Compositions are by both Ray and Alan Greed (who was also in the preceeding Rock Workshop).  I think Mouse - Lady Killer (1973) is well known among prog circles, mystifyingly, as it's mostly totally ordinary and average bluesy rock with very little originality.  A surprise shockingly atonal modern music composition suddenly pops up in East of the Sun:

Chopyn is more in the AOR, classic seventies poppy hard rock direction we love so much (e.g. Baby Grand) and understandably so. At times it seems Ray Russell foreshadows his brilliant fusion opus magnum Ready or Not from 1977, as in the track Laughing Tackle:


Dig the outrageous synthwork over that driving guitar riff, by (possibly?) Ann Odell (here credited as arranger too).

The 1979 release he appeared on called Magician (check out the beautiful cover drawing above) features the libraryish soft fusion plus orchestra of arranger/easy listening composer Stan Butcher.  It comprises enough original thinking to make it into the canonical science textbooks. There's a lot of very atmospheric music, witness the track called Drowned Village:

The two Troll albums were written by Barry Ryder and Mac Prindy (Gerhard Narholtz), mostly library composers I believe.  Note the latter appeared in the wonderful Milan Pilar I posted not long ago (here).  On these 2 though the music is rather generic library with early eighties hints (silly jumpy beat, e.g.).

Finally, RMS Centennial:

RMS is a jazz fusion band formed in 1982. It consists of three well known and acclaimed British session musicians. Guitarist, Ray Russell, bass player, Mo Foster and drummer Simon Phillips.

Just a wonderful slice of later fusion with its very smooth Bob Bruford / UK (i.e. the band) style, all instrumental, filled with great ideas.  It's a pity they didn't make more music:

But I guess the days of fusion were already numbered, in fact, by this time it was already a walking dead zombie, like the monarch butterfly or the rhinos in Africa much beloved by the Trump family as wall trophies (and the Chinese as boner bumpers).
Another wonderful album to take a lot of time to listen to, savor, and enjoy. In the wild.

Saturday 23 January 2021

Brit Guitarist/libraryman Ray Russell in 8 LPs from 1973 to 1987, incl. fusion masterpiece Ready or Not, 1977, and a requested Brave New World


From discogs:

British guitarist, composer and producer who has worked with such artists as Gil Evans, John Barry, Tina Turner, Phil Spector, The Ronettes, Van Morrison, Art Garfunkel, Dionne Warwick, Bryan Ferry, Jack Bruce, Cat Stevens, Phil Collins, Alex Harvey, Mark Isham, Georgie Fame, Cliff Richard and Frankie Miller.

First up, who doesn't love that cover photo of Ready or Not with the beaded, bearded, berobed priest at work with his Fender...

A very inauspicious 1973 album called Secret Asylum with mostly free jazz preceded his big fusion masterpiece, Ready or Not, which absolutely blows it out of the ballpark for me, resembling the big Jeff Beck masterpiece Blow by Blow mentioned earlier.  Subsequently we get all library material with the usual generic pieces.  I'm still looking for his solo Brave New World! the other version of which also featured the great Alan Hawkshaw (posted below).  I confess that by the time of 1987's Hi-Band Entertainment 1, I was fast forwarding within seconds of each track, it's so replete with the annoying digitalese fake drums and loud-echoey casio chords typical of the era. And I can't believe, looking at the discography, how many of these libraries were churned out in the eighties and nineties!!  It's like the kind of music I'd expect an AI to generate entirely without any acoustic instruments or hominid input, entirely computer-fashioned and computer-minded.  By computers, and for computers, in other words.

Anyways, we have a gem in Ready or Not, and the library follow up City Limits has some interest too.  Included is a really interesting version of Living in the City with an I am the Walrus-like string intro.  There are brilliant exciting instrumentals, softer acoustic tender fusion explorations along the lines of French Transit Express or the great Capricornus by Lubos Andrst and some funkier vocal tracks.  And of course the throwaway pop hit The Clapping Song which is the most annoying piece of music I ever heard, until I heard the 1987 Hi-Band Entertainment record later that day, sorry to those who might enjoy it.  For the more hyperactive we have The Whole of Tomorrow:

While for the clinically depressed (of which there are now so many of course), Amy in May:

Mention should be made of the 1983 album Master Format, with its remarkably gentle acoustic guitar and piano playing some very sweet and tender melodies, no evidence of the late year except the nod to non-fusion jazz.  Witness, Distant Friends:

There are two albums called Brave New World, one that has Hawkshaw as well, but after listening to it I don't think I'll try too hard to get the other one, this one (the one with the exclamation point at the end).

Thursday 21 January 2021

Back to Peter Patzer with 3 more, years unknown but likely early-mid-80s (Puddy's Bus, Classic Themes, Formation 17)

Maybe you remember this artist from the past when I posted in 2018 his Patterns, number 4 in this series, and Straight Line, number 2.  Today we have numbers 1, 7 and 8.  The series (possibly incomplete) can be seen here.  Inevitably the remaining missing albums are relatively expensive. I won't be seeking them out after hearing these ones, which are highly generic, as generic as Dunkin' Donuts. The Classic Themes for example is nothing more than the same tired classical compositions heard for centuries before, but with added drum machine to back up the digital keyboard.  No doubt at the time this kind of stuff was highly popular, and today too these library records still are.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Eero Koivistoinen and friends in Sea Suite 1983 (and Ultima Thule)

This artist is very well known and really needs no introduction.  His 1976 fusion The Front is Breaking is particularly beautiful, original and masterful and I've enjoyed it numerous times over the decades I've known it, or 'are you sure it's not the same album you keep collecting?' as my wife would say.  Others probably enjoy the earlier Wahoo! much more than I do, and his debut Valtakunta I just detest.

On this record he plays with well-known Finnish jazz-fusion superstars Aaltonen and Ahvenlahti and the backing band is the also famous UMO Jazz Orchestra.

On this page you can see the talent assembled here.  Notice that Eero composed the music although there are arrangements of traditional thrown in as is typical for Finnish music.

The music is a mix of classical and jazz and remarkably well written considering the late year.  Although with the proviso that some of the tracks are really irritating, either too simple/basic in melody or too smoothly jazzy bigbandish, and I'm sure you know what I mean by that.

A sea shanty-like song, for the attention-deficited social media aficionados:

I 'll include the other 1983 album Ultima Thule which is really hard to find but I found that one distinctly disappointing. Oddly it repeats tracks from the Sea Suite.  Then the 1984 album Picture in Three Colours was also disappointing, I'll up it if anyone wants.

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Ananta from 1978 to 1982

From discogs:

Venezuelan band ANANTA was formed in London, UK by Ilan Chester and the brothers Jorge and Charly Spiteri in the late 70's. They were joined by Mark Francis, Patrick Bernard and Dave Early .

Probably most already know their first 2 albums, which have some really tasty passages of symphonic style progressive with hints of the South American style but mostly based on standard US/Genesis-inspired prog, like North Star.  But I was surprised to see they also released a cassette in 1982 which was different, upbeat and funky-disco in parts, amazingly well-written in terms of songs. The opener, Watch it go:

As a whole I found this hugely enjoyable actually.

Now consider Behind the Mask from the first album from 1978:

That classic prog sound is so delicious.