Sunday, July 26, 2015

VOLKER KRIEGEL – Inside: Missing Link (2LP-1972)





Label: MPS Records/BASF – 29 21431-1
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Germany / Released: 1972
Style: Fusion, Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
LP 1: Recorded March 20th and 21st 1972 at Tonstudio Walldorf
LP 2: Recorded March 22nd and 23rd 1972 at Tonstudio Walldorf
Design [Cover] – Günther Kieser
Photography By [Inside] – Volker Hartman
Engineer [Recording Engineer] – Klaus D. Stingel
Producer – Volker Kriegel
Supervised By – Albert Mangelsdorff (tracks: C1 to D5), Dieter V. Goetze (tracks: A1 to B2)

A1 - Slums on Wheels ......................................................... 13:24
A2 - The "E" Again ................................................................ 6:36
B1 - Zanzibar ....................................................................... 10:22
B2 - Missing Link ................................................................. 12:03
C1 - Für Hector ...................................................................... 5:45
C2 - Remis ............................................................................. 4:26
C3 - Tarang .......................................................................... 10:00
D1 - Lastic Plemon ................................................................ 5:21
D2 - Janellas Abertas ............................................................. 4:09
D3 - Plonk Whenever ............................................................ 4:06
D4 - Definitely Suspicious ...................................................... 5:55
D5 - Finale ............................................................................. 0:10

Line-up / Musicians
- Volker Kriegel / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, octave guitar, sitar
- Albert Mangelsdorff / trombone
- Alan Skidmore / soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone
- Heinz Sauer / tenor saxophone
- John Taylor / electric piano
- Eberhardt Weber / bass
- Cees See / percussion, voice, flutes, effects
- John Marshall / drums, percussion

Volker Kriegel's follow-up to "Spectrum" is a double album and a much more dynamic affair and more to my liking. He has some of the best German and British musicians around helping him out. It's interesting that the first LP has a different lineup than the second LP.



The first LP has an eight piece lineup and was recorded on the 20th & 21st of March, while the second LP featured a five piece band and was recorded on the 22nd & 23rd of March. John Marshall is on drums on the first LP, lots of pictures in the liner notes and John is as usual very serious looking.
"Slums On Wheels" has such a great sound to start as the sax joins in. Intricate guitar then takes the lead as it settles some.The sax is back then the tempo picks up before 4 1/2 minutes. A calm 6 minutes in as intricate sounds come and go. It's building before 9 minutes and electric piano joins in. Nice. Bass and percussion continue. Sax before 10 1/2 minutes. Drums only from Marshall before 12 1/2 minutes then a full sound. What a way to start !

"The "E" Again" has a good rhythm as sax and guitar do their thing. Dissonant sax before 2 1/2 minutes. Electric piano leads a minute later. Sax is back before 6 1/2 minutes to end it.

"Zanzibar" is led by the bass and drums early then the horns come in just before a minute. The guitar then leads before the horns return before 3 1/2 minutes as it picks up. Some dissonance too. A calm before 5 minutes as bass and a beat with horns lead. It kicks back in before 6 1/2 minutes. Piano leads before 8 minutes and we get some nice bass a minute later. Sax is back 10 minutes in.

"Missing Link" opens with experimental sounds that come and go including vocal expressions. The music comes in after 2 minutes and starts to build. I like the drumming here. The horns start to blast then it settles back. A calm 5 minutes in then it starts to pick up with guitar leading the way. Nice. Horns take a turn before 7 1/2 minutes with lots of dissonance too. A drum show from Marshall 9 minutes in. Great sound before 11 minutes with sax leading then guitar. Killer tune.

 Alan Skidmore
 Volker Kriegel /Albert Mangelsdorff

John Taylor (1942-2015)

The second LP is a little more stripped down but excellent none the less. "Fur Hector" is uptempo and guitar led. Piano takes the lead after 3 1/2 minutes.The guitar is back leading late.

"Remis" is percussion and keyboard led early and the bass is prominant too. The guitar then joins the fray. "Tarang" has a Middle Eastern vibe to it with lots of percussion. Strummed and intricate guitar comes in at 2 1/2 minutes before the opening ethnic soundscape returns to 
end it.
"Lastic Plemon" is led by the drums and keys and is quite energetic. Guitar before 3 minutes. "Janellias Abertas" is an intricate and laid back track.
"Plonk Whenever" is uptempo with the bass and drums pounding while the guitar and keys play over top. Great track.
"Definitely Suspicious" is one of my favourites. It has such an uplifting mood to it and the electric piano has a lot to do with that. "Finale" is 15 seconds of mainly intricate guitar to end it.

Very enjoyable and a treat for the ears.

(Review by Mellotron Storm)



If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

LOCOMOTIVE – We Are Everything You See (LP-1970)




Label: Parlophone – PCS 7093
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 01 Feb 1970
Style: Psychedelic Rock, Prog Rock
Recorded at E.M.I Studios - Abbey Road, 1969.
Design [Sleeve Design] – Rainbow Studios
Engineer [Sound] – Jeff Jarratt
Executive Producer – Tony Hall
Producer – Gus Dudgeon

A1 - Overture ..................................................................................... 2:05
A2 - Mr. Armageddon ........................................................................ 4:25
A3 - Now Is The End - The End Is When .......................................... 3:17
A4 - Lay Me Down Gently ................................................................. 4:01
A5 - Nobody Asked You To Come .................................................... 3:17
A6 - You Must Be Joking ................................................................... 4:03
B1 - A Day In Shining Armour ........................................................... 3:32
B2 - The Loves Of Augustus Abbey - Part One ................................. 1:08
B3 - Rain ............................................................................................ 3:26
B4 - The Loves Of Augustus Abbey - Part Two ................................ 1:29
B5 - a) Coming Down /
        b) Love Song For The Dead Che ............................................... 4:32
B6 - The Loves Of Augustus Abbey - Part Three .............................. 1:23
B7 - Times Of Light And Darkness .................................................... 4:36

Norman Haines – lead vocals organ, piano,  mellotron, harpsichord
Mick Hincks – bass, backing vocals
Bob Lamb – drums, percussion
+
Bill Madge – tenor saxophone
Chris Mercer – tenor saxophone
Dick Heckstall-Smith  – tenor saxophone
Lyn Dobson – tenor saxophone
Henry Lowther – trumpet
Mick Taylor – trumpet

Norman Haines is responsible for two of the most sought-after albums of British progressive rock. Like many other brilliant artists, it took the world decades to recognize the brilliance of Haines’ work. He took soul, jazz, psych, and classical music to a place it had not been before, with lyrics based in reality during a time of social and political unrest.


Norman mixed all these influences into several brilliant singles and two lyrically and musically powerful albums. His career began in Birmingham in 1963 with the beat group The Van Dels, who changed their name a year later to The Brumbeats. By day he ran a small record shop taking in all the latest musical crazes and at night he put his knowledge to use in his band as they played clubs around Birmingham. The Brumbeats often played support for local heroes The Locomotive. By the end of ’66 Haines was asked to join the group on keys.
Before Haines joined the group, The Locomotive played mostly popular Tamla, and Motown soul. Haines brought in ska music to their set. They gigged all over and in 1967 they got a deal with the label Direction to record their first single, Haines’ original “Broken Heart” and the B-side “Rudy – A Message To You.” The single was not a hit but it got them a deal with Parlophone to record another Haines ska original “Rudi’s In Love,” which became a top 25 hit in 1968.
The band had done what most groups had hoped to achieve: they got a hit. They were now known as a ska group but this would end up to be their downfall as the group was starting to get into more ‘progressive’ styles of music. Around this time, founding member Jim Simpson leaves the band to become full time manager of The Locomotive and his other project, local band, Earth. Norman takes over as band leader and writes new material for their debut full length. In late 1968 they begin recording at Abbey Road Studios.


We Are Everything You See is an amazing piece of work from start to finish. Heavily influenced by classical music, the album begins with an overture, a short summary of the album’s main themes through beautiful strings, and a little interplay with clarinet before the strings raise the pressure and fade into one of the crowning achievements of British progressive rock. “Mr. Armageddon” has been included in countless compilations and for good reason. This song is a monster. Pounding drums, wah guitar, piercing organ and Norman’s unsympathetic lyrical delivery. Picture him as ‘the man,’ ten feet tall: “I am everything you see / and what is more / I am father of a thousand children / Mother… / Of a thousand million more!” The main horn riff is what makes this song. The ending takes it even higher as it drives to the end of the song and the drums and even the vocals just trying to keep up. This ending pretty much made me a believer in progressive rock music.
The next track, “Now Is The End – The End Is When,” solidifies the doomed mood of the album; the jazzy bassline and phased-out drums are brilliant. Then comes “Lay Me Down Gently,” another killer with back and forth time signatures, and the harmonizing is a nice touch. There is not a bad track on this album. The pounding drums on “You Must Be Joking,” and the screeching organ get along like a cat and dog. I love it. “Rain” is the perfect title for the ninth track, a mellow slow burner that the horns help to pick up during the end. The final song starts off simply enough, then it gets jazzy and the pace quickly picks up and pounds into the dizzying finale. The album also features reworked versions of two songs from the band United States of America.
Before the album was even completed the band had already fallen apart. Some members complained that the album was getting too progressive. Haines disagreed and quit the band before mixing was completed in mid 1969. With no band to support it the album was quietly released six months later in February 1970. The album went completely unnoticed and was soon deleted. Some of the members formed a new group called The Dog That Bit People. Haines started his own group called Sacrifice.

(Review by David Morales)



If you find it, buy this album!

THE NORMAN HAINES BAND – Den Of Iniquity (LP-1971)




Label: Odeon – 2 C062 04818
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: France / Released: Aug. 1971
Style: Progressive Rock, Improvisation
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London, Spring 1971.
Engineer – Peter Bown
Illustration – Heinrich Kley
Producer, Liner Notes By – Tony Hall

A1 - Den Of Iniquity ..................................................................... 4:32
A2 - Finding My Way Home ......................................................... 3:23
A3 - Everything You See (Mr. Armageddon) ............................... 4:34
A4 - When I Come Down ............................................................. 3:56
A5 - Bourgeois ............................................................................. 2:59
B1 - Rabbits ............................................................................... 13:03
        including:  a) Sonata (For Singing Pig)
                          b) Joint Effort
                          c) Skidpatch
                          d)  Miracle
B2 - Life Is So Unkind .................................................................. 8:03
        including:  a) Moonlight Mazurka
                          b) Echoes Of The Future

Norman Haines – organ, piano, vocals
Andy Hughes – bass guitar, acoustic guitar
Neil Clarke – electric guitar
Jimmy Skidmore – drums, percussion

Norman pushed on with his new sound, delving deeper into the darkness while a little more pop-friendly at the same time, almost completely ditching the horns and incorporating more prominent guitar work and adding folk influences. Haines got another contract with Parlophone and returned to Abbey Road Studios to record what would become Den of Iniquity.
A couple singles were released around the release of Den Of Iniquity which only solidified Norman’s ingeniousness. Released before the album, “Daffodil,” which Haines dedicated to his wife, is an extremely catchy, Latin-tinged pop song with lovely horns and percussion. Norman’s emotional vocals couldn’t be better. The way the song takes off at 1:20 is one of the greatest moments of Norman’s career. Pure genius.



As for the album itself, the opening track to Den Of Iniquity is a hard rock classic. Forgetting the classical intros previously used, this song bursts in with an organ riff and drums pounding in the background. The guitar comes in following the organ before taking over with some thick, wah riffing. The solo kills and I love the wah bends in the background. This song is the perfect sequel to Mr. Armageddon. This hard rocker kills.
The countrified “Finding my Way Home” is the perfect jam to play on a warm summer night while pounding brews with your pals. The vocals and twangy guitar are perfect. The following track, a reworked version of Mr. Armageddon, replaces horns with guitar. This version has a slow start but guitarist Neil Clarke totally redeems himself in the second half. He pretty much solos until the end and every second is great; the last 50 are astounding. I imagine Clarke jumping out of his chair and kicking it over before jumping into this amazing chord progression.
“When I Come Down” is another wah-laden hard rocker with some distorted organ noodling. This song was used as a demo by old manager Jim Simpsons’ other band, Earth, which by that time had changed its name to Black Sabbath.
The mood takes a mellow turn with the A-side closer “Bourgeois,” performed and sung by Clarke. It proudly displays his folk roots. The flip side of the record is made up of two songs. The thirteen-minute “Rabbits” is a solid extended jam. The final track eight-minute “Life Is So Unkind” is a moody instrumental led by organ, electric piano and some guitar, that brings the album to a menacing end.
When the band presented the finished product, including the grotesque album cover to the label, they outright refused to release it and most record shops even refused to carry it. The label delayed the release of the album for almost a year before finally releasing in August 1971 under The Norman Haines Band.
The original LP is now extremely rare and goes for upwards of $700. As with his previous album, it wasn’t successful and the band disbanded. At the time of release Norman was deep in debt and hit the road as Locomotive to pay some of it off. He even included the ska singles that brought him that brief moment of success just a few years prior. Disillusioned by the music business, he declined a chance to join Black Sabbath, disappearing from the music scene all together in 1971.
The last piece of music that Norman released is a single from 1972 called “Give It To You Girl,” a killer pop tune led by his brilliant voice and electric piano. It shows Norman’s growing fondness for Latin percussion, and gives us a taste of what could have come next.
Haines got into he construction business and put together a small band that played weddings and local dances, which he still does to this day. I doubt that most people he plays for these days realize what a brilliant musician Norman really is. It took decades for only a few to finally realize the genius of Norman Haines.

(Review by David Morales)

___________________ About the artist:



Heinrich Kley was born April 15, 1863, in Karlsruhe, Germany, and studied art with Ferdinand Keller at the Karlsruhe Akademy and with C. Frithjob Smith in Munich. He started out as an illustrator and a painter of murals, focussing on portraits, still lifes, animals, and landscapes.

Heinrich Kley is best remembered today for satirical, despairing, and often obscene images which evinced a maniacal distrust of the industrial revolution and its automatized society. In 1907, a series of remarkable pen & ink drawings appeared in the Munich German Expressionist literary art magazine Die Jugend that captured the growing disillusionment of fin-de-siecle German counter-culture. Kley's scathing and deftly rendered creations resonated with audiences and Kley became a leading interpreter of the follies and vices that beset mankind. Kley's art appeared in the United States in 1937 and caught the eye of Walt Disney & Sketch Artists at the Disney studio, including Albert Hurter, Joe Grant, and James Bodrero. Hurter introduced Kley's work to the Disney Studio and Walt Disney accumulated a collection of the artist's work. The images in Kley's art inspired a number of animated sequences and characters, including Night on Bald Mountain and the dancing animals of Dance of the Hours in Fantasia.

In 1947 the "Drawings of Heinrich Kley" was published with a forward by George Grosz. Of Kley, Grosz wrote:  "I am sure that the drawings of Heinrich Kley will be remembered and enjoyed as long as human beings retain the ability to laugh at themselves."

Conflicting sources have the date of Heinrich Kley's death as either 1945 or 1952. Whatever the truth is, his popularity is bigger than ever. Two volumes of his work were published by Dover Books; Bantam Books has used Kley drawings for some of their paperback book covers, and Atlas and Motive magazines have also used his work. His art even found its way onto a poster for the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, which probably would have amused the artist — a man who never shied from a chance to throw his India-ink-tipped barbs at the System.



If you find it, buy this album!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

KING CRIMSON – Lizard (LP-1970)




Label: Atlantic – SD 8278
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1970
Style: Prog Rock, Free Jazz
Recorded at Wessex Sound Studios, London, 1970.
Artwork [Inside Marbling] – Koraz Wallpapers
Concept By [Sleeve] – Peter Sinfield
Engineer – Robin Thompson
Mastered By – GP
Painting [Outside] – Gini Barris
Producer, Written-By – Peter Sinfield, Robert Fripp

A1 - Cirkus Including Entry Of The Chameleons ......................................... 6:28
A2 - Indoor Games ....................................................................................... 5:38
A3 - Happy Family ........................................................................................ 4:15
A4 - Lady Of The Dancing Water ................................................................. 2:43
LIZARD       
B1 - Prince Rupert Awakes ......................................................................... 4:34
B2 - Bolero - The Peacok's Tale .................................................................. 6:30
B3 - a) The Battle Of Glass Tears Including Dawn Song
        b) Last Skirmish
        c) Prince Rupert's Lament .................................................................. 10:55
B4 - Big Top ................................................................................................. 1:05

Words By – Peter Sinfield

Line-up / Musicians
- Robert Fripp / guitar, mellotron, electric keyboards & devices
- Mel Collins / flute & saxes
- Gordon Haskell / bass guitar & vocals
- Andy McCulloch / drums
- Peter Sinfield / words & pictures

with:
- Keith Tippet / piano & electric piano
- Mark Charig / cornet
- Nick Evans / trombone
- Robin Miller / oboe & cor anglais
- Jon Anderson of YES / vocals on "Prince Rupert Awakes"

_1         LIZARD is perhaps the most "difficult" of the early King Crimson albums, yet, for that very reason, it is also ultimately one of the most rewarding. The third release from Robert Fripp and company sees the band moving in a new and radical direction. The classically-inspired sweeping grandeur and controlled cacophony that typified the first two Crimson LPs has been here largely (but not entirely) replaced by a sound that has its roots much more deeply embedded in jazz.



LIZARD was highly avant-garde and demanding of its audience when it was released in 1970, and it remains a powerfully unique, almost disquieting listening experience today. While IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON's sardonic "Cat Food" may have hinted at the path about to be explored, nothing could have fully prepared fans for the truly bizarre, almost eerie colours of abstract sound paintings like LIZARD's first three songs: "Cirkus," "Indoor Games," and "Happy Family." Much of the credit for the feel of these tracks must be accorded to new vocalist Gordon Haskell, who had supplied the almost ethereal vocals for Poseidon's lovely "Cadence and Cascade." With Greg Lake departed for ELP, Haskell gets the space to reveal a voice of power and depth, which is by turns intimate, theatrical, scornful, fey and raving. The end of "Indoor Games" finds him cackling like a madman, but the delicately pretty "Lady of the Dancing Water" (the disc's most immediately accessible song) sees him don the guise of a sensitive poet-troubadour, paying court to his lady-love on the bank of a laughing stream.

The second half of the vinyl is given to the title suite. The first section of this masterful three-part song cycle features Jon Anderson of Yes on vocals, providing yet another savory flavour for LIZARD's exotic musical mélange. There is less of the jazzy experimentation which was heard on previous tracks; the direction here is more conventionally "progressive rock," with grandiose mellotrons, courtly subject-matter, and classically-oriented arrangements -- at this point almost a welcome respite from (or counter-balance to) the overt strangeness of the first half. The final installment, "Big Top," fades up to repeat the "Cirkus" theme, before diminishing hauntingly away, thus neatly framing this unique work of art. (Indeed, as art, this album is the total package -- the cover artwork is breathtaking, and the Pete Sinfield lyrics, with lines such as "Night, her sable dome scattered with diamonds," are some of the best poetry he has ever written.)

LIZARD may be an acquired taste, but it has stood the test of time as a lustrous example of early progressive rock at its most inventive. It is decidedly not for the faint-of-heart, but it is well worth taking the time to appreciate!
(Review by Peter)

 Ian McDonald, Michael Giles, Peter Sinfield, Greg Lake & Robert Fripp - King Crimson 1969

 King Crimson 1970 – Lizard

_2         In 1970, King Crimson was an unstable band, that surprisingly managed to produce excellent albums, landmarks in progressive rock. At this point, much of the original band had departed, with the exception of band leader Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield. Luckily, they bring in many talented musicians in to round out the band. This lineup only lasted for the recording of LIZARD and never toured. Gordon Haskell is brought on as vocalist/bassist to replace Greg Lake, and does an admirable job. His raspy, brooding vocals fit the material perfectly. Andy McCulloch is competent as drummer, and his presence is felt, giving pace to the often chaotic jazz interludes. The addition of many woodwind and brass players gave King Crimson a much richer, jazzier sound. Keith Tippet's strongly Jazz flavored keys are an added plus (Keith was asked to join the band, but passed). The material found on LIZARD also has a much jazzier edge than its two predecessors, and is also much darker and complex. While it does mark a step towards Jazz-Fusion, that's not to say this is The Soft Machine style free- Jazz; LIZARD is much more composed, and it is still very much in the Progressive Rock camp, with prominent guitars and stereotypical 'epic' progressive lyrics. One gets the feeling Robert Fripp and Sinfield carefully orchestrated this whole album, and it successfully builds a certain (creepy-demented) theme throughout.
LIZARD opens strongly with Cirkus, a frightening track featuring Crimson at their most insane. This track features excellent acoustic guitar from Fripp, as well as dramatic vocals by the underrated Haskell, and wonderfully arranged horns and keyboard flourishes. It alternates perfectly between soft vocal segments, and cacophonous jazz flavored instrumental bridges, creating a true circus atmosphere, with a sinister twist. This is a near perfect early-Crimson track, and shows just how scary these guys could be. The next piece lightens up a bit, featuring a wonderful jazz introduction from the brass section. Haskell's distinctive vocals give the song it's Crimson touch. Overall, it is quite good, but not nearly as interesting as the other tracks found here, and follows a more straight-jazz approach, with occasional Fripp Guitar breaks. Happy Family resumes the dark feel of Cirkus, with eerie distorted vocals, and more guitar and keyboards than on the previous tracks. It also has great flute touches. (note: It is rumored that this track was written by Sinfield about the Beatles' breakup, and many further contend that the figures found on the elaborate record sleeve under the 'I' are the Beatles...This is also one of the best cover's ever on a Crimson album, designed by Sinfield). Side One closes with Lady of the Dancing Water. This represents the obligatory, light acoustic piece on a King Crimson album, and is much in the vein of Cadence and Cascade and I Talk to the Wind. It is very enjoyable and light, providing a brief respite from the insanity surrounding it, but by this point, the formula was getting old for this sort of song. Side Two features the side- long epic, Lizard. The title track is a twenty-three minute suite, with four distinct movements. This piece is one of the most ambitious songs ever attempted by Fripp and Co. It opens with Prince Rupert Awakens. Surprisingly, Jon Anderson of Yes sings vocals on this piece, as Gordon Haskell never finished. This is an excellent touch. Anderson's light, ethereal vocals give the folksy-traditional prog song a definite boost. This song has beautiful melodies, and it is nice to hear Anderson sing semi-coherent lyrics, as oppose to his Yes work. The next two sections, Bolero and The Battle... are Jazz pieces, and feature impressive playing from all members. McCulloch's drums are especially good, giving The Battle... a warlike feel. The horn section is also excellent. These pieces are well done, but a bit drawn out and longwinded. Lizard closes with Big Top, a short reprise of Cirkus, giving the album a fitting close and a cyclical feel.

Many fans do not like this album, and it is not easy to define. LIZARD is King Crimson's darkest, and least accessible album. It is also their farthest removed from traditional rock. It is a progression over their last album, IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON (1970), and it is a shame that this potent lineup didn't last.
This is one of those albums that rewards repeated listens, a definite essential for fans of King Crimson or Jazzier Rock.


Note:
All the tracks on the album are connected, there is no break in between, so I decided not to spoil well blended whole. Now you only have two tracks, the first and second side of the vinyl.

Enjoy, my friends!



If you find it, buy this album!

Monday, July 6, 2015

CATAPILLA – Changes (LP-1972)




Label: Vertigo – 6360 074
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1972
Style: Jazz-Rock, Prog Rock
Recorded released 1972 (die-cut gimmix fold-out cover) - An Excellency Production
Lyrics By – Anna B. Meek
Design – Martin Dean
Producer – Colin Caldwell

A1 - Reflections ........................................................................... 12:14
             Written-By – Meek, Wilson, Calvert
A2 - Charing Cross ........................................................................ 6:48
             Written-By – Meek, Wilson, Calvert
B1 - Thank Christ For George ...................................................... 12:11
             Written-By – Meek, Wilson, Calvert
B2 - It Could Only Happen To Me ................................................. 6:52
             Written-By – Wilson, Calvert

Graham Wilson – guitar
Anna Meek – vocals
Robert Calvert – soprano, alto & tenor saxophones (electric and acoustic)
Ralph Rolinson – organ, electric piano
Carl Wassard – electric bass
Brian Hanson – drums, percussion

The second and last album from Catapilla was even weirder and more experimental than the debut, but actually also better. Robert Calvert delivers some of the best and most beautiful sax-playing I've ever heard on an album. Listen to the instrumental "It Could Only Happen to Me" and you'll hear what I'm talking about. You can hear the same on the last minutes of the 12-minute opener "Reflections" and "Thank Christ for George". The music seems often to be based on jams, and always dominated by Calvert`s saxophone and Meek's voice. Unusual, original, atmospheric and always very beautiful in the more quiet parts. If you're tired of Genesis and Yes clones and want to hear something far more original progressive rock, then you definitively should try Catapilla.




_1          Catapilla's second album is probably better-remembered for its gatefold cover -- a bug-headed lettuce leaf which opens to reveal a fat, juicy maggot -- than for its contents. Delve in deeper than that, though, and the music is even more striking . A magnificent LP, Changes offered an absolute shift away from the grinding Armageddon of Catapilla's debut, with the opening "Reflections" viciously carving out a new territory which floats with breathtaking audacity. For over 12 minutes, vocalist Anna Meek and saxophonist Robert Calvert duel and duet in a manner which would influence everything from Deep Purple's voice and guitar confabulations to Gong's spectral, spacy meanderings. Indeed, experienced Catapilla-watchers will not have been surprised to see Calvert working with that band's Gilli Smyth in the mid-'90s; the blueprint is all over "Reflections." From such a spectacular high, Changes drops back somewhat for the next two tracks, preferring to refine the jazz-rock compounds its predecessor found so profitable, but without the eye-over-the-shoulder toward Crimson and company. "Charing Cross" is jerky and arrogantly discomforting; it's the closest thing to the first album's brittle battery. The relentless "Thank Christ for George," on the other hand, is a smorgasbord of textures underpinned by some absurdly angry guitar and one of Meek's most effective vocals. But it's the reflective instrumental "It Could Only Happen to Me" which truly returns us to the peaks of the opener. A lovely sax melody haunts the same pastoral landscapes as Pink Floyd inhabited across "Atom Heart Mother" and "Echoes" before being scythed into silence about three minutes in, as Graham Wilson's guitar not only rewires everything you thought you knew about Catapilla, but comes close to rewriting prog history as well. A third album from this most visionary of bands, drawing its impetus from "Reflections" and "It Could Only Happen," might have rendered even Dark Side of the Moon academic. As it is, we can only dream wistfully, "What if?"

(Review by Dave Thompson)




_2           The sax is fantastic on this album as Robert Calvert plays acoustic and electric 
saxes and he uses tenor, alto and soprano.The drumming is so crisp and fluid like all great Jazz drummers are.This album is more atmospheric and spacier than the debut and many feel that Anna's vocals are better too. I like the way she uses vocal melodies. I can't forget the electric piano either. Everything for me is extremely well done.
"Reflections" opens with female vocal expressions as the sax joins in. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes to a full sound. How good is this ! They're jamming here.The sax is ripping it up 3 1/2 minutes in. Electric piano comes in a minute later and leads. So freaking good. Psychedelic sounding guitar joins in then vocal melodies before 6 minutes. Sax to the fore after 7 minutes. A calm after 8 1/2 minutes then the vocals come in and echo. What a way to start the album !

"Charing Cross" opens with sax, drums and piano as the vocals join in. I like her. This is trippy stuff. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. Intense. She offers up some vocal expressions.The organ comes in but it's brief. Sax follows before the guitar solos tastefully as it settles back.The guitar and vocals are crying out.

"Thank Christ For George" has a good raw sound with the sax playing over top. A change after 2 minutes as the drums and vocals standout.The sax and bass are excellent here too. We're grooving now.The sax and vocal melodies lead and the drums pound as they jam.Vocals and drums stop before 8 minutes as the sax and cymbals take over in a spacey atmosphere. She's back before 10 minutes.The guitar comes in as it builds. So good.

"It Could Only Happen To Me" opens with the guitar, bass and sax standing out then it all gets louder before a minute. Organ joins in as well.The guitar leads before 3 minutes then it's the sax's turn again before 4 1/2 minutes in a laid back manner to the end.

It's music like this that really brings me joy. Simply a pleasure.

(Review by Mellotron Storm, Prog Reviewer)



If you find it, buy this album!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

THE RESIDENTS – Not Available (LP-1978 / Ralph Records)




Label: Ralph Records – RR1174
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: Oct 1978
Style: Experimental
This record was recorded in 1974, released 1978 of Ralph Records and 
The Cryptic Corp.
Artwork [Cover Art, Based On A Drawing By A Resident] – Pore-Know Graphics
Composed By, Arranged By, Recorded By, Producer – The Residents
Copyright (c) – Cryptic Corporation
Published By – Pale Pachyderm Publishing
First pressing with purple labels (5000 copies)

A1 - Part One: Edweena ................................................................ 9:29
A2 - Part Two: The Making Of A Soul ............................................ 9:59
B1 - Part Three: Ship's A' Going Down .......................................... 6:32
B2 - Part Four: Never Known Questions ........................................ 7:00
B3 - Epilogue .................................................................................. 2:20

This record is issued at the discretion of Ralph Records and The Cryptic Corp. The characters and events portrayed are fictional and do not represent either The Residents or other persons, living or dead.

This is one of the strangest and most interesting recordings in rock history, which speaks volumes coming from one of the strangest and more interesting bands in rock history.  While the Residents have experimented within the confines of rock throughout their entire careers, with the exceptions of Eskimo, The Commercial Album, and God in Three Persons, this album achieves like no other. A surreal rock opera resulting in an incredibly weird circus of sound, it is one that simply must be heard to be believed.



_1          In 1978, the “official” word was that The Residents had stated NOT AVAILABLE could never be released. The group claimed that they had recorded their musical film noir masterpiece in secrecy as a way of exercising their “theory of obscurity” to its fullest, and, In strict accordance with the theory, the work could never be released until its creators no longer recalled its existence.

But those steeped in the lore of The Residents’ milieu have long known that the recording of the album was in reality an exercise in group therapy. The real reason that the band wished to deny its existence was the fact that they felt that the work was too personally revealing.

What is not generally known, though, is that, as part of their therapeutic process, The Residents actually considered the idea of creating an operetta based on NOT AVAILABLE. Casting the primary roles with the actual inhabitants of the group’s internal drama, they then began a series of loosely structured “rehearsals” with those players enacting the principal roles of Edweena, The Porcupine, The Catbird, Uncle Remus and Enigmatic Foe.

By enacting this pseudo drama within a psycho drama, the internal conflict, still not completely understood by all of the participants, became much more clear, as the player/characters instinctively acted out their roles. The love triangle between Edweena, Porcupine and Catbird became obvious (“Can two be more than three?”) as well as Remus’s role as the distant and objective commentator (“The aching and the breaking are the making of a soul.”). The purpose of the Enigmatic Foe was of course still unclea ´r when the rehearsals began, but once the Porcupine’s breakdown was known (“He thought the end was overdue, but day broke him instead...”), the role of the noble Foe, as Porcupine’s stand-in for the operetta’s climatic duel scene, became clear.

As the faux piece reached its peak, the trio - two holding pistols while the third hid in a bush - came to the realization that the lovely young Edweena had eloped with the independently wealthy and no longer uninvolved Uncle Remus. At this point, the tension, previously thicker than frozen mayonnaise, was shattered by the Porcupine, emerging from the shrubbery to paraphrase Shakespeare (“To show or to be shown...”).

With illusions of love shattered, the three were then able to forgive, embrace and even welcome the traitorous Remus back to the fold, once he had returned from his unexpected honeymoon.





_2          This, the second album recorded by the Residents, is perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful of all their albums. Its was bounded by the “Theory of Obscurity” and “could only be released when the creators themselves had completely forgotten about its existence.”

For whatever reasons, the album was eventually released four years later. Some have complained that this release was blasphemous and that the theory should have been respected. Let me assure you that no crime was committed. The lyrics are heavily veiled in an acoustic and linguistic gauze. Sometimes there is rhyme, and sometimes there is reason. There are times at which we catch glimpses of these lyrics through the veil, however their meaning tends to speak more directly to the soul, and for the most part are not available to the analytical mind. When listening to this album, one realizes that its obscurity remains fully intact.

The music is full of many rich and varied themes. Its juxtaposition of the sad, the beautiful, and the unusual, creates deep emotional currents that with proper navigation will lead you to interesting places. There is an innocence about this album that lays aside all pretense and bears open their soul.

We hear a hypnotic mesh of percussion, strings, horns, and voices. We find ourselves carried upon waves of unfamiliarity which lead us to seductive places where female voices and pianos sweetly wonder about the blooming of posies. There are also places of loneliness as felt in these words:

The sentence existing inside of a rhyme, is only just a token left spoken in time.

In “The Making of a Soul” there exists a most beautiful and delicately played piano passage. It sounds as though they were playing on their grandmother’s seldom used piano in the basement while she was away. Later, lamenting strings join in with the piano, and a peculiar person shows up with some questions that are guaranteed to shake you up.

We make our way through the turbulent “Ship’s A’Going Down”, spiraling ever downward, descending into the whimpering depths from which there appears to be no return, until at last we find ourselves with “Never Known Questions”. A lush resting place.

When you look into the emotions contained in the music on this album, they speak clearly, and there is no question of obscurity. This album is simultaneously sad, happy, and beautiful. Particularly as found in its climactic conclusion. Grandma’s sad and innocent piano reappears and after a valiant attempt at trying to communicate the passage of calling cards and winking bards and falling guards, there is a certain feeling of resignation as we find ourselves, along with The Residents, throwing up our hands and saying “OK”.

An angelic farewell march fades in and takes over while the singing continues in time with the new music. “OK, OK”. There is a sense of finality and acceptance. As the march continues to play, another refrain emerges.

To exist to show, or to be shown? Is a question never, never known.

As the music slowly fades out, so do the lyrics. They leave us, receding faintly, with the words “to exist ... to exist”. The music is sad because it is time to say farewell, as we all must do someday. It is happy, for having had the chance to exist. And it is beautiful, because it is.

The Residents' Art Director Homer Flynn


Note:
The eventual publication of Not Available came about as the result of a problem with the band. In 1978, The Residents were working on Eskimo, a much-touted major release. However, after a disagreement with The Cryptic Corporation, the band disappeared to England with the Eskimo master tapes. Needing something to release, the Cryptics pulled "some old tapes" off the shelves and released them as Not Available, complete with ads in the UK music press announcing "Now It Can Be Sold." The Residents weren't bothered much by this deviation from their plan, however, since the 1978 decision by someone else to release the album couldn't affect the philosophical conditions under which it was recorded in 1974.


The Residents:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Residents



If you find it, buy this album!