Closer (06, as Clive Nolan & Agnieszka Swita)
Walk On Water (08, preview EP of songs from She)
Embrace (08, preview EP of songs from She)
She (08, available as DVD, 2CD or triple vinyl)
Journey's End ... An Acoustic Anthology (08, 2CD)
Caamora - Agnieszka Swita and Clive Nolan
One of Clive Nolan's newest collaborations is Caamora, with polish singer Agnieszka Swita and a host of other prog luminaries*, with whom he wrote an epic rock opera called She, based loosely on the novel She, A History of Adventure, by Henry Rider Haggard (1886-7). This ensemble did several lavishly-produced performances of the opera, one of which can be seen on DVD and several related CD's. Definitely quite accessible in style, it's pretty good nonetheless. Nolan and friends continue to organize performances of the opera, the next being planned for Feb. 2012. Click on link below for details. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Arena | arK | Casino | IQ | Magenta | Neo (UK) | Nolan, Clive | Pallas | Pendragon | Shadowland | Strangers on a Train | Wakeman, Oliver | Young, Michelle]|
CAB3 (02?) -- Note: I can find no evidence that this album exists
Live at the Baked Potato (06, Live)
Theatre de Marionnettes (09)
CAB live line-up - Patrice Rushen, Bunny Brunel, Tony MacAlpine and Virgil Donati
Original entry 11/8/06:
Original entry 11/8/06:
CAB has changed line-ups a number of times, and has also featured Patrice Rushen on keyboards (she's played with many people ... in the prog world, Jean-Luc Ponty and Herbie Hancock will be familiar to you) and Virgil Donati (Planet X). Oddly enough, I can find no evidence that an album named CAB3 exists, but I'm assuming there was one because there's a CAB2 and CAB4. As suggested by David Marshall's review, I've spelled the name with all caps because they always seem to do so. -- Fred Trafton
[See Devil's Slingshot |
Click here for CAB's web site
Cabezas De Cera (01)
Un Segundo (02)
Cabezas de Cera - Ramses Luna (varied flutes, saxophone, & clarinet),
Mauricio Sotelo (electric bass, grand stick, electric & acoustic guitars, violin)
Francicso Sotelo (drums & percussion)
On Cabezas De Cera: Lately, I've heard that the music of CDC represents a mix of traditional Rock music and Progressive Rock. Well, well, well. Fortunately, so far I haven't lost my ears so I won't hang the noodles of errors on the ears of my readers. Actually, CDC perform a pure progressive music: this is more than a unique blend of a wide-variety of Progressive Rock genres and sub-genres. Here are general characteristics of all of the album's compositions. Highly complex arrangements with lots of very unexpected changes of tempos, themes and moods, variegated, quirky, fluid to fast, often atonal yet always harmonic solos and passages of Mauricio Sotelo's Grand Stick, electric and acoustic guitar and Ramses Luna's flutes, saxophone and clarinet, as well as interplay between all of these instruments. All of it goes with the accompaniment of Francisco Sotelo's either powerful drumming or soft playing the percussion. The Cabezas De Cera debut album, which is a real progressive gem, has just once again shown that Mexico is very rich in Progressive Rock talents and especially - with regard to the performers whose music is highly innovative, unique and at the same time distinctly Mexican. Despite the fact that, apart from the elements of a few of sub-genres such as Space and Psychedelic Rock, there are structures of the first four main genres of Prog (Classic Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, RIO, and Prog-Metal) in the music of CDC, on the whole it doesn't fit any of them. In that way, CDC is nothing else but the band of Progressive’s Fifth Element genre.
On Un Segundo : Above all, I was glad to hear that already on their second album CDC rather noticeable transformed their originally unique stylistics. Here, it is as polymorphous as that on the debut CDC album, even though the elements of Prog-Metal were completely lost somewhere on the band's way to Un Segundo. Furthermore, unlike the debut, this album is of a unified stylistic concept, which, from a ProGfessional standpoint of view, is indescribable, or, in other words, is certainly about Fifth Element. Really, one can call this music as Symphonic Progressive based on the composed improvisations; the other can assert that this is nothing else than some of one unusual Jazz-Fusion just veered to a more symphonic sound, which would be incorrect in both of these cases. Most of the parts of the soloing instruments on the album, namely saxophone and clarinet, flute and whistle, electric, semi-, and acoustic guitars, Grand Stick, and marimba, apart from the other percussion instruments and drums, sound neither symphonic nor jazzy. The only aspect of Un Segundo that I am really sure in is that everything on the album was thoroughly composed, and the album itself is filled with an outstanding progressive music. As for the parts of soloing instruments in particular and the highly innovative arrangements that are present on each of the album's tracks in general, all of them are just about Fifth Element whatever one may say. Episodically, a few compositions on the album are marked with Spanish shades, while both of the closing tracks of it are filled with wonderful flavors of music of East. The eclecticism, the frequent use of complex time signatures, kaleidoscopic changes of musical directions and tempos, the high-quality musicianship of each of the band members, as well as the performance by the band as a whole, are the essentials of the second CDC album. Those of you who were happy enough to get the debut CDC album and like it, will certainly love Un Segundo as well, as both of the band's albums are real masterpieces. CDC perform the so-called New Music, which is really worthy to be called the music of the new millennium. -- Vitaly Menshikov
|Links||Click here for Cabezas de Cera's web site|
Round The Back (77)
|Steely Dan comes to mind and I don't know why because I really don't like them, possibly due to the vocal style. A lot of credit is given to Rupert Hine and his production. Phil Collins also lends a hand but this band is basically a trio - Peter Veitch, Chris Thomson and Mike Ogletree.|
|Cafe Jacques, a three-piece from the UK, really only have a fleeting association with progressive rock as a genre, as their music is more similar to New Wave (although I'm reminded slightly of Brian Eno's more pop-oriented work). Phil Collins adds some percussion, while John G. Perry (from Caravan) plays bass, and Geoffrey Richardson (also from Caravan) plays an assortment of instruments. I have not heard the first album, but I have their second album, International, and there is a definite pop flavour to it all. The song, "Waiting", is somewhat funky, and Side 2 has some good songs that are quite accessible if you are more into pop music from the late 70s-early 80s period. The song "Knife Edge" (not the ELP song!) has a cool jerky rhythm to it with well-placed keyboards, and is definitely the most "progressive" song of the album. However, if you are looking for Genesis or Caravan inspired tunes, look elsewhere! You have been warned! -- Simon Karatsoreas|
La Citadelle (94)
Nouveaux Mondes (00)
|Cafeine first album, La Citadelle, is not the eighth wonder in the world, but is very good, showing a strength in expression, a nuanced and subtle compositional mode. Vocals are in French and when they are present the music tends to shift into standard mode, but instrumental passages constitutes, I'd say, 70% of the material. This shifting in a more standard mode offers to the public at large a door through which some unfamiliar with progressive rock can walk through and explore. There are also less 'rock' so to speak, more orchestral passages here and there. Cafeine is made out of keyboards, guitar, vox, bass and drums. To which additional instruments such as oboe, flute, charango, tablas, sitar and uillean pipes add colors and textures. For a debut album it shows a great deal of maturity and to-the-point performance by these young players. This is mainly a balanced group effort as no soaring lead takes the spotlight. There are guitar solos but they tend to be melodic. -- Alain Lachapelle|
|The 67-minute "Nouveaux Mondes" was one of the latest Musea releases in the past millenium and it is obviously failed in comparison with their other compatriot's albums such as Jean-Pascal Boffo's Perfume d'Etoiles and especially Taal's Mister Green that have been released in the end of 2000 too. Despite the fact that almost all instrumental parts in Nouveaux Mondes were played quite original, tasty and masterful way, all the vocal themes are extremely accessible here. Each track on Nouveaux Mondes [utilizes] different male or female singers (lyrics are in French.) Kaleidoscopic changes of such diverse vocalists, as well as an absence of monolithic structure of the album's compositional conception as a whole, makes this one sound like a motley compilation. However, I am once again going to remind you that all the instrumental arrangements on the album are excellent. So at least those of you who love the latest albums from The Alan Parsons Project and the like will love this one too. -- Vitaly Menshikov|
to read Vitaly Menshikov's full review of La Citadelle or
for Nouveaux Mondes
Piano Concerts (77)
Tendre Piano Solo (78)
Thank You Friends (78 w/ Didier Lockwood)
Great Winds (79)
Ethnic Duo (80, w/ Yochk'o Seffer)
Piano Reves (86)
Couleur Rubis (89)
Calme dans Le Etoiles (Calm in the Stars) (99)
La Fievre Monte (99)
|Jazz/fusion oriented keyboardist. He was one of the creators of Zao, and he also played keyboards for Magma on their Kobaia (1970) and 1001° Centigrades (1971) albums. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||[See Magma | Zao]|
Mas Allá de Nuestros Mentes Diminutas (78)
Noche Abierta (80)
Canción de la Primavera (81)
|Spanish flamenco-prog. Mas Allá de... consists of four long tracks. The first two are poppy, meandering and boring, but the second two manage melodic fusion and flamenco tendencies, which form the basis for the much superior Noche Abierta. This is a more mellow album, but the melodies are bright and true, the flamenco feel is spirited, and the light fusion touches remind of Camel. Songs like "Soñé Contigo" and the title tune are memorable, but everything comes together on the soaring instrumental "La Roca del Diablo", their best individual song. -- Mike Ohman|
The Pictures Within (91)
For Eternity (94)
Stories from Beneath (04)
|No information on musical style. See web site link. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||Click here for Maryen Cairns' web site|
Conflict and Dreams (98)
Time of Legends (01)
Also appear on various "Tribute" albums for the Magna Carta label (1995-1999)
Cairo is an excellent, wonderfully-bombastic prog band from San Francisco, California, who have released two albums with the American-based prog & metal label Magna Carta. Luckily, Cairo eschews the usual Magna Carta "prog-metal" sound in favor of a more classic approach. The Dream Theater/Fates Warning crowd would probably walk away disappointed.
Their first self-titled album Cairo was released in 1994. On listening to the album a few influences become obviously clear, mainly ELP , Yes, and Kansas (at their most progressive). The heavy ELP-influence stems mostly from the keyboard and drum departments. Cairo's keyboardist, Mark Robertson sounds every bit as good as Emerson in his prime, and it is his bold, complex keyboard sound that dominates much of the album. Robertson uses everything from Hammond organs, to acoustic pianos, to modern synths, making for a colorful wash of sounds throughout the album. Drummer Jeff Brockman also proves to be a very accomplished and exciting player, really adding dynamics and drama to the bands compositions. Cairo also has an excellent vocalist in Bret Douglas, who has a high vocal range ala-Jon Anderson, and really delivers some emotional performances here. The bands use of three and four part vocal harmonies is also stunning! With all of these comparisons you probably think that I'm about to complain about a lack of originality. Not so! This band does manage to throw in enough of their own unique twists and nuances, that they do come away with their own identity. Guitarist Alec Fuhrman adds some eastern musical influences and violin-like passages that sound very fresh and original in their context. Bassist Rob Fordyce adds some nice melodic counterpoints in the arrangements. Some outstanding tracks include "Season Of the Heart", with a very rich Yes-inspired vocal arrangement, "Silent Winter" which features a great melodic structure coupled with a bombastic twisting/turning instrumental break, and "Between the Lines", which shows off Robertson's Hammond organ chops. A real treat for old prog fans is the 23-minute album closer "Ruins at Avalon's Gate", which combines influences from ELP's "Tarkus", with modern guitar sounds and emotional vocals. It also becomes obvious after multiple listens that this band has some very thoughtful and positive lyrics, a nice change from some of the "doom and gloom" prog out there!
Between the release of their first and second album, Cairo contributed to Magna Carta's series of prog-rock "tribute" albums. They recorded a fine version of the Yes classic "South Side of the Sky" for the tribute album "Tales of Yesterday". Bret Douglas' makes a great showing for himself on "South Side", covering the vocal lines of Jon Anderson better than just about any else on that album! They also recorded well-executed versions of "Breathe" and "Squonk" for the respective Pink Floyd and Genesis tributes, although their version of the Pink Floyd classic adds little of Cairo's own unique flavor, and serves as more of a note for note re-creation of the original. Robertson later played on the ELP tribute Encores, Legend, and Paradox without his Cairo bandmates, and Brockman likewise played on Magna Carta's ode to Rush, "Working Man".
It was four years until Cairo released their second album, 1998's Conflict and Dreams. By this time, bassist Rob Fordyce had been replaced by studio-sideman Jamie Browne. Even though Browne is not an "official" member, he sure makes his presence felt on many tracks! Conflict and Dreams mostly continues in the vein of their debut, but with even more intensity and complexity! There is heavier sound on two on the tracks, "Angels and Rage" and "Western Desert", but luckily the band still avoids the plodding "crunch rock" pitfalls of most of their Magna Carta labelmates. Tracks like the complex (yet highly melodic) "Corridors", and the emotionally gripping "Then You Were Gone", are some of the finest examples I've found of modern progressive rock at it's best. The album closer "Valley of the Shadow" mixes some tight vocal harmonies with an unpredictable melodic structure. The instrumental duet in the middle of this track, (between Brockman's jazzy drums, and Robertson on piano and organ) is a stunning example of this bands talent. Anyone who likes to put down the newer prog bands as being somehow less-complex and interesting than the "classic" bands (i.e. Yes, ELP, Camel), should really give this song a listen! Conflict and Dreams also furthered my opinion that, while Cairo may be influenced by Yes, & ELP (they admit this!), they are not by any means some uncreative clone of these bands.Anyone who likes the creative bombast of the classic prog bands, but doesn't mind some more modern influences in the mix as well, should check out Cairo. The band have a new album planned for release by the end of 2000, and they are still with Magna Carta records. Guitarist Alec Fuhrman has recently left the band, and no replacement has yet been named as of this writing. -- Jeff Matheus
|A quintet, Cairo is Mark Robertson (keyboards), Jeff Brockman (drums, electronic percussion), Alec Fuhrman (guitar, vocals), Bret Douglas (vocals) and Rob Fordyce (bass, vocals). Cairo is the band's first release, a self-produced effort recorded in the band's own digital studio. With only six songs, each track is given plenty of development. The question is, is it necessary? Cairo, like Magellan and other "progressive metal" bands, take the ideology of '70s prog and update it with a '90s mentality. The disc opens with "Conception," a brief instrumental with a Middle Eastern theme reflective of the band's name. Created with digital keyboards and crunchy guitar, this song sets the mood for the entire album. Cairo's style embodies a certain degree of complexity (shifting time signatures and episodal compositions) mixed with commercial accessibility (catchy melodies and verse/chorus structure) and digital technology. Take "Season of the Heart" or "Silent Winter," for example. The choruses are catchy and easy to remember, if somewhat limpid in content. Douglas' tenor is clear and lucid, but lacks edge. Fuhrman's guitar solos are melodious and display enough chops to capture the attention of the guitar fan without succumbing to mindless displays of virtuosity and speed that plague bands like Dream Theater. Likewise the same with Robertson's keyboards, though the digital timbres are too generic and overused. The songs are structured similarly, with several verse and chorus passages, followed by long exchanges of guitar and keyboard solos (they need a more interaction, rather than "my turn, your turn"), then a return to vocals to close. This predictable formula lends a sameness throughout the entire album. Highlights are "Between the Lines," a driving piece that finds Robertson fingering the ivory keys of the Hammond organ, for some welcome analog sound. Here, and on the 23 minute "Ruins at Avalon's Gate," Robertson's embrace of Keith Emerson's organ style is fully evident. "Ruins at Avalon's Gate" is the album's highlight, with a good balance of technical virtuosity, melodic content and structural development. "Avalon's Gate" is in the grand tradition of ELP's "Tarkus," of which there are some similarities in melody and rhythm. I think the song runs on a little too long though, needing to be chopped by 5-8 minutes. -- Mike Taylor|
|Cairo is another one of the neo-prog bands featured on the Magna Carta label. Their debut self-titled release of 1994 is impressive. Their sound is reminiscent of ELP with a fairly good guitarist (Alec Fuhrman, who reminds me of Steve Howe at times), but with a touch of the 1980's Asia/Yes sound. The key member of the group is Mark Robertson, who is virtually a Keith Emerson clone. "Ruins at Avalon's Gate" sounds so much like ELP that you might be able to fool an ELP fan into believing it was some lost track never released before from the 1970s. All of the tracks are over eight minutes in length (except the instrumental intro "Conception"), with the best being "Season of the Heart," "Silent Winter" and "World Divided." Vocals (Bret Douglas) are good, lyrics need some work. They have a sound that tends to grow on you, like many other prog bands. -- Ken Robinson|
|Links||Click here for Cairo's page on the Magna Carta web site|
Caja de Pandora (83)
En Vivo (84)
|"Pandoras Box" play what might be described as a fusion of classical and jazz, with some subtle uniquely Mexican flavors added - similar in style to some of the early '70s classical bands. One LP from early 80's.|
|Only instrumental music very much in the ELP instrumental style, which prevented them from really taking off. -- Manuel Arreola|
Caldera (76), Sky Islands (77), Time and Change (78), Dreamer (79)
Los Angeles-based fusion band who recorded four LPs for Capitol. Although their sound is firmly rooted in jazz and Afro-Latin music, Caldera's music has a strong prog undercurrent, especially when Eduardo del Barrio's keyboards take center stage. Despite superficial similarities to other fusion and rock bands (e.g., Santana, Return to Forever, etc.), Caldera had a very distinctive, but also quite varied sound. Unlike most fusion bands, Caldera's recordings actually became less commercial-sounding with each release. So, their final LP, Dreamer is the least compromised, and most inspired of the four, but Time and Chance is also worth having. The eponymouusly-titled first LP was pretty decent, largely an instrumental cross between Santana and Heavy Weather-era Weather Report. The second LP Sky Islands was co-produced by Larry Dunn, who was the keyboardist for the R&B group Earth, Wind and Fire. As you might suspect, Sky Islands was a more commercial, R&B-influenced album, but still had its moments. Besides keyboard-whiz Eduardo del Barrio, other members of this fine band included flamethrowing lead guitarist Jorge Strunz (now one half of the new age guitar duo Strunz and Farah), reed player Steve Tavaglione (who went on to join Chick Corea's Electric Band) and ex-Weather Report drummer Alex Acuna. For fusion fans, Caldera is essential listening. That said, an open-minded mainstream Prog fan might also find a lot to appreciate in Caldera's music. -- Dave Wayne
[See Del Barrio | Strunz and Farah | Weather Report]
Fiore Di Metallo (73)
|One of the least interesting of the Italian bands. There's just so many that are better!|
|Unlucky band, they started out with a beat sound but when they recorded this album nobody took any notice of them.|
For a couple of years, Progressive was in the air in Italy, and many purveyors of simpler pop music
gravitated towards the style, drawn by the music and the potential liras it held. One of these were
beat group I Califfi, who had made a wad of singles in the 1960s and broken up at the turn of
the decade, as the beat seam ran dry. The original line-up had included guitarist Paolo Toffani
(Area) and drummer Carlo Felice Marcovecchio
(Campo di Marte), but only bassist Franco Boldrini
went on to the line-up that recorded Fiore di Metallo. A collection of nine shortish songs,
this album has one foot in the progressive rock of PFM and the likes,
and the other in the more conventional pop and rock musics. The grand opener "Nel Mio Passato" really
just alternates two simple musical strains: a magnificent 8-bar vocal melody supported by typical
layered arrangements, and an unrelated but equally straight-forward instrumental break for rough
guitar and screaming synth in double time. Elsewhere the standard song structure is slightly bent but
Some songs are basic hard rock - or, in the case of "Fiore Finto, Fiore di Metallo", simple beat music with hard-rock drumming and guitar textures - with some trippy synth flourishes. Others overlay wistful Italian pop melodies and acoustic guitar with fanfaric organ and synthesizer work whose pseudo-classical structures sound often both gallant and tacked on. In fact, it is the keyboard playing that makes the difference here. The problem is that keyboard player Sandro Cinotti has the chops, but not really the material to use them on. On the two instrumentals, he lays out jazzy piano, hand-me-down-Gothic-style organ, Emerson-like pyrotechnics or just rather impressively layered pseudo-Romantic piano and synthesizer figurations, all of which almost distract you from the fact that they are just thrown in one after the other or run on the spot without really going anywhere.
Hence we have a very nice album that just falls well short of the best of Italian progressive rock. On a sidenote, some songs from Fiore di Metallo also appear on the single album by Toffano's Electric Frankenstein solo project, albeit in different arrangements and with English lyrics. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Area | Campo di Marte | Electric Frankenstein]|
Yamanashi Blues (92)
An opening act: Live on tour with King Crimson (99)
Rocks the West (00)
Live at the Key Club (01, w/ Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto)
The California Guitar Trio and Tony Levin signing autographs at NEARfest 2001
The California Guitar Trio is a sub-product of Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists. The guitar trio uses mainly acoustic instruments, except for the occasional addition of electric parts. The tracks on both Yamanashi Blues and Invitation generally show superb arrangements where the three interact in a dazzling manner. Three type of tracks are featured showing the respective influences of Fripp, '50s groups (Shadows, Ventures) and J.S. Bach. Despite a limited context, the sounds are quite varied, show much innovation and are delivered by a production that is just as peculiar. -- Paul Charbonneau
To call these three musicians a "sub-product" of anything is, IMO, really
insulting. True, these guys all studied under Robert Fripp
in his Guitar Craft school, and have played as part of the League of Crafty Guitarists,
but they are brilliant and entertaining musicians in their own right.
I've seen the California Guitar Trio twice, but haven't heard any of their CD's. The first time was as the warm-up band for King Crimson for their Thrak tour, where they played their usual selection of classical music (Bach and Beethoven) and other well-known songs re-orchestrated for three acoustic guitars. You'll frequently hear snippets of Bach or Beethoven quoted in other compositions, but these guys have, for example, re-orchestrated the entire fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony for acoustic guitars. I'm sure Ludwig Van would have approved of the utterly faithful arrangement.
The second time I saw them was at NEARFest 2001, where they played with Tony Levin as a guest "fourth" to the trio. In addition to their classical stuff, they also played a number of tunes obviously geared for this progressive fan audience, including a song which merged "Zundoko Bushi" (a Japanese folk song) with King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man". They also played their own arrangements of King Crimson's "Discipline" and Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise", with incredible bass playing by Levin as he played it on ABWH's An Evening of Yes Music Plus. Since they do not sing, they encouraged the audience to sing along with this piece, which was great fun. They also played a Ventures tune ("Apache"), with a somewhat silly ("Robert said we should do this") dance step in the middle of it. They came back for one of the few encores played by the NEARfest day bands, which was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", which the audience also sang along with. I haven't had this much fun in ages (shut up ... I do so have a life).
They may not have been the most "progressive" band in the festival, but for my money they were the most entertaining, and they were a great upbeat break from some of the more serious or downright gloomy acts that preceeded them. If you ever get a chance to see them ... run, don't walk to buy tickets! -- Fred Trafton
[See Fripp, Robert |
Click here for the California Guitar Trio web site
Kaptain Kopter and the Twirly Birds (72), All Along the Watchtower (82), Euro-American (82), Restless (85), Shattered Dreaams (86)
Lead guitarist from Spirit, has a style reminiscent of Hendrix at times, but with a classical influence at times as well. His solo stuff is mostly your basic rock and a little patchy, not at all up to par with the stuff he did with Spirit.
La Terra Dei Grandi Occhi (92)
Cita di Frontiera (93)
Il Madrigale del Vento (95)
|"Calliope" is the name of the mystical muse that inspired the name of the band. Their music was inspired by groups like PFM or Camel with keyboards like Hammond, Moog and Mellotron as leading intruments with an harder rhythm section. Their lyrics are about the bad conditions of our planet and the never ending dreams of positive people; for who is still dreaming. Now they're recording the new CD for the 1993, and his name probably will Citta Di Frontiera.|
|Yet another newcomer from Italy. Calliope combines vocals that hearken to bands like Banco and Museo Rosenbach with heavy metal styled power riffs and frantic keyboard leads. This is a strong release, but I can't list it among my favorites. While containing firey musicianship, the actual note patterns they play are very repetitive. They impress you with raw speed, but don't carry through with mature writing. Not to say their writing is bad, however. This is a good album. Solid metal-styled progressive rock, not unlike the US band Dream Theater, maybe a bit less virtuoso. They remind me most of the Japanese band Gerard in the way their instrumental passages are blistering, though not terrifically difficult to play. The music as a whole lacks the compositional skill of PFM, Yes, or even Genesis. You can think of them along the lines of an Italian version of Camel on speed. Nonetheless I give this a weak recommendation to fans of the new Italian bands and/or progressive metal freaks.|
|One of numerous Beppe Crovella productions, this Italian band features voice, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. The compositions on Citta di Frontiera make use of plenty of Italian lyrics, Hammond organ, electric guitar and energetic rhythms. The sounds are rich, varied and mostly electric. This music is faithful to Italian tradition and relies on an energetic approach and an imposing sound. A disc full of excellent guitar and keyboard riffs that give a somewhat heavier tone to the usually more subtle Italian symphonic rock. -- Paul Charbonneau|
|The band broke up and reformed several times after Il Madrigale del Vento . They are currently reformed again with several new members and are writing in hopes of creating a new CD. -- Fred Trafton|
|[Do not confuse with US band of same name, with self-titled album on Thick Records label. Not prog.]|
|Links||Click here for the Calliope web site|
Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters (73), Lucky Lief and the Longships (75), Hype (82), Freq (84), Test-Tube Conceived (86)
Robert Calvert, born 1945 in South Africa starts his first artistic
experiments in Margate, where his parents had settled around 1947. He
begins to write poetry at an early age and founds a comedy-beat combo,
similar in the style of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. In the late '60s he
moves to London and gets immediately involved in the evolving psychedelic
/ underground culture. His poetry gets published in the "New
Worlds" magazine, then edited by the nowadays famous SF-writer and
one of the founders of the "New Wave" in SF-literature, Michael
Moorcock. Via his old friend Nik Turner, Calvert gets acquainted with the
band Hawkwind - one of the most vital and influential bands of those days.
Calvert becomes their "resident poet" and appears in most of
their gigs in between the songs, reciting his own and M. Moorcock's
poetry. [See the Hawkwind entry for more details.]
In 1973 Calvert leaves Hawkwind in order to work on his first solo-record - a concept album devoted to one of the subjects he was always obsessed with: flying. Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters subject is the tragicomical story of the F-104 "Starfighter" plane - sold by the Lockheed company to the German army - especially re-designed. Unfortunately it's these extra-goodies that makes more than 140 of these glamorous "Flying coffins" dive straight into the German soil. The album is a wonderful mixture of straight forward rock-songs, two lovely, romantic ballads, blended with incredibly funny Pythonesque sketches. The main actor in those was Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - other guest musicians were Arthur Brown, Brian Eno, Twink and most of the Hawkwind members. The album draws a lot of attention on Calvert - strangely enough his record company decides to cancel his ambitious solo-tour accompanying the album a few days before it's supposed to hit the road. A disaster in terms of Calvert's career and commercial success. However, one year later, in 1975 he releases his 2nd solo-album: Lucky Leif and the Longships, produced by Brian Eno. This album is quite different from it's predecessor - a lot of different styles and parodies (Country songs and Beach Boys mocking) are used to tell the story of those Vikings who originally discovered America, long before Columbus sat foot on the U.S. of A. Calvert of course also used this scheme to make fun of a lot of American stereotypes. A spendid and many-sided album - obviously and unfortunately too clever for the critics of that time - they doomed it, only to revise their opinion a few months later - when it was too late for Lucky Leif - they album failed the charts - leaving Calvert for some private despair.
In late '75 he guests with Hawkwind at the Reading festival gig and eventually decides to re-join the group and stayed with them through late '78. During this time he keeps writing his poetry, stageplays and other texts. 1977 sees the release of his first poetry book "Centigrade 232." He keeps working continuously, manically. He puts together his "Krankschaft Cabaret" - a mixture of spoken words performance, songs and sketches. In 1981 he writes and performes "The Kid from Silicon Gulch" - and "electronic musical". It's story is a detective story in the computer-hacker milieu - another proof how much Calvert always was in touch with current and future developments. (Indeed, magazines like "Wired" should pay a tribute to Mr. Calvert and devote a cover story to him...he did these things long ago.) 1982 sees the release of his "Hype" project: both as a novel and a record. It's the story of a somehow dumb rock'n' roll character named Tom Mahler, whose managers are only building up his career by the ultimate means of hype, to sacrifice him eventually, getting him killed - and by doing this, creating the final myth that brings them the real, big money. This can certainly be seen as Calvert's revenge on the corrupt music industries. In the following year he collaborates from time to time with "Inner City Unit", a punkadelic band that also features Nik Turner, another ex-Hawkwind member. In 1983 they release the album Ersatz under the name The Imperial Pompadours. In 1984 Calvert releases Freq - another conceptual album dealing in parts with the coal-miners strikes during that time and the relations between man and machines in general. Calvert developes a more minimalistic style - working prominently with synthesizers and a drum computer. He writes two more stage plays: "The stars that played with laughing Sams's dice" - a story about Jimi Hendrix time in the army and a two-hander named "Test-Tube Baby of Mine" - dealing with the subject of genetic experiments, a theme that also became very important, even obsessive for him. Accordingly his last solo-album, released in 1986, is entitled Test-Tube Conceived. It covers a wide rage of subjects - often dealing on the impacts and concequences of modern and future technologies on the individual and the society it lives in: living in the "On Line" state, genetic experiments, artificial life... - reduced song structures of a particular beauty and intensity. Listen to "Thanks to the Scientists" a chilling love song to a perfect biomechanic woman - a futuristic ballad. Another volume of poetry gets published: "The Earth Ritual". In 1987/88 he collaborates with John Weinzierl of the legendary German psychedelic band Amon Düül in the studio on another album. During the final stage of these recordings and just when he had put together a new band, working on new songs and other projects of his own, Calvert dies. He succumbs to a heart-attack in August '88; age 43.
All this might sound more or less like the normal career of a rock-musician - but Calvert considered himself first and foremost as a poet - and in fact, to enjoy his musical works it is most important to pay equal attention to his lyrics. Sadly enough, his books are nowadays out of print - though especially his poetry proves what a strong and exceptional imagination Calvert had. He is without any doubt one of the many extremly underrated artists of his AND our time - as the full impact of the themes he featured in his works is only today becoming visible: the threatening perspectives of genetic experiments - the global media networks etc. A truly contemporary artist - 7 years after he died. -- Knut Gerwers
Live On the Road (72, originally a bootleg)
The Snow Goose (75)
A Live Record (78)
I Can See Your House From Here (79)
The Single Factor (82)
Stationary Traveller (84)
Pressure Points (84)
Dust and Dreams (91)
Echoes (93, 2CD)
Never Let Go (93)
Live On the Road '72 (94, Live)
Live On the Road '82 (95, Live)
Harbour of Tears (96)
Coming of Age (97, Live)
The Paris Collection (Tour Y2K) (01, Live from 2000)
A Nod and A Wink (02)
Camel (1975) - Peter Bardens (keyboards), Doug Ferguson (bass), Andy Ward (drums,
percussion), Andrew Latimer (guitars, vocals)
Pete Bardens, Andy Latimer and company forged a unique sound in the early 70s which would later influence many other bands for decades to come. Based on a strong keyboard and a prominent role for guitar, their primarily instrumental sound was influenced by equal parts of classical, jazz and pop/rock, with lots of catchy melodies, time changes and great vocals. Their approach changed over the years, but not the basic style. All of their albums have some good songs on them but some are better than others: The Snow Goose, Nude, Moonmadness and Dust and Dreams are probably the strongest overall, while Single Factor and I Can See... are on the other end of the spectrum. A good place to start is with either of the legitimate live albums (Live Record, Pressure Points), or maybe one of the compilations. Dust and Dreams is the latest from 91, featuring Andy Latimer from the original lineup, and based on the John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath," essentially four vocal tracks followed by a sidelong instrumental piece. Landscapes is a best-of, featuring material from most of their albums, and is an excellent introduction to Camel for anyone not familiar with their sound. A bootleg from the 77 tour titled Unevensongs is also worthwhile.
One of the better known UK progressive bands, led by Andy Latimer on vocals and guitar, along with Pete Bardens on keyboards. Most people seem to agree that Mirage through Raindances (with Richard Sinclair from Caravan) is their best era. The music is very melodic, and features a lot of interplay between guitar, flute, and keyboards (including some excellent moog work).
Start with Mirage, which contains long songs with well crafted sinuous guitar and moog lines, interspersed with plenty of flute, or The Snow Goose (based on the book of the same name), which is a concept work similar to Mirage in style and execution. With the addition of Richard Sinclair and Mel Collins on Raindances, the music takes on a slightly jazzier direction (ala Caravan) though remaining very strong in the guitar/moog department along the lines of earlier work. Because of Collins, the saxophone adds another dimension to their sound that isn't found in earlier work.
Breathless (the last album with Bardens and Sinclair) is similar to Raindances though some songs take on a slightly more commercial direction. In fact, under pressure from record execs, The Single Factor is nothing but commercial oriented AOR-styled prog and I Can See Your House From Here (which featured Kit Watkins of Happy the Man) isn't much better and are best left for completists. Between these two was Nude, which seems to be relatively popular among fans. There is still an AOR bent in some songs but there is also a return to the strong melodic sensibilies and excellent keyboard work found on early albums.
Dust and Dreams is a triumphant return for Andy Latimer. The first few tracks contain vocals (which aren't too bad but not where the band shines) but the rest is solid, excellent instrumental prog, featuring equal doses of Latimer's signature guitar style and solid keyboard playing.
There are a few available compilations. One is Compact Compilation which features tracks from Mirage through Raindances and is a good way to experience what many consider Camel's best period. However, Echoes features songs from all their albums beginning with their first and culminating with Dust and Dreams. This 2CD set is probably the best introduction to the band.
If you'd rather stay away from comilations, go with Mirage or Snow Goose for their early work and Nude and Dust and Dreams for later work. There is also a live album (Never Let Go) which again features songs from nearly the entire of Camel's history, plus all of Dust and Dreams.
One of the most influential progressive bands, especially Andy Latimer's guitar and Pete Bardens' keyboard playing. If you haven't heard any yet, here's an album-by-album guide to help you decide where to start:
Camel: The first album. There's some (VCS3) synthesizer, but the emphasis is on organ, Bardens' playing on the heavy instrumental "Arubaluba" is unparalleled. The sound balances between the heavy stuff and lighter, more melodic fare ("Curiosity," "Mystic Queen"). The best songs: "Never Let Go," "Slow Yourself Down" include both extremes in the space of one song. Vocals straddle the line between unobtrusive and bland, with bass player Doug Ferguson being the primary culprit in the latter category. Latimer and Bardens tend to be much more interesting singers. Drummer Andy Ward proves to be quite excellent, shining on the two instrumentals: "Six Ate" and "Arubaluba."
Mirage: Adding full-force synthesizer and emphasizing the harder edge of the group's sound make Mirage very exciting. There's some softer passages on which Latimer plays flute for the first time, but the real order of the day: fiery fusion-tinged prog jams highlighting Bardens' big keyboard sound with lots of great synth runs and Latimer's Gilmouresque guitar playing. "Lady Fantasy" is one of their best tracks. Highly recommended.
The Snow Goose: A collaboration with experimental composer David Bedford, who did the orchestral arrangements, resulted in The Snow Goose, an album of programme-music based on Paul Gallico's novel of the same name (Reportedly, Gallico sued the band in the mid 70's for copyright infringement!). There are some of the high energy moments that made Mirage so great, notably the climactic "Preparation/Dunkirk," yet the emphasis is on the band's softer side. As a mix of rock and symphonic music, it works in a way that most such attempts can only hope to. Try this one too!
Moonmadness: Not unlike an attempt to make another Mirage, but many of the songs on this one are much lighter. Of the softer songs, "Song Within A Song" and "Airborn" are probably the best. There are a couple of Mirage-styled numbers, "Another Night" and the great "Lunar Sea," which may be the best Camel instrumental of all time. Some of Latimer's best solos and Bardens' best keyboard playing, but it's Andy Ward's drumming that makes this really a treat. The way he hangs together in the tricky 15/8 (!) time-signature at the end is spellbinding!
Rain Dances: The first album with ex-Caravan / Hatfields bassist Richard Sinclair. There's a stronger fusion bent to much of the music: the very jazzy "One Of These Days I'll Get An Early Light" and the great "Skylines" in particular. There are also lots of fine, more straight prog based instrumentals, "First Light" especially, but also the meditative "Elke," which features Brian Eno in a guest-starring role, and the neo-classical title song. Ask people what their favourite song from this is, and they'll inevitably mention "Unevensong," which is one of Bardens' best keyboard performances, and Latimer's most impassioned vocals are on this one. Sinclair's vocals on "Tell Me" are beautiful, and on "Metrognome" he adds a touch of whimsy. The best of the post-Ferguson albums.
A Live Record: Includes some essential songs from previous albums: "Lady Fantasy," "Unevensong," "Lunar Sea," "Skylines," "Song Within A Song," plus "Ligging At Louis'," an instrumental which appears on no other Camel album. The jazzy version of "Never Let Go" with Richard Sinclair on vocals is almost unrecognizable when compared to the original. Disc Two is dedicated to a complete live version of The Snow Goose album. Captivating. A pretty good sampler, if you can find or afford it.
Breathless: "Echoes" is generally regarded as a classic with superb Bardens keyboard work, and the fusiony "The Sleeper" is also top-notch, unfortunately little else of the album is. Mostly dedicated to the ever lightening of their sound, reaching a nadir with the dance-orientated "Summer Lightning." That song has a nice bridge though, obviously that's the part composed by Sinclair (I heard him reprise it live as a part of one of his improvisational ramblings). The rest is pretty poppy.
I Can See Your House From Here: Only Latimer and Ward remain. Colin Bass joins on bass, Jan Schelhaas (ex-Caravan) and Kit Watkins (ex-Happy the Man) join on keyboards. The dual keyboards are used to striking effect in the otherwise mundane "Wait." This album has its share of clunkers: "Remote Romance" is annoying, sequencer-heavy synth-pop, "Your Love Is Stranger Than Mine" sounds like the sort of music Genesis would soon be making (In fact, Phil Collins appeared on that song as guest percussionist, perhaps that's where he got the idea from). Still, "Hymn To Her" is a very pretty melodic progressive piece with fine keyboards, while "Ice" is a moving, dramatic instrumental with great guitarwork. Also interesting is a version of the Happy the Man song "Eye of the Storm," which I like better than the original.
Nude: An attempt to re-write The Snow Goose in a more accessible style -- with vocals. Most of the vocal tracks are poppy and dull, some of the slower-moving instrumentals are nearly narcotic. There are several more energetic passages (notably "Docks," co-written by, but not featuring Kit Watkins) which generate excitement. Best vocal track: "Lies," which is not unlike good Supertramp. Other interesting tracks: "Changing Places," on which Gaspar Lawal plays African percussion, and "Nude's Return," which seems to be an elaboration of "The Procession" from Mirage. The keyboards on the album are played by Latimer and Duncan Mackay, with a guest appearance by Schelhaas on "The Birthday Cake". Latimer's first collaboration with lyricist/conceptualist Susan Hoover.
The Single Factor: Really a Latimer solo, with Ward indisposed with a hand injury. Bardens is back behind the keyboards, and Anthony Phillips collaborates with Latimer on many of the tracks. I've heard only one track: "Sasquatch," a nice short instrumental. The prevailing system says to avoid this one.
Stationary Traveller: Band consists of Latimer, ex-Kayak keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel, and a number of members of Alan Parsons Project. I haven't heard it, but it's reported to sound much like that band in their prime, so if you like, etc. etc. ...
Pressure Points: Another live album, featuring both Latimer and Bardens and most of the Stationary Traveller line-up. Another one I still have yet to hear. Though short, it's reported to collect the best of the post- Breathless era, plus select tracks from before (notably "Rhayader/Rhayader Goes To Town" from The Snow Goose).
Dust And Dreams: I heard it once--live. Some good atmospheric keyboard work, and some fine Latimer guitar playing. Not unlike a superior, more rocking rewrite of Nude. A good one. The album features Latimer, Scherpenzeel, Colin Bass and ex-10cc drummer Paul Burgess. One bad point -- Colin Bass' vocals. He obviously has trouble staying in key. -- Mike Ohman
My favourite Camel album remains Moonmadness (1976), which was the first album of theirs that I bought. At first, I was captivated mainly by Pete Bardens' exquisite keyboard work. Since then, I have also been equally enchanted by Andy Latimer's beautifully melodic, flowing guitar lines. This being a very mellow, symphonic band, the rhythm section never really grabs you by the throat, but they are certainly no slouches. A Live Record also comes strongly recommended; this includes many of my favourite bits from Moonmadness, as well as a complete performance of Songs from The Snow Goose, the album which preceded Moonmadness. I haven't listened to the studio version of Snow Goose enough to form a solid opinion, but the live version is fantastic. And the orchestral backing is not overdone or wretchedly bombastic, as often happened when symphonic prog bands got rich and hired a big-name orchstra. It is bombastic to be sure, but mainly serves to accentuate and underscore the band. Other Camel albums that don't come quite so highly recommended: Mirage hints at what is to come, but is marred by some rather lame straightforward 70's rock tendencies (almost sounds like Uriah Heep at times!), fairly wretched lyrics, and lousy sound quality. Rain Dances, which followed Moonmadness, is a much more mature-sounding recording than Mirage, but at times gets a little too mellow and poppy-sounding. I blame this on Richard Sinclair, a rather overrated singer and bassist who is not without his charms, but somehow fits better with the likes of Hatfield and the North than Camel. On the bright side, Rain Dances features the ubiquitious Mel Collins playing sax on several tracks; his warm, glowing sound fits in wonderfully with Bardens' keyboards and Latimer's guitar. (Collins makes the same contribution on the first disc of A Live Record.) I'd stay away from Breathless: it has one fantastic song (the title track) and several mediocre entries; the rest is so bad it's embarassing. Apparently the albums following Breathless (up until the mid 80's) are of a similar vein. However, Camel have made something of a resurgence in the 90's; Dust and Dreams is a solid album, but a mere shadow of past glories. -- Greg Ward
The first, self-titled release by Camel has long been awaiting an issue on CD, and finally, Camel Productions bought the rights from MCA, and have released this work. The music features the original Latimer/Bardens/Ward/ Ferguson line-up and is very much along the lines of their classic Mirage, perhaps not as glossy, but every bit as good. As with their early material, the melodic interplay between keyboards and Latimer's fluid guitar is very prominent, with a good degree of improvisational passages, a la Caravan. Some of the finer tracks on this are "Mystic Queen," "Six Ate," and the concert favourite, "Never Let Go." On The Road 1972 is the first of (hopefully) many live performances by Camel that has been issued on CD, from the master tapes. This is primarily an effort to "beat the boots," by offering legitimate recordings of better quality at low prices. The CD contains the tracks "Lady Fantasy", "Six Ate", "White Rider", and "God Of Light Revisited", performed by the original line-up, who recorded their debut album, described above. The recording quality is not pristine, and has the occasional dropout, which is to be expected from a recording of that age, but the performance is true to form. Rain Dances was released in 1977, and features the "classic" Latimer/Bardens/Ward core, with appearances by the ubiquitous Mel Collins and Richard Sinclair (of Caravan). The music is very characteristic of the group, a mellow offering of keyboard/flute/guitar-based progressive rock, chock-full of melodic lines and Latimer's laid-back vocals. This release was very representative of the earlier Camel, harkening back to classics such as Mirage and The Snow Goose. Nude, released in 1981, featured Kit Watkins on keyboards, along with contributions from Jan Schelhaas (ex-Caravan). The sound was heavier on the drums compared to previous releases, and, perhaps, more up-front than previous releases. Yet, the essential Camel trademarks, Latimer's guitars and vocals, and melodic sensibilities remained, making this release a good indicator of the eighties flavour of Camel, similar at times to the Alan Parsons Project.
Another great, undernoticed band is Camel. Though not in the same league as Gentle Giant, their albums are at least on par with Genesis, Yes, ELP, and the rest of the big guys. Essential albums are Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness, and Rain Dances. Ignore albums after Pete Bardens left (1979's I Can See Your House From Here and on). They're much less adventerous. Andy Latimer's guitar work reminds me of David Gilmour-meets-Steve Hackett. Pete Bardens is notable for his great sense of texture. He's got the warmest Moog tone this side of ... well ... this side of anybody.
Great stuff, one of the biggies. Early stuff is more progressive. Mellow stuff with great guitar work. Highly recommended. Start with Mirage (more progressive) or Rain Dances (more jazzy). Later albums tended to sound like the Alan Parsons Project, because half the band was APP (Chris Rainbow, David Paton, Mel Collins). Camel is presently issuing CDs on Andy Latimer's (vox/gtr) private label. Buy 'em and keep him in business!
An incredible group. They should be considered right up there with Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, etc. On some albums, a bluesy feel, on others straight symphonic progressive rock. Nude is a concept album about a Japanese WW2 sailor stranded on a desert island for 30+ years, and who doesn't know the war is over. Mirage is a must have. The Snow Goose is the progressive version of Paul Galico's book. INCREDIBLE! To start, I'd have to say to get Pressure Points. It's an incredibly well produced album, and shows what Camel can do! They also recently released a 2-CD set (Echoes) which has a full concert from 1990, from beginning to end. What everyone else has said is true. If you like incredible symphonic progressive music, this band is a must!
Essentially guitar-driven prog, Mirage makes for enjoyable listening, but it's hardly wonderful. It lacks urgency, and what's more, it feels oddly conventional. This album has none of the surprises or quirks I expect from a good or even average prog band. That isn't to say it isn't well-done; on the contrary, the musicians play well and the songs are fairly well crafted, but each song seems to be missing something vital. It may grow on me, but I doubt it.
Camel is one of my absolute favourite bands (along with Genesis). I like mostly the old stuff (Mirage through I Can See Your...). But the last two studio albums just makes my knees tremble. They're so great! Tremendous compositions and outstanding guitar play! I think Harbour of Tears actually is one of their greatest albums even though it's more sympho/neo than the older albums (Mirage, Moonmadness, etc.). It's (and Dust and Dreams) just is a great piece of work, and to all fans of Camel, Marillion, Pendragon etc. GET YOUR ASSES UP AND BUY IT! I guess it's one of those albums you just don't get fed up with. -- Lasse Odegaard
At the very least, the best work of Latimer and Co. since Stationary Traveller (1984). Mostly quite calm, it is filled, however, with the spirit of Camel. I feel this album as a projection of the band's stylistics of the second half of the 90s into the present day. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Andy Latimer playing with Camel, NEARfest 2003 (Photo by Fred Trafton)
Update 12/15/07: After he played on their successful Y2K tour, Nathan Mahl's leader and keyboardist Guy LeBlanc continued his association with Camel by co-writing their next album. You can hear him on The Paris Collection Live CD, and on the studio album A Nod and a Wink. However, he was forced to cancel his appearance in Camel's farewell tour starting with NEARfest 2003 due to his wife Dawn's heart attack (I talked with her at NF'04 and she seems to be doing well now). LeBlanc was replaced for the U.S. part of the tour by Tom Brislin at the last moment. Brislin had previously toured with Yes in their 2002 tour, and also recorded with Meat Loaf. He did an incredible job, playing all of Peter Bardens' parts on the old songs perfectly. Camel alumnus Ton Scherpenzeel replaced Brislin for the European leg of the farewell tour. -- Fred Trafton
Update 6/16/11: In May 2007, Andy Latimer's wife Susan Hoover announced that Latimer was suffering from the blood disorder polycythaemia vera since 1992, which had later progressed to myelofibrosis. Later that year, Latimer had a bone marrow transplant. His progress since then has been difficult but steady, and in 2010 he re-emerged musically by playing a lengthy guest guitar solo (and singing) on the first track of a new album by David Minasian, Random Acts of Beauty. Minasian had previously produced and directed several Camel DVD's for the band. -- Fred Trafton
[See Bardens, Peter |
Bass, Colin |
Distinguished Panel of Experts |
Eno, Brian |
Happy the Man |
Hatfield and the North |
Guy LeBlanc |
Minasian, David |
Nathan Mahl |
National Head Band |
Phillips, Anthony |
Scherpenzeel, Ton |
Sinclair, Richard |
Click here for Camel's web site
Music From a Round Tower (96)
Music From a Walled Garden (09)
Dirk (Mont) Campbell
Entry from original pre-2000 GEPR:
"I was born in 1950 in Ismailia, Egypt and lived in Kenya till the age of 11. My family moved to England in 1962. Known as Mont Campbell, I formed the original rock band Egg in 1968 with Dave Stewart and Clive Brooks. In 1972 I went on to study composition at the Royal College of Music, gaining my ARCM diploma in 1974. I began my full-time career as a composer in 1989 with several commissions from Redwing Films, one of whose directors was David Anderson. I had composed the score to David's BAFTA-winning animated film Dreamland Express in 1983. During the last 25 years, in addition to film, TV, commercials and stage composition, I have become a specialist on a wide range of ethnic folk instruments. I have created two instrumental sound libraries distributed by ILIO Entertainments. My CD Music From a Walled Garden was released in November 2009, a sequel to my 1996 release Music from a Round Tower." -- Dirk "Mont" Campbell (from his web site)
[See Egg |
Click here for Dirk Campbell's web site
3 O'Clock Sky (05)
Particle Theory (08)
Neil Campbell is a classically-trained musician who has a number of albums out as a soloist and in collaboration with others. He plays just about everything, but his primary instruments seem to be classical guitar and piano. But he's also got a progressive streak, which has led him to release two albums under the Neil Campbell Collective monicker. I haven't heard the first of these, 3 O'Clock Sky, but I have heard the newest album Particle Theory. Wow, is this nice stuff!
The first thing to be said is that Campbell obviously handles the lion's share of the album's instruments. On Particle Theory, he plays everything except for the drums and has guests (the "Collective" I assume) doing specialty instruments like cello, horns, and bass on a few tracks. He also has guest vocalists for the couple of non-instrumental songs. The "collective" seems to come into play more for live performances, of which there are several videos on his web site. But the amazing thing is that it doesn't sound like one guy playing all the instruments. This really sounds like a live band playing off of each other like a single living organism ... the amount of composition that must have gone into this to make it play together so seamlessly is a testament to Campbell's musical skill and training. This ain't no garage wannabe prog band. Campbell is a pro and it shows.
Musically, I'd categorize it as mostly fusion, sometimes reminding me of Pat Metheny, but there are also nice atonal spacey synth sections (and 2 whole tracks of!) Klaus Schulze- or Tim Blake-inspired space rock, Chicago-like horn sections (but woodwinds, not brass) and outbursts of classical guitar or piano or a cello quartet. Polyrhythms are all over the place, with percussion and instruments weaving around each other until things start to resemble '80's Crimson for a while, then they're off into something utterly unlike that in the next measure. The only section that makes me scratch my head a bit is the beginning of "Particle Theory 2" featuring a classical guitar and harp duet that sounds like it's a bit out of sync. But even that cut more than redeems itself in the second half of the track. It's pretty hard to call this music "derivative" of anything, yet it never strays so far from things you've heard before that it becomes uncomfortable. Simply excellent, professional, superbly recorded and executed compositions that should please prog, fusion and classical music fans alike. Exceptional!
My only problem: where to file this entry? Under "N" for Neil Campbell Collective or under "C" for Campbell, Neil Collective? I could go with the "Jethro Tull is a band name, so it's filed under 'J'" theory, or I could say this name is more like Alan Parsons' Project, which is filed under "P". Do you care? Of course not! So I'll just file it under "C" and put this band in the alphabetical listings both ways ... that way you can find him either way.
OK, enough about that. Just go order Particle Theory right away and ignore this babble, OK? -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Neil Campbell Collective's web site
Click here for Neil Campbell Collective's MySpace page
Click here to order 3 O'Clock Sky from CD Baby
Click here to order Particle Theory from CD Baby
Campo Di Marte (73)
|Brilliant instrumental album. Classic line-up plus a flute. Has a hard rock edge although very progressive. Although there is no singing the tracks are full of changes and creativity. Another very good early 70's Italian band. Closest sounding band is De De Lind. -- Jean-François Cousin|
|I was initially intrigued by the attractive album cover depicting an earthen, renaissance-like martial theme of five (I'm assuming representing the band members) juxtaposed armed men, each impaling a part of their respective bodies with their weapons. The music is based on a recognizeable theme played on flutes and is very well crafted. The guitar work is influenced by Jan Akkerman's (of Focus fame) fuzzed dexterity and balanced with the pastoral lyricism found on keyboards and acoustic guitar typical of so many Italian bands. Overall this Italian band blends its Meditterreanean melodicism with convincing hard rock. This album may be said to be close in feeling to Museo Rosenbach's Zarathustra, although displaying more finesse and cohesiveness. -- Philip Andrews|
On the sleeve of their only album Campo Di Marte declare a bloodless war against, among
other things, indifference, stupidity, political apathy, phony respectability and,
ultimately, war itself. Thirty years after the fact these ideas sound just as out of
time and out of place as the music on the album itself. "Primo Tempo" doesn't so much
open the album as roar out of the speakers with snarling guitar riffs and granite-like
bass thumping whose closest counterpoint in the progressive sphere is
King Crimson's "Pictures of the City". Yet in between
these barrages softer sections emerge, carried by soft organs and softer vocals. Then
acoustic guitar, flute and elegant French horns take over for a while and build delicate
sound castles in the air - only to have them shattered by the violent re-emergence of
the hacksaw guitar.
And so it goes on, through seven movements whose limits seem more or less arbitrary, because this is really an album-length work where themes constantly re-appear: brambled and angular rock riffs morph instantly into classical keyboard arpeggios and Genesis-like melodic drama ("Terzo Tempo" particularly draws from the early-Genesis book of recipes), and pastoral smooching turns into electric rape. It works marvellously too, with only the lengthy final movement getting a bit laboured in trying to recap all the devices employed in the previous six movements and, unsuccessfully, to find a profound enough ending to it all. What De De Lind tried to do on their album, Campo di Marte pull off here, thanks to richer instrumentation (the modestly-used Mellotron is a particularly good touch here) and even richer writing that accommodates lot of the central ideas of Italian progressive rock, even though not as smoothly as some of the better-known bands. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Prehistoric Future (68)
Monster Movie (69)
Tago Mago (71)
Ege Bamyasi (72)
Future Days (73)
Limited Edition (74)
Soon Over Babaluma (74)
Unlimited Edition (76)
Flow Motion (76)
Saw Delight (77)
Out Of Reach (78)
Can (79, reissued as Inner Space)
Delay (81, recorded '68)
Only You (82, Edition of 100 numbered cassettes in tins)
Rite Time (89)
Fischerman's Friend Remixes (90)
Can Live Music (99, Live, Recorded 71-77)
Important, innovative, original German space band.
The way they mixed electronics, avant-garde and "world music" ideas in a decidedly
rock-orientated format was unlike anything anyone had done before, and was influential
not only on latter-day improvisational prog bands such as Djam
Karet and Ozric Tentacles, but also on new-wave and
industrial bands. The band is graced by the best players Germany had to offer:
Holger Czukay is probably second only to
Hellmuth Hattler as far as German bass players are
concerned. Jaki Liebezeit is an amazingly agile drummer, and on nearly all
songs adds more than just drums, playing a wide array of different
percussion instruments to keep the sound intriguing. Michael Karoli has a
very individualistic guitar style consisting of smooth chordal glides and
staccato plucking. And keyboardist Irmin Schmidt's training under
avant-garde composer Karheinz Stockhausen really pays off musically,
though he usually plays only organ and electric piano, you'd never guess
it from the amount of electronic devices hooked up to his instruments.
Here's a synopsis of most of their albums.:
Delay 1968: Earliest music, but not released till much later. Haven't heard this, but it's probably not unlike Monster Movie.
Monster Movie: Their de facto debut (1969) is quite raw sounding, with a sort of heavy psychedelic bent with noisy proto-electronic distortion on just about every instrument. American vocalist Malcolm Mooney has a maniacal screaming style, which is often most inappropriate to the accompanying music. He sounds eerily like John Lydon of Public Image Ltd. (especially on the punkish "Outside My Door"), a man I'm sure listened to more than one Can album in his day. The 20-minute "Yoo Doo Right" manages to create some of the audio-hypnosis that would be explored on future albums, but in very embryonic form.
Soundtracks: Selected music from the various films they did soundtrack work for. One track features Mooney, the rest have new vocalist Kenji "Damo" Suzuki on them. It owes its existence to the fact that there was a need to fill in the gap between Tago Mago and the previous LP. I haven't heard it. If you like it, though, you might try searching out the super-rare soundtrack album to the film The Deep End, which features Can music as well as songs by Cat Stevens. You'd probably be more successful finding a copy of The Deep End in the foreign films section of a video store. One track from the film is included on Soundtracks.
Tago Mago: Far-out double LP. Damo comes into his own vocally here, consisting mostly of spaced-out mumbles punctuated with fits of manic shouting as well as some totally bizarre onomatopoeic noises as on "Peking O." Their mix of trance music and rock works best on the shorter tracks: "Bring Me Coffee Or Tea," "Mushroom," "Paperhouse"--but the 18-minute "Halleluwah" is also effective. The 17-minute "Aumgn" is one of the more strange side-long improvisations the German scene produced, reverb-heavy, featuring bubbling electronics, deep anguished upslurred vocal moans (by Schmidt), and bowed double-bass (by Liebezeit). Best track: probably "Oh Yeah," with an intro featuring backwards vocals and a backwards guitar solo, and vocals in Japanese (Damo's native tongue. He usually sings in English when he chooses to sing in any language at all.).
Ege Bamyasi: Takes the ideas first essayed on Tago Mago and refines and perfects them. Opens up with perhaps the best Can track ever: "Pinch," which totally blew me away the first time I heard it. Perhaps most dramatic is Schmidt's use of electronics, which is going beyond his own keyboards and beginning to take over Caroli's guitar, as per Eno in Roxy Music. Liebezeit's percussion is all over the place on this track. Likewise one of Czukay's and Damo's best performances. Another dramatic use of Schmidt's electronics is the ten-minute "Soup," which builds slowly from light whirling electronics out of which materializes a percussive, gently accelerating jam which continues mounting until BOOM! A sudden burst of unexpected, nearly cacophonous electronics, with Damo toying some more drifting tune with prominent flexitone wailing by Liebezeit, Damo's vocals are even melodic on this one, and "One More Night", a number in 7/8 with fine, tight playing by the rhythm section. "Spoon" was apparently a hit single in Germany! Everything comes together on this one, possibly their best. Essential listening.
Future Days: Trying something different here, grand washes of keyboard sound resembling alternately a massive string-orchestra or ocean waves. Karoli's dreamlike guitar really comes into play in a big way here. The 20-minute "Bel Air" (a.k.a. "Strike A Light") is some of the most cohesive jamming you may ever hope to hear. Also some of the most beautiful, the music resembles the auditory equivalent of an impressionist painting. One of the best albums for beginners.
Soon Over Babaluma: With Damo gone, Karoli is forced to take over most of the vocal chores. Stylistically, he seems to be doing the same sort of things Damo was on Future Days. If you played the two back-to-back, you'd probably never know he was gone. He's also beginning to play the violin a lot, as on the reggae-inflected "Dizzy Dizzy." "Come Sta, La Luna" is a fine vehicle for Schmidt's piano and Karoli's pizzicato guitar. Electronic moans fade in and out as Schmidt provides a rather distorted conversational lead vocal, with Karoli singing the chorus. The rest of the album is improvisational, not unlike Future Days only more intense, less "symphonic." "Splash" is another track in 7/8 with many opportunities for guitar and violin solos by Karoli. This is THE best place to start, and of the "impressionist" period, the most worthwhile.
Landed: Except for "Unfinished," which is more of the impressionist stuff, and quite good at that, this album proceeds in a more rock-orientated format, as if picking up where Ege Bamyasi left off. The rock tunes that make up the bulk of the album, like "Full Moon On The Highway," are steeped in irreverent use of electronics, like voices made to sound like shouting children. One of the most interesting moments is the perversely entertaining "Hunters And Collectors," featuring an almost creepy lead vocal by Schmidt, which forms the motival base for "Vernal Equinox," an improvisational jam. Flow Motion: Adds Rosko Gee on bass, ex-Traffic. Czukay's influence in the group is diminished, contributing occasional sound-effects and such. I haven't heard it, but "I Want More" was a hit single from this album.
Unlimited Edition: A bunch of rare unreleased items of the past, collecting from just about all prior lineups of the group. Anthologizes the previously released Limited Edition with an extra discs' worth of music. Haven't heard this either.
Opener: A compilation.
Saw Delight: Czukay is hardly on this one at all. Another ex-Traffic member, percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah, is brought in. Some R&B, pop, etc. influences surface, creating more commercial, less inspired music. Even the improvisational "Animal Waves" seems to be stepping into already well-tread territory. Not bad, but pretty bland, and not really very satisfying in the end.
Out of Reach: Czukay's gone altogether by this point, I think. Generally regarded as their most commercial, least worthwhile album. I haven't heard it. There's a version of Offenbach's "Can Can," which is supposed to be interesting, though, if only for the unlikelihood of such a band doing it.
Can: Supposed to be a slight return-to-form, this is another one I haven't heard. Issued also as Innerspace, with one track different.
Cannibalism I & II, Incandescence: More compilations.
Rite Time: A reformation featuring Mooney on vocals again. I heard a little of it, but it didn't really stick with me. -- Mike Ohman
|Can were one of the better known of the German undergound psychedelic/space scene. They put out several albums throughout the '70s. I have six Can albums. The earliest I have is Monster Movie from 1970. This album is a lysergic day dream sounding somewhat like a cross between early, psychedelic Pink Floyd and Yeti-era Amon Düül II. The rhythmic foundation is a simple, repetitive bass grooves and a dash of swirling organs, over which fuzzed-out guitar solos are played. Meanwhile, the drummer is all over the drums and various percussion instruments to provide the driving force. This album includes a psychedelic take on the child's poem "Mary Mary So Contrary." The side long "Yoo Doo Right" is a solid dose of psychedelia. A bit dated by today's standards but essential listening for the psychedelia crowd and fans of early Amon Düül II and Brainticket. The middle '70s, from around '74 to '76 is the best period for the material that I have, which includes Landed, Soon Over Babaluma and Flow Motion. I've also heard parts of Limited and it is similar to the others from this period. Each of these is an excellent dose of experimental and spacey psychedelia. There are a generally several shorter 3-5 minute songs then two or more songs ranging from 6-13 minutes. The shorter songs are more straight-forward though still on the experimental side ala Amon Düül II's Wolf City or Vive La Trance. The longer songs range from very fuzzed out psych to very dreamy cosmic tunes similar to early Floyd and Amon Düül II, just like Monster Movie, excepted more focused if that's possible. Any of these would be good starting places. Soon Over Babaluma, in particular has the wonderfully ethereal "Chain Reaction" and "Quantum Physics" which covers 18+ minutes of spacey psychedelia. I've got to find out what happened between '70 and '74 but I'll bet it was pretty cool. Out of Reach, from 1978, is OK but I find their earlier stuff to be better. The original driving force of Can, Holger Czukay, has left the band. The rhythm is basic with a beat that reflects the dance music of the late '70s. The trademark fuzz guitar is still there as is the overall psychedelic vibe but it's easy to tell these guys were running out of ideas. As with Monster Movie, there's another take on a children's rhyme, this time "Jack and Jill." The second half of the album finally gets together with a decent song called "Give Me No Roses" which is then followed by a very nice eight minute space excursion. But other than this, there's not much to recommend this album. Inner Space is a mixed bag. The first few songs are typical of the work of their mid '70s work circa Flow Motion and Soon Over Babaluma but it also contains some songs with *very* disco influenced beats. It sounds like a collection of leftovers that were never released on previous albums. The nicest cut, despite the dance beat, is "Sunday Jam" which has a very tasty guitar solo. But overall, the album is only recommended to the Can Completist. -- Mike Taylor|
|Can were probably one of the finest and underrated bands to come from the German "Krautrock" scene. Of their albums, I can recommend Delay through to Soon over Babaluma. Delay was the first album recorded although it was not released until 1981. Delay is very psych orientated with fuzzy guitars and obscure lyrics. Standout tracks would be "Uphill" a fuzzy/garage voyage through unknown waters, and "Little Star of Bethelem" a Syd Barrett-esque ditty. With Monster Movie can develop much more and we can see where they will head on later albums. "Yoo Doo Right" is a delightful drone/rollercoaster ride with pounding drums from percussionist extraordinaire Jaki Leibzeit. Next up comes Soundtracks for which Can composed tracks for German Art- house films. This is really a transition album as original vocalist Malcom Mooney leaves and is replaced by Dami Sazouki, a Japanese beatnik. Many tracks are "fillers". "Mother Sky," being the best, is a searing oddessy through acid-rock, coupled with one note drone bass and impressive drumming. At this point it should be stated that all the musicians in Can were either classically or jazz trained. Other choice cuts are "Don't Turn the Light On" and "Soul Desert". Tago Mago combines two ideas: 1) the lengthy space-rock jam, e.g., "Paperhouse" and the 18min "Halleluhwah"; and 2) noise experiments of "Peking O" and "Augmn." It is worth noting here that Can's bassist Holger Czukay was distancing himself from bass and getting more involved in Radio and tape loop effects. Ege Bamyasi is arguably their finest work. Can go for a space-rock theme here. "Pinch" is probably the best dance song ever written. Excellent shuffle drums and weird sound effects set the tone of the album. Also Can experiment here with "Vitamin C". The album on the hole sounds more polished than Tago Mago. With Future Days, Can develop their space-rock jams into a fine art with only four cuts on the album. Very few vocals are on the album which lead to the departure of Damo Sazouki. With tracks like "Future Days" and "Bel Air" Can are developing highly structured pieces with an air of improvisation. Soon over Babaluma 1974 Can are beginning to run out of ideas although "Dizzy Dizzy" is excellent. Guitarist Michael Karoli sings and plays violin. The rest of the tracks are lenghty jams which don't have the same edge as their previous work. Can start to move away from space- rock and towards eithnic/world/Jazz fusion. Limited and Unlimited Edition are a collection from 1968 to 1974. After Soon over Babaluma I'd say forget it as Can loose there fresh approach for which they were reknown. -- Jonathan Dunne|
|Only You is listed in "The Can Book" (p. 184-185) as being issued on the Pure Freude label (PF23) in 1982. Edition of 100 numbered copies [cassette only] in a tin. -- Chris Meloche|
[See Czukay, Holger |
Phantom Band |
Click here for Spoon Records Can web site
Lo mejor del clan (The best of the clan) (68)
Libérate (Free yourself) (70)
Canarios vivos (72, Live)
|Spanish ensemble's Ciclos may be *the very best* progressive adaptation of a classical work that I have ever heard. On this one they do "Four Seasons" over a double LP and do it in such a mindblowing and classic way, that all I can say is I'm going to throw away my Pictures At An Exhibition album! Weird electronics, stunning classical rock, and some out and out space music highlight this classic of the genre.|
|Los Canarios created an outstanding 73 minute work based on Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Obviously, the music is very Baroque in nature because of the original but Los Canarios's version is much heavier because of the electric instrumentation of a rock band. You may instantly think of ELP's take on Pictures at an Exhibition but Los Canarios take a more refined approach relative to ELP's bombastic and sometimes erratic interpretation. But don't be fooled: Ciclos is a heavy and dynamic work in its own right with plenty of synth and organ work as well as guitar. Vocals (in English) are heard throughout but I'd say the album is dominated by instrumental sections. Ciclos is a classic of the Spanish progressive scene. If you like heavy prog dominated by synth and guitar, check this out.|
|Fans of symphonic progressive with flip their tails over this one! THE best rock adaptation of classical music EVER, and that is NO exaggeration! It's a rock adaptation of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" with some original music added to make the concept flow. The original music consists of electronic music, vocal music and the like, but based on Vivaldi's original themes and motives. The mixture of multiple keyboards (Mellotrons, synths, acoustic and electric pianos), powerful vocals, some rock, some choral and some operatic and manic Akkermanesque guitar make for varied and interesting listening. The arrangements of the string quartet pieces for rock band work beautifully, especially on the adaptations of the "Spring" and "Winter" sections, which work surprisingly well as rock music. They even include a short "Christmas carol" in one track! Originally a 70-plus-minute double album, issued on a single CD. My highest recommendations go out to this one!. -- Mike Ohman|
Los Canarios was a Spanish band that started playing back in the late 60's.
At the beginning, they played Soul and R&B influenced music, singing mostly
in English. They got some hit singles in the Spanish charts such as "Get on
your Knees" and "Free yourself" and opened concerts for The Beach Boys.
The leader, Eduardo "Teddy" Bautista disbanded the group to take the
military service. When he finished it, he reformed the band, still keeping
the name, but the members and the concept were completely different. At the
time (early 70's) he was experimenting with synthesizers, being a pioneer in
Spain. The result of this experimentation lead the band to their magnum-opus:
Ciclos a cult classic of the symphonic rock genre.
Released in 1974, Ciclos is a concept album with an interesting story line that goes from the creation of the Earth to the Apocalypse in 2700 A.C. The album is divided in four acts "Paraiso Remoto" (Remote Paradise), "Abismo Próximo" (Next Abyss), "Ciudad Futura" (Future City) and "El Eslabón Recobrado" (The Recovered Link) telling the life of the son of Matrix, who represents the nature, created by Arquitecto Supremo (Supreme Architect), during this period of transformations with different names in each act (Embryo, Febos, Metántropo and Anacros respectively). Each act is based musically in one of the Seasons of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It features vocals in English, Spanish and Latin. The instrumentation is very rich, and the presence of synths is vital. The arrangements of the classical work are very precise. The musicians involved in this magnificent work are:
Eduardo "Teddy" Bautista: Arrangements, keyboards and vocals.
Because of bad distribution, the recording is very hard to find. It was a double LP when it was first released. It has been edited in CD with a 16 page booklet, but still the CD is hard to find. If you're a hardcore fan of progressive rock or just curious or starting to explore the genre, this is some material you should check.
Teddy Bautista is still in the music business, composing scores for TV, producing (He produced the spanish version of Jesus Christ Superstar) and is in organizations defending copyrights. -- Juan M. Sjöbohm
|Links||[See Carrión, Alfredo]|
The Rhythm And The Rhyme (00, Promotional)
Avenues is the debut CD by the American band Canvas. It is a very reasonably
priced double CD ($10.99 from Kinesis), but it would have been far better as
a single CD. Sometimes you get what you pay for. At their best, as on the
opening track of CD One, "Liberal Son," Canvas are an unusual blend of
progressive rock and jazz. "Liberal Son" features a strong melody and an
innovative interplay between synthesizer and trumpet that sounds fresh and modern,
and not at all derivative of 70's jazz-rock. However, at their worst, Canvas
sounds like a bad Chicago cover band, with exceptionally banal lyrics.
CD One also features two other very fine songs. "Highways and Byways" is old school prog: keyboard dominated, stop-start dynamics, and tempo and instrument changes. It also contains more strong melodies. "Getting There" is even better. It has a clever, contemporary sound, with nice guitar and synthesizer parts. But once again, the lyrics leave much to be desired. Unfortunately, CD One also contains seven other songs. The less said about them, the better.
CD Two has a much more Kansas sound to it, except for one weak jazzy track. "Another Day" is very good, featuring a nice chorus rendition of the famous Irish Blessing and more clever tempo and instrument changes. But they should have stopped there. Most of the rest of CD Two is a kind watered down AOR Kansas, almost country-rock at times.
Avenues is fine to pull a few tracks from if you're going to mix them with others on a homegrown tape or CD, but that's about it. However, it will be interesting to see where Canvas goes from here. With some judicious editing and self discipline, they could develop into a fine band. -- Charlie Cowles
Click here for Canvas' web site and
Internet Radio station
From Scratch (72)
Liar (76, Compilation)
|This is masterful melodic rock with progressive overtones and one of the most underrated groups of all time. They combine intelligent arrangements with some of the best lead and harmony vocals you will ever hear. The musicianship is top notch as well. Lots of unexpected twists and turns that will put a smile on your face. The best of the two is Voice and is one of my favorite albums. It includes the incredible side-long track "Circumstances." Although this is not prog-rock per se, I believe it will appeal to most proggers.|
Frutti Per Kagua (72)
Aria Mediterranea (78)
Antico Adagio (78)
[See Barimar E Capricorn College]
Appunti Per Un'idea Fissa (72)
This band was popular because when they recorded their first 7" and the label introduced them as an english band. The album has a sound like ELP with a good A side where we find the song "Patetica" by Beethoveen and a bad B side where Red Canziani demonstrate some banal songs.
Another Italian one-shot. This is a rather raw, organ-based attempt at classical prog, incorporating a version of Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata adapted for organ. Strong but old-fashioned. All the CD versions of this have appalling sound. -- Mike Ohman
Safe as Milk (67)
Strictly Personal (68)
Trout Mask Replica (69)
Lick My Decals Off, Baby (70)
Mirror Man (70)
The Spotlight Kid (72)
Clear Spot (72)
Unconditionally Guaranteed (74)
Bluejeans and Moonbeams (74)
Bongo Fury (75)
Two Originals Of Captain Beefheart (76)
The Captain Beefheart File (77)
Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (78)
Doc at the Radar Station (80)
Ice Cream for Crow (82)
Music In Sea Minor (83, Compilation)
Top Secret (84, Compilation)
Legendary A&M Session (84, EP)
That's Original (88)
I May Be Hungry But I Sure Ain't Weird (92)
and some more compilations
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - 1975 promo shot
Take early Frank Zappa, take away the avant/classical and substitute it with blues, and that might give you a fair idea of what this guy sounds like. Vocals are bizarre and beyond insane, served up with his classy harmonica chops and demented perspective. Best albums are from the period when he was on Zappa's "Straight" label: Trout Mask Replica and Lick My Decals Off, Baby are two of his best, although some of the later ones are really good too. Warning: Weird stuff - not for everyone!
|A very weird band! The vocalist, Captain Beefheart himself, sounds like a good-natured but completely deranged old lunatic, and the lyrics, which range from sinister to nonsensical to rhythmically poetic, encourage that image. The main instruments played seem to be electric guitar and horns (at least one of which is a trombone), and a rhythm section which includes noises both bizarre and silly. No keyboards, except for the occasional piano and accordion number. The music itself is hard to describe. Frenetic, spastic, deranged and silly, it has an atmosphere of barely contained chaos. Song titles like "When I See Mommy I Feel Like a Mummy" or "Tropical Hot Dog Night" might give you a bit of an idea... The band's "tightness" ranges from loose to completely free. Captain Beefheart often played with Frank Zappa. (E.g. in "Willie the Pimp," on Zappa's album Hot Rats).|
|Again just checking that somebody has mentioned him. Totally unique. Overwhelmingly imaginative. Superb lyrics. Music is incredibly complicated but still flows. Infinitely easier to listen to than transcribe. A fresh outlook on life, the universe and everything.|
|Trout Mask Replica is generally considered his masterpiece, and judging by the half-dozen or so Beefheart albums I'm familiar with, I'd have to agree. The Good Captain puts you in an entirely different world. People often describe other bands as unique; this word applies to Captain Beefheart better than any other artist in modern music. In my experience, he seems to fall into the "either you love him or you hate him" category; I've actually cleared unwanted guests out of my house in a matter of seconds by starting Trout Mask Replica. Captain Beefheart (aka Don van Vliet) is, according to my latest information, retired from music and living out west--the desert in Arizona, if I'm not mistaken. He's also a fairly good artist (paint-on-canvas type art, that is) and has been busy with that in recent years.|
|Don Van Vliet (alias Captain Beefheart) started his career in the middle of the 6ties in an obscure Californian band called the Omens, with which also Frank Zappa is said to have played. In 66 he recorded his first LP with the Magicband. Since then he has published a series of strange and weird LPs, which are considered as one of the hallmarks of US progressive rock (not only by me). It's quite difficult to describe his style; maybe: psychedelic/dada/blues/jazz/punk/progressive/experimental rock. All his LPs are recommended with two exceptions. Stay away from Unconditionally (which is quite conditional) and Bluejeans, on which van Vliet tried to do something more popular, but ended up with bluespop. Definitely the most extreme is Trout Mask Replica produced by Zappa, where you find weird dada-minimalism's. Shiny Beast and Doc are maybe his best. Very pure and direct, a lot of weird guitar and trombone and Van Vliet's deranged vocals at their best. Bongo Fury is a live recording from a concert tour with Zappa (mostly Zappa music on it). You will also hear Don van Vliet on the Zappa LPs Hot Rats, Zoot Allures and One Size Fits All. Two Originals was a reissue of Lick and Spotlight Kid as a DLP. Beefheart File and That's Original both are reissues of Safe as Milk and Mirror Man also as double LPs. I May be Hungry offers a different mix of the Strictly Personal session. Music in Sea Minor and Top Secret are compilations of tracks from Safe As Milk and Mirror Man. -- Achim Breiling|
[See Zappa, Frank]
Click here for Captain Beefheart's web site
Captain Beyond (71), Sufficiently Breathless (72), Dawn Explosion (77)
Blues-rock band with vocals by Rod Evans (from Deep Purple's first few albums). Lots of people really like this band, but they fail to get me excited. There are naturally a few similarities to early Deep Purple though Captain Beyond has arguably more progressive elements, particularly after Deep Purple went into the heavy metal realm. Also in this band is Lee Dorman, previously of Iron Butterfly. If you like a hard rock styled prog (or early Deep Purple) check out Sufficiently Breathless, then Captain Beyond. I haven't heard Dawn Explosion. -- Mike Taylor
Captain Beyond was a prog rock supergroup of the early to mid '70s, featuring Rod Evans, ex- of Deep Purple, Rhino Rhinehardt and Lee Dorman of Iron Butterfly, and Bobby Caldwell from the Johnny Winter band. Their sound varied over the course of the three albums that they released, from very heavy, to Latin-tinged and back to a heavier, funkier, approach. Captain Beyond, the first release, consists of a couple of loosely organized suites and several independent songs. The sound is absolutely guitar driven (there are no keyboards whatsoever on this album), with lots of odd time signature stuff; outstanding hard rock, odd time riffs all over the place. "Raging River Of Fear" is particularly noteworthy for it's pounding 4/4 "Voodoo Chile" riff that dissolves into 3/4 with a purely psychedelic slide guitar glissando and spooky harmony vocals. Sufficiently Breathless was the followup; I've heard it characterized as "Santana meets Pink Floyd", and from what I've heard of it, this may not be far off. The title cut was a minor FM hit and can still be heard occasionally on hip classic rock stations. This was Evans' final work with the band. Generally speaking, what I've heard from this release is sloppier than the first album, less precise in its execution, and a great deal lighter. Dawn Explosion, the third and final Captain Beyond release is a hybrid in sound, drawing somewhat from both previous releases. Willy Daffern took over on lead vocals, making the band an all American effort. Daffern has a very different, more melodic vocal quality than Evans. He givesthe band a more straight ahead rock sound. This release isn't as intense as the first one, but does return to more complicated time signatures and layered guitars and vocals. Much of the album, unfortunately, seems to keep one eye on the near commercial success of "Sufficiently Breathless." "Do Or Die," "Icarus" and "Fantasy" from side one all cross radio accessibilty with some of the more prominent approaches of the first album; only on "Sweet Dreams" does the band try a really interesting idea, a floating, Hendrix influenced off-time guitar ballad. Side two fares a little better; the music is funkier and odd-metered, climaxing in one of Caldwell's percussion furies on "Oblivion," the album's most notable reference to the first release. Captain Beyond has always been my favorite; the early editions on vinyl are somewhat collectable because of a glued on hologram cover. Dawn Explosion is probably the next most interesting release. A comparison in sound could be drawn to Deep Purple, I suppose, especially with the first album, although the complicated time signatures are beyond what Deep Purple was attempting at the time. This is fairly hard sounding rock. -- Tim Schultz
[See Armageddon (UK) | Deep Purple]
If I Could Do It Again I'd Do It All Over You (70)
The Land of Grey And Pink (71)
Waterloo Lily (72)
For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night (73)
New Symphonia (74)
Cunning Stunts (75)
Blind Dog At St.Dunstans (76)
Better By Far (77)
The Album (80)
Back To Front (82)
The Battle Of Hastings (95)
Caravan's original line-up circa 1968 - Pye Hastings (guitar, vocals),
Dave Sinclair (keyboards), Richard Sinclair (bass, vocals) and Richard
An outgrowth of the Wilde Flowers, the ORIGINAL Canterbury band which also produced Soft Machine, Caravan were one of the leading lights of that scene. Fusing a folky rock sound centered around the guitar and dulcet voice of Pye Hastings with a jazzy element based in the keyboards of David Sinclair, they arrived at an original sound only hinted at by Traffic, yet remaining uniquely Canterbury. Dave Sinclair's organ never sounds like the swirling churchy tones people usually use, rather an almost reedlike tone with the punch of an electric guitar. Lead vocals are handled by Hastings mostly, but bassist Richard Sinclair's (cousin of David) deeper, rounder voice is also heard a great deal, and is often better remembered. The original quartet is rounded out by drummer Richard Coughlan, who plays complex parts with ease, yet uses a very basic drum kit. Here's an album-by-album synopsis:
Caravan: The Caravan sound is immediately present, albeit in embryonic form, with more pronounced folk elements, and some light psychedelic bits as well. Mostly consisting of lovely melodic songs with sailing vocal harmonies, Hastings' chiming guitars, and with a strong organ slant. "Love Song With Flute" is the first Caravan song to include that instrument, I think played by Brian Hopper. The first true foray into prog is also here, the eight minute "Where But For Caravan Would I?" Vocals alternate between Hastings and Sinclair, most of the song is in 11/8, and the styles alternate between folkish acoustic guitar reverie, and heavy jazz-tinged heavy rock sections with prominent organ. Good debut.
If I Could Do It...: The folk, and some of the psych elements are still intact. This album features the first of many appearances by Jimmy Hastings (no relation, apparently) on sax and flute. His appearance on many of the tracks makes the jazzy edge to their music much more pronounced. They begin here to string several shorter ideas into long medleys, incorporating a greater deal of jazzy improvisation and rock jamming, with Hastings beginning to use electric guitar with a vengeance. The 14-minute "For Richard" (actually a medley of four pieces including the 6-minute "For Richard" within it) is a classic of boundless energy. Worth it for this alone. "Limits" is obviously edited.
In The Land of Gray and Pink: Considered by many to be their finest hour, I don't think it's quite that great, but it has some of the finest Caravan music on it. This is the last Caravan album with an overtly folky sound. The best-known song here is the whimsical "Golf Girl", on which the band is fronted by Richard Sinclair. In fact, this album has more Sinclair vocals more than any previous or subsequent Caravan album. Two undisputed classics here: "Winter Wine" and the 23-minute opus "Nine Feet Underground". The latter one has some of Dave Sinclair's best organ soloing, some great hot jamming, and also introduces an overt symphonic element to the sound. Recommended.
Waterloo Lily: Dave Sinclair out, Stephen Miller (brother of Phil from Matching Mole/Hatfield and The North) in. Miller's keyboard playing is based more around piano than organ, and gives the band the apex of the jazzy sound they've always been pointing toward. The title song, "Nothing At All" and "It's Coming Soon" are the fruits of this. The highlight of this album is the 12-minute "The Love In Your Eye" suite, which mixes grandiose symphonic orchestration with the new overtly jazzy sound. One of their best, a great starting point.
For Girls...: After the last LP, Miller and Richard Sinclair quit. Their replacements were Derek Austin and Stuart Evans, respectively. This lineup never recorded. When Austin and Evans left, Dave Sinclair returned on keyboards, and John G. Perry joined on bass. Also added to the band was violist [sic] Geoff Richardson. Also, this is the first Caravan album with synths. They try more of the ideas with orchestral ideas begun with Waterloo Lily, and they work excellently. "Memory Lain, Hugh" features arrangements for woodwind and brass, and is made memorable by an infectious guitar riff. The ten-minute "A Hunting We Shall Go" medley features full orchestra, and incorporates a passage from Soft Machine's "Slightly All The Time". Possibly influenced by Gil Evans. Other good tracks: "C'thlu," "The Dog, The Dog, He's At It Again" and "Be All Right/Chance of a Lifetime." The first has a classic Caravan jam, the second a great Sinclair synth solo, the last incorporates electric cello. Perry's Steve Winwoodesque voice harmonizes well with Hastings', which makes even the most seemingly mundane track a joy, Richardson's viola further adds to this quality. Also highly recommended.
Caravan And The New Symphonia: A live album with symphony orchestra, including completely orchestrated versions of "The Love In Your Eye" and "For Richard" which are interesting enough, but not definitive. The album is rounded out by three mediocre new songs. For fanatics only.
Cunning Stunts: Perry is replaced by ex-Curved Air bassist/singer Mike Wedgwood. The real disappointing thing about this album is the fact that Hastings, long considered the group's leader, hardly contributes anything at all: Wedgwood sings most of the lead vocals, Sinclair writes most of the songs, and Richardson plays most of the lead guitar. As a result, the only real Caravan-like songs are those written and sung by Hastings: "Stuck In A Hole" and "No Backstage Pass". The exception being the 17-minute "Dabsong Conshirtoe", boosted by Richardson's viola, some horn arrangements, and some more classic Caravan jamming and soloing. Most interesting perhaps is the last movement: "All Sorts of Unmentionable Things," which includes a weird tape-collage and sounds most un-Caravan-like.
Blind Dog At St. Dunstans: Jan Schelhaas, ex-National Head Band, replaces David Sinclair on keyboards. Hastings seems to have regained control of the band, he wrote all but one track. The sound runs toward the melodic side of things, but the identifiable Caravan style is still evident, "A Very Smelly, Grubby Little Oik" is very amusing. Not essential, but Carafans will enjoy.
Better By Far: Dek Messecar of Darryl Way's Wolf joins on bass. The sound has unfortunately turned to the commercial pop side of things, though there are still some moments of glory. Richardson's instrumental "The Last Unicorn" is probably the best, or perhaps Pye Hastings' "Nightmare," which is unusually dark and somber for him. Schelhaas' "Man In A Car," which alternates melodic pop-rock sections with orchestrated bits with string bass and harp.
The Album: Supposedly further commercial decay. Haven't heard it.
Back To Front: Reunion of the original four. BBC Radio Live In Concert: Live performance of the Cunning Stunts lineup. Reported to be much better than the New Symphonia album. -- Mike Ohman
|The first cut I ever heard by Caravan was the epic "Nine Feet Underground." Nearly 23 minutes of extended keyboard jam that just left me breathless. There was no great technical dexterity or fantastically wild synthesizer sounds, just a beautifully composed and arranged musical piece that instantly captured my ear. When I heard the rest of the album for the first time though, I was somewhat disappointed. I had expected another long tune or two in the same mode as "Nine Feet Underground." What I heard instead was the trite lyrics of "Golf Girl," set over a popish musical opening. I listened to the CD thoroughly, however, knowing full well that I would be rewarded with a CD auditioning of "Nine Feet Underground." It turns out that all tunes are much better than my first impression. Though I think that "Golf Girl" still has trite lyrics ("later on the golf course/after drinking tea/it started raining golf balls/she protected me"), the underlying musical foundation of these songs is strong. Additionally, Richard Sinclair has a wonderful voice and manages to pull it off. "Golf Girl" is the weakest tune, but the others progress nicely. David Sinclair's keyboards extend the composition far beyond simple songs, echoing the melody over a complex underpinning. The title track is a fantasy piece inspired in part by Tolkein and in part by extracurricular activities ("pick our fill of punkweed/smoke it 'til we bleed") with some nicely arranged acoustic piano, followed again by the organ. "In the Land of Grey And Pink" is my second favorite cut off the CD. Lyrics aside, this is a strong album musically. The music won't make a musical theorist gasp in awe, but the arrangements seem to draw in and involve the listener. The predominant instrument, as hinted above, is the keyboards of David Sinclair. Given any opportunity, his nimble fingers step out and sing a song in their own right. Between verses, and for most of "Nine Feet Underground," David Sinclair's fingers weave excellent phrasings with organ and Mellotron. The voicings underlying the vocals also help to carry the tunes and, to my ear, actually make the lyrics more listenable. As I've already said several times, the showcase song is "Nine Feet Underground." Every instrument steps out in time, even if it isn't featured solo. I'd recommend getting the CD just for this tune. A simple theme is introduced, then develops over the ensuing parts, and by the end (why do songs like this always have to end?), you should be absorbed. I was and still do get completely immersed (should have said buried) in "Nine Feet Underground." You'll find yourself appreciating the other songs more with each listening and waiting for the interverse and David Sinclair's keyboard workings. If you aren't careful, you could end up singing along with "Golf Girl." I did! So, I obviously go a bundle for In the Land of Grey and Pink but what about their other albums? I haven't heard their very first release yet but their second release, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (whew!) is very much along the lines of the follow-up, which I've already enthused about. The music is always well played and simply engaging. There are no songs like "Nine Feet Underground" but many of the songs flow together to create a medley of sorts. If I Could... (you know the rest) also contains one of Caravan's concert staples, "For Richard." Jimmy Hastings, who seems to be a guest on at least one album from all the major Canterbury groups, contributes wonderful sax and flute to this album as well as In the Land of Grey and Pink. Though not usually listed as a member, Hastings is as important to Caravan's sound as is Richard or Dave Sinclair (whose melodic keyboard work is heavily featured). Waterloo Lily is the last album to feature these members plus additional guests in the form of Phil Miller (Hatfield, National Health) and Lol Coxhill (solo work, Kevin Ayers, etc.). I haven't heard it myself but it's generally credited as another excellent album. After Waterloo Lily, Richard Sinclair was replaced by John Perry. They also added Geoffrey Richardson on viola. And Jimmy Hastings is still hanging around as a guest. The two albums I have from this period are For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night and Caravan and the New Symphonia. As you might expect, the sound is a bit different. Gone are Richard's trademark singing style and bass playing and the viola adds a new dimension but Dave Sinclair's signature licks are still present. However, instead of just organ he's now using synthesizer as well. I think the song writing quality is down a just bit compared to their earlier albums though it still has several strong points, particularly on the second half. In some places, the album is breezier than earlier albums, other times a bit jazzier and, finally, in a few places a bit more "progressive" because of the added synthesizer. For Girls... does contain "Hoedown," a concert favorite of later years. ...and the New Symphonia is Caravan live with an orchestra, as the title suggests. I have seen some folks dismiss this album but I think it's at least equal to For Girls... if not better. Obviously, the orchestra allows for many more musical textures than the band could create alone, thus adding a very different dimension to Caravan's style. The album includes version of "The Love in Your Eyes" (yet another concert fave) and "For Richard." Certainly worth a listen as they give fresh face to old favorites. Finally, the last album from Caravan that I've heard is Blind Dog at St. Dunstan's. Only Pye Hastings and Richard Coughlan are the remaining original members. Jan Schelhaas (later to play with Camel) has replaced David Sinclair on keyboards. Mike Wedgewood (formerly of Curved Air) replaces Richardson on viola, flute, etc. By now, the band had pretty well run out of ideas and the writing isn't very strong. There's not too much to recommend about this album. This band is a classic of the Canturbury scene and is highly recommended. For starters, I suggest anywhere from If I Could... through Waterloo Lily. If you like what you hear, work your way forward until you find an album that is no longer exciting to you. -- Mike Taylor|
|A good introduction to this band would be The Best of Caravan: Canterbury Tales, a compilation double-CD that came out in 1994. Unfortunately, my introduction to them was 1975's Cunning Stunts, which for the most part is excruciatingly bad. I believe this was their last album (barring recent reformations -- I'm not too sure what the details on these are), and let's just say they broke up not a moment too soon. The tracks featured on Canterbury Tales range from competent late '60s pop to very enjoyable psychedelic-prog. There's nothing of earth-shattering gorgeousity or complexity here, but some of the longer tracks ("Nine Feet Underground," a live medley taken from Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, and "For Richard") are good fun. However, I really don't see what all the fuss is about; seems to me that these guys had a few decent albums, and are probably worth a retrospective double-CD (although I wish they had just taken the *good* tracks and made a single CD) -- but no more than that. What's good is just not interesting enough, nor is there enough of it, to make me rush out and buy more. -- Greg Ward|
|Caravan were a group from the "Canterbury" camp, whose work is possibly the most rock-oriented of the bunch. In some sense the music is what might be expected of a combination of Soft Machine and Camel, with the tilt toward the latter. The tracks are rife with jazz influences, and are centered around organ/keyboards/guitar arrangements. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You is probably one of their best, and could well be regarded as an excellent introduction to the band. Cunning Stunts was the last Caravan release to feature Dave Sinclair, after which the group took a more "symphonic" turn. On this release, though, we have all the Canterbury trademarks, including the jazz-like song structures, long, inspired instrumental passages, and slightly bent lyrics. In their mellower moments, there is more than a passing similarity to contemporaries, Camel, especially in Pye Hastings' vocals. This also features the "Dabsong Concerto," a movement in six parts, and a concert favourite, which runs through a variety of styles and culminates in a grand instrumental finale.|
|I bought In the Land of Grey and Pink per the suggestions of this survey, and I disliked it at first. It seemed too tame and much too poppy. The album grows on you, though: first with Richard Sinclair's great, understated vocals, then probably the goofy lyrics (do all the Canterbury bands have odd-ball lyrics?), and soon the gently-jazzy instruments pull you into the groove. It's all a rather mellow affair, but it is cohesive, and the songs flow nicely, thanks especially David Sinclair's smooth keys. And they *do* sound like Traffic, but it seems more of an odd similarity than any real influence. Highly recommended.|
|Sometime in 1996 in Moscow I bought [The Battle of Hastings] . Frankly, the only Caravan album I consider as really good is Waterloo Lily (1972). The Battle I've found even more boring than their "classic" In the Land of Grey And Pink (1971) so in a result I sold it. -- Vitaly Menshikov|
|Links||[See Aviator | Camel | Curved Air | Gowen, Miller, Sinclair, Tomkins | Grimes, Carol and Delivery | Harsh Reality | Hatfield and the North | Matching Mole | National Head Band | Perry, John G. | Quantum Jump | Sinclair, Richard]|
|Straight ahead organ/guitar rock with minimal prog influences.|
Archive Cardiacs (??, Recorded 1977-1979)
The Seaside (84)
Rude Bootleg (86, Live)
Cardiacs Live (88)
A Little Man, A House And The Whole World Window (88)
On Land and in the Sea (89)
All that Glitters is a Mares Nest (90, Live)
Songs for Ships and Irons (91)
Heaven Born and Ever Bright (92)
Sing to God Parts I & II (96)
Cardiacs - Jon Poole, Bob Leith, Jim Smith and Tim Smith
A truly original band having their own unique brand of prog. Most of the group's music is written by musical maverick Tim Smith, their lead guitar and vocalist. Truly describing their music is beyond my ability - it simply doesn't compare to anything else I have ever heard. To a casual listener Cardiacs music and lyrics may sound irritating, intimidating, bizarre, and chaotic - a blend of strange mix of ever changing dissonant and catchy melodies. But fear not! As with any great music, Cardiacs tunes grow on you. To begin appreciating the greatness of this unique band one must be willing to let go of previously conceived notions about musical structure. The band packs a lot of musical ideas into their short compositions (the longest piece is less than nine minutes). Their amazing music is insanely complex and tight, containing an abundance of intricate details and superb arrangements. After repeated listening one might sense the perfection of the music and its performance, and, what was perceived as chaotic, ultimately reveals itself as sensible, ingeniously crafted composition.
Despite their impressive musical output to date and their longevity (although with changing line-up), Cardiacs remains an obscure band in the U.K. and Europe. The band is virtually unknown in America and in the far East. They created their own record label (Alphabet), apparently because no record company would take the risk signing them. Nevertheless they have a core of loyal passionate fans, and with the advent of the internet the word about them is spreading.
Cardiacs has not yet reached the recognition that a band of their caliber deserves, but I strongly belive that their mark will last for many years and the diverse and brilliant music they have created will influence many future musicians. I recommend ALL their albums! For starters, On Land And In The Sea is highly recommended.
|Links||Click here for the Cardiacs web site|
Fandangos in Space (73)
Dancing on a Cold Wind (74)
The Gypsies (75)
Carmen - (Top) Paul Fenton (Drums), John Glascock (Bass), David Allen (Guitars).
(Bottom) Roberto Amaral (Vocals, Castinets, Footwork), Angela Allen (Keyboards,
One of the more interesting bands of the 70's, Carmen's music could possibly be described as progressive flamenco rock - with a sound that was influenced by folk somewhat, but the delivery was much harder. The band was: Roberto Amaral (Vocals, Castinets, Footwork), Angela Allen (Keyboards, Synthesizer, Footwork), David Allen (Guitars), John Glascock (Bass) and Paul Fenton (Drums). Live, the band had a special stage they toured with which was miked, and during the instrumental passages Roberto and Angela would dance as part of their show. Most of the songs are driven by David Allen's flamenco styled rock guitar, with a very strong rhythm drive from Glascock and Fenton, with Angela adding some nice but subordinate synth to the mix. Amaral's vocals are excellent, and perfectly styled for the music, as are the lyrical images they conjure up. Their sound is difficult to draw any comparisons to, because it IS so unique, but I suppose that a parallel could be drawn with Jethro Tull, Horslips, and other bands that fuse folk themes into the progressive rock idiom. They released three albums only: Fandangos In Space, Dancing On A Cold Wind and The Gypsies. Start with the first or second.
|Do you like Jethro Tull? Curved Air? Flamenco dancing? Did you ever wish for a combination of the three? Your wish has come true, and its name is Carmen! And if you don't think they could pull off such a "Hey-you-got-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter" combination, you've obviously not yet heard a Carmen album. The players are: David Allen on vocals and guitars, his wife Angela Allen on vocals [his sister, actually --Editor], keyboards and "footwork," Roberto Amaral on vocals, "footwork," castanets and vibes, John Glascock (later of Jethro Tull) on bass, and Paul Fenton on drums. The sound is centered around guitar, keyboards are used subtly but to good effect. David and Roberto alternate as lead singers, with occasional lead vocals by Angela. But the distinctive part, of course, is the flamenco angle, which is certainly why they are one of the most original progressive bands ever. Of course, there's Allen's guitar playing. He plays the electric guitars with the same force as the acoustics. But the one thing that assures you'll never forget is the heel-clicking, castanet-clomping dances, which is the one thing that I look forward to whenever listening to a Carmen album. It's hard to say which of the first two albums is better, both are excellent starters. But Dancing on a Cold Wind does include "Remembrances (Recuerdos de Espana)", a 23-minute rock-opera type epic, so use that as a factor in deciding which one you want first. (I haven't heard The Gypsies, the third album, yet. The prevailing opinion is that that's the last one to get, it's supposedly more subdued than its predecessors.) Progressive rock and flamenco music. Two great tastes that taste great together. :-)|
|Carmen are a very unique and very excellent band that combine the British flair for progressive rock with traditional Spanish folk themes. On the whole, they are a rather hard band to describe because you can't say they sound like King Crimson or Yes. They sound only like themselves. Some vague comparisons could be made to Jethro Tull (some of the folk-like qualities, for example as well as the decidedly British aura), Mezquita (some of the Spanish themes), and Triana (the flamenco/prog combination). They were a six-piece who included vibraphone and nice vocal harmonies in their musical arsental along with the standard Mellotron and synth fare. Bassist John Glascock became better known as the bassist for Jethro Tull. Carmen's 1973 release, Fandangos in Space -- the only one I have -- was a fresh piece of work compared to other 1973 British prog releases and still sounds fresh today. Highly recommended!|
|The Gypsies includes two outstanding tracks: "Daybreak" and the title song. The rest of the album isn't bad, but it's much more subdued than previous ones. Not for first timers, nonetheless, quite enjoyable. "Shady Lady" is one of those songs that sticks in your head for days. -- Mike Ohman|
|Links||[See Jethro Tull]|
Carpathia Project (99)
Excellent new jazz/prog fusion instrumental outfit. Their album says "Prog,
jazz with a spice of metal". For non-metal fans, do not panic. This album is
not metallic sounding at all. They brilliantly blend the 70's sound of
Mahavishnu Orchestra (with 70's sounding
electric organs) and 70's sounding drums (no drum machines and the like) with
a more powerful electrical guitar much like what you may hear Brian May (from
Queen) play so that's about as Metallic as
I understand they have 2 albums out. I have one, which is excellent. Not to mention they use violins which also adds to the mood of the album (sometimes foreboding). This album is short (at 38 minutes) but I find all of the tracks good and no filler. Recommended for prog/fusion lovers (especially fans of Mahavishnu Orchestra) who want to hear a touch of eastern euro music to the sound as well. -- Betta
|Links||Click here to order Carpathia Project from Guitar Nine Records|
En Regardant Passer Le Temps (75), Cueille Le Jour (76)
Truly excellent mid seventies French seventies spacy fusion band. Often quoted as being like Gong, I can see where they're coming from, yet Carpe Diem did not have Gong's new-agey themes and crazed abandon and were a beautiful and often Camel-like version of space fusion. Carpe Diem only put out two, although superb, albums En Regardant Passer Le Temps and Cuielle Le Jour. Evidently Musea have these in their plans, and they better, because you probably couldn't find them anyway!
Somewhat hard to describe music. Sounds like a cross between Camel and a very laid back Soft Machine. It almost spacey, as the fluid music (the Camel part) carries you along nicely. Lots of soprano sax and some slight jazz feel bring in the Soft Machine comparison. To my ears, it's fairly unique music that doesn't draw any ready comparisons. And that's the best kind... definitely worth a listen.
I have heard En Regardant Passer Le Temps. An outstanding example of French prog fusion; less jazzy than Edition Speciale, not as loony as Gong, though there are similarities. Lots of soprano sax and flute, guitar is also prominent. Keyboards aren't flashy or even up-front, but the polyphonic synths provide a constant, spacy chordal backdrop over which the guitar and woodwinds solo. Some light vocalizings that sort of remind of Pulsar. Great!. -- Mike Ohman
[See Step Ahead]
Los Andares Del Alquimista (76)
|First side is straight-ahead mellow rock, second side (title track) is lush, heavily orchestrated symphonic progressive.|
Carrión made his first mark in the history of progressive rock in 1975 by writing the orchestral
arrangements for Ciclos, Los Canarios' brilliant and
blasphemous butchering of Vivaldi's Four Seasons. A year later he struck out on his own
by writing the music for Los Andares del Alquimista (CD Fonomusic 5046703322), a less
extravagant but no less eclectic exploration of popular, classical and folk musics. Actually, the first
three songs very deftly and tastefully put folk-tinged pop music together with some symbolist poetry
sung by an elegant female voice with classical-style tone and use of vibrato. The mood shifts of "Espejo
Sumergido" and the lush progressions and soaring melody lines of "Tensa Memoria" are very much symphonic
progressive characteristics. Only Carrión doesn't extend his compositions or arrangements, but very
subtly deploys electric and acoustic guitars, strings, keyboards and choir to create highly effective and
satisfying chamber-pop pieces that sound both rich and airy. The fourth song, "Romance", provides another
accessible vocal melody, but has it sung by an equally trained male voice and accompanies it with layers
of jagged arpeggios and fragmentary melodies on synthesizers and electric guitars to a much more "avant"
The album's main item, in a progressive rock agenda at least, is the 16-minute title track, where Carrión expends his whole musical arsenal. Starting with piano and orchestra, it initially ambles through pleasant late-Romantic classical territory, with a few intentionally jestful melodic skips and detours, before revisiting Ravel's treatment of the domestic bolero dance with a brief orchestral crescendo topped by blaring saxophones that owe more to Coltrane than Ravel. After this, the rather pedestrian orchestral rock of the second section sounds both incongruent and anticlimactic. The final section builds on an arch Latin chant over a straightforward rock beat, gradually passing the melody on from the choir through the ranks of different orchestral and rock instruments. The effect is compelling, but in truth the elements of jazz, classical and rock music do not so much fuse as coexist. Carrión doesn't quite turn lead into gold, but he does end up with interesting composites.
Reminding of such Italian groups as Opus Avantra and Pierrot Lunaire with its stylistic eclecticism, Los Andares del Alquimista is an interesting enough album, though its delicately balanced sonic mixtures maintain their integrity better in shorter than extended format. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Canarios, Los]|
Music from Left Field (83)
Cartoon were an American band from the early '80s. They recorded two albums, Cartoon in 1981 and Music from Left Field in 1983. Both, with the exception of one song, are including on Sortie, a CD reissue by Cuneiform. Cartoon's influences range from the European Prog bands (Yes, etc.), 20th century Classical, Free Jazz and the incidental music from Saturday afternoon cartoons. At live festivals, Cartoon was performing the themes from Rocky & Bullwinkle and Sherman & Peabody alongside covers of Stravinsky and Bartok string quartets. That should give you an insight into the band's original music contained on their two LPs. Cartoon was recorded as a trio of classically trained Scott Brazieal (keyboards), Mark Innocenti (guitars) and Gary Parra (percussion). Together, the trio created a music that is dazzling in complexity. (They searched for a long time to find a drummer capable of playing complex, constantly shifting meter.) Two songs, "Ptomaine Poisoning" and "Anemic Bolero," were scored by Brazieal, similar to the way National Health scored their music, then rehearsed it. There is a strong classical presence of grand piano on these and many other works. Other songs, including "Shark" and "Shredded Wheat" were worked out by the band during many long practice sessions. Thus, they have a bit more improvised feel, while still classically structured. Often, the comparison that came to mind was Univers Zero without the classical instruments and with a stronger synth presence.
Soon after Cartoon was recorded, the trio became a quintet, adding Herbert Diamant (woodwinds) and Craig Fry (violin and French horn). At once, the newcomers diversified the sound and solidified the classical touches heard throughout. On this album, only one song, "Light in August," is composed. The other four songs were "improvised to a preconceived form." Before recording, the band worked out the moods, motifs and transistions they desired, then recorded while working out the details in real time. Thus, the music has a definite sense of direction and purpose but captures the dynamic interplay and surprise of an improvising band. "Quotes," weighing in at more than fifteen minutes, carries this idea to an extreme as the ideas and improvisations were worked out over eight months of rehersals. This may seem to dampen the improvisational feel but, to my ears, this is not the case. The music is even more like Univers Zero , partially because of the addition of woodwinds, violin and horns, but also because the angular melodies are based on ostinato rhythms similar to the French RIO band. In all, the two Cartoon albums contained on this single CD demonstrate a mature band with excellent compositional and executional talent. They get away from the traditional Symphonic Progressive mold, choosing instead to expand upon the 20th century Stravinsky/Bartok-influenced Prog developed by Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. It is too bad that Cartoon never got their real chance under the sun through the very unfortunate loss of equipment. Three of the members did continue this style as PFS. To any fan of Univers Zero, etc., Cartoon are highly recommended. -- Mike Taylor
|Wonderful late 70's/early 80's band out of Arizona who, along with acts like U.K., sounded the final buzzer for the classic progressive era while providing some of the most sophisticated and intricate rock music heard to this day. Sure, Yes were thrilling stadium crowds and Univers Zero wooed the avant garde with "chamber rock", but for my money, Cartoon (relocated to San Francisco by 1980) were the real thing, moving with ease through tight, orchestral lines one moment and experimental "jazzical" the next. Though not as clean and precise as their British and European peers, Cartoon made up for it with enthusiasm, originality, fun (they liked incidental cartoon music) and musicianship. Luckily, those beautiful people at Cuneiform saved the day again and re-issued Cartoon's first two albums on one CD in 1994. A real gem in the once tiny world of progressive rock. -- David Marshall|
|Links||[See PFS | Trap]|
Cartwright is the brilliant leader of avant-jazz New Yorkers Curlew. His sax playing and compositional ability are both truly amazing. On this "solo" album (he is certainly not alone and doesn't even play on a track or two), he's able to move beyond the instrumentation of Curlew to include more keyboards, violin, and vocals. The songs vary in styles, from mellow ballads (we're not talking "Home Sweet Home" here - more in a Brian Eno mode) to syncopated cacophany. If you like Curlew, you'll like this. If you find Curlew too "odd," this might be a good way in.
|A one-off project by Geoff Mann and the gang from Shadowland (Karl Groom and Clive Nolan (ex-of-Pendragon)). Anyway, it sounds just as one might expect, very typical neo-proggy and predictable, generally nice pop with some hints of Genesis' glory days with about half the inventiveness. Nice vocals, and some decent guitarwork from Gouvernaire and Groom.|
|Casino features an eighties-UK-progressive superstar line-up, including members from Pendragon (keyboardist Clive Nolan), Twelfth Night (lead vocalist Geoff Mann and drummer Brian Devoil), Pallas, and Shadowland, and ends up with the influences of Nolan and Mann dominating. If you are into the music of the bands mentioned, you cannot help but enjoy this work, which sounds like Twelfth Night blended with the more accessible approach of Pendragon. All the lead passages are very crisply executed, with large amounts of solos and melodic interludes. This would also probably be an ideal introduction to the new UK progressive scene, for those who would like to explore the genre.|
|Links||[See Pendragon | Mann, Geoff | Nolan, Clive | Pallas | Shadowland | Twelfth Night | Young, Michelle]|
Man or Monkey (82)
Beauty and the Beast (84)
Perfect Worlds (86)
A Face We All Know (88)
|Collaboration between Henry Cow alum Chris Cutler, keyboardist/composer Heiner Goebbels, and sampler extraordinaire Christoph Anders. The music is very fractured and complex--difficult to get into. I would say that it is worth the effort if you can handle typical RIO / avant-rock stuff. Quite bizarre but rewarding, especially for the sheer creativity of the rhythms and samples. A Face We All Know is an vague concept album featuring the texts of Thomas Pynchon, Cutler, and much German stuff. Strange but not unrewarding!|
|Cassiber was the collaboration of ex-Henry Cow drummer/lyricist Chris Cutler with three German avant-rock/jazz guys, Christoph Anders (voice, guitar, etc), Heiner Goebbels (keyboards, etc), and Alfred Harth (saxophones, clarinets, etc). (Harth is only on the first two records.) While the music is in the same general neighborhood as Henry Cow in improvisation mode, I am not too keen on Anders' declamatory style of vocalising (I'm not sure I'd call it "singing" exactly); it seems to emphasize the tendency of Cutler's words to get overly mannered or pedantic at times. I prefer the earlier records with Harth to the later ones. -- Dan Kurdilla|
|Cassiber is a project involving Chris Cutler (drums, assorted percussion), Alfred Harth (saxes, trombones, etc.), Heiner Goebbels (keyboards, etc.) and Christoph Anders (voice, guitar, etc.). Harth is not on A Face We All Know. The sound itself is very experimental (as you would expect from anything involving Cutler), but very good for people used to that kind of stuff. Texts are used instead of more conventional lyrics, texts which Christoph, well, sort of scream along with the songs. Man or Monkey is very powerful, contains some breathtaking tunes like "Not Me," "Red Shadow" or "O Cure Me." Alfred's work is terrific, it's a good album to start with. A Face... is very good too, but instead of the more "conventional" set of instruments on Man..., it has, as said above, a lot of sampling & tapes - very creative work, IMHO. The nightmare atmosphere is all around. -- Gabriel|
|Links||[See Goebbels, Heiner]|
Landing in a Serious Mind (94)
Sounds of Imagination (94)
Third Call (94)
Four Aces (94)
Endless Signs (95)
Beyond Reality (96)
A View of Cast (96)
Angels and Demons (97)
Imaginary Window (99)
A Live Experience (99, Live, 2CD) Disk 1: | Disk 2:
Laguna de Volcanes (00)
Castalia - Cast Live in Italy (01, Live)
Al-bandaluz (03, 2CD) Disk 1: | Disk 2:
The Pyramid of the Rain (05)
Mosaïque (06, 2CD, Old & new but previously unreleased material) Disk 1: | Disk 2:
|Endless Signs is the fifth release by this Mexican band who's sound is absolutely British. This vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums lineup produces very melodic rock with fantasy themes. The songs are usually based on the text but instrumental passages are not neglected. You will recognize a formula which has a tradition that goes back to bands like Marillion and Genesis. Nevertheless, the performances are convincing and deserves close attention by fans of the usual British symphonic rock. -- Paul Charbonneau|
Since being founded in 1978 by Alfonso Vidales,
Cesar Cardenas (sound and recording engineer), and Javier Rosales (played in 7
tracks of Sounds of Imagination), Cast has recorded and performed as a band original
art progressive rock for 17 years from their base in Mexicali, Baja
California, Mexico. The members of Cast, in addition to being influenced
by the traditional standard progressive rock supergroups like ELP, Genesis
and Yes, also include Classical, Jazz and Heavy Metal as influences and in
their individual musical tastes. Stylistically they like to combine long
instrumental passages with agressive and powerful vocal lines peppered
with the soft touches of their two vocalists Dino and Francisco. Cast,
with their own resources built a new studio in 1993, from which finally in
1994 they released under their own label their first album Landing in a
Serious Mind. Their fifth self-produced album, Endless Signs,
captured critical acclaim and received the "Progressive Album of the
Year" award from the "Discover" Magazine in Buenos Aires,
Argentina. The band today consists of: Dino Brassea on vocals and flute,
Francisco Hernandez on vocals and guitar, Alfonso Vidales on keyboards,
Antonio Bringas on drums and Rodolfo Gonzalez on bass. Sometimes the band
features Enrique Slim also on drums and sometimes as a percussionist.
This band's lineup had played more than 150 shows and as a result has a
very tight and polished sound when they play live. Reviewers credit Cast
as a much better band when they play live, with a brighter, more powerful
sound; a much greater dynamic range with melodic and harmonious elements
softening some the edge found in the studio recordings.
I have their first five CDs. Rather than submit a lenthy track-by track review for each CD I'll instead provide a more generalized review for all of their works and mention some standout tracks. All of the CD's weigh in at over 60 minutes, and the average track seems to be about 8 minutes long. With that said, there is a lot of excellent music on each CD, and most fans of the neo-progessive genre should enjoy any of the discs. One of the things which I first noticed was some disparate styles on their earlier CD's. This is a result of these works being comprised of music from both the earlier years as well as more current works from the mid-'90s. The result is somewhat uneven performances on Sounds of Imagination and Third Call). Virtually everyone seems to agree that the two strongest discs are Four Aces and Endless Signs, which certainly exhibit the most maturity and have much better overall production. I've noticed, however, that most of the songs which I find myself humming are from the earlier discs, particularly Landing in a Serious Mind. In my opinion Endless Signs is probably their best, but I find myself listing to the earlier works as much as the later ones.
Some people claim the vocals are sub-par and annoying. This I most definitely disagree with. I've always believed that vocals can make or break an otherwise talented progressive effort, and I think the vocals in Cast are definitely on the high end of the quality spectrum. There is a lot of emotion and vocal colorings, with softer parts countpointed with sharped edged vocal attacks. This is far superior to the vocal efforts to some of the other current neo-progressive acts out there like Steve Hogarth's Marillion butcherings, the emotionless Magellan, or the heavy metal screechings of Aragon and Dream Theater. In spite of Cast being from Mexico, all of the vocals are in English, and there are no distracting accents. The lyrics are written in English on the liner notes (the rest of the liner notes, however, are in their native Spanish). The other aspect of the vocals which I like is the use of two different lead vocalists - this gives greater range and variety to the music and provides nice counter-points. From a musical standpoint I'd say their biggest influence seems to be mid-period Genesis. Cast's primary music writer is the keyboard player, Alfonso Vidales. Most of the music is keyboard oriented but is very much ensemble playing. In otherwords, while there is nice guitar fills and solos, these are constrained within the structure of the composition. The keyboards use a lot of piano layered with other synthesizers with the guitarist provide Hackett-like fills and counter melodies. Extended musical passages abound, and compositions use lots of reoccuring themes. This is far more melodic than most of the other neo-progressive music currently being produced today. One interesting thing is that while the primary writing is done by Vidales, there is a lot of input from the other members. Their latest album, Beyond Reality, which I have not heard allegedly includes 4 long tracks, with a mixture of old and new songs.
I'll finish by saying Cast is probably one of strongest bands in the current crop of neo-progressive artists, but also unfortunately one of the least well known. Now that they have started self-producing their music it should get easier to find their CD's through some of the standard mail-order sources. -- Jim Watts
|Cast's latest studio album Legacy (2000) is their most symphonic. This is one of the best Cast albums along with (IMO) Angels And Demons, Endless Signs, Beyond the Reality and Third Call. Anyway, with Legacy, Cast have reached the status of the true Classic (though, they never played a real Neo!) Symphonic Progressive Rock band for the first time. -- Vitaly Menshikov|
Being unfamiliar with Cast, I wasn't sure what to expect when I first put on their 2001 live release from Musea Records, Castalia. What I heard is a very symphonic and melodic band harking back to the days of '70's prog bands like Yes and Genesis, though without sounding too much like either one of them. Their compositions are quite complex and varied, and they do the usual symphonic prog stuff ... odd meters, fast changes of themes, etc. Good keyboard work, though leaning a bit too heavily on attack-suppressed string ensemble sounds for my liking, plus lots of Wakemanesque arpeggios played on the piano and powerful Hammond organ chording. The guitar work seemed nice but not particularly memorable in this concert situation; this and most of the other instrumentation was unfortunately badly smeared by the room reverb.
I did like the sound of the vocalist, who sings mostly in English with only a slight accent, and also sings in Spanish on some tunes. Both sound very good, reminding me a bit of Peter Gabriel's vocal histrionics from his Genesis days.
I suppose one of the most complimentary things I can say about this album is that listening to it made me want to hear their studio albums. I'm certain I'll hear a lot more of what's going on in the live set if I know what I'm listening for. They do a lengthy medley on this album from their latest studio album, Legacy, so that will probably be where I start to check out their sound. When I do, I'll expand upon this review.
3/15/06, amended 4/1/07:
|Links||[See Vidales, Alfonso]|
Journey to the East (84)
Rude Politics (88)
Little Gods (98)
|Obscure neo-proggers from the UK mid-80's scene. Their 1984 album Journey to the East has some very nice moments, and some very uneventful ones as well. Sound is comparable to many of the imitation Genesis bands of their time. Being generous and not considering the lack of originality, I'd give it about a five on a ten scale. I think they had a second album as well.|
|I really couldn't get into Journey to the East. As I listened, I was reminded of The Babys (mid-late 70's AOR band) mixed with progressive elements (a little Genesis and Marillion for example) than I was anything outright progressive. Prog-lite is the best way I can describe this band. It was nice, but failed to really get me involved, leaving me bored in the long run.|
|Castanarc are one of the lesser-known UK bands that perform music that is very much in the vein of the neo-progressive bands such as Marillion and IQ. However, the music is more keyboard-oriented and less guitar-dominant than Marillion, and reminds at times of Saga. On Journey to the East, I would describe the music as quite similar to that of IQ, with some influences from Yes. Rude Politics is their second release, and, contains eight well-composed, melodic tracks, which should appeal to those who enjoy groups such as Ark and Galahad, progressive rock with a slightly AOR bent.|
|Castanarc's Journey to the East has a bright, light feel to it. There are no dark atmospheres here - it has more of an open, airy feel. I am somewhat reminded of a cross between Pentangle's folk-based approach with a bright, positive Yes-like energy. That's not to say they sound like a lot like Yes (there are a few moments when the influence is obvious), but it definitely means that they are not darkly progressive in the vein of Aragon, Dream Theatre, etc. The keyboards are mostly sparce background chords, with guitar creating most of the interesting harmony and sometimes counterpoint to the vocals. The keyboards do take lead in some instrumental sections, with calm medolic phrases - no blistering Wakemanesque flourishes. There's not as much melodic variety or thematic development here as in the Ken Watson or Earthstone. I'd say stylistically they are closer to the band Episode but since this was initially recorded in the mid 80's - well before the latest by Episode - there is obviously no connection. I sometimes get the feeling that they're holding back on the livelier sections - are perhaps too conscious of the structure of the song - as there never seems to a point where they cut loose and push the envelope with an extended jam. Still, it's a good progressive album and they've made an effort to create rather than clone their sound. I'd very interested to hear something more current from them to see how they've developed. -- Jim Watts|
|The flagship disc for the Kinesis label was this obscure '84 release from the UK. My first impressions of Journey to the East were "The Babys try to do prog." When vocalist Mark Holiday sings, I am made to think of The Babys' John Waite. Comparisons can be made to the British neo-prog scene (e.g., IQ, Jadis and Marillion) as well as a little Yes, perhaps. The 4:40 opening cut, "Peyote," as well as "The Fool" and the title track (better than seven minutes each) have many good moments that are comparable to some of the better neo-prog bands. There are some works (e.g., "Travelling Song" and "Am I") that aren't particularly inspired, which makes for an uneven album. The better songs outdistance the average songs in time, though, which is a plus. Keyboardist David Powell gives it his best as do guitarists Paul Ineson and Neil Duty (who also plays bass), while Dave Kirkland manages to hang in there on drums and even mixes it up occasionally. Overall, Castanarc is a fairly decent neo-prog band, comparable in quality to Pallas's The Sentinal or Pendragon's The Jewel and not as good as Jadis's More Than Meets the Eye. If one thing impressed me with this album is was that Castanarc has much more of their own "voice" compared to other Genesis-influenced neo-prog bands. It's more spacious and less overtly symphonic. -- Mike Taylor|
|Links||Click here for a Castanarc page on the Kinesis web site|
Sono io il Signore Della Terre Nord (92)
Passo Dopo Passo (94)
Come il seguitare delle stagioni (00)
Il Castello di Atlante in 1982 - (Not in photo order) Aldo Bergamini (guitars),
Massimo Di Lauro (violin and keyboards), Paolo Ferrarotti (drums), Dino Fiore (bass)
and Roberto Giordano (keyboards).
Excellent Italian band, sounding on Sono Io Il Signore ... a lot like the old Italian bands, specially Quella Vecchia Locanda, due to the good use of the violin. The vocalist is good, as are the instrumentists. The record was produced by Beppe Crovella, from the old italian band Arti e Mestieri. The only negative side of the record is the keyboard sounds. I don't like these "plastic" sounds of the newer keyboards, and they're all around this album. If the keyboardist used some vintage gear, I'm sure this would be a classic! :) The recording is, thankfully, not so neo-prog sounding, but it's not also too 70s... If you like italian bands the way they were, only with new keyboard sounds, you'll enjoy this one! -- Luis Paulino
This group, founded in the late 70's*, features five veterans on vocals (in
Italian), keyboards, bass, guitars, drums and violin. Their brand of
unmistakably Italian symphonic
rock is very melodic with folk elements. The delicate and subtle
compositions usually involve text (in Italian). All songs are written by
the pianist/keyboardist but still offers the cohesive performances of a
full ensemble (melodic work is equally shared). The performances are
certainly solid but primarily serve melody instead technique. A simple but
quality production finally introduces a certain lightness to the sound
that remains natural even during more animated parts. Both Sono io il
signore delle Terre a Nord and L'ippogrifo, produced by Beppe
Crovella, captures the essence of the sound common to bands like Le Orme,
PFM or Banco. Enjoy a smooth one where the strongest moments are often de
quietest ones. Deserves attention by fans of Italian rock from the 70's.
-- Paul Charbonneau
* Actually, 1974, though keyboardist Giordano joined in '82 -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Il Castello di Atlante's web site|
Catapilla (71), Changes (72)
West London based Catapilla originally formed in 1970 with a lineup of Jo Meek (vocals), Malcolm Frith (drums), Hugh Eaglestone (sax), Dave Taylor (bass), Graham Wilson (guitars), Robert Calvert (sax) and Thiery Reinhart (wind instruments). Their brand of experimental jazz-rock brought them to the attention of Orange Music, a management company who also handled John Miles, and they arranged for the band to showcase their set to an invited audience of Music Industry people. Black Sabbath manager Patrick Meehan picked up on the band and offered to produce their debut LP. Meek left and was replaced by his sister Anna. The first LP was released in late 1971. To support the band headed out on a nationwide tour with Graham Bond and Roy Harper. However the age of "musical differences" reared its head before the group entered the studio to record their second LP resulting in Eaglestone, Frith, Rheinhart and Taylor quitting to be replaced by Bryan Hanson (drums), Ralph Rawlinson (keyboards), and Carl Wassard (bass). Changes came out in 1972 and was a much more instrumental affair than their debut. Soon after the album's release the band split up. Catapilla is quite good, but Changes is excellent! One of the best prog/jazzrock works I ever heard. It must be in every collection. -- Andras Sumegi
Les Chevrons (72)
Rimbaud, C'est Toi (72)
Pop Poemes (73)
32 Mars (75)
Le Bolero du Veau des Dames (76)
Et S'aimer et Mourir (76)
|Early 70's french proto-prog band. Of their album Masq: the strong point is the very nice female vocals throughout. Otherwise it sounds like a bunch of tripped-out folks who've temporarily forgotten how to play their instruments.|
I have heard two very different Catharsis albums. Illuminations (Spalax 14281) takes
its name and the inspiration to many of its tracks from poems by such purveyors of
romanticised decadence and despair as Anton Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Francois Villon,
and the music is fittingly gloomy and spectral. The emphasis is on Farfisa organ, which can
sound both spooky and carnivalish (sometimes aided by the use of bandeon and sundry small
instruments); acoustic guitar, piano, wordless female vocals and a very light rhythm section
complete the picture. The album's short songs are never very complex yet often highly
unorthodox, drawing some influence from the psychedelia and Pink
Floyd-style spaceyness but also from much more antique musical styles.
Popol Vuh is a good reference here, from the
Affenstunde-like audio oscillator piping and percussion of "Aube" to the tolling piano
and funeral procession lumber reminiscent of Die Nacht der Seele ("Ballade des pendus")
and the nebulous vocals that compare to those of Djong Yun on Hosianna Mantra,
though without quite matching the vaporous beauty of that album. There's also some similarity
to Wapassou's miasmatic keyboard/voice soundscapes on Messe
en ré mineur. Additionally, "En reverant de la noce" has a strong mediaeval feel,
and Pierre de Ronsard's carpe diem poem "Mignonne, allons voir" has given rise to a jeering
little tune that sounds like a perverted Christmas carol. Short (28 minutes) and rather
primitive in terms of production, Illuminations is still haunting and idiosyncratic
enough to warrant the attention of at least those Popol Vuh
fans who wonder how the band's music would have sounded if Florian Fricke (R.I.P.) had spent
more time reading French poetry than the Scriptures.
Le Bolero du Veau des Dames (Spalax 14203) is the affable and concise Jekyll to Illuminations' sprawling and sinister Hyde. Here the band, scaled down to the traditional drums-bass-guitar-organ/piano format, play the kind of pleasant, jazz-tinged instrumental prog that reminds of the Canterbury sound, yet has some distinctly French flavour, in the way of Carpe Diem. The warmest melodic moments, on organ or electric guitar, may even recall Camel. Yet spectres of Illuminations' lugubriousnesss manifest themselves in the spooky male vocalise and psychedelic electric guitar growl of the 10-minute title-track, making it a very singular - and interesting - mixture of elements. Le Bolero du Veau des Dames has been a slow grower and while it will never blossom into a masterpiece, it provides a nice half an hour of friendly prog. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Stained Glass Stories (78)
Cathedral were an American band from the late seventies, whose release drowned in the sea of obscurity that swallowed up most US progres- sive bands of that era. The music is quintessential progressive rock, very much in the vein of early-to-mid-period Genesis, with "profound" lyrics backed by fluid guitar leads and broad washes of Mellotrons and other keyboards, with the additional attraction of varying time signatures! At times, the vocalist sounds like Derek Shulman of Gentle Giant, so you have the combined effect of two classic prog bands.
Sounds a lot like Yes but the vocals are weak. The music however is progressive at its best.
Cathedral was a very obscure American band from 1978 that sounded like a cross between early Genesis and UK or Crimson, with a singer that sounded a little like John Wetton or perhaps Charles O'Connor of Horslips. The tracks are well written, and feature complex melodies and polyrhythms with soaring guitars, intricate keyboard work, and plenty of Mellotron. Stained Glass Stories is their only album, with five long tracks in the eight to ten minute range.
Cathedral is a US band who released a single album in 1978. Many hail Stained Glass Stories as classic American prog but I must disagree. Indeed, the five members are all very talented and play their complex music with ease. In and of itself, that ability is very worthwhile. My problem comes from a lack of originality and a terrible vocalist. The music is very derivative of mid-'70s Yes, mostly from Tales from Topographic Oceans but also hints from Close to the Edge and "Gates of Delirium" from Relayer. If they would have turned their talent toward a more original sound (or at least drawn from wider influences) they would have been killer. To me, though, the album lacks originality which ultimately leaves me bored despite the excellent musicianship. Finally, the vocalist is a terrible singer. Within his range (I guess low tenor) he's tolerable but he often pushes the narrow boundaries of his capability which comes across as strain. Ultimately, how you feel about this album depends on your tolerance for bad vocals (thankfully, the instrumental sections far outweight the vocal sections) and music very derivative of Yes.
Kingdom of Ends (92), There in the Shadows (93)
This band has developed a following in the DC area, and this is their first CD release. This is pretty much in the neo-prog vein, with fairly strong similarities to IQ, musically, with vocals in a more "American" style.
The little I heard of Kingdom of Ends came across as straight forward radio rock. Very weak in terms of progressiveness, almost laughable in fact. This is one of those bands that gives neo-prog a bad name. -- Mike Borella
The 55 minute Kingdom of Ends consists of two previously released
cassette EPs: Cathedral (1991) and Kingdom of Ends (1992).
There are four songs in the five minute range and four in the 7-10 minute
range. The players on this album are: Gary Sisto, guitar; Ted Thompson,
lead and backing vocals; Todd Braverman, keyboards; Mike Hounshell; bass
and backing vocals; and Mark Copney, drums and backing vocals. For the
most part, Cathedral fall into the Genesis/
IQ/Marillion neo-prog camp but they do it very
well. There are also evident Pink Floyd
influences, mainly in the guitar. This is an album I would listen to as
often as IQ's The Wake or Twelfth Night's Fact and Fiction.
Sisto reminds me mostly of David Gilmour and a souped up Steve Hackett but on "Beneath the Wheel,"
he manages to sound a bit like Roy Albrighton of Nektar! Copney and Hounshell are better than the
average neo-prog rhythm section.
Even Thompson's voice, although nothing spectacular, is better than the
average neo-prog singer, usually a
major flaw in bands of this genre. Cathedral have penned appealing
compositions with memorable melodies. The longer tunes, such as the eight
minute "Psychotic" or the ten minute "Pinocchio" have several sections of
tension and release that give the songs direction and purpose. They are
doing more than going through the motions. Even the shorter tunes, like
"Seldom Seen" and "Nothing About Nothing" manage to provide a few
change-ups to keep me interested. Occasionally, some of the complex
passages sound slightly forced but I give them credit for trying.
Ultimately, however, Cathedral are derivative and provide nothing new or
fresh, a trait that keeps them lumped with the other neo-prog bands. As such, Cathedral
stand head and shoulders above most others in this genre.
Cathedral developed a more original sound for their second release, There in the Shadows. Featuring the same members, there are similarities to their previous release but Cathedral have honed their style into something more original, and more varied. Eight songs comprise the 65 minutes of this disc, ranging from 6:35 ("Change My Mind") to nearly 12 minutes ("Existential Crisis"). The album opens with "Holy War," which features good doses of Gary Sisto's Gilmouresque guitar. Though Sisto's style often is strongly reminiscent of Pink Floyd's guitarist, it actually helps him stand out among many faceless neo-prog guitar players. This is followed "Junk Drawer," a ballad of sorts, with acoustic guitar and voice, with minimal bass and percussion. At more than eight minutes, this drags on too long, unless you get into the story line, which draws an analogy between a household junk drawer and lifetime memories. If you don't pay attention to lyrics (like I don't), then "Junk Drawer," as well as songs such as "Don't Ruin the Memory" and "Change My Mind" can be rather tedious. Songs that are 6-8 minutes in length should have some development but these go nowhere. There are much better songs though, from the heavy, almost Black Sabbath-like riffing of "Renfield" (the Dracula character) to the Rush/Gilmour mixture of "Soul Windows (Version 3.1)." The standout track is the three part "Existential Crisis." It opens with a flanged (phased?) riff that recalls Hendrix, Robin Trower or Mahagany Rush (perhaps not as heavy) and vocals, that fades after 2.5 minutes into a spacy guitar solo that once again recalls Gilmour. The final five minutes is mostly made up of another instrumental passage ("The Dream of the Stimulating World") that recalls the heavy riffing of "Renfield." This song is easily the best developed, as is the closing "The Wayfarer," which makes for a very solid final 20 minutes. Though derivative mostly of Pink Floyd/Gilmour/Rush, Cathedral showed solid improvement from their first release. Singer Ted Thompson's voice was harder to take all the way through in one listen, which I attributed to the likes of "Junk Drawer," et al. In all, another solid album from Cathedral, sure to please fans of their first album, as well as attract new fans. -- Mike Taylor
September Man (74)
Sleep My Love (79)
End of August (82)
September Sky (88)
I Remember You (90)
Moods Vol. 1 (92)
Moods Vol. 2 (92)
Live (97, w/ Philip Catherine Quartet)
Guitar Groove (98)
Blue Prince (00)
... several collaboratory releases
Jazz guitarist. Catherine recorded with the fusion group Pork Pie as well as two excellent fusion albums on German WEA in the mid-70s (September Man and Guitars). Both of the solo albums featured top-notch players (bassist John Lee, drummer Gerry Brown, keyboardist Jasper van't Hof, and others) and the music on both is a heady mix of post-Mahavishnu Orchestra guitar-dominated fusion and inventive multi-tracked acoustic guitar work. US release on Warner Bros. titled Nairam is a compilation of the two European releases. Catherine went on to record several more solo records (all in a more straight-ahead jazz style), and a few all-acoustic duo and trio records with the likes of Larry Coryell, Didier Lockwood and Christian Escoude. Highly recommended to fusion fans! -- Dave Wayne
[See Pork Pie]
Click here for a web page containing info on Philip Catherine's releases
In Difference (88), The Off The End Of The Pier Show (91)
Of their album The Off The End Of The Pier Show: Interestingly enough, this disc has no vocals: Mann plays guitars, synth, and drum machines, Catley plays guitars (including Ghastly green Gibson guitar), keys and guitar synth. Also featured are Clive Davenport on guitar, guitar synth, Jill (Peel) Towers on flute, and Steve Ridley on keys. On some tracks only Mann plays, on some only Catley, and on others they both play and/or are augmented by the others. This project comes off sounding very reminiscent of Live at the Target, (even though Geoff Mann wasn't in Twelfth Night when that album was recorded) although this one gets a little more spacy at times, and lacks some of the rough edges and immediacy that Target had. Still, anyone who enjoyed Live at the Target should have no trouble enjoying this one.
The Off The End Of The Pier Show is a collaboration between the ex-Twelfth Night frontman and guitarist Marc Catley. The music on this disc is all instrumental, and comprises of guitars, keyboards and drums, with other occasional instruments. The music is, at times, reminiscent of older Mike Oldfield, with a slightly more electronic feel.
[See Eh! | Mann, Geoff | Twelfth Night]
Ars Moriendi (96)
Catweazle's Ars Moriendi (The Art of Dying) is a symphonic neo-prog album in the tradition of British bands Marillion and IQ. Ars Moriendi is a concept album that seems to be not only about a man coming to grips with his life as he dies, but also a statement of the death of different phases and aspects of life (e.g., the innocence of childhood, the loss of human dignity in a gulag). The twelve songs flow one into another, often with references to each other, and connected together by various sound effects. Presumably, these sound effects help illustrate the story but what a pinball machine (between "Gulag" and "Astray") have to do with the concept is beyond me. Catweazle's sound is dominated by layers of Michael Thorne's organ, Mellotron, and digital synths. Bassist Patrick Enwall turns in some nice fretless basswork, including a tasteful duet of fretless bass and Mellotron on "Counting Out Time." Guitarist Peter Rendius's guitar style is not particularly distinguishable from other neo-prog guitarists such as Steve Rothery and Mike Holmes. Roger Johansson's drumming is perfunctory and Thorne's vocals, while not obnoxious, were slightly annoying to me. Perhaps this explains why I found the album's only instrumental, "Gulag," the strongest effort. Most of the other songs are laden with vocals but longer efforts (e.g., "Sun-Tanned in the Shadows") contain some extended instrumental passages. Ars Moriendi contains all the right ingredients to find itself a home in the collections of many a neo-prog fan, but personally, I grew bored after a couple of listens. Both the music and the CD booklet are very nicely produced. -- Mike Taylor
This new Swedish band of four features vocals (in English), keyboards, guitars, basses and drums. Influences on Ars Moriendi include pop rock as well as others commonly associated with British symphonic rock. The result is a fresh and light melodic rock that we should be hearing on the radio. Text-based, the compositions are simple but performances are solid and arrangements vary from acoustic to electric. What you will find here is easy listening music with a symphonic touch of keyboards and very appropriate solos. -- Paul Charbonneau
Pasion, Panico, Locura Y Muerte (09)
Cazuela de Condor - (not in photo order) Emilio Pizarro (tenor sax, flute), Felipe Choupay
(keyboards, synthesizers) Ricardo Lira (bass, percussion, vocals), Carlos Soutullo (drums, percussion)
Cazuela de Condor (Casserole of Condor) may leave a bad taste in the mouths of environmentalists (condors are, of course, an endangered species), but musically this casserole is a tasty dish. Though their self-description mentions "the radiated planetary influence from Kobaia" (that's a Babelfish translation, but it sure sounds right!), I don't really detect much that sounds like Magma in the songs I've heard on their MySpace and PureVolume pages. My first impression was "Gong meets Frank Zappa" (both in their '70's versions). Also maybe a little Hawkwind circa Quark, Strangeness and Charm thrown in for the brash synths and psychedelic feel.
I know nothing about this band other than what I know from hearing the samples linked to below, but I NEED to get a CD from these guys. The biographical data on their sites is pretty much stoned babble in Spanish, further mangled by my attempt to translate it in Babelfish. Near as I can tell, they only have one release, Pasion, Panico, Locura Y Muerte (Passion, Panic, Madness and Death), available from Musea, see link below. But I may be wrong. I'm going to try to get in contact with these guys and find out more. Fantastic stuff! -- Fred Trafton
Click here for
Cazuela de Condor's fairly useless web site
Click here for Cazuela de Condor's MySpace page
Click here for Cazuela de Condor's PureVolume page
Click here to order Pasion, Panico, Locura Y Muerte from Musea Records