The Electric Lucifer (70)
Hush Little Robot (98, CD Compilation)
The Electric Lucifer Book 2 (01, Recorded 1979)
|[The Electric Lucifer is a] strange-looking early 70's electronic concept album.|
|Bruce Haack also recorded as Dimension 5. Several of the songs on Hush Little Robot are from the Dimension 5 albums This Old Man and The Way-Out Record for Children, other cuts are from The Electric Lucifer. -- Fred Trafton|
for an Electric Lucifer/Bruce Haack web site.
Hush Little Robot and The Electric Lucifer Book 2 available (maybe) from QDK page of Psychedelic-music.com web site.
Soleil Noir (84)
This album is said be excellent and reminiscent of Catharsis or Führs and Fröhling. Hasselmann has three other LPs.
Haas was the bassist in Ange.
If A Man But Knew (72)
Prog rock, with Mighty Baby members.
[See Mighty Baby]
|Prog, perhaps comparable to Amon Düül II?|
|Interesting one-off project co-led by 3 US expatriots living in Germany: keyboardist Jimmy Johnson, drummer George Green and guitarist William Powell. The major point of interest for most progressive fans is Haboob's very significant connections with Amon Düül 2. The LP features psychedelic cover art by Amon Düül 2 keyboardist Falk U. Rogner, and it was produced by Amon Düül 2 saxophonist / producer Olaf Kubler. Jimmy Johnson has numerous studio credits, but is perhaps best known in prog-rock circles for his collaboration with Amon Düül 2 on Wolf City and Dance of the Lemmings (along with Phallus Dei, the band's best work, in my opinion). As you'd expect, Johnson's effects-laden organ and Mellotron (here called "choir-organ") are quite prominent. Unfortunately, Johnson's compositions aren't nearly as distinguished - the LP is comprised of a free improvisation (during which Green cuts loose to display some considerable jazz chops), a very Hendrix-inspired blues, and some pretty straightforward psychedelic soul - funk - rock pieces. The end result is sort of like a collaboration between Amon Düül 2 and early Funkadelic, or the Chambers Brothers (or perhaps even Sly Stone), minus the extended guitar explorations. The vocals, guitars and keyboards are heavily processed throughout - in fact the singing is pretty much buried beneath multiple layers of effects and electronic weirdness. The lyrics are only occasionally understandable. Despite the relative simplicity of the music, it has a lot of appeal - and I would urge those of you who are interested in a fusion of Euro-psychedelia with US soul and funk to seek this one out. Green's hard-driving rhythms give the music a real funky edge, and Johnson does some interesting stuff. -- Dave Wayne|
|Links||[See Amon Düül II]|
Voyage Of The Acolyte (75)
Steve Hackett: What can I say? He started out in a little band called Quiet World, joined this small art rock band, eventually left, and now has a great solo career! Of course, the "small art rock band" was none other than Genesis, and the music he helped produce was incredible, but that's when working with others. On his own, he's equally incredible, if not more so! Steve is best known for his instrumental work, his acoustic playing style, the "tapping on the fretboard" style that Van Halen popularized, and much more. His music has evolved over the years, and while some of it was not up to the standards that he set with other albums, they are still excellent: Voyage Of The Acolyte: This is a tie for his best album. I personally consider it to be the "missing" Genesis album from this period. It features Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, and is an incredible album. From the slightly bizarre "Ace of Wands" to the enchanting "Shadow Of The Hierophant," it shows what Steve is capable of. Please Don't Touch: This is a decent album, showing his different musical sides. He goes from a Kansas-ish "Narnia" to an acoustic "Kim," to the powerful "Please Don't Touch." This album has different feels from song to song. Vocals are done by Richie Havens (folk singer) and Walsh (Kansas), among others. Spectral Mornings: This is probably the #2 album to get. From beginning to end, pure magic. If you enjoy instrumentals, this album is great, and if you enjoy Steve's style, this is a must-buy. Defector: Another amazing album by Steve. Has some really good songs ("Two Vamps as Guests," "Hammer in the Sand"), the song with the "tapping" ("Slogans"), and others. There are a couple songs which aren't up to par, but still quite listenable to. Cured: Umm... unfortunately, Steve lapsed on this one. There is only one really good song on this album, "The A-C Nightmare." Rocking instrumental, especially if done live. However, the rest of the album doesn't quite reach the heights of the others. Probably above what most others do. Highly Strung: A good Jazz-Rock album. If you liked his album with Steve Howe (GTR), you'll probably enjoy this. A lot more rock in this album, and still very good. I recommend it if you don't mind missing the "mellow" tracks off his other albums. This one just cooks! Cell 151 EP + Bonus EP: An EP that is very good. 4 Live songs, and an alternate "Clocks." Well worth getting if you can find it. Bay Of Kings: Steve was classically trained on the guitar. What does that mean? It means that he was trained by playing classical music, rather than rock. This is one of his two all-acoustic albums. If you enjoy instrumentals then get it. It's amazing what he can do with a guitar. Till We Have Faces: er ... this is an okay album. Not his best, but not his worst. It's merely an average album, unfortunately, but it has its moments. A Doll That's Made In Japan EP: Has the LONG "Doll That's Made In Japan," and an unreleased song, "Just the Bones." Very good, albeit short and hard to find. Momentum: If I remember right, Steve took the proceeds from GTR and used it to go on tour for this album. This his other acoustic instrumental album, and if you like Bay of Kings, you'll love this. If you are looking for rock'n'roll, this is NOT for you. A VERY mellow album, but if you like classical guitar, this is one of the best! Time Lapse: Steve took 2 recordings, one from 1981, the other from 1989. This is a good introduction to his music, and he proves that live albums can be better than studio albums. One new song on this one, Depth Charge (still unreleased except on this album). This, along with Guitar Noir and Unauthorized Biography, are the best albums for people curious about the Hackett "feel." The Unauthorized Biography: If only they would release this in the USA! This is a bunch of studio songs (a good selection), and two new songs. "Don't Fall Away From Me" was done with Brian May (they started it, Steve finished it). "Prayers and Dreams" is another acoustic instrumental. One of his best, IMHO. If you are looking for an album to "check out" Steve, this is a good sampler (Time Lapse and Guitar Noir are the others). GTR: Sell out? Did I hear someone mention selling out? Of course you did. This was a group that was designed to sell records, and show how effective two great guitarists could be. The music is decent, but not what you'd expect from two of the best guitarists, Steve Howe and Steve Hackett. If you don't mind pop-rock and cheesy lyrics, you'll like this. Has some GOOD songs ("Imagining"), but overall just another pop album. Cell 151/ Time Lapse In Milton Keynes: Has those 2, plus "The A-C nightmare" live. Guitar Noir: Last year, Steve went on tour with a BUNCH of new material. Some of it evolved during the long road trip across the United States, and some of it was created during it! A definite tie for his #1 album! Blues in one part, rock in another, jazz and acoustics all in one album! It should be released in the USA in September, and is already out in the UK. GET IT! There you have it. If I were to rank them by quality, I'd say: VotA/GN, TL/SM/HS, most of the others, then lastly Cured/Till We Have Faces. If I were to recommend AN album for people curious about Steve's work, I'd recommend Guitar Noir. This way, once they become addicted, they won't have two copies of all the songs! :) Time Lapse rocks as well, and if you like live music, you'll love this one. Overall, one INCREDIBLE guitarist!
Click here for Steve Hackett's web site
Hades (92, Recorded 1974)
|Scandinavian band on Änglagård's LP label (Colours).|
Iso Lintu (75)
Haikara IV: Domino (98)
In the 1970s Haikara ("The Stork") were considered one of the leading Finnish
prog bands, along with the likes of Wigwam and
Tasavallan Presidentti, but
unlike those groups, Haikara was somewhat forgotten in the 80's and 90's.
Considering the quality of their eponymous first album, this is a real
shame. Released in 1972, Haikara is, IMHO, one of the masterpieces of
Finnish prog. Long out of print, the original LP is a pricey collector's
item, so it was commendable of Warner Music Finland to finally re-release
the album on CD in 1998. The band's line up is vox/perc, guitar/keys/bass,
flute/sax, bass, drums/perc; there is also a fair amount of guest strings
and brass. Guitar and sax form the heart of the band's sound, but keyboards
(piano and organ) and orchestral sounds are used quite imaginatively to a
full-sounding end. The album contains five tracks (one five and a half
minute long cut and four in the 7-11 minutes class). All tracks have
vocals, with lyrics in Finnish, but those of you unfamiliar with the
language are not missing anything vital: most of the lyrics are the kind of
quasi-socialist, "let's call for universal peace and bash the bourgeois
bastards" type of ranting which I guess was zeitgeist at the time the album
was recorded. As for musical influences, the most obvious is
especially in the last song "Manala" ("Hades"), which opens with a
bittersweet acoustic guitar/flute section and then builds into a hardedged,
gothic rocker with blaring saxophone and guitar. Likewise, the ghost of
Van Der Graaf Generator haunts some
of the sax solos and riffs. However, for
most part I wouldn't say the music is all that derivative. "Yksi maa - yksi
kansa" ("One Country - One People") alternates between melodic verses adorned
with warm orchestral sounds, and some inspired instrumental parts, where
various instruments solo and trade riffs over an active rhythm section
negotiating odd time signatures. The tongue-in-the-cheek opener "Köyhän
pojan kerjäys" (A Poor Boy Begging) even incorporates some ideas from
Finnish folk and military marching music.
Geafar followed in 1973 and is more of a mixed-bag, though still a strong album. The 14-minute title track builds on and develops the first-album style: dark, doomy and driving with clear female vocals, bouncy, odd-time vocal sections, screaming sax and guitar solos, sparingly-used strings and a few subdued piano sections, it is definitely one of the highlights of Finnish prog in the 1970's. However, elsewhere their sound is more stripped down and streamlined. The album's only English song "Change" is just a straight-ahead, somewhat banal rocker with wah-wah guitar, sax, drums and a monstrously overdriven bass (which is even used as a solo instrument), padded out with jamming and extended solos. The two short songs "Kantaatti" (Cantata) and "Laulu surullisesta pilvestä" ("The Song about a Sad Cloud"), on the other hand, use piano, wordless female vocals, flute and subtle string arrangements to a very classically-elegant effect. Finally, "Kun menet tarpeeksi kauas tulevaisuuteen, huomaat olevasi menneisyydessä" ("When You Go Far Enough into the Future, You'll Find Yourself in the Past") in effect combines elements of all these styles and features a really weird-sounding guitar solo. The Ektro Records CD version includes four short bonus tracks recorded in 1976 and 1979. They range from funky, horn-driven fusion to catchy pop with nimble flute and synth leads.
Progressively less progressive, Iso Lintu ("A Big Bird") contains only songs of under five-minute duration, a result of executive rather than artistic considerations. "Kuinka ollakaan" ("What a Surprise") lampoons the situation with its clever juxtapositions of scruffy flute riffs, dance beats, quasi-classical orchestration and a spacey synth solo. In fact, about half of the tracks on this eclectic album seem to have been made with the tongue slithering towards the cheek. For example, "Hotellinainen" ("Hotel Woman") has a sub-Black Sabbath guitar riff, a lyric that reads like a Sunday Schooler's idea of cock-rock, and a few overwrought vocal effects that could best be described as pornographic. "Leppäkerttu" ("Ladybug") and "2 + 2 = 5" are lightweight pop with sprightly orchestrations, not too far from Kayak at their silliest. However, the album also features several stately symphonic numbers that are quite serious and progressive. "Aamu" ("Morning") and "Romanssi" ("Romance") are particularly beautiful with their melancholy, descending melodies and quasi-classical arrangements, at times resembling more inspired versions of Alan Parsons' orchestral ballads. "Romanssi" was part of a five-part symphonic composition called "Kuutamo" ("Moonlight"), which was performed live and recorded for the Finnish radio, but all recordings seem to have been lost. Iso Lintu is not lost but remains unavailable on CD.
The band's guitarist and musical prime mover Vesa Lattunen reformed the band in the 90's with three younger musicians. Their sole release during the decade was called Haikara IV: Domino. The album contains six tracks and is generally more low-key. There are long, medium-tempo instrumental sections with alternating sax and guitar solos, all very nice and melodic, and occasional vocal sections. The compositions are well-crafted, though not particularly complex or developed, with some subtle Eastern influences; there is even some Gregorian chanting at the beginning of "Gloria Deo". The production is very understated, perhaps aiming for the 70's sound, but you occasionally get the feeling that there could have been more variation in instrumentation (e.g. the nearly inaudible keyboards could have been brought up to augment the guitar, which is now the sole polyphonic instrument). Overall, a very warm-sounding album. Actually, with all the unhurried tempos, clean-but-crispy guitar sounds and cymbal-heavy drumming, I am reminded of mid-70s Popol Vuh. Not as strong an album as the first one but still very worthwhile.
In 2001 Haikara first contributed a new version of "Yksi maa - yksi kansa" for Tuonen tytär ("Death's Daughter"), a tribute album to the Finnish progressive rock bands of the 1970s, and then followed it with a full album of their own, Tuhkamaa (Ashland). Here the band's sound has moved from the sylvan warmth of Domino to a steelier, more up-to-date sound, and their approach grown darker and more focused in a way that recalls Geafar particularly. You can hear the influence clearest in the instrumental "Kosovo", in its martial beats, rumbling cello and bass pulses, and saxophone lines uneasily probing the perimeter of dissonance (given the title and the time the song was written in, its harshness is hardly surprising). Yet despite all the new-found dramatics, the relative sparseness of Domino lingers on the angry instrumental "Hymni" ("Anthem"), where too much time is spent on sax wailing over a single, unadorned power-chord riff and punchy rhythm. There are also a couple of very straight-forward tunes, the urgent "Valtakunta" ("Kingdom") and the hymnal ballad "Oodi" ("Ode"), whose limpid female vocals and heartfelt sentiment bring the otherwise bleak album to a hopeful, even joyous closure. But three consecutive tracks - "Harlekiini" ("Harlequin"), "Klovni" ("Clown") and the title track - are fully cut from the classic Haikara wood, with Lattunen's unaffected vocals, discreet guitar picking and bittersweet melodies stylishly counter-pointed with cello, passionate sax and some keyboards. Despite this diversity, Tuhkamaa is a clearly an album-length work, as there are several distinct musical themes that run through the album. Not as accessible as its predecessor, it will reveal its beauty on subsequent listens.
Haikara were also involved in two further projects by the Finnish progressive music association Colossus, Kalevala: A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic and The Spaghetti Epic. The two lengthy songs they contributed to these sprawling concept works are developments of the Tuhkamaa sound, employing female vocals and more extensive arrangements with the same brooding marches, dissonant riffs and acoustic dirges that featured prominently on that album. Kalevala's track particularly achieves a good balance of rather heavy, King Crimson-influenced guitar riffs and a Karelian-flavoured vocal melody seemingly fashioned out of ice-cold ether and supported only by a sepulchral cello. Similarly, while "The West" on The Spaghetti Epic is a less cohesive work, it nicely achieves a similar feel of mythical, melancholy grandeur as Ennio Morricone's original score for Once Upon a Time in the West without actually nicking anything from it. Haikara were also slated to appear on the second Spaghetti Epic, but these plans came to a stark end with the sudden death of Vesa Lattunen in March 2005. He was mourned by many in the progressive community both inside and outside Finland. With the exception of some previously unpublished material perhaps seeing release, it seems that Haikara has flown its final flight.
[Regarding an album formerly in discography, Rakkat Kuunteligat (7?)]:
Click here for Tuchol's Progressive
Rock page which contains info on Danish prog and has an unofficial Haikara section
Click here for more information on the Kalevala project
Assassination in the Hashish Cathedral (09, Limited to 50 CDR copies)
Haiku Funeral - Dimitar Dimitrov (electronics, vocals, spring drum) and William Kopecky (bass, vocals,
spring drum, children's harp)
Haiku Funeral consists of Dimitar Dimitrov and William Kopecky (of Kopecky, Par Lindh Project and Far Corner). To say their first album Assassination in the Hashish Cathedral "isn't a big release" is an understatement. It's limited to 50 copies, and those are all CDR's. However, what must be the majority of the album can be heard (as of this writing at least) on Haiku Funeral's MySpace page (see below). In spite of this, it's worthy of a GEPR entry because 1.) The music is cool, 2.) The album art is cool and 3.) Bill Kopecky plays bass on it!
Musically, this is really pure noise. Synthesizer noises and the sound of bass strings being ripped off the bass. That, and scary dark poetry. Did I say it's really cool? Go to the MySpace page and check it out for yourself. Would you like to be one of only 50 people to own this? Then click on the Hikikomori Records link below.
By the way, Dimitar is Bulgarian, and a vet of the Black Metal scene, while Bill is American. But the album was recorded in Paris, so I've listed the band as French. Whatever. It's sort of meaningless in this case. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Far Corner | Kopecky | Par Lindh Project]|
Hontz gaua (76)
Hontz gaua (Elkar KD-10105/ Lost Vinyl L.V. 006) is a psychedelic and occasionally
even progressive take on Basque folk tunes and similar-minded original compositions,
performed predominantly on acoustic instruments and largely without kit drums. Indeed, the
bright opener "Anderea" is a straight-forward folk rendition, ringing acoustic guitars
and double bass escorting a dark but melodious female voice through a compelling traditional
melody like countless others must have done before. But the dusky melody of "Egunarn
hastapena" surfaces from an uncertain sea of dark flute, violin and percussion
tones, before racing to a sprightly accelerando conclusion with brief but busy drum
support. This version of "Argizagi ederra", a traditional Basque ode to the moon, has a
dreamy vocal line over a sparse, undulating cello background and stabs of electric guitar
cries, all of which could be compared to Dead Can Dance
or even a low-tech version of Clannad.
The 14-minute title track is the most obviously progressive offering here: a solemn Latin chant by male voices leads to a pretty, meditative guitar ambulation, flute melodies and female vocalise. A storm then gathers in the form of spattering electric guitar ostinati, tolling and tempestuous cymbal work and whirlwind vocal wails, before the dark cello returns the song to a calmer tonality for a soft vocal and flute reprise. It is rudimentary experimentalism, but occasional it hits the spot brilliantly. While this rather short album is no classic, its low-key mesmerism could still inveigle those who like early Catharsis or Hosianna Mantra-era Popol Vuh with a distinct Basque cultural influence. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Rabbit in the Vestibule (08)
Half Past Four (not in photo order) - Kyree Vibrant (vocals), Constantin Necrasov (guitar),
Igor Kurtzman (keyboards), Dmitry Lesov (bass), and Ann Brody (drums)
I'm from Israel, and this band has some fans here, including myself. I saw their web-cast on net, it was great show. They sound very good and professional live, the costumes and the atmosphere made me almost feel like I saw the band [in person].
I'm also enjoying their music listening to the CD. The band released the album named Rabbit in the Vestibule, and some demos. If I may add a few words about the album -- great mixture of tunes, challenging music, complex rhythm, rich harmony, a virtuoso performance. I had a chance to read the texts on the band's web-site and I find the texts very smart and funny.
They have female lead singer, her voice is just amazing, and I love the idea of female singer in [a] rock-band. They released a new video about a month ago for song from the album - "Johnny". As I understand, the video was inspired by a book by Milorad Pavic "The Dictionary Of The Khazars". I've read this book and I really think that the style and the music fits it. The video is very interesting with a lot of details and intriguing meanings.
I really hope that you'll like Half Past Four too. -- Yana Tsipckin
This is one of those times I have to say, "don't believe what you read on ProgArchives about this band". The idea that there's no attraction here for people who like "lengthy epics, grandiose atmospheres and displays of technical brilliance" is just pure bull. OK, they're more "song oriented" than "album oriented". But the songs are plenty long enough, the keyboardist spits out 64th-note arpeggios like he was auditioning for Frank Zappa, and as for "grandiose atmospheres" ... well, I'm not even sure I know what that means anyway. If it's about over-the-top pomposity, then I'm happy to say that Half Past Four doesn't need any. They just rock ... in odd, stuttering meters, ecstatic solos and very hip vocals. The assertion (again from the PA article) that there is "very little suggesting progressive rock" here is utterly baffling to me. This is prog rock at its finest ... neither derivative, pretentious nor full of discordant noise. It just sounds like the band is having a great time playing music that will both make your jaw drop and also want to get up and boogie ... if only you had seven legs!
Check out the embedded YouTube video below for a sample, or go to their MySpace site (link below) to hear a few more examples. This band is one of the greatest discoveries for 2009. Oh, wait, that's a 2008 date on that album! How is it I didn't hear about this band until now? You need to hear these guys ... and gals! -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Half Past Four's web site
Click here for Half Past Four's MySpace page
Click here to order Rabbit in the Vestibule from CD Baby
Hallelujah Babe (71)
With Amon Düül II and Niagara members
Part One (88)
Laz (90) (ProgressoR review)
Le Festin (01)
|One of the very best new French bands. While Laz their second has been hailed as a classic by some, I wouldn't go this far. It is excellent, but has some rather dull moments that leave this one hanging a bit short. If you didn't like it, than don't bother with their first either!|
|Crimson influenced french band that has a penchant for creating eerie tunes, sometimes with frightening-sounding vocals. The first album was merely OK, but the second one Laz really rips: Check out the track "Iron Mickey" on side two for proof true. One of the better current french bands.|
|Halloween is one of the newer French progressives, contemporaries of bands like Minimum Vital and Tiemko. I have their 1990 release titled Laz. Their influences are varied, but I do hear some Pulsar. Perhaps the band took their name from Pulsar's classic album, Halloween. There is some excellent, contemporary guitar playing, as well as excellent keyboard work, vociferous violin, and tasteful bass. In addition to the Pulsar, there is, at least superficially, some similaries to Minimum Vital and especially Tiemko's excellent release, Ocean. For the most part, however, the music sounds pretty original to my ears, often being very atmospheric in nature rather than solos against a backdrop of instrumentation. I believe the vocals are in English but they aren't found very often. Very well done and highly recommended.|
|Merlin is a superb third production from this French band. Hear four excellent musicians share violin, guitars, basses, keyboards, lute, drums, percussions, vocals. Also add participation by two string quartets (strings and winds) as well as guests on voice and flute. This impressive production offers inventive music and a variety of arrangements that range from chamber music to heavy symphonic, to jazz-rock fusion. Medieval themes are developed in music, song and words (in French) in the format of a captivating suite. The richness of this music dictates sustained attention by the listener. -- Paul Charbonneau|
Click here to order Halloween's CD's
from Musea Records
Conservation of Mass (01)
Hamadryad - Jean-François Désilets (Bass), Jocelyn Beaulieu
(Lead Vocals & Guitars), Denis Jalbert (Guitars, Vocals), Yves Jalbert
(Drums, Percussion, Vocals) and Francis Douchet (Keyboards)
The Canadian band Hamadryad has released what may be the best prog album of 2001 (the copyright date is 2000, but it was actually released in March of 2001) for their debut. This album has everything you could ask for in a prog album, and if you are listening to something that you aren't thrilled about, just wait a moment and the music will change to something new that you are thrilled about. The diversity of music on this CD is tremendous, while some underlying style still keeps it cohesive as an album.
Take for example the opening song ... well, after a 49-second tape loop noise intro ... "Amora Demonis" is a progressive metal song, though a section with psychedelic sitars gives some indication of what lies ahead. But if you stopped listening after the first song, you would have entirely the wrong impression of this band.
The next four cuts really flow together to form a suite, beginning with the 23-second "Carved in Rust", an a capella piece reminiscent of Gentle Giant or Echolyn. This fades into part 1 of "Still They Laugh", which I can only describe as psychedelic, perhaps a bit reminiscent of The Flower Kings. The next part, "The Second Round" starts off with some cool leslied Hammond organ, then gets into a section which alternates between metallic crunching guitars and more Echolyn madrigal vocals. The last part, "Still They Laugh Part 2" gets extremely psychedelic, with a hypnotic super-flanged ending that makes you say "wow, man, is the CD doing that or am I just really stoned?" Know what I mean?
Well, I could go on describing and raving about every piece on this CD. There are Canterburyish parts, great fretless bass playing, lots of spacey chorale Mellotron, and guitar solos that sound like Allan Holdsworth playing speed metal. There's even a cut "The Second Coming" which could be off of a decent Jon Anderson album with its folky guitar picking and vocal styling.
Well, enough of descriptions and comparisons. This is a great album, and I recommend it highly. I've enjoyed the other releases of Unicorn Records also (Spaced Out and Mystery), but this one is by far my favorite. -- Fred Trafton
for Hamadryad's web site
Click here to order Conservation of Mass from Unicorn Records
The Voice of Silence (72)
Buddhist Meditation (75)
Let It Play (87)
|Ex-Between leader, minimalist keyboard works a la Terry Riley.|
Maliny Maliny (68, as Jan Hammer Trio, aka Make Love)
Like Children (74, w/ Jerry Goodman)
The First Seven Days (75)
Oh Yeah (76)
Jeff Beck w/ Jan Hammer Group Live (77)
Live (77, DJ promo release only)
Black Sheep (78)
Untold Passion (81, w/ Neal Schon)
Here To Stay (83, w/ Neal Schon)
Miami Vice (85)
The Early Years (86)
Escape From Television (87)
Beyond The Mind's Eye (92)
Snaphots 1.2 (00)
Jan Hammer during the "Miami Vice" days
Groundbreaking jazz-rock keyboardist (and drummer) whose distinctive sound and style on the Mini-Moog and Fender Rhodes electric piano was widely imitated, especially by European fusion keyboardists. A Czech expatriate, Hammer first came to prominence in his native land, where he played in a trio which included brothers Miroslav Vitous on bass (who later joined Weather Report) and Alan Vitous (who has recorded with Lobos Andrst, among others) on drums. After emigrating to the US in the late 60s, Hammer gigged and recorded with jazz artists Sarah Vaughan, Elvin Jones, and Jeremy Steig. Hammer achieved wider recognition as the keyboardist in the Mahavishnu Orchestra with whom he recorded 3 fantastic albums. He left the Mahavishnu Orchestra under less-than-friendly circumstances, recorded a duet album [Like Children] with fellow ex-Mahavishnu violinist Jerry Goodman, and appeared on Billy Cobham's Spectrum, Stanley Clarke's eponymous second solo album, and a number of other excellent fusion recordings (Horacee Arnold's Tales of the Exonerated Flea, and John Abercrombie's Timeless leap to mind).
For his first domestically-released solo album, The First Seven Days, Hammer utilized all manner of electronic keyboards (Moog and Oberheim synths, Mellotron, Fender Rhodes, Moog bass, etc.), acoustic piano, and drums (plus hand percussion on a few tracks by David Earle Johnson) to provide a musical depiction of the beginning of the Earth (without any religous overtones). The music on The First Seven Days is a well-balanced and highly appealing fusion of jazz, progressive rock, folk, and classical elements. The followup to The First Seven Days, Oh Yeah?, is actually by the Jan Hammer Group, which included Steve Kindler on violin and guitar, Fernando Saunders on bass and Tony Smith on drums. Oh Yeah? is an essential jazz-fusion recording: bright, effervescent compositions full of odd time signatures and strange twists, Hammer's signature synth excursions, and fine playing by the rest of the band. A couple of decent vocal tracks slow the pace somewhat. Around this time MPS-BASF released Make Love, which was recorded several years earlier. Basically, Make Love is a modern jazz organ-bass-drums trio LP which will interest few progressive fans, its other merits aside. Melodies, on the other hand, was a huge disappointment as the creative instrumental fusion-jazz element of Hammer's music was de-emphasized in favor of rather nondescript poppish rock with funk and prog overtones. Live is a DJ-only promo released shortly after Melodies, perhaps in an attempt to recapture some of the band's credibility. Live is a decent record, but nowhere near as good as Oh Yeah?. Hammer appeared on Jeff Beck's great Wired LP, and a subsequent tour with the legendary guitar innovator resulted in another fine fusion record: the creatively-titled Jeff Beck Live With the Jan Hammer Band, which featured material from the Goodman-Hammer LP, Like Children, and The First Seven Days.
Soon after the Beck tour and LP, Saunders and Smith left, ironically, to join John McLaughlin's One Truth Band. Hammer's subsequent solo records were highly commercial. In the 80s, he formed a band with Journey (and ex-Santana) guitarist Neal Schon, and appeared on a few jazz recordings such as John Abercrombie's excellent Night. Hammer also appeared on several fine fusion records by percussionist David Earle Johnson, as well as The Joy of Flying by drummer Tony Williams (the Hammer-Williams duet track "Eris" is particularly stunning). In the late 80s, Jan Hammer acheived fame as the creator of the soundtrack for the very popular television program, "Miami Vice". Fernando Saunders is now a sought-after NY session musician, and Steve Kindler has recorded several records in the New Age / "World Music" vein. -- Dave Wayne
[See Goodman, Jerry |
Click here for the Official Jan Hammer web site
Fools Mate (71)
Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night (73)
The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage (74)
In Camera (74)
Nadir's Big Chance (75)
The Future Now (78)
A Black Box (80)
Sitting Targets (81)
Enter K (82)
Loops and Reels (83)
The Love Songs (84)
The Margin (85)
And Close as This (86)
Spur of the Moment (88)
In a Foriegn Town (88)
Out of Water (90)
RoomTemperatureLive (90, Live)
Fall of the House of Usher (91, revised & re-issued in '99)
The Noise (93)
There Goes the Daylight (93)
Roaring Fourties (94)
The Peel Sessions (95)
X my Heart (96)
tides (96, Live)
Everyone You Hold (97)
Typical (99, Live)
The Appointed Hour (99)
None of the Above (00)
What, Now? (01)
Ex-Van der Graaf Generator with lots of solo albums. I have Over and And Close as This. Over is very good, very "personal." All the songs on ACaT are just Peter's voice and his keyboard, so they tend to be pretty mellow. Still good, though.
|Enter K, Fireships, Patience are three releases by Van Der Graaf Generator's lead-man. All three releases feature Peter Hammill's intense vocals and very "literate" lyrics. All of these are from the eighties onward and tend to be a trifle less spare than his earlier material, musically. Enter K was released in 1982, and the CD features a bonus track, "Seven Wonders." Patience is from 1983, and follows in the same style. Both these recordings feature the classic line-up of Hammill/Potter/ Guy Evans/Ellis, augmented by the sax-work of David Jackson. Fireships features the other members on a few of the tracks, but Hammill's main compatriot is keyboardist/producer David Lord. The music on this work is more lush due to a more prominent keyboard presence, and Hammill's vocals seem to have mellowed a good deal, but the well arranged music and profound lyrical style remain. In fact, on some of the more sombre passages, the music is quite similar in style to David Sylvian, with an Eno-esque ambience. He returns with his latest release, The Nosie teaming up with old friends Dave Jackson and Nic Potter. His producer on recent releases, David Lord, is not in evidence, which is probably why the sound on this release is not as smooth as it was with Fireships and ...Usher. Hammill's guitars are more prominent in the mix, but his voice seems to have mellowed somewhat from the overwrought intensity of efforts from a few years ago. As always, though, the lyrics are "profound," with critical commentary on capitalism, white-collar crime and other social ills.|
|Just an incredible musician. His lyrics are unmatched by any others I've ever heard. His vocals stress the emotion of his lyrics. You can feel the pain, anger, emptiness, etc when he sings it. His vocals also annoy a lot of people. Too harsh for some. Peter plays mostly accoustic guitar and keyboards. There's a lot of mix between band structured stuff and completely solo work on his "solo" albums. The musical style of his solo stuff changed a lot over the years. Started out with a much richer sound at the start. The middle era stuff was somewhat experimental. The later stuff pushes toward accessibility a little more. The newest phase is pretty tame. I like his earlier stuff much better. Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night is great. "German Overalls," "In the End," and "(In the) Black Room" are great tracks. The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage is probably the most Van der Graaf Generator like album. "A Louse Is Not a Home" is one of Hammill's best. Nadir's Big Chance is probably a good place to start for the uninitiated. "Open Your Eyes" and "Two or Three Spectres" are classic tracks. Fools Mate has Fripp on it. In a Foreign Town and Skin are the best of his later albums. More accessible, but still interesting. Most of the middle albums are very patchy. Some good songs and mediocre songs on all of the albums.|
|Hammill founded Van der Graaf Generator in 1967. His solo work ranges over lots of styles and sounds. His first albums may fit any VdGG lover without much difficulty. His lyrics are always the best part. At the beginning they were more straight-forward, and very personal. I have separated his records in list in order to refer to them with respect of their different styles. 1971 - 1977: More Van der Graafian style. All of them are highly recommended. Fools Mate and Nadir's Big Chance are the less "serious" records, where Hammill finds time to express his foolish-self in his shorter song. Many members of VdGG and other friends (Fripp) are with him here. Chameleon... and Over are really depressing, as they are VERY personal records with lots of strong and sad songs. The first may be his most moving one, the second is more accessible to a larger audience, and it became his most succesful record. Both feature members of VdGG in several songs. Some songs are really rocking. The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage is the more Van-der-Graffian of them all, with "A Louse is not a Home." This one is the best artistically (IMHO). 1978 - 1980: Hammill experience period (rather long!). He plays lots of instruments here and even tries to play drums (and fails), but the outcome may be enjoying for some people. The Future Now and PH7 are both strange, PH7 is much easier to get into. Both have shorter songs with great lyrics. Hammill is alone except for Graham Smith (violin) and David Jackson (Sax) on few songs. Both have very similar sound. A Black Box is very hard to get into, but it has some great songs, with the very good "Flight" which is 20 min. long. If you're finding this one hard to understand, I recommend you to get to know the songs from the live performances... some help from friends on few instruments. Sitting Targets may be the begining of the formation of Hammill's new group. This one has a harder sound, but it isn't a band's album as the other players are only guests, and there are some Hammill solo songs. 1981 - 1985: Hammill forms another band, the short-lived K Group. Enter K, Patience are the K Group only original releases. All members have "band" names: K is Hammill, Fury is John Ellis, Mozart is Nic Potter and Brain is Guy Evans. Some guest appearance by David Jackson, David Lord and Stuart Gordon (Violin). These two are considered by some Hammill fans as the last two worth the hearing. The music is mainly rock, and the last track on both records is a nice progressive rock. The singing is as always very strong, and some songs really make these records very good. The lyrics begin to get obscure. The Margin is the K Group Live recording. Very strange to listen to at the start (the applause were cut out!), but it is a nice live double album. The K Group versions of Hammill's previous solo songs are very good, especially Flight. The Love Songs features beautiful songs from all of Hammill's fruitful career. "Just Good Friends" was totally re-done and it is great. Other songs were added some effects or some vocal/instrumental parts. Some were re-recorded with members of the K Group or with Stuart Gordon. "Been Alone So Long" remained without any change. Skin was Hammill's big return after 3 years of no original release. Although it is not a K Group album, he has a band behind him, with Evans, Jackson, David Coulter (playing Didjeridu, an oriental instrument you can hear on the start and the end of "Now Lover"), Gordon, Banton and David Luckhurst. It is a rather interesting album but the music tends to pop. 1986 - 1993 Hammill goes soloing again, and every record is different. And Close As This is a VERY solo album as Hammill only plays one keyboard and sings and that's all! Some midi work was done later but, as Hammill notes, this album was made with only one pass of the hand over the keyboard. A very interesting achieve, which some may really love (I know some!) In a Foreign Town - again a popier album, with lots of electric rhythm section (heavy synth bass and electric drums) This was trying to be accessible, but didn't really do the trick. Out of Water is a very sad and slow album which has an enjoyable sound and production. Some songs are very long, most are strong. Hammill got a help here from Gordon and Ellis. Hammill's voice here is a bit strange, and not as good as usual. In 1990 he founded his own record company named FIE!, and released Patience and Enter K on CD. The Fall of the House of Usher is an Opera Hammill has been writing for 20 years. The music was recorded with synths, with a sound which has a bit to do with strings sound but not really. Very few elec. drums on little short times around the record, bits of elec. guitars can faintly be heard somewhere - and that's it! The singers are Andy Bell from Erasure, Sarah-Jane Morris, Lene Lovich, Herbert Gronemeyer and Hammill himself. Even though this is the least you could expect from an opera it is getting better after coming out of the shock... After hearing it for many times this may become one of your favorite, as it is a very strong piece of music, and it is VERY strange. Hammill's voice is not that good, like in the previous release. Fireships and The Noise are the two ends of the spectrum that Hammill aims to reach in his new music period. Fireships is the first in his be-calm series, in which he wants to put out quiet and relaxed records. This one is beautifully produced by David Lord and has great sound, but lacks some strength. The Noise is the first one in the a-loud series, and it has a band playing with hammill. Room Temperature Live is rather unique. On the stage are Hammill, Gordon and Potter. Without drums these songs get really carried away and you may find it very hard to find what the rhythm is at all... You may like it for the very special sound the elec. violin has on this double CD. Hammill gives out good singing and sometimes lousy keyboard playing. Don't forget he is still putting out CDs and sends newsletters to fans, and he could use your effort in buying his new CDs. Do it for him now because you may find yourself in times when you'd wish you could help him go on when you still could ... This guy made really great and moving music and you may find it touching the right places, at times ...|
One the the greatest musical geniuses on the planet. Everything he has
done, with the possible exception of a few tracks on Nadir's Big
Chance, Skin and The Noise is incredible. An
incredibly emotional vocalist. Can't recommend him enough. This is the
address of his mail-order and "fan" club which distributes a rather
[See Van der Graaf Generator]
Music To Eat (70)
A really interesting group who recorded one rather
remarkable album (a 2-record set, no less) for
Columbia, and then split up a few years later. Most
often, their music is compared to that of
Beefheart. There are some superficial similarities:
Bruce Hampton's exceptionally gravelly vocals and
inscrutable lyrics, the twangy twin lead guitars of
Glenn Phillips and Harold Kelling, and the
asymmetrical and unpredictable compositions. But while
there is little (if any) improvisation in
music, the Grease Band's strength is extended jamming.
Most of the songs on Music to Eat clock in at over
15 minutes. However, the improvisations do not meander
or dissolve into aimless hippie noodling. Instead,
they are punctuated by radical shifts in time
signature, rhythmic feel, tonality, tempo,
you-name-it, which keep the listener on his/her toes.
Really excellent stuff. To me the closest comparison
would be Hot Rats- or Chunga's Revenge-era
but these guys are far too original to be labelled as
Glenn Phillips went on to record a string of interesting instrumental rock (not fusion) albums, the first of which included most of the Grease Band. Bruce Hampton also went on to record a number of solo records, and later formed two groups which acheived some notoriety: The Late Bronze Age and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. As I understand it, Music to Eat became something of a collector's item, but the recent CD reissue should remedy that situation. One of America's great lost bands. -- Dave Wayne
Songs From The Hamster Theater (95)
Siege on Hamburger City (98, Live)
Carnival Detournement (01)
The Public Execution of Mr. Personality / Quasi Day Room: Live at The Moore Theatre (06, 2CD, 1 studio, 1 live)
Hamster Theater's Jon Stubbs and Dave Willey
Members from Thinking Plague are included on this album [Siege on Hamburger City], playing what would probably best be described as accordion based progressive carnival music. The drum and bass department are not unlike something you'd hear on a Tom Waits record, but the central thing are the sudden bursts of highly arranged parts where they all play in unison. Sometimes very complex, and sometimes much like Thinking Plague, but this is all instrumental and not quite as involving as other "commercial" RIO bands. Interesting and entertaining, yes, but a little too awkward and goofy to be great. Most of it was recorded live. -- Daniel
While I have to take some issue with the above assessment, I must say that the description of Hamster Theater as "accordion based progressive carnival music" did somewhat prepare me for what I heard on their new album, The Public Execution of Mr. Personality / Quasi Day Room: Live at The Moore Theatre. Though not "carnival music" as much as "warped French cabaret music". This release is really two separate albums bundled together in a single package. The Public Execution of Mr. Personality is a studio album while Quasi Day Room: Live at The Moore Theatre is (obviously) a live album. Both are so well recorded it's sometimes difficult to tell which disc you have in the CD player, except for the applause at the end of each cut on the live album.
Since I haven't heard the album mentioned above (Siege on Hamburger City), I can't really argue about the author's assessment. However, I detect nothing of Tom Waits in the intricate rhythm section on either The Public Execution of Mr. Personality or Quasi Day Room: Live at The Moore Theatre. There's also nothing I would call "awkward" or "goofy", except to the extent that all RIO-styled music is sometimes angular, dissonant and arhythmic, and therefore, to some ears, awkward. Like that last sentence. And for some people, an accordion is always going to sound goofy. Can you blame them, with the poor instrument getting most of its fame from Lawrence Welk, Zydeco music and German beer-drinking songs? But the way Hamster Theater's Dave Willey plays it, it's hard to even think of it as the same instrument as what those guys play. And why should it? Have you never heard anyone playing schlock Muzak on a Hammond? What Keith Emerson did for that instrument Dave Willey does for the accordion. About time, too. Willey also plays in Thinking Plague, and TP leader Mike Johnson plays guitar for Hamster Theater. So there's more than just a passing acquaintence between the two bands.
Of the assertion that this is somehow "commercial", pay that statement no mind. This is a Cuneiform release, after all! I'm sure these guys are all starving. Great for those of us that like strange, challenging music. Not so great if you're trying to earn a living at it. Lucky for us there are still people around with such a need to create music like this that they're willing to work day jobs to support themselves while pop divas drench us with dreck and take home huge cash rewards. It's downright unfair. But enough (getting off my soapbox now).
These albums are about as pure-blooded as RIO-styled music gets, both because they remind me of nothing as much as Henry Cow and because of the ties to Thinking Plague in both personnel and musical style. I'm a big fan of Thinking Plague, so don't be surprised that I really like this too. For all fans of RIO-styled Cuneiform weirdness! This is as good as it gets. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Thinking Plague]|
Han L Pada (??)
Takin' Off (62)
My Point Of View (63)
Inventions and Dimensions (63)
Empyrean Isles (64)
Maiden Voyage (65)
Blow Up (66, Soundtrack)
Speak Like A Child (68)
The Prisoner (69)
Fat Albert Rotunda (70, for Bill Cosby's Fat Albert show)
Mwandishi (71, Live)
Head Hunters (73)
Death Wish (74, Soundtrack)
Flood (75, Live)
V.S.O.P. (77, 2LP)
The Herbie Hancock Trio (77)
An Evening With Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea In Concert (78, Live)
Feets Don't Fail Me Now (79)
Direct Step (79, Japan-only release)
Mr. Hands (81)
Herbie Hancock Trio with Ron Carter + Tony Williams (81, Japan-only release)
Magic Windows (81)
Lite Me Up! (82)
Future Shock (83)
Sound System (84)
Village Life (85)
'Round Midnight (87)
Perfect Machine (88)
Dis Is Da Drum (94)
The New Standard (96)
1+1 (97, w/ Wayne Shorter)
Gershwin's World (98)
One of the greats! Herbie Hancock is one of the
finest keyboardists and composers around, and a
tireless experimenter who is always trying something
new. His recordings over the last 30+ years cut a
stylistic swath from modern jazz through fusion, funk
and disco. Many of Hancock's fusion recordings are
first-rate, and I consider them essential listening
for fans of the genre. These are detailed below. Those
among you who are looking for a few recordings of
tasteful, tuneful, classy modern jazz would do well to
check out Hancock's earliest recordings as a leader
for the Blue Note label (Maiden Voyage and
Inventions and Dimensions leap to mind). Hancock has
also done several notable film scores, and today he
fills in for Paul Schaffer on the Letterman show every
now and then.
After spending 6 or 7 years in Miles Davis' band, Hancock embarked on a solo career in the late '60s. By the early '70s, he had assembled a tremendously talented band which included Benny Maupin (reeds), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Julian Priester (trombone), Buster Williams (bass) and Billy Hart (drums). This unit, plus guitarist Ronnie Montrose (yes, "that" Ronnie Montrose), second drummer Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (who later joined Santana), and percussionist Chepito Areas (who was in Santana at the time), recorded Mwandishi which was that sort of jammin', spacy jazz (lots of Fender Rhodes, tons of reverb on the horns, very long tunes) that has once again become popular. Basically, the music is sort of an edgier take on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew. The followup to Mwandishi, Crossings, is a truly phenomenal recording. The basic premise of Mwandishi remains, but on Crossings the intensity level is cranked up about 10 times. Recording engineer Patrick Gleeson adds some very extravagent synthesizer sounds as an added bonus. Hancock's first recording for CBS, Sextant, was so revolutionary and so far ahead of its time, I'm surprised that it ever saw the light of day. On Sextant, dissonant jazz improvisations rub elbows with analog synths, Mellotron, and african percussion. Here, Hancock's compositional ideas can be traced to avant-garde 'classical' music (Stockhausen, Ligeti, etc.).
After Sextant, Hancock hired a new band (saxophonist Benny Maupin was the only holdover) and recorded the million-selling Headhunters, which is actually quite a fine record once you get beyond "Chameleon", which became a bona-fide hit single. The followup, Thrust, is even better, and features Mike Clark (who later replaced Phil Collins in Brand X) who does some truly amazing things on the drum kit. Both Headhunters and Thrust are essential listening for fans of funky fusion. After Thrust, Hancock's recordings became progressively more commercial, but many had at least one cut with some merit (check out "Good Question" on Sunlight). Some of the pop stuff is really dreadful. Mr. Hands is the least commercial and the most jazzy of Hancock's later electronic keyboard-dominated recordings. In the late '70s, Hancock recorded some pure disco music (lots of Vocoder!), but also moved back towards the thoughtful acoustic jazz sound of his Blue Note years. In the '80s, Hancock had another pop instrumental hit; the Bill Laswell-produced "Rockit", which was an early MTV staple.
Village Life is an interesting recording which features Hancock's keyboards in a series of improvised duets with Foday Musa Suso, who plays a 21-stringed instrument called the kora. Herbie Hancock is still going strong as of this writing (October 2000), and I have only mentioned a handful of his most worthwhile recordings. The sidemen from the Mwandishi/Crossings/Sextant band, Eddie Henderson, Benny Maupin, and Julian Priester, have done some fine recordings as leaders in their own right. -- Dave Wayne
Hands (96, Recorded in 1977)
Prism Live (97, Recorded ??, Prism was Hands' previous band name)
Palm Mystery (99, Recorded 1977, 78 & 80)
The Early Years (00, Recorded in 1974-76, Limited edition of 400 copies)
Twenty Five Winters (02)
Hands 2002 - Ernie Myers (guitar, vocals), Rex Bozarth (bass, stick, cello, vocals),
Martin McCall (drums), Michael Clay (keyboards, guitar, vocals) - Photos & collage
by Fred Trafton
In 1996, original Hands musicians Michael Clay (keyboards) and Ernie Myers (guitar) got together again due to the positive response to their long delayed '70's music releases on CD. They began writing new songs, and spent the next few years writing and recording a new Hands CD Twenty Five Winters, which was released in 2002. The Hands line-up for Twenty Five Winters included four original members and a new bassist. In 2002, they finally released Twenty Five Winters, and was well worth the wait. At the time, I hadn't heard their earlier music, but I did say back then that I thought the album was a must-buy for any symphonic prog enthusiast. Since then, I've also heard their delayed-release 1996 album Hands (recorded in 1977), and it's just as good. I really like these guys, though you should know I'm prejudiced since I know them. Still, I'm pretty sure I would like them even if I'd never met them.
Regarding Twenty Five Winters, all the band members get to show off their chops in different places, but this album is more about great compositions than fast note runs. My favorite cuts on the album include the opener, "Knock/Enter" which flirts with a "southern sound" with its acoustic guitar picking and violin melody, reminding me somewhat of The Dixie Dregs, though less fusiony. This continues with a spacey multitracked vocal section, and finally a more intense restatement of the theme on electric guitars this time, with some nice violin soloing on top.
All the cuts are good, but several others deserve special mention; I really enjoyed "Light and Darkness" for its swinging between light and heavy sections, and for the Echolynish vocal overdubs, or maybe like Gentle Giant without the medieval madrigal feel. "I Laughed Aloud" is also very nice, an instrumental almost classical-sounding piano piece punctuated by violin over the top. Something about this makes me think I'm going to start hearing a story about the hare who lost his spectacles, but this never happens. Finally, there's a totally electrifying section in the otherwise laid-back vocal-oriented composition, "Leaving". The third part of this cut is entitled "Traveler's Lament", an instrumental section that wouldn't be at all out of place on a Starless and Bible Black era King Crimson album. OK, it may be a little too nice sounding relative to that, but it still kicks butt in a Frippian sort of way. If I had to make a complaint about this album it's that it's too short! I think they would have had room on the CD for another cut or two. Or perhaps a live "bonus track". But that's about the worst thing I can say about this CD.
Hands is a Dallas, Texas area band, which is where I live, so I had the pleasure of seeing them playing in concert several times here. One of those times was the prog fest the GEPR co-sponsored with them on December 7, 2002, the infamous Cattle Prog. But after their excellent Cattle Prog performance, Hands more or less vanished from the Dallas music scene. I kept in occasional contact with keyboardist Michael Clay via e-mail, but he said that other commitments were keeping Hands from getting together again as a group, though he hinted that this may not last forever. In the meantime, he and guitarist Ernie Myers worked on their own projects, and they also recorded an album with several King Crimson alumni under the project name Fission Trip.
Now, in April of 2006, I've heard that they are in the process of finishing another new Hands album. The line-up has changed quite a bit since Twenty Five Winters, now including Mark Cook (99 Names of God, The Minefield) and two of Ernie Myers' bandmates from his other band All the Tea in China, namely Steve Powell and John Fiveash in addition to Hands stalwarts Michael Clay, Ernie Myers and Martin McCall. I'm looking forward to hearing the new album with bated breath, and I hope they'll start performing around Dallas again with their new material, and maybe some of the Fission Trip material as well, which was penned largely by Clay and Myers. -- Fred Trafton
Michael went on to say, "The iTunes-first release is really aimed at people who are not die hard prog or Hands fans but might have an interest and wouldn't mind $9.99 or .99 for a taste ... in a few short days we've made more money than we made in 1.5 years from Twenty Five Winters. We realize that the old school prog fan or audiophile will want the special edition CD or at the very least the commercial CD. And we're not going to skimp on that. We don't consider the CD's less important at all. [But, the revenue from downloads] gives us the capital to press really nice CDs for those fans without a loss at the outset."
I managed to get one of the first pressings of the "commercial CD" version ... I must admit I'm not very into the iTunes thing, though I have downloaded some prog from Mindawn ... but I digress. The CD version, at least, is excellent! My friend (and sometime GEPR contributor) David Marshall calls Hands "TexProg", a term that has at least as much meaning as "Canterbury". There are a few moments of southern-sounding guitar work, perhaps a bit like The Allman Brothers, but these are short-lived. For the most part, to my ears, I don't hear much that I would ascribe to a "Texas" or even "Southern" sound. It's not prog that's about showy guitar pyrotechnics or thousand-note-per-second keyboard stunt work -- though that's not to say there aren't instrumental chops to spare -- but is about interesting compositions and instrumental interplay. I should also mention that it's not very similar to previous Hands albums, including Twenty Five Winters. It does have some similarities in style to the Fission Trip material.
Songs penned by Ernie Myers tend to be guitar-oriented, while Michael Clay's are more keyboard-oriented. I guess that shouldn't surprise anyone. Where there are vocals, there's almost a Beatles-like feel, particularly in the harmonies. Warr guitar player Mark Cook manages tasty bass and guitar-like parts that don't sound like '80's Crimson at all. The drums are also very nicely done, split between two drummers, John Fiveash and Martin McCall. I asked Michael who played on which song, and he remarked that he couldn't recall, saying, "I honestly don't remember who plays what as far as drums are concerned. There are various overdubs all over the place that make recounting somewhat murky. I prefer to think of both of them as one, overpowering phalanx of percussive terror. I know I'm afraid of it." Good summary.
Ernie Myers, on the other Hand (groan), does recall, and has supplied the GEPR with an "exclusive" ... extended liner notes for Strangelet. Myers also adds a lot more interesting info over and above who drums on which cuts. Some interesting information here. Access these notes here.
My favorite cuts are "Dark Matter" (with the 40-second long "Strangelet" serving as an intro), "Entry of the Shiny Beasts" and the recorded-live-in-the-studio "Rotten", the only song that sounds "derivative" in that it's reminiscent of Starless and Bible Black era Crimson. But all the songs are good, and Strangelet is on my short list of "top albums for 2008" already. Highly recommended! -- Fred Trafton
|Like many American prog bands in the seventies, Hands went from obscurity to oblivion without a single album release. And like with so many other bands, it took nearly two decades before their music finally got a proper release. Hands is a Shroom Productions compilation containing 14 songs the band recorded between 1977 and 1980, as well as an extensive band biography full of amusing anecdotes. Unlike bands like Starcastle and Cathedral whose music was skillfully-played but highly derivative of one or two British prog bands, Hands took their influences from a variety of bands and used them in a way that was often quite original. Almost all of the band's six core members were multi-instrumentalists and a large cast of guest contributors appears as well, so in addition to the usual drums/bass/electric&acoustic guitars&keyboards there is also a lot of violin and woodwinds on the album. Vocals of inconsistent quality appear on about half of the tracks. There is quite a bit of variation within this collection, and naturally some lack of cohesion, but almost all the tracks work very well taken individually. "Left Behind" starts as a folky acoustic ballad, but then the instrumental middle section cuts in with sharp electric guitar riffs and a synth solo, just like Kansas; the delicate symphonic atmosphere of "Mutineer's Panorama", dominated by Mellotron and flute, reminds of PFM's softer moments, and Gentle Giant rears its head on "Triangle of New Flight" which is brimming over with tempo, rhythm and mood changes. A couple of the shorter tracks highlight nimble acoustic guitar playing and beautiful violin and synth work. Interesting is also the 10-minute "Antarctica" with its chilly synths and sound effects and one great instrumental section where flute and overdriven bass play solo lines around a repeating acoustic guitar riff; less so the rather straight-forward rockers "Castle Keep" and "Hands in the Fire", latter of which has quite a lot of Tullish flute work. The band have the knack of writing and performing complex material without sounding too cumbersome or self-indulgent. There are only a few moments where I feel they are trying too hard, otherwise they keep the music flowing on nicely and seemingly effortlessly. The sound quality is good throughout, apart from one live recording, even if you can hear an occasional "seam" where the sound of two spliced-together sections doesn't match. These recordings certainly deserved to be pulled out of the archives and released officially (better late than never). Though not a classic, Hands is still a small gem, a testament to what might have been. Shroom Productions has also put out a second disc of Hands material, called Palm Mystery. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
I was not acquainted with the music of Hands until now. However, I
know that they are the veterans of American Progressive, and the band's
eponymous debut album was released in the end of the 1970s.
[Twenty-Five Winters is a] masterpiece! The music that is presented on
this album is very fresh and original. It is woven from the mixed stylistic
textures that, in particular, are typical for Classic Symphonic Progressive,
Classical Academic Music, and Modern Art-Rock as well. Also, there are
many of the purely acoustic episodes on the album. Furthermore, a few
pieces are here completely acoustic. All three of the first songs on the
album, namely "Knock & Enter", "Walls", and "Dance of Light & Darkness"
(1, 2, & 4), are about Classic Symphonic Progressive with elements of
Modern Art-Rock and shades of Prog-Metal. These
songs contain the complete set of the progressive ingredients that are
typical for this genre. The masterful solos and passages of violin and
cello that are present on them (as well as on most of the tracks on the
album, though) make their sound very symphonic. What's interesting is
that each of the songs on the album, including two out of the four parts
of "Leaving", apart from the lead vocals, features also a wonderful male
choir. When all three of the band's vocalists sing only to the
accompaniment of hand percussion, which, though, happened only once
(on 4), their choir a bit reminds me of that which was invented and
regularly used by Gentle Giant.
Stylistically, the first of the three
instrumental pieces that are featured on the album, "Green Room" (3), is
much in the vein of the songs that I've just described. In other words,
the first half of the album is completely of a unified stylistic concept.
Various interplay between solos of electric and bass guitars, violins, and
organ and passages of acoustic guitar, piano, and synthesizers, frequent
changes of tempo and mood, complex time signatures, etc, are typical for
all four of the first tracks on Twenty Five Winters. Among them, only
"Dance of Light & Darkness" (4) features the parts of hand percussion,
apart from those of drums, and, in addition, contains two short episodes
of the industrial-like character. Stylistically, the second half of the album
is quite motley. "I Laughed Aloud" (5), entirely consisting of continuously
developing interplay between very beautiful passages of piano and
violin, is, of course, the instrumental piece of a pure Classical Music. The
contents of the following instrumental, "Zombeiroch-III" (6), represent a
blend of Classical Academic Music and Classic Prog-Metal (yes, yes)
with elements of both of Classic Symphonic and Modern Art-Rock. To
be more precise, this unique composition features the alternation of the
arrangements that are clearly about Classical Music and those in the vein
of a heavy Symphonic Progressive. This is the only track on the album
that contains the parts of clavier and electric woodwinds. To be frank, I
for the first time hear of electric woodwinds, though "these ears" find that
they sound here too realistic to be synthetic. Although there are no any
pauses between the parts of the last and the longest track on the album,
"Leaving", all four of them can be differentiated easily, even though almost
all of them flow slowly. The instrumental parts of the first of them
represent Classical Music, while the vocally instrumental parts of it are
definitely about Classic Symphonic Progressive with elements of
Modern Art-Rock. A pure Classic Symphonic Art-Rock is present on the
second part of "Leaving". Quite a fast, aggressive and dark Prog-Metal
dominates throughout the third part of it, which is entirely instrumental.
Finally, the fourth part of this epic composition is a Classic Art-Rock
All the songs and instrumental pieces on the Hands jubilee album Twenty Five Winters (the band was formed in 1977) are amazing, so I can't select the best track among them, which is quite a rare case in my practice. However, this unique and, overall, very contrasting album, full of unexpected changes of styles, all of which are distinctly original, is also a rare case on a contemporary progressive scene. Highly recommended! -- Vitaly Menshikov
[See Fission Trip |
The Minefield |
99 Names of God]
Click here for Hands web site,
and to download Twenty Five Winters or Strangelet from Wheelhouse Music
|The friend of mine told me once it is one of the best British album ever recorded. For a long time I was looking for it. I succeeded and the result is ... really disappointed. To me it is nothing special. I heard a hell of better albums in my life. I can't say it is bad, but in my opinion it's too less expressive. Album contains jazz/prog style tracks with nice guitar, some sax and flute. The best are "Bent For A Friend" and "Winter" (a lot of jazzy guitar). Personally I really don't like vocals without any expression. Hannibal don't fascinate and I expected much more because of their history. Looking back the result should be better. The story of the band begun in '69 when Clem Clempson left Bakerloo to join Colosseum. Their manager Jim Simpson (who also looked after Black Sabbath) had major problems. Bakerloo booked German tour and he decided to put new version of Bakerloo. The idea was to include Cozy Powell - drums, vocalist Dave Pegg and guitarist Adrian Ingram. Pegg and Powell couldn't join the band because of other projects (Pegg teamed up with Fairport Convention) so Ingram recruited Alex Boyce - vocals, Jack Griffiths - bass, Bill Hunt - keyboards and John Parkes on drums. This line-up toured Germany as Bakerloo Blues Line. After the tour Simpson decided the band should be kept together and they changed name to Hannibal. Then they secured a deal with B&C Records. On B&C they released their self-titled album and also their one and only single "Winds Of Change"/"Winter". They toured the UK with Free and Black Sabbath. As Ingram recalls they were a band playing for other musicians. Later on Bill Hunt went to form E.L.O. with Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne and then teamed up with Wood in Wizard. Boyce attempted a solo career and Griffiths took up teaching in Cornwall. -- Ryszard Ryzlak|
Lord Of The Rings (71)
Magician's Hat (73)
Attic Thoughts (75)
Watership Down (77)
El-ahrairah (78 )
Best Of (83)
Mitt I Livet (85)
Swedish keyboardist who released several solo albums, the best known is undoubtedly his early 70's Lord Of The Rings based on the Tolkien thing. At that point his keyboard arsenal was basically made up of organs (no synth) plus supporting musicians are used sparingly, but it's a bit stark and sounds a tad primitive technically by today's standards, but it's still quite nice. Later albums like Attic Thoughts and Watership Down are more technically sophisticated.
Hansson is a Swedish keyboardist. I know him only through his solo work though I think (but am not positive) he has done a group-related project. The only album I have is early '70s release Lord Of The Rings. While a bit dated, it's generally pretty decent. The music consists mostly of organ and just a touch of some early synthesizer. This is occasionally aided by guitar and percussion, hence the music is generally sparse or "stripped down," as it were. This sparseness lends the music a kind of dark, haunting aura. His music doesn't really remind me of anyone, except some of the guitar sections remind me vaguely of Mike Oldfield. Not bad if you find it cheap but probably not worth big bucks to most people.
I own his Lord of the Rings album from 1970 reissued on One Way but would love to hear the others. This is a surprisingly good early progressive record featuring all the important components of the still sprouting musical format; a rich sounding organ, a bit of the then new synthesizer sounds, heavy bass & drums and some warm psych guitar on top. Hansson was masterfully doing his lush funeralistic sound when other Europeans like Arkham were just getting started, even weaving Latin jazz rhythms into the mix that echo what Santana's boys were doing an ocean away. If early Pink Floyd had been less spacey and more jazzical, you'd have something like Bo Hansson. Very highly recommended for lovers of early fugue-rock landscapes. -- David Marshall
Click here for Bo Hansson's web site
[See Lied Des Teufels]
Happy Family (90, Demo Tape)
Live at Kichizyouji (92)
Flying Spirit Dance Live (94)
Happy Family (95)
Happy Family - Keiichi Nagase (drums), Tatsuya Miyano (fretless bass), Kenichi
Morimoto (keyboards) and Takahiro Izutani (guitar)
Let me give you the Reader's Digest Condensed version first, because it's the most essential part of this entry. Happy Family are one of the best bands currently happening in Japan right now. In fact, along with Il Berlione, Happy Family are one of the best Japanese bands to have played in the past decade. Flying Spirit Dance Live was one of my top releases for 1994 and their CD debut, Happy Family, one of my best for 1995!.
OK, so you want to know why? I'll tell you but let's get some of the details out of the way first. Happy Family are a quartet, namely Keiichi Nagase (drums), Shige Makino (guitar), Tatsuya Miyano (fretless bass) and Kenichi Morimoto (keyboards). The first three releases listed above in the discography are all cassette-only and long out of print. The titles I use below are rough English translations provided to me by Takayuki Tomi of Rotters' Paper, the label that released the Flying Spirit Dance Live cassette. All three tapes are similar in style, though, and broadly defined by three bands; King Crimson, Univers Zero and Magma. That should be enough to make you sit up and pay attention. Specifically, the guitar work is in the vein of Robert Fripp (circa '73), the keyboards recall either Univers Zero or Magma, depending on what is happening at the moment. The fretless bass work instantly reminds of the trademark Magma/zeuhl fusion sound, and sometimes the heavy Wetton bass sound. And the drums remind me of Daniel Denis of Univers Zero and Bill Bruford.
I can't even guess why this band remained unsigned after sending around their demo tape. These guys would be right at home next to Il Berlione on the Japanese Belle Antique label. In fact, with the studio atmosphere, the 18 minute demo tape is the most like Il Berlione. "Dog String," one of the four tracks on the demo, builds a strong, swirling atmosphere off of short, repeated riffs. While that may sound simple, believe me, it isn't. The group interaction is incredible. Nowhere is this more evident than on the two live tapes. Here, raw and unpolished, you will hear some of the most incredibly dynamic and inventive playing to be unleashed from the Japanese Islands. For example, most of the songs feature Fripp-like guitar solos that suddenly break into keys, percussion and guitar ostinati a la Univers Zero and Present. All this is darting around the incredible zeuhl fretless bass playing that is as much a lead voice as any of the other instruments. One fine example (of many) is the furious "Rock and Young" which appears on both live tapes. The version on Flying Spirit Dance Live *blazes* with an intensity that defies words. Like Richard Pinhas, Happy Family are not ashamed of their King Crimson influence. In tribute, they perform "Nakid King" on Live at Kichizyouji. The 15 minute tune opens with a verbatim statement of "Red," their tribute to Crimson. This quickly breaks into the jagged rhythms that highlight Univers Zero's work. After exploring a variety of rhythms and syncopations, the band moves into a tension-building section that again recalls the Crimson King. Like "Starless," Happy Family build a tense atmosphere though use of a repeated riff. Beneath, drummer Nagase pounds out various patterns, each building on the other. The band steadily quickens the pace, building a climactic atmosphere, before finally breaking back into the "Red" theme to end the song. It's quite a breath-taking experience. A lesser tribute, "Kaiten," on Flying Spirit Dance Live, is based on a variation of the "Red" theme. And, astute readers will realize that "Bulgarian Flying Spirit Dance" is a cover of the Daniel Denis tune from his second solo album. Personally, I think the intensity of Happy Family covers excels over Denis' original. I can't begin to describe the experience that it is, listening to Happy Family. To see this band live has to be an incredible phenomenon.
Finally, in 1995, Cuneiform signed Happy Family and released their first CD, called simply Happy Family. Happy Family consists of seven songs, five of which appeared somewhere on their three cassettes. Four songs "Rock & Young," "Shige et Osanna," "Kaiten (Ningen Gyorai)" and a shorter version of the 19 minute "Naked King") were on the two live cassettes but are now given studio treatment, while "Partei" is a re-recorded version of a song on their demo cassette. For the majority of you, this doesn't matter because it will all be new. And fresh. And exciting! Though recorded in a studio, this disc successfully captures almost all of the intensity of their live performance. The only real difference is the slightly slower pace of these studio versions. The first new song is "Rolling the Law Court," which opens with an upbeat sax/drum groove that is reminiscent of Happy the Man. This soon moves into patented Happy Family territory, with metalish guitar licks, throbbing bass and powerful drumming. Tatsuya Miyano's sax trades licks with Shigeru Makino's guitar, adding depth and further intensity. The final piece is the other new cut, a 1.5 minute track wistfully entitled "Drums Whisper Spacey." The piano and "sqeuaking mouse" (I don't know how else to describe it) provides a peaceful epilog to the otherwise high-octane energy that is the rest of the album. Happy Family is one of the best current prog bands from ANY country and deserve your attention and support. They're mind-blowing and I will never be the same for it. Needless to say but I'll say it with gusto: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! -- Mike Taylor
|Warning: There is another band named "Happy Family" which is not this band! The known releases from this band are Puritans, The Man On Your Street and The Business of Living. I bought The Man On Your Street and it's interesting, though not progresive. It's actually somewhat reminiscent of the sillier bits of Gong, though not as musically complex. Beware! -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||Click here to order CD's from Cuniform Records|
Happy The Man (77)
Crafty Hands (78) (ProgressoR review)
Third: Better Late (79)
Live (94, recorded 1978)
Death's Crown (99, recorded 1974)
The Muse Awakens (04)
Happy the Man - Rick Kennell, Kit Watkins, Coco Roussel, Frank Wyatt, Stanley Whitaker
HTM produced some of the most stirring, complex, melodic, and MUSICAL works I have ever heard, and although they are rather rare, they are certainly very accessible and you should be able to find their stuff on domestic cd without having to plop down $35+ for it. Throughout their existance as a functioning band (from 1974-1978) they recorded three marvelous LP's. The following musicians appear on each one of these: 1. Frank Wyatt - piano, el. piano, organ, flute, sax 2. Stanley Whitaker - guitars 3. Rick Kennell - bass 4. Kit Watkins - synths, piano, el. piano, organ, flute. Each album had a different drummer (seems the money-grubbing scum at Arista scared them away with their threats of having no commercial appeal as a band, or something like that....). The discography below shows the albums and who played drums on them: 1. Happy The Man - drums: Mike Beck 2. Crafty Hands - drums: Ron Riddle 3. Third: Better Late - drums: Coco Roussel. The first one is arguably the best of the three, although not by much as they are all truly spectacular. It was produced by Ken Scott, of David Bowie and Supertramp fame. This album defines the band's sound very well, one that endured throughout their career. For those of you who have never heard the HTM sound are missing something very special. The band claims to be influenced by Genesis, Yes, and Gentle Giant although they really do not sound anything like any of those bands. They were a band so far ahead of their time that, to this day, they still sound totally revolutionary. The compositions tend to be rather complex and challenging, but they cleverly avoid falling into that dissonant trap that so many bands fall in to when they try to write something complex (e.g. the mid-section of Yes' "Ritual"). HTM maintains a melodic approach to everything they write. On this album you will find: (I quote a suitably impressed music critic) "dazzling artistic vision, instrumental virtuosity, and imagination," "fresh, exhilarating and impossible to categorize (this means please do not try to put a label on this band like "progressive" - it will make a lot of us very mad)," "witness HTM's masterful use of dynamics, tonal colors, and counterpoint; their ability to execute finger-breaking time signatures with deft ease; the lattice-like melodies and ingenious thematic variations that surge and recede with unusual grace and power; and the fact that no matter how complex or demanding their music became, the band always sounded uncluttered and in total control." There. Couldn't have said it better myself. Each member of the band is exceptionally gifted...there is no one single dominant member. The writing is carried out by Watkins, Wyatt, and Whitaker. Watkins tends to write pieces with a lot of symphonic flourish, and you can bet your life there will be some awesome lead synth playing (usually done on a MiniMoog). I once thought Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Tony Banks were the best around....then I heard HTM. Kit Watkins can bury those guys with his right hand alone. You have to hear him to believe it. His Minimoog settings have an unsurpassed clarity to them, and he knows exactly how to use the pitch-bending feature of the instrument at the right time. I have an old article from Keyboard magazine, around 1982, that shows the settings he used on the MiniMoog to obtain this remarkable, unique sound. Words cannot describe his technical prowess, honest.... Whitaker writes more upbeat, punchy songs, like "Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest" from the first LP. Wyatt tends to write the songs with the lyrics, which were sung by Stan Whitaker. Here's what is available on CD to date: 1. Retrospective - a compilation of most of first and second lp, with some stuff from 3rd. Great place to start. 2. HTM 3rd: Better Late 3. Beginnings - features material recorded live in 2-track studio in 1974-75. Features a singer called Cliff Fortney who left the band before being signed to Arista. Very rough recording, but some really great songs. Some are not up to their usual standard of excel- lence, however. Recommended only for die-hards. Do not start with this one. 4. HTM and Crafty Hands were released on Japanese CD, but only 500 copies of each....I have never seen one myself, but I understand they sell for nearly $250 each at shows
|THE best U.S. progressive, hands down! Beginnings collects from the earliest years of the band, and is supposed to be exclusively for established fans. (Can you tell I haven't heard it?) The first actual release was the self-titled LP from 1976. Showing influence from Gentle Giant, King Crimson, yet retaining an original identity, they weave an intricate, mostly instrumental tapestry with flutes, saxes, guitar and multiple keyboards. A very impressive debut. Crafty Hands is their classic LP, almost entirely instrumental, with moments of striking beauty ("Morning Sun", "Open Book") and others of hair-raising energetic prog jamming ("Ibby It Is", "Steaming Pipes"). The unbelievable "Service With A Smile" proves that great prog numbers need not be long, it's under three minutes! And "Wind Up Doll Day Wind" is their finest vocal number, with lyrics that give Peter Sinfield a run for his money. If you can find it, don't hesitate to get it! These two albums were anthologized on the CD Retrospective. The third album, recorded sometime around 1979 but not released till the mid-eighties, is the weakest of the original three, but has enough good music to make it worth completing your collection for. "Labyrinth" is as good a song as they've ever recorded, worthy of the best of Crafty Hands. "Eye of the Storm", "Run Into The Ground" and "While Crome Yellow Shine" (huh?) are other good ones. They include a couple of weak vocal tunes ("The Falcon", "Shadow Shaping") that make this one not as desirable to own, but it's not bad. -- Mike Ohman|
|I've have two albums by them. Beginnings and Crafty Hands. Beginnings is good, but nothing to get excited about. Crafty Hands is much better. I especially like the song "Wind Up Day Doll Wind." I kind of think of it as a cross between Genesis and Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise."|
|A great band that didn't make it because generally people are musically stupid. Kit Watkins, the keyboardist star of the band, went on to play on a couple of Camel albums but then drifted off into obscurity. He's still making interesting albums though. Because they got signed and apparently fronted enough money, the production on their albums is phenomenal - it holds up well today. Gentle Giant-like in complexity, the musicianship is somewhat better. Kit is an amazing keyboard soloist - a speed demon with an uncanny sense of melody. They never did get a good singer so their best stuff is generally instrumental. A lot of weird and shifting time signatures. "Cosmic" sounding.|
|This group has a very interesting and well developed sound, their first two albums which were recorded in the late 70s sound like they were recorded just yesterday, they were quite ahead of their time. I got Retrospective and liked the CD 10 times more the second time I heard it than the first time. Definately a grow-on-you group. Seems influenced by Gentle Giant sometimes, gets kind of new-age towards the end of the CD.|
|One of the best american progressive bands, years ahead of their time - the first two albums sound as fresh and innovative today as they did fifteen years ago. The music is about 90% instrumental, with strong leanings in a jazzy direction, their music is dramatic, complex and sometimes humorously quirky, with bursts of melodic color and odd-time signature explorations throughout. Retrospective is a collection of tracks from their two albums HTM and Crafty Hands (plus a few from their posthumous 3rd), and even though a few excellent tracks from those two are left off, it is still fairly representative of their best period, and a good place to start for the uninitiated. Their 3rd album wasn't released until around 83, and is overall more low-key than the first two, and far too serious - much of the humor in their music (as evidenced so well by early tracks like "Knee Bitten Nymphs In Limbo," "Stumpy Meets The Firecracker" and "Mr Mirror") had disappeared by the third album, and in comparison it pales, although its vocal tracks are far more cohesive than most they had done before. Beginnings is a collection of early recordings from the 75-76 period, prior to their first album. The material ranges from excellent to so-so, as does the recording quality, but may show some convincing evidence of Canterbury influences in their roots. For serious collectors only.|
|Excellent band from the USA, featuring Kit Watkins of Camel fame and Coco Roussell of Heldon fame. The music is strongly keyboard oriented and they had two keyboard players. There is also sax, flute, and guitar to round out the mix. The music ranges from dramatic to the sublime, always powerful. There is complex interplay between all the musicians such that it takes several listens to fully comprehend how intertwined the instruments are. The interplay will remind you of Gentle Giant. The melodic lines might remind you of Yes. The music will remind you of how wonderful truly innovative music is. I finally found Retrospective in a cut-out bin and thought I would have to be satisfied. Recently, however, they repressed Crafty Hands for either the third or fourth time. That should give you an indication of how popular it is. The album is everything everyone says it is and more. Snatch it up if you have the chance like I did. You will not be disappointed.|
|The edition of these 1979 recordings (3rd, Better Late...) remind us of just how regrettable the disappearance of this excellent group is. A music that defies description and a sound that isn't the least bit outdated. Always very melodic, this unique blend of symphonic rock and jazz relies on rich arrangements of keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals, drums, percussions, flute and saxophone. The sustained use of these instruments provide much richness to the sound while solid performances provide dynamic energy. Five excellent musicians that played, we now realize, ahead of their time. -- Paul Charbonneau|
|Arguably America's greatest progressive rock group played 4 dates in year-2000 and is on the verge of releasing a new CD. New tunes: "Barking Spiders," "A Dream of Amsterdam," "Maui Sunset". New keyboardist has replaced Kit Watkins. And a Web site, too. (see Links). -- Todd Brendan Fahey|
Happy The Man 2004 - Joe Bergamini, Stan Whitaker, Frank Wyatt, Rick Kenell, Dave Rosenthal
In February of 2004, Joe Bergamini of 4Front joined HTM as their new drummer. They have released an album on the Inside Out label entitled The Muse Awakens. The current HTM line-up is Frank Wyatt (keyboards, original member), Stan Whitaker (guitars, original member), Rick Kennell (bass, original member), David Rosenthal (keyboards, replacing Kit Watkins, who did not want to play live) and now Joe Bergamini. -- Fred Trafton
I'm not ashamed to admit that my first hearing of this stellar band (named for the
Genesis single?) was when I ordered Cuneiform's
Live (1997, from a D.C. show in '78) and Death's Crown (1999, recorded in 1974)
from my local record shop just a few years ago. I was excited to hear one of a tiny number of
American groups who were, in their time, doing top-notch instrumental rock and whose lack of
notoriety was apparently because (as one GEPR contributor put it) "generally people are
musically stupid." I'm not sure of that. If true, artists like Hendrix,
King Crimson and ELP
would not have sold in the numbers they did, but it is true that HTM don't reach out and
seize you the way those acts tend to. It may take you a few listenings to appreciate the brilliant
arrangements, incredibly tight group playing and tremendous facility of the members.
Live is an excellent intro and has many of their best cuts from earlier albums but Death's Crown is a true lost treasure of early American syn-phonics. What a treat to hear a native band do a real rock opus very early in their career, namely the epic eleven-part title track clocking in at an astounding 38 minutes. Some of the best unknown music you'll ever hear. -- David Marshall
[See 4Front |
Oblivion Sun |
Roussel, Coco |
Hardcake Special (74)
|Brain-label band, but buyer beware. Considered to be THE WORST band on the label. Music is vocal-oriented soft rock.|
Surf, Wind and Desire (01)
|Formed by classical composer Frank Nuyts, this Belgian band specializes in intricate, complex compositions. Nuyts states that Frank Zappa is an influence, and its easy to hear the resemblance with his use of tuned percussion and saxes. This is adventurous, challenging chamber music in the RIO tradition, played with humor by expert musicians. Well worth checking out. -- Doug Hebbard|
Click here for Hardscore's web site
Harlequin Mass (78)
Harlequin Mass (Mellow Records MMP 236) is another obscure American progressive rock
album quietly buried in the 1970s and resurrected through the miracle of the compact disc
in the 1990s. After the droning but stately synthesizer and flute piece "Introit (A Mass
for the Harlequin)", the album erupts into the up-tempo "Love & Death", which is very much
like Yes circa 1971 in its use of bass, upbeat melodies and chiming,
bright guitar and synthesizer sounds. It's only lead vocalist Nancy Kaye's pedestrian voice
that distracts from what is otherwise a bouncy little prog track and gives the music a 70's
bubble gum Americana feel. But under the bulky layers of synthesizers, guitar and cello "One
Step Home" is essentially an overgrown boy-and-his-acoustic-guitar piece in the
singer-songwriter tradition, comparable to some of Renaissance's
simpler songs. The melodies are good and arrangements grandiloquent, but the material can't
quite sustain the whole seven and a half minute duration, and the wistful-voiced strummer
boy Lyle Holdahl (Harlequin Mass' main creative force) is no more
Annie Haslam, or even Jon Camp, than Kaye is. If it wasn't
for the arrangements songs like "Loss of a Friend" would barely qualify as prog. However,
even they can't compensate for the irritatingly banal pop chorus of "A New Song", and "Space
Cats" is nothing more than a one-minute union of bad puns and noodling music. The 10-minute
closer "Sky Caller" does improve the overall tally, as it draws on the strengths of the first
three tracks without too many concessions to their weaknesses. Yet for all its gloss and
inspired moments Harlequin Mass is too light to be a lost classic. While less
derivative than the albums of bands like Babylon or
Cathedral, it is also far less engaging.
The CD also includes four demo tracks recorded in 1982 by Stubborn Puppet, the band that Harlequin Mass evolved into (only Holdahl and Kaye remain from the original line-up). In keeping with the new wave sensibilities of the time, the music is more compact and urgent, the melodies bluesier, the instrumentation harsher, with electric guitar brought to fore, and lyrical emphasis has shifted from world-hugging spiritual meditations to bursts of embarrassingly clumsy social commentary and individual angst. Still "Meantime" has a good, furious instrumental break and "Fabulous Angel", far the best song of the quartet, mixes pretty haunting melodies with ringing guitars and more substantial keyboard layers to come up with a nice prog-pop tune that has a hint of contemporaneous Rush. Nice enough addition to the package, but doesn't change the overall impression of this CD. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Harlis (75), Night Meets The Day (76)
Composed of ex-Jane members. Debut was first Sky-label release.
Musik Von Harmonia (74)
|Rather boring ambient/electronic band which was basically a cross between Neu! and Cluster. Although I like most progressive genres, the minimalist attitute of bands like this don't attract me whatsoever.|
Excellent krautrock from a kraut-supergroup.
Cluster and Rother (from
Neu!) joined forces to make two classic, influential,
and highly enjoyable albums. The music is generally performed with experimental electronics,
analogue synths, early drum machines, and Rother's guitar; I largely associate it
with Eno (indeed, Cluster
and Eno collaborated several times) in that it's quite
experimental and yet also highly melodic and well-crafted.
The first album is instrumental, and the songs consist of layers of melodic electronic/synth sequences played over gentle electronic rhythms, with extra rhythm and depth provided by Rother's guitar; the album also contains the track, "Cosmische: - a very blissful piece of spacey loveliness.
The second album, Deluxe, is similar, but includes enthusiastic singing and some live drums; a stronger Neu! / Rother influence can be heard on a couple of the more driving tracks. This album is definately more "rocky" than the first, but still has much of the soundscapiness and melodic tastefulness of the first. Don't expect jazzy time signatures and pyrotechnic solos - this is far more kraut than prog, but nonetheless highly progressive in the truest sense. Both albums are a lesson in the seamless blending of experiment and melody. -- Darren Simpson
|Links||[See Cluster | Neu! ]|
Si On Avait Besoin d'une Cinquième Saison (75)
En Tournee (80)
Harmonium - Serge Locat, Denis Farmer, Libert Subirana, Robert Stanley, Louis
Valois, Monique Fauteux, Serge Fiori
Canadian symphonic band, sounds very early-Genesis influenced, might also elicit comparisons to Ange, and the ethereal feel of Pulsar. French vocals. L'Heptade is a good place to start, if you can find it.
|French-Canadian band led by singer/songwriter Serge Fiori that issued 3 studio albums that exhibit an evolution towards prog. Gryphon/Early Genesis sound. Their self-titled debut record, although deeply rooted in Quebec musical folklore shows little progressive tendencies. Mostly acoustic stuff. Their second, "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison", includes the instrumental "Histoire Sans Paroles" 20-minute masterpiece, hinting at the symphonic style the band would turn to. This concept album features no drums, but uses Martenot waves as an added bonus. Harmonium's last studio record, "l'Heptade", shows them at their peak. The concept revolves around the seven consciousness levels explored in 7 songs spanned on a two-record set. Classical instruments and Mellotron are used throughout. "Harmonium En Tournee" is a live rendition of "l'Heptade", but has not yet been released on CD. Prog heads should start from "l'Heptade" and go backwards in time. -- Patrice Levesque|
Harmony in Diversity - Peter Banks (guitar) and Nick Cottham (bass). Not pictured -
Andrew Booker (drums)
Harmony in Diversity is a new effort from Peter Banks (Yes, Flash, Empire) on guitar, Andrew Booker (Tim Bowness) on drums and Nick Cottam on bass. They've chosen an unfortunate name for their first album: Trying. It's unfortunate because it will be easy to take pot-shots at the band, "I found this album to be really Trying my patience, get it, har har? I'm so funny." It's already easy enough to talk trash about an album that's 100% improvised live, recorded direct to stereo and then released without any overdubs, complete with "warts" in the performance. Still, you gotta give these guys credit for standing up and just "making it up as you go". I certainly enjoy doing that, and I have hours ... no, days ... of such material I've recorded with my friends. Of course, I'm not anywhere near as good a musician as these guys, so the quality and number of screw-ups is far worse than on this album.
Still, as much as I like improvs in the context of a piece of written music, I can't say that listening to someone else's noodling really does that much for me. If you start a song with a written section, wander off into an improv, and then come back around to the melody and structure you started with again, then you can take a really long improv and I'll think it's great. Some of Gong's spacey improvs are the coolest things I've ever heard committed to recording media. But when a song is only improv, without even so much as a framework to improv within, then it starts to wear thin. I'm afraid it starts to get ... you see it coming? ... Trying. Sigh.
But, look, I know this is a matter of personal preference. There are some truly great moments on this album, and if you're a fan of improv, you'll probably appreciate it more than I did. The recording quality, in spite of apologies in the CD insert, is really not too bad, and the flubs and goofs are slight enough that they are probably only noticable by the musicians themselves. Even for me, the album has its moments. It just doesn't seem to really go anywhere over the 10 or 11 minutes of each song. You'll have to decide for yourself if it sounds like something that would appeal to you.
As a last word, I'll mention that Andrew Booker has left the band since the recording of this album, and Banks and Cottham are continuing on as a duo at the present time. -- Fred Trafton
[See Banks, Peter |
No Man |
Click here for Harmony in Diversity's web site
I suspect that his album Yerma is the musical accompaniment for some sort of theatrical production or modern ballet. Musically, it weighs in somewhere between avant jazz and classical, but with enough musical twists to keep the whole thing interesting. Harmssen plays all the instruments, but his primary instrument and base for most of the tracks is piano, with a style that reminds me a little of Lyle Mays (early Pat Metheny Group) at times. Overall, the music is on the lighter side, more acoustic oriented.It's all instrumental, with a couple of exceptions, including the opener - an odd indian vocal piece.
Numb Eyes: The Soul Revelation (91)
Excellent new symphonic/neo progressive band from Spain in which an accessible sound is mixed with a Spanish influence and a touch of Earth and Fire. Both Female and Male vocals abound and I think everyone on the net would dig this one. Great stuff. Their album? Numb Eyes: The Soul Revelation on Musea.
Spanish progressive group with dual male-female vocalists, lyrics in english. Their sound is accessible and may be loosely categorized in the ABWH vein, but of course that's far from the whole story, as they offer many original and inventive ideas, and lean in a more folky direction. The execution is a little sloppy at times, though. I'm sure their 2nd album will be much better.
Keep On Driving (71)
Fiddler on the Rock (72)
Sugarcane's Got the Blues (73)
New Violin Summit (73 ,w/ Ponty, Urbaniak, others re-issued 76)
Cup full of dreams (73)
I'm on your Case (74)
Flashin Time (76)
|Sugarcane Harris did an excellent prog/blues album at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1971 called Sugarcane's Got the Blues. It had: Robert Wyatt (drums), Wolgang Dauner (keyboards), Vollker Kriegel and Terje Rypdal (guitars) and Neville Whitehead (bass). With a line-up like that, even tuning up would sound good. But this album just smokes. Five stars all the way. -- Kenneth Newman|
|Violinist, bassist, and vocalist who experienced some commercial success with an early rock'n'blues duo ('Don & Dewey'), and subsequently toured and recorded with Frank Zappa (most notably on Hot Rats) and Tupelo Chain Sex, among others. Keep On Driving is an interesting early electric jazz date that also features German guitarist Volker Kriegel, Tony Oxley on drums and John Taylor on Fender-Rhodes. By contrast, Fiddler ... is a solid straight-ahead blues-rock recording (mostly vocal) featuring the underappreciated guitarist Harvey Mandel and his band. Harris was also a member of Mandel's short-lived group, The Pure Food and Drug Act, which recorded a single LP for CBS in the early 70s. For Sugarcane's Got The Blues, Harris returned to largely instrumental jazz-rock. Personnel-wise, Sugarcane's Got the Blues features quite an unprecedented lineup: Terje Rypdal and Volker Kriegel (guitars), Robert Wyatt (drums), Neville Whitehead (bass) and Wolfgang Dauner (keyboards). This same band (minus Kriegel), plus violinists Michal Urbaniak, Jean-Luc Ponty and Nipso Brantner are featured on the New Violin Summit 2-album set which probably comes from the same concert which produced Sugarcane's Got The Blues. Like most one-off "all-star" recordings, New Violin Summit is rather uneven, but has its moments. Fans of jazz-rock violin and guitarist Terje Rypdal should check it out. An interesting Terje Rypdal composition ("Horizon") for four violins and guitar is featured on New Violin Summit. -- Dave Wayne|
|Don Harris is an American violinist who played in the Mothers end of the 6ties (you can find him on Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped my Flesh). In the early seventies he came to Europe and published several LPs, containing blues oriented fusion. His best is Got The Blues, a live recording which features among others Terje Rypdal on guitar and Robert Wyatt on drums (maybe one of the last recordings by him as a drummer). Here one finds heavy violin fusion, reminding of Ponty's early stuff (e.g. King Kong) or Darryl Ways Wolf. -- Achim Breiling|
|Links||[See Rypdal, Terje | Wyatt, Robert | Zappa, Frank]|
Alive and Tripping (92)
|Current heavy psych. Similar to Hawkwind.|
|Links||Click here for a minimal web page on the Psychedelic Music web site|
Heaven and Hell (69)
Prog featuring a pre-Caravan Steve Miller on keyboards.
Rolling Thunder (72)
The Rhythm Devils Play River Music (The Apocalypse Now Sessions) (80, w/ The Rhythm Devils)
Music to Be Born By (89)
At the Edge (90)
The Apocalypse Now Sessions (91, w/ The Rhythm Devils)
Planet Drum (91)
Mickey Hart's Mystery Box (96)
Spirit into Sound (00)
Over the Edge and Back (02, Compilation)
... other collaborations
|One of two drummers for the Grateful Dead, has done some impressive percussion work of his own, I'd particularly recommend: Drumming at the Edge of Magic, and The Apocolypse Now Sessions for [GEPR readers].|
Sailin' my Boat (69), It is and It Isn't (72)
John Wetton played on It is and It Isn't.
Annie in Wonderland (77)
Still Life (85, with Louis Clark)
Fox (90, with Akio Dobashi)
Blessing in Disquise (94, as Annie Haslam's Renaissance)
Annie Haslam and Steve Howe: Lily's in the Field (95)
Live Under Brazilian Skies (98, Live)
The Dawn of Ananda (00)
|Legendary lead vocalist for Renaissance. Fox is a Dobashi album, with Haslam as partner.|
Click here for Annie Haslam's web site
Future Primitive (94)
World Without Rules (96)
Hidden (96, as Coma Virus)
|Former Tangerine Dream member whose recent solo work is, IMO, more exciting than the current work of his former band. Both Future Primitive and World Without Rules are melanges of T-Dream-style electronic, techno, world music, and whatever else Haslinger can dream up. The song titles ("Danc'In-D Machine," "Saint & Robot," "Time Harmonics," "Asian Blue," and "Rainmaker's Dream," just to name a few) give a fair impression of what these albums sound like. Recommended for any bored T-Dream fan. -- J. Drake|
[See Tangerine Dream]
Click here for Paul Haslinger's
web site (just a splash page as of 1/30/05)
Vernal Equinox (77), Earthquake Island (78), Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics (80, with Brian Eno), Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya (81, w/ Eno), Aka Darbari Java (83), Power Spot (86), The Surgeon of the Night Sky Restores Dead Things by the Power of Sound (87), Flash of the Spirit (89), City: Works of Fiction (90)
Trumpeter w/ strong East Indian influences in music.
Hatfield and the North (73)
The Rotter's Club (75)
Live in 1990 (91)
Hatwise Choice (05)
Hatfield and the North (1975) - Dave Stewart (organ, electric piano and "tone generators"),
Phil Miller (guitars), Pip Pyle (drums) and Richard Sinclair (vocals and bass)
Hatfield and the North were one of the defining bands of the so-called Canterbury genre.
|Dave Stewart's main band. The Rotter's Club, their second album, is easily one of the best albums of the mid 70s. It features the 20 minute epic "Mumps."|
|Agreed. But both The Rotters Club and their self titled first are worth it as is the posthumous compilation Afters. Great and undeniably complex music with a dose of humour thanks to Pip Pyle's down to earth lyrics. Actually, pages could be written on these guys.|
|On first listen this did not strike me as being worth quite the commotion. However give it a chance and it will grow on you. Very complex, somewhat spacey at times and with a sense of humor that does not verge on total silliness.|
|I just got The Rotter's Club because I had heard so many good things about it but am finding it terribly hard to get into. Mumps is a nice piece, (annoying lyrics though) and the album in general is very jazzy and complex but their overall sound strikes me as kind of cheesy. As with many excellent prog groups though, they probably just need to grow on me more so don't take my opinion too seriously.|
|Quintessential Canterbury music, composed of ex-members of Caravan, Matching Mole, Gong and Egg. The debut has some real fine playing and provocative music, fans of the aforementioned will love this. "Son of 'There's No Place Like Homerton'" is a classic of the genre, and adds a Zappa-esque element to the music, and not just in the title. Also of note is the appearance of The Northettes, the band's female vocal backing trio, on this. Most of the songs are strung together in a sort of medley form. The album reaches a climactic point with "Lobster In Cleavage Probe," spotlighting Dave Stewart's symphonic organ playing. "Shaving Is Boring" is a hypnotic example of Caravan-esque riffing. The centerpiece of The Rotter's Club is the 20-minute, four-part "Mumps," another essential classic of Canterbury prog. Also important for the Sinclair favourite "Didn't Matter Anyway" and Pip Pyle's two excellent compositions: "The Yes No Interlude" and "Fitter Stoke Has A Bath." Afters is a posthumous compilation of non-LP music, now rare because most of this music has been reissued as bonus tracks on the CDs of the other two albums. I haven't heard this one in any form, as I only have the LPs. -- Mike Ohman|
|Wonderful jazzy progressive with a sense of humor. That one sentence gives you the essence of Hatfield and the North. However it doesn't give you the true scope of this band featuring Dave Stewart on keyboards. For the most part the Hatfields present a very evocative dreamy sound. They are considered to be Canterbury as such have a number of the stylings similar to those bands such as Caravan (with whom they share members). They have three albums that I am aware of Hatfield and the North, The Rotters Club, and Afters. The Rotters Club is their classic and is IMHO one of the top progressive albums ever done. Among other things it contains an absolutely brillant 20 minute track called "Mumps." And luckily for all of us, their first two releases are available on the Caroline Blue Plate Special line.|
|Classic progressive rock with Dave Stewart. Unlike National Health or Egg, Hatfield has a jazzier feel and the music allowed for more improvisation that did the heavily scored work of the other two bands. The music is fun, thanks to Sinclair's tongue-in-cheek lyrics yet is still quite complex which satisfy the most demanding prog fan. I recommend The Rotter's Club with the 20 minute classic, "Mumps."|
|Excellent example of the English "Canterbury" scene. Members included Richard Sinclair, Dave Stewart, Pip Pyle and Phil Miller. Two albums, one self-titled, then The Rotter's Club. An album called Afters was also released, made up of singles, live stuff and b-sides. I think that all of the new stuff on Afters was included as bonus tracks on the CD re-issues of the first 2 albums. Very jazzy, very "English" music with funny lyrics. TRC is one of my favorite albums in this genre.|
|[Dave Stewart is replaced by Sophia Domancich on the 1990 live album.]|
News 1/31/05 [paraphrased from press release] - Hatwise Choice is the first of
a planned series of the band's own selection of unreleased material culled from their large
tape archive. It consists of over 68 minutes of live concert tapes and BBC (Peel sessions) radio
recordings. Hatwise Choice is authorised and controlled by the four (original) musicians,
with no record company involvement. You can help support further Hatfield archive releases
by buying this CD directly from the link below. -- Fred Trafton
News 2/8/06 - Hatfield and the North reformed in January of 2005, so this is hardly news (though Richard Sinclair suspects there are still a few people who haven't heard about it yet). What is news is that they are playing a series of concert dates in 2006. The first of these will be the Baja Prog festival, followed by a series of concerts in Italy in March and April, with other possible concerts being discussed for Canada and of course the UK. Best of all (from my perspective, since I'll be there) is that they'll be playing at NEARFest 2006's pre-show on Friday, June 23rd, 2006 for their first-ever U.S. concert. See http://www.richardsinclair.net for up to date information.
This incarnation consists of the original members except for Alex Maguire replacing Dave Stewart on keyboards. They are already introducing new pieces of music into their live set, and a studio album may see the light of day at some point. The GEPR will let you know about it if and when it happens. In the meantime, the Hatfields (with Dave Stewart) are working on compiling a follow-up to Hatwise Choice, another release of archive material, which promises to be released before a new Hatfield and the North album. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Absolute Zero | Caravan | Egg | Gong | Gowen, Miller, Sinclair, Tomkins | Grimes, Carol and Delivery | In Cahoots | Matching Mole | National Health | Sinclair, Richard | Stewart, Dave | Stewart-Gaskin ]|
Bassball (77), Tab Two (92)
Bassist and de-facto leader of Kraan, his solo album Bassball is similar to that band in many ways, but contains mostly tracks with vocals and sometimes lame (dorky) lyrics. If that can be overlooked, the album is otherwise good.
In Search of Space (72)
Doremi Fasol Latido (72)
Space Ritual (73)
Hall of the Mountain Grill (74)
Warriors on the Edge of Time (75)
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music (76)
Quark, Strangeness, and Charm (78)
25 Years On (78, released under the name Hawklords)
Live '79 (80, Live)
Sonic Attack (81)
Church of Hawkwind (81)
Choose your Masques (82)
Stonehenge/this is Hawkwind Do not Panic (84)
Chronicle of the Black Sword (85)
Space Ritual Volume 2 (85)
Live Chronicles (86, Live)
Out & Intake (87)
The Xenon Codex (88)
Stasis - The U.A. Years 1971-1975 (90)
Space Bandits (90)
Palace Springs (91, Live)
Electric Teepee (92)
It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous (93)
Solstice Mixes - Spirit of the Age remixed by Astralasia (93)
The Business Trip Live (94, Live)
Alien 4 (95)
Love in Space (96, Live)
Distant Horizons (97)
In Your Area (98, Live & Studio)
|A friend sent me tapes of Hall of the Mountain Grill and Space Bandits. These are great albums for Floyd fans, especially HofMG. Very heavy, psychedelic music with lots of tape effects. Recommended. I'll definately be buying more Hawkwind, but I've heard that their many albums have spanned a wide musical range.|
|An amazing mix of prog rock, metal, psychadelic and jazz. Hall of the Mountain Grill, Levitation, Xenon Codex and Space Bandits are great places to start.|
|I wouldn't have been able to say which one I liked the best until I heard the just released BBC Radio One live from them. This album definitely epitomizes early Hawkwind, and the sound quality is good to boot!|
|Hard-rock/psychedelic/acid band that is often terribly overrated in progressive circles because of the heavy use of synthesizers, probably more than any other band I'd care to name that isn't German. Take away the synthesizers and you basically have pretty simplistic hard rock, with foursquare rhythms, vocals with two-note ranges, and redundant riffing. As a result, much of these albums sound pretty much the same. The best ones, i.e. most progressive sounding, are the ones with keyboardist/violinist Simon House (Hall Of The Mountain Grill and Warrior on the Edge of Time). I can't tell any of the others apart. -- Mike Ohman|
|Honestly, I'm not sure how this band got the cult following that it did. Actually, I can understand how it got it, but not how it kept it. Hawkwind used to give free concerts in the late 1960's, similar to the Grateful Dead, who also has a large, loyal cult following. Hawkwind has developed a heavy psychedelic space rock, with lots of sound effects interspersed throughout tons of simple, heavy, plodding guitar riffing. I got rid of the much praised BBC Radio 1 concert that was originally released on CD, but I do like In Search of Space, their second album. For me, it's enough. -- Mike Taylor|
|Hard rock with HEAVY use of synths that sometimes borders on cacophony. At least thats what their new stuff is like. I have Live Chronicles, Xenon Codex and Space Bandits, I like them all. Their creativity seems to be in the use of the synths to add to the intense moods of their songs. Some songs are just synth effects over bass and guitar pounding out the same note or chord. I don't really care for their old stuff.|
|Hawkwind was the master of the acid-space rock genre. What Pink Floyd stretched to reach, Hawkwind tooks as normal and extended it into the stratosphere. The pillars of Dave Brock and Michael Moorcock (later a science fiction writer) wrote about humanity and its response to the infinite awe and power of the universe. This band also explored the power of poetry/spoken words in many of their songs. The albums listed above demonstrate the power of synthesizers and science fiction at creating new worlds to explore (musically).|
|I could write for hours about Hawkwind, but instead here is a quick write up about the worlds best underground band. The leader of Hawkwind is Dave Brock. While membership has hardly been steady, for various reasons including Dave Brock getting tired of some people and telling them to leave, the sound has. Brock does allow each member to contribute, so this gives Hawkwind a different sound for each alignment, yet it always sounds like Hawkwind. The sound is psychedelic, and depending on the era, with a heavy metal twist, (the most common sound, "Silver Machine" was a big hit with this sound) a disco twist (a sound Brock didn't like so he reshaped the group after the album Amazing Sounds and Stories, which is a great album never the less), an almost jazz feel (Hawkwind), and a modern electronic feel on the latest (Electric Teepee). And they always had pop tendencies behind many of the songs, but yet is was never any of the above. It was, and is, Hawkwind. They also had a couple poets who contributed reading there poetry live as well as on record. They did "break up" for a while in the 70's and went by the name of Hawklords. This was mainly for contract reasons. This lasted only a couple years, and then Hawkwind came back. Two noted musicians have belong to Hawkwind. Lemmy was the bass player after John A. Harrison left in the early 70's. Lemmy was fired when he was kept by custom officials at the Canadian border and when he got back they already has a new bass player (Paul Ruldoph I believe). Lemmy went on to fame in Motorhead, a group name after a Hawkwind song he wrote and recorded for them. Ginger Baker was member in the late 70's, well past he Cream days. He was fired by Brock, but I never heard the reason - if there was one. Albums I recommend: A Space In Time, Warriors On the Edge of Time, Quarks Strangeness and Charm, Levitation and Electric Teepee. You can go wrong with any of the 70's releases in my opinion.|
|A lot of people really like them. I hear that Michael Moorcock writes a lot of their lyrics lately, and has been known to go on tour with them on occasion. I only have The Best of and the Rest of Hawkwind Live, and though it showed some potential, it really didn't do much for me.|
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
- quite in contrast to the overall stageshow - in which the rest of the
band is more or less hiding behind the usual psychedelic light show,
Calvert, short haired, speaks clearly,
straight forward into the audience
- often with such intensity that he's totally worn out after the gig. He
is also co-writing and singing a few of Hawkwinds songs and finally writes
the lyrics for Hawkwinds one and only hit-single "Silver
Machine." The success of this allows Hawkwind to realize their now
legendary Space Ritual show - a conceptual idea of
Calvert, combining Space-Rock music,
poetry, and various other stage-acts. The next single named "Urban Guerilla";
written and sung by Calvert is
actually climbing the charts when it gets banned by the radio stations
after an IRA bomb assault.
In 1973 Calvert leaves Hawkwind in order to work on his first solo-record.
In late '75 he guests with Hawkwind at the Reading festival gig and eventually decides to re-join the group. A few weeks later he becomes Hawkwind's first (and until now only) constant lead-singer. In fact he becomes much more than just a singer. He continues and furthers his ambitious stage-shows. He designs and enacts various characters during the shows, wears various costumes, makes use of different props. In '76 and '77 the stage is occupied by a giant model, based on an atomic structure: "Atomhenge," a futuristic Stonehenge-stage-sculpture. In 1977 the band has reduced and strengthened its line-up and is releasing the mile-stone album Quark, Strangeness and Charm - a unique mix of psychedelic, industrial and even some Arabian influences. A perfect blend of the different talents in the band: the strong songwriting team of Dave Brock and Bob Calvert who adds some of his most powerful and imaginative lyrics (just listen to the title track!), Simon House an amazingly gifted violin and keyboard player, Simon King a strong and pushing drummer and finally the new member Adrian Shaw on bass whose inventive and variable bass lines provide the pulsating, energetic structure around which the whole band is evolving it's unique style. Quark... in it's originality and inventiveness stands also as a pre-decessor to the up-coming New Wave. An album, absolutely in touch with the modern and the future world: Calvert's lyrics comprise themes like genetics, post-nuclear war scenarios, terroristic/political (who can tell the difference?) threats from the rising power of the oriental (fundamentalistic) spheres - and some kind of a requiem on the classical psychedelic /underground days of the late 60's. Quark... is without a doubt one of the most important albums to come out of the 70's.
Two more albums with Hawkwind are following - of similar high quality: PXR5 and 25 Years On - the latter one released under the bandname Hawklords. Despite the ongoing creative and commercial success the rest of the band finds it more and more difficult to work with the manic Mr. Calvert. On long tours Calvert experiences more and more difficulties in leaving the characters behind he is evoking on the stage. Finally he insists to travel even during daytime in his full combat gear stage dress - complete with his gas-pistol on the hip - during the heyday of European terrorism in the late '70s, having the German RAF and other terroristic groups all over the headlines of European newspapers. Some nasty scenes from those days are reported. In late '78, Calvert finally leaves the band, though he will appear for some rare live-guestings in the later years. -- Knut Gerwers
The 1990's is a period of Hawkwind often overlooked, the common view
being that the band ceased to become interesting after Space Ritual or
Warrior on the Edge of Time. Without criticising those albums, IMO
some of the more recent albums are amongst the best the band has ever
recorded, with Dave Brock in fine form, and a rhythm section (Alan
Davey & Richard Chadwick) with abilities far exceeding those of their
Hawkwind started out the 1990's with Space Bandits, featuring Simon House as guest, and new drummer Richard Chadwick. Despite lacking Lloyd Langton, overall this is a decent effort, with a mix of heavy riffing, atmospheric interludes, narration, and some fantastic violin work from House particularly in the 10 min. opener "Images". Palace Springs is a strong live album with a good sound, and IMO probably a better representation of the band at this time than Space Bandits. It also features Simon House, and there is some nice moog work from Bainbridge on "Golden Void". Guest vocalist Bridget Wishart (on some tracks)is one of the weaker elements of these two albums.
Electric Tepee saw the band trimmed down to a 3 piece, with Bainbridge leaving in 1991. Despite another personnel loss, Hawkwind turned out a brilliant double album, highly instrumental and full of consistently strong material, from heavy space rock founded Alan Davey's signature bass chords with powerful drumming and spacey effects, to the most ambient of synthscapes. Definitely one of the most progressive Hawkwind albums,it gets my highest recommendation, IMO it is the best since Warrior or Levitation. This is a must have!
The follow up album, It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous explores the experimental elements of Electric Tepee even further, with layer upon layer of spacey synths, samples and loops, and no vocals until 40 minutes into the album. Here Brock and Davey concentrate on synths, with minimal guitar or bass. The flow of the album is interrupted only by the somewhat inappropriate cover of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter". This album shows Hawkwind are still highly innovative, but still has a sound that is uniquely their own. Also very highly recommended. Although not as good as the previous 2 albums, The Business Trip Live, from the following tour has a suprisingly full sound, courtesy of sequencers and tapes, and shows that the band as a 3 piece could deliver the goods live as well as in the studio. Another fine album.
In 1995, after an experimental stint under the alias "Psychedlic Warlords" which produced the album White Zone, Hawkwind recruited a new front man, vocalist Ron Tree, and recorded Alien 4 - a concept album based around the theme of aliens (in part a metaphor for the band's own feelings of isolation from the music industry) This album marks a return to a more traditional space rock sound and away from the cosmic ohm type jams of the previous albums, but still retains some of the experimental sensibility. Overall a heavier sound, based around Davey's huge overdriven bass, lots of synths and more of Brock's acid drenched sound and gliss guitar. Love in Space from the Alien tour is another great live album, with an extended bass workout from Alan Davey in the 10 min+ "Sputnik Stan". Although Ron Tree adds a certain presence to the band, with strange narrations and lyrics hinting sometimes at Calvert or Turner, his vocal style leans towards alternative/punk in delivery, and can be annoying at times. Both these albums recommended.
By 1997, Davey had left to pursue his (excellent) solo career, with Ron Tree taking over bass duties and the arrival of new guitarist, Jerry Richards (not quite Lloyd Langton, but good nonetheless). With a streamlined, harder edged sound, and less use of synths, Distant Horizons seems to pale by comparison to the previous 5 albums. IMO the band seems to lack something vital without Davey. Overall a mixed bag but still worth a listen.
Hawkwind in your Area the most recent release is half live, half new studio material. Similar in vein to Distant Horizons, it has some good tracks to offer, but overall is a little disappointing. The highlight of the live material is the version of Calvert's "Aerospaceage Inferno". IMO the studio material seems lacking in direction, and the addition of Captain Rizz (guest reggae style vocals) does not really complement the music. -- Daniel Briggs
|Links||[See Amon Düül II | Amon Düül (UK) | Bainbridge, Harvey | Calvert, Robert | Fitzgerald, G.F. | High Tide | Magic Muscle | Pink Fairies | Gopal, Sam (Sam Gopal Dream)]|
Haystacks Balboa (69)
Early British hard-rock band with some progressive ideas, who released one self titled album in 69. The hard rock tunes are typical of the time, like Sabbath or Mountain, with backbreaking heavy fuzzy guitars and satanic lyrics. The progressive moments are quite nice, long tracks relying on Hammond organ and guitar interplay with extended instrumental stretches.
Hazecolour Dia (71)
C'est La Vie (84), Cellar Replay (85), Stoat and Bottle (87), In the End 1978-1988 (92)
British (mostly) progressive group. In the End: 1978-1988 spans the ten year period indicated in the title, and includes only the tracks that fit the "prog" mold. There are a variety of influences, though the dominant one is the early seventies UK sound, with traces of Genesis, Camel, Greenslade, and the like. On some of the more aggressive tracks, elements of early Saga show up. All in all, this 78+ minute set offers up a very good insight into one of the more undeservedly neglected UK bands. Some of the older tracks are slightly lower-fi than the rest, but the quality of the music renders that unworthy of serious attention.
Haze bridge the time between the end of the first progressive era and the flowering of the neo-prog scene in Britain. Though the time period dates back to the late '70s, all of their albums come from the band's 1984-1988 period, a time when they remained a solid band with no personnel changes. A trio, Haze consisted of the brothers McMahon on guitars (Paul), and bass and keyboards (Chris). Both took their turn at vocals. Percussion and additional vocals were handled by drummer Paul Chisnell. The tracks on In the End: 1978-1988 break down as follows: Approximately half of the music (35 minutes, nine cuts) on this compilation is represented by nearly all (if not all) of Haze's 1987 LP, Stoat and Bottle. Three tracks (17 minutes) are from their first LP, C'est la Vie, released in 1984. Their '85 cassette-only release, Cellar Replay is represented by 13 minutes in four tracks. The remaining two tracks are from a 12" single (1985) and a previously unreleased live recording from 1988. The tracks are not arranged strictly chronologically, nor are all the tracks from the same LP lumped together. Like the early neo-prog bands, Haze draw their influences directly from their '70s counterparts, but unlike many neo-prog bands, Haze draw from a wider body of '70s British prog mentors, and actually have an original sound. The most Genesis-like piece is probably the "Dig Them Mushrooms" instrumental, where Chris' Tony Banksian keyboard melody, underpinned with massive doses of pedal bass, has the main role. The diversity of the album is highlighted by the following piece, "A Firkin of Mead," a brief acoustic song with a medieval feel. Here, the band round out their sound with flute and mandolin, although usually it's just the bass, drums, guitars and synths. All is not perfect, though. The static beat of "The Vice" and "Tunnel Vision" mars the otherwise engaging melodies. "Tunnel Vision," in particular, hints at an influence of the '80s techno-dance scene. Despite a few flaws, this is a solid compendium, whose highest points surpass the best the neo-prog scene offers. Haze go beyond that generally offered by typical neo-bands, serving up a unique identity, intelligently combining a degree of accessibility with European Prog. -- Mike Taylor