The original LP of Jackal's Awake is a mega-rarity and is, apparently, highly sought after in some circles. Originally released in 1973, this CD release should satisfy anyone heavily into the Deep Purple sound. This quintet try awful hard to sound like Deep Purple circa 1970. Unfortunately, vocalist Charlie Shannon doesn't have the delivery of Ian Gillan, Chris Kellesis doesn't deliver Jon Lord's chunky organ, and Dave Bernard can't approach the bluesy leads of Blackmore, even when Ritchie was having a bad hair day. All this amounts to a band that is essentially a Deep Purple wannabe but they leave me flat. Despite the fact that I like Deep Purple a great deal (I've played air-guitar to the live version of "Highway Star" on Made in Japan more times than I care to remember), I have a hard time getting into the Deep Purple sound-alikes such as Warhorse and Jackal. To be fair, the band does gel for some songs, such as the eight minute "A New Day Has Arisen" (but can they drag the ending out ANY longer than they already have?) and the six minute "How Time Has Flown," when the band seems to be doing more than going through the motions and jam a little. But, it wasn't enough for me to get into the entire album. If you get into the Deep Purple sound, or bands like Warhorse and Captain Beyond, by all means, check out Jackal...you may go for it. As far as I was concerned, however, Awake put me to sleep.
I Wish You Would (79)
Featuring John Wetton and Richard Palmer-James of King Crimson, Curt Cress and Kristian Schulze of Passport/Snowball, and Peter Bischof of Emergency.
Tonewall Stands (92)
Ex-Van der Graaf Generator sax player.
[See Van der Graaf Generator]
King Progress (70), Fifth Avenue Bus (72), Jackson Heights (73), Ragamuffins (73), Bump 'n' Grind (73)
Formed by Lee Jackson of The Nice and Refugee.
[See Nice, The | Refugee]
Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus (72), Anno Demoni (92) (previously unreleased 2nd LP)
Tardo is an instrumental album where Bartocetti sings only on the song "Ufdem." This song is really good, the others are boring IMHO.
I've heard only one cut from their unreleased second album, Anno Demoni, which has recently been released on CD. Very dark and moody, with lyrics in Latin. Plenty of dark organ work creates a haunting, sinister atmosphere. What I heard sounded vaguely like the instrumental sections of Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" from Wish You Were Here except darker. I really liked it but don't know how the rest of the album would be. I didn't here enough to see if the album continued to develop. If it did, it could be very powerful and moving, otherwise it would get boring quickly. I'm curious enough to find out someday, though.
[See Antonius Rex]
Jade Warrior (71)
Last Autumn's Dream (72)
Floating World (74)
Way Of The Sun (78)
At Peace (89)
Breathing The Storm (92)
Distant Echoes (93)
Elements (95, Compilation, 95)
Eclipse (98, Recorded 1973)
Fifth Element (98, Recorded 1973)
Eclectic Re-Releases (06)
Jade Warrior circa 1973 - Glyn Havard, Tony Duhig, Jon Field, Alan Price, and David Duhig
Another British legend, Jade Warrior were a very unique trio that transcended the boundaries of progressive music with a string of LPs for Vertigo and later Island in the seventies. Their Vertigo albums Jade Warrior, Released and Last Autumn's Dream were all very Oriental sounding in a way (as were the covers) and combined this influence in a rock setting. They don't really have any drums per se (except on the latter two) and instead put forth an interesting music full of flutes and fuzz guitars and a unique song style. The Island LPs, with the best two Floating World and Waves approach a more new-agey style, and are the ones that are the most common. Often approaching Oldfield (in fact Jade Warrior's flute player was on Tubular Bells), the music is very eclectic and unusual. Try any of them although Released (with drums) is my favorite, with an excellent long jam.
Jade Warrior had three very different phases. The first, which includes the first three albums (plus the Reflections compilation of early material), could be thought of as east-asian and jazz-influenced folk-rock, with some fiery guitar outbursts and strong presence of flute. JW is the most dynamic of the three, alternating between rougher fuzz-guitar based tracks and quiet spacy instrumental passages, reminiscent at times of very early Jethro Tull, but without drums. At that point the band was a trio of Jon Field (flute and percussion), Glyn Havard (bass and vocals) and Tony Duhig (guitar). Released is harder rocking and more psychedelic, with guest musicians on Drums and Saxes. By Autumns Dream they had essentially become a five piece with Alan Price (drums) and Dave Duhig (guitar), but unlike its predecessor, this album was more in the style of the first album, with some memorable tunes like "Winter's Tale," "Lady of the Lake," and "May Queen" - this may, in fact be the best of the first three. For the second period (the "Island" period) which began with Floating World in 74, and lasted through about 1980, the band was an instrumental duo of Jon Field and Tony Duhig, playing pretty much everything, with guest musicians filling in when necessary. FW is instrumentally close to LAD, exploring further the possibilities of fusing eastern with western. Waves is a move in a slightly jazzier direction, while Kites invokes more eastern themes while moving into spacier regions. Way of the Sun is more upbeat than the previous three, adding latin percussives on several tracks, and some overt classical influence as well. This or FW are pobably the two best of the second period, and FW is probably the best place to start. The third period from 83 to present is generally a quieter, more reflective period, carrying on again as a duo until Duhig's death around 89. At that point Field reformed a three piece lineup with two new musicians, for the album Breathing The Storm.
Jade Warrior were the eclectic British duo of Tony Duhig and Jon Field, whose music combined elements of rock and classical music with Japanese motifs, realized through the use of flutes and native percussion, to result in music that was truly "progressive." Floating World is representative of mid-period Jade Warrior, and was recorded in 1974. As described, the music is a very imaginative blend of rock influences and Japanese musical sounds, that ranges from quiet passages built around guitar, flute and percussion, to full rock workouts, powered by electric guitars and drums. Breathing The Storm is a brand-new release, and features Jon Field with two other musicians, and is dedicated to the memory of Tony Duhig. The music is broadly defined as before, but is not as sparse, and has a broader sound realised through unobtrusive keyboard backing. The mood throughout the album is very low-key, almost to the point where it might be described as new-age, but there is a complexity and style to the compositions that rise above the categorization. The closest point of comparison would probably be to equal parts of Gandalf and Deuter.
A rather unique group based on the only CD I have, Floating World. Not much info is included. The songs are usually fairly introspective, but often dynamic as they shift from a variety of woodwinds and exotic percussion to loud electric guitar riffing. I've been told that the band's output has been rather uneven over the many albums, but the Island releases (e.g., Floating World, Waves, Way of the Sun) are all very good. The music isn't readily comparable to anyone else. This reason alone should make you want to check them out. Floating World is good stuff!
For the uninitiated, Jade Warrior's recorded history began around 1970 as a three-piece, integrating east asian themes, introspective jazz-rock ideas, some elements of folk, and a lot more into a unique new sound based on flute, guitar and ethnic percussion. Through the years, the band's sound evolved to encompass far more: After three albums they became a duo and esentially did away with vocals, and released another string of four albums for the Island label that are monuments of inventiveness, although seldom fully appreciated by those who cut their teeth on the first three. The eighties saw only two releases, the less than spectacular Horizen and the low key and highly introspective At Peace, released after the passing of guitarist Tony Duhig, leaving Jade Warrior as a one-man band. Flautist Jon Field then recruited two new band members, and started out all over again. With their 1991 release Breathing The Storm, they began to recapture the spirit of the Island period, albeit with a more laid-back approach, par for the post new-age era. Now comes Distant Echoes, perhaps their best release since 1974's stunning Floating World - or perhaps their best album to date. They have assembled all of their best inclinations here, given them new life, and embarked on a new forward looking journey. Unlike its moody predecessor, Distant Echoes rings with liveliness, forcefully encompassing all emotions. Once again, the lineup includes Colin Henson on guitars and Dave Sturt on fretless bass, plus a long list of session musicians on violins, saxes, bass clarinet, flugelhorn, drums and choirs. The album opener "Evocation," recals the gritty guitars and dissonance employed on their album Released, and then moves on to "Into The Sunlight," an eight minute piece recalling the Airto Moreira Brazilian percussive sound overlaid with the trademark wall of flutes and guitars; Henson does an admirable job at keeping Tony Duhig's guitar sound alive. The album continues to alternate low key and uptempo pieces: "Night of The Shamen" delves into an eerie melodic cycle on violin (vaguely reminiscent of the sound achieved by The Beatles on "Within You Without You") supported by guitar and pecussion, topped off with spicy guitar leads and scatting flutes. "Snake Goddess" uses choirs piano, and saxes to cover some new ground, while "Timeless Journey" and the album closer "Spirits Of The Water" recall the pastoral symphonics of Kites. All taken, this is a rejuvenated Jade Warrior fully realized, fresh with spirited ideas. For anyone not yet familiar with the JW sound, this is as good a place as any to tune in.
The first album is good, Jethro Tull-like music with lots of flute, percussion (bongos and the like), and alternately gentle and savage electric guitars. A mix of Asian and (on "Masai Morning") African influences make for a creative sound. "Dragonfly Day" is quite beautiful. There are a few blues orientated songs on the B-side that don't do anything for me, but otherwise it's a pretty good album, worth your money. I've heard a couple of later albums: Floating World and Way of the Sun. These are in a completely different style, totally instrumental using a kaleidoscopic array of different instruments. Hair-raising dynamics make these exciting to listen to. -- Mike Ohman
Jade Warrior 2008 - Glyn Havard (vocals, lyrics, guitar), Jon Field (flutes, percussion, keys) and Dave Sturt (fretless, upright, acoustic & fretted basses, samples, keys)
They are not only recording again, but will also have a live gig in London at the Astoria 2 on October 23rd 2008. This will be their first gig in 35 years! It will also probably be their only live performance in 2008, so catch them if you can. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Cipher | Dogstar Poets]|
More Than Meets the Eye (92)
Once Upon a Time (93, 3-track CD EP)
Across the Water (94)
Once or Twice (96, 4-track CD EP)
As Daylight Fades (98, Live)
|I've only heard this group live, when they opened for Pendragon in London. I thought Pendragon should have been opening for them. Very good neo-prog, two guys from IQ play with them (Keyboard and bass), some real nice musical moments. I think they will be having a second CD out soon.|
|Neo-progressive band led by ex-IQ keyboard man Martin Orford. Apparently these guys have been around in some form or other for quite a long time, but just now got around to recording an album. Their sound is nice enough, not too adventurous or innovative, but not trite or overly derivative, although they do fit squarely into the poppy neo-prog genre. Their album is instantly likeable, with a lot of melodic hooks, and a fairly decent vocalist.|
|This UK-based neo-progressive band have been around for a while, and have finally delivered a recording, More Than Meets The Eye, to the public. The music is centred around the keyboards of Martin Orford (of IQ), and has the intensity of IQ mixed with the musical style of groups such as Pendragon and Saga. In other words, the music does have a more modern sound to it, unlike IQ, who based their music on the sound of mid-period Genesis. Other points of comparison would be groups such as Galahad, Castanarc, or even the Hogarth-led Marillion.|
|Warning, this is written by someone who doesn't get into Neo-prog as a general rule. I have always heard Jadis mentioned as one of the better neo-progressive bands. I tried to explore the "neo-progressive" sound by sampling among the various bands that were mentioned as the best representatives of the genre. Other than Marillion, this includes IQ, Pallas, Jadis and Pendragon. I've written about each of these in turn. Like other neo-progsters, Jadis draw their main influence from the Genesis and Marillion styles (more from the former than the latter). Strictly in comparison to those bands I mention above, I'd rate Jadis slightly above average, maybe about the same as IQ. The music is full of lush synthesizer and guitar remininscent of Steve Hackett and there is even some nice flute. The rhythm though is more straight-forward and commercially accessible. Occasionally this gets out of hand but they aren't as bad as Pallas whose Knightmoves to Wedge is almost pure stadium rock. At least Jadis change up their rhythms and try to maintain an interesting progressive format. There are three 3-5 minute songs and four 6-9 minute songs that allows the band to include a bit of variety and development. I don't think any of these neo-progressive bands rate with the best that the entire Progressive genre has to offer (Deus Ex Machina, Änglagård, even Echolyn, etc.) but within the realm of neo-prog, these guys are better than many. In many of these bands, all they need is a little more variety in the rhythms and time signatures. The melodies are often very nice and can get quite lush without being sickly sweet. But occasionally, the guitar solos become a typical "big hair band" solo over stock 4/4 rhythms. Yawn. But others are fairly decent and emotional. If the rhythms were just a bit more exciting....|
|Jadis is a limited pressing, 500 copies seemed to be made, produced by Steve Rothery. Contains all tracks from the studio demos and four 'new' tracks. This record was recorded because of financial problems of the keyboardplayer Pete Salmon. Contains nice versions of "G13" and "Follow Me To Salzburg." Once Upon A Time is a three track CD-single which contains old material being re-recorded. This release was made because the band did not want to use older tracks for the new album Across The Water. Contains a great version of "Follow Me To Salzburg" with a new keyboard solo by Martin Orford. Across The Water is written in the style of More Than Meets The Eye but it doesn't have the impact of that album. All songs are newly written. The music sounds too much as a copy with boring guitar solo's. Parts of the music were used for a Dutch Radio Commercial for Ruanda last year.|
[See Arena |
Click here for Jadis' web site
You Can Help Me (76)
|A mainstream rock band whose sole album featured some notable krautrock alumni as backing musicians. Juergen Fritz of Triumvirat plays keyboards on 1 track and Helmut Koellen adds 12 string guitar and backing vocals to a couple of numbers and sings lead on the A-side of the band's 45 "Julie". Roland Schaeffer from Guru Guru plays sax on 2 tracks and Jaki Liebezeit from Can also contributes percussion to 2 songs. Aside from the involvement of these players, the album will hold no interest for progressive or krautrock fans as it is nothing but accessible, radio-friendly rock with most songs in the 3 minute range and sounding 100% Anglo-American. Some is pleasant and some is downright awful. Only a short instrumental track called "Bird" comes close to entering the "progressive" realm. Probably of interest to Triumvirat completists due to the involvement of Fritz and Koellen. EMI reissued a digitally remastered CD of this album in 2000. Why didn't they give us Helmut Koellen's solo album instead? -- Tharsis|
|Links||[See Can | Guru Guru | Triumvirat]|
El Volantin (70, limited edition, reissued on CD in 2002)
Sueños de America (Los Jaivas/Manduka)(??)
Los Jaivas (72, aka La Ventana, some editions as Todos Juntos)
Los Jaivas (75, aka El Indio)
Cancion del Sur (77)
Alturas de Macchu Picchu (81)
Los Jaivas En Argentina (83)
Obras de Violeta Parra (84)
Si Tu No Estas (89)
Hijos de la Tierra (95)
Palomita Blanca (93, Soundtrack recorded in 1973; unreleased then due to the film being banned in Chile after the coup)
Trilogía: el reencuentro (97, Greatest hits re-recorded w/ invited artists)
Obras Sinfonicas vol 1: Mamalluca (99)
En el bar de lo que nunca se supo (00, Compilation)
Los Jaivas - This picture was taken in Argentina in 1974 or 1975 and the line-up is
(from L to R): Eduardo "Gato" (cat) Alquinta (voice, electric and
acoustic guitars, charango, flute, piccolo, tarka, trutrukas, tumbadoras and
güiro), Julio Anderson (bass, acoustic guitar, trutrukas, chorus), Eduardo
Parra (Organs, piano, tumbadoras, bongo, cascabeles (gingle bells), tarka,
zampoñas), Claudio Parra (piano, electric piano, güiro, maracas,
zampoñas, trutrukas) and Gabriel Parra (drums, tumbadoras, bombo legüero,
snare drum, cencerros, trutrukas, chorus) - Thanks to Rodrigo Coloma Jiménez
for the info
Los Jaivas evolved out of the late '60's Chilean hippie movement, the band's original style was a blending of rock and chilean folk themes, often using native instruments right along with the electric guitars, etc. By Ventana the band was moving more into a more symphonic track. After the coup d'etat of september '73 (pres. Alliende was overthrown), the entire band left Chile and moved to Argentina, some personnel changes followed, but eventually two albums were recorded in Argentina, the second, Cancion Del Sur is one of their very best. Immediately after recording it, the band again relocated, this time to France; after several years of gigging throughout Europe, they recorded their masterpiece Alturas De Macchu Picchu. By this time the band had a very unique sound comparable to no one, yet very progressive in nature.
|Killer Chilean group who successfully merges prog-rock with South American Andean music. They can shift from gorgeous Andean folk to strong prog passages at the drop of a hat. All the musicians are top notch and play all the required South American folk instruments to perfection. This is highly original music and worthy of your collection. Check them out. -- Juan Joy|
Chilean band formed in the middle sixties as the High-Bass, they began playing music for
parties, but slowly they started to develop their own sound, mixing rock and Chilean folk
instruments, initially in the form of improvisations. In 1970, with their name changed to
Los Jaivas, they released El Volantin, on a very limited edition (around a thousand
copies) and only reissued in 2002. It's an album based mostly on improvs, but showed some
things to come more developed later. In 1973 was released Los Jaivas (aka Todos
Juntos, La Ventana), with their first proper compositions, heavily influenced
by the hippie movement, and at times quite naive, along with some improvs. The sound quality
(even on the remastered reissue on CD) leaves a lot to be desired. It contains two classics
of Chilean music: Mira Niñita (their first progressive attempt) and Todos Juntos,
both songs are known by most Chileans, in fact Los Jaivas are one of the most popular bands
The next album, also named Los Jaivas (aka El Indio) was a huge step forward, in compositions, lyrics and sound quality. The chilean folklore roots mixed with rock appear on "Pregon para Iluminarse", while they sound like Santana on "Guajira Cosmica". The standout track here is the 13min three section instrumental "Tarka y Ocarina", the first can be defined like King Crimson circa Lark's Tongues in Aspic mixed with traditional altiplanic music, the second is an extended almost solo piano section, alternating beautiful and calm passages with more agressive material (one of their keyboard players, Claudio Parra, had formal training on piano, and he shows it here, as the whole piano section is just him). The last section is very pastoral, with harps, flutes and acoustic guitars.
Cancion del Sur is another great album. The best tracks here are the instrumental "Danzas", which features an extended and dark minimoog solo along with lighter work with piano and guitars soloing, and "Cancion del Sur", a melancholic acoustic song with an extended instrumental section driven by mini moog and piano at the same time, resembling Genesis' "Ripples" a bit to me. Usually you don't notice the two keyboard players playing at the same time, as one of them (Eduardo Parra) doesn't contribute that much, but you can here. Eduardo's main contribution lies on the lyrics. It has to be noted too that all the musicians play both "rock" instruments, and Chilean folk instruments, mostly on winds (trutruca, zampoña, ocarina). Other tracks mix traditional rhythms of Chile and other South American countries with progressive music.
Alturas de Macchu Picchu is considered by many as Los Jaivas' masterpiece. They had been living in France for a couple of years and the album was recorded there, giving it a superb sound quality. It is a concept album using sections of the poem of the same name ("Macchu Picchu Heights" in English) written by Nobel prize winner Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The idea around the lyrics for those who don't understand Spanish (most of you I guess) is based on the travel the poet did to the ruins of Macchu Picchu. He was delighted by the constructions of the Incas, but at the same time he thought of the enormous cost in human lives. It's their most symphonic album until then. It contains one of my favourite progressive tracks ever: "La Poderosa Muerte", with a lot of changes, and terrific keyboard and guitar solos, and the dual singing is very interesting too. On the mostly instrumental "Antigua America" the keyboards have a predominant role, with very complex sections. In Los Jaivas' music you'll never find complexities just for the sake of it, everything is done to help to the song, or to make you go to the places they want you to go. "Sube a Nacer Conmigo Hermano" isn't very progressive, being mostly vocal, and it's one of their most popular songs ... another song you can ask any Chilean and he/she'll recognize it. For this album I recommend you to get a Spanish/English dictionary to try to understand the lyrics, or to get a copy of Neruda's Macchu Picchu Heights, because the lyric work is the best one I've seen on a rock album!
The next album, Aconcagua, isn't a very progressive effort, being based on more on latin american folk than in progressive music. Still it has very strong material, like "Desde un Barrial", or "Takirari del Puerto", but none of them are good examples of the best Los Jaivas material, but the closing track, "Corre que te Pillo" really is! It's a 9 minute instrumental with wonderful keyboard and guitar parts, but the most increidible thing here is the drummer, Gabriel Parra, who does a drum solo here that is simply out of this world!
The double LP (single on CD) album Obras de Violeta Parra is IMO their best album. All the songs are written by Chilean folk songwriter Violeta Parra, a legend in Chilean music, who died in 1967. Her songs were amazing folk tunes, but Los Jaivas turns them into prog masterpieces, adding instrumental sections, changing the rhythm, etc, transforming songs that barely lasted more than 2 minutes into 7-10 min compositions. "Arauco tiene una Pena" (also covered by Robert Wyatt) starts with a breathtaking 5 minute instrumental introduction, featuring first a piano and mini moog / trutruca duel and then a guitar driven section. Watch out the bass player! I haven't said anything about him, but Mario Mutis has a unique style, and on this album his playing is great. Other standout track is "Arriba Quemando el Sol", a 11 minute track that is a continous in crescendo, starting with a simple guitar/piano part, then slowly appears a marching drum and then goes electric and starts a lenghty mini moog solo over the vocals, which slowly increase their intensity too, with duel vocals from the middle until the end. You really get the increasing sense of despair the lyrics tell (they are about the Chilean miners who came to the Atacama desert from their former work as farmers with promises of a better life, but instead they received a subhuman treat with no chance of returning to their homes, in the first part of the XX century). "El Gavilan" features only the music of the original song, and is a heavy guitar based track, very intense. "El Guillatun" describes a mapuche (Chilean natives) ritual to ask the gods to stop the rains, and the band describe with the music the tempest, then the prayers to the gods and then the celebration for the sun.
Si Tu No Estas is their weakest album, focusing on song format tracks, but it doesn't work out at all. It was recorded after the death of Gabriel Parra in a car accident and it was the beginning of a very unstable period for the band, using several drummers, until they found the perfect replacement in Juanita Parra, Gabriel's daughter. Her debut on a record came on "Hijos de la Tierra", an irregular album with majestic progressive tracks ("Bosques Virginales", with stunning piano and guitar work; "Litoraleña") but the rest of the album ranges from mediocre to plain bad. Please don't get this one or Si Tu No Estas.
The next studio album was Mamalluca, an ambitious project with an orchestra and a symphonic choir. Their best album in many years, it is a return to their progressive years, it even includes an improv with some orchestra members, reminding to their early 70's releases. But the standout track here is "Mamalluca", a 15 min composition with a incredible mix of the band and the orchestra/symphonic choir, with beautiful keyboard/guitar instrumental sections and many changes in the mood, covering grounds the band had never been before. The main problem of the album is that the many times the band doesn't have the chance to show up more, and the keyboard work of Claudio Parra is replaced by the orchestra. If you are into this kind of albums then you won't see this as a problem.
In 2000 En el Bar de lo que Nunca se Supo appeared, a compilation of their most folkloric material, don't try to get it unless you are into Chilean folk. Arrebol was released in 2001, with a couple of progressive tracks but also with many forgettable tracks, along with some nice folk tunes. -- Jorge Lopez
Ocean Alpha (87)
New Agey electronics with a world-music influence. The album Ocean Alpha is not bad, but not really earth-shattering either.
The Road to Ballina (?)
Are My Ears On Wrong? (?, Compilation)
Kingdom of Dust (94, EP, w/ Richard Barbieri, Steve Jansen & Mick Karn)
Mustard Gas and Roses (95)
The Bruised Romantic Glee Club (06)
Original Entry 11/21/06:
The first thing to say is ... Jakko Jakszyk hasn't remained an obscure figure due to any lack of guitar-playing talent. He's truly excellent, as any track on The Bruised Romantic Glee Club will convince you. He's just been extrordinarily unlucky. Hopefully this 2CD album will help him to find the audience he deserves. He's lined up an astounding array of friends to help him out; an incredible "who's who" of prog, including Robert Fripp, Mel Collins, Ian MacDonald and Ian Wallace (all members of early King Crimson, and the last three also in 21st Century Schizoid Band), Hugh Hopper (Soft Machine, etc.) and Clive Brooks (Egg). But most amazing to me is Dave Stewart, who I didn't think was recording at all any more, reprising his National Health-style prog chops on these songs rather than the more accessible style last heard from him on the Stewart-Gaskin albums.
The two CD's really show two sides of Jakszyk's life. The first CD is sort of a personal journey through his life, with songs that are catharses for periods of depression and memories of the deaths of his adoptive father and his birth mother (and also his wife's cat). He warns the listener, "I've suffered for my art ... now it's your turn". If this is suffering, bring it on. This is the more accessible of the two CD's ... the first song wouldn't be out of place on an Alan Parsons' Project album, and many of the others fall into the "intelligent adult pop" category of bands like Toto or Steely Dan. Perhaps he was influenced by his work with Stewart-Gaskin. But this is still a great CD.
But it's the second CD that pulls out all the prog stops with covers of famous (to proggers) tunes re-done with varying degrees of rewriting. "As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still" is a Soft Machine song here reinvented by Jakszyk, Stewart, Brooks and Hopper (who played on the original). It has that true Canterbury sound, and due to Stewart's keyboards, it wouldn't sound a bit out of place on a National Health album. But my favorite is "Pictures of an Indian City", which should sound familiar ("Pictures of a City" is the main opening cut after the "Peace" intro on King Crimson's In the Wake of Poseidon). It's been re-orchestrated using sitar and tablas, with the words rewritten (at original lyricist Peter Sinfield's suggestion!) about Bombay, to reflect the Indian timbres used in the song. However, it is note-for-note faithful to the original version except for the middle improv section, which features original KC sax player Mel Collins doing a solo. Just great stuff. The other KC cover, "Islands" is a bit too Muzak-sounding for me, very easy to listen to and not really very "prog" sounding at all. In spite of this, the musicianship is tasteful and precise. In addition to these are covers of two Henry Cow songs, "Nirvana for Mice" and "The Citizen King", both of which sound more like National Health songs, likely due to the participation (here listed as "painstaking programming") of Dave Stewart. In spite of the good stuff on the first CD, the second CD alone would have made The Bruised Romantic Glee Club worth the price of admission. With both CD's, it's a must-have for any prog fan's collection. Get it now and find out what you've been missing (if, like me, you've been unfamiliar with Mr. Jakszyk until now). -- Fred Trafton
[See Lodge, The |
Rapid Eye Movement |
The Tangent |
21st Century Schizoid Band ]
Click here for Jakko Jakszyk's web site
Jam Camp (90)
This four piece from Seattle plays an all-instrumental music fusing many styles from rock to jazz to blues to folk to classical, much in the way the early Dixie Dregs did, but without the humor the Dregs had (or for that matter the instrumental virtuosity either). Their self-titled debut CD has some very good tunes on it, but a lot of filler too. Still pretty good for the first time out, I expect the next one to be even better.
Together (72), Here We Are (73), III (74), Lady Jane (74), Fire Water Earth And Air (75), Live At Home (76), Between Heaven & Hell (77), Age of Madness (78), Sign #9 (79), Jane (81), Germania (83), Beautiful Lady (86), Live 89 (89)
German rock band that verged Floydian on Fire Water Earth and Air and were not all that great except for their excellent debut Together on German CD. For those just getting in to prog music.
What's the fuss about these guys ? I have Jane III, and it sucks! It isn't even progressive - just straight-ahead hard rock, sounds like Bachman Turner Overdrive on a bad night.
Seminal band from the German underground (aka Krautrock) scene. Moderately long (5-6 minutes) songs dominated by guitar and swirling Hammond organ. Together is their classic release and the recommended purchase. Fire, Water, Earth and Air is quite a bit different, sounding more like Pink Floyd (partly Meddle, partly Momentary Lapse of Reason) and Eloy. (In fact, Eloy's Manfred Wieczorke would later join Jane.) Singer/guitarist Klaus Hess sounds quite a bit like David Gilmour (albeit with a hint of German accent), both in voice and his guitar playing. The keyboards and rhythms bring about the Eloy comparisons. Fans of Eloy would want to start with Fire Water Earth and Air, while fans of heavy psych/blues would want to get Together.
Lady Jane has a terrible singer on it, organist Gottfried Janko, who couldn't carry a tune if his life depended on it. His power-drill organ tone gets rather excessive at times too. Still, some good songs stand out: "Music Machine" spotlights Klaus Hess' fine guitar playing, and ends with a surprising use of primitive drum machine! "Lord Love" builds tension effectively from beginning to end. The instrumental jam "Midnight Mover" sounds mostly like Hawkwind. Fire, Water, Earth and Air reunites the band with their original keyboardist and is far better, sounding rather like Pink Floyd, but with lusher keyboard sounds. The live album features another change in keyboardists, this time ex-Eloy member Manfred Wieczorke fills the spot. Includes the best songs from their best first album, Together, and none from their worst: III. Also included, some songs otherwise unavailable anywhere else: most notably the 19-minute "Windows." Between Heaven And Hell is the best album I've heard of them. It includes a 17-minute title-suite, a good spacy keyboard epic, and "Voice in the Wind," a nice vehicle for lush synths and harp (!). Here We Are and Age Of Madness are supposed to be other good ones. -- Mike Ohman
[See Eloy | Harlis | Hess, Klaus]
Out of Time (90, a.k.a. Agnus Dei)
Free Fall (94?)
Agnus Dei 2000 (98)
Janus lived and died from 1971-74 and put their only album Gravedigger in 1972.
It was a rarity and sought by record collectors, so SPM Records re-released it on CD
and attempted to re-form the band for a comeback album. Several of the old band members
were eaten by man-eating vagina plants on the planet Venus (well, that's what they said
in the CD sleeve notes ... actually, that sounds like more fun than playing with this new
band), so several younger musicians joined the 1990 incarnation for Out of Time.
I haven't heard Gravedigger, but Out of Time is nothing to write home about. Mostly easy-listening rock, heavy on digital synthesizers, some of it verging on new age music. There is one mildly interesting cut on the CD, "Agnus Dei", a 19:11 epic which is sort of a fusion of soft rock, mellow prog, new age and medieval (chant) motifs. Not the most amazing composition I've ever heard, but it's OK.
The album title Out of Time is from the cut "Out Of Time" which is actually a cover of a Rolling Stones tune (at least I would assume that because of the Jagger / Richards writing credit on the song), but with a very layed-back arrangement. Why would anyone name their album after somebody else's tune? [I later discovered that they re-released this album as Agnus Dei. Maybe that's why. -Ed.]
Overall, nothing to particularly recommend this album, but nothing to run screaming from either. However, in my opinion your CD money would be better spent elsewhere.
"Gravedigger" is more interesting. The vocal harmonies and Mellotron-like string sections (though these sound like real violins, not Mellotron) make it sound a lot like early Moody Blues, though the lyrical content starts out a bit repetitious ("Gravedigger's on his way for you" repeated over and over) before finally going on with the uplifting lyrics ("Born to die with a bottle at his side, Gravedigger follows, the sick cannot hide"). It's really early '70's sounding in its mood and orchestration. However, I must say (despite the mocking tone ... sorry about that ...) that "Gravedigger" is a pretty cool song, and back in the day I would have really thought it "deep" and "thoughtful" with some nice '70's guitar solos and even some acoustic classical guitar including a brief paraphrase of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King". But I wouldn't really call it "prog". It is some pretty good psych, though, and if you're interested in this type of thing it is far superior to the Out of Time CD I previously reviewed. -- Fred Trafton
Magnetic Fields (81)
The Concerts in China (81, Live, 2LP/2CD)
Musik aus Zeit und Raum (83, Compilation)
Music for Supermarkets (83, only one copy ever pressed)
The Essential (85, Compilation)
In Concert Houston/Lyon (87, Live)
Cities in Concert (87, Extended version of In Concert Houston/Lyon)
Jarre Live (89, Live)
Waiting for Cousteau (90)
Images (91, Compilation)
Hong Kong (94, Live)
Jarremix (95, Remix/Compilation)
Oxygene 7-13 (97)
Odyssey Through O2 (98, Remix/Compilation)
Sessions 2000 (03)
Destination Docland (03, Live)
Granges Brulees (04)
Jean Michel Jarre
Jean Michel Jarre was one of the pioneers of a slow, dreamy and harmonious style of electronic music that would one day become popular ... some might argue that this style became what we would now call "New Age Electronica", but Jarre was among the first to experiment with this style. It would be easy to say that it's not prog, but at least Oxygene and Equinoxe will be found among the collections of many fans of electronic prog. These are very much in the same vein as Edgar Froese's early works like Aqua or Epsilon in Malaysian Pale, though perhaps more simple and repetitive, and therefore more hypnotic. I was certainly a fan of Oxygene and Equinoxe back when they came out, and these two albums still hold up today.
Music for Supermarkets is an oddball release, since there was only one copy ever made. Jarre pressed one LP from his master tapes, then destroyed the tapes, making this one vinyl copy the only one in existence. Sounds like something Brian Eno would do, and the title even sounds like Eno. Music for Supermarkets was played once on an AM radio station, and low-quality bootlegs of it have appeared which were recorded off the air. The original was later auctioned off to an unknown buyer who paid about 10,000 UK Pounds for it.
Recently, while browsing through recycled CD's at Half-Price Books, I came across a copy of Oxygene 7-13, a relatively new (1997) release from Jarre. (Oxygene contained six cuts titled "Oxygene I" through "Oxygene VI", so this is the obvious name for a follow-on release). For only four bucks, I took it home in spite of the fact that I figured it would only be a watered-down new-agey version of Oxygene. Much to my surprise, this album is quite good, and is a nice follow-on to Oxygene, using some of the same themes and even synth timbres as the original. If you like his earlier works, you should also enjoy Oxygene 7-13. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Jean Michel Jarre's web site|
Solitarily Speaking Of Theoretical Confinement (02, but not yet released)
|Somebody ought to tell the MacArthur Grant people about Ron Jarzombek so they can give him lots of money, thus enabling him to finish up Spastic Ink II and devote all his time to writing and recording complicated music. Until that happens, those impatient for Ink Compatible can listen to Jarzombek's solo album. Phhhp! is a mostly instumental collection on CD-R of four-track recordings he made during his time with Watchtower. He played all the guitars and bass and programmed the drum machine. It is, in effect, Spastic Ink Lite: quirky compositions and flashy guitar, sometimes abrasively aggressive, sometimes reflective and lyrical, sometimes whimsical. Not all of it works -- Jarzombek is gifted as a musician but not as a lyricist -- but most of it does. It incidentally makes clear how much Pete Perez and Bobby Jarzombek add to Spastic Ink. -- Don McClane|
|Links||[See Gordian Knot | Spastic Ink | Watchtower]|
|Above album was originally released on Spark Rec. Not too much is known about the band. I have the CD and I really like it. The ingredients of this record are mostly blues-based styles, quite competent guitars, some flutes. It has a bit gloomy mood. To me the best are blues-style tracks "Baby Please Don't Go" and "St. Louis Blues", both slow, with nice vocals. Album is very easy to listen to, but really nothing spectacular. I think it's good example of British blues invasion but don't bother if you can't find it - it's not worth to look for at any price. The key personage in the band was Alan Feldman - keyb. who later on went to form F.B.I. The rest of line-up were: Jon Taylor - bg, Nicky Payne - voc, h-ca, fl, Chico Greenwood - dr and Steve Radford - gtr. -- Ryszard Ryzlak|
Over Seas (88)
Israeli synthesist, his album Over Seas contains medium length tracks of melodic electronics, sometimes interspersed with natural sounds, all for a very spacy feel, possibly comparable to 80's Tangerine Dream, and generally eschews the new-age tag. Very good.
Jeavestone (01, EP)
Mind the Soup (05)
Spices, Species and Poetry Petrol (08)
Jeavestone 2009 - (not in photo order, and perhaps not their real names) Jim Goldworth (lead vocals,
guitar, keyboards), Mickey Maniac (vocals, guitar, melodica), Angelina Galactique (flute, keyboards,
vocals), Tommy Glorioso (bass) and Kingo (drums)
Excerpted from the Jeavestone web site bio:
To this I'll add that they were scheduled to play the 2011 version of NEARfest in the USA until the festival was cancelled. Bummer, since I would have liked to see them and already had my tickets. But enough of the dull statistics. Jeavestone sent me copies of all three of their full-length releases. They're all very good, but I'll spend my energy describing their latest effort, 1+1=OK.
Jeavestone is definitely uninterested in sounding like a '70's prog band, though you can tell they've probably heard some in their lives. This is what I call "modern prog", with some "indie/altrock" influence and very little of that fantastical / philosophical / synthesizer / Mellotron elements that characterized '70's prog. Instead, the music is guitar- and vocal-oriented, though with other instruments (particularly Angelina's flute!) as well. The "philosophical" lyric style is here switched to more a humorous/cynical mode, though there's some weird mental gymnastics in some of the lyrics too. Strange, angular rhythms, oddball solos and twisted lyrics ... how can you call this anything but prog? Yet also very modern. Reminds me quite a bit of their countrymen Discordia in many ways. But as much as I like Discordia, I like Jeavestone even more. 1+1=OK is a masterpiece in the song-oriented category (i.e. not a concept album, rock opera, etc. sort of masterpiece).
I'm sad to have missed them at NEARfest and hope they can score a US gig I can attend sometime soon. (Wanna play in the Dallas area? We can work something out ... unfortunately, the pay for the last prog fest I set up really sucked, so unless you're independently wealthy, maybe not). Excellent stuff, seek out 1+1=OK. If you like it, their previous two albums are also very good. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Jeavestone's web site
Click here for Jeavestone's MySpace page
Pilgrim's Journey (95?)
Kingdom Come (02)
Pop Dreams (03)
Fruit Tree (03)
Many Others ...
Jeremy's original GEPR entry listed only Pilgrim's Journey and the text simply said, "Compare to Steve Hackett, Mike Oldfield, Gordon Giltrap". Not terribly informative, but better than nothing. Well, I recently got to hear Kingdom Come and found it to be interesting, so I contacted Jeremy Morris, and he sent me his latest few releases as well.
The first thing you may have noticed is the album title Pop Dreams in his discography. If this sets off the same alarm bells for you as it does for me, be advised that Jeremy is not "Pop" in the sense of Brittney Spears or N'Sync. Jeremy's definition of "Pop" is more like what was popular in the early '70's. But more detail on that later. For the moment, just try to keep an open mind regarding the word "Pop".
The first album I heard, Kingdom Come is a really nice instrumental foray into psychedelic 70's style light and sunny prog. Yes, I do hear some Spectral Mornings-era Steve Hackett in the electric guitar solos soaring over multitracked acoustic strumming, and some Mike Oldfield in the sheer number of overdubs happening. I also hear Vangelis style symphonic pomp and even some Tangerine Dreamy string washes with synth sequences burbling along behind them. For a hardened prog addict, there's nothing at all challenging about this, but it is well composed, well executed and quite enjoyable to listen to. Easily recommendable to those who like the afore-mentioned artists.
The other two CD's are going to be more difficult going for the hardened prognaut. Pop Dreams is hard to call "prog" at all, unless you're one of those who thinks The Beatles were prog. At its best, it reminds me of pop artists that I like from the '70's, including CSN&Y or America, particularly because of the way vocal and acoustic guitar overdubs are used to build up a huge sound ... the texture is very full in a "Phil Spector Wall of Sound" sort of way, or perhaps more like the Beach Boys. At its worst, it sounds like Herman's Hermits or Spinal Tap's precursor, The Flower People. Hippy drippy early 70's psychedelic pop. OK, I admit I sorta like it. But prog it's not.
The last album, Fruit Tree is entirely different, consisting of George Winston-ish new-agey solo piano. This style leaves me totally cold, so I didn't care for it. But if you like that sort of thing, be my guest. I've surely heard worse examples.
Jeremy is a prolific artist, and his albums are for sale on his web site (see below) along with several other artists who proudly proclaim themselves to be "pop". I haven't been able to assemble a complete discography because of the haphazard way his web site is organized, but if you scroll around long enough, you will find the three albums I've just described and a whole lot more, for sale at quite reasonable prices. Most do not list release years, so I gave up trying to assemble a complete discography for this gent. Kinesis also sells some of his more prog titles. Try out Kingdom Come first, and if you like this, try out some of the other albums he describes as "prog". Or, if you like hippy drippy psych, try out some of his other stuff. One thing's for sure, you can't say Jeremy's stuck in a musical rut! -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Jeremy and Progressor]|
The Pearl of Great Price (05)
Now here's an unlikely pairing. Jeremy is Jeremy
Morris, whose "pop" stylings are reviewed in the above entry.
Progressor is indeed Vitaly Menshikov, whose progressive music reviews web site is probably
familiar to most of you and who is also the bassist/guitarist for X Religion.
Vitaly's reviews show a penchant for aggressive prog-metal,
complex '70's style prog and RIO-type experimentation while disdaining
the lack of inventiveness of many of the so-called neo-prog bands. And when
it comes to "pop" music? Forget about it (though he did review Jeremy's
CD's positively). It seems like these two should mix about as well as oil and water. So what kind of
album did they do together?
My first impression was that Vitaly has made Jeremy's "pop" more complex and spacier, while Jeremy has made Vitaly's experimentalism more accessable. However, when I ran that by Vitaly, he begged to differ. He told me: "We, Jeremy and I, equally contributed to the album's 'pop' sound. I have nothing against an accessible music, and I never was a pop hater. I only can't tolerate a derivative Neo, and also the music, which was built, designed etc, instead of being composed. Too few people comprehended X Religion, so I decided to create something more accessible."
I would call this album upbeat, easy to listen to, and not at all challenging, while still providing musical interest, variation and harmonic complexity. Mood-wise, this is similar to how I would describe early Camel or Greenslade, though J&P's album is all instrumental and also has some aspects of space rock in several of the songs (Mellotron and swirly, spacey synth swoops), with an occasional distorted guitar among the keyboards. This is an album for times when you're feeling mellow, not for when you want to headbang or scare your landlady away. My only complaint is the over-reliance on drum machines where the organic-ness of real drums would have been better. Once again, quoting Vitaly: "Two tracks (2 & 3) were performed exclusively with acoustic drums, and two more (4 & 7) feature acoustic congas in places, which give them a more dynamic and volumetric sound. They're not that evident in the beginning of 4, but can be easily heard with headphones." OK, but I still feel the same way about the drum machines.
This album was released in April, 2005 on the Russian MALS label for distribution in Russia and CIS states, and is also distributed by Musea Records for Europe and Kinesis Records in the United States. If Jeremy's solo albums sounded a bit too lightweight for you, give The Pearl of Great Price a try. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Jeremy | X Religion]|
From A To B (00)
This totally instrumental album features violinist Anna Hubbell of
Zapotec/Acoustic Tales, Chris Mack
Oblivion Sun) on percussion and Rick
Kessler of Quest (Bass Guitar), along with Mike Galway (Bass Guitar),
Joshua Kay (Percussion) supporting keyboardist Jeremy Cubert, who has a
wonderfully fluid technique on keyboards, including synths.
This CD has great energy, wonderful, varied textures, and lyrical melodic content. Unlike a lot of the contemporary prog, which just shows off chops, and jams together disjointed sections this music flows beautifully and has a lot of heart. My one criticism is that some of the tunes are "jam" oriented and end raggedly or abruptly or just aren't developed as much as I'd have liked to hear. It would be nice to see some of those loose ends cleaned up. There are a lot of wonderful musical ideas in here and I hear influences from all sorts of "progressive" sources, but nothing blatantly derivative. These tunes are evocative of many of my favorite progressive and fusion bands, Happy the Man, King Crimson, ELP, Pat Metheney, Mahavishnu, Genesis, Chick Corea, Allan Holdsworth. The CD starts and ends with softer piano pieces, which are also found in between some of the stronger rock/jazz pieces. There are some really well done, strong synth parts on this CD, the like of which I haven't heard in quite some time. Taken altogether, the CD is a great journey that takes off and lands quietly, and flies quite nicely in the middle. -- Kiirja Paananen
[See Iluvatar |
Oblivion Sun |
Click here for Jeremy Cubert Project's page on the Garage Band web site
Jericho started as the Israeli band, The Churchills, but changed their name to Jericho Jones, then simply Jericho, after they moved to England. They released one album as Jericho, which was self-titled. It's supposed to be a monster classic (probably 'cause the LP is pretty rare), but the music really doesn't do much for me, though some of you might like it. It's guitar-dominated early UK hard rock with some psych influence--mostly just driving guitars, though. Three shorter works and two extended jams make up the album. It's good, but not great.
[See Apocalypse (Israel) | Churchills, The | Jericho Jones]
Junkies, Monkeys, and Donkeys (71)
When the Churchills moved to England, they changed their name to Jericho Jones, then simply Jericho. They released one album as Jericho Jones, but I've never heard it. I assume that it lies somewhere between the straight-ahead psych of The Churchills and the hard rock/psych sound of Jericho.
[See Apocalypse (Israel) | Churchills, The | Jericho]
Cosmic Blues (70), Train Ride (72)
Jerusalem circa 1972 - (not in photo order) Lynden Williams (vocals), Bob Cooke (guitar), Paul
Dean (bass), Bill Hinde (guitar) and Ray Sparrow (drums)
In 1972, Jerusalem recorded their debut album, produced by Deep Purple's vocalist Ian Gillian. In the descriptions of this album, you'll read about how "heavy", "rough" and "nasty" the album is. Well, go to their fan-run MySpace page (link below) where you can hear pretty much the whole album. Personally, I don't find it all that "heavy" by today's metal standards. A bit like early '70's Deep Purple themselves if you ask me. "Prog"? I wouldn't call it that, though it's certainly "Classic Rock" in its sound.
Fast forward to 2009, and original band members Lynden Williams and Bob Cooke decide to resurrect the Jerusalem monicker and put out a new album. From the songs I've heard (go to the Mausoleum Records link below), they're not much more "prog" than their original album, though the sound is a lot smoother and more modern. But what earns them a GEPR article is their "guest musicians" on this album ... Dave Meros (bass) and Nick D'Virgilio (drums) of Spock's Beard plus Geoff Downes of Asia and Yes (keyboards). That alone is enough to get them into the GEPR.
But do I recommend them? Well, I enjoyed the MP3 samples on the label web site. Would I buy the new album? Personally, no, this isn't really my cup of tea. But give them a listen ... this might appeal to you. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Asia | D'Virgilio, Nick | Spock's Beard | Yes]|
Above the Storm (95).
Good! Hybrid form of prog between Kansas and Marillion. -- Ricardo Deidda
Just A Reason To Be Out There (91)
SI's catalog describes them as ."..an Italian Marillion Clone...."
Fede, Speranza, Carita (72), a few singles
The LP has religious lyrics with interesting music. It has an English sound with italian melodies. The 7"s are more commercial.
This Was (68)
Stand Up (69)
Thick As A Brick (72)
Living In The Past (72, Compilation)
A Passion Play (73)
War Child (74)
Minstrel In The Gallery (75)
Too Old To Rock And Roll, Too Young To Die (76)
"M.U." - Best Of ... (76, Compilation)
Songs From the Wood (77)
Repeat - The Best of Jethro Tull - Vol II (77, Compilation)
Heavy Horses (78)
Live - Bursting Out (78)
Broadsword And The Beast (82)
Under Wraps (84)
Original Masters (85, Compilation)
Crest Of A Knave (87)
20 Years Of Jethro Tull Boxed Set (88, 3CD Compilation, Live, Previously unreleased)
20 Years Of Jethro Tull (88, 1CD Compilation, Live, Previously unreleased)
Rock Island (89)
Live At Hammersmith '84 (90)
Catfish Rising (91)
A Little Light Music (92)
25th Anniversary Boxed Set (93, 4CD Live and Remixes)
The Best Of Jethro Tull: The Anniversary Collection (93, 2CD Compilation)
Nightcap (93, 2CD Previously unreleased)
Roots to Branches (95)
Very Best of (01, Compilation)
I've learned over the years that you can't start a discussion about Jethro
Tull with someone who is unfamiliar with the band without explaining the
name first, so let me get that out of the way right now: Jethro Tull is a
*band*, not a solo act. That's why they get filed under "J" and
not "T". The situation is further confused by the fact that ever
since the second album, the group has been fairly thoroughly dominated by
one person, lead singer/flautist/acoustic guitar/a bunch of other things
Ian Anderson. Ian Anderson is not Jethro Tull. Jethro Tull is not a
"he." Call Jethro Tull a "he" and you look like a
poser. You have been warned. [But, see the last entry here for who
the real Jethro Tull was. -Ed.]
Anyway, when they started out, Tull were nothing more than your basic blues band, except that most blues bands don't have a lead singer who moonlights as a flautist. The band was composed of Ian Anderson, Mick Abrahams (guitar), Glenn Cornick (bass) and Clive Bunker (drums). The first album (This Was) isn't a bad album, but it's pretty much straight blues with very little progressive about it. I wouldn't make it high on my list of priorities. The second album (Stand Up) saw the departure of Abrahams (he and Anderson kept arguing over who should be in charge, and Anderson won) and his replacement by Martin Barre, whom Anderson had never heard play despite Barre having adutioned twice for him. (It's a long story which I don't intend to get into right now.) In many places this is still your basic blues album with a little psychedelia thrown in for good measure, but Anderson's style begins to creep through with some of the more lighthearted songs such as "Fat Man" and "Jeffrey Goes to Leicester Square." These songs are more whimsical than the others, and the music is more acoustic -- electric guitars give way to acoustic guitars and balalaikas, and the drum kit gives way to bongos and tambourines. This entire album, and most of all the albums that would follow, were written entirely by Anderson. The third album (Benefit) was the culmination of this era (eras for Tull tend to last three albums) -- there are still a few straight blues songs, but acoustic guitar and flute gain a highly prominent role. However, this album is much more serious than Stand Up. It is one of their finer works, and should be relatively high on the list of Tull albums to buy.
On to the second era, which was their most progressive. The first album
in this era was Aqualung. This is the quintessential Tull album,
and if you buy anything else by them before this one you should be well
aware of just how perverse you're being. The blues on this album is
almost entirely gone, replaced in many instances with a hard rock/classic
rock sound. The whimsical songs have returned, but the serious songs have
gotten *very* serious -- generally dealing with socioreligious themes.
I've heard three thousand explanations as to what exactly the
"concept" to the album is, so I leave it to you to decide what
the real one is. Anderson claims that it isn't a concept album at all.
He says that about all of Tull's albums. Nobody believes him. Oh, one
other note about Aqualung. It's probably the most danceable prog
albums you'll ever hear, especially the guitar solo in the title song.
It is with these albums, especially Thick as a Brick, that the most basic parts of Jethro Tull became firmly established. Of course, many of them had been developing since the first or second album, but here they all fell into place. First and foremost was a style which was more basic than most progressive bands. Tull were never very big on having the latest technology on their albums. They finally got around to using a synthesizer on A Passion Play, which came out in 1973. For years the only keyboards used were a piano and Hammond organ. There was heavy emphasis on acoustic instruments -- especially acoustic guitar and flute. Most of the musical extravagance was in the varied instrumentation -- including everything from trumpet to sopranino saxophone to accordion to the aforementioned balalaika. Lyrically, the topics tackled were often grandiose, but the approach was often vulgar -- A Passion Play, for example, discusses the nature of afterlife and one man's struggle to choose between good and evil, all the while making lyrical references to wetting one's drawers, ladies being laid, girls losing their virginity to horses, and so forth. Although the exact way these facets of Anderson's writing style were presented would change over the years, and although he would at some point or another move away from them altogether, these nevertheless would define the sound of Jethro Tull for the rest of their heyday (which would last until some time around the release of the album A).
About this time they released a compilation of singles entitled Living in the Past. This is the only album that Rolling Stone in its infinite wisdom saw fit to give a five-star rating to. Don't let this fact worry you too much, it still is a good album. The next era doesn't have a very clear delineation. It begins with War Child, which marks a move back to normal-length songs and has a relatively poppish feel to it. It still has its whimsical and acoustic moments, but overall it's a pretty straightforward work. The next album, Minstrel in the Gallery, is more of a return to their earlier sound. Heavily acoustic, but searing when electric; usually more pensive than whimsical; it's the closest in feel to Aqualung of any of their albums. Rounding out this period is Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll; Too Young To Die!, about which the less said the better. It's even more straightforward rock than War Child, and almost completely lacking on whimsy.
With their next album, they took a sharp turn towards more traditional music, although this was mixed as always with a hard, rock edge. Songs from the Wood is heavy on mandolins, whistles, and portative organs. At its best, it includes some of the best work they ever did. The next album, Heavy Horses is (like A Passion Play) a more refined counterpart to its immediate predecessor. Rounding out this trilogy is Stormwatch. This album is considerably darker than its predecessors, and almost completely lacking in any light-hearted pieces. Nevertheless, it has some of their most stunning work, and is easily their most underrated album. With the next album, they picked up Dave Pegg, the bassist from the folk band Fairport Convention, so of course this means that Tull had to take a turn away from folk music. This happened because Anderson was working on a solo album, which included Barre and Pegg, and somehow turned into a Jethro Tull album when no one was looking. It is completely unlike just about every other Tull album ever made. Highly electric (it is the only album by Jethro Tull to feature no acoustic guitar at all) and co-written by keyboardist Eddie Jobson, it only barely qualifies as a Jethro Tull album at all. This should not be high in your list of priorities.
The next album -- Broadsword and the Beast -- was a more successful. It is in some ways a return to the Songs from the Wood era, heavy on the mandolins and acoustic guitar. However, this time the folk elements are joined in many places not by hard rock but by a highly electronic sound aided by the heavy use of synthesizers. The next album, Under Wraps, went whole hog on the synthesizers, and with the exception of one song ("Under Wraps #2") completely forewent acoustic instruments. If it gives you any idea what this album is like, one critic said that Anderson's voice was the only way you could tell this wasn't Ultravox. And the scary part is this is a pretty accurate description. The next album (Crest of a Knave) marked a definite return to their earlier sound. Back were the acoustic instruments, and the keyboards which had recently dominated were now largely relegated to the role of background accompaniment. Actually, it sounds highly reminiscent of Dire Straits in a lot of places, partly because of Barre's guitar and partly because Anderson's voice by now had been shot by throat cancer. However, the album is worth it just for the song "Budapest," a highly successful mixture of acoustic and electric rock. Unfortunately, this album seems to have been the last major creative work by the band. The last two albums (Rock Island and Catfish Rising) have been little more than an attempt by a "classic rock" band to make "classic rock" music, and the majority of their output in recent years has been boxed sets.
That being said, however, a word should be said about the first boxed set, called 20 Years of Jethro Tull. This set is what every boxed set should be. There are almost no pieces available elsewhere on this set. By far the majority of it is rare tracks (many never released) and live performances. If you can still find it, pick it up. -- Scott Rhodes
Jethro Tull recorded their first album in 1968 and have been in existence
since then, with a break in the mid 80s. The group's music is written by
their vocalist Ian Anderson, who plays the flute - perhaps the group's most
defining feature to the newcomer. Other personnel have come and gone, the
only other long-serving member being electric guitarist Martin Barre, who
has been in the group since their second album, but the music's direction
has always been dictated by Anderson. Jethro Tull are very well known and
perhaps as a result of this many people have misconceptions of the band,
their ideas about the band being dominated by the image of Anderson as
frenetic flute-playing court jester rather than any notion of what the
music is like. A common misconception is that Jethro Tull is folk-rock, but
in fact their work shows little influence of English and Celtic folk music
other than in the lyrics to some of the songs.
Their first four albums - This Was, Stand Up, Benefit and Aqualung - all show a progression from a blues-inspired band to a more distinctive sound, though still with a heavy blues/rock influence. This Was was co-written by Anderson and electric guitarist Mick Abrahams, who was responsible for the bluesier aspects of the album. Abrahams left after the album, going on to play in Blodwyn Pig.
The second album, Stand Up, was almost completely written by Anderson. Though some of the songs show the distinctive Tull composition style, much of it is still firmly rooted in the blues, probably a sign of Anderson's novice status as a songwriter.
The third album Benefit contains stronger material, and indications of the direction that Anderson's songwriting was to take are present. "Nothing to Say" has a typical oblique Tull melody, whilst "Inside" shows the gentler side of Tull, with a sparse arrangement of drums, bass and flute to Anderson's tuneful vocal line. The album is flawed however, some of the arrangements being rather too dense and lacking in development of musical themes.
The final and best album in this phase is Aqualung. It alternates powerful electric tracks with gentler acoustic pieces, which are basically just Anderson on acoustic guitar and vocals. There is not much variety on the album; indeed, many of the songs are very similar in construction, but the material is so strong that the album is still a winner. Sparse arrangements are used to great effect - in "Cross-Eyed Mary," for example, drums and a pentatonic guitar riff are used to create an infectious drive to the piece. The blues influence is still there in the use of the pentatonic scale and in the character of the soloing, but the sound is now distinctively Tull's own. Lyrically, it shows Anderson coming of age as a song-writer, providing good examples of his humour, individual phrasing and naturalistic lyrics.
The next four Tull album are the ones which might be best described as "progressive": Thick As a Brick, A Passion Play, War Child are all closely related to one another, whilst the fourth, Minstrel In The Gallery, shows them leaning towards the folklore influenced work of the late 70s.
Thick As A Brick is a 40 minute piece, broken in two by the LP side break. It is possibly their most popular album among Tullies, and sold very well when released in 1972. It is more interesting musically than the previous Tull albums, with a great structure which manages to be intellectually satisfying whilst losing none of the infectiousness of Aqualung.
The follow-up to this was A Passion Play. It is basically in the same vein as Thick As A Brick, being a 40 minute piece along the same musical lines, though with a more diverse array of instruments, Anderson playing quite a lot of soprano and sopranino saxophone in addition to some of his best flute work. The music is slightly less accessible than that of Thick As A Brick and the mood more downbeat. When A Passion Play came out it was panned by previously friendly critics and sold badly compared to Thick As A Brick, showing a lamentable lack of insight on the part of critics and the average listener. However, for the progressive rock listener, both these albums are an excellent place to start.
The next album, War Child, is also good. The instrumentation and music is similar to that used in A Passion Play, though it goes back to the shorter piece format of the earlier albums. Many of the tunes are relatively unmelodic compared to most classic Tull, with some very notable exceptions (such as "Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day"), but again the music as a whole is excellent, with some saxophone work which, while not virtuosic, adds greatly to the music.
Minstrel In The Gallery is probably the most varied and interesting Tull album. The lyrics of songs such as Cold Wind to Valhalla and the title track create a medieval feel to the album. The arrangements feature strings very heavily - these are orchestrated by David Palmer, though people who've heard Symphonic Yes shouldn't be put off by this :-), because they are very effectively used as a backdrop to Anderson's acoustic guitar. Almost every song contains intelligent musical development of themes, often switching seamlessly from acoustic gentleness to the full electric band to great effect. Possibly the best piece on the album is a 16 minute medley called "Baker Street Muse," which shows Jethro Tull at their best.
Their next album is Too Old To Rock And Roll, Too Young to Die. It is similar in style to Minstrel In the Gallery, but the melodies are routine and the music is not developed within each song. It is one of the least original Tull albums, perhaps because it was initially conceived as a musical, and then produced as an album when the project fell through. The best tune, "Salamander" is in fact a rip-off of the excellent "Cold Wind To Valhalla" on Minstrel!
The next three Tull albums - Songs From the Wood, Heavy Horses and Stormwatch - constitute another phase for Tull, though they share a lyrical and imagery content with parts of Minstrel In the Gallery.
Songs From the Wood is one of the most accessible Tull albums. The lyrics are influenced by English and Celtic folklore, the album having been written soon after Anderson acquired a farm. The arrangements are superb, with some great flute-work, and though the songs generally contain less musical development than in Minstrel In The Gallery, the themes are still excellent and full of interest.
Heavy Horses is one of the best Tull albums. It is slightly more downbeat than the playful Songs From the Wood, and the lyrics are less steeped in folklore, being more about present day concerns. The arrangements are the best Tull produced, with bass, flute and restrained electric guitar being used to great effect. The style is quite varied - the upbeat "Acres Wild," one of the only Tull songs to approach folk-rock; "Journeyman," with superb lyrics and a fine example of a sparse Tull arrangement; the off-the-wall, rythmically intriguing "... And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps."
Stormwatch is the third album in this phase. It has less to commend it than the other two. It goes back to the strong folklore influence of Songs From The Wood, with songs like "Dun Ringill" and "Dark Ages," but has not the originality of Songs From the Wood, and comes across as dull. It lacks either the melodic interest of the previous two albums or the musical development of the earlier Thick As A Brick phase alternately.
Tull's next phase could be described as "electronic," though the three albums it consists of - "A", Broadsword And The Beast and Under Wraps - share little in the way of style. "A" is a reasonably good album, even though it managed to offend the sensibilities of many Tullies. Originally it was to be an Anderson solo album, but his record company forced him to release as a Tull album, resulting in a completely new lineup with the exception of guitarist Martin Barre. It is strongly coloured by the synthesiser work of Eddie Jobson (who also played the violin on it) and musically it is has a markedly different flavour to other Tull albums. The lyrics are excellent, many of them being concerned with the current news events at the time of writing circa 1980. The song "4 W.D. (Low Ratio)" is perhaps the funniest song that Anderson has ever penned.
Broadsword And The Beast heavily features another synthesiser player, Peter Vettese, but goes back to a more typical Tull sound. It is perhaps the most "poppy" of any Tull albums (on tracks like "Hard Times") and though it has many of the good Tull traits, it lacks interest and whereas "A" truly gains from the inclusion of synthesisers, on this album they seem to be used in place of the excellent arrangements of the 70s, perhaps because the material is not strong enough to support interesting arrangements. Tellingly, the best track is perhaps "Watching Me, Watching You," which is a far cry from a typical Tull style, but uses the synthesisers to excellent effect.
The third album in this phase is Under Wraps, again featuring Vettese on synthesisers. This is one of the most unpopular of Tull albums, with good reason, for there seems to be no musical development of material, the music relying more on disconnected synth and guitar "comments" on the theme. The melodies are weak and cannot hold your interest on their own. It does have its moments - "Under Wraps" Parts I and II are good, as are a few others, such as "Later That Same Evening." The album suffers from being too long - close to 60 minutes - and would have benefited from being cut down in size. Under Wraps was released in 1984.
Since then, Anderson has suffered from a throat problem which has greatly reduced his singing range in recent years, though his flute playing is better than it's ever been. 1987-1991 saw the release of three more albums: Crest Of A Knave, Rock Island and Catfish Rising, none of which are worth much mention. Catfish Rising is a boring "back to basics" (i.e. bluesy in the Dire Straits sense of the word) album, and I haven't heard the other two. Tullies swear by Crest Of A Knave, but I think they're clutching at straws from what I hear about it, and nobody likes Rock Island.
Of the live albums, compilations and rarity albums, the double CD Nightcap from 1993 deserves special mention. While the second CD is not of much interest, the first CD contains the "Chateau D'Isaster" tapes, from a recording session abandoned before going on to record A Passion Play. Some of the material ("Tiger Toon" and "Critique Oblique") was reworked and included in A Passion Play, providing an intriguing comparison. On War Child, "Solitaire" and "Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day" date - largely unchanged - from these sessions, "Only Solitaire" being represented on Nightcap by "Solitaire."
To summarise, their best albums are Aqualung, Thick As A Brick, A Passion Play, War Child, Minstrel In The Gallery, Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses. I'd recommend Minstrel ... as being an excellent place to start, since it has the vital elements of all their best work. -- Phil Kime
The original Jethro Tull
Tull's "Seed Drill"
Tull's "Seed Drill"Jethro Tull (1674-1741) was a real person. Since earliest times seeds had always been sown by hand. People who worked on the land would walk over the fields randomly scattering handfuls of grain. Jethro Tull invented a machine which greatly helped to increase the harvest yield by planting seeds in straight lines.
Jethro Tull was born in Basildon, Berkshire in 1674. He did not start out as an agricultural engineer. He studied law and graduated from Oxford University in 1699. Although he was admitted to the bar in the same year, he never practised law. Tull was far more interested in the farming methods employed on his land, which he called Prosperous Farm.
Tull travelled throughout Europe to study new farming techniques. On his return to Prosperous Farm in 1701, he developed a horse-drawn mechanical Seed Drill. The Seed Drill not only planted seeds at regular intervals but also planted them at the right depth and covered them with earth. Because the seed drill planted seeds in straight lines, a mechanical horse-drawn hoe, which Tull also invented, could be used to remove weeds from between the lines of crop plants.
Tull advocated the importance of pulverising (crumbling) the soil so that air and moisture could reach the roots of the crop plants. His horse-drawn hoe was able to do this. He also emphasised the importance of manure and of tilling the soil during the growing season.
At the time, Tull's ideas came under attack, mainly because they were new. His Seed Drill was not immediately popular in England, although it was quickly adopted by the New England colonists across the Atlantic.
In 1731, Tull wrote a book called "Horse-houghing (hoeing) Husbandry" which he revised in 1733. Although his Seed Drill was improved in 1782 by adding gears to the distribution mechanism, the rotary mechanism of the drill provided the foundation for all future sowing technology. -- Jim Reichel
|Links||[See Abrahams, Mick | Aviator | Blodwyn Pig | Fairport Convention | Jobson, Eddie]|
Leatherslade Farm (70), Aurora Borealis (72), Broken Hearted (73), I've Seen The Film (74)
Twisted UK Prog merchants. Broken Hearted is described as light rock with some prog touches.
The Green Album (83)
Theme of Secrets (85)
With Roxy Music:
Eddie Jobson (around the mid-'80's)
The Green Album is a CD reissue that has been long-awaited, the 1983 solo release by virtuosic violinist/keyboardist who endeared himself to many through his stint with UK. Jobson handles keyboards, electric violin, and vocals on this release, in pretty much that order of competence. Various other musicians offer support, but the focus is primarily on the sounds of the Yamaha CS-80 synth, with many passages that sound like electronic versions of UK. Jobson's vocals are a bit on the high side, and his violin wizardry is not displayed as much as it rightly deserves, but, overall, this is a decent piece of work that should appeal to those in both the progressive and electronic camps.
Eddie Jobson is a well-respected musician who has gigged with many different bands. He contributes keyboards keyboards and violin to some later Curved Air albums and UK's self-titled release. He also did a few concert dates (and a video) with the '80s version of Yes. However, his own work on The Green Album (as Zinc, which is Eddie and a variety of guest musicians) isn't anything real special. Jobson's signature style can be heard here and there but the writing is not as strong as it could be. A fairly good work that could be outstanding with a little more innovation. There is some neat synth work to be heard. His vocals are vaguely Jon Anderson like which sometimes give the album a Yes feel the way harmonies are vocalized. I've also heard parts of another album [Theme of Secrets] that features Jobson realizing his compositions on the Fairlight synthesizer. The writing is weaker than The Green Album. If you are unfamiliar with Jobson, I suggest you check out UK's first release (also with Bill Bruford, John Wetton and Allan Holdsworth), then consider The Green Album.
After Jobson's stint with UK, he joined up with Ian Anderson for what was supposed to be an Anderson solo album named A. When it became a Jethro Tull album prior to its release, Jobson was suddenly a member of Tull, but he did not remain with them beyond this one album.
I'm going to differ with the above reviewer on The Green Album. I think it's really exciting, and seems to me to be a solo album of music along the lines of the second UK album Danger Money, though it's basically a Jobson solo album with guests called in to do guitars, basses and drums for each track. It's not an electronic "did it all myself" album, but has a full band sound. It always felt to me as though this album came out of Jobson's inability to hold UK together, having lost Bill Bruford and Allan Holdsworth after the first album and reconvening with fellow Zappa alum Terry Bozzio for the second album. It seemed to me like Jobson had more musical ideas in this direction and finally just recorded this album by himself. Personally, I'm a fan of Danger Money (I know lots of people aren't), so I also like The Green Album, which feels like a "lost UK" album.
After The Green Album, Jobson was very briefly the keyboardist for Yes. He was to replace Tony Kaye for their 90125 tour, but after rehearsing with the band and shooting the video for "Owner of a Lonely Heart", he and the band decided to part company because of ... let's just say "personality mismatches". Tony Kaye ended up doing the tour with them after all.
Unfortunately, I find myself in complete agreement with the above reviewer's assessment of Theme of Secrets. Despite having been produced and engineered by Peter Baumann of Tangerine Dream fame for his label Private Music, this is an album of relatively uninspired new-agey music realized completely on a Fairlight synthesizer (calling it a "music computer" instead of a "digital synthesizer" doesn't really make it sound any more interesting). Shimmering, thin, swoopy, mellow and very "digital" sounding new-agey sounds dominate this album as opposed to the more rock orientation of The Green Album. The Fairlight just doesn't have the warmth of the Yamaha CS-80 used on previous albums, and the writing is indeed more pedestrian than The Green Album, in spite of recycling some themes from that album. I would say this one's not really a necessary addition to your collection. No guests for guitars / bass / drums also hurts this album.
After this, Jobson sort of dropped out of sight. He's never had much of an Internet presence, and my searches for what he's been up to have failed over the years. However, he has recently resurfaced as the producer of an album for ... are you ready for this? ... The Bulgarian Women's Choir. I've not heard this particular choir, but I have heard a different Bulgarian women's choir, and I can see the attraction. The chords and singing techniques of this ancient folk music are hypnotic, compelling and very emotional. Dare I say "progressive"? Yeah, I dare. I definitely want to hear this album, especially since it is also said to contain cuts by Jobson with guest Tony Levin. I'll report about it if and when I can find a copy. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Curved Air | Jethro Tull | Roxy Music | UK | UKZ | Yes | Zappa, Frank]|
Compared to a psychedelic Jethro Tull. Never released a proper album, but several tracks appear on Amiga's Hallo series of anthologies.
One Step On (69)
Far Canal (70)
|Power trio consisting of keyboards, guitar, and drums. This band is definitely for the guitar fan. Tasteful when they use acoustic guitar, jamming when they use the electric. Vocals are pleasant, definitely not harsh; most of the songs are instrumental, though. The primary lead instrument is the guitar, the keyboard taking on bass chores as well as contributing to the rhythm, but organ does get its chance to shine several places throughout. At times, you'll be reminded of Grand Funk Railroad, so I'd definitely recommend Jody Grind to fans of GFR. Put simply, this classic album (Far Canal is their only release that I know of) is a good band for those who like to boogie. Everyone reading this should give 'em a listen.|
|Also released is One Step On (69). It contains a superb version of Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black". -- Ryszard Ryzlak|
Fjäderlösa Tvåfotingar (91, w/ Jonas Hellborg)
Shu-Tka (92, Anders Johansson solo)
The Johansson Brothers (94)
Ten Seasons (95, Jens Johansson solo)
Sonic Winter (96, w/ guest Yngwie Malmsteen on 2 cuts)
Heavy Machinery (97, w/ Allan Holdsworth)
Red Shift (97, Anders Johansson solo)
Fission (98, Jens Johansson solo)
The Last Viking (99, w/ Michael Romeo (Symphony X))
Anders and Jens Johansson in the studio
Having been the support band for some of the best of the heavy jazz-fusion and progressive metal in the 80's and 90's (Jonas Hellborg, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stratovarius, John McLaughlin, Mastermind, ad infinitum), drummer Anders and keyboardist Jens provide the background for much important heavy prog. As well, their solo CDs are terrific. Heavy Machinery, one of their best and among the finest power-prog recordings of all time, features Allan Holdsworth on guitar and a breathless, popping collection of instrumental originals. A real pair of unsung heroes, the Johanssons are the genuine article, quietly having picked-up and kept ablaze the Euro-prog torch. -- David Marshall
[See Holdsworth, Allan |
Hellborg, Jonas |
Spastic Ink |
Bilbo (96, w/ Pär Lindh)
Discus Ursi (98)
Friend and collaborator of swedish keyboard player
Pär Lindh. Bilbo, released on Lindh's
Crimsonic label, is composed by both of them. Inspired by Tolkien's "The Hobbit",
it's, in my opinion, one of the most succesful translations from this famous writer's
world in musical form, far superior from Bo Hansson's
The Lord of the Rings. It combines medieval sounding themes, pastoral music and
some more agressive moments with, as in PLP's
earlier efforts, a strong ELP influence. Johansson's guitar
style is very clear, and he sometimes reminds me Mike
Oldfield. A very good record. The only complaint is that a bit too many melodies
remind me another ones: the Rolling Stones' "Paint it black" on track one, a rather
famous Scottish tune featured in Barry Lyndon's OST (track four),
Focus' "House of the King" (track five), etc.
Discus Ursis is his first solo album. Mainly instrumental, it also features vocals on two (long) tracks. Very classic symphonic, the closest comparison could be Steve Hackett, although in the 20 minutes opus "Discus Ursis Rhapsody" Mike Oldfield comes again to mind. Pär Lindh is featured on some of the keyboards and drums, although Johansson handles most of the instruments. As on Bilbo, there are some medieval and classical influences that make this record highly interesting, because of his variety, for many prog fans. Once again only one complaint: the vocals. Not only the voice of the male singer is far from perfection, but the form of the lyrics (not the content) isn't very successful either. -- Paco Fox
|Links||[See Pär Lindh]|
Joker's Memory (76)
Short Stories (80)
Friends of Mr. Cairo (81)
Private Collection (83)
The Best Of Jon And Vangelis (84, Compilation)
Page of Life (91)
Jon Anderson and Vangelis
got together after an abortive attempt to add Vangelis to the
Yes line-up to do a series of popular music albums featuring
keyboards with Anderson's ethereal vocals. The result
isn't particularly progressive, but it's pleasant enough. I bought Private Collection for
about four bucks at a Half Price Books store, and it's worth every penny of it. Call that
damned by faint praise if you will.
Anderson and Vangelis began working together on Anderson's 1976 solo album Olias of Sunhillow, which credits Vangelis with keyboard work. Some suspect he had a hand in composition as well. But it's not included in this discography because it is not a Jon and Vangelis album as such. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe | Anderson, Jon | Aphrodite's Child | Forminx, The | King Crimson | Socrates | Yes]|
Nothing to get worked up over, two keyboards and drums making synth-based prog. For my taste, Wavemaker do this type of music better. -- Mike Ohman
Ship To Shore (76), The Sentinel (78), Breaking Cover (82)
British folk-prog singer/multi-instrumentalist who has opened shows for Barclay James Harvest, Camel and others. On his album Breaking Cover, he plays guitars, piano, synths, santour (Persian hammer-dulcimer) and sings. There are also numerous sidemen playing on the album, not least of which is Guy Evans of Van der Graaf Generator. A couple of the songs are rock orientated with filtered Hillage-like guitar, but most of the songs are more atmospheric, with acoustic guitars, synths and the ubiquitous santour creating a unique sonic landscape. "Warsore" is the one exception, an odd exercise in tape-collage. An interesting, unconventional album. -- Mike Ohman
Cape Catastrophe (89)
Propeller Music (90)
Probably best known as the longtime bassist of Brand X, he released two albums in the late 80's: Cape Catastrophe was pretty much programmed drums and keys with his trademark bass being the only live instrument. Nice stuff, in the new techno-fusion vein. The follow-up Propeller Music featured other guests and a more full sound, but also featured four annoying vocal tracks dispersed throughout the disc; Actually, the instrumental stuff here is generally better than Cape Catastrophe due to the live drums and less reliance on sequencing.
Percy Jones has been a prolific bassist. He started his career in the UK and moved to New York in the early '80's. Cape Catastrophe is remarkable in that it was recorded entirely in Jones' home studio using only a 4-track cassette machine, a Casio CZ-101 synth, a drum machine and a couple of effects boxes.
In addition to his afore-mentioned ties with Brand X, he also played bass on such prog classics as Eno's Another Green World, Music for Films and Before and After Science, Lancaster and Lumley's Marscape, Nova's Vimana, Steve Hackett's Voyage of the Acolyte, The Intergalactic Touring Band, Mawwal's Black Flies and all albums by Tunnels. He has also contributed to albums that might not be considered quite as "prog", including Roy Harper's Bullinamingvase, David Sylvian's Words with the Shaman, Suzanne Vega's Days Of Open Hand and Sarah Pillow's Nuove Musiche and Remixes. He continues to tour with Tunnels and the new Brand X, and has created an instructional bass video called Bass Exploration of Percy Jones. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Brand X | Eno, Brian | Hackett, Steve | Intergalactic Touring Band, The | Lancaster, Jack and Robin Lumley | Mawwal | Nova | Project Lo | Tunnels]|
No Alternative (72)
Keeping Up (73)
Sudden Prayers Make God Jump ... (03, Recorded 1974)
|Early prog-rock group. I have their first album and it is reminiscent of early King Crimson although not nearly as good. The rocking tracks are in the vein of "21st Century Schizoid Man." There are also some "Moon Child" inspired ballads. The other two albums are said to feature a different style. Overall, nice but nothing special. -- Juan Joy|
|No Alternative is lush, Mellotron-based prog alternating between heavy and gentle movements. Most prominently influenced by early King Crimson, it's quite similar except for the more rock-based vocals and bluesy guitar. An unjustly underrated band. -- Mike Ohman|
Music From the Dying Forest (85, released as J. Lachen)
Songs From the Cities of Decay (89)
In the second half of the 80ís Zut Un Feu
Rouge member, multi-instrumentalist Lars "Lachín" Jonsson put out couple
of solo albums. Both albums are SUPER-HIGH QUALITY releases, which hardly
compare with anything else, probably because they are results of crystal
clear audion (=musical vision).
Music For the Dying Forest is his first full-length presentation. On this he played strings, some keys, guitar, drums, tuned percussion, etc. He was helped by Johan Hedren and Mats Paulsson (friends with whom he established mighty Ur Kaos), but also by other guys and girls on trombone, bass clarinet, soprano sax, alto sax, recorder, voice, piano and bass. Musically, timbrally and texturally richer than any of the ZUFR releases, Music For the Dying Forest serves as a superbly crafted mixture of ZUFR at their least punky, dark(er) RIO school, choral vocal polyphonies (all sung by Lachín who owns a wonderful baritone), Swedish / Scandinavian folk music, maybe even pre-Scandinavian (pre-Viking), Asian and Arabian modalities, etc. Perhaps there are some similarities with Anglagardís Epilog, but Music For the Dying Forest WAS RELEASED NINE (9) YEARS BEFORE the best neoprog bandís album came out (thereís no doubt who was inspired by who). Iím painstakingly trying to make a comparison, but this is Sysiphosí work after all, 'cause Lach'n's music is really unique. Instead Iíd say that MFtDF is intense, playful and loose, with poisonous dark vibrations radiated from everywhere across it. All tracks are great, but of special mention are very vivid "Eldbevekelse", which starts like Area on 45 rpm, "Amazonas" which amazes me due to the presence of 16 ton Tibetan drums, crushing down in between female choir and whining bass clarinet, while "Frusen Bark", "Hybris", "Humbaba Och Cedrarna" (lyrics inspired by Gilgamesh epic), "Vattnets ...", "Skogen Flyr" for instance, exemplify intermingling of melody, dodecaphony, harmony and dissonance to a stunning effect. Fantastic!!!
Song From Cities of Decay is more feathery or better said atmospheric, less busy, more delicate when comparing it to predecessor and incorporates plethora of menacingly hovering sounds. It is bridge between MFtDF and sounds of Ur Kaos. From the first listen I know this is one of the most important records in European progressive music, along with RIO releases. However this one again is not falling squarely into RIO genre, but it has some ties to it. Things are going from grave to sable, all throughout sombre or downright exalted (anthemic vocals of Lachín make a great contribution to that), bordering on the plaintive rather than on devilishly mocking, so donít expect the titter of UZíz muses here. Lach'n is playing all instruments and had carefully sung all vocals of its own, producing gorgeous harmonies and strange counterpoint not heard since the era of shining Gregorian chorales. Here it is hard to detect accurately certain instruments, because the music immediately pulls you into into itself, let you inertly watching how your body swirls in it, but also allows you to take a breath with each new track. And lets you do nothing more. Tracks are mostly short, ranging from minute and half to three minutes and half, until you came in front of the portal of "Monuments", a 24+ minute long symphony; on the original LP, the whole side B. Lach'n's composing and performing skill leads you through succinct and effective themes, again from medieval to chamber to industrial, ambiental if you like and back to barocco-classical. Words fail me, or better said they seemed quite useless, as it seems I'll never manage to describe the exquisiteness of these records. If description would be inevitable, Iíd say this is superb Hyperborean avant-rock. Both albums are indispensable for any serious fan of progressive music. -- Nenad Kobal
[See Na Margon |
Songs Between |
Ur Kaos |
Zut Un Feu Rouge]
Click email@example.com to order Lach'n Jonsson from Bauta records. Some releases are distributed by Recommended and Cuneiform also.
Overground (70), Turbulence (70), Schmetterlinge (71, aka Butterflies), Reflections (73), Minne (74)
Originally issued on the fabled Pilz label as Schmetterlinge, then issued in the US on BASF with the English title. This band was a German rock sextet fronted by the soulful vocals of Joy Fleming, who sounds alternately (depending on the song) like Janis Joplin or Dusty Springfield. The rest of the band is comprised of: guitar/flute, guitar/bass, keyboards/tuned percussion, bass/trumpet, saxes/flute, and drums/percussion. Since Fleming obviously has her own rock/soul aspirations, yet the band clearly desires to experiment, this album comes off as sporadically brilliant, yet wildly uneven. The one song that makes it worthwhile is "Sensual Impressions," an eight-minute instrumental that is a vehicle for a truly outstanding flute-solo with hair-raising dynamics. Fans of flute-playing MUST hear this! While the rest of the album doesn't quite approach this moment of greatness, there are other portions which are enjoyable enough. "Free" is a colourful free-jazz invention, "Suppression" is a brief instrumental that rather resembles Ian Carr's Nucleus, and "For you and me" is an energetic jam which sounds something like Brian Auger's work with Judy Driscoll. On the other hand, there is some embarrassingly dated stuff here: the lyrics usually gravitate towards the trite "peace, love and brotherhood" glop that was so popular back then, and some of the arrangements (notably "Rising Mind") sound straight out of "Jesus Christ Superstar." This album was made notorious by the short track "Rankness," a two-and-a-half minute sleazy blues number over which Miss Fleming verbally simulates orgasm. Including the F-word three times, "Rankness" may well be the most explicit song I've ever heard sung by a woman.
A Woman Has Given Birth to a Calf's Head (Unreleased, as Sinthome, Recorded in 2008)
Ficciones (10, as Sinthome)
Architects of Flesh-Density (11, as The Nerve Institute)
No pictures of M. Judge have surfaced, so here's the cover of The Nerve Institute's
2011 release Architects of Flesh-Density
I must say, I've gotten to the point where I yawn (or grimace) at the receipt of a promo pack from some record labels. I don't know that I've ever gotten a bad album from anyone, but there's an awful lot of also-rans out there, and I just have too many albums to be spending a lot of personal energy on them. One label for which this is not the case, however, is the AltrOck label from Italy, which consistently delivers outstanding CD's from incredible groups and artists. I don't think I've ever heard anything from the label that wasn't really good, and most of them go well beyond that and into "superb".
In my last AltrOck mailing, I received a CD from a band called The Nerve Institute. I was amazed to see that the first "reference band" they were compared to was The Underground Railroad. Hey, I know and love these guys, they're from my area (Dallas/Fort Worth), but I've never seen them named as a "reference band" before. So I was really interested to give a listen to this CD.
The first thing I'll say about Architects of Flesh-Density is, "WOW!" This is one of the best albums I've heard this year. The comparison to Underground Railroad is pretty fair, but Architects of Flesh-Density is more experimental, and goes into more avant-garde/RIO territory than UR. At the risk of sounding glib, I'll say that, "If Bill Pohl liked Fred Frith as much as he likes Allan Holdsworth, then The Nerve Institute would sound like Underground Railroad." Helpful if you know all these references, useless if you don't.
So, if you don't, I'll just describe it as symphonic with strange but beautiful harmonies, jagged rhythms, and a high level of virtuosity on all the instruments. The musical parts stray toward dissonance, then resolve into quite beautiful harmonious sections. It's also punctuated by innovative sound effects and artfully-used noises and studio sound-warping. The sections are tightly integrated and the music is skillfully composed and recorded with utmost attention to detail and clarity. All this is made even more impressive by the fact that it's all composed, played and recorded by one guy named M. Judge, and the "studio" consists of a laptop where the music is "edited/EQd/compressed in whatever freeware music program I happen to be using." What's the "M" for? A careful search of the links will reveal it, but since he always seems to introduce himself as only "M", I'll just stick with that.
Mr. Judge has stated in an interview that he gets tired of band names, and so has released works under several other monickers, including The Wolf Tickets, Jerusalem and Sinthome. The only other Judge I've been able to find available is the second Sinthome album, Ficciones, still available on the ReR label. It's very different from The Nerve Institute, and from what I've read, Judge delights in changing what he does from one album to the next. In fact, he's said, "My goal with any upcoming album is really to scare the hell out of myself and anyone else who liked the previous one." He goes on to say, however, that he may record more under The Nerve Institute name. I'm hoping this means more along the same lines, because one CD of this brilliance just isn't enough. I do hope to hear more. My highest recommendation! -- Fred Trafton
for M. Judge's MySpace page
Click here to download Ficciones from ReR USA
Click here to order Architects of Flesh-Density from AltrOck Records
Click here for an interview with M. Judge for Prog Archives
A Time Before This (70)
|Julian's Treatment was the solo vehicle for Julian Jay Savarin, a British science fiction writer. He released a 1969 album under his own name which, along with King Crimson's In the Court of the Crimson King and Colosseum's first two albums, stands as the earliest Progressive Rock albums. Savarin then released A Time Before This based on some of his writings. Obviously, then, this album is a concept album about inhabitants of a planet near the Centauri star system. A Time Before This is mostly organ, drums bass and female vocals. There is a hint of spacy influences (as befits this type of theme) but it's nothing "cosmic." A Time Before This sounds a bit dated now but is essential for Progressive Rock historians interested in following the development of the genre.|
|Julian Jay Savarin's follow-up to Waiters on the Dance actually sounds older than that, relying almost entirely on Hammond organs in the keyboard department, but adding some additional instrumentation: flute, vibes, etc. Female vocals as before, but a different female. :) I liked the singer on Waiters... better, but this gal's pretty good. Some of the vocals are spoken, giving it an almost Brainticket-like feel. Overall, not as impressive as Waiters..., but still good. -- Mike Ohman|
|The Dominican-born science fiction and technothriller writer Julian Jay Savarin first tried his narrative hand on this science fiction concept album, based on an elaborate storyline that he would later turn into a trilogy of novels. A Time Before This is psychedelic proto-progressive typical of the time, led by Savarin's Hammond, and accompanied by a rather subdued fuzz guitar, drums, bass and a bit of flute and vibraphone. Like with many of these contenders, Savarin's musical pack is a motley collection of blues, late-60s pop melodies, a little jazz and some modal soloing over thumping bass/drums ostinati, but also dark, almost gothic touches of quasi-classical organ interludes and melodies. The ace in Savarin's hand is the Australian vocalist Cathy Pruden who can handle both the mellow pop cooing of "Altarra, Princess of the Blue Women", the melodramatic spoken interludes, and the Valkyrian wailing of "Alda, Dark Lady of the Outer Worlds" and "The Black Tower" with implacable authority. These last two songs and the title track form the progressive core of this album, achieving the best balance between dark keyboard melodies, Pruden's vocal dramatics and all kinds of rhythmic and harmonic detours. The others tend to be somewhat more pedestrian in either melodic writing or structural development. Like them the overall picture of this album is that it is nice and has certain charm, but that it has not aged terribly well. Savarin's original plan called for a trilogy of albums to tell his whole storyline, but the band dissolved soon after the release of A Time Before This, and it was only in 1973 that he released the follow-up Waiters on the Dance under his own name. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
[See Savarin, Julian Jay]
Coulonneux (79), A Neuf (80), Emballade (83), Ne Parlons pas de Mahleur (86), Le Retour du Captain Nemo (92)
Julverne were based out of Brussels in Belgium in the very late 70's. The lineup: Pierre Coulon (flute, alto sax), Philippe Duret (clarinettes), Michel Berckmans (bassoon, oboe) [from Univers Zero], Jean Paul Laurent (piano, flute), Charles Loos (piano), Baudouin Dehaye (vibraphone), Jose Bedeur (acoustic bass), Denis Van Hecke (cello, vocals) [from Aqsak Maboul], Jean-Francois Lacroix (alto), and Jeannot Gillis (violin, tuba). This was on their excellent album, a neuf which was released around 1979 or 80 (not dated) on Crammed Discs, which was a label related to Atem, though distribution was handled by the Belgian branch of Recommended Records. If Univers Zero and Art Zoyd and Aqsak Maboul (don't forget them! - and if you want to get really obscure, Geoff Leigh, ex H. Cow, had a great chamber prog/punk band based out of Maasluis, Netherlands called Red Balloon, which had Catherine Jauniaux from Aqsak Maboul on vocals) were chamber rock bands, Julverne was more of a chamber rock band and onstage looked just like any other medium sized chamber music ensemble. The music is in many ways similar to Univers Zero except that where UZ would delve into the darker, modal moods borrowed from Bartok, Julverne would take a lighter, bitterseet step more in the direction of Satie or the whistful nostalgia found in Stravinsky's "Dumbarton Oaks." However, they could also wail dark when they felt like it or loud or even throw in some Bo Diddley just to keep you on your toes. The absence of drums or any electric instruments, fully severing any direct relation with the rock idiom, forced them to be inventive, to look for other dynamics, in order to play with the same power as a rock band. For a lot of people in the prog mainstream, this could be a very different experience. It is, above all a very civilised music, very European. Perfect as a seduction record for incredibly sophisticated, intellectual women who wish they had been born in France (but don't try that with Univers Zero!!!!!!, not unless you're into homo/suicidal paranoid fascist babes). I'm surprised they were never used for soundtracks, since it would be perfect film music. The cover, BTW, is an excellent watercolor. And the LP pressing was superb. I've never heard of a CD reissue, but a decent shape LP would probably be just as good if not better. I heard rumours there was a second album, but never saw hide nor hair of it. -- Kenneth Newman
[See Aksak Maboul | Univers Zero]
DNA (Suite Per Il Signor K) (72)
Vietato ai Minori di 18 anni? (73)
|OK, we've heard all of the "Italian vocals are too grating" stories, and the complaints of all of the harshness inherent in some of this music. Well Jumbo are probably the classic example of a harsh Italian vocalist. But if you can get past the vocals (he doesn't sing all that much) you may be in for a real treat. Their third and last album (can't remember, but it's some long Italian title) is an Italian classic, a must for those into incredibly majestic and powerful mind-blowing rock. Another Italian, obscure and hard to pin down.|
|The best one is DNA, (like Jethro Tull), with a great vocals by Fella.|
|The vocals are a little harsher than the average Italian band and the sound is a little different, too. A good choice for those who are looking for a little more diversity, but I wouldn't put them with the best of the Italian releases.|
Vietato ai Minori di 18 anni? (Philips 846 462-2) seems to polarise the audience into
those who hold it among Italy's best, and those can't get over the domineering voice of
Alvaro Fella. To my ears, Fella's raspy and occasional even brutal voice sounds one of the
few that "harsh", "overdramatic" or many of the other monikers carelessly assigned to just
about any Italian or non-Anglo-American vocalist would describe accurately, but I don't
consider it much of a distraction, especially as he knows how to calm down and even shut up
as well, giving the music some room to breathe. Having said that, the music is lively and
inventive enough but not quite up to classic status. Bipolar in the typical Italian fashion,
it swings schizophrenically between harsh, electric-guitar dominated rock and more lyrical
sections based on piano, acoustic guitar and flute, with a daunting number of tempo and
rhythm shifts. Yet the rocking sections show a markedly greater blues influence than is
usually the case with Italian prog, the lyricism isn't as sweet and there is also some sonic
experimentalism that recalls the irreverent musical convulsions of
Frank Zappa or the electronic explorations of Italy's own
don of avant-prog, Franco Battiato; in fact,
Bat himself guests on the semi-improvised space-out
"Gil", coaxing a few spooky fibrillations out of his beloved VCS3. The most interesting
track, IMO, is "40 Gradi" where a spacey section enters between the heavy and acoustic
(here wonderfully accentuated with chiming percussion) elements, complete with early
Pink Floyd style echo-box guitar glissandi and dangling
strands of Mellotron that widen the palette of keyboard tones.
The music impresses with the depth of innovation and audacity of its individual parts, yet patched together the quilt-like whole doesn't quite have the impact that the best Italian albums have. The contrasts between timbres and riffs are often delicious, but the overall texture stays somewhat rough and grainy throughout, which takes away some of the power. Still a very idiosyncratic album that does grow on you. Perhaps it sounds more compelling to those with better grasp of the lyrics which appear to deal with the finer aspects of human existence, such as alcoholism, prostitution and good ol' bourgeois hypocrisy. For love, toltecs and chasing the spiral dream with the brothers of time, call Jon Anderson instead. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Battiato, Franco]
Junco Partners (71)
Melodic UK Prog.
Junior's Eyes (69), Battersea Powerstation (70)
Released in 1970, their Battersea Powerstation is considered a classic of the pyschedelic era. The songs all flow together, giving lending a progressive aura to this otherwise psychedelic work. From some opening silliness, followed by a brief "freak out" on the instruments, the band is off and running, covering a variety of moods and feelings. There's no fuzz guitar that was typical of the pysch from the previous two or three years. If you are a fan of psychedelic music from 1967-1970, you owe this one a listen.
American keyboardist, his album Water is a total solo project which is highly melodic yet unusual music, rhythmic and sometimes eccentric, and in a sense there's little connection to the space school, classical school, or the neo-synth sound either. I guess the closest comparison might be with the more upbeat stuff by Kit Watkins circa Sunstruck. Brilliant.