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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wigwam - The Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose

“Happy face human race/swinging in the rain/ get yer rags together ‘cos/we’re going down the lane.” Those words are magic geniuses thanks to Finland’s own Wigwam. After having success with their previous album, Nuclear Nightclub, some of the critics believed that Wigwam were about to follow in the right footsteps. But it wasn’t going to be that easy as they went commercial which wasn’t a bad idea for them to do when they released, The Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose in 1976.

The band was signed to Richard Branson’s label, Virgin Records and recorded the album at the Manor in Oxfordshire in January. They finally hit the mainstream which had mixed opinions from the music critics at the time the album was released. It was ahead of its time, but The Lucky Golden Stripes is one of those albums that still sound like a cleanly fresh jewel that you haven’t wore for 34 years and Wigwam’s ninth album is one of them.

The tracks on the album were written by leader of Wigwam, pianist and lead vocalist, Jim Pembroke starting off with the lifting introduction about being free from the mental asylum and starting a new life on Sane Again while International Disaster carries in the realm of The Band’s Stage Fright-era. The short instrumental composition, Timedance, is basically an improvisation that has a Gentle Giant feel thanks to Hessu Hietanen’s homage to Kerry Minnear. It is very short, but it is almost like a jam session between drummer Ronnie Osterberg, Hietanen, and guitarist Pekka Rechardt creating some jazzy funk with an attitude.

The 6-minute epic, Colossus starts off with Pekka creating a mystic guitar rhythm as it segues with Hessu doing an atmospheric style on the keyboards. Then it becomes a driving rock beat as the tempo begins to reach the higher ground. There’s a lot of the Fusion-esque sound that you could hear more of that with Return to Forever and Weather Report, but the track still is carrying the layered ethic touch to the sound of Wigwam and Pekka is unbelievable on the guitar and he deserves 100% credit on this track. Elsewhere, Eddie and the Boys is very more pop-orientated than Album-Orientated Rock. This was the band’s beginnings of going commercial. While some of the fans have a hard time to love or reject this track, Rechardt is really going to town with this on his funk-like sounds on his guitar.

But on Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose, it has more of the progressive feel on the beat and changes. Pekka is again just shining by doing a space rock sound on the guitar in the midsection while Osterberg is working on the drums carefully like a real jazz-drummer and Hessu’s keyboards has a very haunting overtone and then it goes back into the rock sound to close the track up as if Jim’s vocals and Mosse Groundstorem’s bass lines that have more the funk beats than Pastorious if you like during the short complex midsection.

June May Be Too Late is Pembroke’s homage to the Soul sound representing the Motown sound in Detroit but with a Soul Train attitude. There’s some shuffles and cool riffs between each instrument that you would be blown away by. You can imagine Don Corneilus bringing this band to his show and the audience being blown away by them and seeing how damn good they are. You won’t hear a damn disco feel on this, but more with the sound of soul, it really has the train pumping out the music.

The partnership between Pembroke and Rechardt are sort of Finland’s answer to Lennon and McCartney (in a Prog-Fusion style of the Beatles) on the soothing crystal ballad on Never Turn You In as the final track, In a Nutshell, a glorified progtastic opium in the realm of Frank Zappa’s One Size Fits All-era. It’s a bag filled with: Pembroke singing the melody as if he’s doing the time changes with the instruments in a spoken word-rap feel as Hessu, Pekka, Mosse, and Ronnie create a humorous fusion finale that is sometimes quirky and in the realm of Camel’s Moonmadness at times. The two bonus tracks which are featured on the Esoteric reissue which were recorded in Stockholm and Kingsway Studio in 1975.

Tramdriver could have been recorded in the sessions of Fairyport while Wardance has a mystical yet eerie upbeat tempo provides so much of the jazz fusion and conceptual ideas of the Blue Moon and the Twilight sky for a dance beat. Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s not only an incredible album, but it’s a shame that the album would divide the fans and critics like drawing a line in the sand whether to accept the album or not.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Darryl Way's Wolf - Saturation Point/Canis Lupus/Night Music

One of the most eclectic jazz-prog fusion bands that had an amount of voltage of one virtuoso violinist, Darryl Way and his band Wolf are one of the most independent prog bands that released only three albums in the ‘70s. After he left Curved Air to pursue a solo career, he formed the band Wolf which featured: guitarist John Etheridge, Caravan bassist Dek Messecar, and Marillion drummer Ian Mosley. These three albums reissued on the Esoteric label of their three albums: Saturation Point, Canis Lupis, and Night Music which are one of the best works for Wolf to allow the symphonic influence to come forward around of shrieking violin work and fast time signatures which is the evidential look on Saturation Point. The fiery introduction with the glowing blaze of The Ache is a wonderful opening which features Dek’s storming bass lines while guitarist Etheridge is doing some eruptive guitar work as Darryl lets him take over as he takes the violin by playing almost like Vivaldi (reference to Curved Air, mind you) at the very end as the band do a climatic crescendo.

Two Sisters is an extreme muscular drive while Slow Rag carries the jazz-fusion romantic haunting instrumental ballad in the realms of Tomaso Albinoni. Etheridge is doing a classical guitar solo as Way’s violin sounds like it’s crying while Mosley’s drum playing just let’s it rip to lead Darryl to follow the lead with the other members on this. It still sounds fresh and yet an underground classic – fierce and explosive including the medieval improvisation on Market Overture, very John McLaughlin-esque sound thanks to Etheridge as he just takes the rhythm to a standstill and some electrifying violin and drum work that tastes good as for Game of X, which sounds like Fusion Heavy Metal. You have the crazy scatting with some shattering violin works, and then all of a sudden, it has at the end, a growling effect on the guitar for its disturbing finale. The title track, has its jazz works that is very Canterbury sound with Way’s Rhodes keyboard sound, Mosley’s homage to Billy Cobham, Etheridge just playing going a lot of scales going up and down the frets while Dek is creating some fusion grooves on the bass to make you get up and dance.

The finale 7-minute composition, Toy Symphony, is probably one of the highlights on the album. You have Darryl doing a dramatic pastoral violin introduction while Dek is using a fuzz tone sound on the bass through his days in the Canterbury scene of the late ‘60s as he and the other members go at each other to create a different mood change. To me, it’s a rumbling epic with all the ingredients adding to the mix, hell, you’ve got yourself one hell of a track that you might want to play at your memorial service. Three bonus tracks give a closer look of the band’s roots of their upbringing. The blues shuffle of A Bunch of Fives, The Western Fiddle Rocker Five in the Morning, and a single version of Two Sisters that adds a lot to the historical roars of Wolf. Canis Lupis, their second album to the follow up of Saturation Point, comes in to the picture with the twisted opener, The Void, just a crazy yet emotional breathtaking track that should have been a hit single, even though Isolation Waltz has a raunchy and tough track and the swirling moog spacey sound on Wolf wears a lot of the space-like fairy tales in the realms of The Little Prince, it goes batshit crazy with the screeching allegro realm of New Trolls concerto grosso on Cadenza.

The true evidence of Darryl Way’s Wolf’s fire about to go into a blaze of glory, is probably, their final and magnificent third album, Night Point – a creative thunderstorm of Prog Fusion that needs a lot of attention. Move over, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Wolf is here to stay by giving all the energy and the power they get to close the curtain off. And adding special guest of IF’s vocalist John Hodkinson, you got yourself a full prog weekend. Dek takes center stage on his funky bass intro on The Envoy, a 6-minute driving-on-the-highway song that is very ferocious. There’s Darryl, Ian, and Etheridge just chug like a speeding train as Hodkinson creates a glorified view of the hero seeing where the city is laying and looking at the views of War and fighting in the battlefield. You don’t expect to hear it on a Wolf album, but this is a real kick-ass number. Black September has a moody and angelic laying down on the sun song at first and then it turns into a crackling psychedelic finale for the last 2-minutes.

Even though Flat 2 55 is a 6-minute dooming and eerie instrumental track featuring a roaring introduction that sounds like the swirling land of hell, it is quite astonishing as they are back into the Canterbury Jazz Fusion sound. John’s guitar playing is very Hendrix-like while Dek is doing his Hatfield and the North bass lines as for Ian is going up on the tempo steadily on the drums while Darryl is going off on the violin like a mad scientist. Yet another moody and story-complex drama and being a hunted prey on songs like Anteros and We’re Watching You goes through a synthesized treatment that Keith Emerson could have done as Darryl does it very perfectly and would have Keith shaking hands with Way. In more of the realm of the Jazz Fusion technique, Steal The World would be something out of Gentle Giant’s Octopus sessions, but would be a 17th century exercise with the symphonic rock sound added to the mix and that includes another homage of the Medieval Rock sound on the closing track, Comrade of the Nine.

These three albums are very innovative and deeply enjoyable. For Curved Air fans who admire Darryl Way’s extractive violin work, they will be completely blown away to have a treasure of underrated progressive rock bands to marvel and have their hearts sink into. There’s more of the symphonic jazz fusion hopefully coming in the next few years into the future. But for him to reunite with Curved Air is the real turning point for Darryl to be a happy and be back on his game with the band like putting on shoes that you haven’t wore for a long time ago.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Matt Stevens - Ghost

There’s a lot of surprises in the download community in store for Guitar lovers around the globe, for Matt Stevens, his new album, Ghost as the follow-up to Echo, is one of the most magnificent acoustical beauties that really deserves a lot of attention to music collector’s of the Prog genre out there. He isn’t like Jimmy Page, or Carlos Santana, but on Ghost, it’s almost like an experimental journey that fly’s majestically.

Stevens releases his music online and it’s a perfect ingredient to get the word out. He’s one of the most up-and-coming virtuoso guitar players that I really enjoy hearing the music. This isn’t your daddy’s instrumental guitar album; this is a work of genius mastermind who isn’t playing the guitar to show off his talent, but a guitar player who know his love of the Progressive music scene.

Matt Stevens is going to be next Jonny Greenwood and Robert Fripp by using a lot of the layered guitar sounds and very much making it very ambient and atmospheric. I could imagine Fripp having a huge grin on his face when he sees Matt performing as if he’s passing the torch to him as if he’s taking over the guitar world. With Ghost, he is the conductor and makes his own music that he’s helping them to see where he would go with his guitar sound.

It begins with Into The Sea; a moody classical piece that shows again his love of Ottmar Liebert’s guitar beats and the intensive percussion beats on the track. There’s a bit of the dramatic and reaction throughout the piece as he plays each note on the guitar. The beats provide adds tension as the number groove through different changes in the composition.

The energetic comes forward on Big Sky. This tune has a New Age yet atmospheric moog-like sound. The tune is has an upbeat tempo, it adds the space sound as he uses the Kosmiche effect sound with a little bit of the NEU! 75-era for a good reason, you have the whooshing effect with a lot of amazing techniques and flying into the sky and seeing where the sunlight will follow the musician as he plays like a magician that knows the tricks and trades very well.

Eleven is a haunting melody almost in the style of Mike Oldfield’s earlier work. There’s the eerie layered sound that Stevens does with the muting guitar ushering and glockenspiel references that is gently towards a suspenseful film score as Orson Welles and Dario Argento teamed up to work with him to create a dark yet disturbing masterpiece while Draw is in the realm representing the Kid-A era of Radiohead.

Burnt Out Car is a wonderful little strumming ditty that is almost a driving towards the sunset as if he’s outside on the porch with the car as if he’s performing a mourning to the Car that has been in ashes and dust as he gives this exquisite force that follows the homage to Thom Yorke’s The Eraser with the electronic beats and more of the atmospheric sound that creates a ghost-like melody on Lake Man. It works very well as for the soaring Glide which is him doing a Pete Townshend type of guitar work. He’s strumming and finger picking at the same time including a comforting keyboard sound that sounds very much like a twisted mellotron. But somehow Matt makes it very perfect on his own that really gives it a real heart and mind to listener’s throughout the prog-web community.

8.19 is back on the throne with the guitar shuffle and probably one of Matt’s accomplishments like he is giving himself a pat on the back with the drums as he and the percussion move more of a Jazz-Alternative Rock sound as for the title track brings back the Progressive Rock format. I can tell that he’s back again the genre with the scariest pieces that has a ghostly beat and what a scare he gives what sounds like a twisted accordion and a bit of the disturbing fairy tales that has been told throughout a camp fire scaring the little kids out of their seats.

The last track, Moondial, is almost the track that could have been used as a bonus track from Echo. And you can tell Matt is back on his feet. The instrumental piece has more of the haunted similarities in the 16th century style. He’s playing almost like a Spanish guitar sound on his instrument. Remember, he isn’t showing off, he’s doing a damn good job from start to finish.

A good follow-up that proves that Matt Stevens might have something up for his next album, and it’s a reminder that the guitar and how good he really is to deal with an album that the dream is growing on him and he makes it better with a lot to say.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fields - Fields

Holy Shit! It’s hard to understand why Graham Field, keyboardist of Rare Bird decided to leave the band after having the success with the hit single, Sympathy and the delightful debut album in 1969. There are no hard feelings towards the band members as Graham formed a trio featuring drummer Andy McCulloch of King Crimson and bassist/guitarist/lead vocalist Alan Barry on their only debut album released in 1971 on the CBS label simply called Fields. The band that could have given Atomic Rooster, Aphrodite’s Child, ELP, and a bit of Le Orme, a warm handshake with this unbelievable album that deserves a lot of attention.

And while the prog trios have achieved success or decided to call it a day including Fields themselves over the frying pan and into the firing line, we may have a rough time deciding why bands are either underrated or overrated. Now we are in the 21st century where Progressive Rock is now longer a dirty word anymore and the geeks are coming back from the dead, do we care that the band features some amazing arrangements including a session singer whose vocals are different from any singer in the genre? Well let’s take a look at the answer to that question.

When you pick up a copy of the Esoteric reissue that is absolutely spot on and features amazing liner notes by Sid Smith including an interview with Field himself about the making of the album, the answer is no. I think Alan Barry has a tremendous voice and his guitar and bass playing are very much in the realm of pre-Starcastle and of course Andy McCulloch’s drumming which I applaud – after admiring his work on King Crimson’s disturbing masterpiece, Lizard. And this is a perfect trio or should I say a supergroup in the realms of Rare Bird and KC in the mind of Fields. Excellent, characteristic, and charismatic ingredients of heavy progressive music.

Given that fact that they were well received in European Festivals and the label dropping them after a new A&R manager deciding not to continue with the band, they decided to give it all they got for the last time as they threw the magic carpet to fly off into the soaring sky. Opening track A Friend of Mine acts like a volcanic eruption thanks to Fields dazzling keyboard work in the reminiscent of J.S. Bach, a great introduction of the classical rock orientation that gives us what is about to come next and gives us a real roar.

While the Sun Still Shines has a very memorable FM Radio sound as the crystal touch balladry of Not So Good has a bit of the angelic harmonies. You have the piano, organ, bass, and drums’ combining together as Graham takes over leading the band into services inside the church as if the band is giving a lecture inside the cathedral to a married couple. It all becomes very much of a mourning sound on Three Minstrels, a reminiscent of the 17th century Renaissance Music ala Gentle Giant style.

Slow Susan is an instrumental homage to Bo Hansson’s Lord of the Rings-era as Field does a pastoral feel on the keyboards as it leads up to the rumble raunchy prog-funk sound of Over and Over Again. In the track, Andy is playing wildly on the drums as if he’s doing a Bruford style while Barry creates some magic on the bass as Graham goes quiet and loud on the organ to give the band the signal to come in. Now in the midsection, this is the part I love. They go into almost a bit of the fusion-esque sound that is very powerful and has a lot of Barry’s singing and Field’s cool Rhodes-like sound on the keyboard as if he’s Chick Corea. At the very end, is Field going crazy on the organ as the band members are blown away of how far can Graham go on.

Feeling Free and A Place To Lay My Head are in the realm of Church music. You can imagine the gospel choir in the background singing with them with a lot of heart and soul and sweating buckets to the band and a lady doing some harmonizing vocalization with the band. Fair-Haired Lady is an acoustic crisp sound that has medieval folk-like sound as Barry fingerpicks the guitar in this romantic beauty of this gorgeous yet beautiful woman that sees before his eyes. The Eagle closes the album with more of the pastoral, but symphonic rock sound as Barry does a Spanish guitar sound while playing a wonderful mellotronic sound for a brief while and then BAM! He, Graham, and Andy go at it together to see who can win the boxing match at the very end of the piece while Field plays a quiet somber uplifting finale on the grand piano.

It’s a shame they never made another album after the label dropped them, but this is the real deal of the underrated bands that is still growing strong and it’s like a flaming fire that won’t burn out as the gasoline keeps on pouring for more of the fire to come at it like a speed demon. Even though they split up, it is a highly recommended album that you really need to sink your teeth into.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Paul Jones - Crucifix in a Horseshoe

Probably best known for his work with Manfred Mann on hit songs like: Do Wah Diddy Diddy and 5-4-3-2-1 along with his acting debut with the 1967 cult classic Privilege, Paul Jones underrated 1971 album, Crucifix in a Horseshoe remains one of the must-have albums in any record collector to enjoy British Pop music with a bang. Originally released in 1971 on the Vertigo label, he decided to head to New York to record the album to come up with a mixture of Country, Jazz, and Soulful Blues as if he’s a composer to the band.

It’s not what you hear from his solo work, but it’s something worth the wait and Jones creates some magic on the album. According to the liner notes by King Crimson expert Sid Smith for the RPM reissue, Paul said that the title actually came from a magazine. “There on the front cover of one of them was a famous man. And he had this medallion hanging round his neck. It was a very large crucifix. Christ on the cross, surrounded with this horseshoe. The horseshoe says ‘good luck’ but the crucifix says ‘I’m a believer in Jesus Christ’, and therefore luck doesn’t come into it.”

All the songs on the album including the unreleased bonus tracks for the upcoming album follow up to Horseshoe which the label declined to release as if it felt it was too mainstream and no single on the album to promote it. Cut to years later, RPM created one hell of a packaging to feature the unreleased tracks that could have made it him a part of the Vertigo family. While Paul Jones enjoyed recording the album in the heart of the Big Apple, listening to these tracks has a New York feel and makes you feel that you are in the city including the soulful upbeat opener,

Life After Death, which has a Jackie Lomax sound that deals with how the religious movement has gone horribly wrong. Since becoming a born again Christian, Paul now has difficult time trying to appreciate this amazing track. But let’s move on. Motel Blues, a cover of Loudon Wainwright, is an eerie number with an acoustical beat. However it features some nice organ solos and guitar work done by Charlie Brown (no pun intended) while the background vocalists including the late Vicki Sue Robinson, creates angelic voices in the background during the number. And You Say I’m Too Dependent On My Mind is a down-home funk blues sound that almost is a reminiscent of Paul McCartney’s Ram-era. Now we get into the Country roots sound that Paul grew up as a child. It almost as if it could have been written during the Let it Bleed sessions about the life of a man who works in the industry as he gives the Construction Worker’s Song.

Now the next title, get ready: Song (For Stan Stunning and the Noodle Queen) I know it sounds very weird, but it’s a great little ditty. It also an homage to the Motown-era of the late ‘60s as you can feel the background in the song that resembles the soul and beauty of the Detroit scene. I could tell that Paul was in his happier times recording this song that how much the label showed a huge importance of him growing up. Next up is The Pod That Came Back has a swinging blues jazz upbeat as the song deals with Jones’ comeback in the limelight while The Mighty Ship resembles 1965 as if it’s a reminiscent of the Denny Laine-era of the Moody Blues. The last two tracks really takes us by surprise.

Who are the Masters which has a sinister yet disturbing bone-chilling amusement park rock sound followed by a sound that is in the mind of David Bowie’s Hunky Dory and Family’s Music in a Doll’s House as for Strangely Human Sound carries the image of the previous track with the ghost-like folk composition. Yet it has a little bit of the haunting elements to the number, the ending is features the wind going through the city. Next we come to the bonus tracks. The 8-minute groove, Voices, is one of the most wildly jazz fusion grooves that is real and has a catchy beat. Featuring Dave Macrae’s style of Herbie Hancock’s wah-wah organ funk introduction and Jones shattering Mouth Harp, it brings Jones extreme vocals to a predicted standstill. Wrestler is sort of in the style of Cream’s debut album as Paul Jones and his harmonica taking a trip with us with a song dealing with a wrestler struggling to achieve astonishment to a wild crowd.

Then it gets back into the Jazz Fusion beat with Two Tough Kids from a little help with female vocalist Joy Askew who worked with artists like: Joe Jackson, Laurie Anderson, and Peter Gabriel to name a few as she and Paul bring the energy with this Theatrical knot roar. Joy’s vocals really captures the scenery with Paul on how these two kids grew up in the streets and one day trying to be the next Bonnie and Clyde while the 7-minute homage to the Broadway scene in New York of Life Story. It has a bit of the Jacques Brel influence along with Brecht and Hair influence in there, but it’s a perfect combination.

The guitar shuffle and piano rocker Peter is a quirky little country ditty as the last number Marooned is a very quiet soft ballad with a bit of a romantic feel as if it was recorded for Manfred Mann to perform, but giving Paul Jones free rein to give it a real soaring closing. A truly masterpiece that deserves credit and for Paul as well, and even though Paul is a changed person and has some mixed feelings with the album, he deserves it 100%

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amon Duul II - Phallus Dei

While the British Psychedelic Scene at the end of the late ‘60s was about to emerge, there was a band that took the German scene into a thunderous firestorm and gave birth to the beginnings of Krautrock. With an attitude of the Avant-Garde scene with it, Amon Duul II put together a disturbing path, combining experimental music, early Zappa, and kosmische music all wrap into one. The band was formed in 1968 in the West German scene in Munich where the infamous terrorist group the Baader Meinhof Complex founded (in which the band 100% disagreed with everything with the group were doing to the people). The music was layered yet futuristic at the same time. That and their debut album, Phallus Dei (God’s Penis), is considered a cornerstone in the beginnings of the Krautrock scene of the 1970s.

This album constructs a disturbing yet middle-eastern freak-out sessions that could have been recorded for the therapists when they were taking Primal Scream pills for the insanity. They play very much like a classical piece for John Cale and Edgard Varese and made it more of a twisted piece that could scare the living shit out of the hippies and the flower power generation of the ‘60s. Chris Karrer, John Weinzieri, Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz, Lothar Meid, Falk U Rogner, and the late Peter Leopold brought a fierce and disturbing debut that blew the music world away with this magnificent schizoid magnetic structure that deserves a lot of attention and almost gave birth to the Industrial Rock scene.

They brought the weird and aggressive overtones to the table with the opening 20-minute title track. It starts off with an ambient dooming intro followed by yelps with eerie vocalization as it segues into a twisted psychedelic dungeon jam session as guitar and bass create a lot of high voltage along with the drums to make it sound like an erotic orgasm beauty. And then it reaches into a shrieking crescendo as Karrer takes over by going for a gothic approach on the violin as the music becomes an African tribe beat as the members go into the primal scream mode with the shrieks, yelps, and haywire noises from the instruments as if it was something out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that makes it fun and enjoyable to listen to before ending with a dramatic finale with Karrer’s violin and chant-like vocals.

Kanaan comes in the picture with more of the middle-eastern rock sound as if they recorded it for the pharaohs and the goddess of Egypt as Renate Knaup brings the ghost-like vocalization to the piece while the vocals sound like a spoken-word ritual. Dem Guten, Sch√∂nen, Wharen introduces some wildly mad scientist experiment groundwork with eerie vocals, sinister keyboard work from Rogner, and almost a reminiscent of the Wolf City-era while Luzifers Ghilom is an underrated composition that shows the band’s structural time changes and weird cosmic rock sound with an experimental punk attitude that would have made Public Image Ltd approve this number.

Henriette Kr√∂tenschwanz is the closing finale with a militant tribe drum section done by Leopold as Renate takes over the vocalization in an operatic voice that would have tenors scare shitless by her magnificent yet eerie vocals that she does in the number. It’s a fitting end to the album that is in the foreplay. The two bonus tracks are very interesting. You have the Indian-raga homage to Ravi Shankar with the 10-minute new age sound of TouchMaPhal and the industrial rock homage to Rammstein and Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come’s Journey-era that sounds very much of the 21st century in the style of the Berlin trilogy of I Want The Sun to Shine. Twisted? Yes Strange? Yes? Fun to listen to? All of the above, this is one of the most underrated beginnings of the Krautrock scene for anyone who wants to get into the music of Amon Duul II.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking Towards The Sky: Progressive, Psychedelic, and Folk Rock From The Ember Vaults

The eccentric and eclectic view of progressive, psychedelic, and folk rock of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s is a real treat. But thanks to the reissue label, Fantastic Voyage, who are helping to revisit the indie label Ember Records, this is worth checking out to know about the obscure and the underground scene of the psychedelic movement that reached to a cult status. It’s like Treasure Island, but it’s hidden through the generosity of the bands you’ve never heard throughout this compilation, and it pulls together like a tightrope. Looking Towards The Sky: Progressive, Psychedelic, and Folk Rock from the Ember Vaults may be considered one of the volumes on undiscovered gems of the independent rock scene that are filled unheard bands and artists to come close to the essence of unheard music that will give you goosebumps and take you surprise in the new dimension. Don’t forget, the track-list covers 15 of the bands that will make you have a love/hate relationship in huge debates, so let’s cut the bullshit fellas. So if you are interested and already have a huge growth in the music genre, this is your Wonka ticket here. If you were a part of the underground scene and for a new generation of upcoming progsters discovering this music, well here it is.

Now for most of you are thinking, “Is this a rip off of the Nuggets compilation?” No it isn’t. this is the history of the record label and for you listeners who are mouth-watery of hearing this will be blown away. Looking Towards The Sky takes you through a magic carpet ride through the unheard masterminds of the bands/artists that never saw the light at the end of tunnel to achieve the big time and drew from the weirdness and beyond the musical infinity.

Starting the album off is the political driven folk romp of 9:30 Fly’s Life and Times which includes a dynamic acoustic background and fuzz tone solo that is very dramatic including the vocalization as well while the Canadian garage rockers The Dorians push the nuggets envelope further with a dosage of psych-pop on the chugging rhythm section on Help For My Waiting and the eerie Beatle-esque harmonization of Good Love. Welsh-Prog Rockers Blonde on Blonde make an appearance on the album to give you a real kick in the gun with a strong energy in the force-like compositions like: Heart Without A Home, the homage to Arthur Lee and Love’s Forever Changes-era on Sad Song For An Easy Lady, and the 7-minute album version middle-eastern beauty of Circles from the Rebirth Album that you need to get thanks to the vocalization of David Thomas who could have been the next Roy Orbison.

As for US indie psych rockers Blue Beard, they brought an organic garage nugget flavor to Loving You as Rusty Harness who could have been the next Mick Farren with the upbeat soul dance clap of Goodbye on the edge of your seat. But it’s tracks like Doin’ The Best I Can by Paddy Maguire that bring a heartfelt ballad to eternity as if he and Traffic teamed up to create this piece while Knocker Jungle pays homage to Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex on I Don’t Know Why and Reality that makes it linear and harmonic. Meanwhile, 9:30 Fly are back on the horseshoe again with the 7-minute prog epic that could have been a cornerstone in the genre with the exhilarating number, Mr. 509.

Elsewhere, Davey Payne & The Medium Wave bring a pastoral horn section and string quartet along with a dynamic James Bond feel with the title track. You can tell this is something out of the oven that is cooked well-done and freshly baked as well. Then we get into the proto-hard rock antique in the reminiscent of Otis Redding with Milt Matthews Inc. as he brings the soul into the anti-war number on Disaster Area and as for the finale, The Back Street Band’s This Ain’t The Road is a fitting closing that is very power pop and very much in the mind of Badfinger’s Magic Christian Music-era.

This is a perfect compilation for anyone who wants to sink their feet in the hidden treasure of the obscure prog gems and look towards the next compilation Summer Turns To Autumn. For the tracks, this is a true adventure of the unheard bands and the possibilities of how prog rock stays alive and never dies.

Panna Fredda - Uno

With a dosage of the tower of Pisa, Fellini, and Hard Rock, it’s only surprising that their only debut album, Panna Fredda might bring their homage to the love of British Prog Rock. They have a sound that is similar to Uriah Heep meets the MKII-era of Deep Purple. Formed out of the ashes of I Figli Del Sole and I Vun Vun in the late ‘60s in Rome, the band signed a contract with Italian label, Vendette and soon became Panna Fredda. The band released two singles from the label and soon worked on their album, Uno. Their only album, released in 1971, the band was already to call it a day due to the band members to join the Army. But the album itself is one of a kind thanks to guitar and vocalist Angelo Giardinelli as the compositions features some wild tracks that made a blend of the classical music sound and the dancing tribes.

Opening track, La Paura starts off with Lino Stopponi’s whooshing keyboard sound to make it very outer space-like sound with Angelo’s haunting vocals and guitar riffs and help from the bass and drum section with Pasquale “Windy” Cavallo and Roberto Balocco. Panna Fredda here bring texture to the piece, and they pack a punch to the album as they go into a the Fireball-era jam session as Angelo goes into a Ritchie Blackmore mode for the band to follow him wherever the solo will lead him into. There aren’t any excuses for the next upcoming track, but it’s quite amazing on how this band could have been the next big thing and would have given Deep Purple a run for their money.

However, an homage to Gracious atmospheric composition, Heaven comes into the scenery with Un Re Senza Reame as Lino does some sort of an ambient sound on the organ and Angelo’s acoustical folk songwriting complex comes into the foreplay as it becomes very frenzy at the end while Un Uomo sounds like a film-score for The Man With No Name trilogy with a rumbling yet disturbing number of love, death, and betrayal. These two tracks of Panna Fredda’s work is considered a perfect compilation for Halloween music for Prog lovers that could have been performed live and using the band’s love of the British Rock scene; it’s these two numbers that would have the listener jump out their seat and finding out why this band was ahead of their time.

It’s quite possible that you might find yourself in the nick of time to an epic or a suite. You could really began to pay close attention on where the track would lay ahead for you. There’s no turning back by the time you get to Scacco Al Re Lot – but after listening to this album twice, even if you love or loathe the album, you’ll be in luck to be introduced into the world of Italian Progressive Rock music.

On this track, it’s very Baroque and has a beautiful classical and melodic number that is in the mind of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow yet with a 17th century rocking boundary that has a gothic introduction at first and then turned into a piece that Camille Saint-Seans could have written for them that would have been a sequel to the Danse Macabre. Then we get into the epic of all epics with the 9-minute piece Il Vento, La Luna E Pulcini Blu (Sole Rosso). It features a harpsichord and more of the gothic background pieces that moves away from the prog sound with Windy doing a dooming wah-wah sound on the bass that sounds like it’s from hell and then it’s turned into a piece that it’s very much in the mind of Mozart. You have to admit, it’s a weird mind-boggling track, but it’s dynamic and insane at the same time.

Waiting is Lino’s composition, starting off with the whoosing moog and then turning it into a frenzy homage to Keith Emerson & The Nice is a fitting close to the album in the style of Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk. The last two tracks are the singles of Delirio, a heartfelt ballad in the mind of Aphrodite’s Child and Strisce Rosse, an explosive psychedelic rocker that could have knocked off White Rabbit. Even though the tracks seem very interesting, it’s worth checking out and seeing how Panna Fredda became Psych turned into the band that could have been a part of the Italian circuit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dakrya - Crime Scene

Those who are looking for an adventure of theatrical stories and the avant-garde scene from Greek’s Experimental up-and-coming band Dakrya will take a huge approach to start in their follow up adventures in the territory of Progressive Metal in their second album, Crime Scene. The album cover features the piano as a cover-up as evidence on top of the piano is a small yet eerie amusement park that is emptied and no one there which the listener might get the feeling that something has gone horribly wrong. This is an album that will scare the living shit out of you and it is perfect to be a special trick-or-treat celebration for Halloween.

Opening number, The Charlatans is a real operatic force. In this number, Dakrya are in the mind world of Goth, Theatre, and a twisted version of Within Temptation meets a theatrical version of Aphrodite’s Child’s 666, but with this militant carousel rocker, it’s all very much a disturbing children’s fairy tale that is mind-blowing, albeit with time signature of experimental metal. Probably one of the most weirdest songs yet it’s fun and joyful to listen to. Blind Man’s Bluff starts off with a quirky amusement park organ introduction as it transforms a disturbing glow between chugging guitars, machine gun sounds of the drum, walking bass line, death cookie-monster vocals, with a little help from two female vocalists Christina Kalantzi and Thomais Chatzigianni who would have been a Kid Sister of Tarja and Sharon Den Adel. There’s been a love/hate relationship of Female fronted metal bands, but Dakrya, the magic is there and the duo vocalists work together as a team. It’s very twisted and works like a charm with the Art Metal sound.

Which leads into Scaremongering, which features SophiaX’s dooming piano concerto Alex Drake’s fuzzy bass introduction and then turned into a headbanging adventure as George Droulias represents a circus presenter to the murder scene, you can tell that this is something Vangelis, Demis and Lukas would have appreciated and put on their next album that could have been a sequel to infamous concept album. The swinging yet homage to the 1930’s jazz scene thanks to Sophia’s crazy piano work and George’s raw guitar sound and death metal vocals on The Urban Tribe fits the atmosphere in Dakrya’s world of art theatre. As for Camouflage which is back into the nightclub jazz scene as if its set in the darker amusement park as the performers come up with exotic dances for the group rumbles of psychopathic roars.

Phantasmagoria, which is an homage to Lewis Carroll, recalls a freak show resembling to Tod Browning’s controversial cult 1932 classic Freaks as if it’s a rock opera turned into a shattering composition as hissing vocals and middle-eastern guitar beats fill the atmosphere while the homage to Bigelf’s Cheat The Gallows of Inertia thunderstorms through a swirling pool of terror before the climatic horror show that it is out of this world. The 6-minute Dramatis Personae musical layered of the haunting sound from the duo and George enjoying together as they do a dance for Oscar Wilde with a set of performing music for him and writing a composition for The Picture of Dorian Gray before closing the album with an instrumental twist of piano and bass going haywire with A Dreadful Side Scene. Which is a perfect ending to the album to keep your blood flowing for Dakrya’s next adventure of the theatrics and who knows which road will lay ahead for them and rest assured, the journey has just begun.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Barclay James Harvest - A Concert for the People (Berlin)

It’s been nearly 30 years since Barclay James Harvest performed live in front of 250,000 people in West Germany in Reichtag which was next to the Berlin Wall which divided between the east and the west before tearing it down for freedom in 1989. It was also filmed as well which chronicled the band’s set list in their home town in England. At the time according to the liner notes, the Berlin Senate Cultural Committee decided on where would be the best place to put a free festival, so what BJH did was to return to Germany in August of 1980 to do a concert there only to find themselves between the two since the beginnings of the Cold War in 1947 and put them in lock down by the East.

A Concert for the People (Berlin) offers a definitive momentum in BJH’s career. It wasn’t just that the band was there to promote a concert for the fans, but a concert to bring peace and putting an end to the division of Germany between the East and West along with the Cold War. The booklet features pictures of the gig, promos, and screen shots of the filmed performance live including a 45 RPM of Child of the Universe and the B-side, Back to the Wall, which was off on Turn of the Tide in 1981. For this amazing performance, some of the classics were brought back including the favorites, Mockingbird, Hymn, and Child of the Universe to name a few.

As the band now a trio with Woolly Wolstenholme going solo with his band, Maestoso, they brought Kevin McAlea and Colin Browne, went onstage and brought a magnificent reception. When you hear this, not only the audience are getting a real kick out of this, but it brought power and magic in the atmosphere with the music and the touch they bring to the stage. You have the eerie emotional ballad, In Memory of the Martyrs, a haunting tribute to the brave heroes who fought and died for survival by jumping to get over the Berlin Wall and moving into the West while escaping from communism in the East. The roaring 6-minute introduction of ‘80s film-noir sound of Love on the Line, brings the new wave sound to a standstill while the lukewarm mysterious version of Mockingbird sends tears down in your eyes.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Lady sounds very much in the reminiscent of AOR (Album Orientated Rock) as if they were resembling the new prog sound with: Starcastle and Kansas combining together while guitarist John Lees creates a moody atmosphere on his solo that makes it very Floyd-like as Nova Lepidoptera starts off as a space symphonic orchestra with the moog and explosive string quartet on the keyboards and then it turns into a mourning and heartfelt futuristic journey into space as Lees and Holroyd create magic singing together in the bridge as if they were communicating with guitar and bass setting the tearful structure that is joyous and calm-like.

Sip of Wine sounds very much a tribute to Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill but almost as if it was a sequel to Gabriel’s hit, it has strong vocals and better rhythm as well as the late Mel Pritchard creates a jazz beat on the drums to set the uplifting number to give John and Les creative structure. Same thing with Life is for Living as it becomes a message to bring peace to put an end to communism rather than being a dance and Hawaiian number, but it is an angelic piece that is well-done performed live as you can tell the audience are getting a real kick out it clapping and singing along to the band. Then we get to the goose bumping yet breath-taking stunning live take of the fan-favorite, Child of the Universe.

This is where the audience, in my mind, are fighting back tears and singing along to the number saying, “Always there to join in someone else's fight/I didn't ask to be born and I don't ask to die I'm an endless dream, a gene machine/That cannot reason why.” For me, this is about fighting for survival and dreaming to bring peace in Germany and never to die to surrender, but to join hands and live to fight for freedom. The soaring tribute of Berlin, is one of the most unbelievable songs that would send chills down your spine to give it a real punch in the gut.

Loving is Easy is in the similarities of Progressive Pop. It’s a very interesting number yet in the style of the Lennon/McCartney reminiscent, but very quirky and heavy at the same time and the closing finale, Hymn, has more of an edgier sound performed live with its prog folk acoustic sound in the mind of John Lennon that is the answer to Give Peace a Chance. A moving live album representing peace and joy of the beginning of the new sound for BJH lays straight ahead for the band and would have mixed opinions for the fans by drawing lines in the sand, but this is the last real album for Barclay James Harvest that is worth the price.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Gods - Genesis

Often as regarded for the blueprint for Uriah Heep and thanks to the presence of former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, The Gods was a band with a psychedelic flavor to offer rather than being a giant sound of prog arena rock. And their debut album, Genesis, released in 1969, is a fascinating work blending with Beatlesque lyrics lurking with the Psych-Pop sound meets The Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era and a flair of soaring organ sounds thanks to Ken Hensley’s compositions to the tone with a bit of Avant-Garde chipmunk voices to help out at the end.

Formed in 1965, they started as schoolmates in Hatfield and soon opened for Cream combining love-song lyrics and picking interesting covers they worked on. Can you imagine Paul McCartney giving the band, Hey Bulldog as a single for the movie, Yellow Submarine? Not only did The Gods did a remarkable job capturing the spirit of the song, but the result is magnificent and very wonderful – they would have made the hippies at Woodstock go batshit crazy of melodic wonderous flaming fire as Ken Hensley unleashes a pounding piano work that have expected from The Beatles surprised reaction along with adding a horn section by making it pastoral, you got yourself a weekend. But this is the complete measure from the band’s talent – they could have been signed to Apple Records, but here on Genesis, it’s all here as evidential proof from start to finish.

However on the reissue released sixteen years ago on the Repertoire label, it proves that The Gods weren’t just the turning point for Ken Hensley. The band features – John Glascock (Carmen, Jethro Tull) on Bass Guitar, Lee Kerslake (Uriah Heep, Toe Fat) on drums, and Joe Konas on guitar and vocals. The opening track, Towards The Skies, is very aggressive done by Ken’s organ work and Lee’s rumbling drum work as it features dazzling guitar work in the rein of Hendrix meets The Move with a lot of heavy grooves to fill the atmosphere while the mellowing mellotron dreamland beauty of Candles Getting Shorter represents the balladry of Procol Harum’s self-titled debut album.

You’re My Life is very much proto-hard rock as Joe Konas does some crazy guitar solo as if he was Ritchie Blackmore while Lee battles with him on the drums as they look at each other to see who can create the best composition work they would do. On eerie numbers such as Looking Glass, The Gods almost could have recorded this album with Bo Hansson and Janne Karlsson (or maybe an early version of Spooky Tooth thanks to the falsetto vocals and disturbing numbers) than becoming the best band in the beginnings of Progressive Metal they are with Uriah Heep as if Lewis Carroll would have lived, he would have written lyrics for them

Misleading Colours is in the realm of the west coast sound of the psychedelic scene of the U.S. mostly almost a sequel to Hendrix’s Purple Haze, but with a vengeance thanks to wild guitar and organ sound as they do some Psych-blues in the midsection. Radio Show is a driving rocker, thanks to Ken Hensley’s upbeat sound as he would do with Uriah Heep. The song has a horn section, pop lyrical background in the realm of the Revolver-era, time signature changes the arrangement, but it’s very much something that The Beatles could have worked on.

Ken Hensley takes the microphone as he sings in a mournful beauty with the somber uplifting number, Plastic Horizon. It has the disturbing tones that Hensley does with the organ and adding a lot of his harmonic vocalization and you could feel that he’s written the score for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point. Farthing Man is another upbeat number with a lot of the harmonic vocals in the background and pop melodies while the guitar comes into play with a lot of psych-work and making it one of the most unbelievable numbers out there. The title sounds very Dr. Seuss in a comic book type of way, but it fits perfectly.

I Never Knew, is the 5-minute epic and making it very Prog-Psych thanks to the fairy tale lyrics, sweet mellotron string sounds, vibrative organ works, and excellent rhythm section to make it twisted and mind-boggling as the guitar solo comes back into the frame to close the track with a vengeance while the finale, Time and Eternity, ends with a heavy metal psychedelic romper. The guitar rhythm, drums, and organ, including a la-la section makes the band sound like if they could have been in Roger Chapman’s Family.

The bonus tracks feature the eerie psych vibration of Somewhere in the Street, the pastoral version of the Beatles (before they recorded their version) Hey Bulldog, and harmonica blues rock in the style of Them meets Cream on Real Love Guaranteed. Genesis is an essential lost underground psychedelic album that deserves attention and offers the beginnings of Uriah Heep.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mastodon - Crack The Skye

With the follow up of Blood Mountain, their fourth album, it seems that Mastodon have a lot of tricks up their sleeve. Their new album released last year, Crack The Skye, is a magical metallic rollercoaster ride. Although it has seven tracks including a 10 and 12-minute epics that is almost as Prog as far as the eye can see, they show no sign of stopping. It sounds like a metallic representative versions of King Crimson meets The Mars Volta meets Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats-era. Thrash at one point, fierce and twisted, but it comes up with all of the ingredients it needs to come up with one amazing album from start to finish.

Now I have to admit something, this is my first time getting into Mastodon, and let me say I’m getting started to enjoy this band very much and they are carrying the Prog Metal torch into the night. I’ve listened to Crack The Skye twice now and this is an album that you need to buy. I was a little skeptical at first because I thought they were ripping off Dream Theater. I was dead wrong. Here, is an album that will blow your socks off and take Prog and Math Rock to another level like you’ve never heard before.

The album itself is a dynamic concept that allowed the band to use free rein, but go off like a bat out of hell in strange time changes like fireworks going off like crazy. The music is a combination of middle-eastern rock, heavy metal, psychedelic-prog, and driven steady beats that takes the listener by surprise of a band that is completely out of this world. Now mainstream is considered a dirty word, but for Progressive Rock, is no longer a dirty word anymore if you are getting a lengthy introduction to the music right now.

Opening track Oblivion is a frightening track that would fit tightly on Black Sabbath’s earlier albums like Master of Reality. It adds the doom metal disturbance to the mix and the chaotic insanity for Mastodon to move forward into the Prog Doom sound and moving away from the Sludge sound since forming in 1999. As I mentioned before there is a nod to the middle-eastern rock sound on Crack The Skye, with the Egyptian opening Robert Fripp-esque guitar introduction on Divinations as they get the gears guitar roaring, screaming vocals, and fast-sped time signatures that are similar to the Red-era of King Crimson and the Master of Puppets-era of Metallica that was left off during the sessions.

For all lovers of the Progressive Metal sound that is a running finish line throughout Crack The Skye, there are more twisted and insane tracks that will keep you going for more until the very end. The intensity kicks in on Quintessence as it is a blend of Math Metal and Psych-Prog that is almost could have been used in a rock operatic suite with the drums pounding like crazy and guitars just roaring like crazy to add the tension up a notch. Then we go right into the 10-minute epic centerpiece, The Czar.

Starting off with an eerie organ introduction that is in the style of The Beatles Blue Jay Way and then the guitars come in giving a haunting call while the bass follows the groove along with heavy duty vocalizations. Mind you, this is something that is out of this world to give you goose bumps all over your body. And the lyrics of paying the price and fighting to survive with: “Don't stay run away /He has ordered assassination /Don't stay run away /The henchmen are gathered and waiting /Don't stay run away Your role as usurper is found out /Don't stay run away /Tsarina has warned of the danger.” This number definitely could have been in the trailer for Dead Space 2 while Ghost of Karelia features some beautiful militant roars from guitar and bass are racing to the finish line and the singing itself gets you by the feet.

And then we come to the last two final tracks of the album. The title track has a hypnotic guitar driven sound along with a shattering vocalization and this reminded me a lot of Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt’s growling death metal voice and calmful as well as if it’s in the mind of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. And very ‘70s eclectic prog at times that would barely climb the mountain tops of time singatures. The 13-minute finale, The Last Baron doesn’t just simply end the album it is a perfect ending to close the curtain on Crack The Skye. It’s a calm-like relaxed number and breathtaking at the same time to be considered a live favorite for the Mastodon fans for the band to do.

Nothing can beat around the bush from this tour de force magnetic album as a Rock Opera. The songwriting and concept is a creative energy force with a lot of brainstorming, Crack The Skye is an overwhelming progressive metal album that is out of the ball park.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Supertramp - Breakfast In America

One of the most quintessential albums of all time, Breakfast in America was Supertramp’s biggest selling album of all time. Thanks to the hit singles: The Logical Song, Take the Long Way Home, Goodbye Stranger, and the title track. It gave Supertramp the top 10 hits and selling 6 million copies including the album as it skyrocketed to number one in the Billboard Charts in 1979. They became a favorite including Beatle Paul McCartney who admired the band during the album’s release. It gave Supertramp, the introduction of what’s called “Progressive Pop” as it opened the floodgates to the States.

The album is at the core of the Prog Pop genre. As Paul McCartney described them his “new favorite band,” is really a great opportunity to be appreciated by a Beatle. You could tell that he listened to their earlier albums: Incredibly Stamped, Crime of the Century, and Crisis? What Crisis? Unlike Pop bands like 10cc and the Alan Parsons Project, Supertramp had Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson who were the answer to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. They wrote some great material including Dreamer, Bloody Well Right, Give A Little Bit, and Ain’t Nobody But Me.

But the tension between the two started to grow during the making of the album. Originally, Rick Davies hated the title and wanted to use titles like: Working Title or Hello Stranger, but Roger won the verdict and the result is history. The cover was done by Mike Doug and used Kate Murtagh portraying as the Statue of Liberty holding a breakfast menu and holding a glass of orange juice as the city of the big apple is used with kitchen utensils, salt & pepper shakers, coffee cups, and two boxes shown in the style of the World Trade Center while the back cover shows the band members ordering breakfast, reading the newspaper as Kate pours a cup of coffee to one of the band members.

It was the first time that the album used a Wurlitzer Electric Piano, which is a 64-note instrument from an octave note of the major chord of C and forming a pickup system using an electrostatic system from a DC voltage to fit a mechanical sustain pedal. And it fitted well for Breakfast in America. The sound had been used on Crime and Crisis, but it was never used on any of Supertramp’s career and it made it the first album to be one of finest examples to use a Wurlitzer. It was released on March 29, 1979, where it charted for six weeks.

Breakfast in America became the biggest selling album since Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in 1973. A work of unique geniuses, a usage of Beatlesque lyrics, pop ballads, and trying to make it to hit the big time in Hollywood, makes the album a highly mannered blockbuster smash and a great idea to have a sense of humor. From the opening soar of excitement on Gone Hollywood which deals with the creeps in the city of glamour and dealing with how despair and the destruction of L.A. can be a disgusting place to be as if the character wished he never set foot in the city. The Logical Song which has a strong connection the Prog-Pop power of the Beatles. Hodgson’s electric piano pop sound provides a strong groove alongside John Helliwell’s soulful sax solo while the song deals with the loss of innocence and condemning the education system. Rick’s composition of Goodbye Stranger sits in between the Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys sound and a twist of 10cc while parodying the Bee Gees.

The title track in which tells the story of the person’s introduction to the flavor of America and finding out if they have kippers in Texas as it priors to the up tempo beat and craves of the melodic statue of curiosity. Oh Darling is a perfect dance rocking ballad. Davies soulful voice on and the keyboard as well as Hodgson comes up with Lennon-like guitar sound as the two sing as if Lennon/McCartney are really pleased of what the two are doing despite the tension. Take The Long Way Home is a haunting mournful composition which features Davies disturbing Harmonica introduction as Hodgson brings the Prog Pop sound to another world with finding out how home is a long way to be with a surprising melody that became a top 10 hit single. The piano ballad filled with emotions shows Roger how good a singer he is with the heartfelt calmness of Lord Is It Mine while Just Another Nervous Wreck could have been written for the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sessions.

Casual Conversations is very laidback in the style of the Aja-era of Steely Dan. It has a jazzy groove with the electric piano is very calm and almost is set in a smoky nightclub in the 1950s with its mellow atmosphere along with John’s sax solo to fill the nightclub scene as the next epic track closes the album very well like a storybook. Child of Vision, which is a feud-like song between Davies and Hodgson who are like brothers during this number. It deals with the creative differences they have between each other. The band almost are into attack mode as Rick plays this magnificent piano solo along with the keyboard duking it out while John closes the track with a short yet beautiful sax solo to finish album off well.

From that moment on, the relationship between Davies and Hodgson became strained after finishing the Breakfast in America tour as the battles became increased during the Famous Last Words sessions. Roger decided he had enough and departed the band in 1983 to raise his children and be a father and pursuing a solo career while Davies continued under the Supertramp banner and now are going to tour for their 40th anniversary and performing Hodgson’s songs which have pissed Roger off big time. But I won’t go into that direction.

Breakfast in America has put Progressive Pop into a crowning achievement through the mind of the two singers. It is one of Supertramp’s finest album of the decade 30 years later.