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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Le Orme - Felona E Sorona [Deluxe Edition]

The concept album that gave Le Orme a chance to break the door down for the Italian Prog bands to sink their teeth into, the story about two different planets one filled with joy and love while the other filled with isolation and darkness that remains one of the finest albums in Progressive Rock history in the Italian structures. Released in 1973 on the Philips label and then on Charisma, this marks the first time here the English version translated by VDGG’s Peter Hammill, that would have the trio lending their voices in a different speaking voice that is beyond the beyond.

Le Orme decided to give the dark sci-fi rock opera with haunting passages, ELP-sque time changes, and classical folk boundaries which would have given George Lucas pissing his pants if he had heard this album from start to finish while he was writing Star Wars. Keyboardist Tonu Pagliuca, Vocalist/Bassist/Guitarist Aldo Tagliapietra, and drummer Michi Del Rossi, they wanted to set the tone of the outer limits which combined them to go into space and time and not just that, but to give the listener a real jolt whenever he or she listens to the album and makes you think that this isn’t your typical hero-save-the-day nonsense, this is a dark adventure that you are about to embark on for years and years to come.

That taken care of, Felona E Sorona is a dark and beautiful storytelling fairy tale that will send a shiver down your spine. Beginning with the swirling keyboard nightmare territorial Sospesi Nell’Incredible (In Between) and the folksy embracement Felona, each of the members could have written a score for Disney’s Fantasia. The homage to Emerson Lake and Palmer is very spot on with La Solitudine Di Chi Protegge il Mondo/L’Equilibrio (The Maker) while the spookiness of the annihilation on Sorona describes the loneliness and the pin drop of the city that Paglicua does to set the atmosphere on Ritratto Di Un Mattino (The Plan) and then it all comes down the sneering climatic climax between both planets as they fight in the jaw-dropping thunderstorm finale on Ritorno Al Nulla (Return to Naught).

Throughout the piece you can tell that each of the band members were having a showdown as they clash the instruments from the keyboard giving a sinister composition and then bass and drums come in as they go in a battle to see who can give the ass-kicking around, but the three members are both winners and show that this isn’t just a game, this is music and how they can send score so good, you won’t believe your ears. The deluxe edition features again the English version that was meant for David Jackson to come and help out and give Le Orme a VDGG feel, but never saw the light of day which the record label felt that he was too “ahead” for the band’s sound.

It’s a shame that Jackson’s sax music wasn’t used, but it would have been great to hear how it would have sounded like with the sneering sax for David to use on the concept album. The English version might have you scratch you’re heads, but the original Italian version is one of the most mesmerizing albums to come out of 1973.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

William D. Drake - The Rising of the Lights

Like a crossover alumni album takeover between Egg’s first album and Gentle Giant’s Acquiring the Taste, former member of the Cardiacs, William D. Drake and his new album, The Rising of the Lights is a very fun and quirky album in the realm of the two bands that has a whimsical sense of humor that carry the sounds of the Canterbury scenery. Throughout the entire album that has twelve tracks on there, written and conducted by Drake, the album has a mysterious and dark passageway of a haunting musical set in the late 1890s and Drake discovered and understood the scenery and he takes the listener into a journey into the gothic side of London.

Though it plays like music for a twisted ballet, Drake is a true mad scientist and is very damn good when he plays the keyboards, he plays it very well. He isn’t like Wakeman or like Emerson, but more like Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant and Dave Stewart of Egg, plus his vocals will remind listeners of Richard Sinclair from Caravan/Hatfield and the North. He is no fluke, nor showing off, but showing you how he can take the listener by the stroke their jacket and take them to a world have they never seen before in all of its glory.

Songs like the romping introduction Super Altar and Ant Trees have a whimsical feel inside the English Countryside to write funny pieces in a Beatle and Caravan-sque way while the mellowing touching beauty on In An Ideal World deals with the 18th century world of London as if it the music was set to a steampunk film and the Victorian scenery would definitely fit the atmosphere right on the street alley. Then we get to The Mastodon.

Featuring thumping drums, swirling piano and mind-blowing organ sections, it makes it a perfect dance move that would have audiences gasping and completely blown away as Drake plays it like Dave Sinclair that provides In The Land of Grey and Pink-era. Then, on Ornamental Hermit it becomes a mournful yet tear-drop orchestral dark beauty that deals with the 19th century families in England and how they struggle to maintain a normal life as it goes back into the picture with the time-changing thump of Wholly Holey reminds me of Hatfield and the North, another antidote of Canterbury homage right in there.

You have to admit Drake has a sense of humor and I might believe the Canterbury Scene might had a huge impact in his childhood days growing up as he goes into the Jazzy night time with piano and drums on the title track as he does a lot of Thelonoius Monk passages in there to set the jazz-psych spook thrills in the atmosphere. While the psych hip-hop short of Song in the Key of Concrete is operatic, the haunting composition between a male and female duet vocalization on Me Fish Bring has sort of a late ‘70s vibe. Zieger has a 1920s sounding as Laburnum sounds like a mournful funeral song.

Then we get to the last track, the 9-minute Homesweet Homestead Hideaway, which starts off as a cat purring and then it goes into the storytelling complex song and has us asking, “what the hell did he just do here?! This is amazing!” He gives the listener a chance to listen throughout the track and gives us a chance at the very end to decide where the music goes through here. How much did I enjoy the album? Well here it is.

I have been listening to The Rising of the Lights about 12 times now and Drake is no show-off and what kind of sound that he gives, is evidential on the table. If you want to sink your teeth into William D. Drake’s music, buy The Rising of the Lights. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado

Despite having three albums already in the can and establishing the minds of the Beatles and in the footsteps of the Days of Future Passed-era of the Moody Blues in a prog-baroque pop sound, singles had put ELO into the forefront and for Jeff Lynne, it was time for a change. This time it would be a concept album telling the story about daydreaming in the rein of Walter Mitty like character who goes into different worlds and trying to escape the real modern world in which he’s pissed off at, as he goes into the world of Eldorado.

Originally released in 1974, Eldorado was a huge success in the States as they broke down the door and hit into the mainstream, but didn’t sell well in the UK. But it’s a wonderful Disney-like alternate soundtrack is very much to the realms of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or The Three Caballeros set to glorious prog-pop music that could have been re-released during that time period. Jeff decided to use a 40-piece orchestra instead of two violins; this would mark the first time that it would change the bands direction and into superstardom.

From the eerie atmospheric dream-like introduction turned bright glory with Eldorado Overture to the soft romantic rock balladry on Can’t Get It Out of my Head and Mister Kingdom, makes it realize that this isn’t just your Beatle-sque rock album, but a spiritual journey that you’ll never forget and a ride that will take you to the other side of life. The shining symphonic powerhouses of Boy Blue with melodic structures while Laredo Tornado is a touch of the Beatles Revolver-era with a wonderful guitar introduction that Marc Bolan could have helped out the band out.

Later, comes the orchestral rockin’ romp sounds of Poorboy (The Greenwood) as it goes into the Cabaret Jazz scene with the glory days of broadway with Nobody’s Child. The track makes it very upbeat and almost like a nightclub scene out of a play in the ‘40s where Jeff deals with a painted lady as if he’s Danny Elfman singing to this broken down woman who was once famous is now singing to table goers in the audience. And while they go into the rein of the 1950s rocking scene in the realms of The Move’s California Man on Illusions in G Major, the 5-minute emotional pop beauty of the title track makes you want to feel like if you want to come back to the fantasy world and stay there for eternity.

After the release of the album, ELO went into various changes from Prog to Disco and helping Olivia Newton-John out and deciding to call it a day in the mid ‘80s, Eldorado remains one of the most finest albums that the Electric Light Orchestra made and still is considered the most finest concept albums of the 20th century.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Adventures of Fort Worth, TX Part I

Hey everybody I just got back from Fort Worth, and here are the pictures to prove it for Part One.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ache - De Homine Urbano / Green Man

The Danish scene was a magical-era of the late ‘60s in the psychedelic and prog territory. Bands like Burnin’ Red Ivanhoe, Culpepper’s Orchard, and of course The Savage Rose, blew the outside world away. But it also can remain a mysterious atmosphere. Take a band like Ache who was formed in 1968 by keyboardist, Peter Mellein, a graduate at the Danish Academy of Music. He was influenced by what was going in England during that time period and soon he formed the band and created a dark yet haunting debut album that would have the ballet dancers knock their socks off and dance to different time changes.

Originally released on the Philips label in 1970, De Homine Urbano was their concept to write a ballet rock instrumental and it works fine magically. The music was dark, evil, hidden, and sinister that would have filled the theatre to a shocking surprise at the end, combining with dooming guitar sounds and venomous organ sounds, it would have made Ache’s musical composition pieces set to a horror score, but the passages and time signatures that would have listeners say, “How the hell did they do that?!”

The opening 19-minute title track, starts out as mourning guitar sounds and the organ starting off the ceremony in a gothic cathedral, then goes into a field day, fuzz tone territory, swirling adventures, and the last 5-minutes of the piece is their homage to Procol Harum’s In Held ‘Twas In I. The 18-minute sci-fi rocker, Little Things, is an early reincarnation of Julian’s Treatment’s A Time Before This filled with spoken-words narrative, adventurous storytelling complex songs, filling that with; organ, crash of the ride cymbal, demonic guitar and bass lines come in together, this is a ride that you’ll never forget.

The theatrical movement was in the band’s mind and that was where the direction they wanted to go and that resulted in their second album. 1971’s Green Man kept in touch of the dark theatre in the realms of Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft and concentrated on the focus on musical rock theatre. Instead of 18 and 19-minute epics, let’s say the tracks are a little shorter; however it kicks plenty of asses. They are very much rock operatic though, Ache’s music still carries the sound of the debut album, but more of a darker version of Sgt. Pepper.

Songs like the melodic turned thunderous passages opener, Equatorial Rain and the soaring bluesy flashback narrative story of a young girl named Sweet Jolly Joyce makes the Pretty Things wish they could have put this song in S.F. Sorrow. And while the 5-minute epic, The Invasion is a swirling whirlpool of terror mixed with guitar solos and Hammond touches that sends passages into darker territories, the sinister single in the realms of Procol Harum, Shadow of a Gypsy, still carries like a real punch in the gut with its mysterious lyrics and darker territories that would have made the band open for the English band.

The title track goes into an acoustic/harpsichord classical adventure as it goes into a raga-rock clapping psychedelic hippie power house while Acheron clouds into Morrison Hotel-era of a Jazz Blues Rock section before closing the album with a funky groove improvisation of the Beatles classic, We Can Work It Out as they go into a psychedelic jam for the last 5-minutes. These albums stood the test of time and gave the beast a chance to run free and go buck wild. Obscure Prog at its finest.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tempest - Tempest/Living In Fear

Truly one of the most unearthed trio bands that were a combination of Grand Funk Railroad meets Blue Cheer meets Mountain, this was a band that were one of the most underrated. With the sounds of Fusion, Blues, and dare I say the early beginnings of Heavy Metal, Tempest was formed out of the ashes of Colosseum. The band released two albums in 1973 and 1974 on the Bronze label and they are a dosage of thundering guitar solos, pounding drum work, and a touch of mind-blowing bass lines that was a nod to the sound of Noel Redding and towards the early beginnings of Colosseum.

The band featured drummer Jon Hiseman, bassist Mark Clarke, and up-and-coming guitarist Allan Holdsworth. While Hendrix brought the early beginnings of Hard Rock in the late ‘60s, Tempest brought the torch to the Olympic Stadium. Their first sole self-titled debut album is magnificently untouchable. It has an aggressive approach, as shown in the opener, the folksy turned beast-like rumble of Gorgon. Like a door opening so hardcore, Allan Holdsworth rips into a shredding guitar solo while Paul Williams vocals roar viciously as if he could have replaced Paul Rodgers for Free as they exhibit more of the fierce tones that echo Wishbone Ash’s Argus.

Songs like Foyers of Fun and Up and On, they breach on the reminiscent of Cream and impressing the underground scene like an explosive dynamite that would grab you by the ears screaming out for a warm reception, you could tell that they would have embraced the Album Orientated Rock sound with a mighty bang. However on Brothers, it’s more of a fast-speeding jazz rocking bullet train in the style of Colosseum and Italian Prog maestro’s Goblin combined together, it’s a shuffling adventurous guitar race, Mark’s bass line is almost a fusion run through, and Jon’s drumming is in the style of Billy Cobham that would have your heart pounding faster.

Living in Fear, released in 1974, sees Allan Holdsworth leaving the band to pursue work with Soft Machine as the late Ollie Halsall entered the picture to lend more of an early beginning on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal which is evidential on the opener Funeral Empire which had an earlier reminiscent of UFO’s Dreamin’ off on Mechanix that makes Ollie’s guitar playing sound like Michael Schenker while they revamp the Beatles classic Paperback Writer as a straightforward rocker and staying true to the classic. Stargazer is a funk-rock attitude as Mark Clarke brings the genre as almost an FM hit in the realms of Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti-era.

Dance to My Tune is very volcanic rock while Waiting for a Miracle sees the band in a Prog-Rock momentum featuring some heavy duty moog solos on the two compositions as they have a great time and lay back to get the groove flowing. After the release of the two albums, Tempest decided to call it a day. Although they were ahead of their time and might receive a lot of attention, Tempest’s music still shines through the soaring lost treasures of hidden classics. Hugely recommended.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In the style of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, "We're off on the road to Fort Worth"

To fellow blogsters,

I will be out of town next Thursday, but coming back next Sunday. But I will get a review published either this weekend or next week before I go out.

See you on the dark side,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fierce and the Dead - If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe

Already having two EPs in the can, newcomers of the post-rock scene The Fierce and the Dead have been creating some fine music lately since forming in 2010, however the sound is becoming more of a futuristic atmosphere of the 22nd century in a realism of a score in the sci-fi world a-la Blade Runner style. So what do you do when you have Matt Stevens, Kev Feazey, and Stuart Marshall who follow in the lead of Porcupine Tree and the 21st century sounds of King Crimson meets Radiohead?

Well when you add those three up, it’s about time that you make a first album and their debut album, If It Carries On Like This We Are Moving To Morecambe, they have made the music into an soundtrack for our lives. Sure, it has an indie rock flavor and prog-like boundaries that could have made Thom Yorke work with the Arcade Fire or the Decemberists, but The Firece and the Dead shows that they are not show-offs, but carrying the torch of making lukewarm alternative instrumental rock beauty that would have you’re skin crawling up and down of all places.

The eerie and haunting compositions makes it a dooming and post-apocalyptic annihilation as Matt’s guitar sends in with experimentations that light up the thunder and bringing the looping sounds into a mind-blowing experience, you almost began to wonder “How in the hell does he do that?” as drummer Stuart Marshall plays like a Mad scientist in his footsteps of: Bill Bruford, Neil Peart, and Phil Selway. Pieces like the fierce punk-prog Crimson hardcore sound on Landcrab is an in-your-face-fuck you attitude while the wildly avant-garde touches on the opener, Flint pays tribute to Scotland’s own post-rock band Mogwai. The Miles Davis Jack Johnson-era fusion touches are in there with Daddyies Little Helper before becoming a soaring upbeat tempo finale. It’s when everything starts to click and gets their mojo working around the clock.

As Woodchip becomes a Tangerine Dream moog adventure, it goes into the sounds of the ‘80s with the Joy Division-sque moody punches on 10x10 and the era of OK Computer might come in handy on Part 2, but the trippy and psych finale on the 6-minute epic, Andy Fox takes the listener into the Outer Limits and into the Solar System to view different planets as guitarist Matt Stevens creates some haunted guitar work that shines throughout the piece to bring the music closer like a knot that is tight and won’t let loose as Marshall calms his drums down to set the film noir scenery that makes you imagine this piece as in a dramatic movie.

The Fierce and the Dead have a long way to go, let’s hope they got something in their sleeves years and years to come. Maybe writing a film score? We don’t know, but this is the big push for them and they got a good start here.