Monday, 27 February 2017
A simply stunning album when taken on its own terms, a vinyl obtained from my friend and shared with the kindness of an open heart-- made all the more generous by the price at which it's sold sometimes...
Despite the crazy, perhaps a teeny bit childish cover, the contents actually reveal soul-pop with some slight progressive moves here and there, a diminished arpeggio here, an odd chord combination there. There is some information in the database already, and you can see it's relatively popular on RYM. The high rating is well deserved but oddly enough no one has yet reviewed it, though I am sure someone will soon after today.
So let's go all out with a warm Motown soul embrace on Did you ever wonder:
Of course we're reminded of those oldsters like Jackson Five, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the earliest Diana Ross, etc. Note the exceptionally attractive orchestration and the beauty of the harmony vocals. Then, the end uses a minor second chord switch and bass solo to wrap it all up. Surprisingly good songwriting on a super-rarity. That track by George Chandler, who grew up in Alabama, presumably with Charlie Cannon, the other principal songwriter represented here, and together with another yank called Stanley Evans they wrote all the great music for this LP-- which was recorded in Italy. Odd?
Now let's go to the Garden of Boom:
The best track by Charlie. And you'll agree it is really a nice song indeed.
Again, check the price of the copy for sale. Admittedly, it's from Italy, a country in which all records are sold at a markup of at least 500 percent, but don't usually arrive if sent by mail, where the mafia usually builds buildings, and does the garbage pickup for you, or doesn't, fittingly, and the president has orgies every weekend with teenaged hookers (does that even make sense?) ... and at one time 2000 years ago, they ruled the entire Mediterranean rim like a bathtub's uncleanable scum line but now are reduced to stealing cents from tourists by secretly short-changing them at cafes. So it's not the usual kind of nation we are accustomed to.
Two in a row straight outta Italy this week. And next week, we're moving on to the former soviet area, where it's even less likely you'll receive in the mail that scratchy overpriced record you bought...
Friday, 24 February 2017
Again, thanks to the anonymous requester earlier who brought this artist to my attention. And while I'm at it, thanks to all those who requested some pretty fabulous artists in the lifetime of this blog, most especially the recent finds of Simon and Bard, a totally neglected band indeed.
After the first record from Allee (that song Childstar should've been a megahit!) I was intent on collecting more if more there was. This particular album with the plain black cover I presumed was privately pressed, since it mostly consisted of demos, but it turns out it was produced by Irving as can be seen on this page. And that label was responsible for some pretty big blockbusters.
As usual, from the blurb on the back:
"Allee had three top 10 singles in 1979. EW&F's September, M. Nightingale's Lead me On, and EW&F with the Emotions' Boogie Wonderland... [all of which appear here save the latter in a different version.]
"The songs in this two record set include a sampling of successful recordings as well as an extensive group of new songs, which appear as demos and await commercial recording. They represent some of Allee's finest work and give credence to her reputation as a songwriter adept in all areas of popular music."
Of course we are dealing with ordinary songwriting here, and in particular the pop style of the late seventies. Not necessarily the inventiveness and quirky Laura Nyro edge to the Childstar record. But that's OK, right?
Or is it? After listening to an hour and a half of this AM radio material I think I am convinced as always of the huge gulf that separates our taste here evident on this blog from popular music (here I invariably picture Celine Dion 'belting out' the smash hit "My heart must go on" and my own heart, of course, automatically having yet another instantaneous & fullstop cardiac arrest even while sitting hooked up to the crash cart as it drops 100,000 leagues downwards in the direction of the core of the earth...) Anyways, when I woke up and changed those sweaty sheets I came to realize there is a song sample worth posting here, namely this one, called Come What May:
Some quick research shows this song was on a late 70s Patti LaBelle album. In this case without a doubt the producer went overboard with the AM radio soul dreck on Patti's version and the simplicity of the demo makes it clearly superior. I like that in the lyrics instead of the conventional type of trite Hallmark / Valentines commentary, the chorus states, somewhat defiantly
"--but I'll never be afraid of who I am,
who I'm not,
come what may."
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Out of left field, a shockingly beautiful folk and political rock album from Sweden. Note the expressive de Chirico shadowed by the Roman Aqueduct Pont de Garde painting.
Some information here.
The track about the Pentagon is quite delightful too, would love to know what he's saying, no doubt there will be a leak from within that building soon revealing that the Trump administration's Oval Office has moved the Russian embassy there:
Monday, 20 February 2017
Saturday, 18 February 2017
The Fents - s/t. 1979 private (EP).
The Fents - First Offense. 1982 VIP (later on the Not Yachting label).
When I first got together with my good friend Jeff in the late 1980s, we did what any two fanatical music fans do: Bring new tunes over to discover. By that time I had a pretty decent collection of rare progressive rock LPs from Italy, Germany, France, Scandinavia, etc... and Jeff possessed a lot from the US, England and Japan. And Jeff was also way ahead of the curve when it came to fusion. I wasn't as keen on the sounds of the 1980s back then, so some of the obscurities he brought over were lost on me. The Fents "First Offense" was one of those albums. A couple of years ago, Midwest Mike sent me a pile of CD-R's and this was included amongst them. That reignited my interest...
There's no question that "First Offense" is of 1982 vintage, especially after taking in the opening track. Funky slap bass, synthesizers and slick production qualities are laid out early and offer a somewhat dubious beginning. Perhaps a First Offense indeed. But The Fents were far more interesting than that, and as the album unfolds, a sophisticated blend of instrumental jazz and rock emerges, with complicated rhythms, smoking solos, and grittier sounds. The band themselves were influenced by some of the leading fusion artists of the day like Bruford, Holdsworth and the Dixie Dregs, and those artists' fingerprints are all over this.
Perhaps even more surprising on this visit with Jeff was his rediscovery of the very rare first EP. This album contains 4 songs, and a decidedly rougher edge - more akin to the progressive rock meets fusion bands of the late 70s. A CD that contains both of these albums would be ideal. The Fents finished their career with the 1987 album "The Other Side", which I understand was pressed on CD at the time of release. Of interest to modern progressive rock fans, keyboardist Adam Holzman now occasionally plays with none other than Steven Wilson...
Typical of their Muffins-like happy bussing along is the first track on the EP (to me, superior to First Offense) something called Ladsize, by guitarist Ted Hall:
Note on the back the thanks given to Immanuel Kant and the laws of physics...
There is some biographical information to be found here.
Bonus, their first full length album, thanks to the blogger who ripped and shared that one long ago...
Wednesday, 15 February 2017
This album recalls a lot the Indonesian masters Giant Step, led by the great Benny Soebarjda whom I reviewed earlier in two posts. Of course we aren't going to get the same brilliant songwriting here, as expected. Here's the closer:
Monday, 13 February 2017
Like the beautiful old Greek myth of Pandora's box that let out all the ills and evils for humanity, but at the bottom kept the Gods' gift of hope as a way to endure those calamities, for us, it is music that should have been placed at the bottom of the box-- so that we can face the tragedies of our lives with something beautiful and beyond this world, that takes us outside reality to a kind of human-made heaven. Like I've said before, for us music-lovers, this is the closest we'll come to experiencing paradise. Because it is created by the human heart, it speaks to us in a way no physical object can, because it is so supremely beautiful in such a nonconcrete way, divorced from the real things we smash into, but made from them nonetheless, it feels like we are intersecting with an imaginary world in a real slice cutting through the soul, directly touching our feelings like the hand of god...
I hate to disappoint everyone here but this album (information here) with so much hope (that 'thing with feathers') is here quite deplucked, after the brilliance of the Solstitium album we have a purely by-the-numbers library franchise, instead of the previous longest day of summer we have the winter nadir with about 17 hours of darkness to deal with. A track called "Lagoon" is perhaps the closest we'll get to progressive songwriting of the 'April Orchestra 15' sort:
And don't ask me what the cost of investing in it was.