Art Bears – Upon a wheel a cockerel crows

Art Bears became a member of the Rock in Opposition movement in December 1978 where the RIO members met in Sunrise Studio Kirchberg.

The band was formed by members of now disbanded Henry Cow

The debut was released May 1978, containing 9 tracks recorded by Henry Cow in January and 5 tracks by Art Bears in March 1978.

The album can be seen as a “last”  Henry Cow, but with more “song” orientated material than previous albums, as the instrumental recordings would mainly appear on Henry Cow’s Western Culture (1979).

Art bears: Hopes and Fears – “In Two Minds” (recorded by Henry Cow)

 

Art Bears first “true” album with songs intended for and preformed only by Art Bears came soon after, “Winter Songs” recorded in late 1978 and released in 1979.

This is my favorite Art Bears album, within its own genre a relative accessible piece of art, the band is now a trio with Fred Frith playing all instruments, Chris Cutler Drums & Percussion, topped with a stunning vocal by Dagmar Krause.

Upon a – wheel a – cockerel crows the – crimson dawn

There is a medival theme to the record, sending thoughts in direction of early 70’s masters like Jethro Tull or Gentle Gaint, underlined by some supreme violin from Frith.

 

Art Bears made a last album “The World as It Is Today” in late summer 1980 released in 1981, the radical political ambitions of the band is now even more evident with track like “”The Song of Investment Capital Overseas”.

I empty villages – I burn their houses down – I set up factories

The music also seems more inspired by “industrialism” with more repetitive themes that may reflect the machinery and work processes of modern day.

In my opinion a less inspired effort compared to Winter Songs but not bad at all, absolutely worth a listen or rather many listens, this is not music you can expect to digest or comprehend investing 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Flat, Naked and Selfish

lthough D-A-D had their commercial peak in 1989 with “No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims”, my personal favorite period is 95-97 with “Helpyourselfish and “Simpatico”, there is a unique punch and aggressiveness in that period, that I just prefer to other albums they have done, even though they have made many other great tracks over the years.

Helpyourselfish – Helpyourselfish

The band was born in Copenhagen, Denmark a in the early 80’s as Disneyland After Dark. Their original sound was something later referred to as Cowpunk, an odd mixture of simple “punkish” hard rock and country music. The name was changed to D-A-D due to a possible conflict with Disney after they got international attention with “No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims” and the single “Sleeping My Day Away”.

Helpyourselfish – Flat

Even though their music can hardly be called mainstream, D-A-D have become a household name in Denmark, after 11 albums and more than 30 years on the road, where they have played Roskilde Festival more than 10 times. They have now reached a status where they are on national television almost every time they make a new album.

Helpyourselfish – Naked

After Helpyourselfish, the next album Simpatico was overall as an album a little less rough in the sound, and to some extent more melodic, but the style was still harder than the earlier material.

Simpatico – Simpatico

Their latest album “DIC·NII·LAN·DAFT·ERD·ARK” was released November 2011

 

Steve Lacy – Bop, Free Jazz and Avant Garde Prog

Steven Norman Lackritz was born in New York City back in 1934. He is best known to be the first to specialize on soprano saxophone in modern Jazz, but he was also a very diverse saxophonist, from interpreting the classics masters especially Thelonious Monk, to free Jazz, avant-garde and even progressive jazz rock.

Steve Lacy playing Monk’s “Played Twice”

Starting his career playing Dixieland with various musicians from 1952-55, by the 2nd half of the 50’s he moved into more modern styles and playing with giants like free Jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor , Gil Evans, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk.

From Steve Lacy Sortie 1966, this was Steve Lacy’s sixth album, the first based only on his own compositions and his first take on free jazz as a band leader.

 

Steve Lacy appears on Italian band Area’s fourth studio album maledetti, the album is a mystic journey of styles and moods in the more avant-garde division of progressive rock, but also inspired by free/experimental Jazz.

Lacy on Area’s “maledetti” (1976)

 

 

I can’t get out !

In my series off ”Classic” 70’s masterpieces I could not, and wouldn’t dream of forgetting the mighty Tull, the main creator and dominating factor in the world of (Progressive) Folk Rock. It would be obvious to pick “Thick as a Brick” or “Aqualung” which is undeniably brilliant albums, but personally my favorite has always been “Minstrel in the Gallery” may not be that “early” 70’s but….

The opener functions as a great sum-up of what is to come later, with the mix of an acoustic opening and the harder rock finish, great melodic song parts and long instrumentals sections.

The next two tracks on side one includes a very evident and gracefully use of strings conducted by David Palmer, “Cold Wind to Valhalla” has already been covered here, on “Black Satin Dancer” the combo of Rock and Classic instrument is even more evident and brilliantly used to its full potential.

The first side of the album is perfectly rounded off with a completely low down acoustic. In my opinion one of the best quiet Jethro songs “Requiem”

All that was just amazing, but what lifts “Minstrel in the Gallery” sky high is the 16+ minutes “Baker St. Muse” epic, taking up most of side 2, a long track like that will make or break an album, and this one just makes my day every time I listen to it, and after more than 40 year that still happens very frequently.

The combination of Hard Rock, melodic song writing, acoustic passages and the strings is beautifully woven together into perfection.

 

 

Master par Excellence

I have already mentioned Gabriel Fauré in my first post of this series, but as I listen to this composer a lot right now, and also because he is interesting in the content of comparing the late Romanticism with the Modernism, due to his own transition during those years. I will make another post about Fauré.

I’m no expert in music theory, so I can’t get into a deep explanation about his development,  but you can listen for yourself to this two Violin pieces, both wonderful but the difference is very clear. :

Violin sonata, Op. 13 Composition Year 1875-76:

Fauré was professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire from the mid 1890’s and from the first decade the headmaster, one of his famous students was Maurice Ravel. After Fauré’s death, the Conservatoire rejected his radical teaching.

Violin sonata, Op. 108 Composition Year 1916-17:

In 1945 Musicologist Leslie Orrey wrote in The Musical Times, “‘More profound than Saint-Saëns, more varied than Lalo, more spontaneous than d’Indy, more classic than Debussy, Gabriel Fauré is the master par excellence of French music.”

String Quartet in E minor, Op 121, is his last work, completed in 1924

A Liquid Fusion from the Adriatic Sea.

After Miles was opening the door between Jazz and Rock with Filles de Kilimanjaro (68), In a Silent Way (69) and especially with Bitches Brew (70), there was a lot of good creative bands playing a great fusions of Jazz and Rock throughout the 70’s.

One of these Groups was Italian Agora from Ancona area at the Adriatic side of central Italy, Their first studio album (1976) was called Angora´2 based on the fact that they had already released a live album from Montreux international jazz festival.

 

Agora is a relative unknown band (outside the absolute inner fussion circle), playing a style that is not ground breaking, the similarities to the big Jazz/Rock fusion legends is very evident, but to me it is still a nice album with some very fine fusion. Especially the woodwind instruments works very well for me on this album.

 

Some Solid Copenhagen Sound

Today a look at a Danish band “The Sandmen”, the band was formed in Copenhagen 1985, with album debut in 1987. Including some breakups and makeups and some line-up changes the band is still active. Even though their record company at the time A&M send them on a promo tour in 1989 to Canada and the USA, they never made it big outside Denmark.

The English guitarist  Sam Mitchell born in Liverpool joined The Sandmen in 1988, and was an important part of the sound in their prime years until 1995. Mitchell had previously played on Rod Stewarts Gasoline Alley (1970) and Every Picture Tells a Story (1971). After the breakup he was weakened by tuberculosis and died in 2006 only 56 years old.

The Sandmen’s last album came out in 2014 for the first time the band changed their language to the native tongue, but the sound was pretty much the same, a good solid classic rock with a drop of psychedelia.

Contributions by Robert (part IV)

In 1992 Fripp contributed to David Cunningham’s “Water” on a single track “Stars” – the saxophone player is Peter (Laurence) Gordon.

Fripp had already been involved with contributions to Cunningham’s group “The Flying Lizard” back in 1981. This time the music was more ambient and minimalistic.

 

Also in 1992 Fripp contributes on English electronic group The Grid’s album 456. Fripp’s plays on 3 tracks, Ice Machine, Aquarium and Fire Engine Red.

While Fripp is very evident on all the tracks, Ice Machine stands out as the most hilarious and at the same time brilliant. A must know track for any Fripp devotee. Vocals performed by Dieter Meier from Swiss band Yello.

And then, as python said, to something completely different.

 

In 1993 Fripp played on a track from Lawrence Gowan “…but you can call me Larry” sorry to say so, but to me this is very forgettable.

Anyway here it is, it might be that others will think it is great:

Lawrence Henry Gowan is a Scottish-born Canadian pianist and singer, since 1999 Gowan has been a member of legendary American rock band Styx

The John Paul Jones Story Part 7

After his last solo album, Jones performed with various artists, folk artist Julie Felix, Prog legend Steve Hackett and others, produced New Zealand hard rocker’s The Datsuns 2nd album, before appearing on  Foo Fighters “In Your Honor” from 2005.

According to an article in Rolling Stone, band leader Grohl on Jones appearance : “If I say it’s the greatest thing that happened to me in my life, my wife will get mad, so it’s the second greatest.”

John Paul Jones – mandolin on “Another Round” from “In Your Honor”

Foo Fighters is an American band, formed in Seattle in 1994, by x-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.

“In Your Honor “is a double album, with one hard electric part and one acoustic. Jones performs on two track, both on the acoustic part.

John Paul Jones –piano on “Miracle” from “In Your Honor”, (with Petra Haden – Violin)

 

Besides Jones the album has a number of other well-known guests Petra Haden known from lots of projects including  playing with The Decemberists, Green Day and many others, Norah Jones, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and more.

Josh Homme – rhythm guitar on “Razor” from “In Your Honor”

 

 

 

紫 or 12 Gracious Melodies

Scott Weiland, the voice behind Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver died on December 3, 2015, he was 48 years old. To me personally the music or album that instantly comes to mind is an album I have always know as “12 Gracious Melodies”.

 

That is not the official title, officially it is called “Purple”, but that title is only written on the cover in Chinese: 紫, so I just did not know better, “12 Gracious Melodies” is written on the back of the CD. All this is before we were checking everything with our Ipad’s on the www.

purple

Stone Temple Pilots is an American rock band from San Diego, California. While originally identified as grunge, the band is actually more diverse that that, it would probably be more fair to just call their music melodic hard rock.

 

It may be too daring to say, that this is the best Rock album of the 90’s, there is so many to choose from, but this is definitely one of my favorites. It is full of brilliant melodic rock songs, varied and catchy without being cheesy, and the vocals are perfect.

 

Rest in Peace.

 

 

Digging Deeper into Music

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