Woman’s Boat and Lifeforms

What a Fripp

1994 was a wonderful active year for Fripp, contributing to Damage – Live , Flowermouth  and Sidi Mansour but that is not all.

Together with a star cast is names like Peter Gabriel, Trey Gunn and David Rhodes, Fripp contributed to Toni Childs album “The Woman’s Boat” on several tracks. The album features a rich world music inspiration that we also know from the works of Peter Gabriel in this period and it is no surprise to find that it was recorded in his Real World Studios.

 

Toni Childs (born 1957) is an American/Australian singer and songwriter. Making three albums from 1988 to 1994, best received was the debut “Union”. After 1997 Toni Childs gave up touring after developing Graves’ disease, she would not make another album until 2009.

Fripp also played on a track from “The Future Sound of London”’s album “Lifeforms” a wonderful album of avant-garde electronic music, walking the line between  techno and ambient. Surprisingly not only a success with critics but also commercially; selling over 60.000 copy’s.

The Future Sound of London is a duo of Garry Cobain born 1967 Bedford England and Brian Dougans born 1966 Glasgow Scotland. Brian Dougans has also released as soloartist under the name Humanoid having a hit with ”Stakker Humanoid” prior to his work with ”The Future Sound of London”

Advertisements

If you listen

 

I first heard about Amos Lee in 2008 where his album Last Days at the Lodge got a brilliant 6/6 star review in my local music magazine GAFFA. The album turned out to be just as good as the review predicted and now almost 10 years later it is just as great as first time.

Amos Lee is able to create what I would call a seemingly simple rustic and underproduced sound, to match his no less that supreme vocals. Often the music is low pace, but there are a few just a little rockier tracks.

Amos Lee’s next album was Mission Bell from 2011, the album had a lot of guests vocalists. I don’t know if that is the reason why this album, besides having some very strong moments did not hit me nearly as hard as the previous one, but it never seemed to be an album in my mind more a lot of tracks.

That said “Windows Are Rolled Down” is a wonderful song and not the only one.

Amos have made albums before and after, but those are the once I know well.

The Genesis of Yes

Yes was formed in London 1968. Singer Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire wanted to create a music that combined strong vocal harmonies ala Simon and Garfunkel, with a potent beat music. They recruited guitarist Peter Banks, keyboard player Tony Kaye and drummer Bill Bruford to form a five piece and start rehearsing.

Yes covered Simon and Garfunkel’s America on the collection “The New Age of Atlantic” (1972), it was later included on Yes first compilation album Yesterdays (1975)

Personally amongst my absolute favorite Yes tracks.

Now back to the beginning again (pun intended). Yes played a number of important gigs, amongst those  opening for Creams  and Janis Joplin both in Royal Albert Hall, after that they signed with Atlantic in spring 1969. The first single “Sweetness” was soon released and in July 1969 the debut album “Yes” was released in UK a bit later in US.

US ALBUM COVER:

“Yes” is very far from the albums that would later raise the band to ultimate success as Symphonic Rock’s unchallenged masters. The style is a complex but relative straight version of beat music with a few hints to psych and a little Jazz inspiration in Brufords drumming. That said it definitely has many smaller hints of great potential.

On tracks like Beatles cover “Every Little Thing”, opener “Beyond and Before”, “Looking Around” and “Survival” they do find that fine mix of great vocals and a potent beat music they wanted.

On a song like the short, simple and very beautiful “Yesterday and Today” Anderson shows the emotional debt of his vocal.

What may be the most evident issue when you listen to the album retrospectively is that the band is still looking for something that they haven’t found yet, making this album interesting but mostly as a transition album from the late 60’s psychedelic beat/rock towards something yet undefined but soon to come.

Anderson, Squire, Bill Bruford’s “Harold Land” may not be my favorite track here, but maybe the one pointing mostly in the “right” direction.

 

Milky Way Six & Streng

I you havent already read the first post suggest that you start here

After Lambertland bassist and founding member Måns Groundstroem left Tasavallan Presidentti and was replaced by Heikki Virtanen, before the band made their final album “Milky Way Moses”. At first glance not much difference from what we had on the previous recording, but there are some important changes.

Music writing no longer only in the hands of Tolonen, this time Pöyry and Koivistoinen participates. There is a new lightness and you may say Milky Way Moses is much more straight forward than any of the previous albums.

I’m sure many listeners will find it pleasant especially if you already love typical 70’s progressive (Jazz) Rock, personally though I’m a fan of the oddity and unique moods of the previous albums that to some extent was lost here, never the less a great and special album from the early Scandinavian rock scene.

This was the end at Tasavallan Presidentti, or more precisely the end for a long long time, as the band reunited in 2005 to release their 6th album in 2006.

Frank Robson was now back on vocals and also creating the lyrics. Jukka Tolonen writing the music, besides two tracks completely by Robson. Another founding member Juhani Aaltonen also back as Pekka Pöyry who was suffering from manic depression tragically committed suicide in 1980.

The new album was another step in the direction of a more mainstream sound, fine Blues/Jazz Rock but anything distinctly “Tasavallan” is almost gone.

You may wonder why this is the 6th album, as I have previously only mentioned four, the reason is that there is an 1970 album by Pekka Streng & Tasavallan Presidentti called Magneettimiehen Kuolema.

The reason I did not mention in the Tasavallan Presidentti chronology is that the album was very much a Pekka Streng album.

Very interesting album in its own right though. An album I see as experimental or psychedelic prog folk, stylistically far from all the other albums.

Streng work was not recognized much in his own lifetime, but received some attention later on. Streng died of cancer in 1975 just 26 years old

President of the Republic

Finnish “Tasavallan Presidentti” released their self-titled debut in 1969, the band was formed by the 17 years old guitarist Jukka Tolonen, drummer Vesa Aaltonen, English vocalist and keyboard player Frank Robson, Juhani Aaltonen (saxophones, flute) and Måns Groundstroem (bass, organ).

The debut is an interesting mix of many elements from blues rock jazz folk and even some minor classical inspired sections, it is all very interesting but that said it is also bit unfocused, can’t say the album turns out as a united piece of music, but definitely not bad either.

After replacing Juhani Aaltonen with Pekka Pöyry (saxophones and flute), Tasavallan Presidentti recorded their 2nd album in 1970. This album was originally only released in Sweden and very rare, but in 2002 it came out on CD and in 2014 it was released as “Limited Edition” on vinyl by Finnish Svart Records.

The album is in my opinion a steep up from the debut, the band are finding a more streamlined sound and style, still very varied but overall the album works better as “one piece of music”. The style is now very close you what I would for most parts call Progressive Rock with a clear jazz twist.

After the 2nd album Frank Robson was replaced by already established Finnish vocalist Eero Raittinen. Another important change is that Jukka Tolonen now took over the music writing that were a more shared process on the previous albums, something that might be the reason why we now has a huge development in the direction of the music and for the first time a style that is unique to Tasavallan Presidentti.

This is clearly Jazz/Rock but not in the American style where Jazz musicians take in elements from rock, this is the opposite way around, rock musicians taking in elements from Jazz, it makes a huge difference – I LOVE IT.

Lambertland was rather successful, number 7 on the Finnish album charts. It was released in UK and provided the band with some high profile concerts in UK and other countries.

As you may have already guessed Tasavallan Presidentti translate into President of the Republic.

to be continued…….

Brighter Weight and Chest Fever

Now 4 years ago, I decided to let my player run at random, and from there create a post around the first chosen track.

The first track this time was “Brighter” from Cass McCombs 2013 album “Big Wheel and Others”
Couldn’t comment on McCombs entire catalogue as I don’t know him that well, but “Big Wheel and Others” is an very interesting and pleasant journey, the 90 minutes though sometimes too much for one sitting.

The music is often soft and very well crafted, comes out adult and intense with great lyrics to match.

There is another version of “Brighter” on the album, with front vocals performed by American actress, screenwriter, singer, and songwriter Karen Black. Karen was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and died aged 74 in 2013 some months before the album was released.

Karen Black rose to fame in 1969 playing one of the two prostitutes in the iconic road movie Easy Rider

The Soundtrack for the film features some of the biggest names of the American music industry at the time Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Steppenwolf, The Electric Prunes and a few lesser known Fraternity of Man, The Holy Modal Rounders and Smith.

Smith made two albums in 1969 and 1970 mostly cover songs and the first had some success spending time on US album Top 40, but the reason they were on the Easy Riders soundtrack was that The Bands version of “The Weight” that was in the movie, could not be included on the soundtrack album for contractual reasons.

The song was originally recorded and released on The Band’s “Music from Big Pink” from 1968, at the time having mediocre sales figures but today regarded as a milestone album praised by critics as well as music artists.

Chest Fever

written by Robbie Robertson, lead vocals Richard Manuel

Cantaloupe and the Hancock

Undoubtable Herbie Hancock’s commercial  success really took off from his 1973 album Head Hunters, arguably peaking with his Academy Award for Best Original Score for Round Midnight in 1986.

But commercial  success is one thing another is his huge and impressive contribution to Jazz music overall.

“Tell me a bedtime story” from his 1969 album Fat Albert Rotunda

At the above album Hancock was already starting a transition into Jazz-Fusion that would be dominant in the 1970’s, but Herbie Hancock did recordings also all the way through the 1960’s, making his first solo release in 1962 with “Takin’ Off” on blue note

“Us3” a London founded Jazz-rap group had a huge hit with “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” from their debut album  “Hand on the Torch” in 1992/93. The track was based on Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” using samples from the 1964 original.

“Cantaloupe Island” was recorded for Herbie Hancock’s fourth solo album Empyrean Isles from 1964, then I listen to this it is easy to understand why “Us3” took up the cover version, true brilliance where less is so much more.

 

The musicians for the original 1964 recording were: Hancock (piano), Freddie Hubbard (cornet), Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums).

Shouldn’t throw stones!

In my series of early 70’s masterpieces, I have come to Gentle Giant.

As with most of the 70’s masters, I could easily have picked another album first, especially Octopus would fulfil the masterpiece requirement perfectly, in fact most Gentle Giant albums would.

The reason I pick In a Glass House is that this was where I first heard them.

The first few times I thought it was Genesis, can still remember saying “play some Genesis” – “which one” – “the one with the glasses”. I was of course corrected, but everyone knew what I was talking about.

Gentle Giant originated from a series of different named pop band formed in 1966-1969 by the Shulman brothers, Phil, Derek and Ray.

In 1970 they teamed with Gary Green and classically trained Kerry Minnear to form Gentle Giant, one of the less famous but highly talented, complex and sophisticated progressive rock band, a band that I have personally listened to uncountable times, every time surprised just how great they really are.

Looking through the window can you tell me what you see

You’re sure you’re really seeing what is meant to be a Glass

A mirror to reflect what I conspire a vision, image I desire  

 

Older brother Phil quite the band before they started creating In a Glass House, the remaining four members was multi instrumentalists, but even so it meant a slight change towards a more rock orientated sound compared to their older material.

But even if In a Glass House is a bit friendlier to the Rock orientated ear, there is no lack of unfamiliar time signature, tempo changes or mysterious ancient moods. Gentle Giant did not change much they just evolved a little.

You’ll try to question her, 

Does she believe in the choice of Your life.

So you have to try to ask her, when you are away, left 

Behind, out of mind; away.

 

 

Crawling with Closed Eyes or The Wheel of Time

Kalachakra

Kalachakra Laghutantra Kālachakra (Sanskrit: कालचक्र), is a Sanskrit term used in Tantric Buddhism that literally means “time-wheel” or “time-cycles”. The spelling Kālacakra is also used. Kālachakra refer to a very complex teaching and practice in Tibetan Buddhism.

Kalacakra was also the name of a short lived German duo of Claus Rauschenbach and Heinz Martin doing just one album, Crawling To Lhasa from 1972.

I think it is fair to assume that the young Greman’s have been sky high at the time, and this is not party music, the mysterious spiritualism clearly inspired by Tibetan Buddhism provides for a very calm and peaceful experience best served with closed eyes laying down.

It is very hard to find anything quite like this album, could mention some sort of Raga Rock connection or Paul Horn’s Inside the Taj Mahal, or even Popol Vuh but this album is different, more stoned and at the same time very playful, almost humoristic.

You get the feeling the duo is recording on some very simple equipment while sometimes talking laughing or chanting? – just having a blast.

Zen and The End

Born in 1960 and growing up in New York (state), Robert Arthur Mould moved to Saint Paul and studies at Macalester College. This was where he met Grant Hart and Greg Norton.

They started rehearsing in Norton’s basement and soon formed “Hüsker Dü”, from here he is known as Bob Mould.

The first Hüsker Dü album, “Everything Falls Apart” was released in early 1983, the style was Hardcore Punk, and the original album was just over 19 minutes, with 12 tracks often under the 1 minute mark.

What came next was at the time a revolution, with Zen Arcade from july 1984 Hüsker Dü, on a double concept album, an unthinkable concept in punk, they created a pot of every imaginable ingredient from acoustic instruments, pop, jazz, psychedelia, noise and even Hare Krishna’s chanting (see this post), but not forgetting to add a lot of solid hardcore to the mix, the result was no less than explosive.

Hüsker Dü blew through the boundaries of hardcore punk, with a groundbreaking underground album that would become legendary in the formation of what would become the scene now known as Alternative.

Over the final four albums Hüsker Dü did before they disbanded in late 1987, they further evolved away from the fast noisy hardcore punk and towards a slower and more melodic rock. The last two albums was released after they signed with major label Warner Bros.

There are several explanations and no clear answer to why the bands broke up, but there was tension and rivalry between Bob Mould and Grant Hart and had been for years, Hüsker Dü’s young manager David Savoy committed suicide, and Grant Hart had a heroine problem.

After Hüsker Dü, Bob Mould moved to a farm in Pine City Minnesota, a small isolated location with a population of about 3000 people, where he would start writing his first solo album.

Workbook was released in 1989, the album was featuring bassist Tony Maimone original member of Pere Ubu, cellist Jane Scarpantoni, and drummer Anton Fier, all other instruments played by Mould.

Now everything hardcore was moved to the background if not completely gone and the sound is similar to what you would expect from bands like R.E.M.

The album was not selling well and neither was the next solo album from Mould,  he was soon released from his contract with Virgin Records

Mould was still recording demo tracks and he formed a new band Suger, with songwriter, singer, guitarist, and bass guitarist David Barbe and drummer Malcolm Travis in 1992, and soon releases the debut Copper Blue

Somewhat ironic this late effort would be the most successful album from one of the forefathers of Alternative American rock, now in the midst of “Grunge” becoming commercially successful; he would now reap the seed he had sown almost 10 years earlier.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, should I smile or cry knowing that Zen Arcade was not ?. Anyway Copper Blue is a fine album, no doubt about that.

Sugar made an EP and another album before Mould broke the band up in spring 1996.

After this last band effort Mould has worked as a solo artist, releasing 10 albums between 1996 and 2016. His latest album Patch the Sky the last of a trilogy with 2012’s Silver Age 2012 and Beauty & Ruin 2014.

The final remark goes to Mould about “”The End of Things”:

“What happens if it does fall apart, so to speak? What if everything collapses?” And I also like the idea that people walk around and say, “Oh, it’s the Internet of things.” This whole new protocol — smartphones and stuff like that. And I thought, “How about the end of things?”

Digging Deeper into Music

%d bloggers like this: