Tag Archives: Classic Rock

and the time is…then

After their eponymous debut, Yes  released “Time and a Word” in summer 1970.

The line-up was unchanged, but this time the album features a brass and strings orchestra on almost every track, which leaves the listener with a more Progressive Rock sound, pointing towards the future Yes. They were thinking about using a Mellotron but the idea was dropped and Mellotron would not be introduced to a Yes album until Tony Kaye would be replaced by Rick Wakeman

Then

 

The album opens with a Richie Havens cover of “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”, a track that showcase the entire album quite well even though it is not a Yes original. Together with “The Prophet” and “Astral Traveller” the tracks that most clearly shows the direction towards Symphonic Rock Yes was heading for.

Yes cover of “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”

Richie Havens 1968 original of “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” from his 2nd album “Something Else Again”

Production wise as well as artistically, I guess most Yes lovers would agree that the two early albums stands out as the weakest of the 70’s catalogue at least up to Tormato. Personally though I find “Time and a World” to be clearly the better of the two. Without being perfect I believe the orchestra addition works quite well and overall the album contains quite a few strong tunes.

Time and a Word may sound very cheesy especially to those that prefer their rock to be hard and punchy but when in the right mood I find it to be a fine song.

There was increasing tension between Peter Banks and the Band, mostly due to his opposition against the use of orchestra and the direction the music was taking, something he felt would reduce his options as a guitarist and he left the band or rather was sacked, before the album hit the record stores. This provided an absurd situation where the US cover featured a picture of the band with future guitarist Steve Howe although he was not playing on the album and not mentioned in the credits.

TimeAndAWordUS

On a side note there was another important contributor to the album, David Foster a long-time friend to Jon Anderson who was playing with Jon in The Warriors, a band that also included Ian Wallace who would later join King Crimson playing on their “Islands” album and Live recordings from 1971-1972.

David Foster sings on “Sweet Dreams” and plays acoustic guitar on “Time and a Word” he also co-wrote both tracks.

At this 1967 clip of The Warriors – Jon Anderson have taken over lead vocal after his brother Tony who left in late 1965.

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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.

 

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

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.

For Mad Men Only

May Blitz was a short lived Rock trio, created back in 1969. After playing live for a while on pubs and other small venues in UK, and going through some personal changes, they got a record deal with Vertigo. At this point the group was Canadian singer and guitarist Jamie Black, Canadian bassist Reid Hudson and Brittish drummer Tony Newman, know at the time for his work with Jeff Beck, Donovan and later playing with names like David Bowie, Allan Clarke (The Hollies), Joan Armatrading, David Coverdale, ect.

From – May Blitz (1970)

May Blitz deliver a nice stoner rock, rooted in heavy blues, in a tradition not unlike Jimi Hendrix or Cream.
The sound is pretty good for albums from this period, and there is a nice mix of genre elements on the albums. On the negative side some may find their style a bit loose and Jammy, compared to other Rock bands in the early 70’s, who was often moving towards a more “restricted” and “composed” Rock style at this point. Anyway, no matter if You think it was deserved or not, they did not do well commercially, and after their second album with the clever title “The 2nd Of May”, they disbanded. The two Canadians vanished from the annals of Rock history, as mentioned above Tony Newman, continued his career as drummer.

From – The 2nd Of May (1971)

“Church Of Misery” Released a cover of May Blitz “For Mad Men Only”, as a bonus track for their 2004 album, The Second Coming. “Church Of Misery” is a Japanese band from Shinjuku, Tokyo, formed in 1995, playing Doom Metal, with influence from early 70’s Heavy and Psychedelic Rock. They are Known to almost always write songs about serial killers and mass murder.

Church Of Misery – For Mad Men Only

The Wild and beautiful Child – Savage Rose

Savage Rose in my book, is the most interesting band, to ever come out of Denmark, and the vocals performed by Annisette is simply world class. Even though Annisette’s husband Thomas Koppel suddenly past away in 2006, Annisette and Savage Rose, is still active, and a new album will be out in 2014.

From Black Angel 1995

The Savage, was formed in 1967
At the age of 18 Thomas Koppel ‘s wrote a Hans Christian Andersen opera ‘A MOTHER’S TALE’, and became a sensation for it’s dramatic power and professionalism, vocal knowledge, and sophisticated orchestration. A MOTHER’S TALE was performed by THE ROYAL OPERA for two consecutive seasons. During his teens and earliest twenties Thomas Koppel’s musical compositions developed into larger, important orchestral works, performed by major orchestras and soloists. In 1968 at the age of 24 he’s had become so influenced by the “beat” music of the 60’s, that he decided to form the Savage Rose. He was the major force behind the band to his death in 2006.

The original Savage Rose made 6 albums, the last “Dødens Triumf” (triumph of death) an instrumental (with one song) ballet, The ballet, became the biggest success ever of The Royal Ballet – a sell-out over 30 years now, with performances as far as at the The Metropolitan in New York. With more than 250,000 sold, The CD/LP is one of the biggest selling mostly instrumental records ever in Scandinavia. The theme song has newly been re-released in the US by Rhino Records.

From Dødens Triumf (1972)

The original band split up, Savage Rose recorded the gospel/jazz-albummet “Babylon”, with help from Jazz saxophonist Ben Webster. After this they put together yet another Rock band, and recorded Wild Child the last “English” vocals Album, for a long time to come.

From Wild Child 1973

Savage Rose (mainly Thomas & Anisette) had lost interest in the Record Industry. They stil play music, but now free concerts in small communities of Copenhagen, had become their focus, and the song writing was now by Annisette in Danish. From 1978 – 1994 Savage Rose made recordings again, all of them in Danish, and with a much more acoustic sound than before. The Lyrics are increasingly political, as everything else about Savage Rose, actively denying themselves any major income from their art, living in the Slums of Copenhagen, when not touring Europe.

From Savage Rose 1968

In 1995 they sign a contract with Mega Records, and trough contacts in Copenhagen met with George Duke (Yes that GD). Thomas and Annisette moved to Los Angeles, where George produced
Black Angel. Savage Rose had changed a lot, the sound was American Jazz, Soul, Reagge but never the less it was somehow still very much Savage Rose. The record becomes a major hit in Denmark. Putting Savage Rose back up where they were in the early 70’s. I have seen Savage Rose life several times and nothing is as touching and beautiful as Annisette singing.

From Love And Freedom 2012

Billion dollar Horror Baby

Glam Rock part IV
In the late 60’s early Seventies Alice Cooper got the idea of an atypical glam rock approach, a horror movie inspired Shock Glam Show and image, they impressed Frank Zappa at an audition, and got a record deal on his label. Alice Cooper released two unsuccessful albums, “ We were into fun, sex, death and money when everybody was into peace and love”.

Billion Dollar Babies 1973


Their 3.rd album “Love it to Death” 1971, was a change in style, from a Pink Floyd inspired psychedelic style of rock, they changed into a short track rock style, more in line with the style of Rolling Stones, The Who or even Beatles. The album became them their first hit, with single “I’m Eighteen”, and now Alice Cooper got a gigger contract, had developed a full blown Horror stage show, and continued to have successful albums and singles, first a major single hit with School’s Out, from 1972, the year after a major album hit with “Billion Dollar Babies” making album chart no.1 in both US and UK.

Schools Out


At this point Alice Cooper was renowned for their stage shows, the combination of offensive lyrics, with undertones of sex and violence, combined with theatrical horror shows with torture instruments, beheaded mannequins and so on , Alice Cooper was as political incorrect as they could possibly by, making them just even more popular with the fans, and hated by the kids parents, not to mention everyone trying to make rock music serious and intellectual.

Steven, Originally From “Welcome to my Nightmare 1975”

Alice Cooper made it look so easy, that we tend to forget how ahead of his (their) time this was, and how influential Coopers stage presence would be on generations to come, so many acts have taken inspiration from his stage shows, from Glam via Punk to Metal, many different bands have covered his songs, and even Bob Dylan have stated Alice Cooper to be an overlooked songwriter. Salvador Dali was a fan, and made a hologram : “first Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain”.

Wake the Dead from Along came a spider, 2008, (feat. Ozzy Osbourne) fan made video
Alice Cooper have continued creating albums and touring into the new millennium, he is also openly working with helping other Rock musicians out of drug and alcohol abuse.
From: Billion Dollar Babies 1973

Gila – Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Could there be such a thing as 70’s Psychedelic, Americana, folk/Krautrock. It’s hardly an established genre, but there is this one album, by Gila. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.”

Gila was one of those lesser known German bands forming in late 60’s, to make just one album, Gila – Free Electric Sound (1971), an album of experimental Psychedelic/Stoner rock, sounding not unlike so many other German bands at the time. They disbanded in 1972.

In 1973 however the former Gila leader Guitarist and vocalist Conny Veit, reformed the band, with keyboard player Florian Fricke (Popol Vuh), drummer Daniel Fichelscher (Popol Vuh/Amon Dull II), and his girlfriend Sabine Merbach. Resulting in “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”. The music is far from what you would expect if you know the first Gila album, not the typical experimental, partly improvised, Floyd inspired acid, you get from most Krautrock bands, it sounds more like the music coming out from US in late 60’s early 70’s, Crosby Stills…, Jefferson, that sort of thing, melodic, well produced, relative short songs. A wonderful Progressive Folk/Rock album, as unexpected as it was from a German outfit of established krautrockers.

The theme of Native Americans, fighting an uneven battle against the US, made a lot of sense, in a time where Vietnam was carpet bombed with napalm.
From: Gila – Free Electric Sound (1971)

Hidden 80′s Gems – Part 2 1982

Still depressed by the fact that Mike Oldfield was now making horrible pop songs, I was still crawling around in the backrooms of the record store, trying to avoid any pictures of Michael Jackson and Duran Duran…..no just joking, had been a stream of good album in the early 80’s allready at this point, The Cure, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Simple Minds, Bowie, Talking Heads, the reformed King Crimson, made some of my all time favorite albums in this period.

1982 – Robert Plant – Pictures of Eleven
Robert Plants 1982 debut, was not as good or ”tough” as Led Zeppelin was, but I will pick that albums because that is a standart no one, NO ONE, will ever be able to hold against, anything would flop if Zeppelin was the standart to hold. Plant did in my opinion one of the best Rock albums of the early 80’s with his debut, his vocals are as good as ever, the songwriting is not bad, and sometimes you even get that Zeppelin vibe.

If I was in the mood for some, simple, straight forward, rock music of high standarts, there was not much to those from in the early 80’s, this is the one I would put on.

The Album did fairly well at the time, but if you look for it on all the ”top albums of the 80’s lists” its never there. Anyway i think is better music than Yazoo, Duran Duran or Adam Ant, unless I am dansing, and I am not dansing that many hours a day.