Tag Archives: Folk/Folk Rock

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.

 

 

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Tim Buckley

Timothy Charles Buckley III, was born in Amsterdam, New York on Valentine’s Day, 1947
Buckley has covered an impressive range of styles, from a folk base, he explored Psychedelia, Jazz, Avant-garde, Funk and Soul over the 9 albums he made from 1966-1974, before he died of a heroin overdose only 28 years old.

His great vocal capacities, and his song writing deserves a lot more attention that it got back in its day. His highest peaking album was “Happy Sad” at 81, on billboard 200, most of his production was released without much success.

Today he’s legacy is a lot more valued, Allmusic rated 6 of his album 4 stars or more, out of 5.
His song “Song to the Siren” have been covered by a lot of artists, Damon and Naomi, Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Half Man Half Biscuit, Sinéad O’Connor, Bryan Ferry amongst others. A tribute album, was released in 2000.

Tim’s son Jeff Buckley went on to mount a promising musical career as well before his own tragic death in 1997, but that is a totally different story.

Gryphon – Mushrumps from the past

Midnight Mushrumps (1974) is a lesser known but highly impressive masterpiece of 70’s progressive Rock music.

Other band bands like Jethro Tull and Gentle Gaint flirted with a combination of Progressive Rock, Traditional Folk and elements from Classical Music. Gryphon what doing the same thing to the extreme, where the Rock elements was toned down, and the music was clearly sending you to a time long gone, blended from many different periods, instruments, structures, all mixed together from Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque; Classical and Folk with a touch of modern rhythmic music.

Gryphon’s self-titled debut, released the previous year, was more clearly relying on European folk, with several song based tracks played on traditional instruments, on this their second album however, only one of these track are left, “The Ploughboy’s Dream”, the only “song” on the album.

Gryphon wrote and recorded music for a National Theatre performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the music inspired the almost 19 min title track for the Midnight Mushrumps album. The track is one of those brilliant 70’s progressive rock “ Epics, very unique in style, very complex, and timeless in its beauty. Taking up a full A side of the album, back in vinyl days.

After “Midnight Mushrumps”, Gryphon released another highlight with “Red Queen to Gryphon Three” later in 1974, a step even more in direction of the British Progressive Rock scene of the time, but I prefer the instrumentation and sound of “Midnight Mushrumps”, which I find to be more authentic and unique than their later albums. That said “Red Queen to Gryphon Three” is combined of excellent composition and great musicianship, and can only be recommended to anyone interested in Prog Rock inspired by the music of the past.

The Dragon, The Hird, The Bittersweet Love Song

Yukimi Eleanora Nagano, was born and raised in Sweden, to a Japanese farther and a Swedish-American mother. Since 1996 she have been vocalist in Little Dragons, a band she formed with high school friends, playing downbeat Trip hop, and electronic Pop.
From: Little Dragon – Little Dragon (2007)

On Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, Yukimi co-wrote and Little Dragon was featured as guest performers on two tracks. Little Dragon was the opening act for Europe and Australia on Gorillaz 2010 tour, and guest performing live on those two tracks.
From : Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (2010)

Yukimi wrote the lyrics and delivered vocals on Swedish house artist Hirds instrumental Keep Your Hird, re-released with vocals as “Keep Your Kimi”, as well as on other tracks from Hird’s “Moving On” album.
From: Hird ‎– Moving On (2004)

Yukimi was also performing vocals on two Koop albums. Koop is a Swedish Jazz, Acid Jazz, Trip-hop duo. There clean and unique sound is recognised as highly innovative in electronic Jazz, delivering a retro Jazz music, in a modern package.
From: Koop – Koop Islands (2006)

Koop’s albums features several guest vocalists, another interesting performance on Kopp’s 2006 album, Koop Island, was Norwegian singer/songwriter and guitarist Ane Brun.
From: Koop – Koop Islands (2006)

Ane Brun have been based in Stockholm, Sweden since 2001, recording seven solo albums. Her style is often Folk inspired, very stripped, focus is on the song and the vocals, often very emotional, reflecting on themes of love, with a mature bittersweet insight.
From: Ane Brun – Rarities (2013)

The song was written for the Film “A Thousand Times Goodnight” that won the Special Grand Prix of the jury at the Montreal Film Festival.

Vernon (Part 2)

If you havent already, read part one first.
Vernon spend 3 months in his father’s cottage in Wisconsin from November 2006, to find himself, after the break with his girlfriend, and his band at the time DeYarmond Edison, where he recorded the tracks that would lead to his major success, using a technic of extreme amounts of overdubbing, he founded the project Bon Iver in his solitude. Adding only drums, trumpet, trombone and additional vocals later, Bon Iver was born with the debut “For Emma, Forever Ago” first released in 2007.
Bon Iver, From : For Emma, Forever Ago, 2007

PELE members form Collection of Colonies of Bees in 1998, with the intension to explore traditional folk/bluegrass instrumentation, and combine it with modern processing and technology, but over the years transformed and played many forms of electronic and acoustic rock. Music that spawn the interest of Vernon and let to the collaboration, continued to this day.
From Collection of Colonies of Bees, Birds ,2008

Vernon himself started out by forming DeYarmond Edison in 2002, playing Folk Rock/Americana with some local success, making two albums self-released albums in 2004 and 2005.
From Deyarmond Edison, Silent Signs, 2006

On another side note, Vernon took part in the recording of Anaïs Mitchell’s folk opera Hadestown, the Opera is a remake of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Vernon plays the leading male character Orpheus, Anaïs Mitchell plays Eurydice.
Anaïs Mitchell, From Hadestown, 2010

The B-side of Bon Iver’s grammy nominated single “Holocene” was a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Come Talk to Me”, to return the favour of Peter Gabriel recording a cover of “Flume” from “For Emma…”,for his Scratch My Back album.
Bon Iver, B-side from Holocene single.

Vernon (Part 1)

Most people know Bon Iver’s self-titled album from 2011, to the point where it would make little sense to make a post about it now. So that is not the point here, but there is more to the story than that.
From Volcano Choir : Repave 2013

Latest “Volcano Choir” and their Repave album, released September last year. “Volcano Choir” is a collaboration between Justin Vernon, later frontman of Bon Iver and members of Collection of Colonies of Bees, starting back in 2005. Colonies of Bees itself a sideproject of “Pele” members, Chris Rosenau and Jon Mueller, “Pele” disbanded in 2004, but “Colonies of Bees” was continued.
From Volcano Choir : Repave 2013

To fully understand the music of Volcano Choir, it is also interesting to listen to the other related music, besides that of Bon Iver, so what was PELE about, they have been described as a post rock band, and even a bit atypical post rock, due to the fact that they flirted with Jazz elements.
From Pele : Teaching the History of Teaching Geography (1998)

Where Bon Iver, is basicly a one man project, Volcano Choir is a Band effort, albums are slowly formed of the creative process between the members, and it has taken years to create each of the two existing albums. The First album “Unmap” was released in 2009 after 4 years of collaboration, and another 4 years went by, before the release of “Repave”.
From Volcano Choir : Unmap 2009

To Be Continued

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)

Morning Dew: Nazareth, Gratefull Dead, Einstürzende Neubauten, Robert Plant, Bonnie Dobson.

Morning Dew is a folk song, but it has often been included in the repertoire of Rock bands. The song is about the last man and woman left alive after nuclear holocaust.
It first came to my attention in the early 70’s in this great, long version recorded by the Scottish hard rock band Nazareth, from 1971.

At that point the song was already famous and recorded in a number of variations, most notably by The Gratefull Dead, they had included it on their debut album from 1967, and continued to play it as a signature song on their shows.

German Experimental/Industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, known to use mixed metal percussion and building tools to create their noice rock, recorded another interesting version on their 1987 album “Fünf auf der nach oben offenen Richterskala”

Ex Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant, recorded Morning Dew for his 2002 solo album Dreamland, another beautiful version of the song.

The song was originally written by Canadian folk music singer and guitarist Bonnie Dobson 1961. First recorded for her 1962 live album, “At Folk City”

The Cold Winds of Folk

Now to some winter inspired folk rock music, first Jethro Tull, with their wonderful blend of folk and rock. On “Minstrel in the Gallery” (1975) Anderson (frontman and songwriter) is recreating the Norse and Anglo-Saxon poetry traditions, in this wonderful piece about the myth of Valhalla, of course with a hint, that today “Valkyrie maidens ride empty-handed” due to a lack of sword fighting Heroes. Its not actualy a song about winter, but it is filled with hints to cold, Frost and Ice. Reflecting the perception of the Myth of the Norse, as a cold ice world.

Jethro Tull was and is the one band, defining folk rock as a part of the progressive rock scene. The band, have had a huge following and a loyal fan base, ever since the early 70’s. Jethro Tull have sold more than 60 million albums worldwide.

More direct and grounded, was The Decemberists (2011) “January Hymn”, from “The King Is Dead”, a simple yet very beautiful song, set in cold winter scenery. The Decemberists are an indie, folk rock band from Oregon, known to use the accordion, Hammond organ, upright bass, cello, bouzouki and other instruments not common in rock. The band just like Jethro Tull lyrically favors a storytelling approach, often with historical perspective or inspiration. Even though in this case it seems we got a song about lost love, or at least lost connections.

Jurojin

Saturday, and I have had a bit of controversy with myself about what to post today, looking into everything from pop over punk and ska to canterbury scene and jazz , but nothing was suitable for my moods today.

The Heavier Jurojin

So finally I came across Jurojin, an experimental rock group from London, England. Playing a nice mix of world music, folk and heavy metal. Uniquely spiced by Simran Ghalley a classically trained Tabla player. Only one album have been released so far, The Living Measure Of Time (2010).

The Folk side of Jurojin

Jurojin have sometimes perform acoustic shows, focused on Eastern influences and the Tabla. Violinist Anna Phoebe (Jethro Tull, Roxy Music) have been performing with the band.

The more eastern influenced world music, side of Jurojin