Archive for the 'My Top Ten Albums' Category

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO JUGULA – ROY HARPER

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ROY HARPER is my most favourite songwriters and I try to aspire, without imitating, to write songs as good or even better than he has. I use him as a challenge and teacher when it comes to writing songs. I have even invited him to drop in and have a cup of tea with me if he is ever in the country and has the time, because I would love to learn more about the man.
I know that he is respected by and has written, collaborated and performed with many well known musicians and is the only person other than the members of Pink Floyd, to ever sing a lead vocal track on a Pink Floyd song ( Have A Cigar – Wish You Were Here).
Led Zeppelin write a song for him (Hats Off To Roy Harper – Led Zeppelin 3).
Paul and Linda McCartney did backing vocals on the beautiful “One Of Those Days In England” from his wonderful album, Bullinamingvase.

One of his most hauntingly beautiful and interesting songs would have to be “Asleep At The Wheel”, a song I like to play if I get the opportunity, to people I meet because I know if they make a comment about it or look as though they’re enjoying it, then they’ve got good taste in music and I’ll probably get along quite well with them.

I was first introduced to this album by a friend who took me on a drive through the beautiful countryside in which I lived at the time.
At first it didn’t do much for me until I heard the song “Hope” and then my ears opened up and I began to listen to the album properly. What I heard were some great songs that left me feeling like “I want to write songs as good as that”.
They are interesting, funny, beautiful and a journey within themselves.
If you have never listened to Roy Harper before, then please do yourself that favour and listen to some of the most beautifully crafted songs you will ever hear.

THE ALBUM

Whatever Happened to Jugula? is a 1985 album by Roy Harper and Jimmy Page.

With a working title of Rizla due to the album’s cover art (an unravelled orange Rizla pack), Jugula, as this album is often called, was released on the Beggars Banquet label and reached the UK Top 20. The album contains a number of well crafted, original songs written by Harper.
It is recorded in a fresh and spontaneous manner, often with only the unique and beautiful sound of Ovation guitars and vocals. Occasionally, the spacious arrangements are filled with synthesizer and electric guitar.

This album in particular brought Harper to a new and wider audience, mainly due to Harper and Jimmy Page’s appearances at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1984, an album tour and a 15 minute televised interview by Mark Ellen on the Old Grey Whistle Test.
The interview featured Harper and Page playing their acoustic guitars on the side of Scafell Pike in the English Lake District, a somewhat different and unusual interview for the time. Songs played included “Hangman” and part of “The Same Old Rock”.

The first track on the album, “Nineteen Forty-Eightish”, a reference to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, crescendos with a fine piece of lead guitar by Page.
This album was the fifth that Harper and Page had worked on, but the first entire record they made together. For those used to Page’s guitar playing, his input is quite evident throughout the album.
Page is a natural and perfect complement to Harper’s deft, fresh and unique guitar playing. Other standout tracks include “Hangman”, a powerful song that expresses the feelings of an innocent man condemned to die and “Frozen Moment”, a particularly beautiful song played entirely in the chord of C.

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The title for ‘Jugula’ came from playing Trivial Pursuit, in order to explain to everyone how they should go about answering the questions as straight and honestly as possible I’d say, “Go for the jugula”.
It was going to be ‘Harper & Page’ for a while, but that’s like selling Jimmy’s name, then it went to ‘1214’ which is the year that the Magna Carta was signed… but that was a bit esoteric. So one day we were talking and “jugula” came up, so I phoned the artist and they’d designed up to the ‘Whatever happened to…’ bit so I said leave it there and put Jugula at the end”.

David Gilmour wrote the music for the third track, “Hope”, Harper penned the lyrics, and Nick Harper (Harper’s 16 year old son at the time), played the lead guitar on this track (not Gilmour as is often mistakenly stated).
A faster tempo version of this melody with different lyrics, appears on the White City: A Novel album by Pete Townshend, entitled “White City Fighting”.

A cover version of “Hope”, with “Bad Speech” as an introduction, can be found on the album Eternity by the Liverpudlian band Anathema, an album that Harper also makes an appearance on.

Side one

1.     “Nineteen Forty-Eightish” – Harper
2.     “Bad Speech” – Harper
3.     “Hope”   Harper, – Gilmour
4.     “Hangman” – Harper

Side two

1.     “Elizabeth” – Harper
2.     “Frozen Moment” – Harper
3.     “Twentieth Century Man” – Harper
4.     “Advertisement (Another Intentional Irrelevant Suicide)” – Harper

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MUSICIANS

* Roy Harper – acoustic guitar and/or electric guitar
* Jimmy Page – acoustic guitar and/or electric guitar
* Tony Franklin – electric bass
* Nik Green – keyboard
* Ronnie Brambles – drums
* Steve Broughton – drums
* Preston Heyman – drums
* Nick Harper – semi-acoustic guitar
* Nik Green – mixing desk

(thanks to Wikipedia for the information supplied)

OBSCURED BY CLOUDS – PINK FLOYD

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PINK FLOYD have made some brilliant albums (all of them as far as I’m concerned),
and most people would say that Dark Side Of The Moon was their best and I wouldn’t argue the point because they’re right. I chose OBSCURED BY CLOUDS because it was the first Pink Floyd album I had ever owned and got into.
The first two tracks “Obscured By Clouds” and “When You’re In”, are my favourites from the album and the lyrics for “Childhoods End”  which explain growing from childhood to old age in a clear, clever and wonderful way are an example of Roger Waters genius as a lyric writer.
The fact that the album was made as a sound track for a french film called “Le Vallee”, about a group of people journeying through the wilds of New Guinea, where I was born, held a special meaning for me.

THE ALBUM

Obscured by Clouds is a rock album by Pink Floyd based on their soundtrack for the French film La Vallée, by Barbet Schroeder. Some copies of the album refer to the film by its alternate English title, The Valley.
The LP was released in the United Kingdom on 3 June 1972, on Harvest/EMI and then in the United States on 15 June 1972, on Harvest/Capitol.

At this point in their career, the band was not new to scoring movies. They had already scored the films More and Zabriskie Point in 1969 and 1970 respectively. So when the band went into score the movie, they had a lot more experience and therefore produced a much finer product.

The band was already working on The Dark Side of the Moon during this period, but production was interrupted when the band travelled to France to score the movie.
Nick Mason refers to the project:

“After the success of More, we had agreed to do another sound track for Barbet Schroeder. His new film was called La Vallée and we travelled over to France to record the music in the last week of February… We did the recording with the same method we had employed for More, following a rough cut of the film, using stopwatches for specific cues and creating interlinking musical moods that would be cross-faded to suit the final version… The recording time was extremely tight. We only had two weeks to record the soundtrack with a short amount of time afterwards to turn it into an album.”

While recording the music, the band was free to use “Standard rock song construction” to their advantage, and was such the case for “Obscured by Clouds”. The title track featured an early use of electronic drums, or “electric bongos” as Mason calls them. Rick Wright foreshadows what is to come later with his use of synthesizers on this album. A droning note (played on an EMS VCS3 synthesizer) begins the album. This song was often used to open their live shows in the following years. The band also used themes to their advantage. The melody played in “Burning Bridges” is echoed later in “Mudmen”. The song “Childhood’s End” is said to have been inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s novel of the same name.
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“Free Four” was the first Pink Floyd song to get significant airplay in the U.S., and the first to deal directly with the death of Eric Fletcher Waters, Roger Waters’ father.

In an interview that appeared in the “Director’s Cut” edition of Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii, Roger Waters stated that early pressings of the album contained excessive sibilants in the vocal tracks, a problem that was corrected in later pressings.

Obscured by Clouds was the first Pink Floyd album to feature the VCS 3 synthesiser.

Pink Floyd opened some shows in 1973 with an extended jam based on the pairing of “Obscured by Clouds” and “When You’re In”, accompanied by smoke and a light show.

“Childhood’s End” is the only other song from the soundtrack to find its way to the stage.
It made several appearances in Europe in 1972 and at the start of the band’s March 1973 tour of North America, usually with an extended instrumental passage.

“Wot’s… Uh, the Deal?” saw revival as part of David Gilmour’s set list during his 2006 solo tour. One of these performances can be seen on Gilmour’s 2007 DVD Remember That Night and on the vinyl version of his 2008 live album Live in Gdańsk.

Side one

1.     “Obscured by Clouds”       Waters, Gilmour
2.     “When You’re In”       Waters, Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright
3.     “Burning Bridges”       Wright, Waters
4.     “The Gold It’s in The…”       Waters, Gilmour
5.     “Wot’s… Uh the Deal?”       Waters, Gilmour
6.     “Mudmen”       Wright, Gilmour

Side two

7.     “Childhood’s End”       Gilmour
8.     “Free Four”       Waters
9.     “Stay”       Wright, Waters
10.     “Absolutely Curtains”       Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason

Pink Floyd

* David Gilmour – guitars, vocals, VCS3
* Nick Mason – drums, percussion
* Roger Waters – bass guitar, vocals, VCS3
* Richard Wright – keyboards, vocals, VCS3

* Hipgnosis – cover

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(thanks again to Wikipedia for the information supplied)

LIZARD ~ KING CRIMSON

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KING CRIMSON have always been an extraordinary band, constantly changing styles and band members. In 1970 they released LIZARD and blew me away.
It is a bizzare, strange, trippy album that I’m sure would be disturbing to someone under the influence of psychedelic drugs.
But it is also a brilliantly pieced and arranged album full of great songs that you will have never heard the likes of before in your life.
It is not for all as I’m sure it is an album that is an acquired taste but once you have tasted it, you will never listen to music n the same way again.

When choosing an album of King Crimson’s as one of my favourite’s, it was a toss up between this album and “LARKS TONGUE IN ASPIC”.
Both brilliant albums as far as I’m concerned but LIZARD just won the race in weirdness.

ALBUM
Lizard is the third album by the British band King Crimson, released in 1970.
It was the second recorded by a transitional line-up of the group that never had the opportunity to perform live, following In the Wake of Poseidon.
This would be the first (and only) album to feature bassist/vocalist Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCulloch as official members of the band.

Haskell was previously a classmate of Fripp’s at Queen Elizabeth’s grammar school in Wimborne near Bournemouth, the pair having subsequently played together in local band the League of Gentlemen.
After Haskell contributed vocals to the track “Cadence and Cascade” on In the Wake of Poseidon, Fripp asked him to become an official member of King Crimson for the recording of Lizard.
Another supporting musician on In the Wake of Poseidon, saxophonist/flautist Mel Collins was also asked to become a full-time member of this line-up, as was drummer Andy McCulloch.
The group was then augmented with supporting players, including another In the Wake of Poseidon alumnus – the noted jazz pianist Keith Tippett – together with Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, and brass/woodwind players Robin Miller, Mark Charig, and Nick Evans.

Lizard is arguably King Crimson’s most jazz-inflected album, developing further in the direction suggested by the track “Cat Food” on In the Wake of Poseidon (also released as a single). King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield’s contributions to Lizard include some of his most imaginative and evocative work.

The powerful opening track, “Cirkus”, is perhaps the best-known track on the album, and begins with a hushed verse from Haskell before launching into a menacing theme played by Fripp on the mellotron.
The song’s verses then alternate with this signature theme, and the track boasts some of Fripp’s most dextrous acoustic guitar playing, not to mention a soaring saxophone solo by Collins. With a memorable lyric by Sinfield rich in circus imagery, the track builds up into a cacophonous climax.
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The next two tracks, “Indoor Games” and “Happy Family”, are offbeat and full of mischievous humour – the former with lyrics evoking various forms of hedonism and borrowing heavily from the guitar breakdown of Led Zeppelin’s Dazed And Confused, and the latter with lyrics about the dissolution of the Beatles.
The Beatles are represented in “Happy Family”‘s lyrics as ‘Judas’ (Paul McCartney), ‘Rufus’ (Ringo Starr), ‘Silas’ (George Harrison), and ‘Jonah’ (John Lennon).
Haskell’s vocals are distorted on both “Indoor Games” and “Happy Family”, and the two tracks are separated by the sound of Haskell laughing uncontrollably, as he tries unsuccessfully to sing the words ‘hey ho’.
His laughter, he later explained, was provoked by the fact that he thought these words ridiculous – which seems to be representative of his attitude towards Sinfield’s lyrics in general.

“Lady of the Dancing Water” is a more tranquil piece, whose lyrics and instrumentation have a medieval feel, in the tradition of “Moonchild” on In the Court of the Crimson King and “Cadence and Cascade” on In the Wake of Poseidon. The track is most notable for Mel Collins’ beautiful flute playing.

The album concludes with the bombastic title track, “Lizard”, the longest composed (as distinct from improvised) piece ever recorded by King Crimson.
This piece is divided into several sections and even subsections, with a narrative running through its entirety, about a prince who takes part in an epic battle.
The track’s grandiloquence verges on (self-) parody.

Lizard’s opening section, “Prince Rupert Awakes”, features Jon Anderson in his only ever contribution to a King Crimson recording. This section of the track alternates between sincere and ethereal verses, and an amusingly folksy chorus accompanied by handclaps. The two styles are then combined in a rousing, worldless chorale, that segues into the track’s next section, “Bolero”.

“Bolero” provides a showcase for the talents of supporting musicians Tippett, Miller, Charig, and Evans. Playing over McCulloch’s bolero-like drum part, they are given the space to develop progressively more jazzy solos around a central theme.
When this section of “Lizard” was excerpted from the whole, for inclusion on the compilation Frame by Frame: The Essential King Crimson, Gordon Haskell’s bass guitar was replaced with a part recorded by the later King Crimson bassist Tony Levin.
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As “Bolero” comes to a halt, it is followed by “Dawn Song”, the first of three subsections that comprise “The Battle of Glass Tears”.
“Dawn Song” opens with an ominous theme led by Robin Miller on cor anglais, which is then joined by a subdued vocal sung by Haskell.
The next subsection of “The Battle of Glass Tears”, “Last Skirmish”, is arguably the instrumental high point of the Lizard album. A lengthy section intended to simulate an epic and increasingly fraught battle, it culminates in ever more forceful repetitions of an ominous theme similar to the main theme of “Cirkus”, all reliably underpinned by McCulloch’s syncopated drumming.
If “Last Skirmish” represents a battle, then “Prince Rupert’s Lament” evokes the bloody aftermath, a funeral rhythm section providing the backdrop to Fripp’s plaintive guitar part.

“Prince Rupert’s Lament” having concluded “The Battle of Glass Tears”, “Big Top” then concludes both the “Lizard” suite and the Lizard album as a whole.
This section consists of distorted fairground music, echoing the album’s carnivalesque opening track “Cirkus”, faded in and out while it is simultaneously sped up.

By all accounts, Haskell and McCulloch had an unhappy experience recording Lizard, Haskell especially – a devotee of soul and Motown music – finding it difficult to connect with the material. Following the album’s completion, Haskell left King Crimson during rehearsals for a prospective tour.
During the next 19 years, he sought legal redress, because he believed that he had been cheated out of royalties owed to him for the album. Shortly after Haskell left the group, McCulloch did likewise.
The press release drafted by Sinfield to promote Lizard wryly quoted Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata”, which contains advice on how to chart a true course through confusion.

Collins, on the other hand, remained in King Crimson with Fripp for the recording of the group’s next album, Islands. Haskell was replaced with Boz Burrell on bass guitar and vocals, while McCulloch was replaced with his sometime housemate Ian Wallace.
The Islands line-up of the group would finally give the Lizard material a live airing, with “Cirkus” and “Lady of the Dancing Water” becoming part of King Crimson’s touring repertoire. More recently, “Cirkus” has become part of the touring repertoire of the 21st Century Schizoid Band, whose members include Mel Collins.
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Lizard’s outside cover art is by Gini Barris, who was commissioned to produce it by Peter Sinfield.

The album’s outside cover consists of the words ‘King Crimson’ spelled out in ornate medieval lettering, the word ‘King’ on the back cover and the word ‘Crimson’ on the front cover, with each letter incorporating one or two discrete images.
These images in turn represent Sinfield’s lyrics from the album – the images in the word ‘Crimson’ representing the lyrics of the various sections and subsections of track 5, “Lizard”; while the images in the word ‘King’ represent the lyrics of tracks 1-4.

Whereas the images representing “Lizard” are medieval in content – depicting Prince Rupert, his environs (including a peacock), and the Battle of Glass Tears – the images representing the other four tracks juxtapose medieval and contemporary scenes.
The image around the letter ‘i’ in ‘Crimson’, for example, depicts the Beatles, corresponding with their pseudonymous appearance in the lyrics to “Happy Family”. Around the “n” on the front cover, there is a depiction of Rupert the Bear driving a yellow aeroplane.

The inside cover of Lizard consists of a marbled pattern, credited to Koraz Wallpapers.

Track listing

All songs written by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield.

Side one

1. “Cirkus”

Including:
* “Entry of the Chameleons”

2. “Indoor Games”
3. “Happy Family”
4. “Lady of the Dancing Water”

Side two

1. “Lizard” – 23:15
1. “Prince Rupert Awakes”
2. “Bolero: The Peacock’s Tale”
3. “The Battle of Glass Tears”
1. “Dawn Song”
2. “Last Skirmish”
3. “Prince Rupert’s Lament”
4. “Big Top”

MUSICIANS

* Robert Fripp – guitar, mellotron, electric keyboards and devices
* Gordon Haskell – bass guitar, vocals
* Mel Collins – saxophone, flute
* Andy McCulloch – drums
* Peter Sinfield – words, VCS3, pictures

ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS

* Keith Tippett – piano, electric piano
* Robin Miller – oboe, cor anglais
* Mark Charig – cornet
* Nick Evans – trombone
* Jon Anderson – vocals (track 5, part 1 – “Prince Rupert Awakes”)

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(thanks to Wikipedia for the information supplied)

JOE’S GARAGE ACTS I, II & III – FRANK ZAPPA

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When I was sixteen I enjoyed the experience of being stoned for the first time and the people who gave me this experience also played me JOE’S GARAGE at the same time.

I had never experienced being stoned before and I had never experienced FRANK ZAPPA either. Both of these things were to change my life forever.

On the album we follow the adventures of JOE who learns the hard lessons of unrequitted love and betrayal as he slides into the sleazy world of music, groupies and vacum cleaners.
Eventually Joe is arrested for going too hard on a vacum cleaner and is put in jail where he has nothing left except to submit to the tortures of being incarcerated with a whole bunch of horny musicians and record executives and dream up imaginary guitar solos.

On the track “Crew Slut”, is the best harmonica solo I have ever heard in my life and Zappa’s guitar solos are the finest I have heard.

To say Frank Zappa had an extraordinary imagination and talent is putting it mildly.
I always admired how he was not afraid to stick his finger up to the establishment and rub their faces in the cocaine mirrors of their own self reflections.

Even though I like a lot of his other albums, JOE’S GARAGE would have to be in my opinion, his best.

THE ALBUM

JOE’S GARAGE: Acts I, II & III is a 1979 rock opera by Frank Zappa, which tells the story of what could possibly happen if music was made illegal.

The album features Ike Willis as the voice of “Joe”, a stereotypical garage band youth who unwittingly journeys through the miasma of the music business.
Zappa provides the voice of the “Central Scrutinizer” character—a mechanical voice that narrates the story and haunts Joe’s psyche with McCarthyistic 50s-era discouragement and “scrutiny.”

The album was originally issued in two parts, the first part being a single LP of Act I, and the second part being a double-LP set of Acts II & III. All three acts were later issued together as a box set, and on compact disc as a double-CD.
The major themes of the story include groupie migration, mockery of Scientology, appliance fetishism, garage bands, and above all censorship of music as an art form (eerily predicting the formation of the PMRC).

Joe’s Garage is particularly noteworthy for its extensive use of Zappa’s xenochrony technique, in which guitar solos from older, completely unrelated recordings were extracted and overdubbed onto new songs. With the exception of “Watermelon in Easter Hay” and “Crew Slut”, all Zappa’s solos on the album were constructed in this way.

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The opera begins with the Central Scrutinizer’s introduction. He has no real character, but goes on to explain that his job is to enforce laws which will be passed in the forthcoming illegalization of music.
The Scrutinizer offers a “special presentation to show what can happen to you if you choose a career in music,” introducing the opera’s protagonist, Joe, who used to be a “nice boy” and cut his neighbors’ grass.
When he discovered rock music, he would spend all his time playing loud music in his garage, where the neighbors would often call the cops on him. A “friendly counselor” at the police department gives him a donut and tells Joe he should “stick closer to church-oriented social activities.”
Joe finds a new girlfriend named Mary, with whom he would “hold hands and think pure thoughts.” However, Mary, a Roman Catholic girl, abandons Joe in order to get a pass to see a band called “Toad-O” with whom she goes on the road—having sex with the band’s roadies.
Eventually, they abandon her in Miami when she is too tired to do anything. Mary enters a wet t-shirt contest to try to make enough money to get back home.
Joe hears of her exploits, becomes depressed, falls in with a fast crowd, and has sex with a girl who works at the Jack-In-The-Box named Lucille, who gives him an “unpronounceable disease”, although he claims it came from a toilet seat.

Joe turns to religion for help, and “pays a lot of money” to “L. Ron Hoover” at the First Church of Appliantology (a parody of The Church of Scientology).
There, Hoover identifies Joe as a “latent appliance fetishist”. When Joe asks if he should “come out of the closet” he is instead instructed to “go into the closet” to achieve “sexual gratification through the use of machines”.
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In the next song, we learn “The Closet” is the name of a club where humans can copulate with appliances. Joe locates a machine he likes, named Sy Borg, and they return to Sy’s apartment. There Joe and Sy have a “groovy orgy” with Sy’s roommate, a “modified Gay-Bob doll.”
Joe ends up destroying Sy, (whom the Central Scrutinizer calls an “XQJ-37 Nuclear-Powered Pansexual Roto-Plooker”) with a golden shower.

Joe, who gave all of his money to the Church of Appliantology and is thus unable to pay for the damage, is thrown into a special prison. The prison is painted all green on the inside and filled with criminals from the music business.
While in jail, Joe is repeatedly gang raped (“plooked”) by former musicians and record executives when they’re not snorting lines of detergent. This gang is led by a shockingly endowed former promotional agent of a major record company, known as “Bald-Headed John: King of the Plookers”.

When Joe is released from prison, music has become illegal. He loses his sanity, and begins imagining all the guitar notes he cannot play while a journalist documents his thoughts.
Eventually, he comes to terms with the fact that music is gone, and gets a job at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, frosting muffins.
The Central Scrutinizer then goes on to say that if Joe’s story wasn’t enough to convince the listener that music was evil, he decides to sing the last song in his regular voice.
He then shuts off his contraption and his real voice is Frank Zappa’s, implying that Zappa’s punishment for creating music is to assume the job of the Central Scrutinizer.
Cast

* Central Scrutinizer, Larry, L. Ron Hoover, Father Riley & Buddy Jones – Frank Zappa
* Joe – Ike Willis
* Mary – Dale Bozzio
* Mrs. Borg – Denny Walley
* Officer Butzis – Al Malkin
* Sy Borg – Warren Cuccurullo & Ed Mann
* Bald-Headed John – Terry Bozzio
* The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen Chorus – Al Malkin, Warren Cucurullo, Dale Bozzio, Geordie Hormel, Barbara Issak & most of the people who work at Village Recorders (circa 1979).

Track listing

All songs written, arranged, and conducted by Frank Zappa.

Act I

Side one

1. “The Central Scrutinizer”
2. “Joe’s Garage”
3. “Catholic Girls”
4. “Crew Slut”

Side two

1. “Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt” (aka “Wet T-Shirt Nite”)
2. “On the Bus” (aka “Toad-O Line”)
3. “Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?”
4. “Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up”
5. “Scrutinizer Postlude”

* On vinyl, “Lucille” and “Scrutinizer Postlude” were indexed as one track.

Act II

Side one

1. “A Token of My Extreme”
2. “Stick It Out”
3. “Sy Borg”

Side two

1. “Dong Work for Yuda”
2. “Keep It Greasey”
3. “Outside Now”

Act III

Side three

1. “He Used to Cut the Grass”
2. “Packard Goose”

Side four

1. “Watermelon in Easter Hay”
2. “A Little Green Rosetta”

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Personnel

* Frank Zappa – Vocals, guitar
* Warren Cuccurullo – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Choir, Chorus, Organ, Guitar
* Denny Walley – Vocals, Slide Guitar, Guitar
* Craig Twister Steward – Harmonica
* Jeff – Sax (Tenor)
* Marginal Chagrin – Sax (Baritone)
* Patrick O’Hearn – Wind, Bass
* Peter Wolf – Keyboards
* Stumuk – Sax (Baritone), Sax (Bass)
* Tommy Mars – Keyboards
* Vinnie Colaiuta – Drums, Percussion
* Arthur Barrow – Vocals, Bass
* Ed Mann – Vocals, Percussion
* Dale Bozzio – Vocals
* Al Malkin – Vocals
* Ike Willis – Vocals
* Barbara Isaak – Choir, Chorus, Assistant
* Geordie Hormel – Choir, Chorus
* Terry Bozzio – Guest Vocals
* Ferenc Dobronyi – Cover Design
* Steve Alsberg – Project Coordinator
* Joe Chiccarelli – Engineer, Mixing, Recording
* Norman Seeff – Photography, Cover Photo
* John Williams – Artwork
* Steve Nye – Remixing
* Mick Glossop – Remixing
* Stan Ricker – Mastering
* Jack Hunt – Mastering
* Thomas Nordegg – Assistant
* Tom Cummings – Assistant

(thanks agagin to Wikipedia for the information supplied)

JOURNEY – JOURNEY (1st album)

I found this album for a couple of dollars in an op-shop and when I listened to it, I felt like one of the luckiest guys on earth because I had discovered a great album i never knew existed. I’d heard of Journey before but only knew them as a pop band so it was a pleasant surprise to find out their roots were very different.

Once I’d sold my copy I resigned myself to never being able to hear it again but the wonderful freedom of the internet means that I have been able to find a copy and can now listen to it to my hearts content.

There are some really great guitar and keyboard solos on this album and I can only encourage anyone who likes a good album of good songs that interest your mind and rock your soul, to have a listen.

I’d also recommend their next two albums after this one “Look Into The Future” and “Next”  to have a listen to, you wont regret it.

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JOURNEY – THE ALBUM

The self-titled debut album Journey, by the band Journey, was released in 1975 on the Columbia Records label. Unlike their later recordings, the debut release is a progressive rock album, in the jazz-fusion vein. It is the only album to include guitarist George Tickner among their personnel.

This lineup of Journey showcased their considerable talent as musicians on jazz-flavored mix, progressive rock epics like “Of a Lifetime”, “Kohoutek”, “Mystery Mountain”, and “Topaz”.

1. “Of a Lifetime” (Rolie, Tickner, Schon)
2. “In the Morning Day” (Rolie, Valory)
3. “Kohoutek” (Schon, Rolie) –  (Instrumental)
4. “To Play Some Music” (Rolie, Schon)
5. “Topaz” (Tickner) –  (Instrumental)
6. “In My Lonely Feeling” / “Conversations” (Rolie, Valory)
7. “Mystery Mountain” (Rolie, Tickner, Diane Valory)

* Gregg Rolie – vocals, keyboards
* Neal Schon – lead guitar
* George Tickner – rhythm guitar
* Ross Valory – bass, piano
* Aynsley Dunbar – drums

JOURNEY – THE BAND

The original members of Journey came together in San Francisco in 1973 under the auspices of former Santana manager Herbie Herbert. Originally called the Golden Gate Rhythm Section and intended to serve as a backup group for established Bay Area artists, the band included recent Santana alumni Neal Schon on lead guitar and Gregg Rolie on keyboards and lead vocals. Bassist Ross Valory and rhythm guitarist George Tickner, both of Frumious Bandersnatch, and drummer Prairie Prince of The Tubes rounded out the group.

The band quickly abandoned the original “backup group” concept and developed a distinctive jazz fusion style. After an unsuccessful radio contest to name the group, roadie John Villaneuva suggested the name “Journey.”

The band’s first public appearance came at the Winterland Ballroom on New Year’s Eve, 1973. Prairie Prince rejoined The Tubes shortly thereafter, and the band hired British drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who had recently worked with John Lennon and Frank Zappa. On February 5, 1974, the new line-up made their debut at the Great American Music Hall and secured a recording contract with Columbia Records.

Journey released their eponymous first album in 1975, and rhythm guitarist Tickner left the band before they cut their second album, Look into the Future (1976).
Neither album achieved significant sales, so Schon, Valory, and Dunbar took singing lessons in an attempt to add vocal harmonies to Rolie’s lead.
The following year’s album, Next contained shorter tracks with more vocals, and featured Schon as lead singer on several of the songs.

Journey’s album sales did not improve and Columbia Records requested that they change their musical style and they went downhill after that in my opinion as they turned into a pop band.
I couldn’t tell the difference between them, Boston or Foreigner but they did become a lot more successful so I’m sure none of them are complaining.

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(thanks again to the wonderful Wikipedia for the information supplied)

COLD FACT – RODRIGUEZ

I don’t know if anyone remembers this album but it was and still is one of my all time favourites. It didn’t shake the world but COLD FACT by RODRIGUEZ is an album full of great songs that came out of the early seventies and slowly grew.
It is one of those classic albums that a musician creates only once in his lifetime.

COLD FACT could be described as a protest album, putting the injustices and hypocrisy Rodriguez saw under the micro scope for the rest of us to see.
I find these songs interesting and unusual and beautiful.
Songs such as “Sugar Man” describe the local dealer with all sorts of dreams to offer but as we know dreams have no substance without the person living them.
“I Wonder” a song about wondering about the world and the people in it and I love the heavy riff that weaves its way through “Only Good For Conversation”.

I had the pleasure of going to see Rodriguez when he toured Australia in the early eighties, a concert of the man and his guitar that kept the audience mesmerized for the two hours he played.

This is an album of songs that will stand the test of time and still be played when my grandchildren are my age. It’s interesting that such a great album was disregarded when it was first released to the world and took a little while for the world to recognise what a great album it really is.
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1.    “Sugar Man”
2.   “Only Good For Conversation”
3.   “Crucify Your Mind”
4.   “This Is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues”
5.   “Hate Street Dialogue”
6.   “Forget It”
7.    “Inner City Blues”
8.    “I Wonder”
9.   “Like Janis”
10.  “Gomorrah (A Nursery Rhyme)”
11.   “Rich Folks Hoax”
12.   “Jane S. Piddy”

RODRIGUEZ
Rodrigues was actually born Sixto Diaz Rodriguez (also known as Rodriguez or as Jesus Rodriguez) and is an American folk musician, born in Detroit, Michigan on July 10, 1942.
He was named ‘Sixto’ (pronounced sees-to) because he was the sixth child in his family. Rodriguez’s parents were middle-class immigrants from Mexico, who left in the 1920s.
In most of his songs he takes a political stance on the cruelties facing the inner city poor.

In 1967 (under the name Rod Riguez) he released the single “I’ll Slip Away” through the small label ‘Impact’. He didn’t produce anything for another three years until he was signed to Sussex Records; an offshoot of the Buddah label.
It was after the move to Sussex that he changed his professional name to just Rodriguez. Rodriguez recorded two albums with Sussex—Cold Fact in 1970, and Coming from Reality in 1971. But after mixed reviews and low album sales he was later dropped from the label, which later folded in 1975.

After the failing to make an impact in America, he gave up his career as a musician. However, although he was relatively unknown in his home country by the mid 70s, his albums were starting to gain airplay in countries like South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), New Zealand and Australia.

After imported copies of his Sussex albums ran dry, an Australian record label, Blue Goose Music, bought the Australian rights to his back catalogue in the mid 70s. The label released his two studio albums plus a compilation album At His Best (featuring unreleased recordings from 1976 “Can’t Get Away”, “I’ll Slip Away” (a re-recording of his first single), and “Street Boy”. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez, it went platinum in South Africa, where he achieved cult status.

With a new buzz around Rodriguez, in 1979 he toured Australia with the Mark Gillespie Band as support. Two shows from the tour were later released on the Australian only album Alive—the title being a play on the rumours caused by his public obscurity that Rodriguez had died years ago. After the ’79 tour he returned to Australia for a final tour in 1981 with Midnight Oil before quietly slipping back into normal life.

In 1991 both his albums were released on CD in South Africa for the first time. His fame in South Africa was completely unknown to him, until 1998 when his eldest daughter found a website dedicated to him on the internet.
In 1998 he played his first South African Tour. A documentary about the tour Dead Men Don’t Tour: Rodriguez in South Africa 1998 was later screened on SABC in 2001. Later he played in Sweden before returning to South Africa in 2001 and 2005.

In 2002 his signature song, “Sugar Man”, was added to DJ David Holmes’ mix album Come Get It I Got It, gaining Rodriguez airplay again on Australian radio station Triple J. In 2007 he returned to Australia in April, to play the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival,
as well as shows in Melbourne and Sydney. His song “Sugar Man” was in the 2006 film Candy, starring Heath Ledger. There has also been a film made about his life titled, Looking for Jesus. Rodriguez now continues to tour in various countries.

His album Coming from Reality is scheduled to be re-released by Light in the Attic Records in May 2009.

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(my thanks to the wonderful resource Wikipedia for the information supplied)

SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH – BLACK SABBATH

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I’ve been a Sabbath fan from when I was in high school, in fact I wooed my first girlfriend with a Black Sabbath song from the Technical Ecstasy album.
There was something about Black Sabbath’s sound that really tickled my fancy and I became a heavy metal kid, among other things.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is one of my favourite Sabbath albums, mainly because I liked all the songs on it and because it was a break away from their usual style, adding stings and orchestral arrangements for the first time.

When you listen to the album you can hear they did a great job and I think surprised everyone with this release.
I can still remember trying to to teach myself the riff from the song “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” on my electric Maton El Toro, much to the annoyance of everyone around me at the time.

There has always been this image of devil worship and satanism around the band which they themselves encouraged to market their albums but if you listen to the lyrics, you come to realise that they are the opposite to that and their music should be listened to for the unique sound they had.

They were after all the parents of heavy metal.
Rock on and rock out.

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SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH – THE ALBUM

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath is the fifth studio album released in 1973, by the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. With this album, the band expanded upon their slow, crunching style of music and included synthesizers, strings, keyboards and more complex, orchestral arrangements.

Following the 1972-1973 world tour in support of their Volume 4 album, Black Sabbath again returned to Los Angeles, California to begin work on its successor. Pleased with Volume 4, the band sought to recreate the recording atmosphere, and returned to the Record Plant Studios with new producer and engineer Tom Allom.
Although the album credits the band’s manager Patrick Meehan as producer, guitarist Tony Iommi said “Meehan’s ego got involved, and he stuck his name down as producer”.

With new musical innovations of the era, the band were surprised to find that the room they had used previously at the Record Plant was replaced by a “giant synthesizer”.
The band rented a house in Bel Air and began writing in the summer of 1973, but due in part to a lot of drug use and fatigue, were unable to complete any songs.
“Ideas weren’t coming out the way they were on Volume 4 and we really got discontent” Iommi said. “Everybody was sitting there waiting for me to come up with something. I just couldn’t think of anything. And if I didn’t come up with anything, nobody would do anything.”

After a month in Los Angeles with no results, the band opted to return to the UK, where they rented Clearwell Castle in The Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England.
“We rehearsed in the dungeons and it was really creepy but it had some atmosphere, it conjured up things, and stuff started coming out again”.

While working in the dungeon, Iommi stumbled onto the main riff of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”, which set the tone for the new material.
Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman was brought in as a session player, appearing on “Sabbra Cadabra” and “Who Are You?”.

Building off the stylistic changes introduced on Volume 4, new songs incorporated synthesizers, strings, keyboards and more complex arrangements. “Who Are You?” incorporates a Moog, a common instrument in Progressive rock at the time.
Lyrics of some songs on the album were written about problems within the band at the time.

“Killing Yourself to Live” was written by bassist Geezer Butler while in hospital for kidney problems caused by heavy drinking. Drummer Bill Ward was also suffering from binge drinking, and the song reflects the problems caused by their “extreme” lifestyles.
Similarly, the lyrics of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” appear to be inspired by the band’s frustration with their former manager, and the sense of betrayal they had felt at times.
An earlier incarnation of the song can be heard on the records Live at Last and Past Lives.

Drew Struzan was the artist requested to do the cover painting.
It depicts a man on a bed, seemingly having a nightmare or a vision of being attacked by demons in human form. At the top of the bed is a large skull with long, outstretched arms and 666 (the Number of the Beast) written below it. The other side of the album features the opposite of the front cover.

Black Sabbath released Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath on 1 December 1973.
For the first time in their career, the band began to receive favourable reviews in the mainstream press, with Rolling Stone calling the album “an extraordinarily gripping affair”, and “nothing less than a complete success”.
Later reviewers such as All Music’s Eduardo Rivadavia cite the album as “a masterpiece, essential to any heavy metal collection”, while also displaying “a newfound sense of finesse and maturity”.

The band began a world tour in January 1974, which culminated at the California Jam festival in Ontario, California on 6 April 1974. Attracting over 200,000 fans, Black Sabbath appeared alongside such ’70s rock giants as Deep Purple, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Eagles. Portions of the show were telecast on ABC Television in the US, exposing the band to a wider American appeal

All songs by Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward.

Side one
1.     “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
2.     “A National Acrobat”
3.     “Fluff”
4.     “Sabbra Cadabra”

Side two
5.     “Killing Yourself to Live”
6.     “Who Are You?”
7.     “Looking for Today”
8.     “Spiral Architect”

* Ozzy Osbourne – vocals, synthesizer
* Tony Iommi – all guitars, piano, synthesizer, organ, flute
* Geezer Butler – bass guitar, synthesizer, mellotron
* Bill Ward – drums, timpani, bongos in “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”

* Rick Wakeman – keyboards, synthesizer, piano on “Sabbra Cadabra”
* Will Malone – conductor, arranger

(thanks again to Wikipedia for supplying the information for this article)

THREE FRIENDS – GENTLE GIANT

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Gentle Giant were one of the most interesting and innovative bands to come out of the
prog-rock era.
They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but once I acquired the taste I couldn’t get enough.
With five of the songs from the Three Friends album being over five minutes or longer this is definitely an album for the serious music lover.
It changes from rock to jazz to folk to soul to classical and some different shades in between, keeping me the listener, interested the whole time.
From the day I listened to my first copy of this album I was hooked, always feeling a certain delight whenever I heard it.

THREE FRIENDS – THE ALBUM

Three Friends (1972) is a concept album by the British progressive rock band Gentle Giant. The group’s third album was also their first American release to chart, peaking at #197 on the Billboard 200. It marked a change in drummers from Martin Smith to Malcolm Mortimore.

It is Gentle Giant’s first concept album, dealing with three childhood friends whose lives take them very different places. It was also their first self-produced album. The two former albums were produced by David Bowie and T.Rex producer Tony Visconti.

Gary Green’s guitar solo on “Peel the Paint” uses an echoplex belonging to Mike Ratledge that Green’s brother Jeff, a roadie with Ratledge’s band Soft Machine, had borrowed.

All songs written by Shulman, Shulman, Shulman, Minnear

1. “Prologue” – 6:13
2. “Schooldays” – 7:37
3. “Working All Day” – 5:12
4. “Peel the Paint” – 7:31
5. “Mister Class and Quality?” – 5:51
6. “Three Friends” – 3:04

Personnel

* Kerry Minnear – Keyboards, Vibraphone, Percussion, Moog, Vocals
* Ray Shulman – Basses, Violin, 12 String Guitar, Vocals
* Gary Green – Guitars, Percussion
* Derek Shulman – Vocals
* Malcolm Mortimore – Drums
* Philip Shulman – Saxophones and Vocals
* Boy’s voice on “Schooldays” – Calvin Shulman

* Engineer – Martin Rushent
* Sleeve Design – Rick Breach
* Publisher – Excellency Music

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GENTLE GIANT – THE BAND

Gentle Giant was a British progressive rock band active between 1970 and 1980. The band was notable for the particular complexity and sophistication of its musical material and for the diverse musical skills of its members (all of whom, bar the first two drummers, were accomplished multi-instrumentalists).

The band’s onetime stated aim was to “expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular,” although this stance was to alter significantly with time. While never achieving the commercial heights of progressive rock contemporaries such as Genesis, Yes or Emerson Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant was considered to be one of the most experimental bands in the genre (as well as one of the most experimental rock bands of the 1970s).

Gentle Giant’s music was considered complex even by progressive rock standards, drawing on a broad swathe of music including folk, soul, jazz and classical music. Unlike many of their progressive rock contemporaries, their “classical” influences ranged beyond the Romantic and incorporated mediaeval, baroque, and modernist chamber music elements. The band also had a taste for broad themes for their lyrics, drawing inspiration not only from personal events but from philosophy and the works of both François Rabelais and R.D. Laing.

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(thanks once more to Wikipedia for the information supplied)

DEJA VU – CROSBY STILLS NASH and YOUNG

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Déjà Vu by Crosby Stills Nash and Young is a brilliant album for its time.
It is a collection of brilliant songs and beautiful harmonies and I still have the original hard copy album from its release in 1970.
It has an amazing version of Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock” and taught me to be a proud freak and to carry my freak flag high.
Just about everyone from my generation would be familiar with the songs “Our House” and “Teach Your Children Well”, but I think the opening track “Carry On”, “Almost Cut My Hair”, “Deja Vu” and “Everybody I Love You” are the more stand out tracks.

To me Déjà Vu is an album that captured the vibe and idealism of the sixties and early seventies and is something all parents should share with their children as a part of musical history.

Déjà Vu is the first album by rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, although Crosby, Stills, and Nash had recorded one earlier album. It was released on March 11, 1970 and was greatly anticipated after the popularity of the first CSN album, as well as due to the addition of Neil Young.
It hit #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and generated three Top 40 singles: “Teach Your Children,” “Our House,” and “Woodstock.”
Neil Young does not appear on all of the tracks, and drummer Dallas Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves are also credited on the cover (their names in slightly smaller typeface). Jerry Garcia plays pedal steel on “Teach Your Children” and John Sebastian plays mouth-harp on the title track.

When the band decided initially to hire a keyboard player, Stills at one point approached Steve Winwood, who was already occupied with a newly formed group Blind Faith. Atlantic label head Ahmet Ertegün suggested Canadian singer/songwriter Neil Young, also managed by Elliot Roberts, as a fairly obvious choice. Initial reservations were held by Stills and Nash, Stills owing to his history with Young in Buffalo Springfield, and Nash, due to his personal unfamiliarity with Young. But after several meetings, the trio expanded to a quartet with Young a full partner. The terms of the contract allowed Young full freedom to maintain a parallel career with his new back-up band, Crazy Horse.

With Young on board, the restructured group went on tour in the late summer of 1969 through the following January. Their second gig was a baptism-by-fire at the Woodstock Festival; CSNY’s recording of the Joni Mitchell song memorializing Woodstock would later become a hit and the recording most associated with the festival. By contrast, little mention is made of the group’s subsequent appearance at Altamont, CSNY having escaped mostly unscathed from the fallout of that debacle.

Stills estimates that the album took somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 hours of studio time to record; this figure may be exaggerated, even though the individual tracks display meticulous attention to detail.

The album was done as individual sessions by each of the members when they turned up, apart from the quartet’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”, contributing whatever was needed that could be agreed upon.

In May 1970, two months after the album was released, the group recorded Neil Young’s quickly penned response to the Kent State shootings, “Ohio.” That single, backed with Stephen Stills’ “Find the Cost of Freedom,” was released in late June of the same year, making it to #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, notwithstanding its accusatory sentiment.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 147 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album ranked at #14 for the Top 100 Albums of 1970.

Side one

1. “Carry On” (Stills)
2. “Teach Your Children” (Graham Nash)
3. “Almost Cut My Hair” (David Crosby)
4. “Helpless” (Young)
5. “Woodstock” (Joni Mitchell)

Side two

1. “Déjà Vu” (Crosby)
2. “Our House” (Nash)
3. “4 + 20” (Stills)
4. “Country Girl” (Young)
* “Whiskey Boot Hill”
* “Down, Down, Down”
* Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty)
5. “Everybody I Love You” (Stills, Young)

Personnel

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

* David Crosby : Guitars, vocals.
* Stephen Stills : Guitars, bass guitar, keyboards, vocals.
* Graham Nash: Guitars, keyboards, vocals.
* Neil Young: Guitars, keyboards, harmonica, vocals.

Additional personnel

* Greg Reeves: Bass guitar, percussion.
* Dallas Taylor: Drums, Percussion.
* Jerry Garcia: Pedal steel guitar on “Teach Your Children” and “Helpless”
* John Sebastian: Harmonica on “Déjà vu”

(once more I thank the wonderful resource of Wikipedia for the information about the album and band)

TAI CHI TOO ~ OLIVER SHANTI

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Tai Chi Too by Oliver Shanti is an absolutely magical album.
It was released in 1996 and every song is well crafted and superbly played.

Tai Chi Too was my first introduction to the music of Oliver Shanti and has led me on some wonderful imaginary journeys through the mountains and valleys of my mind.

So far Oliver Shanti has produced over 25 albums that would be described as “New Age Music”, all worth listening to when you need some help to find that quiet space inside you.

Upon doing some research for the album and artist, I discovered that Oliver Shanti (real name Ulirch Schulz), had a warrant and a reward of 3000 Euros for his arrest on suspicion of having committed child sexual abuse.
He went missing at the time and was reported to be living secretly in Germany or its adjacent countries.
He was arrested in Portugal on 29th of June 2008 and was charged with 314 cases of child abuse on the 20th April 2009.

Well that destroyed the nice image I had of the chap and reminded me of the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover”.

Nonetheless, Tai Chi Too will always remain one of my favourite albums.

(thanks again to Wikipedia for the information supplied)