Tag Archive 'Album Review'

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.

200px-journey_self_titled

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.

180px-journey_next

(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.
200px-rodriguezcoldfact1
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.

220px-sixtorodriguez2007_01

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

SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH – BLACK SABBATH

blacksabbath005

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.

200px-black_sabbath_sbs
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

threefriendscover

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

120px-live-in-stockholm-med

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.

120px-lutz21

(thanks once more to Wikipedia for the information supplied)

TAI CHI TOO ~ OLIVER SHANTI

r-876453-1207128130

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)