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Hugh Hopper - Hopper Tunity Box CD (album) cover


Hugh Hopper


Canterbury Scene

3.79 | 60 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This was Hugh Hopper's second solo album but the first he released after leaving SOFT MACHINE. Hugh hooked up with recording engineer Mike Dunne who had been the assistant engineer on his first record ("1984"). Mike was now in charge of the mobile studio of Jon Anderson of YES. Mike suggested that he could provide the studio while Hugh would provide the music and musicians. Hugh notes: "By the time I had arranged the music into some sort of coherent order and invited the various guest musicians, Mike's studio was set up in one of London's big film sound studios, where YES rehearsed for tours. Jon Anderson occasionally popped his head around the door when we were beavering away at some tricky tape-looping or double-speeded bass, and Steve Howe looked in once, I seem to remember. I knew them slightly anyway, from SOFT MACHINE tours when the two bands came together at festivals".

Guests on this album were Mark Charig, Elton Dean, Nigel Morris, Dave Stewart, Gary Windo and others. Hugh notes that when this album came out it received mostly good reviews but there was this "one ultraconservative British Jazz mag, where the reviewer said it has all the subtlety of a stone(14 pounds) of King Edwards (potatoes) tumbling downstairs and all the melodic and harmonic interest of a trapped wasp...not a jazz record, they decided...". Considering Hugh liked to change the tape speeds in the studio and layer sounds etc. i'll let him describe each song as it was difficult to know what I was hearing at times.

"Hopper Tunity Box" (1974) "The theme is played by multitracked descant and tenor recorders (about 12 descant and two tenor tracks) over a riff of electric organ, electric piano, and double tracked bass. Double speed fuzz bass then plays Hopper Tunes and quotes until an alien tune brings in Dave Stewart's weird tone-generators. All hell breaks loose and we disolve into..." See what I mean. This song sounds so good early on, kind of melancholic. It turns chaotic before 3 minutes. "Miniluv" (1978) " This is a rhythmic version of a tune which appeared only briefly on "1984". It consists of about five fuzz-bass tracks of the basic riff plus straight bass, drums, and guitar. Gary Windo's tenor sax solo steams on until a choir of soprano saxes appear to usher out the riff, leaving Gary stranded".

"Gnat Prong" (1975) " Based on the whole-tone scale. Speeded up fuzz-bass takes the first two choruses,then Dave Stewart on organ, fuzz bass again, and finally organ and into the cross fade. Just fuzz-bass and organ play the slow, repeated second section, which is on modified whole-tone sequence". "The Lonely Sea And The Sky" (1975) " A simple neo-Coltrane tune. Bass guitar at double speed introduces the theme played by saxello and muted cornet. Elton's saxello solos over a simple bass and electric piano riff. Mark's muted cornet drifts the track to a tranquil ending". "Crumble" (1976) " A chunky tune played by electric piano and speeded fuzz-bass over two basses and drums with guitar. Frank's solo bounces along, joined by Gary's three saxes riffing. The basses hum and drone, which I prefer to clear, spikey playing often heard today".

"Lonely Woman" (1958) " This tune by Ornette Coleman, has been a favourite of mine for many years, and my version of it was improvised in the studio, using different segments of various instruments playing the theme or snatches of it. The percussion (timbales and tambourine) is on a loop". "Mobile Mobile" (1975) " Based on the whole-tone scale. The first section is just drums with multitracked fuzz bass. The drums are heard at half speed and then straight as well. It's in 4-4-4-6 time. After the bridge section, a short,faster tempo in 10/4 has a speeded fuzz-solo over the bass, pianet, organ, and drums. A stripper-cue leads into the short reprise of the first section". "Spanish Knee" (1976) " A phrygian tune with a 6/4 whole-tone bridge and a solo by "phrygian" Elton Dean". "Oyster Perpetual" (1973) " A simple minor-key tune played entirely on multitracked basses. Solo is straight bass".

There you have it, a review of "Hopper Tunity Box" from Hugh Hopper himself taken from the liner notes. A big upgrade from his debut in my opinion and a solid 4 stars.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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