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Carl floyd fan
2 stars This album looks appealing because of the Robert Fripp name but let me assure you its not very good. It is far more jazz oriented than any King Crimson album. This is very experimental with over 50 members playing..Its more of a progressive big band (with nothing else in the musical world to compare this to). It isn't a good sign that the album seems to wander without any sign of direction at the beginning of the opening track. There are many instances similar to this throughout the album with far to much noise and awkward/weird vocals. Had this been instrumental it'd win another star with me. However where the album gets most of its points are from some of the individual solos like Elton Dean and parts where smaller units shine. Still to many of the minutes on this cd are filled with aimlessness. Play sparingly.
Report this review (#55884)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's album's such as Keith Tippet/Centipede's "SEPTOBER ENERGY" that make you both love and hate prog rock. Here is one of the few albums boasting a 50 piece orchestra as the actual band, not accompaniment, performing a four-part 80 minute suite. This had potential, and was a great concept, but sadly needed a lot of work: mainly editing. There are some sublimely beautiful passages on this record, but one must slog through whole sections which are boring and aimless. This album does best during individual solos, and Elton Dean is the standout here, though the album boasts a who's who list of English Canterbury/Jazz-Rock. The most disappointing soloist is Brian Godding, who performs dull, by-the-numbers solos. This is frustrating when one considers the unmatchable Robert Fripp was just yards away, producing this mess. Keith Tippet does have some pretty piano passages, notable the opening to 'Septober Energy, III'.

On the whole, a dull album. Avoid unless you are a die-hard Canterbury/jazz fan, or must own every King Crimson related release. It definitely ha its moments but they are few and far between. If you can get through (and enjoy) the first five minutes of aimless percussion on this record though you'll probably enjoy it all. For jazz-prog novices start with early Soft Machine or Hatfield & The North before tackling this monster.

Ambition/Concept = 5/5

Execution = 2/5

Final Grade = 3/5

Report this review (#60847)
Posted Monday, December 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

" Whatever happened to producer Robert Fripp during the sessions for this horrible would-be jazz? They probably stuffed his ears with impenetrable wax, or maybe he earned a million pounds to overhear the proceedings. There can be no excuse for this. To be avoided at all cost! 5they even failed to give the tracks individual titles!) (MK)" - Faithfully reproduced to the coma from Vernon Joynson's Tapestry of Delights book. And I could not care less whether I have his approval or consent or not!!!!!!

Well, Mr Joynson!!!!!!!! There can be NO (not even one single tiny one) excuse for this most stupid review ever printed in a otherwise good reference book. Granted you did not sign it, MK is probably the initial of the writer of such an ineptly- thought gibberish, but if you ordered a review, you should at least be doing so from someone trustworthy or at least check it out before printing it.

Sure Centipede's only album is anything but perfect, but it was a bold and daring experiment and some 35 years later, it still stands as what I would call it back when I first heard it: a rough gem with a whole bunch of imperfections. This was to be the crowning achievement of Keith Tippett's young career and the least we can say is that it was a cornerstone in his career. The album is made up of experimental jazz- rock (often bordering on the free-jazz), and if two of the four 20 min untitled tracks (so what, Mr MK?) are rather difficult, the other two are most superb and sometimes spine chilling in sheer power.

This huge project overtaking some 50 musos including most of Soft Machine, Blossom Toes, parts of Nucleus, most of the Keith Tippett Group, Keith's future wife Julie Driscoll and a good deal of King Crimson members, this big band is definitely worth your checking it out, especially if you love the most adventurous/jazzy works of the above-mentioned groups. The list of participants is long and super-impressive for the proghead, and it can only pique his curiosity. It will be rewarded if not expecting a partial result amounting to the simple sum of all its ingredients.

The first track is an improvised and free-flowing (but not necessarily smooth- flowing) crescendo that never reach its apex until you reach over the other vinyl side and find yourself faced with a superb bass driven track where Tippett provides many choices for the multitude of soloists that cannot help but provide superb solos (each and everyone of them, too Mr MK) including a great psyched-out guitar solo from Brian Godding (Blossom Toes). The third track might just be the hardest moment to suffer with its lenghty Phil Howard drum solo and further down dissonant marching band music: easily the low point of the album even if the order inside the chaos is quite impressive. However from the first piano notes from Tippett, you know your ordeal is over and ecstasy is about to start. This last track is simply grandiose even if it does take a while to develop, but once the great bass line gets set, with Wyatt in the centre, John Marshall on the left and BT's Fennell on the right backing it up (that's right folks, three drummer at a time: fabulous), we are down to some of the purest jazz-rock soloing - guaranteed goose bumps on Elton Dean's saxello, and then some finally clear singing (a bit buried but the lyrics are simply repeated). I certainly believe the album could've gained from a bit of conciseness as the worthy music could've held on a single disc, but this was an experiment and such came the fruits.

Clearly this album is the one where Keith Tippet decided to abandon all forms of conventional and restrained forms of music and headed for the great unknown with his future group Ovary Lodge. He will be greatly assisted by the one time counterculture superstar Julie Driscoll/Tippetts who adds so completely delirious vocals on this album. This big band did perform a few gigs, most in France.

In case you are wondering about why Fripp did produce such an album, please remember that this album was recorded around Lizard, which is the album where Tippet collaborated most with Crimson. And we can thank Robert for this difficult (and even scary) but ultimately grandiose improv fest as this album is. Please note that I have never seen this album with the artwork pictured above, but always with a plain white gatefold with the name and title on the front part. To be approached carefully if you are not keen of improvised jazz-rock, but it is quite an oeuvre, no matter what second-order hired-hands might just think!!!!!

Report this review (#71478)
Posted Thursday, March 9, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Very weird "association" of experimental fusion, free-jazz and maybe "king size" symphonic approaching performed by "very big band", about 55 members. But principally sounds splendidly! This double set record is maybe one of the most important works of famous British jazz-pianist Keith Tippett. And producer of this "spectacle" was Robert Fripp. Very many of these performing members on this item are (were) well-known musicians in British Canterbuty fusion scene (from bands as Soft Machine, Nucleus, King Crimson, The Keith Tippett Group). The music (four vinyl-side-long parts) is mostly improvised, instruments' solo parts (saxes, guitars etc.) are often very expressive and burning (the weakest places are in my oppinion some soulish vocal parts)! I think this music is not "very hard to listen". Almost four stars!
Report this review (#79850)
Posted Wednesday, May 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is a masterpiece that contains a magnify musical ensemble, with exellent musicans (55), like Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean, Julie Tippetts, Nick Evans, John Marshall and Gary Windo, directed by Keith Tippett, this project looks like "Keith Tippett`s Akr" made in 1978. Recommended to all people loves long traks, the Jazz Rock (King Crimson "Island") and the Canterbury (Soft Machine, Elton Dean... ).
Report this review (#81013)
Posted Monday, June 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Centipede is 50-piece big band, formed by avant-jazz musician (and one time King Crimson's collaborate) Keith Tippet. In early 70-s he formed this orchestra for performing of his conceptual work "Septober Energy", and after the series of live shows this work was recorded on double LP. Musicians participated are great names from progressive rock and jazz from that time (Elton Dean, Mark Charig, Ian McDonald, Alan Skidmore, Robert Wyatt, Julie Tippett, Zoot Money, etc) and music students as well. Album's producer is Robert Fripp, but don't be mistaken - this work has not too much in common with King Crimson music.

Four-piece work ( one piece on each LP side) is mostly orchestrated free form avant-jazz, jazz fusion and progressive rock combination. In fact, album never was popular at all, and even at time of release received quite negative critics. I think, one of main big mistakes is albums opener - long free form bulky free jazz composition, which destroys first impression. Brave listener, passed by it, will find much more accessible music, full of sax solos, jazz-rock vibrations and even some vocals. For sure, this album's compositions are not radio-friendly, but three last pieces are interesting and nice early experimental jazz-rock compositions, which could easily attract even not very prepared listener.

Possibly, a bit too long, compositions contain many interesting moments, combining early prog rock melted with r'n'b vocals, free jazz winds and airy, but intensive orchestrations. Album requires repite listening, and every time you will find new interesting nuances in their music.

Possibly, still too radical for mainstream fusion listener, this work for sure should attract jazz fusion researchers and free-jazz/avant-jazz lovers. Without a bit out of place album's opener, my rating will be 4. In present combination - 3,5.

Report this review (#275797)
Posted Thursday, April 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars this is one of the most overlooked masterpiece of free jazz by some of the greatest jazz minds of the 20th century. the stunning voices by Julie Tippett and the gang are just marvelious while still being almost "magmaesque" in the stark nakedness of it all...quite compelling operatic approach and all around sombre atmosphere...the muscicianship on this lp is need to go through the list,,but my goodness this would be a heavenly encounter to come accross this groupe of muscicians on stage one day. some of the contrbass is so outstanding harkens me back to early paul chambers blue note records...cline and babington are realy outstanding bass players...the horn section is quite mad in its gigantisme but they sound so tight!!!...some of the best larg scale sax playing reminds me of artman's urban sax sometimes...or that reminds me of centepede, whichever came of my favorite keith tippett...amazing man and the maestro of this endeover....wonder what king fripp would have done out there if he could have ever torn himself away form the control booth to capture this music
Report this review (#576044)
Posted Saturday, November 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A mammoth, fifty-person enterprise featuring the cream of the early-seventies jazz-rock brigade, Centipede's 1971 album 'Septober Energy' proved to be an exercise in both gargantuan excess and instrumental brilliance. Naturally, opinions on the release are divided. The line-up is far too numerous to list here, though it did include the likes of Soft Machine alumni Marc Charig(cornet), Elton Dean(sax), Roy Babbington(bass), Robert Wyatt(drums), Nick Evans(trombone), John Marshall(drums, percussion) and Karl Jenkins(oboe, sax), Patto's leader Mike Patto(vocals), King Crimson-and-Bad Company's future front-man Boz Burrell(vocals), King Crimson and future Foreigner co-founder Ian McDonald(sax), Nucleus members Ian Carr(trumpet), Brian Godding(guitar) and Jeff Clyne(bass) whilst the projects main organiser was Keith Tippett, leader of The Keith Tippett Group, whose wife Julie(vocals) also appeared. The album is divided into four, lengthy pieces, each of which hover around the twenty-minute mark, making this one epic listen. Luckily, three of the four pieces are pretty memorable, the group playing with considerable discipline. If there is a problem with 'Septober Energy', however, then it is this: the opening section features precious little music, instead featuring a cacophony of strange, eerie vocals and abstract sounds; not a good start. Also, despite the musical excellence on offer, this very much touches on a more arty style of jazz-rock, the rock almost airbrushed out completely. That said, fans of the many groups who appear - and it could be said that this is basically a massive supergroup of sorts featuring Soft Machine, Nucleus, Patto, The Keith Tippet Group and a bunch of seriously talented classical and jazz musicians - should lap this ensemble piece right up. Very high-brow then, and not exactly progreesive rock or fusion per se, but still pretty fascinating for serious music listeners all the same.


Report this review (#642545)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The most endearing thing about this album is the time period from whence it came and the freedom musicians were allowed. To approach a record company with the idea of bringing 50 people together and record a double LP containing something in the vein of jazz rock, just barely (if that) able to attract the main stream audience... That is crazy. And wonderful! CCS with it's tens of musicians fell way into backwater when Centipede produce twice the amount and then some. The cover attracts me, the idea brings a smile to my face and the effort makes me bow in awe. So far, so good.

The music, then, is a totally different thing. The "Part 2" is actually the only track I enjoy. The track is a groove, chugging along pleasantly. The groove is interrupted by small variations in riff and texture but is basically a groove where the band is allowed to play a solo or two. I like it, though I rarely listen to the whole thing. I get kind of lost after a while. Maybe even bored. The other tracks range from more or less free form jazz to sort of structured pieces.

It's really a feat digesting the album as a whole. Basically it is intelligent noise and that is not really my cup of tea. Chaos can be amazing but not over four sides of vinyl. Not for me, anyway. The melodious parts are not enough in numbers to amuse me.

I admire the effort, as I wrote earlier. I suppose that only true artistes care less for their audience than their ambitious ventures and that I appreciate. As a listener, though, I wish they could have evened it out a bit, making the album a little more accessible. I love jazz rock and the way the instruments sound on here makes me happy but the experience as a whole is a letdown.

Conclusion: the music gets two stars and the effort four, which I round down to a decent three star. There's enough intelligence and musicianship on here to make you crazy. Too bad it is lost in a haze of chaos and noise, rather than being a true master piece of epic proportions. It glides by like a led balloon. Sorry.

Report this review (#958710)
Posted Monday, May 13, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Brilliant, boring, haunting, nerve-grating, strange... A masterpiece or a piece of junk? Neither actually. "Septober Energy", for all its crazy ambition of putting 50 musicians together for a giant jam, remains forever as one of those incredibly bold projects such as only our (well mine, however) beloved 70s could produce. If you're to young to have been around in those blessed times, put it on the turntable, if only once, and think of it : that's what musicians didn't hesitate to do then, before the first oil crisis, when booze and cigs and various drugs were cheap, when it was not necessary to come up with a business plan or nice sale prospects before recording or publishing an album. When we (well I, however) were young.

So, not a masterpiece obviously, but a nice album which fully deserves the 4 stars I'm giving it.

Report this review (#1713695)
Posted Monday, April 24, 2017 | Review Permalink
3 stars Half is out there...the other half some innovative jazzy-funky music.

Probably not going to be on any child's Christmas list, this album stands as a testament to the freedom artists were given by record companies in the early 70s (as noted by other reviewers) and to the heady utopian visions of hippy artists and musicians of the era. Parts 1 and 3 (which take up sides 1 and 3 of the vinyl album, respectively) must be among the least commercial music ever recorded, while parts 2 and 4 on the other hand, do contain some really innovative jazzy music. The brainchild of the Tippets (Keith on piano, and Julie on vocals), this album is the equivalent of performance art for music, or perhaps something akin to the modern architecture or sculpture being made at the time, in which old ways of doing art (writing music) are discarded in favour of a completely new form based on a heady vision. The vision for this album takes places over four very different roughly-20 minute pieces. Part 1, and a couple of sections of part 3, are structured (or rather improvised) around droning vocals and strings that build up to something over top of found-percussion sounds and high-pitched vocalizations, only to be interrupted by noisy chaos by the horns. A big chunk of part 3 involves a crazed improvised march that builds/evolves (or rather, devolves) into crazed vocalizations. Listening to these two sides, you can visualize a modernist ballet or high-art mime performance, or, on part 3, an opposite-day fantasy-land parade. But generally this is not music you will likely want to put on to often, except, perhaps, to freak out a more-mainstream partner. While there is some definite musicality on these sides, and I really like the crazed march, I don't like when the flow is interrupted and fragmented, and some of the noises are simply annoying (Robert Fripp produced this, so one might think he would have tried to maintain the flow, but perhaps he was just as enraptured by the avant-garde concept. To be honest, one doesn't get any sense of his input at all). Sides 2 and 4, on the other hand, will appeal to anyone who likes the kind of innovative improvised instrumental music found on sides 1 and 4 of Soft Machine's 'Third', Mile Davis' early 70s improvs, or perhaps even fans of Afrobeat or other horns-based funk-jazz jams from the early 70s. This is music that builds over a groove, with angular quirky horn parts and some excellent solos (in this case, particularly by the Soft Machine's Elton Dean). Interestingly, this is an album that features both Robert Wyatt and John Marshall playing simultaneously - two Soft Machine drummers that never played together in the context of that band, and two drummers whose style in a way defines two different eras of the Softs. So, having them play together (one in each ear) is a bit of a treat for Softs fans (although they do not let loose, so you might not know who is playing what). Part 2 (side 2 of the vinyl album) is definitely the best, a side-long groovy jazz improvisation in roughly two parts, with great solos, including not only the horns but nice guitar work from Brian Godding (who I have never of before). Part 4 begins with some really nice solo piano by Tippet, but then slowly gets jazzy too and builds up to crescendo with all the horns in. There is also a choir that sings on parts 2 and 4, mainly a repeated phrase speaking of freedom and liberation, in tandem with the brass lines, lending some power to the compositions. These two sides are great, and together make up roughly 40 minutes of music, so the album is definitely worth getting. Taking the album as a whole, with all four sides, thins out the quality somewhat though, and there is definitely some 'difficult listening' on this one. But the gutsiness of the vision here can't be denied. Overall, I give this 7.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1844736)
Posted Friday, December 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
2 stars Boring, Directionless, these are some of the nicer words I'd use to describe this album.

Songs just go on and on, the albums four side are a challenge to get through. Nothing really helps, disjointed solos terrible singing, very scattered music. I don't think anything could have really fixed the album without killing the concept behind its inception. The better moments are found on some of the instrumental parts that just play their thing for a bit then are subsumed into a messy full band workout.

Overall this a genuinely bad album, everyone on here has done better work. Would not recommend to anyone but those fanatics interested in everything of the Jazz side of Progressive Rock.

Report this review (#2533348)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album doesn't look very appealing because of the Robert Fripp name but let me assure you it's very good. It is far more jazz oriented (and consequently better) than any King Crimson album. This is very well thought out with over 50 members playing ... It's a progressive big band something like Alan Silva's Celestial Communications Orchestra. It's a really good sign that the album challenges you from the beginning of the opening track. There are many instances similar to this throughout the album with amazing orchestrational curves. There aren't enough stars to give it. However where the album gets all of its points is the way it constantly challenges you. It's not long enough. Play often.
Report this review (#2576441)
Posted Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Review Permalink

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