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CENTIPEDE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Centipede biography
Centipede was British experimental jazz/progressive rock big band founded in 1970 by young avant-garde pianist Keith Tippett . He was known by participation on few early King Crimson and Blossom Toe's recordings and playing in Keith Tippett Sextet with Elton Dean, Nick Evans and Mark Charig. He started to play on Soft Machine albums this year as well.

Centipede was formed by Keith Tippett to perform an extended composition, Septober Energy that he had been working on. The members were drawn from his own band at the time, The Keith Tippett Group, several British progressive rock, jazz-rock and avant-garde jazz groups, including Soft Machine ( Robert Wyatt, Elton Dean, Nick Evans, Mark Charig), Nucleus (Karl Jenkins, Ian Carr, Brian Smith, Jeff Clyne, Roy Babbington, Bryan Spring, John Stanley Marshall) and King Crimson ( Robert Fripp, Peter Sinfield, Ian McDonald,Boz Burrell),vocalist Julie Driscoll and students of the London School of Music ( in total 50 musicians !).

Septober Energy consisted of four movements
, or "concepts" that the band improvised around. It was first performed by the band live at the Lyceum Theatre in London on 15 November 1970. Later same year Centipede toured France and The Netherlands for few concerts. In April 1971, Neon Records, a British sub-label of RCA, signed up Tippett and Centipede, and Centipede recorded Tippett's composition on a double album, Septober Energy (it were two different cover picture releases).

Robert Fripp produced the album and it was released in October 1971 in the United Kingdom only. While some of the other Crimson members featured on Septober Energy, Fripp, who had performed live with Centipede, did not. Centipede, now reduced in size for economic reasons, gave two performances in London to promote the album, one at the Royal Albert Hall in October 1971, and the other at the Rainbow Theatre in December 1971. But the album was not generally well received by critics and as no further engagements were forthcoming, Centipede disbanded at the end of 1971.

In 1974 RCA issued Septober Energy in the United States, hoping to cash in on Fripp's name as the producer, but it failed, particularly because Centipede did not exist to promote the album with performances. The band did, however, reform briefly in October 1975, with David Cross from King Crimson, to perform at...
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3.31 | 65 ratings
Septober Energy
1971

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CENTIPEDE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by martyg

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.
 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Beautiful Scarlet

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.

 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Walkscore

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.

 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kaelka

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.

 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

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.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by thepoliteforce

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 outstanding...no 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 first...one of my favorite lps...love 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
 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator 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.

 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by The letters

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... ).
 Septober Energy by CENTIPEDE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.31 | 65 ratings

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Septober Energy
Centipede Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rainer Rein

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!
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Snobb & Easy Money for the last updates

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