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rogerthat View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: September 22 2009 at 22:15
Approve  I have given it the same rating though with somewhat different preferences internally.  Impressive but not pulling its weight enough to be called a masterpiece.  Additionally, the Queen of voice needs some 'growing up' at this point, some jagged edges especially in the way she sometimes hits the high notes too hard and comes off a little shrill, no wonder the Carnegie Hall performance of the title track would so comprehensively eclipse this recording even sans Powell's fine solo.  It's strange that the band used to 'tout' (pun intended) John and Annie as their principal strengths because I have come to the conclusion - as you seem to have - that Camp was their next best instrument player (!) after Annie.  It's easy to observe on the DVD that his hands are very busy as if like a guitarist and he shows off as much as a guitarist would (not talking about the Crimson King here! Tongue).  Very dominating player and yet stops well short of disrupting the gentle persuasion of their music. I especially love how he creates the impression of a cello in the Ashes are burning interlude.  On that note, you seem to like the title track a lot less than I do Wink, I think it's the single best creation of theirs. Very atmospheric, haunting and leaves a powerful impression that stays in the mind for a long time. There's a warmth to  the first three albums of the second line up that began to fade away on Scheherazade and by Azure D' Or was conspicuous by its absence...strangely enough, the exact phase which the band cherishes so much!  Confused
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 03 2010 at 08:40
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Review #1 in a while, So, Peter Gabriel

StarStarStarStar


So what?

Itís always slightly annoying when the closest thing to a cheap pun doesnít really fit your opinions (the other one Iíve always wanted to use was PG tips... I blame a childhood deprived of the fourth series of Blackadder for this terrible sense of humour)... this then makes you write things like reviews. Still, Peter Gabrielís fifth Ďrealí studio album was his first real mainstream hit, and understandably so: itís a great album, has half a dozen songs that could reasonably have been hit singles (and four of which were, I think) and yet has enough odd and atmospheric stuff, innovation and idiosyncrasy to appeal to long-time fans and smug critics. And itís pretty much flawlessly produced (frankly, Iím amazed that Gabrielís production with Daniel Lanois managed to actually improve on this for Us)... every sound has effect, without ever seeming to crowd the songs.

I suppose there is some Ďdumbing downí from the startling structures and raw atmosphere of PG IV (we donít hit anything quite as daring as Lay Your Hands On Me or Rhythm Of The Heat) and the lyrics have also lost some of their mystical grip... I guess Gabrielís new directness leans on his voice the central idea generally being strong enough to sort of spread its mood to the fairly haphazard phrases supporting it and on So, thatís not always the case. However, thereís also a lot of bigging up on So... the ambience is far more consistent and less naked than on IV, which makes for a more satisfying unity: the Ďpopí sensibilities feels linked to the experimental sensibilities. And, most of all, Gabrielís confidence and the tightness of the band(s) is phenomenal... thereís really no sense that Gabriel is ever holding back here, which makes even the songs which donít really have much to say oddly moving and the ones which do devastating.

From the opening of Red Rain we are hit by this confidence: itís big, bombastic, catchy, interesting and, most of all, punchy music. The inversion of the grandiose crushing waves of drumming (Stewart Copeland adds some fantastic hi-hat work to Jerry Marottaís clattering drums) and searing vocals descending to the sad showers of piano over a lonely voice at the end. Perhaps could have been cut down, but I canít really think of any moments which donít have something Iíd miss. The quality of the synths and treated percussion is only improved from IV and itís overall a superb opener, though Iím not perhaps as keen on it as others here.

The confidence hits even harder in the slowly building Sledgehammer, which youíve probably heard... a rolling funky song with a seriously awesome bit funky bass/guitar riff, blaring horns and a lead vocal and lyric so infectiously fun that it maybe clouds just how good the music behind it is... the flawless incorporation of the bizarre flute intro into the main song, the little organ melody rolling in at the end, the cool overdub harmony on sledge. While this is an undeniably Ďpopí song and probably Gabrielís most notorious hit, I still donít think Iíve heard anything quite like it.

Contrasting to these two is the lush atmospherically underlined duet Donít Give Up. The matching of Gabrielís increasingly searching and strained vocals meeting Kate Bushís astoundingly sweet and soft replies is just perfect and the idea of the lyrics is here really moving. Credit for the pieceís effect goes also to Richard Teeís crisp piano, Levinís smooth, funky, vaguely tragic stick-work and Manu Katcheís immensely tasteful percussion. Just incredible.

That Voice Again is the one piece of the album that stands out as not really being particularly great. Itís not especially bad, but the melodies just donít strike through, and the contrast of the moments of general shiny threat and the bright shiny chorus feels rather too clunky. And the lyrics just arenít very effective for me. There are a few features I really like... Levinís basswork (and I find it hard to criticise the drumming either), the incredible Ďlisten to the windí vocal answer, the rather dark conclusion, but as a whole piece it just doesnít really satisfy.

In Your Eyes simply blows away any doubts left over from the previous piece... I have to admit I probably made myself like the first chorus by sheer force of will... not that I ever particularly disliked it, but I felt that it didnít really match up to the heartbreaking opening. There are very few openings that compare to the way Gabriel introduces ĎLove... I get so lost... some-times...í over the rising piano and percussion pairing... and then the way it comes back later is even more powerful. And the chorus keeps building power, too... if I find it a little too light initially, when Levinís bass, Youssou Nídourís backing vocals, the extra drums and the synths come in it moves from heart-wrenching to heavenly.

And Mercy Street: understated and mired in sadness. The cold, lost lead vocals contrast with soft, strange harmonies (my favourite vocals by Gabriel, ever). The percussion is as unobtrusive as any continual rhythm could be, blending in with a whistling sound and the bass (Larry Kleinís) has a power over the heart here that Iíve never really associated with that instrument. And the Ďsolosí (synthesiser and treated sax) are matchingly soft, sad and unobtrusive. Words really fail to describe this piece (while weíre on it, the words of the piece are very striking, Ďnowhere in the corridors of pale green and grey/nowhere in the suburbs in the cold light of day/there in the midst of it so alive and so alone/words support like boneí).

Big Time flows astonishingly well from this utter immersion, snapping straight out with its awesome basslines (I mean, Levin is usually awesome but here heís just on fire... I guess thatís the collaboration with Jerry Marotta on the Ďdrumstick bassí sound), thunking percussion and Gabrielís deliciously ironic ĎHI THEREí. A sharp narcissistic mockery of narcissism, with some hilarious lyrics, the snappy Big Time is really not all that much like Sledgehammer if you actually listen to it rather than assuming that any song with occasional gospel backing and some horns will be the same. Loadsa fun.

 We Do What Weíre Told is barest piece on the album with freakily singular vocals, and a virtually purely atmospheric backing with the melody stuck more into the percussion than anything else. Hits a distinctly creepy mood.

This Is The Picture, a duet with Laurie Anderson is something completely different again, catchy as any of the more overtly Ďaccessibleí songs and with a delicious sort of interplay between the two singersí slightly gravellier voices and (again, Gabrielís vocals are incredible) their more soulful seconds. As the lyrics go, itís excellent nonsense that really gives an opportunity for the vocals to move around into a lot of different oddity. And the little synth melody and cool bass part are just perfect. Great way to end an album (or at least the remaster?).

So, four stars. I love everything except That Voice Again, though I guess Iím slightly colder to the still superb Red Rain than the remainder of the material. Thereís a lot to commend So for, and I think itís comfortably Gabrielís most unified effort to that point, even if itís not my favourite. As for the whole pop/prog/SELLLLOUT debate... I really think the possibilities of (very commercially successful) pop music are much wider than people sometimes think, and here Gabriel has demonstrated that with an album of music that canít really be categorised single-mindedly as pop, prog, rock or world. So is an album you should probably have, if only to bear witness to that.

Rating: Four Stars... virtually essential but not quite perfect.
Favourite Track: Mercy Street

----

And that's a surprise for everyone.

@Rogerthat: yet to hear/see the Carnegie Hall performance, I'm afraid. I'll take a look at it when I can.


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 29 2010 at 11:27
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 06 2010 at 16:00
Review 2 in a while, Peter Gabriel II

StarStar

Peter Gabriel II is a spectacular effort to alienate listeners old and new. The series of problems that are the production (Frippís rather idiosyncratic approach to the material here doesnít really do a good job of emphasising strengths and leaves the busier songs feeling messy), the vocals (Gabrielís voice is always under the same effect in this one, which makes it rather difficult for him to actually express most of the songs very well), the lyrics (now, Gabrielís lyrics past and future were excellent. Here he seems to be on the verge of moving to the more direct approach heíd adopt in the future but with neither the interest nor the powerful central images he so excels with) are mildly redeemed by the quality of a few of the albumís better numbers and the sort of cumulative power that all these idiosyncrasies build over a listen. Worth picking up if youíre a serious Gabriel fan and have the acknowledged classics; it has grown on me, given time, but in a sort of sideways direction that baffles and bemuses as much as it entertains.

On The Air is one of the albumís little highlights, introducing Frippís production by a little sensitive needling with the synthesiser breaking under the hard guitar/bass riff (some great little embellishments by Levin here). Gabrielís vocals add little more than a general angry buzzing interchanged with some slightly contorted theatricals, thankfully obscuring the rather misfired lyrics. Frippís solo is rather neat (if a bit undermixed). On the other hand, DIY, the albumís second hard rock number is equally dim but not quite so winning... thereís an oddly decent version on Plays Live... here only Levinís bass really comes across very strongly and the vocals sound like theyíve been sung from inside a well-padded box.

Thankfully, thatís really the only song thatís a bit bland to sit through, and compensated for by the gorgeous Mother Of Violence (an icy little duet between acoustic guitar and piano... something Iím usually not a fan of, but it works here... and Fripp adds his yearning electrics over the top and a couple of interesting insect humming bookends), probably the only song on this one that a Gabriel fan really needs to hear and arguably his most winning acoustic piece.

Thereupon, the albumís on its up... possibly the most satisfying section with the quirky bass-driven pop song Wonderful Way In A One-Way World and the thumping orientally-flavoured rocker White Shadow (with some truly superb multi-part riffs, one hell of a Fripp solo and a bit of an unhelpful synth-based introduction).
Indigo opens the shorter still side two... a rather inoffensive little piano number seemingly adding a slightly more personal touch to the albumís rather thin commentary on commercialism that clumps into a clunky chorus/break then suddenly explodes back in with an unanticipated emotional grip (ĎAll right, Iím giving up the fight/I didnít know when Iíd be a stranger again in my own landí). Eventually, it works out as a relatively satisfying piece with some cool side-melodies (listen out for the background guitar and synths... theyíre not exactly pointed out by the production. Animal Magic is possibly the closest to conventionally catchy the album gets... a slightly odd rock-and-roll inspired piece with Levin in the foreground and some snarly Gabriel vocals, great aggressive guitar, a comparatively convincing lyric. A highlight.

And yes, Exposure is the Gabriel/Fripp collaboration at its most extreme. A hypnotic rhythm, typically entrancing Frippertronics (i.e. a series of guitar loops designed to kill airplay), the first really effective use of Marottaís thick drum style and Gabriel just drawing out every possible idea, syllable and quality of the word Ďexposureí before freaking out at the end. Itís really something to observe. Levinís bass is also a blast. Iím sure many, many people will be rightly concerned by this; I think itís fantastic.

Flotsam And Jetsam continues in the slightly more experimental vein with a neat vocal yawning and some Marotta/Levin intensity. Almost a shame that Gabrielís boxed-in vocal and the rather persistent but superfluous piano cut away any power I think the song could have achieved. As it is, only the cutesy solo at the end really touches.

Perspective; the padded box is back in vogue for another piano rock song. Donít really feel thereís much content in the basic song, though the sax, guitar and so forth are fun and it gives an opportunity for the bandís musicianship to blow away suitably. Passable for what it is but really not doing anything interesting.
And if youíre sort of entertained enough by this point, Home Sweet Home sort of unifies the whole thing in a typically odd and fascinatiní moral Ďdilemmaí (dilemma isnít the word...let's try quandary?). Itís a sort of piano ballad with half a million ambient touches (organ, harmonies, guitar, little rhythm section additions) fluctuating in the background.

Peter Gabriel II is not the finest 42.3 minutes of a very fine musician (and backed by a number of very fine musicians) but, at the same time is mostly enjoyable, has a couple of standouts and a couple of flumps. A fans mostly rating... 2 stars

Rating: Two stars, 8/15 (I have an odd scale, to be honest... 14/15 will usually be a 5, 12/13 will earn a 4. Thereafter it all gets a bit abstract...
Favourite track: Mother Of Violence


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 29 2010 at 11:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 15 2010 at 05:16
Indeedovich.

The weakest I've heard from him so far, but still charming.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 11 2010 at 15:15
I love the album. I wish I had more time to elaborate.

Thanks for sharing all your insights.

KG
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 08 2010 at 20:17
Queen II, Queen, can't be bothered to look up the year

StarStarStarStar

Queen are the band I wouldíve said were ubiquitous in my slightly younger years. Annoyingly enough, even prior to picking up Queen II, I couldnít deny they deserve that position: catchy writing, distinct songs, a unique sound, a great singer. However, more annoying still is that none of the variety of wonderful offerings on their sophomore album (other than Seven Seas Of Rhye) even made the best of. Aside from being one of the greatest guitar albums of all time and plainly a great album, Queen II synthesizes outright experimentalism and variety with enviable songwriting perfectly.

Even on the songs Iíd say are a bit weaker, most of the bandís strengths are usually out in full force: the vocal melodies are, with one exception, great; Mayís guitar work on the album is phenomenal... I might even go so far as to rate it above Electric Ladyland as the rock guitar album; the writing is complex and dense but purposeful and very fast paced; the rhythm section more than adequate. Even without mentioning the incredible vocal leads, harmonies and effects we have one hell of an album to get through. And as a collective strength, Iíd say, Queen II is remarkably well-paced... fluent and capable of very quick transitions but never quite verging into the realm of the frantic. That and the strength of the melodies and riffs make it very easy indeed on the ears.

The opening pair, for instance. May uses Procession to stretch out his canvas of guitar textures, alluding subtly to both God Save The Queen and the following Father To Son, by turns a heavy rocker with some bestial guitar soloing, a whimsical a-capella piece and a hymnal call (I mean, listen to that organ-like guitar work and those harmonies near the end). By contrast, the wonderfully sung White Queen is a lush inversion of that, moving rather from its mournful opening to glimpses of heated memory. Mayís tone, again, heavenly, and the sitar(-like?) solo is yet another example of how effectively he varies his guitar sounds on this album while sticking to the stellar tone that unifies it for most of the songs. While that is perhaps my favourite song on the album (with the warped Fairy Feller as another runner), I canít help but feel Some Day One Day is rather underestimated: a wonderfully unforced display of Mercuryís singing, with delicate vibrato tingeing the end of gorgeous vocal lines, a great acoustic melody, and the guitars and choral harmonies so characteristic of this album as a whole. I mean, itís not a showy piece but I really do love it.

The ĎBlack Sideí is much along the same lines and of the same quality, though Mercuryís writing is more overtly experimental (Iíll try to leave some of the surprises unmentioned), uses piano more and maybe has slightly more emphasis on the lead vocals (though nonetheless a number of insane harmonies). To talk about a few highlights (the whole side is basically highlights), the guitar section in the middle of Ogre Battle must have three or four interlaced layers of Mayís finest work, Fairy Feller is an entirely bizarre fast-paced piece of maddened folklore characterisation with some of the strangest melodies and hooks I can remember from Queen, Nevermoreís an exquisite piano-and-voice ballad. March Of The Black Queen, by contrast to these, is virtually a suite... Iím particularly fond of the vocal interplay on it.

By no stretch of the imagination is Queen II quite a perfect album... some of the transitions do jar a little, the folksy lyrics verge from the mildly intriguing (White Queen) to the plain naff (Ogre Battle) and Iíve little affection for Taylorís tedious rocker Loser In The End and the rather nauseating set up piece Funny How Love Is. Thankfully, enough for each of those, we have a more than fair share of very winning material. Just take the concluding radio hit Seven Seas Of Rhye: great vocal melody and mad harmonies, fading away just briefly enough for the solo voices to shine, amazing intertwining piano and guitar riffs, bloody amazing soloing from May as well as his incredible range of textures... even if I wouldnít elevate this album to the pedestal some fellow reviewers have, thereís a lot to love here. Get this album.

Rating: Four Stars, something like 12/15
Favourite Song: too greedy to pick just one


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 29 2010 at 11:28
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 09 2010 at 11:04
Good stuff, good stuff. However, I have always had a slight problem with Queen myself - they were always a bit too starry-eyed and somehow lacked the musical muscle to back it up, May-tapestries included. Perhaps I'm just silly.

This album will give them some more chances though.


Edited by LinusW - March 09 2010 at 11:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 13 2010 at 09:13
'Bit' late on this Wink, good review as always.  I can't decide which of this and A Night at the Opera is my favourite.  The debut is also excellent.  I generally don't like abrupt transitions in music and Queen have lots of them but somehow they are amongst my all time favourites. LOL  
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 17 2010 at 10:13
Pretentiousness and You

Magma, s/t, 1970

Much as writers in Rolling Stone and the dying breed of punk fans may accuse Jon Andersonís astral wailings and vague concepts, Gabrielís William-Burroughs-writes-nursery-rhymes lyrics and Peter Hammillís existential musings of being pretentious and irrelevant, they have, sadly enough, no idea of how pretentious human beings can be. For instance, theyíve probably never heard Magma; Magmaís entire career (with the exception of the moderately hilarious Call From The Dark (Ooh Ooh Baby)), takes the astral biscuit of ethereal Vauncah and devours it whole. The bandís theme is a vague (exception: this album?) space opera sung in some form of b*****dised Anglo-Russo-German because real languages are not worthy of the vague, often to the point of indecipherable, story. Really, next time you feel like venting venom on the comparatively earthy and humble Emerson, Lake& Palmer, please take a moment to remember that you would be devaluing the whole idea of pretentiousness.

However, if you ever need to be reminded that pretentiousness can have positive side-effects, Magma will do that. I have not heard more confidence in music outside the realm of classical: Magma are willing to leave themes hanging, to drop out for a moment, to incorporate genuine classical ideas, to build tension without respite... they donít feel obliged to wait for the listener: the sheer confidence that comes through about what they can do with their music should impress if nothing else. This first release has that confidence, though itís entirely different to their later ones... aside from a much more jazz-oriented ensemble, the double-album format, the avant-garde nature usually appears to be drawn from classical or free-jazz inspiration (Christian Vander, drummer and mystic prince of the space-people, was, after all, classically trained) rather than the truly ground-breaking psychosis of, say, MDK.

In some ways, I think this album will be much more accessible than its followers, even if it gives less of an idea of what the whole outfit is about; in some ways, it is perhaps more enjoyable, and the calibre of the musicians gathered and the writing is . The opener Kobaia is probably the strongest statement of the album, with an opportunity for most of the ensemble to stretch out a bit, ambitious structure, an awesome free jazz-styled guitar solo, a neat bass riff and a soul-crushing piano and vocal break. If itís still on the archives at the time of reading as an MP3 sample, take a listen to it. Thereafter, the album tends to be a bit more standardised, although nonetheless excellent; while Aina is incredibly creative in terms of melodies and a very tight piece of classically-influenced (listen to Teddy Lasryís wonderful flute flourish) jazz work, it doesnít really quite hit any particular moods as powerfully. Malaria is fairly similar in terms of impact, and is similarly well-arranged as a mostly jazz piece with some sweeping electric guitar and an unusual vocal.

More of a departure is the first piece not penned by Vander, Teddy Lasryís Sohia (though I think for everything the band has as large a role in constructing stuff as the writer). This is a rather odder piece, where Francis Mozeís bass-work underscores some haunting classical-ish flute harmonies, before the jazz band comes back. Vanderís fills (the man is really a very talented drummer, here supported by a very talented bassist) here are perhaps the closest the album gets to the territory of rock, while Richard Rauxís saxophone neatly expands themes in the harmonies. It sort of continues the strange internal logic of the album, and even the more solo-based bits. The incredible winding flute-and-piano spiralling around the guitar towards the end and the militaristic outro are certainly some of the most absorbing moments on the album.

Another non-Vander piece (ĎSckxyssí, for those of us with paranormal gifts for pronunciation...), this time by pianist Francois Cahen, who takes a solid riff under which the song grooves and pulses frantically in between schizophrenic breaks. Francis Mozeís electric bass is very powerful indeed, the sax interplay is insane. Cahenís classically crisp piano parts tend to keep the album together and connected, and no exception is the segue between this and the final piece of disc one, Vanderís Aurae.

Aurae seems to take the classical inspirations further than they have yet gone, with a flute melody underlined by Claude Engelís very bizarre electric guitar and some sort of perverse waltz switching into the blaring declarations of intent. We see the first glimpses of the more symphonic ambitions of MDK here with the various distorted or cleverly harmonized vocals, as well as the characteristic blocks of classical ambition. It also suggests some of the unique merits of this album: the variety is wider than anything MDK will really achieve, more melodic writing, cleaner guitar and a more or less unintrusive display of the unbridled originality that will give Magma their generally well-earned cult status.

Part two doesnít quite live up to the writing quality of the first side, I think, though it includes some very unusual content for Magma - yes, voyageurs, producer Laurent Thibaultís Nau Ektila frequently verges on folk and includes a straight rock guitar solo, much as the whole piece has a berserk centre... the combination and diversity makes it one of the best here... by contrast, Stoah is a psychotic high-pitched chant (the vocals here are very... diverse) rolling into free jazz and some rather odd attempts at mock-national music mixed with heavy use of sound effects and a couple of pleasantly unexpected pastoral breaks. Without meaning to exhaust all the tracks here, I think itís fair to say that this side more or less sets the style for future Magma releases, albeit with more classical instrumentation and more distinct leads...  all in all, I think side two is perhaps a touch weaker musically than side one, though I think it deserves credit for the drama and storytelling it includes (if you donít get it at first, I recommend taking a stab at the very simple French sleeve-notes with some sort of online dictionary), though it still contains a lot of very exceptional stuff.

While not really comparable to its followers, Magmaís debut album is a very fine album indeed. The rhythm section is incredible, there is no questioning the ability of any of the performers and the concept is used in a slightly ridiculous but basically entertaining way. Moreover, the writing is versatile and accomplished enough to make most of the tracks stand out... Iíd note Thaud Zaia as a bit of a non-event, much as it has a neat mysterious flute. Four shiny buttons for a very, very accomplished debut with a bit more deflation and variety than its more intense successors. Worth having.

Favourite Track: Kobaia, or maybe Sohia
Rating: Solid four stars, 13/15
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 22 2010 at 18:21
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A review, Trisector, Van Der Graaf Generator

Second Van Der Graaf Generator reunion release, minus one jammed CD, minus David Jaxon, minus abstractly directed anger, minus ferocious grandeur, plus a lot of things. The improvements here are pretty much across the board on the already very strong Present: the lyrics have regained their murkiness and existential bite, organist Hugh Bantonís every note is basically a highlight and the album as a whole is both more experimental and balanced than its predecessor. Hammill makes no visible effort to show off yet shines throughout. Guy Evans is, as ever, a rock solid atmospheric drummer with some bursts of particular creativity. Couple of criticisms: a couple of fade endings, particularly on the rock pieces, would seem worth expansion, a couple of the tracks feel a bit out of place for various reasons. Nonetheless, overall a marked success.

 The instrumental Hurlyburly is a rather odd choice of opener Ė presumably some sort of rather unnecessary demonstration that the band can still cut it instrumentally without Jackson or a magnanimous hint from Hammill to ensure this isnít taken for one of his solo albums (all tracks except one receive a whole group credit). Psychedelic opening running around a basic guitar riff followed by a fairly memorable but rather unnecessary bit of instrumental rock... one gets the sense the fade derives from a lack of direction more than anything else.

Characteristic existential angst in a few of the numbers here: Interference Patterns is a dizzyingly compact progressive philosophy-of-science piece and a modern VDGG classic with a decidedly gripping organ part among a number of superb features. Only In A Whisper has even bleaker basic content and a lot of cymbals (Evans is consummately creative when more or less free of the type-cast of rock drummer). Perhaps a victim of its own success: I canít help feeling the length, lack of overall direction and haunting lyrics are an intentional challenge of the type that probably shouldnít lie between two comparatively undemanding rock songs. More on We Are Not Here below.

A couple of quieter, though not necessarily more relaxed, songs: The Final Reel is deceptively pretty in appearance, with an agonisingly detailed and dark lyric. Bantonís flute imitation is as striking as his later melancholic organ, and Hammillís vocals (including a fascinating self-duet) and guitar are superbly applied... the grandeur at the end is used with a decided irony, and the closing feedback appears to be some sort of back-reference to help connect the album together with its opener. Lifetime is the sole composition credited solely to Hammill, and I guess thatís visible from the amount of guitar and the prominence of the vocal... Bantonís wonderful development of the organ part (including some very nice pedal work) is one highlight, Hammillís lyrics are another. I suppose the transition to guitar solo is a little facile.

Drop Dead has Hammillís tongue so firmly in his cheek that itís basically stuck: I get the fundamental irony so quickly I donít feel the need to hear it out (shame, as the ending, stripped of sarcy wordiness, is the best bit). Particularly when compared to the rather more interesting examples of both irony and rock music in All That Before, itís not a particular asset to the album.

Over The Hill is a second stab at the ideas behind Childlike Faith... the knife goes in almost too easily. Here, even more so than on the rest of the album, Banton re-establishes himself as the most convincing organist in the territory of rock, with a range of gripping organ parts varied effortlessly with intelligent dissonance and a clear relationship with the other instruments. Hammillís vocal melodies are unique and well-considered and his voice holds a bone-chilling power here and his lyrics are typically well-constructed. Evansí fills are great and his drumming is solid, taking over a slow part with a sense of direction. A thoroughly thought-through Van Der Graaf Generator Ďepicí with the meaning and emotional grip to empower its already excellent music.

Nomination for We Are Not Here as the sonic expression of destruction. Evansí rattle-snake rolls and Hammillís deliciously crisp low piano notes (accompanied by a bass pedal) merge into Bantonís scything organ. Hammillís voice offers some never-before-heard textures for very striking lyrics.

An album that deserves to be judged on its own merits: a very high quality, subtle and experimental album by three great musicians, replete with some of the best vocals and lyrics out there. There are a couple of flaws but itís still comfortably the best post-reunion album Iíve heard by any prog outfit and worthy, perhaps even deserving, of a place in any prog collection.

Favourite Track: Interference Patterns or We Are Not Here
Album Rating: Four Stars 12/15

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 23 2010 at 12:04
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Review, LA Woman, The Doors, 1971

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Last Doors album with Morrison (distinctly sagging) held up throughout by the vastly underestimated Ray Manzarekís keyboards... rest of the albumís content somewhat patchy; a more prominent session bassist in Jerry Scheff an excellent investment and the album is admittedly very well-arranged, though I think the individual songs. Writing of a mixed calibre and some decidedly uninspired cuts displaying a lack of creative focus. Not a bad album, by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly one with weak material, and I feel that almost regardless of the quality of the rest of the material, any Doors album without Morrisonís alternated screaming and crooning at their best is going to prove somewhat lacking in power compared to Strange Days or the debut. Anyway, since this is so highly regarded, Iíll start with the problems:

Hyacinth House is three minutes of a much weakened Morrison crooning rescued from the skip button only by Manzarekís snaking organ (according to Wikipedia, with reference to Chopin). Somewhat telling that only one minute reference is made to this song in the four or so generally glowing professional reviews Iíve read, and it hasnít cropped up on any of The Doorsí many, many best-of type compilations. Throwaway material.

The albumís blues inspiration comes in various shades and standards. Transforming John Lee Hookerís deliciously subversive Crawling King Snake into what we suspect Jim Morrison perceives as an ode to little Jimmy is rather regrettable. Morrisonís static vocal lines take out the creeping dynamic in the original piece, and the bandís backing seems more or less uninspired. Even the usually reliable Kriegerís bursts of soloing are rather feeble. Been Down So Long, other than some convincingly ultramarine lyrics with a vicious edge, features two howling solos from Krieger (a man who has the idea of blues rock down better than anyone), suitably shouty vocals and repetitive stabbing bass to fill out the mood. The slower Cars Hiss By My Window is a nice straight blues, albeit with Morrisonís incredible vocal imitation of a wah-wah solo and a cool set of lyrics.

LíAmerica is decisively odd in both riff and content and Morrisonís lyric and vocal are involving enough to fit it. Love Her Madly: some very fine work from Krieger and Morrison pulls out a comparatively strong vocal... not one of their best hits, in my view, but fine enough. On the opening Changeling, Morrisonís more visceral moments are met by a particularly solid organ performance and a very fine jam from the rather unfairly neglected surviving Doors.

L.A. Woman is the first of the albumís two side-closing long tracks (part of the albumís success seems to come from its format: long intense rock song set up by mid-length blues denouement in contrast to long calm blues/country-inspired song set up by the albumís hardest rocker) and a success. Aside from the evil distorted keyboard intro and a pulsing bassline, itís consistently full of quality riffs, Morrisonís vocals and lyrics are good enough, though not the song-making things they were on, say, When The Musicís Over. Riders On The Storm now so symbolic of The Doors that itís odd to think it provoked producer Paul Rothchild to abandon them. Not really in need of any introduction, given how it sprawls everywhere over classic rock radio, and following the punchy and powerful WASP (credit to John Densmoreís drumming on that one), it makes for a very intriguing conclusion to the album, and Manzarekís e-piano soloing (vaguely reminiscent of a harp) is a perfect evocation of the songís rainfall.

Odd comment on bonus material, Orange Country Suite has Morrisonís crooning at a rather better level than anywhere on the album proper, and the cover of Willie Dixonís You Need Meat equally shows the bandís renowned front man on a form heíd summarily missed for the recording of the album proper.

Well, for an acknowledged classic, I find LA Woman remarkably inconsistent. Two very weak pieces,  and a more or less 50% success rate on the vocals. It must be said that the two supporting short-song-long-song pairs closing the sides are decidedly classics, but also not the albumís only highlights, and consequently, any fan of the bandís rather more constant earlier albums shouldnít hesitate about getting this, sooner or later. Something of a pity Morrison's swan song is an album he most hinders.

Warning note: Iím listening only to the 40th Anniversary mix. I am aware that this is different to the original, Iím not aware quite how.

Rating: Three Stars, 10/15
Favourite Track: Riders On The Storm, comfortably



Edited by TGM: Orb - March 29 2010 at 11:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 23 2010 at 12:36
Mjemje Ermm

Never been able to enjoy The Doors. They and The Rolling Stones elude me most of the time, even though I should love it on paper.

Good review though.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 23 2010 at 14:02
Have you heard Strange Days, by any chance? would imagine it's on spotify and definitely worth a shot even if you're not a huge fan of the band's output in general
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 23 2010 at 14:25
I've heard it, but it was long ago. Might just put it on the playlist after this album.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 24 2010 at 18:50
Congrats on joining the 100 most prolific reviewers list.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 29 2010 at 11:21
Skin, Peter Hammill, 1986
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(Thereís Something Out To Get You) Under The Skin

Ostensibly a half-dozen comparatively conventional pop songs heavy on synthesisers with some odd sound choices, an oddity or two and a rare genuine Hammill solo Ďepicí (reason enough to get the album), this album is everywhere looking at the question of identity. While much of the material here is not as radical and daring as, say, Loops and Reels or as atmospherically intense as the K Group stuff, it is of a consistently decent standard and concludes *very* powerfully with perhaps Hammill's two best pieces from the 80s.

Following a three year break from studio work, Hammill has returned with Evans and Jackson as well as a few guest performances, and is heavy on sonic manipulation. While previous reviewers have focussed on the more obvious organ and brass synths (though these are often interestingly wrapped around Jacksonís leads) and treated drum sounds, I think the pay-off comes on the bass parts (hitting sounds from the hardcore electronic in A Perfect Date to an almost classical disdain in Four Pails) and the wonderful tingling keyboard sounds on Now Lover.

Skin is an idiosyncratic pop/rock song with howling guitar, aggressive vocals and a neat vocal line. The lyrics are fitting. Synth-brass will probably be a deal-breaker for some, but (despite Hammillís reservations about the playing here) Iím still very fond of Painting By Numbers. Pop song three doesnít quite come off as well as either of those, I think; All Said And Done doesnít really pull together until the end, despite the neat lyric.

Two slower numbers: Shell and After The Show are slower and more atmospheric. On both of them, the detail of (I think, though the former includes some programmed sounds) Evansí part is quite valuable and Hammillís lyrics and vocals are especially haunting. The latter is basically made by Jacksonís howling introspective solo; Shell features some of the albumís more curious sound choices and lyrics.
Iím still not completely sure about the lyrics and opening on A Perfect Date but the rest is solid enough. Hammillís many vocals include some of the lowest leads and maddest harmonies from the album and the use of a guest vocalist is something rather rare for a Hammill album. Anyway, the  drum part is way cool, as is the almost Levin-like bass.

Four Pails (written by Chris Judge Smith and Max Hutchinson) is quite possibly the albumís best piece.  Hammill puts together a one-man choir and a powerful lead, a raw sonic backdrop sometimes drawing on his earlier musique concrete experience, a straight piano (rare on this record) and arranges both classical (Stuart Gordon on violin) and decidedly modern electronic instrumentation. The lyrics are very heavy, and for a cover it fits remarkably well into the album, reaching into both the questions, of identity and of time, that permeate it.

ĎFour pails of water, and a bag full of salts
That is all she was
all my lover represented
That sounds just as mad
As saying she will never dieí

Cheerful pop lyrics, eh...

Now Lover: dijeridu, treated sax, self-harmonies contrasting with lone vocals, Guy Evans, a searing lyric about sex with suitably mild but intriguing reference to science and philosophy, a drone incorporated into regular music, heavy use of sound treatment and synths of various descriptions... utterly, completely mad. And, start to finish, itís brilliant. Features one of David Jacksonís finest performances. Not to be missed.

Rounding procedures off, at least on the remaster, is You Hit Me Where I Live, an obviously spontaneous pop/rock song with awesome vocal and guitar parts. Great song, but I'm not sure it belongs after Now Lover.

Much as the 80s aesthetic and pop structure of a lot of the material here will be an insurmountable obstacle for some, a look beneath the surface of this album shows the arteries and beating heart of a great musician. I personally think this is a damn good album, a rare genuinely experimental prog album from the late 80s by an artist still staking out new ground for himself, and there are at least two songs here that no Hammill fan should be without. 4 Stars. Get it if you donít hate the 80s.

Rating: 12/15, Four Stars.
Favourite Track: Four Pails or Now Lover

---

Excellent, I got to use an awful pun and a cheap metaphor : )

Cheers Rob, though I'm sure I've disappeared from that already LOL

May try to get some thoughts in on something modern next (TMV or Ulver seems likely; not sure I'm the right person to review Opeth).


Edited by TGM: Orb - March 29 2010 at 11:26
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 30 2010 at 12:59
Heavy Horses, Jethro Tull, 1978

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Tullís second devoted folk album escapes my hatred for all things gratuitously vaguely woodsy. Aside from a mixed but improved set of lyrics relating Ianís pastoral images to actual human life, Ianís voice has grown a bit huskier and the music, while still full of nice melodies, does actually tend to go somewhere. Drummer Barriemore Barlowe outdoes himself here, and the band are completely tight wherever the music has direction.

With less of the tedious repetition and a little more in the way of hooks, the actual quality of the band becomes a little more obvious again. Psychotic opener And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps has the rather underrated Barriemore Barlowe at his finest and a slightly experimental flute sound, while Acres Wild sees John Glascockís bass interwoven into a neat mandolin part. Daryl Wayís violin makes the slightly mad jig part and adds an extra flavour to the finely constructed verses.

No Lullaby is the first (and by far the worst) of the albumís speed bumps. While itís nice to see Barlowe in a soloing capacity briefly at the start, Andersonís lyrics (and rather grating vocals) seem to have slipped back to an idea without any particular content and for an eight minute song, it appears to have little ot no sense of direction and more of the Songs-From-The-Wood moodless reprises. Good start, good end, not much in the overlong middle.

Moths has one of Palmerís lush orchestrations coming to the fore around a smooth flute part; Andersonís rather cracked vocals work unreasonably well, perhaps itís the calibre of the lyrics or the inexplicably uncluttered feel of the actually quite dense background.

Clear break, followed by Journeyman, the first piece where John Evans and Martin Barre really stand out, with a murky, watery organ and some snarling guitar leads in between a fairly typical little Tull riff... the side two opener has a detail in the orchestration and pulsing rhythm section that rewards repeated listens.
Rover has one of Tullís best multi-part riffs, and bursts deliciously out of the opening percussion/bass thing. Andersonís a bit hit and miss on this one... flute great, lyrics have a couple of nice moments but donít really seem to mean much, vocals rather too harsh, though the chorus melody is pleasant. Vocals aside, this could well be one of Tullís finest numbers.

One Brown Mouse has the albumís best lyrics and a neat acoustic (the final flourish is delicious)/vocal combination in its favour. The legato-ish organ part in the background is also rather nice. On the minus side, we have some stereotypical Tull instrumental bits (of the sort I really rather disliked on Songs From The Wood) that donít really go anywhere or connect back to the verses.

Heavy Horses is the second extended track (this time, a pleasant nine minutes) and benefits vastly from such basic tricks as contrast, variation and spacing. Aside from some rare piano accompaniment by John Evans, the piece is finely arranged with more of Daryl Wayís wonderful folk violin. If Iíve little sympathy for the beasts in question, Andersonís vocal and lyrics have a fairly winning affection in them (erk, Ďslipping and sliding freeí... folksiness does not excuse directionless writing). Iíd quite happily cut out one or two of the verses and choruses, nice though they are, and most of Martin Barreís limp solo at around 6.00; oddly enough, it constitutes one of Tullís better later longer songs, but I still think its basic content far exceeds the final performance.

Weathercock is a basically satisfying conclusion to the album, with a very fine organ performance and some masterfully brought out folk rhythms. Andersonís rhetorical lyrics, while generally deserving the answer Ďnoí (Iím a bit of a cynic with regards to yon aulde authenticke folksiness), work for it and his flute part is solid.

Final analysis: mixed bag, where the two long songs drag the whole thing down. Bonus tracks none too shabby, rather less sympathy for Living In These Hard Times than the very fine Broadford Bazaar (whatever that wind instrument is, itís gorgeous). Recommended to any Tull fan and a damn sight more substantial than Songs From The Wood.

Rating: 3 stars, 11/15
Favourite Track: Broadford Bazaar if we count the bonus tracks, otherwise Moths or Acres Wild

---

Toying with expectations again...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 30 2010 at 14:33
Awake, Dream Theater, 1994

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Extremely energetic third album from one of the (like it or not) leading lights of modern prog rock and their only album Iíve yet heard deserving all the accolades the band gets. Aside from a slightly deeper and significantly better-delivered set of lyrics, this album has melody, contrast, structure and ideas to go with the complexity and technicality that DTís previous and later offerings provide. Start to finish, itís one hell of a trip; no bad songs, and only a couple of slips in its 75 minute duration. Two criticisms only: 1) the album ends twice - this is confusing and perhaps indicative of the confusion we see in the lyrics which waver endlessly between two opposites. 2) Caught In A Web and Innocence Faded are very strong, but at times not a match for the rest of the record.

6.00 has all the reasons I love this album... killer metal vocals, a couple of great riffs, scything organ with a delicious metallic tang from Moore, one hell of a guitar solo substantiated by the rest of music, breaks that relate to the main music, entertaining use of the (slightly trite, we confess) sound effects.

Caught In A Web is somewhat clunkier and heavier with one rather odd vocal delivery (Ďdoes this voice the wounds of your soulí) but still basically solid; Portnoyís drumming in the extremely cool instrumental bit in the middle shows an appreciation of punctuation (and Myungís bass tone is superbly dark).

Innocence Faded is, strangely enough, rather brighter than either of the above. Sounds great, with some intimate vocals from Labrie and killer classic rock guitar riff from Petrucci; explodes appropriately at the right moments and the vocal harmonies are just fine. For some reason, Labrieís precocious high bit comes off very well.

The 20-minute A Mind Beside Itself suite is where the album really takes off. Weíre first treated to a rare effective prog metal instrumental with a consistent sense of direction and mood, killer soloing and a dirty organ. The guitar/drums duel around 4.30 is inspired. I take the conclusion/segue as rare evidence that the band are capable of delicate emotive interplay. Voices has powerful dynamic contrasts everywhere, more of Labrie being both powerfully metallic and sensitive but not sappy, complete with a surprisingly passable set of lyrics. Trite film quote included with some coolness, moving shred solo, number of superb melodies. Damn fine work. The Silent Man is a simple-yet-effective ballad-based contrasting closer with a little more in the background. More fine vibrato singing from Labrie and some subtle self-harmonies. Well-arranged, accomplished, emotional Ďepicí, featuring a seminal instrumental.

The Mirror is very heavy indeed, with a sort of claustrophobic Gothic symph-metal vibe to the overture followed by some visceral vocal parts and nicely stabbing bass. Mooreís hybrid keyboard tone is great at times but a bit too wimpy at others. Quality metal, in this reviewerís humble opinion; the segue at the end is particularly powerful and crunchy. Lie has Labrie sounding more casually unlike himself, which is interesting for all involved, and more of the solid, heavy metal with great riffs that characterised the previous piece. Some of Mooreís lyrics are terrible, but at least so bad theyíre hilarious, and the overall idea is fine. Petrucci on incredible form here (as is everyone else, actually), and more of the contrasts of dynamic and intensity, vocal and instrumental turn this into a sort of mini-epic within its suite. Lifting Shadows restores some of the symphonic feel to this suite with Myungís imagery-based lyrics and Mooreís keyboard choices. The drumming is great, Labrieís vocal is great and the cool contrast of the pessimistic verse and the uplifting chorus is one of the simple-yet-effective choices that can make a decent album into a great one.

Concluding this series of linked songs is Scarred, a more rock-based piece with a neat bass riff from Myung and some rock-solid work from Portnoy. Labrieís vocal is immensely musical, and often has an emotional grip and the lyrics... well, they actually resonate with me (a one-off from Dream Theater).

And how come you donít understand me?
And how come I donít understand you?

Not complex stuff, but it works. Myung pulls out some fantastic bass parts for those of us who listen closely, and despite one slightly misplaced guitar solo, itís a musical triumph from a band that have never sounded better.

I couldíve stopped it on the fade there, but the piano-based (and the part here sounds so much richer than any Rudess has pulled out) closer Space Dye Vest is all but tacked on at the end. Aside from the slight lapse in ordering here (the album basically ends twice), Iíve no complaints about Mooreís writing or lyrics (well, the quotes... are they really necessary?) and the atmosphere is deliciously dark.

Stunning contemporary album with a couple of ordering issues and the very occasional small mish*t over an enormous running time, which Iím giving the same sort of mild indulgence Iíd give the occasional mneh moment on Third or The White Album. My personal favourite prog metal album. Even if youíre not a fan of the rest of Dream Theaterís discography (Iím not), donít miss this one. A (very slightly) forgiving five stars here.

Rating: Five Stars, 13/15
Favourite Track: 6:00 or Voices

---

Toying with expectations deluxe. Was somewhat uncertain about whether a five was right... eventually wavered in favour of it simply because I think it's either that or probably the best four I can think of.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 30 2010 at 23:43
Loops And Reels, Peter Hammill, 1985

A particularly (even for Hammillís generally unremittant work in the 80s) dark and disturbing album, with not a hint of levity either in the recording or the retrospective on it. Loops and Reels is an entirely experimental offering with little patience for breathing spaces, though it includes, in fragmentary and complete forms, some of the melodic quality Hammillís more sane work profits from. Conceptually, each piece has a design behind it, and together it is (in spite of the diverse providence of the various inclusions) a masterpiece in black; one of the greatest collections of dark, Ďambientí music Iíve ever heard.

Those familiar with comfortable integrations of Ďworldí music a la King Crimson and Talking Heads are going to be somewhat shocked by the intensely terrifying and xenophobic conflict (Ďthe song of a culture/Not yet immune to/ The virus of progressí) in this piece. Hammillís experiments in world music appear violently aware of his status as a sort of intruder, and this tension makes Rhythm Of The Heat sound like The Police.

Critical Mass is the first song employing the titular Loops and sound manipulation. Fragments of music forms together a haunting tension, before driving their catharsis through a series of speeded and slowed loops.

Song and not-song, the hypnotic Moebius Loop drags you around in a circle of confusion over a bell-like chime, surrounded everywhere by looped vocal parts and ambiguous words. The exquisitely direct and entangling detail of the lead (listen to the incredible vibrato on Ďrecogniseí) pulls you onto the conveyor belt of melted, droning harmony vocals.

An Endless Breath. The sonic background seems to cluster into a voice-like buzzing, as heavily distorted guitar and organ snarl in voiceless protest against it. Two points stand out in the haze: the carefully integrated use of a momentary guitar Ďriffí and the resplendent organ-over-pulse at the end.

Hammillís take on a Ďdance pieceí is every bit as virulent as his flirtation with world music. Layers of gibbering guitar and some thick smog courtesy of impenetrable exercises in analogue sound manipulation convey a sense of alone-ness in the crowd. The version here is rather sparser and more horrifyingly lonely than the disquieted narcissism off A Black Box.

My Pulse has the immediate sense of a hospital bed, with its direct rhythm and decisively clean piano and guitar melody running contrary to the winding delirium of sound effects that underpin it, before eroding into the sonic grit of the rest of the recording. A piece of modified piano with a drone impact, entirely electronic parts running underneath forcefully repeated chords and behind the pulse. Thereís a deep psychological weight behind every part. When the pulse runs out, the breath stops, and when it resurfaces as part of the piano, the breath starts again. The outbursts of humanity in massed choir vocals or the rare untreated acoustic piano are as warm and intimate as the surrounding loops and distorted sounds are strange and chilling.

And then -
The Bells! The Bells!
A slice of death, run out with the motif of the pulse.

Not for the faint of heart.

Rating: 15/15, Five Stars.
Favourite Track: It doesnít work like that.



Edited by TGM: Orb - March 31 2010 at 10:19
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 31 2010 at 21:15
Broadsword And The Beast, Jethro Tull, 1982

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1982ís decidedly commercial Tull album is a minor enigma; most of the songs are decent enough, with special attention to keeping them well-spaced and internally diverse. What starts off as an admirably neat style of writing becomes obsessively restrictive by the end of the record. Every track is given a small, low-volume, usually calm, instrumental intro, when Andersonís vocals appear tamely, following which most of them turn into sort-of rockers with either a fade or a jab at the end. The sound is very shiny, and Andersonís synths leave a lot to be desired. Despite impressive pedigrees, I canít think off-hand of a moment when either Gerry Conway or Dave Pegg stand out (looking really hard, the bass at the end of Seal Driver is nice). But still, the songs are decent enough.

Three more or less solid starting tracks; Beastie is at heart a fairly plaintive foreboding rocker buffed up with novelty vocal effects and cool synth manipulation. Insertion of the guitar solo somewhat hamfisted but the riff is good enough in a dim way. The Clasp has rather more atmosphere in its two folksy bookends (with a bit of fretless bass?) and a general folk rhythm; social critic lyric one solid enough. Intentionally vague protest song Fallen On Hard Times points the finger non-specifically at unpopular politicians (at least itís not the music business), lots of fun as a song but seems remarkably disingenuous. Andersonís husky voice and the delicious twang on the acoustic which translates to a bend on Martin Barreís lead work very well.

Flying Colours is more personal and even borders on genuine, despite the rather dry clichť as metaphor. All band members flourish unimpressively on a single theme in the middle. Barre, as usual on this album, picks a rather conservative classic rock tone which, like Andersonís lyrics, voice and writing is distinctly safe.

Two central songs are the two most individual; Slow Marching Band is a bit of a power ballad, but the use of some decisively fortissimo piano notes and the switch of the softer bookend to the conclusion offers it a sort of differentiation from the rest here. Lyrics vague but moving. Broadsword is a piece of atmospheric rock with a Nordic mood and lyrics refreshingly in the honest realm of absolute fantasy rather than the real world viewed through all-softening lenses. Barreís solo here easily the best of his contributions to the album.

Thereafter, quality is rather less assured; Pussy Willow is a moderately catchy little piece with an overly bright little instrumental bit in the middle not deserved by this surprisingly misty and subtle example of commercial 80s pop/rock. Watching Me Watching You is hilarious. Approach to something like disco rather novel and entirely mismatched; reckon Andersonís probably aware of this, which makes it even funnier. Seal Driver is as flavourless as the rest of the album with a rather lightweight faux-jam in the middle but also lacks any particular decent melody (unless you think that awfully gaudy guitar line counts?), so is more or less obviously the runt of the litter.

Cheerio. One of the bandís less involved folksy buh-byes. Hardly leaving with Grace (genetic predisposition to cheap puns... sorry, folks).

Remaster comes with more bonus tracks than you can shake a stick at and slightly more boldness and personality than the album itself; Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow and Jack-A-Lynn decidedly good and none of the others are particularly feeble. Perhaps the sheer volume of material youíll get makes this one of the more necessary remasters for hardcore fans.

Basically noodle-free, yet still somewhat flavourless collection of finely arranged and well-written 80s rock songs. At worst, this shows the reduction of a previously poly-faceted and deliciously subtle if occasionally misdirected Tull to one rather calculating and carefully concealed personality; at best, itís a collection of good songs which are more-or-less nice to listen to. Far too carefully cut to be either a classic or a train-wreck.

Rating: 8/15, Two Stars... could well be a 10/3 stars effort with the choice cuts of the bonuses.
Favourite Track: pfeh... um... pick one of the folkier bonuses or maybe Fallen On Hard Times
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