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I Talk To The Wind: Prog Blog and Reviews

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Topic: I Talk To The Wind: Prog Blog and Reviews
Posted By: TGM: Orb
Subject: I Talk To The Wind: Prog Blog and Reviews
Date Posted: January 13 2008 at 19:36
I Talk To The Wind - Orb's Prog Blog and Review Anthology

Since I'm not at all satisfied with my earlier attempts at rating ("Well, I suppose Love Beach isn't that bad. Not really... but... besides...well...  a little shambolic, but... Maybe a 4?") and reviewing (i.e. rambling) albums, I thought I'd inflict any new attempts on everyone here and try for a more considered and intelligible result.

Perhaps this'll develop into more of a proper musical blog thing than a long list of reviews, but I think starting simple's the best way to go. I'll try to give anything at least ten listens, usually more, before rating it, since some of my favourites (especially King Crimson's Cirkus and Gentle Giant's The Moon Is Down have emerged from apathy only after a fair few spins). I'll generally explain my background to the band. Feedback and criticism is more than welcome, as is discussion, [s]mockery, and death threats[/s] and correction. My personal musical background is, at the moment, limited to approximately "grade one" level piano and keyboards, so don't expect lots of technical discussion about time signatures and the like.

I've decided to start what is hopefully a new era for my reviews with a band I've listened to a lot, and known for quite a while (in fact, ELP are responsible for introducing me to Prog. Pictures at an Exhibition (version on Works Live) brought me into the fold), the great Emerson, Lake and Palmer. After I've exhausted my ELP collection, I'll move onto something else. I have, in some form or another, everything by ELP in the studio up to (but not including) Black Moon, as well as Works Live and the Fanfare For The Common Man anthology.

Reviewed so far:
[spoiler]
StarStarStarStarStarStar
Larks' Tongues In Aspic - King Crimson (Heart)
In The Court Of The Crimson King - King Crimson

H To He, Who Am The Only One - Van Der Graaf Generator

StarStarStarStarStar
Les Porches - Maneige (Heart)
Chameleon In The Shadow Of The Night - Peter Hammill (Heart)
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Nursery Cryme - Genesis
Selling England By The Pound - Genesis
Lizard - King Crimson
Islands - King Crimson
Caress Of Steel - Rush
Spectral Mornings - Steve Hackett
Close To The Edge - Yes
Tales From Topographic Oceans - Yes
Ys - Il Balletto Di Bronzo
A Passion Play - Jethro Tull

StarStarStarStar
Tarkus - Emerson, Lake & Palmer(Heart)
Brain Salad Surgery - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Asia - Asia
Trespass - Genesis(Heart)
Foxtrot - Genesis
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Genesis
A Trick Of The Tail - Genesis
Wind & Wuthering - Genesis
Mirage - Camel
Daughter Of Time - Colosseum
2112 - Rush
In The Wake Of Poseidon - King Crimson
Red - King Crimson
Stand Up - Jethro Tull
Permanent Waves - Rush
A Farewell To Kings - Rush
Fragile - Yes
Per Un Amico - Premiata Forneria Marconi
Starless And Bible Black - King Crimson
Crime Of The Century - Supertramp
Black Moon - ELP

StarStarStar
Works Vol. 1 - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Works Vol. 2 - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
War Child - Jethro Tull
Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble - Uriah Heep
The Yes Album - Yes
Arena - Asia

StarStar
From Genesis To Revelation - Genesis
Sinister - John Wetton
Songs From The Wood - Jethro Tull

Star
The Problem Of Pain pt. 1 - Torman Maxt

Red and underlined = not quite sure of.
[/spoiler]

Review 1, 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer

StarStarStarStarStar
This self-titled debut is, in my opinion, the progressive supergroup's best. Of the six tracks, only one (Emerson's 'The Three Fates') suffers from any doubtful taste, and even that has a beautiful section. This is an even more astounding accomplishment given the sheer versatility of the music produced: a great folk ballad with a moog solo that never ceases to amuse me, the essential acoustic masterpiece, the heavier Hammond-based Barbarian and Knife Edge, the drumming-dominated Tank, and the various noodlings that comprise The Three Fates. Even though ELP have produced several excellent prog albums, this is the one I'd call essential.

Barbarian introduces the trio perfectly, with a growling electric guitar, a superb heavy Hammond organ, and tasteful drumming. The music's constantly shifting, yet retains all its rawness. And suddenly, there's an acoustic section with quirky, yet delightful, piano and drumming. And somehow Emerson escalates that back to the main tune's heaviness flawlessly. And it just gets better and better towards the end. Proof that a progressive masterpiece does not need to be long.


Next we have my all-time ELP favourite, Take A Pebble. It's just three musicians on acoustic instruments working together flawlessly, with gorgeous, flowing classical-inspired piano supported by Lake's delicate bass and acoustic guitar parts, tasteful percussion, inspired use of watery sound-effects, strong vocals (most reminiscent of Epitaph) with beautiful surreal lyrics. The band shifts moods between optimism, anticipation, grandeur and surprisingly heavy, dark moods seamlessly. Emotion oozes from the piano and the vocals. There are no weak moments in all the twelve and a half minutes of beautiful music.

Third in the album we have another heavier piece, Knife Edge. This took me a little longer to acquire than the previous two songs, but the excellent bass lines, mantra-like, almost-spoken vocals, slightly darker drumming with brief drum solos, and superb build-up and entertaining keyboard riffs and parts ultimately make for a great song. I particularly like the weird churchlike instrumental section in the middle. The lyrics are solid, and work very well with the music. It ends with a slowing-down effect and sort of clicks to a stop. As progressive as Barbarian, and though it doesn't quite reach the heights of the opener, it's still a masterpiece.

The Three Fates is a little more mixed. The organ-opener Clotho hasn't really made an impression on me, but it's well worth listening to through to move onto the beautiful piano solo, Lachesis. Delicate, beautiful, tasteful, mobile, and fairly symptomatic of Emerson's piano on the album as a whole. Atropo is another entirely different kettle of fish, with a combination of the instrumentation used earlier in The Three Fates and a little percussion, if I'm not mistaken. The build-up to a final explosion sound effect is quite good, and has a bizarre dramatic atmosphere that goes down quite well. Overall, this track's not quite as good as the rest of the album, but still interesting, at times masterful, and well worth listening to.

Tank is another oddity. Bass and drumming paves the way for another flippant keyboard (Moog, I think) part, sustained by the bass and brief bursts of solo drumming leading up to a longer (though not excessive), extremely good drum solo with a real sense of direction that many solos lack. It builds up extremely well and leads into the return of the bass and the moog. Yet another great, charming prog piece.

Lucky Man rounds off the album soundly. It's in a much less progressive vein than the rest of the album, but that doesn't really matter to me. The basic melody and the bass part is good, Palmer's drumming complements it nicely, you get to hear more of Lake's voice. And finally, there's a hilarious moog part. Emerson was apparently not taking the solo entirely seriously when he played it, but it's still brilliant. Although it's really more folk than prog, I still love this song.

In conclusion, I'm giving this album one of the easiest five star ratings that I'm ever likely to give. I love it. This is ELP at their finest, with electronic and acoustic instrumentation both used to their full effect. Accessible, yet a grower. As much loved as In The Court Of The Crimson King or Selling England By The Pound. Well worth buying, and also a good introduction to the band.

Rating: Masterpiece. Five Stars.

Favourite Track: Take A Pebble.




Replies:
Posted By: everyone
Date Posted: January 13 2008 at 22:49
You might try the Nice's album "The Thoughts of Emerlistdavjack."  This album was released before the formation of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.  I can see through this album the beginnings of the direction that Kieth Emerson wanted to do as a musician.  The first ELP album is fantastic as is Brain Salad Surgery and Trilogy.  When you get all your ELP albums give an underrated album by Roger Powell called "Cosmic Fire" a try.
Have fun 


Posted By: Kotro
Date Posted: January 14 2008 at 05:59
Good job, Rob. Hope to see plenty of reviews from you. Wink

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Bigger on the inside.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: January 17 2008 at 18:29
@ Kotro, many thanks Thumbs%20Up
@Everyone, I'll definitely check out those albums soonish. Heh, I prefer ELP to BSS, myself. Trilogy I'm not quite sure about at the moment, and I'm definitely going to need a few more listens to form a decent opinion about it. Tarkus is on the way. Just had a couple of computer problems (needed to deinstall and reinstall Open Office onto another drive to make way for music).

General comments:

Pt. 1
Just got 15 or so Prog CDs, of which Look At Yourself (Uriah Heep), though not the most proggy of the lot, is possibly the current favourite. The Power To Believe was also a great surprise. Lost subject. Found Van Der Graaf Generator. Definitely a good trade. I'm also, starting next week, getting piano lessons, largely because I want to end up with a better technical understanding of the stuff I listen to. I already play a little self-taught electronic organ thingy on the limited Yamaha thing we have at home, and I'm going to keep on with that too.

Pt. 2
More comprehensibly, I'm going for a bi-weekly usually Wednesday-Saturday review schedule. Next up (probably tomorrow) is ELP's Tarkus, Trilogy may be back-tracked to after Works. 1 or 2, since I have just about every track on it, but not all in the original release format, and I haven't listened to it in the correct order enough to get an overall impression. Love Beach will probably be omitted, since I don't have the inclination to listen to it 17 or 18 more times, and I've only got it on record, so I'd need to kidnap the record player thing from whoever has it at the moment. On the Saturday reviews, I'll probably name a personal album of the week, because I have an unnerving listing fetish.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: January 18 2008 at 16:38

Review 2, 1971, Tarkus � Emerson, Lake And Palmer

StarStarStarStar

Tarkus, though it doesn't (for me, at least) have the same consistent quality and emotional impact as their debut, is the album that really fixed the future of ELP, and the title suite is definitely vital listening for any progger. Although I can see where much of the criticism for the rest of the album comes from, I think it's not as bad as some make it out to be. Even the much-maligned �filler� Are You Ready Eddy and Jeremy Bender have charm, energy and sarcasm, which works for me, and only the fairly cold 'Infinite Space' and the organ intro to The Only Way fall down a little. Lake's sometimes guilty of producing dubious lyrics, and in particular the words to the atheistic The Only Way are too confrontational and feeble for me.

The second side begins with the whimsical Jeremy Bender. The light elements might grate a little with the dark, brooding title track just before it, but if you see the second side as a completely separate entity, it opens it nicely. Lake's lyrics are amusing enough, the piano is good. Palmer is obviously able to merge his drums impeccably with just about anything, and this track is no exception. Lake's voice is good, and the clapping doesn't spoil it at all.

Next we have a winner, the unfortunately named Bitches Crystal. It enjoys a twisted sense of humour, with the nursery rhyme introduction and reprise hilariously contrasted with the main drums, bass and heavier piano theme. Lake's voice, though not as sublime as usual, and occasionally overstretched, and bits of moog and overblown lyrics thrown in for good measure. It ends well, and is a great track in its own way, and perhaps the real proof for me that ELP did have a sense of humour.

The fourth track on the album is of a different sort. There's a classical organ intro, apparently Bach, but, as with most classical organ I'm not particularly fond of it. You then have a less showy organ part subordinated neatly to Lake's superb voice and slightly tacky atheistic lyrics (I don't care, if he can write Just Take A Pebble, he can do more than brief couplets and triplets :p). They're probably too strong/tacky for some people, I've learned to tolerate them. However, that's where it picks up. Palmer and Lake come in, and Emerson switches to piano, to create a beautiful, memorable trio. If it wasn't for the opening and lyrics, this would be ELP at their best. Still a great track.

The conclusion, infinite time and space is mostly a trio, with the briefest of drum solos, and a quick piano solo too, but, without Lake's voice, sort of cold. It also feels a little too deliberate at times, but Emerson's piano overlaying over an already stand-alone part nearish the end is quite neat. Compared to Emerson's usual prominence, it feels like Frippertronics. The song's got some character. Still good material.

Hammond organ, moog and drums drive the next song to a decent synth-and-drum based conclusion that sort of reminds me of some of Toccata. The lyrics are mostly nonsense, but sound good, and Lake's voice is again strong. Unlike in Bitches Crystal, the song is serious enough that Lake over-extending his voice to what basically is screaming doesn't help. The hammond riff is solid and overblown. The drumming here's particularly noteworthy, and the heavier keyboards provide a nice break from the acoustic-dominated second side. If you're a big BSS fan, this is probably the second-side track for you.

Are you Ready Eddy is a quirky rock and roll song with absolutely hectic piano, loads of energy, excellent drums and entertaining, sarcastic lyrics. It may not be the most complex, soul-searching prog song ever, but its fun (and partly inappropriate) to sing along to. The vocal effects only enhance this. This and Jeremy Bender sort of acts as bookends for the second side, and they give a relief from the pomposity of Tarkus much more effectively than some of their other light songs.

In conclusion, I like the second side. It's got a lot of great material, and nothing really intolerable. It's not as superb as ELP, or as progressive and overblown as Brain Salad Surgery, but it shows a lot of development in the band, and their musical direction, while never being really pretentious and humourless enough to lose the listener.

Oh, and the first side's quite good.


Rating: Tarkus is a masterpiece, the rest is good. Four Stars.

Favourite Track: Tarkus (surprise!), more specifically Battlefield

---

More seriously. And probably going to be part of the review I put up.

The Tarkus suite is really essential listening for any progger. It feels very deep, switches mood frequently, has Lake's best lyrics, nicely used vocal effects, great bursts of lead guitar on battlefield, changing Hammond sounds everywhere, moogs occasionally added in for good measure, and the unique drumming that fits this bizarre mix. Eruption begins with Lake's voice multi-tracked and slowly rising in number to meet the cymbal crescendo, Hammond organ to fit the track's name, moog that evokes the lava depicted in the album booklet. The bass is there, but only really as an atmospheric and rhythm section addition, and that works great for the song. This moves on the quieter hammond and bass section beneath Lake's beautiful vocals on Stones of Years. Everything is here, all working together, and nothing too dominant. The bass becomes a little more pronounced and provides the real rhythm while Emerson and Palmer overpoweringly provide the main tune. There's another similar vocal section. Iconoclast is solid and instrumental, while the following Mass is a bit acquired, but good once you get into it, and the trite Moog and low vocals defuse some of Tarkus' pretentious aspects. The instrumental section in the middle is great and Lake's guitar 'solo' is good.

Manticore is a fairly intense instrumental with masses of quirks, and music that suggest a battle more skilfully than The Gates Of Delirium (*beats off Yes fans with hammond organ*) ever did. Battlefield is the best section of a superb suite. Surprisingly emotional and dominant drumming, soul-wrenching lead guitar, beautiful singing with deep, war-related lyrics, and haunting organ-work that manages to somehow lead *as well*. Aquatarkus is a good return to the main theme, sprinkled with bits of moogage, and a great conclusion. This suite is essential prog listening.

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Week 1 -
Albums reviewed: ELP - ELP (5 Stars), Tarkus - ELP (4 Stars)
Best album of the week: Look At Yourself - Uriah Heep
Best song of the week: Birth - Focus
Worst song of the week: Dreamer - Supertramp
Next week's reviews: Brain Salad Surgery - ELP, Works Vol. 1 - ELP


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: January 18 2008 at 18:27
great reviews.... and you nailed the debut album...  maybe the best debut in prog.. period....

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: January 23 2008 at 16:18

Review 3, Brain Salad Surgery, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1973

StarStarStarStar

Some fans like to think of this album as ELP's magnum opus. It certainly shows technical skill, power, a complete disregard for musical conventions and grandiose pieces that don't wear too thin after a few listens. It also has the added bonus of relatively diverse musical choices (from the heavy electronic classical(?!) interpretation of Toccata to the soft tones of Still..You Turn Me On to the progressive beast that is Karn Evil 9). The biggest let-down on this album is that it doesn't really feel like an album, but rather like a collection of several very good songs. There also isn't really any single track that I'd consider absolutely vital to someone who isn't an ELP fan already (well, maybe Toccata). There's no weakness, and everything's great, but this album doesn't really have a Tarkus or a Musical Box or a Gypsy or a Schizoid Man to leave you gasping for more and riveted to your chair. Perhaps my favourite part of this album is Palmer's drumming throughout, especially on Toccata. It always annoys me to see Phil Collins, although he's good, getting way more votes than Palmer on all those best drummer ever polls.

The version of Jerusalem was a fairly ambitious choice. However, the arrangements are great, Emerson's organ backing Lake's triumphant 'Bring me my bow of burning gold...'. It's great entertainment, an original take, and a good opener.

Still... You Turn Me On is pretty obviously a Lake composition. Short, melodic and with gorgeous haunting verses interspersed with slightly awkward choruses that take a few listens to acquire. If you like Lucky Man, you should like this, if not, I can't see it being too annoying to listen through.

Benny the Bouncer is another short track, based on a weird club-style piano, light drums and Lake's half-drunken vocals. It's quite amusing, but nothing really superb.

Toccata is a driving reinterpretation of a classical composition. The drumming; chimes, electric drums and all is absolutely amazing, the Moog is hectic, screeching and energetic, and, most importantly of all, the atmosphere and direction is always there.

Karn Evil 9 may not be every progger's piece of cake, but is definitely something most ELP fans should enjoy. The concept is the enslavement of humans by computers, which at times has superb lyrical results, and at others lines like 'no man yields who flies on my ship'. The first impression pt. 1 is opened with a good vocal part, together with Emerson's Hammond organ, and has a moody energy, great keyboards and foreshadowing perhaps weakened by an occasional moment of tacky lyrics and vocals.

The First Impression part 2 is a big improvement on that, full of energy and bursting with lightness, and the bass is supporting suitably silly keyboard parts that take the serious edge off the song. Lake's vocals are as good as anything he's done, and the lyrics aren't bad, per se, and the instrumental section is as polyphonic as you could expect from a three-piece band. I love the thing that sounds like a great guitar solo, but could be a keyboard solo. I particularly like the brief moments when Palmer's left alone. He can both hold up the rhythm section throughout the song flawlessly and also develop on that any time he wants.

My criticism for the second impression is that it is really nothing except good music. I can't see any real relation to the concept, or musical ties between the pieces. The music is all very cooperative, and usually seems to have all members of the band playing. The random yipping after the opener only improves it, and Palmer's drumming is eclectic and sounds like steel drums. The second part of it has some echoes of Toccata and excellent drawn out atmosphere with bass and piano together with the occasional hollow tap on a percussion instrument. The shift to a slightly heavier and more pompous piano part doesn't come off too well. It goes back to some variations (I think) on the opener section, and there are some brilliant moments. Unfortunately it still overall feels to me like a bunch of random ideas thrown together into a bit of a mess. It changes abruptly and obviously to an overblown third impression.

The third impression starts well with bits of pseudo-classical organ interspersed with light moog, a good sung part continuing the concept. The 'computer's lyrical parts were obviously the good ones, and its . The instrumental section is again the real triumph here, though the keyboard parts sometimes seem a little brainlessly or ostentatiously added. Additionally it doesn't really, for me, evoke the idea of a battle. As hard as I try, I can only think spacey or confused when listening to this. When the vocals kick in again, it's to good effect, and the computer's final duet with Lake is pensive and impressive, and shows why I don't dislike the concept overall. Although I've come to accept the ending, as is the case with King Crimson's In The Wake Of Poseidon, its feeling is ruined by the inclusion of bonus tracks.

Of the bonus tracks, there's not much to say, they'll get a fuller mention on the Works II review. Brain Salad Surgery itself has an almost spitting drum-part, silly keyboards, basically random lyrics, and a generally laid back feel. There's a good 'lead' guitar part in the background and the quiet bit in the middle, which is always a nice change from pure keyboard-domination. Not brilliant, but good.

When The Apple Blossoms Bloom is basically a nice jazz fusion piece, with eclectic keyboards, good percussion and a quiet bass part. It's great. The excerpts just irritate me. I can only listen to the opening of BSS itself once in a sitting before it annoys me, and I get equally annoyed if I have to dash to the stereo just to turn it off at the exact moment WTABB ends.

Overall, a very strong four stars that only misses the fifth because of a lack of overall direction and personal nitpicking in Karn Evil 9, as well as too much keyboard dominance on that song for me. I'm one of the unconverted heathen who likes polyphony and thinks that In The Cage is vastly overrated, and proud of it. Despite the high rating, I wouldn't start an ELP collection with this. It's not massively accessible, and if you just generally don't like ELP, I can't see this having anything really which you'd like.

Rating: Almost. Almost. Four stars.
Favourite Track: Toccata

-----

Just about on schedule.
@Micky, many thanks for the kind words.
@Everyone, looks like Works 1's up next.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 03 2008 at 12:52
Review 4, Works Vol. 1 (double-CD), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1977
StarStarStar

A much harder album to analyse than their previous studio albums, because the band is no longer a three-piece band, but a three-piece band with an orchestra and with Sinfield and Lake collaborating on the lyrics to Lake's side and Pirate. This combination is at times winning (Emerson's Toccata Con Fuoco, Lake's Closer To Believing and Palmer's Tank), and at times quite annoying (Pirates, Nobody Loves You Like I do). The album consists of three solo sides, of which I prefer Palmer's, and a group side, on two CDs. I do enjoy most of it, and there are a couple of excellent tracks, but it's a far cry from ELP's earlier material, and it's probably too varied for one person to like all of it.

Keith Emerson's classical piano concerto is basically too fluid for me to describe fully. It has an essentially anarchic and dramatic opening that doesn't particularly impress me, after this moves to a crescendo, the music slows down into a lush classical piece, with violins leading onto a slightly darker horn and bells section, and then constant shifts in mood and instrumentation. Whenever the piano comes in, it's usually to good effect, and, though I'm not a big fan of violins and some other elements of the orchestra, everything seems to work together quite well. I enjoy the flute parts especially. The first movement does continue and end much better than it starts.

The short second movement has a great piano part, and the orchestra seems to be supporting it well. The third movement opens very dramatically with aggressive piano and classical drumming as well as a continual build-up despite the fluent musical changes at any moment. The sheer beauty of the lone piano after the fire dies down for the first time is amazing. There is not a weak moment to the third movement, and even the orchestral sections are good. Furthermore, the music really does evoke the fire ('con fuoco') that is the focus of the movement. Despite an uninspiring start, Emerson's contribution to Works 1 is overall pretty good.

Lend Your Love To Me Tonight is an acoustic ballad that moves to a better orchestra and drum backed acoustic-ballad. Sinfield's lyrics are quite decent, until 'confuse me, abuse me, misuse me'. It's overall a decent effort despite occasional tackyness and generic moments.

C'est La Vie is amazing: tragic, strong lyrics, real atmosphere, and the ability to almost reduce me to tears every listen. It's basically driven by an acoustic guitar with beautiful orchestral additions. The only (and very annoying) weakness here is the accordion solo, which takes a bit of getting used to. I prefer the Works Live version, though.

Hallowed Be Thy Name is a complete contrast, though also good. It's a fairly energetic number with biting, entertaining Sinfield lyrics. The drums and piano are great, and the horn and violin additions are also very strong. Lake's voice is, as usual, amazing. I think the fade could happily have been replaced with a proper conclusion, though.

Nobody Loves You Like I Do has a great start, with acoustics, electrics, piano and drums leading it. Unfortunately, it then has a pathetic chorus with an irritating harmonica sound. The vocals and lyrics are cheesy. The brief moments of excellent instrumental work are instantly replaced with irritating chorus and frivolous violins and that bloody harmonica. I dislike it, but it still shows promise.

Closer to Believing is much better, a tragic, sweeping ballad with beautiful lines like 'From the opium of custom to the ledges of extremes'. Not repetitive, not weak, and with both strong music and enough substantial lyrics to allow Lake to sing throughout without wrecking the song. It ends the first CD beautifully, and the orchestra is perhaps used with more finesse here than it is in any of Lake's other pieces.

I've always found The Enemy God... a little difficult to stomach. A strong reinterpretation of a classical piece, certainly, but it's really a one-mood song, and the fact that it's not in and of itself on a cohesive album/side makes that mood less easy to achieve. The drumming underlying the piece is very strong, and the orchestra is well used. The drama is really here, and it has atmosphere. A great track when you're in the right mood, but you do need to be in the right mood to appreciate it.


LA Nights begins with bass, drums and synths cooperating moving into a great jazzy sax part, a superb guitar solo and the occasional bit of piano with good drum and bass backing. The full-out continuation is superb, even if the opening doesn't strike me as much above-average.

New Orleans is another jazzy piece with really unusual hollow drumming complimenting more conventional percussion and occasional jazz guitar and brass. The drumming essentially acts as the backbone of the music, and various other things are basically added on over it.

The rendition of Two Part Invention in D Minor is beautiful. Some people don't like the idea of reinterpreting a classical piece without going into electronic overdrive, I love it, and the percussion focus is an excellent change to conventional classical instrumentation.

Food For Your Soul is one of my favourite pieces from the album, with brief drum solos interspersing various instruments, and seems at the same time quite anarchic and yet directed. The drum solos do grate a little, but they're short, and the power and ideas of the music more than make up for it.

The orchestra-including revision of Tank basically has all the (many) strengths of the original, except that the drum solo is a lot briefer than that on ELP and the ending section seems a little more developed, though Emerson's still adding the keyboards to the end section. A great re-working.


The classical drum and keyboard opening of Fanfare For The Common Man is promising, and the unexpected leap into a freer bass-and-drum-with-keyboard-soloing section does follow up on this, and the piece basically continues in this mould, and the jam section is good. On the plus side, there is a feel that the band collectively had fun making it, on the minus side, some of the keyboard noises aren't clean enough for my liking, especially over a longer track. Not my favourite, but a good collective piece.

Pirates has a lot of fans, probably more than detractors, but it's doesn't really dazzle me. There are certainly some great moments, and Lake's voice, as always, is perfect. Unfortunately, the lyrics seem to alternate between entertaining and creative and bland and stereotypical. The music is similarly a mixed bag, from seemingly random, light orchestra-based moments to a few superb highlights. The ending also leaves a little to be desired, for me, at least. In the end, this is listenable, and sometimes enjoyable, and I usually end up singing along, but it just doesn't have the consistency of Tarkus or Take A Pebble that turns an epic with some great moments into a masterpiece.

Concerning the bonus material, the live version of Tank is essentially decent, but the sound quality isn't great, on the other hand, I do like some of the changes on the drum solo (the Works Live version is better, though), even if it still retains some of the basic problems of a drum solo, and the direct shift into The Enemy God... is a nice touch. The version of Nutrocker is a little different from the studio version on Pictures, but it still, appropriately, rocks, and what sounds like a bit of decent improvisation is always fun.

Overall, the effort is commendable, and there are some stunning moments. Palmer seems to have an idea of exactly where he wanted to go with each track on his side, whereas Emerson and Lake occasionally don't quite know what they want to do with their material. The group side is palatable, but really I think that it doesn't bear much of a relation to their earlier efforts, and it's not up to par with them, either.

Rating: Overall, good, with some very strong and some very weak moments. Three Stars.
Favourite Track: Disc 1: Closer To Believing, Disc 2: Food For Your Soul


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Well, this is a little late for a couple of reasons, one being that it's a double CD, another that I don't know it as well as their earlier albums, and a third that I've been otherwise busy. Although I didn't give enough time to the group side, probably, I don't think I'd end up adding more real substance or opinion to it. if I expanded it.

Week 2 -1/2
Albums reviewed: BSS - ELP (4 Stars), Works Vol. 1 - ELP (3 Stars)
Best album of the week: Birds of Fire - The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Best song of the week: Arrow - Van Der Graaf Generator
Worst song of the week: Dreamer - Supertramp
Next week's reviews: Works Vol. 2 - ELP, Asia - Asia


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 04 2008 at 16:25
Great reviews again Rob... and for what it's worth... your review of BSS is a carbon copy of what mine would have been if I devoted more time to reviewing and less to general forum spamming and mayhem.  I would knock Toccata up to essential ELP... or absolutely vital as you phrased it.  In my humble opinion probably the best single piece of symphonic prog out there...  if it was good enough for Ginastera...what meer mortal could argue with that hahhaha.

and the negative points of KE 9... ...dead on Clap... as big a fan of the group as I am.... the piece does not hold together well... I LOVE the 2nd impression from a musical standpoint....... but makes NO sense within the context of the larger piece.

Never got much into Works Vol. 1.. .only when I want to satisfy my carnal lust for all things Carl Palmer.  His side was the only one I really enjoyed.. or want to really listen to when I reach for the album.


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: Slartibartfast
Date Posted: February 04 2008 at 17:05
Tocatta, even though not an ELP original was what hooked me on ELP.  I may not be particularly eloquent here, but what the heck.

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Released date are often when it it impacted you but recorded dates are when it really happened...



Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 04 2008 at 23:38
Originally posted by Slartibartfast Slartibartfast wrote:

Tocatta, even though not an ELP original was what hooked me on ELP.  I may not be particularly eloquent here, but what the heck.


LOL you want eloquent... I'll give you eloquent...



this is ELP we are talking about... eloquence? pfffff... go see the dancing singing  flower and the insomnia curing backing band hahahhaha.


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 05 2008 at 13:20
*general growl in the direction of Genesis-haters*

Otherwise, the comments make this all worthwhile, and it's always good to see other people who actually agree with me on some of my more outrageous ELP views. To be honest, Works 1 has never gotten that much playtime for me, either, and when it does, it's usually just one CD at a time. I don't have the energy and/or emotional contortionism to listen through all four sides in a row. I quite frequently listen to some of the individual tracks when working, though, and there was an embarrassing time (my early prog days, in late 2006...) when Pirates was a very frequent listen.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 05 2008 at 13:31
Pirates NEVER caught to me for some reason

sorry about the Genesis shots.. sometimes I am a bad boy and can't resist.

Looking forward to your next reviews. Especially the Asia one.... no review for the imfamous Love Beach hahaha


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 11 2008 at 20:29

Review 5, Works Vol. 2, ELP, 1977

StarStarStar

The much-maligned Works Vol. 2, while not progressive, is still, for me, good fun and an enjoyable album. The jazz pieces are all uplifting and cheerful, the fusion-y pieces are generally interesting, Lake's ballad really doesn't match up to the standards of those on Works 1, but So Far To Fall has its good moments. The opener and the closer, Tiger In A Spotlight and Show Me The Way To Go Home, are strong. Certainly the album has a couple of moments that most fanatical proggers won't like, but there are a couple of peaks to make up for that.

Tiger In A Spotlight starts with a light drum part and fast bass, as well as Lake singing essentially random, but decent lyrics. Unfortunately, the opening and the first keyboard solo feel a little too light and lack-lustre for me, though they really do develop into a much better piece, with great screeching synths, an excellent rhythm section, and uplifting vocals.

When The Apple Blossoms Bloom is opened by the drumming, and continues with basically different keyboard parts and riffs laid over changing percussion and a quiet bass part. The instrumental 'chorus' of this piece is very strong, and all three musicians shine on their respective instruments through to the conclusion.

Bullfrog is a fairly eclectic fusiony piece, with bizarre and conventional percussion placed side by side, and keyboards and saxes occasionally thrown in for good measure. The change to a more exotic atmosphere and more layered music at around the two minute mark is good, and I love the short bass solo here before it moves back through an anarchic section to a much better variation on the opening section. I think the unfortunate issue here is that the sum of the parts is worth more than the end result, which is too hectic and uncoordinated for my liking.

Brain Salad Surgery is a short and concentrated burst of silly keyboards, spitting drums and bass, with nonsensical lyrics. The opening riff is great. Good if you're in an appropriately sarcastic mood, and definitely musically directed.

If Emerson's Barrelhouse Shake-Down can't cheer you up, what will? This is mostly made up of infectiously cheerful piano and brass parts. Not massively adventurous and diverse, but still fun, and my addiction to piano-and-drums is suitably satisfied.

Watching Over You has two essential problems: firstly, lyrics that don't interest me and a singing style that does nothing to relieve this and secondly, a ballad acoustic guitar part, of which the good variations' quality is obscured by the weakness of the main theme. The occasional presence of keyboards is simply not enough to lift the song up. Oddly enough, I find the (thing that sounds like) kazoo solo most amusing. Not Greg Lake's finest moment.

So Far To Fall doesn't really grip me, generally, though at times its energy is contagious. The lyrics are a little shaky, the vocals are at times irritating. The music is pretty up-tempo, but difficult to describe. Palmer's drumming is (as always) excellent, and the keyboard and sax parts are good, once the band get past the fairly dubious opening.

The orchestra-and-piano version of Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag is winning, but short. If I'm not mistaken (and I could be), Emerson's playing very adeptly on a harpsichord. The drumming and band parts are equally excellent.

I Believe In Father Christmas is another ballad, though much better than Watching Over You, mainly because of the lyrics (which are excellent, and targeted at the negative effects of commercial Christmas) and the Prokofiev theme. There is a delicious irony in this song's appearance around Christmas every year. The keyboards, when added, are to good effect, and I like the main acoustic tune.

Close But Not Touching is another jazz piece, this time Palmer-penned, and with an excellent drum performance, as you might expect. It's basically a big band piece, and pretty hectic, throughout, with a couple of tunes repeating and mostly unconnected soloing. The lack of direction sometimes takes away from the enjoyment (for me), but it's still a decent track.

Honkey Tonk Train Blues is a (n excellent) jazz cover. The piano and percussion keep it going throughout and yet run off on their own spontaneously, while the brass additions over the top keep blaring out. Again cheerful. Again good.

Show Me The Way To Go Home is an exceptional rendition of the traditional song, with club piano, relaxed vocals and orchestral additions leading into a brief instrumental trio, followed by a couple of brass parts leading seemlessly into the faster not-quite-ending section with more soulful vocals, catchy harmonies and a quiet and almost lamentful end. This doesn't fall short of what I expect from earlier ELP, and is probably the best song on the album.

Onto the bonus material: the three live renditions aren't really that great, with average production, a performance of Tiger In A Spotlight (though I prefer the studio version) is always good. Watching Over You is a track I don't like, so a second version (even if it is an improvement, since it feels slightly more emotionally charged) isn't an overwhelming plus for me. Lastly, Show Me The Way To Go Home - an excellent performance, with good improvisation on the opening clouded over by poor sound quality. I miss the vocal harmonies, but it's still a good version of an excellent song, and distinctly different from the studio version.

Overall, this is still an album full of enjoyable material, and while it doesn't hit the experimental and powerful peaks that Tarkus or ELP did, I'll still give it the occasional listen when I'm not in the mood for something heavier or just want to relax with a bit of background jazz. An optimistic three stars, though I can understand why it's sometimes rated lower here.

Rating: Three Stars. Good fun.
Favourite Track: Show Me The Way To Go Home

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Week 3...ish.
Albums reviewed: Works Vol. 2 (ELP) - 3 Stars
Best album of the week: 2112 - Rush
Best song of the week: 2112 (especially Soliloquy) - Rush

Reviews coming up: Asia - Asia, Wind And Wuthering - Genesis

I'm not very satisfied with the Works II review, but I'm looking forwards to the controversy of Asia, which should be up tomorrow.


Posted By: Mike Giles
Date Posted: February 11 2008 at 23:20
A Tarkus is a tattoo? I mean the animal (tatoo)??

Star



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Nothing he's got, he really needs. Twenty first century schizoid man.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 12 2008 at 09:57
Eh?

I thought it was just an armadillo/tank hybrid.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 14 2008 at 12:58

Review 6, Asia, Asia, 1982 (PR)

StarStarStarStar (Star)

I bought this album at the same time as my first Yes albums (CTTE and The Yes Album), knowing only that it had Palmer on the drums, and without that many expectations. Both those buys proved excellent, though the differences couldn't be more extreme: on the one hand, you have the layered sounds, cosmic themes and build-up of Yes, and on the other, the short, catchy tunes, clean and fluid music and amazing plain rock of Asia. I think a lot of prog-men expected a Yes II with a couple of Crimson elements to emerge from the supergroup, but I think this end result should satisfy anyone (excluding those more given to the classical or jazz elements of prog) who approaches it with an open mind.

From the first chords of Heat Of The Moment, right through to the fade, the group's musicianship and dynamic (something not, it would seem, to extend through to their next album) is obvious. Palmer's drumming is superb, the short instrumental parts are fantastic, the vocal harmonies are great, the lyrics may not (a theme to the album) be the best you've ever heard, but they suit the music, and the end result has grown on me with each listen.

Only Time Will Tell is a beast of a different nature: much darker, beginning with a keyboard riff and continuing with a couple of different moods expressed by excellent music. Wetton's vocals support this, and the drum crescendos are extremely powerful. As strong as the opener, though it takes more getting used to.

The bass-and-drum introduction of Sole Survivor signals the start of yet another great rock song, this time going to complete nonsense lyrics, but with energy and style and enough small variations to keep me interested.

One Step Closer has a decent opening, but the continuation (especially the chorus) is a little too pop-based for me, and the lyrics (appalling. Really appalling) don't alleviate that. The tune and components (lyrics/vocals excepted) aren't that bad, but the end result does nothing for me.

Time Again is perhaps the fastest of the album's songs, very energetic, and with stronger lyrics ('Fate looks certain, but then nothing's guaranteed/You want for nothing, but is nothing what you need?') than the rest of the album. Howe's guitar solo here is perfect, and the drumming is Carl Palmer at his finest, and the bass is very strong, and the keyboards fit in very nicely.

Wildest Dreams is the closest thing to prog rock on this album. It's a protest song with mind-blowing verses, but instrumental sections and choruses that don't (for me) reach the level of those on the rest of the album (not quite sure why, but occasionally it seems over-indulgent or overblown in a way that the rest of the album doesn't). Still an excellent song

Without You is as highly rated by me as any of the huge progressive epics that are so loudly trumpeted around PA. The lyrics are strong, the moody keyboard opening and vocals are haunting and echoey, and the composition can take a complete turn when you least expect it. The entire song is absolutely perfect: a great combination of emotion and technical skill.

Cutting It Fine has its moments, one of Howe's catchiest melodies, a superb opening and an emotive instrumental close (mainly piano), although the lyrics aren't anything exceptional. The energy is infectious, and Downes' tasteful additions to the guitar-bass-drums dominated song proper give it enough material to be replayable.

Here Comes The Feeling is the optimistic end to the album, uplifting and genuine verses, and the chorus is less annoying than One Step Closer, with stronger melodies and particularly strong keyboard and bass parts. A great closer, with a very abrupt end.

Asia's debut, in my opinion, is superb - an amazing rock album with a couple of irritating pop moments. Unfortunately, it seems to suffer ridiculous over-reactions (1 star?!) based on what the band could have been, and a refusal to actually engage with the music individually. Highly recommended, but it seems that the experience of this album differs from person to person.

Rating: Four Stars (Five, but I'm not awarding masterpiece ratings to PR or proto-prog albums)

Favourite Track: Without You

---

Week 3ish. A little later than predicted, but I wanted to collect my thoughts on why I liked the individual tracks, rather than just the album as a whole. Just ordered 10 or so new albums from Amazon, which should be here sometime tomorrow.

Discussion:
Anyone want to defend a 1-star (lowest of the low) rating for Asia? I don't mind people rating things differently to me, but 1-star seems really quite extreme and reactionary for this album, and, glancing at the reviews, I haven't seen one that justifies such a low rating and actually considers the music, rather than just throwing around words like disappointing and AOR. It's quite interesting that later Asia albums seem to have *higher ratings*, although I get the impression that most Asia fans actually think that Asia is the best thing they've released.



Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 14 2008 at 13:55
now that is a yummy review Clap... and you have to forgive the numbnuts who rate albums  with terms like disappointing and AOR and not actually reviewing the album.  

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 16 2008 at 18:45

I may have said that Wind And Wuthering was next on the agenda. I've since changed my mind and decided to go through Genesis chronologically up to W&W, including a complete workover of an embarrassing Foxtrot review, which I may or may not have posted. So, from the beginning:

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Review 7, From Genesis To Revelation, Genesis, 1968
StarStar

A rather weak album, in my opinion: a load of pop songs, none of which are very compulsive, and the few flashes of excellence are soon obscured by massed string/horn parts and appalling choruses. However, it's occasionally good for background music, and, apart from The Conqueror, I wouldn't consider any of the tracks irritating. The concept in itself is feebly done (producer Jonathan King's fault, since he suggested it) and the lyrics vary from terrible to passable. I prefer a couple of the stringless mixes to those included on the album, and the original 'She Is Beautiful' floors the reworked version 'The Serpent'.

Where The Sour Turns To Sweet has a fairly nice melody and vocals, but the lyrics are a little poor, and for no real reason, the end result doesn't make a real impression. The string and horn overdubs here are generally tolerable.

In The Beginning begins with a promising chaotic sound into a bass part into a song dragged down by the poor sound quality and slightly pretentious lyrics. I like the components, but the recording isn't very clear, and you can't really hear anything except Gabriel properly: Rutherford and Philips are good musicians (at least, they are later), but it seems that here, as on the rest of the album, they can't be heard properly.

Fireside Song goes on too long with too little variation, and the lyrics are pretty ineffectual. Gabriel's unsteady voice and the whiny strings do nothing to alleviate this. However, the starting piano theme is passable, and the acoustic parts are sometimes good. The end result is dull and cheesy, sadly.

The Serpent starts off quite well with a sort of hollow drumming thing and excellent acoustics and a decent bluesy rocking guitar part, then it moves to a rework of what was originally 'She Is Beautiful', not bad, with a decent bass part and bits of organ if you listen hard enough, as well as good electrics, and enjoyable drumming, but the vocal harmonies (aaaa) (aaaa) (aaaa) everywhere really make it difficult to listen to the music, and the lyrics are feeble, compared to the original piece.

Am I Very Wrong has one of the highlights of the album: the excellent pensive acoustics-trombone-and-vocals of the verses, with great piano parts between them, unfortunately, it then goes on to have a silly, moderately mindless chorus that ruins everything. Could've been a pretty good song, but wasn't.

In The Wilderness actually isn't too bad, though the childish dun-dun-dun-dun thing leading to a passable chorus annoys me if I'm listening properly. The verses have a hint of Gabriel's future ability and range as a singer, but it doesn't quite work here, for whatever reason. The strings don't hurt me. The piano solo end is a decent touch.

The Conqueror opens with a guitar repeat of the In The Wilderness themes, and then a fairly mindless and unclear acoustics and piano tune with fairly weak harmonies and appalling lyrics. On the plus side, the electric guitar in the background and then soloing over the top of the theme is good, however, the piece overall is very weak.

In Hiding has the same problems as the much of the rest of the album: repeated and uninteresting music, and a weak chorus. Gabriel's voice here is pretty good, but that's about the only thing I like about the song.

I like One Day, silly horns and strings, yes, repeated chorus, yes, fairly weak lyrics, yes, but it seems to work here. The bass-and-piano are good, the xylophone or vibraphone or whatever it is additions to the start are nice, and it all works together quite neatly.

Window starts promisingly with a bit of acoustic guitar and piano, bass in the background, a quiet and haunting vocal with (what sounds like) trombone in the mix, slowly building to... a bland and generic chorus with irritating strings and fairly idiotic lyrics. The verses are generally quite good, though they could have lost the violin, but the end result is an unmemorable song.

In Limbo again starts with a decent theme, and this time it's the vocals that bring it down, and the choruses are also annoying. The ending limbo section suffers from poor mixing, in my opinion, I love the electrics and hectic background music, but it's not very audible behind the weak brass and vocals in the foreground.

The Silent Sun is a little uninteresting: an essentially generic ballad crossed with a generic pop song. The harmonies are badly done, the vocals aren't that great, and the violin is completely redundant here. Just unmemorable.

The concluding A Place To Call My Own is probably the best thing on the album. Banks and Gabriel give their first real indication of their future vocal and piano talents, and the instrumental end is quite good, with the strings/brass being used in a more constructive way. I don't love the final 'lalalala' thing that much, but it's a decent effort.

The bonus tracks I have on my 2 CD compilation thingy make it much easier to piece together the problems: recycling of material to fit producer Jonathan King's concept results in weaker lyrics, and the strings and horns seem to be added a lot when not needed. I prefer Patricia without the vocals to the piece it became (In Hiding), Try A Little Sadness is a weak pop song, with basically the same random strumming and good piano with a couple of tolerable musical moments in there that can actually be heard. She Is Beautiful is essentially a better version of The Serpent with piano taking the lead, better lyrics ('cool as ice, but brittle as glass') and the (aaaa) being less dominant. Although I think the final mix has better basic material, this one sounds better. Image Blown Out is a fairly silly, whimsical composition, tolerable once if you're in a good mood.

The Silent Sun's single version isn't really that much different, but the slightly more audible bass is good. Retains the problems of the original, but slightly less dull. That's Me is an enjoyable pop song, although the vocals in the chorus grate a little. The guitar solo (and guitar in general) is fun, and the lyrics are tolerable. It sounds as if the band had fun playing/writing it, something not always evident here, and Philips (guitarist), whose playing made Trespass for me, doesn't seem to be on such a leash here. A Winter's Tale has a quiet organ in the background, which gels amusingly with the pop chorus. I enjoy listening to it, but partly for the wrong reasons. A better song than the album proper. The One-Eyed Hound is a bit weaker, with an annoying refrain ('This man committed a sin, this man, he never can win') absolutely wrecking the song, which would otherwise be passable. The rough mixes generally strike me as being equivalent to or better than the album pieces in quality/sound quality.

Only recommended if you want to see the first stages of Genesis' development and the opportunity to rant about poor producing in reviews. I feel the album could've done with more music time instead of chorus repeat time, and the strings rarely work well here. This seems to me like a mix of poor production, poor mixing and a musical immaturity or a lack of direction in the band. Nonetheless, there are occasional glimmers of promise, and Genesis would go on to produce no less than seven very strong studio prog albums in a row after this.

Rating: 2 Stars. Flashes of promise, but mostly weak.

Favourite Track: That's Me, or, in the album itself, A Place To Call My Own

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Ah well, it seems that my Asia challenge has been left unanswered. Embarking on a Genesis series now, since the ELP one seemed to focus my mind better than random reviews. Plus, I'm hoping it'll generate more banter and comments. FGTR could well have been a one star album, but I thought that'd be too harsh for it.

@Micky, I'll have to forgive them eventually, but I'm hoping I may have brought some attention to a problem with lots of generally looked-down-on albums and given some people the urge to explain before slamming that lowest of low ratings on anything at all. It's one of my major pet peeves with some PA reviews, the other being people saying '4.6 stars really', '3.2 stars', '1.112234294 stars'.


Edit: Apparently, 6+1 = 7, not 8. Review title has been accordingly Lucassed.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 16 2008 at 18:54
of course your Asia challenge went unchallenged....

it's easier to lope off some half ass review safe in knowledge that is is a common perception.. than to actually explain it.  Like the time old TFTO 'fluff' question.  Those same people who give Tales hell for not being more concise would have been the first to say Yes was merely sticking to formula and done another CTTE type album.  It was a natural progression for them.  Curious to know what you think of that album if you do a series of Yes reviews.

I am not particularly much of a Genesis fan.LOL. but I'll admit... FGtR is one of the  albums I find most interesting.  I really get a pleasure out of FGtR than I simply don't get out of more 'acclaimed' albums like Foxtrot.  Looking forward to reviewing it some day.  Nice review..  would have given it 3 stars myself Clap


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: ghost_of_morphy
Date Posted: February 17 2008 at 00:32
Lord knows, I would not characterize From Genesis to Revelation as a string of pop songs.  They may have failed at what they were trying to acheive, but pop wasn't their goal.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 17 2008 at 08:44
@ghost_of_morphy: That's what the result sounds like to me, generally, just looking at the frequently repeated choruses, occasional random harmonies, lack of real instrument-time and musical variety within one song. I could well be wrong, and several of the reviews I've seen have described it as more folk. This is one of those times when my lack of general musical knowledge means I may be over-extending the idea of what pop is.

@Micky, Tales has recently received a fairly major turnaround for me, though at first I hated it. Nonetheless, story for a review. Yes'll probably be after Crimson, since I need a lot more listening time to marshall my thoughts about Tales and GFTO.

Anyway, might get a Trespass review up today, since I'm in a productive mood. Probably going to add a spoilered list of reviews done in the first post and individual post links for each of them, largely because of OCD.

Edit: need subjects.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 18 2008 at 18:09

Review 8, Trespass, Genesis, 1970


StarStarStarStar

A stunning progressive album, probably second (and maybe first) for me out of all of the classic period Genesis' efforts (behind SEBTP), even though it's not yet the 'classic' line-up. Here Gabriel's voice has taken on a soul-piercing edge that's never quite been rivaled (for me, at least) by his later vocals, Philips' guitar shifts between powerful and driving to the interplay characteristic of later Genesis. Banks has stepped up his choice of instruments and uses piano, organ or mellotron to fit the piece and the idea. Mayhew's drumming seems to be looked down upon, but I enjoy it anyway, and the production isn't great, but is good enough for me, as a non-audiophile. Lastly, a word for Mike Rutherford's bass and acoustics, which are great throughout.

Looking For Someone opens with moody organ and emotional vocals, moving up into searing guitar and drumming, perfectly conveying the search for order and meaning in the excellent lyrics. Banks' piano and organ are brilliantly used. The changes in mood are perfectly executed, and the use of the flute is better and more energetic here than on any other Genesis album. Perhaps the real charm (for me) of this album and this song in particular is that the music and lyrics actually evoke their subjects for me.

White Mountain was one of the two pieces responsible for getting me into Genesis (the other being One For The Vine), and from the mellotron-and-acoustic opening it really drags you into the cold, clear atmosphere it describes, reflecting both the adrenaline of the chase and the beauty, yet savagery of the environment. The drumming feels right, the organ touches are powerful, yet never too dominant, and Gabriel's voice is (again) unique, powerful and expressive, and the bleak and almost mourning ending doesn't break this. Classic song.

Visions of Angels does have choruses, but it's certainly not a pop song. Musically, it's the weakest track here, in my opinion, but emotionally it does as much for me as the others. The verses are beautiful, haunting and yet feel quite sharp, the lyrics are surreal and gripping ('Ice is moving and the world's begun to freeze/See the sunlight stopped and deadened by the breeze'), and for me, a very personal experience. Gabriel's vocal here is (just me talking) his best ever, the quiet mellotron moments are beautiful. The chorus, however, is just not at the same standard (perhaps 'too bombastic' or 'too frivolous' are the words to use. It's not bad in itself, but after the emotional build-up, it seems a bit blunt and unimaginative), and I've never been a huge fan of using harmonies in a chorus. It's an amazing song for me if I can switch off and listen purely on an emotional level, but I can't help occasionally thinking that the chorus on this is the moment that lets down the entire album.

Stagnation is long, and has relatively few vocals, which means that it takes a while to get used to, but I've at last acquired it, and I now actually really enjoy it. Again, the concept is pretty clear, intelligent and enjoyable, the lyrics are good, the vocals are good, and the changes are all done superbly. All of the components are good, but the end result, the haunting atmosphere and powerful music, is a real stunner. There's a lot of the guitar interplay that's present on The Musical box, the keyboards are generally clean and melodic, but vary a lot throughout the song, the drumming essentially takes a back seat here, except in the more 'rock' sections. One of the most forgotten prog epics, and one of the best.

Dusk is a quieter, shorter track with definite folk leanings, a mixture of Gabriel's voice and a harmony as the main , and a combination of guitars and chimes leading the music. After a couple of minutes of this, there's a minute of instrumental middle section which really doesn't hit the heights of the rest of this album, with atmospheric flute at one point. Thankfully, the return to the vocals prepares for a better end. This seems to be one of those pieces where (despite not being bad) the quality and variation really comes from the presence of the vocals and lyrics. Great, but not perfect.

The Knife. What to say? An absolute beast which leaves me wanting more. I almost wish that Genesis had explored the hard rock style evident here a little more. Gabriel's voice is gripping and powerful, perfectly exploring the strong lyrics. Rutherford's bass is superb. The distorted guitar riffs and organ work together in a mind-blowing fashion, with Mayhew's drums basically providing a backbone for the opening. A stunning first section moves into an inquisitive quiet part with excellent bass, guitar and flute, and occasional percussion in the background. Philips' guitar introduces the 'We are only wanting freedom' line, which is repeated to add even more power and tension and the screaming and background sirens really evoke the idea of revolution, of anger, of adrenaline. If there's a song that puts me in the mind of a battle, this is it. The build-up is amazing, the conclusion is powerful, and I even enjoy the much-maligned drumming: this song is a full-on hard/prog rock masterpiece.

Emotionally and personally, this album is a flawless five star. The ideas stand out, and the music essentially conveys them perfectly. Unfortunately, Visions of Angels and Dusk don't, for me, really stand up to scrutiny as masterpiece material. I love them when I'm not trying to pick holes in them, which is usually, but that's what distinguishes an amazing four star album from something I'd label as a general masterpiece.

-----------------------------------------------------

Perhaps I didn't really go into the songs musically that much here, but this is an album where (for me) the music merges with the lyrics and concepts. Listening to it, I tend to just drift off into the soundscapes, rather than thinking about how the music acts on them.

Anyway, anyone particularly love/hate Trespass? Is there someone out there who agrees with my near-heretical opinion that Trespass is Gabriel's vocal peak?

Nursery Cryme up next. It is quite possible that the review might just be a verbal approximation of the organ-and-guitar duet on The Musical Box typed out in an overenthusiastic manner.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 18 2008 at 20:32
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

@ghost_of_morphy: That's what the result sounds like to me, generally, just looking at the frequently repeated choruses, occasional random harmonies, lack of real instrument-time and musical variety within one song. I could well be wrong, and several of the reviews I've seen have described it as more folk. This is one of those times when my lack of general musical knowledge means I may be over-extending the idea of what pop is.

@Micky, Tales has recently received a fairly major turnaround for me, though at first I hated it. Nonetheless, story for a review. Yes'll probably be after Crimson, since I need a lot more listening time to marshall my thoughts about Tales and GFTO.

Anyway, might get a Trespass review up today, since I'm in a productive mood. Probably going to add a spoilered list of reviews done in the first post and individual post links for each of them, largely because of OCD.

Edit: need subjects.


call me a dipsh*t.. or maybe it is just me.. but always saw FGtR as more than a meer pop album. Maybe not prog...  maybe that is what sort of took for me and made it far more interesting than any of their albums. This group has never ...consistantly done much for me.  Outside of SEbtP. Which is shear brilliance.. the rest... hit and miss.. .like the album you just reviewed Trespass.  Great opener.. great closer.. the stuff in between just is not noteworthy in the least .

I am not a fan... as such maybe I look upon it with clear eyes. We all see our favorites with something less than objective eyes.  Hell.. you should listen to some of the Battiato albums I love and adore. If I suggested them to you...you paid money for it...  you'd frickin run my drawers up the flagpole then kick my skinny white ass hahhaha. To me.. .I identify with the artist.  Thus becomes something more than just the music itlself. But isn't that what it is ALL about.. how the artist   and music relates to you personally. Thus impossible to dispassionately rate or critique.


As far as Tales....  glad to hear the change in heart.  It is one of the albums that it is so easy to hate.. or not appreciate. The word of mouth of it is... well.. not exactly positive.  However listening to it with open ears and mind. shows.. as my review tried to point out... an album that is prog in ways far above many other albums.. then.. and still today. A landmark album.  On par with 'In the Court' for progression of the prog genre.  In fact.. I've heard it said. the day Tales was released.. prog.. mainstream prog.. topped out. and became more a 'genre'  rather than an actually movement to push the boundries.  You really couldn't push the envelope more than Yes did with that album.  Forgetting suggestions of padding... or that Wakeman hated it  for all that matters.  That album is simply one of the 4 or 5 albums that encapsulates everything about prog.


-------------
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 20 2008 at 18:08

Review 10, Nursery Cryme, Genesis, 1971

Another very strong album with weak moments, and a mixture of progressive giants (The Musical Box & The Fountain of Salmacis), interesting softer pieces (Harlequin & For Absent Friends) and a couple of lighter more amusing ones (Return of the Giant Hogweed & Harold The Barrel). With Collins on the drums and Hackett on guitar, the classic line-up is complete, and the use of Collins' vocal skills on The Musical Box and Harlequin is inspired.

The Musical Box is my favourite Genesis song, from the hypnotic acoustic interplay of the opening to the final flourish it stands out. The lyrics are 100% Gabriel's style: innovative, somewhat fantastical and very refreshing. The opening is a relatively delicate acoustic thing, with the vocals done by Gabriel and Collins (with possibly the rest of them) providing harmonies and additional vocals throughout. After the first 'Play me my song...here it comes again' chorus, it moves into another slightly more complete acoustic part with more flute, building up to a repeat of the 'Play me my song...here it comes again'. Suddenly, Hackett's guitar and then a powerful organ riff. Dominant drums, cymbal clashes, a shriek, amazing guitar solo, and suddenly quieter again, yet keeping all the build-up and power. How the hell do you make something like that? Gabriel's vocals enchant and drive the song at this point with music essentially provided to support him him, and then the power returns, the guitar bursts into control, the drums break loose, yet stay perfectly under control. Everything continues to build up, and then turns quiet again, seamlessly, delicate guitars, counter-harmonies mesh with Gabriel possessively, and then the organ returns. Almost church-organ, this time, building up and driving in cooperation with the drums, the song's concept builds to its climax (“Now now now now now!”, Hackett slowly works his way into the mix, ending up with a part every bit as dominant as those already there, and the finale is somehow enough to end this amazing song with absolutely no feelings of disappointment. As you may have guessed, my obsession with this is unhealthy. Both very prog and very rock. I love it. Also, it's a great song for air organ...

For Absent Friends is a short, quiet song, with a soothing vocal from Collins and tasteful acoustic guitar interplay. Lovely.

Return Of The Giant Hogweed is perhaps the best example of how Genesis shifts between brilliant and unconvincing to me. The concept is utterly silly, which works quite well, but I generally don't like the vocals. Hackett shifts between frequent additions over the top, and a nice fuzzy guitar . Similarly, Banks here is difficult to stomach, since his organ additions shift between brilliant background work and a gaudy form of dominant bombastic vaguely Rush-like thing that becomes repetitive throughout the course of the song. In the end, it seems that Banks is responsible for both the great and the annoying sections of the track, with his piano making the second half of the instrumental section and leading up to the great end, and his over-the-top organs being too much for me.

Seven Stones has a very strong mellotron-and-bass start, with vaguely folk-ish lyrics about the vagaries of fortune (sound like Banks lyrics to me, but I'm not sure), tasteful bass, excellent drumming from Collins, a powerful chorus with a soulful vocal. Very good solos from banks, good flute parts, memorable keyboards throughout. Hackett's contributions are pretty typical of his style: not dominant in the mix, but always adding something special. A very good track.

Harold The Barrel is great fun for me. What I think is Hackett sounds more like a sax than a guitar, Banks' piano shifts between amusing to a prettier, more reflective tone at the right moments. Collins fits in perfectly, moving between standard beat-drumming to something a little more energetic whenever he can. The bass additions are great, and the mixture of Gabriel's sarcasm and vocal dexterity and the harmonies and the various vocal effects. Probably my favourite of the lighter, supposedly humorous Genesis pieces.

Harlequin is something different again, a very moving Gabriel-and-Collins duet with surreal lyrics and some subtle vocal interplay, the acoustic part changes frequently, and has a lot more direction, in my mind, than that on Dusk, while Hackett's few additions on the electrics are perfect. In my mind, an experimental and enjoyable piece, which grows on me with every listen. An unsung masterpiece.

The Fountain Of Salmacis is another progressive beast, though in a different vein to the album's opener, not necessarily less of a rocker, but somewhat more sweeping and grandiose, with more vocal effects and a more consistent style compared to The Musical Box's build-up. It begins with the keyboard theme of the piece, fading out into a lush soundscape and a bass-and-Gabriel-backed vocals with a mythical theme. Mellotron chords or melodies changing constantly in the background, occasional Hackettry, vocal effects that drive home the theme, powerful guitar and keyboard solos and a surprisingly effective expression of the two-part conversation, the story, the battle of wills between Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, and the final merged creature. A powerful emotional and musical triumph.

The end result of this album is an extremely good impression after every listen, and though I'm reluctant to allow my third-favourite album by a group, and one with a large, weaker song, the fifth star, I have to admit that the overwhelming majority of great material is a match for Selling England By The Pound and Trespass. Furthermore, I keep finding new aspects of the music, or noticing effects and background parts that I didn't really notice before, something not evident on Trespass. Although on a personal level, Trespass and Selling England By The Pound touch me much more deeply, they don't really challenge me as a listener like Nursery Cryme does.

Rating: Five Stars (the extended flaw that is Return Of The Giant Hogweed has some great moments, and there are, in my mind, four six-star tracks here)

Favourite Track: The Musical Box


--------------------------

Essentially, I'd say, a fifth star from me (ignoring pre-ITTTW reviews) comes from two things, challenging me as a listener beyond simply showing the skill of the group, or producing a flawless, consistently great album which gets better on each listen. For me, at least, Nursery Cryme is an example of the former, and Selling England By The Pound of the latter. Larks' Tongues In Aspic is, I think, the only example of both that I've heard so far.
---------------------------

Any comments on this one?


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: February 20 2008 at 19:47
Nice review Clap... another album like Trespass for me...  loved the first song. and the last one.. and rest did nothing for me.

-------------
[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 24 2008 at 10:02

Review 11, Foxtrot, Genesis, 1972

StarStarStarStar

This is a rare example of an album where the tracks are divided very neatly into songs that I love and songs that I hate. Even after many listens spent trying to acquire the supposed greatness of Watcher of the skies and get past that hollow percussion sound on the chorus of Time Table, I still don't think of them as anything more than mediocre, or even annoying. Nonetheless, there are three absolutely classic prog songs on here, taking up most of the album, as well as a decent classical guitar solo from Hackett, and it'd be stupid to miss them.

The general consensus here seems to be that the thick mellotron opening of Watcher Of The Skies is majestic. Unfortunately, it goes on much too long for me, and then launches into something of much the same vein: lots of seemingly random components just thrown together with a couple of highlights. Gabriel's voice and style carries the song's softer 'From life alone...to life as one...think not now your journey's done' sections superbly, but when he's rushing to fit ten words into a second, it's hard to appreciate it, particularly when the lyrics don't seem that brilliant. I don't get lots of the changes from Hackett's screeching guitar to more organ, and the tune as a whole seems a little poorly constructed. That said, after about six minutes with vocals and mellotron opening left behind, it soars up into a powerful, trademark Genesis tune, with a great crescendo ending.

Time-Table has two features that annoy me: one is that annoying hollow sound on the first why of the chorus. Literally three notes on a random barely-featured instrument that manage to wreck an otherwise perfectly acceptable short song. WHY?! Secondly, the vocals are a bit more of a mixed bag than I expect from Gabriel. Not poor, per se, but it doesn't seem like the lyrics or style of the chorus fit him very well. I have to say that every other feature of the tune is excellent, but those two obscure all of the others. Ugh.

Get Em Out By Friday is one of the best, in my opinion. The perfect combination of riffs and musical changes, with tapping, militaristic drumming that suits the concept perfectly, a crisp, ferocious bass sound, dark, fluid organ and the best example of Peter Gabriel's ability to voice multiple roles in one song while still sounding very Peter Gabriel. Superb, somewhat sarcastic lyrics about an interesting reversal of the traditional genetic control to produce super-humans idea, with haunting echoes that haven't yet grown old on me. Not to mention, great shifts between guitar not-quite-solos and atmospheric additions. The instrumental middle section is powerful and tense, and its quietude doesn't actually remove any of the force that has been built up before it. The shift back to the story is handled perfectly, atmospheric chatter and all, and the ending no less so. Masterpiece. Probably my favourite moment for the Genesis rhythm section.

Can Utility And The Coast Liners is also brilliant, from the guitar interplay with added keyboards, occasional taps on percussion and Gabriel's voice on the opening to a mocking, not louder, but more powerful section to the beautiful mellotron-drums-and-guitar trio and a searing vocal ('but he forced a smile even though his hopes lay dashed where offerings fell.../Where they fell!') back to a slightly more flippant section, to another even more flippant section in the space of ten seconds, to the vocals' return, with a guitar echoing Gabriel skilfully to a random and mostly unrelated end section. Musically, this just won't stay still, and that's part of the charm. A six-minute song which is as complex and intricate as many of the much-lauded 10-20 minute epics. Occasionally I wish the stunning mellotron-guitar-drums section would last longer, but that's about it.

Horizons is a charming classical guitar solo piece from Hackett, which both fits quite nicely as a break in the album's mellotron-heavy work, and as an enjoyable listen in its own right.

Supper's Ready is another masterpiece, in my opinion, though views about it seem strongly polarised. The guitar interplay is taken to another level on the opening here, while the developing keyboards are managed very tactfully, as backing, but as an integral component nonetheless. Gabriel's lone vocals, as well as the duets with Collins, are handled soulfully, individually and originally. The occasional harmonies are very strong, and the throwbacks to the main theme of the song during connecting sections are handled very well, switching into diverse styles without a hitch. The Hackett-and-Banks combination on Ikhnaton and Itsacon and their band of merry men is particularly brilliant, and manages to both be great music and sustain and advance the concept. Through a fade, this moves on to How Dare I Be So Beautiful, which really displays how much emotion Gabriel can put into a vocal, even when only backed by a shimmering mellotron.

A Flower? And then it shifts to the bizarre Willow Farm, with a surprisingly intricate combination of instruments, including a few moments on the piano, for such a seemingly light and flippant song. But the real darkness is underneath this, the biting 'You've been here all the time/Like it or not, you've got what you've got/You're under the soil' completely changes the song's feel. It seems to me like the band is expressing both lyrically and musically an illusion of innocence over a much darker reality. Thought-provoking stuff.

Apocalypse in 9/8 turns up after some echoes of earlier themes. The bass-and-drumming backbone with occasional additions over the top is enjoyable, and the vocals are perfect, though it really only

takes off as it continues escalating up and up, building more and more musical savagery to powerful cymbal clashes, driving organ and more vocals...then it slowly shifts back to positive bells and drumming crescendo 'And it's...hey babe'. The final section Sure As Eggs Is Eggs section is perfect, with Hackett's guitar unleashed, amazing drum-work from Collins and optimistic vocals and lyrics. Overall, I think that this song is more connected that it's generally given credit for, a genuine, excellent epic, and a great way to annoy die-hard Relayer fans.

If you don't own this album, you should almost certainly get it, since it'll allow you to vote in those 'greatest epic' polls with Supper's Ready by making ad florem attacks or dribbling like a true Genesis fan. Furthermore, you'll then own another 3/4 of a masterpiece album. Not recommended for those new to Genesis, just because I personally found it very difficult to get past the first couple of songs.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Get 'Em Out By Friday

----

OK, I need to get my old Foxtrot review (and a couple of King Crimson reviews) deleted so I can beam this one up. Any particular views on Foxtrot? Is anyone sure of what that hollow tapping sound on the first 'why?' chorus of Time Table is?



Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: February 28 2008 at 18:37
In the absence of a SEBTP review today, because I'm trying to make sure I express it *just* right, I'm going to mention a few samples I've been listening through while waiting for my next load of CDs to finally turn up. Unfortunately, this means that I compulsively need to buy a few more albums as soon as my new ones arrive.

Five tracks I've particularly enjoyed:

Toccata (Live from Welcome Back My Friends...) - ELP
http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=1873 - Here
I have to admit that I've overlooked live albums, generally. Listening to this and a live In The Cage version has enlightened me. The album's on my next shopping list.

Stratosfear - Tangerine Dream
http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6348 - Here
Heavily synthesised music usually isn't my thing, but I found this track in particular very compelling.

Arcturus
http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6215 - Here
Usually the big turn-off of prog metal for me is the random growling seemingly endemic of the genre. I randomly went over to the extreme prog metal genre, and clicked on a random album from the top 20. A pleasant surprise, and perhaps a couple of masterpiece songs there, though I'd need to listen more to make a final judgement.

Peaches En Regalia - Frank Zappa
http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=5330 - Here
I admit I've previously just looked at Zappa's discography and thought 'what the Hell?!', and sort of classed him in my mind as a niche artist for a few rabid fans. I'm very happy to be proved wrong here. Great jazz-rock. Album on shopping list.

Space Shanties - Khan
http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=5964 - Here
Wow. Just wow. Blame Chameleon's excellent ' http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=44283&PN=1 - Beyond The Land Of Grey And Pink ' article for this one.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 02 2008 at 15:39

Review 12, Selling England By The Pound, Genesis, 1973

StarStarStarStarStar

If there's an album that represents England, this is it. Nostalgia, sarcasm and biting dark atmosphere stand side by side, augmented by (in my opinion) some of the most impressive Genesis lyrics. An absolutely essential and flawless album, and one you should instantly go out and buy if you don't already own it.

'Can you tell me where my country lies?' Gabriel's lone vocal opens the enchanting Dancing With The Moonlit Knight, a song about the search for and loss of identity. Musically perfect, with Collins on drums and the Hackett-Rutherford guitar interplay especially standing out. All eight minutes are outstanding. The stunning, original lyrics take it to another level, and really bring out the tragic and satirical concept.

I Know What I Like is a great, entertaining, light-hearted pop-based song. Magical drumming and good bass here, as well as enjoyably random synths. Perhaps too many pop elements for some people, but it suits me just fine.

The Banks-penned Firth of Fifth is stunning. Great piano solo, great guitar part, great use of various keyboards, good bass part, great vocals, good lyrics and absolutely stunning, original drumming from Collins. At times powerful, at times whimsical, at times moving, very fluid and altogether brilliant. Ten minutes of sheer brilliance.

I actually love More Fool Me, a melancholy ballad sung mainly by Collins (with one or two harmonies) with emotional acoustic guitar and lyrics which suit it perfectly. Perhaps not for every prog-man, but I prefer it to anything on A Trick Of The Tail.

The Battle For Epping Forest is a bright and cheerful account of a gang war, with occasionally amusing and generally tolerable lyrics and Gabriel really letting himself go with the vocals. A mixture of inane cockney accents, which you either will or won't like, musical sarcasm and the general excellence present on the rest of the album. I've grown to enjoy it, though I was dubious at first, but I suspect that this is one of those songs where the experience is different for each listener.

After The Ordeal is, in my opinion, one of the finest brief instrumentals ever, beginning with the best guitar-and-piano interplay I've yet heard and a few taps on the tambourine. As it moves to a slightly more polyphonic track, with a great drum entrance by Collins and organ, flute and synths all making some sort of appearance, there's a gorgeous guitar solo.

The Cinema Show is basically an exercise in going from soft to equally soft but somehow louder to softer so subtly that the listener barely notices. The Gabriel-Collins duet on vocals is great, and there's trademark soloing by Hackett and Banks, as well as great drumming. One of those songs which is mostly indescribable if you haven't already heard it.

To round off the album, we have possibly one of the best conclusions in the history of prog rock. The brief Aisle Of Plenty is essentially a reprise of part of Dancing With The Moonlit Knight with a brilliant fade. The perfect conclusion to a perfect album.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: After The Ordeal

---------------------

Not sure I've quite expressed myself as I meant to, and a shorter review than the previous two. Really, I just didn't know quite what to add to the long list of reviews that were already there, but I didn't want to spend more time waiting on an album that I was 100% certain on the rating of and why I liked it that much. Plus, I wanted to get it back above TAAB :p

Nonetheless, I'm looking forwards to reviewing The Lamb, since it'll be nice and easy by comparison.

Edit: Almost forgot

Week whatever, Albums reviewed: Foxtrot - Genesis (4 stars), Selling England By The Pound - Genesis (5 Stars)

Album of the Week -
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - Genesis
I've finally managed to 'get' the more psychy instrumental pieces.

Song of the Week -
Down The Dolce Vita - Peter Gabriel
Completely addictive. Amazing song. I'm listening to it compulsively at the moment.

Random Fact, because I can, -
I only enjoy Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb outside of the context of The Wall.


Posted By: MoreBarlow
Date Posted: March 03 2008 at 00:44
Is it too late to comment on Asia? Truth be told, shallow reactionary reviews aside, I can say from seeing them live in 06 that things weren't as impressive as could possibly be-- from a simple very-high-quality prog standpoint. Great energetic show, and great show by most standards, of course. And, too, when Palmer and Howe got their free moments, let's say I've yet to experience anything like it! (except for perhaps Tarkus for the first time on cd) With that said though, the lack of subtlety was a major turnoff.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 03 2008 at 16:22
Originally posted by MoreBarlow MoreBarlow wrote:

Is it too late to comment on Asia? Truth be told, shallow reactionary reviews aside, I can say from seeing them live in 06 that things weren't as impressive as could possibly be-- from a simple very-high-quality prog standpoint. Great energetic show, and great show by most standards, of course. And, too, when Palmer and Howe got their free moments, let's say I've yet to experience anything like it! (except for perhaps Tarkus for the first time on cd) With that said though, the lack of subtlety was a major turnoff.


It's never too late to comment on Asia Wink. I can understand where you're coming from, but I'm not sure that they'd have reached the same heights in a different style if they'd gone in a more progressive and more subtle direction. I just don't know, though. I admit I might have over-hyped it a little in my review, while foaming at the mouth from seeing it rated lower than Alpha, but I still love it. One of those albums, like Caress of Steel or Trespass, where I can see the flaws, but most of them don't annoy me that much.

Also, relating to that:

I got the later Asia album Arena a week ago, after being thoroughly disappointed by Alpha. I was quite impressed by it, and it's got some great 'crossover'y moments on The Day Before The War and U Bring Me Down, as well as some enjoyable relatively plain eighties-sounding rock with an individual atmosphere, and good instrumentals. Admittedly Heaven and Never have some fairly weak moments, and I miss Palmer, but an encouraging 3 star album, imo.

Also related, http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=46489 - new album coming out soon from the original line-up, soon. Could be interesting, and some of the samples sounded good.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 08 2008 at 13:56

Review 13, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Genesis, 1974

StarStarStarStar

Because four great albums weren't enough for Genesis. A very interesting change in format took place between Selling England By The Pound and The Lamb. There are no really extended songs, although The Colony Of Slippermen and In The Cage are reasonably long, some of the songs move into psychedelic and ambient territory and the album has a much more American feel than anything Genesis had previously done; lastly, the excellent lyrics are always related to the concept, and are often narrative. On the minus side of these developments, I feel that fades are overused, when they aren't generally needed or feel out of place. Overall, an album that is on a par with other Gabriel-era efforts, and certainly not to be missed.

Beginning with a supple piano solo, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is very much representative of the album as a whole. Brief, with compelling drums and a great lead bass part, Hackett sounding suspiciously like a piano (!), clever, small background additions to give it more depth, diverse sections, musical foreshadowing of the later Carpet Crawlers. Great, biting lyrics and vocals from Gabriel, and an acceptable fade.

'There's something solid forming in the air'. Soulful guitar and vocals leads into the powerful, gripping Fly On A Windshield, with Hackett, Banks' and Collins driving right past the ears and into the brain. Intelligent, constructed, and brilliantly-delivered lyrics from Gabriel here. An absolutely stunning track. The highlight for disc 1, and one of Collins' best drum performances. The beautiful Broadway Melody of 1974 is tacked onto the end of this.

Cuckoo Cocoon is decent, but doesn't really stand out. Does what it was intended to do, lyrically and psychologically, and prepares neatly for the driving In The Cage, but doesn't really go beyond it. Also has a weird slightly delayed guitar sound that doesn't work that greatly here. Not bad, but unexceptional.

In The Cage. What to say? No doubt the most widely-favoured track of the album, with a moving bass-and-vocals opening, leading to a driving, powerful keyboard riff, with good lyrics, occasional changes in mood to heavier or more serious-sounding sections, and then to lighter, more frivolous sections and back again. A very strong song, and vital for those who consider Banks' solos and Gabriel's voice the highlights of Genesis.

The Grand Parade of Lifeless packaging is brief, enjoyable, random, mostly mindless music, with a heavy focus on the chaotic distortion by Brian Eno. Acceptable, but not my thing.

Back In New York City is essentially a relatively normal song. Fairly weak, but probably concept-crucial lyrics, near-punk vocals from Gabriel, and a generally amusing main theme, though it gets a bit repetitive after a while. The chorus is great, catchy and quirky, much like Jethro Tull's Locomotive Breath: embarrassing to sing along to, but I can't help it.

Hairless Heart is a beautiful quiet instrumental, led by Hackett (acoustic + electric guitar) and Banks (mainly synths), with Collins providing an appropriate drum beat.

Counting Out Time is, in my opinion, the funniest (though not the best) of the Genesis humourous songs, with a pretty amusing concept and lyrics, whimsical music (held up by a guitar riff and bass) and a hilarious guitar solo. Gabriel's tentative, questioning vocal fits the song perfectly, and the harmonies/fade on 'Without you mankind handkinds through the bluuues...' are delightful every time.

Carpet Crawlers simply doesn't interest me at all. I like the piano tune, I like the music, I like the vocals, but I don't like the song. I don't know why, but it leaves me absolutely cold every time, and occasionally even annoys me. Still, one of the widely liked songs on the album, and perhaps would be the highlight for any ATOTT fan.

The Chamber Of 32 Doors begins with a great solo from Hackett, and superb drumming from Collins, though most of the song is dominated by Gabriel's vocals, Banks' piano and the bass. There are some beautiful lyrics here, 'I'd give you all of my dream...if you'd help me find the door...that doesn't lead me back again...take me away.'. A superb conclusion to the first CD.

The second disc opens with a nice, somewhat explosive pop-rock tune, Lily-white Lillith. Great harmonies, powerful music, a bit of Hackettry, good lush keyboards from Banks, great vocals, and a good echo of the Broadway Melody of 1974 on the end.

The Waiting Room is certainly psych rock, though other tracks on the album and the way the album's constructed as a whole have a psych-y feel to them. A gradual progression with tingling, orderless percussion, screeches on the guitar and synths, with several themes being dabbled with and developed or dropped, explosions and an emergence into a full band piece, which continues to develop and shine. Complete and utter chaos, and something that took me a while to acquire in context, but completely my thing.

Anyway is my highlight for the second CD, with a gorgeous piano part courtesy of Banks, Gabriel's searing, echoey vocals, strong, original lyrics, relating to delirium and death. The sprawling piano on the instrumental break in the middle leads to a truly stellar guitar solo from Hackett and then returns to the main theme with added synths (or possibly guitar that sounds like synths), more vocals, percussion and some organ.

The Supernatural Anaesthetist is essentially Hackett on the loose, with Banks and Rutherford shadowing him. There are a few vocals on the start. An interesting combination of ways to play guitar, and the narrative (see the CD booklet) comment on the events taking place is absolutely priceless.

The Lamia is a soft multi-part song, showcasing Gabriel's vocals and lyrics (beautiful and at the same time advancing the story) and Banks' piano and keys, though Collins and Hackett are both very important in places, and the drumming stands out. A real grower, and a standout track on an excellent album.

Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats is interesting, with some more of that tingly percussion, a single repeated slow riff at various volumes, choral additions (probably done with some sort of synth, I guess) and interesting overlaid music.

The Slippermen begins with a minute and a half of seemingly random psychedelic noodling, and then dims to prepare for the most surprisingly explosive 'bubbity-bub' in the history of rock, followed by an extensive, silly song with great solos on keyboards, some well-concealed additions on guitar, great, eclectic drumming and addictive riffs. Superb vocals from Gabriel, with lots of small harmonies, and whimsical lyrics. A great fade here, and absolutely seamless music. Really good fun to listen to, and the weirdness hasn't grown old on me yet.

Ravine is a somewhat darker continuation of the Silent Sorrow... idea, with the same riff, but very different in its sound.

The Light Dies Down On Broadway is an echo of the album's opener, and absolutely great, with a compelling drum performance. More great vocals, and very strong lyrics (IIRC, from Collins, here). Good organ from Banks, and an enjoyable bass part.

The somewhat dancy Riding the Scree is an oddity, with a great rhythm section (Collins sounds like he's crossed himself with Mike Giles), blaring soloist keyboards, and a nice vocal. Great stuff.

In The Rapids is opened by Hackett, who's a strong presence throughout, together with Gabriel. Rutherford twangs on the bass once or twice, while Collins adds his own style. Essentially an atmospheric lead-up to It.

'It' has very catchy music, and great vocals, with lyrics that only really make any sense in context, but are still enjoyable. Fairly memorable performances from everyone involved, and the synth screech moving to the guitar riff is great. A good closer to the album.

All in all, a very strong four star effort, though it may take more time to get the same position of pride as other Genesis albums. Completely atypical of Genesis at the time, but nonetheless highly enjoyable, with a great mixture of styles. Perhaps too great a mixture of styles for the band's own good, since it seems unlikely that everything on the album will appeal to the average listener. Two discs of great material, and worth getting even at the price.

Favourite Tracks: Fly On A Windshield (disc one), Anyway (disc two)

Rating: Four stars

----

*coughcoughcoughsomuchbetterthanTheWallcough*

Oddly, coming back to Genesis, it seems that I've become fairly Collins-centric in my way of thinking, whereas previously I was a through-and-through Hackett fanboy. Really, I'd never previously thought of how important the guy's drumming on Selling England... and The Lamb is to those albums, though I've always liked it. I'm currently thinking out a self-indulgent essay about how rediscovering a couple of things with a more 'analytical' mind recently (most notably Court and early Genesis) has been, so I might post that here if I like it (not so likely).

Well, that's the Gabriel era done. Anyone here have particularly extreme views on The Lamb?

Also, feel free to lay into my reviews, I'm beginning to get lonely in here Tongue


Edit: Interesting, apparently I actually submitted that embarrassing review I wrote earlier about The Lamb, after far too few listens and with absolutely no real analysis, which goes mostly against what I said in my new and shiny review. Ah well, same rating, so I'll wait until I want to replace a few more at the same time to get it deleted. Um. The album was a little acquired for me.

Edit edit: My god, did I really call 'Lilywhite Lillith' fairly heavy? What the Hell was I on?

Edit edit edit: At least I got in a cheap shot at The Wall in the old review.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: March 08 2008 at 16:43
you know.. this album NEVER ...ever took to me ... and I really have tried... but this is an album I gave up upon.. probably haven't listened to it in at least 2 years.   I'll give it another spin tonight after I toss off some reviews of my own.  Now that [email protected] has let me do my voodoo again... and let me log on... have some reviews to catch up with. 

you do write a great  album review though... looking forward to seeing you tackle more obscure stuff as well.


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 08 2008 at 19:41
Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

you know.. this album NEVER ...ever took to me ... and I really have tried... but this is an album I gave up upon.. probably haven't listened to it in at least 2 years.   I'll give it another spin tonight after I toss off some reviews of my own.  Now that [email protected] has let me do my voodoo again... and let me log on... have some reviews to catch up with. 

you do write a great  album review though... looking forward to seeing you tackle more obscure stuff as well.


Many thanks for the kind words, though I don't know why [email protected] would make such a silly mistake LOL

I'm sharpening my teeth on the obvious stuff, since it makes up most of my currently small collection, and I want to get better at analysing/understanding the albums and my personal opinions before I go on to those  more obscure things that actually need the reviews and ratings, so I can give them the love they deserve. Might get in a Colosseum or Maneige review sometime soon, though, even if they're lesser-known rather than obscure.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: March 08 2008 at 20:48
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

you know.. this album NEVER ...ever took to me ... and I really have tried... but this is an album I gave up upon.. probably haven't listened to it in at least 2 years.   I'll give it another spin tonight after I toss off some reviews of my own.  Now that [email protected] has let me do my voodoo again... and let me log on... have some reviews to catch up with. 

you do write a great  album review though... looking forward to seeing you tackle more obscure stuff as well.


Many thanks for the kind words, though I don't know why [email protected] would make such a silly mistake LOL

I'm sharpening my teeth on the obvious stuff, since it makes up most of my currently small collection, and I want to get better at analysing/understanding the albums and my personal opinions before I go on to those  more obscure things that actually need the reviews and ratings, so I can give them the love they deserve. Might get in a Colosseum or Maneige review sometime soon, though, even if they're lesser-known rather than obscure.


meh... I think [email protected] was pissed off at me for busting his balls about that damn jingle for the site. 

Didn't make it to the Lamb tonight... but I will tomorrow... late night is not the best time for me to listen to Genesis anyway LOLWink Sounds like a good plan there...I had to learn reviewing on the fly so to speak.. got promoted.. yet never reviewed an album.. so I was told to start reviewing LOL My first reviwes (not an invitation to read hahhaha) were god-frickin awful.. and still even now don't think they are particularly good..  I just plug away at them and try to improve as I go.  What makes it easier is I don't review the top albums.. so I can toil away in relative obscurity.  Think I have only reviewed one of the top 100 albums or some crap like that.  Maybe more than that.. but not many more. 


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 09 2008 at 13:16

Review 14, A Trick Of The Tail, Genesis, 1976

StarStarStarStar

After the departure of Peter Gabriel, Genesis' sound really does take a drastic change. For some people this is a welcome development, but not so much for me.

Firstly, Collins takes over lead vocals. I think the issue here is not his voice, which I, personally, enjoy on all the previous albums, and on the following Wind & Wuthering, but that he's not that confident with it, and doesn't really make the songs his own on this album. Occasionally he adopts weird accents on Dance On A Volcano, Mad Man Moon and Robbery..., but it just doesn't pay off for him as much as it did for Gabriel. The lyrics are still very good, but the relatively non-distinctive nature of Collins' vocals here do obscure that a little, so they originally felt like repeated pop choruses, even when they aren't.

Secondly, the music is somewhat less explosive. There are far fewer great rock moments, and nothing like Fly On A Windshield or Firth Of Fifth. For me, at least, this meant it's taken a lot longer to acquire and get used to, and puts it somewhat behind the Gabriel era albums for me.

Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse, onto the music:

Dance On A Volcano was a little difficult for me to get into, but I now do enjoy it. Great opening, mainly guitar-based, good drumming, a great quirky bass part from Rutherford, and overall a very enjoyable track.

Entangled is an odd creature. On the verses and the instrumental second half, good, enjoyable acoustic guitars from Hackett and Rutherford, here, and banks provides excellent synth and mellotron (I think) parts. Collins provides a nice vocal, and the song suits him. However, the choruses really don't work for me. I've never been a great fan of playing acoustics with too many chords, and this isn't an exception. The vocal harmonies aren't very distinctive, either. A very good song, I admit, but not one that grips me.

'Like father, like son' A good, but simple drum-and-bass rhythm, with matching guitar, opens Squonk. Great vocals for decent lyrics, here, somewhat more assertive than on the rest of the album, I feel, though I wish they were a little more prominent in the mix. I love the drums on this one. One of my favourites from the album.

Mad Man Moon is one of the most beautifully opened songs I've heard so far, with stunning piano and keys, emotive vocals, perfect background electrics from Hackett, and an uncharacteristically quiet performance on the percussion from Collins. Oddly enough, it merges into something with a more Latin feel, with strange percussion that sounds like castanets, cheerful and classical-styled piano juxtaposed. This is followed by the strange Sandman section, with odd, but intelligent lyrics, accented vocals. After that brief interlude, it returns to an even finer rendition of the opening, 'Within the valley of shadowless death', with a superb return to the piano theme, even better guitar minimalism and percussion, and a great ending from banks. Lyrically, this is certainly my favourite song from the album, and probably for Genesis as a whole. Essential listening for Genesis fans.

Robbery Assault And Battery is yet another weird case, where nothing manages to offend, and I love the electric guitar and bass, and the drumming's quite catchy. The cockney vocals are amusing enough, and there are two great short instrumental sections near the end and at the end, respectively. I think it's the silly keyboards here that put me off the song as a whole. A good song, and I think I should like it more than I do.

Throughout Ripples, much like Entangled, I love the piano-and-guitar verses, with superb vocals, but I don't enjoy the chorus and its harmonies much. Good lyrics, great piano, and a decent instrumental section towards the end. I prefer my soft songs staying relatively soft throughout, rather than doing what these two do, which is start with a beautiful melody and then go to a generic chorus at a slightly louder volume.

Oddly, I really enjoy the pop-ish ATOTT. A thoroughly enjoyable short song, with great guitar from Hackett, and acceptable vocals and lyrics, with some great harmonies, plenty of bombastic silliness. I don't know what so many people dislike about it, but unlike the rest of the album, I liked this one on the first listen.

Los Endos is essentially a medley of tunes from the rest of the album, together with the legendary 'There's an angel standing in the sun!' of Supper's Ready, and a couple of weird shimmerings and strange percussion things indicative of what the band would do with the instrumentals on the next album. This, however, is much more catchy and enjoyable than them, with the rhythm section standing out a little more than Banks and Hackett.

In the end, not my favourite, but a solid four star effort. Perhaps not recommended to those who prefer the harder rock aspects of Gabriel-era Genesis, or those who healthily dislike acoustics. If, like me, you fall partly into the first of those two categories, it may need a fair few spins to grow on you.

Rating: Four Stars, though personally a borderline three
Favourite Track: Mad Man Moon


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Had the time and inclination to dash this one off today, and I'm a little happier about it than about my previous couple of reviews. As usual, on the lookout for opinions about the album. Might get another review about a non-Genesis album up next, since I'm not in the mood to listen to W&W now.

Edit: Trick is an odd album for me, because while I can say I enjoy it, but could happily live without it, I think every prog-man (or even non-prog-man) should at least try it out.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 13 2008 at 12:50
I apologise for my earlier lies

The recent arrival of

Tubular Bells (vol. 1) - Mike Oldfield
Script For A Jester's Tear - Marillion
Valentyne Suite - Colosseum
The Inner Mounting Flame - The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Moving Pictures - Rush
Les Porches - Maneige
Permanent Waves - Rush
Moonmadness - Camel
Pawn Hearts - Van Der Graaf Generator

and expected arrival of
Perdition City - Ulver

has removed the time I'd need to take on this intermediate review, and the WInd And Wuthering one will wait for the weekend.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 15 2008 at 09:21

Review 15, Wind & Wuthering, Genesis, 1977

StarStarStarStar

Wind & Wuthering (along with Trespass) is responsible for getting me into Genesis, even when I, at first, found Selling England By The Pound a little awkward. I've always loved the first two long tracks, but the rest of the album has somewhat worn thin over a good number of listens, and I just don't get anything from listening to the instrumentals. The highlights are, in my mind, preferable to those of A Trick Of The Tail, as are Collins' vocals, which have matured somewhat, and really do make the songs more accessible. A good Genesis starter-album, coupled with something from the Gabriel era, and a good album overall.

Eleventh Earl Of Mar has a great synth opening, a noteworthy organ-drums-bass trio, good vocals from Collins, and a beautiful quiet acoustic-dominated section backed by echoing synths. Lyrically, it just about makes sense, but sounds right. There's an excellent ending with Hackett working over a lush percussion-keyboard canvas, somewhat reminiscent of Hackett's first solo album's closer, Shadow Of The Hierophant.

One For The Vine is probably second or third in my long list of favourite Genesis songs, with absolutely great vocals, very strong lyrics from Banks, which work perfectly over the music. Various keyboards are used in a sophisticated manner, and the talents of all four musicians are well-displayed. Superb instrumental sections, and changes in tempo, and a perfect example of musically realising a concept without letting the concept at all overshadow the music or vice-versa.

Your Own Special Way is difficult to like. I can tolerate and quite happily nod along to the verses. Unfortunately, the opening is utterly terrible, repetitive, with whiny keyboards that I'm not too fond of. The song proper isn't too bad, a decent pop-tinged song, with some of the fairly characteristic Collins drumming that made IKWIL good. The vocals are a little non-distinctive here, but still acceptable, as are the lyrics. The guitar, the harmonies, and the instrumental section are small highlights within the song. If only they'd managed to provide a good opening for it.

Wot Gorilla? is the first of the album's instrumentals, with a tingly percussion opening, suitably silly synths and guitar reminiscent of Hackett's solo album playing along nicely. A real throwback to the instrumentals from The Lamb, listenable, but nothing special.

All In A Mouse's night is another good longer song, though I found it utterly intolerable at first. Compulsive drumming here, great thudding bass, very good vocals coupled with tolerable (if acquired) lyrics. Some distinctive shifts in style, and the tiny, yet vital, electric additions from Hackett and Banks on piano (where the tune is held up by synths) absolutely make the song what it is. An excellent ending, and certainly well worth hearing.

Blood On The Rooftops opens with a memorable acoustic solo from Hackett. The verses are basically a showcase for his acoustic playing, and with small contributions from the rest of the band, while a great bass part from Rutherford particularly shines in the choruses. Collins vocals are again good, and lyrically the nostalgia and very English sarcasm are great.

Unquiet Slumbers For The Sleepers is largely made by the echoing guitars and piano, with a synth over the top that I find somewhat annoying to listen to, and usually try to ignore. It's mostly acting as a lead-up to In That Quiet Earth, which has a great guitar solo, a good bass line, and some interesting drumming. It moves on to a superb, very mobile, slightly heavier section with Collins really standing out. I don't know quite why, but it does feel a little awkward and repetitive, and the lead-up to Afterglow feels a little forced.

Afterglow is a very simple song, with minimalistic guitars and a slow drum-beat augmented by a nice mellotron. Typically, not the sort of thing I'd like, but the gradual build-up does work very well, and the emotional vocals, while still not Gabriel, are great. A very good conclusion to the album.

All in all, the album is one that strikes me as a little mixed, and brought down a bit by the instrumentals and Your Own Special Way's opening, but the longer tracks are absolutely stunning. Generally recommended.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: One For The Vine

------
And that signals my Genesis collection running out. Probably going to alternate between gushing over all the Crimson  (Heart)releases up to and including Discipline and reviewing less partially other odds and ends next.

I am *very* happy with all of my purchases, so I'm posting my early impressions here,

Tubular Bells (vol. 1) - Mike Oldfield
A good instrumental album, and I love the random nasal choir thing on the second side. First impression: strong 3 Stars, might be 4.

Script For A Jester's Tear - Marillion
Absolutely great album, with particular highlights in Chelsea Monday and Script... itself. I love all the tracks, although Garden Party and Web aren't at the same standard as the rest. Great guitar and vocals, but I found the drumming a little weak. First impression: Strong 4 Stars.

Valentyne Suite - Colosseum
Wow. I've had Daughter Of Time for a while, but this was something completely different. Stunning blues/jazz rock, amazing bass and bluesy guitar, and the great Jon Hiseman on drums. I'm particularly fond of Butty's Blues and The Grass Is Always Greener (Valentyne Suite, Third Theme). First Impression: 5 Stars. Great stuff.

The Inner Mounting Flame - The Mahavishnu Orchestra
And I was impressed by Birds Of Fire... A fusion classic, and worthy of that title. I really enjoy the acoustic A Lotus On Irish Streams, and the rest of the album is very, very dense musicianship. No weakness. First Impression: 5 Stars, could be 4.

Permanent Waves - Rush
I wasn't so happy with this one on the first two or three listens, but it really did click for me yesterday. Jacob's Ladder, Natural Science and The Spirit of Radio are great, and even if I preferred Lee's voice on AFTK and 2112, his bass here is superb. First Impression: 4 Stars

Moving Pictures - Rush
Some great songs (Tom Sawyer and Witch Hunt in particular). I might be happier without Red Barchetta and its irritating lyrics, but still a good album. Perhaps it'll click for me with a few more listens. First Impression: 3 Stars, could be four.

Les Porches - Maneige
Have to admit, I'd already heard this quite a lot, but the impression from the proper-quality release was so much better. Absolutely stunning classically-inspired piano, a very memorable title track, and the superb Les Aventures.... Only really weakened a little by Chromo. Impression: Five Stars.

Moonmadness - Camel
I was more satisfied by this one than by Mirage or The Snow Goose, and I have to admit that Ward's drumming seems to have come on a lot, though Ferguson's bass still feels somewhat like a prop. I'm very fond of Song Within A Song, and the rest of the album is good. First Impression: Four Stars, could be a strong three.

Pawn Hearts - Van Der Graaf Generator
Hm. I'm very glad I went for the superb Godbluff before this one, even if it's still very strong. I felt that Jackson really rocked more on Godbluff, and lyrically Godbluff felt more connected. Nonetheless, great album, and Guy Evans really does shine on it. A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers is really my sort of utter chaos, and the other two are very good. First Impression: Four Stars.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 17 2008 at 16:22

Review 16, Sinister, John Wetton, 2001

StarStar

I don't know John Wetton's solo career outside this album, but I'm somewhat familiar with early Asia, and can say with certainty that most of this album is very much in the same vein. Unfortunately, it's not generally at the same quality. Nonetheless, there are a couple of real peaks at the beautiful Fripp-Wetton-Macdonald instrumental, E-SCAPE, and the opening Heart Of Darkness is a really great rocker. The rest of the album is both short and pretty unthreatening, though Wetton's compositional skill is present throughout, the end result is quite miserable.

The opener begins with promising moody keyboards, and a couple of piano and twanging bass notes lead into great uplifting rock song with dark moments. Wetton's voice, still excellent, begins the song proper. Some enjoyable guitar here, and the bass part isn't bad. A fantastic example of eighties-sounding rock. Stunning.


Say It Ain't So isn't terrible, either, but the drumming's utterly bland, and I've heard better choruses. Some nice small touches on various instruments (especially organ), but it wears thin after only three minutes, and somehow feels quite samey. A couple of the changes in tempo feel generic.

No Ordinary Miracle is a ballad. Cheesy vocals, lyrics, and even an incredibly tacky thunderbolt effect. An essentially decent main theme, and, again, some fairly nice additions on minor instruments. Unfortunately, it says nothing new, and I don't like the use of drums to drive a ballad so bluntly. Not my thing.

Where Do We Go From Here is relatively typical of the rock pieces of the album. Thumping bass, fairly generic, but acceptable drumming. Not particularly stunning chorus, but the verses are good. I feel the brief instrumental moments here could have been properly developed, but weren't, and a jarring return to the chorus after a five-second guitar-keyboard interplay was not the greatest idea. Blunt and unexceptional.

E-SCAPE features Fripp and McDonald (both of King Crimson) on sound-scape guitar and alto-flute respectively, while Wetton takes keyboard duties. It's a very stunning, mesmerising and beautiful soft instrumental, with McDonald's absolutely gorgeous ethereal flute particularly standing out, and some exceptional interplay from the musicians. Worthy of a Crimson album, though entirely uncharacteristic of Sinister.

The biting Another Twist Of The Knife, while essentially a three-chord AOR piece, is comfortably the third-best thing on the album. Wetton's energy on the vocals is winning, and the song really does manage to rock properly, even the drums working well here. The chorus isn't quite up to the standard of the verses, but's still decent. Good fun. Perhaps brought down by the big block of vocals and lyrics on the 'Go on... cut me... til I bleed' section. Great guitar solo here, but I say that about just about any guitar solo, for some reason.

Silently. Ugh. Generic piano. Cheesy ballad-styled vocals. Lame drumming. Pathetically bad chorus, appalling lyrics. No merits to consider, except the middle instrumental section, which works pretty well, until the vocals come back again. Some good ideas, but a crap song.

Before Your Eyes is the least appalling of the album's ballad-styled things. Quite nice, quiet, not mindlessly thumping on the drums, slightly improved lyrics, and Wetton's vocals seem more individual. The flute is nicely included. The keyboards hold it up quite well. The choir/harmony thing was a little poor, though. Overall, an acceptable effort.

Second Best, despite a promising energetic start, takes the whole generic AOR-aspect that plagues the album to an entirely new level. Appalling chorus. More of that disastrously plain drumming. The lyrics are dubious, the vocals vary from great on the verses to dreadful on the chorus. Another good guitar solo on this one, but again it goes back to the chorus where it didn't need to. The fade is welcome. Again, some good ideas, but overall an un-focused product.

Real World is not great. A fairly random acoustic guitar part, some really weird vocals from Wetton, who apparently has given up on even trying to maintain the facade of writing lyrics, and the harmonies are equally weird uninteresting keyboards. Steve Hackett's contribution on harmonica isn't bad. A weird song, but not a success with me.

If you don't like Asia's debut (probably the best known comparison, though not entirely fair), avoid it like the plague, if you do, perhaps to be considered for the stunning opener and a couple of the other better tracks, but still not great. Wetton's bass is still pretty good, but you're just not going to find the stunning bass work from his spell with Crimson on this album, and it's often overshadowed by the styles of the songs. His vocals are very divisive, still of the almost-shouted kind, and not for everyone. Clocking in at just 38 or so minutes, much of which is pretty poor material, probably not a great value-for-money buy. An effort with its moments, but ultimately unsatisfying.

Rating: Two Stars

Favourite Track: E-SCAPE


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Also, great album cover. Not much hope for discussion, though. I should dash off a Court review next, and then maybe Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble (because I want an excuse to listen to Gypsy compulsively). Many thanks to the admin/review moderator team for dealing with my old Court review.

Is all of Wetton's solo career this dubious? The Wetton-Downes collaborations any better?

Edit: How's that for obscure LOL. Only 6 ratings for the album.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 24 2008 at 14:08

Review 17, In the Court Of the Crimson King, King Crimson, 1969

StarStarStarStarStarStar

An old crush, that I can never, no matter how hard I try, get rid of. I have managed to persuade myself at different times that it's not that groundbreaking, decide that Court itself is way too bombastic, and that the mellotron is too thick for me, that the improvisation on The Illusion is utterly pointless, that this album doesn't deserve even five stars. However, every time I hear the first throb of 21st Century Schizoid Man, all these delusions disappear. An absolutely stunning album from start to finish. Much like ELP's debut, this is only made more amazing by the variety of material on the album: jazz rock, softer songs, an extended improvised section, grandiose emotional pieces with a very epic feel. Artistic and emotive, very musically tight and diverse, and with Sinfield's amazing lyrics fitting each song perfectly. Just perfect. An almost unique six star rating (the other being Larks' Tongues In Aspic).

21st Century Schizoid Man is, in my opinion, the greatest opener ever, perhaps even the greatest song ever. Two subdued throbs on a mellotron give way to a driving, powerful sax riff, Fripp's guitar with fuzz box hammering through behind it, stunning drumming from Mike Giles and Lake's almost-spat out, distorted vocals. After the second verse, it moves into a stunning jazzy 'jam' (I don't know quite how to describe it: too organised and tight to be a 'jam') with bass, sax, drums and jazz guitar emerging from the mix at different moments, and then a forceful, brilliant return to the main riff. The last verse takes the song to another peak, and it ends with an insane, chaotic splintering combination of the instruments. Sinfield provides brilliant, gripping, evocative lyrics, perfectly fitting the music. Designed to be played in a dark room at an obscene volume. This song alone has more merit than most complete albums.

I Talk To The Wind is a very sharp contrast to the opener, but it works superbly in the context. A very soft song, particularly showcasing Greg Lake's voice, a beautiful flute part from Ian McDonald and Mike Giles' enchanting percussion. The vocal and instrumental sections both stand out. Truly magical. Sinfield's lyrics again fit in very neatly, and can really transport the listener to another state of mind. Very simple in format, but nonetheless perfect. Not your average ballad.

Epitaph can only be described by itself. Pure emotion trapped inside 8 minutes and 47 seconds of music. Again, a completely outstanding song, with more of Sinfield's superb lyrical contributions. Greg Lake's vocals, Fripp's acoustic guitar, McDonald's mellotron and piano and Mike Giles' drumming especially stand out. In fact, everything stands out. Another dose of musical perfection, and another dose of imagery.

Moonchild is the strangest of the expressions in the album, but no less effective. It begins with the haunting Dream, with the sublime guitar part from Fripp, a bit of subtly used Mellotron and Greg Lake's beautiful vocals introducing the idea: moonlight. Mike Giles provides more of his unusual percussion. After a few minutes, the largely improvised (according to most things I've heard about it) 'The Illusion' section begins. It echoes and brings up the lyrics and the imagery, cycling through the actions of the moonlight described by Sinfield's lyrics. The improvisation leads fluently to another arranged section, suggesting a slow dawn, and the shadows of the night gradually vanishing. A musical painting, and a greatly under-rated one.

In The Court Of The Crimson King crashes into existence with a thu-thu-thu-thub from Mike Giles and the suffocating, thick mellotron riff that is the core of the song. The verses are composed mainly of pretty acoustic guitar, vocals and a careful, directing drum part, and have a very medieval feel. As it moves onto the repeated 'chorus' line, perhaps the most impressive use of block vocals in rock history, the choking mellotron returns. Sinfield again provides superb lyrics with a very bitter, dark edge. Of especial note are the instrumental Return Of The Fire Witch, highlighting Ian McDonald's skill on the flute, with a sort of weird borderline improvisation around it from Lake, Fripp and Giles, and the double-conclusion. The first conclusion is a relatively simple vocal or mellotron (can't really tell which) fade out, probably responsible for the end of Genesis' Visions Of Angels. Giles provides a couple of taps on the percussion, and a mocking reed organ begins playing. We are treated to a brief solo from Mike Giles, and then McDonald and the band return to provide a full overblown repeat of the main riff, driving slowly towards a superb and hectic conclusion, echoing the end of Schizoid Man.

One of my introductions to prog rock, and yet still improving with every listen. Mike Giles' drumming here is perhaps my joint favourite for any album overall (together with ELP's Tarkus), and demonstrates how you can escape the mould for a musician even as a drummer. If not for Robert Fripp's ability to go on and keep making superb material with several completely different line-ups of King Crimson, the departure of Lake, Giles and McDonald after this album would be an utter tragedy. This album is genuine art as music. Peter Sinfield's lyrics, as I have pointed out earlier, are absolutely the best throughout this album, on a par with Roger Waters' Echoes. A stunning series of images, and a true observation. Art at its finest.


Rating: Six Stars. It's the other Larks' Tongues In Aspic.

Favourite Track: 21st Century Schizoid Man


--------

Only after very deep and angsty examinations of the rating, I've decided that Court does merit the elusive, not even within the rating system, sixth star. The review's mainly late because I had to re-listen to Moonchild in the context of reading Certif1ed's review, I had a DOE practise expedition (please, don't ask...) to go through, and I had actually forgotten the sheer extent of my fawning fandom of this particular Crimson album, and some of its merits are only just being revealed to me.

Two things concerning In The Court Of The Crimson King:

First

A great bow to Certif1ed's particularly amazing review of ITCOTCK. It's been responsible for my own turnaround with regards to Moonchild, which I'd previously thought wasn't particularly stunning, and also was a great read in and of itself, combining considerable technical and musical knowledge with easy reading for the non-musical, and objectivity with subjectivity.

Thumbs%20Up + Clap

http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=144966 - Review here

Second

Stumbled across Peter Sinfield's site after a little searching today, and it has a very interesting insight into the lyrics and the concept of the album. If you're a self-proclaimed lyrics man, like me, and you like the lyrics to Court, then it's worth checking out this section:

http://www.songsouponsea.com/Promenade/CourtAA.html#top2 - Peter Sinfield's comments on the lyrics to Court

So, now that's posted: any thoughts on the review, the album in question, Crimson in general, any of the band members, and Court's influence?


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: March 24 2008 at 18:07
You reviews are so good i think im gonna steal them and post em like they are mine lol (just kidding)Big%20smileLOL

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Posted By: micky
Date Posted: March 24 2008 at 19:44
Nice review of 'in the Court...'  and especially shrewd in pointing out Mark's review.   His review of that album was one of the best single reviews I've read here... and his thoughts on  Moonchild in particular was the proverbial throwing of the lightswitch for me on that.  I tended to be ...scathing in my commentaries here on that track.   It will never be one of my favorites.. .but I have actually started to enjoy it rather than go into convultions and bleed from the ears. 

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 25 2008 at 14:23
Many thanks, Micky and CCVP for the compliments.

Certif1ed was responsible for my own understanding of the track (which I've always liked in an abstract way regarding how it prepared for Court, but not in and of itself), so I felt it was my duty to at least post a link here.

Anyway, Court has now reached my widely coveted 2nd-best album ever spot.

Time to slave away at hammering something out for ITWOP.

On that topic:

Does anyone else believe that In The Wake Of Poseidon is a great stand-alone effort, rather than sticking to the formula of the previous album. I mean, superficially, you have one fast rocking song with vicious lyrics, one grand song with a bit of mellotron, and one softer, shorter song on each album, but really, I think people go too far with the comparison because of this. The individual compositions are really pretty different in their emphasis.

Not quite sure if it qualifies for masterpiece status for me, largely because of Cadence And Cascade, which has never been my favourite, even if I'm warming to Cat Food, but I'm not certain whether I would  have decided not to award it the fifth star if it wasn't for Court.

So, thoughts on this, everyone?

---
also, just put in a large progressive order. Thanks to Micky for his part in introducing me to Magma and Il Balletto di Bronzo.


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: March 25 2008 at 17:06
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Many thanks, Micky and CCVP for the compliments.

Certif1ed was responsible for my own understanding of the track (which I've always liked in an abstract way regarding how it prepared for Court, but not in and of itself), so I felt it was my duty to at least post a link here.

Anyway, Court has now reached my widely coveted 2nd-best album ever spot.

Time to slave away at hammering something out for ITWOP.

On that topic:

Does anyone else believe that In The Wake Of Poseidon is a great stand-alone effort, rather than sticking to the formula of the previous album. I mean, superficially, you have one fast rocking song with vicious lyrics, one grand song with a bit of mellotron, and one softer, shorter song on each album, but really, I think people go too far with the comparison because of this. The individual compositions are really pretty different in their emphasis.

Not quite sure if it qualifies for masterpiece status for me, largely because of Cadence And Cascade, which has never been my favourite, even if I'm warming to Cat Food, but I'm not certain whether I would  have decided not to award it the fifth star if it wasn't for Court.

So, thoughts on this, everyone?

---
also, just put in a large progressive order. Thanks to Micky for his part in introducing me to Magma and Il Balletto di Bronzo.


Great album that is very underrated because people keep comparing it to In the Court. It is true that its not the best Crimson album, but it is still a terrific album. On a 0 to 10 grade i would give it 8.


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: March 26 2008 at 18:17

Review 18, In The Wake Of Poseidon, King Crimson, 1970

StarStarStarStar

This album had the unfortunate disadvantage of following In The Court Of The Crimson King. After such a stunning debut, it seemed unlikely that a somewhat changed and unstable line-up (with Peter Giles replacing Greg Lake's bass, Keith Tippett's jazz piano contributions and Mel Collins replacing Ian McDonald's saxes and flutes. Fripp takes over the mellotron, and Gordon Haskell provides one vocal) could possibly follow up on the band's promise. The resulting album, In The Wake Of Poseidon is an absolutely superb effort, and in no way the 'sticking to the formula' that some have accused it of being. Superficially, you have a fairly fast jazz rock song featuring sax, an 'epic' with mellotron, and a softer song on both, but really that's about the extent of the similarity. This is, even if not quite as mindblowing as Court, an absolutely essential album, because of The Devil's Triangle, the acoustics on the title track, and Mike Giles' second dose of absolutely amazing drumming.

The album begins with a distant vocal from Lake, the first of the three enjoyable peace segments, with a couple of taps on acoustics at the end. Peace – A Theme, is a pure acoustic guitar solo, which is enjoyable, but not really a standout track. The final Peace – An End section begins with Greg Lake's vocal as quite unsteady, presumably to show Sinfield's ideas of moving towards a conclusion, but really, I think it just seems weak here. It is a lovely ending though, with a little more minimalist acoustic playing from Fripp, and lyrically beautiful.

Pictures Of A City is the faster jazz rock piece mentioned earlier. Opened mostly by Peter Giles' twanging bass and a smoky sax from Collins, with a tremendous drum roll thing, Lake enters the song, with his gripping vocal. After a couple of verses, Fripp kicks in with his insane fast jazz guitar, and then moves to a softer bass-and-drums-dominated break, to a faster pace lead back into the final verse (lyrically it merges parts of the previous two). The music and lyrics are joined perfectly, a series of images, flashing past. Lyrically, I think this is also the song that best lives up to what Pete Sinfield achieved on Court. Gripping, working well independently and in the context of its album. It ends by ascending into chaos, and sharply contrasts with the soft follower, which is really the biggest (in my opinion, the only) justification of the Court doppelganger comments of many reviewers.

Cadence And Cascade is the album's problem for me. Gordon Haskell really seems quite weak as a vocalist compared to the superb Greg Lake and, despite the truly superb work from all the musicians involved, the song fails to really grip me. Tippet and Mike Giles really stand out on this one, though, and the flute part from Collins is enjoyable.

The mellotron-and-drums powerhouse of In The Wake Of Poseidon's opening is one of Crimson's finest moments, and the continuation is very strong, if a little too reliant on the mellotron. Lake provides absolutely stunning vocals, and Sinfield's lyrics have really grown on me from a poor start. The real highlight of this song, though, is Fripp's finest work on acoustic guitars, providing twinges that subtly alter the feel of any individual word. Mel Collins adds a bit of flute in here. It bears basically no relationship to Epitaph, as far as I can see, except in the possession of a chorus. Mike Giles on drums, again, stands out. A truly superb drummer.

The jazzy Cat Food was hate at first listen, but I've really grown to enjoy it. A bass-driven song, to which Tippet's chaotic piano provides the real substance, while the drums tap away in a suitably unpredictable fashion. Following the end of the vocals, Fripp comes in with a few good acoustic chords, and adds something else to the song. Lyrically, a fairly clever hammering of commercial advertising.

The Devil's Triangle is perhaps the most visceral reinterpretation of a classical piece, ever. Based on Holst's 'Mars, The Bringer Of War', it takes the basic outline and ideas of the original and provides savage biting ideas, dark atmosphere, and a general utter amelodic chaos to the mix. On Merday Morn, Fripp shows off the whining guitar sound that he'll master on Prince Rupert's Lament and ample mellotron handling, while Tippet and Collins are the other two standouts. Collins for just playing notes that don't seem to fit, but add to the feel very perfectly, and Tippet for his ability to use a piano to create angry textures even if it's unconventional. The Garden Of Scion, I think, begins with a chaotic windy section that'd be seen later on Pink Floyd's Meddle album, and continues in a much more jazzy style, with Tippet, Pete Giles and Collins carrying all before them. This moves to an almost comical drawn out violin-like wail and an echo of Court's vocal harmonies, and slowly and chaotically just generally does what the hell it likes before Collins' flute and Fripp's acoustics bring it back to the final peace section. I've got to give Sinfield credit for his choice of names, and I'm quite glad that the band was actually refused permission to use the classical piece's name: this creation is far too unique for that. An experimental, daring piece. Not to be missed.

Perhaps the most unfortunate feature of the remaster (see Tales From Topographic Oceans or Brain Salad Surgery for comparison. Same problem.) is the inclusion of bonus material. While having Groon and the single version of Cat Food in some form wouldn't otherwise be a bad thing, they completely ruin the effect of the album's three Peace sections and damage the lyrical ideas built up throughout the song.

This album failed to live up to the previous album in a couple of ways: lyrically, Court is more immediate and resonant, while this is clever in a way that usually succeeds, but doesn't have the same impact. Second, there are two small flaws in this album: Gordon Haskell's vocal on Cadence And Cascade, and the over-extension of In The Wake Of Poseidon. However, it's nonetheless, as I have suggested, a vital and very individual album.


Favourite Track: Pictures Of A City (with a nod to The Devil's Triangle)
Rating: Four Stars

----

Considered giving it a five at one point, but thought better after much consideration. Superb album. Reminds me: I need to get the McDonald & Giles album soon (as well as a David Cross album or two, I think).


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: March 26 2008 at 20:16
yes... it is a great stand alone album.. and actually prefer the album to it's predecessor....   it might have been similar.. but you know what..  burn me at the stake... I simply think it is a better album. 

glad you came around in a way on Cat Food.... I ADORE that song...  did from the first listen....

another great review....  a promotion I see in your future


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: kenmartree
Date Posted: March 27 2008 at 02:43
Sorry I'm a bit late responding as I want to talk about Trespass and you did that a while ago.  I love Trespass and I don't think it's far fetched to say that Gabriel's vocals here are as good as they get, they are not better than some of the stuff on the Lamb and SEBTP but equally good. Great review BTW. I could hear the music in my head as I read it.


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: March 27 2008 at 21:24
i just disagree in one thing: to me, the best tracks are Devil's Triangle with a nod to Pictures of a City. Don't like Cat Food that much.

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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 01 2008 at 16:08
@ Micky + Kenmartree

Embarrassed

@CCVP
Hm. Pictures Of A City was one of the Sinfield-dominated tracks for me. I love Fripp's jazz-rock guitar on that one, too.

@Everyone
Just got back from a five-day charity walk, which was good, even if the distance we did wasn't up to my levels of energy. However, there will be a short break for several reasons:

1) I physically don't know what some of the instruments from Lizard and Islands sound like individually. I need to youtube up on them.
2) The cats are angry with me. They insist on standing on the keyboard if I sit still for two minutes.
3) Got some reading to catch up on.

and most importantly,

Kobaia / s/t - Magma
Welcome Back My Friends, Black Moon - Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Stand Up - Jethro Tull
La Masquerade Infernale - Arcturus
Rubycon - Tangerine Dream
Grace Under Pressure - Rush
Still Life - Van Der Graaf Generator
Space Shanty - Khan
and Yeti - Amon Duul II
have just arrived, while a Koenjihyakkei album and Ys - Il Balletto di Bronzo are yet to come.

Thanks to everyone who's given a recommendation, started an interesting thread, written a good review, or put up a sample that's led to me getting one of these. Mini-reviews and, at some point, real reviews, will follow.


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 01 2008 at 17:06
lol, did my comment really needs translation? Big%20smile LOL Tongue

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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 01 2008 at 17:35
Originally posted by CCVP CCVP wrote:

lol, did my comment really needs translation? Big%20smile LOL Tongue


Ahem. Too little walking has scrambled my brain. My comment-reading skills have fallen down as a result of this.

Confused


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 01 2008 at 19:51
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Originally posted by CCVP CCVP wrote:

lol, did my comment really needs translation? Big%20smile LOL Tongue


Ahem. Too little walking has scrambled my brain. My comment-reading skills have fallen down as a result of this.

Confused


wat?


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 02 2008 at 14:16
^
Nevermind. I was posting too late last night.

Mini-reviews based on first listens:

Grace Under Pressure - Solid Rush album, but maybe a few more vocals than I like. Standout track was The Enemy Within. 2-4 stars.

Yeti - Wow. Absolute stunner, and an excellent introduction to the Krautrock scene. 4-5 stars. Standout track was the final improvised one, but everything was superb.

Rubycon - Again, wow. Again, absolute stunner. Very interesting electronic album. Enjoyable listen, great theme. 4-5 stars.

Space Shanty - Very enjoyable rock, with good musicianship all round. Vocals seemed a little overwrought in some places, but still great. Couldn't decide on a standout. 3-4 stars.

Welcome Back My Friends - Everything I want in a live album. Standout track was Karn Evil 9, which I enjoyed much more than the studio version. Greg Lake's vocals are absolutely gorgeous on this album. 5 stars, possibly.

La Masquerade Infernale. Great album, even if I don't usually like metal. 3-5 stars, with Ad Astra as a standout track.

Stand Up. Good fun, very bluesy, distinctly Tull. Anderson's vocals are a bit weak in comparison with the later stuff, but there are a few really great tracks on it. The standout was Bouree. 3-4 stars.

Black Moon. Enjoyable stuff, but a couple of weak spots, and Lake's voice just ain't what it was. Highlights are the title track and Romeo and Juliet. 3-4 stars.

Still Life and Magma have yet to receive proper spins.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: April 02 2008 at 18:25
^ glad you love Yeti...... I gave it a glowing 5 star review... and you should just get the first 5 from them...  you will love them.

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 11 2008 at 21:50
OK; thought I'd get back to reviewing, but couldn't be bothered to break down Lizard at this time of night.

Review 19 (not thingummy), Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble, Uriah Heep, probably 1970, not 1967, as I said in the review I actually put up, which was a product of writing reviews at 2.00 in the morning instead of sleeping, because I have a (I kid you not) fear of being dragged off for a haircut if I get up before 3.00 in the afternoon.
StarStarStar
In their debut album, Heep show off their mindblowingly-utterly-amazingly-super-amazing singer, David Byron, great organ and guitar parts, and the embrionic status of the heavy progressive rock that they'll move onto by 1971's Look At Yourself album. It is the case, however, that this album would probably have benefited from a bit of touring prior to the album's release to iron out some of the kinks in the music. Occasionally immaturity and weak lyrics drag some of the songs down, and they are rather riff-based at this point, which sometimes turns out badly. The biggest problem of this album, however, is that it is dominated by the truly masterful hard rock song 'Gypsy', while most of the rest is pretty standard, if excellent, heavier blues. Very good fun, but non-essential if you have Gypsy already.

Gypsy is the song that makes the entire album more-than-worthwhile. Great opener, and one that's so powerful that it even makes the rest of the album look unsuccessful. I suspect I may have overplayed it. Great rhythm section, a very strong guitar duo of Ken Hensley and Mick Box, an absolutely stunning performance from David Byron, superb quiet and heavy organ sections, great riff, which doesn't dominate the song too much, and a stunning moment when everything comes together again after the organ interlude. The harmonies, which are often a bit hit and miss for me with Heep (from what I've heard so far: this album, Look At Yourself and the samples on PA), work perfectly. Lyrically, it works. All the adrenaline and passion of the song are intensified by the lyrics. A masterpiece of hard rock.

Walking In Your Shadow is somewhat a step down from this energy. Hugely based on a repetitive guitar riff, rather generic lyrics and uncertain drumming from Paul Newton. David Byron does a great job, but the harmonies, while they are something that defined Heep, just annoy me here.The short break from the riff was a damn good idea, but the execution was lacking, with more of those whiny harmonies. The instrumental break is fairly good, with a decent bit of guitar-work over the riff. The ending is a fairly lame fade. A complete shambles.

Come Away Melinda is a definite step-up, and an example of the band producing something with a lot of potential, even if I feel they went overboard. A nice acoustic side to the band, with mostly gorgeous vocals, tolerable lyrics and lush mellotron additions from Colin Wood. The drums kick in with good effect on the third verse. It is a slight shame that the attempted shift from personal to epic on the third verse is very clumsy, relying on massive harmonies, and extending the last words of each line a bit. The conclusion, however, is alright, and the song as a whole is passable.

Lucy Blues is a laid-back blues (surprise) with an odd, likable piano-and-organ-and-bass theme, with a little variety added by Mick Box's guitar. The instrumental organ section is very neatly done. The vocals are superb, and the ending is nice. The lyrics increase the feel. A very good, relaxed blues song.

Dreammare opens with nice organ fiddling. The other instruments enter quite heavily, and a long guitar chord gives way to the main riff, which is good. The harmony vocals are right on. The guitar soloing over the theme, and the weird whispering in the background, give it a lot of character and quality. A break in the vocals and riff gives way to a superb guitar solo, with occasional stabs from the others. The lyrics are pretty good, certainly above most of the album's attempts to do something lyrically a little more unconventional. The concluding part has more great soloing from Mick Box and David Byron (yes, singers can solo, but I can't exactly describe the difference from normal singing very well) over the harmony. Great song. I guess that the lalalalala partway through could annoy a few people, but not me.

Real Turned On is another heavy blues song, with a good riff, superb vocals and entertaining lyrics, an enjoyable bluesy jam, good use of the bass echoing the main theme, a strong moment for the rhythm section. The ending's chaotic guitar thing is a massive foreshadower for the later Shadows Of Grief, but feels a little out of place here, but the final conclusion, a good bass-and-drums affair, works well. Good song, but could have been polished a little more.

I'll Keep On Trying starts with a classy organ part, and has pretty good drumming. I find the harmonic aa-ah aa-ah... thing, which is repeated a couple of times, somewhat clichéd and annoying. The bass performance here is my sort of basswork, hitting high notes and bursting with energy, and there are some stellar ascending guitar moments as well as a killer riff. Again, amazing lead vocals, really managing the standard 'evil woman' theme with class and individuality. The break is a little slow and light, and only really catches on when the organ kicks in again. A particularly fine moment for the rhythm section. Flawed, but I enjoy it.

Wake Up (Set Your Sights) is a rather awkward song, really, as well as a victim of positioning (it doesn't flow very well from the last song). It is musically mediocre, and lyrically a little more intelligent than most of the other things on the album. However, the lyrics are very often cringeworthy and melodramatic, and David Byron's delivery, while the only way it could really be done, increases this. The first half of the song is rather based around the vocals and pretty repetitive and occasionally even cringeworthy. Nonetheless, the second half is great: soft, mainly instrumental, with a mellotron and gentle background vocals. Great ending.

My remaster includes a few bonus tracks, two versions of Gypsy, one version of Come Away Melinda, two versions of Born In A Trunk, one version of Wake Up..., and Bird Of Prey. Of these, one version of Gypsy is just slightly extended, Born In A Trunk is forgettable, or even irritating, depending on mood, though the instrumental version is by miles the better of the two. The BBC session version of Gypsy, however, is pure, unadulterated 'win'. Every bit as good as the original version, with its slightly more energetic guitar part and small vocal improvisation. The version of Come Away Melinda feels a little tentative, but I think that works for the song, the guitar seems to be focussed on a little more, and the harmonies are changed a little, but the differences aren't huge. The first half of Wake Up (SYS) works a bit better than the one included on the album, the second half is still good, but  maybe not *as good* as the one included on the album.

Bird Of Prey is simply a great song, with another stunning vocal performance, a couple of nice sarcastic harmonies, decent lyrics that work very well in the song, an excellent guitar solo (really, ignore my comments on guitar solos, I usually like them) over a killer riff. I love it to pieces.

In the end, a lot of talent, some great playing from Mick Box, stunning vocals, but the album has a lot of times when the flaws of a song have simply not been ironed out. Worth the price if only for Gypsy, even if the rest of the album doesn't really hit the same high. Generally, good work, but often flawed.

Favourite tracks: Gypsy, Gypsy and Gypsy
Rating: Three Stars.

---

[tired]My opinions on

Grace Under Pressure, Yeti, Rubycon, Black Moon, Welcome Back My Friends, La Masquerade Infernale, Space Shanty haven't changed much.

I now love Stand Up to pieces, especially We Used To Know.

Kobaia was very good, but also indescribable, and I simply need to know more of their stuff to suggest a rating. Still Life was enjoyable, even if it never rocks as hard as Godbluff and Pawn Hearts do in places, lyrically very good, but I feel I haven't been in quite the right mood when listening to it so far. Angherr Shisspa (Koenjihyakkei) was very weird. Occasionally it felt a bit showy, rather than honest, and the merge of vocal styles wasn't nearly as amazing as that one on the sample here (Lussessogi Zom from Nivraym), I believe. Seeing as that vocal merge was basically the reason I got the album, I think I really should get Nivraym when it's available again. Musically interesting, but I found it hard to visualise anything (rare for me), which was not the case with Magma. Maybe a cultural background thing. Ys was a superb album, even if I (shame on me! Embarrassed) loved the bonus track more than any part of the album itself. A radio-friendly song, I feel, but nonetheless very clever and lovable.
[/tired]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 19 2008 at 10:52

Review 20, 2112, Rush, 1976

Here is a case where my criteria for a masterpiece harpoon me. I would love to give this album the full five stars, I absolutely love it pieces, I enjoy every listen, I know all of the lyrics, and always end up singing along to many parts. I even play the world's worst air guitar ever to a couple of songs. However, it's not truly perfect, and it's not a really challenging album, so it doesn't get a fifth star from me. Nonetheless, quite possibly the most-listened album in my collection, and so a very favourable review is forthcoming:

There are a few things that mark out this album from its followers: Alex Lifeson is still a bestial guitar soloist, while his later solos often feel rather sterile to me. Neil Peart's lyrics give the album a very individual feel, a lot of visual ideas, and a great concept: overblown, absolutely, pretentious?, perhaps, but still I feel his lyrics here are superb. His drumming, while often praised, usually leaves me cold on albums like Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves, but at this point in time has a real warmth and fluidity as well as technical competence. Geddy Lee's bass, as always, is superb, and his vocals are at their peak, with very high, high-energy singing throughout, that really brings out the lyrics, as well as some basic vocal fiddling around on various tracks.

Starting a review with the second side first, because I feel it could otherwise be neglected:

A Passage To Bangkok is one of those cases of superb verses being brought down slightly by an over-repeated chorus. Still a great song, but I could have done without so many repeats of the chorus (even if there is some quite neat variation in them). The opening and verses are absolutely classic, with Geddy Lee's memorable bass riff, and Lifeson and Peart both coming in very neatly. The chorus, slightly less so. It's still decent but lyrically I felt it didn't really match up to the powerful verses. Let us not forget a stunning Lifeson guitar solo prior to the final two chorus repeats. Standout performances from all involved, and only one small issue.

Twilight Zone is quite a weird song, since it begins with a potent guitar riff, then changes into a weird upbeat acoustic thing with Peart largely working around the guitars and characteristic high, slightly straining vocals. The chorus section (which is repeated with a whispered accompaniment that I've grown to like) features slightly softer vocals and a 'ni-ni-ni' thing that might annoy some people. Lyrically it's not up to the standards of many of the tracks here, but is nonetheless tolerable. The real highlight of the track for me is the slow-paced, tasteful electric guitar solo that harks back to The Necromancer.

Lessons (lyrics [of an acceptable standard] from Lifeson, here, IIRC) is a good rocker, with a particularly amazing bass performance from Geddy Lee, great vocals and a general energy that's always fitting. The song again combines acoustic and electric guitar. The long guitar solo is decent, but the way it's slowly faded while the acoustic strumming remains pretty constant just doesn't work for me. I'm not the biggest fan of fades, even if the one here isn't particularly offensive.

Tears is no ordinary acoustic ballad, it's an acoustic ballad with a mellotron, delicate bass playing and superb vocals. Geddy Lee's lyrics feel right for the song. I really don't have much to say about the song, except that everything comes together very neatly, and it has an emotional impact on me.

Something For Nothing was evidently the way to end this album. The rhythm section stands out, and Lifeson's rocking guitar is great. The lyrics and vocals are immaculate, motivating and extremely energetic, even managing to go to a mantra-like forcefulness without feeling aggressive or overblown. Another stunning guitar solo on this one, and a better, uplifting closer would be hard to find. With such a great opener and closer, the album certainly feels a little stronger than it perhaps really is.

Now. 20+ minutes of assorted drooling over the title suite. Firstly, this song was a first-time-blown-away-and-still-recovering-from-the-effect song (Caress of Steel, conversely, was a first-time-blown-away-and-still-recovering-from-the-effect album), and features Peart's superb lyrics, with emotional resonance, moral ideas, obvious real-world parallels and the advancement of the fairly basic sci-fi plot all taking place at once. It is, admittedly, a selection of seven songs, with parts from several of the later songs being foreshadowed in the Overture, and one fluid storyline.

The Overture begins with swirling synths, and throbbing bass, establishing the sci-fi atmosphere before the guitar-and-drums hammer their way into the mix, foreshadowing the later Oracle, Priests and Soliloquy moving straight on into the rocking main theme (with bits of background keyboards and acoustics added). Peart provides a sterling drum performance, connecting Geddy Lee's jabbing bass and Lifeson's rhythm/solo guitar cross, before the trio move into a brief jumping section, followed by the 'And the.

The Temples Of Syrinx is the album's almost-unchallenged high point (I didn't like it so much when I first heard out of context, though) – everything that makes early Rush for me stands out on this track. High-energy, powerful vocals emphasising the lyrics that establish the setting, introduce part of the story, question political conformity and fit in with the theme of the piece, as well as being awesome. Powerful, unindulgent, flowing rock drumming. A great rocking bass and guitar combination, rounded off by a short acoustic reminder of the Overture.

Discovery is in my mind the weakest section of the suite, the acoustic stylings (slowly developing from random strumming to more typical, upbeat acoustics) and the waterfall effect were both decent ideas, and work fairly well. Where this song falls down a little is lyrically. I think Peart did the best job he could with his idea, but it is simply very difficult to poetically describe a guitar without seeming a bit lightweight, despite the clever context he puts it in. Not weak, but not as great as the rest of the suite.

Presentation is where the ideas of the previous two songs are merged somewhat, with the two sides being represented. The protagonist presents his guitar to the priests, who break it, and Geddy Lee voices both sides very convincingly, and his bass seems to go along with it. Really, the argument between the two songs within this is very impressive, with all three musicians changing their sides very neatly. The lyrics are again excellent. When the argument's been concluded, Alex Lifeson provides his style of solo, very powerful and emotional, fairly fast, with a twisting, defined edge.

Dream: The Oracle begins with a distorted acoustic shimmering and gentle vocals, and moves into a much harder, slightly pompous, theme, with great vocals, lyrics and percussion. One of my preferred Neil Peart drum-parts.

Soliloquy is another of the absolute stunners, bringing back the light, beautiful vocals and acoustics (as well as the waterfall effect) of some earlier parts, before exploding with one of the most honest lyrical lines I've yet heard ('Just think of what my life might be/In a world like I have seen!') into an amazing, soulful hard rock song with one of my favourite guitar solos of all time. Perfect.

The finale is equally stunning, hammering through some altered bits of the Overture. Another great performance from all involved, ending with a tortured guitar sound, dark humming and the return of the elder race of man.

As said before, I love this album. Highly Recommended.

Rating: Four Stars, but I'd love to say five.

Favourite Track: 2112, especially Temples and Soliloquy


----
Note:

The Lizard review has been delayed because my opinion changed while I was reviewing it, so I'm splitting up a few listens over a couple of weeks to give a fair judgment on it. I'll be throwing in a couple of filler reviews while waiting to make up my mind on that rather than continue with the Crimson ones.

Album Of The Week: The Doors - s/t
Song Of The Week: Tua Casa Commoda - Il Balletto Di Bronzo


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: April 19 2008 at 15:41
ahhh nice review...  how about Caress of Steel next Heart

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 19 2008 at 15:58
2112 rocks man Big%20smile

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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 19 2008 at 18:34
^ Absolutely, second most rocking album in my collection (after Godbluff, and just before Look At Yourself).

@ Micky, I'm trying to justify not giving said album many stars, since I can see the small flaws, and failing. Probably going for it next, though I'm not sure whether it'll come before or after Lizard.
Lizard still merits five, and I think I might give Tarkus the fifth star as well, now.


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 19 2008 at 23:45
 /\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /\

Don't know about 2112 being one of the most rocking albums in my collection , but it rocks!

Tarkus deserved, deserves and will always deserve 5 stars. One of the most revolutionary albums in progressive rock. To be sincere, all of the first 4 albums of ELP are masterpieces.

Lizard sure deserves the masterpiece grade also Big%20smile


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Posted By: micky
Date Posted: April 20 2008 at 00:18
yes.. Tarkus does deserve the 5th star ClapLOL

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 20 2008 at 01:18
Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

yes.. Tarkus does deserve the 5th star ClapLOL


True. I amazed myself when i looked at the review page  of Tarkus and saw the incredible amout of mods that thought that Tarkus was a 3 star album ShockedShockedShockedShockedShockedShocked. And i still cannot believe that Tarkus's overall grade is below 4 stars.


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 20 2008 at 18:05
^

Albums that deserve better ratings, imho:

Tarkus, underrated because of the B side being so different from the A side, plus it has short tracks (boo! hiss!), which apparently is not prog.
Tales From Topographic Oceans, underrated because you really need to listen to it. Hard album to absorb, but I love it.
To Watch The Storms (Hackett), underrated compared to his earlier 70s stuff, I think.
Asia, underrated because reviewers know big words like 'AOR' and can somehow turn that into a one star rating
Lizard, see Tales
Islands, BECAUSE IT DOES!

Also, Caress Of Steel and Lizard reviews both almost finished.


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 20 2008 at 18:34
/\ /\ /\ /\ /\

Agreed with Tarkus, Tales and Lizard. Never listened any Asia album and haven't listened Islands


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 23 2008 at 18:08

Review 21, Caress Of Steel, Rush, 1975

StarStarStarStarStar
My favourite Rush album, from the seven that I currently own, and likely to remain there. In good conscience, I can give it the full five stars. I can't really comment on the resemblance to Led Zeppelin, because I don't know Zep nearly as well as I should. What I can comment on is how the album affected me, and still affects me after quite a few listens. I was blown away from the first listen (I had only heard Snakes And Arrows previously), and still am. From the emotions of The Necromancer to the reminiscing of Lakeside Park to the rocking of Bastille Day, everything works for me. I can understand why some people would take issue with some of this album, but I love it anyway, and consider it perfect for me.

Bastille Day opens with a kicking bass riff, and Peart and Lifeson both come in neatly. The screaming, high vocals burst into life, carrying some enjoyable (if simple) lyrics from Peart. Great opener, with a very strong rhythm section, and I like the slightly softer instrumental break, with the occasional withdrawals of the other instruments to leave Lifeson alone. The concluding burst, however, is the highlight of the song, ascending with a great guitar-drums combination.

I Think I'm Going Bald is a great semi-sarcastic, riff-based (although it is varied, and done very neatly) song with a couple of solid short guitar solos from Lifeson. The lyrics are pretty decent, Lee's weird, not-quite-clear vocals work brilliantly, and the fade works very neatly, I think.

Lakeside Park is widely accepted as a Led Zep rip-off. I really don't mind. Nice subdued bass performance, a good example of Peart's softer percussion and I love the vocals and lyrics, with their nostalgic tone. The small escalation at the end to an almost-celestial guitar tap is perfectly done. Basically, a really good song, whether or not it's a rip-off.

Now we come to my joint-favourite (with Cygnus X-I) Rush song, The Necromancer. The division into three sections works pretty neatly, since while each section is a distinct entity, they flow very well and have a couple of constants that glue them together. Each of the musicians stands out perfectly, with Peart handling the transitions from fairly intense drumming to sparse drumming and vice versa very well. Alex Lifeson moves between soloing and rhythm neatly, and Geddy Lee provides his usual excellent bass-playing. The biggest criticism that I could give this one is the lyrics, which are unabashedly nerdy and inspired by Lord Of The Rings, even if I like them. Could have been worse... (*coughTheWhiteRiderbyCamelcough*)

Into The Darkness begins with a haunting atmospheric guitar, and develops slowly, with a hollow Lord Of The Rings inspired narrator, very sparing percussion from Peart and a developing bass part. The way it all comes together into a song, which retains all its elements and yet is a complete entity, is unforgettable and indescribable. Geddy Lee's entrance on the vocals is superb, and the strange guitar continues behind him, echoing the ideas in the vocals before turning into temperate solo that expresses the longing and mental breakdown of the travelers. Music as a form of expression. Post-perfect.

The second section (Under The Shadow) begins with a sort of swirling (presumably guitar) effect, that conveys some sort of distance and power, and then bursts out in with Peart's hard-hitting drumming and biting stabs of guitar and near-growly vocals before bursting into a heavy, rocking part with the first of two vicious solos from Lifeson. After a twisting, thick guitar effect, it moves onto the second part of the instrumental with a more pronounced bassline. Whereas the first part was travelling through a grey, soulless wood and succumbing to its destruction, this is a medieval dungeon of horrors and torture, and visions of terror and chaos. Another post-perfect. If the rest of the album was at the level of these two parts, it would never leave my CD player.

Out of this horror, the third section, The Return Of The Prince, comes with a gentle, uplifting guitar melody, bringing back the light and life to the Necromancer's dungeon. Peart contributes with a nice drum part, while Lee and Lifeson intertwine their bass and guitar. Uplifting, cheerful, potent and unassuming. Perfect as an expression of hope.

So, there you have it. Three emotions: sadness, fear and hope, three sections. A truly amazing song.

The Fountain Of Lamneth is not as strong as its predecessor, and there are admittedly some sections that people with a sense of cheese might look down upon. There are some repeats (verbatim) of the album's main parts (acousting opening echoed in the closer, The Fountain's theme and chorus are repeated a few times, and the other sections also haven't got obscene amounts of variation within them), however, no matter how hard I try, I can't bring myself to care. The main theme is an absolute killer, with a savage bass-drums combination, and the acoustic parts are very neat and back-up the lyrical themes. All the other themes work as intended, I think, even the Panacea section. The reason I love this song, though, is probably to be found in the ambitious lyrical exploration of the human condition (cheesy metaphors and all) and stunning, poetic lines ('My eyes have just been opened and they're open very wide/Images around me don't identify inside/Just one blur I recognise: the one that soothes and feeds/My way of life is easy and as simple are my needs'). I love this piece, though the criticisms of it are mostly fair.

The side-long suite begins with a gentle, hesitant, acoustic opening, accompanied by a soft vocals introducing the lyrical search and leading pretty neatly into the main, heavy Fountain riff with a drum battery from Peart and a tearing guitar part (accompanied by stunning, powerful lyrics [just my opinion, normal people may not like them]). Geddy Lee lays down a whirling bass part which hasn't grown old yet and provides his. Peart continues pretty neatly through this section of the song, having a semi-directed soft drumming style that reminds me of Bill Bruford's finest hour (Close To The Edge).

Didacts And Narpets is a weird section, beginning with a chaotic, hollow, rolling drum solo with shifting guitars and opposed vocals chiming in with an argument of sorts. The guitar returns and the whole group scream out 'LISTEN!'

The following section, under the melancholy title of Noone At The Bridge, complete with sailing metaphor, begins with a guitar part from Alex Lifeson that holds up almost the entire section, with Peart and Lee working around it very well. Peart is particularly stunning, and Lee does an impressive job holding up completely solo on vocals for a couple of moments, and giving life to the great 'SCREAM OUT DESPERATION, BUT NOONE CARES TO HEAR!' line (sorry for the capitals). At its end, Lifeson provides us with an interesting solo over a slightly morphing beat, and Peart fades the song out effectively with his percussion and some birdsong effect.

Panacea is perhaps the weakest section of the song, having more clichéd lyrics, even if I love them, and as an acoustic piece, it sounds poor and generic unless you pay attention to the subtleties, shimmering guitar (could be keyboards, I'm not sure) and throbbing bass, as well as Neil Peart's fairly nice drum additions at time.

Bacchus Plateau rocks in with a pretty standard guitar part, decent drumming and bass. The brief rhythm section solos are enjoyable, and Geddy Lee is perhaps taking a risk with his vocals, which sounds a little dubious if I try really hard not to like it. Lifeson's ending solo, while in keeping with the song, could probably afford to rock a little more. Nonetheless, the softness of this section is perfect as a lead up to the main theme driving in again.

A slight bulking up of the earlier Fountain theme slams in, with especially superb high vocals from Geddy Lee, and the guitar effect is very interesting. Alex Lifeson provides a solo (which feels more typical of him than the previous one) which works very neatly, and Peart's drumming is especially welcome. A minor escalation of the theme leads up to a reprise of the acoustics on the opening, continuing and rounding off the grand lyrical themes. A slow instrument hum concludes the song.

All in all, a much-loved song, with one of my favourite Peart performances (I'm not the greatest fan of his drumming elsewhere, but this is brilliant). The lyrics were really my thing, even if they might come off poorly with some listeners. Not a general epic masterpiece, but a masterpiece for me.

This is one of those albums that has a sort of personal resonance with me, which is fairly rare, and also not the most loved of Rush albums, but I feel that I can justify why I think it's so brilliant, and love it so much. What distinguishes this album, and 2112, from later Rush albums that I've heard, is that it is emotional, open and honest throughout, and conjures up images in a way that Moving Pictures never will. I can understand that this may not be the album for some people, but it's the album for me. Consequently, it gets the highest of ratings from me.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: The Necromancer (especially Into The Darkness)


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About time I finished this one. Might have been optimistic with the fifth star, given that I admitted the weaknesses (similar to Trespass, which I only gave four stars to). Perhaps it's just that the weak spots feel right and don't disrupt the flow of the album like those on Trespass sometimes do.

Anyway, opinions most welcome, and I'm offering a general invitation for Caress Of Steel lovers/haters to post here.

Also, forgive me for saying this, but this album feels much more progressive to me than, say, Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves. The guitar effects on the Necromancer and the drumming for the last couple of tracks are distinctly unusual, as are the format and performances of The Fountain. Any thoughts on this outlandish view?

Lizard will be up soonish.

Album of the Week: Tales From Topographic Oceans - Yes
Song Of The Week: U Bring Me Down - Asia (from Arena)


Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: April 23 2008 at 18:17
"Also, forgive me for saying this, but this album feels much more progressive to me than, say, Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves. The guitar effects on the Necromancer and the drumming for the last couple of tracks are distinctly unusual, as are the format and performances of The Fountain. Any thoughts on this outlandish view?

Lizard will be up soonish."

Well, Caress of Steel isn't my favourite album from the band. In fact, it's far from it. Gave it 2 stars in one of my first reviews. And I stand by them. Not a bad album as such, but very immature and searching. And the annoying fact that the parts of the epics don't flow as well as they should. On a personal note the album is good, but non-essential, to use PA vocabulary.

I agree on that it's one of the band's most ambitious ideas so far, but aiming for the stars doesn't naturally get you there.  Feels kind of strange to disagree with you for once, I'm used to applaud your praised albums Smile. Really looking forward to that Lizard review. A killer album!

Great review as always Clap




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Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 25 2008 at 16:05
gj, i don't like Cares of Steel THAT much, it is still a good album

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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 26 2008 at 10:38

Review 22, Lizard, King Crimson, 1970

StarStarStarStarStar

Lizard is really where King Crimson move mercilessly towards their classic formula of not having a formula. The songs on it bear almost no resemblance to earlier Crimson songs, and the band replaces many of its rock elements with jazz and, to a lesser extent, classical, ideas, which would be explored a little more on Islands. The new line-up produces a very interesting and powerful album, even if it's sometimes difficult to stomach, and Lizard fully merits five glittery stars. Sinfield's lyrics do work here, even if it took me a long time to get Lizard itself lyrically, and he moves through a lot of different styles with plenty of skill, though occasionally lacking the panache he possessed on Court and Wake. The album was really a grower for me, so I suggest giving it a little time to ferment before making a judgment.

The musicians have undergone a large transition of line-up, and, given how much Crimson albums are affected by the musicians involved, it's appropriate to examine it. Vocals (Jon Anderson's finest moment excluded) and bass are taken over by Gordon Haskell, who, whilst not a particularly good singer, suits the theatricality of the album, and handles the bass surprisingly well. Mike Giles has been replaced by the very capable Andy McCulloch. If there was one instrument on which the change could have been a massive mistake, it was the drums. Even a plain excellent drummer wouldn't do. McCulloch, however, was a very successful choice, I think. Keith Tippet takes a much more active role on piano and E-piano. Mel Collins really comes into his own a little more on saxes and flute. The biggest change, perhaps, are the studio contributions of Robin Miller on oboe and cor anglais, Mark Charig on cornet and Nick Evans on trombone. The diverse instrumentation is certainly something that marks the album's character, and it is merged with the previous Crimson line-up very well.

Cirkus, among a long list of classy Crimson openers, is among the best. Everything is utterly amazing: Keith Tippet's astral electric piano, the post-superb acoustic guitar work, the heavy jazzy mellotron (I think) riff, Andy McCulloch's curious, tapping percussion. A superb cornet solo. Gordon Haskell was made for this song, providing the appropriate delivery for Pete Sinfield's enchanting, biting abstract lyrics ('Elephants forgot, force-fed on stale chalk/Ate the floors of their cages'), and some superb crystalline bass. The gentle, spectral Entry Of The Chameleons works very neatly, preparing for some of the best interplay (acoustic guitar, piano and drums) that I have ever heard and a blaring jazz explosion and relaxation. Absolutely masterpiece material, with every musician more than standing out.

Indoor Games is one of the album's weirdest pieces, and I hated it on the first listen. Glad to say I've changed my mind on this. Pete Sinfield's lyrics are sarcastic, semi-nonsensical, and don't even seem to have a theme. The highlight is, again, the interplay and the way that the musicians come in and disappear without a seam. Fripp provides some very interesting strained electric guitar, and we get some amazing VCS3-Mellotron interplay on the middle section. The bass and drumming are seamless, and we get a cracking saxophone solo from Mel Collins to boot. Gordon Haskell's vocal and accompanying insane laughter is a grower, and Another masterpiece song, even if it took me a little while to get it.

The impact of satirising The Beatles' break-up is lost on me. Nonetheless, it sounds great, and Happy Family blares in very neatly at the end of Indoor Games, giving them a sort of one-song feel. Much more chaotic than the previous one, in its own way, with a distorted vocal from Haskell, a weird VCS3 (I think) riff that comes in every now and then, some flute and other soloing and a xylophone tapping on the conclusion. Very, very weird song.


Now we have the gorgeous Lady Of The Dancing Water. Perhaps the most beautiful ballad ever, with a combination of flute, trombone, acoustic guitar and piano that is genuinely able to reduce me to tears if I'm in the right mindframe. Pete Sinfield's lyrics could not be improved upon. Beautiful, beautiful song. Also an example of how to do a 'progressive' ballad.

Prince Rupert Awakes begins with an enchanting piano part that continues throughout the piece and a beautiful high vocal from Jon Anderson (Yes, the Jon Anderson), the uplifting, optimistic song continues with some acousticy Spanish-sounding and more typical guitar additions from Fripp and glistening, haunting mellotron, as well as superb VCS3, bass and drums on the chorus. A sweeping piano and drum crescendo leads us into one of the greatest mellotron-based sections of progressive music.

From the end of this chaos, a lone cornet turns up, and the rather loose, improvisational (I suspect) Bolero section begins, giving especial opportunities for Mel Collins and the four jazz-men to show off. Gordon Haskell and Andy McCulloch provide an odd rhythm section, while the others switch between solos and polyphonics, with Tippet providing an outstanding piano part. An oboe solo, combined with outstanding classical drumming, leads on to the haunting sax intro to Dawn Song.

The Battle Of Glass Tears begins with Gordon Haskell's hesitant, haunting, quiet vocal and backing, curious drumming and piano. What I presume is Last Skirmish kicks off with an eerie mellotron and rhythm section trio. The other instruments variously hammer in, including particularly exceptional flute and sax solos from Mel Collins as well as chaotic jazzy riffs and parts from all involved. Robert Fripp adds in shrieking electric guitar. Every section either escalates or builds tension, until it relaxes to a bass-and-drums beat over which Fripp lays the tragic Prince Rupert's Lament, a powerful, tense, emotional electric guitar solo. This would have been the perfect end to the epic song.

But it wasn't, for some reason, probably pertaining to Pete Sinfield's concept, the band tacked on a random Circus part to the end, which, while it might not be too bad in and of itself, damages the atmosphere, and I hate the speeding-up effect in all its shapes and forms.

This is, from what I've so far got, Mr. Fripp's high point as a guitarist. He never dominates or takes centre stage so bluntly that the other players don't have seem to have the space to develop, and he doesn't feel like he's made the conscious decision 'OK, we put a guitar solo here, a flute solo here, and then throw in a mellotron', but like he's organically fitted into his diabolical creation. The interplay and musicianship on the album is very dense, and it is almost flawless.

Five stars. Highly recommended to anyone interested in experimental music combinations, quality, diverse guitar-work and anyone who likes albums that take ages to grow on you.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Cirkus

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Hm. @ LinusW, I probably should have mentioned the flow problem. Not sure whether my issue with the album is that I love the highlights so much that I've started to love the problems by proxy. I often found that assertive maturity of Moving Pictures/Permanent Waves Rush a bit of a turn-off, leaving it fairly sterile and feeling a bit faux-progressive, as if Neil Peart's drumwork was just for the sake of sophisticated drumwork, rather than tailored properly to the individual songs, so it being less mature isn't a problem for me.

As always, thanks for posting, both of you Approve


I'm not sure quite whether I need to sharpen up my ratings a little, since I feel I'm quite nice even to albums that I don't particularly like (except Songs From The Wood and The Wall: stay tuned for more Evil%20Smile), and in particular I might be a little too willing to give out 5-star ratings and hesitant to throw out 2- or even 3-star ratings.

Islands will be done after one or two intermediate reviews, maybe War Child/Benefit and/or A Farewell To Kings/Snakes & Arrows. This is probably because I'd otherwise feel guilty for handing out three five-star ratings in a row. Hell, I'm no longer certain that I wouldn't hand a fifth star to SABB if I was in a really good mood on the day of the review.



Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: April 26 2008 at 10:55
Five-star reviews are always tricky. You feel like you're doing something bad every time, especially with the warning. In retrospect, I do feel they're all honestly deserved.

Cirkus is my favourite KC album so far, so I can only agree this time. The mind-blowing interplay and structured chaos works time after time. And Fripp's guitar (especially the way he plays it acoustic here, don't think I've heard anything like it) is a pleasure as usual. Well-earned stars. Check out my review if your interested in more developed thoughts (at least that's what they are supposed to be...!).

It's perfectly understandable that you dislike the sterile, cleaner production and style of the big Rush albums. Never been a problem with me, only rare exceptions get annoying. I tend to think of those things as an expression of their own time, which makes it a lot easier to accept.

Keep the reviews coming. I've got three to write myself, but can't find the inspiration Confused.


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 26 2008 at 11:37
Originally posted by LinusW LinusW wrote:

Five-star reviews are always tricky. You feel like you're doing something bad every time, especially with the warning. In retrospect, I do feel they're all honestly deserved.

Cirkus is my favourite KC album so far, so I can only agree this time. The mind-blowing interplay and structured chaos works time after time. And Fripp's guitar (especially the way he plays it acoustic here, don't think I've heard anything like it) is a pleasure as usual. Well-earned stars. Check out my review if your interested in more developed thoughts (at least that's what they are supposed to be...!).

It's perfectly understandable that you dislike the sterile, cleaner production and style of the big Rush albums. Never been a problem with me, only rare exceptions get annoying. I tend to think of those things as an expression of their own time, which makes it a lot easier to accept.

Keep the reviews coming. I've got three to write myself, but can't find the inspiration Confused.


I've checked out quite a few of your reviews, and I agree with lots of them, and understand those I don't agree with. Particularly classy reviews of Lizard, Larks' and Moonmadness, I thought Clap. For Fripp's acoustic playing, you should probably pick up In The Wake Of Poseidon at some point - Cat Food and the title track both feature some superb Fripp acoustics, and the gentle Peace sections, while not especially Fripp, are great.


Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: April 26 2008 at 11:42
The Wake of Poseidon is next in line for Crimson. But I've got a ton of RPI to check out as well. And a bunch of un-reviewed albums glaring at me in a most accusing way...will spend this day with friends, though. Perhaps healthy, been writing a review/day a while back and these forums are way too addictive. In a good way.




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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 11:02

Review 22, Stand Up, Jethro Tull, 1969

StarStarStarStar

Big%20smile
Star

'I think about the bad old days... we used to know'

For someone who adores the classic 'prog' period of Tull, doesn't mind the 80s synths of Broadsword And The Beast, and hates Songs From The Wood with a vengeance, this album was a breath of fresh air. There are no pretentions at all, a light, slightly sarcastic feel and neatly merged blues and folk influences, and these all contribute to a great, fun album. Ian Anderson's vocals and lyrics aren't as good as they are later, but they usually suit the material and aren't terrible, and we get some good musicianship from all involved. A really enjoyable album, and an indication that pre-Aqualung Tull is not to be missed.

A New Day Yesterday begins with a pretty standard bluesy bass-and-drums riff, with some excellent additions over it from electrics, flute, violin (I think) and harmonica. Ian Anderson's vocals and lyrics, while not yet hitting their heights, fit it neatly. After some brief soloing, with the flute particularly standing out, a second variation of the main riff comes in with a slightly greater kick. Solid blues song.

Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square is my least favourite song from the album. It features eclectic bongo-drumming from Clive Bunker and rather harmless glimpses of Hammond or vibes, plus whimsical bass. The vocals are weird, but not particularly distinctive, and I can barely make out the lyrics. Not bad, per se, but I feel that the band didn't quite achieve what they wanted to.

Bourée is a unique instrumental with superb flute soloing and flute duets over a mobile bass-dominated background. The drumming is superb, holding up a beat and occasionally bursting out a little. There's also an excellent bass solo after a couple of minutes. After an illusory ending, the song picks up again into a second part, with an equally upbeat feel and an avant-garde bit of flute noodling.

Back To The Family is another odd piece, with more weird, but excellent drumming. The verses and the slight developments within them work very well with Anderson's near-nonsensical lyrics and strained vocals. The lead into the fairly hard-rocking sections is superb, with Martin Barre and Ian Anderson (on flute) both suitably soloing and dueting while the rhythm section gently move around. I'm not generally the greatest fan of fades, though, so the ending to this one doesn't leave me satisfied.

Look Into The Sun is an excellent, soft acoustic song with some small soloing from Martin Barre's electrics. Ian Anderson provides an emotive vocal, which, while unexceptional, does the job well. Martin Barre is the standout here, combining several styles of mini-soloing to good effect.

Nothing Is Easy begins with a bluesy jam and bursts of cheerful vocals, as well as lots of soloing from all involved. The song is particularly outstanding for the rhythm section, as Clive Bunker lays down an unexpectedly powerful drum part and both he and Glen Cornick provide very strong solos as well as highlighting Anderson and Barre's various parts. The climactic blues crescendo ending is always fun. Another very strong song.

Fat Man is, I think, a very successful bizarre piece, with enjoyable mandolin and bouzouki, accompied by weird drumming, including a classy solo. The humorous lyrics and sarcastic vocals work brilliantly with the unusual choices of instrumentation. Great song.

We Used To Know is my pick for Stand Up, with somewhat folky, developing acoustic verses and vocals well above Anderson's standard on most of this album combined with superb blues-rock guitar solos (including one of my all-time favourites), and undemanding, yet important, drumming from Bunker. The fade manages not to spoil it.

Reasons For Waiting rather focuses attention on the string arrangements, since the acoustics, flutes and vocals (with backing organs), while all perfectly nice, don't really stand out much. The string additions work well here and seem to be there for a reason. Pretty typical of the album: diverse, unusual songs.

For A Thousand Mothers is an attack on parents discouraging a musical career, naturally accompanied by excellent music. Most of the song is an ascending blues, though at one point Martin Barre even provides an almost Spanish-feeling solo at one point, as well as the ascending blues-rock styles that I love to pieces. The concluding, carnival-like flute riff, accompanied by some reminders of the main theme, is delightful. Perhaps the problem with this one is that a lot is going on at one time and it feels very dense and claustrophobic. Some bands are able to do a hell of a lot of high-tempo things at once, but I think Tull didn't pull that off too well here.

Onto the bonus material, all of which is pretty excellent, so will get mini-reviews.

Living In The Past has this unusual feel of an eclectic hit, with its odd timing emphasised by a rather prominent bass and vocals dancing along with it. Definitely quite acceptable, despite being odd. I like it. Driving Song is another blues with some highlights in the rhythm section, even if the flute could probably merge better. Sweet Dream is a great song with classy dramatic string arrangements and an unplaceable flamenco feel. Though there might be a few more repeats of the chorus than I'd like, the quality of the arrangement more than makes up for it. 17 is the only one of the bonus tracks which I think doesn't really hold up to the album proper, with it's distorted or multiple vocals annoying me enough that I try to ignore them and just listen to the classy percussion and guitars. Basically, I'd have preferred this song without such thick vocals.

Overall, the album, bonus material included, is extremely strong, with a couple of highlights and a couple of small lowlights. Even if Tull haven't moved onto their more widely regarded golden age of Aqualung/Thick As A Brick, they have succeeded in producing a classy, individual and quirky album that should have something for everyone. Two caveats: if you really hate either blues or weaker vocals, this might not be for you, and I naturally recommend that anyone new to Tull should go for the more impressive Aqualung/Thick straight away.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: We Used To Know, with a nod to Bourée

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'Nother review, this one of something newer to me than most of the things I review, but I felt I'd formed an opinion, so didn't really need to wait any longer. All comments, as always, are welcome. Not sure whether I'll go straight for Islands or something else next.

Also, I had the opportunity to hear Bacamarte's *amazing* 'Depois Do Fim' for the first time recently. Seriously, wow Clap. They'd be doing themselves a huge favour by sorting out some sort of proper international CD reissue. I would pay Maneigian amounts for that.


Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 12:21
Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square is my least favourite song from the album. It features eclectic bongo-drumming from Clive Bunker and rather harmless glimpses of Hammond or vibes, plus whimsical bass. The vocals are weird, but not particularly distinctive, and I can barely make out the lyrics. Not bad, per se, but I feel that the band didn't quite achieve what they wanted to.

Agreed, far from the rest of the material on the album in terms of quality. I often skip it.

Great fun, but doesn't affect me in a special way. Better bought after the classics, if only to experience the full spectrum of different Tull phases. I think it's a shame that they're stuck in prog folk, not that it's anything wrong with that genre, but eclectic would be more appropriate. Well, well. That discussion has most certainly ended up without change every time.


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 14:37

Review 23, War Child, Jethro Tull

StarStarStar
An album with more merit than I perhaps originally gave it credit for, and plenty of high moments. However, there are some recurring problems. The band do not seem to be very good at ending the songs very well, the concept has clearly been mutilated quite a lot, and yet retained on some of the pieces, leaving the album with a somewhat half-baked feel, and also there are a lot of pretty generic song structures that could have been spiced up a little. Lastly, I'm not a big fan of the string arrangements that pervade the album. On the plus side, all the tracks have at least some merit, the lyrics are occasionally entertaining, and the band is usually doing something interesting, even if it doesn't quite work. The saxophones and accordions incorporated frequently sometimes pay off nicely and sometimes fall flat. Not a true disaster, but not the resounding success that it could have been made into.

Warchild begins with siren-howling, and bursts into centre stage with a surprisingly musical soundscape and a nostalgic 1930s-feeling sax part. The verses are amusing enough, with some highlights in John Evan's piano-playing, but the chorus simply sounds like it's trying too hard, with ineffectual, spineless sax and pop strings. There is a good sax solo at one point, but that's cut short for more chorus repeats.

Queen And Country is a pop song, basically, with a couple of additions on accordion and some vocal stops and strings. However, it's a good pop song. The chorus is catchy, the verses are fairly memorable, while the lyrics aren't very sophisticated, it's fun to sing along to. The strings fit very neatly, and Barriemore Barlowe manages to stand out with his percussion performance, which seems to place emphasis by sudden stops.

Ladies has a distinctly medieval feel, but the folky. For the opening part, the acoustics are fine, the basic vocals/lyrics are rather mindless and unexceptional, and the chorus part with its tame sax is just irritating. However, it springs off into a section with a rather cha-cha-cha feel that is a delight to hear every time, with a much better incorporated sax.

Back-Door Angels is the closest thing to a Tull classic song on this album, with heavy guitar, bass and organ parts, as well as the surreal, atmospheric lyrics and attacks on religion that characterise Ian Anderson's best lyrics. The small sax and flute additions are very conducive to the atmosphere, accompanied by a very interesting drum part. All the players somewhat stand-out and the acoustic-primed ending actually works pretty well, which is unusual for the album.

Sealion enters in a pretty standard way for a heavier Tull song, with kicking flute and electrics, and continues in the same vein. The unfortunate problem of this song is that it's simply not memorable, with the same basic riff repeated a lot, fairly undistinctive vocals and it fails to evoke any atmosphere or interest for me.

The humming at the start of skating away reminds me somewhat of that on Supertramp's 'easy does it' and provides a slightly neat atmospheric effect, even if it seems out of place in a collection of mostly unrelated songs. Skating Away begins with a pretty standard positive Tull fairly sophisticated acoustic piece, which is gradually added to with cheerful accordion and glockenspiel, and eventually thick chords from Martin Barre. It develops into something with a bass and flute part and a slightly Latin feel. For no apparent reason, it shifts very abruptly out with a keyboard part. Great song, terrible ending.

The album's hit song, Bungle In The Jungle, isn't really that bad. Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond provides a great bass line, which is accented by John Evan's piano. The verses are good, with strong additions from the Barre-Anderson duo, good, distinctive vocals and amusing, whimsical lyrics. The instrumental sections are excellent, with the strings being more effectively added than they are on the rest of the album. The choruses, even if the average progger will hate it, are varied upon enough for my liking. The fade, even if I don't love them, doesn't hurt it. A great pop song.

Only Solitaire is Ian Anderson's first brilliant riposte at the critics, mocking their attitudes with a delicious acoustic piece, harmonised vocals and classic lyrics. A short gem, but a gem nonetheless.

The Third Hoorah seems a little unneeded for me. Despite the quality organ and bass, it feels bland and repetitive, with the flute, accordion and electric additions seeming more like gimmicks to disguise the song's essential weakness than clever variations.

I don't particularly dislike the variation on Lick Your Fingers Clean. While the original was a hard-rocker, this is a slightly more unusual version, with admittedly rather ineffectual sax and accordion additions, even if everything else works pretty well. The biggest plus is that the vocals are slightly easier to hear and enjoy, and the 'When you slip on the greasy platform...' section sounds slightly more interesting. It's not exactly ruined the song, but it's not as consistently strong as the original.

Onto the bonus material, Warchild Waltz and Quartet are both is great, though the first is a classical waltz (surprise!) with a couple of themes from the album, and the second is a cross between a standard old American song, an organ solo showcase and random noise. John Evan provides some exceptional organ and bass pedals for our delectation, and I feel this track was stronger than many that made the cut. The Paradise Steakhouse isn't at the same level, I think, and it feels a little too sludgy and messy, despite some great moments from the piano, vocals and drums. The ending, however random, is hilarious. Sea Lion 2 is truly random. Just so random. I can't describe it. I really can't. Some twists on the earlier Sea Lion, but that's about all I can say.

Rainbow Blues is a great catchy song, with a very nicely incorporated string section, some good guitar and bass work, and a very warm feel. The drumming ain't bad, either. Glory Row feels like an unfulfilled song, with very weak choruses bringing down mediocre verses. The saxophone just feels sterile or even redundant, and the song's short highlight comes from the standard instrumentation of Tull. Saturation has a little of the sort of shiny Hammond playing that I love to pieces and is highlighted by a menacing bass throb from Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and bizarre, haunting verses with shifts from whimsical to remotely serious to whimsical again. Martin Barre provides a great solo for the fade. I don't think it quite fits for the end of the album, and might have been better suited to a different position.

Overall, not a bad set of bonuses, even if they drag out the album longer than most of us would like.

War Child is an unusual album, and perhaps requires (despite the cheerful pop songs) a little time to get into properly. It's not a true classic, but it has enough gems to be worthwhile for anyone who doesn't mind decent pop songs or particularly loves Jethro Tull.

Rating: Three Stars

Favourite Track: Back Door Angels

----

There ya go. Islands next, probably, though I'm not sure when I'll finish it.

@Linus. Stand Up (Big%20smile) came at a good time, when Songs From The Wood (Angry) had almost managed to ruin my liking for Tull. I'm definitely heading for a little more of their early phase soonish. I really do love We Used To Know, though.

Anyway, album of the week (probably the second time I've done this, but who cares?): Depois Do Fim - Bacamarte
Song Of the Week: Smog Alado - Bacamarte


Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 16:35
I luv Songs From The Wood! Hug
Interesting break-down of War Child, check out my review of it for more thoughts. Too lazy to write something here. I consider War Child - Minstrel In The Gallery - Too Old as a trilogy where the band keep searching after an identity again. Somehow transitional. With SFTW and HH they found stable folkish ground to stand on again, even if you liked it or not. The most interesting/intriguing albums so far are Benefit and Stormwatch according to me. Don't really know how to review them...


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http://www.last.fm/user/LinusW88" rel="nofollow - Blargh


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 16:47
I'm developing this theory that Ian Anderson has an evil folky twin who can't write interesting lyrics and has no interest in creating atmosphere. Songs From The Wood is that evil folky twin's magnum opus, with lyrics and atmosphere of remote interest pervading only three or possibly four tracks of the song (Pilbroch, Hunting Girl and Fire At Midnight. Possibly the title track if I'm in a really good mood).

I am gearing up to write a very negative review for that album. Currently I'm listening to Still Life, which is its reverse.

That's an interesting idea you have; I found that Minstrel really did work in a way that War Child didn't. It's probably not the masterpiece that some think it is, but lyrically, I love Baker Street Muse, and it feels pretty coherent and  is consistent enough for me.


Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 16:54
Minstrel is the best of them, no doubt. But it's still inconsistent and shaky in many ways. That's how I feel when listening to it. Loved it first, but I am getting more and more sceptic.

Shame about SFTW. I think it's brim-filled with new-found energy, but then I'm not very heavy on lyrics...


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http://www.last.fm/user/LinusW88" rel="nofollow - Blargh


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 17:12
I thought Songs had plenty of energy, but it simply doesn't have the atmosphere or lyrics to grip me. Never seen it as rocking enough to do without either of those. Many of the songs go beyond that and actually take away from the album, particularly Velvet Green and Jack In The Green.

Minstrel was the reverse for me. I didn't really like it at first, and am growing to like it more.


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: April 27 2008 at 18:21
Don't like Songs from the Woods also.

But Depois do Fim is a TERRIFIC album. Too bad you cant understand portuguese, the lyrics are great.


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 18:29

Review 24 (sometimes called review 22, for no apparent reason), Islands, King Crimson, 1971

StarStarStarStarStar

The word for this album is indeed mostly 'relaxed', as many other reviewers have noted with an air of negativity. However, relaxed is not a bad thing. All of the instruments flow in and out of the superb compositions very neatly, creating unusual, edgy and hazy atmospheres and textures, and being generally bizarre and genuinely progressive throughout without actually trying too hard. Another superb effort from Fripp and Crimson, and joint second in my Crimson list. It should be noted that this is as much Mel Collins' album as Fripp's, given how much and how consistently both of them shine throughout.

After another extreme line-up turnover, King Crimson has morphed again. The excellent Andy McCulloch is replaced on drums by the more exotic Ian Wallace (who seems to me a precursor to the inclusion of the bizarre Jamie Muir for Larks' Tongues In Aspic), Gordon Haskell (bass, vocals) is replaced by Boz, whose vocals are slightly more aesthetic and suit the more relaxed atmosphere of the album. While not a great bassist (understandably, given the circumstances), he does hold the fort. The various jazz-men again contribute, and Robert Fripp and Mel Collins (who has certainly improved) remain from the previous line-up. Pete Sinfield throws in strong lyrics throughout, linked together by a vague concept.

Biting strings give way to the opening chaotic flute solos, twisting inter-weaving instruments and swirling Tippet piano. Boz comes in with a haunting, yet undemanding, vocal. A thick bass part and tingling percussion lead into the uplifting 'chorus' section, which is later repeated with some gentle acoustic Fripp additions and an oriental feel, and then into a fairly chaotic section where just about everyone is contributing to the mix. Echoey vocals (including soprano from Paulina Lucas) and a mixture of flute, saxes, Ian Wallace tinglings and oboes sustain the song over a stable, gentle bass part. These various instruments create an ethereal, exotic atmosphere with a very interesting decadent edge, assisted by Pete Sinfield's excellent lyrics. The especial standouts on this track are Ian Wallace with his various percussion ideas and Keith Tippet's piano. A perfect introduction to the album: progressive, yet unimposing, and relaxed, yet both interesting and moving.

Tapping percussion and bass introduce The Sailor's Tale, while a strained sax and strings add an unusual, almost awkward, feel to the beat. You need to listen quite hard to hear the opening of the superb Fripp-Collins duet of doom, with sax and guitar exchanging ideas and textures. In the background, a mellotron slowly throbs while the rhythm section provides another riff and Fripp continues in a chaotic cascade of sounds which I've yet to hear from another guitar, with occasional creaking sounds on the 'tron leading to a powerful Mellotron burst and twisted ideas and the rhythm section getting a little more leeway (that Ian Wallace makes good use of). Fripp ascends into the picture again with another strong solo before the mellotron humming brings the song to its conclusion. Again, something that I initially didn't quite get, but I've grown to love it, and I'm certain that this is essential for any Crimson fan.

The Letters, a rather melodramatic lyrics-driven song, showcases Boz' vocals and developing Fripp gentle acoustics, before launching off dramatically into punchy sax-driven chaos with frantic guitar from Fripp, and a variety of vicious and heavily distorted percussion. After this has moved through chaos and a gentle aftermath, the biting second part with distorted vocals, interesting bass and percussion and weird background flute soloing begins. Superb song.

Ladies Of The Road begins with an individual acoustic and vocals, before thudding drums and bass slide in with a monstrous sax solo. Fripp's acoustics, along with the rest of the musicians, continues to develop throughout the song, emphasised a little by the moments of VCS-3. The harmonies are perfect, and Boz's vocals and lyrics are amusing, mild sexism aside. The concluding instrumental section includes a bit of high electric guitar, a superb sax duet, a walking, effective rhythm section. Nothing out of place, another great song.

The gentle, pastoral Song Of The Gulls is delightful and emotional, with oboe and strings fusing together into a cheerful classical composition with an astral and a rather separated feel. I don't know enough classical music of this kind to really comment with anything except 'I love it'.

Islands begins with Tippet's soft piano supporting a calming vocal and a gentle low flute part, and is very much carried by Tippet throughout, since he is responsible for most of the mood changes. Fripp (on both mellotron and guitar) occasionally turns up alongside Tippet. Mark Charig provides a wonderful cornet solo, while Robin Miller's oboe glides along with the vocals, sustaining the vaguely classical feel of the piece. Subtleties lurk everywhere within the gentle, uplifting piece until the gentle humming end (presumably 'Peter's Pedal Accordion'). I don't know why the end (waiting silently for a minute or two then cutting to the rehearsal room and random noise) doesn't annoy me, as it's the sort of thing that usually would, but I think it has the pleasant effect of bringing me back down to earth after that trip without grating too viciously or launching into another song.

If you love softer music, this album is essential. If you love music that has interesting genuine progressive features without trying too hard, this album is essential. If you love explosive moments, this album is essential. If you have a morbid fascination with unusual 'tron, guitar, percussion and sax parts, this album is essential. If you're a fan of King Crimson, this album is essential. If you want to see some of the proto-phase of Larks' Tongues In Aspic, this album is essential. I'm in all of those categories, and award Islands a fully-merited five-star rating. Not to be overlooked.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Can't decide. I love every track on here. If pressed, Islands or Letters.


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*fawn* HeartClapThumbs%20UpApproveEmbarrassed

Anyway, I've seen Micky munching around the forums earlier, so I'd still like to hear your (what's the pronoun I should use here? Stupid internet.) thoughts on my Caress Of Steel review when you get back (hope you enjoyed your stay in Italy Smile).

As always, comments welcome on any reviews so far, especially the variety of fawning Crimson ones. I've been listening to some of my uncle's music earlier, including a bit of Renaissance, ELO and Pfloyd's Obscured By Clouds, which were especially superb. I'm also formulating an early shopping list for my next prog-spree.

*Shameless-promotion-of-own-slightly-raunchy-scribblings*
I've written a pretentious 4-part poem and placed it in the poetry thread (if you've already seen it, I've fixed a couple of lines that I thought didn't work right since). I'd be happy to discuss it, there or here, and any feedback would be much appreciated.
http://www.progarchives.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=26395&PN=20 - The Lady In Her Tower

*standard sum-up*
Album of the Week: Daughter Of Time - Colosseum
Song Of The Week: Sandoz In The Rain - Amon Duul II


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 19:29
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Anyway, I've seen Micky munching around the forums earlier, so I'd still like to hear your (what's the pronoun I should use here? Stupid internet.)


What about using "I'd still like to read your", since on the internet you read instead of hearing?

However, hear could be used as an idiomatic expression or to express a feeling, a state of being. In this case, there is no problem in using hearing. Approve


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Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 19:37
Can't comment on this as I haven't heard the album Embarrassed. But with all this fawning going on, I guess I should put in on that growing list of mine.

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http://www.last.fm/user/LinusW88" rel="nofollow - Blargh


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 19:56
Originally posted by LinusW LinusW wrote:

Can't comment on this as I haven't heard the album Embarrassed. But with all this fawning going on, I guess I should put in on that growing list of mine.


i feel the same way . . .


btw LinusW, this is your 666 post. LOL


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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 20:07
@Linus, absolutely, but I'm a Crimson fanboi and can't be trusted.
@CCVP 1. The issue was the 'your'. I have no idea whether I should have sustained the third person from 'Micky' or moved to second person since I was addressing the Mickster directly.

Quote btw LinusW, this is your 666 [s]is no longer alone[/s] post. LOL



Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 20:09
Nothing happened. But I feel this strange presence...

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http://www.last.fm/user/LinusW88" rel="nofollow - Blargh


Posted By: CCVP
Date Posted: May 03 2008 at 20:29
LOL, my lungs are in fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 04 2008 at 13:14

Review 25, Spectral Mornings, Steve Hackett, 1978

StarStarStarStarStar

Four years after his promising debut solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte, the legendary Steve Hackett seems to have really found his own style and variation on the very English feel of Gabriel/Hackett-era Genesis. The ties to Genesis are much reduced from Voyage, and the incredibly English, folky vocals may make some of it less accessible to many listeners, but with a little patience and tolerance, the quality of the varied material should shine through. Any musician who can manage normal guitar soloing, haunting atmospheres and acoustics so adeptly deserves all the praise he gets.

The catchy punchy bass of Everyday kicks off this superb album, supported by tapping percussion and some weird guitar that reminds me of The Hermit. The lyrics and vocals, typically weird, slot in to provide . A couple of short instrumental breaks mark the first part of the song. After the final verse, Hackett provides an extended rocking solo, striking a balance between fast, soulful and optimistic playing. Dik Cadbury's bass and John Shearer's percussion shine throughout, both moving around a bit and providing a neat launching point for the stellar guitar solo. Vital for anyone who loves Hackett's Genesis solos, and a great introduction for the great album.

The Virgin And The Gypsy is the first of the acoustic songs on the album, and, though the eery Lost In Time In Cordoba is much more to my taste, it's excellent. The cleverly harmonised vocals and folky acoustic guitar combine very nicely with the lush organ and flowing electrics. The small problem with this one is that the tapping maracas (or whatever) don't really add anything. John Hackett provides us with a couple of delightful flute solos. Great stuff. My sort of prog folk.

The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Everywhere is an almost-stereotypically oriental piece, with Hackett's koto and some swirling synths dominating the piece. Very listenable, and showing brazenly the world influences that will permeate the later Silk Road and Rise Again. Short and sweet.

The brilliantly titled [instrumental] Clocks/The Angel Of Mons flows in with a slowly increasing ticking sound (not unlike Time, but with much less awkward chimes), and humming, almost-reverent synths. A searing guitar part bursts in suddenly and viciously, while John Shearer brings out rolling drums and clashing percussion. We get a scintillating Moog solo, followed by a suitably elephantine drum solo before the track slowly swells up to its climax. Absolutely stunning track. One of my all-time favourites.

The sarcastic Ballad Of The Decomposing Man is a complete contrast, with its mixture of bass-driven chachacha rhythms and steel drumming, general quirkiness and hilarious lyrics and vocals, but with a darker edge. Steve throws a couple of superb harmonica solos in our direction. We get Steve's funniest guitar solo since Counting Out Time. The inclusion of a couple of slightly more serious moments to provide contrast is great, and the fade (I often have issues with fades) isn't bad at all. I love it.

Lost In Time In Cordoba is an acoustic-driven oddity (which I compartmentalise [this is just me] into three 'themes' and two brief 'interludes'), with a nostalgic Spanish feel from the Hackett brothers (on flute and acoustics) on the 'first movement' moving to a more curious, spectral 'interlude' from Steve alone, moving to the decadent 'second theme', which features a subdued synth (I think). A 'second interlude' from Steve leads to the much darker 'Third Theme', which feels like the unraveling of all that's gone before. As a whole, I consider this the excellent prelude to Tigermoth. Very interesting.

Tigermoth begins with 'One-Two-Three-Four' in a heavily distorted voice, and then kicks off with its haunting keyboards/bass and a chaotic guitar solo, before the main guitar/drum/bass riff bursts in. A lengthy dark, yet almost-sarcastic keyboard solo takes over for while. The main theme leads in again, with John Shearer providing some interesting percussion. Another long synth part with wailing siren-like guitars and atmospheric hidden vocals leads to a combination of whirling flute, mock accordion, synths, tapping drums and some acoustics or koto accompanying the main vocal part, with Pete Hicks' unusual English-folk style and harmonies, detailing a series of WWI encounters. Various sarcy pianos (or perhaps the clavinet) bring the song to its conclusion. Absolutely brilliant, with a perfect mix of eclecticism and atmosphere.

Spectral Mornings is basically a long augmented guitar solo, with what I assume is the 'novotron' (sounds like a Mellotron), some interesting spitting percussion and a fairly simple-sounding bass part providing the background for it. After an illusory almost-conclusion, the guitar solo is revived from a keyboard solo. The piece has two small highlights for me: the harpsichord and vocal-percussion-guitar fade. Good, even if I'm not the greatest fan of huge guitar solos, and definitely morning music.

A melting pot of excellent material, and a superb album throughout, as well as a massive development from Voyage Of The Acolyte. It should also be noted, that, though Hackett's lyrics are probably not on a level with the Genesis lyrics contributed by Banks and Gabriel, they work very well throughout this album and mesh nicely with the music. I'm giving it a glowing five stars, mainly for the constantly interesting compositions, atmosphere and diversity. I recommend this very highly to any fairly open-minded/diversely interested prog listener, regardless of whether they like Genesis or not. A masterpiece in its own right.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Clocks/The Angel Of Mons, though the Lost In Time In Cordoba/Tigermoth pairing gives it some competition

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Another five-star review, though I originally set out to review Voyage (with 3 stars, probably). I'm not sure what to expect next, though, but Larks' will wait until I manage to review something else with less than five stars.

@CCVP: Ehwaht?1! If you're going to explode, at least do it in a prog-metal appreciation thread Tongue

---
Arbitrarily, I'm repeating some of the things I tacked on to the end of my last review, because it's at the bottom of a page, and feels lonely

Anyway, I've seen Micky munching around the forums earlier, so I'd still like to hear your (what's the pronoun I should use here? Stupid internet.) thoughts on my Caress Of Steel review when you get back (hope you enjoyed your stay in Italy Smile).

As always, comments welcome on any reviews so far, especially the variety of fawning Crimson ones. I've been listening to some of my uncle's music earlier, including a bit of Renaissance, ELO and Pfloyd's Obscured By Clouds, which were especially superb. I'm also formulating an early shopping list for my next prog-spree.

*Shameless-promotion-of-own-slightly-raunchy-scribblings*
I've written a pretentious 4-part poem and placed it in the poetry thread (if you've already seen it, I've fixed a couple of lines that I thought didn't work right since). I'd be happy to discuss it, there or here, and any feedback would be much appreciated.
forum_posts.asp?TID=26395&PN=20 - The Lady In Her Tower

*standard sum-up*
Album of the Week: Daughter Of Time - Colosseum
Song Of The Week: Sandoz In The Rain - Amon Duul II

Edit: some current thoughts for the 'list'

Clutching At Straws - Marillion
Darwin! - Banco Del Mutuo Succorso
Maneige - s/t
Bitches' Brew or Agharta - Miles Davis
Beat/Three Of A Perfect Pair - King Crimson
Pictures At An Exhibition - ELP
Still Life - Opeth
Between Nothingness And Eternity/Apocalypse - Mahavishnu Orchestra
Third - Soft Machine
Schehezerade And Other Stories - Renaissance
Hemispheres - Rush
MDK - Magma
Phallus Dei/Wolf City - Amon Duul II
Phaedra/Stratosphear - Tangerine Dream
Drama - Yes
Red Queen To Gryphon Three - Gryphon
The Least We Can Do/From H to He - VDGG



Posted By: micky
Date Posted: May 05 2008 at 05:55
Rob...  GREAT Caress of Steel review.  Personally I don't see much of Zeppelin in the album.. think they tossed that overboard after the first...  it is pure hedonistic prog rock... kimonos.. D&D  and chops galore. That is why I love that album of theirs above any others they did...

you and have much the same tastes.. The Necromancer is right with Cygnus X-1 as my alltime favorite Rush song.  If you are like me... you may enjoy other Rush albums as you check them out.. but may find that none are simply as fun to listen to as that one was.  Has been my favorite for years.


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: May 05 2008 at 06:31
won't ask if you are going to review Kobaia.. I know you said.. and you are right as well... you wanted to have more of a grasp of their output.  Gone any deeper with Magma since we've talked last?

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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 05 2008 at 08:36
Alas, not yet. Currently trying to soak up the whole impact of that album. Haven't been on another prog spree for a while. I'll probably do that next weekend.

Currently I'm finalising the 'list' so I don't turn up on amazon and buy too many random albums that I hadn't meant to.

Edit: Agreed on Caress of Steel. Great album :)


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: May 05 2008 at 08:42
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

Alas, not yet. Currently trying to soak up the whole impact of that album. Haven't been on another prog spree for a while. I'll probably do that next weekend.

Currently I'm finalising the 'list' so I don't turn up on amazon and buy too many random albums that I hadn't meant to.


digesting my latest Italian albums so don't worry about that hahahha


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 05 2008 at 09:59

Review 26, Daughter Of Time, Colosseum, 1970

StarStarStarStar

An excellent album from this majestic blues/jazz-rock band. There are two real characteristics for the album 1) Sometimes the size of the line-up (a daunting sextet/septet plus the occasional string arrangement) pays off perfectly (see Time Lament for an example), whereas in some tracks it lumbers a little, with Farlowe's very powerful voice or a generically-used sax not merging very well. 2) It's interesting to have a very strong and individual vocalist, and even if Farlowe's additions of 'baby' in some songs seems out of place, and his voice occasionally seems a little too strong, he really does add to the album and pull off some powerful emotional performances. In the end, we come out with some stunning moments, especially the unforgettable 'Time Lament' and 'Downhill and Shadows', even if the predecessor, Valentyne Suite, was a little stronger overall.

Threescore And Ten (Amen). The album kicks off pompously with hymnal vocals standing behind a thick organ and a powerful, prominent rhythm section. We get an interesting combination of Farlowe and a very intricate bass part shadowing him to the smallest note. Jon Hiseman throws out some more unusual percussion into the mix, adding a slightly ferric, spiritual feel to the song. As superb as the instrumental section showcasing the talents of Clem Clempson as a guitarist is, it feels very out of place. The saxophonists (and Greenslade on vibes) contribute a little towards the end of the piece, with its dramatic, cheese-bordering spoken part, though they are mostly backing the strength of Farlowe's vocals. An appropriate introduction, even if the jazz-fueled urge to show off doesn't merge too neatly with the piece's spiritual/vocal base.

Time Lament is the raging high for this album, in my opinion, showcasing some . The song begins with the saxes showing off both more traditional humming and unusual arrangements and an amazing screeching violin (and other strings), backed up by Greenslade's piano. As the verse comes in with its stunning drum patterns, wandering bass and vibes, Chris Farlowe delivers stunning vocals. This leads into a less serious-sounding section, allowing everyone (especially Dick Heckstall Smith on saxophone) to display their ability as soloists. I'd thought of this as a step down for a long time, but have come to appreciate the opportunities it affords the players and the return of the vocals. The strings throughout build a slightly twisted feel into the song. It escalates back into the amazing drums and Chris Farlowe vocals. One of my favourite drum-performances (and songs) ever. Absolutely unforgettable.

Take Me Back To Doomsday begins with an interesting chord-based piano that continues throughout the piece, adding something small in the background behind some stunning guitar from Clem Clempson and excellent vocals (by the same, even if he didn't think of himself as a singer). A great flute-saxophone duet from Heckstall-Smith and Barbara Thompson leads back with some more trademark Hiseman direction-drumming and some small guitar soloing. This flute-saxophone duet remains for the rest of the song.

I like the whimsy of the start of Daughter Of Time, with the juxtaposition of the upbeat, flowing sound (especially the whinnying Clempson guitar and Heckstall-Smith sax) and the massive drum crescendo and pompous Farlowe vocals. Another really strong drum performance, and a the sax duet hums along behind it effortlessly. The blues-style ending, with amazing Clemson guitar, works perfectly.

The cover of Theme For An Imaginary Western is a more cohesive piece than most of the album, with everyone fusing into each other in between their showing off rather than simply continuing each others' lines (as happens in some other places). We get great bass and guitar performances from Mark Clarke and Clempson, and a more prominent Greenslade organ and chorus part. Even though the sax additions feel a little redundant to me, it's a refreshing break from the minor chaos of the album as a whole.

Bring Out Your Dead is a schizophrenic quirky instrumental which contrasts a foot-tapping sax-organ with some tragic vibes, aggressive guitar and rapidly changing drumming. The ending is plainly weird, escalating to an indefinite conclusion, and maybe building a little tension for Downhill And Shadows to launch off from. Some repetition, some superb ideas. An interesting little piece, but I'm never really quite sure what it's trying to do.

Downhill And Shadows is (don't believe the lyrics sheet) a pessimistic, dark, brooding blues-at-its-finest. Everything, from Hiseman's gloomy lyrics to Chris Farlowe's deliberate vocal, to the opening, lamenting saxes to a load of dazzling mini-solos from Clem Clempson is handled well. A very good bass performance and the pygmy brass section exchange and share ideas with Clarke's bass neatly. Definitely Clemson's high point on the album, and some of the best guitar-soloing I've heard.

Time Machine is an extended drum solo, which means that I can't really comment on it. To appreciate a drum solo like this fully, I'd guess you need to understand what the guy's doing, which I don't. It's enjoyable enough for me, and a good listen anyway, but the real highlight of the track is when everything comes together majestically at the end, blaring away to one of the most powerful conclusions I've ever heard.

This album has three really outstanding performers, Hiseman, Clemson and Farlowe, and anyone who either likes one of those or wants to hear some superb drumming, strong vocals or blues guitar should put this album on their wish list. Don't expect to be overwhelmed with awe on the first listen, since it's really a grower, and you need to pay some attention to get the small, but significant background additions of the bass, sax and keys. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys blues, though those not familiar with Colosseum should perhaps try the more consistent and better-arranged Valentyne Suite before moving on to this more difficult album.

Rating: Four Stars,

Favourite Track: Time Lament

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A review for something a little more obscure, for a change. Something interesting for me was that I listed the bass parts I liked from this album before I looked at the CD booklet to check which of the bassists (Mark Clarke and Louis Cennamo) had done them. All three of them turned out to be Clarke. Not an issue of quality, but of style, I think, and some evidence that bassists aren't as homologous or interchangeable as I sometimes think they are.

Probably heading to dribble lovingly about Larks' Tongues In Aspic next, even if I think the album's way too good for me to write the review it deserves.


Posted By: micky
Date Posted: May 05 2008 at 10:05
LTiA is beyond most of our abilities to lovingly review hahahha

Never really got into Colosseum.   Raff is the big fan of the two of us. 


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[QUOTE=Nogbad_The_Bad]Christ you talk a lot of crap.[/QUOTE]


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 10 2008 at 12:45

Review 27, Songs From The Wood, Jethro Tull, 1977

StarStar

Gutter rhymes indeed.

A pyrrhic victory for the lads in Jethro Tull. Despite the enormous potential of some of the delightful melodies, only Hunting Girl consistently matches up to the quality I want from Tull, while the title track, Pilbroch, Solstice Bells and Fire At Midnight all have their moments, though highly flawed. The melodies are rather overused, the arrangement sometimes seems a little lacking, and I don't have the lyrical grips to keep my interest in a repeated melody. One big issue on the album as a whole is that the atmosphere is lacking. The bland song structures only exaggerate the repetitive nature of the album, and mean that lame choruses are repeated ad extremum crudelitatis. We see plenty of Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus songs, which is one of the reasons that I've seen people bashing Asia, but apparently being marginally folky makes that not a problem. Overall, a rather disappointing and unfulfilled album, but not a complete disaster.

Ian Anderson, it seems, is a lyrical schizophrenic. On the one hand, you have the classy, clever, scathing, sarcastic, honest Ian Anderson, who can write songs like Back Door Angels, Thick As A Brick and Baker Street Muse. On the other, you have his evil folky twin, who can churl out pretty generic pseudo-intellectual, quasi-Anglo-pagan songs, with most real atmosphere build-up wrecked by repeats. Lyrically, much of this album is a horrible, horrible experience. Verbal waterboarding.

Songs From The Wood kicks off with a nice multi-vocal harmony, with flute, acoustics, a fine bass part and various piano and synths kicking in gradually. Eventually even Martin Barre's allowed to play, and we get a dose of mandolin in the heavier chorus section. This escalates up a little to produce a darker atmosphere, and though the Ian Anderson flute solo feels a little light, I like it up to now. Up to this point, what's not to like?

And suddenly, insert a completely random, almost-verbatim repeat of an earlier verse. Why? Does it add anything to the song? No. Is the context altered enough to make the re-entry clever and interesting? No. Does the flute solo near the end redeem it? Probably not. Essentially, the first part of the song transports me to the atmosphere of a rather English wood, with deciduous trees everywhere, badger burrows everywhere and trying pathetically to call back the dog. The repeat wrecks that atmosphere.

Jack In The Green is simply extended miserable acoustic strumming with accompanying grating vocals, some small Barriemore Barlowe additions (from some marimba to proper drums) that are interesting enough. Everyone else is there in the mix, but noone ever takes the opportunity to break out of it, and any moment risking a dangerous musical explosion is quelled by the rather flaccid flute. The folk lyrics are a complete disaster, with a standard Nature vs. Modernisation idea surrounded by entirely vestigial lines. Now, a vocal-dominated song with strong lyrics and music that highlights these ideas can be amazing. Jack-In-The-Green is that sort of song, only with appalling lyrics and music that doesn't contribute at all, and it's far from amazing.

Cup Of Wonder starts with a delightful, cheerful section with a throbbing bass and flute moving to a dancy drum-beat and some opportunities for Martin Barre to rock out a little. The other verses are essentially small, but neat variations on the first verse. The instrumental section is a little feeble, almost seeming vestigial, but before the return to the last verse we get a rare, effective gentle flute part from Ian Anderson. The issue with this song is the chorus line 'pass the cup of Crimson Wonder-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh' (complete with acoustics and mild accordion). Frankly, one repeat of that at the end of each chorus would have been daring. Two was lunacy. Over three choruses, it's unbearable. Could have been a great song, but wasn't.

Hunting Girl begins with several brief solos, and features an excellent rhythm section throughout, with Barriemore Barlowe contrasting heavier beats and even metallic sheets with a couple of tinselly taps. Barre and Anderson (flute) both get to take a few solos, and make the most of them, creating a rather physical feel appropriate for the song. The lyrics have finally returned to the familiar Tull ground of rollicking innuendo and a whimsical storyline. A very welcome development, as I can sing along to them happily, and nod my head to the rocking theme. The silver amidst the dross. Not gold, but as good as silver gets.

Solstice Bells is an awkward song to review, as I never know whether to compliment the bouncy piano and cheerful feel, or to viciously attack the sheer mindlessness of the idea and over-repeated chorus. I'll do both. The bouncy piano is great, and the cheerful feel is enjoyable. Alas, the idea is at best dubious, the amount of shouting 'ring solstice bells' becomes bland after two verses, especially when I doubt the legitimacy of the idea. Perhaps it's a really good song, but I can only listen to it when my pedantic mind isn't in overdrive.

Following a rather childish opening with the two keyboardists most prominent, Velvet Green develops in a mixed manner. The opening part, complete with a harpsichord-like sound (probably acoustics), is bland in the extreme, with neither glockenspiel nor a rather dim bass part giving any feel to it. It moves (quite abruptly) to a more chord-based song (with some minor scaling-ups from Barre) and the lyrics (despite a very strong vocal performance from Anderson) verge between barely listenable and painful! There are some light reproductions of the guitar on The Pig-Me And The Whore, which doesn't really bother me. The subsequent instrumental section is tedious, and the return to the basic opening part's sound is unwelcome. Another example of some good ideas and some really poor ideas coming together to form a song that tempts the skip button.

The whistler begins with a superb verse, including enjoyable acoustics, glockenspiel and a keyboard. The chorus, highland-ish whistle (no, really?) included, gets old rather quickly, isn't particularly atrocious despite sheer stupidity lyrics ('I whistle along on the seventh day'). The other verses, with some very interesting additions over the basic theme, and some grinding Barre guitar saves the rest of the song from feeling too repetitive. Great ideas, bad ideas, mediocre combination.

Pilbroch, with a manic guitar-flute duo that I refer to as the 'Fen Witch Riff' is the most memorable (though not the best) thing in the song, but it shouldn't be knocked for this. Ian Anderson comes in very neatly 'There's a light in the house... in the wood... in the valley'. The verses are rather a thing of beauty, with a story told through strong folk lyrics and a generally matching atmosphere.

The extended instrumental section indicates a 'romance' implied by the cheerful mandolin with darker additions from David Palmer and John Evans. The 'Fen Witch riff' comes in, presumably to voice the obsession of the protagonist, a cheerful flute-acoustic duet with a rather highlands feel and a clapped-out theme moves on to a more grandiose Evans-Palmer-dominated section. The escalation to the final verse is amazingly well-handled, . The Fen Witch riff comes in again to escalate out the song to its bizarre confusion. All in all, a very interesting song, but the grating and dissonant Fen Witch riff is overused.

Fire At Midnight is an uplifting vocal-led melody, with a romantic theme and some great lines ('Kindled by the dying embers of another working day/Go upstairs, take off your make-up – fold your clothes neatly away). Ian Anderson growls (but not in a metallic way) a little at the end of the lyrics, which isn't too bad. The instrumental section seems almost a convention here, not really adding anything to the table. I'd have preferred something more connected to the verses. The repeat of the second verse feels quite nice here, and overall this is a fairly neat round-off for the album.

I don't have the mental stamina to listen to another version of Velvet Green, and I admit that Beltane is relatively decent, except in that you have Ian Anderson saying come-a Beltane 2,613 times near the end of the song. Usually, I give up at Fire At Midnight, and go and find myself some VDGG to wash out the grassy stain of the album.

All in all, enough merits for a sickly two stars, and I simply do not understand why some make it out as a masterpiece. Not an album you should come to expecting great things, probably not vital, especially if poor lyrics can disappoint you, and it's simply too repetitive for its own good. Still, worth getting, if only for Hunting Girl, and you may (probably will) like it more than I do.

Rating: Two Stars, though it'd be three if all the good ideas were converted into say, four good songs, and four if all the songs reached the potential of their best ideas. Maybe I'm being harsh, given that this is better than the other albums I've given two-star ratings to.

Favourite Track: Hunting Girl

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Rather unconnected, because I wrote different bits on different days. Also, quite vicious, and not, I think, as good or fair a review as I could do. Still, I welcome challengers. Anyone with a very different opinion to me on Songs... like to throw their thoughts into the ring?

Yesterday I decided that Still Life is one of my favouritest songs evar, because it's the reverse of this album.


Posted By: Queen By-Tor
Date Posted: May 10 2008 at 14:25
LOLClap

Good job! I completely see everything you're talking about with that album, but that won't change my 4 star
review of it Wink. For some reason it's just a very jovial album to listen to for me - I really like the folky/woodsy
feel of it *thoughts thrown*.

A well written review that was entertainingly edgy. I like it.

Curse you, I must go listen to Still Life now.


Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: May 10 2008 at 18:48
Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

LOLClap

Good job! I completely see everything you're talking about with that album, but that won't change my 4 star
review of it Wink. For some reason it's just a very jovial album to listen to for me - I really like the folky/woodsy feel of it *thoughts thrown*.

A well written review that was entertainingly edgy. I like it.

Curse you, I must go listen to Still Life now.


I can agree with everything you said, especially the bold part. Good review, wouldn't challenge it for everything in the world. Comes down to different focal points of the listening experience. Full of energy, a revitalised band compared to the Trio (War Child, Minstrel to some extent and Too Old). Perhaps not what you're looking for in a Tull album if you're after the earlier stuff. But for me a very rewarding experience.


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Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: May 10 2008 at 19:09
I realise I agree with most of the points made, but SFTW remains one of the first prog albums I came in contact with except Rush and Kansas. So I am kinda biased, with that lingering feeling of greatness and originality still very prominent when I hear the album.

Nostalgia is a powerful feeling.


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http://www.last.fm/user/LinusW88" rel="nofollow - Blargh


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 11 2008 at 08:46
Originally posted by LinusW LinusW wrote:

Originally posted by King By-Tor King By-Tor wrote:

LOLClap

Good job! I completely see everything you're talking about with that album, but that won't change my 4 star
review of it Wink. For some reason it's just a very jovial album to listen to for me - I really like the folky/woodsy feel of it *thoughts thrown*.

A well written review that was entertainingly edgy. I like it.

Curse you, I must go listen to Still Life now.


I can agree with everything you said, especially the bold part. Good review, wouldn't challenge it for everything in the world. Comes down to different focal points of the listening experience. Full of energy, a revitalised band compared to the TrioI  (War Child, Minstrel to some extent and Too Old). Perhaps not what you're looking for in a Tull album if you're after the earlier stuff. But for me a very rewarding experience.


Thanks for the posts Smile
I've always seen Minstrel as a highly energetic album, even if not always the most delicate or directed. War Child, at least, has Back Door Angels. I don't have Too Old yet. I like, nay, love the energy and feel on Songs on the occasions when it manifests itself properly, but, as I've said, many of the choruses and repeats just seem to be filling time, and I can't really think my way through what they're doing. If I can't really think about a song (even with my musical knowledge of roughly zero), I tend to have problems with it.

Anyway, decided not to save Larks' for a significantish number, but review it now.


Posted By: TGM: Orb
Date Posted: May 11 2008 at 10:23

Review 28, Larks Tongues In Aspic, King Crimson, 1973

StarStarStarStarStarStarHeart
HeartStar

This is not only the King Crimson album, but the album. Experimental in the extreme, flawless throughout, continually providing challenges, bizarre visions and layers for the listener. From the gentle xylophone-led opening to its swelling, tidal conclusion, we move through several styles and atmospheres, emotion flowing freely from all the musicians. Not an album to be judged instantly, and one that needs a lot of time, consideration and energy to appreciate to its fullest, but . I love every single second of it, can't bring myself to question the validity of the pieces, and can attach an idea, a flowing vision, sane or not, to each moment.

Larks' Tongues In Aspic part one begins with a gentle xylophone, which continues with some unusual variations on the basic idea and some tingling and ascending percussion and humming mellotron additions, gradually and calmly building a soundscape of fragrant and exotic ideas. The tingling percussion gives way to a mantric violin, a snarling guitar from Fripp, and a combination of manic percussion gives way to a burst of raw guitar aggression. Swirling variations on the guitar and fanatical mellotron lead up to a second and equally powerful emotional explosion. Fripp contributes a curious, intricate solo while the percussionists and John Wetton combine forces to add an even richer exoticism. Next we are treated to a demonically inspired rhythm section showcase with Fripp providing some accompanying driven guitar reminiscent of Sailor's Tale. Suddenly everything disappears, leaving David Cross's lone violin dreaming out some distant romance. A harp-like sound drifts in, before the gentle violin vanishes to German voices, a forceful violin and driving Bruford percussion, Fripp shows up on both acoustics and electrics as the piece glides along to a beautiful percussion end. Fully progressive, with no seams or rifts between the soft or loud sections. No bridges required, no moments of relaxation, just pure musical ideas. Jamie Muir's title describes the piece perfectly, an exotic journey from start to finish.

Book Of Saturday follows in on the gentle end of Larks', with a crystalline acoustic guitar part weaving into John Wetton's heartfelt bass and a delicate, virtuoso violin. John Wetton's clear, distintive vocals convey the real sense of loss and uncertainty from Richard Palmer-James gorgeous lyrics. The careful interplay between the three musicians is flawless throughout, developing ideas, . Gorgeous violin brings the song to a close.

The chaotic opening of the lengthier Exiles, with its distorted mellotron-voices and wedges of thick sound, conveys another, almost-martial atmosphere, a forceful segregation from society. A strong violin and cymbal-touches lead in to the main theme, combining an improvised violin with a humming bass that seems to alter the emphasis of the violin, a full, yet unobtrusive drum part from Bruford (I presume), and some dancing acoustics from Fripp. Richard Palmer-James lyrics are richly sung by Wetton. As the song continues, we move through a number of ideas, receiving tragic solos from Fripp (on electrics) and Cross. A tragic mellotron build-up more reminiscent of Epitaph leads to a curious acoustic from Fripp. There's a real feeling of absence of definition. Deserted, empty, echoing, and emotional. Another absolute masterpiece.

Easy Money leaps sarcastically in, providing an opportunity for Jamie Muir (and indeed the whole band) to have some more fun with his bizarre percussion. John Wetton provides a thick, jumpy bass sound, while Bruford experiments with a more hollow percussion set and Fripp flexes his sense of humour with some self-parodying solos. David Cross is presumably responsible for the gleeful mellotron-butchery we see in places. The band slowly and carefully escalate from the sparse punchiness of the song's first part through a complete instrumental workout to a masterly return, with Wetton's exuberant vocals and a typically bizarre Cross violin striking out over a development of the earlier verse. A mad laugh brings the song to its conclusion. Great music, and I suspect the musicians had as much fun making it as I did listening to it. Masterpiece.

The Talking Drum took the longest of any of the pieces to make its impression on me. Still, it has done so, with a fast bongo and Wetton's bass, which manages to provide the illusion of consistency, leaving room for Cross and Fripp to improvise powerfully over the top with sometimes independent and sometimes intertwined ideas. The piece develops gradually with Wetton and Bruford/Muir giving increasingly heavier and more substantial sections. Not at all easy for me to describe, but truly brilliant.

Suddenly, Larks' Tongues In Aspic pt. 2 breaks in with its thick guitar riff and a shapeshifting rhythm section that doesn't stay still. The parts change so frequently that it's futile to list the changes. Wetton takes a brief bass solo as well as being the vehicle for a lot of the changes in the music. Muir gets to play around with metal sheets, among other things, creating a spiralling percussion duo. David Cross gives out the some of the strangest sounds I've ever heard on a violin, squeaking dissonantly. The heavily-rocking song slowly builds up to the most bloated, powerful conclusion I've yet heard, throbbing out with everyone contributing. A piece where the subtleties may initially be hidden by the sheer noise, but once they reveal themselves, they'll delight on every single relisten.

Rating: Six Stars. This is my favourite album. A quintessential masterpiece of prog rock.

Favourite Track: All of them, but Larks' Tongues In Aspic pt. 1 and Exiles might be chosen if I'm forced to pick.

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Bestest album ever.

Song Of The Week: Larks' Tongues In Aspic pt. 1
Album Of The Week:  Larks' Tongues In Aspic

Next, I think, I can review Red in good conscience, going to see if I can 'get' Starless And Bible Black's title track before reviewing that one. I may or may not try reviewing something non-Crimsony first.



Posted By: LinusW
Date Posted: May 11 2008 at 10:28
Favourite tracks choice reflect mine. But I don't consider the album flawless...Embarrassed. What truly impress me on LTIA is the experimental part.1 and 2 together with Exiles. The Talking Drum just feels unnecessary, just as I think the lion's share of Easy Money is. But you've read my thoughts on this one before. So no need to elaborate it any further.

Great review.


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