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Centipede - Septober Energy CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.31 | 67 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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