Diario

  • Dog Soldier: S/T (1975)

    Mag 2 2007, 20:54

    Dog Soldier were something of an offshoot of the Keef Hartley Band. Formed in 1975, they only ever made one, self-titled album for United Artists before folding for good. A pity, it was a pretty fine album.

    Much of this album is blues-based, definitely providing a link to Hartley’s past successes, but there's a progressive edge here, too. Keysman Mel Simpson adds some proggy synth parts to a lot of the tunes here, plus some tasty Hammond work. Miller Anderson's dense guitarwork is probably of paramount interest here, but Dog Soldier were really a talented ensemble. Vocals by Paul Bliss (also the bass player) likewise impress.

    Of the songs, Several People (the lone Hartley-penned number) is the one out-and-out classic, with the aforementioned proggy keys, dazzlingly melodic guitar lines and a haunting melody to die for. There's some more extended, jamming workouts on the longer pieces (You Are My Spark and Looks Like Rain), but even the lesser songs on the disc have something to recommend them. Definitely worth the effort.

    Paul Bliss went on to form his own group, the Steely Dan-inspired Bliss Band, who made two albums. As for Dog Soldier, their one album made a brief appearance on CD under the slightly confusing title Dog Soldier Featuring The Keef Hartley Band.
  • The Movies: Motor Motor Motor (1980)

    Apr 17 2007, 5:59

    The final album by Cambridge, England’s The Movies was recorded in RCA Studios in New York. The band's sound by now was basically a feel, akin to The Cars and such bands. Still, they retain a distinctive, bluesy influence on tracks like Slavery Time. The loss of keysman Mick Parker means their sound is more streamlined and guitar-based. There's still a bit of keyboards here (played by percussionist and harmonica player Julian Diggle), but they tend to be occasional and in the background. The jazzy, Santana-ish vibe that occasionally pervaded earlier albums is completely gone here.

    While a bit more straightforward than earlier albums, they still sound like no one else than themselves. On a song by song basis, nothing really stands out, but it's still fairly good. I definitely prefer the more up-front stuff like album-opener Hello From Outer Space to the mid-beat stuff that makes up the bulk of the album, though.
  • Puhdys: Perlenfischer (1979)

    Apr 17 2007, 5:47

    Perlenfischer

    The mega-popular East German rock band Puhdys released this album in 1979. Fans consider it one of their best albums ever, and it's easy to hear why; it has an expansive feel akin to current albums by Pink Floyd with no "low budget" concessions to the fact that this is a band from behind the Iron Curtain (compare with OMEGA, and the gulf in sound/production quality between their albums recorded in West Germany and the ones recorded in Hungary). Puhdys are well-known as a high-energy, hard-rock band and this is no exception, though they do slow down for the occasional power-ballad. Influences from Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple and the like are obvious, but well-absorbed. Progressive flourishes turn up from time to time on the longer tracks (e.g.: Sterne verspäten sich nie and Es fällt mir schwer), though I'd hesitate to call them a "prog-rock band."

    A solid album, and a good place to start if you want to discover the music of this legendary band.

    How do you pronounce their name, anyway?
  • Jasper Wrath: Through Different Eyes (Anthology 1969-1976)

    Apr 17 2007, 5:36

    What a curious career the New England prog band Jasper Wrath has had. One of the first American bands to be making bona fide progressive music, they only officially released one album under their own name, their eponymous 1970 debut for the Sunflower label. (currently reissued, but only on vinyl!) They continued playing and recording up to 1976, but never released another album...themselves anyway. The Dellwood label (a tax-scam record label) released two LP’s worth of the band's recordings under the fake band names Arden House and Zoldar & Clark.

    Disc One of this double CD anthology contains tracks from the band’s Sunflower-label LP, as well as some of the Arden House tracks and a goodly chunk of the Zoldar & Clark album. The earliest tracks have a flowery, psych-folk-turning-to-prog sound that make me think of an American Moody Blues, or perhaps an East Coast It's A Beautiful Day. The classical influence is obvious from the very beginning. The Arden House and Z&C material, being recorded later, is more explicitly prog, with loads of analog synths and Mellotron proving they've been listening to a lot of Yes and the like. It's all very American, though.

    Disc Two is largely unreleased demo tracks and live material. Interesting, if a bit redundant. I think I would have preferred a CD box set of all three albums in their entirety. (actually, since they're so short, they could probably do it on a double CD!) It's a bit of a moot point, as this anthology is long out of print, with only the vinyl issue of the first album and a pirated Japanese CD of the Z&C album generally available. I have a soft spot for this band's music, so making it more readily available can only be a good thing.
  • Cado Belle (1976)

    Apr 17 2007, 5:09

    Cado Belle

    Cado Belle were a funk/soul/rock band from Scotland who recorded one album and one EP in the late 70’s before folding. Basically, imagine a slicker version of Average White Band with a sultry female vocalist, and you’re pretty close to Cado Belle’s sound.

    What surprised me most about this group was that their singer is Maggie Reilly. I’ll admit, her work with Mike Oldfield (e.g.: Moonlight Shadow) rather left me cold, which is why this album came as such a revelation. Maggie’s got soul! Whoever it was that compared this band with Rose Royce was pretty close to the mark—Maggie’s voice is quite similar in many respects to Rose Norwalt’s (think of songs like Wishing On a Star if you need an example of what she sounds like here).

    Alan Darby’s incendiary guitar solos push this quite far into the rock arena from time to time, while Colin Tully’s sax/flute work imparts a jazzy feel from time to time. The lyrics are inordinately quirky for this type of music, as evidenced by odd song titles like I Name This Ship Survival and Paper In The Rain. Not the sort of thing I’d normally listen to at all, but quite tasty music all the same.
  • 50 related artists...

    Ott 11 2006, 2:59

    Go to the page of your number one artist, and follow the link of it's number one similar artist, then repeating that for this artist and so on, noting down each artist as you go. Do this until you've got to 50 artists (not including your number one). If you get any repeats, just go to the second similar artist or the nearest one that you haven't already had. Note next to them their position on your top 50 chart (if applicable.)

    1. Yes
    2. Genesis (2)
    3. Gentle Giant (4)
    4. Van der Graaf Generator (398)
    5. Peter Hammill (50)
    6. Caravan (9)
    7. Hatfield and the North (215)
    8. National Health (64)
    9. Henry Cow (398)
    10. Art Bears (136)
    11. Vibronics and Jah Free
    12. Love Grocer
    13. Overproof Sound System
    14. Nucleus Roots
    15. Jah Free
    16. Buju Banton & Wayne Wonder
    17. 43zla
    18. Ikac
    19. Wikluh Sky
    20. Struka
    21. Blokovski
    22. real skillz
    23. Nas & Puff Daddy
    24. ATM
    25. Viki
    26. Novica Zdravkovic
    27. Mitar Miric
    28. Saban Saulic
    29. Sinan Sakic
    30. Dejan Matic
    31. Igor Popovic
    32. Nedeljko Bajic Baja
    33. Halid Muslimovic
    34. Sako Polumenta
    35. Zeljko Samardzic
    36. Sejo Kalac
    37. Djani
    38. Dado Polumenta
    39. Stoja
    40. Sanja Djordjevic
    41. Mile Kitic
    42. Vesna Zmijanac
    43. Serif Konjevic
    44. Ljuba Alicic
    45. Halid Beslic
    46. http://www.topmuzika.com nofollow=yes
    47. Dragana Mirkovic
    48. Indira Radic
    49. Magazin
    50. Tajci

    So, weird journey, from sympho-prog to the Canterbury scene and avant-garde music to reggae with a brief stop-over in bad hip-hop before opening up a Pandora's box of Balkan folk-pop acts.
  • Stuffy & His Frozen Parachute Band (1973)

    Set 27 2006, 6:21

    Stuffy and his Frozen Parachute Band.

    Well, this was disappointing. For all the wacky name, kooky song titles like “Giraffe Back Blue” and cool cover art (by Jansen Eding Clapper, the same organization that did Todd Rundgren’s great A Wizard, A True Star) complete with funny fake ad on the back cover, this was a letdown. It’s slightly quirky folk-rock with blues touches, emphasis on “slightly quirky.” It’s very much of its time, and not in a good way. Actually, it sounds significantly older than 1973, as though Stuffy had had these tunes kicking around since 1967, and didn’t get a chance to release them until six years later.

    The most fun you can have is pondering who this mysterious Stuffy character really is. There’s no credits on the album whatever, so I have no clue. Stuffy could just be an unknown nobody, but as this was released on Paramount, it’s fun to imagine it was actually some semi-famous actor releasing a crappy vanity project under a false name.

    The best moment is the slightly energetic and soulful “Doo-Dah Day”, six minutes long and going into an ecstatic mix of folkish textures and gospelly vocals.
  • Zazu (1975)

    Set 27 2006, 6:13

    Zazu were an American prog band signed to the Wooden Nickel label (alongside Styx). The sound is quite American, with Crosby, Stills & Nash-style vocal harmonies and jangling folk-rock guitars a la The Byrds. The prog comes in via long, sonata-form song structures (one track is wittily entitled “Ittsnottasonatta (but it's close)”) feauting heavy lashings of proggy (Hammond organ and ARP synthesizer) keyboard work.

    Not essential, but pleasant.
  • Surprise: Assault On Merryland (1977)

    Giu 11 2006, 19:37

    Ho-hum Ameri-prog, Surprise hailed from St. Louis, MO, producing this one album and nothing else ever again. It’s your basic Ameri-prog formula: a rather tired rehash of themes derived from Genesis and Yes that in the end sounds less like them than like early Styx. Yet not as good. Take that to mean what you will. It’s all wrapped up with a silly fairy-tale type of concept that will make you cringe. Definitely inessential.
  • Squonk Opera: Bigsmörgåsbørdwünderwerk (2000)

    Giu 11 2006, 19:32

    “As seen on Broadway” says a quote on the back of the CD, and indeed, the bizarre prog rock-cum-performance art-cum-avant garde puppetry spectacle that was BigSmörgåsbørdWünderWerk did indeed have the briefest of runs on the Great White Way. The few who saw the Pittsburgh, PA ensemble Squonk Opera during their Broadway run never forgot the experience.

    I remember my surprise upon learning that the curious group that wowed ’em at Progday in Chapel Hill, NC with their oddly theatrical performance had released an album on a classical label (Angel), but I hadn’t learned the whole story yet. If you’ve heard Howandever, you kind of know what to expect here: a curious blend of classic prog (mostly Genesis, thanks to the theatricality), jazz, electronics and neo-classical ideas. Some themes will sound familiar: in the kitchen of the mountain king is a modified revisiting of the theme from hT cT with an homage to Edvard Grieg interwoven.