Sunday, September 20, 2015

Klockwerk Orange - 1975 - Abrakadabra

Klockwerk Orange
1975 
brakadabra

 

01. Dounyunohedeprinces
02. The Key
03. Abrakadabra 

Bonus
04. Schlüsselbein Overture
05. Willoughby
06. lad Zeppesch


- Herman Delago / guitar, organ, synthesizer, trumpet, vocal
- Markus Weiler / organ, E-E-piano, synthesizer
- Guntram Burt / bass, guitar, vocal
- Wolfgang Boeck / drums, turbular bells, timpani

A 2 cd reissue exis by Belle Antique, which I do not have.



If there's are country where ELP influenced greatly the development of Progressive Rock, it was Germany and Austria due to the proximity plus the obvious ethnic and cultural similarities followed them. Some of this bands encouraged by the success of outstanding albums as "Illusions on a Double Dimple" and "Spartacus" (TIUMVIRAT) tried to repeat the formula but didn't had that luck so they only scratched the surface of success, one of this bands is KLOCKWERK ORANGE.

The natural leader of the band was the multi instrumentalist and composer Herman Delago, (Guitar, Trumpet and Organ) formed at the Music Academy of Innsbruck. (Later he made Digeridoo albums and also formed part of AUSTRIA TRIO and VILLER SPATZEN plus some Jazz groups).

KLOCKWERK ORANGE was completed by Markus Weiler (Organ, E-E-piano, Synthesizer), Guntram Burt (Bass, Guitar, Vocal) and Wolfgang Boeck (Drums, Tubular Bells, Timpani).

Their only release was a 1975 LP called "Abracadabra" (Three epics album) which is pretty solid but lacks of some coherence, despite this fact the Hammond and Pipe Organ passages are brilliant (In the vein of Keith Emerson) the Trumpet is somehow reminiscent of Rein van den Broek from EKSEPTION but oriented to a more military sound. The percussion deserves a special mention because it's spectacular.

The vocals are rare and sometimes lost through long instrumental passages, not a must have but surely enjoyable for Symphonic fans, worth to give a listen.

Eloiteron - 1981 - Lost Paradise

Eloiteron
1981
Lost Paradise
 


01. Time reflection (3:32)
02. Once (4:54)
03. Fantasia (5:01)
04. Where (3:32)
05. Yapituttiperslikkenberg (3:18)
06. Hommage à M... (3:07)
07. Octopus (3:58)
08. Tree of conflicts (6:45)
09. Old man's voice (7:02)

Christian Frey / grand piano, organ, synthesizers, Mellotron, voice, strings, electric piano
Martin Frey / grand piano, organ, synthesizer, Mellotron, strings
Stefan Frey / flute, English horn, cornet, trumpet, soprano saxophone
Dani Reimann / drums
Harry Schärer / bass, electric guitar, synthesizer, voice
Michi Winkler / acoustic, classic & electric guitars




They are a keyboard lover's band, including lots of mellotron. The '70s prog influences are there, especially in the Steve Hackett inspired guitar work. The closest comparison is another Swiss band, Flame Dream.

New territory is covered in more dissonant guitar sounds, and solo trumpet. There is also flute, strings and grand piano.

"Lost Paradise" is the band's only release. Shorter songs, and slick production are indicative of the times. The focus is on the instrumentals, rather than vocals (by all accounts, this is a good thing).

If you are a fan of the mellotron, or interested in late '70s / early '80s Swiss symphonic movement, this is a band you may want to seek out.



"Time Reflection" opens with a nice little keyboard melody while the organ plays along. The organ takes the lead and then the sax before we get flooded out by the mellotron. The drums start to build as the organ joins in,and then it's back to the original melody. Good song. "Once" begins with a catchy melody of piano, drums and flute. Things pick up a notch 2 minutes in,as the tempo continues to change. Guitar 3 minutes in as horns come and go. "Fantasia" features some beautiful piano melodies until the horns arrive a minute in as the song speeds up. More sparkling piano as guitar and flute follows. "Where" opens with guitar as we get vocals for the first time. They are poor on this song, kind of shaky with light drums and flute. Guitar returns with mellotron as organ and piano follow. The vocals really ruin this one.

"Yapituttiperslikkenbers" is led by sax and drums until piano takes over. Check out the bass lines ! Sax returns before 3 minutes. "Hommage A M..." opens with flute, acoustic guitar and mellotron. Piano comes in and bass. Mellotron comes and goes and the tempo changes often. "Octopus" is my favourite song here. I love the piano that reminds me of Kevin Moore. After 2 minutes some good guitar with drums. Mellotron on this one as well. "Tree Of Conflict" opens piano and organ before strummed guitar comes in.The vocals are better on this one but average at best. The mellotron waves are fantastic though and plentiful. "Old Man's Voice" opens with flute before piano takes over. Drums arrive 2 1/2 minutes in as we get a full sound.The tempo picks up as flute, piano and guitar take turns leading the way.

Much better than average early 80s symphonic album. There were many of these type of private progressive rock albums released in Germany and Switzerland during this period and Eloiteron are one of the best. Trumpet adds a nice touch, and recalls the Austrian group Klockwerk Orange in a similar setting. Plenty of excellent organ, mellotron, guitar, piano, synthesizers, and flute as well. I appreciate the strong attention to melodic detail. It's primarily instrumental, though there's some sparse unobtrusive vocals that are decent. Recommended album, for certain, and holds up well after many listens. The kind of album Musea Records of France would have reissued, had they gotten to it during their prime.

Madura - 1973 - Madura II

Madura 
1973
Madura II



01. Livin' in America (Madura, J.W. Guercio, T. Kath) - 5:04
02. Doctor Honornis Causa (Joseph Zauinul) - 8:25
03. I'm in the Mood for Love (Jimmy Mc Hugh, Dorothy Fields) - 1:39
04. If You Got the Dime (David Wolinski) - 4:10
05. First Time (David Wolinski) - 2:46
06. My Favorite Things (Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein) - 2:26
07. Windy One (David Wolinski) - 3:45
08. Stagger Lee (H. Logan, L. Price) - 3:43
09. Save the Miracle (David Wolinski) - 4:24

Madura
David "Hawk" Wolinski - Keyboards, Vocals
Alan DeCarlo - Guitar, Vocals
Ross Salomone - Drums, Vocals

Guest Musicians
Terry Kath - Bass
Robert Lamm - Piano
Lee Loughane - Trumpet
James Pankow - Trombone
Walter Parazaider - Saxophone
Wayne Shorter - Sax (Tenor)
Joe Zawinul - Keyboards



As members of Bangor Flying Circus, guitarist Alan De Carlo and singer/keyboardist David "Hawk" Wolinski recorded a decent 1969 album for ABC Dunhill. When that outfit folded in 1970, the pair elected to continue their partnership as the Chicago-based Madura with the addition of drummer Ross Salomone.

Finding a sponsor in the form of James William Guerico (who'd enjoyed considerable success with The Buckinghams and The Chicago Transit Authority), the trio subsequently won a contract with Columbia Records. With Guerico producing, at least to my ears much of 1971's "Madura" sounded like an early Chicago album though thankfully without the irritating horns.

With all three members sharing writing duties (there was one outside cover), the collection bounced around between pop ('I Think I'm Dreaming'), FM-oriented rock ('Drinking No Wine'), jazzy interludes (''My Love is Free'), and more experimental excursions ('Hawk Piano'). These guys were clearly quite talented. Wolinski had a nice voice that sounded a bit like a cross between Chicago's Terry Kath and Robert Lamm, (he also played a mean Hammond organ).

De Carlo also had a decent voice and a knack for spinning off catchy jazz-tinged solos. While there were several strong compositions, allowing the trio to stretch out over four sides was probably a mistake since it forced them to fill up lots of space with poorly deigned jams and experimentation ('Plain as Day').

Hard to imagine Columbia, or any major label allowing a new band to debut with a double album, nineteen track set in this day and age . A second album recorded in 1972 and released early 1973 before the band split and each one of the members took their own road.


Madura - 1971 - Madura

Madura 
1971
Madura

 

01. Hawk Piano
02. Drinking No Wine
03. Dreams
04. Plain As Day
05. My Love Is Free
06. Free From The Devil
07. My My What A World
08. Stimulation
09. Don't Be Afraid
10. Damnation
11. See For Yourself
12. I Think I'm Dreaming
13. It's A Good Time For Loving
14. Trapped
15. Johnny B. Goode
16. Realization
17. Man's Rebirth Throught Childbirth Part 1
18. Man's Rebirth Trhough Childbirth Part 2
19. Joy In Old Age By Way Of Self Obserbation
20. Talking To Myself

David "Hawk" Wolinski (bass, keyboards, vocals)
Alan De Carlo (guitar, vocals)
Ross Salomone (drums, percussion)


Madura was a 1970s rock/fusion band from Chicago, United States. After the break up of Bangor Flying Circus (1969), Alan DeCarlo and Hawk Wolinski formed Madura. Only one personal change was made: drummer Michael Tegza was replaced with one of the best renowned drummers in the world: Ross Salomone.

David "Hawk" Wolinski, previous Shadows of Knight member, Alan DeCarlo and Ross Salomone recorded two albums produced by the Chicago producer James William Guercio. Hawk Wolinski later became a member of Rufus and Chaka Khan, and a successful producer and songwriter. Alan DeCarlo and Ross Salomone both appeared on Chicago keyboard player Robert Lamm's 1975 solo album "Skinny Boy," and Ross Salomone also appeared on albums by Chicago, Air Supply, Gerard, and Hollins & Star.

Madura can be seen and heard live on a short concert scene in J.W. Guercio's movie Electra Glide in Blue (1973) playing a part of Free from the devil. This is also included on the album from the movie. David Wolinski also appears as an actor in the movie, playing the part of "David, the VW bus driver."

The band's name "Madura" was inspired by the Meenakshi temple in Madurai

Alan Decarlo is fantastic on guitar. He plays everything from hard rock to jazz on this dbl album. Hawk Wolinsky is strong on B-3 alone but he also plays bass throughout the album on foot pedals! Russ Solomon plays the best drum solo i've ever heard on "Free From the Devil". Very little staight playing here. Decarlo has a pretty good voice and is like a madman at times. Madura is like Grand Funk on steriods!

Bangor Flying Circus - 1969 - Bangor Flying Circus

Bangor Flying Circus 
1969 
Bangor Flying Circus
 


01. Violent Man - 6:05
02. Come On People - 4:02
03. Ode To Sadness - 6:02
04. Concerto For Clouds - 5:23
05. A Change In Our Live - 3:45
06. Someday I'll Find - 4:25
07. Mama Don't You Know (That Your Daughter's Acting Mighty Strange) - 3:15
08. In The Woods - 4:18
09. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - 6:00

David "Hawk" Wolinski - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Alan De Carlo - Guitar, Vocals
Michael Tegza - Drums, Percussion




 Signed by Dunhill, the trio's self-titled 1969, debut teamed them with producer George Badonsky. Musically "Bangor Flying Circus" wasn't anything spectacular. On the positive side, DeCarlo and Wolinski were both decent, if anonymous singers; the trio's performances never less than professional. Unfortunately, with Wolinski writing the majority of material (De Carlo credited with one song), selections such as 'Violent Man', 'A Change In Our Lives' and their gawdawful elevator music instrumental cover of The Beatles' 'Norwegian Wood' reflected a surprisingly pedestrian AOR feel.

Occasional jazzy touches on tracks like 'In the Woods' and the skat segments in 'Ode To Sadness' and 'Someday I'll Find' didn't help much either. In spite of those shortcomings, well constructed heavy-psych album from a Chicago trio, with meaty guitar riffs and full organ sounds. This kind of music was done to death in the early 70s, but "Bangor Flying Circus" was made in 1969 and it's still fresh and innovative.

The extended use of organ does not make this proto-prog, which continually gets off to an active jazz-rock (especially noticeable on the last track). Interestingly, the bassist, and is responsible for the keyboard at the same time, with these tools, "led by the show." Above all, they are wonderful melodic, but fully disclosed during improvisations. It's a very well balanced album.

Honeyelk - 1995 - En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur...

Honeyelk
1995 
En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur...
 


01. Stoyz (Duel à Vie) (11:33)
- a) Rencontre Avec La Vie
- b) Combat Pour L'Harmonie
- c) Naissance De La Sensibilité
02. Do Zé Vé Loy (Terres De Sagesse) (14:16)
03. Osmose (live) (CD-Bonus) (4:50)
04. Rencontre D'un Soir (impro) (CD-Bonus) (7:34)
05. Message En Breaks (CD-Bonus) (1:41)
06. Qu'une Même Lumière Guide Nos Pas (CD-Bonus) (1:21)


- William Grandordy / piano, synthesizer
- Gérard Blanc / bass, vocals
- Pierre Yves Maury / clarinet, saxophone
- Christian Blanc / drums, percussion, vocals
- Frank Louisolo / guitars


This has been on my "want list" for a long time.Thankfully I was able to get a copy of this recording a couple of weeks ago, and believe me it didn't disappoint. This band is from France and released this album back in 1979. The core of the band is the Blanc brothers who play bass and drums as well as sing. I was surprised at how young the band looked in the pictures in the liner notes, especially to be playing such complex music. A tribute to their talents no doubt. They were known as HONEY DREAM doing covers of KING CRIMSON, GENESIS and YES before they changed their name and started moving in a new direction composing their own songs. They decided to sing in their own made up language(sound familiar) because Gerard had no desire to go back to singing in French which he felt lacked sufficient feeling, and he ignored English as well "wishing to be utterly original". The liner notes describe their sound as mixing "The energy and power of MAGMA, the technical virtuosity of ZAO and the harmonic richness of GENESIS, not to mention the European classical overtones and the power of the likes of VDGG.The music rested on a base of eternally-evolving rhythmic meters, with innumerable changes, accelerations and breaks in tempo. Passages of furious activity would alternate with other, quieter, more ethreal ones".

I should mention that the vocals at times remind me of Peter Gabriel making this a very interesting listen to say the least. I like the story in the liner notes about the band playing for 90 minutes to a packed house of a thousand enthusiastic people, and then giving five encores !

"Duel A La Vie" and the next track were the only two songs on the original album making it just under 26 minutes. Four bonus tracks have been included which add just over 15 minutes worth of more music. The first track kicks in fairly quickly and when it settles we get those Gabriel-like vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. He can be quite passionate as well. Such an incredible sound here. A dead calm after 3 1/2 minuters before it kicks back in with drums leading the way. Piano and sax after 5 minutes. A Zeuhl-like vocal melody follows and then it calms right down again. Vocals are back 7 minutes in as it gets melancholic. Vocal melodies with prominant drums follow. A change 10 minutes in as the soundscape from earlier in the song returns with vocals. Nice. "Terres De Sagesse" is spacey to start with synths as sax, drums and guitar come in before a minute. Piano then bass follows as the tempo picks up. Fantastic sound 2 minutes in. The drumming is so crisp.Vocals after 3 minutes. The melody stops 4 1/2 minutes in. Love the sound a minute later, there is a lot of tension. Sax leads the way 7 minutes in then vocals return. A change before 9 minutes. Amazing sound a minute later with drums and horns. It then settles with piano, vocals and sax after 11 minutes. What a ride !

"Osmose (live)" features piano and some atmosphere. Vocals before a minute. Spoken words 4 minutes right to the end as the crowd cheers. "Rencontre D'un Soir (Impro)" is the only track with violin on it. It opens with piano and guitar as vocals come in. Vocals become passionate as the music gets louder. Violin 1 1/2 minutes in as it settles some. Very cool sound here. Vocal melodies before 3 1/2 minutes. Then the vocals return with drums, violin and piano standing out. This is like a piece of heaven. "Message En Breaks" is a short well done drum solo."Qu'une Meme Lumiere Guide Nos Pas" is another short song with reserved vocals that grow louder with a mellow background of strings and electric piano.

This surpassed my expectations by quite a large margin. Highly recommended to fans of ZAO and WEIDORJE.

Honeyelk - 1979 - Stoys Vi Dozévéloy

Honeyelk 
1979
Stoys Vi Dozévéloy

 

01. Stoyz (Duel à Vie) (11:33)
02. Do Zé Vé Loy (14:16)


- William Grandordy / piano, synthesizer
- Gérard Blanc / bass, vocals
- Pierre Yves Maury / clarinet, saxophone
- Christian Blanc / drums, percussion, vocals
- Frank Louisolo / guitars


Honeyelk are a jazzy zehul band hailing from the city of Toulon in France, they were led by the Blanc brothers, Gerard playing both electric and bass guitars and Christian playing the drums. During the early and mid 70's they were involved with several bands mostly playing covers of other progressive rock bands. They first started composing original material as Honey Dream, then consisted of 5 musicians, adding 2 guitarists and a keyboard player to the brothers lineup. As they wanted to keep evolving and started touring, one by one the members left to pursue other careers, leaving the brothers alone. But dedicated to their project they continued by going to London to recruit english musicians, but unfortunately came back empty handed when the auditioned members found out the brothers intentions were to go back to France. By now they have changed their name to Honeyelk and started recruiting what would become their final lineup. By mid 79' after a few lineup changes, they added Pierre Yves Maury playing Clarinet and Saxophone, William Grandordy playing Piano and Synths, and Frank Lovisolo playing guitars. Financing it by themselves, over a space of two days and two nights the band have recorded two songs in total of 26 minutes, which was supposed to be their album's first side. Although writing more material, they didn't record anything else since they felt it was too out of date for the time, and not fully representative of their sound. The album was released with only those two songs and titled "Stoys Vi Dozévéloy", only 1000 copies were pressed and sold that time. On December 2nd 79' one memorable concert took place and recorded in front of 1000 enthusiastic people, featuring their entire repertoire. After the show and the release of their album, which both got very favorable reviews, the band felt they could make it on a national scale. But when contacting a few studios for the recording of their second album, they found out the costs were too high. Those high hopes turned into a string of disappointments, when a chance for them to open for Magma didn't came through when the gig was canceled, and other unsuccessful gigs also took place. in addition to that their promotion and distribution was too confidential, causing the brothers to put the band on hold for a while.

In the early 80's, after the departure of Lovisolo, Grandordy and Maury, the band still haven't gave up their dream to record a second album. Inspite of building a recording studio next to their house, and having a good and steady lineup, a second album was never recorded, though they did manage to record for themselves three more pieces that made it onto the reissue of their first album/EP. By mid 80's after adopting a more accessible style singing in french and english, they still weren't able to fully interest any of the record labels, naturally the Blanc brothers gave up and the band came to full stop.

Honeyelk's music is a fine cross between Magma, Zao and VDGG, playing in a typical Jazzy Zehul style. Their sound is mainly derived from the excellent playing of Gerard Blanc on bass, Maury's howling clarinet and saxophone and Grandordy's piano and keyboard work. Feeling French and English were not sufficient enough and wishing to be more original Gerard Blanc was singing his own made up lyrics.
In 1995 Gerard Blanc remixed the two tracks from their 79' album, offering a better sound quality and a balanced mix, and added 4 more tracks. The album "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur" was released that year by Musea with a detailed booklet, making it a worth while package.

This is the only album Honeyelk released during the band's lifetime, it contains the original recording and mix of what was supposed to be only the first side of their debut, but since they were not happy with what they had, they never recorded anything else that time and released the album as it is with only two lenthy songs, clocking at 26 minutes only. Later on in 1995 Gerard Blanc (singer and bass player) remixed the album and added 4 more songs, the album was released that year titled "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur". Because of not having a record label, the band had to finance everything on their own. The mixing was done in a small private studio in Paris and I guess that was the reason why the quality is not that good. The mix is not perfectly balanced and there are a few moments of chaos here and there (not in a good way I mean). Further more due to not having any professional help while recording, the outcome is far from perfect and other issues like timing and out of tuning also occurs. Most of these problems were fixed in the reissue, and now definitely sound much better and more balanced, such a great job was done. But honestly I don't mean to sound too negative since I really do like this little album inspite of all its problems.

So basically Honeyelk plays a typical style of Zehul mixing some jazz and and RIO elements. The music is mostly dark and haunting (well of course). There's a strong Magma influence, and their style definitely resembles other progressive bands like Zao and VDGG. The music is not heavy at all but also far from being laid back, that's because of the band's overall sound and instrumentation. The leading instruments here comes from Pierre Yves Maury playing the clarinet and saxophone, he is playing all the leads and responsible for the melodies too, of course there's a big help from keyboards and piano which are also always present and help to create their unique sound. Although Frank Lovisolo is credited as being a part of the band playing electric guitars, he doesn't really contribute much and his role is very minimal, I mean there is more guitar playing in bands like ELP, VDGG or Banco which didn't concentrate on guitars that much. The reissue also indicates that Blanc wasn't that satisfied of Lovisolo's guitar parts since he took a lot of them out, making the guitar almost non existent.

Although the music is quite intricate and complex, the band is not tight enough, they are at some points but other moments are too loose, and that's where they lose a few points. The compositions are long and although they are not perfect and suffers a little from an incoherent level, they do have some very good and inspired moments, one thing that I do miss is more killer interplay between them all. The music is moving from intricate aggressive playing derived from a killer bass to other passionate vocal parts, Gerard Blanc is delivering some stunning workouts, no doubt about it. Maury is definitely good playing both dissonant and melodic leads and pretty much gives the overall music it's vibe. It doesn't really detract from my enjoyment but the drums work is a little unstable, I hear some awkward and hesitant drumming here and there, again not tight enough. Another thing that I really like about them is the singing, not only is Blanc a capable bass player, he is also a great vocalist. Because french and english are obviously not interesting enough, Blanc is singing in his own made up language, which gives the music much more character. He is passionate and also sounds very much like Peter Gabriel.

The 1995 reissue "En Quete D'un Monde Meilleur" offers a more stable and balanced mix with a refined sound, on the other hand, this original recording offers a more rawer sound with much more evident guitar playing. For example, the third and final part on the second track is where it's most evident. I like that psychedelic guitar flying over everyone, this is really good. More over this version offers a different ending and is also one minute longer with more vocals and music, both versions are equally great though.

This is recommended to all Zehul fans which are looking for more music to settle their hunger. Although this is not the best album in the genre and it does have a few problems, you might find them unimportant compared to the music and ideas delivered. You can pass this over if you already have the 1995 reissue, but also this is worth tracking down for a reasonable price.

Free Spirits - 2011 - Live At The Scene

Free Spirits 
2011
Live At The Scene




01. Lbod   
02. I Feel A Song    
03. Earth Girl    
04. Sunday Telephone    
05. Cosmic Daddy Dancer    
06. Storm    
07. Blue Water Mother    
08. Peyote Song/Girl Of The Mountain    
09. I'm Gonna Be Free    
10. Night In Tunisia

Larry Coryell / guitar, sitar, vocals
Jim Pepper / saxophone, flute
Columbus Baker / bass
Bob Moses / drums


Featuring the earliest recordings of the young Larry Coryell, this short-lived quintet is widely acclaimed as the first jazz-rock band of all time. Though their landmark 1966 album captures their intense, psychedelic music well, those lucky enough to have seen them in performance maintain that their true power was only communicated live. Taped in their native NYC in February 1967, this warts-and-all live recording captures their fiery sound at its peak, with guest appearances by legendary jazzmen Dave Liebman, Randy Brecker and Joe Beck. This historically important set comes complete with detailed liner notes and rare pictures, making it essential for fans of jazz and psychedelic rock.

Free Spirits - 1967 - Out of Sight and Sound

Free Spirits 
1967
Out of Sight and Sound
 


01. Don`t Look Now ( But Your Head Is Turned Around ) 2:19
02. I`m Gonna Be Free 3:30
03. Lbod 3:05
04. Sunday Telephone 2:57
05. Blue Water Mother 2:46
06. Girl Of The Mountain 2:42
07. Cosmic Daddy Dancer 2:36
08. Bad News Cat 3:26
09. Storm 2:15
10. Early Mornin`Fear 2:39
11. Angels Can`t Be True 2:43
12. Tattoo Man 2:59
13. I Feel A Song 2:36

Larry Coryell / guitar, sitar, vocals
Jim Pepper / saxophone, flute
Columbus Baker / bass
Bob Moses / drums



LINER NOTES FOR THE FREE SPIRITS OUT OF SIGHT AND SOUND
By Richie Unterberger


In mainstream pop music history, the search for the first jazz-rock fusion group usually zeroes in on the late 1960s. That's when white rock groups such as Electric Flag and Blood, Sweat & Tears started using jazzy horn sections, and when greats like Miles Davis and John McLaughlin played jazz with acid rock-influenced guitar parts. Even before this, however, a New York group had truly drawn almost equally from jazz and rock, rather than dress up one of the styles with trimmings from the other. And although the Free Spirits made just one album, Out of Sight and Sound, it makes a strong claim as the first jazz-rock LP ever released, even if it was virtually ignored when it initially appeared.

    While the passing of forty years has dimmed recollection of the exact dates and circumstances, it's likely the Free Spirits formed around spring of 1966 in New York, where most of the band was living in a dilapidated building on the Lower East Side. Guitarist Larry Coryell had just moved to the city from Seattle to try and make it in the jazz scene, while drummer Bob Moses, tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper, and bassist Chris Hills all came from jazz backgrounds. Only rhythm guitarist Columbus "Chip" Baker, who'd played in folk coffeehouses, was coming from outside the jazz world, though Coryell had also played some rock and R&B back in the Northwest. But it was a time when rock and pop were becoming overwhelmingly popular among America's youth, particularly with the rise of the Beatles and the British Invasion. So it was that although none of them were hardcore rockers, the Free Spirits determined to play rock music by fusing it with their own roots, much as there were no real rockers among the Byrds when they had formed and made their own fusion with folk-rock.

    Says Coryell today, "I got to the city, and all this rock'n'roll, blues, and pop music was just as popular as jazz. I got into the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan. We were all into the Beatles. The world was into the Beatles! I was not pursuing jazz stuff exclusively. I was doing everything, and a lot of that included trying to write songs. I wanted to try to create a new type of music that would express my generation. I was imagining what it would be like if John Coltrane met George Harrison." Confirms Moses, "It was really Coryell that got me over whatever prejudice I might have had about rock. I have to credit Larry with really making me take rock'n'roll seriously."

    "Coryell was the most technically advanced guitar player around, comfortably playing all the R&B/rock and jazz styles, even combined," enthuses Hills. "Pepper had a unique harmonic concept, a wonderful sound, and had his wonderful Indian heritage. Moses somehow rhythmically merged the diverse influences of world percussion, R&B, and jazz, including [the great jazz drummers] Ed Blackwell, Elvin Jones, Rashied Ali, and beyond. Columbus was the anchor and best human being, providing a much-needed supporting role in a band of soloists, and contributed many wonderful lyrics. My distinction was to be one of the first to improvise jazz/rock bass lines, creating a spontaneous groove that was responsive to all the players.

    "Columbus, who hadn't much playing experience, and I had the sometimes quite difficult task of holding it all together. Unlike the other bands that all played arrangements and did minimal amounts of improvising, we had minimal arrangement and mostly improvised performances, which would always include elements of the most extreme jazz avant-garde. We scared a lot of young girls and people in general. We were well aware that we were doing something different, essentially combining pop and jazz. I, for one, usually felt like we were 'getting away with something,' even if we just played some soul jazz tune at a dance club. We wanted jazz to be accessible. Coryell did wonders with that, quoting current pop songs in his solos."

    Although the Free Spirits could and would go into some free improv onstage, their original material was at the outset quite oriented toward songs with vocals, albeit with adventurous jazz elements in the unconventional structures, melodies, tempo changes, and arrangements. "It was a genuine marriage of different minds," says Baker, who wrote much of the material with Coryell, of their songwriting collaborations. "I would bring some lyrics to Larry and say, 'Got any music for this?' He would write some chords to it, and I would come up with a way to sing it. That's what we did with 'Girl of the Mountain'; he and I wrote that in an afternoon. Larry and I just found a way to make these songs come to life."

    Even in such an era of musical barrier-busting as 1966, the Free Spirits sounded like no other band around, and quickly made an impact in their New York gigs, many of them at the Scene club. As to how they landed their deal with ABC Records, as Larry remembers, "I was a protege of [the great Hungarian jazz guitarist] Gabor Szabo, and he had a contract with ABC. He wanted to put some of us guys in the Free Spirits on his record. We got to the record date late, so we didn't make the record. But Bob Thiele, the producer, took a look at us and decided to sign us right on the spot."

    Confirms Chris, "We rehearsed and were to be on [Szabo's] Jazz Raga album, which has [drummer] Bernard Purdie, [guitarist] Bob Bushnell, and Jack Gregg [a friend of Larry's] on bass. It was supposed to be a double guitar trio, two guitars, a jazz drummer, and an R&B drummer, electric and acoustic bass. The day of the recording, we were in a fancy midtown rehearsal studio waiting to do an audition for some people that didn't show up. Our managers were holding us there when we needed to go to the recording session. Larry actually asked us what we wanted to do, and I, for one, gave him the authority to make the decision. He decided to wait, and we showed up at [Rudy] Van Gelder's studio after they had been recording for a while. Gabor wasn't happy, of course, and finished the album without us. He overdubbed sitar later."

    Thiele had been involved in jazz recording since the late 1930s, as well as working with early rock'n'roll stars Buddy Holly and Jackie Wilson. By the 1960s he was the main man at the ABC/Impulse jazz label, producing the most influential, popular albums by John Coltrane, as well as LPs by cutting-edge modern jazz innovators such as Archie Shepp, McCoy Tyner, Charles Mingus, and Yusef Lateef. According to Free Spirits manager Ted Gehrke, the Free Spirits were so eager to work with Thiele that they turned down a deal from Elektra producer Paul Rothchild. Adds Chip, "The signing of the contract was strongly influenced by Bob Moses's parents. Bob's dad said, 'If you guys don't sign this contract, you won't stay together. If you want to remain a band, you should sign this contract. If you don't, you'll blow apart.' And he was probably right. When I look back on it, I'm amazed that we were together for sixty days! If we had not a project to do together, what we were doing had kind of come to an end. We were just hanging out and playing together"—less than thirty gigs in their entire time as a band, by Gehrke's estimation.

    In the event, however, the ABC affiliation would turn out to be sorely disappointing for the band when Thiele produced their Out of Sight and Sound album. "Thiele was such an enormous pain in the ass," chides Baker. "This autocratic senior citizen of the jazz world who had produced records by John Coltrane, and here we were recording in the same studio at [engineer] Rudy Van Gelder's place in New Jersey. And this guy treated us as though we were fleas. I remember one afternoon we were recording, at the end of 'Tattoo Man,' and Pepper leaned over into his saxophone mike. He had this really deep voice, and he said, 'On your skin.' Bob Thiele came out of the control room like a hornet, started screaming and cursing at us and telling us that we didn't get to do that at his studio when he was producing, and 'you act right or we'll have your ass out of here.' Just the most ridiculous kind of tirade."

    Adds Moses, "There was one tune—we were recording it, and I actually got lost or something, or I dropped a stick. I stopped playing—there's a pause in it where I dropped out. But somehow the band kept playing, and I picked up my stick, and I kind of recovered. I said, 'Well, I might as well finish the tune, it's practice anyway. Obviously we're not going to use this take.' Thiele said, 'That's the take.' I said, 'What are you, crazy? It was completely messed up. I stopped in the middle.' 'That's alright, it's good enough. I don't care, nobody cares. It's just rock.'"

    Reflects Hills, "My 20/20 hindsight is that in our attempt to get a record deal with them, we disguised our true nature. In a sense, we tried to appear to be just another pop group. During auditions, we certainly weren't having long unaccompanied screaming tenor solos joined by totally free percussion! But, of course, when we got in the studio, we wanted to be represented as we really were, when what had been presented to them was some toned-down playing of nice tunes that were essentially not very radical. Perhaps some of the lyrics were—I remember the president of ABC telling us not to say 'mutha' in 'Blue Water Mother.' I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not. However, they must have acknowledged our connection to jazz since they gave us Thiele and Van Gelder, who had recorded the best in jazz, including the extreme avant-garde. But unfortunately they didn't have much of a feel for what we were doing. Frankly, I think they were unhappy to be making a pop record and were just trying to please ABC, making decisions that changed our approach to songs, creating some very heated moments between the older men and the young artist egos. My main complaint was that they added a ton of reverb to everything."

    For his part, Gehrke remembers ABC insisting that no song should exceed three and a half minutes, "because that's what pop records have to be," though onstage many songs lasted fifteen minutes or more. Which leads into Chip's favorite Jim Pepper story: "When we were recording, we were out at the parking lot at Van Gelder's one day, and Pepper said, 'I don't know what it is with this three-and-a-half-minute shit. I want to stick it in and leave it in a while.'"

    Although all the guys in the band make their dissatisfaction with the production clear, they retain affection for the songs themselves. "I loved 'LBOD,' I loved Moses's lyric," declares Coryell. "'Angels Can't Be True,' if it was recorded by a popular singer like John Pizzarelli or Peter Cincotti, the kind of voice that's in vogue today, I think that song stands on its own very well. It's got all kinds of jazz vocabulary." Baker especially likes one of his collaborations with Larry, "Storm": "I thought that was a very pretty song. [Coryell] left out a verse because he couldn't think of a way to get it onto music." For his part, Hills says, "I always liked 'I'm Gonna Be Free.' It's a very simple but strongly emotional song—I think it's a classic. As I recall, it was one of the songs we felt weren't done justice on the record. The live version got very intense." Coryell plays sitar on this track, observing today, "I loved Indian music, and was influenced by all the records I was hearing that Coltrane had trumpeted. He had talked about how much he loved listening to Ravi Shankar. None of us had money, we had no work, so we'd sit around and get loaded and listen to Indian music."

    "Girl of the Mountain" had special meaning for Larry, as it "was written for my first high-school sweetheart, back in Washington State. She got pregnant from me when we were both still in high school, and that child was given up for adoption as a little girl. My girlfriend went out to Missouri with some grandparents, all the shame and disgrace associated with that, to have the kid. I wondered about that kid for almost forty years, and the kid found me. The kid had no idea that I was a musician, or what I had done, or anything like that. Now she lives in Denver, she's married, she has a kid that's my grandson, and we all get along famously."

    Undoubtedly the most unusual track was "Blue Water Mother," which had two lead vocals singing two entirely different lyrics—a rarely-employed device anywhere in popular music, then and now. "I wrote these lyrics, I think I'd taken some acid or something," recalls Baker. "Larry had a set of lyrics that was as incoherent and wacked-out as mine. We used to get on different sides of the stage, and each of us would sing our set of lyrics at the same time. Thiele refused to split the tracks on stereo; he said he wasn't doing any trickery on his album. What a jerk!"

    Everyone's agreed that a February 22, 1967 tape of the band live at the Scene (on which they're joined for a few numbers by esteemed jazzmen Gary Burton, Dave Liebman, Randy Brecker, and Joe Beck) captures a much truer picture of the group than the ABC LP does. "Basically, we'd play the chorus of a song that we had written, and then we'd jam on it for an hour," laughs Coryell. "We were doing some really radical stuff," elaborates Moses. "We would often start  our sets with a ten-minute unaccompanied sax solo, completely free, just wild Indian screaming from the deepest gut. People would be mesmerized. And probably just at the point where they were thinking, 'geez, what is this, I didn't come here for this,' we'd crank into some serious Chuck Berry groove, and people would go nuts, man, they'd be screaming." Laughs Baker, "The fact that we couldn't play as well as John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, and Jimmy Garrison didn't mean we didn't play as long. We'd start to play and turn it over to one of the soloists, and we'd back him up 'til he got tired of playing. It was well before any of the people who, on a much less harmonically complex basis, began to play rock'n'roll in that same improvisational manner."

    While the Free Spirits might not have been around long enough to play many gigs, they certainly did some interesting ones. Gehrke remembers them opening for the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and the Velvet Underground; Hills even recalls hopping onto Moses's drum kit, uninvited, to play along with the Velvets at one show, "playing free around what they were doing. Actually the drummer [Maureen Tucker], she seemed to enjoy it." Baker remembers how actor Lou Gossett Jr. "used to get off his gig on Broadway and come sing standards with us," as well as playing at Lincoln Center ("we were on right after Mayor [John] Lindsay"), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Filmmakers' Cinematheque. Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals sat in with them, and Baker feels that trumpeter Randy Brecker, in "his structuring [of the] Blood, Sweat & Tears concept, came up with many of his ideas from the nights that he spent with us onstage at the Scene. And god knows, he gave me more ideas than I ever gave him!"

    Complete with liner notes by Nat Hentoff (one of the most esteemed jazz critics of his day), Out of Sight and Sound probably came out in early 1967. It certainly came out no earlier than December 12, 1966, as an LP acetate of the record exists bearing that date (though according to Gehrke, when they were sent an acetate of the finished LP mixes, they were so upset that they stood in a circle, put a hand each on it, and snapped it before sending the broken pieces back to ABC). "We hated it," admits Coryell. "We were all disappointed. We were idealists. We wanted perfection." Hills, however, questions "whether things would have been that different if we had been allowed to be in control—which would have been very unusual, of course. I don't think ABC would have liked or promoted it any better, but it would've been a more important documentation of the band." ABC didn't totally lose out with the Free Spirits, though; as Coryell points out, "the Free Spirits record was a failure, but the other records I made with Bob Thiele were relatively important records in his catalog."

    The record certainly wasn't heavily promoted by the label, given how hard it is to find a copy today (though, oddly, ABC did release a picture sleeve 45 of two cuts from the LP, "Tattoo Man"/"Girl of the Mountain"). "It's very easy to get overlooked in a big company like ABC," adds Chris. "It's also quite possible that their point of view was, they took a chance, spent some money for a record, didn't see much potential in the finished product, and wrote it off." ABC did actually try one more time with the group with the non-LP single "I Feel a Song" (backed by the same version of "Storm" that appears on the album), recorded at Bell Studios in midtown New York. But that single—now added to this CD reissue as a bonus cut—became the rarest Free Spirits release of all. Although it had a more accessible soul-pop flavor than anything else they recorded, the session was dampened (in Baker's memory) by a conflict between Thiele and the band's friend David Baker, brought along to help with the production/recording side.

    In any case, Larry Coryell left the Free Spirits shortly after the LP came out to join vibraphonist Gary Burton's band, as did Bob Moses soon after that. The Free Spirits did carry on without them, replacing Coryell with organist Lee Reinoehl and replacing Moses with James Zitro, Hills moving to guitar and taking a greater songwriting role.  Changing their name to Everything Is Everything when they signed with Vanguard, their late-'60s album included the small hit single "Witchi Tai To"—a song that Hills is "sure we would have recorded" had the original Free Spirits lineup managed to endure longer.

    As to how the Free Spirits might have developed had the original personnel enjoyed a longer lifespan, Coryell muses, "We would have definitely gotten into more of the freedom type of improvisation that involved jazz and all the other influences that were contemporary at the time—avant-garde, rock, blues. The record that Moses made [in the late '60s], Love Animal [on which Coryell and Pepper also play]—that's where we were heading." Moses, though, remains frustrated that the Free Spirits didn't fully realize their potential on vinyl: "I think we could have made a record that would have had the songwriting craft of like, say, the Beatles or the Stones, really classic, hooky melodies. 'Cause we were writing tunes like that with a guitar player as mean, and maybe even more musical and well-rounded, as Hendrix, with a sax player that's as deep as Ornette Coleman and Coltrane in Jim Pepper. Can you imagine a group like that, with songs that are as classic pop as the Beatles or Stones, with Hendrix playing guitar and Coltrane playing sax or something? C'mon! It would be something unbelievable, never heard before, and could have been incredibly successful." Baker simply states: "You'd think that that kind of talent marshaled into one place would have found some avenue for continuation. But people in the record industry didn't get it."

    After Everything Is Everything, Jim Pepper went on to record on his own and with other jazz players before his death in 1992. Happily, all of the other Free Spirits are still with us and doing well. Coryell, of course, is one of jazz's most famous and influential guitarists, with his autobiography (tentatively titled Guitar Man) scheduled for publication in 2007. Moses has recorded prolifically under his own name and with other top jazz musicians, and also teaches at the New England Conservatory. Hills has recorded as part of numerous jazz and R&B projects, most famously Players Association, who had a Top Ten UK hit in 1979 with "Turn the Music Up!" Baker left professional music a few years after the Free Spirits, and is now a writer-producer for corporate television.

    And with the passage of time, they view the LP more fondly than they did when it was first released. "When I listen to it now, I love it," says Coryell. "I hear a bunch of young people trying to get their careers started. I was experimenting. I was trying to be a songwriter and a singer, and I hardly played any lead guitar at all. I was still trying to find a way to express my talent at the time. I hear a great tenor player in Jim Pepper, and Bob Moses, his drumming, it sounded so good." For Baker's part, "The wonder of having been involved with so many other musicians of tremendous promise who have carried their careers along so that everybody could hear that music, I'm certainly grateful for that. I know that we were the only guys doing what we did."

Something was brewing in the lower east side of New York City in the spring of `66. Released on New Year`s Day 1967 this relic is probably the coolest, hippest and farthest out and overlooked recording of the `60s bar none. These cats ventured where no one dared tread in 1966, blowing every band away in their path with their galvanizing psychedelic performances that contained an uncanny concoction of blues, rock,folk, East Indian and be-bop. Considered by afficiados to be the first jazz-rock recording ever The Free Spirits`Out Of Sight An Out Of Sound was exactly as the title implied, radical stuff, as guitarist Larry Coryell would recall years later.

The band consisted of players who were mostly weaned on more traditional jazz stylings started out playing just that before being swayed by mastermind Coryell more in the direction of rock with his affections for the music of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Reluctant at first, the other members which included Jim Pepper on woodwinds, Chris Hills on bass, Bob Moses on drums and second guitarist Columbus Baker, the only member with no jazz backround, eventually took his cues and consolidated their individual virtuosic musical abilities to create hybrid music that wasn`t heard until several years later by such groups as Tony Williams`Lifetime, Weather Report or during Miles Davis`Bitches Brew Sessions. Even so, at the time these young aspiring musicians could not be considered musical visionaries in the least, they were just five cats who hooked up and were just doing their thing much in the same way as many bands were doing back in the free thinking latter half of the sixties.

After a scant two month`s tenure at one of New York City`s east end`s grooviest clubs, The Scene, they were invited to cut a record for ABC records with veteran engineer Bob Theile who had previously worked with the likes of jazzmen John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Unfortunately, Theile didn`t hold rock musicians in the same regard and the recording didn`t come off as most of the band expected and was hurriedly completed with none of the original compositions exceeding much more than 3 minutes which didn`t allow for much freaking out instrumentally. The album didn`t compare to the intensity of their live performances which , according to many who witnessed them, were full of improvisation and flair. Notwithstanding the shortsightedness of corporate types the album featured competent musicians who could hold their own in any jazz ensemble of the day while at the same time playing music which was socially and culturally in tune with the hippie generation, singing about peace and love which could be compared to The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas and The Beatles complete with stoned out vocals and twangy guitar by Coryell who even played sitar on a couple of tracks. What really made the music jive was the inclusion of Peppers avant crazed tenor sax and flute cries on tracks like the acid soaked Don`t Look Now, the hippie anthem I`m Gonna Be Free and Storm which was certainly one of the first pop songs to feature the flute. Bob Moses` pertinacious be-bop tendencies on the drum kit, which are in evidece throughout, also gave their sound a certain smoothness which gave the record even more groovy hip feel.

Don`t expect any of the improvisational guitar wizardry of Larry Coryell here ( he hardly solos ), but it`s interesting to hear this early marriage of different musical sensibilities from a group of cutting edge musicians which just grooves and moves. One of the few examples of psychedelic jazz from the sixties. Imagine John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery meets The Beatles and Hendrix. Those who think Miles invented fusion should definitely give this gem a spin. A veritable unsung artifact of rock 'n roll history.

Magic Spell - 1980 - Is There Anywhere A Gas Station

Magic Spell 
1980 
Is There Anywhere A Gas Station
 


01. Is There Anywhere A Gas Station?    
02. Vernissage    
03. Turkish Invasion    
04. Glad To Be Hits    
05. Angels Hope    
06. Cut Off

Bass, Vocals – Roman Spiess
Drum, Vocals – Stefan Clavadetscher
Keyboards, Vocals – Mengia Clavadetscher
Lead Vocals, Guitar – Victor Waldburger



Just when you think you've heard all the private press progressive albums from Switzerland, on comes another one. I first heard of Magic Spell through a German catalog a few years ago, but given the title of the album, I just presumed it was another hyped piece of trash, which this catalog was prone to do. But in this case, they were right! This is fastball-down-the-middle progressive rock, with clear nods to early Genesis, late 70s Eloy, mid 70s Grobschnitt and a host of other Swiss bands like Agamemnon, Elysium and Eloiteron. One of the better ones I've heard from this peculiar Swiss scene. Side 1 is particularly strong, whereas Side 2 takes on a bit more of a commercial stance.

Madder Lake - 1974 - Butterfly Farm

Madder Lake 
1974 
Butterfly Farm
 



01. Rodney’s Birthday – 3:01
02. Mother Ship – 7:40
03. Booze Blues II – 2:54
04. Ride On Fast – 4:26
05. One Star And The Moon – 5:21
06. Butterfly Farm – 3:33
07. Slack Alice – 5:08
08. Back Seat Song – 3:26

Bonuses:
09. It’s All In Your Head (single A-side, 1974) – 3:51
10. I Get High (single A-side, 1976) – 3:26
11. Rodney’s Birthday (live at Garrison) – 2:55
12. Lizards (live at Sunbury) – 5:03


Mick Fettes - Vocals
Jack Kreemers - Drums
Brendon Mason - Guitar
Kerry Mckenna - Bass
Andy Cowan - Keyboards
+
– Ian Holding – bass (10)
– John McKinnon – keyboards, vocals (10)
– Linda George, Greenagh Bradstock – backing vocals (03,05)



he 1974 follow up to their startling debut 'stillpoint' is another progressive rock gem another chapter in the story of one australia's best bands of the seventies. This, their last lp (excepting their legendary 'lost' album 'brave new world.we're still searching.') again featured a striking cover from roadie / artist drak and was lavishly packaged in a gatefold sleeve and insert (artwork faithfully created for this release). Musically, 'butterfly farm' continues in the same 'psychedelic blues' vein as its predecessor and features the mighty 'ride on fast' along with some amusing adlibs (on the live at sunbury version of 'lizards') from singer mick fettes! Aztec have added two subsequent non-lp singles and a live track from sunbury and the garrison as bonus tracks! This deluxe reissue (including 4 bonus tracks) has been remastered from the original master tapes by gil matthews, with a 24 page booklet filled with rare photos and liner notes from noted australian rock aficionado ian mcfarlane. The last six months have seen a triumphant return to the live scene from madder lake, who are rumoured to be writing and recording new material for a projected follow up - 25 years later!

Madder Lake - 1973 - Stillpoint

Madder Lake 
1973 
Stillpoint

 

01. Salmon Song - 8:22
02. On My Way To Heaven - 3:51
03. Helper - 5:07
04. Listen To The Morning Sunshine - 5:11
05. Goodbye Lollipop - 3:36
06. Song For Little Ernest - 4:30
07. 12-Lb. Toothbrush - 6:02
08. Bumper Bar Song (B-Side) - 4:41
09. 12-Lb. Toothbrush (Single Version) - 3:50
10.Country Blues (B-Side) - 2:43
11.Down The River (G. Ratziass) (Live At Sunbury) - 6:14
12.12-Lb. Toothbrush (Live At Sunbury) - 8:18
13.Bumper Bar Song (Live At Garrison) - 5:50
14.When Is A Mouse (Live At Garrison) - 5:38
All song by Madder Lake except where noted.

Mick Fettes - Vocals
Jack Kreemers - Drums
Brendon Mason - Guitar
Kerry Mckenna - Bass
John Mckinnon - Keyboards
Andy Cowan - Keyboards


 It all seems so long ago, but in the early seventies Australia hosted a burgeoning music scene that built on the garage pop explosion of the sixties. Music and culture had reflected on the initial rock’n’roll explosion, and all sorts of new avenues were being explored.

One of the most adventurous explorers was Melbourne ’s magnificent Madder Lake . Their career was typical of the times. Emerging from the sixties as a cover band (San Sebastian), they coalesced into an original band of great creativity and power, helped kickstart an independent Australian music industry, participated in the legendary gigs like Sunbury, and after two amazing albums that pushed the envelope of creativity and could’ve been major highlights in any part of the world, eventually folded without ever achieving the critical or popular acclaim their originality and talent deserved.

That’s the nutshell version, and it will do for now, because the focus really should be on this magnificent pair of albums that have now been given the lavish Aztec Music treatment they deserve. Like Sebastian Hardie in Sydney Madder Lake have remained a secret known only to those who remembered swaying close eyed as their music transported you to a higher state.

It’s often called progressive rock, and that’s probably fair enough, because it was music that transformed our understanding of what was possible, but ultimately it’s too limiting to try and tie music like this down with a label. Explore for yourself and be prepared to marvel and just what the Australian music industry was capable of in 1973 and 1974.

Stillpoint came first and is the product of just a few days in the studio. From the opening bars of “Salmon Song” you realise that you’re hearing something very different. Brenden Mason’s guitar and John McKinnon’s keyboards interplay joyously as the rhythm section of Kerry McKenna (bass) and Jac Kreemers (drums) underpin the sonic excursions with a thunderous bottom end that has just been waiting for a digital remastering to be fully revealed. After six and a half minutes creating expectation, Mick Fettes gravely vocals burst through the speakers, and the strength of Madder Lake is revealed. This is a band the absolutely revels in sparking off each other. The speed of recording captures an almost improvisational feel that was characteristic of their live performances. If “Salmon Song” was the only thing they’d ever recorded they would have been a great band, fortunately for music lovers everywhere it was just an entree.

Stillpoint contains the two singles that were obligatory for any band wanting to achieve recognition in the music industry, “Goodbye Lollipop” and “12-lb Toothbrush”, but goes way beyond that as the band explored textures, sounds and space. “Lollipop” is still irresistible, the perfect name for three and a half minutes of pure, unadulterated joy, while “Toothbrush” sounds as fresh as the first time its “na na nana nana na na” vocal hook first entered the collective consciousness of a generation of Australians.

This superb re-release supplements the musical explorations of the original album with some wonderful rarities. Aztec Music were obviously determined to make sure “12-lb Toothbrush’s” infectious hook infiltrated as many brains as possible, because the original single version is included here, as is a live version from Sunbury ’73. Two tracks from the rare “Final Blow” LP recorded live at The Garrison in Melbourne on 10 June 1973 round out the collection and offer convincing proof of just how powerful Madder Lake were on stage.

Madden & Harris - 1975 - Fools Paradise

Madden & Harris
1975 
Fools Paradise
 


01. Wishes (4:23)
02. Fools Paradise Part 2 (3:20)
03. The Wind At Eve (4:00)
04. Margaret O'Grady (3:12)
05. I Heard A Man Say (1:59)
06. O'Weary Brain (3:20)
07. Cool September (1:34)
08. Fool's Paradise: a) A Children Of Ice (2:15)
09. Fool's Paradise b) Will You Be There (7:38)
10. Fool's Paradise c) E.I.E.I.O (3:18)
11. Fool's Paradise d) End Game (6:58)
12. Remember Me (2:55)
13. A Simple Song (3:16)

Dave Madden / guitar, vocals
Peter Harris / sax, synthesizer, violin, harp, guitar, mandolin, vocals

Guests:
Paul Baker / bass
Doug Gallagher / drums



A folk duo from Sydney Australia, Madden And Harris had the particularity of being a teacher/pupil team, Peter Harris being a classically trained music teacher who was a multi-instrumentalist (from keyboards to winds, harp and guitars), while Dave Madden was a guitar student of the former. The duo started playing together as early as 72, releasing a single in 74 (Remember Me and its flipside, A Simple Song, both track a pure UK/Celtic-like folk drenched in mellotron), before releasing their only album in 75, Fools Paradise. This album was released on their own private label, Jasmine Records, and only 500 copies were pressed. It was a suopebly illustrated gatefold album with an extremely fascinating innerfold, drawn by Jane Lerossognol and named Fool's Paradise. The album's sidelong suite is dedicated to this painting, and the arrangements are fully progressive some movements are drowned in mellotron drones. Harris once said of Fool's Paradise: "our music lies halfway between a 16th century chamber sound with light jazzy influenced breaks", but there is a pure 60/70's folk-rock vein to be found in their music as well.

Hard to believe that such progressive folk beauties keep appearing in the new millennium, as if crawling out of the woodwork after a long hibernation. This Sydney duo of folkies (a rather unusual combination of teacher and pupil) only released one superb album on their own private label, Jasmine Records, before sinking from the radars' spectrum and into oblivion. This album is a pure gem in its presentation as in its musical content: an often medieval-sounding progressive folk with delicate arrangements, graced by an opulent gatefold with a rich outer artwork an a stunning inner painting of the album's name, courtesy of artist Jane Lerossignol, and dedicated to the sidelong suite gracing the vinyl's flipside. Teacher Peter Harris sings and plays most of the instruments (from keyboards to winds, harp and guitars) except for the guitars, bass and drums, while student Dave Madden handles the guitars and sings and the duo is often joined by a very apt bass and drums section, giving it a true rock spirit.

The opening Wishes is a haunting piece of dramatic-sounding folk in the Bert Jansch mode with cello, harp and guitar accompaniment, with the cello drones sending chills through your back as the track unfolds and a mellotron soloes away, with the two partners trading vocal lines, the track almost dying in a Harmonium fashion before picking up again in a stunning, jaw-dropping beauty and finally ending. Following is a short condensed recall of the sidelong title track, but it might be a bit short to call this a preview or an epilogue, as musically or sonically, it doesn't offer the same thrills, but nevertheless. FP pt2 has much to offer, but ends in a frustrating fade-out. The Wind At Eve is a superb ambient folk piece, again flooded in mellotron washes, with both singers trading melancholic lines. You'd believe yourself on the Winter track of Harmonium's fifth season album. At times, the prog folk duo of Subway (releasing their only album in 72 in Paris) is also somewhat similar to this duo of troubadours.

However, the rather out-of-place Margaret O'Grady is sticking out like a sore thumb with its barroom piano roll-out-the-barrel folk tune. Not atrocious a song in itself, but almost atrociously out of place, but apparently this is the track that was thought of as a promotion for the album. In the same upper mood spirit is the O'Weary Brain track, which takes a small but refreshing musical delire (almost Stackridge- like), and while it ends in a slow church-organ growl, it gives an intro for the closing Cool September, which keeps the organ flowing openly throughout the track. The more conventional I Heard A Man Say is more in the Fairport Convention mould with a soft flute wraps up the opening side of this album.

The stunning four-movement centre/masterpiece title track filling the flipside of the vinyl is obviously the "pièce de résistance" of Fools Paradise. The first movement (A Children Of Ice) starts on a children choir over guitar arpeggios, providing some charming but naïve ambiance, before some brutal drums shake you from your torpor (providing an ideal change of movement as Will You Be There is launched without much warning), while the choir keeps along, now accompanied by one of our troubadours. A piano, a bass, than an electric guitar successively join up, the later for a soaring fuzzed-up solo, the choir having by now disappeared, replaced by Harris' organ than a second passage of the song sequence. Some dissonant guitar arpeggios open-up "E.I.E.I.O" (don't ask ;-), which is a short and quirky but troubled song. The sinister lengthy ending of this track is the aptly titled End Game, first with huge bass line (thinking of Caravan's C'Thlu Thlu bass line) accompanied by string mellotron twirls, abruptly ended by a baritone sax and acoustic guitar strumming and gentle vocals from both M&H, but soon the ambiance becomes more menacing

Clocking at 20:16, the title track is simply Australia's best song, ranking up there with Rainbow Theatre, millions of miles ahead of the botched up Seb Hardie or Windchase. The non-album single bonus tracks are of the same calibre of FP's first side and therefore add even more value to the CD re-issue. The A- side remember me is a gentle but superb mellotron-drenched prog folk song, while its flipside is slightly rockier, but merllotron-laden as well.

One of the more spectacular aural albums discovered by yours truly, M&H's sole album Fools Paradise is one of those 24-carat unearthed gems, that needs no refining. If I have spoken of Bert Jansch, Harmonium, Caravan, Subway, Fairport, Stackridge, I could also cite Comus or Spirogyra (without the wickedness and the acid vocals), and you might just get an idea how superb this album really is.

Mad Curry - 1970 - Mad Curry

Mad Curry 
1970
Mad Curry
 


01. Men - 4:08
02. Big Ben - 4:53
03. Beauty - 3:31
04. Music, The Reason Of Our Happiness - 4:05
05. Jack Is Away - 5:17
06. 5 Longhair Children In A Cave -
07. The Worker - 3:48
08. Sound For Tomorrow - 3:16
09. Antwerp (single A side) - 2:57
10. Song For Cathreen (single B side) - 2:26

Viona Westra - Vocals, Percussion
Giorgio Chitschenko (Joosk Geeraerts) - Varitone Saxophone
Danny Rousseau - Keyboards, Sounds
Jean Andore (Vandooren)  - Bass
Eddy Kane (Verdonck) - Drums



 Machiavel might be Belgium's best known and most successful progressive rock band, but they weren't the first.

Probably the earliest band from that country playing this kind of music is Mad Curry, who released a single called "Antwerp", and then a self-entitled album, both in 1970 on the small Pirates label, meaning LP copies aren't likely to float around, and a legitimate CD reissue hasn't surfaced.

The band came from Antwerp, which is in the nothern half of the country (where the Flemish variety of Dutch is spoken). The band included female vocalist Viona Westra, who sounds remarkably like Curved Air's Sonja Kristina, with saxist Joosk Geeraerts (apparently also known as Giorgio Chitschenko), organist Danny Rousseau, bassist Jean Andore (or Vandooren), and drummer Eddy Kane (or Verdonck).

Notice they don't have a guitarist. Despite the band being Belgian, they stick to a British style of jazzy progressive rock.

Really, Mad Curry is truly one of the great, lost gems of progressive rock. This is simply an incredible collection of music, with some really creative drumming from Eddy Kane, and some killer organ work from Danny Rousseau.

This one of those progressive rock albums that isn't particularly pretentious (for those who run at the thought of this kind of music), as they tend to borrow more from jazz than classical. The music is really full of great twists like on "Beauty", "Music, the Reason for Our Happiness", and "Longhaired Children in a Cave".

"The Worker" is a real interesting one where it the keyboard heard sounds like a cross between a piano and harpsichord. While vocals are largely from Viona Westra, one of the guys (not sure who) do actually share vocal duties on "Beauty" (a song with reference to sex) and he reminds me of the Amon D??l II male vocalist.

Frequently Mad Curry gets compared to Soft Machine and Julian's Treatment, which is understandable, the Soft Machine comparison coming from the jazzy nature of the music, and Julian's Treatment for the female vocals and Hammond organ.

Other groups I get reminded of are Affinity, Catapilla, and even Curved Air (thanks to Viona Westra sounding like Sonja Kristina, which means if you like Sonja's vocals, you'll have little problem warming up to Viona's vocals, although like Sonja, she is an acquired taste).

Really, had Mad Curry been British, they'd likely end up on the Vertigo label, as it's very much in the vein of the more jazzy progressive albums on that label.

But since they were Belgian, they ended up on the Pirates label. Remember, in Belgium, the progressive rock scene hadn't been as so well represented as the progressive rock scenes in the countries that surround it (Netherlands, France, Germany), but Belgium had their share of groups worth your time, and if you're a fan of those British groups I mentioned, I really think you can't go wrong with Mad Curry. I was simply blown away from the first listen!
by Ben Miler

Machingbyrd - 1980 - The Road To Forbidden Ecstacy

Machingbyrd 
1980 
The Road To Forbidden Ecstacy 







01. The Road to Forbidden Ecstacy   
02. Illusion   
03. By Your Leave   
04. Hand-to-Mouth   
05. A Thrill in Disguise   
06. Cricket Song   
07. Stronger Than Steel   
08. His Wildest Dreams   
09. Simple Symphony   
10. Mary B. Reel

All Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals, Recorders & Euphonium – Mike Engberg
Bass & Fingersnaps – Bob Andrews
Drums, Demin Traps, Vibes, Fingersnaps – Bruce Stanley
Tenor Sax – Jon Olson




This record caught my attention on the Acid Archives when it was described as, "folk and folkrock with psych moves, acoustic and electric guitars, some synth embellishments." 
Thought it sounded interesting and so the hunt to find a cheap(ish) copy of the original few that were pressed begun.
Now owning an unplayed copy of the album - well, was unplayed until I got my hands on it! - it had to be heard.  I was maybe figuring it would be something like the Dreamies project of Bill Holt, but it's a lot less synth orientated.  It's almost as much a jazzy folk album as much as it is psych folk.
If you get a copy I'd highly recommend playing it through some decent headphones if only for 'By your leave's kicking bass drum.  I can't seem to hear it through normal speakers, but when the headphones are on it sends my ears insane, the air displacement is fantastic.  'By your leave' is one of the best tracks on the album in my opinion, with that bass drum, the French vocals and the nice synth soundscape, it works beautifully.
'His wildest dreams' (track 8) is really the only track that shows off the synthesiser and he really knew how to incorporate it well into his music.  The short solo is excellent and really helps make it one of the stand out tracks.
The last track, 'Mary B Reel', the only instrumental piece on the album, is a great piece of folk guitar that wouldn't sound out of place on something like Sir Richard Bishop's recent 'Polytheistic Fragments' album.  Timeless.
The only downside of the album is that sometimes the vocals are a bit of a let down, but they're not terrible and something that can definitely be appreciated in accompaniment with the music.