Saturday, January 9, 2016

Amenophis - 1983 - Amenophis

Amenophis 
1983 
Amenophis
 



01. Suntower (5:18)
02. The flower (7:31)
 a) The appearance
 b) Discovering the entrance in the shadow of a dying bloom
03. Venus (7:03)
04. The last requiem (24:32)
 a) Looking for refuge
 b) The prince
 c) Armageddon

Bonus tracks available on cd.
05. Bonjour, magnifiques Champs-Elysees (1:45)
06. Notre dame tres honorable (4:01)
07. Le vivant montmatre (2:17)
08. Une promenade sur la rive de la Seine (3:47)
09. La vue de la tour eiffel (2:52)


- Stefan Rössmann / drums, keyboards, acoustic guitar, synthesizers
- Michael Rößmann / guitars, keyboards
- Wolfgang Vollmuth / bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, vocals



Amenophis was founded in 1978 by Michael Roessman, Wolfgang Vollmuth, and Stefan Roessmann. The name was taken from an Egyptian Pharoah, and was meant to have international appeal.

They recorded their first album in their own apartment / studio in the summer of 1983. Lack of sales forced them to sell all of the equipment, thus breaking up the band.

In 1987 fate smiled with an offer to record a second album. This lineup would include Kurt Poppe on keyboards, René Kius on drums and Elke Moehle on vocals. Stephan was replaced (with his blessing) due to health problems. The tour for "You and I" lasted until the summer of 1989. Afterwards, with commercial success still eluding them, the band broke up for good.

From the beginning constant touring aided in honing their skills. Yes, Camel and Genesis are cited as major influences. A commitment to complex progressive music, and their own compositions, kept them from continuing with careers in music.

 Yet another symphonic rock gem I would never have discovered without the benefit of the Progarchives, Amenophis are a lost treasure of the progressive past resurrected courtesy of the rush by many labels to build up their CD catalogs in the nineties. This is one of the keepers.
The arrangements on this album remind me a whole lot of Camel, with the notable exception that these guys don’t have a flautist, although they do a good job of creating some synthesized flute-like sounds. The net effect though is that this album sounds like what Camel might be without Andy Latimer’s flute, and with an acoustic guitarist who tends toward Spanish flair at times. All three band members play a variety of keyboards, so there is a great blend of sounds on the album. Most tracks are instrumental, and on the ones that have vocals the tone is mellow, soft, and rooted in the seventies.

It’s not surprising given the 1983 release of this album that it didn’t take off, but I would imagine it would have gotten a much better reception a few years earlier. Typical of seventies symphonic rock, the album is divided into four rather lengthy tracks, each somewhat distinct but having a loose sort of coupling, mostly in the consistent arrangements. The vocal reverb effects are a bit sophomoric, but considering these guys were basically amateurs when they recorded this, they can be forgiven the occasional cheesiness.

The recording quality isn’t the best I’ve ever heard, but presumably the Musea version is a cleaned-up one, so it probably sounds better than the original vinyl, which almost no one likely has anyway.

With song titles like “Discovering the Entrance in the Shadow of a Dying Bloom” and “The Last Requiem” one doesn’t have to have much of an imagination to visualize the type of music on this album – mystic, earthy, and often highly orchestral even if delivered almost exclusively from keyboards and acoustic guitar. The electric guitar parts and more elaborate vocals hint strongly of a Genesis influence, but closer to ‘Wind and Wuthering’ than to ‘Trepass’ or ‘Nursery Cryme’.

The bonus tracks on the CD version are pretty much live, and for some reason the titles are French. These are interesting, are even more mellow than the original album itself, and are more inclined to acoustic guitar and what sounds like an electric piano. The timbre of most of these tracks sounds French as well, and frankly nothing on this album really hints at its German origin. A real anomaly in all respects.

Too bad these guys didn’t hang around to make a career of music, as I think they would have had a long and fruitful career had they arrived either ten years sooner or twenty years later. As it stands, they delivered a great album full of symphonic and emotional music, and it makes for a great bit of mood music today. Highly recommended to hard- core symphonic fans

Ame Son - 1998 - Primitive Expression 1967-1976

Ame Son
1998
Primitive Expression 1967-1976




01. Le Grand Cirque de la Lune (6:27)
02. Hein! Quant a Toi (3:00)
03. Comme Est Morte l'Evocation (3:29)
04. Je Veux Juste Dire, Pt. 1 (4:14)
05. Part II (4:03)
06. Part III (5:35)
07. Part IV (3:41)
08. Part V (3:04)
09. Part VI (5:05)
10. Sweet Georgia (2:42)

- Patrick Fontaine / bass
- Bernard Lavialle / guitar
- Philippe Garrel / guitar
- Marc Blanc / voice, drums


It's always hard for me to describe music and speak about it otherwise than with my body and soul but I can say it's a fine album with quieter moments,sometimes darker:Le grand cirque de la lune is my favourite track,by the way it's this one which made me buy the official release. One may find it outdated but it's really good hippie folk psychprog, something to check out.

Ame Son - 1970 - Catalyse

Ame Son
1970 
Catalyse




01. Seventh Time key/ I just want to say (6:14)
02. Eclosion/ Marie aux quatre vents (6:58)
03. Coeur fou/Le globule/ Le mal sonne (8:49)
04. Reborn this morning on the way of.../Unity (6:15)
05. A coup de H/Les sables mouvent (6:56)
06. Hein, quant à toi/Comme est morte l'évocation/Hommage (6:42)
07. Je veux juste dire (2:52)
08. Unity (3:56)

The BYG Records release truncated the actual album due to the limitations of mastering, rendering the track information nonsensical. At least three pressings of the BYG Records issue (3 different label designs) are known. The only known complete LP vinyl is the German Metronome / BYG Records one in their "Super Groups" series of releases. The Spalax CD (and some other reissues) re-add the missing tracks and add single/alternative bonus tracks.

- Bernard Lavialle / guitar
- Patrick Fontaine / bass guitar
- Marc Blanc / voice, drums
- Francois Garrel / voice, flute


In 1967, Marc Blanc and Patrick Fontaine were introduced to Daevid Allen after his departure from Soft machine. They both played in its Bananamoon band in Spain during summer '68 and in the south of France at the beginning of '69. They formed Ame son in June '69 with François Garrel on flute and Bernard Lavialle on guitar. The "Catalyse" album has been released in 1970. Ame son played in all the greatest festivals like Amougies, Les halles, Biot, Le Bourget and had a lot of success from both the audience and critics. The music was strongly influenced by early Gong with long psychedelic jam- sessions leaded by flute and guitar. They split in June'71 for the first time. They start again with a different formation in 1973 and are still playing together from time to time.

Ame Son's only album is one of the earliest "prog" French record (Sept 69) but really it is still very much a psychedelic thing, but undeniably progressive. This groups had roots in the mid-60's under the name of Les Primitiv's and were playing all over France and had been exposed to early Soft Machine on these last's frequent tours of France, especially on the Riviera. As one of their members got drafted in the army, the group went in lethargy and some members started playing with Daevid Allen's Bananamoon in 68 and 69. Upon the return of the drafted, the group reformed and changed their name to Ame Son with flutist Garrel. Signed to Byg Records, Ame Son's album was recorded in two days in London (French vocals later added in a Paris studio) and has Allen and early Soft Machine written all over it, without appearing like a derivate product either. It was generally well received by the press and the public, and they participated in most major festivals in France and Belgium.
To describe their music to progheads is not that easy, because their particular type of psych rock is often truly improvisational, but if dissonant, it did not go in the free-jazz and is much wiser/pleasant than Crimson's Moonchild (note: they don't sound like them at all). Basically a guitar trio with a signing flutist (but not our Tull Mad Flauter, more like Bloomdido Bad De Grass Malherbe), their sound approaches a Floyd-ish (circa Saucerful or live Ummagumma), a calmer Guru Guru (UFO and Hinten) and early Gong (Continental Circus OST), even if vocally they might have been stronger (but as I warned above, recording vocals in a different studio than the music, probably caused difficulties). But Ame Son managed to remain accessible by never over-stretching their talents or their improvisations. In many ways, Catalyse reminds me of Dashiell Hedayatt's jaw-dropping Obsolete (which is also Gong-related) with their raw hippy dreamy rock. Most of their tracks (none shorter than six minutes) are subdivided into sections of which Coeur Fou and Reborn This Morning are the highlights, but there are some real flaws: Coup De H/Sable Mouvants is not only slightly weaker, but definitely not well recorded. Two bonus tracks from a single are added on the Spalax Cd reissue, and they are fairly well in the spirit of the album (even if shorter), but a good remastering job is more than needed for that single and the full album.

After touring extensively France for two years, the group split up in mid-71, after some recording sessions to reform in 73 with a different line-up and made recordings, which also did not materialize, in a second album. AS's only album is one of those French pearl that qualifies as psych proto-prog and is very much recommended to anyone into Gong, Daevid or early Softs and untamed Floyd. For my part, I find this album stunning and in my French top 20 - Zeuhl notwithstanding.

Ambergris - 1970 - Ambergris

Ambergris 
1970
Ambergris
 


01 - Something Happened To Me
02 - Play on Player
03 - Gotta Find Her
04 - Chocolate Pudding
05 - Forget it, I got it
06 - Walking on the water
07 - Sunday Lady
08 - Home Groan
09 - Soul Food
10 - Endless Night

*Larry Harlow - Piano, Organ, Percussion
*Jerry Weiss - Fender Bass, Piano
*Charlie Camilleri - Lead Trumpet
*Harry Max - Trumpet, String Bass,, Violin
*Jimmy Maeulen - Vocals, Conga Drum
*Billy Shay - Guitar, Harmonica
*Lewis Kahn - Trombone, Violin
*Glenn John Miller - Trombone
*Gil Fields - Drums



Ambergris, as it turned out, was a one-shot album from a band formed by Jerry Weiss, who’d played keyboards with the first version of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Leaving before the group recorded the second album, he formed Ambergris and got Steve Cropper of MG’s fame to produce it. It’s not groundbreaking in the way that the first BST album was or in the way that Chicago’s first two albums were. There are hints of Latin influences in some of the tracks, while some of them sound as if they could easily have been lifted from sessions by BST or Chicago. Highlights, from my listening, are “Play On Player” and “Walking on the Water.”

Jimmy Maelen (vocals & percussion) who played with John Lennon, the Jacksons, Talking Heads, Alice Cooper, Marlena Shaw, Jimi Hendrix, Peter Gabriel, Buddy Rich & too many others to mention. Lewis Kahn (trombone / violin) who later played live with Tito Puente. Larry Harlow (piano, organ & percussion) who had previously put out releases on the lauded Fania label and would much later record with the Mars Volta.

Produced and engineered by founding member of Booker T & The MG's, Steve Cropper. Love this record.

Amber Route - 1983 - Ghost Tracks

Amber Route 
1983 
Ghost Tracks



01. Fighting With One-Eyed Lord
02. Don't Drink Lemonade
03. Before You
04. Abyss Of The Birds
05. Don't drink Lemonade (German Version)

- Walter Holland / vocals, clarinet, piano, synthesizer
- Richard Watson / vocals, guitar, synthesizer

guests:
Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals – Lou Rossi
Drums, Percussion [Acoustic Percussion] – Mark Harris
Piano – Steve Leondard
Vocals – Diana Harte

Recorded and mixed at Gopher Baroque Productions, Westminster, CA, between 1982 and April 1983.



AMBER ROUTE were founded in 1973. The band was born when Walter Holland, a synthesist from California, joined with Richard Watson. The band released two sought-after albums named 'Snail Headed Victrolas' and 'Ghost Tracks', from 1980 and 1983 respectively. Their sound is a mixture of space rock in floydian style and electronic soundscapes reminiscent of Tangerine Dream sequences. Walter Holland (vocals, guitar, synthesizer) and Richard Watson (vocals, clarinet, piano, synthesizer).

Amber Route - 1980 - Snail Headed Victrolas

Amber Route
1980
Snail Headed Victrolas




01. Snail Headed Victrolas
02. When Cries Are Photographed Finally As Ravens
03. Martyrs
04. Asteroid Joiroid

Recorded 1980 at Phantom Recording Studios, Midway City, CA.


- Walter Holland / vocals, clarinet, piano, synthesizer
- Richard Watson / vocals, guitar, synthesizer


AMBER ROUTE were founded in 1973. Spiritus movens of the band was Walter Holland, a synthesist from California.The band was born when he joined with Richard Watson - the band released two sought-after albums named 'Snail Headed Victrolas' and 'Ghost Tracks', from 1980 and 1983 respectively. Their sound is a mixture of space rock in floydian style and electronic soundscapes reminiscent of Tangerine Dream sequences.

The release of the band are highly rewarding - namely the 'Asteroid jorioud', the side-long suite from their debut album. The band used a wide array of instrument to express their music: Walter Holland (vocals, guitar, synthesizer)and Richard Watson (vocals, clarinet, piano, synthesizer).

Walter Holland continued a solo career in the late 80's.

This release is the brain-child of black tape for a blue girl guest musicians Walter Holland and Richard Watson (Walter sings “Lie Broken, Bleeding” on Mesmerized by the sirens and “The touch and the darkness” on Ashes in the brittle air). The deep cybernetic chants of introspective martyrs flirt over post-psychedelic landscapes forged upon the sounds of Stratosfear-era T.Dream and early ’70s Pink Floyd. Archive opens the vaults with 1980’s Snail Headed Victrolas. Analog electronics and stirring guitars, the first American independent album to catch Sam’s ear. Acid-hazed mind-trips, ripe with sounds and emotions few have been able to capture.
“Hippy space rock revisited. Bear in mind Ozric Tentacles have made a living out of emulating this stuff. At least Amber Route were there first.” (THE EMPTY QUARTER)

Amazing Blondel - 1976 - Bad Dreams

Amazing Blondel 
1976 
Bad Dreams



01. Give Me A Chance
02. Big Boy
03. One Bad Dream
04. Until I See You Again
05. It's Got To Be a Girl
06. I'll Go The Way I Came
07. Wait For The Day
08. Liberty Belle*
09. The Man That I Am
10. Call It A Night

- Edward Baird / electric & acoustic guitar & vocals
- Terry Wincott / acoustic guitar, flute & vocals

+ Dave Skinner / piano
+ Mick Feat / bass
+ John Gilston / drums



Somewhere between the aptly named "Inspiration" and this 1976 album, a line was crossed. It was a fine line yes, but once it was breached, Amazing Blondel would lose its first name for a couple of decades.
The sound is not all that different from the previous post Gladwin efforts, yet miles apart. Although "Until I see you again" is very reminiscent of the ballads on Inspiration, most of the others are beyond wimpy, especially in "It's Got to be a Girl", which doesn't show enough irony to be a send up of the metrosexual. Moreover, we now have to deal with boogie woogie inflections everywhere instead of the more symphonic upbeat tunes. This tendency even permeates the best and most proggy title cut ("One Bad Dream"). I may suggest the nearest references to be rather far from anything folk prog, perhaps to what the Bee Gees or James Taylor were doing at the time, or a cross between other soft bellied artists. It doesn't sound good on paper and it was worse on record.

This attempt to repackage Amazing Blondel as uber sensitive guys with a pulse on the times was ill advised to say the least. Not surprisingly, it became their last studio album until a short lived revival in the late 90s

Amazing Blondel - 1975 - Inspiration

Amazing Blondel
1975
Inspiration



01. All the Time for You
02. Inspiration
03. Thinking of You
04. You Didn't Have to Lie About It
05. I've Got News for You
06. The Lovers
07. Good Time Gertie
08. On a Night Like This
09. Love Song
10. Standing by My Window
11. Be So Happy
12. They're Born, They Grow and They Die


- Edward Baird / guitars & vocals
- Terry Wincott / guitar, keyboards & vocals

+ Mel Collins / saxophone
+ Dave Skinner / piano
+ Mick Feat / guitar
+ William Murray / drums


With "Mulgrave Street", you could feel a decline coming on, but "Inspiration" surprisingly reversed the trend at least for the moment. This is actually a substantially better album in a similar soft-rock folky style, with uniformly strong melodies, lyrics and the benefit of judicious orchestration courtesy of Del Newman and Adrian Hopkins.
The opening and closing tracks are the most progressive, but don't get too excited. We aren't talking proghead material. Nonetheless, the combined "All the Time for You/Inspiration" flows from an uptempo happy tune to a more reflective ballad and back. "Thinking of You" is a simply wonderful ballad that finishes even more impressively with piano and strings. "You didn't Have to Lie About it" can be compared with the Beatles "It's Getting Better" musically, very upbeat even though the theme is deceit in love. The next great track is the brief, heavily orchestrated "The Lovers", where Blondel digs back into its Elizabethan past at least for the lyrics. Told from the point of view of a serf speaking to his master, he claims that the mistress loves him. I imagine this is the sort of thing that he is practicing in front of the mirror before telling it to his master's face, if ever! "Good Time Gertie" is actually a pleasant little Genesis-inspired number - think "I know what I like" in a way.

Wow that was just side 1. Side 2 is just as strong, starting with "On a Night Like this", a gentle song that always makes me think of being warm inside on a cold winter night. Gentle acoustic guitars back the excellent vocal harmonies. Again the orchestral backing arranged by Del Newman is impossible to ignore but also not obtrusive. "Love Song" is a similar story musically. While the album is very mellow, each side contains some up tempo material. "Standing by my window" is one of my favourites, from the verses to the majestic middle 8, and includes great work on sax, closing with harmonies that would make better known vocal acts green with envy. "Be So Happy" is a fast paced optimistic song featuring plenty of strings and brass that closes with an extended instrumental . In other words, within the realm of subdued music, "Inspiration" has plenty of contrasts.

If the idea of Beatles influenced soft rock, but with less flash than the Beatles, is appealing to you, or if you know the earlier work of this great band and want to see an example of an artistically successful transition, this album is highly recommended, if you can find it!

Amazing Blondel - 1974 - Mulgrave Street

Amazing Blondel 
1974 
Mulgrave Street


 


01. Mulgrave Street (7:24)
02. Iron & Steel / Leader of the Band (4:52)
03. Light Your Light (3:03)
04. Hole in the Head (2:17)
05. Help Us Get Along (3:48)
06. See 'em Shining (2:34)
07. Love Must Be the Time of Your Life (2:32)
08. All I Can Do (2:40)
09. Goodbye Our Friends (3:15)
10. Sad to See You Go (3:20)


- Edward Baird / guitars & vocals
- Terence Wincott / guitar, keyboards, vocal
+ Sue Glover / vocal
+ Eddie Jobson / violin, keyboards
+ Paul Kossoff / guitar
+ Sunny Leslie / vocal
+ John Bundrick / keyboards
+ Boz Burrell / bass
+ Pat Donaldson / bass
+ Mickey Feat / guitar
+ Simon Kirke / drums
+ William Murray / drums
+ Mick Ralphs / guitar
+ Alan Spenner / bass



On the previous album, they had dropped the "Amazing" in the album title. This seems to have been done at some level as a tribute to John David Gladwin who had left before it. Gladwin was the major writer during the "Amazing" period and it was he who imparted the Elizabethan folk feel to the first 4 Amazing Blondel albums. Yet the Blondel album seemed to be operating on reserves from the previous era. For "Mulgrave Street", we see a major transformation.
Amazing Blondel is now a much less distinctive soft rock band with folk underpinnings, with Eddie Baird taking over almost all the writing and singing. Think the gentler works of the latter day Beatles for an idea, with some early 70s influences. While they are backed by former members of Free about to become members of Bad Company, the first evidence of the amplification occurs in the last song of side one after a few fairly mundane tracks. "Hole in Your Head", is a hard bluesy rocker with impressive leads by Paul Kossoff. That turns out to be atypical of the album, which returns to side 2 mellow again but with much stronger material.

"Help Us Get Along" definitely has a soft Bad Company feel to it, not surprisingly given the presence of Mick Ralph, Simon Kirke and Boz. "See em Shining" is a lilting gentle piece, while "Love must be the best Time" is a ballad with a lovely melody, but the real winner is Wincott's "Goodbye our Friends", which is a superb folk rock parting song featuring wonderful vocals, bass and piano playing.

While this isn't progressive by any yardstick, it does grow on the listener, and that is always a high commendation. Blondel wasn't so amazing anymore, but good songwriting is good songwriting, and they had it in spades even without Gladwin.

Amazing Blondel - 1973 - Blondel

Amazing Blondel
1973 
Blondel




01. Prelude (2:19)
02. Leaving of the Country Lover (4:15)
03. Young Man's Fancy (5:18)
04. Easy Come, Easy Go (3:30)
05. Solo 92:38)
06. Sailing (4:32)
07. Lesson One (3:00)
08. Festival (4:25)
09. Weaver's Market (3:44)
10. Depression (3:25)


- Eddie Baird / vocals, guitar
- Terry Wincott / vocals , guitar, percussion, flute, crumhorn, piano, recorders
+ Paul Rodgers / vocal
+ Steve Winwood / bass
+ Sue Glover / vocal
+ Sunny Leslie vocal
+ Simon Kirke / drums
+ Adrian Hopkins / harpsichord and string arrangements
+ Jack La Roche / strings conductor


In the broad brush world of progressive rock and its many sub genres, the transitional album is a fascinating beast. Some of the best offerings in history could be so described, as the band has its feet in two eras, the one past and well documented, the other in a yet unrealized future. In the realm of these denizens, "Blondel" is the representative from Amazing Blondel and, depending on your taste, you might regard it as their best. Because it is not quite as unique as their previous efforts, I cannot quite succumb to such platitudes, but suffice to say it is definitely up there.
Without the minstrel John Gladwin himself, AB could have easily packed it in. He really was their sound in so many ways. He wrote most of the songs and did most of the singing, but instrumentally they were group efforts, and Baird and Wincott had to be influenced in the songwriting department by Gladwin's legacy. I would not be surprised to learn that they had actually written quite a bit in the preceding 3 years, because what is presented on "Blondel" is like what came before, except that it sounds influenced by 300 year old music rather than the real deal. Even the subject matter has not changed that much, except that the focus is more on boy-girl romance rather than love of countryside. It's all romance anyway. The harmonies, acoustic instrumentation, heavenly melodies and earnest demeanour all remain. This version may not be as idiosyncratic, but it is just as authentic.

One other characteristic has been inherited - the tendency to front load albums. The components of Side 1 are all breathtaking, enhanced by judicious orchestral introductions and energetic and optimistic verses and choruses. The one that holds up best is "Young Man's Fancy", with its upbeat yet soothing approach and lovely fadeout, but both "Leaving of the Country Lover" and the Paul Rodgers backed "Easy Come Easy Go" are both fluid and captivating. The latter could have been a hit single in its day, and is the first recorded association with Free/Bad Company personnel. Side 2 does contain several gems - "Sailing" and the melodically innovative "Festival".

In retrospect, these modest fellows need not have implied that they were no longer amazing when they labelled this disk. It is of typically high quality and warrants a place in your collection if you ever thought of including soft rock on your top shelf.

Amazing Blondel - 1972 - England

Amazing Blondel 
1972 
England

 


01. Seascape (6:13)
02. Landscape (7:38)
03. Afterglow (3:40)
04. A Spring Air (3:41)
05. Cantus Firmus to Counterpoint (3:21)
06. Sinfonia for Guitar and Strings (3:11) (from the suite 'For My Ladys Delight')
07. Dolor Dulcis (Sweet Sorrow) (3:25)
08. Lament to the Earl of Battesford Beck (3:11)


- John David Gladwin / 2nd guitar, lead vocals, double bass, tabor, tubular bells
- Terence Alan Wincott / vocals, flute, recorder, harmonium, pipe organ, Mellotron, bongos, percussion
- Edward Baird / 1st guitar, vocals, dulcimer, 12-string guitar, percussion

With:
- Adrian Hopkins / harpsichord (6, 7), strings/oboe/horn arranger & conductor
- Jaque La Roche / strings ensemble leader


A group which is not easily categorized, 'England' is arguably Amazing Blondel's best work, featuring a very high level of musicianship throughout, and an excellent sense of arrangement. One not so taken with early music may find the vocals difficult at first, but once one becomes comfortable with this element of the sound, the music can become quite infectious and find a semi-permanent place in one's cd rotation for quite a while. This album sounds especially good on a cold winter morning, with snow falling outside and a big mug of coffee, as the tasty melodies flow and the infectious nature of 'England' keeps one playing it over and over. Very interesting, largely accessible, and well worth seeking out for fans of British folk music in particular.

Amazing Blondel - 1971 - Fantasia Lindum

Amazing Blondel
1971
Fantasia Lindum



01. Fantasia Lindum: (20:13)
  a) Prelude and Theme
  b) Song: Swifts, Swains, Leafy Lanes
  c) Dance: Jig Upon Jig; Theme (lutes and recorder)
  d) Dance (Galliard): God Must Doubt
  e) Song: Lincolnshire Lullaby
  f) Dance: Basse Dance; Theme (lute duet)
  g) Dance: Quatre Dance Pavan
  h) Song: Celestial Light (for Lincoln Cathedral)
  i) Dance: Coranto; Theme (lutes and recorders)
  j) End
02. To Ye (3:24)
03. Safety In God Alone (4:49)
04. Two Dances: (1:56)
  a) Almaine
  b) Bransle For My Ladys' Delight
  5. Three Seasons Almaine (3:32)
06*. Seige of Yaddlethorpe (2:30)

* - on some reissues the title is "Siege of Yaddlethorpe"

- John David Gladwin / 2nd lute, lead vocals, double bass, theorboe (lute).
- Terence Alan Wincott / recorders, vocals, crumhorn, harpsichord, piano, harmonium, percussion, woodwind
- Edward Baird / 1st lute, vocals, glockenspiel, dulcimer, guitar

Guest musicians:
- Jim Capaldi / drums



The three albums the Amazing Blondel made for Island records with John Gladwin on board are all very good, especially "Fantasia Lindum" and "England". Now, I can't consider them as "progressive rock", they more sort of "progressive Elisabethian" (good one, isn´t it). There is no electric instrumentation and the use of several medieval and renaissance instruments makes a comparison with early Gryphon or John Renbourn Group most relevant. But the Amazing Blondel were a very unique ensemble. It is kaind of amazing that this sort of music was released by the independent Island records. They could hardly expect any chart success!
Fantasia Lindum kicks off with the title suite with short songs with instrumental pieces in between. The acoustic (Spanish) guitars are dominating with Terry Wincotts sweeping recorders and crumhorns on top. In Edward Baird, the band was in posession of one of the finest acoustic guitar players England ever produced. John Gladwin romantic voice is very gentle and very, very English. In short - side one on the original album is the finest piece of music the band ever produced. However, the shorter tunes on the second side is not far behind and "Seige of Yaddlethorpe" even managed to end up on several Island compilations.

"Fantasia Lindum" and the follow up "England" is essential listening for those who appreciate music from olde England. Some people call Amazing Blondels´music "folk music", which I think is a misstake. It´s more influented by the "nobel" music playd in the courts and manors during the middle ages and the early modern times!

Amazing Blondel - 1970 - Evensong

Amazing Blondel 
1970 
Evensong



01. Pavan (3:19)
02. St. Crispin's Day (2:19)
03. Spring Season (3:39)
04. Willowood (3:24)
05. Evensong (3:10)
06. Queen of Scots* (1:39)
07. Ploughman (3:06)
08. Old Moot Hall (2:41)
09. Lady Marion's Galliard (3:41)
10. Under the Greenwood Tree (3:15)
11. Anthem (2:53)


- John David Gladwin / lead vocals, theorbe, cittern, lute, double bass
- Terence Alan Wincott / crumhorn, organ, vocals, pipe-organ, recorders, flute, tabor, harmonium, pharpsichord
- Edward Baird / lute, cittern, vocals
+ Chris Karan / percussion
+ Adam Skeaping / viola da gamba, violone


 This album is AB's 2nd full album and is full of 100% Elizabethan-folk sounding music. The inclusion of lutes and reed instruments add to the authentic feel of the music. There is no progressive and there is no rock present in any of these tunes. They are simple acoustic tunes with that certain lilt that accompanies this style of music. Very nice to listen to, but the only challenging thing about them is whether you can sit through the entire half-hour set of songs. I enjoy them, but if you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have found it difficult to sit through them all, so if you don't mind the naïve, yet bard-like sound of old renaissance, they are nice in a nostalgic kind of way.
A lot of people like to compare this music to Jethro Tull, and there are some similarities of course, because JT dabbled in this type of music a lot, but they also had a rock element added in even in their most hardcore Elizabethan-folk songs. JT also added the progressive element in most cases. However, you wouldn't be surprised to hear Ian Anderson singing "Spring Season" or "Willowood", which are the two songs that approach the JT acoustic sound. Also, the best song on here which is "Pavan" is the first one in line and starts things off quite well, but by the time I get towards the end, I have the feeling that a half-hour of this is enough.

An interesting thing to note here is that the lead singers Gladwin and Baird would have standard acoustic guitars made specific for the band to help substitute for reed instruments while in concert. One guitar was built to accent the treble and one for bass sounds. This mixture works quite well and they were very successful with it while playing live. You can also hear the distinct sound of both guitars in their music.

AB however, would continue on to their next album "Fantasia Lindum" with more progressive elements which would continue through the two albums also following that one. This makes the music a lot more enjoyable and adds a great variety to the music that keeps things interesting. Variety and complexity, though added in spare amounts, would improve the overall sound of the music. As far as this album, it is good, but non-essential.

Amazing Blondel - 1969 - Amazing Blondel & A Few Faces

Amazing Blonde
1969
Amazing Blondel & A Few Faces

 

01. Saxon Lady (3:09)
02. Bethel Town Mission (3:15)
03. Season of the Year (2:46)
04. Canaan (3:50)
05. Shepherd's Song (6:14)
06. Though You Don't Want My Love (3:58)
07. Love Sonnet (4:08)
08. Spanish Lace (2:45)
09. Minstrel's Song (5:34)
10. Bastard Love (4:10)

- John David Gladwin / vocals, 12 string guitars, lutes, double bass
- Terence Alan Wincott / vocals, 6 string guitar, harmonium, recorders, flute, ocarina, congas
- Edward Baird / first lute, vocals, glockenspiel
+ Clem Cattini / drums
+ Chris Karan / percussion
+ Gary Taylor / bass
+ Jim Sullivan / arrangements with Amazing Blondel


AMAZING BLONDEL existed throughout the early seventies. Originally formed by John David GLADWIN, Terry WINCOTT and Eddie BAIRD after leaving another even more obscure band called METHUSELAH. For these three, the band was essentially a three piece singing and playing krumhorns, recorders, lute, theorbo, guitars, dulcimers, flute, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, organ, tabor, cittern tubular, bells, glockenspiel and percussion. English mostly acoustic 1969-76. Middle-age renaissance guitar, organ and other instruments, multipart harmony vocals, etc., bordering on the prog movement in England at the time. The musicians had earlier played rock and thus the music cannot be termed classical either. Among lots of famous guest musicians can be named Boz BURRELL, Eddie JOBSON, Steve WINWOOD and Mel COLLINS.

"The Amazing Bondel" was a collection of soft acoustic rock numbers that included one medieval-styled song that seemed to go over better than anything else, and that was the direction they aimed for in their future releases. "Evensong" is a folk album that harked back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Madrigals and ballads performed on period instruments became their specialty and the trio's creative ideas led to the concept album "Fantasia Lindum", which belongs more to progressive-rock than to folk-rock. "England" used the same technique to craft elegant, lushly-arranged pop songs. GLADWIN left and the surviving duo veered towards STEELEYE SPAN's hard-folk with "Blondel", entirely composed by BAIRD, "Mulgrave Street", "Inspiration", "Bad Dreams". The band reunited 21 years later for "Restoration" (1997), an album which harkens back to their halcon days.

Their third and fourth albums "Fantasia Lindum" and "England" represent the most musically sophisticated of the material, which any progressive fan without an aversion to folk music should have no trouble enjoying. Most fans of early GRYPHON, FAIRPORT, and other British folk rock will be delighted with this band.

 This was actually the first Amazing Blondel album, but spent most of the last 25 years of the century as one of the most sought after collector items. While it's fair to say that the value of the LP was based more on rarity than quality, this is in fact a very good album.
To recap the history up to this point, most members of the band had been in a group called Methuselah, which issued one fairly heavy psychedelic album which featured several strong themes, some of which can be seen infiltrating this somewhat uneven AB debut. About half the tracks owe more to Methuselah while the other half have that Elizabethan flavour for which the group would become better known, if not exactly household names, through the first part of the 70s.

This juxtaposition of styles in almost alternate order actually works quite well, with Wincott's more rugged voice on the delightful "Bethel Town Mission" and the somewhat Blood Sweat and Tears influenced "Canaan" contrasting well with Gladwin's more elfin voice on "Saxon Lady" and "Season of the Year". It doesn't hurt that the songwriting and arrangements are already pretty mature, if simultaneously a bit naiive. The rousing and racous closer, "Bastard Love", produces an unlikely combination of the two styles, resulting in a humour that later would only be perceptible from their live shows.

The weaker tracks hint at Blondel's occasional tendency to overestimate the elasticity of some of their material, as in "Shepherd's Song" which is frankly a bore. But on the whole this is a document that is likely to make more than a few faces happy.

Alusa Fallax - 1974 - Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione

Alusa Fallax 
1974 
Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione 
 


01. Soliloquio (2:58)
02. Non Fatemi Caso (4:28)
03. Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione (4:13)
04. Fuori di me,Dentro di me (3:03)
05. Riflessioni Al Tramonto (3:04)
06. Il Peso Delle Tradizioni (1:40)
07. Carta Carbone (3:36)
08. Perchè Ho Venduto Il Mio Sangue (1:43)
09. Per Iniziare Una Vita (4:20)
10. E' Oggi (3:05)
11. E' Così Poco Quel Che Conosco (2:32)
12. Ciò Che Nasce Con Me8 (4:12)
13. Splendida sensazione (5:45)

- Guido Gabet / el. & ac. guitars, backing vocals
- Massimino Paretti / piano, organ, harpsichord, ARP
- Guido Cirla / bass, backing vocals
- Augusto "Duty" Cirla / percussion, bells, recorder, lead vocals
- Mario Cirla / tenor & alto saxophones, flute, horn, backing vocals


ALUSA FALLAX are amongst the ranks of Italian prog bands who only released one album in their career, perhaps surprising when you realise the band existed for around ten years.

The band was formed in Milan in 1969 by keyboard player Massimo Parretti who went in search of musicians to play on a piece of music he'd been asked to write. His search led him to GLI ADELFI, a band that featured an old school friend on guitar and vocals, Guido Gabet. Impressed, Parretti enlisted their help but shortcomings with the keyboard player led him to take his place for the recording. The band changing its name to ALUSA FALLAX was completed by three brothers with the surname Cirla, Augusto (drums, vocals and recorder), Guido (bass and vocals) and Mario (sax, flute, French horn and vocals).

The result was a single titled "Dedicato A Chi Amo" followed the same year by another called "Tutto Passa". They then started playing live shows but it wasn't until 1974 that the album "Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione" was released. Musically the album is largely in a symphonic style with classical and occasional jazz influences, with intelligent utilization of acoustic and electric instrumentation. Although comprising of thirteen tracks they are divided into two long suites with strong musicianship throughout.

The album received very little promotion and was only pressed in a quantity of 5000. They continued to make their living from the live circuit but not through playing progressive rock. Disco became big news towards the end of the seventies and they adopted this style for their live shows and even released a single under the name BLIZZARD before finally splitting up in 1979.

 'Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione' is one of those excellent yet overlooked one-shot Italian albums, fortunately recued from the vaults of oblivion thanks to the CD technology. The style of Alusa Fallax is "typically Italian", so to speak: emotional, richly melodic, full of classical nuances and folky acoustic touches. By incorporating a bunch of rocky sections and jazzy passages (...and even some Latin rumba!), the band achieves a repertoire whose complexity may remind the listener of some of the Italian top bands (PFM, BMS, Delirium), as well as early Genesis. Since this is a concept album, it is no surprise that all tracks are linked in a continuing sequence: the segues are fluid enpugh to make the final result compact and cohesive. The flute and keyboard parts are the most abundant ingredients in the mix, though it's fair to say that the electric guitar solos and sax multilayered orchestrations are quite impressive, too: some of the latter remind me of VdGG Jackson's excursions. The rhythm section is precise and versatile. Drummer Duty Cirla's vocal range remind me of Leonardo Sasso's (Locanda delle Fate), though his style is not as romantic, but actually more similar to the bluesy tempered anger of Alvaro Fella (Jumbo). The thread of tracks 1 to 7 (Side 1) is my favourite parte of the album, since I feel that the repertoire becomes a bit repetitive from track 8 onwards (Side 2). Usually, the instrumental passages are used for the development of demanding time signatures, while the sung sections are set on a calmer tempo, as if designed to enhance the ceremonious note conveyed in the lyrics. th eexception is 'carta Carbone', whose sung section is set on a rumba tempo, with the instrumenta lcoda reiterating the same chord progressions on a playful Baroque note. Apparently, the tracks in Side 2 are more somber, with only a few moments of real intensity among the predominant melancholic ambiences. The closing track is majestic in a typically symphonic fashion. All in all, given the inventiveness exhibited in the compositions and the musicians' ability to function as an ensemble, my overall diagnose is positive. This is a great album designed to be enjoyed as a unified whole.

Alto - 1980 - Happy Ambrosia

Alto 
1980 
Happy Ambrosia






01. Dark veils
02. She knows it's gone
03. Happy ambrosia
04. New mornin'
05. Nanga parbat
06. Communication '79
07. Outside
08. Psychodelic island
09. Flowers in the garden
10. Fiery orbits

Gembus, Heinz (bass) Guru Guru; Roland & die "Dadadogs"       
Kochbeck, Georg (keyboards, vocals)  Es    
Kochbeck, Jürgen "Georg" (keyboards, vocals) Es; Skyline       
Meier, Ellen (vocals) Es; Göldner, Andy; Pago Pago; Tomorrow's Gift       
Pappert, Johannes A. (also sax, percussion) Es; Groh, Muck; Kraan; Liliental; Release Music Orchestra (RMO)      
Stickdorn, Micky 'Mickie' (drums, percussion vocals)   


Alto was the name for the short-lived rock and fusion project fronted by former Kraan saxophone player Johannes "Alto" Pappert. They were never really a proper band, as Alto (check the LP covers) was really more of an ego trip for Johannes Pappert, showing off his talent as a multi-instrumentalist, and featuring a hoard of top musicians and Kraan friends as guests. Typical of many such late-70's productions, despite all the talent involved, the results were nothing special, just a lighter more varied twist on the Kraan of the era. Better than most such projects, but very dilute all the same.

Alto - 1977 - Alto

Alto
1977 
Alto




01. Beautiful Life    5:34
02. Remember The World    3:11
03. Winter 75    3:55
04. Communication    3:46
05. Walk On    4:17
06. Driftin    5:05
07. Baby    3:14
08. She´s Gone    3:12
09. Fee Forever    4:00
10. Saxomanie    2:05
11. When Desmond Getz Crazy    2:05


Bass – Bernd Kiefer (tracks: B5), Hellmut Hattler (tracks: A1, B1, B4, B6), Lou Marignan (tracks: A2 to A4, B3)
Drums – Jan Fride (tracks: A2, A3 to A5,), Micki Stickdorn (tracks: A1, B1, B4, B6), Zabba Lindner (tracks: B5)
Guitar – Andy Göldner (tracks: A3, A5), Peter Wolbrandt (tracks: A2, A4, A5, B3, B6)
Keyboards – Wolfgang Grasekamp (tracks: A1, A5, B1, B4, B6)
Saxophone – Alto
Vocals – Ellen (tracks: A1 to A4, B1 to B4)

Recorded At Conny´s Studio, November 1977



The solo album by KRAAN Sax master with other members participating plus vocalist of Tomorrow's Gift.

Alshia - 1980 - Alshia

Alshia 
1980 
Alshia




01    My Lady    6:20
o2    Corners Of April    5:04
03    Comment On "There"    6:12
04    Lythe    4:32
05    Lady Of Destruction    6:50
06    Darkness Love The Killerman    5:48
07    Majorca    3:42


This is another 80s private press hyped as "psych" by deceptive or deluded dealers. Alshia are better than Child's Art, but don't let anyone mislead you as to the style, which sounds like low-budget version of 1980 FM radio fare. They were obviously kings of their small local scene, but were left to release their album on their own because everyone beyond their loyal fans saw them for the average act they were. Slow tempos and tons of really nice acoustic guitar (even on the quasi-heavy songs) make them more distinctive than your typical AOR or hard rock band. Nonetheless, the songwriting is average and the singing is very weak, especially when they try to harmonize. The highlights of the album are instrumental, and, indeed, the instrumental that closes the album is easily the best song. A female singer is wasted, given only one lead vocal, but she's not much better than the guy anyway. Lyrics occasionally reach toward Christian and meaning-of-life themes, but are mostly banal. This album was recorded and mixed in two days, and sounds like it. It's not a terrible album, but not an especially good one, and not psychedelic or even "prog" at all. Mostly it's illustrative of the desire of rare record dealers to keep finding new product to hype
~~Here are some comments we received from Alshia band leader Paul Barlament, with reference to the review above: "I agree with much of your assessment of the album. It does sound like it was recorded in two days, although I think Andy Watermann did an admirable job with the time allotted and limited budget, as well as the relative inexperience of the musicians. It was actually Andy's idea to feature the acoustic guitar throughout much of the album, which did give it a rather distinctive sound. The Jefferson Airplane/Starship comparisons I've seen are interesting. There was a significant age difference between the bass player (Greg) and the rest of the band. Greg took up the bass after seeing the Airplane in concert and being floored by Jack Casady. I was 16 when I saw Jefferson Starship in support of Red Octopus, which is the only Starship album I owned. I would never consider anything they did in the same league as Volunteers or Surrealistic Pillow. My influences on guitar were Jerry Garcia from the Dead and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Jim, who played acoustic guitar on the album, was influenced a lot by the Dead's Bob Weir. In summary, I would say the sound we were going for was a kind of Dead/Floyd/Airplane fusion. The album doesn't quite capture that, though it does have its moments. On our best nights, we were a pretty good jam band.

Alluminogeni - 1972 - Scolopendra

Alluminogeni 
1972
Scolopendra

 

01. La Natura e l'Universo (7:58)
02. Scolopendra (3:43)
03. Che fumo c'è (2:47)
04. La Stella di Atades (4:39)
05. Thrilling (7:07)
06. Cosmo (3:34)
07. Pianeta (6:54)

Patrizio Alluminio (keyboards, vocals)
Enrico Cagliero (guitar, bass)
Daniele Ostorero (drums)


Gli Alluminogeni's roots can be traced back to 1966, and to five young friends who met each year while on holiday on the Italian Riviera. Originally formed as a beat group, the band went through several changes of name in those early days and at different points they were known as Green Grapes, Vips, and Bats. In 1968 lead singer Patrizio Alluminio moved from Casale Monferrato to Turin, where most of the band were based, and this enabled them to be more active. Around this time they condensed to a trio consisting of Alluminio (keyboards, vocals), Daniele Ostorero (drums), and Guido Maccario (guitar). Maccario would prove to be the first in a long succession of temporary guitarists. Further changes of group name ensued, firstly to Terza Sensazione and ultimately to Gli Alluminogeni (after Alluminio who was the most accomplished musician of the three, having graduated in piano from the Conservatorio Viotti of Vercelli). On the back of their demo tracks they successfully landed a recording contract with the Fonit Cetra label.

After recording their first single in 1970 they performed in front of 15,000 at the Cantagiro summer festival having had little previous live experience. Over the course of the next two years they released a further 3 singles, and Piero Tonello replaced Maccario as guitarist during this period. In 1971 they appeared at an Avant-garde festival in Viarregio and then supported Gentle Giant on their Italian tour. Also in 1971, Caio 2001 magazine named them the third best band in Italy, behind Formula 3 and New Trolls, and ahead of Le Orme. Another change of guitarist saw Tonello leave and Enrico Cagliero join the band. This new line-up (Alluminio, Ostorero, Cagliero) recorded the soundtrack for an Italian movie in which the band appeared, performing as Troglomen. In 1972 they released the apocalyptic concept album SCOLOPENDRA, a visionary tale with cosmic ecology as its central theme. This album was based around Alluminio's Hammond organ and plaintive vocals, but the band members were unhappy with the final production as they felt it sounded too commercial. Their dissatisfaction with the record label, combined with some internal conflict, resulted in the break-up of the band. Consequently, the album wasn't promoted and the split also obscured their participation in the annual Festivalbar song contest in Italy. Patrizio Alluminio subsequently brought out a solo single in 1975, but apart from that one release the different members of Gli Alluminogeni went on to pursue careers outwith the music industry.

These guys originally started out during the 1960s as an Italian beat group called Green Grapes. They subsequently changed their name to Gli Alluminogeni (taking their new name from keyboardist & vocalist Patrizio Alluminio) and reinvented themselves as a melodic prog band at the turn of the 1970s. Like many other Italian bands of the period they had a short life span and disbanded with only one album under their belt. In their case the break- up was due to conflict with their record label over the quality of production on the album, which is a bit ropey to be honest. After the reissue of Scolopendra in 1991, the band reformed with a new guitarist and released a couple more cds in the following years.
Scolopendra's gatefold sleeve proclaims ''During a very strange journey... a cosmic dawn'', and the majority of the song titles are based on themes of Nature and the Cosmos. The album starts and ends with sound effects of nature and an explosion respectively, so there seems to be some kind of apocalyptic concept at play here. The overall sound is a bit dated for its time of release, and there's a fairly strong psychedelic influence with most tracks built around Alluminogeni's Hammond organ. The aforementioned production doesn't help in this respect either mind you.

So, after a moody intro with some sound effects of birds and insects, LA NATURA E L'UNIVERSO finally gets going around the 2-minute mark with some brief vocals and then a bluesy Hammond workout. This is a promising start to the album but there's an incongruous psych-pop guitar section tagged on at the end of this track. The next three songs all continue in melodic rock vein, and a couple of them include real orchestral backing. The title track is probably the best of these with its memorable Hammond refrains. By the way, the genus Scolopendra contains the largest and most dangerous of the centipedes, but I'll be blowed if I know how a centipede fits into the overall concept.

Apart from COSMO, which is a short no-frills instrumental blues-rocker, the second half of the album is more mature with greater thematic development and longer instrumental passages. The keyboards ebb and flow to good effect on the darkly psychedelic THRILLING, as the muffled tones of pipe organ alternate with swirling Hammond and meaty guitar licks. Closing track PIANETA's forceful guitar riffs, majestic organ, and damp squib explosion then round the album off nicely.

Scolopendra is one of the lesser-known RPI releases therefore it's not one of the places to start if you're new to the genre. However, if you can overlook the poor sound quality it's actually not too bad an album.


Alice - 1972 - Arrêtez Le Monde

Alice
1972
Arrêtez Le Monde
 



01. Introduction (1:13)
02. Salina (4:55)
03. Arretez le monde (parte I) (4:32)
04. Byzance (2:50)
05. Il est (5:09)
06. Arretez le monde (parte II) (0:59)
07. Ouverture (3:34)
08. Le Roseau (3:49)
09. Quelqu´un qui t´aime (2:49)
10. Franky l´oiseau (2:36)
11. Le cercle (6:38)

- Paul Semama / guitars, vocals
- Luc Bertin / vocals, keyboards
- Ian Jelfs / guitars, Vocals
- Alain Suzan / guitars, bass, percussions, vocals
- Alain Weiss ("Doudou") / drums, vocals



Second (and last) album from this early French Psych-prog rock group with one of the best album title ever: Arrêtez Le Monde (stop the planet/world) as in "stop the bus ride, let me out here". Behind this title, Alice's music is still the same despite line-up changes. Still lead by Alain Suzan, the multi-instrumentalist quintet is a triple guitar group with Suzan also chipping in flute and doing bass duties. Uncredited horns (mainly sax, but also a full section) are sprinkled throughout the album. Despite being recorded at the famed (well not yet) Hérouville studio, there are times where you'd swear this is a garage products with some cringey moments, with vocals being the weakest point.

After a small instrumental intro where Suzan's flute dominated over some heavy chords, the album verses into Salina, a good mid-tempo song that evolves constantly and often comes close to perfection. The great 13-mins mini-suite title track is the first time we hear their voices (except for small outbreaks in Salina) and the track is not far from being an end- of-Beatles Harrison track. Byzance returns to the heavy Crimson-ian moods that we'd heard sketches off in the introduction. A very pastoral flute over wind gusts, it could sound like a Crimson track of the first album, but it goes nowhere before the title track returns to end the album's first side.

The flipside opens with the short promising Ouverture (meaning, we're expecting another mini-suite), before letting the savage guitars rampage through les Roseaux (reeds, the plants) one of the weaker track along with "Quelqu'un qui t'aime" (atrocious vocals and ill- advised guitars), but Franky l'Oiseau is definitely not better-inspired with flawed vocals and again bad guitars. The closing two-parts Le Cercle turns 180° and turns out to be a real masterpiece despite an arduous start in the first part, but the second part shows just how majestic the album could've been with some masterful constantly changing prog that often nears perfection, coming with an exciting sax solo and some brass arrangements. Amazing stuff?. Too bad there is not more of it on this album.

Definitely a two sided story, this album starts out quite fine (despite sounding a bit amateur) but quickly turns catastrophic once you flip it over, with only the last track to tip the balance the right way. Sooooo Alice is a risky business for progheads that want flawless albums, and in this case, they might have to settle for a half album and couple it with the debut album and the singles, to get something damn good.


Alice - 1970 - Alice

Alice 
1970 
Alice


01. Axis
02. Onurb
03. Le Nouveau Monde
04. L'arbre
05. Valse
06. L'Enfant
7. Extrait Du Cerce
a) Final
b) Theme
08. Venez Jouer I
09. Mexican Song
10. Venez Jouer II
11. Tournez La Page
12. Fumée grise et marrons chauds

Bonus Tracks:
13. De L'Autre Cote Du Miroir
14. Viens
15. Le Nouveau MOnde (single version)
16. Que Pouvons-Nous Faire Ensemble?
17. Je Voudrais Habiter Le Soleil
18. Il Viendra

- Jean-Pierre Auffredo / hautbois, flûtes traversières et douce, saxophones alto et soprano, violon, guitares, piano, percussions, chant
- Bruno Besse / guitares, percussions, vibraphone
- Sylvain Duplant / basse, guitares, percussions, chant
- Alain Suzan / orgue, piano, basse, percussions, chant
- Alain Weiss ("Doudou") / batterie, percussions, cloches tubulaires, chant


I guess most of you understood where this band got its name. Alice is one of the first generation of groups to have done progressive rock in France, even if their sound often came close to the blues rock, they mixed in some heavy psychedelic ideas and threw in a couple pinches of prog purée in their music and achieved a very interesting album, recorded in London and released in early 70. Clearly the leader was multi-instrumentalist and singer JP Auffredo and his style on flute was reminiscent of Jethro Tull, Traffic but sometimes the Yardbirds as well.

Their second album Arrêtez Le Monde (stop the world) would be a tad more progressive and be released in two version: the original French version and its English counterpart called All Ice. The group would disband by the mid-70's but most members stayed active some releasing solo albums and others appearing on different project or joining groups (such as Alpes).

Alice is a bit of a UFO in the French sky, as they sounded un-French, even if they sang in French, and considering they were among the very first wave of prog group in the country along with Martin Circus and Ame Son. Not only did they record their debut album in London, but their music was very UK- influenced, drawing many comparisons, most due to JP Auffredo's wide array of wind instruments use, violin, guitars and percussion and piano. With a cute montage of band pictures and clothes tissues artwork, Alice's debut album is one of the cornerstone of the psych prog scene of their country.
Starting on a menacing keyboard and sax line accompanied by a descending bass line, Alice's opening of their debut album is one of the most striking one, the group continuing on its inertia, and set out for a superbly fun eastern-sounding instrumental, especially once Auffredo abandons his sax for a lovely flute. A short pastoral Onurb with seagulls in the backgrounds leads us into the great Nouveau Monde (later drawn out as a single and added as a bonus), where over a metronomic percussion, Auffredo's flute takes on Tull proportions. The vocally affected and effected L'Arbre is a great Yardbird-esque and ends in total chaos: absolutely great ending. The short Valse (waltz) is mostly a flute thing, Auffredo double-tracking himself, and Besse's acoustic guitar pulling some nice chords. L'Enfant is another great track with Auffredo now on the violin, we could imagine Family or String Driven Thing.

The 7-mins Cercle seems to indicate that this was only a part of a longer project, here reduced to a duet of movement. Venez Jouer (come and play) takes on another fun pace, with Auffredo always ready to switch between his many instruments. This track also sandwiches the Mexican Song (but the second part is insignificant), which is a little folk ditty, albeit of a lesser and rawer Santana. Turn The Page is a wild prog instrumental that merits its highlight, especially in the end with its impressive stop & go section. Much too short award. .

Coming as bonus tracks are the first few singles released by the group, the first prior to their debut album: De L'Autre Coté Du Miroir is a very 60's sounding French psych pop track, while its original flipside Viens (come) is a fuzzed-out affair, both likely to please psych collectors around the world, both tracks slightly veering prog. Next is a single version of Nouveau Monde (from the album) and it was coupled with a non-album track called Que Pouvons Nous Faire Ensemble (nearing the 5-mins mark), a dreamy hippy blues with a searing guitar in the forefront. Last up is Je Voudrais Habiter Le Soleil (I wish to live on the sun) recorded in 71 as a single (at least I guess), proof that prog could be sold (or at least marketed) as a single and despite a poor recording sound, it is an excellent song; while Il Viendra (he shall come) is again in the same psych/prog vein, sometimes sounding like The Beatles on a very wiold trip, sometimes like a cool Trower-led Procol Harum.

Algarnas Tradgard - 2001 - Delayed

Algarnas Tradgard
2001
Delayed





01. Takeoff
02. Interstellar cruise
03. Reflection
04. Almond raga
05. Beetlewater
06. The arrival of autumn
07. My childhood trees


- Andreas Brandt / violin, vocals, percussion, flute
- Mikael Johanson / bass, handdrum, zither, tablas, percussion
- Dennis Lindh / drums, tablas, percussion, zinks, jews harp
- Dan Soderqvist / guitars, percussion
- Jan Ternald / mellotron, piano, moog modualr, organ, electric piano
- Sebastion Oberg / cello, flute, sitar, tablas



After the magnificent album "Framtiden är ett svävande skepp förankrat I forntiden" (The future is a hovering ship anchored in the past) from 1972, ÄLGARNAS TRADGARD (Garden of the Elks) went into the studio again to record their second album. The first album was actually a loosely improvised studio experiment that turned out very well. They were trying to do as much as they could come up with in the studio, with Moog synth, medieval instruments, sound effects, bells and god knows what. "Framtiden är ett svävande skepp förankrat i forntiden" was actually nominated for the Swedish Grammy music price.
The band however split up before the second album was mixed, and it was put on the shelf, until now. It's incredible that we now, 27 years later finally can hear the album. When they were putting the album together, they decided to mix it the way they would've done it back then. I can only say that it's a shame that this album have been kept secret for so long. Even though this "new" album has many similarities to the first, it also has differences. "Delayed" has a clearer structure than the first album and it's also heavier at times. Even though it's hard to find any bands to compare ÄLGARNAS TRADGARD with, there are some reminiscences CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, HAWKIND and KING CRIMSON.

Of course I also have to mention the nice foldout CD-booklet with a beautiful cover artwork by Jan Ternald. Jan also did the well-known cover artwork for Bo HANSSON's "Ur trollkarlens hatt". The band ÄLGARNAS TRADGARD doesn't exist today, but some of the musicians are still active today in rather famous Swedish bands such as FLÄSKKVARTETTEN and TWICE A MAN.

Collectors of arcane ethno-prog esoterica will remember the first (and, for a long time, only) album by Älgarnas Trädgård as a haunting mood piece: Space Rock without the Rock, and closely tied to older, more terrestrial pagan art traditions. The sudden appearance of a second album in 2001, almost three decades after the master tapes were mothballed and the original group disbanded, must have come as a complete surprise, not least for the new album's 180-degree reverse in style toward a more accessible psych-rock style.
It's hard to even credit the same musicians for both efforts, the difference is so startling. The later album is more immediately appealing (because it actually rocks, and hard), but the music lacks the unique, supernatural eeriness of the band's uncanny debut. Too many other likeminded off-planet explorers, most of them located south of the Baltic Sea in Krautrock Germany, had already staked out similar cosmic rock territory. But the Scandinavians brought their own flavors to the table, laced with a generous dash of the same Indian seasonings common in northern Europe at the time: sitars, tablas and such.

The atmospheric electric violin suggests a familiarity with the spacier ragas of early Amon Düül II, circa "Yeti". And the quotation from Gustav Holst ("Mars, the Bringer of War", of course) links the band to the more earthbound symphonic rock trends of the 1970s. Only on the last few tracks is the band's original magic restored, in particular during the ghostly finale of "My Childhood Trees", a shifting seven-minute aurora of ancient Nordic mystery, with a spectral voice from somewhere above the Arctic Circle drifting into the album's long, repetitive fade-out.

The production is a little rough around the edges, sounding not unlike an impromptu live-in-the-studio recording. But the unpolished vitality of the playing compensates for any lack of refinement, to a point where the album appears almost implausibly fresh today (and thus would have been ahead of its time in 1974). Even after 27-years in limbo, there's enough residual enchantment here to bump my otherwise conservative evaluation up a notch, and send a belated shiver of psychedelic excitement down a sympathetic spine.

Algarnas Tradgard - 1972 - Framtiden ar ett Svavande Skepp, Forankrat I Forntiden

Algarnas Tradgard
1972
Framtiden ar ett Svavande Skepp, Forankrat I Forntiden



01. Två Timmar Över Två Blå Berg Med En Gök På Vardera Sidan, Om Timmarna, Alltså (Two Hours over two blue mountains with a cockoo on each side of the hours..that is) (13:25)
02. Det Finns En Tid För Allt, Det Finns En Tid Då Även Tiden Möts (There is a time for everything, there is a time when even time will meet) (6:11)
03. Möjligheternas Barn (Children of Possibilities) (3:12)
04. Tristans Klagan (La Rotta) (1:40)
05. Viriditas (3:00)
06. Saturnus Ringar (Rings of Saturn) (7:15)
07. Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden (The future is a hovering ship, anchored in the past) (5:07)

Bonus tracks:
08. 5/4 (10:26)
09. The Mirrors of Gabriel (8:26)


- Andreas Brandt / violin, vocals, percussion, flute
- Mikael Johanson / bass, handdrum, zither, tablas, percussion
- Dennis Lindh / drums, tablas, percussion, zinks, jews harp
- Dan Soderqvist / guitars, percussion
- Jan Ternald / mellotron, piano, moog modualr, organ, electric piano
- Sebastion Oberg / cello, flute, sitar, tablas




ÄLGARNAS TRÄDGÅRD are a seminal, 6-piece Swedish combo who made one album in 1972, a cult classic and masterpiece of psychedelia that could have come straight out of the 'Kraut' school of Space Rock. After the release of their album, they kept on playing live for a while, even recording a full album's worth of new material in 1973-74. But it wasn't until 2001 that this material was mixed and released, on a cd entitled "Delayed".

Their 1972 classic, "Framtiden ar ett Svavande Skepp, Forankrat I Forntiden", is a veritable testimony to the halcyon days of hippiedom - a time when grown men, like children playing with forbidden colours, were popping hallucinogenic bonbons and experimenting with psychedelic sounds in their quest for mind-expanding adventures and altered states of consciousness. However, ÄLGARNAS TRÄDGÅRD's music never lapses into drugged-out silliness or aimless noodling. It ranges from earnest, to Medieval, to completely creepy - a sort of 'RIO meets folk'. They concoct some earthly (and unearthly) sounds using a combination of traditional, modern rock instruments and ethnic/archaic ones, the result being a spectacular blend of slow-smoking psychedelia with a strong vernacular Swedish folk bent. Their guitar-based, trance-like music is reminiscent of ASH RA TEMPEL; it also shares GONG's organic mayhem and the hypnotic qualities of early TANGERINE DREAM. If you can imagine a Nordic version of AMON DÜÜL II or ASH RA TEMPEL, you'll have a pretty good idea of what they sound like. The 2001 cd "Delayed", which makes heavier use of drums and guitars, is yet another marvellously atmospheric and creative mixture of prog and psychedelia.

 What a truly fascinating album this is! The album is actually entitled "Framtiden Ärr Et Svävande Skepp, Forinkrat i Forntiden", which, translates as "The Future is a Hovering Ship Anchored in the Past", which is also one of the song titles of the album. As you might guess, ÄLGARNAS TRADGARD is a Swedish band, but a truly unique band. Just imagine what would happen if the Krautrock scene happened in Sweden, rather than Germany. Just imagine bands like AMON DÜÜL II or ASH RA TEMPEL gone completely Nordic, then you get sort of an idea of what these guys are like. The band includes both modern (guitar, synthesizers, bass, drums/percussion, violin) and ethnic and archaic instruments (sitar, tabla, zinks, zither, rebec). It's truly a bizarre combination of Krautrock, prog, Indian, and Nordic folk music. Most of it is all instrumental, with only two cuts with vocals (in Swedish). If this isn't the epitome of a hippie band, then what is? After all, the guys of the band all look like long haired freaks, and the music sounds like it's LSD influenced.
Of interest is one of the band members is Jan Ternauld, he is also an artist, so he did the cover to this album as well. He also did covers for a couple of Bo HANSSON's albums, specifically "Magician's Hat" ( Ur Trollkarlens Hatt) and "Attic Thoughts" ( Mellanväsen). In fact, that's not the only Bo HANSSON connection you find with ÄLGARNAS TRADGARD, they also recorded for the same label, a small label called Silence Records (a label, in the early '70s that was very open to this kind of music - and is still around, and had reissued this on CD).

Regardless, if you fancy the idea of Krautrock with a Nordic bent, you gotta try this album out!

This album is a bit of a monster really as it blends Folk, Experimental, Psychedelic and Krautrock together. Ethnic instruments like tablas, sitar and zither are used to further set them apart from anything remotely traditional. This is unique, and it left me intrigued to say the least. Flute, violin, cello, mellotron, moog, bass, guitar, synths, percussion, piano,organ and jews harp round out the instrumentation. This is mostly instrumental with a guest female vocalist on one track and male vocals on another song, with some vocal melodies spinkled in.
"Two Hours Over Two Blue Mountains With A Cuckoo On Each Side, Of The Hours...That Is" opens with what sounds like church bells. I'm not sure what the next sound is but it's liquid sounding. Mellotron waves, synths and then drums come in as the song starts to build. This is spacey with some violin. This sounds great ! It changes 8 minutes in as drums stop but violin continues with a different melody. Vocal melodies join in. A dissonant or confusing final minute. Impressive beginning. "There Is A Time For Everything,There Is A Time When Even Time Will Meet" opens with flute and percussion as different background sounds can be heard including a dog barking. Or is that my dog ? It stops 1 1/2 minutes in as a squeeky door slowly opens, and then a ticking clock can be heard followed by mournful violin and then sitar. The strings of an other instrument are slowly plucked for a pastoral conclusion. "Children Of Possibilities" is more of a folk song with a guest female vocalist and cello. "La Rotta" features drums,violin

"Viriditas" has these distant, reserved male vocals with piano and other sounds. "Rings Of Saturn" is my favourite song on here. This is where the guitar takes the lead and runs with it. It builds in strength with drums to create an amazing sound. It's like the guitar sounds are bouncing all around us. Over 7 minutes of Krautrock inspired jamming. "The Future Is A Hovering Ship, Anchored In The Past" is actually the title of this album, but in Swedish of course. Ok these song titles are making my head hurt. This is a dark and chilling soundscape that moves along slowly. Think "Saucerful Of Secrets" and you get the drift. I like it. The next two songs are live bonus tracks from the same concert, and make this recording even better by their inclusion. "5/4" is spacey and dark with mellotron. Drums come in as it builds. A full sound after 3 minutes with percussion and guitar. Fantastic sound ! The song calms right down before rebuilding with heavy drums. "The Mirrors Of Gabriel" opens quietly, slowly building as synths come in. Percussion creates a beat. The percussion stops 5 minutes in as the soundscape becomes haunting and eerie. The sound builds with heavy drums.

Clem Alford - 1974 - Mirror Image

Clem Alford 
1974
Mirror Image




01. Mirror Image (14:19)
02. Raga Kirwani (8:04)
03. Raga Charukeshi (8:16)
04. Apocalypse (5:16)
05. Morning Storm (3:08)
06. Raga Khamaj (15:35)
07. Colours (4:07)


- Clem Alford / Electronic Sitar. Sitar, Tanpura
- Tony Campo / Bass Guitar
- Harold Fisher / Drums
- Amancio D'Silva / Guitar
- Alan Branscombe / Piano, Fender Electric Piano
- Keshav Sathe / Tabla
- Dave Heath / Flute
- Mick Ripsher Tabla


Clem Alford is a Scottish musician who after musical studies became rapidly enthusiastic by the rich possibilities offered by fusion music, especially by the cross relationships between West and East. In order to perfect his knowledges Clem travelled to India and studied with raga masters. Pupil of Pandit Sachindranath Saha he obtained successfully a diploma in India music (1970, Calcutta), specialised himself in "sitar" playing. After an outstanding performance for a recital in Bombay the same year, Clem has made a name in the world of India music. His talented "sitar" style was fully appreciated by the public and the community of specialists. Clem Alford's free spirited adventure has carried on worldwide. The musician performed in many countries from West to East (India, Japan and several other Asian countries). As a teacher and theorist Clem has written a guide book to explain his philosophy and how you need to play the sitar. During the beginning of the 70's he formed a trio, suggesting a fusion between popular music and classical raga. In 1974, he recorded his most successful album "Mirror Image". Absolutely captivating this album is one of the most accomplished mix between the pop/ rock structures and the sacred sound of raga music. Beautifully textured, breaking of all musical conformism.

Clem Alford in solo for long sitar improvisations, wha wha freak out effects, bass guitar and drums. This album can be an obscurity for a large majority of prog-heads but it will ravish fans of Sweden's psych folk and early krautrock artefacts. The self title track is an inspired jazzy rock improvisation put into an "eastern psych" vibe; the orchestration features wha wha guitars, exotic stringed sitar and jazzy percussion parts. This composition is the rockiest moment of the album. "Raga Kirwani" carries on raga traditions, a subliminal duo between mystical sitar chords and tabla percussions. "Apocalypse" features "misplaced" synth passages. "Colours" is a blissed out and hypnotic raga rock song, including sitar melancholic chords and spaced out electronic effects. A solid album for adventurous fans of progressive rock.


The music character of "Magic Carpet" was exactly music in the field of Acid Folk/Raga Rock that represented Britain for them. The music character with the transparent feeling is still handed down as a work of fine quality in Folk/Raga Rock.
"Magic Carpet" announced in 1971 exists as it is as a name of label. Of course, it is managed by the Magic Carpet label started up as independent label for the album of this Clem Alford.

It is said that Clem Alford had acquired the method of the performance with the bagpipe since the time of the 60's. And, he who moved to India pursues the technology and the music character for Indian music and Sitar. Clem Alford that studies under Ali Akdar and Ravi Shankar is completely learnt for the performance of Indian music and Sitar. The superior technology is satisfactorily demonstrated of course in the music character of Magic Carpet.

It challenges the flavor of Jazz Rock and the introduction of an electronic part in this album around the impression of Raga Rock. The sound made by modulating in the electron by hooking up a microphone to Sitar might surely expand the possibility of Sitar.

Playing of piano and guitar by Silva and Amancio D 'Alan Branscombe that had accomplished competing before activity of Magic Carpet. And, the performance by Keshav Sathe of the Tabla player who has the exchange with Magic Carpet also contributes to the content of the album. It will be able to enjoy the idea that Clem Alford dared exactly pursuing the expression of the music character all over the world considers and the music character without reserve.

Wah Wah Pedal is installed in Sitar as a point that should make a special mention and "Mirror Image" is performed. The part of Intro by Sitar and E-Piano shows the start of this album. The line of Bass and the melody of Sitar continue a good tension. In addition, the melody of the guitar twines and the part of Improvisation continues. The tune rushes into complete Raga Jazz Rock of passing five minutes. Part of unison by guitar and Sitar. The performance gets on the rhythm mainly composed of five rhythms and the combinations of three rhythms in union. The guitar, Sitar, and Bass repeat dismantlement and restructuring while continuing the form of Improvisation. This continuousness might be splendid.

"Raga Kirwani" has the flavor of complete Indian music. The melody to make good use of minor Chord produces good atmosphere. The melody of Sitar to get on the rhythm of complete Tabla might be glossy.

"Raga Charukeshi" is a tune from which the atmosphere of Indo/Raga occurred well. Flow of majors Chord performed by Sitar. And, the atmosphere of complete Indo/Raga with the percussion instrument. Good atmosphere continues. The tune reaches the peak from middle toward the last stage.

As for "Apocalypse", the flute twines round the flow that continues the tension with the melody of Sitar. A very enchantment impression will be given. And, the introduction of the electronic element intermittently repeated will not stay only by the music of simple Indo/Raga. An original expression is given as a composition with a transparent feeling and the tension.

"Morning Storm" shifts to the flow that is reminiscent of the impression of the natural world from the part of the introduction of SE. Melody of enchantment flute. And, it is partial of the obbligati of Sitar in close relation to the flow. The impression of the tune is exactly decided.

As for "Raga Khamaj", the sound of Indian music continues. Tabla and Sitar are integral. One space is exactly created. When ten minutes are passed, the tune increases the dash feeling further. The repeated atmosphere is a gaga exactly moment. Tabla performed by a high-speed rhythm has a complete technology.

The sound that Sitar is good for the melody of atmosphere with the anacatesthesia twines round "Colours". A fantastic flow finishes off the end of this album.