Monday, August 10, 2020

Black Sabbath - 1980 - Children Of The Black (Zodiac)

Black Sabbath
Civic Center
Hartford, CT

Children Of The Black
Definitive Edition
Zodiac 011

Stereo soundboard recording

101 Supertzar
102 War Pigs
103 Neon Knights
104 N.I.B.
105 Children Of The Sea
106 Sweet Leaf
107 Drum Solo
108 Sweet Leaf (Reprise)
109 Black Sabbath

201 MC
202 Heaven And Hell
203 Iron Man
204 Guitar Solo
205 Die Young
206 Paranoid
207 children Of The Grave

Bonus track
Hammersmith Odeon
London, UK

208 Children Of The Sea

After the Never Say Die album and tour, which ran between 1978 and 1979, Black Sabbath could no longer effectively function with the overt drug and alcohol dependency of their lead singer, Ozzy Osbourne. They fired him, and he went on to develop what would become a hugely successful solo career with the help of his future wife, Sharon Arden (daughter of Sabbath's manager, Don Arden.) The rest of Black Sabbath knew it would be difficult to replace such an iconoclastic figurehead, but were determined to try. They eventually recruited Ronnie James Dio, a very powerful hard rock singer from Cortland, NY. Dio had fronted a moderately successful rock band called Elf (so named because everyone in the band was short!) before being recruited by Ritchie Blackmore to join his post Deep Purple project, Rainbow.

Dio was approached and although he had apprehensions about trying to revive such a successful band whose previous lead singer was a household name, he was willing to give it a go. To the credit of the band, they welcomed Dio's composing contributions and gave him equal credit on all the songs that would appear on their new album, Heaven & Hell. That version of Sabbath (and there would be several more to follow this one until the original Osbourne lineup regrouped in 1996), was the only other version of the band to see platinum success. It became known as the Heaven & Hell lineup. Although Ward would eventually be replaced by drummer Carmine Appice's younger brother, Vinnie, this version with Dio stayed together for a number of albums and tours.

This King Biscuit show features a healthy chunk of material from the Heaven & Hell record, but shows the band when they were still dependent on many of the Osbourne-era hits. Among those are revamped versions of "War Pigs," "Sweet Leaf," "Black Sabbath," "Iron Man," "Paranoid" and the ominous "Children Of The Grave," which closes the show. The Heaven & Hell lineup of Sabbath has reunited to tour with Vinnie Appice, but another re-grouping of the original Black Sabbath is likely when and if Ozzy deems it so.

Black Sabbath - 1975 - Live Longest... Die At Last (Definitive Edition / Zodiac)

Black Sabbath
Convention Hall
Asbury Park, NJ

Live Longest... Die At Last
Definitive Edition
Zodiac 305

Soundboard recording

101 Supertzar
102 Killing Yourself To Live
103 Hole In The Sky
104 Snowblind
105 Symptom Of The Universe
106 War Pigs
107 Megalomania

201 Sabbra Cadabra
202 Band Jam
203 Guitar Solo 1
204 Sometimes I'm Happy
205 Drums Solo
206 Supernaut
207 Iron Man
208 Orchid - Guitar Solo 2
209 Rock 'n' Roll Doctor Jam
210 Guitar Solo 3 - Don't Start (Too Late)
211 Black Sabbath
212 Spiral Architect
213 Embryo - Children Of The Grave
214 MC
215 Paranoid

Black Sabbath’s concert in Asbury Park in the summer of 1975 is legendary thanks to the fact that it was recorded by The King Biscuit Flower Hour, and as with many KBFH recordings was largely edited prior to being sent out for airplay. A few tracks appeared on the 2002 official release entitled Past Lives as part of the second CD that was a mix of the Asbury Park show and the Paris soundboard from 1970 and needless to say it was for most collectors the 1975 material that peaked ones interest. A couple of years later the entire concert was making the rounds in trading circles and I was able to get my first taste of this legendary concert. What makes this concert legendary? Well sound quality is superb for one, the other is the band is at the height of the collective abilities as a live act. Last but not least, just take a look at the set list, three songs from Sabotage, three from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath as well as a few classics thrown in for good measure.

The recording began to get attention in the collectors market as well and has been released as Heaven And Earth (Bondage BON269/270), Let Slip The Pigs Of War (Non Label) that is incomplete, Past Live Ever (Tarantura TCDBS-2-1,2), Live Longest…Die At Last (No Label), and this new version from the same label and from what I can make out from the interpretation is that this “new” version has been tweaked a bit better for sound. The only other version I have of this show is the Tarantura version and there is a review of that title found on this sight, I figured after five years maybe a better transfer and or mastered version is out there and took the plunge so to speak.

When comparing the two titles, both have excellent sound quality and the same content so that is a plus. The No Label has a bit more hiss than the Tarantura, which is almost hiss free. The No Label does have just a bit crisper and slightly more punchy sound but the mastering used to do so has made the cymbals sound more shooshy and in your face, for lack of better wording, this issue does improve for the second disc. To my ears I prefer the Tarantura version and even though that title is five years old, it still remains the definitive version. That being said the Tarantura title has been out of print for five years, so what is the bottom line? If you have the Tarantura title there is no need to spend your hard earned money unless you are a fanatical completist. For the newer collector or the casual buyer this is a great title of a must have concert and certainly you would be happy with this version. Last thing you need to do is light some candles and incense, turn down the lights, turn this up LOUD and enjoy whatever you enjoy while grooving out to some killer Sabbath.

The packaging features a take off of the semi official release Live At Last as well as a couple other pictures of the band. There is the obligatory numbered sticker and as with all the No Label titles I have, a typically great looking package.

Black Sabbath - 1992 - Definitive Boston 1992 (Zodiac)

Black Sabbath
Orpheum Theatre
Boston, MA

Definitive Boston 1992
Zodiac 045

Soundboard recording

FM Broadcast

101 Radio Intro
102 E5150
103 The Mob Rules
104 Computer God
105 Children Of The Sea
106 Time Machine
107 War Pigs
108 I
109 Die Young
110 Guitar Solo
111 Black Sabbath

201 Master Of Insanity
202 After All (The Dead)
203 Drums Solo
204 Iron Man
205 Heaven And Hell
206 Announcer Encore Break
207 Neon Knights
208 Paranoid - Heaven And Hell (Reprise)
209 Radio Outro
210 Laguna Sunrise (Outro)

Pre-FM Master

301 E5150
302 The Mob Rules
303 Computer God
304 Children Of The Sea
305 Time Machine
306 War Pigs
307 I
308 Die Young
309 Guitar Solo
310 Black Sabbath

401 Master Of Insanity
402 After All (The Dead)
403 Drums Solo
404 Iron Man
405 Heaven And Hell
406 Neon Knights
407 Paranoid - Heaven And Hell (Reprise)
408 Laguna Sunrise (Outro)

The late 80’s were not kind to Black Sabbath, their popularity was at an all time low in terms of record sales and concert attendance numbers, but it was not for a lack of trying or enthusiasm within the band. They had put out three underrated records and had a stable line up with Powell, Martin, Iommi, Murray, and Nichols but outside Europe they were not making ends meet. Things had also slowed for former vocalist Ronnie James Dio, his band was also on a downswing and also suffered from many line up changes and turmoil. This is where Geezer Butler comes into the picture, on August 28, 1990 at a Dio gig in Minneapolis he was invited, and accepted an invitation to jam and the results were not only positive it was a sort of olive branch. A few weeks later on September 8, 1990, Butler again got up for an encore jam, this time with Black Sabbath at the first of a two night stand in London at the famed Hammersmith Odeon. It was not surprising when the two camps got together and the beginnings of what was to become Dehumanizer and the reformation of the line up of Iommi, Butler, Dio and Appice. For the press the band was all smiles and much good will was talked but behind closed doors little had changed but from this unsteady truce came a blistering album that was different musically and lyrically than the other two studio albums with Dio, and one could say is the best Sabbath produced since Born Again. The line up would tour for the record but sadly would go their separate way at its conclusion largely due to the band taking part in the Ozzy retirement shows in November 1992 and Dio’s refusal to play (Rob Halford would sing with Sabbath) would cement the break. 

While many shows were recorded from the audience on both audio and video, there was a radio broadcast done in Boston, Massachusetts USA and would be the source for such titles as As Darkness Hits (RockDreams Rock 92039/92040), Black Bloody Black (Kiss The Stone KTS 171), The Dead The Bad The Ugly (Blue Knight Record BKR 09), and Boston 1992 (Live Storm LSCD 52575). These titles were all taken from recordings done of the broadcast and are all similar in sound quality, I have had the Live Storm set since the late 90’s and while it is very good quality, I wish there was something better. Now some twenty years later we can fully enjoy this concert in spectacular sound quality. The first two discs come from the broadcast itself, the sound quality is crisp and clear with a nice bottom end, head and shoulders above the old Live Storm set, it also includes radio DJ commentary from BCN’s Metal Mike. The last two discs are the pre FM tape, crystal clear with excellent balance and the prefect mix of audience noise and sounds like an official release and sounds incredible at loud volumes.

The broadcast was the complete show and is culled from the first leg of the US tour, the band was playing the intimate 2,700 seat Orpheum Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in the States. Its perfect acoustics coupled with intimate atmosphere made for a superb choice for a live broadcast, needless to say the band was certainly in excellent form and deliver a brutally devastating performance full of classics and new songs. The radio broadcast starts with Metal Mike talking about the line up and the vibe inside the theatre, the band utilize E5150 from The Mob Rules as a prelude and take the stage with a storming rendition of The Mob Rules and a vicious Computer God, the latter begins with the sounds of electronic mechanization as Ronnie spews out the lyrics with venom. This is not the Ronnie of old where his soaring vocals would rise above the din but a cold and cynical voice delivers a message of technological dominance. Ronnie tells the audience “Not a lot of talking just a lot of music” as an intro for Children Of The Sea as Tony starts the majestic introductory notes. Ronnie’s vocals again reflects this period, he starts off soft and gentle but as he moves into the “We blind the sky” it starts off soulfully but finishes with a snarl.

“Here’s a track that we ventured into the film world once again for this one” is the introduction for Time Machine from the Wayne’s World sound track, sounding much heavier live the song is driven by a steady yet thundering Geezer bass line, he even gets a quick solo spot to boot. War Pigs is introduced as being about the sad shape our world is in, a similar introduction Ronnie would use years latter when introducing Falling Of The Edge Of The World when this same line up re formed under the Heaven And Hell moniker. A vicious I follows, a personal favorite from Dehumanizer, the band manage to work in a short sing along in which the audience has no problems screaming back at the group. Die Young is played with any musical prelude, the band put their heads down and simply bash it out, the song is simply elegant and as always Ronnie gives a wonderful vocal presentation, you can hear backing vocals also, I am assuming this is Geoff Nichols backing him. Certainly an unsung hero during the 80’s and 90’s era Sabbath, Geoff Nichols playing is superb as always. The song evolves into Tony’s guitar solo that was used in past versions as Die Young’s intro, he shows his dexterity and goes through some movements so to speak, starting with the dreamlike nature before delving into some old school leads that moves into a shuffle. He breaks into a bit of Sometimes I’m Happy and some Volume 4 sounding riff before going into Sabbath Bloody Sabbath along with Vinnie and Geezer chiming in for good measure. His last major reference is Orchid, so beautifully haunting sounding and is the perfect piece of music to transition into Black Sabbath.

“We should take you with us every night” is the opening of the second disc, Ronnie signing the praises of the audience who have been ecstatic in their appreciation of the band. Master Of Insanity is pure Geezer Butler and was written by him during the late 80’s when he was not a member of Sabbath, the intro riff is incredible, one of the most intricate ones from the band. The song is linked with a heavy as hell After All (The Dead), slow ponderous and old school Sabbath sound at its best, it is no wonder that this line up chose to use it as their concert opener for the Heaven And Hell reformation. The song is also a vehicle for Vinnie’s drum solo, finally released from the monstrous Sabbatarian riffs he drums like he is shot out of a cannon all the while the audience enthusiastically cheers him on.

Heaven And Hell is the culmination of the set, Ronnie thanks the adoring audience and the band proceed to play a wonderful 10 minute version of the song, there is some great guitar and vocal interplay between Ronnie and Tony in the middle section that is followed by the audience participation, the audience follows along to perfection, they cheer as Ronnie sings “There’s a big black shape looking up at me”, they will all certainly burn in the musical fire that is Black Sabbath. The fast ending section is perfection, the band is so tight and intense you cannot help the get up off your ass and bang your head in musical joy. Metal Mike does a bit of play by play and to fill the air time prior to the encores. He talks of the temperature inside the venue and the Sabbath fans “going crazy” and also gives a plug for the new Sabbath record. The encore section is a fast and furious duo of Neon Knights and the obligatory Paranoid complete with its Heaven And Hell reprise. I listen to this with much enjoyment but also a bit if sadness as I will not be able to hear much of this material live again, thankfully I have the memories, beginning with Sabbath’s October 24, 1992 date and my first time seeing Black Sabbath live.

All four discs are packaged in a fat boy jewel case with Dehumanizer graphics amid techno bits, nice dark and bleak looking. A wonderful release by the folks at Zodiac, the careful mastering of their sources and presentation is superb and in a very short time have established themselves as the leaders in hard rock and metal releases for the collecting community. This release, like the others I own from Zodiac, have relevant content and are far more than re hashes of what has been out prior but a significant upgrade, for those questioning this title, wonder no more this is the definitive version of the Boston 1992 soundboard.

Ozzy Osbourne - 1981 - Music Mountain (Zodiac)

Ozzy Osbourne
Music Mountain
South Fallsburg, NY

Music Mountain 1981
Zodiac 083

01 Carmina Burana
02 I Don't Know
03 Crazy Train
04 Believer
05 Mr. Crowley
06 Flying High Again
07 Revelation (Mother Earth)
08 Steal Away (The Night)
09 Tommy Aldridge Solo
10 Suicide Solution
11 Randy Rhoads Solo
12 Iron Man
13 Children Of The Grave

Doing some special requests from a close friend and Black Sabbath enthusiast today...

The American tour in support of Ozzy’s debut record was made up of two legs, the second would start in early August and run through mid September and the band would be supported by up and coming NWOBHM stars Def Leppard. For this new release we are treated to a concert just a hand full of gigs into the tour, the band had been on tour for a good portion of the year and are in superb shape. The real highlight of this tape is that it features the guitar playing of Randy Rhoads. The recording of the Music Mountain show has been in circulation for some time, it is a good audience recording that finds the music a tad distant but clear and all instruments and vocals are discernable. The audience can be a little intrusive around the taper at times but for me adds to the excitement of concert, to get a look into the buzz that the band was generating at this time. Sadly Zodiac used an incomplete tape for this release, the recording fades out a little over a minute into Children Of The Grave, a shame as complete versions do circulate.

The recording begins with the Carmina intro and the band tearing into I Don’t Know, the quality is poor and very distant sounding but as the taper slowly adjusts his equipment position the quality will vastly improve throughout the first half of the song. The audience has no problem going crazy for Crazy Train and clap a bit and holler at times, it all lends to the ambience as the fans were there for a good time. Randy’s playing is superlative, he is adding a lot of little fills and nuances and holy shot Tommy Aldridge is drumming his fool head off. The audience gets their first inkling of Believer, the intro sounds eerie and seems to rise from the depths to great effect. The song itself is super heavy with Lindsey Bridgewater’s keyboards coming through as he adds these notes at just the right time.

Ozzy compliments the audience, another thing that makes these early live recordings so great is he does not quite have all his Ozzyisms yet and a lot less swearing. A wonderful Mr. Crowley is next, although it does get a lot of airplay it is one song you can never tire of, Randy’s solos are simply stunning and some of the best he would ever do. The second solo finds Bridgewater trying to harmonize with him, needless to say he is left in the dust. The beginning of Flying High Again sounds like Randy was having a bit of equipment problems, it is soon rectified as they go into the “Mamas gonna worry” part and Randy makes up for it with a perfect rendition of his classic solo. A beautiful version of the hauntingly gothic Revelation (Mother Earth) follows, the crowd is quiet and respectful until Rhoads breaks into the heavy part then they go crazy and this energy will carry over into a rollicking version of Steal Away. The song also features a manic drum solo by Tommy, the audience is into it, alot of whoo’s can be heard throughout, there is also a cut do to tape flip at the 1:43 mark, thankfully it is quick with not much lost.

“A number now featuring Randy Rhoads our guitar player ” is Ozzy’s intro to Suicide Solution, the song would be a vehicle for Randy’s solo spot throughout his all too brief career with Ozzy and live versions of the song are highlights of the recordings. Ozzy makes a “You gotta” flub coming in too late that made me smile, but its Rhoads playing that has me hooked, again he adds small fills in places, his versatility is unmatched. His solo spot is two and a half minutes of joy that features a bit of homage to his Quiet Riot days, it must have been mind blowing to witness this live. “We’re gonna finish up with some Black Sabbath numbers” pushes the audience over the edge, they let the band know it as Ozzy does the audience participation for the Iron Man count in. Iron Man sounds strong and powerful and as the transition into Children Of The Grave begins you can tell the band is going for blood, sadly the recording cuts a minute into the song.

The packaging is drab looking with common photos used and of course the obligatory numbered sticker, the CD has polka dots on it as a tribute to Randy, fans know he loved polka dot and used to where bow ties with them and had the famous Flying V also. The average sound quality and incomplete tape certainly are drawbacks to this release, a live recording with Randy is what made this title appealing.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Led Zeppelin - 1971 - Casino (Tarantura)

Led Zeppelin
August 7, 1971
Montreux Casino

Casino / Tarantura (TCD-103-1,2)

101. Introduction
102. Immigrant Song
103. Heartbreaker
104. Since I’ve Been Loving You
105. Black Dog
106. Dazed And Confused
107. Stairway To Heaven

201. Going To California
202. That’s The Way
203. Celebration Day
204. What Is And What Should Never Be
205. Whole Lotta Love
206. Weekend

Led Zeppelin’s Montreux concerts in 1971 and 1972 were rumoured to exist on tape and it is great that one of these four concerts has finally surfaced.  One of the reasons why this tape is so valuable is because the first half of 1971 is so poorly documented for Led Zeppelin.  Except for the Ireland tapes and the “BBC In Concert” broadcast, the Back To The Clubs tour is shrouded in almost complete mystery.  A tape for a Liverpool performance is said to exist, although I have my doubts.  There is the wonderful Copenhagen tape from May, the Milan fragment from July, and that is it until the seventh tour of North America. 

The first Montreux concert surfaced several years ago and was quickly pressed first on Casino Royale (Empress Valley Supreme Disc 2005 EVSD378/379) and then on Peter’s PA (Black Dog Records BDR-001-1,2). Empress Valley was ruined by excessive mastering making the tape very hissy and horrible sounding.  The Tarantura version was much better with an emphasis upon clarity.  In May 2009 a new label released Montreux Casino 1971 (Graf Zeppelin LZSC-002) from a low generation tape and was an improvement over the previous titles.

Casinois the latest release of this interesting tape and it shares many of the characteristics of the Graf Zeppelin release.  It runs at the correct pitch and is from a low generation.  But Tarantura has a slight advantage over Montreux Casino 1971 by being a bit more loud, clear, lively and punchy. 

The setlist for Montreux is close to the standard they used for most of the year. The Montreux Concerts by Gilles Chateau and Sam Rapallo claim that “Moby Dick” was played before “Whole Lotta Love,” that “Celebration Day” was played before “Stairway To Heaven,” and that “Communication Breakdown” was played as an encore. As it turns out “Moby Dick” was not played, “Celebration Day” was played after the acoustic set, and “Weekend” is the only encore for August 7th.  Further, this is the earliest recorded reference to “Celebration Day” as a stand-alone track.  The only previous appearance is the Copenhagen show where it was played inside of “Communication Breakdown.”

After not having played for several months, there is obvious rust on the band.  The beginning is very good with “Immigrant Song” and “Heartbreaker,” and Plant thanks Montreux, saying, “it’s very very very very nice to be back in Montreux again… To be working with Claude Nobs, and to be working with everybody who’s helped get everything together here. About two, or maybe three, four weeks ago, we went to Italy, to Milan, and totally different thing altogether. I’ll tell you about that later.”

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” is very sloppy at points but the next song “Black Dog” fairs much better.  “Dazed And Confused” reaches eighteen minutes and is very lyrical and melodic in its improvisation at certain points.  There is a short delay afterwards as they get ready for “Stairway To Heaven since “the equipment’s falling apart.”

The acoustic set is recorded nicely with “That’s The Way” bitterly dedicated to anyone who came from Milan, the site of the disaster in July (“I don’t know how I’m gonna tell you / that I can’t play with you no more!”)  Both “Celebration Day” and “What Is And What Should Never Be” are marred by missed cues.  The set ends with twenty-three minutes of “Whole Lotta Love” which substitutes “Mess O’ Blues” (a constant in the 1971 medley) with “I’m A Man.”  “Honey Bee” not go into “You Shook Me,” which was the custom at that time, but into a free form blues improvisation. “Merci beaucoup et bon soir.  We’ll do one more then we’ll be back tomorrow” Plant says before a very fast and heavy version of Eddie Cochrane’s “Weekend.”

Casino is an improvement over the Graf Zeppelin edition of this show released in spring 2009 but it’s not a drastic upgrade.  The packaging is a glossy cardboard gatefold sleeve with and interesting period photograph on the front cover and photos of the band on the interior and is a limited editon. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Fourmenonly, Michael Gibbs Orchestra, Jim Hall Workshop Group, Volker Kriegel Workshop Group - 1973 - NDR Jazzworkshop '73

Fourmenonly, Michael Gibbs Orchestra, Jim Hall Workshop Group, Volker Kriegel Workshop Group
NDR Jazzworkshop '73

A1 –Fourmenonly Count Down
A2 –Michael Gibbs Orchestra Mother Of The Dead Man
A3 –Michael Gibbs Orchestra Just A Head
A4 –Michael Gibbs Orchestra Fanfare
B1 –Jim Hall Workshop Group Body And Soul
B2 –Volker Kriegel Workshop Group Electric Blue

A1 Fourmenonly - Count Down
Bass Clarinet, Flute – Wilfried Eichhorn
Composed By, Flugelhorn – Herbert Joos
Drums, Flute – Rudi Theilmann
Engineer – Hans-Heinrich Breitkreuz
Piano, Flute – Helmut Zimmer

A2 Michael Gibbs Orchestra - Mother Of The Dead Man
Composed By – Carla Bley

A3 Michael Gibbs Orchestra - Just A Head
Composed By – Michael Gibbs

A4 Michael Gibbs Orchestra - Fanfare
Composed By – Michael Gibbs

Bass Guitar – Roy Babbington (tracks: A2 to A4)
Bass Trombone – Geoff Perkins (tracks: A2 to A4)
Concert Grand Piano – Dave MacRae (tracks: A2 to A4)
Conductor – Michael Gibbs (tracks: A2 to A4)
Drums – John Marshall (tracks: A2 to A4)
Piano, Organ – John Taylor (2) (tracks: A2 to A4)
Producer – Michael Naura
Saxophone, Flute – Brian Smith (tracks: A2 to A4), Ray Warleigh (tracks: A2 to A4), Stan Sulzmann (tracks: A2 to A4)
Trombone – Chris Pyne (tracks: A2 to A4)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Henry Lowther (tracks: A2 to A4), Kenny Wheeler (tracks: A2 to A4)
Vibraphone, Percussion – Frank Ricotti (tracks: A2 to A4)
Vocals – Norma Winstone (tracks: A2 to A4)

B1 Jim Hall Workshop Group - Body And Soul
Bass – Red Mitchell
Composed By – Edward Heyman, Frank Eyton, Johnny Green, Robert Sour
Drums – Daniel Humair
Engineer – Günter Simon
Guitar – Jim Hall

B2 Volker Kriegel Workshop Group - Electric Blue
Cello – Peter Warren
Composed By, Bass – Eberhard Weber
Drums – Joe Nay
Engineer – Hans-Heinrich Breitkreuz
Guitar – Volker Kriegel
Percussion – Peter Giger
Piano – John Taylor 
Saxophone, Piccolo Flute – Stan Sulzmann
Violin – Zbigniew Seifert
"Sample Not For Sale"

The number of luminaries here is quite astonishing as can be said by the tags next door to the right, but plus that, all of the following appear: Michael Naura, John Taylor, Peter Giger, Eberhard Weber, Stan Sulzmann, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, et al.  Think of how many of these artists, perhaps all of them, have appeared in some album or another featured on this blog!!

Herbert Joos and Fourmenonly have a track written by the former called Count Down. It's a free jazz piece and will appeal to those who have a taste for that inchoate genre.  Certainly the Daybreak album from his was a huge fan favourite here on this blog.

Michael Gibbs is one artist not previously mentioned whose work I've loved dearly due to its highly well written nature, particularly in Chrome Waterfall Orchestra and In the Public Interest.  Or let's not forget the formidable work Just Ahead from 1972's Mike Gibbs Band, an album I've listened to all my life and keep on discovering more beauty in.  (Unfortunately the other mid-70s album which was a homage to Shakespeare called Will's Power was quite disappointing for me).  (I can post all the Mike Gibbs albums if there's interest.)  He presents us here with three pieces, the first of which is the gorgeous Mother of the Dead Man by Carla Bley, which appeared earlier in the aforementioned live Just Ahead.  The other two are his own compositions called Just A Head [sic] and Fanfare, which first appeared in Tanglewood 63, not a bad album, though not comparable to the previously mentioned 70s masterpieces.

As usual, there is a throwaway jazz number which is the Jim Hall Group's Body and Soul interpretation, and equally as usual, I have to write the same comments about the sheer excruciating boringness of ordinary jazz standards, the nightmare of having to hear them millions of times in one's lifetime, like Paul McCartney's grotesque Yesterday, etc., etc.

Then this nice big thanksgiving dinner closes out with the beautiful Volker Kriegel group and a composition by Eberhard Weber called Electric Blue-- not quite as strong a dessert as one would have liked unfortunately, since it turns into a very mushy free-for-all improvisation after about the two minute mark-- making the proportion of written material to wanker material about 1 to 100.  And it's 18 minutes and 40 seconds long!!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Fourmenonly - 1974 - Eight Science Fiction Stories

Eight Science Fiction Stories

01. Departure
02. Plastic Happines
03. Beautiful Darkness
04. Space Wall
05. Dead Season
06. The Beauty Without A Face
07. Lucifer Is Marching In
08. Return?

Bass Clarinet, Flute, Oboe – Wilfried Eichhorn
Flugelhorn, Trumpet, Mellophone, Percussion – Herbert Joos
Percussion – Rudi Theilmann
Piano – Helmuth Zimmer
Trombone – Wolfgang Czelusta

Recorded at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany on 26th - 29th December 1973.

Full album title "Eight Science Fiction Stories composed by Herbert Joos"
Track sides run continuous: Side A (18:21), Side B (20:26)

Fourmenonly - 1972 - Volume 1

Volume 1

01. Viridiana 9:44
02. Ich Und Meine Brüder 3:08
03. Compulsion 4:38
04. Count Down 9:03
05. Excess 7:48

Drums, Percussion – Rudi Theilmann 
Flugelhorn, Percussion – Herbert Joos
Piano, Percussion – Helmuth Zimmer 
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Wilfried Eichhorn 

Recorded at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany, 6th May, 1972

Unusual silkscreened black on black gatefold cover.

Track A2 "Ich und meine Brüder" is played solely by Herbert Joos by means of multi-tracking (four tracks).

Experimental jazz outfit fronted by pioneering German trumpet and flugelhorn player Herbert Joos. Their sound was well structured, more so than most other German ensembles from this period. Multitrack recording was used which generated controversial discussions among musicicians and fans alike. Being a non-professional ( meaning they weren't making a living with music) group they weren't fully taken seriuosly. Today their seminal work is acknowledged although they remain rather unknown with the exception of Herbert Joos. Fourmenonly were the direct successor of The Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe. This happened when Claus Bühler left the group during a concert due to musical preferences.

After the bassist left the the MODERN JAZZ QUINTET KARLSRUHE they continued as a quartet. On ESFS they added the trombone player Wolfgang Czelusta but still under their chosen name.
The following words are from G.F. (thank you!) a fellow at Dime:"The last concert with Fourmenonly (with bass-player Johannes Schädlich with Wilfried Eichhorn, Helmut Zimmer and Rudi Theilmanm) happened in the early 80s in Karlsruhe - without Herbert Joos, who had left Karlsruhe and the others. Wilfried Eichhorn continued playing with the Frederic Rabold Crew in the late 70s (vocalist Lauren Newton started here!), and he played mostly in a Duo with pianist Uli Bühl in the 90s. Helmut Zimmer played mostly Bop Standards afterwards and occasionally still plays that kind of stuff. Rudi Theilmann is still active, playing mostly in Duo with violinist Helmut Bieler-Wendt. He participated since 1985 in another great free-improvising group, Dinkel-Frisch-Theilmann&Bieler-Wendt, they recorded two albums in the late 80s."

Herbert Joos himself worked in his own groups and ad hoc ensembles. Participated at a Free Jazz Meeting Baden-Baden. 1973 he made his first solo recording "The Philosophy Of The Fluegelhorn" on JAPO(ECM). On this lp he also uses multitracking to astounding effects. The music there is maybe "more" beautiful in a conventional manner. But never "sweet" - instead he shows a strong developed sense for harmonics and "Klangfarbe". Later he joined the Vienna Art Orchestra. Still active as a pro and going strong. I only want to add that the last track on "Vol.1" is one of my favourite pieces from this four astounding lps.

Total Music Association - 1971 - Walpurgisnacht

Total Music Association 

01. Walpurgisnacht 17:15
02. Incubus-Succubus-Pestilentia 13:41

Andreas-Drille Boje, trombone
Wilfried Eichhorn, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone
Hans-Jörg Hussong, baritone saxophone, soprano saxophone
Erich Schröder, viola
Helmut Zimmer, piano
Adi-Matthias Boje, bass
Rudi Theilmann, drums

Recorded on July 17th, 1971 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Dark, ambient, and experimental. Very interesting record with those regular movements between quiet and chaos. That's the kind of free that I really like. Three members of this band were also part of Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsrue and Four Men Only.

Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe - 1970 - Position 2000

The Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe
Position 2000 

01. Position 2000 12:17
02. Where Love Forever Shines 4:55
03. The Sun Is Coming Over 18:46

Bass, Percussion – Claus Bühler 
Drums, Percussion – Rudi Theilmann
Flugelhorn, Mellophone, Flute [Indian Flute], Percussion – Herbert Joos
Piano, Percussion – Helmuth Zimmer
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute – Wilfried Eichhorn

Recorded at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany, April 24, 1970.
On the back cover May is mentioned as month of recording, but according the group's drummer this is not correct.

Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe - 1969 - Trees

The Modern Jazz Quintet Karlsruhe

01.Trees 8:29
02. Schnee Verbrennt 2:59
03. Lonely Time 12:26
04. The Devil Is Green, Blue, Yellow 9:17
05. Change Of Beauty 11:05

Bass – Claus Bühler
Drums – Rudi Theilmann
Flugelhorn, Mellophone, Cornet [Piston], Percussion – Herbert Joos
Piano – Helmuth Zimmer
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Wilfried Eichhorn

Recorded: Tonstudio Bauer Ludwigsb. 1968 (10th of May)

The cover is from Herbert Joos.

The MJQK started mid-sixties as a bop orientated group. Mainly through Joos they began to add freer and more personal concepts into the groups music.
All members were amateurs (not in the sense of being unable but simply they had "daily" professions). For example Helmuth Zimmer was an architect and Rudi Theilmann is a art historian.
They made two lps as MJQK. After Claus Bühler the bassist left the group during a concert two more were recorded as "Fourmenonly" (Vol.1 & Eight Science Fiction Stories). Arguments about loudness and the general direction the music went induced the split. The compilation "Born Free" from the 12th German Jazzfestival (these Lps were in fact a bootleg - none from the musicians were asked for permission or received any royalties) and a sampler from the NDR broadcast station (NDR Jazzworkshop '73) included each one piece by MJQK (abridged) & Fourmenonly. Apart from this I know only one bootleg with about 20 minutes music.

In contrast to some FMP artists their music was more thematic orientated and powerplay was used only sparingly to highlight formal contrasts. Their use of multitracking was unsual and led to negativ critic from musicians,journalists and listeners alike. But for achiveving more complex textures and/or backgrounds they used this method spontaneously from "Position 2000" onward. Basically Herbert Joos said that they would use such procedures to create the music they wanted without a greater assemblage of musicians which were not available or compliant.

Thomas Almqvist - 1984 - Shen Men

Thomas Almqvist 
Shen Men

01. Street Runner
02. The Blues Suite (Part I, Part II, Part III)
03. Take Off
04. Hot Fingers
05. Bad Breaks
06. Sun Signs

Bass – Bengt Lindgren (tracks: A2), Lars Lamberger (tracks: B2, B3), Tommy Cassemar (tracks: B1)
Drums [Syn Drums], Engineer – Stefan Glaumann (tracks: A1, B4)
Drums, Percussion – Gunnar Wenneborg, Magnus Persson (7) (tracks: B1)
Electric Guitar [Solo] – Anders Karlén (tracks: B3)
Guitar, Painting – Thomas Almqvist
Keyboards, Vocoder – Stefan Blomqvist
Saxophone – Hans Peter Andersson
Saxophone [Solos] – Stefan Isaksson
Trumpet – Baltasar Gorosabel, Gustavo Bergalli

Shen Men is a 1984 LP from Swedish guitarist Thomas Almqvist which features the fantastic downtempo floater Sun Signs. 808 and Langhorne-esque desert guitar bathed in sunset synths, with a blissed out harmonica outro. 

Thomas Almqvist - 1980 - The Journey

Thomas Almqvist
The Journey

01. L.A. Exit 5:28
02. Mountains Of Mexico 4:10
03. Nocturnal Visions 3:57
04. The Voice Of The Moth 3:31
05. Water Fall 1:50
06. Conscious Dreams 4:38
07. Shadow Of A Black Crow 3:38
08. Inner Lights 1:15
09. The Journey 5:37
10. Beyond The Dark 1:20

On the back of the album cover Thomas says:

"The author Carlos Castaneda has inspired me both personally and musically.  On this record I attempt to mirror some of the feelings and pictures which his stories have inspired in me.  
Since this is my personal interpretation you need not have read his books in order to find a meaning or message in this music, but if you really want to enter into his world then you will have to read his books.  
I hope that I can give you a little of all that Castaneda has given me."

I have read a few of Castaneda´s books and find that this album successfully translates some of the moods and mystic ambience to music.  It is easily one of my favourite ambient records, particularly because the playing is very much alive, using real instruments (as opposed to cheap synths for ambience).  This record sparkles as well as it floats.

A personal favorite of mine, not because it’s his greatest work — I’d wager more people expect the late, great Swedish guitar maestro Thomas Almqvist’s Balearic masterpiece Nyanser to be that one — but because it’s the one that sounds the most honest to where I come from. Thomas Almqvist’s The Journey was his second album exploring the interconnection between experimental guitar technique and what seemed to be a very personal, spiritual journey. Meant to evoke the mystical, otherworldly vibe of the American southwest — an idea easily captured by the reworking of Ansel Adam’s meditative photographic masterpiece “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” for its cover — although recorded in Sweden, The Journey has all the trappings of someone moored by all sorts of shamanistic, environmental ideas far from any man-made border.
Entirely composed and arranged by Thomas Almqvist in 1980, one would think it was due to some personal journey he had undertaken to areas encircling New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, that The Journey came to be. Hearing the album you can picture the influence of desert-sounding jazz-rock of Hejira-era Joni making its case for a credit. Catching the more austere, ruminative bits of music, when Thomas takes nearly all the reins on guitar, synth, drum and bass, you imagine the untethered neoclassical music of Popol Vuh lifting a finger, asking for a nod and wink — strains of Florian Fricke’s Cœur de verre playing in their head. Respectively, both songs such as the straining guitar fusion opener “L.A Exit” and it’s heart-pounding orchestral, upcoming track “Mountains of Mexico” stake claim to such ideas. The root of this music isn’t there, though, I believe.
A photo capturing a perfectly normal scene, in a very rarely seen locale, captures perfectly what Ansel saw as uniquely interesting. Capturing twilight in a place of settling, far from exploding American urbanity, one can still see that rugged, palpable wilderness that man still struggles to accurately harness. Dominated by black, with clouds bursting the horizon of a setting sun, far off, in the desert distance, snow-capped mountains seem unreachable, for those who live in the modesty of the foreground. Devoid of a starry night, the crosses on the ground seem to provide a layer of inner light, as if grasping for that last bit of sunlight before “everything” goes to rest. This is something you hear in the music of The Journey. The scale is enormous, even though everything at the foreground seems so small and tethered.
Written as a means to get across Thomas’s own inspiration from the literary works of Latino-American mystic Carlos Castaneda, all the songs on The Journey have an unplaceable sound that really puts it in this region of America, and specifically in this bit of interpretation — that the last bit of uninterpretable wilderness still has a fantastic power to stimulate all sorts of ideas, from such very personal sources. Endlessly hypnotic, The Journey shows those teachings of the shaman Don Juan: how to follow those cracks between lightness and darkness, into a world (or in this case, a musical one) not entirely like Thomas’s own. In case you never get a chance to visit this beautiful land, this is a great way to see, what I’ve seen in it. I do believe there is something to this bit of conscious, musical dreaming…

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Thomas Almqvist - 1979 - Nyanser

Thomas Almqvist 

01. Intro 2:20
02. E.M. 3:59
03. Horisont 7:20
04. Nyanser 3:25
05. Mot Natten 4:45
06. Kampsång 2:27
07. Quebec 2:00
08. Coral Reef 4:33
09. Frost 1:44
10. Sortie 4:47

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Hans Peter Andersson
Bass – Bengt Lindgren, Erik Westin 
Drums – Peter Öberg
Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Elise Einarsdotter
Flugelhorn – Ann Sofie Söderqvist
Flute – Anders Olsson
Percussion – Stefan Glaumann
Electric Piano [Rhodes], Guitar, Flute, Percussion, Synthesizer – Thomas Almqvist

Often hired session musician Thomas Almqvist has recorded several albums of his own, the most recent one was released in 2009. ”Nyanser” was his first and reveals his appreciation for classical guitar. The music also incorporates elements of jazz thanks to Hans Peter Andersson's various saxophones, Elise Einardotter's Fender Rhodes piano and Peter Öberg's drum patterns. It's a soothing album with Almqvist's acoustic guitar to the fore, sometimes reminiscent of new age guitarist Michael Hedges, and sometimes in the style of John Renbourn's 80's albums. Pleasant for background listening but not very engaging when you turn the volume up.

Ralf Nowy - 1975 - Nowy 2

Nowy 2

01. Funky Fingers 3:20
02. Very Nice 3:38
03. Loose Legged City Gal 3:47
04. Dirty Shmerbous 3:17
05. Wishing Well 3:07
06. Fasten Seatbelts 4:38
07. Fallen Angel 4:14
08. Six Machine 4:26
09. Steam Slippers 4:25

Lothar Meid / bass
Martin Harrison / drums, percussion
Nick Woodland / guitar
Thomas Strasser / guitar
Mike Thatcher / keyboards
Ralf Nowy / saxophone, flute
Ralf Armbruster / trombone
Victor Behrens / trumpet, flugelhorn
Edward Zanki / vocals

In the middle of 1974 the RALF NOWY GROUP recorded the second album, again mainly composed of Nowy compositions. A production that was offered as "gorgeous rocky classical music" (press release) and which SOUNDS reviewed with the sentence: "The Ralf Nowy Group reviews Middle Eastern and Far Eastern sounds, sacred singing, rock, jazz, classical music, serious contemporary music and electronics , but when trying to merge individual styles, sometimes it is quite a bit of a musical offside. ”
The Ralf Nowy Group gave various concerts alone or as an accompanying group for the singer Joy Fleming, including in the NDR workshop.

Ralf Nowy - 1975 - Escalation


01. Blue silver
02. Mano molela
03. News from the chicken farm
04. Sixteen flutes
05. I'd rather sell my life than my guitar
06. Escalation

Thor Baldursson / keyboards, synths, vocals?
Viktor Behrens / trumpet
Keith Forsey / drums
Ralf Nowy / saxophone, flute
Gary Unwin / bass
Paul Vincent / guitar

RALF NOWY (1940-2007) was born in Berlin. By 18 he had, with fellow students, founded his first rock & roll band. He soon decided to make a serious commitment to music and so went to Stern Conservatory in Berlin where he extensively studied classical music, jazz, performing composition and arrangement.

Whilst studying music, he performed in various free-jazz bands on the flute and saxophone, and began to compose. He continued to play and compose after his studies and in 1963 he won best soloist prize (flute and saxophone) at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Not long after, he accepted the position of musical director of Berlin's Forum Theatre which game him more opportunities to compose.

In 1968 he became the production manager and program director of Saarbrücken's Saarländischer Rundfunk dance orchestra which led to various music studios calling for his services and it led to his collaboration with many artists.

By 1970 he worked as an independent composer, producer and arranger. He began work with the Olympics production company and directed and arranged a number of music productions for GIORGIO MORODER (Moroder, of course, was a very successful soundtrack composer who did the terrific scored for films such as Midnight Express and Cat People).

Nowy composed for various artists popular in Germany during the 70s and created many jingles for advertising (including Tic-Tac and Pepsi) and composed various film scores in the early 70s as well as directed various musical tour events such as SHIRLEY BASSEY's. He was much much in demand as a producer and arranger and worked in a wide variety of music with a wide a wide variety of artists. He also played with many live bands at the time and did session musician work.

In 1973, he produced his first album under his name (RALF NOWY), which was a sort of German supergroup sometimes called the Nowy group (he had various very talented musicians working with him from the Munich music scene), and is an, I think, rather devilishly good, "LUCIFER'S DREAM". This dreamy album was influenced by the burgeoning Krautrock scene and employed Eastern styles, a pastoral, classical influence, big band type jazz, psyche, pop and rock (with some disco groove thrown in). It's eclectic qualities no doubt stemming to some extent from the range of musicians that Nowy had worked with, as well as those he was working with on the album. as well as the range of styles Nowy was interested in. The musicians he worked with on "LUCIFER"S DREAM" include KEITH FORSEY who has worked on albums by Achtzehn Karat Gold; Amon Düül II; Don Anderson; Cherubin; Family Tree; Gebrüder Engel; Hallelujah; Roland Kovac New Set; Lindenberg, Udo; Motherhood; Niagara; Persiko & Co; Tanned Leather; Utopia; and Paul Vincent, as well as ALOIS GROMER who worked on albums by/ with Amon Düül II; Between; and Popol Vuh, plus GARY UNWIN who worked with Cherubin; Family Tree; Niagara; and Paul Vincent, and PAUL VINCENT who worked with Don Anderson; Family Tree; Hallelujah; Motherhood; Niagara; Subject Esq.; Tanned Leather and Waldemar Wunder Syndikat.

He also released two albums in 1973 under the title ORCHESTER RALF NOWY (but this is a separate project) called "DILLY DALLY DANCING" and "DILLY DANCING 2" made in glorious "Loving Stereo". I haven't heard these, but they appear to be, surprise, surprise, pop dance albums. Yes, truly Nowy was a Renaissance man -- comfortable in the halls of free jazz, classical, rock, folk, ad jingles, pop, soul and disco.

His next album, now under the moniker NOWY, "ESCALATION", would be less Krautrock and more jazz-rock, and more accessible, with an Eastern flavour. It features THOR BALDURSSON of AMON DUUL II and VIKTOR BEHRENS of AMON DUUL II and NIAGARA as well as KEITH FORSEY of AMON DULL II, NIAGARA, HALLELUJAH and UTOPIA. It also has GARY UNWIN of NIAGARA and PAUL VINCENT of NIAGARA AND HALLELUJA.

The third (or the second under the moniker NOWY), "NOWY 2" is more funk with soul and disco qualities. It's a poppy album. MICHAEL THATCHER of OUT OF FOCUS joins in on this one.

He then got more into disco, and released the single "ROCK 'N ROLL VAMPIRE/ GAZPACHO"" which is fun (it was an Italian "single" release).

"EARLY ENCOUNTERS" is more of an easy listening album which may have a similar effect on some as KENNY-G does on me. Makes me kind of sleepy.

He has released a total of 13 albums under his name and continued to work in music up until his death.

Ralf Nowy - 1973 - Lucifer’s dream

Ralf Nowy Group
Lucifer’s dream

01. Breadhead 4:55
02. Lucifer's Dream 4:57
03. Something's Happened On The Chicken Farm 4:04
04. Hear Me Calling 4:57
05. Soul Tango 3:49
06. Ashes To Ashes 3:36
07. Shiwa's Dance 8:44
08. Tschad 3:53

Gary Unwin / bass
Lothar Meid / bass
Sylvester Levay / piano
Don Anderson / piano, vocals
Paul Vincent Gunia / guitar
Andy Marx / guitar
Keith Forsey / drums
Bernie Prock / percussion
Ralf Nowy / flutes, alto saxophone, oboe
Al Gromer / sitar
Liz van Neyenhoff / sitar
Sankar Chatterjel / tablas
Joy Fleming / vocals
Rainer Pietsch / vocals
Vilko Zanki / vocals

Back in the early 70s the German scene was like a bad porn-flick where everybody was doing it together on different albums, occasions and in a whirlwind of musical directions. What this ultimately lead to was a deeper understanding of what made the different expressions cook and flow - sear and levitate. It's why a guy like Klaus Schulze was just as amazing in a psychedelic drum freak out as he was behind huge refrigerator-like instruments turning knobs - or maybe acting as head honcho behind a Japanese psych band at the other end of the planet. In many ways this is what characterised a lot of the well-respected musicians back then - and to some extent that's what was essential inside many artistic movements at the time. Movie making echoed this thing - where you'd find people doing photography one day and then having to be in charge of the lighting the next. People needed to keep their fingers on the pulse and know their way around their respective craftsmanship in order to deliver something corresponding to whatever intangible feel, essence or zeitgeist was on the menu. I think this frolicking around in strange bushes and corners of the different musics made the people playing it so much more versatile and open minded. Sure, this was happening back in the 60s, when rock n' roll suddenly began to steal the jazz players away from their home turf, but when Krautrock really started to unfold its wings - an emphasis on experimentalism saw the light of day that challenged the players to go outside of their comfort zones - adapt or indeed metamorphose.

Lucifer's Dream is a testimony to all of this, not because I consider it to be representative of Krautrock in any way, shape or form, because I don't, - no, because it features a giant smorgasbord of talented musicians coming from all over the scene - all of them attuned into a merged sonic effort revolving around one saxophonist named Ralf Nowy. Both bassist Lothar Meid and sitarist Al Gromer came from Amon Düül ll prior to this stint - whereas Sylvester Levay, here providing some dreamy piano, had played opposite Eddie Maron in the Krautfusion band Dzyan. In short: a lot of these people had played around in all kinds of constellations touching on jazz, folk, British invasion rock and something altogether different. On here the waters coalesced into one beautiful almost symphonic album.

Ralf Nowy actually started out as a bit of a free jazz dabbler - playing flute and sax in various jazz groups all through the 60s. He was even awarded with a prize for best soloist at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1963. What then struck this listener as something rather bizarre, is how he proceeded with his career later on. Nowy is today widely known in Germany for his jingle skills and pop music know how - and what to do with any piece of music in order to make it easier to digest for the masses. Somewhere in between these two extremes Lucifer's Dream came into fruition, and knowing whereto this man's path would turn, it suddenly makes perfect sense to this listener how he managed to make something as audacious and experimental as this sound so fluid and easy going. A tremendous feat.

What this album reminds me the most of is actually Camel's The Snowgoose. Yup - believe it or not. The way the slick and understated funky fusion of this album reaches up for the skies and resembles symphonic music much like you'd hear on Camel's now (in)famous record, is damn near uncanny. It's not even fusion, for that it is far too smooth and serene. Packed full of melody and huge musical whiffs of fresh air and swaying textures, this sonic vessel floats through your living room like an elegant woman swooping around in a big Toulouse Lautrec costume. Sometimes the feel of this thing almost approaches femininity. There's a lightness about it, that you forget where its roots started. This is indeed highly experimental musicians working together to give to you something beautiful and luscious. The focus is firmly held on the sprawling melodies with occasional warm saxophone interventions colouring the music red and sensuous. You wouldn't believe that dear old Ralf came from a world of zany off-beat jazz adventures, when you hear Lucifer's Dream. It is much too elegant and well orchestrated for that to ring true.

The one thing pointing towards Krautrock, as I know it, is the Indian work out that suddenly appears with the track Shiva's Dance. Shiva is of course the Hindu god of destruction and in tune with the album's increasingly cathartic development, this track now takes the listener into a musical world that takes on the mad meeting of Indiana Jones and the temple of doom, where evil liquids turn good men into slaves of darkness, and all of these twirling images of blood and flames explode in a fiery musical meeting of sitars, tablas and assorted percussions sounding like they're played by horses' hooves.

Otherwise this album is the German equivalent of the smooth and serene beauty of The Snowgoose - captivating its audience with warm high soaring melodies and a riveting fusion twist that lies somewhere on the outskirts of the recording keeping the beat wonderfully funky and fluid all at the same time.

Namaz - 1984 - Come Inside

Come Inside

01. Rosie 4:58
02. Come Inside 4:27
03. Ada (For Ma Ada) 3:57
04. Feel's Me Up 3:39
05. Jack The Rapper 4:36
06. We The People 3:30
07. Girl Blow My Mind 4:09
08. Anxiety 4:00
09. Foolin' Around 2:50

Bass – Tom Krüger
Drums, Percussion – Johannes Fries
Guitar, Composed By – Werner Goos
Keyboards – Udo Sailer
Percussion – Anibal Carvalho
Trumpet – Pat Manusco
Vocals – Phillip Earl Edwards

High Dynamic mastering by SNB Studio-Nord-Bremen.

Namaz - 1981 - 300 M.P.H

300 M.P.H

01. Vom Regenbogen 4:45
02. Short Funky 2:35
03. Congress Of Dreams 4:03
04. For Making Me Blue 4:25
05. Anticipated Joy 2:07
06. Movin' Seconds 5:05
07. Mystic Latin 3:45
08. Take Me Away 4:17
09. Cyklus III 4:25

Bass – Alfred Henning
Drums – Ralph D. Dietze
Guitar – Werner Goos
Keyboards – Joachim Essig
Percussion – Ralf Moufang
Vocals – Rachel Gould

Recorded Tonstudio Eichhorn, Freiburg, Oct. 80

For Namaz's debut, try to imagine Embryo circa Bad Heads and Bad Cats, or the Real Ax Band - but carrying on into 1981. Tropical and breezy Kraut styled fusion with sultry female vocals are the order of the day here. Final track 'Cyklus III' goes into freaky Santana guitar mode to close in excellent fashion. A fine album for fans of the genre.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

George Lawall - 1982 - Die Himmelsleiter Steht Im Sumpf Oder Der Prophet- eine Rockoper

George Lawall
Die Himmelsleiter Steht Im Sumpf Oder Der Prophet- eine Rockoper

01. Vorspiel: Von Der Ordnungsmacht 0:54
02. Ouverture 3:52
03. Was Kann Ich Dafür 2:38
04. Joint Oh Unser 1:32
05. Maskenschmiererei 3:35
06. Hallo Wie Gehts 2:45
07. Es Ist So Anders 2:49
08. Liebe 3:25
09. Looky Looky 3:05
10. Herr Prophet 4:10
11. Das Neue Lied 3:35
12. Es Hat Sich Ja Gezeigt 5:25
13. Manchmal 4:25
14. Die Geier 2:25
15. Die Freiheit 3:45

Bass – Andreas Lonardoni (tracks: A6-A9), Paul Müller (tracks: A1-A5, B1-B6)
Cymbal – Helmut Franke
Electric Guitar – Werner Goos (tracks: A2, A5, A7, B1)
Flugelhorn – Clemens Winterhalter
Guitar, Music By, Lyrics By – Georg Lawall
Percussion – Joachim Fuchs-Charrier
Saxophone, Flute – Knut Rössler
Voice Actor, Vocals – Georg Köberlein, Georg Lawall, Hartmut Roller, Li Garattoni*, Katrin Haug, Markus "Mais" Müller, Peter Krakor, Susanne Schempp, Wolle Kriwanek

Rock Opera for Band and Orchestra.

What could have possessed him to put together a rock opera in the early eighties, complete with symphonic backing and rock band?  At least it's not a mystery why this was completely forgotten in the mists of time.  Had it been released ten years before when there was a taste for these things, it might have been remembered, at least slightly.

And the music?  well, it varies between good and bizarre.  So that's quite a wide continuum of possibilities and you can gauge for yourselves whether this enormous space allows the consistency one would earnestly hope for in such a project.  At least (I thank god) the songs don't run into each other or I would have never had the patience to listen to 24 minutes at one sitting, never mind two sides of that same or slightly less length.  As always, without any exception, one can expect a reggae song, at least one, on these early 80s German albums.  From a promisingly composed overture unfortunately too often these projects wind up sounding like off-off-Broadway musicals with overly simplistic numbers and too many different styles without any unifying feature other than, presumably, the plot.  (And what a plot this story must have had!)  There were even times when I was listening to this record where I thought my kids were playing some other song in the background close by, it sounded that chaotic.

One thing that absolutely floored me was the presence of Li Garattoni, the beautiful singer (her album is a masterpiece of progressive jazzy pop), as one of the characters Indi (she sings tracks A3 and B5), and the musicians aiding Georg Lawall include Fuchs, Goos, and Knut Rossler i.e. the members of the Fuchs-Goos Band posted earlier here.

As for the cover, it is simply awful.  The rainbow, the Michael Jackson-like character carrying a violin, the peace symbol a la Max Ernst surrealism-- it just doesn't work,  It doesn't work at all. 

Fuchs-Goos-Band - 1979 - Chameleon 2

Chameleon 2

01. Mr. Dorian 13:35
02. Silly 5:55
03. Song For A Lady 3:55
04. Zyklus One 8:30
05. Plastic Funk 1:55
06. My Desire 3:20
07. Jazz-Zyklus 1 5:00
08. Drumsolo 1:45

Drums [Sonor Signature Drums] – Joachim Fuchs-Charrier
Electric Bass – Paul Müller 
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Werner Goos
Piano [Acoustic Piano] – Christoph Spendel
Saxophone [Saxes], Flute – Knut Rössler

This band comprises the following highly talented German jazz musicians: Christoph Spendel (keyboards), Joachim Fuchs-Charrier (percussion), Knut Rössler on saxes and flute, Werner Goos of course on guitar, and Paul Muller on bass, and this is apparently their only output.  Between this one and the earlier Chameleon from 1979 the only man in common was Knut.  So I can't say for sure the title implies a follow-up installment to the earlier record, which was more energetic and synthesized, understandably, since as we've seen before, the eighties brought in a trend towards more acoustic music.  Notice that Knut was also in the amazing ethnic-fusion band Orexis, virtually all their albums, so you get an idea of how much a part of the progressive fusion scene he was.

Chameleon - 1979 - Chameleon


01. Grubnello 
02. Grass
03. Berufsverbot
04. Die Drei Phasen 
05. Transaction
06. Spass Im Fass (Fun In The Ton)
07. Die Konsequenz
08. Die Gewalt

Knut Rössler (tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, lyricon)
Joachim Essig (piano, synthesizer, string ensemble)
Roland Herbe (bass, piccolo)
Ralph Dietze (drums)

Recorded January 1979 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg. 

Standard issue Euro fusion, with soprano sax leads and a warm, sunny texture. Opening track has some fuzz bass and a lead flute line, whereas the opener on side two is a smoker - as we witness the drummer going off on the drum kit in a proto death metal way. These two tracks save this from being a totally mundane affair. On the same Heidelberg based label as the more known symphonic group Pancake.

John Handy Quintet - 1967 - New View!

John Handy Quintet 
New View!

01. Naima (In Memory Of John Coltrane) 9:29
02. A Little Quiet 9:14
03. Tears Of Ole Miss (Anatomy Of A Riot) 23:45

Alto Saxophone – John Handy
Bass – Albert Stinson
Drums – Doug Sides
Guitar – Pat Martino
Vibraphone – Bobby Hutcherson

Recorded live at the Village Gate, New York City, June 28, 1967

Handy issued a great run of records on Columbia during the '60s, of which "New View!" is a distinguished member. Coming on the heels of his famous performance an Montreux (which also resulted in a must-have release), "New View!" features a revamped lineup that includes vibist Bobby Hutcherson and guitarist Pat Martino.
The result is a stimulating session of three tunes, each one offering a distinct mood and sound. Handy transforms Coltrane's standard, "Naima" into an alto flowering of lush beauty. It's a wonderful tribute to Coltrane and his composition, which is one of his most affecting. "A Little Quiet" is a gently swinging bossa nova, which features a fine, flowing solo from Hutcherson.
The relaxed mood of the release is abruptly broken with the powerful "Tears of Ole Miss," a 23-minute musical lament for the unhappy racial disharmony endured by the citizens of that state throughout the '50s and '60s. Handy and his band capture the turmoil of the civil rights movement and the resistance to it throughout the course of this exciting performance, which includes a patch of bitter and effective satire in which Handy blows a mocking chorus of "Dixie." In duration and power, "Tears of Ole Miss" rivals Mingus's best performances of "Fables of Faubus," another satirical attack on Southern racial politics.
Handy has had an enigmatic career, one which has featured stretches of silence and mediocre releases. However, he remains a vital jazz voice, as those who have seen him in performance can attest. The series of Columbia releases that includes "New View!" includes some of the best jazz from the '60s. "New View!" is an essential part of that group of releases.

Altoist John Handy's 1967 quintet included vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, the up and coming guitarist Pat Martino, bassist Albert Stinson and drummer Doug Sides. They really stretch out on three pieces (John Coltrane's "Naima" and an original), and New View is highlighted by Handy's emotional and episodic "Tears of Ole Miss (Anatomy of a Riot)," which clocks in at 23:45. The inside/outside music is quite picturesque, emotional, and ultimately logical. It is a pity that John Handy did not make more of an impact on the mainstream of jazz, but his three Columbia studio albums still sound fresh decades later.

Monday, August 3, 2020

John Handy Quintet - 1966 - The 2nd John Handy Album

John Handy Quintet
The 2nd John Handy Album

01. Dancy Dancy 5:37
02. Theme X 7:25
03. Blues For Highstrung Guitar 5:59
04. Dance For Carlo B 4:28
05. Scheme #1 13:46

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – John Handy
Bass – Don Thompson 
Drums, Glockenspiel – Terry Clarke
Guitar – Jerry Hahn
Violin – Mike White

Recorded July, 1966.

This mid-’60s group featured Jerry Hahn, Michael White, Danny Thompson and Terry Clarke, all players who have gone on to other significant achievements. The group chemistry is the main point of interest for jazz listeners (Handy and Charles Lloyd were about the only jazz players that appealed to the hippies, for some reason, and some of the material is accordingly on the light side.) Handy is also a master of the sax and his cohorts rate high as soloists and even higher as group players, all of which assures a deserved continued interest, and three previously unheard tracks add to that. But if one long (13:46) piece ever made a record worth buying, “Scheme #1” here is surely that piece. Handy said in the original notes that the group wanted to go more in this experimental direction, which sounds as much like Schoenberg or even at times Stockhausen as it does free jazz, though Handy in 1966 had digested aspects of Coltrane’s later work that most of his imitators still seem unaware of. The group’s togetherness raises this performance to a level no other third stream music ever reached. Too bad they split up without building on it.

Handy put together one of jazz's most unique cooperatives for an unfortunately short-lived period in the mid-'60s. While the commercial climate wasn't kind to the band, they nonetheless produced some superb music, originally recorded on Columbia and now reissued on Koch. This release finds the quintet continuing to explore new ground.
Handy, one of our finest and most underappreciated altoists, surrounded himself with musicians no less free-thinking than himself, most notably the superb guitarist Jerry Hahn and the fine violinist Michael White. The band was capable of moving effortlessly through through jazz, rock, blues and free material. Their willingness to push the boundaries of jazz is demonstrated most clearly on "Scheme #1," which concluded the original vinyl release. It is a wonderfully realized exercise in musical abstraction, but its free quality doesn't mean that it's aimless or chaotic. In fact, Handy wrote several sections for the piece. Rather, the piece moves about in ways that invite the listener to make his own connections between the statements made by each band member.
The freedom of "Scheme #1" is balanced by some serious cooking from all involved. Hahn is astonishing on "Blues for a High-Strung Guitar" and Handy's playing on "Dancy Dancy" should make everyone wonder why he has received so little recognition during the course of his career.
The best blendings of jazz talents show the listener that telepathy does indeed exist. This tightly fused band deserved many more opportunities to weave their magic.

Altoist John Handy's second Columbia album was actually his fourth as a leader. Utilizing the same musicians who had joined him during his sensational set at the 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival (violinist Michael White, guitarist Jerry Hahn, bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke), Handy performs five of his complex yet accessible originals, which include the "Theme X" (in 5/4 time), the catchy "Blues for a Highstrung Guitar," and the adventurous "Scheme #1." The CD reissue adds three previously unissued alternate takes to the earlier program. This would be the unit's only studio album, and after disbanding, they did not reunite until 1994. The memorable music is highly recommended.