Monday, June 22, 2015

Quill - 1977 - Sursum Corda

Sursum Corda

01. First movement: (19:58)
  i) Floating
  ii) Interlude
  iii) The March Of Dreams
  iv) The March Of Kings
  v) Storming The Mountain
  vi) Princess Of The Mountain
  vii) Storming The mountain (part II) ~ Lift Up Your Heart
02. Second movement: (15:32)
  i) The Call
  ii) Timedrift
  iii) Earthsplit
  iv) The Black Wizard
  v) Counterspell
  vi) The White Wizard
  vii) The Hunt
  viii) Rising
  ix) The Spell
  x) Sumnation
  xi) Finale

Keith Christian - vocals, Rickenbacker 4001 bass, nylon string guitar
Ken DeLoria - Hammond B2 organ, Moog synths, Mellotron, Baldwin electric harpsichord, Steinert grand piano-forte, Arp string ensemble, RMI Keyboard Computer.
Jim Sides - vocals, drums, orchestral & tubular bells, tympani

1st album by short-lived US Prog group Quill, which is one of the greatest but sadly little known gems of the US 1970s Prog Movement, brought to life only by this CD reissue. The band also recorded another, even more ambitious project, which remains unissued to this very day. The album is a concept story in two long movements, almost entirely instrumental, performed by the three Quill members: keyboardist Ken DeLoria, bassist Keith Christian and drummer Jim Sides. The obvious keyboard trios come to mind (Nice, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, etc.) but the band deserves to be remembered by its own merits, as it is truly remarkable. The complex and intertwined musical themes and the spectacular instrumental solos (especially on the Hammond organ) are amongst Prog's finest moments and the album is definitely a minor masterpiece in its own right. No serious Prog collection would be complete without this shining gem!

Shiva's Quintessence - 2011 - Only Love Can Save Us

Shiva's Quintessence 
Only Love Can Save Us

01. Only Love Can Save Us / Mother Of Love Chant 08:40
02. Sun 04:43
03. Notting Hill Gate / Magic Carpet Ride 04:44
04. Jesus Buddha Moses Gauranga 06:15
05. Parvati Devi 07:42
06. Hallelujad 05:55
07. Cosmic Surfer 04:48
08. Giants 06;06
09. Reptillian Corporate Sign Language 10:14
10. New Age Breadhead 05:14
11. Dolphin Dreaming 06:07
12. But What Am I? 07:58

Shiva Jones: Vocals
Rudra Beauvert: Keyboards
Maha Dev: Guitars
Ronnie Levine: Guitars
Jenny Bird: Vocals
John Carey: Harmonica
Jennifer Jones: Vocals
Narada Weidi: Sitar
Suzanne Bonnan: Harp
Enzo Lopardo: Percussion
Parvati Devi: Vocals

While searching for information about Quintessence on the internet, Swiss musician Ralph `Rudra' Beavert made the acquaintance of original vocalist Phil `Shiva' Jones. Email exchanges eventually led to serious phone conversations and Shiva Shakti, later Shiva's Quintessence, was born. The duo's goal was to reinterpret Quintessence songs, choosing those primarily written by Phil, and in some cases new Jones-Beauvert penned sections were added to the songs. Two CDs were released - the self-titled Shiva Shakti, (Mystic Records, 2003), and the 2-CD Cosmic Surfer by Shiva's Quintessence (Eclectic Discs, 2005). Both albums included Quintessence songs plus new material. Hux Records has now released Only Love Can Save Us, which compiles ten songs from those two albums, plus two previously unreleased Shiva's Quintessence songs.

The CD opens with one of the previously unreleased tracks, "Only Love Can Save Us / Mother Of Love Chant". It starts off with a soulful groove plus Phil's inspirational vocal style. Then about halfway through this 9 minute track we're treated to a brief spaced out electronic transitional bit, leading into a classic Quintessence Indian influenced sitar/tabla/chant raga. Quintessence classics like "Notting Hill Gate" and "Giants" are given new life by Ralph's electronic wizardry and spaced out injections. I love the contrast with the Bluesy harmonica on "Giants". "Cosmic Surfer" has a Prog-Pop flavor. "Jesus Buddha Moses Gauranga" is the other previously unreleased track. It's a faithful rendition of the song, with a cool spacey electronic interlude, and ends with an excellent grooving jam and classic Prog keyboards. "Parvati Devi" is an Indian themed song with deep space electro grooves and colorings. "Sun" has inspirational lyrics and vocals, but with a country vibe. And "Hallelujad" is a peaceful, uplifting song.

The last four songs, all Shiva's Quintessence tracks from the Cosmic Surfer album, really highlight the power of the original material. "Reptilian Corporate Sign Language" is among my favorites, being a 10 minute tune with cool grooves, stinging guitar licks and freaky alien synths that provide the musical pulse for Phil's lyrics attacking big business and its role in creating a mindless consumer culture. More social commentary is heard on the whimsical and well crafted "New Age Breadhead". "Dolphin Dreaming" features space electronica and grooves with Indian influences and inspirational vocals. And "But What Am I?" includes some of Phil's most humorous lyrics and delivery. What really amazes me about the song is that it's got a Pop sense of melody, yet there's non-stop action with a variety of soundtrack voice bits and Ralph injects a banquet of electronic fun into the mix throughout. Excellent music and a really fun song.

Phil and Ralph were really on to something with their electronic-raga propelled rendition of Quintessence classics, and combining these reinterpretations with new compositions really gave Shiva's Quintessence an original sound. I hope this Hux Records release helps to draw some much deserved attention to Phil and Ralph's accomplishments.

Kala - 1973 - Kala


01. Travelling Home Codling 3:19
02. Sun Jones 4:20
03. Thirsty Generation Codling 4:57
04. Pearl Jones 6:31
05. Meditations Jones 7:15
06. Still Got Time Jones 5:55
07. Hallelujah Jones 2:54
08. Honey of Love Jones 5:24
09 . Come On Around To My House Jones 4:42
10. Before You Leave Cox 9:46
11. Going Down Slow Burnett 3:56
12. Honey of Love Jones 5:40
13. Meditations [2010 Mix] Jones 7:17
14. Still Got Time [2010 Mix] Jones 5:58

Tracks 1 to 8 from the 1973 LP Kala
Tracks 9-10 from the 1973 LP "Bradley's Roadshow: Live at the Marquee
Tracks 11-12 live in 1973 (previously unreleased)
Tracks 13-14 feature new vocals from Phil "Shiva" Jones (previously unreleased).

Dave Codling: Guitar
Phil Jones: Vocals

Peter Arneson: Piano
Paul Bennett: Vocals
Chris Brown: Guitar
Glen Charles: Drums
Sid Gardner: Bass, Vocal Harmony
Carol Grimes: Vocals
Johnnie Miles: Drums
Les Nicol: Guitar,
Gary Roberly: Keyboards
Perry Sinclair: Guitar, Vocal Harmony
Dave Skinner: Piano
Jack Stevenson: Percussion

A year after releasing two documents of Quintessence live performances from 1970 and 1971, Hux Records continues to complete Quintessence history by reissuing on CD the 1973 self-titled album by Kala.

After being fired from Quintessence in mid-1972, singer Phil "Shiva" Jones and rhythm guitarist Dave "Maha Dev" Coddling formed Kala, a band that lasted barely a year and released one album and one single. Jones explains in the liner notes that his goal with Kala was to get away from the improvisation that characterized Quintessence and focus more on structured songs with controlled solos, and this is evident throughout the album.

Songs like "Travelling Home" and "Still Got Time" blend Country and Blues, the former being a well crafted pop song with soulful backing vocals and excellent guitar. "Still Got Time" is similar and includes an outstanding instrumental section at the end, which segues seamlessly into the next track, "Hallelujah", a gorgeously soulful song that makes for a killer coda to "Still Got Time". "Sun" and "Pearl" have a spiritual feel that recalls Quintessence, especially on "Pearl", a standout track that throws some excellent country guitar into the mix.

My personal favorites are "Thirsty Generation", "Meditations", and "Honey Of Love", all of which are among the most musically adventurous tracks on the album. "Thirsty Generation" is an accessible song with a progressive rock edge and brief forays into psychedelia. At 7+ minutes "Meditations" is the longest track on the album. It begins with a spiritual Quintessence vibe, but then goes into a quiet instrumental interlude that culminates in fiery rocking, almost Santana-like jam. And "Honey Of Love" features more country-Blues, with a dual guitar interplay that at times recalls the Allman Brothers. The song transitions through multiple themes, with backing vocals that beautifully augment Shiva's singing. Add yet another rocking jam and you have a fine finale to the original studio album.

For a band that only lasted a year, Kala's history was a turbulent one, with multiple personnel shakeups and strife with their record company that far too many musicians have regrettably experienced. The reissue includes four live tracks with two different lineup of the band. One aspect of Kala that it shared in common with Quintessence was a live experience that was in marked contrast to the studio album. Two of the tracks are from a 1973 performance that consisted of a quartet of musicians from the album, minus Dave, who had been fired. There's a nice live version of "Honey Of Love". But the surprise is "Going Down Slow", which is pure BLUES, with killer guitar from Les Nicol and further evidence of Jones' varied vocal talents.

But the real stunners are the two tracks from Bradley's Roadshow, a live album compilation of artists on the Bradley label. After being threatened by the band over money, a fortuitous run in with Jones' old friend Chris Brown, from their 1960s Australian band Phil Jones and the Unknown Blues, led to a completely new lineup of Kala. The first track is "Come On Around To My House" which is.... Wow, this ain't nuthin' like anything on the album. This is firebrand Blues infused progressive hard rock, with down `n dirty vocal intensity from Shiva that I can only imagine would leave Quintessence fans heads spinning. And "Before You Leave" is a good time bluesy soulful dance floor packing rocker. At nearly 10 minutes the band stretch out plenty, and Jones' vocals inject a classic James Brown revue vibe into the performance. Go Phil! What an amazingly tight band. I'd love to hear a full set from this lineup of Kala.

The reissue is rounded out by two songs from the album - "Meditations" and "Still Got Time" - with new vocals recorded in 2010 by Jones. And like last years Quintessence live sets, the CD comes with 16 page booklet, packed with interviews with Phil and Dave, pictures, album details and more. I can't lavish enough praise on Hux Records for all the history and insight that comes with this package.

Quintessence - 2012 - Rebirth (Live At Glastonbury 2010)

Rebirth (Live At Glastonbury 2010)

Part One: Glastonbury 2010 Performance
01. Only Love    
02. Ganga Mai    
03. Cosmic Surfer    
04. Mount Kailash    
05. Intangible    
06. Dance For The One    
07. Shiva’s Chant    
08. Notting Hill Gate    
Part Two: Sattvic Meditation Suite09. When Thy Song Flows Through Me    
10. Glastonbury Dawn    
11. Sunrise    
12. Mendocino Bay

In 2009 Hux Records released two sets of rare Quintessence performances from 1970 and 1971, providing unique insight into the Quintessence live experience, which could be quite different from that heard on the studio albums. In recent years, original guitarist Dave `Maha Dev' Coddling have been performing in the UK with Maha Dev's Quintessence, a band he assembled to play faithful renditions of the band's songs. Vocalist Phil `Shiva' Jones has lived for many years in the US and has released albums as Shiva's Quintessence with Swiss musician Ralph `Rudra' Beauvert, in their case reinterpreting Quintessence classics along with original material.

2010 marked the 40th anniversary of the Glastonbury festival, which the original Quintessence had performed at in 1970. When the idea of a Quintessence reunion was proposed to the festival organizers they eagerly accepted, and Phil few to the UK for rehearsals with Dave's band, leading up to two sets at the festival - the Rabbit Hole Stage on Saturday and the Glade Stage on Sunday. Hopes were high for a performance that would be worthy of release and the result is the gem of a CD that Hux has issued - Rebirth: Live at Glastonbury 2010.

Due to technical difficulties the Saturday performance and first 20 minutes of the Sunday performance were unusable. But the 8 songs on the CD stand as a thrilling document of the performance, all the more impressive given that this was the first face to face meeting between Phil and Dave in 35 years. What is immediately apparent is that Dave has a crack lineup of musicians in the band, and regular Maha Dev's Quintessence singer Chas Roughley provided Phil with supporting vocals.

Those of us who have followed Phil's work in recent years know that his voice is still in full form, powerful and passionate, and is well augmented by Chas Roughley. "Only Love" is an excellent opening track with a killer jazz-rock jam in the last minute of the song, guitar and flute dueling wildly. Phil's improvisation vocals jam out nicely with the band on "Ganga Mai". "Cosmic Surfer" is an inspiring rocker. The Quintessence classic "Mount Kailash" opens with hypnotic didgeridoo drones and Phil's spiritual vocals which conjure up images of the Taj Mahal against a bright sunset. "Intangible" is equally mesmerizing, an instrumental that features flute, acoustic guitar and grooving ethnic percussion. "Dance For The One" is a standout, opening with a jazz-rock jam before launching into the song, with powerful supporting vocals from Chas. At over 8 minutes this is the stretch out track of the set. We're treated to trademark Quintessence Indian themes on "Shiva's Chant". And the live set wraps up with the infectious rocking "Notting Hill Gate", which includes the single most blistering jam of the set by both musicians and vocalists. A fantastic performance and Phil has said that if this ends up being the band's swansong he couldn't have been more satisfied.

But wait... there's MORE. Rounding out the CD are four studio tracks. "When Thy Song Flows Through Me" is a beautiful song. Phil is at his most spiritually serene, backed only by an underlying meditative synth wave. "Glastonbury Dawn" is a brief piece with chirping birds that leads into "Sunrise", which picks up where "When Thy Song Flows Through Me" left off. Phil is a powerful vocalist, but he is also a spiritually uplifting singer, and the combination of song, spoken word, light wandering drones, didgeridoo and sounds of nature washes over the listener like a warm summer day. Finally, "Mendocino Bay" consists of flute jamming against ocean waves crashing against the shore and Phil chanting `Rebirth' at the end.

It should be noted that the CD was produced by original Island Records era Quintessence producer John Barham. And like most Hux releases I've seen, the CD includes a massive booklet with detailed commentary by Colin Harper, Shiva Jones, Maha Dev, John Barham, and photos. Not to be missed!