Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Foot in Coldwater - 1977 - Breaking Through

A Foot in Coldwater 
Breaking Through

01 Save It All For Me   
02 The Night's Still Young   
03 Play My Guitar   
04 Goodnight My Love   
05 Why   
06 I Knew She Would   
07 Driftaway   
08 Yes I'm Smiling   
09 Breaking Through

Alex Machin - Vocals
Paul Naumann - Guitars, Vocals
Bob Horne - Keyboards
Hugh Leggat - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Danny Taylor - Drums

An elusive rarity that seldomly surfaces, even in collector's circles. Please refer to my earlier posting regarding this band's back story. A Foot In Coldwater split in 1975, despite seeing moderate success in their native country of Canada. A few years passed before the members regrouped for "Breaking Through" in 1977. The group's new direction was notably more stylized for AOR radio, though there's no shortage of their signature punchy driving sound. Released on Attic Records, the album came and went with little fervor and soon the band were defunct for good.

This is a very well done album that is often unfairly overlooked even by fans of the band. It's a mystery why the record made little impact, though perhaps the disco craze blossoming worldwide played an integral role in its failure. Though the band only resurfaced a few brief times over the years to perform reunion shows, A Foot In Coldwater is no more. Members would later join bands such as Private Eye, Gus, Leggatt, Champion and Moxy.

Dig this ultra-rare effort from a band who always seemed to be on the cusp of a breakthrough, only to find apathy at the end. In retrospect, fans have not forgotten this fabulous classic Canadian act.

A Foot in Coldwater - 1974 - All Around Us

A Foot in Coldwater 
All Around Us

01. I Know What You Need   
02. All Around Us   
03. (Make Me Do) Anything You Want   
04. It's Only Love   
05. Love Is Coming   
06. How Much Can You Take   
07. He's Always There   
08. Yalla Yae   
09. (Isn't Love Unkind) In My Life   
10. Para-Dice

Alex Machin - Vocals
Paul Naumann - Guitars, Vocals
Bob Horne - Keyboards
Hugh Leggat - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Danny Taylor - Drums

Following the record's dismal showing and dwindling concert draws, the band found themselves without a deal in '74 but continued on. In 1975 they were picked up by Anthem, label for such heavy hitters as Rush and Max Webster, which prompted the release of the single "Midnight Lady".

After their deal with Island outside of Canada, Daffodil signed the group to Jac Holzman at Elektra/Asylum in the US and this album was the result of that deal. Produced primarily by Queen's English producer John Anthony, the album included re-recorded versions of the best songs from their first two Canadian albums and added some newly written material by the group. It was a critical sussess but shortly after it's release Jac departed from Elektra, David Geffen took over and the group was let go.

A Foot in Coldwater - 1973 - The Second Foot In Coldwater

A Foot in Coldwater
The Second Foot In Coldwater

01. Coming Is Love   
02. So Long   
03. Suzy   
04. How Much Can You Take   
05. (Isn't Love Unkind) In My Life   
06. Sailing Ships   
07. Love Is Coming

Alex Machin - Vocals
Paul Naumann - Guitars, Vocals
Bob Horne - Keyboards
Hugh Leggat - Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Danny Taylor - Drums

Every review for A Foot In Coldwater's LPs/CDs I write is going to be the same. I love these guys' music. It's rock & roll straight and honest, but the main thing about Foot is that their style is 100% uniquely their own . . . just as classic rock should be. You can tell it's Foot by the first chord of just about any song. A rolling freight train of thunderous Strat (courtesy of the late Paul Naumann), roaring Hammond B3, and a diversity of inflections, solos and songs that make the music of the Toronto scene in the early 1970s so memorable. Foot is among the best by far, and their fans are loyal to the end. Every AFIC release is worth owning, for fans of Canadian music and rock fans worldwide. Their 4th album (Breaking Through) isn't available on CD, but it's worth buying in vinyl for the $10 to $15 it fetches.

The band released A Second Foot In Cold Water the next year. Two singles were released, "Love Is Coming" and "Isn't Love Unkind", their second crack in the top 25 on Billboard. All Around Us hit the shelves in '73 and contained only 5 new songs, along with new versions of 4 tracks from the previous 2 lp's. "(Make Me Do) Anything You Want" hit the airwaves again and this time cracked Billboard's Top 10, as did the second time 'round for "Isn't Love Unkind".

More of the unique stylings of this group including the hit single"(Isn't Love Unkind) In My Life" and "Love Is Coming", both hits displayed this band's unique combination of power, subtlety and taste. The bands producer was reputed to have spent as much time as most artists spend recording their entire albums, on just the mixing of the first hit (In My Life) alone, Island Records in the UK signed the group on the strength of the one track "In My Life". The classical guitar intro to one of the heaviest tracks ever recorded in this country (Coming Is Love) is worth the price of the album though the lyrics to this and other cuts on the album were criticized for being sexist and too explicit.

A Foot in Coldwater - 1972 - A Foot in Coldwater

A Foot in Coldwater
A Foot in Coldwater

01. On the Wind
02. Yalla Yae
03. Deep Freeze
04. (Make Me Do) Anything You Want
05. Who Can Stop Us Now
06. Alone Together
07. Fallen Man
08. In Heat
09. Lady True

Alex Machin - Vocals
Paul Naumann - Guitars
Bob Horne - Keyboards
Hugh Leggat - Bass
Danny Taylor - Drums

The debut album by a great Canadian band. It includes their best known and much loved classic hit "(Make Me Do) Anything You Want", will a staple of gold rotation through out the country and containing perhaps the best known guitar solo in Canadian rock music; in addition to, some of the tightest playing of any band to ever grace the Canadian rock scene. The group were a cult favorite of legions of biker gangs yet mixed with their powerful 'heavy' rock stylings reminisent of Deep Purple and Zeppelin was their unique approach to rock ballads which combined power with strings and other acoustic elements. At their peak they were among the best groups Canada has spawned.

In 1971 Paul Naumann left his band Leather and got together with fellow Torontonian Alex Machin, forming the group Island. Around the same time the remnants of another progressive rock group Lords Of London, in bassist Hughie Leggat, drummer Danny Taylor and Bob Horne on organ were looking for a change, forming Nucleus.

After one album, they hooked up with Nauman and Machin. They caught the attention of Frank Davies, who signed them to his new Daffodil Records in early '72 and A Foot In Cold Water was born. An offbeat British slang for 'a shocking experience', their debut was exactly that, striking gold the same year. Backed by the future classic "(Make Me Do) Anything You Want" which scored in Billboard's Top 25, the album gained critical reviews, despite the length of most of the tracks being too long for conventional airplay. Also on the record were the sleeper hits "On The Wind" and "Deep Freeze".
by Frank Davies and Paul Leask

Yavanna - 1984 - Bilder Aus Mittelerde

Bilder Aus Mittelerde

01. Valinor (6:54)
02. Earendils worte in Walinar (6:10)
03. Luthiens Fruhlingsgesang und tanz (6:37)
04. Atalante (6:38)
05. In den hallen von megenroth (4:07)
06. Gondolin - Turgon"s Stadt (8:07)

Sitar, Vibraphone, Synthesizer, Violin, Percussion, Engineer, Arranged By, Producer - by Dirk Schmalenbach
Bass, Horns - by Helmut Jost
Drums, Vibraphone, Percussion, Timbales, Synthesizer, Harpsichord, Grand Piano - Thomas Adam
Flute - Dieter Neuhäuser
Grand Piano - Johannes Nitsch
Grand Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] - Dieter Falk
the Guitar - Lothar Kosse, Tommy Schmieder
Vocals - Gitta Löwenstein
Vocals, Backing Vocals - Hans Stettner
Backing Vocals - by Heike Barth, by Sabine Jost, Thomas Flemming

YAVANNA was a German project instigated by Dirk Schmalenbach (violin, keyboards, vocals, sitar, percussion) of Christian progressive rock outfit Eden. He was joined by Hans Stettner (vocals), Thomas Adam (drums, vibraphone, percussion), Helmut Jost (bass) and Lothar Kosse (guitars) for the recording of the one and only album released under the Yavanna moniker: The 1984 production "Bilder Aus Mittelerde", a concept album based on J. R. R. Tolkien's books "The Lord of the Rings" and "Silmarillion".

There are several things about this album that are somewhat confounding, to say the least. First a note though – Yavanna were not really a band. The very talented and multi- instrumentalist Dirk Schmalenbach put the project together following the demise of his former gig as part of the German progressive band Eden. Anyway, on to some of the oddities of Schmalenbach’s project.
Let’s start with a mention of the artwork, a truly uninspired, plain-wrapper looking sort of thing with nothing more than a band name, album title and pencil sketch of a couple of trees that have nothing to do with the band, album, song lyrics or even music in general. This is even odder given Schmalenbach’s background with Eden, a band that prided itself on beautiful album covers layered with meaning.

Also, the songs on the album are apparently based on two of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous works, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Silmarillion’. This is itself isn’t all that surprising or unusual given the fact Tolkien’s work was enjoying something of a renaissance in popular culture when these songs were recorded in the early eighties. I’ll have to assume this is correct since I don’t speak German, although a few of the song titles obviously confirm the album’s general theme. That said, nearly everything I’ve ever seen (or heard) that was Tolkien-inspired, especially in the seventies and eighties, tended to be long, ostentatious, and usually overproduced. That’s pretty much where the bar is at for Tolkien fare. Not the case here. The album itself is not even forty minutes long and contains only seven songs, none of which reach even seven minutes in length. And other than the bombastic, organ- charged opening seconds of “Valinor” the music is for the most part folk-inspired and rather understated. There is a brief period in “Atalante” where guitarist Lothar Kosse launches into a mildly Glmourish solo and I’m reminded of the later Tolkien effort by Mostly Autumn, but otherwise this is fairly tame stuff.

Tolkien (and Eden) music also tends to be elaborate and include stylistic references not only to folk, but usually classical and symphonic music as well, often of the Baroque period. That doesn’t happen here either. Indeed, with the possible exception of “Gondolin” and it’s mellow violin-led instrumental break there is very little in this music’s structure that predates modern rock and contemporary folk. There is also a pretty strong eighties vibe that tends to come out during the vocal passages of the record.

Finally, like I said Schmalenbach was a multi-talented musician who had mastered all the basic rock instruments (guitar, drums, bass) as well as keyboards, violin and sitar. In my opinion he is guilty of too much reliance on electronic keyboarding here, particularly in the early tracks “Earendils Worte in Valimar” and “Luthiens Frühlingsgesang Und Tanz”. True, he manages to weave in violin on both these tracks, but given the strings’ potential to dominate the emotion of a song I think Schalenbach missed a great opportunity here.

This is a decent album, but not something that will ever be considered a timeless classic. I still enjoy it a lot...

Eden - 1981 - Heimkehr


01. Intro (2:00)
02. Die Klagelieder Des Jeremia (10:00)
03. Psalm 137 (5:10)
04. Psalm 126 (5:45)
05. Heimkehr (10:11)
06. Herr Ich Bin Nicht Wurdig (5:45)
07. Neues Land Im Licht (7:00)

- Irene Heidenrich / vocals
- Annette Schmalenbach / vocals
- Anne Dierks / vocals
- Thomas Flemming / vocals
- Markus Egger / vocals
- Dirk Schmalenbach / keyboards
- Micheal Dierks / keyboards
- Hans Fritzsch / guitars
- Michael Claren / bass, vocals, guitar
- Hans Müller / drums
- Michael Wirth / percussion
- Mario Schnaub / flute

This is the third and last album by the German Christian proggers. The three albums are all very similar. The music, playing and singing, is of a consistently high quality, firmly in the Romantic school of neo- Floydian German groups, like Novalis, later Eloy and Stern Meissen Combo. This means lots of string-synths, acoustic guitars and pretty melodies. Vocals are often choral and there is a fair amount of classy electric guitar soloing of the Gilmour school. This album is pretty laid back, with very few up-tempo passages. Eden also featured a violinist, which adds a pleasantly pastoral extra dimension. It's very pleasant music, and no doubt inspiring lyrically if you are Christian (which I am not) and German (also not). However, if you are a lover of late 70s European symphonic and enjoy lots of synth, this might be worth tracking down.

Eden - 1980 - Perelandra


01. Abgesang (4:26)
02. Er Wird Sein (6:39)
03. Lichtlied (5:16)
04. Zwischenspiel (1:35)
05. Dem Verborgenen Zuwieder (4:25)
06. Perelandra (7:17)
07. Im Bragdon Wald (6:41)
08. Bilder Einer Welt (5:43)
09. Ausklang (1:53)

- Christos Charapis / bouzouki
- Kiriakos Charapis / bouzouki
- Michael Claren / bass, acoustic guitars, vocals
- Anne Dierks / vocals
- Michael Dierks / keyboards, vocals
- Hans Fritzsch / guitars
- Hans Müller / drums, percussion congas, timbales
- Dieter Neuhäuser / flute
- Annette Schmalenbach / vocals
- Dirk Schmalenbach / keyboards, sequencer, sitar, strings, percussion, vocals

In 1978/79 Eden toured around Germany to promote their debut album.They made a good deposit of money to build a small studio in Wiederhof and work on new material.Dirk Schmalenbach decided also to take the responsibilty of being the sound enginner on this effort.At one point his friend Martin Lueling visited him and proposed the reading of Irish writer's C.S. Lewis novel ''Perelandra'', a book split between religious themes and science fiction.Impressed by Lewis' writings Schmalenbach took the chance to write a concept album, which was recorded between November 79' and January 80' and released in 1980 on Lord Records.
While not surpassing the unmet inspiration of ''Erwartung'' by any means, ''Perelandra'' is another very solid album by Eden, the folky elements are rather limited in the exhibition on flutes, the sporadic acoustic lines and the discreet performances of Greek brothers Christos and Kiriakos Charapis on bouzouki with the band having taken a more clean symphonic direction with the standard Teutonic vibes in the keyboard parts and its spacious, floating themes.The music is dominated by layered synthesizers and grandiose guitars with the occasional rural injections, featuring also excellent German vocals in both male and female offerings, having a great balance between bombastic and laid-back textures and containing some beautiful keyboard-guitar interactions.The atmosphere is ethereal, pompous and dramatic with the typical sound of Symphonic Rock acts from Germany, delivering nice keyboard spaciness. storytelling moods and light Classical influences.They come even closer to ANYONE'S DAUGHTER with this work, although they sounded more personal than their heavily Genesis-influenced compatriots.It must be these Gospel-like polyphonic passages, that sets the group apart from other 80's German acts.But they can become pretty rich in sounds and sights throughout, propelled by the neurotic dual keyboard splashes, the lovely guitar moves and the popping folky colors, I can definitely hear still some of these elegant violin drives-strongly apparent on the debut- during the latter parts, but noone is credited to play these.

Among the very good albums of 80's Teutonic Prog.It doesn't sound as convincing as their flawless debut, but it sounds far better than most of the period symphonic albums of the time.Nice Symphonic Prog Rock, fairly recommended

Eden - 1978 - Erwartung



01. Spatregen (7:09)
02. Erwartung (6:41)
03. Eden Teil
    I) Eden Teil (4:35)
    II) Eden Teil II (6:08)
04. Ein Anderes Land (16:31)

- Michael Claren / bass, background vocals
- Anne Dierks / vocals
- Michael Dierks / keyboards, vocals
- Markus Egger / vocals
- Hans Fritzsch / guitars
- Hans Müller / drums, percussion
- Mario Schaub / flute, clarinet, saxophone, background vocals
- Annette Schmalenbach / vocals
- Dirk Schmalenbach / violin, acoustic guitar, sitar, keyboards percussion, vocals
- Michael Wirth / congas

German outfit EDEN was founded in 1977, when three members of the "Freie christliche Jugendgemeinschaft" decided to form a band; one of the first christian progressive rock bands in Germany.

In the 5 years the band existed they were an active recording and live unit; with a plethora of people involved in the recording of the three albums they released.

The debut album "Erwartung" was issued in 1978, and the sophomore effort "Perelandra"; based on C. S. Lewis christian science fiction novel of the same name, was issued in 1980.

The third and last creation of Eden was their 1981 production "Heimkehr"; and in December the same year the band gave it's last public appearance.

A multitude of musicians was involved in Eden prior to folding, and the core members that were involved in all their recorded material were Michael Claren (bass, vocals, guitar), Anne Dierks (vocals), Michael Dierks (keyboards, vocals), Hans Fritzsch (guitars), Hans Müller (drums, percussion), Annette Schmalenbach (vocals), Dirk Schmalenbach (violin, acoustic guitar, sitar, keyboards percussion, vocals).

Dirk Smalenbach would later reappear in the one-off project Yavanna, who released an album in 1984.

Do you like a hymn-like sound, rich symphonic textures, a folky vibe, and brilliant vocal male and female harmonies? If so, you can't do much better than to seek out this lovely 1978 effort from Germany. "Erwartung" means "Expectation", and with a group name like Eden and the devotional atmosphere, one might conclude that religious themes lurk within, but since the sleeve contains no information and the lyrics are in German, this is only speculation.
The album opens with its weakest track, "Spatregen". While it contains most of the elements interspersed throughout the disk, it sounds half baked and rudderless, almost like an early composition that should have been refined before inclusion. The rest of the songs are all great, featuring, in addition to the characteristics named above, plenty of flutes, saxes, acoustic guitars, some raucous leads, and shimmering melodies, sort of like the Moody Blues but bigger and more experimental. However, the end to "Eden Teil II" includes a few bars from "Nights in White Satin" just to drive home the reality of the influence.

The ultimate highlight is the closer, "Ein Anderes Land", which is 16+ minutes of symphonic progressive bliss, a suite of many moods and themes, centered around the most intricate and awe-inspiring harmonies, as well as the most skillful playing and arranging on the record. I think I hear Eden taking a bit of the Novalis sound and stretching way out beyond what that band seemed willing to do. While an obscure reference, Eden also reminds me of the Basque group Enbor at times, chiefly in their attention to vocal interplay and their ethereal folkiness.

Eden's debut exceeds the expectations one might have for an obscure late 70s prog album, serving up a small taste of paradise in musical form.

Eden - 1979 - Aura


01. La nuit des sorciers 8:50
02. Parures d'automne 6:16
03. Les enfants 2:55
04. Amour 76 7:48
05. Ouverture 7:59
06. Cauchemar 4:51
07. Thème O.V.N.I. 3:48
08. Arc-en-ciel 5:51

Hubert Vrayance (Hammond organ, synthesizer, vocals)
Allan Lys (congas, drums, percussion)

Eden was a French Electronic duo from late-70's, relatively known among prog fans.What most people do not know is that the leader and main composer Hubert Vrayance, born in 1958, became a leading chief officer and later police commissioner.The other member was drummer Alan Lyss and their sole release ''Aura'' came out in 1979 on Oxygene, recorded in July of the same year at the AA Music Studios.The armour of Vrayance was his bass pedals, a Hammond organ, a solina string ensemble and a couple of synthesizers.

The music of the duo was a Symphonic/Electronic affair with many Classical and symphonic elements, propelled by the solid drumming of Lyss, thus their sound often closed the more symphonic side of Progressive Rock.The main man though here is Vrayance and his dual keyboard deliveries with a varied sound and a unique atmosphere, going from Baroque period to psychedelic textures.His approach on romantic and sensitive arrangements comes close to the sound of LE ORME or 80's German oddity OCEAN, mixing the power of a Classical-influenced organ execution with the floating sound of synthesizers.They kind of remind me also of TRIUMVIRAT and SCHICKE, FUHRS & FROHLING quite often, the display of dramatic, Classical keyboard arrangements with the rhythmic drumming and the changes between melancholic orchestrations to more powerful and grandiose themes is pretty rewarding.Side A provides the more Classical side of the duo with the inventive use of organ next to the solina string and the synths, while the second is a bit more quirky and Electronic-drenched, still offering some pretty fast and accurate drumming, but the music becomes more abstract and updated with the solina string and the synths becoming the centerpieces of a more cinematic but still very dynamic sound.

In 1985 Vrayant would join the police, but he still released a solo album in 1986, ''Landscape 80'' on FLVM, dealing with a police officer, who wrote a book around the extra-terrestrials and the Bible.During the later years of his career he worked as secret agent on political investigations and this was reputedly the reason he was eventually sacked.

Classical- and symphonic-oriented Electronic Prog in the vein of SCHICKE, FUHRS & FROHLING, swirling around rich, keyboard rhythms and more romantic soundscapes with a Baroque flavor.Nice and recommended stuff.

Eden - 1978 - Eden


01. Allias 4:37
02. Pavane 7:55
03. La Ballerine Musclee 5:08
04. Transe 4:40
05. Arabesque 2:55
06. Louis le Cancre 6:07
07. Intuition 2:06
08. La Foret 1:54

Jean-Bernard Borja (bass, vocals)
Robert Boileau (keyboards)
Gilles Favreau (guitar)
Jean Remillard (drums)

Eden are a keyboard lead quartet from Quebec who play a standard symphonic progressive rock with French vocals on about half the album. While there is a guitarist, his role is primarily subordinate, and the leads are generally created via synthesizer - mostly a String Ensemble, but I hear some Moog as well. I didn't discern any organ, Mellotron or Rhodes. There's nothing extraordinary about this album, other than perhaps the early 70s styled artwork, but it's still a pleasant listen and one where most progressive rock fans will appreciate.

This sole album from Quebecois band Eden is strongly influenced by Yes, Ange and Atoll , sung in French (no special Quebec accent is noticeable) and the very naïve sleeve artwork is created by Roger Brunneau. This group is your standard prog quartet with the bassist singing but the majority of the tracks are written by the KB man, although only the drummer did not get any writing credits.
Unfortunately, the artwork is not the only naïve thing on the album as the vinyl (now very rare but counterfeited since and bootlegged on Cd since this year) containing the music is also fairly naïve, also. A slowed down Yes influence is the dominant characteristic , but the vocal delivery remind heavily of Atoll singer Andre Balzer even if the timbre is not the same. Most of the tracks are mid-tempo and rely heavily on the overly symphonic side of prog that was so common in the late 70's. I personally was never really convinced of Eden (not to be confused by the other Eden group - most notably the French group) and I had gotten rid of the album a long time ago, and had almost forgotten them until two years ago the ProgQuebec site listed them in their site. So I managed to get a hold of the old cassette (a Maxell XL II-S that was recorded in 81 - and still is quite correct some 25 years later) I had made and re-listened to it.

The first side is relatively slow going and is content of rather sub-par symphonic prog, not being overly demonstrative either. The second side has much shorter tracks and shows them in a more exploratory mood, but unfortunately, their lack of experience was clear: as soon as they started something less "basic" (as if anything in prog was basic), it turns out to have a rather show off quality that fits so well the naïve adjective I have used so far.

Had this group managed to make further albums, I am certain that they would have managed better things. Not really essential and at best a footnote in the prog history, but can be worth your while if you cherish Atoll's first two albums.