Friday, May 20, 2016

Isotope - 1974 - Isotope


01. Then There Were Four (4:09)
02. Do The Business (4:42)
03. Oh Little Fat Man (5:20)
04. Sunshine Park (3:57)
05. Bite On This (2:21)
06. Upward Curve (5:43)
07. Retracing My Steps (4:58)
08. Windmills And Waterfalls (3:30)
09. Honkey Donkey (6:07)

- Gary Boyle / guitars
- Nigel Morris / drums
- Brian Miller / keyboards, synthesizers
- Jeff Clyne / bass

ISOTOPE are Jazz-Rock British based quartet formed in 1973 by guitarist, Gary Boyle with Nigel Morris (drummer), bass player Jeff Clyne (bass) (Jeff previously was a member of Ian Carr's Jazz-Rock group: NUCLEUS) and Brian Miller (keyboards). The band soon signed with Gull Records in England and Motown in the USA, and started touring colleges and clubs around Britain, as well as touring on the continent such as: France, Germany and Scandinavia.

In 1974, they release their debut album, which is self-titled in 1974 & become quite critically acclaimed & fortunately, the band gained equal acclaim for their live performances. Even guitarist Gary Boyle was voted top 3 guitarist in Britain during the time due to a poll in Melody Maker magazine. In the same poll ISOTOPE picked up fourth place in both LP of the year. Due to their success, it seemed that Brian Miller & Jeff Clyne were unable to handle the success, so they left in March of 1974. They were replaced by Laurence Scott, a semi-pro keyboard player, and Hugh Hopper (formerly of SOFT MACHINE), whom Boyle had met while working with STOMU YAMASH'TA (Japanesse fusion band). The new line-up embarked on a UK tour in June and July, followed by dates in Germany and the Netherlands in August. They then entered the studio, with Poli Palmer (ex-ECLECTION and FAMILY) producing, to record "Illusion". The writing was now shared equally between Boyle, Scott and Hopper.

Intensive touring in Britain followed, and a US tour was undertaken in March and April 1975. Percussionist Aureo DeSouza was then added to the line-up for a European tour, and drummer Jeff Seopardie also reinforced the band for British dates later that year. In December 1975, Scott left and was replaced by Frank Roberts. At that point, management problems resulted in a very difficult financial situation and Hugh Hopper decided to leave. In March 1976, a third album, "Deep End", was recorded (production duties were handled by BRAND X's Robin Lumley), with Hopper playing on only his own composition "Fonebone". Bassist Dan K. Brown and second keyboardist Zoe Kronberger were added at that point, but gigs became sparser. There was one last line-up change in 1977, with only Boyle surviving from previous personifications, alongside Geoff Downes on keyboards (later in YES and ASIA), Steve Shone on bass and Colin Wilkinson on drums, but this new ISOTOPE never went beyond the rehearsal stage, only recording a couple of radio sessions. The band split as a result of management problems and the demise of British Lion Music, an offshoot of British Lion Films. Boyle recorded two solo albums for Gull Records, "The Dancer" and "Electric Glide". He then ventured north, recorded three further albums "Step Out!", "Friday Night Again" (released in Denmark) and "Triple Echo" and mixed teaching with regular gigging around the region.

ISOTOPE is a strong fusion band with all the characteristics of a fusion band. Gary Boyle's guitar style is among the style of John Mclaughlin & the technique of Sonny Sharock. Their first album which is self-titled release & "Illusion" are the two high pinnacles & define ISOTOPE as a great un-sung Fusion band.

Debut album of this JR/F quartet that recorded three albums in the mid-70's and somewhat related to the Canterbury scene (via Hopper) but also to Brand X (via Pert) on the later albums. But this unit is first the union of guitarist Gary Boyle (ex-Auger's Trinity), bassist Jeff Clyne (ex-Nucleus), drummer Nigel Morris and keyboardist and main songwriter Brian Miller (no relation to Canterbury scene's Steve & Phil Miller >> they are brothers). Their debut album received a release on Gull records (label mates were Judas Priest) in early 74 and sported a very scientific artwork. And while I agree somewhat with Philo's opening statement on the liner note of this album, Isotope is still a good band in the JR/F genre, even if they brought absolutely nothing new to it, and were never groundbreaking, but more like those that helped consolidate the genre.
Musically speaking, it appears that there is no real leader despite the songwriting credits and both Miller and Boyle share lead about equally and provide plenty of rhythmic support while the other soloes away. Right from the opening Then There Were Four, the tone is set, a wild instrumental JR/F living in the fast lane, cruising at speeds nearing the 100 MPH, where even a short drum solo appears. The very problem with this kind of quartet of single instrumentalist is that repetition will appear very quickly and the jams appear quickly, but this won't do much for variety. If Miller had played something else than the electric piano (outside a few rarely noticeable synths), if Boyle had toyed with some acoustic guitar (he does, but in the most boring Waterfall track), if Clyne had put a bow to the contrabass and if Morris played congas, that might have changed the scope and spectrum of the music, although soon or later the problem would've surfaced anyway. Hiring a wind instrument player might have helped a great deal.

Anyway the tracks succeeds at a furious rate, with some (Little Fat Man, Bite on This, Upward Curve, Retracing My Steps) retaining much more attention than others (Do The Business, Sunshine Park), while the only non-Miller penned track Honkey Donkey shows more diversity and finally some synths. At times Boyle appears to take charge (Little Fat Man and the Honkey track), but it's obvious he can't do it all of the time, Miller never really coming through (especially on the album-low and slow Windmills & Waterfalls), and the cause of this album is not helped by a fairly flat production, but nothing shameful as some of you would have you believe.

Despite the negative elements I just finished giving you, Isotope's debut album gained some critical and artistic recognition in its homeland, along with some sales, but apparently this scared Brian Miller and Jeff Clyne, both returning to the straight jazz scene. Still a worthy album to hear, but I suggest you start with the much better Illusion album.

Graham Collier Music - 1977 - Symphony Of Scorpions

Graham Collier Music 
Symphony Of Scorpions

01. Symphony Of Scorpions Part 1 10:40
02. Symphony Of Scorpions Part 7:32
03. Symphony Of Scorpions Parts 3 & 4 13:20
04. Forest Path To The Spring 4:10

Bass – Graham Collier (tracks: 1 to 3)
Drums – John Webb (tracks: 1 to 3)
Guitar – Ed Speight
Percussion – John Mitchell (tracks: 1 to 3)
Piano – Roger Dean (tracks: 1 to 3)
Saxophone – Mike Page (tracks: 1 to 3), Tony Roberts (tracks: 1 to 3)
Saxophone [Soprano, Tenor] – Art Themen
Trombone – Malcolm Griffiths (tracks: 1 to 3)
Trumpet – Harry Beckett (tracks: 1 to 3), Henry Lowther (tracks: 1 to 3), Pete Duncan (tracks: 1 to 3)

"Symphony Of Scorpions" recorded on November 7th, 1976 at Ronnie Scott's Club, London.
"Forest Path To The Spring" recorded in Bix, Oxfordshire, England, on March 10th, 1977.

Symphony of Scorpions, recorded late in 1976, was loosely based around Malcolm Lowry's shambolic novel of the same name. Written more as a saxophone concerto to showcase the work of sax great Art Themen, the ensemble Graham Collier formed for the date numbered 12 pieces, as it did for the previous year's New Conditions, and included five members of his regular group, including Harry Beckett, Ed Speight, John Webb, Roger Dean, and, of course, Collier himself. In addition to Theman, Peter Duncan, Henry Lowther, Malcolm Griffiths, Tony Roberts, Mike Paige, and John Marshall filled out the band. It is through the solo statements by Theman that new themes, motions, and directions are uncovered in Collier's loosely written text. At times indulgent, and at others very sparse, the ensemble moves along with excellent focus, drama, and tension, allowing for groupings of smaller units inside the ensemble to carry the motion of this seemingly directionless ramble forward -- all the while honing in on Collier's small-figured place of balance within movement. This is an arduous listen, but is far more successful at sustenance and creative dialogue than New Conditions was, and showcases Collier as having fully embraced the vanguard, and as being very comfortable writing for such a large group.

Graham Collier Music - 1976 - New Conditions

Graham Collier Music
New Conditions

01. Introduction 4:05
02. Part One & Two 8:30
03. Part Three 3:45
04. Part Four 5:20
05. Part Five & Six 7:30
06. Part Seven 3:55
07. Part Eight 5:00
08. Finale 3:45

Alto Saxophone – Mike Page
Drums – John Webb
Guitar – Ed Speight
Percussion – John Mitchell
Piano – Roger Dean
Soprano Saxophone – Alan Wakeman, Art Themen
Trombone – Malcolm Griffiths
Trumpet – Harry Beckett, Henry Lowther, Pete Duncan

Recorded June 2 & 3, 1976, Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, England

1976's New Condition was indeed a radical departure for composer/bandleader Graham Collier. Instead of his sextet, the cast here is a 12-piece big band. Instead of a series of works, we have one long work in eight parts, with an introduction and a finale. The front line here is huge: three trumpets -- yes, including Harry Beckett, one saxophone -- thank god it's Alan Wakeman -- and Malcolm Griffiths on trombone. The rhythm section is made up of Collier on bass, Ed Speight on guitar, John Webb on drums, and pianist Roger Dean. This is a frustrating composition in many ways because of all its gaps, and they are the most trouble of all. Collier has composed a mirror image of traditional jazz charts: this is all freely improvised, with certain scored "interruptions" for the ensemble. The effect is stultifying. The "free flow" at the heart of the conceptualization of this work feels hackneyed, as clearly not all of the musicians here are "free" improvisers. Sorry, as brilliant as Collier is, this one falls short of the mark for him.

Graham Collier Music - 1975 - Midnight Blue

Graham Collier Music 
Midnight Blue

01. Midnight Blue 22:45
02. Adam 7:00
03. Cathedra 17:12

Bass – Graham Collier
Drums – John Webb
Guitar – Ed Speight
Piano – Roger Dean
Trombone – Derek Wadsworth
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett

Recorded February 17th 1975, Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, England

Graham Collier composed "Midnight Blue," "Adam," and "Cathedral" as meditative responses to -- and accompaniments for -- like-named paintings by American abstract expressionist Barnett Newman. Collier, who had grown used to working conceptually after his previous effort, the monumental, stunning work Darius, recorded on his immediately preceding album of the same name, was firmly in his element with these deeply focused works. There was only one major change in Collier's band on this outing, which was the replacement of pianist Geoff Castle with Roger Dean. Castle's work had grown increasingly toward pro-rock and jazz fusion, and Collier, with his stablemates Ed Speight, Derek Wadsworth, and John Webb, were moving back into a knottily structured jazz modalism. Perhaps because of their inspiration sources, these pieces on Midnight Blue all feel very ponderous, open, and yet unyielding. This is uncharacteristic of most of Collier's work, and it feels as if even he didn't know what he was going for when he wrote these works. The lilting swing that is at the heart of his best work is absent here, and this feels more like an ECM recording than anything else.

Graham Collier Music - 1974 - Darius

Graham Collier Music 

01. Darius 27:15
02. Darius (Conclusion) 16:30
03. A New Dawn 5:30

Bass – Graham Collier
Drums – John Webb
Electric Piano – Geoff Castle
Guitar – Ed Speight
Trombone – Derek Wadsworth
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett

Recorded live at the Cranfield Institute of Technology, Bedfordshire, UK on March 13th 1974

Is not titled after Darius Milhaud, or after the Persian King, but after the nickname of one of composer, bassist, and bandleader, Graham Collier's friends. This is easily his most ambitious work, in that it takes the notion of the extended pieces he was working out on Mosaics and Portraits even further. It turns these ideas toward one all-encompassing work that uses themes, variations, extended harmonic blueprints, and free improvisation -- both collectively and in solos -- to demonstrate how one series of ideatic figures can commingle and refract until an entirely new schema arises from their individual disappearances. The band this time out dispenses with the saxophone chapter altogether, and adds monstrously gifted trombonist Derek Wadsworth to the mix, along with Ed Speight on guitar, Geoff Castle on electric piano (a first for Collier), the man himself in the bass chair, and stalwart drummer John Webb. Trumpeter Harry Beckett returned to the Collier fold for this live date, and adds immeasurably with his long, loping lines played both in concert with, and contrapuntally against, Speight's. There are five distinct movements in Darius, the first of which sets themes and begins the process of deconstructing them into variations, with lots of collective improvisation -- though Webb does play a solo. The second section opens up the tonal colorations, and features one of the greatest 1970s trombone solos by Wadsworth. Three, four, and five begin the process of offering the jazz solo/ensemble cadence as an articulation of the work's main body, and its outward reaches, coming back to restate the changed nature of the chromatic vocabulary of the piece. It's breathtaking, subtle, moving, and visionary. The short "A New Dawn" is actually an introductory theme to a much longer work called "An Odyssey," and features the glorious work of Wadsworth stating, and then striating, the melodic figure against a canvas of colors presented by the ensemble. This is easily the finest of Collier's early works; it breathes and moves and changes shape, tone, and intent, and comes off as a master work of balance between composition and improvisation.

Graham Collier Music - 1973 - Portraits

Graham Collier Music 

01. And Now For Something Completely Different Part One 16:50
02. And Now For Something Completely Different Part Two 9:57
03. Portraits 1 10:57

Alto Saxophone – Peter Hurt
Bass – Graham Collier
Drums – John Webb
Flugelhorn – Dick Pearce
Guitar – Ed Speight
Piano – Geoff Castle

Side 1 has only 1 track listed but is separated into 3 distinct bands

Issued in 1973 after a pair of recording dates in late 1972, Portraits sees Collier revisiting his notion explored on Mosaics -- the working out of longer forms. Three selections make up the album, the two-part "And Now For Something Completely Different," and the nearly 11-minute title track. The ensemble on Collier's Portraits contains only drummer John Webb, and pianist Geoff Castle from Collier's previous few outings, and includes only one saxophonist, Pete Hurt. Dick Pearce is in the brass chair, and Ed Speight is added on guitar. Musically, the exotica present on Mosaics has gone by the wayside in place of a more solidly modal attack that gives play to rock thematics in terms not only of texture, but of architecture. Collier paid close attention to Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, and took from it its sense of propulsive dynamics, and its repetition, while opening up the modes to a more swinging jazz vocabulary. On the suite, riffs take the place of front line melodies, and the modes that come from them are spun out of a clipped series of notes that wind around the rhythm section in a nearly hypnotic way. "Portraits I" is also Milesian, but more in the sense of the quintet's longer reaching palette of modal interstition and elocution. A restrained palette is employed as a way of exploiting all of its chromatic elements, and then inverting them in on themselves. Language between the soloists is overlapping and entwined, rather than oppositional. Time signatures do not vary, but the series of tension placed on one note over another seems to vary, according to arbitrary tonal considerations. This is a more laid-back, yet more challenging listen than any previous Collier outing, but it also dates as one of the best.

Graham Collier Music - 1971 - Mosaics

Graham Collier Music 

01. Piano Cadenza (Including Theme 1) 2:00
02. Theme 1 (Ensemble) And Flugel Solo 5:58
03. Duet Flugel And Soprano And Soprano Cadenza (Including Theme 4) 2:51
04. Theme 2 (Soprano And Rhythm) And Soprano Solo 3:42
05. Drum Cadenza (Including Theme 2) Into Theme 3 (Ensemble) 4:10
06. Flugel Cadenza (Including Theme 4) Duet Bass / Flugel 3:48
07. Theme 6 (Ensemble) And Tenor Solo (Sydor) 5:01
08. Tenor Cadenza (Sydor) And Tenor Duet 2:00
09. Piano Cadenza Into Theme 2 (Piano And Rhythm) 4:40
10. Flugel Solo Over Theme 8 In Tenors 6:07

CD Reissue Tracking:
01. Mosaics Part One
02. Mosaics Part Two
03. Mosaics Part Three
04. Mosaics Part Four

Alto Saxophone – Bob Sydor
Bass – Graham Collier
Drums – John Webb
Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett
Piano – Geoff Castle
Soprano Saxophone – Alan Wakeman
Tenor Saxophone – Alan Wakeman, Bob Sydor
Trumpet – Harry Beckett

Recorded at The Torrington, North Finchley, England, December 8, 1970
Digitally remastered from the original master tapes, 1999
Made under license from Graham Collier

The expansion of Graham Collier's modalist harmonic architecture is continued on Mosaics, which was recorded live in late 1970, and issued in early 1971. Using the same band as on Songs for My Father, with the exception of newcomer Geoff Castle replacing John Taylor on piano, Collier took Eastern motifs and wound them tightly into his intervallic articulations of melody and mode, and composed a pair of longer works, each one a section. Here, themes are striated with cadenzas, and rearticulated in the creation of new themes. African, Asian, and Indian melodic fragments are used inside Collier's harmonic universe, in which the color of the blues, or the muted emotionalism of swing, is never absent . Here jazz meets the old world, which in turns refashions itself into a newer one; a world where eloquent expressions of harmony, and the convergence of different melodics, are translated as one tongue, with multiple dialects holding discourse. Of particular interest here is the beautiful contrapuntal work between Collier and soprano saxophonist Alan Wakeman, in addition to the rocksteady elegance of trumpeter Harry Beckett. Simultaneously more outside, and yet still firmly "inside the tradition," Mosaics is one of Collier's most provocative works yet, and stands the test of time extremely well.

Graham Collier Music - 1970 - Songs For My Father

Graham Collier Music
Songs For My Father

01. Song One (Seven-Four)
02. Song Two (Ballad)
03. Song Three (Nine-Eight Blues)
04. Song Four (Waltz In Four-Four)
05. Song Five (Rubato)
06. Song Six (Dirge)
07. Song Seven (Four-Four Figured)

Bass – Graham Collier
Drums – John Webb
Guitar – Phillip Lee (tracks: A1, B4)
Piano – John Taylor
Tenor Saxophone – Alan Skidmore (tracks: A1, B2, B4), Tony Roberts (tracks: A1, B2, B4)
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Bob Sydor
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Alan Wakeman
Trombone – Derek Wadsworth (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B4)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett

Collier, Graham [James Graham Collier], composer, educator, b. Tynemouth, Northumberland, England, 21 February 1937. Collier began his musical career playing trumpet in bands in the south of England, later taking up the double bass. On leaving school he joined the British Army as a musician, spending three years in Hong Kong. He subsequently won a down beat magazine scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, studying with Herb Pomeroy and becoming its first British graduate in 1963. He worked for a while in the USA, playing bass in the ghost version of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

From 1964 he led his own band (Graham Collier Music) in the UK, largely performing his own music. Amongst Collier's sidemen have been many outstanding British musicians including James Allsopp, Iain Ballamy, Harry Beckett, Geoff Castle, Andy Cleynbert, Roger Dean, Mike Gibbs, Mick Hutton, Pete Hurt, Karl Jenkins, Mark Lockheart, Henry Lowther, John Marshall, Oren Marshall, Dick Pearce, Alan Skidmore, Ed Speight, Stan Sulzmann, John Surman, Art Themen, Derek Wadsworth, Alan Wakeman, Geoff Warren, Steve Waterman, Kenny Wheeler and others. Varying the size and format of his bands, Collier encouraged new concepts and young musicians, establishing the orchestral base from which Loose Tubes sprang. This multifaceted orchestra was to produce such talents as Julian Arguelles, Django Bates and Eddie Parker.

 Collier was the first recipient of an Arts Council bursary for jazz composition, and has been commissioned by festivals, big bands and broadcasters across Europe, North America, Canada, Australia and the Far East. The international bands Collier has assembled for various special projects around the world have boasted the likes of Johanni Aaltonen, Ted Curson, Hugh Fraser, Palle Mikkelborg, Karlheinz Miklin, Terje Rypdal, Ed Sarath, Manfred Schoof, Tomasz Stanko and Eje Thelin. He has written for ensembles ranging from wind quartets to symphony orchestras. Over a career spanning more than thirty years, his list of compositions and commissions has grown to encompass ensembles and arts bodies around the world.

 His latest group is the ad hoc big band The Jazz Ensemble, featuring a roster of regular collaborators, guests from Europe and America, and up-and-coming stars of the English jazz scene. He has also worked in a wide range of other media: on stage plays and musicals, on documentary and fiction film, and on a variety of radio drama productions, including a highly-praised version of Josef Skvorecky's novella, The Bass Saxophone , which won a Sony Radio Award, and an adaptation of Malcolm Lowry's novel, Under the Volcano.

 His recorded output includes 17 albums under his own name, including Winter Oranges with the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. All his earlier LPs are now available for digital download, and two highly praised archive recordings, Workpoints and Hoarded Dreams, have recently been issued by the American label Cuneiform.

 He is equally well-known as an author and educator, having written seven books on jazz, jazz history, compositional technique and education - the latest of which, Interaction, Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble, a book and CD package was published in 1995 by Advance Music. In the early 1980s, he developed the six-year jazz degree course still running at the Sibelius Institute in Helsinki, Finland. In 1989, he launched the Royal Academy of Music's jazz course; the course's first graduates got their degrees in 1989. He remained artistic director of the course for ten years, until resigning in 1999 to concentrate on his own music. He has also taught seminars, lectures and workshops throughout Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his services to jazz.

 In 1989, he was among the group of international jazz educators who formed the International Association of Schools of Jazz. He was Secretary of the IASJ's Daily Board for nine years, and in 1994 his Winston Churchill Fellowship report on "Jazz Education in America" initiated the IASJ journal, Jazz Changes, which he co-edited.

  He left his full-time post as artistic director of the jazz course at the Royal Academy in 1999 to concentrate on composition. He currently lives in the mountains of Andalucia, southern Spain, where he continues to compose, travelling from there to present concerts and workshops around the world. He has recently completed 'his life's work', The Jazz Composer, moving music off the paper, a philosophical look at jazz and jazz composition, which will be published in 2009.

After the superb Down Another Road, some of the protagonists had now flown the nest and are busy building their own Nucleus and Collier named his project as Graham Collier Music, since it varied too much to make a change every time it did. Actually, there is hardly anyone from the previous sextet present on the songs, but the list of participants remains quite impressive anyway. Indeed the front artwork mentions guitarist Phil Lee and tenor saxman Alan Skidmore, but they’re present only on two tracks and also for Wadsworth, only present on a different two. Some seven songs (they’re numbered 1 to 7) all tied-up, some with irregular beats and tricky time sigs, something that might have been probably unappreciated by his own dad (I wouldn’t know for his, but I know mine would’ve hated them).

The opening Seven-Four song is a great upbeat tune, taking Down much from Another previous Road, but installing a little added value (guitar), with Taylor’s piano playing wonder, while the following Ballad takes the same riff (or so it seems), but slowed-down. After that Ballad glided effortlessly into the upbeat piano-lead Nine-Eight Blues (probably my least fave of the album, but it’s still quite excellent), where Beckett’s trumpets-up a storm over a difficult beat and everyone follows suit (so it seems), effortlessly.

The flipside opens on a Waltz In Four-Four, a weird un-danceable thing that breaks apart after some 30 seconds to kick-starts itself later in a rapid upbeat vehicle, racing down the school street at 100 MPH. Insane stuff, really; but it’s a bit too bad for the drum solo (not my thing), even if short. The waltz segues in Rubato, but somehow the themes are succeeding with out changing much apart from veering dissonant in the improvisation and dying off slow. Dirge actually takes from there and gradually (read slowly) crescendoes with Beckett’s trumpet and, later, Wakeman’s sax grow from intense to glowingly red with Webb’s interesting drumming, much reminiscent of John Marshall. The closing 4/4 Figured takes over with Taylor’s piano before Dirge has a time to reach mid-tempo, but despite the added reinforcement troops, it fails to recapture the outstanding spirit of the opening track, as Phil Lee’s guitar is too discrete for my tastes. Still quite worthy an ending, though.

Collier’s third (fourth) solo album is another cool touchdown scored on a local scene that was won-over by the first two beauties achieved earlier. Collier is the confirmation that a contrabassist (after the immense Mingus) could make awesome composers, while never abusing of their instrument’s presence in the final results. While SFMF might lack the absolute genius of Darius or its preceding Another Road, it’s still quite a must-hear in post-bop jazz.

Gilgamesh - 2000 - Arriving Twice

Arriving Twice

01. With Lady And Friend (4:25)
02. You're Disguised (17:52)
- a) Orange Diamond
- b) Northern Gardens
- c) Phil's Little Dance
- d) Northern Gardens
03. Island Of Rhodes (6:52)
- a) Paper Boat
- b) As If Your Eyes Were Open
04. Extract (9:27)
05. One End More (9:11)
- a) Phil's Little Dance
- b) Worlds Of Zin
06. Arriving Twice (1:41)
07. Notwithstanding (4:21)
08. Lady And Friend (4:06)

- Alan Gowen / piano, electric piano, synths
- Phil Lee / guitars
- Mike Travis / drums
- Neil Murray / bass on 1, 2
- Peter Lemer / electric piano on 3, 4
- Steve Cook / bass on 3, 4
- Jeff Clyne / bass on 5, 6, 7, 8

 This album consists of previously unpublished recordings that they did before they recorded their first album. Most of these songs ended up on their first self titled record from 1975. One of the interesting things about this release is that we get to hear their first bass player Neil Murray on the first two songs from 1973. The next two songs feature his replacement at the time Steve Cook from 1974. While the final four songs feature Jeff Clyne(NUCLEUS) on bass from 1975. It's also interesting that Dave Stewart became an honorary member (organ player) of the band, and played one gig with them after his band HATFIELD AND THE NORTH broke up. Unfortunately GILGAMESH folded not long after HATFIELD AND THE NORTH did. These two bands actually played together on the same bill twice in 1973, and ended the night with both bands on stage playing a 40 minute song composed by Alan Gowen specifically for the occassion. The track "Extract" on here is a section of that song. With both of these bands calling it quits, some of the former members from each got together to form NATIONAL HEALTH. The music here is really complex and it just blows me away when I listen attentively. The liner notes are so valuable as well and Steve F. from Cuneiform Records deserves a lot of credit here.
"With Lady And Friend" has a very pleasant soundscape of bass, guitar, drums and piano. Before a minute in that changes as the guitar starts playing angular melodies that carve their way throughout this song. "Your'e Disguised/ Orange Diamond/ Northern Gardens/ Phil's Little Dance/ Northern Gardens" is almost 18 minutes long. It is quite laid back for the first couple of minutes and then the pace and sound picks up. Beautiful piano melodies 4 minutes in before a calm arrives as the guitar takes a break. The guitar is back 9 minutes in, and it turns angular again at the 14 minute mark. "Island Of Rhodes/ Paper Boat/ As If Your Eyes Were Open" has some excellent drumming as the bass throbs. A very jazzy tune. Some nice guitar melodies as well.

"Extract" has a 2 minute piano intro before we are treated to some tasteful guitar as the bass, drums and keys fill out the sound. The guitar is more aggressive on "One End More/ Phil's Little Dance Worlds Of Zin" and 3 1/2 minutes in it's about as close to spacey as they will get. Nice sound though. What follows is even better as the guitar isn't as rough and the bass and drums provide an excellent rhythm. "Arriving Twice" features these liquid sounding keys that lead the way on this short and mellow track. "Notwithstanding" is a great track with some scorching guitar melodies and intricate sounds. Love Gowen on the Fender Rhodes. "Lady And Friend" is one of my favourites. It opens quietly before a collage of sounds that include bass, drums, guitar and keys arrive. Gowen shines on this one with the Fender Rhodes once again.

This is challenging, complex music yet very enjoyable. A lot of talent on display here including the band leader, the late Alan Gowen. This is MY music.

Gilgamesh - 1978 - Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into

Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into

01. Darker Brighter (5:40)
02. Bobberty-Theme From Something Else (10:41)
03. Waiting (2:25)
04. Play Time (7:14)
05. Underwater Song (7:04)
06. Foel'd Again (1:50)
07. T.N.T.F.X (2:54)

- Phil Lee / guitars
- Alan Gowen / keyboards
- Hugh Hopper / bass
- Trevor Tomkins / drums

The tragic death of Alan Gowen at the age of just 33 would rob the progressive rock world of one of it's more refined talents and ultimately overshadow a career that both promised and delivered much. A highly-skilled keyboardist and composer, Gowen's career would start with brief stints in both Afro-rock outfit Assegai and his own, short-lived jazz group Sunship, before joining the blossoming Canterbury movement during the early part of the 1970's. Like many of his peers, Gowen's membership with groups such as National Health and Gilgamesh was fluid - he would move between both several times for both artistic and financial reasons - yet the best of him would be seen in Gilgamesh, a complex, instrumental jazz-prog outfit that released two excellent albums of delicately-wrought music that, although retrospectively popular with both fans and critics, failed to make any serious commercial headway. Featuring guitarist Phil Lee, Soft Machine alumni Hugh Hopper on bass and drummer Trevor Tomkins, this 1978 release would be the second-and-final Gilgamesh album - and undoubtedly their most impressive - yet in truth it probably arrived far too late in the day to make any real impact on the then rapidly-developing music scene. The light jazz touch prevalent here is beautifully- executed, streaking through a series of lushly-realised compositions, yet with punk barking away it seemed that Gilgamesh were fighting a losing battle that no-one was really watching. The complexity of the music and the poverty of the musicians involved also made touring unrealistic, and Gilgamesh would dissolve before really getting the chance to shine. It's a sad tale as this was a band who deserved so much more, particularly as they were just as good as any of their fellow Canterbury contemporaries, groups such asCaravan, Soft Machine, National Health & Hatfield & The North. However, despite the lack of success you shouldn't be put off. 'Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into' is a dazzling jazz odyssey, and an album that should definitely be investigated by all classic prog lovers. Here's to you Alan. You deserved so much more.

Gilgamesh - 1975 - Gilgamesh


01. One End More / Phil's Little Dance - For Phil Miller's Trousers / Worlds Of Zin (10:20)
- a) One End More
- b) Phil's Little Dance - For Phil Miller's Trousers
- c) Worlds Of Zin
02. Lady and Friend (3:44)
03. Notwithstanding (4:45)
04. Arriving Twice (1:36)
05. Island Of Rhodes / Paper Boat - For Doris / As If Your Eyes Were Open (6:39)
- a) Island Of Rhodes
- b) Paper Boat - For Doris
- c) As If Your Eyes Were Open
06. For Absent Friends (1:11)
07. We Are All / Someone Else's Food / Jamo And Other Boating Disasters - From The Holiday Of The Same Name (7:48)
- a) We Are All
- b) Someone Else's Food
- c) Jamo And Other Boating Disasters - From The Holiday Of The Same Name
08. Just C (0:45)

- Alan Gowen / acoustic and electric piano, clavinet, synthesizers, mellotron
- Jeff Clyne / bass
- Phil Lee / electric and acoustic guitars
- Michael Travis / drums

keyboard whiz Alan GOWEN's own project in the 70s, Gilgamesh is an obvious attempt to make a late stab at the Canterbury sound though none of the players are from any of the original bands from the Sixties. This album is produced, however, by none other than Dave Stewart--late of Hatfield and the North--whose sound this quite resembles.
1. "One End More / Phil's Little Dance - For Phil Miller's Trousers / Worlds Of Zin" (10:20) collects several sounds and styles being used in the then current jazz world including the clavinet, Eric Gale/John Tropea-like guitar play (think Deodato's "Also Sprach Zarathustra") and some more laid back drumming with tight, quiet fills and lots of quirky accessory (cymbals, etc.) play. The finale, "Worlds Of Zin," is the suite's shining moment in which a bluesy Santana-like guitar solos over some absolutely gorgeous support from the rest of the band--keyboards, bass, and drums. This one gets a (9/10) from me for its memorable melodic hooks and nice compositional organization--though the final section is a full 10/10. 2. "Lady and Friend" (3:44) opens with an acoustic guitar and Fender Rhodes playing off their gentle play to establish a melody. Then a rather dynamic section interrupts for a few seconds before we return to a very nice, gentle keyboard and bass interplay--which is later joined by gentle jazz electric guitar in a kind of Jan AKKERMAN style. The final 45 seconds shifts into a definite FOCUS sound and structure. Nice piece! (10/10)

3. "Notwithstanding" (4:45) is a bit more Herbie Hancock-like in its keyboard sounds and with some rather weak drumming and an Eric GALE-like guitar sound and style feeling as if it is detracting from the high caliber of skill required of the composition. (8/10)

4. "Arriving Twice" (1:36) revives the melodic theme from the album's opening song only in a slightly different arrangement and with a variation in the instruments used. (9/10)

5. "Island Of Rhodes / Paper Boat - For Doris / As If Your Eyes Were Open" (6:39) The opening section, "Island Of Rhodes," uses a repeated bass line as its rather simple foundation, but then the second section, "Paper Boat - For Doris" builds over this with the drums mixed quite a bit behind the dominant multiple keyboards and bass. The final section, "As If Your Eyes Were Open," allows the guitarist to so his chops (not bad!) over a bouncy clavinet and fast-paced drum play. Nice development and composition! (Especially considering its rather weak start.) (9/10)

6. "For Absent Friends" (1:11) is a pleasant acoustic guitar solo of the pseudo-classical vein.

7. "We Are All / Someone Else's Food / Jamo And Other Boating Disasters - From The Holiday Of The Same Name" (7:48) opens with the electric guitar establishing the melody and tempo in the first section, "We Are All." I really enjoy the jazz rhythm guitar play beneath the Fender Rhodes electric piano solo toward the end of the movement. The bass play is a little simplistic but it does a nice job of holding the song together in terms of pace. And I LOVE the drum and guitar play at the end of the fourth minute--just before the transition into the brief countrified second section, "Someone Else's Food." The third section, "Jamo And Other Boating Disasters - From The Holiday Of The Same Name," is an odd piece in which the keyboard goes from clavinet to piano and then Aarp-like synth while in this last part, being accompanied by layers of vocals as done by future 'Northette' Amanda Parsons. Overall, this is probably the piece in which the band shines most instrumentally and compositionally--when they are at their most original and most technically proficient as well as tightest as a band. This is a song well worth repeated listens. (9/10)

8. "Just C (0:45) is a brief piano solo to close out the album.

This is a very nice album full-on representative of the quirky jazz being produced in the style of the Canterbury masters at this point (1975) in the evolution of the music of the Scene. A 3.5 star album rated up for its consistency and its compositional maturity. Alan Gowan can play keyboards! Many!

Fire Merchants - 1994 - Landlords of Atlantis

Fire Merchants 
Landlords of Atlantis

01. Landlords of Atlantis
02. Worlds in Modulation
03. 9 28 91
04. Healing Dream
05. Sybil
06. Lifetimes
07. Flamekeeper
08. (And Again) Hamsterdam
09. Thing 15
10. The Last Future

- John Goodsall / guitar, Midi guitar
- Doug Lunn / basses, piano
- Toss Panos / drums

 for recording purposes Goodsall renamed the Firemerchants, Brand X West (e.g. for one of those King Crimson tribute albums), when BX's remaining members were arguing the toss over ownership of the name - Percy Jones had Brand X East in NYC, which effectively became Tunnels (and Goodsall is known to guest).

I've also called this an early example of metal jazz fusion (Shaun Baxter's Jazz Metal being released about the same time), and what I heard on several tracks had me going further coining the term 'grunge jazz rock' (1992 was around the height of grunge). Landlords of Atlantis stuck me as a jazz rock album that had quite a bit new and dynamic about it. But it needed a sympathetic producer to provide vigorous advice on its contents. The title track is wonderful for the first 2minutes 30seconds (or there abouts), but Goodsall has the bit between his teeeth and noodles on for double that length of time: a classic example of less is more. I'm told the record company thought this track was self-indulgent - there is an explanation but I daren't repeat it here. The best complete tracks are 9 28 91, Sybil (my favourite on which Goodsall on guitar and Midi travels seamlessly through several forms of heavy rock), Flamekeeper, (And Again) Hamsterdam (a rerun from the first album) and Thing 15. The remaining tracks are far from bad but the ones I like are so much better and have been played on a regular basis since 1992 - the title track with it s sampled US marine corp trailing song, English church bells, always gets play.

Fire Merchants - 1989 - Fire Merchants

Fire Merchants 
Fire Merchants

01. Saladin
02. Hamsterdam
03. Conflagration
04. Tunnel Vision
05. Last Rhino
06. Divisions
07. Ignition
08. Cancel The Album
09. Nevele
10. Z104
11. Black Forest

- John Goodsall / guitar, guitar synthesizer
- Doug Lunn / bass, additional percussion (track 5)
- Chester Thompson / drums

Formed by guitarist John Goodsall (BABYLON, BRAND X, SANDOZ) and drummer Chester Thompson (ZAPPA, WEATHER REPORT, GENESIS) who recruited bassist/percussionist Doug Lunn for a first album, FIRE MERCHANTS combine the Goodsall/Thompson fire power with a metallic edge. The guys make a lot of noise, do some fantastic playing and have exciting grooves. Imagine a more aggressive and electric version of BRAND X and you'll have an idea of what they sound like.

They have released two rock fusion albums todate, a self-titled LP in 1986 (whose CD version contains an extra track) and a CD in 1996. The first (self-titled) consists of electric guitar improvisations with intense riffs and rhythms where Goodsall deftly shows off his pyrotechnics while Lunn and Thomson put down workman-like performances, getting the occasional spotlight along the way. This is an excellent album for those who enjoy electric guitar in a fairly heavy jazz-rock context. Their second album, "Lanlords of Atlantis", is still fusion but leans even more on the prog-metal side. It is solid enough for fans of Goodsall's axe-work, in fact for the most diehard proggy axe-heads.

Bruford - 2007 - Rock Goes to College

Rock Goes to College

01. Sample and Hold
02. Beelzebub
03. The Sahara of Snow (part one)
04. The Sahara of Snow (part Two)
05. Forever until Sunday
06. Back to the Beginning
07. Adios a la Pasada
08. 5G

- Bill Bruford / drums
- Dave Stewart / keys
- Jeff Berlin / bass
- Allan Holdsworth / guitar
- Annette Peacock / voice

Releases information
Recorded live at Oxford Tech, March 7 1979 by BBC

To date, this is the only official live release of Bill Bruford's 1979 outfit with the original lineup of Dave Stewart, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Berlin and Annette Peacock. The superior Bruford Tapes - a live set recorded three months after this in New York featuring the marvelous "Unknown" John Clark and his drop-dead Holdsworth impersonation - still stands as the group's definitive performance in this writer's opinion. But historically speaking, this is a highly valuable document. That it was recorded at Oxford Polytechnic in front of an intimate and lively crowd, broadcast that week on BBC 2, just adds to the archival importance of arguably the finest jazz-rock ensemble the world has ever seen, one that produced precious few memories before its members were scattered to the wind. Bruford recalls: "We didn't think we were a 'fusion' group, and the word wasn't much used around or about us. We thought we were a rock group with fancy chords. We were also unaware that if we strayed too far outside of rock's clearly defined borders - three chords and 4/4 - we'd pretty soon get some hate mail. If you think jazz is conservative, try rock." It reminds us that even when this kind of music was accepted it was met by the world at large with impatience and suspicion.
The flat and imbalanced sound doesn't help things, either. I've heard bootlegs that sound like full studio productions compared to the TV broadcast quality here. But sometimes that's how it goes in musical archeology, you take the best you can find. We abruptly join 'Sample and Hold' from the Bruford debut, the tight bond between our leader and bassist Jeff Berlin immediately apparent, Bruford's energy and enthusiasm for the material blasting through and Berlin a rhythm monster handling anything thrown at him. Bruford's compositional partner Dave Stewart harmonizes and contrasts with the Bruford/Berlin pumping heart, and Alan Holdsworth, still developing his distinct attack but already a voice of great importance, rests his fluid scale-leaping on top of things with care. The tense meters of 'Beelzebub' are reproduced perfectly, and the tingle of Bill's triangle leads us to parts 1 and 2 of 'Sahara of Snow' from the One of a Kind record. Painfully slow 'Forever Until Sunday' finally breaks out with a little energy at the halfway mark, has a nice extended solo from Mr. Holdsworth and is followed by two songs from the uniquely-voiced Annette Peacock, 'Back to the Beginning' and 'Adios a la Pasada'. Electro-thumper '5G' ends as an instrumental showcase for all.

Frankly what we have here is an important, long-lost recording by a landmark band that will be of little interest to most, even to Bill Bruford fans. In this case I can't blame them but the CD won't likely be available forever, so if you need some live material from this period and can't find anything else, grab it. A DVD of the same show is also available.

Bruford - 1980 - Gradually Going Tornado

Gradually Going Tornado

01. Age of Information (4:41)
02. Gothic 17 (5:07)
03. Joe Frazier (4:41)
04. Q.E.D. (7:46)
05. The Sliding Floor (4:58)
06. Palewell Park (3:57)
07. Plans for J.D. (3:50)
08. Land's End (10:20)

Bonus track from 2005 Winterfold CD Remaster.
09. 5G (live) (7:23)

- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electronic drums and percussion
- Jeff Berlin / bass, lead vocals
- John Clark / guitar
- Dave Stewart / keyboards and synths

- Georgia Born / cello
- Barbara Gaskins / choir
- Amanda Parsons / choir

Half of the songs on "Gradually Going Tornado" feature bassist Jeff Berlin on vocals. If you were burned by BRAND X's Product, take heart: this album aims higher, suggesting a Hyde/Jekyll split of UK or KING CRIMSON on the vocal tracks, WEATHER REPORT on the instrumentals. Again, Bill BRUFORD's contributions are primarily those of a composer, architecting rhythmically complex arrangements for the rest of the band to play while he assumes the role of musical straight man on the drums.
Guitarist John Clark, who replaced Holdsworth for The Bruford Tapes, is still in place but garners few solos (though he does factor into "Land's End" and "Q.E.D."), placing most of the music on the shoulders of Berlin and Dave Stewart. Of course, they're up to the task, whether it's painting by BRUFORD's numbers on the languid "Palewell Park" or matching each other note for note on the Jaco Pastorius-sounding "Joe Frazier". The only weak link is Berlin's voice; he's a better bass guitarist than John Wetton, Greg Lake or Boz Burrell, but they could sing rings around him. (To his credit, at least Berlin doesn't mask his voice into the murky mess than John Goodsall did for BRAND X.) Two songs most likely to tickle the toes of prog fans are "Gothic 17" (which was included on BRUFORD's best-of Master Strokes) and "The Sliding Floor" (which wasn't).

The former is a contentious slice of CRIMSON that recalls the work of Steve HACKETT as well (primarily "Racing In A"), the latter likewise pointing to the music that would appear on Discipline. Not having heard Feels Good To Me, I can't speak for all of BRUFORD's albums to this point, but it does feel as though he's settled on a distinctive sound of his own with "Gradually Going Tornado". That angst-ridden rock and watercolor jazz can coexist on the same album shouldn't be surprising (WEATHER REPORT did it all the time), but BRUFORD no longer feels derivative of other artists. Here, he's borrowing from himself (UK, KING CRIMSON), and the result casts his other musical contributions into a better light. Granted, YES represents an entirely different chapter than the music explored here, but fans of UK and the '80s incarnation of KING CRIMSON should gradually get around to buying (and enjoying) "Gradually Going Tornado".

Bruford - 1979 - The Bruford Tapes

The Bruford Tapes

01. Hell's Bells (4:35)
02. Sample and Hold (6:35)
03. Fainting in Coils (7:25)
04. Travels With Myself - And Someone Else (4:38)
05. Beelzebub (Bruford) - 3:52)
06. The Sahara of Snow, Pt. 1 (5:05)
07. The Sahara of Snow, Pt. 2 (3:32)
08. One of a Kind, Pt. 2 (8:45)
09. 5G (2:38)

- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electronic drums and percussion
- Jeff Berlin / bass and vocals
- John Clark / guitar
- Dave Stewart / keyboards and synths

In the investment banking world, especially if you work for an American company, when a compliance officer walks to your working station and give a material, you are supposed to immediately read, tell him that you have fully understood, and are ready to implement the "material" into the action. Putting forward your personal opinions, especially disagreement, on the material is strictly prohibited and could lead to the termination of your job. However, when Hamdi Riza Rachbani, my compliance officer, told me that he has a "special material" for me, he was indeed expecting my personal opinion on it.

The "special material" handed over to me was a CD, titled "The Bruford Tapes" (EG Records 1979 pressing). This rare CD is actually the live album of Bruford band's "Feels Good to Me" and "One of A Kind", broadcasted live from "My Father's Place", Roslyn, New York on WLIR ( FM92.7), in summer 1979. It was recorded on a two-track equipment. Thus, if you are an audiophilist, I warn you that you would hear an extremely high noise floor, which could disturb your ears, out of this recording.

The show was opened by the 4:20" jazz fusion composition, named "Hell Bells". David Stewart's synthesizer came in forcefully at 2 flats (C minor) before joining by Jeff Berlin's bass and Bill Bruford's drums. Alan Holdsworth's, recognized in the album as the "unknown" John Clark, came in last. That said, the fluidity of Holdsworth's guitar at 1:44" to 2:20" is a reminder to us that you are listening to one of the world's best guitarists. It is followed by Stewart-Berlin's duo on synthesizer and bass for 40 seconds up to 3:00". Berlin's quaver (eight) bass notes in this section is a truly ear dropping.

Initiated by 30 seconds Bruford's poly time signature drumming, the show was continued by 6:17" "Sample and Hold". The composition used various time and key signatures as well as complicated notes. The best parts of the piece, in my view, are the Holdsworth's eight-voice modulated delay technique, created a very piano-like sound from an ordinary electric guitar (you could hear it clearly at 0:50"-1:09", 1:24"-1:42", and 4:58"-5:15" sections) and Berlin's syncopated crotchet (quarter) bass notes from 2:25"-2:40".

Having made a 43 second communication to audience, the band played the 7:25" (including the communication) "Fainting in Coils". Listen carefully to the interesting Holdsworth-Berlin's guitar-bass duo at 1.48"-2.20", Holdsworth-Stewart's guitar-keyboard duo at 3:02"-3:57", and Stewart's staccato single chord combined with Holdsworth's sitar-like semiquaver (sixteenth) guitar notes at 5:12"-6:03". While each of musicians was given time to show their technical skills, their collaborations truly made the composition an interesting piece.

The next 4:38" "Travels With Myself - And Someone Else" is a mellow jazzy composition. Unfortunately, Jeff Kracke, the recording engineer, decided to end this piece unnaturally. The main attraction here is Berlin's quaver and semiquaver bass notes between 2:37"-3:31".

Opened up by energetic Stewart's legato keyboard notes, the 3:35" Beelzebub must rejuvenate the audience, who had been toned down by the previous mellow piece, at the "My Father's Place". Berlin's bass and Bruford drumming musically matched with Stewart's legato notes, while Holdsworth's guitar liners gradually induced a second ambiance to the composition, especially at 1:58"-3:08".

Having made another 22 seconds communication to the audience, the band played its experimental composition called the "Sahara of Snow" part 1 (5:00, including the 22 seconds communication) and part 2 (3:00"). The piece's title depicts a contradiction situation, doesn't it? The composition was initiated by Stewart's avant-garde keyboard sounds, combined with Holdsworth's distorted sustained guitars sounds, and Bruford's percussions. Then Stewart's solo keyboard came in at 2:54"-3:34". The second part was marked by Stewart's staccato chords for 22 seconds, followed by Holdsworth's solo guitar (with various guitar sounds) on the back of Berlin's simple crotchet bass notes.

No explanation why the band didn't play the first part of "One of A Kind" and decided to only gig the 8:00" second part of the piece. Initiated by Belin's 32 seconds bass liners, one of the best fusion jazz instrumental songs is evidence how Bruford band's members were able to collaborate. Bruford's jazzy drumming (cymbals, sometimes snare drums and tom-tams, and no bass drum) gradually changed into full drumming between 2:04"- 3.00" aided by Berlin's bass, Holdsworth's guitar, and Stewart's piano. At 4:28", the ambiance changed. I'm not sure whether the clarinet-like sound in 4:38"-5:22" was generated from Stewart's keyboard or from Holdsworth's legato phrasing guitar technique with light picking, caused a distorted guitar amplifier to produce a reedy, clarinet-like tone. However, having also heard the second harmonic behind the sound, I think there is a strong likelihood that the clarinet-like sound was generated from Hodlsworth's guitar.

The last song in the album, the "5G", is actually one of the most energetic songs written by the band. However, again, Mr. Kracke decided to end the song unnaturally and really send my angry nerve to the stratosphere level. It was opened by energetic and forceful phased bass riffs by Jeff Berlin (similar to Tetsuo Sakurai of Casiopea's bass riffs), followed by Stewart's fast tempo keyboard before Holdsworth's guitar notes breaking into at 1:32".

I wish I could be at the "My Father's Place" on July 12, 1979 and watch the show lively. It must be a great experience. Happy listening!

Bruford - 1979 - One of a Kind

One of a Kind

01. Hell's Bells (3:33)
02. One of a Kind, Pt. 1 (2:20)
03. One of a Kind, Pt. 2 (4:04)
04. Travels With Myself - And Someone Else (6:13)
05. Fainting in Coils (6:33)
06. Five G (4:46)
07. The Abingdon Chasp (4:54)
08. Forever Until Sunday (5:51)
09. The Sahara of Snow, Pt. 1 (5:18)
10. The Sahara of Snow, Pt. 2 (3:24)

- Allan Holdsworth / guitar
- Dave Stewart / keyboards and synths
- Jeff Berlin / bass
- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electronic drums, percussion, voice of "The Mock Turtle" (5)

- Sam Alder / voice of "Narrator"
- Anthea Norman-Taylor / voice of "Alice"
- Eddie Jobson / violin  - originally uncredited
- John Clark / guitar

Bill Bruford's second solo outing, called One of a Kind, features the same core lineup from Feels Good to Me, only this time the grating vocals of Anne Peacock are gone because this album is entirely instrumental (except for one section of one song). Being that it is instrumental, you can expect each musician to give their absolute all on this album, and the overall musicianship is nothing short of amazing. The highly complex and intricate rhythms and sequences are performed with ease, style, and cohesiveness in a way I've never heard any other jazz rock band perform. One of a Kind stands out from the rest of the pack of fusion albums I have because I find it to be the most captivating and overall rewarding album in this style. My absolute favorite fusion album? Yes. Why? Read below.
It begins with the churning and modulated synthesizers of Hell's Bells, which has one of the zaniest time signatures you'll ever see. Dave Stewart really pulls out all the stops on this song, especially during the section where Bruford enters. Holdsworth enters the song with a bang, too, with some great guitar work especially when he begins to solo in his classic swirling style. One of a Kind is a two part piece that begins with some zany vibes and some droning synthesizer notes underneath some more superb ascending and descending riffing from Holdsworth. The second part begins with some great drumming from Bruford and some well timed bass fills from Berlin, who really is one of the best jazz bassists I've ever heard. Travels With Myself -- And Someone Else begins with some nice synthesizers from Dave Stewart as well as some intuitive bass fills from Berlin, who really breaks away from the pack on this piece. Fainting in Coils has a brief narration on top of some forboding music. The track has a nice sense of evolution and really goes through some interesting sections. Dave Stewart and Holdsworth exchange solos and really get into a nice duel while Bruford and Berlin set the groove for the track.

Five G begins with a stellar phased bass riff from Berlin that soon becomes a groovy frantically based theme. Holdsworth really shines on this track giving a guitar solo equally as frantic as the pace of the song. Bruford also is a great on this song with many well timed and great sounding fills. The Abingdon Chasp is probably my favorite song on the album along with Hell's Bells. This Holdsworth written tune is just utterly perfect, from the harmonized guitar chords and the superb progression of the musicians, to the great bass/drum interplay between Bruford and Berlin, to the overall stellar riff and atmosphere of the song, it's all there. Forever Until Sundary is a more atmospheric and ethereal piece, with a lot of floating keyboards and a nice keyboard theme as well as some intuitive drumming from Bruford, who can make even the most simple of drumbeats into something amazing. The song quickly picks up in pace and becomes a great guitar driven piece with some great bass work from Berlin underneath the floating and smooth leads from Holdsworth. The Sahara of Snow ends the album is a two part extravaganza. The first of which begins slowly, with a dissonant and eerie organ that changes pace quickly by the stroke of Bruford's sticks as he gives another great drum fill. The piece builds up nicely and never gets too out of hand even during the most trick of situations and never gets boring or contrived, just all out playing for around 9 minutes (that's if you add the two parts together).

In the end, while Feels Good to Me was a good album that had some flaws vocally, One of a Kind is a truly one of a kind album with some incredibly talented musicians playing some great complex and challenging music. There are really no weak tracks on this album and I can't really fault it with anything remotely bad. It's a perfect record, and I am proud to call it my favorite fusion record. Recommended to all fusion fans as well as those who like the power and prowess of Bill Bruford.

Bruford - 1977 - Feels Good to Me

Feels Good to Me

01. Beelzebub (3:22)
02. Back to the Beginning (7:25)
03. Seems Like a Lifetime Ago (Pt. 1) (2:31)
04. Seems Like a Lifetime Ago (Pt. 2) (4:29)
05. Sample and Hold (5:12)
06. Feels Good to Me (3:53)
07. Either End of August (5:24)
08. If You Can't Stand the Heat... (3:26)
09. Springtime in Siberia (2:44)
10. Adios a la Pasada (Goodbye to the Past) (8:41)

Line-up / Musicians
- Allan Holdsworth / electric guitar (1-10)
- Dave Stewart / keyboards, synths
- Jeff Berlin / bass
- Bill Bruford / drums and percussion (tuned & untuned), co-producer

- Annette Peacock / vocals (2,3,10)
- John Clark / electric guitar (11)
- John Goodsall / rhythm guitar (6)
- Kenny Wheeler / flugelhorn (3,7,9)
- Neil Murray / addit. bass

Pick up just about any of the most successful albums from progressive rock's heyday, flip it over to the credits, and there's a good chance you'll see Bill BRUFORD listed as the drummer. Having played in perhaps more famous prog bands than any other artist, BRUFORD has, at one time or another, kept time for just about every major band in the genre, as well as maintaining a successful solo career.

Beginning his professional career while still in his teens, BRUFORD answered a drummer wanted ad in the Melody Maker and proceeded to join two young men in what he thought was to be 'a vocal group, in the style of The Fifth Dimension'. The two young men were named Chris SQUIRE & Jon ANDERSON, and together they formed the nucleus of what was to become one of the biggest progressive bands of all time, YES. After the worldwide success of their albums "Fragile" & "Close to the Edge", BRUFORD was eager to explore more fertile musical pastures. Leaving a band that was, at that point, poised on the verge of worldwide superstardom was seen by most as misguided at best, insane at worst. BRUFORD, however, felt he had learned all he could from YES, and was looking for a fresh musical environment in which to stretch his wings. He found just such an entity in KING CRIMSON.

After numerous personnel changes over the years, bandleader Robert FRIPP had decided to radically reform KING CRIMSON, and enlisted BRUFORD with the priceless quote "I think you're about ready now, Bill..." For the next two years, BRUFORD and CRIMSON produced some of the most innovative and influential music of the 1970s before FRIPP, in a prescient preemptive response to the growing grandiosity of the genre, once again disbanded the band in 1974. BRUFORD then shifted his time between a variety of projects. In 1977, he joined GENESIS as a touring drummer to allow recently promoted frontman Phil COLLINS to concentrate on vocal duties. The same year, he formed his own eponymous fusion band with Jeff Berlin, Alan HOLDSWORTH, and Dave Stewart. They released a series of fine albums which allowed BRUFORD ample room to explore his love of jazz.

After an aborted attempt at forming a supergroup featuring John WETTON & Rick WAKEMAN, BRUFORD & WETTON then joined forces with Eddie Jobson & Alan HOLDSWORTH to become U.K. The original lineup only lasted for one self-titled album, with HOLDSWORTH and BRUFORD both exiting the band before recording the follow up LP, "Danger Money". BRUFORD re-formed his fusion band for one more album, 1980s Gradually Going Tornado, and joined former YES keyboardist Patrick MORAZ for a pair of albums before rejoining Robert FRIPP in a new, streamlined incarnation of KING CRIMSON in 1981. This lineup released three excellent albums from 1981 to 1984, at which time FRIPP once again pulled the plug on KING CRIMSON until further notice.

The rest of the decade saw BRUFORD rejoin his former YES-mates for the "ABWH" album and tour; a job BRUFORD claims he undertook because he knew if would pay for his new project; an experimental jazz outfit entitled EARTHWORKS. BRUFORD recorded with EARTHWORKS throughout the late 80s & early 90s, until the CRIMSON KING once again reared it's head in 1994. This new 'double-trio' incarnation of the band was a radical change even for KING CRIMSON, and the music it produced was no less radical for it. BRUFORD toured and recorded with KING CRIMSON throughout the rest of the 1990s, before finally abdicating the drum seat to former double-trio co-drummer Pat Mastelotto in 2000. Though he continues to perform & record today, his contributions to some of the genre's greatest works have already cemented his place as one of the great drummers in rock history.

Bill Bruford, the jack of all trades drummer, released his first solo album in 1977. The album featured top echelon musicians in all their respective fields and the result is an incredible explosion of jazz and rock into a combination never seen before. These core musicians, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Berlin, and Dave Stewart (and of course Bruford himself along with a few other musicians), created highly technical and complicated rhythmic patterns, and yet they also created fun, experimental, off the wall jazz music that any fan of groups like Brand X or Return to Forever will love. There is one fatal flaw to this album, though, and it really hurts the overall experience, but I shall get to that later.
The album opens with a concise and top notch drum beat in Beelzebub, some off the wall marimba percussion and some great start stop bass work from Berlin (as well as some sprawling Holdsworth guitar work). It's a short piece, but it sets the mood for the entire album. Back to the Beginning is where the main flaw of this album is first presented, and that is the vocals of Annette Peacock, who really throws the entire mood off and really is unfitting with her annoying voice. Musically, the song is perfect, but vocally, it's almost unbearable to listen to. Fortunately, though, there aren't that many vocal tracks on the album. Seems Like a Lifetime Ago is a two part piece that begins with some smooth atmospheres and some more vocals from Peacock, who doesn't really butcher the piece, but I'd still prefer an instrumental experience. The second part is a more laid back section, with some dynamic keyboards and some dreamy bell percussion. Add some more great sprawling and off the wall soloing from Holdsworth towards the end you have yourself an excellent piece. Sample and Hold goes through many different moods, from somber and very melodic, to spacey and very groovy, but it holds up very well.

Feels Good to Me begins rather simplistically, but soon enough little complexities and intricacies are introduced. Holdsworth is again at the top of his game with excellent and well timed guitar fills, and Dave Stewart has a nice piano performance towards the end. Either End of August has a nice horn arrangement and a nice hooking bass melodies and leads from Berlin as well as a floating synthesizer lines from Stewart. If You Can't Stand the Heat... is one of my favorite pieces on the album. It begins with a manic vibraphone melody that rises and falls at a rapid pace. Jeff Berlin adds his bit to the piece by playing some out of this world fills between Holdsworth swirling leads. Springtime in Siberia is a somber piano track with some melodic chord sequences from Dave Stewart and a somewhat triumphant horn line, it's not a bad track, but nothing I'd call brilliant. Adios a la Pasada ends the album with more grating vocals from Ann Peacock despite some incredible band performances from Bruford and Berlin, who really are nothing short of an amazing rhythm unit. I'd say of all the Peacock songs on the album, this is the best one, mainly because it doesn't feature much vocal and the musicians are able to spread their wings.

In the end, Feels Good to Me should feel good to most jazz rock enthusiasts and those who are fans of the undeniable drum prowess of Mr. Bruford.

Atlantic Bridge - 1970 - Atlantic Bridge

Atlantic Bridge 
Atlantic Bridge

01. McArthur Park - 10:42
02. Dreams - 07:00
03. Rosecrans Boulevard - 05:49
04. Something - 06:28
05. Dear Predence - 07:53
06. Chilwood Room (Exit Walt) - 06:43
07. Hillery Dickson - bonus track - 02:32
08. I Can't Lie To You - bonus track - 03:18

Mike McNaught - Piano,Electric Piano.
Jim Philip - Flute,Soprano,Tenor.
Daryl Runswick - Bass,Bass Guitar.
Mike Travis - Drums,Percussion.

An early British fusion band, Atlantic Bridge put out a self-titled instrumental album in 1970. While the skills of the players were impressive, it wasn't anything more than an average album, not nearly as experimental as fusion bands of the time such as Soft Machine, for instance. They didn't compromise their jazz roots, with Jim Philip's saxes and flute showing a decided John Coltrane influence. Chief arranger Mike McNaught's electric keyboard provided the most rock-oriented flavor. Covers of "MacArthur Park" and the Beatles' "Something" and "Dear Prudence" seemed emblematic of a desire to cross over to rock and pop listeners, though it should be noted that it was far less common for a jazz-rock band to interpret such material in 1970 than it would be in the years to come. Atlantic Bridge also put out a rare EP in 1971 that had more of a rock feel, one of its songs including female vocals.

Atlantic Bridge's sole, self-titled LP is respectable but somewhat middling early fusion, though as a 1970 release, it's more cutting-edge than it would have been had it come out a few years later, when their brand of fusion was pretty common. Jim Philip's sax playing is certainly the most striking and fiery aspect of their approach, owing a good deal to the free jazz of John Coltrane and the like. Daryl Runswick also creates some interesting passages with bowed bass. The covers of "MacArthur Park," "Something," and "Dear Prudence" stretch those songs into considerably different shapes, but the record's six pieces do meander sometimes. The 1999 reissue on Get Back adds two songs from their 1971 EP, I Cant Lie to You, one of which ("I Can't Lie to You" itself) is quite a departure from the rest of their work, as it features soul-rock vocals by several female singers.

Atomic Rooster - 2002 - Live at the Marquee

Atomic Rooster 
Live at the Marquee

01. They Took Control Of You (7:15)
02. Death Walks Behind You (6:40)
03. Watch Out! (4:48)
04. Tomorrow Night (6:29)
05. Seven Streets (8:37)
06. Gershatzer (10:04)
07. I Can't Take No More (8:51)
08. In The Shadows (11:24)
09. Devil's Answer (5:58)
10. Do You Know Who's Looking For You? (4:40)

- Vincent Crane / Hammond organ, Bass pedals
- John Du Cann / Guitars, Vocals
- Paul Hammond / Drums, Percussion

Recorded, as the title makes plain, at London’s Marquee club in 1980, this is an uncompromising portrait of Atomic Rooster at their comeback peak. With the core duo of John du Cann and Vincent Crane recently reunited with classic-era drummer Paul Hammond, this scintillating recording captures the band bathing in the respect and adoration of an entire new generation of fans.

From the set list, “Tomorrow Night” and “Devil’s Answer” in particular draw serious applause. Other Rooster classics, “Death Walks Behind You”, “Gershatser” and “Seven Streets” are similarly well-received, while more recent material slides effortlessly in alongside the oldies.

The result is a far stronger album than devotees of Atomic Rooster’s first incarnation might be expecting, and a far fresher one than their vintage status would have suggested.

The sound quality isn’t great but given the lack of the classic Atomic Rooster live recordings, it can be worth the compromise.

Atomic Rooster - 2000 - Rarities (1970-1981)

Atomic Rooster 
Rarities (1970-1981)

01. Moonrise (last recording from 1981)
02. Atomic Alert (USA radio AD 1971)
03. Death Walks Behind You (Studio live from 1981 unreleased)
04. V.U.G. (with Carl Palmer 1970 unreleased)
05. Broken Window (unreleased from 1980)
06. Alien Alert (USA radio AD 1971)
07. Throw Your Life Away (different mix from 1970)
08. Devils Alert (USA radio AD 1971)
09. Devils Answer (Original demowith Carl Palmer from 1970)
10. Do You Know Who's Looking For You? (Original demo from 1980)
11. Don't Lose Your Mind (Original demo from 1980)
12. He Did It Again (original demo from 1970)
13. Backward/ Forward revealed (Death Walks fans only 1971)
14. End Of The Day (original demo from 1981)
15. Lost In Space (original demo from 1981)
16. Hold It Through The Night (unreleased from 1981)
17. No Change By Me (unreleased from 1981)
18. Play It Again (original demo from 1981)
19. I Can't Take No More (live from Marquee 1980)

Sound may vary due to different studios/ years. All efforts by John DuCann have been made to archieve the best sound quality from his Archive tape.

Rare and unreleased recordings from the British progressive-rock group including their first ever demo, with Carl Palmer and their last recording from 1981, ‘Moonrise’. Featuring previously unreleased USA radio ads, alternate mixes, original demos and live material.

- John Du Cann / vocals, Fender guitar
- Vincent Crane / Hammond C3 organ
- Paul Hammond / drums except tracks (1-3,5-8,10-19)
- Carl Palmer / drums (4, 9)

 It does exactly what it says on the tin! This is an album comprised solely of unreleased or rare versions with some demos and radio ads thrown in for good measure. However, although this is obviously aimed at the hard-core fan, there are some real gems that show even to the uninitiated that here was a band that never really fulfilled their potential. Listen to the live in the studio version of "Death Walks Behind You" from 1981, and be impressed with the sheer power.
There is even the original demo version of "Devil's Answer" from 1970, with a young Mr. Palmer on drums. The ads were for American radio, and sound quite funny and extremely dated. Their last 'hit' was "Play It Again" and the demo is also on here from 1981.

Overall an interesting compilation that shows just a little of what this fine band were all about. An excellent booklet, as one would expect from Angel Air, which makes this a 'must purchase' for the fan.

Atomic Rooster - 2000 - Live in Germany (1983)

Atomic Rooster 
Live in Germany (1983)

01. Watch Out (5:06)
02. Metal Minds (5:23)
03. Tomorrow Night (7:02)
04. Carnival (4:45)
05. Hold Your Fire (6:10)
06. Gershatzer (7:36)
07. Devils Answer (6:47)
08. Took Control (7:32)
09. Hold Your Fire (Encore) (7:38)

- Vincent Crane / Hammond Organ, vocals
- Bernie Tormé / guitars
- Paul Hammond / drums, percussion

Atomic Rooster subsequently toured with the band to Germany and Italy. A live album of their live gigs was culled and released as Live in Germany 83 posthumously.

Though an energetic live album, the sound quality is mediocre.

Vincent Crane intented to reform Atomic Rooster in 1987, due to ill health, a planned German tour was cancelled and Crane died in 1989.

Atomic Rooster - 2000 - Live And Raw (1970-71)

Atomic Rooster 
Live And Raw (1970-71)

01. Friday the 13th
02. Gershatzer
03. Winter
04. Shabooloo [Before Tomorrow]
05. Sleeping for Years
06. V.U.G.
07. Tomorrow Night
08. I Can't Take No More

-Vincent Crane/ organ
-John du Cann/guitar & vocals
-Carl Palmer/drums (Tr.1-4)
-Paul Hammond/drums (Tr.5-8)

Live And Raw was released in 2000 by the Angel Air label and presents two BBC sessions 1970 &71 introduced by John Peel. First remark, the sound quality is quite bad : these are not the original BBC masters which doesn't exist anymore, but second or third generation tape transfers....but the rarity and the quality of the material justifies the release! The first four tracks are from a 1970 session still with Carl Palmer and present Atomic Rooster at the peak of their first period with Du Cann and Palmer. The tracks are rougher then on the first record plus a then unreleased Gershatzer and John Du Cann gives the music a harder edge with his guitar playing and singing compared to Nick Graham.The second 1971 session presents material from the second classic record Death Walks Behind You and is eqally good with Paul Hammond on the drum stool.

While the sound quality of this CD may not be the best in the world there are plenty of warnings, both in the title and the booklet. What is important is that the first half of the CD contains four live cuts from the line up which included Carl Palmer on drums, and these are the only live recordings known to exist from that era. Recorded at the Paris Theatre with Mr. John Peel introducing each number, and giving the fans some history, such as the fact that John Du Cann had only been in the band a month. All of these four songs are interesting but to me the highlight must be the instrumental "Gershatser" which contains some great Hammond Organ from Vincent Crane, but also a drum solo from Carl. This is how ELP would have sounded if they had become a hard rock band. By the time that Rooster returned to the Paris Theatre a year later Carl had left to join some other guys, and he was replaced by Paul Hammond. This is a very different sounding band, as John had by now removed a lot of the jazz influences and had made them very much a hard rock band. Of the four songs, one is "Tomorrow Night", which was their second biggest hit.