Tuesday, February 27, 2018

He 5 - 1969 - Merry Christmas Psychedelic Sound

He 5 
Merry Christmas Psychedelic Sound 

01. Silent Night
02. White Christmas
03. Santa Claus is coming to town
04. Silver Bells
05. Red Nosed Reindeer
06. Jingle Bell
07. Auld Lang Syne

Kim Hong Tak: Guitar

Does anyone know the names of the musicians in the band?

South Korea's He 5, in its later incarnation as He 6, offered some of the fuzziest, funkiest music to arise from Seoul's Psychedelic '70s. In "Merry Christmas Psychedelic Album" (Universal South Korea "THL-80") there are all Christmas songs, done in an instrumental, Garagey-Psychedelic fashion. But their cover of "Jingle Bells" morphs, about a minute and a half into the track, into a ten minute freak out cover of "In A Gadda Da Vida" and, after the drum break, wails into "Paint It Black".
He5 and He6 is a group from great Korean Rock guitarist "Kim Hong Tak". They were the most popular Korean Rock group at 1960-1970s. They played heavy and hard Psychedelic songs on live shows but they couldn't make this music style on albums because of record company's pressures. They gave them some discretionary power to have them created the results which they had on He5: "Merry Christmas Psychedelic Album" and He6 "Would you Go Go dance" with He6 "Vol.1" and "Vol.2" but most their fans couldn't understand the tracks of these albums so they were forced to change to a more popular music style.
Kim Hong-Tak (1944~) was one of the 2 leading figures in the early days of "Group Sound Era", of course with Shin Joong-Hyun(1938~).  Kim Hong Tak was guitarist and naturally leader of the group. Here, it seems better to put aside the question " Who was the first?". Because with this question of 'the first' or more properly 'the Origin', the ansters will not is the same according to the questioner's perspectives. For example, if we take one perspective, in this case that of 'Popularity', it will be the Key Boys of Kim Hong Tak which was followed soon afterwards by the Add4 of Shin Joong-Hyun.
A little remark. This Key Boys is not the 'Later' Key Boys who sang the smash hits like "Let's go to the seashore". or "Memories of the seaside", but the 'Earlier' Keyboys. They played some 'Package shows', under the name of the Lock & Key in the stages of the 8 th U.S army which settled in South Korea. Also they played at some new venues like 'Music listen Rooms', 'Live Music Salons', or the traditional ones like in Cinema. 
With these latter acts they were known to general 'Korean' public. They were nicknamed as the 'Beatles of Korea' - At that time this meant more similar to a 'cover band of the Beatles'.. (Cf. Because the stages in 8th Army of U.S. was for the Korean in the forbidden area for the evident reason of security. So generally a Korean group or artist who played there was a totally unknown figure to general Korean public).
In the mid-60s which prevailed by the worldwide phenomenon ' Beatlesmanis', the Key Boys, in molding the archetype of the Rock band (or Rock Group) who 'sing and play' (With the Kkokkirri Brothers, the Fools, the Kim Chies, became the pioneers of a new cultural phenomenon (we may now be able to say that it was the early days of 'Pop culture' in Korea). And here lies one symbolic fact concerning the popular culture in general that 1964-1965, the period of their debuts coincides with that of the birth of the 'Weekly Magazine'. With the time, the members of the Key Boys left the group: some Cha Jung Rak and Cha Do Gyun going to solos, some Yoon Hang Ki joining to the Korean Army's entertainment Unit which was sent to the Viet-Nam War, and finally Kim Hong Tak too.  But Kim Hong Tak had launched his career of guitarist in a rock group. It was the He 5.
Precisely speaking, the He5 was not launched by Kim hong Tak. According to the memories of its members, the group was found in the winter of 1967 'the five young guys' all belonged to the Wha-Yange Entertainment Inc. had set up the group together; Han Woong (Rhythm guitar and vocal) issued from the Four Guys, Cho Yong Nam (lead guitar and vocal) from the Shin Jung Hyun and the Jokers, Yu Young Chun (vocal) from the Silver Coins, Han Kwang Soo (Bass) from the Kee Jin Sung's Orchestra. For the connoisseurs, they were all 'top-class' musicians from the leading groups of that time.
And in this period Kim Hong Tak was still in the Key Boys. (Cf. Wha-Yang Entertainment Inc. was one of the enterprises who dealt wht matters concerning the distribution of musicians and entertainers for the 8th Army of USA.- tiwh the Universal, Dae-Young,Dong IL).
The He 5 begins tis gigs at the Seven Club in I-Tae-Won (a small quarter of Seoul which is now well know even internationally for its diverse markets, restaurants and bars mainly for the foreign customers. This quarter was the bassist Han Kwang Soo soon afterwards was a challenge for the He5. Kim Hong Tak was recruited as a lead guitarist (So-called 'first guitarist' at that time) and Cho Yong Nam, the original lead guitarist of the band changes his speciality to bass guitar. The joining of Kim Hong Tak not only strengthens the group's musical forces but also gives the occasion to the group of presenting themselves to 'general Korean public'. So ends a 'Boy' period of Key Boys, comes a new era of the 'He'."  
(taken from liner notes on He6 "Would you gogo Sound vol 2")

Folkie Jin :

"HE5 & HE6 is another group from great Korean rock guitarist Kim Hong Tak. They were the most popular Korean rock group at 1960-1970s. They played heavy and hard psychedelic songs on live shows but they couldn't make this music style on albums because of record company's pressures. 
They gave them some discretionary power to have them created the results which they had on He5/ "Merry christmas psychedelic album" and He6 "Would you Go Go dance" with He6 "Vol.1" and "Vol.2" But most their fans couldn't understand the tracks of these albums so they were forced to change to a more popular music style. At least they had their chances to make some albums with the music style they wanted after they became the famous rock group." 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Shin Joong Hyun - 2011 - Beautiful Rivers and Mountains

Shin Joong Hyun 
Beautiful Rivers and Mountains: 
The Psychedelic Rock Sound of South Korea's Shin Joong Hyun 1958-1974

01. Shin Joong Hyun Moon Watching 2:36
02. Golden Grapes Please Don't Bother Me Anymore 3:29
03. Kim Sun The Man Who Must Leave 7:42
04. Kim Jung Mi The Sun 6:48
05. Lee Jung Hwa I Don't Like 3:13
06. Jang Hyun Please Wait 3:23
07. Park In Soo Spring Rain 5:38
08. Lee Jung Hwa Tomorrow 3:46
09. Shin Joong Hyun 'J' Blues 72 15:00
10. Jang Hyun Pushing Through The Fog 3:32
11. Shin Joong Hyun I've Got Nothing To Say 2:25
12. Bunny Girls Why That Person? 2:48
13. Jang Hyun Sunset 5:38
14. Shin Jung Hyun & the Men* Beautiful Rivers And Mountains 10:11

Shin Joong Hyun’s tale is personal, spiritual, and deep, not only reflecting the full spectrum of human emotions, but one that produced reverberating echoes of sound, some beautiful and life-giving, others restless and ungovernable. For the first time outside of Korea, Shin’s music will be readily available to music lovers the world over. Light In The Attic are thrilled to release Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun, a career spanning CD, 2xLP, and Digital Download compilation of the diminutive guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger, and talent developer.

Inspired by jazz, soul, and traditional Korean music, Shin started his career in the mid-1950’s, performing for US troops stationed locally after the Korean War armistice of 1953. While his English language skills were limited, the young player had no trouble communicating through his trusty electric guitar, but Shin was no mere 6-string slinger for hire, he was able to communicate something far beyond your average professional musician. Production work and extensive songwriting followed, not to mention a steady stream of electrifying performances. Gaining momentum by the moment, Shin developed popular success across South Korea molding protégés like singing duo the Pearl Sisters and folk-psych songbird Kim Jung Mi into top pop stars. From there it was hit after hit. The late 1960’s rock explosion and an influx of imported music from The Beatles, Jimmy Smith, and The Jefferson Airplane all informed and inspired Mr. Shin to elevate his own craft. Even experimental trips via a crew of local hippies also took the music man to new heights despite Korean law forbidding such rebellion. Drug use was illegal and punishable as a serious offence. Park Chung-hee, then President of South Korea began to closely monitor Shin’s “subversive” activities. After refusing to write a song in praise of the political leader, the musician was labeled unpatriotic and his career was instantly snuffed-out through a series of surveillance, torture, and institutional confinement.

If US hadn't had military bases in Korea, providing income and inspiration for Shin to explore rock and soul music, he might never have developed as a musician.

According to one story I heard, Shin was actually invited to the US by an American record company interested in his talent... but his manager hid the invitation from him for a year, lest his cash-cow leave the country. That could have been his "Jimi Hendrix goes to England" moment... but it wasn't.

Also, if timing had worked out a little differently, he wouldn't have become the Korea legend he is at all: he'd signed a contract and taken the payment to travel to Vietnam to perform for American troops there, when word came to his manager that The Pearl Sisters' song "Nima" was his first real hit, and he decided to wiggle out of his contract, stay in Korea to keep trying as a producer and songwriter. A few days one way or the other and he would not have been in Korea at all to become what he became for Korean music.

Shin's singers kept leaving him as soon as they got famous. He simply never found the right muse or collaborator, the way Keith Richards found Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page found Robert Plant. We could speculate on reasons why his groups never stayed together, but the fact is he never had a band lineup together for longer than a few years, and every new vocalist meant the old songs might not fit.

Maybe if he'd been a bit better of a vocalist himself, he wouldn't have needed that, or if he'd done things a little differently whilst collaborating, or found a vocalist with the right temperament, one of his singers would have stuck around to be his Mick Jagger... who knows? But the fact is, he had to keep starting from scratch.

If he'd just recorded a song kissing President Park Chung-hee's ass that one time, the entire narrative of Korean rock music could have been completely different, and the (great though they were) Korean singers of the early 80s could have been starting from a much more interesting place than from scratch. I mean... (looks around nervously) say what you want about artistic integrity (looks around nervously again) ...given the situation at the time, he had to know what the fallout of that choice would be, right?

I mean, he got cut off just as he was peaking as a recording artist and producer, truncating his "Mega Producer, Taste-Maker" phase (imagine JYP or Lee Soo-man if they like, rocked, or ... a hard rock Quincy Jones, or Phil Spector with more guitar and without criminal charges), where he could have steered the course of Korean music for decades. We got a shadow his knack for starmaking in the '80s, boosting In Sooni and Kim WanSeon, but way less than we would have if he hadn't been banished to the doghouse for half a decade, while pop music moved on without him. He might have been doing his "Sir Paul McCartney tour" right now instead of being the "Hey why doesn't everybody know about this Korean guy? He's really good!" guy.

Of all the artists on my playlists, Shin Joong-hyun is the most tantalizing, both for the amazing stuff he created, and for the sheer scope of the woulda-coulda-shouldas of his career. Imagine if Brian Wilson were a little more mentally stable. And could rip a guitar riff like Keith Richards. Imagine if Jimi Hendrix were also a producer and starmaker on par with Berry Gordy Jr.. Imagine if Neil Young could also lay down a solo with the power of Jimmy Page, and also spring a dozen other popstars as a producer. What he did was enough to peg him as the #1 most influential K-pop musician in Korean music history. Who knows what Shin Joong-hyun could have been if things had broken right for him instead of always going sideways! 

While this was not the end of Shin’s musical story, for an all-too-brief moment in Korean cultural history, Shin Joong Hyun and his talented accomplices laid down a trove of recordings that have slowly reverberated far from their native land. Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun features Korean/English lyric translations, unseen pictures, beautiful graphic design from Strath Shepard (Pacific Standard), fully restored and re-mastered audio by Timothy Stollenwerk (Stereophonic) extensive liner notes by Kevin “Sipreano” Howes (Jamaica-Toronto series, Rodriguez, Monks, Mowest comp) and Shin Joong Hyun himself. With loving attention to detail and Shin’s full blessing, I trust you’ll find this album as addictive as a bottle of your favorite Korean soju. So let’s raise a toast to Shin and his musical life! As they say in Seoul, “Gun Bae!!!”

Add 4 - 1964 - The Add 4 First Album

Add 4 
The Add 4 First Album

01. 비속의 女人 / The Woman in Rain
02. 우체통 / The Letter Box
03. 傷處입은 사랑 / Suffered Love
04. 소야 어서가자 / Let's Go, Cow
05. 늦으면 큰일나요 / Do Not Be Late
06. 天使도 사랑을 할까요 / Would Angels Feel Love
07. 그리운 그님아 / My Yearning Dear
08. 커피한잔 (내속을 태우는 구려) /  A Cup of Coffee (It Makes me Feel Frustrated)
09. 나도 같이 걷고싶네 / I Want to Have a Walk Together Too
10. 故鄕길 / The Road to Hometown
11. 그대와 둘이 앉으면 / When I Sit Down Together with You
12. 쓸쓸한 土曜日밤 / Lonely Saturday Night
13. 바닷가 / The Seashore
14. 굿나잇 등불을 끕니다 / Good Night I'm Turning the Light Off

Bass: Han Joong Hyun
Guitar: Shin Joong Hyun 
Guitar, Vocal: Seo Jung-Gil 
Drums: Kwan Sun-Kwan

The Add 4 is considered as the first rock group formed in the Republic of Korea. This band was formed in 1962 by "the founder of Korean rock", Shin Jung-hyeon. He started his music career with a nickname called "Jacky" in the US forces Korea from 1955, when he was 17 years old. Actually, he had already published his solo album called "Hiki Shin Guitar Melody" in 1959. The reason why he is considered as the founder of Korean rock is because of not only that he introduced rock music into Korea first, but also the unique style of his music. That is why he was the first Asian artist who was given a Custom Shop Tribute Guitar by Fender(We will have more closer look at him later).

This album has really huge importance in Korean pop music history, as it was the first rock band music album in the Republic of Korea. All the songs featured in this album were originally composed by band members; in other words, there was no copy nor cover song in this album. What is more, the featured songs were brand-new considering the time period as most tracks are based on rhythm & blues style which only few has introduced in Korea at that time. The greatness of the album can be proven by numerous cover songs; especially, one of the most famous songs in this album, 비속의 女人 (The Woman in Rain) has been remade by 장현 (Jang Hyeon), 김목경 (Kim Mok Kyung) , Galaxy Express, and etc. Also, this album features 커피한잔 (A Cup of Coffee), which was later sung by Pearl Sisters who made the revival of Soul music during 1960s and 1970s. After this album, the Add 4 called themselves as 'The Ventures of Korea.'

This is a really interesting and enjoyable album from early Korean rock, under the influence of rock’n roll, late twist area, at times the pre-Beatles area mostly some tracks more in the crooner/pop song music area. The guitars are attractive and calm, the percussion is interesting as well. They play a bit like a soft rock band with a primitive honesty like in garage rock, but in a more subtle way and also a more sophisticated way of performance, more like a TV show band, while in fact with a more wild, honest and creative side. Some tracks have nice harmony backing vocals, with some small parts of well fitting backing orchestration, and occasional instruments like twist’n roll sax or piano arrangements. The more song/chanson tracks are mostly sung by a female voice. A very enjoyable, rewarding release.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Ose - 1978 - Adonia


01. Approche Sur A 16:00
02. Orgasmachine 3:45
03. 29 h 08 mn 6:55
04. L'Aube Jumelle 9:48
05. Retour Sur Adonia 3:34

- Richard Pinhas / Guitar and electronics
- Francois Auger / Drums
- Hervé Picart / Guitar and electronics

OSE was the project of French multi-instrumentalist Herve Picart. He plays moog, organ, guitar, bass and slide guitar. He also composed all the songs here. He brought in an Electronic legend and fellow country -man Richard Pinhas from HELDON who also plays guitar and moog but also sequencers and synths. Richard was responsible for arranging all of the electronic parts which of course is most of this record. Add drummer Francois Auger also from HELDON and we have an incredible trio.
This was released in 1978 the same year HELDON released "Interface" a similar album to this one but one I enjoy more for it's more powerful and dynamic sound. Same with HELDON's followup from 1979 called "Stand By", two albums I prefer to "Adonia" although the cover art for "Adonia" is one of the most beautiful pictures I've seen.

"Approche Sur A" opens with about 3 1/2 minutes of faint spacey sounds with twittering over top. This is tasteful as picked guitar joins in after 2 minutes. Before 3 1/2 minutes the song kicks into gear as we get this louder electronic beat which has a dramatic affect. The flavour changes slightly before 5 1/2 minutes. This is melodic and mid-paced and it's hard not to bob my head to this. It picks up before 7 1/2 minutes and becomes more serious sounding as the drums join in. The guitar arrives after 10 minutes ripping it up over the electronics and drums. So good! This continues almost to the end.

"Orgasmachine" opens with electronic beats as spacey synths come in over top. Slide guitar after a minute. Man this is good! Sequencers before 2 1/2 minutes as the guitar steps aside. Some brief guitar returns around 3 minutes. "29 H 08 MN" is my favourite song on here mainly because of the guitar. Solo moog to start as an electronic beat arrives a minute in and soon electronics twitter over top. The guitar arrives before 4 1/2 minutes then drums and it sounds incredible, like HELDON's two albums from this same time frame.

"L'aube Jumelle" opens with spacey synths blowing over the electronic soundscape. It's dark and melancholic. Relaxed organ joins in as the same mood continues. I think that's bass after 5 1/2 minutes as it trades off with the guitar as spacey sounds continue. Soon bass and guitar join forces in this relaxed and mellow tune. It does turn louder after 7 minutes. Beautiful stuff, quite moving.

"Retour Sur Adonia" ends the album as we get an electronic beat with spacey sounds over top. I'm not a big fan of that melody because it reminds me of something I don't like but it's brief although it is repeated later. An okay song to end it.

Not as adventerous or powerful as HELDON's two albums from the same period but man this is easily a 4 star album for me. I'm a sucker for guitar in Electronic music and the addition of drums is the icing on the cake. 

Locust - 1976 - Playgue


01. Hesitation 3:28
02. Let's Just Say Goodbye 5:24
03. You'll Never Know 4:05
04. Madonna 8:35
05. All For You/Turn Around Lady 5:26
06. You Should Have Just Cried 4:09
07. Outside Chance 3:27
08. Hold On To America 2:46
09. Blood In The Hand 3:11

Keith Brown: guitar, backing vocals
Dean Davis: drums
Court Hawley: bass, lead vocals
Randy Roseberry: keyboards, lead vocals

This extremely obscure proto arena rock act sprang from Iowa in the early 70's, becoming legendary in their home state while remaining unknown just about everywhere else. Their local fame brought them to Annuit Coeptus Records, who issued their sole release, "Playgue" in 1976. Though the band regularly landed supporting slots for many of the bigger acts touring through Iowa, they never managed to break through to very many other regions outside of the midwest.

So what about the music? Taking on a sound remiscent of Morningstar or early Styx, the band assembles an interesting batch of songs that seem complex in places, yet underdeveloped. With capable vocals, quirky melodies and pitch perfect harmonies, they certainly had the chops to do something spectacular. As it stands, though, "Playgue" is an unremarkably pleasant affair through and through. With lackluster production that sounds more like something engineered in the 60's, alot of the music here suffers from bad sonics. Had the production values been more contemporary, perhaps Locust could have developed their sound more elaborately. The band did split a few years later, frustrated by lack of visibility and not much is known about the members subsequent activities, though bassist Court Hawley would end up in macabre theatrical metal act, Impaler, almost a decade later.

A little curio... Nik Raicevic designed the album cover!

Kiyoshi Sugimoto Quartet - 1970 - Country Dream

Kiyoshi Sugimoto Quartet
Country Dream

01. Country Dream
02. Step Ahead
03. The Apple
04. Limited Space
05. D-51

Bass – Yoshio Ikeda
Drums – Motohiko Hino
Guitar – Kiyoshi Sugimoto
Piano – Hiromasa Suzuki

Recorded at Teichiku Kaikan Studio, Tokyo 7 Dec. 1969.
Originally released on 1970/3/1.

First solo album recorded for the New Stream In Jazz collection of the Columbia' Takt Jazz Series, by one of the most finest japanese jazz guitarist. Sugimoto who was sideman for Yuji Ohno, played also with trumpeter Terumasa Hino, worked for arranger Norio Maeda, but best known as a member in group, the Count Buffalos of drummer Akira Ishikawa. The Kiyoshi Sugimoto Quartet features Motohiko Hino, Yoshio Ikeda and Hiromasa Suzuki in charge of arrangements. Titles include only compositions of Hiromasa Suzuki except Country Dream by Kiyoshi Sugimoto. All tracks arranged by Hiromasa Suzuki.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Marsupilami - 1971 - Arena


01. Prelude To the Arena (5:23)
02. Peace Of Rome (7:01)
03. The Arena (12:55)
04. Time Shadows (11:16)
05. Spring (9:16)

- Fred Hasson / lead vocals, percussion, harmonica
- Dave Laverock / electric, acoustic & bowed guitars, percussion, vocals
- Leary Hasson / piano & electric piano, organ, Mellotron, tubular bells
- Jessica Stanley-Clarke / flute, vocals
- Richard Hicks / bass
- Mike Fouracre / drums, timpani, percussion

- Bob West / vocals
- Mandi Riedelbauch / tenor & alto saxes, flute (5), percussion
- Peter Bardens / percussion, producer

Second album by MARSUPILAMI was an ambitious concept one about the brutality of the ancient Roman culture involving not less than eight musicians. BTW it has been produced by Peter Bardens whose band CAMEL was still waiting for their big success at that time. On ARENA the band had refined and further improved their sound by adding Mellotron, sax, electric piano, more woodwinds and percussion. But central instrument is still the Hammond played incredibly skillful by Leary Hasson covering its full potential spectre.

Apart of the involvement of more instruments the most striking difference to their debut is that the compositions on here are much less catchy and very intricate with a rather strong jazz influence at times almost towards RIO. Thus this one needs definitively a few spins to get into it. Prelude to the Arena opens the albums with a fluttery organ sound followed by narrative vocals by Fred Hasson leading to a quite heavy part with screaming, furious drumming and guitar but as well more quiet parts with e-piano, Mellotron or flute. First track is already a highlight! Second song Peace of Rome is as well a very versatile one varying between mellow, beautiful sections and more savage ones. Thereafter the very intricate epic songThe Arena is following with 13 minutes of timing and including awesome solos on Hammond and flute. Initially the track has a very oriental inspired sound developing more into a Canterbury vein. Time Shadow is the one where the sax comes into play and probably the best one with an incredibly intricate interplay between flute, sax and Hammond. It starts with psychedelic sounding spoken vocals then a dramatic intro with organ and drums which segues into a rather quiet part with flute, organ and short amazing solo on Harmonica (!) before vocals come in. This track has a very strong jazzy Canterbury touch not mainly due to the sax playing. Really an absolute highlight! The initial part of The Spring is the weirdest and oddest one of the album with a strange and disharmonic Hammond sound and a savage free jazz jamming, then it segues into a very pleasant theme on flute followed by a solo by Harmonica and the song switches more into a psychedelic folksy vein with mesmerizing vocals not unlike the band Quintessence. The final part is a reprise of the flute theme with tubular bells added on.

This concept album about the drama of the gladiator's arena during the Roman Empire is the second of two intriguing albums Marupilami recorded in the early 70s. The pair of proto-prog albums are of almost equal strength, and both are worth investigating. While the first album wins marks for being such a unique work and sounding like very little like anything that came before it, Arena's greater variety in terms of instrumentation probably tips the scale in its favour.
Prelude To the Arena: The Undertones Of Violence In A Drifting Generation begins with some threatening noises from lead vocalist Fred Hasson over some frenzied attacks but soon settles down into a truly beautiful melancholic passage with acoustic guitar, flute and mellotron. Fast-paced jazzy vocals and a great electric piano solo from Leary Hasson take this piece home

The second track Peace Of Rome: They Manufactured Death To Keep The Peace, has a nice, dark mid-section led of course by organ and flute, before a searing special from Dave Laverock (actually the best guitar solo I've heard from him) takes the music to a new level. Marsupillami's longest song The Arena (The Fighting, The Killing, The Mother Of Fornication) doesn't start off so well but after a couple of minutes becomes an outstanding organ-dominated psychedelic improvisation, drawing heavily from Eastern themes, with drummer Mike Fouracre also making his presence felt. This track loses momentum, but again resolves itself towards the end, even if the very last notes of the song seem unbearably harsh

Time Shadows (Lay Low The Past, The Future Brings Hope) is a sombre, almost eerie affair, with Jessica Stanley Clarke's flute and Leary Harsson's organ doing a good job in building up an atmosphere (Fred Hasson's harmonica works rather less well). It eventually breaks into jazzy flute driven prog. There's some nice piano playing, and another pleasing surprise when a saxophone kicks in to good effect. Laverock's jazz guitar solo is also of note, while the ferentic stomping conclusion to the piece ensures that a good time is had by all.

The closer Spring is another strange one With a pastoral acoustic guitar/organ/flute opening giving way to a veritable cacophany of sound for more than a minute before a beautiful almost soft-rock passage comes into play. This portion is rather remiscent of Camel's tamest moments which is perhaps no surprise given that future Camel stalwart Peter Bardens produced this album. There's a harmonica solo, a powerful jam with an eerie conclusion and a restatement of the soft-rock passage before the show shuts down.

By and large Arena is an album that doesn't really follow any precedents, which is exactly what makes it, to my mind, so darned fresh.

Marsupilami - 1970 - Marsupilami


01. Dorian Deep (7:40)
02. Born To Be Free (5:45)
03. And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin (6:38)
04. Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera) (10:54)
05. Facilis Descencus Averni (9:37)

- Fred Hasson / vocals, harmonica, bongos
- Dave Laverock / acoustic, electric & bowed guitars, vocals
- Leary Hasson / organ
- Jessica Stanley-Clarke / flute, vocals
- Richard Hicks / bass
- Mike Fouracre / percussion

MARSUPILAMI were an English proto-prog outfit who relocated to the Netherlands. The complexity of their music is quite unusual for the times - we're talking 1970 here, when the big guns such as YES, GENESIS and CRIMSON were barely coming out of the woodwork. A mixture of blues, experimental jazz and hints of folk, their music is often dark and foreboding, favouring perilously complex structures. Try to imagine a mixture of KING CRIMSON, JETHRO TULL, the STRAWBS and EAST OF EDEN.

Their two albums feature weird/oblique melodies and harmonies, lots of heavy keyboards, electric guitar and flute (at times purposely off key), with the drummer pounding on his skins as if his life depended on it. This is very early prog and you particularly feel this in the organ work, which has a typical early 70's psych feel. Their second album, which features an additional member on flute and sax as well as the appearance of the Mellotron, is an ambitious concept album about the brutal culture of ancien Rome - quite a sordid affair, really, but well done. It has a slightly better sound than the first album although most progsters generally favour the first.

 One of those early 70's group that should've emerged but didn't , like Audience, Comus, Gnidrolog and a few more, this south-west England sextet, built around the Hasson brothers Fred (vocals) and Leary (keyboards) and the latter's girlfriend Jessica Clarke (flute and vocals), released two superb albums that have gone way too long without being noticed. The group toured in 68 & 69 heavily in the UK and Continental Europe (from Denmark to Switzerland), even opening the first Isle of Wight Festival that year and played in the first Glastonbury fest the following year. They finally secured a record deal with the folk-specialist Transatlantic label (Pentangle amongst others) and recorded their self-titled album in June 69 (ITCOTCK is still months away), but for some reason, it was only released on April 70. Would've things changed heavily if the album had been released before KC's debut? We'll never know, but Marsipulami's sombre and slightly spooky flute- laden music, often evoking mythology, certainly was groundbreaking stuff and should've caught many more "underground public" ears, but the offer was plentiful in those times and the places in the sunshine a bit scarce.
Back in 69, the sextet's sound was definitely anchored in the 70's, even if the guitars still had a fuzz thing, and groups like Purple or The Nice were not as "modern", but the songwriting was maybe a little too close from one song to another, or the band wasn't able to arrange that the tracks had each its own proper atmosphere, precisely like ITCOFTCK or Nursery Cryme. Indeed, from the opening Dorian Deep, the atmosphere is often sombre and brooding, heavy and borderline angry (Hasson's sometimes off-key and perfectible vocals induce this), organ-driven, with the fuzz guitar and the flute (sounding more like Latimer than anderson) adding more drama, Fouracre's drumming being very strong, this leaves Hicks' bass playing often the anchoring role, but does it brilliantly. The A-side is made of three semi-lengthy tracks, building the group's overall sound, but the flipside's two epics are what the group is all about

By the time of the second-last track Ad Initio (an instrumental), despite their own little intro, we're sort of lost as to where we are as all the tracks have the same ring to them, but here there is also a bunch of classical music themes revisited, the whole thing going down in a chaos of eternal damnation and hell promised, but alas Leary's organ is resurrected through the apocalyptic end and provides a suitable outro. The last track has a more brilliant passage where a cello appears and gives directly another colour to the last minutes of Descencus Aveni., which in its opening stages was reminiscent of early Wishbone Ash despite Jessica's flute, and if it disappears for a while, it comes back as soon as the singing returns (WA's debut was released in early 70, but remember this album is early 69)

The first track here, Dorian Deep begins on a pretty ominous note that doesn't quite let up throughout the album. Eventually a powerful bass-driven song unfolds, with the organ and drums helping to build up the atmosphere while the vocals (always melodramatic and occasionally downright manic!) sing an unusual melody. Dorian Deep is a fantastic piece with Mike Fouracre's frantic drums occasionally being quite tribal in nature, and Jessica Stanley Clarke's flute flittering about constantly ... there's even time for a bit of poetry before a high octane jam takes over.

To Be Free starts off as languid flute-driven piece before suddenly exploding into another frenzied jam, although the Leary Hasson organ solo gives this one a jazz tinge ... that is until the harmonica solo comes in! Finally the flute reclaims the piece and the listener is thrown back to that now seemingly distant melllow beginning

The imagery in And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin is pretty neat (although I'd be lying if I said that lyrics were Marsupilami's greatest strength). I must say that though that this is probably my least favourite track, and I think that's because it's the one with the most vocals and the least instrumental interludes.

This minor aberration is more than made up for by Ab Intio Ad Finem (The Opera) which runs for nearly 11 minutes. It begins with a musical box kind of sound before a march gradually takes over. Some churchy organ creeps in and after 2 minutes, an excellent organ/tribal drum jam ensues and after a minute or two, some delightful flute chips in. It then becomes a guitar freak out, before flute leads the band back into a pastoral section, before everything takes off again on a wild jazzy jam at around the 7 minute mark. Although the churchy organ outro seems a tad predictable when it arrives, I still think this is probably my favourite tune.

Facilis Descencus Averni is a different beast altogether, perhaps even more jarring than the most manic moments of Dorian Deep. There's crazed laughter, more poetry, a garish instrument (I can't figure out what ... perhaps a distorted organ) that reaches in and almost tears at one's ears, and a another high-powered jam, with a drastic switch to a meditative flute passage ... before the great jazzy vocal part restates itself.

There is a vibe that reminds me occasionally of Quintessence and at other times of Iron Butterfly, but Marsupilami probably has more to offer the average prog fan than either of these two bands. The intermitently off-key vocals may put some off, but I love these sort of rare prog albums, by bands who were indisputably prog, yet were done before the likes of Yes, Genesis and ELP hit their peak.

Wapassou - 1978 - Ludwig: Un Roi Pour l'Eternite

Ludwig: Un Roi Pour l'Eternite

01. Ludwig (34:02)
02. Le Lac de Starnberg 1886 (1:16)
03. L'Adieu au Roi (2:10)
04. Hymne au Nouveau Romantisme (6:25)

- Freddy Brua / keyboards
- Karin Nickerl / guitars
- Jacques Lichti / violin
- Veronique Nickerl / vocals
- Marc Dolisi / synthesizers

Ludwig, as might be expected, is the more overtly classically influenced of their albums, and uses synthesizers to a greater degree than the previous two, as well as plenty of organs and keyboard bass, and vocals by Véronique Nickerl. Mostly consisting of one long piece "Un Roi pour Eternité" (now fused into one continuous 34 minute track), it also features a short cover of Wagner's "Lac de Starnberg," a shorter track, "L'Adieu du Roi," which features Marc Dolisi guesting on ARP synthesizer, and for good measure Musea has even included a bonus track, the six-minute "Hymne au Nouveau Romanticisme." Three great discs, all highly recommended, although folks addicted to the steady beat of rock drums might be advised to proceed with caution

Wapassou - 1977 - Salammbo


01. Salammbo Part 1 (18:04)
02. Salammbo Part 2 (19:05)

- Freddy Brua / keyboards
- Jacques Lichti / violin
- Karen Nickerl / guitars

Taken after Gustave Flaubert's book, this is the group's third album and as you might have guessed a conceptual one. Two tracks only each filling up a side of vinyl, both of them highly theatrical musically speaking, and no bass and drums, this is a rather puzzling but very charming, oscillating between classical music and rockier moments (the synthesisers moments). If the words descriptive music can ring you something, this might just a fitting definition of it.

Enhanced by another Gustave's artworks (Doré on this one) as a sleeve, this trio (violin, (sometimes) fuzzy guitars, KBs ranging from piano, organs and synths) augmented by Mrs Fizelson's vocals here and there, is achieving quite an impressive show of mastery of their musical propos. The music peaks between the 11 th and 13 th minutes of the second track, sometimes reminding you of a much-happier Univers Zero.

If you love grandiose ambiances, with aerial atmospheres, this little gem can be right up your alley, digging up a highway to your musical orgasmic fields. Do I make sense?

Wapassou - 1976 - Messe En Ré Mineur

Messe En Ré Mineur

01. La Messe En Ré (39:57)

- Freddy Brua / keyboards
- Karin Nickerl / guitar
- Jacques Lichti / violin
- Eurydice / vocals

If anyone is looking for a starting point in over the top prog, this might be a good place. Not that it's just a jumble of noise, it's not. There are passing melodies, haunting violin solos, and organ riffs, echoing female choral singing. Sometimes chaos, resolving into soundscapes that prog electronic groups would kill for .

At the 15:30 mark, you actually have what seems is going to be either a wedding march or the Ave Maria. Then a tape looped riff, first by the violin, then guitar, and then bass, with the return of the female vocals that slowly go from angelic to Gong like yelping, with a male voice singing counter melody. Then it comes full circle and once more, are we in church ?

18:43, the organ and violin take over for a bit ... I'm imagining Nektar at its' best (outside of Recycled) , but this music still gives merit to its' title Mass in Re Minor. Maybe this is a 70s reply to Handel ???

At 26 plus minutes, Wapassou introduce some Raga to the mix. Yet, it brings to mind a spanish born raga (???). It could be the guitar backing, it could be the guitar & keyboard meshing. It could be the moorish underpinning of some spanish culture. This is a french group ?

The final ten minutes the group comes to its' chamber rock climax. The organ, the violin, the female vocals once more building in emotion, the male coming in proclaiming , until we end in an almost post-coital peace, we've fulfilled this service's spiritual mission. We're preparing to re-join the outside world. Re-energized ? Enthralled ? Joyful ? Sated !

Yes, if you're going to start somewhere in avant-garde, this is a great place ...

Wapassou - 1974 - Wapassou


01. Melopée (4:05)
02. Rien (10:44)
03. Musillusion (4:00)
04. Châtiment (6:56)
05. Trip (13:45)

CD reissue:
01. Femmes-Fleurs (bonus track) (2:48)
02. Borgia (bonus track) (2:31)
03. Melopée (4:05)
04. Rien (10:44)
05. Musillusion (4:00)
06. Châtiment (6:56)
07. Trip (13:45)

- Freddy Brua / organ, electric piano, piano, synthesizer
- Karin Nickerl / vocals, acoustic guitar
- Jacques Lichti / violin
- Fernand Landmann / acoustic equipment

Guest musicians:
- Geneviève Moerlen / flute on `Melopée', `Châtiment'
- Benoît Moerlen / percussion on `Trip'
- Jean-Pierre Schaal / bass on `Trip'
- Jean-Jacques Bacquet / clarinet on `Musillusion', `Châtiment'
- Jean-Michel Biger / drums on `Trip', `Châtiment'
- Christian Laurent / electric guitar, sitar on `Trip'.

Wapassou is one of those hard to classify prog group, not really on the rock side of prog, but it would be a shame not to include it, the same way Art Zoyd or Univers Zero are in the archives. Their music is a mix of classical with meditative (almost hippie) moments and spacey ethereal music. Their line-up is just about as unconventional as there is no drums and bass guitar, concentrating between violin, electric guitars and organs. Sounds intriguing? Well it is. 

 A fascinating debut album from a male and female member Seventies musical collective with a skewed split personality of styles and sounds, French group Wapassou would eventually become an avant-garde/chamber prog/rock-in-opposition act of note in the second half of that decade. But while there's the first emerging signs of that on their self-titled first album from 1974, the band were also experimenting with psychedelic, Krautrock, folk, raga and symphonic passages, making for an exploratory work searching musically in so many teasing little glimpses of schizophrenic directions.
Opening instrumental `Melopée' is a melancholic but wistful searing violin, flute and classical guitar folk rumination, keyboards shimmering gently with restraint in the background. The churning and senses-rattling `Rien' races in and out of a wealth of fascinating little themes in almost eleven minutes, Karin Nickerl's breathy pained vocal both reflective and weary over despondent piano, straining synths and scratchy violin responses. The piece quickly turns frantic and dangerous as electric piano and manic acoustic guitar picking grows in urgency, and pulsing electronics and mischievous droning organ brings a nightmarish mood. `Musillusion' closes the first side and is a shorter medieval-flavoured folk lament with droning choir-like vocals, Karin's slightly flat voice giving the piece an eerie despondent quality.

After a first side that was entirely devoid of drums altogether or anything except the lightest of percussive elements, the symphonic `Châtiment' maintains a nicely clipping beat (with almost an accidently modern trip-hop kick to it decades too early!) as Karin's breathy spoken-word purr drifts in and out of aching violin, dancing flute and spectral Ange-like keyboards. The almost fourteen- minute instrumental closer `Trip' sounds like nothing else on the disc (partly due to the addition of several guest musicians), with a Krautrock, raga and psych-rock flavour to the constant spacey electronic drones, lengthy jamming keyboard runs over lively drumming, hypnotic percussion and relentless snaking bass. Acid-fried electric guitar jamming simmers in the background, and sitar groans to life and builds wildly in the climax.

Oddly (and rather frustratingly, because there shouldn't be this kind of `re-writing of history'), the reissue licensed from Musea Records not only adds two instrumental recordings from a 1974 single to the front of the album (they should at least be tacked onto the end of the disc as `bonus tracks'), but it fails to even list them on the back cover. A bit of internet sleuthing reveals they are `Femmes-Fleurs', an easy to enjoy mix of plodding electronics and fuzzy distorted guitars that remind of the title-track opener of Pink Floyd's `Obscured by Clouds', and `Borgia', a throwaway but upbeat jig-like psych-lite rocker full of sprightly Hammond organ and spirited violin.

Initially confusing on first listen, `Wapassou' proves to be an unpredictable and exciting curio if you can connect with the somewhat gloomy mood of the pieces. Each track has a sparse, low-key production and is full of interesting (if not always the most skilled) playing, and there's a constant tasty roughness and natural fragility to the entire set that creates a very permeating and highly distinctive atmosphere. Don't instantly dismiss the album, let it take its time to reveal its precious secrets, and you'll likely find a welcome little unexpected gem.

Hungry Wolf - 1970 - Hungry Wolf

Hungry Wolf 
Hungry Wolf

01. Melanie
02. Watching And Waiting
03. Custards Last Stand
04. Country Wild
05. Waiting For The Morning Sun
06. Like Now
07. Hole In My Shoe
08. Sleepy
09. The Drifter
10. Revolution???

Alan Hawkshaw - Keyboards
Alan Parker - Guitar
Clem Cattini - Drums
Peter Lee Stirling - Vocals
Herbie Flowers - Bass

John Edwards - Trombone
Tony Fisher - Trumpet
Ken Gouldie - Trombone
Cliff Hardy - Trombone
Bobby Haughey - Trumpet
Derek Watkins - Trumpet

Hungry Wolf was not so much a rock band, but a one off project by some of England's studio musicians put together by Alan Hawkshaw and Alan Parker, which makes me wonder if this album qualifies in the category of library music. It is also unclear how one is to distinguish this from the bands Rumpelstiltskin and Ugly Custard as this is essentially the same line up as both bands and the song "Custard's Last Stand" appears here as well as the Ugly Custard LP. This is an interesting album as these are all fantastic musicians, yet there is something strangely contrived about it as well. If you like this, check out CCS, Rumpelstiltskin or other recordings by Alan Hawkshaw. Nothing profound or earth shattering here. It's one of those albums to guarantee lots of cheezy fun.

Great album from 1970 by this short lived UK progressive rock band featuring Alan Parker, who played with Blue Mink, David Bowie, CCS, Elton John, Gerry Rafferty, and Alan Hawkshaw, who played with Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Madeline Bell, Donovan, and Family Dogg. In a similar vein to Blue Phantom, Ugly Custard, and other "progsploitation" groups it's a pleasing selection of jazzy mainly instrumental progressive rock with lots of keyboards, ripping guitar and big band backing. A big shiny funky sound with weird experimental flashes. There are many musical influences here. Shades of the jazz-funk sound of BS&T, and CCS can be heard, and many psychedelic prog. rock touches also influence the album. Altogether, the sometimes experimental sound works wonderfully well. The album featured vocals by Peter Lee Stirling, aka Daniel Boone, who had a couple of pop hits in the early seventies. The musicians included future members of Rumplestiltskin who recorded one great s/t blues rock album in 1970, and well worth checking out. Most of the nusic on the album is original, inventive, and ahead of it's time. It doesn't sound like an album recorded nearly 40 tears ago. An exceptional, and unusual album from 1970! 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Charles Lloyd - 1972 - Waves

Charles Lloyd 

01. TM 4:58
02. Pyramid 7:08
03. Majorca 6:10
04. Harvest 8:57
05. Waves 5:15
06. Rishikisha 5:14
07. Hummingbird 1:36
08. Rishikesh 1:24
09. Seagull 2:14

Bass – Wolfgang Melz (tracks: A1 to B2)
Drums – Woodrow Theus II (tracks: A1 to B2)
Flute – Charles Lloyd (tracks: A3, B2, B3a to B3c)
Flute [Alto] – Charles Lloyd (tracks: A2)
Guitar – Gabor Szabo (tracks: A1, A3, B1), Tom Trujillo (tracks: A2, B2, B3a to B3c)
Guitar [12 String] – Roger McGuinn (tracks: A1, B2)
Percussion – Mayuto (tracks: A1, A3, B1), Woodrow Theus II (tracks: A1, B3a to B3c)
Saxophone [Tenor] – Charles Lloyd (tracks: A1, B1)

An often maligned and underrated album this is actually some primetime spiritual fusion jazz. Featuring a stellar cast of musicians. The legendary Gabor Szabo plays some adventurous and free-spirited guitar on 3 of the tracks. Gabor's then bassist Wolfgang Metz delivers some highclass fusion/world music playing, being busy and yet precise and to the point.

In a somewhat different vein the opening track "TM" features three Beach Boys: Mike Love, Carl Wilson and Al Jardine as well as Pamela Polland and Roger McGuinn. A lush vocal number somewhat reminding of Love's "All This Is That". Love also delivers some spiritual musings on "Rishikisha:Rishikesh". (Both Love and Lloyd great TM-enthusiasts).

Charles Lloyd - 1971 - Warm Waters

Charles Lloyd
Warm Waters

01. All Life Is One
02. How Sweet
03. Memphis Belle
04. Freedom
05. Dear Dr. Ehret
06. Rusty Toy
07. New Anthem / Warm Waters
08. It's Getting Late / Malbiu / Goodnight

Charles Lloyd, tenor sax, flute, electric piano, organ, vocals
Eric Sherman, violin
Michael Cohen, piano, organ, vocals
Carl Wilson, synthesizer, vocals
John Cipollina, guitar
Jesse Edwin Davis, guitar
Dave Mason, guitar
Tom Trujillo, guitar, bass
Bill Wolff, guitar, vocals
Kenneth Jenkins, bass, vocals
Woodrow Theus III, drums, percussion
James Zitro, drums, vocals
Billy Cowsill, vocals
Rhetta Hughes, vocals
Al Jardine, vocals
Mike Love, vocals
Michael O'Gara, vocals
Brian Wilson, vocals

Some years back I was yacking with Scott Miller* about "cracked" records by "straight" artists. I was obsessing over both the Beach Boys' Wild Honey and Alex Chilton's Flies on Sherbert. Miller asked if I had heard Charles Lloyd's Warm Water. "Charles Lloyd? The guy who did all those jazz albums geared towards hippies?" Same guy, Miller told me. He said he know a place that had one in a dollar bin and he'd snag it for me. A week later he made good on his word.

I took the record home and listened to it and it is indeed cracked. What is cracked? Well, it is a record made by an artist, who usually makes pretty straight forward records, but at this point in their career they are on some (hopefully) temporary skid or diversion and start turning out music that is a bit unhinged - musically, emotionally, creatively... Because of the circumstances an artist's cracked record is often his rawest and sometimes his most honest. Classic examples are The Beach Boys' Wild Honey, which is Brian Wilson at his most desperate, Alex Chilton's Flies on Sherbert, and Skip Spence's Oar. Whether or not Syd Barrett's solo albums or post Elevators Roky Erickson qualify is debatable. Charles Lloyd's Warm Waters certainly does.

Prior to Warm Waters, Lloyd had played sax on classic records by Chico Hamilton, Les McCann, and Cannonball Adderley. Starting in the mid-Sixties he cut a handful of records as leader, with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette which were quite popular with the hippie crowd, partially because Lloyd made the commercially smart move of playing place like the Filmore with psychedelic bands. In 1971, he played on a Beach Boys record. Soon after he recorded Warm Waters.

Think about the Beach Boys in 1971 and the thing that should come to mind is a lot of drugs, trendy mysticism, psycho psychologists, and other forms of mindfuck. Charles Lloyd was pretty solid in with those cats (Brian & Carl Wilson, Mike Love, and Al Jardine guest on Warm Waters, as do John Cipolina and Dave Mason). He also was a practicing fruitarian (as in he ate nothing but fruit). Listen to the songs here and you know something different is going on. The lyrics on Warm Waters are both personal and abstract, spiritual and full of pain. Put those words in the almost distant, near fading voice you hear on the record and it is obvious that Lloyd was either on some kind of skid or going through a serious transition.

After Warm Waters - called his first and worst pop album by many Lloyd loyalists - his music started to get a bit straighter, sound a bit more together. He made some more pop albums, equally obscure though not as pained as Warm Waters, and guested on records by Gabor Szabo, Harvey Mandel, Canned Heat, Roger McGuinn, and the Beach Boys. By the late Seventies he was back doing jazz, releasing records on Pacific Jazz, Blue Note, and ECM. Whatever tunnel Lloyd was traveling in during the early 70s, his ECM years showed that he had emerged and found a nice quiet, meditative ECM style existance.

Personally I prefer the cracked Charles Lloyd.

*obligatory "Nar/Bananas/Tikimen" Scott Miller not "Game Theory/Loud Family" Scott Miller disclaimer

Scott Soriano

The Charles Lloyd Quartet - 1971 - The Flowering

The Charles Lloyd Quartet 
The Flowering

01. Speak Low 8:26
02. Love-In / Island Blues 6:19
03. Wilpan's 6:39
04. Gypsy '66 14:11
05. Goin' To Memphis / Island Blues 7:04

Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Sax, Flute – Charles Lloyd
Piano – Keith Jarrett

Recorded in concert at Aulean Hall, Oslo, Norway.

The Flowering is one of the best of the late 60s Charles Lloyd albums on Atlantic -- inferior only to Dream Weaver, in my opinion. Lloyd's tenor playing, occasionally noodly or unfocused on some of this quartet's recordings, is quite powerful here. The rest of the quartet (Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette) is in fine form on these 1966 live recordings from Europe. The material leans quite heavily on progressive post-bop, with less of the accessible crossover material that appears on other recordings.

The album opens with a brisk take on Kurt Weill's "Speak Low", including a great solo introduction by Lloyd. "Love-In" gets a more mellow, less peppy interpretation than on the album of that same name; after a gospelly solo by Keith Jarrett, it leads to the first of two versions of "Island Blues", this time with Lloyd on flute. "Wilpan's" is an up-tempo modal number composed by McBee, reminiscent of "Impressions" and "So What". "Gypsy '66" (aka Gabor Szabo's "Lady Gabor") gets an intense, lengthy workout with some intense Lloyd flute and one of Jarrett's best solos from this period. The album closes with yet another medley including "Island Blues", this time with a nice downhome solo by Lloyd on tenor.

Charles Lloyd - 1970 - Moon Man

Charles Lloyd 
Moon Man

01. Moonman I 3:30
02. I Don't Care What You Tell Me 2:59
03. Sermon 1:08
04. Sweet Juvenia 6:08
05. Heavy Karma 9:18
06. Hejira 7:10
07. Ship 2:15
08. Moonman II 8:20

Charles Lloyd, tenor sax, flute, vocals, Theremin
Michael Cohen, keyboards
Kenneth Jenkins, bass
James Zitro, drums
Bob Jenkins, vocals, sitar
Ned Doheny, vocals, guitar

Los Angeles, CA, July 9, 1970

The master reedman experienced an unmatched level of popularity for a jazz musician in the late 1960s. Lloyd (b. 1938) and his quartet, which featured a young Keith Jarrett on piano and Jack DeJohnette on drums, packed clubs and captivated festival audiences worldwide. Voted Jazzman of the Year by Down Beat Magazine in 1967, Lloyd was for a time the darling of both critics and fans. The Charles Lloyd Quartet played universities and the ballrooms and auditoriums of the psychedelic rock circuit, sharing stages with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, the Byrds, and other 1960s psych-rock icons.

Lloyd's "love vibrations communicated a message of unity, openness, and acceptance to counterculture youth. In the turbulent late 1960s, when young people sought a messenger to speak the truth they were seeking, Lloyd was their "friendly big brother and their pied piper. His music was warm, inviting, and peaceful, unlike the abrasive, aggressive protest statements made by many of his 1960s contemporaries. It provided a sonic backdrop and soothing soundtrack for a generation of alienated youth.

After reaching this early pinnacle of success, Lloyd's activity decreased significantly. However, his career in the 1970s is consistently misunderstood; his "retirement was never as dramatic as many like to think. Drugs, depression, frustration with the recording industry, and increased interest in his developing spirituality inspired periods of reclusion. He toured and performed less frequently, though he remained busy with studio work and never totally put his horn down.

Jazz fans lost track of Lloyd in the 1970s, as he was channeling the majority of his musical energy outside of the normal jazz realm. Inspired by his work in the psychedelic circuit he recorded folk-rock records of his own, including Moon Man (Kapp, 1970) and Warm Waters (Kapp, 1971). A common interest in Transcendental Meditation sparked a friendship and collaborations with the Beach Boys. Mike Love and Al Jardine provided vocals, arrangements, and compositions on Lloyd's early 1970s albums and Lloyd's deft flute work is prominently heard on the Beach Boys' Surf's Up (Reprise, 1971). He even joined their touring band in 1977. Lloyd's services were also requested in the studio by groups such as The Doors, Canned Heat, and former Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn.

Lloyd's music is complex and advanced, yet even in its most adventurous moments it remains accessible. He is one of the purest melodists alive today, blessed with the ability to sing through his instrument and tug at the emotions of all who hear him. After hearing Billie Holiday early in his life, he yearned to become a singer, but realized he did not have the voice. He soon got his first saxophone, vowing to express himself and sing passionately through his horn. Like that of a vocalist, his music weaves through a wide gamut of emotions—reflective, joyous, dark, mellow, and reaching—and it always stays grounded by retaining its earthy folkiness.

There is a genuine universality in the music of Charles Lloyd. He acts as a conduit of the varied experiences of life, channeling Zen-like peacefulness and understanding to his listeners. His dedication to the music is stronger than ever and his approach is more purposeful. Passionate and sincere, each breath blown through his instrument has deep significance. This truly comes to light when seeing him perform. Audiences can not only hear, but see and feel his intent as his presence on stage is magically captivating and utterly heart warming.

Charles Lloyd - 1970 - In The Soviet Union

Charles Lloyd 
In The Soviet Union: Recorded At The Tallinn Jazz Festival

01. Days And Nights Waiting 6:55
02. Sweet Georgia Bright 18:05
03. Love Song To A Baby 12:22
04. Tribal Dance 10:05

Bass – Ron McClure
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Sax, Flute – Charles Lloyd
Piano – Keith Jarrett

Recorded at the International Jazz Festival, "Tallinn 1967", Kalevi Sport Hall, Tallinn, Estonia, U.S.S.R., May 14, 1967.

The Charles Lloyd Quartet was (along with Cannonball Adderley's band) the most popular group in jazz during the latter half of the 1960s. Lloyd somehow managed this feat without watering down his music or adopting a pop repertoire. A measure of the band's popularity is that Lloyd and his sidemen (pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Jack DeJohnette) were able to have a very successful tour of the Soviet Union during a period when jazz was still being discouraged by the communists. This well-received festival appearance has four lengthy performances including an 18-minute version of "Sweet Georgia Bright" and Lloyd (who has always had a soft-toned Coltrane influenced tenor style and a more distinctive voice on flute) is in top form.

Charles Lloyd - 1969 - Soundtrack

Charles Lloyd 

01. Sombrero Sam 10:26
02. Voice In The Night 8:47
03. Pre-Dawn 2:34
04. Forest Flower '69 16:51

Bass – Ron McClure
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Charles Lloyd
Piano – Keith Jarrett

Recorded at Town Hall, NYC, 15 Nov. 1968

Soundtrack, stomps with all the fury of a live gospel choir trying to claim Saturday night for God instead of the other guy... The band is in a heavy Latin mood, where the blues, samba, bossa, hard bop, modal, and even soul are drenched in the blues. With only four tunes presented, the Charles Lloyd Quartet, while a tad more dissonant than it had been in 1966 and 1967, swings much harder, rougher, and get-to-the-groove quicker than any band Lloyd had previously led... This band would split soon after, when Jarrett left to play with Miles Davis, but if this was a live swansong, they couldn't have picked a better gig to issue.

Charles Lloyd - 1968 - Nirvana

Charles Lloyd 

01. Island Blues
02. Carcara
03. Long Time, Baby
04. East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)
05. Love Theme from "In Harm's Way"
06. Sun Dance
07. You Know (From "Ecco")
08. One for Joan / Freedom Traveler

Charles Lloyd, tenor sax, flute
Gabor Szabo, guitar
Ron Carter, bass
Tony Williams, drums

Columbia Studios, Studio A, NYC, May 8, 1964

Nirvana is an unusual compilation that was rush-released in 1968 after Lloyd’s quartet with pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette transcended typical jazz popularity with emerging rock audiences to become one of the single most popular jazz groups of its day. Aside from producing a plethora of excellent music for the Atlantic label in the late 1960s, this quartet remarkably never condescended to demean their creativity with any sort of crossover appeal like electrics, boogaloo rhythms or mind-numbing 4/4 ostinati. 

Strange as it is, Nirvana is pretty darned good and more guitar driven than anything else Lloyd would later become known for doing. Columbia took eight unreleased tunes Lloyd had recorded for the label – many of which were outtakes from the brilliant Of Course, Of Course (Columbia, 1965) album with Lloyd, guitarist Gabor Szabo, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams – and combined them with “One For Joan” and “Freedom Traveler,” the first two Lloyd compositions from the Chico Hamilton album Drumfusion (Columbia, 1962).

It wasn’t exactly what the group’s fans wanted to hear and the album was soon forgotten and deleted. Many years later, the spectacularly perfect Of Course, Of Course was reissued on CD (Mosaic, 2006), with three of the most obvious Lloyd-Szabo-Carter-Williams titles from Nirvana included as bonus cuts (“East of the Sun,” “Island Blues” and “Sun Dance”). 

Charles Lloyd - 1968 - In Europe

Charles Lloyd 
In Europe

01. Tagore 9:48
02. Karma 3:44
03. Little Anahid's Day 6:13
04. Manhattan Carousel 8:40
05. European Fantasy 5:26
06. Hej Da! (Hey Daw) 2:46

Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Piano – Keith Jarrett
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Charles Lloyd

Recorded in concert at Aulaen Hall, Oslo, Norway, on October 29, 1966

In Europe was recorded in 1966, when the group was in its prime. (Part of the album The Flowering was also recorded at the same concert.) While none of the pieces are as well-known as Forest Flower, they showcase a fairly wide breadth of the quartet's work. "Little Anahid's Day" is a lovely waltz with Lloyd on flute, while "Manhattan Carousel" is one of my favorite pieces/performances by this group - a great start-stop avant-bop piece. Cecil McBee's great bass playing is highlighted here. The prior two tunes are the highlights of the album, but the rest of the album is not without interest. "Tagore" is an intriguing, though not entirely compelling, early look at the fusion of Indian music and jazz - Lloyd provides some exotic flute noodling while Keith Jarrett plays with the strings of the piano and Jack DeJohnette lays down a slow rockish groove. "Karma" and "European Fantasy" are both out-of-tempo tone poems - the former is prettier, like Coltrane's "After the Rain", the second more avant-gardeish. "Hej Da!" is the piece known on the ECM albums as "The Crossing" or "Prometheus". The ECM versions are better.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Charles Lloyd Quartet - 1967 - Love-In

The Charles Lloyd Quartet

01. Tribal Dance 10:03
02. Temple Bells 2:44
03. Is It Really The Same? 5:45
04. Here There And Everywhere 3:40
05. Love-In 4:44
06. Sunday Morning 7:55
07. Memphis Dues Again / Island Blues 8:57

Bass – Ron McClure
Drums – Jack DeJohnette
Piano – Keith Jarrett
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Charles Lloyd

Recorded live at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco

Five decades after the event, saxophonist Charles Lloyd's Love-In, recorded live at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium in 1967, the counterculture's West Coast music hub, endures as much as an archaeological artifact as a musical document. From sleeve designer Stanislaw Zagorski's treatment of Rolling Stone photographer Jim Marshall's cover shot, through the album title and some of the track titles ("Tribal Dance," "Temple Bells"), and the inclusion of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Here There and Everywhere," Love-In's semiology reeks of the acid-drenched zeitgeist of the mid 1960s, a time when creative music flourished, and rock fans were prepared to embrace jazz, provided the musicians did not come on like their parents: juicers dressed in sharp suits exuding cynicism.

It is likely that more joints were rolled on Love-In's cover than that of any other jazz LP of the era, with the possible exception of saxophonists John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965) and Pharoah Sanders's Tauhid (Impulse!, 1967). Chet Helms, a key mover and shaker in the West Coast counterculture, spoke for many when he hailed the Lloyd quartet as "the first psychedelic jazz group."

It is to Lloyd's credit that, at least in the early stages of his adoption by the counterculture, he resisted dumbing down his music. The adoption stemmed from Lloyd's espoused attitude to society, his media savvy, his sartorial style and his sheer nerve in playing jazz in the temples of rock culture. He took the quartet into the Fillmore West three years before trumpeter Miles Davis took his into the Fillmore East—as documented on Live at the Fillmore East, March 6 1970: It's About That Time (Columbia)—by which time his pianist, Keith Jarrett, and drummer, Jack DeJohnette, were members of Davis' band (although Jarrett didn't appear at the 1970 gig).

"I play love vibrations," Lloyd told Time Magazine. "Bringing everyone together in a joyous dance."

Lloyd certainly talked the talk, but whether he actually conducted his affairs in accordance with the countercultural principles he professed has been disputed. In his biography Keith Jarrett: The Man and His Music (Grafton, 1991), Ian Carr reported disturbing allegations by Jarrett, bassist Ron McClure and DeJohnette. The trio, interviewed separately, told Carr, in some detail, how Lloyd concealed the scale of the quartet's appearance fees and kept the lion's share of earnings for himself, while generally treating the musicians, who, perhaps naively, believed they were partners in the enterprise, like the hired help. Carr concluded that, despite Lloyd's image as a new kind of musician, he behaved like "the old (discredited) kind of jazz bandleader."

So Love-In comes with a load of baggage, some of it less than fragrant. But as 45 minutes of music, it still has legs. Lloyd's vocalized tenor (and flute on two tracks) has Coltrane-derived muscle; the young Jarrett's lyrical and funky solos, particularly on his 07:55 showcase, the gospel-ish "Sunday Morning," his two featured originals ("Sunday Morning" and the soul jazz-ish "Is It Really the Same?"), and his playing the strings of the piano directly with his hands, all remain compelling; McClure and DeJohnette are solid and inventive.

Two years after Love-In was recorded, Lloyd's quartet, fractured by disputes between leader and sidemen, imploded. Lloyd himself recorded little of note for almost twenty years, before he reemerged in 1989 with Fish Out of Water on ECM, for which label he continues to make music perhaps even lovelier than that he created in the 1960s.