Sunday, 31 May 2015

Jethro Tull - Stand Up (1969)

Tull had just parted ways with guitarist Mick Abrahams after their first album "This Was' (Abrahams went on to make a really good blues album "Ahead Rings Out" with Blodwyn Pig, by the way), and had chosen Martin Barre as the their new lead guitarist. Tull took a u-turn off the blues highway and went off-road and did some camping on this stunning folk-rock opus. More so than the more standard rock follow-up album "Benefit", "Stand Up" is the true precursor to Tull's "High Prog" era. Everything is there, except, of course, 42 minutes of continuous music. But too much of one thing is not good (see "Passion Play" released on the heels of "Thick as a Brick"). This release is about as startling a change from a debut album to a second album as you will ever hear.
I have long been of the thought that no one in rock really writes beautiful, reflective tunes anymore. Ian Anderson can turn them out by the bucketful but still rock on the same album. 'Look Into the Sun', 'Reasons for Waiting' and 'For a Thousand Mothers' are just beautifully rendered, mellow pieces; conversely, 'Nothing is Easy' (a personal favorite), 'A New Day Yesterday' and 'We Used to Know' rock along quite well. Top it off with what Anderson refers to as cocktail jazz 'Bouree', and the frenetic 'Fat Man' (another favorite), and one finds the direction Tull took was an important step in becoming one of the greatest prog-rock bands of all time. Or folk-rock band. Or concept band. You get the general idea -- if you get Tull.
Beyond the act of turning out excellent compositions, 'Stand Up' is an important album in the synthesis of several different musical elements and genres into the rock idiom: jazz, blues, classical, folk. "A New Day Yesterday" is heavy blues on the level of Zeppelin and Cream, "Nothing Is Easy" is jazzier blues (retaining the rock with a thunderous coda to finish), "Fatman" has both Celtic and Indian strains running through it, "Bouree" is classical Bach with a jazz twist, and "Reasons for Waiting" is the first instance of collaborator David 'Dee' Palmer adding strings to a Tull tune (and lovely they are). Name any other rock bands that have the artistic grasp to successfully fuse these disparate genres all into one recording. Take your time. Get back to me when you can come up with a few.
In conclusion, I would highly suggest getting the 2010 Deluxe Edition remaster, which also includes the rousing orchestral "Sweet Dream", the only rock hit in 5/4 time "Living in the Past", and an excellent recording of the wild and wooly 1970 Carnegie Hall concert of which only a snippet appeared on the 1973 compilation album "Living in the Past


 Songs / Tracks Listing
  1. A New Day Yesterday (4:10)
2. Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square (2:12)
3. Bourée (3:47)
4. Back To The Family (3:48)
5. Look Into The Sun (4:21)
6. Nothing Is Easy (4:26)
7. Fat Man (2:52)
8. We Used To Know (4:00)
9. Reasons For Waiting (4:06)
10. For A Thousand Mothers (4:13)
Line-up / Musicians
- Ian Anderson / flute,acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, piano, mandolin, balalaika, bouzouki, mouth organ, vocals
- Martin Barre / electric guitar, flute on "Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square" and "Reasons For Waiting"
- Clive Bunker / drums, percussion
- Glenn Cornick / bass

Spooky Tooth - Ceremony (1969)

This is often one of the most maligned album in the Spooky Tooth discography, probably because the combination of avant garde composer Pierre Henry with Spooky Tooth is regarded as a mismatch, much like Lou Red and Metallica decades later and the maligned Lulu in 2011. One listen to Ceremony and you get the impression that a.) Neither Pierre Henry nor Spooky Tooth listened to each others work, and so it sounds as if Pierre Henry did his thing, then Spooky Tooth their thing, and then have them combined, and voila! or b.) you get the impression that neither Pierre Henry had an understanding of rock music nor Spooky Tooth had an understanding of avant garde. So I can understand why people might run at the thought of this album, even I admit that some of Pierre Henry's part threatens to drown out Spooky Tooth's music. Thanks to the Electric Prunes releasing Mass in F Minor, I imagined this was the reason for Spooky Tooth to do their own rock Mass, but unlike the Prunes, they didn't use Gregorian chanting in a rock context. Now let me tell you that Spooky Tooth's end of things is nothing short of amazing. They really rock like there's no tomorrow. I can't believe this is that same Gary Wright later of Dream Weaver fame, because he really rips it on organ here! The problem comes with Pierre Henry. It's like he never even heard what the band put down before he did his part, as mentioned earlier, so it sounds like a bunch of random sounds that rarely seem to go appropriately with the music. One could say it sounds like a bad Krautrock album, because the best Krautrock out there the musicians involved had a full understanding of both rock and avant garde (in fact several Can members were Stockhausen disciples) and took that knowledge to their full advantage. There's a couple parts of this album that annoys me, particularly "Jubilation". Although the band puts on some killer bluesy guitar riffs on that song, you keep hearing this "bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi" voices that NEVER stops. Despite the obvious flaws, there are some really brilliant and amazing moments put by the band, and if they did this by themselves without Pierre Henry, this could probably felt as one of Spooky Tooth's defining moments. Yet I still want to give it a four star rating (it would be five if Pierre Henry took his approach better) because I was blown away by what the band were doing.

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Have Mercy (7:52)
2. Jubilation (8:27)
3. Confession (6:56)
4. Prayer (10:52)
5. Offering (3:22)
6. Hosanna (7:37) 

Line-up / Musicians
- Pierre Henry / synthesizer, electronics
- Gary Wright / vocals, organ, keyboards
- Luther Grosvenor / guitars
- Mike Harrison / vocals, keyboards
- Andy Leigh / bass, guitar
- Mike Kellie / drums and percussion

Total time 45:06

Friday, 29 May 2015

Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two (1969)

If you claim to have any love for sixties psych and prog its roots, you simply can't ignore this great second album Spooky Tooth. Psychedelic rock with soul and stunning performances by Mike Harrison, whoes voice is one of the better of the psychedelic movement. All songs on this album are great, but organ-driven opening track 'Waiting for the wind', the extended 'Evil Woman', the epic "Lost in a dream' and the cover 'Better by you, better then me' stand out. Furthermore, the album has a nice sixties sound with only minor flaws in the production (a few pitch anomalies). When people visit you when you play this record even the silliest among them will recognise this as being 'pure rock'. I can also warmly recommend the less adventerious but nice 'The Last Puff'. Four stars.

 Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Waitin' For The Wind (3:32)
2. Feelin' Bad (3:18)
3. I've Got Enough Heartaches (3:27)
4. Evil Woman (9:02)
5. Lost In My Dream (5:03)
6. That Was Only Yesterday (3:53)
7. Better By You, Better Than Me (3:40)
8. Hangman Hang My Shell On A Tree (5:40)

Total time 37:35

 Line-up / Musicians
- Luther Grosvenor / guitar
- Mike Harrison / keyboards, vocals
- Gary Wright / keyboards, vocals
- Greg Ridley / bass, guitar
- Mike Kellie / drums

Monday, 25 May 2015

Spooky Tooth - The Last Puff (1970)

The Last Puff is Spooky Tooth's fourth album and the last one before a break for three years. This album was recorded while the band had already fallen a part, containing only three original Spooky members: Mike Harrison on vocals, Luther Grosvenor at the guitars and Mike Kelly on drums. The band was completed by the addition of members of Joe Cocker's band and no one should be surprised that this album became Spooky Tooth's most soul-orientated album. This record mainly consists of cover songs like "I am the Walrus" from the Beatles; "Something to say" from Joe Cocker and "Son of your Father" from Elton John. Although the band was breathing out it's last breath (or puff) and the artists mentioned will not excite all members on PA, this record is actually pretty good, especially when considering the circumstances during it's production.
I'm not too fond of Beatle covers (read my Vanilla Fudge's debut review), but this version of "I am the Walrus" of Spooky Tooth I find mindblowing. The minimalistic psychedelic hardrock approach during the verses combined with the outstanding soul vocals of Mike Harrison gives me the thrills. The instrumental acid rock parts in addition makes this in my opinion the best cover ever (even better then Voivod's Astronomy Divine cover). This cover is a masterpiece and may be the best song ever recorded by Spooky Tooth.
"The Wrong Time" which is a song written by Gary Wright who had left Spooky Tooth before this recording is the second best song on the record and only original Spooky Tooth song. This song shows the artistic approach of Spooky Tooth's earlier efforts, which is the reason Spooky Tooth was added on PA. A great soul song with nice percussion. All the other songs are more or less pure soul songs. Spooky Tooth as a band however was far more skilled then Joe Cocker's band and the vocals of Mike Harrison are shining throughout this record.
This record is advised for music lovers with a positive attitude towards soul music. Spooky Tooth's version of "I am the Walrus" is advised for everyone and this record is discommended for prog purists. Like prog reviewer Chicapah has mentioned the first side of the record is the better one - containing the two best songs of the record. I do like the second side too and cannot find a weak song on this album. First side: 4+ stars/ second side: 3,5 stars. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. I Am The Walrus (6:20)
2. The Wrong Time (5:40)
3. Something To Say (6:05)
4. Nobody There At All (4:00)
5. Down River (5:10)
6. Son Of Your Father (3:32)
7. The Last Puff (3:30)

Total time 34:17

Line-up / Musicians 

 - Luther Grosvenor / guitar
- Mike Harrison / keyboards, vocals
- Henry McCullough / guitar
- Alan Spenner / bass
- Mike Kellie / drums
- Chris Stainton / organ, guitar, piano, bass, keyboards, producer 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Magma - Riah Sahiltaahk (2014)

RÏAH SAHÏLTAAHK is listed by most sources as a new studio album by MAGMA but it is in fact simply a re-recording of the first track of the same name from their second album "1001 Degrees Centigrades" which came out all the way back in 1971. This album clocks in at a mere 24:24 so no matter what it "officially" is, this is a freakin' EP in my book. This is one of those projects that makes you scratch your head and wonder why such a thing was necessary. To the casual listener there seems to be few differences between the two but a more careful inspection and repeated listens does yield some substantial changes. Just check out the lineup between the 1971 version and the newest of 2014.
1971 verison
- Christian VANDER : vocals, drums, percussion - Klaus BLASQUIZ : vocals, percussion - François CAHEN : acoustic & electric pianos - Francis MOZE : bass - Teddy LASRY : clarinet, sax, flute, voice - Jeff SEFFER : sax, bass clarinet - Louis TOESCA : trumpet
2014 version
Stella VANDER : vocals Isabelle FEUILLEBOIS : vocals Hervé AKNIN : vocals Benoît ALZIARY : vibraphone James MAC GAW : guitar Jérémie TERNOY : piano Philippe BUSSONNET : bass Christian VANDER : drums, vocals, piano
On the newer version basically we get no horns, more female vocals and a vibraphone. Also the production is quite different as well. The music is one continuous track on the original but only clocks in at 21:45 so a few minutes shorter. On the newer version we we get eight separate tracks that constitute the movements. The artwork is remnant of the original album as well only instead of duct tape grey it is a glimmering silver with the MAGMA emblem wrapped around the front and back instead of boldly displayed in full on the front.
This is story on the Seventh Records website: RÏAH SAHÏLTAAHK is the name of the Kobaïan who left after all the others, despite their disapproval. He thought he was better than anyone else and he was sure he could convert Kobaïa's enemies to the Kobaïan spirit. But he failed and left alone for Kobaïa. On the symbolic stop-over planet, Malaria, he has to face the raging elements he thinks he can dominate. With his ship almost sunk, he ends up begging them - to no avail. He will disappear. Drowned, swept away by the frenzied elements. After the noise? silence. At dawn, only a finally calmed remains, enlightened by the soft beams of the sun in this new day.
Honestly, I can't say I really like one thing better than the original. The first thing you notice on the new version is that the tempo is just a bit slower and the production is amped up which seems too beefy for some reason. The original version seemed to have more spontaneity and improvisation in the zaniness department. Absent are the blood-curdling screams and high pitched freakouts during frenzied time-outs from the main scheme of things. I actually really love the horn sections of the first two MAGMA albums and find that here Vander sounds like he is trying to MDK his earlier works. This just seems unnecessary to me as a fan, but as a man Christian Vander who has obviously been pining over re-releasing this for sometime just had to bring it to fruition. Now that he has I am dumbfounded by his decision to carry through when, to me at least, the original is the superior. I categorize this as indulgently unnecessary so I cannot give this the same five star rating that I gave the "1001 Degrees Centigrades" album, however this music even if inferior to the original is still completely enchanting and simply MAGMA-nanimous so to give it less than four stars would simply be a crime against humanity. I just hope this isn't the beginning of a trend to repackage the entire back catalog when MAGMA proves time and time again that as a musical outfit it is quite capable of releasing fresh and relevant music in the 21st century.Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Watseï kobaïa (4:40)
2. Di mahntër sahïltaahk (3:00)
3. Süri sï toïdo (3:31)
4. Ün zoïn glaö (3:10)
5. Ïss walomëhn dôm (2:25)
6. Bradïa ëtnah (2:24)
7. Môm loïlë (3:45)
8. Woleï (1:29)

Total Time: 24:24

Line-up / Musicians
- Stella Vander / voice
- Isabelle Feuillebois / voice
- Hervé Aknin / voice
- Benoît Alziary / vibraphone
- James Mac Gaw / guitar
- Jérémie Ternoy / piano
- Philippe Bussonet / bass
- Christian Vander / drums, voice, piano

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Steamhammer - Mountains (1970)

The group's third release, 'Mountains' is possibly Steamhammer's most complete album, featuring amongst it's eight tracks a nice mixture of their trademark brand of earthy blues-rock with tinges of psychedelia and some nicely-judged progressive elements. Steamhammer's career was, unfortunately, a fairly brief one, with their discography made up of just four studio albums, but they were a talented group of musicians whose style developed noticeably on each album, with the straight-ahead blues-rock of their 1968 debut 'Reflections' gradually making way for a more experimental approach evident on each of their following albums and culminating with the epic prog-blues of 1972's 'Speech'. For 'Mountains' the group was four- strong, made up of Martin Pugh(vocals, guitar), Louis Cennamo(bass), Kieran White(vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Mick Bradley(drums) and augmented by sessions players Keith Nelson(banjo) and Steve Davy(organ, bass), a line-up that would soon fragment(due, in part, to the tragic death of drummer Mick Bradley thanks to undiagnosed leukemia) after 'Mountains' release. However, despite their limited time together 'Mountains' features as it's second track an excellent live rendition of the old blues track 'Riding On The L & N', thus showcasing the band's tight interplay in the live arena. And it's a great start to a great album, with 'Riding On The L & N' coming after a cracking opener in the form of 'I Wouldn't Have Thought', a song that starts with a funky, rolling groove before completely hi-jacking the listener by unexpectedly morphing into a mesmerising, deeply-psychedelic and seemingly never-ending guitar solo from White which slowly builds up momentum before the original groove crashes back in. It's a wonderfully eclectic track and it is this mixture of boogie-blues and prog-orientated ideas that gives the album a fascinating slant, cleverly combining toe-tapping rhythms with a highly- orchestrated, multi-layered sound that incorporates elements of early metal and rock 'n' roll alongside the more obvious blues and prog motifs. The group also show they could write more sensitive songs as well, with the beautifully-crafted 'Levinia' showing Steamhammer's softer- side and the final track, 'Mountains', showing off Martin Pugh's wonderfully gruff vocals to full effect. Fans of The Groundhogs, Ten Years After, John Mayall Blues Band, Led Zeppelin and Cream should find much to admire both on 'Mountains' and the group's previous two albums, with the only disappointment being that Steamhammer's career was, simply put, far too short. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010  Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing 

1. I Wouldn't Have Thought (5:39)
2. Levinia (3:34)
3. Henry Lane (3:52)
4. Walking Down The Raod (3:43)
5. Mountains (5:38)
6. Leader Of The Ring (2:48)
7. Riding On The L&N* (10:23)
8. Hold That Train* (5:50)

Total Time: 41:27

Line-up / Musicians

Martin Pugh / guitars, vocals
- Kieran White / guitars, harmonica, vocals
- Mickey Bradley / drums
- Steve Davy / organ, bass, vocals

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Steamhammer - MKII (1969)

More blues-rock than prog-rock, Steamhammer's second album would see this powerful outfit begin to accomodate more progressive elements into their rough 'n' ready sound, yet also affirm their wonderfully earthy style thanks to that rare mixture of grit and polish that is rarely found in late 20th century rock music. By now featuring their 'classic' line-up of Kieran White(vocals, guitar), Steve Davy(bass), Martin Pugh(guitar) and Mick Bradley(drums) and augmented by wandering multi-instrumentalist and future Tangerine Dream member Steve Joliffe, 'MK II' rivals follow-up effort 'Mountains' for the title of best Steamhammer album thanks to it's nicely-judged brew of ever-so-slight psychedelic ingredients, heavy riffing, old-style blues workouts and the occasional complex musical workout(evident on the superb sixteen-minute epic 'Another Travelling Tune'. Though their progressive rock credentials are rather thin, Steamhammer's muscular blues-drenched musical course makes lightweight groups such as Greenslade, Curved Air and The Strawbs seem positively feeble, especially when the group let their musical imaginations run away with them. The group's real strength lies in guitarist Martin Pugh's dextrous playing and Kieran White's gruff vocals, yet this is very much band music made by men who have obviously been playing on the road for sometime. Later albums such as 'Speech' - their ill-judged foray into prog-rock proper - would find the line- up fragmenting and the original magic slipping away, yet, for a few brief years Steamhammer were genuinely the real deal, straddling the gaping chasm between blues and prog with genuine aplomb. Highly recommended. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011 Review from


 Songs / Tracks Listing 

 1. Supposed To Be Free (5:59)
2. Johnny Carl Morton (4:38)
3. Sunset Chase (3:02)
4. Contemporary Chick Con Song (3:49)
5. Turn Around (3:36)
6. 6/8 For Amiran (3:04)
7. Passing Through (5:17)
8. Down Along The Grove (0:47)
9. Another Travelling Tune (16:23)
10. Fran And Dee Take a Ride (2:58)

Line-up / Musicians
- Steve Jolliffe / flute, harpsichord, keyboards, saxophone (Alto), vocals, wind
- Kieran White / guitar, harmonica, Jew's-Harp, vocals
- Mickey Bradley / percussion, conga, drums
- Steve Davy / bass, guitar (bass), vocals
- Martin Pugh / guitar, guitar (electric), vocals

Monday, 18 May 2015

Steamhammer - Reflection (1969)

Steamhammer's debut is clearly entrenched into the second wave of British Blues Boom along with TYA , Savoy Brown , PG's Fleetwood Mac and others. However , this album has enough progressive overtones to indicate that the next albums will be of more interest for the scope of the site.
There are many fine moments on this album full of good interplay and good songwriting making this album a sort of example of progressive blues and proto-prog. The two part water is actually book-ending the album and some tracks such as Junior's Wailing , Even The Clock and 24 hours are very enjoyable. Hardly essential listening in the Archives's scope , this albunm remains a very pleasant spin in your deck. much better is to come, though.
Please note that this album came out with different sleeves back then and that all Steamhammer records have been reissued on the Repertoire label in the early 90's, although never in the mini-lp format as here on the Italian label Akarma.

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Water, Pt. 1 (0:52)
2. Junior's Wailing(3:18)
3. Lost You Too (3:28)
4. She Is the Fire (3:10)
5. You'll Never Know (3:27)
6. Even the Clock (3:49)
7. Down the Highway (4:28)
8. On Your Road (2:43)
9. Twenty-Four Hours (7:28)
10. When All Your Friends Are Gone (3:49)
11. Water, Pt. 2 (1:44)

Total Time: 38:07

Line-up / Musicians
- Kieran White / vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar
- Martin Pugh / lead guitar
- Martin Quittenton / guitar
- Steve Davey / bass
- Michael Rushton / drums

Mindflowers- Improgressive (2002)

This is the debut album from instrumental Hungarian four-piece Mindflowers. They comprise Balás Szendőfi (bass, stick), Zoltán Szentpál (guitar), Gergely Gáspár (drums) and Zsolt Nagy (keys) and seem to be happily straddling the fields of progressive rock and jazz rock. But while complex and complicated this doesn't go into freefall as some jazz acts tend to so the result is a very listenable and enjoyable album. It can be calm and collected, smooth and tranquil, or the total opposite, as the mood takes them. My initial feel was that it was as if Coloseum II had somehow got mixed up with Jadis but even then that doesn't really do the music justice.
It is very fluid and melodic, and they go from out and out prog (as in "Red Spider") or even bring in some folk influences (as on "Flo's Kisses") where they utilise a guest violinist. Although the two lead instruments of keyboards and guitar have struck up a dynamic interplay which carries most of the melody, there is a great deal going on in the rhythm section. With a Chapman stick being used on two of the songs, and Balás determined to show that he can produce similar results on a normal bass guitar (well, a handmade seven string version), it gives the music a very dynamic edge that is dense yet extremely light. There are lots of gaps and space within the music at times, yet at others it is just filled with notes and melodies.
Easily one of the finest instrumental albums I have heard I recent years this is a joy throughout (although the insertion of a mobile phone text message notice going off at the end of one number did have me looking for my phone).Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Red Spider (8:18)
2. Falling (5:46)
3. Sick Spirit (4:50)
4. Why? (1:52)
5. Why Not? (5:07)
6. Crying Skies (7:01)
7. Knowing The Path (7:01)
8. Flo's Kisses (4:28)
9. Talk With Myself (22:37)

Line-up / Musicians
- Zoltan Szentpal / guitar, classical guitar
- Balazs Szendofi / bass, Chapman stick, classical guitar, acoustic guitar, wind bells
- Gergely Gaspar / drums
- Zsolt Nagy / keyboards
- Flora Horvath / violin
- Tamas Kovacs / congas, cajon, shakers, chimes

Total Time: 67:00

Epitaph - Stop Look and Listen (1972)

Along with Lucifer's Friend, Blackwater Park, and other bands even more obscure, Epitaph were members of the fraternity of the curious ' 70s German bands that featured British singers. Founded in Dortmund in late 1969 by vocalist/magazine guitarist, Cliff Jackson and his compatriot James McGillivray, plus locally bred bassist Georg Kolbe, Epitaph were named Fagau's gaze in Epitaph, but decided to shorten it after moving to Hanover, where they eventually signed with Polydor. Second magazine guitarist Klaus Walz joined the fold halfway through the sessions for their eponymous debut (released in 1971), which, along with its successor, Stop, Look & Listen (1972), contained only five lengthy tracks, comprised largely of post-psych progressive rock, spiced with occasional jazz accents and widespread twin-guitar harmonies. Neither LP succeeded at introducing the band to the significant.†audience, though, and McGillivray had quit by year's end, being replaced by German drummer Achim Wielert, just as Epitaph were beginning to experiment with a more compact and direct hard rock style. This was previewed by the two singles they released in 1973, but Polydor still decided it was time to cut their ties to the problem.surprisingly group, who headed off to America almost immediately, drawn by the promises of a start-up indie label called Billingsgate.

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