Thursday, September 25, 2008

Henry Cow ~ Stockholm & Goteborg (arrived)

Its here. Arrived yesterday. This is volume 6 of the 9 CD box set and on the evidence here this is going to be something very special. The sound quality is exceptionally good considering the source of these recordings. Chris Cutler and especially Bob Drake have done a magnificent job in making these recordings sound as good as they do. Highlights so far are the wonderful improv "Goteborg 1", th ecover of Phil Ochs "No More Songs" with Dagmar in excellent voice and the ambitious Tim Hodgkinson piece "Erk Gah". Full track listing as follows:

1. Stockholm 1
2-6. Erk Gah (aka Hold to the Zero Burn)
7. A Bridge to Ruins
8. Ottawa Song
9-11. Goteborg 1
12. No More Songs
13. Stockholm 2
14. The March

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Henry Cow ~ Stockholm & Goteburg

It’s on its way! The first part of the mammoth Henry Cow live archival box set is just about to be released. This hugely important project is at last coming to fruition. I for one consider Henry Cow to be the most radical of all rock bands that existed in the 70’s. The studio albums told only one side of the story and the “Concerts” 2 disc set only hinted at what they achieved in a live setting. Now this 9 CD box set plus DVD will truly showcase HC as a hugely formidable improvisational outfit.

Playlist ~ 24th September

David Gilmour ~ Live In Gdansk
Superb live document of Gilmour’s live outing of his “On An Island “ album. Good to see him do some less obvious material like “Fat Old Sun” and “Astronomy Domine”. The highlight is a complete workout of “Echoes”. It would have been safer to just do the song bits, but to tackle the whole piece is highly impressive. The sound quality of this recording is nothing short of astounding. In these days of master-to-the-maximum volume, it’s refreshing to hear a disc from a major label where all the dynamics of the recording are left intact.

Of course this live recording is made all the more poignant as its released just a week after the death of Richard Wright, who makes such a strong contribution to this album. The response to the announcement of his passing has been overwhelming, such is the huge esteem which Pink Floyd are still held in. Even within the confines of the most anonymously famous of rock bands, Wright was the quiet one. Yet, his contribution as a songwriter, keyboardist or vocalist was a key element to the success of a huge amount of Pink Floyd’s best work.

Richard Barbieri ~ Stranger Inside
Second solo album from Porcupine Tree keyboardist. Again, like its predecessor this is bold, structured instrumental music, with key contributions from P. Tree Gavin Harrison on drums on two tracks and with Japan colleague Steve Jansen contributing throughout. This is superbly sophisticated.

Mothlite ~ The Flax Of Reverie
More oddness from Guapo’s Daniel O’Sullivan, but this is song based. Highly atmospheric and like Guapo defies easy categorisation.

Roxy Music ~ Viva Roxy Music
After viewing the recent BBC4 documentary on the band, this live document showcases some of their best material which the band rip through at breakneck speed. Eddie Jobson’s solo on “Out Of The Blue” is still a thing of wonder.

Man ~ Be Good To Yourself At Least Once A Day
Esoteric have been gradually re-releasing Man’s back catalogue and for me this is one of their best studio efforts. “C’mon” and “Keep On Crinting” see the band really stretching out some outstanding musical ideas. The remastering by Paschal Byrne is lively, warm and highly detailed.

Magenta ~ Live At The Point
A great 2CD live document of Magenta, recorded at Cardiff’s The Point back in November 2007. This is a seriously wonderful sounding recording and for me so glad to hear a live rendition of favourite “Envy” from their “Seven” album.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Playlist ~ 11th September 2008

Bill Nelson ~ Mazda Kaleidoscope
The latest album by the legendary musician. This is his 3rd this year and there is another two on their way!! I love Bill and all he does. He can do no wrong in my book. His cottage industry of musical production is always inspired and the music on this disc is beautifully executed.

Blancmange ~ 2008 Remasters
I have a thing for 80’s synth pop and Blancmange were one of the better duos of the period. They had a funky edge to them helped in no small way by Random Hold and Peter Gabriel guitarist David Rhodes. Edsel are doing a remarkable job in remastering and re-issuing some great stuff from the 80’s. The recent Thompson Twin 2CD packages were a real treat (I remember having those cassette mixes back when super ferro was king). I am looking forward to the John Foxx releases later this month. Again these will be 2CD packages.

Black Bonzo ~ Sound Of The Apocalypse
This was recommended to me by a reader of this blog (hi Rob) and is incredible 70’s retro prog from another wonderful Swedish band. If it wasn’t for the internet I would never have come across this band as I had never heard of them at all! Thanks again Rob.

Elbow ~ The Seldom Seen Kid
A thoroughly well deserved Mercury prize winner. Good to see a well established band get this rather than the usual flavour of the month no hoper. It is an excellent album by the way!

Deus Ex Machina ~ Cinque
Missed this when first released. I love this Italian band. Mixing 70’s prog, fusion and the operatic vocal pyrotechnics of the remarkable Alberto Piras.

Guapo ~ Elixirs
This is weird. Their earlier albums were of the definite Magma/Zheul persuasion, but this latest sees Daniel O’Sullivan going off in an even stranger direction.

Richard Barbieri ~ Things Buried
Strange to believe but this is the first solo album by Porcupine Trees keyboardist. Though he has made many albums with his ex-Japan mates. Anyone expecting some kind of ambient, atmospheric knob-twiddling stuff will be surprised. These instrumentals are tightly arranged and extremely tuneful. Percy Jones on bass on a few tracks is beguiling as ever. Richard has a new solo album out later in the month.

Genesis ~ 1970 – 1975 Box Set

At last a final release date has been given for the 3rd box set of Genesis’s studio recordings, available in CD and 5.1 mixes on SACD. It’s going to be 10th November (UK). Though the last to be released it was these 5.1 mixes which were done first, many, many years ago. But the huge delay was started when Peter Gabriel wanted the surround mixes to be more radical than presented. Of course its these recordings which will excite prog fans the most, though the remastering on the previous box sets have met with a mixed reception to say the least. I have only heard the 1976 to 1982 box and I must admit to not being totally thrilled with the sound. I am not sure why. Nick Davis knows what he is doing and Tony Cousins has done some great remastering in the past. So I am not sure why these discs don’t knock my socks off as they should.

It will be interesting to hear what these older recordings sound like, especially “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” which suffered so much hiss, which was even audible on vinyl. Interesting to note that the album is being presented in a digi-book style packaging, whereas the others are standard jewel cases. That may be due to trying to package 2CD’s/SACD and a DVD in one package.

I have to laugh at who has written liner notes for each release. David Baddiel, Jeremy Clarkson and Tony Robinson amongst others. These names won’t mean much outside the UK, but the prog credentials of dear old Clarky has been well known for ages and David Baddiel was compere at the recent tour press launch. Didn’t know Tony Robinson, who has written notes for “The Lamb” was into prog.

I hope they have done these classic recordings proud. Won’t be long now!
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