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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Roland Hollinger, France

Roland Hollinger - Bardo Thodol. 1978 Scorpios

Here's another one from the CD-R revisit project that is being promoted from the main list.

The term Bardo Thodol is more commonly recognized as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Wikipedia summarizes as thus: "The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, during the interval between death and the next rebirth. This interval is known in Tibetan as the bardo. The text also includes chapters on the signs of death, and rituals to undertake when death is closing in, or has taken place." So it's safe to assume the album shouldn't be played for laughs... As such, Roland Hollinger's debut album is primarily a haunting and dark electronic music that befits the solemn subject. Some accent instruments pop up here and there like guitar, piano, saxophone, and percussion - but primarily "Bardo Thodol" is a pretty bleak work as you might expect. I would say this is a logical companion to the two Jean-Baptiste Barriere albums from the same era. It's an album worthy of discovery, thus a CD reissue would be nice, especially for an album with these kind of dynamics.

Priority: 3

Hollinger has at least 4 other albums according to RYM (and 6 from Discogs), of which I know nothing about.

Monday, July 14, 2014

News: Fireballet's two albums to be reissued on CD finally! (but there's a but... of course there is)


Thanks to a comment from TheH, we've learned that these two star crossed albums will finally have ended years of absence on the (legal) CD market! Good news right?

Well maybe.

They are being done by Belle Antique of Japan. So there is good news in that these are legit. And they will be housed in the best possible album cover (their mini-LP jackets are superbly made). There is more possible good news that they may sound awesome. Or... they may not. Belle Antique's record is mixed on this front when they are the first to market, and that's because they don't do their own mastering - or at least they don't typically do their own mastering. Meaning they are reliant on the source provided them. Sometimes great (Old Man & The Sea, Speed Limit), sometimes not (Aquarelle, Eloiteron). I wasn't able to find any corroborating evidence on this reissue to research, but I know the source of the news to be valid. I'll buy it anyway and find out - and report back to the UMR site.

They should be available next month. The first album will feature 3 bonus tracks and "Two, Too", will feature... well duh... 2.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cynara, USA

Cynara - s/t. 1970 Capitol

Yet another one from the CD-R revisit project that had an entry in the main list. Nothing extraordinary, but not a bad album.

One of the more interesting American groups from the late 1960's was a Boston based band called Listening, who released one superb album on the Vanguard label. Cynara is the band that formed from the ashes of Listening. Their sole album is an eclectic mix, just as Listening was, but not near as groundbreaking, rocking, or exciting. The first side is pretty much straight up organ rock, while the flip is filled by two long compositions with a jazz piano/organ lounge feel throughout. Yet another USA major label album from the confused year of 1970 that stops short of meeting expectations.

As is often the case with major label albums that have never been reissued, bootlegs abound.

Priority: none

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Hungry Wolf, England

Hungry Wolf - s/t. 1970 Philips

This one popped up on the CD-R revisit project, and I just had it in the main list prior.

Hungry Wolf's sole album is primarily instrumental pop-influenced soul jazz, with some splendid heavy Hammond organ courtesy of the Mohawks' Alan Hawkshaw. Loosely played electric guitar, simple rhythms, brass charts, and even some vocals which is fairly rare for an album like this. File alongside The Bigroup. The band is related to Rumpelstiltskin and Ugly Custard, the latter of which it is similar to musically.

It's a nice little obscurity, rare as hens teeth in original form, though nothing really that special. Naturally, given its rarity, the album has been often pirated. It would seem that a label who specializes in film library music may pick up on this one - even if that's not the main purpose of the album.

Priority: none

Monday, July 7, 2014

Michael Borner's Sun, Germany

Michael Borner's Sun - s/t. 1981 private

Following on yesterday's Atrium post, I thought I'd pull this one out of the main list - the archives as it were. It did come about via the CD-R revisit project. Like with Atrium, I received this from Midwest Mike - though he sent this one a few years ago, and I just didn't get a chance to give it its own feature.

Michael Borner is a lead guitarist and his band Sun is somewhat dominated by his playing. There's quite a bit of sax too, anything from Coltane-ish squeals to smooth jazz. You can also expect some punchy horns and orchestration too. The fusion on display here is fairly typical for the era - one that possesses a light, sunny, Caribbean influenced tropical sound. Jazz, funk, and yea, fuzak styles are all peppered in as it goes - along with a clear dose of fusion era Santana (and the guitar tones here carry a much needed psychedelic edge). I was reminded of the To Be album on the Brain label, as well as the Surgery album (that was recently reissued by Garden of Delights). A nice record, but nothing extraordinary.

This is a different band from the Sun that released one album in 1980 (and, like Surgery, was also reissued by Garden of Delights in recent years).


Priority: none

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Atrium, Germany

Atrium - Color Seed. 1979 BVB Records

And here's the final submission from MM's latest batch of CD-R's. Just when you thought you'd heard every German funky fusion band from the late 70s and early 80s, in flies yet another one - this time its Heidelberg's Atrium. Color Seed starts off in caricature fashion, with funky bass, 4/4 rhythms, flat vocals in English, and...... hand claps (oh, really, this is ghastly stuff). Yea, get down baby. Track two 'Southern Breeze' then sends us on our expected island vacation, and here we have an upscale sophisticated soft tropical number with wordless voice. Excuse me sir?... sir! Can I get another Mai Tai please? What? Oh sure, with the umbrella is fine.... Right. Track three gets us back into the darkened lounge for more funky business. I do like that they use trombone, an instrument not represented near enough in jazz fusion. Next song reintroduces vocals, but this time in German. Hmm... some nice psychedelic guitar tones, synthesizers, and organ here. Over a disco beat mind you, but maybe we're getting somewhere now. What will Side 2 bring? OK, this is more like it. Psych guitar, electric piano, and more complex meters. And then the next one adds in a bit of progressive rock (you can see where this is going can't you?). Time for the longest track 'Quasimodo Man', coming in at a full 7 and a half minutes. This one is a bit more typical hard edged fusion, with some trading licks of psychedelic guitar and synthesizer. 'Snail Bait' closes the album and brings us back to the island to ensure the party doesn't stop... or get too weird. 

Sort of a night and day album like Eik's "Speglun", but I'm afraid in this case, the highs aren't quite enough to justify a CD (for me anyway)

Priority: none

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Pop Workshop, Sweden - International


Pop Workshop - Vol. 1 1973 Grammofonverket
Pop Workshop - Song of the Pterodactyl. 1974 Grammofonverket

It was over 8 years ago when I first received a CD-R for "Song of the Pterodactyl". If that were their only album, it most assuredly would have been part of my initial series of postings in 2009 and '10.  But I wanted to hear their debut album too, before compiling a post. Midwest Mike was kind enough to send it over twice - but unfortunately they ended up being the wrong albums (someone else is helping him dub these from his collection, and mixed them up accidentally). Meanwhile I was trying to secure my own copy via ebay, and would you believe I finished in second place... twice! It seemed my destiny was not to hear this album at all. Fortunately MM stayed with it - and the third time was a charm. And so, after a many year delay, we are able to finally present Pop Workshop.

On the same label (Grammofonverket) as the much recommended Ibis album, Pop Workshop are clearly a band operating in the raw jazz rock category (rather than fusion). Founded by two prominent Polish jazz members on keyboards and sax, Pop Workshop - over the course of both albums - features marquee name players such as guitarist Janne Schaffer, drummer Tony Williams, and bassist Mads Vinding. This is definitely music of the underground, and fans looking for slick fusion will have to look elsewhere. I would say Ablution - another international band based in Sweden - is probably the closest comparison here. "Song of the Pterodactyl" adds in the more trendy Herbie Hancock "Headhunters" era styled funk to great effect. Both are very good albums that are in dire need of a CD reissue.

Priority: 2

Friday, July 4, 2014

Clarox, Venezuela

Clarox - s/t. 1982 Mucer

This CD-R came in from Midwest Mike's last set. After he first told me about it, I expected the LP would be housed in a bleached white cover...

Clarox fit squarely in the Latin fusion camp, with electric guitar, electric piano, native percussion, tropical melodies and themes. The guitarist adds a psychedelic edge to his solos, giving the album a much needed lift in places. It's mostly instrumental, though there are a couple of vocal cuts that are to its detriment I'm afraid. Without this element, and perhaps if a bit more edge had been applied throughout, I think this one would have gone a half-point up. All the same, Clarox's debut is a fine album for fans of the Spanish fusion scene like Borne, Guadalquiver, Pegasus, and Iceberg.

Priority: none (borderline 3)

MM also informed me of a second album from Clarox, that he says isn't near as good.

Monday, June 30, 2014

News: Musea is back in the reissue business! Program starts with two Robert Wood albums


I'm not sure I could have better news than this! Francis Grosse has rejoined the Musea team, and they have big plans for many reissues to come. As we have stated many times in the past, no label has ever surpassed Musea in terms of the sheer amount of quality reissues. And they pioneered the right way to do reissues, by obtaining legal rights, working directly with the artists and writing historical essays, printing unique photos, and adding relevant bonus tracks.

Without Grosse, the label has focused on their contemporary roster, and as such have been pretty silent with reissues for the last 7 years or so. There's been a couple of false starts in the past, and I have maintained sporadic contact with Francis throughout. But this time it appears we have tangible evidence that reissues will be released soon!

I have received a sneak preview into what the future holds, and I have to say it is very (VERY) impressive. Not only for straight reissues (many of which are in CDRWL awaiting patiently), but also archival material. Up soon in fact will be an archival second album from one of my all-time favorite French bands. That alone gives me a new reason to live. I can only hope that everything I saw on the list gets released.

The program kicks off with Robert Wood's two Polydor albums from 1976/77. I actually haven't heard these myself, but appears they have a great reputation amongst fans with similar tastes to mine. The gimmick here is that Wood plays electric vibraphone in a traditional instrumental rock setting. Sounds good to me. As a bonus to each, there will be tracks spread across from an unreleased 3rd Polydor album.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The New Age, USA

The New Age - Neptuned. 1980 Microdot

I first found this LP in 1996 at Bananas Record Warehouse in St. Petersburg, Florida. I was in Tampa for some Oracle DBA training (this was back when I actually had applicable skills), and of course didn't miss the opportunity for a little record shopping while I was there. Brought home a nice stack of LPs from that venture (the record store is still active!), of which The New Age (from Atlanta) was a part of. I also hung out with my buddy, newspaper columnist Richard P (still there man?), who was kind enough to show me the Tampa beach music scene one evening.

I thought the record was good - perhaps not great - and my old buddy Heavyrock was dying for a copy at that time. So I dubbed it to cassette, sold him the record, and then off it went to the mists of time. That cassette eventually became a CD-R, and here we are doing the CD-R revisit project, and up comes The New Age. I said to myself that I should just go ahead and get the CD - it's a good progressive rock record. Worth owning.

Then I realized there was a problem with that statement. In 2007, I had announced on the original CDRWL (from my old thomashayes.com site) that The New Age is now on CD, and it goes under the name Jordan Oliver (he apparently wasn't fond of Larry Oliver or The New Age anymore). You could go to CD Baby and obtain a copy. Problem solved.

Ah... CD Baby. I really like the website, and I think they're very good business folks, with excellent customer service skills. But they do one thing that drives me nuts....

.... they do not distinguish between CD's and CD-R's. Even now, you can go to the site and they list it as a CD. Now I don't own a copy, but everywhere else, it's listed as a CD-R - and I just confirmed with an industry friend that it is indeed a CD-R.

Is that such a big deal? I don't know if it's a big one, but it's a deal breaker for me. CD-R's are an inferior product. You can burn them on your laptop, and while most hold up, I've thrown plenty of them away as they stopped playing. Not all CD-R's will run in the various systems out there. I've never had to throw a factory pressed CD away, even ones that are "bronzed" from the 1980s. They still work - and play everywhere.

If these things don't matter to you, then by all means grab the CD-R. It's 100% legit and was released personally by Jordan Oliver.

But as we state in the FAQ, albums stay in the CDRWL until they receive an actual CD. CD-R's do not count. So we're calling for a more professional reissue.

The New Age is not the only album in this state, and there are a few more I'll be adding back in as I go. Some through the collection project and other via this CD-R revisit project.

Oh.... The music on The New Age is a decent classically inspired keyboard symphonic progressive rock work. A sound very much out of vogue for 1980 - similar to 1970 era ELP and, more to the point, The Nice.

Priority: 3

Friday, June 27, 2014

Late Nite Music Band, USA



Late Nite Music Band - s/t (EP). 1982 private

Here's another one from Midwest Mike's last submissions. Prior to this entry on the CDRWL, finding evidence of this album on the internet proved to be impossible (though there's some nice live footage on YouTube that I urge you all to check out - especially if you like to watch white groupies dance...). I have since added the album to Gnosis and RYM, and the photos here will be the only ones out in the cloud as they say.

Late Nite Music Band were from The Bronx, and this EP is their sole release. Musically they fit the late 70s and early 80s American style of instrumental funky fusion. I was reminded of Maine's Franklin Street Arterial from a compositional perspective, though Late Nite Music Band put more focus on guitar, slap bass, and electric piano rather than synthesizer and sax. The last track 'First Meeting' features some fiery psychedelic guitar, giving the album the rough edge it needs. Fortunately, this is one of the songs you can hear the band play live on YouTube. It's pretty cool - check it out.

Priority: none (though if they have more studio archival material such as 'First Meeting' sitting somewhere in a canister, I would bump this up as high as a Priority 2).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bodkin, Scotland



Bodkin - s/t. 1972 West

(sigh). Bodkin is another album that has recently come up in the CD-R revisit project, and after some thought, I decided to give it an entry into the CDRWL. Like some of my CD-R's, this is an album I once owned (in this case a reissue), but decided to part with it - primarily because it was an inferior product, moreso than a true evaluation of the music itself.

So, as mentioned above, if I had a reissue already, why place it here? Well - good question, and perhaps not an easy answer will follow. Some of you are most likely expecting me to say "because they are all boots, that's why." But that's not the case here.

The first photo is the actual LP. It was not issued with a cover - or if it was - only a plain white sleeve. The story goes then that a West German dealer in the 1980s bought the remaining stock, and created a cover for it to make it more attractive to potential buyers (second and third photo - though the label itself is different making that story seem a bit suspect). In 1989, the German label Witch & Warlock debuted their catalog with a CD reissue of the album (4th photo). Ah, but you say, I know Witch & Warlock is a pirate concern. Perhaps they ended up making poor decisions, but they didn't start out that way. Witch & Warlock are in fact the same guys behind the German Oak album. And I think we can safely presume they did not bootleg their own privately released album. To this day I own that version of the German Oak CD, and it's without question authentic and most certainly the best copy to possess. The next CD on the label was Dom's Edge of Time, and while I later upgraded to the Second Battle versions (LP and CD), it's pretty apparent from the short notes on the CD that the members knew each other. Most everyone accepts this version as legit (though the sound wasn't improved upon at all). This was followed by an archival German Oak album, and then finally they decided to try their hand at needle drops and foregoing obtaining legal permission. Those things are just so tiring after all... (confession: I still own their CD version of Diabolus and patiently await for a legit version to surface). Anyway, before they reissued their own album, they reissued three albums from Scotland including Soho Orange and Tentacle - both of these being archival releases. Most websites consider these to be legit. And it makes sense, when you consider the German connection to the Bodkin album, as mentioned above.

Problem is... that CD version is near extinct. Foolishly I did not buy it at the time (1989-1990), though I'd heard the album and had easy access to it. By the time I did got off my arse (2001?), all that was available was the Akarma releases. Once I saw the absolutely amazing multi-foldout LP cover that opens up to a cross, I had to have that version (5th photo). It seemed my patience had paid off. This most assuredly is the definitive edition right? Wrong! What an utter disaster of a reissue. A needle drop (fine), but with skips and scratches. C'mon, really? How stoned do you have to be? I eventually parted with it... and so that's why it's only on CD-R here at Casa Ashratom.

There is a legit LP that recently surfaced from England on the Acme label (2012). I wouldn't have high hopes for a sonic revelation, but it's probably the only way to own the album at this point. Unless...

...unless someone reissues it again on CD. Legit that is....

Priority: 3

Oh, the music you ask? It's been well documented, so I didn't feel the need to describe... but basically it's heavy organ rock with long tracks and plenty of jams including guitar - one of the better pure Hammond driven albums out there.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Felt, USA

Felt - s/t. 1971 Nasco

This entry comes as a result of the ongoing CD-R revisit project. I didn't feature it prior, since there exists a CD from a decade ago on the always gray area Akarma label of Italy. This one, like most of their US based releases, seems to be lacking in corroborating data as to the legitimate source. Rather than question the legality, we at the very least, are calling for a higher quality reissue.

Felt, from Northern Alabama, reminds me quite a bit of another band from the same region: After All (Tallahassee, Florida). Since Felt is two years on, the music has moved to a harder, bluesier rock sound. And so it's not quite as psychedelic and jazzy as After All, perhaps to its detriment. But tracks like 'Now She's Gone' and 'Destination' could have easily fit on the aforementioned album. Hammond organ and guitar are the main lead instruments here, along with the soulful bluesy vocals. Solid album from America's southeast region - an area not as well known for progressive music, and yet many bands did give it a whirl back in the day (and a few of those were on the same Nashville based Nasco Records). And most of those albums are well under the radar.

Priority: 3 

Please note our good friend Spacefreak's comment regarding an LP reissue: "(Felt has been) officially reissued in vinyl by the Greek Anazitisi label in 2012. A deluxe 180 gr vinyl + extensive 4 pages liner notes and containing a 7 inch with new tracks by FELT, on a more typical prog vein."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Child's Play, USA

Child's Play - s/t. 1979 Moonlight Records

Here's another album that arrived from the last CD-R pile sent in from Midwest Mike. I liked it so much, I immediately set out to buy an original copy, and lo and behold a sealed LP was up for auction on ebay at a cheap price. The photo above is indeed that copy (and fortunately the ring wear was only on the shrink wrap - which has now been safely removed and stored into a nice polyurethane sleeve). I've been so busy at work, that the LP arrived over a week ago, and I'm finely able to sit down to get a fresh and proper listen and pen an entry for the CDRWL.

Child's Play are an all instrumental progressive fusion band from Richmond, Virginia who successfully mix melodic and atmospheric composition with kinetic jazz school chops. Piano and electric guitar get the lion's share of attention, and the tracks move at a fast clip, keeping the listener's attention focused at all times. Plenty of excellent guitar solos, with some wah-wah applied to great effect. I really appreciate the psychedelic tones he achieves. The ivory tickling here is very impressive as well. The rhythm section does a great job of holding it all together with some crisp fills and meter shifting. Actual attention is paid to composition as well, so the album is not just a flimsy excuse for non-stop boring solos. For 70s fusion fans, this is a guaranteed hit. File alongside Genre (New Mexico), 3PM (North Carolina), and Momentum (California). Another great find from MM!

Priority: 2

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

News: Merlin's Nose reissues rare album by Gulaab

This one caught my eye yesterday morning right before one of those classic 18 hour work days complete with social events. Trying to catch up here, and wanted to get this news out as soon as possible. I'm not familiar with this title, and apparently it was released only on cassette. The description below, though, looks to be highly appealing to me. I also read one review on RYM that likened the album to Algarnas Tradgard. Since it appears to be a solo album, I'll keep my expectations in check - but it does look intriguing all the same.

The label is Merlin's Nose, which I haven't run into prior. "Ultra-rare lost psychedelic Kraut-Folk from 1979. First time on CD and LP! Taken from the original mastertapes! Gulaab means “rose” in Nepalese language. Gulaab is a German virtuoso on the acoustic guitar who has served three years as an after dinner musician in a luxury restaurant in Nepal to play for an amazing number of well known personalities of the 20th century during the early 70s. A strongly influential experience that shaped his musical expression big time but also let him become an open minded spirit. “Ritt durch den Hades” is the result of his experimentation with sounds, atmospheres and a multitude of styles in traditional music from Latin to Eastern Asian elements. It was first released in 1979, vanishing into obscurity soon after , waiting to be rediscovered by a more open minded generation of music lovers now. Traditionalists be forewarned : This mystic grail of 70s “kraut folk” stands far out from the average folk and singer / songwriter stuff combining guitar harmonies of the highest order with a cosmic drone that backs up the hypnotizing picking and trippy swirls of sounds. This album is in fact more like a musical journey than just a piece of music taking you from secret sacrificial altars in the Andes to the ceremonial places of the ancient Himalayan population with a short stopover for a little “joint venture” in the musical space centers of highly flown out German originators like ASH RA TEMPEL / Manuel Göttsching, POPUL VUH / Florian Fricke, WITTHÜSSER & WESTRUPP, BRÖSELMASCHINE, DOM or DEUTER. Now take a ride through Hades with GULAAB!"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

News: Leong Lau and Abbhama now out on CD!


Just a quick note to let everyone know that, after a couple of delays, the Leong Lau CD is now out! As is the Abbhama, that was recently announced. Both are from Strawberry Rain. Be on the lookout for some notes over at Unencumbered Music Reviews in the next few weeks!

Friday, May 30, 2014

News: Braen's Machine and "The Feed-Back" to be reissued on Schema!


Thanks to a tip from Pierre of France, we learned that Schema will be reissuing these two film library classics. The Braen's Machine, in particular, flows more like a  regular album and is one of our Priority 2's! The Feed-Back was a Priority 3! Schema is a well known Italian label from the Ishtar group out of Milan. This is our first encounter with the label, and we get two CDRWL requests at once - wow!

Description of Braen's Machine as found on the SoundOhm page: "Milestone Reissue! CD Edition, deluxe digipack and Obi. Initially pressed in very few copies for TV production use only on Umiliani's LIUTO label. A monster rare album with Music by Alessandro Alessandroni and Oronzo De Filippi Produced by Piero Umiliani at the now legendary Sound Work Shop studio in Rome, January 1971. During the '70s, work days at Umiliani's Sound Workshop Studios were hectic; thousands of sessions were held in order to keep up with a very busy Italian movie industry: Hundreds of soundtracks alongside with music library were recorded and released on vinyl in very limited quantities for TV and film production use only. Those LPs are now proper collectors' items, extremely hard to find. Filled with hypnotic bass lines, heavy drums and screaming fuzz guitars "Underground", the first LP of the fictitious group known as Braen's Machine, is one of the rarest and the most expensive of them all, always "reaching" sky high prices throughout the second hand vinyl market. A fast-beat jam with hammond scales and a twin lead guitar theme ("Flying") opens the A Side soon followed by "Imphormal", a classicfunk-beat-meetsfender-rhodes-and-psychedelic-guitar number. The music then switch to "thriller territories" with "Murder" which is based on prepared piano swells and a deeply hypnotic walking bass, reminiscent of the best Morricone's soundtracks for Dario Argento's movies. Two highly percussive songs complete the A Side: "Gap" is an improvised song with guitar and keyboards dwelling over an infectious drum rhythm while a marching snare and a vibraslap effect are the special features on "Militar Police". The mood relaxes slightly on the opening of the B Side with a lazy jazz groove on "New Experience" but the rock influences are soon brought back on the following track "Fall Out". "Obstinacy" is all about keyboards with syncopated rhodes themes and distorted hammond sustained notes whilst the fuzz guitar is back again screaming through the left channel on the last song of the album, "Description". We could happly say that that was the golden age of the Italian music library. But who's behind the name "Braen's Machine"? On the original cover the songs are credited to the composers Braen and Gisteri. Braen was a pseudonym often used by Alessandro Alessandroni, an extremely skilled and versatile musician, and one of Umiliani's closest collaborators. He could write, conduct and arrange, he could sing (ever heard "Mah Na Mah Na"?), he could whistle (ever heard Morricone's "For a fistful of dollars"?) and he could play almost anything: guitar, bass tuba, accordion, sitar and the list grows..... His first album "Alessandro Alessandroni e il suo complesso" (Sermi, 1969), had transformed the Italian library music from orchestral sound beds into the psychedelia we all love; the extremely fuzzy guitars are very "present" on "Underground" too. For a long time Gisteri's real identity was rather mysterious; often wrongly attributed to Umiliani. Gisteri was the pseudonym of Oronzo De Filippi, art name of Rino De Filippi, music supervisor to the Italian public broadcast company (RAI) between the '60s and the '70s. De Filippi composed other notable pieces such as "Riflessi" (Edipan, 1975) and "Nel mondo del lavoro" (Sermi, 1972). De Filippi passed away few years ago but we were able to contact Alessandroni to talk about this LP. Remembering "Underground" recording session as one of the thousands he took part of, Alessandroni told us that this record was produced very quickly, in two days maximum. This was made possible by a team of wonderfully capable session musicians and the creative genius behind the mixing desk; this incredible combination helped to focus on the mood of each track even more. Unfortunately there are no liner notes but Alessandroni's memories and speculations, based on other music tracked in the same period at Soundworkshop by resident engineer Claudio Batussi, led us to identify this as the most probable lineup: Munari on drums, Majorana on bass, Vannucchi on keyboards and Alessandroni himself on guitar. For this reissue the sound has been restored and the cover art reproduced exactly as it was. Thanks to Francesco Argento (at Liuto), Luciano Cantone and Davide Rosa (at Schema) we now have the chance to hold a very faithful copy of the original release and listen back to this long gone masterpiece again. "

Description of The Feed-Back as found on the same website: "CD edition. Long-awaited reissue of this incredible and near-mythical 1970 album, remastered from the original master tapes with superior sound quality, replica of the original RCA LP (in gatefold digipack with additional liner notes) in a limited edition of 500 copies. An insane amalgam of avant-improvisation and motorik krautrock beats that, understandably, has become one of the most collectable LPs ever issued (original copies are impossible to obtain). Just as the first "krautrock" lp's were coming out in Germany, in Italy we had a surprisingly similar counterpart: this album. It consists of three long instrumental tracks, somewhere in between psych-rock, avantgarde jazz and funky jams. The sound is definitely experimental and ostentatiously "underground". None of the instruments involved tries to be reassuring: the guitar is scratchy, the trumpet sounds choked, piano and keyboards are always dissonant and a background of "proto-industrial" noises is present all along the record. The music, anyway, is thrilling. The drum patterns, in particular, are extraordinary: regular, tight, groovy, and incredibly close to the "motorik" beat of Can and Neu!...Mystical, spaced-out free music at its best. "The Group" was not a band of young beatniks. As a matter of fact, it's just a pseudonym for Gruppo d'Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, a project of renown soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone along with other important experimental musicians. The rock-focused attitude of the record is quite surprising for  such a team of classically-trained men already in their forties!"

Our feature of The Braens's Machine and The Feed-Back respectively.

Geoffrey Chandler, USA

Geoffrey Chandler - Starscapes. 1980 Unity

Chandler's sole LP is one of those albums that would have played well in a "Planetarium" back in the day. Definitely a fine album in the spacy, cosmic electronic field. Tranquil and calming. On the Unity label, which also released the fine Ojas album from Oklahoma City.

Thanks to MM for this one!

Priority: none

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Updated post: Momentum

And our first report from the latest MM set is the debut album from Momentum, a band that Mike first turned us onto roughly 4 years ago.

Please see updated post. Another fine 80s fusion album that features guitar tones from the decade before.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

News: Third Eye - Connexion reissued on CD by Sonorama

And this news comes from a scanning of Wayside's latest updates. Third Eye's second album has been reissued by jazz label specialists Sonorama. This is the second time we've run into Sonorama (the other was for Joy Unlimited's Instrumental Impressions), and it's obvious from reading their website they are a high quality label that do reissues the right way! If only all labels were so passionate.

For Third Eye - they chose the wrong album. LOL. Of course it would appear that "Connexion" is more in line with the label's own musical outlook, though I do hope they consider the more eclectic debut album as well. I will probably buy this one anyway just to show my support for their efforts.

Sonorama has provided a full history of Third Eye and this album on their website.

This reissue came out in October, so we're obviously a bit late to the party on it.

Our feature of Third Eye here.

News: Yoshitaka Azuma - Moonlight of Asia is on CD from Columbia

This news comes courtesy of an anonymous reader, where we learned that the "Moonlight of Asia" album was reissued last April by Nippon Columbia. He sent us the Japanese info from the label's own website (see comment under entry), but I found corroborating evidence here.

I recently added this title via the CD-R revisit project, and didn't find this CD then when searching around.

Sadly, it appears Mr. Azuma passed away in 2012, according to the same comment.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ruben Alexander, USA

Ruben Alexander - Odyssey. 1980 Ribbon Rail

And now for the final submission from The AC's last grouping of splendid rarities. As with yesterday's Bagel O'Fun, I didn't necessarily save the best for last, but it's still worthy of mention. The AC tells us: "Who exactly was Ruben Alexander? Just some kid from Gary, Indiana who played in his local high school orchestra. It seems that he ended up at the university in Bloomington (ed: Indiana University) (immortalized in this era by "Breaking Away"), but like many other young Midwesterners of the day, he was enamored with progressive rock and happened to be a pretty talented musician, so he got together a couple of other local players and decided to record and publish his very own LP. The instrumental palette here is a bit unusual, as he used only an acoustic piano and a couple of classic synths (Moog and ARP), along with a drummer and acoustic guitarist (and it's all instrumental, no vocals). You might expect this to produce a somewhat sedate sound, but that's not always the case, as the compositions tend to be on the dense side, and the drummer and guitarist both play in a very active style. Musically, this exists somewhere between homemade Midwestern prog (you know it when you hear it) and complex classical rock, although the instrumentation and Alexander's original compositional style make it fairly unique. Most of the pieces are quite compact, but the best is saved for last, with the nearly side-long title track, ending triumphantly with those vintage synths soaring off into the horizon in classic symphonic prog style. Cool cover art as well, drawn by none other than Mr. Alexander himself. "Charming" is not an adjective I often use to describe an album, but I think it's fitting here."

And since I happen to be a big fan of the old-fashioned acoustic piano, it is a true joy to hear the very talented Mr. Alexander tickle the ivories. The album has a pleasant demeanor throughout, perfect for a sunny afternoon in the park. If I could be allowed to critique, the melodies seem to call upon all too often, especially on the first side, 'Linus and Lucy' (Peanuts theme) and after awhile you kind of want Robb Flynn to jump in and start yelling obscenities over massive slabs of thrash to release the niceness. As The AC says, it's all so charming and well ...  nice. I suspect that since Mr. Alexander grew up in Gary, Indiana, then this would be his personal antithetical response of his own upbringing - as Gary is the pure definition of urban blight, and is now one third the size of its peak 50+ years ago, with many abandoned homes. Of course, Gary was also home to the little known Jackson 5... Anyway, Side 2 does cross over into more classically composed rock territory with some fine synthesizer runs. The latter representing the progressive rock genre almost by itself, perhaps reluctantly so.

Priority: none (borderline 3)

Special thanks goes to The AC for a really fantastic batch of rarities this past Fall. Hope you're doing well up in Alaska, my friend! Next up will be a fresh set of CD-Rs that were just sent in a couple of weeks ago by Midwest Mike. More to come!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bagel O'Fun, USA

Bägel o' Fun - In the Underground Wonderland. 1981 Sparrow Sound Design

Still have two more to report on from The AC's last batch in October, that I have archived here. Here's his take: "This group had their roots in Boston, at the Berklee college, but eventually ended up in Chicago, where this album was recorded. It starts out very promisingly with some energetic, edgy jazz-rock, complete with organ and some absolutely ripping electric guitar. Unfortunately, all the momentum they've built up quickly dissipates, as a lengthy freeform excursion follows which eventually becomes too fragmented and tedious, with lots of obnoxious squawking sax. Then things change significantly yet again, as the last track of side one and much of side two mellows out into a more moody, introspective light fusion. Just when you're starting to nod off, they crank up the power one more time, with another track of aggressive guitar-driven jazz-rock. Oddly enough, the album closes with a dark, experimental percussion piece. The problem here is that these guys couldn't quite settle on one clear identity for themselves. Interesting, but not essential."

And, just as The AC says, the first track is one of those "head raisers". But it appears that their formal training in all aspects of jazz ended up coloring this work in a negative way. For fans of early 70s rock-jazz, late 70's smooth jazz, as well as experimental free jazz, then I suspect this one will resonate. I suppose they were trying to create an underground wonderland, but it's too Art School for general acceptance though.

Two excellent tracks and a lot of - albeit interesting - filler.

Priority: none

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Me (Tom Marolda), USA

Me - Out for the First Time. 1974 Mine

Certainly one of the most odd albums coming from 1970s Weird America. Not so much musically, but more the premise of a loner woodsman from New Jersey (New Jersey?) with a self-deprecating disposition. Marolda now resides in Lost Wages, which seems to be an apt destination for this man with a creative and restless mind.

I was first introduced to this album by our Gnosis friend Lev who described it as such on RYM: "This looks like an outsider folk private press, and a pretty typical Acid Archives fare, but in fact it's so much more than that. Google tells me that Me's mastermind later gained some fame in the band called The Toms (which I haven't heard), and I can easily believe it, given how challenging and musically advanced was his very first, privately released production. "Out for the First Time" is essentially a symphonic prog record, with nods to all the usual suspects such as Yes and Genesis, but also more complex instrumental workouts recalling Zappa and Gentle Giant. Out of the US prog bands of the 1970s, I'd say it would be best compared to OHO. Quite a nice find!"

And a few months ago, The AC lobbed a copy over to me and attached the following description: "This album was the earliest musical project of New Jerseyan Tom Marolda, who later went on to produce a number of more pop-oriented records. It's generally seen as a solo effort, but there were actually a number of other musicians involved, rotating in and out on a track by track basis. The highlights are definitely the two lengthy side-opening pieces, both of which are excellent complex progressive rock, featuring notable Yes and Gentle Giant influences, as well as a quirky Zappa-esque sense of humor. Imagine a more laid-back, less explosively virtuosic Yezda Urfa and you're getting pretty close to what this sounds like at its best. The problem is that several of the other remaining tracks are infused with heavy elements of folksy singer-songwriter, old-timey Americana and even some country stylings, which really brings it down a few notches. Also, the production is quite sparse and boxy, although I suppose that's to be expected from such a low-budget, homemade recording. Still, it's a very interesting effort overall, which should certainly be more well known. The album has now been reissued on CD-R by the artist himself. It's fully remastered (which definitely helps to fill out the sound a bit) and comes in a hard case with a replica of the original LP covers. You can contact him via Marolda's own website to find out how to order."

Well, not sure I can add much more than these consistently insightful gentlemen have. The progressive tracks most certainly do recall Gentle Giant and Yes - and sure, there are a couple of places you might think he was emulating The Rockford Files theme song. Yea.... it's Weird America. And worthy of a real CD (not CD-R) with perhaps some more progressive oriented bonus tracks that are no doubt stored in the woodshed somewhere in Mad Men land.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yoshitaka Azuma, Japan ***Reissued***

Yoshitaka Azuma - Moonlight of Asia. 1981 Nippon Columbia

Here's another one from the CD-R Revisit Project. This was sent in by MM a few years ago - at the same time as the Lalena album we just featured. But at least in this case I had it rated everywhere, with an entry in the main list. I'm just promoting it to a feature post.

"Moonlight of Asia" is an early all-instrumental work by future video game composer Azuma. Somewhat similar to same period Kitaro, and a precursor to what Motoi Sakuraba would accomplish later in the decade. He has other albums from this period ("Asian Wind", "Far From Asia"), which I'll guess to be in a similar vein. I was later advised that his other (3) albums are much more laid back and that "Moonlight of Asia" is the more progressive rock influenced of the bunch. Not to be overlooked is the fine analog synthesizer work - especially some of the fat Moog sequencer runs. A good one for fans of late 70s electronic music. Details for this artist in English are scarce.

***Reissued by Nippon Columbia April, 2013 ***

Priority: none

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hammerhead, USA

Hammerhead - Ingenius Crimes. 1974 private

Here's another find from the incomparable AC. I have no idea how he continues to find stuff no one else is aware of apparently. He introduces the album as thus: "First of all, yes, that is the actual spelling of the album title. Who knows why. Anyway, this oddity was apparently the work of a California based commune band, which is really all that seems to be known about it. The style here is very hard to describe, but my best attempt would be: jamming hippy rock and garage psych meets UK jazzy proto prog. Sounds weird? It is. There's lots of nice melodic sax and trippy flute, while the guitar hovers somewhere between jazz-tone and garage rock, with just a couple of fuzz outbursts to liven things up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vocals are wasted sounding and amateurish, and the recording quality is pretty weak. But the distant, echoey sound and overall strangeness sort of produce a haunting vibe at times, particularly on the side-long "Love, I Need You", which is definitely the highlight of the album. Unique, but very rough around the edges."

Not sure I can add much here, other than I found this title highly appealing. I think the low-budget nature of the recording, along with the flute and sax, give it an otherworldly cosmic edge. The fluttering flute, in particular, adds quite a bit of exoticism here when cross-pollinated with the low budget recording technique - almost like a Zambian or Nigerian fuzz rock band mixed with early 70's Ohr/Cosmic Couriers era Mythos. The strummed electric guitar reminded me of Rush's "Caress of Steel" - so there's an out of the blue reference. Perhaps too much sax for an underground recording such as this - sort of defies the mood. Definitely have to agree with the AC's unique reference.

I should also note that the album was never issued with a cover. The one above was added by a dealer who bought out the stack in the 1980s or 90s.

Priority: 3

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lalena (Rareinya), Japan

Lalena - s/t. 1982 Better Days / Nippon Columbia

This one came about via the CD-R Revisit project. This was originally sent to me by MM way back in the 2007/2008 time frame (speaking of MM, I just received a fresh batch of goodies from him - so more for all of us to look forward to!). What's most interesting about this, from a personal perspective anyway, is that I didn't have it rated anywhere (Gnosis, RYM, or even here on the CDRWL), OK, that's odd... Perhaps even stranger is that I'd never even heard the album yet! So this wasn't a revisit, but rather the first visit. How did that happen? The clue came to me while researching the album - and it turns out that RYM lists a CD for it from 2002. So I promptly moved it to a different stack.... and then I must have just filed it without a listen! Good grief, Tom... While I don't doubt the existence of the CD, finding details about it is proving to be a challenge. So at the very least, it appears the CD is rarer than the LP. With that - we introduce Lalena into the CDRWL (and ratings have already been applied where necessary).

Before getting into my own review, I found the following notes from ProgArchives Japanese music expert Damo, and he gives us some background on this mysterious group as published on a public chat board: "LALENA were originally formed as an amateurish college band in Kansai University (Osaka, Japan), and reborn as a progressive fusion one with recruiting Furukawa Brothers - Hatsuho (keyboards) and Nozomi (guitar) in early 1980s. In December 1981, LALENA recorded some material for their eponymous (and only one) album released in the following year, where Furukawa Brothers' splendid plays, especially Nozomi's guitar solo as a Holdsworth follower, could be much approved by Japanese progressive rock fans, but sadly soon after that they were disbanded without playing away from the suburbs of Osaka. Furukawa Brothers have been active as session musicians or a five-piece fusion project FURUKAWA KYODAI formed as a five-piece fusion project in 2002."

My own notes follow: Lalena starts promisingly enough in the Bi Kyo Ran / King Crimson "Red" genre, before tapping into more predictable light and slick fusion with soprano sax, cheap synthesizers, and thudding percussion. But the story doesn't end there fortunately and there are many killer guitar solos, as if David Torn stepped into the studio and laid it to waste. In other places, the choppy electronic piano drives the music forward in an exciting way. Brand X seems to be a major influence throughout as well. However, the album never strays too far from Cheeseville, ensuring its place in the hallowed halls of obscurity.

Priority: 3

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Inside Out, USA

Inside Out - Projection. 1981 Corbett

Another one from the batch that The AC sent me back in November (gasp!). Of all the albums sent to me, I heard this one as the most typical of the time and place. Solid jazz with a fusion undertone. A bit of classic 60s Miles / Coltrane mixed with some mid-late 70s Weather Report and even a little breezy tropical island styled fusion similar to Spyro Gyra. A very easy listen, and while maybe not a high priority reissue, something well worth hearing. Especially for deep divers of the genre. The AC adds further: "Yet another obscure late 70s/early 80s fusion album, from a Maryland based group. This time, the main ingredients are keys and melodic sax, as there's no guitar in sight here (save for some acoustic work on the final track). Both sides have a similar structure, with two light but pleasant fusion tracks sandwiching a longer, more intense progressive-tinged piece. These lengthier numbers are what really make the album, as they're much more complex and energetic, with some excellent synthesizer soloing. Worth seeking out for fans of the style."

Concerning the date: Gnosis, Discogs, and the AC say 1981. RYM has 1980. Don't own the LP myself... I'll put 1981 for now on consensus.

Priority: none

Friday, April 25, 2014

Venus, Germany

Venus - s/t. 1975 private.

Here's another one from the AC's last stash. Here's how he described the album to me: "If there's any album that needs to be "demystified", it's probably this one. The next time this thing pops up on eBay, it's probably going to be hyped as a fantastic, mystical, cosmic krautrock masterpiece that has been hidden from the world due to it's insane rarity, bla bla bla... You might actually think that's going to be the case after the first minute or so of the intro, but then... Total amateur-hour kids in the basement garage rock with absolutely no redeeming musical value whatsoever. Yuck. Most very rare albums actually stink, and there's no better example than this. Please note that the album cover is just plain white. That crude "volcano" type of drawing is actually the insert."

As stated by the AC, Venus is one of those super rare albums that was in the pages of one of the older Pokora books, and thus has everyone and their Grandmother looking under every stone for a copy. Starting out with female German narration like Ash Ra Tempel's Rosi or Gilles Zeitschiff, it would seem to be an auspicious beginning for this super obscure Krautrock release. This is followed by a rather straightforward hard rock track, but with some odd female vocals and psychedelic guitar soloing, and so not really that far from my Proto Progressive with Female Vocals list that I have on RYM. It's a pity she didn't stick with German, because the English vocals are heavily accented, and somewhat strained. As it goes it gets weaker.There's some boogie shuffle rock to endure and when they go into folk rock territory, it's time to look for shelter. All the same, I found the album oddly alluring, though by no means necessary for a reissue. Worth two listens at least.

Priority: none

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jackie King, USA

Jackie King - Skylight. 1978 The Texas Re-Cord Company

Now what says PROG like that cover, eh? One could pass hundreds of similar looking albums at your local Goodwill store - and all of them barely worth the 50 cents they are charging for them. Had this album come from a band named Le Savage Diabolique, and sported a HipGnosis styled cover, I guarantee you'd be paying upwards to $500 for it. Instead you get a cover of what looks like Goober Pyle performing for the Mount Pilot Ladies Auxiliary Fundraising event.

Of course, this is another amazing AC find. I'm not sure how he does it. I wouldn't even give this one a second look, much less forking over some dough to check out. Well - we're all glad he did! After hearing it, I bought one immediately. Probably paid more than I had to, but I wasn't chancing it, since absolutely no one knows what this is. There may still be a few copies out in the wilds. If you know where one is, I'd suggest you nail it quickly. Otherwise, this album is going to Landress-Hart territory in short order. You may recall that Landress-Hart was a $5 album - and not long after publishing it here - it started to fetch $400 or more. Still not quite sure how that happened... but I wasn't smart enough to secure one for myself. But this time I did just that. And the dealer I bought it from (photo above is that copy) called it Texas Bossa Nova. That's a pretty apt description actually.

If you don't feel like reading more, then let me give you the Cliff Notes version: Keywords: Cortex, Placebo. Wet your appetite did it?

Here is the AC's description, which is subdued and (I really appreciate this from him), not filled with hyperbole: "Jackie King is a jazz guitarist from San Antonio with an extensive history in the music industry, including stints with Shades of Joy (who did the infamous "El Topo" soundtrack) and Willie Nelson. But in the late 70s he was back in Texas and riding the fusion wave with this little-known outing on a small local label. Things start off in typical cruise ship lounge mode, with some added female vocals giving it a bit of Cortex-ish appeal at times. But then it gets a little weird, as we're treated to a couple of dreamlike, slow motion jazz-rock tracks with droning string synths, flute and sitar. Flip the disc over, and it's back aboard the Love Boat for a few minutes, before things turn strange again. "Twelve Signs" is a 10 minute excursion into deeper, darker waters, with wordless female vocals, flute and wah-wah guitar rattling off into space. It's almost like this was recorded 5 or 6 years earlier, when jazz-rock was still in its more experimental phase. A bit of a head-scratcher really, but an interesting one."

The whole review is absolutely spot on. This isn't an album for hardcore symphonic progressive rock freaks. Definitely has that late 70s French jazz funk fusion feel. I'm a nut for the first two Cortex releases - so the King album definitely scratches that itch.

The female vocals are performed by his wife, and she's really quite the looker. More info here about King, who has quite a reputation with insiders in the jazz world.

Of the last batch from The AC (starting with the Japanese Sun album), this album was my second favorite after the Jon & John, and perhaps just a smidge better than the Paradox.

Priority: 2