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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cyklus, Germany


Cyklus - Planet of Two Suns. 1979 Erlkoenig.

Interesting mix of styles: Typical late 70s funky fusion against a backdrop of the early 70s Krautrock freaky underground. Wired closest to same period Aera, who they share a band member and label with, especially at the time when Roman Bunka was their guitarist. Also hear a bit of the Real Ax Band. Some nice shredding guitar work here as well, which recalls Syncrisis at their most fiery.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pascal Duffard, France


Pascal Duffard - Dieu est Fou. 1976 CBS.

Two words that go well together are wacky and.... French. And this album fits that statement like a glove. Only in France would an album like this find its way onto a major label. I could imagine hearing Albert Marcouer, upon listening to "Dieu est Fou", saying something like "Pascal Duffard? Yea, now that guy is different!".

Throughout the album, there's a distinct flavor of French Pop music of the male vocal variety (ala Serge Gainesbourg or Julien Clerc). Combine this with an avant garde mindset (opera, laughing, cries, electronics, etc..) and you have a French Chanson meets Pierrot Lunaire type vibe. Unique and worth seeking out.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Exil, Germany


Exil - Fusionen. 1975 FHZ.

If you can imagine the 1975 era Embryo band releasing "Embryo's Reise" from 1979, then I think you'd have a good idea of Exil's "Fusionen" release. Amongst the usual rock instrumentation there's lots of violin, cello, electric piano and sax playing Eastern European and Asian influenced jazz rock. Aera's "Hand und Fuss" is another good reference as is Emma Myldenberger circa "Tour de Trance". A very fine work.

Priority: 2

Monday, December 28, 2009

Friendsound, USA *** REISSUED ***


Friendsound - Joyride. 1969 RCA

*** Reissued by Real Gone. Jan, 2014 ***

Moved to UMR

Priority: 3

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Le Groupe X, Italy



Le Groupe X - Frrrrrigidaire. 1973 CPT.
Le Groupe X - Out, Off. 1978 private.

Both albums are good examples of the Italian style of incidental film library music (see the Eddie Warner post for more details on the music concept). "Frrrrrigidaire" is the more developed of the two from an album listening perspective, though "Out, Off" has more creative passages. Would make a good 2-for-1 CD.

On Jan 18, 2001, I wrote for Gnosis concerning Frrrrrigidaire: "Interesting, and very obscure, Italian band with 2 albums. Frrrrrigidaire is unique in the annals of the vast Italian progressive rock scene. Instrumental, jazzy and at times even a lounge sound pervades. The album is a fun listen and I can imagine being a minor hit with the those that engage in the Retro-club lounge scene or those that seek out albums that would make a great soundtrack to 70's films. Hardly an essential item but still worth a spin and can be considered a good nightcap type of album. No reissue exists of this, so a high priced original is the only option. However, the gimmix foldout cover is a reason to seek out for vinyl collectors."

Priority: 3

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hot Flash, USA


Hot Flash - First Attack! They'll Never Take Us Alive. 1977 Rockwell.

Boston area prog AORish blend. Not that dissimilar from the Fairchild album, though this one has a bit more complexity to it. Better than other locally produced Beantown prog bands like Blind Owl and Marianus. There's been some buzz on this album of late, but it's strictly third tier stuff. Good, but certainly not astounding.

Priority: none

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's My Head, Sweden-Wales


It's My Head - s/t. 1987 Urania.

Odd one here. It's My Head was a duo based in Stockholm, but prominently featured Welsh percussionist Steve Hubback (who's still active in the music scene today). Album received a glorious review in Audion at the time, which propelled me to pick up a copy. Otherwise had I seen it in my local record store's import bin, I would've skipped right over it, as it looks like every other industrial album of the era. Musically it's a fascinating hybrid of fusion, cosmic, electronic and industrial styles. Like a stripped down version of David Torn's "Cloud About Mercury". The kind of album that would've given the 1980s a good name, but there are scant examples such as this. According to the Steve Hubback website, album was schedule to be reissued on CD in 2003, but it doesn't appear that actually happened.

Priority: none

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jox, France


Jox - Joxifications. 1982 FLVM.

A nice find from the always surprising FLVM label. Starts off heavily in the French folky bag recalling Troisieme Rive's "Banlieues" or Manu Lannhuel, but after a few minutes, the mood changes and the music moves into a primarily instrumental direction. In the end, you come away feeling like you've just heard a French Gryphon circa "Red Queen to Gryphon Three" (sans drums). Just replace the bassoon with an oboe. Other than the last, and short, 3 minute instrumental, the album does not use drums (a primitive drum machine was applied on the last track, for no purpose it seems). The music is driven by piano, acoustic guitar, Moog and bass guitar, the latter doing its part to keep the music driving forward. Memorable melodies, based on traditional themes, also define this album. Musea should dip back into the reissue market with this gem.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kornet, Sweden




Kornet - s/t. 1975 Manifest.
Kornet - Fritt Fall. 1977 Manifest.
Kornet - Kornet 3. 1979 Svenska Love.

Typical mid to late 70s fusion albums heading towards fuzak by the end of the decade. Heavily influenced by Weather Report, Billy Cobham, Return to Forever, etc... First album has quite a bit of flute, and is a bit more enjoyable to my ears.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Living Force, New Zealand


Living Force - s/t. 1977 Atlantic.

1972-1974 era Santana is the obvious blueprint here. Plenty of Sri Chinmoy spirituality references, not to mention the trademark guitar style. The Santana reference is most apparent on the percussion heavy instrumentals. The song styled tracks are more in line with other bands from Australasia during the 70s. I hear bits of Pantha in particular, and smaller doses of Dragon, Ragnarok, and Sebastian Hardie. Only misstep is ‘Sail This Boat’, an insipid pop number that wouldn’t be out of place on a time travel American Idol. Wished they’d done an entirely instrumental album – it would’ve been a killer. Post Spacefarm. Boots exist. An ideal candidate for Aztec.

Priority: 3

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mutha Goose, USA


Mutha Goose - I. 1975 Alpha Omega.

Typical Midwest prog, this time from Indiana. Recalls the southern Illinois group Thunderpussy in the compositions, though there's a strong presence of keyboards here. One of the better US private progressive rock albums.

Priority: 3

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Noah, USA


Noah - Brain Suck. 1969 / 2003 Head.

Archival LP release from somewhere in Ohio, unearthed by one Al Simones, who put out a couple of freaked out psych guitar albums in the 1990s. The LP has been carefully distributed, and so its scarcity has caused the value to remain high. The kind of release that used to be the sole domain of Rockadelic Records. Fuzz guitar and organ lead the psych rock parade. Very much a product of the great Midwest, and the time and place are very apparent. Compositions stray more towards the thinking man's genre, ala Cleveland's Dragonwyck. A nice discovery, and would definitely benefit from a CD reissue. A natural for a label like Rockadrome or Germany's World in Sound.

Priority: 3

Saturday, December 19, 2009

News: MNW releases Arbete & Fritid's "Se upp för livet"


Thanks to reader Gal who points out that long time Swedish underground label MNW has reissued another one of their own 1970s albums - Arbete & Fritid's "Se upp för livet" (1977). Originally a double LP that apparently was part of an exhibition. I'm familiar with some of Arbete & Fritid's work, but I've not heard this title.

Oz Quartet, France


Oz Quartet - Instant. 1984 private.

Nice progressive fusion with violin and guitar leads, somewhat typical of the time and place. File alongside Bedjabetch.

Priority: none

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peak, Australia


Peak - Ebondazzar. 1980 Cement. (later 1983 Innovative Communications).

Here's an album I must have passed over 100 times in the used record bins, thinking it was some kind of New Wave album, that was somewhat typical of Klaus Schulze's Innovative Communications label. Then a friend of this site sent me the LP recently to check out.

Peak play in the style of "electronic rock", a place that Tangerine Dream visited with their "Cyclone" and "Force Majeure" albums. There are no vocals here (some samples), but for the most part this is driving sequencer based electronic with some wonderful electric guitar, and quite a bit of invention. Well worth seeking out, and it doesn't appear it's ever been reissued on CD.

Priority: 2

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pumpkin, Netherlands


Pumpkin - s/t. 1975 Bubble.

Frequently noted by dealers as the "Dutch Placebo", I would say that prize should be awarded to Crypto if comparisons must be made. Placebo is a buzzword band that adds dollars to the prize, and it isn't a flat out lie that Pumpkin gets mentioned in the same breath - but in reality this Dutch band is a jazz fusion outfit, pretty far removed from the cool funky vibes of Placebo. With the abundance of sax and electric piano solos, Pumpkin are a far more generic outfit very much of their era. However, on a positive note, their ensemble playing is quite nice. Add a splendid cover, and the overall package is decent, though non-essential.

Priority: none

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

News: Garden of Delights latest releases




A diverse batch this time that contains an obscure folk rock band as well as a 5th Xhol live album (4th from GoD alone). Most promising, to me anyway, is the archival release of Zoppo Trump - a band I'm not familiar with at all.

Zoppo Trump review on UMR

Label descriptions below:

"Zoppo Trump from Dortmund are known in collectors' circles only for the sampler LP 'Scena Westphalica'. In addition to these tracks, this CD contains another seven studio recordings. The style of Zoppo Trump can be described as progressive rock, slightly influenced by jazz and classical music, however mostly without any wind instruments. Band member Nicky Gebhard later played in Wallenstein and Martin Buschmann, son of the well-known jazz-musician Rainer Glen Buschmann, joined Cochise."

"(Yggdrasil) The sole album by this hippie-folk group from Munich in 1972 originally didn't make it past the acetate stadium. Now these wonderful sounds, with flute, violin and English lyrics, are finally available for the first time. The CD contains the five tracks from the LP plus eight instrumentals from 1970, including the soundtrack to the TV series 'Sommer in Sizilien' ['Summer In Sicily'], as well as five demo tracks recorded in the rehearsal room. "

"XHOL - ESSEN 1970. Xhol's sound was a mix of jazz-rock and psychedelia. The band from Wiesbaden (formerly known as Xhol Caravan) stood out for their lengthy improvisations, holding barely any vocals. The band became an established underground act with their two LPs released on Ohr. This release features amazing remastered live recordings dating from 1970."

Rictus, France *** REISSUED ***



Rictus - Christelle ou la Decouverte du Mal. 1981 Le Kiosque D'Orphee

*** Reissued by Strawberry Rain, November 2012 ***

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Synopsis, France


Synopsis - Gamme. 1981 FLVM.

Synopsis’ second album was released at the tail end of the original French theatrical prog movement, and thus was pretty much ignored by everyone. Released on the quintessential cult label FLVM (Nuance, Flamen Dialis, Kha-Ym). What strikes me most about “Gamme” is the lengthy instrumental passages, something that was sorely missed on the Mona Lisa albums for example. Plenty of that patented French tortured guitar, old vintage keyboards and complex rhythms. A slight improvement on their debut.

Their debut "Minuit Ville" has already been reissued by Musea.

Priority: 2

Monday, December 14, 2009

News: Pan reissues Ruphus "Man Made" album


Pan Records, the consistent - albeit sparse, Norwegian reissue label has released Ruphus' last album "Man Made" from 1980. Not the highlight of their catalog, but completists will certainly be interested. And Pan always does a solid job, working with the master tapes.

True Myth, Canada *** REISSUED ***


True Myth - s/t. 1979 Warner Brothers.

*** Reissued by Belle Antique Aug, 2010 ***

Much was made at the time of release that True Myth's sole album was the first ever all digital recording from Canada. I guess it's ironic, then, that the album remains unissued in digital format. This is obviously a big budget affair, complete with a thick gatefold cover, lengthy liner notes, and a brilliant production. Musically, even though it's from Canada, it has much in common with the US Midwest prog rock scene of the mid 1970s. Though not that much of a stretch since southern Ontario is an extension of the region. 1979 was a little late for an album like this, and there's the expected obvious commercial AOR moves that can be a bit cringe inducing. But the piano work here is stellar (recalling Italy's Festa Mobile actually). A good album that is generally panned by the progressive rock community. But I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff and recommend it to those who like groups such as Ethos, Styx and Sunblind Lion.

Priority: 2

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Charlies, Finland


Charlies - Buttocks. 1970 Love

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Saturday, December 12, 2009

News: RPM reissues the first two BLO albums from Nigeria


Apparently December, 2009 is the time to reissue Nigerian psych albums. Earlier we announced the Academy reissue of Ofege. Now comes word that RPM, another of the many Cherry Red labels (Esoteric being the main one we follow), has reissued the first two albums by BLO (Berkeley Laolu Odumosu).

Here's what we said about the debut album:

"BLO (Berkeley Laolu Odumosu) - Chapter One (Nigeria) 1973 private. One of the more famous underground psych albums from Sub-Saharan Africa. Does contain a US psych funk vibe and isn't too far from the works of Fela Kuti, minus the deeper grooves. Shadoks has already done the LP reissue, so expect a CD sometime in the next couple of years."

Well obviously it appears Shadoks was only interested in the LP issue, or only had to rights to that format.

Should we expect an announcement for the Question Mark (Kenya) album next?

Thanks to Laser Ken for the heads up!

Visitor 2035, England


Visitor 2035 - s/t. 1978 Ariola.

Progressive fusion influenced by the usual suspects like Return to Forever, David Sancious and Weather Report. I also pick up some fellow countrymen Skywhale here as well as the US group Flight, and that's a good thing.

Priority: none

Friday, December 11, 2009

Woodoo, Finland *** REISSUED ***


Woodoo - Taikakulkunen. 1971 UFO

*** Reissued by Rocket Records in 2011 ***

Moved to RYM

Priority: none

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Eddie Warner, France



Eddie Warner - Progressive Percussions Vol. 1. 1971 L'Illustration Musicale
Eddie Warner - Progressive Percussions Vol. 2. 1974 L'Illustration Musicale

For many years, I had wondered where the uncredited music came from that appeared on television shows and obscure movies that didn't commission a soundtrack. Most of the shows were from the late 1960s and early 70s, and featured all kinds of wild sounds including fuzz bass, acid guitar, organ, etc... Years later I learned about film library music. These albums basically contained short (1 to 3 minute) instrumental landscapes that were mere skeletons of a composition - that is, flexible enough to be used in various episodic sequences. The most sought after of these collections tend to be from the golden era of psychedelic music (1967-1975). Eddie Warner's two Percussion albums are amongst the most highly valued, due to the overabundance of all the psych elements mentioned above. As for album length listening, they fall short - but if used for the purpose as they were designed, these albums can be a great place to draw samples from. Most library albums such as this have been reissued in compilations - perhaps for the better. Warner was the owner of the L'Illustration Musicale label, a favorite amongst the DJ crowd.

Priority: none

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vent d'Est, France


Vent d'Est - s/t. 1980 Om.

Melodic progressive rock somewhere between Camel and Pink Floyd. The instrumental work is quite good, especially the guitarist who lights it up quite a bit more than most from this era. However, there's plenty of commercially oriented material to wade through as well.

Priority: none

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tamalone, Netherlands


Tamalone - New Acres. 1979 Crossroad.

Jethro Tull soundalikes, though strangely minus the flute (except on one song). But in every other way, it sounds like Ian Anderson and Co. Pretty decent record actually.

Priority: 3

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sab, Japan


Sab - Crystallization. 1978 Vanity.

On the super rare Vanity label (Dada, Aunt Sally, etc...). Sab is primarily a tranquil electronic album including some sequencing, with solo segments for sitar and piano. I have to imagine that both Klaus Schulze and Popol Vuh were a huge influence here - and both were highly popular in Japan at this time.

Priority: none

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gebarvaterli, Germany *** REISSUED ***


Gebärväterli - Im Tal der Emmen. 1978 Brutkasten

*** Reissued by the band Nov 2014 ***

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sailor, USA


Sailor - s/t. 1974 private.

Sometimes known as The Sailor Band, due to a few copies having a stamp. From Minnesota and surprisingly sophisticated for such a private release. Most albums from 1974 have a strong hard rock element, and there's little of that here with this jazz and classical inspired album. Plenty of jazz guitar and piano as well as amp'd up electric guitar and Hammond organ. Almost all instrumental except the final track. A nice surprise.

Priority: none

The photo is courtesy of popsike.com. I wanted to show the entire package, like the one I saw from my friend's collection.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Release Music Orchestra, Germany






Release Music Orchestra - Life. 1974 Brain.
Release Music Orchestra - Garuda. 1975 Brain.
Release Music Orchestra - Get the Ball. 1976 Brain.
Release Music Orchestra - Beyond the Limit. 1978 Brain.
They have one more called "News" that is best left alone.

Well known fusion band that evolved out of Tomorrow's Gift. One of the last of the "Green Brain" bands not to receive a CD reissue. These sold well back in the day, so I suspect they receive a lot of requests for a reissue. Given that related albums such as Tomorrow's Gift "Goodbye Future" and the Dennis "Hyperthalamus" remain unissued tells me this situation may be caused by the artist's refusal rather than label, but I don't have any data to support that theory. Boots exists.

The first two RMO's in particular are definitely recommended for fusion lovers. They slowly evolved into a fuzak act (I think the cover of "Beyond the Limit" explains everything), like many bands of the late 1970s.

Priority: 2

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Didier Paquette, France


Didier Paquette - Le Souffle Noir. 1981 FLVM.

Interesting French electronic record, with real and digital drums (early 80s style). Some sequencer and the odd outburst of fuzz guitar. More amateurish and less dark than Richard Pinhas' solo works, but not too far off stylistically.

Priority: none

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Odyssee, Germany


Odyssee - White Swan. 1978 MPA.

Excellent German symphonic progressive album. This one has a lot more meat on its bones than most of the somnambulant snoozers coming from there during this time. For one thing, the tempo is faster and they mix in some complex time changes, to help keep it interesting throughout. Full fledged band sound with a thick production. The thematic sections are well developed, and a melody or two can actually be committed to memory. There's a definite Genesis influence, but not quite as much as Neuschwanstein, Ivory and Sirius. An excellent choice for a label like Garden of Delights.

Priority: 2

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

News: Rocket Records to reissue Paroni Paakkunainen and Kaamos



It wasn't long ago we mentioned there didn't appear to be any active label in Finland interested in reissuing classic Finnish progressive rock. I wasn't familiar with Rocket Records prior, but they're based in Finland and have reissued many albums already (outside of our scope here).

Today we learned on Progressive Ears, two albums from our wishlist are coming out on CD for the first time from Rocket Records:

Paroni Paakkunainen: Plastic Maailma (1971)
Kaamos - Deeds and Talks (1977)

Excellent news!

Nanu Urwerk, Germany


Nanu Urwerk - Irgendwo... Nicht Weit von Hier. 1978 Tonstudio Bieber.

Highly creative fusion effort from unknown German band. Flute, trombone and electric piano are the primary instruments with a few nice guitar licks thrown in for good measure. There's also some interesting voices in German. It's hard to pin the tail on the donkey with this one, so easy reference calling is a tough challenge. Certainly an encyclopedic knowledge of the German fusion scene from 1976-1984 helps, and you may want to yell out "Mosaik" or "Surgery" to your puzzled friends. Zappa and Canterbury get cameos as well. Nevertheless, it's an album that needs repeated listening to fully appreciate, the perfect justification for a much needed reissue.

Priority: 2

Monday, November 30, 2009

Malachi, England



Malachi - s/t. 1971 EMI / Columbia 054 23286

Combines the feel-good groovy instrumental organ rock of Eden Rose with the more measured introspective UK scene like Cressida or Still Life. Sounds a bit dated for 1971, more like 1969 – probably due to the “carnival” sound of the organ, which is the dominant instrument.

12/18/2010 update: I found an old ebay auction (thank you popsike!) that helps clarify some of the mystery here. The auction states: "Strange story here: 4 UK guys recorded this album in Belgium and only released in Italy". Mauro Moroni of Mellow had provided me the above countries many years ago, but I didn't know the context (I've never even seen the LP myself). I also posted the photo that came with the auction, as it provides a more true image.

Watch out for bootlegs on this title.

Priority: 3

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Laurelie, Belgium


Laurelie - s/t. 1970 Triangle.

A surprisingly nice discovery for the time and place, and one of the big time Belgian rarities up there with Irish Coffee and Waterloo. Laurelie, musically speaking, could be considered the next level up from the large freakbeat movement that was all the rage in The Netherlands and Belgium in the late 1960s (groups like the Wallace Connection, for example). English vocals are a bit suspect, but the sophistication and exploration of ideas is considerably more than what is normally found in Continental Europe at such an early date. Wonderful fuzz guitar, old keyboard sounds and especially the flute drive the melodic and tonal contents. The 22 minute, multi-part closer has many great ideas. Holds up better than most. Bass player went on to Jenghiz Khan.

Reissued on LP in 2011 by PhilMarie Productions. Maybe a CD will follow?
Priority: 3