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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Love Live Life, Japan


Love Live Life - Satsujin Jissho [Ten Chapters of Murder]. 1974 CBS.

I've known about Love Live Life + 1 for roughly 20 years, but wasn't aware the group had a second album until recently (thanks to Prog Not Frog!). It's a concept album about various incidents of nefarious killings (anything from the St. Valentine's Massacre to the Holocaust). Musically the mood doesn't really fit the concept, as it's a real hodge podge of sounds. Anything from instrumental funky wah wah cop show themes, to avant garde indigenous music, to ragtime jazz is featured here. Whatever it is, it's definitely underground 1970's Japan - where anything goes! Honestly it doesn't remind me of the other LLL+1 album at all, and should be strictly considered on its own. Plenty of psychedelic guitar to keep an underground rock fan interested - but be prepared for many changes in style. It's a borderline Priority 3 piece, but there's enough here to satisfy most listeners I think.

(According to a comment from an anonymous reader, this album has been reissued. It's from 1997 on Super Fuji. I'm sure the CD is now as rare as the album itself! I'll leave it here though, as it's not something anyone can easily buy I'm sure. Thanks for letting me know!)

The Alaskan Connection has countered the above comment: "This CD doesn't actually exist. It was supposed to come out in 2007 (not 1997), but Sony (who own the rights) killed it off at the last minute. The "Super Fuji Discs" mentioned is a subsidiary of the Japanese record store Disk Union, who sell tons of rare LPs throughout Japan. They were involved in the mastering of the CD, but the whole thing had to be shelved after a while. "

Well I've certainly never seen one. So for now we'll consider it not reissued as The AC knows the Japanese scene very well.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

D. Beaver & Combinations, USA


D. Beaver & Combinations - Combinations. 1973 TMI.

Memphis based progressive rock band lead by keyboardist David Beaver, formed from the ashes of another obscure group called Edgewood. Combinations is supposedly a more progressive effort (based on what I've read). Beaver's group sounds like so many of the albums coming from England at this time, especially acts found on the Dawn or Neon labels. This isn't hyper complex progressive rock, definitely more song oriented, but with plenty of variety in the instrumentals (violin, harpsichord) and song structures (there are 16 tracks including intervals). I also hear distinct references to bands such as Flash and Morgan. Thanks to reader Dave G for the tip! The only other album I own on TMI is Washrag, a fun little bit of instrumental soul/funk (out of scope for this list).

Priority: 3

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Melody, France



Melody - Come Fly With Me. 1976 Pole (later Tapioca)
Melody - Yesterlife. 1977 Vogue.

In short, Melody are a symphonic rock band with female vocals. The sound of "Come Fly With Me" seems more from the early 1970s, and wouldn't be out of place with albums by Mad Curry or Earth & Fire for example. There's also a psychedelic space rock undertone present throughout, that perhaps explains why one gets the feeling the album was recorded from 5 years earlier. Unfortunately the recording sounds like an unprofessional demo, and is fairly sludgy overall. Hopefully the masters still exist, and the sound can be brought out to its fullest! Musically the album is very interesting, especially if someone can possibly scrub away the grime.

It's also worth pointing out that most, if not all, of the Tapioca presses (the inheritors of the Pole label) of "Come Fly With Me" feature one half of the Melody album combined with one half of Mahogany Brain's "Smooth Sick Lights", which is an avant-garde noise fest and is a completely different style to Melody. This version was my introduction to the band which left me confused about Melody for years. Fortunately I now own the Pole version on LP.


"Yesterlife" is a far more professional album than "Come Fly With Me", in both composition and production. But given the 1977 date, and the rather atrocious looking Earth & Fire styled disco album cover, Melody were clearly viewing the hit parade. And perhaps wanting to stay relevant, they began to write more commercial music. There's still a high level of sophistication beneath the gloss (in fact some of the songs are re-recordings of tracks from "Come Fly With Me") - but it's mitigated somewhat by the ambition of its producers.

Unbelievably, for those that know that the Tapioca mispress of "Come Fly With Me" contains half of the avant garde Mahogany Brain album (as mentioned above), would you believe that Vogue switched the first two tracks on this album? Yea, 'Welcome to Wonderland' is the opening track. Jeez, these guys got the same breaks as those trying to leave Gilligan's Island....

Also, this is not a compilation album as currently tagged by RYM. The older tracks (there are 3: 'Merry-Go-Round', 'Run Faster', and 'Yesterlife') are new versions.


Priority: 3

Monday, September 27, 2010

Splash, Sweden




Splash - Ut På Vischan. 1972 Polydor.
Splash - s/t. 1974 PLA.
Splash - Splash 2. 1978 PLA.

On "Ut På Vischan" one will hear a typical horn rock album very much modeled after Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears. Except it's sung in Swedish (always a favorite language at the CDRWL). Like most horn rock albums, there are some great instrumental charts offset by some lame songs. Not bad, and does sport a great cover. On "Splash 2", the group has moved from standard pop rock structures to an improvisational jazz rock unit. I hesitate to use the word "fusion" here, as they clearly weren't emulating the usual suspects like Return to Forever or Weather Report. And at times they have that college level stage band type tightness. There's also a little bit of silliness calling out their Zappa influence (not to mention some fine guitar soloing). And even a little dancing around the barn music to open the album. On the self-titled second album from 1974, the music is closer to "Splash 2", though there's only 3 tracks here, so the instrumentals are more stretched out. The highlight being the Latin jazz rock piece that closes the album. Of the three, this album is probably the best, but they're all worth seeking out. Great fantasy design cover graces the 1974 album as well.

Priority: 3

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Soffgruppen, Sweden


Soffgruppen - Greatest Sits (aka Soffgruppen). 1975 Nacksving.

Splendid emotional heavy jazz rock album with trumpet, electric piano, organ and fuzz guitar highlighting the accent instruments. Musically sits somewhere between Ibis (Sweden), Berits Halsband and the French school of 1970s underground rock.

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Master Cylinder, USA


Master Cylinder - Elsewhere. 1981 Inner City

Moved to UMR

Priority: 3

Friday, September 24, 2010

Anamorphose, France


Anamorphose - Palimpseste. 1986 private.

An active jazz rock album. Reminds me some of Abus Dangereux's first album as well as some of Yoch'ko Seffer's 1970s works. Smoking rhythms! I prefer the flute lead material over the much more heavily used soprano sax. Some great use of violin as well. Good album for the date considering the wasteland that was 1986.

Priority: none

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mendoza, Sweden


Mendoza - s/t. 1972 CBS.

Despite sporting a cover of a very mean looking mustachioed dude with a dangling cigarette and sunglasses - and who would presumably be the band's namesake - Mendoza are in reality a 6 piece band made up of names like Arne Gustafsson, Lennart Palmefors, and Björn Larsson. The evidence is before the court, and methinks these Swedish lads were cashing in on the Santana concept. Ya think? I guess if they went by LARSSON or OLSON it wouldn't have the same impact now would it? No matter, because if this was the second coming of "Abraxas", I could use any rationalization I felt like to justify my praise. But, alas, it's not. Though the opening instrumental is a smoker that held quite a bit of promise. For the most part, Mendoza sound like a typical American band, playing typical early 1970s American roots rock. Naturally enough, the guitar work is the highlight, not surprising given the genre. For Latin rock from Sweden, I would suggest making a beeline for Kvartetten Som Sprängde.

Priority: none

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stefan, Sweden


Stefan (Kery) - Consecration. 1995 Xotic Mind.

While most albums on the Xotic Mind label tended towards an ethereal psychedelic aesthetic, label owner Stefan's sole album is a bit more rock based than most. Closer to The Word of Life than Adam, S.T. Mikael or the Entheogens. The only drawback is the vocals, which are amateurish at best. But otherwise, this is one of the better albums from this proto Subliminal Sounds collective.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Greg Sneddon, Australia


Greg Sneddon - Mind Stroll. 1975 Mushroom.

Well done symphonic progressive rock from multi-instrumentalist Sneddon. Nice keyboard work in particular. Reminds me of other Australian artists of the day like Mario Millo ("Epic III" and leader of Sebastian Hardie) and Chris Neal's "Winds of Isis". There's a certain commercial slant found here, which is not uncommon for progressive rock artists operating in Australasia. Wouldn't be surprised to see Aztec eventually reissue this album.

Priority: none

Monday, September 20, 2010

News: Audio Archives to release Second Sign


I don't know anything about this release, but it certainly looks intriguing. Nice to see Audio Archives back doing what they do best - finding unreleased obscurities. Here is the label's description:

"A previously unreleased progressive rock album recorded at Escape Studios in Kent during the mid 70s. Female vocalist Irene Menasche sounds as impressive as Spirogyra's Barbara Gaskin or Pauline Filby of Narnia, bands to which some of the material is comparable. The tour de force here, 'Golden Age', is a nine minute prog-rock epic, full of stunning harmonies, great guitar solos, wonderful Hammond organ and gripping time changes. Imagine classic Fruupp laced with sublime female vocals and you get the picture. Comes with full band history detailing the interesting tale behind this forgotten gem."

I'll be curious what the reviews say!

6/5/11 update: Well I finally heard this myself. The above description is utter crap. There's no Fruupp within 500 miles of this. This is a poorly recorded demo of a below average folk rock album with out of place basement hard rock attempts. The 9 minute 'Golden Age' is pretty decent as is the 5 minute 'Mad River' (the only two tracks that sound pretty good), but the rest is a total waste of time.

Masala Dosa, Denmark


Masala Dosa – 77. 1977 Kong Pære.

Like just about every 1970s Danish band, Masala Dosa maintain a rural rock foundation. The songs on Side 1 are pretty weak, but are saved by some very fine guitar solos. Side 2 is primarily instrumental and considerably the better half. Again, the guitar sections here are nothing short of phenomenal. In this way, Masala Dosa are more a throwback to the early 70s works by Culpeper's Orchard, Midnight Sun, and Day of Phoenix. Despite the Indian name, there's sparse reference to Indian culture save a little sitar. Recommended.

Priority: 3

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ananga Ranga, Portugal



Ananga Ranga - Regresso Às Origens. 1976 Metro-Som.
Ananga Ranga - Privado. 1977 Metro-Som.

Jazz rock ensemble that reminds me some of Tantra, but perhaps more influenced by the bigger names of the day like Passport and Weather Report. First album has violin which definitely adds points. "Privado" begins to introduce funk, which probably wasn't the best idea. Could see the excellent Spanish label Guersson putting these out. Boots exist.

Priority: none

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Angipatch, France



Angipatch - Vie. 1981 private.
Angipatch - Delirium. 1982 private.

Angipatch's debut "Vie" is a fine example of the dramatic French progressive style ala Ange and Mona Lisa. Of course, this is a more amateurish production, typical of the early 1980s, but the effort is sincere and certainly worth seeking out. Perhaps Elohim's "Le Mana Perdu" would be a good reference. On "Delirium", Angipatch mixes neo prog with new wave synth pop and French vocals, and is a huge step down from the debut. Disappointing.

Priority: none

Friday, September 17, 2010

Amish, Canada


Amish - s/t. 1972 Sussex (US press).

Ontario based group who recorded in Detroit, Amish were primarily a hard rock band with organ and guitar providing the solo leads. Heavily influenced by Uriah Heep and Deep Purple. Truthfully, albums like this were a dime a dozen back in those days, but Amish stands out due to the superb progressive oriented organ work, and I like the way they wah-wah riff the rhythm guitar parts. Even some strange psych era interludes that recall bands like Stone Circus or even Strawberry Alarm Clock. They also cover Traffic's 'Dear Mr. Fantasy', a very interesting choice. Bassist Mike Gingrich was later a member of the progressive rock group Nightwinds. Boots exist.

Priority: 3

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aquila, England


Aquila - s/t. 1970 RCA.

UK group typical of the era, utilizing sax and flute to augment the usual g-k-b-d format. Rough tinged vocals. Echoes of Diabolus (especially) and the debut albums of Gravy Train and Raw Material come to mind. Fine organ solos with nice contrast provided by acoustic guitar. I like the way the band grooves over the harmony. Drum solo doesn’t help, but relatively short. Album closes in melodic horn rock way ala Blood, Sweat & Tears, or more to the point, Brainchild. Multiple boots exist.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Patrice Meyer, France




Patrice Meyer - Racines Croisees. 1983 Music'Al.
Patrice Meyer - Dromadaire Viennois. 1986 FMR.

Two solid instrumental albums from guitarist Patrice Meyer, who recruited some famous Canterbury names like Pip Pyle, Hugh Hopper and Didier Malherbe (from Gong) to participate on the latter solo effort. "Dromadaire Viennois" has some Zeuhl bass and is the more interesting of the two albums. When Meyer plugs in, he can be quite kinetic. Both albums are rooted in jazz, and possess a tranquil side to offset the more energetic pieces. Not essential, but very good for the era, especially the latter album.

Priority:3

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

News: Soleil Zeuhl to reissue Noa, second Strave albums



Back in early August, we found out that Soleil Zeuhl was to reissue the first Serge Bringolf Strave album. Thanks to a tip from Achim, owner Alain had also announced two other reissues (on the avant progressive yahoo group board) for his great Zeuhl influenced label: Noa and Strave's second album "Vision" (which I think is the best of his three albums). Both of these are slotted for early 2011.

We covered Noa here and Strave here.

Excellent news. Thanks Alain for the great work you do!

UMR review of Vision here

Stud, USA *** REISSUED ***


Stud - s/t. 1975 Baron

*** Reissued by Out-Sider (Guerssen) December 2015 ***

Moved to UMR

Priority: 3

Monday, September 13, 2010

Snakes Alive, Australia

Snakes Alive - s/t. 1974 EMI.

In the early 70s, the music world was teeming with jazz fusion bands. The major two schools were a) The technically proficient, as defined by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever and Weather Report. And b) The Miles Davis long track deep groove, with many followers in Germany (in particular the MPS label), Poland, Italy, USA and beyond. These were jazzers who were fascinated with rock's rhythms and power. But finding rockers who were fascinated by jazz was a much more rare breed. And that's why they call it jazz fusion. Snakes Alive are a rock fusion band. Of course bands like Mahavishnu come to mind. Even early Zappa and Xhol Caravan. But, you know, Finch did too - for example. There are vocals, but they're sparse. Trumpet, sax, flute, organ, guitar are the solo instruments. And it rocks with a capital R. This is a good one, that's slipped way under the radar. Extremely obscure - I've never seen an original. Looks like it may have been a demo, without wide release (or any release). This would be a good one for Aztec to reissue. A bootleg exists.

Priority: 3

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Might of Coincidence, Switzerland


Might of Coincidence - Announcing the Birth Of. 1971 Entropia.

Might of Coincidence play a typical acid folk prog in the trippy German tradition similar to Emtidi’s “Saat” or especially Amon Duul’s “Paradieswarts Duul”. Tranced female/male vocals over tablas, wood flute and electric/acoustic guitar. Most of the tracks sound similar, except the last one which is considerably more cosmic and experimental. A whole album of that I think would’ve resulted in a better experience. Still, a good record worth checking out.

Priority: none

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Subversion, France


Subversion - s/t. 1976 Pole.

Certainly the most obscure album on Phillippe Besombes' Pole label. I hadn't even heard of it until recently (2008), and I think I'd heard every other Pole/Tapioca album by 1992! Featuring a crude black and white cover, it's exactly the sort of album you would expect to find on the FLVM label a few years later. This pre-Falstaff outfit mixed complex progressive rock in the Memoriance / Pulsar vein, along with jazz rock sections and some introspective folky moments. Not much cohesion, but they did well with each style they attempted. Very different from anything else on the label, except maybe Emergency Exit. And, like EE, Subversion was also not repressed by Tapioca later in the decade, adding to its obscurity.

Priority: 3

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sixty Nine, Germany



Sixty Nine - Circle of the Crayfish (Germany) 1973 Philips.
Sixty Nine - Live (Germany) 1974 Philips.

Sixty Nine were a rock based instrumental organ drums duo following in the footsteps of Hansson and Karlsson. Given the limitations of such a small setup, it takes quite a bit of imagination and sound variation to keep things interesting. On "Circle of the Crayfish", they do manage to get some outlandish sounds out of the organ, and combined with the riproaring tempos, the group do keep things hopping for the most part. There's even an introspective electronic piece. Even with all of the innovations applied, the album still sounds too monolithic for its own good. As expected, the live album loses some of the studio effects, and is even more one dimensional than the debut. Sixty Nine are to be commended for their mighty efforts, and both of these do deserve a CD reissue. But it's for a niche within a niche audience. Boots exist.

Priority: none

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mars Everywhere, USA


Mars Everywhere - Industrial Sabotage. 1980 Random Radar.

Random Radar is the ancestor to the popular Cuneiform Records label. They had some interesting acts, but none were more intriguing than Mars Everywhere. The music here is a cross between, Canterbury (due to The Muffins influence), space rock, avant prog and free rock. Gets a little loose and annoying in places, but when they catch a groove, the fireworks are undeniable. Some brilliant guitar work, and it's just this space rock element that becomes the album's ace in the hole. Worth tracking down.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Booth Davis and Lowe, USA


Booth, Davis and Lowe - Prototype. 1978 Titicaca.

Another one from my tape collection from long, long ago (before CD-Rs). Band is from Arizona, but sounds like they're from the great Midwest (Albatross,Ethos, Surprise, etc...). Classic Yes is the obvious starting point, but like many bands of their era, BD&L made a concentrated effort for radio airplay, mixing in some tame but charming AOR songs. A mixed bag, but very much a product of the American underground.

Priority: none

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alpha Omega, Australia


Alpha Omega - s/t. 1976 Clear Light of Jupiter

Steven Maxwell, most known for his group Cybotron, also plays synthesizers for this most interesting fusion group. Perhaps Cybotron's Colossus is a good reference, mixing in saxophone lead rock with electronic sequences. Alpha Omega is more rooted in jazz, however, which includes some free blow sax and shredding guitar solos. It's an odd combination. Passport's Infiniti Machine is also similar to this, though for certain more tame. Well worth hearing for the uniqueness factor.

Priority: none

Monday, September 6, 2010

Arc, France


Arc - Maquette. 1980 Game.

Earnest attempt to recreate the Ange / Mona Lisa style of dramatic French language progressive rock. Similar to other such efforts like Elohim's "Le Mana Perdu" (1983), Trefle (1979) or Elixir's "Sabbat" (1987). It's a distinctly French form of rock, and for what it is, it's pretty good. Don't expect Ange though.

Priority: none

Sunday, September 5, 2010

ES, Germany



ES - Wham Bang. 1979 Fran

Moved to UMR

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Miklagard, Sweden


Miklagard - s/t. 1979 private.

Pretty much bread and butter keyboard trio prog rock, with nice leads (some fat analog, some thin cheesy), and the always pleasant sound of Swedish vocals. The LP was still available as late as the early 1990s. With that in mind, I'm surprised this has yet to be reissued, as there was a built-in audience already. I could see Transsubstans or Mellotronen eventually reissuing it.

Priority: 3

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sunday, England


Sunday - s/t. 1972 Bellaphon.

Mix of organ rock, hard rock and progressive. Another UK band who's only release was in Germany (like Diabolus, Odin). Good record and an even better cover that would make a nice choice for a mini-LP from Japan. Boots exist.

Priority: 3

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sicher, Switzerland


Sicher - s/t. 1981 private.

There was a major boom in private progressive albums from Switzerland in the late 70s and early 80s. Not sure why that's the case, but here's another one worth your consideration. Featuring two flute players, and possessing a strong affinity for classical music, Sicher put out a better than average progressive album when compared to many of their peers. Some semblance to Eloiteron. Well worth seeking out for a listen or two.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Puzzle, France


Puzzle - s/t. 1983 private.

A well executed psychedelic guitar driven album, released at a time when very little of this style was available on the market. Perhaps only Cincinnati's Ra Can Row could be called out during this era. There are some really sizzling guitar freakouts here. And actually a few well-thought out melodies, which is not something inherent within the genre. But Puzzle has one fatal flaw. And it's the only thing keeping me raving about it: The dreaded drum machine. Had they employed a real drummer, I would enthuse more about it. Naturally enough, the keyboards are all 1980's era synthesizers too, though the guitar fortunately remains the focus. A fine album overall.

Priority: 3