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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Avel Nevez, France


Avel Nevez - La Belle De Josselin. 1978 Arfolk.
Avel Nevez - Service Compris. 1980 Arfolk.

There's a fine line between electric folk rock and folk influenced progressive rock. With Brittany, the majority of the bands are the former. Avel Nevez, on "Service Compris" at least, is probably the most clear example of the latter at least from this French region. There's no mistaking the patriotism and indigenous melodies that define the Breton area (the regional map in the trashcan says all you need to know politically). However, the guitar and in particular, the synthesizer work points to a deep 1970's knowledge of French and UK progressive rock. If you're familiar with the mid 90's band Kadwaladyr, then Avel Nevez is probably closest in sound to that high spirited bunch.

I haven't heard the first album, though it's my understanding that it's much more folk inspired.

Priority: 2

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

News: Laser's Edge launches new reissue label!!

This is some news I've been sitting on for some time (well over a year). I think it's a fantastic idea, and I'm backing the project 100% for what Ken is doing here. And knowing Ken's tastes, you can rest assured many of the albums I have in this list will at least be considered. This is truly exciting news. The US has long been dormant for reissues, and it would be nice to have our own Garden of Delights and Long Hair. And I'm pretty sure Ken will consider albums from all over the world.

Here's the announcement from Ken plus an opportunity to name the label!

"I've had an idea in the back of my head for a number of years that I am finally bringing to fruition.

Many years ago I recognized that there are many great progressive albums that I've become familiar with that deserve attention but because they are obscure they don't stand much of a chance in the market as a full blown reissue.

So here's the deal…I am going to launch a new reissue label. The focus of the label will be on music from the 70s and 80s that has never been on CD before. The scope of the label will be anything that piques my interest that falls under the broad umbrella of progressive music. It could be symphonic rock, fusion, kosmigroov, electronic - its pretty much wide open.

The guidelines for the label will be as follows:

1. We will only work with original master tapes
2. Bob Katz will handle all mastering
3. Detailed liner notes and photos (whenever possible)
4. Packaging will feature Stoughton Printing mini-lp sleeves
5. Original artwork
6. The edition size will be limited to either 500 or 1000 copies depending on the title. We will specify the edition size at publication and not go beyond that regardless of the demand.

I have other ideas I'd like to implement if possible when we are ready to launch.

We already have settled on our first two releases (titles to be announced as soon as the ink is dry on the contracts).

Oh yeah…one other thing. They will be relatively expensive. Because of the costs involved with manufacturing such a small quantity these releases are going to be premium priced. They will only be available from select retailers and will not go through our normal distribution channels.

So here's the thing…I'm lousy at coming up with names for a label. If I had any flair for it I wouldn't have thought up "The Laser's Edge" 23 year ago.

I am launching a contest to name our new reissue label. The winner will receive gratis copies of our first four releases.

The rules are pretty simple. In the interest of transparency I would like all entries to be posted online on our forum. The winner will be notified by email on Monday, April 18th. Post as many as you like. Humorous submissions are OK but it won't bring home the bacon. Please include your email address somewhere in your post so we can contact you in the crazy chance you actually win.

I will be judge, jury, and executioner. If we don't receive any reasonable entries I reserve the right to thumb my nose at you.

Good luck!

Ken Golden

http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/lasers-edge/674611-new-lasers-edge-label-contest-launch.html "

Polestar 1, USA


Polestar 1 - Flying Thru the Universe. 1980 Rascal Records

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Proteus, USA


Proteus - Infinite Change. 1981 Proteus International Records.

I remember when my old friend Michael Piper (RIP) first unearthed sealed copies of this album in the mid 90s. I promptly plunked down for my own copy and never regretted it.

Proteus are a Chicago based fusion group, not too far in style from another Windy City favorite that we recently featured: Streetdancer. The highlight is the constant and fiery guitar work, and the compositions are more geared towards progressive rock than slick fusion. Side 1 is flat out awesome, whereas the other side begins to add the dreaded funky chicken components that were all too common for the era. Still, we're never too far away from another blazing guitar solo, and all is right again. An excellent album that is a must for fusion and instrumental progressive rock fans.

Priority: 2

Monday, March 28, 2011

Seventh Seal, Japan



Seventh Seal - s/t. 1997 Acme (released in England).

So it pretty much starts here for Makoto Kawabata, mastermind behind the Acid Mothers Temple franchise (though technically Kawabata was in Toho Sara and Musica Transonic prior to this). To be honest, I wish I was a big fan of his work, as he is involved with scores of albums - all in a style that I happen to love. Except he has no sense of restraint. Everything goes through the wringer so that there isn't one drop left. Guitar feedback overload for 40 minutes makes one nauseous after while. It's like those bad SNL skits, where the first 30 seconds are funny and the next 5 minutes are painful. Good thing Kawabata didn't jam with Terry Brooks in the mid 70s. Ay-chee-wah-wah. Of course, it would be a false statement for me to say I've heard all of his albums. Only a small fraction, and there are a couple of albums by AMT that are well worth the effort. And as a guest musician, his hit rate is even better (most recently with the French group Aquaserge).

All of this to say that his start here with Seventh Seal was most promising. His chance encounter with Gary Ramon (Sun Dial, Quad, owner of Acme Records) must have proven to be highly enlightening for Kawabata (in both sound and label activity). The side long opener in fact sounds somewhat like Quad, with wordless female vocals, which also recalls the group Floating Flower (one of Kawabata's early era bands). Side two features a fetching psychedelic ethnic Japanese track before launching into the closer, our first indication that Kawabata didn't have much use for an editor. Still, an overall delightful psychedelic effort. This should be one of the Holy Grail pieces for AMT fans (I'm sure there are many). Within the next month, I also plan on featuring the Prescription Drug album by the Holy Angels, who most assuredly is another effort from Kawabata (and likely Seventh Seal).

Priority: 3

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pat Cool, Netherlands


Pat Cool - Daybreak. 1973 Delta.

While surfing the net one evening many years ago, I ran into a nice website that is basically a Dutch Progressive Rock Encyclopedia. They had my review of Avalanche up (and I'm always fine with that as long as they give proper credit - which they do - though they have the wrong website. Prognosis is another site (and excellent I might add)). The site is still up and well worth your time to review.

I was familiar with most if not all the bands there, save one. And that would be Pat Cool of course. I saw their description: "The music is a sort of jazzy, keyboard orientated progressive rock." And then I saw it was on the same label as the superb Banzai album. Oh, I had to have this! Further they added the following outside review: "Pat Cool makes jazzy, keyboard oriented progressive rock. The music is not very complex and the voice of Gé Titulaer is very prominent also. The opening track When someday has a nice easy going feeling over it. It culminates in a excellent recorder solo. The second track is very jazzy, poppy song. The third track was written after the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. It starts with a nice flute and also has a great organ sound. This is probably the best track on the album. The title track is a short poppy track and not very interesting. I wish is mainly based around a bass riff. It does have that good old Hammond organ again. The last track is a very slow song."

All of this sounded good to me, so I found a copy on ebay a few years ago. Musically, the album is as described above - a slightly jazz influenced progressive rock. Very much from the Dutch school. But the above quote "and the voice of Gé Titulaer is very prominent also" would have to rank as one of the all-time great understatements. It's quite apparent to me that he was trying very hard to emulate one Tom Jones - and well... hmmm.... maybe not the most successful try out there. So I'll offer another great understatement: His voice is an acquired taste. And scary to say, I think I'm falling into that camp. So, in the end, a very solid Dutch progressive rock album, with pop and jazz overtones - and an overbearing voice. Sound good? Probably not. But it is strangely enough.

Priority: 3

The cover shown has been slightly cropped from the original. There's a slim white border around the album.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Other Music, USA



Other Music - Prime Numbers. 1980 Nth Degree.
Other Music - Incidents Out of Context. 1983 Flying Fish.

In 1998, yours truly had a 4 month long-term consulting engagement in Manhattan (during the late spring / early summer no less). The gig was in Soho on the edge of Greenwich Village and my hotel was in Chinatown / Little Italy. Not only did I eat like a king, but at least once a week I'd work off the meal by taking a brisk 20-25 minute walk up Lafayette to Other Music, one of the great "hipster" stores that featured all kinds of our style of music. I have often wondered if they arrived at the store name via this San Francisco based group - an album they most assuredly would have found in a $1 bin somewhere during the 1980s or early 90s (as I did).

This is the second and last Flying Fish band I plan to feature (the other was Orchestra of the 8th Day). I would not be surprised to find out there were other relevant-to-this-list titles on the label.

To date I haven't heard "Prime Numbers", but "Incidents Out of Context" is a fine example of what we now call avant progressive. A mix of systems electronic music, far eastern ethnic scales and instruments, unusual percussion, classical chamber music and.... fuzz bass. This latter element just slays me every time, especially in this context (so to speak). Anyway, I'm not doing the music any justice at all, as it's entirely unique and pretty far from my expertise. But well within scope too. If this sounds cool, it's because it is. One of a kind.


More info with a few free downloads here.


Priority: 3

Friday, March 25, 2011

News: Esoteric Mar-May 2011 releases

As usual, Esoteric has a fine batch of releases coming up. Most of these have been done prior, but as most of you already know, the Esoteric reissue is almost always an upgrade and is considered the definitive version. I've slowly been upgrading my own collection as needed.

The one thing that caught my eye is the unreleased Cologne concert by Tangerine Dream (on the Zeit reissue). I'm going to guess it's the 1972 concert known in the bootleg world as "Cologne WDR-Sendesaal". Does anyone know for sure? All live Tangerine Dream concerts before 1976 interest me, since they were entirely improvised and each features unique material.

Also worth noting that their version of "Poland" is the original full 2 LP set (and hopefully more), not the truncated one CD version (the Castle version chops off about 5-7 minutes from the original). I believe this is the first time it's been released as a double CD. This is the album that I began to lose interest with T Dream, but nostalgia is pulling me in, and I'll probably get this version myself. I sold the 2 LP set 20 years ago.

I'm also looking at their version of the German Armaggedon that came out on CD from Kuckuck a long time ago.

Here's the announcement in full (I did a small amount of editing):

"March:

VDGG-A grounding in Numbers(new studio album)
Tony Williams Lifetime-Emergency
Tony Williams Lifetime-Turn it Over
Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Strangelands (the lost album)
Illusion-Illusion
Illusion-Out of the Mist
Ray Thomas-Hopes and Fears (single edition)
Ray Thomas-From Mighty Oaks (single edition)
Armaggedon-s/t (Krautrock) --not to be confused with the English Armageddon which we also have on Esoteric
Tangerine Dream--Ride on the Ray 2CD slipcased (1980-1987)
Tangerine Dream-Sunrise in The Third system--2Cd slipcased (1970-1973)

April is as follows

Vangelis---L'apocalypse des Animaux (digipack , remastered by Vangelis)
Vangelis--Opera Suvage (digipack, remastered by Vangelis)
Jack Bruce-A question of Time (one of Jacks personal favourites and featuring GUEST MUSICIANS GINGER BAKER, TONY WILLIAMS, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH, BERNIE WORRELL, VERNON REID & ALBERT COLLINS
Tempest --Tempest
Tempest--Living in Fear (rather excellent quite heavy jazz rock with Jon Hiseman and crew)
Home--Home
Home-Pause for a Hoarse Horse
(I rather like the early Home albums--different from the Alchemist they are more comparable to an early Man around 1970/1971)
Dave Brock--Earthed to the Ground--1st solo album from 1984 for the HAWKs front man.

We had originally announced La Fete Sauvage alongside the other 2 Vangelis albums but this has been put on hold temporarily whilst some issues are sorted out on this particular title.

May is as follows

Tangerine Dream--Zeit, deluxe 2 CD of this classic with a bonus unreleased live concert from Cologne and restores the double album in full. (please note there will also be a huge expanded edition of this in early June with the deluxe 2CD a vinyl album with the resoted insert, postcards and a large book) This will retail around the £50 mark , so if you are a huge TD fan, you may want to wait till full details of this are announced.

Tangerine Dream-Poland, deluxe 2CD of this classic from 1984. Full unedited version.

Manticore Anthology set--Envelopes of Yesterday. 2Cd set This will include tracks from ELP and Greg Lake and other acts we have not reissued such as Thee Image and Hanson as well as PFM, Banco, pete Sinfield etc.

Hawkwind_Distant Horizons

Isotope-Isotope
Isotope-Illusion (getting confusing with all the releases we have named Illsion)
Isotope--Deep End
(again classic strong jazz rock) with Gary Boyle

Gary Brooker - Lead Me to the Water----- Fine second solo album from the Procol Harum front man , the record was a fine effort which featured a host of Brookerâs friends as guests including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Phil Collins, Albert Lee. 2 bonus tracks. "

Jukka Hauru, Finland



Jukka Hauru - Information. 1972 Finnlevy.
Jukka Hauru - Episode. 1975 Love.

I first came across Hauru's name in the early 90's in association with the first Kalevala album, still a personal favorite album of mine. So I picked up the Information LP not long after from one of my dealer friends. I didn't get Episode until the ebay years.

On his debut album "Information", there's no doubt the major influence for Jukka Hauru - one of Frank Zappa, especially of the Hot Rats era. The same motif is applied: Silly bits of humor, an almost academic approach to chamber jazz, and shredding early 70s bluesy wah-wah guitar like the master himself. Hauru proves to be an exceptional student, and this album is a no-brainer for fans of the style.

"Episode" is quite a bit different, and moves towards the center of the Euro fusion movement. But it's a really good example of the style, with tight playing and Hauru proves to be once again quite adept with the electric six stringer. As an aside, Jukka Linkola plays keyboards on this album, and he apparently has a fine fusion album as well which I haven't heard. Looks like the cool folks over at ProgNotFrog have a copy to check out.

Priority: 2

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cosmology, USA


Cosmology - s/t. 1977 Vanguard.

Following from my comment about the Vanguard label on the Flying Island entry, I did listen to The Open Window and Cosmology. The former I put in the main list, but this one is worth a separate entry I think.

Looking at the cover, you'd think this was an album from 1970. Those sideburns alone point to another era. Maybe they were friends with the English band First Aid, another anachronistic wonder from 1977. And musically it also points to a 1970 heritage. Produced by Collin Walcott (and he guests on sitar for one track), Cosmology is primarily an old fashioned horn rock album, though rooted in jazz fusion rather than pop rock. The lovely female vocals somewhat reminded me of both Quebec's Contraction and France's Cortex. But this isn't going to be on any hipsters A-list anytime soon. These guys are squares. But I found the myriad of styles at play here entirely refreshing - and completely unique. You'll see folks trying hard to get this one lumped in with the late 70s funk crowd, but good luck with that. I don't hear it myself. If any of this sounds good to you, pick this one up. The LP still goes for relatively cheap. And I for one would love to see a CD of it.

Priority: 3

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Flying Island, USA



Flying Island - s/t. 1975 Vanguard.
Flying Island - Another Kind of Space. 1976 Vanguard.

Like the Morgen that we posted not long ago, Flying Island has to be considered one of the more recognizable names in the list. US distribution was thorough, and it's the kind of album that I think many people consider obscure (which it is in the whole scheme of things), but is still widely known by fans of 70's underground rock.

When I think of Flying Island, I tend to categorize them as a fusion band. But this listen to both albums proved to me that's not really the case. Even though there's a little funky business (especially on the debut), I would say that Flying Island are more of an instrumental progressive rock band. The lead instruments are violin, guitar and organ, and this is definitely no chops fest. Compositions are first and foremost, while instrumental dexterity backs up the highly melodic, but complex music charts. The violin in particular will remind the listener of Curved Air and Darryl Way's Wolf. Instantly recognizable cover art, another fine trademark of the Vanguard label. I miss the days when a label could be identified in this way.

Italy's Comet Records did buy the rights to the Vanguard catalog well over a decade ago. But for some reason they left off Flying Island, a group that most assuredly would have sold well for them. So my guess is Vanguard no longer had the rights either. These are long overdue for a reissue.

Speaking of Vanguard - what a cool label right? They never were quite plugged into the various rock scenes and yet they signed plenty of interesting bands. Their psychedelic selection is well respected (and from the CDRWL perspective, none is better than the 1968 album by Listening). This post reminded me of two other albums on Vanguard from my collection that I forgot to include in the main list: The Open Window and Cosmology. I plan on listening to both tomorrow. I'll determine then on whether they get a separate blog post or just an entry in the Original Wish List.

According to Chris Fox of Helmet of Gnats - the band is from his hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut.

And another Progressive Ears insight: Violinst Faith Fraeoli later played on the "Perfect Symmetry" prog metal album by Fates Warning (also from Connecticut).

Priority: 2

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Connivence, Canada




Connivence - s/t. 1977 Kebec.
Connivence - II. 1979 Kebec.
Connivence - III. 1984 Amplitude.

Connivence were a large collective from rural Quebec, who practically define the folk rock influenced progressive rock scene from this rich cultural region. The concept of Connivence is more akin to the original Amon Duul, in terms of structure - not music, in that various musicians participate on the recordings. So there isn't a lot of cohesion between the first two releases, but they still have that unique Quebecois folk rock quality like you would find on albums by L'Engoulevent, Breche, Etoifilan, and of course the forefathers of the movement: Harmonium. The female vocals occasionally call to mind the excellent Contraction. The large ensemble approach, and general uplifting tone, also remind me of Belgium's Nuit Caline A La Villa Mon Reve and France's Synthesis.

By the third album, Connivence appears to have given up their amateur status and gone pro. The album is clearly a product of the early 80s, with a slick production and more synthesized sounds now penetrate. Gone is the folky flavor of the first 2 albums. Still, the album is better than all of this may imply, and the songs are well crafted, and they haven't lost their progressive rock edge. Maybe a point down from the first two, but only slightly, and certainly a more consistent effort. It has a poor reputation, but I think that has more to do with it being so different than the first two - and the 80's gloss doesn't help.

These are still easy to find on ebay, though maybe the third one is a bit more scarce. Even that one, I bought it sealed on ebay about 6 years ago for less than $10. So if you have a turntable, be sure to pick up all 3. For CDs, I would expect that ProgQuebec will eventually put these out. It's right in their wheelhouse.

Priority: 3

Monday, March 21, 2011

News: Archival release by Fox (post Day Blindness) coming soon


It's been kind of slow on the news front this year (though I'm sitting on some great news from various labels that I'm bursting to share, but have been sworn to secrecy by all parties). As an aside, the Soleil Zeuhl albums we mentioned last year just came out (though no word yet on Bringolf's "Vision").

Anyway, onto the news. I saw this in the latest Clearspot newsletter. Looks like it could be interesting. Day Blindness should have been better than it was, and this looks more jam oriented which could be excellent. I guess we'll see. It's coming out on RD Records by the end of April.

Label says: "An unreleased album from this post "DAY BLINDNESS" band, recorded in 1969/70. This album is a heavy bluesy psychedelic masterpiece of the highest order. It is virtually the second "DAY BLINDNESS" album with slight personal changes, but musically in a more heavy psychedelic direction. The lead guitarist Gary Pihl is well known today for being the guitar player of BOSTON. Here he plays an amazing psychedelic guitar and it reminds us in parts of the mighty MARIANI's "Perpetuum Mobile" album. Superb bass guitar by Johnny V. Vernazza and crazy drums by Roy Garcia, who later went to play with the legendary band GOLD (of Rockadelic Records fame!). Only one 45 single was ever released of those fantastic sessions on "Studio 10", and the single is mega rare these days. A treasure lost at the time which we are very pleased to present to you today!!! CD FEATURES 2 Long (20 Minutes!!!) Bonus Tracks" (I had no idea until now that the current Boston guitarist came from Day Blindness.)

Another Roadside Attraction, Canada


Another Roadside Attraction - s/t. 1979 ARA.

Another Roadside Attraction are yet another late 1970's band that has that "Midwest progressive rock" sound that I'm quite fond of, and is littered throughout these pages. They feature the unusual lineup of two keyboardists, a drummer and a vocalist. The songs themselves have that slight FM radio slant that makes me a bit nostalgic. But the instrumental sections are right out of the classic ELP playbook. In fact, this album reminds me most of Morgan's "The Sleeper Awakes" and The Trip's "Time of Change". Like those albums, hyper active acoustic piano drives the compositions forward. Synthesizers tend to be the solo instrument of choice. If ProgQuebec ever becomes ProgOntario, then perhaps they'll take on this one! The LP itself has the look and feel of your typical US private press and features neat cover art.

Priority: 2

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Axis, Greece


Axis - s/t. 1973 Riviera (Released in France).

Now here's one I've had forever, going back to the 1980s. I never quite understood the album, but it's one I could not let go of either. After probably a decade since my last listen, this album sounds better to me now than ever. It's aged quite well.

Axis is as eclectic an album as you'll find from the early 70s. In some ways, it mirrors Aphrodite's Child's classic "666" album, with its mix of song oriented pop psych and long complex instrumental journeys. Axis begins as a straight up hard rock album and moves over to Canterbury jazz rock and then onto free jazz. Side 2 is similar, though they add a symphonic rock angle as well. The keyboards on Axis are splendid featuring anything from fuzz overloaded organ to jazzy electric piano to layers upon layers of mellotron. The album features two bona fide monster tracks: "Materializing the Unlimited" and "The Planet Vavoura". If the whole album were like these two songs, it would probably be in my Top 10 ever.

Features an awesome psyched out gatefold cover. Axis has one earlier release that is more straightforward and is of much lesser interest (for me anyway).

Priority: 2

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cherokee Mist, England



Cherokee Mist - Gathering of the Tribes. 1994 Avalon.
Cherokee Mist - Anthem of the Moon. 1997 Euphoria.

There were a couple of schools of psychedelic music coming out of England in the 1980s. One was the "Festival" scene, with Ozric Tentacles at its core, featuring music that blended psychedelia, space rock, electronic, techno and reggae. A mix of Gong and modern dance sensibilities.

The other school was more rooted in the UK and US garage, a primitive but song oriented music, with plenty of acid guitar leads. This sound is best represented by Bevis Frond and Outskirts of Infinity. Cherokee Mist, lead by Mo and Niall Hone, are of this latter movement.

"Gathering of the Tribes" is the more Bevis Frond influenced of the two, with a similar vocal style, and a familiar garage rock compositional style. Much room though is given for the guitar solos, and it's a fine, if unoriginal work. Much better is "Anthem of the Moon". Here the band drops the compositional pretense and just gets down to business with a non-stop guitar oriented attack. Like most English bands in the style, Cherokee Mist have a clear idea of style and dynamics, so it's not a blistering overload of the senses that makes one nauseous in 10 minutes. It's easy to listen to, and yet there are many fiery jams to behold. A good one. Features a nice gatefold sleeve as well.

(the scans out there were a little blurry, so these are current / old ebay auction photos. I'm too lazy to photo my albums).

Priority: 3

Friday, March 18, 2011

Formas, Spain


Formas - Largos Suenos. 1981 Surcosur.

One of the many Rock Andaluz albums from Spain during the late 70s and early 80s, which Triana had popularized to great success starting in 1975. It can be argued that Formas isn't progressive rock at all, but rather straight up Flamenco rock, with short, compact tunes. The irregular rhythms, hand claps, synthesizers and Arabian voices add an exotic flair, and I personally find this style of music highly appealing. This is a second tier work for the style, but a good one all the same, and it's too bad the album missed the first wave of CD reissues coming out of Spain in the 1990s. As with most Spanish albums, it features fetching art work.

Priority: 3

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guns & Butter, USA


Guns & Butter - s/t. 1972 Cotillion.

I've had this one buried in the collection forever. It was one of those albums that in the back of my mind I knew was better than I'd ever given it credit for. If I could just get some time with my turntable.... And indeed this last listen proved my instincts were correct. Wow. Really wow.

Boston based Guns & Butter may be the best example, from the early 70s United States scene that is, of the UK progressive rock movement as headed by the Dawn, Neon and Transatlantic labels. Even the vocals have a certain English affected smoothness to them. The lead instruments are primarily guitar, violin and saxophone (with some additional flute), and the compositions are very complex yet compact. There's a distinct psychedelic aura around this, and it sounds more like a 1969/70 release than anything from 1972. I'm most reminded of the first two East of Eden albums, though I also hear bands like Diabolus and Raw Material creeping in. Side 1 is magnificent, while Side 2 is merely great (though it features the best song on the album 'Lady Grey').

Even today, this is a relatively common record and it isn't expensive. If you still have a turntable, then this is a must buy. Even though they're American, this is the perfect fit for a label like Esoteric (who have released US albums before).

Priority: 1

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hunk Ai, Denmark


Hunk Ai - s/t. 1986 Olufsen

Moved to UMR

Priority: none

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Accion Rock Band, Spain





Acción Rock Band - s/t. 1981 Universitas Editorial.

Another rarity sent in by The Alaskan Collection, that I was entirely unfamiliar with prior.

One of the great benefits to collecting progressive rock albums is the album covers themselves. Italy, Germany, England, The Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries all excelled at creating imaginative cover art in the 1970s. For my money, Spain is the best of them all. My favorite covers are by an artist called Puebla, who painted the Gotic "Escenes" album and the first two Vega albums. But the list goes on for wonderful Spanish covers: Medina Azahara, Mezquita, Bloque, Iceberg, Tabletom, Ibio, Granada, Iman Califato Indipendiente, etc... Each of the prior bands have at least one amazing cover, if not more than one. Acción Rock Band is clearly in the Hall of Fame amongst those.

Oh sorry, what was that? You were asking about the music? Ah yes, the music... of course! The music... Did I mention the album cover?

The Acción Rock Band is a fairly typical early 80s album that ranges from pop rock with synthesizers to a mundane hard rock sound. There's some nice riffing which also points to a proto-metal background. Overall the album reminds me of the non-classic, latter day albums by Medina Azahara, Ñu, Mezquita or any of the albums by Baron Rojo. So definitely not typical CDRWL fare, but worthy of inclusion due to heritage and album art. The AC offers these accurate insights "Musically, nothing too special. Melodic, mostly laid-back song oriented stuff with a few minor prog moves and a bunch of period synthesizer sounds to help give it some charm. But, get a load of that cover! In my opinion, this thing's right up there Metamorfosis, Jara, etc. The other somewhat interesting thing about this band is that they hailed from the province of Extremadura, which I believe is a somewhat obscure area of interior Spain, near the Portuguese border. Pretty far removed from all of the major scene activity in Spain. Also, it is a fairly rare LP. I think only around 100 or 200 were pressed."

Priority: none

Monday, March 14, 2011

Zebulon, Germany



Zebulon - s/t. 1980 Pollux Produktion.

And yet another rarity sent in by The Alaskan Connection, that I was unaware of. Sometimes it's hard to imagine, after all these years, that something this good is still a complete unknown. With Kennlisch and Passenger, I can understand their obscurity. Zebulon I can't.

What we have here is the type of album we wish all private symphonic rock albums to be. Not long ago, we featured a band called Profil and their album "For You". Zebulon reminded me of that album, though this is much more keyboard driven than the purely guitar oriented Profil. Zebulon has a positive energy, with many hooks and changes, and plenty of fiery solos. At any one time while listening to this, I was reminded of other German bands such as Tonic, Trilogy, Rousseau, Prosper and maybe even the first Amenophis album. Probably the only weakness is the choice of keyboards / synthesizers that are employed - generally of the cheap and tinny variety. It's a small complaint with music this good. The AC comments "This one is straight-up excellent instrumental prog, with a few fusion touches thrown in for good measure. I really enjoy this album, and it seems almost totally unknown." Overall, a superb instrumental progressive rock album.

It's always exciting to learn of albums like this. This would be a PERFECT reissue for Garden of Delights.

Thanks again AC!

Priority: 2

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kennlisch, France



Kënnlisch - s/t. 1976 private.

Here's another major league rarity sent in from The Alaskan Connection. This is another one I'd never even heard of until now.

Terms like "haunting folk" and "folk psych" are two of the most overused in the music collecting business. There was a time in the early 90s that I was truly excited to hear the albums that these collectors described ("enchanting", "mystical", "from the mists of time","shrouded in mystery"). Until I did. Most of the albums in this field are purely folk, with maybe a few minutes of electric instrumentation. And much of it is drinking around the campfire music, hardly the dark / mystical imagery that they would have you believe. With that in mind...

Kënnlisch is haunting folk personified.

The group is made up of two members, the Macherey brothers, and it's Philippe who makes this album very interesting. He plays electric guitar, harmonium and Moog. The latter element in particular makes this one far more interesting to me. And the harmonium recalls Windy Corner at their best. Though the location of the recordings is in Paris, I would suspect the band is Alsatian. I say that because there is a distinct German quality at play here. There are sparse vocals in French, but they're sung more forcefully. As well, the brief narration sounded Germanic to me (though still in French). The downside of the album is a few tracks are simply Jean-Francois strumming his acoustic guitar. I could see doing that for one song tops, but with about 30-35% of the album like this, it begins to drag a bit.

If there's a hot commodity in the collector world right now, it's psychedelic folk. This one is actually close to living up to its name.

Thanks again goes to the AC for turning up such an immense rarity!

Priority: none

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lacrima, Germany



Lacrima - s/t. 1981 Tonstudio Bieber.

Another batch just arrived in from The Alaskan Connection, so we have at least 4 more very interesting titles to report on. This one is really more a candidate for the main CDRWL, but given its total obscurity, I thought it worth a main entry post. Tonstudio Bieber is the same label that released Ocean's "Melody" and the Nanu Urwerk album (we're pretty sure Justin isn't involved).

In my mind, Lacrima is a really good example of Deutschrock, which I separate from Krautrock, German progressive rock and polit-rock. I define Deutschrock as nondescript commercially oriented rock with German lyrics. Basically the German local version of our Journey and Boston (completely different sound, but same idea). The Aquarell album we have in the main list is another recent example. Lacrima is a very eclectic release, so there are some very fine moments here, in particular one sequence that recalled the haunting style of Emma Myldenberger. But the album closes with a horrid blues rock track as an example. As the AC says: Lacrima is kind of all over the map. Some folky stuff, symphonic prog, terrible straight blues, etc. A real mixed bag. Worth hearing, but not a top priority, that's for certain. Thanks AC!

Priority: none

Friday, March 11, 2011

Passenger, England



Passenger - Jail Notes. 1977 Mulbery.

Another of the latest batch from The Alaskan Connection. This would typically be a main list afterthought, but given the rarity and the fact that I know many of you are interested in this one - I figured it was worth an entry and some commentary.

This one has been on my curiosity list for a long time, ever since first seeing it in one of those Pokora books. After hearing it, you have to wonder why records like this get hyped. Personally, I think people all the time incorrectly use the word hype and over-hype. Generally I see folks use it when they disagree with an accepted standard viewpoint. "Anglagard's Hybris is over hyped!!" That's not hype, that's a difference of opinion. Hype is described as to intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims, methods, etc... or a swindle, deception, or trick. When I think of hype, I think of the New York Times gushing over a new restaurant that charges $200 a plate and closes in 2 months because everyone hated it. In the music world, hype can simply be described as: Passenger.

Of course, it's easy to understand why a dealer would do this. The record is genuinely rare*. It just doesn't happen to be any good. I'm sure someone out there will say it is awesome, and maybe even mean it. But if you're a fan of progressive rock, or underground sounds, then there's a really good chance you won't like this. Especially at the prices this album is likely to fetch in the open market. Why? Because it's just plain 3 minute-a-track rock. The kind of album that was dime a dozen in the 1970's and now rightfully will cost you 25 cents at your local record fair. Which is why I say it's HYPED.

The AC, as always, nails it by stating "I had heard this was supposed to be some sort of prog album, maybe even in the Canterbury vein. But that was obviously nonsense, as this sounds more like anachronistic soft-psych and folky rural rock, as heard on many a crappy Acid Archives type of album from the US private press scene."

*- Continuing on from above, I have to admit to being a little more than suspicious about this album (though the pressed in 100 copies is probably authentic). Maybe it's a genuine 1970's article, but there are some clues here that state otherwise. The AC kindly provided detailed photos. Strictly limited to 100 copies. Why do that? From what I understand, there was a specific tax law in the UK on why you would want to press an album in only 99 copies - like the Holyground albums for example (that's based on memory, so I may be entirely wrong here about the tax thing). Then there's the 2 cover songs that struck me as odd. First is 'Elizabeth Reid', which is a cover of The Allman Brothers Band 'In Memory of Elizabeth Reed'. Awfully sloppy on the spelling and truncation don't you think? I guess I'm supposed to buy that they were so stoned, they didn't notice? Or that they didn't want to have to pay the rights to cover it? Hmmm... But the one that really caught my attention is 'Indian Summer'. This track is the cover of the namesake band's 'From the Film of the Same Name', one of my all-time favorite early 70s UK progressive rock instrumentals. That's how I noticed it. But seriously? Calling the track 'Indian Summer'? And who the heck would cover Indian Summer in the 1970s anyway? They were always obscure. I could see someone doing that in the 1990s or 2000's. And I'm starting to wonder now if this wasn't put together by some psych collectors. Some other oddities on the back cover. It says "File under Amazing". That's not a 1970's way of stating things. That's more of our own era. A wink-wink type of thing. And how about "This record is not mono; if in doubt consult your dealer". In 1977?? That was a 1960's issue. I dunno - I could be way off base here. So if anyone knows any different, for certain rather than rumor - then please comment away. It's just a bit weird that's all.

In conclusion, the Passenger album isn't terrible. Not in the same way as that awful Mongrel album that is also HYPED. The Indian Summer cover was nicely done for example. A couple of the other songs were well penned I thought, like the opener. It's a 7 on the Gnosis scale.

Thanks again goes to the The AC for helping satiate my curiosity!

Priority: none

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ptolomy Psycon, England


Ptolomy Psycon - Loose Capacitor (EP). 1971 private. (catalog number HAT 1306 A).

This one has been on my curiosity list for a very long time. At least since Amber Soundroom had announced their intention to reissue it on vinyl (guessing this was around 2003/2004?). Leave it to The Alaskan Connection to have it on hand. And this one lived up to its reputation.

Ptolomy Psycon practically defines the raw UK underground of the early 1970s. I suppose the 99 count Holyground albums, or the hyper rare Dark album* can give you an indication of the recording quality. But the music is definitely influenced by the upcoming progressive rock movement, especially Hawkwind, Steel Mill, Jethro Tull and King Crimson. The AC also offers "Ptolomy Psycon has lots of that UK psychy proto-prog flavor. This was released as a 10" EP, in an edition of only 50 copies with homemade covers. The band were from the Birmingham area, and were supposedly all students in the same school (around 16-17 years old, I think). In fact, all the "orchestral" stuff you'll hear on this was apparently done by their school band, who they hired to play on the recording!"

Hopefully they recorded more than the 22 minutes found here, as this is a really good example of the early 70s UK deep underground scene.

Priority: 2

*when I say hyper rare - I mean it! An original copy of Dark just went for near $11,000 on ebay just last week. That's right - $11K!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Steps, England





Steps - s/t. 1977 EMI C 068-60190.

Steps seems to be a popular word in the jazz fusion world. We just recently featured an album called "Steps" by Sangi. There's the Japanese fusion group Side Steps, and of course John Coltrane's jazz classic "Giant Steps". And then there's the Australian fusion group Stepps (of "Waltz for Tiger Joe" fame).

This is a big time rarity sent in by The Alaskan Connection. As with the last two entries, I had not even heard of this album until he brought it up. He states "Even though they were British, this album was only released in France... Perhaps that accounts for its near total obscurity. In fact, the only piece of info I've ever seen is actually buried way in the back of the "La Discographie du Rock Francais", in the "foreign artists released in France" section." So I pulled out my dogeared first edition copy of said book, and sure enough, there it is! Never even noticed it before. So that's why I added the catalog number (taken from the book) at the top, as I cannot find one piece of info on the Internet about this, including a cover photo or scan (the ones here are provided by the AC - as he always does).

"La Discographie du Rock Francais" describes the album as "This English trio (keyboards, sax, drums), helped along by a bassist on this album, plays a solely instrumental music in the same vein as SOFT MACHINE on "Fourth". This record reveals a brilliant, united and gifted line up, made up of individuals full of talent such as drummer Roy DODDS with his fine and nuanced style, saxophonist Steve MULLIGAN and keyboardist Steve FRANKLIN. All of them are greatly inspired during their interventions or in the construction and development of the themes. This album is essential for those who love "Fourth" and that kind of cold, and at the same time inflamed, jazz rock which was played by RATLEDGE, DEAN and others."

The AC says "One interesting thing is that Hanny Rowe of Gong plays bass on about half of the tracks. Also, it comes in a really cool gatefold sleeve with very weird artwork. Musically, I'd say they were heavily influence by mid-70s Soft Machine. The second side features some slightly more original ideas, with a couple of moody synth-driven pieces." I agree, this one had a bit of an edge, moving closer to my personal target zone. And where that angst shows up most is in the drumming, which is very active and drives the music forward in an exciting way. Make no mistake, this is late 70's fusion - the ever present lead soprano sax guarantees that. But it's a good example of the style, and I think the fusion heads out there would go nuts over this one.

Priority: none

More info from the AC:

Steve Franklin - Keyboards
Steve Mulligan - Saxophones
Roy Dodds - Drums & Percussion
Hanny Rowe (courtesy of Gong) - Bass (tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 8)
John Woolard - Bass (tracks 3, 6, 7)

Side 1:

1 - Same But Different
2 - Slow Lane
3 - Wolves
4 - Thankyar

Side 2:

5 - Connundrum
6 - Swimming Pool
7 - Serpents, Coiled And Plumed
8 - Sortawater

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Juma, Japan


Juma - Aqua Cosmos. 1981 D. D. Records. cassette.

Continuing through the latest Alaskan Connection offerings, we offer up Japanese synthesist (or group) Juma. This would typically be another Main list entry, but I felt it was worth promoting up to the daily blog. Why? Because Juma marries two hopelessly obscure objects for rare music collectors: 1980s do-it-yourself electronic music and the Japanese cassette underground.

On the former point, the music world was teeming with Klaus Schulze wannabees. For anyone who subscribed to Eurock back then, or even the early Audion magazine issues, you'd remember the vast amount of bedroom synthesizer masters. Drop juice on your synthesizer while the tapes are running, and you have an instant masterpiece.

On the latter point about the Japanese cassette underground - well let's just say that the UK Festival cassette culture is downright Best Buy buck bin stuff compared to this scene. It's hard enough to find major label albums out of Japan, much less the privately traded cassettes going in and out of the Tokyo record shops.

The AC describes the album as thus "They apparently released many tapes, and had some of their stuff distributed through Eurock at the time. I've heard a couple of other ones, but I thought they were kind of amateurish and meandering. This one struck me as pretty good, though. I thought you might like it since you expressed your fondness for Berlin school stuff, and this is definitely in that vein. Actually, partly due to the type of synths he was probably using (Japanese stuff like Korg MS-20s and Roland System 100s, which were cheap back then compared to the classic American gear) what it really sounds like is that Pneuma "Psychabuse" CD of archival material from the same period. Also maybe a little similar to Osiris." To the AC's latter point, the best track for me utilized quite a bit of electric guitar soloing (it rambles on, but it's still cool) which did indeed remind me of Osiris' "In the Mist of Time", an album I once owned years ago - but ultimately sold and we featured awhile back. Anyway, I definitely did appreciate this album. Anyone who really likes the first Pythagoras album from The Netherlands would do well to seek this out as well.

Priority: none

Thanks to Bob for the cover!

Monday, March 7, 2011

News: Karma releases archival Mermaid


I don't know much about this one, but saw it in the Shiny Beast update this morning, and it looked like it could be cool. RYM shows that it was released in 2008, but with a more elaborate title. I don't know if it actually did come out then though. I haven't seen it anyway.

Karma Records says this about it: "History: After Burning Red Ivanhoe had stopped, Karsten Vogel (saxophone, keyboards) felt something new should happen. The first fusions bands appeared on the international scene, - inspired by this Karsten Vogel would make a band with direction towards a more modern sound. In the end this resulted in Secret Oyster, but before that Mermaid was put to sea. In many ways Mermaid was a perfect band: A mix between two famous Danish bands: Young Flowers, from where Peter Ingemann (bass, vocal) and Ken Gudmann (drms) was recruited, and Burnin Red Ivanhoe: Karsten Vogel and Ole Fick (guit, voc).

However the fortune was not in favor for the band. Their debut concert was hampered by bad acoustics, nerves and Karsten Vogel’s 40 degrees fever. Also the times had changed, not yet to fusion-power-rock but towards political correct rock.
After this start, the band took off for a longer tour in Norway. This tour was indeed very successful, and the band, now with drummer Claus Sarup, fulfilled every expectations.

Back to Denmark: Again it was difficult to maneuver through the musical landscape. The medias was prefixed on other things. After a few concerts, the band was stopped in Nov. 1974. Only one year after the start.

Now, more than 30 years later, Karsten Vogel found some tapes. Some was recorded by Denmark's Radio (in Denmark), some was private recordings (from Norway). These tapes present the first “Supergroup” in Denmark and the material is outstanding. Later followed Secret Oyster, but that’s another story."

Sangi, Italy




Sangi - s/t. 1978 Sun Records.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you a whole new slew of rarities from The Alaskan Connection. A couple of these have been on my want list forever. So I'm very grateful to him for these great shares.

Today's entry is one I'd never heard of prior, and fits comfortably in the late 1970s fusion suitcase. Like some other recent entries, this would normally fall out the CDRWL featured entry scope and is better fitted for the Original main list. But given its rarity, and that many of my readers are dedicated fusion collectors, I think it's worth posting separately. I received a handful of positive notes for my Genre (New Mexico) entry, so that was encouraging to me as well.

The Sangi album is a very pleasant fusion album, with a noticeable late 70s cruise ship / tropical feel. Exquisitely played and produced. As the AC says "I think part of the appeal of this one is the excellent sound quality, especially for such an obscure small label release. I doubt anyone could make an album that has quite this kind of production nowadays." And it's true. For such a small label private production, the rich full sound here is amazing.

He goes on to mention "You might hear this and think "just another funky fusion album", but to me it just sounds SO good. Anyway, musically it's nothing original as I said, but I just think the execution and presentation are perfect, which really makes it for me." Haha - he knows me too well! I'm sure I'm way too dismissive of these kind of albums, especially to the fans of the style, but I don't mean to be. So forgive me on that front. I admit to loving rougher sounding music, but I really do enjoy hearing these, even if it's not my main focus.

Finally, the AC notes "The other interesting thing is that there's a cameo appearance by Lucio Fabbri of PFM."

Thanks again AC!

Priority: none

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ixt Adux, USA


Ixt Adux - Brainstorm. 1982 Madame X.

One of many albums I bought from Mr. Syn-Phonic himself in the early 1990s. Greg was foresighted enough in the 1980s to buy stock of many rare US progressive rock albums - and I helped take a few off his hands back then.

Los Angeles based Ixt Adux were yet another late 70s / early 80s US band that had absolutely no chance of commercial success. Their brand of aggressive and complex King Crimson influenced rock will remind the listener of St. Elmo's Fire (Cleveland), October (Detroit) and The Inserts (also in Michigan) - other hopelessly obscure albums. There's even a little Canterbury undercurrent (but brash and entirely American) like you would find on a Cartoon album (Phoenix area band). The vocalist definitely enjoyed listening to Van der Graaf Generator, and he employs many Hammill-like declarations. Really a fine album for progressive rock collectors, and one a reissue label could probably sell - as this style is far more in vogue now than in 1982.

Priority: 3

Saturday, March 5, 2011

News: Muck Grohbian's debut album to come out on Long Hair


I suppose it was inevitable, as Long Hair has already reissued many archival Aera albums, that they would also take on leader Muck Grohbian's rare debut album "Muckefuck". I learned this while inspecting the Aera Bavarian Radio CD's, also by Long Hair (they state to look for the Groh album in the Spring of 2011).

4/25/11 update: Looks like the album will be released in May of 2011. Here's what the label has to say: "Originally released in 1979, these recordings show the first solo efforts by formerly Aera leader, guitar player and composer Muck Groh. But in fact this album wasn't a solo album but could be described at the third Aera album of Aera's first decade line-up. All those great musicians like sax player Klaus Kreuzeder, drummer Wolfgang Teske, violinist Christoph Krieger and a lot of guest musicians like Alto Pappert (formerly Kraan) and Aeras second decade musicians like Matz Steinke on bass and Limbus on percussions contributed to this great album. The first 4 titles on the CD (formerly A-Side of the album) are in the tradition of the second album "Hand und Fuß". "Psychochinese im Stanzwerk" reminds to Amon Düül's Deutsch-Nepal. For the first time Muck Groh uses vocals in his compositions in a folky style and "Blinde Kuh" reminds a little bit to the early German new wave bands like Spliff or Nina Hagen Band. All in all this album shows many facets of Muck Grohs composer abilities and convinces with its clever arrangements. CD comes with comprehensive booklet with rare and unseen photos and there are 8 bonus tracks taken from a concert from 1981. "

Yves et Alain Lorentz, France


Yves et Alain Lorentz - Espaces 2. 1978 Arc en Ciel.

I remember when a good friend of mine sent me a cassette of this. 10 minutes in, I knew I had to have it. Fortunately I found a French dealer who had it on one of his lists and I bought the LP immediately. That was back in 1997.

Typical of a French band, "Espaces 2" has that signature compressed and phased out electric guitar sound, mixed with String Ensemble synthesizers (or some facsimile). Somewhat like Sensations' Fix "Portable Madness" minus the rhythm section. Ah, you say, wouldn't that be Falsini's "Cold Nose" then? Well, to some extent yes, but this one has more of a rock feel - so somewhere in between. Other French albums like Ose, Renaud, Archaia and Flamen Dialis provide other guideposts for what you can expect here. Excellent stuff, and even though I think this may have been scored for the film and TV market, it really works as a cohesive LP. Nice embossed gold cover.

Priority: 2

I had stated "RYM lists an Espaces 1 from 1980, but I highly doubt its existence. But that would be cool if I was proven wrong!". And I was proven wrong within an hour of publishing this! Thanks to reader Strawbsfan, he states in the comments: "Espaces 1 exists. I own it. It is not from the Lorentz brothers but by Patrice Sciortino released in 1978 also on the Arc En Ciel label it features the same cover as Espaces 2 only in silver. Similar Sound Library album but with percussion instead."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Morgen, USA *** REISSUED ***


Morgen - s/t. 1969 Probe.

*** Reissued by Sunbeam 2013 ***

As these things go, Morgen is practically a household name compared to the usual CDRWL fare. It's also one heck of a psych album, and that's one reason why it leads the league in bootlegs. This is something I think we've all been waiting for a high profile label like Sundazed to tackle. And I'm sure they would if they could. My guess is it's tied up legally somewhere.

When I first started collecting psych music in the late 1980s (which admittedly came after progressive rock and heavy metal), I expected all the albums to sound something like Morgen. Great bumble bee fuzz guitar, good melodies, somewhat spaced out vocals. But alas, it wasn't to be the case. But Morgen is in the big leagues, and it's no surprise to me that it is one of the most sought after of the major label psych pieces, despite there being a relatively large supply in circulation. It's just that good - and no legal reissue to offset demand. To me, this one is the real deal and I file it right next to The Plastic Cloud. Nice late 1800's artwork of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.

Priority: 2