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Saturday, March 28, 2009

SPACE NEEDLE : One Kind Of Lullaby (1997)

This alternative rock band from the mid-90s only lasted two albums, but made some decidedly experimental music in their time. Going from soft introspective ballads to full-on progressive rock noise experiments, it would be nearly impossible to pin them down into a 'genre' (probably explaining their lack of success, like most other bands that try to vary their sound). This is the last track of their second album, and tries to balance their pop sensibilities (at the beginning) with their sonic explorations (towards the end). Yet overall, a catchy song, with a subtle use of violin in the background. Cover art by none other than Roger Dean, album-cover artist extroardinaire!

Song : "One Kind Of Lullaby" by Space Needle
From the LP "THE MORAY EELS EAT THE SPACE NEEDLE" (Zero Hour) Jan. 21, 1997

Jud Ehrbar : drums, vocals, keyboards, guitars, percussion
Jeff Gatland : guitars, percussion
Anders Parker : guitars, vocals, drums, percussion
Max Buckholtz : violin

: Original artwork by Roger Dean :

Get it here : One Kind Of Lullaby

Saturday, March 21, 2009

HALINA FRACKOWIAK : Snij Tylko Szczescie (1977)

Halina Frackowiak is a popular singer in her native Poland, and became popular in the late 60s as part of the groups Terpany and later Grupa ABC. Inevitably, she went solo, and this track is from her second solo album. She lays crisp, clear vocals over the somewhat progressive rhythm section. The backing band is none other than SBB, one of my favourite progressive rock groups! In particular, Jerzy Piotrowski's drumming is always spot-on, and very funky when wants to be. All the music on the album was written by SBB leader Jozef Skrzek (she would collaborate with him again a couple of years later).

Song : "Snij Tylko Szczescie" by Halina Frackowiak
From the album "GEIRA" (Muza) 1977

Halina Frackowiak : vocals
Jozef Skrzek : bass guitar, keyboards
Antymos Apostolis : guitar
Jerzy Piotrowski : drums

Get it here : Snij Tylko Szczescie

Sunday, March 15, 2009

BRIAN ENO : Sombre Reptiles (1975)

Here is a track by Eno just as he was shirking the pop mainstream and treading into ambient territory. He is using guitars for the main melody, but with an almost completely programmed rhythm section. He recreated this song live with the band 801 (with Roxy Music's Phil Manzanera on guitar).

Here's a blurb from allmusic:

ithout doubt, one of Brian Eno's most evocative instrumentals, "Sombre Reptiles," was an absolute standout on both his own "Another Green World" album in 1975, and the following year's "801 Live" album.

Over a persuasively percolating, but so dry rattle, a grandiose melody conjures up nothing so much, indeed, as an array of very somber reptiles: stately lizards, frowning serpents, superior crocodiles, and the lot. But, if that description sounds at all comical, the reality of the piece is somewhat more menacing, as a heavily treated, formally attired guitar traces a repetitive, but extraordinarily eloquent melody.

Behind it, layers of barely discernible electronics, keyboards, and, apparently, "unnatural sounds" twitch and wriggle, hastening even further the sensation of some scaly court of justice. One regrets only that it all wraps up so soon as little more than two minutes are expended on the song, although sharp ears might well recognize elements of Godley & Crème's "Consequences" as a distinct sonic successor.

Song : "Sombre Reptiles" by Brian Eno

From the LP "ANOTHER GREEN WORLD" (Island) Sep. 1975

Brian Eno : guitars, percussion, keyboards, sound effects, tapes

Get it here : Sombre Reptiles

Sunday, March 08, 2009

THE GRASS ROOTS : Midnight Confessions (1968)

So while watching the US version of The Office, an interesting tidbit of information came out during the "Booze Cruise" episode. The eccentric character, Creed Bratton, admitted (in a deleted scene) that he had played in the '60s group, The Grass Roots. I thought that was odd, considering that it was a real group. But even more odd was that it was true! Creed Bratton actually plays a fictional version of HIMSELF on the show, but he definitely got his start as the guitar player and vocalist for this '60s pop-rock band. I'm sure hardcore fans of The Office already know these details, but it IS always nice to make the discovery for oneself! Here is one of their best-known songs, with the prerequisite catchy chorus. Creed is on guitar and backing vocals.

Song : "Midnight Confessions" (Dunhill 4144) 1968
Single A-side

Creed Bratton : guitar, vocals
Rick Coonce : drums
Warren Entner : keyboards, rhythm guitar, vocals
Rob Grill : lead vocals, bass

Get it here : Midnight Confessions

Sunday, March 01, 2009

NUCLEUS - Song For The Bearded Lady (1971)

R.I.P. Ian Carr (Apr. 21, 1933 - Feb. 25, 2009)
Obit (from The Guardian):

The trumpeter, composer, bandleader and author Ian Carr, who has died aged 75, was a champion of British jazz independence at a time when few believed that a creative offshoot of the music could grow in any soil but America's. He was a freethinker, a self-taught trumpeter who became an accomplished soloist, biographer, campaigner, journalist and dedicated teacher - and one of a handful...who changed the course of jazz in the UK.

Carr's sound, on both trumpet and flugelhorn, seemed like a strikingly elegant and unhurried adaptation of the legacies of early Miles Davis and Clifford Brown, but with his own slightly melancholy fire, applied in the late 1960s to the pianist/composer Garrick's subtle and engaging home-grown repertoire.

In perhaps the biggest decision of his career, he founded the pioneering jazz-rock band Nucleus in 1969 (to the consternation of some conservative acoustic jazz fans). Carr (and his co-writer Karl Jenkins, later to become a classical composer) had managed to make their repertoire a balance of shapely, long-lined, and rather English romantic lyricism with the new rock-driven electric sounds beginning to be adopted by Davis.

Carr could not help making jazz news. He took Nucleus to the Montreux jazz festival (where it won the European Broadcasting Union prize) and then to the Newport jazz festival in the US in 1970, where it became one of the few British bands to make a big impact. But he also found time to research and write a book, Music Outside (1973, republished last year) about the playing and the politics of the contemporary British scene. He also played in fusion bands, big bands and occasionally even free-improv groups, though he was never convinced by the latter idiom.
In 1982 Carr wrote the much-acclaimed Miles Davis: A Critical Biography, and became an associate professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. In 1991 he published Keith Jarrett: The Man and his Music, a rich profile of the pianist, and collaborated with Digby Fairweather and Brian Priestley on the reference book Jazz: The Rough Guide.

He had to fight much adversity for his life was dogged by ill-health and his first wife died in childbirth. He defeated cancer in the mid-Seventies but was afterwards subject to chronic fits of depression and in the last decade he suffered a series of strokes that led to the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, forcing him to spend his last years in a succession of care homes.
This track is a great representation of the UK jazz-rock scene in the early '70s. Still rough, and still rooted in the blues. It starts with a great syncopated horn line, and launches into a timeless groove; so much so that this riff has been repeated numerous times by other groups (most notably by Soft Machine on their "Bundles" album, which has many of these musicians on it). Horn solos abound, John Marshall's drums are punchy as usual, and Chris Spedding's guitar is nice and dirty.

Song : "Song For The Bearded Lady" by Nucleus
From the LP "We'll Talk About It Later" (Vertigo) 1971

Ian Carr : trumpet, flugelhorn
Karl Jenkins : electric piano, oboe, piano, baritone saxophone
Brian Smith : tenor & soprano saxes, flute
Chris Spedding : guitars
Jeff Clyne : bass, electric bass
John Marshall : drums, percussion