As a sorta musical wake 4 my old buddy Don Vincent (see "An obituary," below), I decided 2 play as much new-2-me Strange Music as I possibly could this past week at work. It turned out 2 B not all that much -- not everything listed below is brand-new 2 me -- but I found some good new-2-me stuff. & it's what Don would've wanted: Keep Xploring....
Porcupine Tree -- "The Sound of Muzak," & the rest of IN ABSENTIA (2002).
Mogul Thrash -- (1st) (1971)
Barclay James Harvest -- Taking Some Time On.
New Order -- Regret, True Faith, Blue Monday, World in Motion.
Hawkwind -- Urban Guerilla, Sonic Attack, Psychedelic Warlords, 25 Years, Night of the Hawks.
Caravan -- Place of My Own.
Blue Oyster Cult -- In Thee, Black Blade, The Marshall Plan, Veteran of the Psychic Wars, Joan Crawford, Burnin' for You, Shooting Shark, Take Me Away, Dancing in the Ruins, Stairway to the Stars.
Richard & Linda Thompson -- Dimming of the Day, Calvary Cross (live), Beat the Retreat, Roll Over Vaughn Williams.
King Crimson -- ProzaKc Blues, The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum, I Have a Dream, Inner Garden I, Radio I, One Time, Radio II, Inner Garden II, B'Boom.
Happy the Man -- On Time as a Helix of Precious Laughs, Hidden Moods, New York Dreams Suite.
Egg -- Nearch.
Pete Townshend -- English Boy, A Little is Enough, Sheraton Gibson, Now and Then, Slit Skirts, My Baby Gives it Away, Misunderstood.
Return to Forever -- Romantic Warrior, Majestic Dance.
Don was the 1st 2 discover a LOT of Strange Music I still listen-2 2day: Gryphon, David Sancious and Tone, Be-Bop Deluxe, Amazing Blondel, Tangerine Dream, Hawkwind, etc. Whenever he dipped in2 the cheap-vinyl cutout bins he ALWAYS pulled out something un-heard-of but brilliant.
I turned him on 2 a few things: Providence, Happy the Man, Genesis, King Crimson, Nick Drake, Caravan, Gentle Giant, Sky, Barclay James Harvest, Sally Oldfield, U.K., Group 87, Incredible String Band.... At the VERY least, I'll miss having a good old friend 2 talk over Strange Music with.
Now then, on 2 the New Stuff:
Porcupine Tree's IN ABSENTIA is overall pretty good, but the star track is "The Sound of Muzak," a lament 4 the future of music that is the best new-2-me thing I've heard in months. Progressive rock with hooks & choruses! The group vocals R very smooth, & there's some good guitar work. The other songs on the album that R similar 2 this R also very pleasant -- but summa their more abstract, gtr-dominated instrumentals don't quite work 4 me. Worth checking out -- but you Out There who R way more up-2-date than me probly already knew that. (A Regular at work tossed the CD 2 me a year ago or so, & it took me this long 2 get 2 it.) I'll B playing it again -- I've already played "The Sound of Muzak" SEVERAL times since Weds....
Mogul Thrash's only album is avg, pretty easily ignorable, tho not offensive. John Wetton doesn't sing enuf (he's not even lead-vocalist), but there's some OK gtr from James Litherland, & the horns even help (tho not so much on the very 1st track, where they seem kinda overblown). Coulda maybe ended-up sounding sorta like Lighthouse, tho not as horn-heavy as Chicago or BS&T.
BJH's "Taking Some Time On" is NOT new 2 me, it's just their best rocker ever. In sorta the same vein as Badfinger's "Rock of All Ages," the Barclays sound nothing like the Moody Blues on this 1. They shoulda done lots more stuff like this. I'm still investigating BJH's HARVEST YEARS best-of -- I have heard & can remember maybe 6 of its nearly 40 songs....
New Order's "Regret" & "True Faith" R still brilliant, but "Blue Monday" ennnhhh ... & what's with the fake-Germanic Kraftwerk-like vocals on "World in Motion"? Is that a World Cup thing...?
Hawkwind -- like Gryphon & David Sancious -- was a band Don discovered based on the strength of their album cover. Anything with a great cover hadta have great music inside, right? Well, sometimes....
Meanwhile, "Urban Guerilla" & "Sonic Attack" R both hysterical fun, "Psychedelic Warlords" has a great riff & mantra-like verses & choruses, & summa the rest get by on chant-power alone. Still haven't made it all the way thru their EPOCHECLIPSE best-of, tho....
Caravan's "Place of My Own" shoulda been a hit -- it's a timeless classic. & check out Dave Sinclair's rockin' keyboards!
BOC, BOC, I've seen 'em 2wice & they still don't get 2 me.... Well, maybe 1/2 the time. Played 1/2 of the 2nd disc of their ESSENTIAL best-of, summa the later, smoother stuff ... & thot it was all smoothed-out a bit 2 much. "In Thee" is pleasant & "Joan Crawford" is funny, & "Shooting Shark" & "Take Me Away" & "Dancing in the Ruins" all have some nice Mood.... "Burnin' for You" really stands out among mosta the others.... But I've gotta circle back & re-hear the earlier, heavier stuff. ...& why the Hell isn't the version of "Astronomy" from IMAGINOS on here?
I wish Richard & Linda Thompson ROCKED a little more. "Dimming of the Day" is a classic brokenhearted love ballad -- you can hear the 1st verse & chorus in the movie DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD. "Beat the Retreat" is the male version of the same heartbroken dirge -- tho not as good. "Calvary Cross" is a live gtr orgy that I wish was a little more intense 4 its 13 minutes. "Roll Over Vaughn Williams" is a LOT more like it -- intense, with lotsa stinging gtr, & the lyrics R FUNNY ... tho I think Richard MEANT it, I don't think he was joking....
KC's "ProzaKc Blues" & "Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" were both better & funnier live. But they're still OK, & funny. Oh, & LOUD, of course. The short pieces from THRAK R pretty cool, I always liked Crimson in their more lyrical moments. & "One Time" is a classic.
Happy's "Precious Laughs" is still great, suprised I wasn't crying by the end of it, considering the subject matter & recent events in my life. But it's still glorious -- probly 2 jumpy & swooping 2 ever have bn a hit, but worth checking out. Stan Whittaker's gtr solos R especially inspirational, the way they soar out of the flute/sax/keybs background. "Hidden Moods" & "New York Dreams Suite" R classy mood music.
Egg's "Nearch" is more of the same atonal, sorty jumpy music from their album THE CIVIL SURFACE (1974), which I may never get thru. If you're a fan of Hatfield and the North or National Health, you might like this -- Dave Stewart's keyboard sounds R 1 of a kind. Not melodic -- the Egg guys never did anything as simple-minded as a "tune" -- but the odd tones will stop you in your trax. If you're a fan, drop me a line & I'll send you my copy of the CD....
Pete's "English Boy" is sorta an update of his earlier "Rough Boys" -- it's the obligatory-rocking opening track from his PSYCHODERELICT, & it's OK. "Sheraton Gibson" is charming, a ditty about life on the road. I am more charmed with each listening by "My Baby Gives it Away," an unlikely song of adoration. & it rocks. "Misunderstood" is still hilarious.
Don was a big Return to Forever/Chick Corea/Al DiMeola fan back in the day, & I didn't always understand why at the time. But "Romantic Warrior" & "Majestic Dance" R both pleasant & stately & seem 2 have actual TUNES I can hang on2. So I'll B looking more in2 their best-of ANTHOLOGY....