Thursday, November 22, 2012

#604: Don's Greatest Hits

On Thanksgiving Eve I played some music at work 4 the 1st time in nearly a month. This lapse happened mostly because I became a news junkie before the election & it was tough 2 break away. I was also bored 2 death with local radio, bored with most music -- a friend thot I was depressed.
But facing a Bad Week, I took a bag of mostly-unheard new-2-me CD's 2 work Weds nite 2 help keep me motivated. & it worked, tho it took me awhile 2 get 2 them. I'll B taking them again tomorrow 4 Turkey Day.
Mostly I played Love's gorgeous 1967 psychedelic masterwork FOREVER CHANGES, which I'd never heard all the way thru B4. There's not a really bad track on it, from the Tijuana Brass-style horns of the shoulda-been-hit "Alone Again Or," 2 the Hendrixy guitar freakout at the end of "Your Mind and We Belong Together." Even the outtakes & bonus tracks & studio tracking sessions R good. I should have a review of this stuff posted soon.
But I started out with 1 of my old buddy Don Vincent's old favorites, Scarlet Rivera's riffing, rocking violin instrumental "Day of the Unicorn." It really woke me up like nothing else has in weeks. & after that I couldn't stop.
I've been wanting 2 do a "Don's Greatest Hits" piece since I discovered that Don had died suddenly early in Sept (see "An obituary," below). Without him, I probly wouldn't be on this continuing search 4 Strange Music. When we met after highschool, Don was the only guy I knew who's musical taste was farther out-there than mine. & he would take the wildest chances on stuff -- buy albums by artists he'd never heard of just Bcos he liked the covers. He didn't care if he blew $3.99 on a turkey.
He had pretty good luck, 2. Below is a sorta best-of list of music he discovered & then turned me on 2. Most of them I've written about B4. This list is 4 you, Don. Ghod bless ya.
* Gryphon -- "Lament," RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE, RAINDANCE. "Lament" is the most gorgeous progressive-folk-rock instrumental ever. RED QUEEN features that piece & 3 other lengthy tracks, & a unique wind-up-toy-band sound unlike any1 else, ever. Found in a cut-out bin 4 $2.99! RAINDANCE's 2nd side shoulda been minted in gold: 2 catchy short pieces & a 16-minute epic that continues their lighter-than-air sound & adds some punch 2 it.
* David Sancious and Tone -- TRANSFORMATION (THE SPEED OF LOVE). YOU try buying an album with no band info on the cover, just a spacey painting of a guy hatching from an egg & crawling out 2 meet a prehistoric sunrise. With a cover that good, the music inside had 2 B great, right? & it was -- keyboard-based jazz-rock like an even-wilder Mahavishnu Orchestra, & Sancious himself was a synth wizard. The 18-minute title track is stunning -- there's even a melody....
* Hawkwind -- HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL. Another 1 pulled from the cut-out bin, with a crash-landed spaceship on the cover, & a landscape with 3 moons above it on the back. Inside is heavy space-rock with a few classics: The driving "You'd Better Believe It," the spooky "Lost Johnny," & the ominous mantra "Psychedelic Warlords." & then there's those spacey synth mood-changer instrumentals....
* Space Art -- A TRIP IN THE CENTER HEAD. Imagine the best synthesizer album you've ever heard, then double it. Better & more melodic than Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman, Synergy, Klaus Schulze, or any1 else I've ever heard. Jean-Michel Jarre (under a pseudonym) handles the keybs & performs pieces I can STILL remember even tho I haven't heard them since 1982. & the album's been out-of-print FOREVER....
* Amazing Blondel -- FANTASIA LINDUM and ENGLAND. Straight outta 1582. Take Gryphon's light folk tunes & add sometimes kinda-fruity (tho marvelous) singing, & you have perfect soundtrack music 4 THE THREE MUSKETEERS (the GOOD 1 from the early '70s with Oliver Reed & Michael York & Racquel Welch).
* Scarlet Rivera -- "Day of the Unicorn." The album this comes from is no big deal, but this violin instrumental starts all misty & shadowy & -- with just a brief pause 4 atmosphere -- a riff follows that drives on 4 7 mins of non-stop brilliance. & Scarlet fiddles her ass off.
* Nektar -- THRU THE EARS best-of. Great crashing British/German mid-'70s prog, dramatic & driving, with lotsa great guitar from Roye Albrighton. Best: "It's All Over," "King of Twilight," "Do You Believe in Magic?," & the great rocker "Fidgety Queen."
* Jade Warrior -- "A Winter's Tale." Another 1 from the cut-out bin. This ballad about being alone with your beloved on a snowy day starts out hushed & intimate & Xplodes out into a swaying, guitar-driven singalong. Some say they invented New Age, but the guitar here's way 2 loud 4 that.
* Charlie Dore -- LISTEN! Solid early-'80s mainstream pop with some added drama & comedy. Don played it non-stop when enduring a separation & missing his future-wife Robyn. Best: The dramatic "Don't Say No" & "Wise to the Lines," "Like They Do it in America," "Falling," title song, "I'm Over Here," "Sister Revenge."
* Pat Metheny -- PAT METHENY GROUP. Mellow melodic jazz with lotsa great guitar & keyboards. "San Lorenzo"'s best, but it's all very pleasant -- on the strength of this album, I bought these guys' stuff 4 years....
* Synergy. Keyboard whiz Larry Fast did some great stuff on his late-'70s albums SEQUENCER and ELECTRONIC REALIZATIONS FOR ROCK ORCHESTRA. Best: The dramatic 12-minute epic "Warriors," "S-Scape," "Icarus," "Classical Gas."
...Course I didn't love ALL the music Don liked. He was a BIG Rick Wakeman fan, & Xcept 4 RW's WHITE ROCK and CRIMINAL RECORD, I could never see what all the fuss was about. Don was also a sucker 4 rather delicate jazz-rock bands like Shadowfax & Ethos. I never heard anything distinctive from them -- it was mostly OK mood music. I never got in2 Chick Corea & Return to Forever back then, tho I'm doing a little better now. Bo Hansson's LORD OF THE RINGS was some of the most primitive & dated-sounding synth music I'd ever heard.
& Aphrodite's Child's 666 -- well, I NEVER figured out what the HELL was going on THERE....

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