Saturday, July 23, 2016

More musical ?'s

Here's what I played from 1 to 4 p.m. --
* Can -- Soup. Now THIS will wake you up. It's a good thing Can's ANTHOLOGY  best-of opens with the relatively "normal" "Father Cannot Yell," because this really does sound like Michael Karoli cutting into his guitar with a chainsaw. I'd forgotten about the vocals, which are muttered nonsense. Not music, but it's over with quick.
* Can -- Spoon. Pleasant, light and bouncy, with nice murmuring chanted vocals. Is this even the same band?
* Can -- Halleluwah. Nice propulsive drumming from Jaki Liebezeit -- he's always pretty freaking awesome. Hmmm, how'd that noisy mosquito get in here? Too bad about the ... uh ... shrieking. Not sure what the vocals are on about, but it all kinda works with the rippling keyboards and the drumming. Not bad.
* Can -- Aumgn. Played this once after I bought ANTHOLOGY, and thought it was a tuneless waste of seven minutes. Now I notice: Screechy violin(?), eerie bass, yawning vocals(?). Haunted house music. Singer(s) clearing their throats, gargling. Echoey drumming, a deep chasm of noise. Nimble, bouncy bass riff. Evil laughter. That gargling's back. Deep, echoey, evil sounds. OK, that's enough.
* Gong -- The Pot Head Pixies, Zero the Hero and the Witch's Spell. Compared to Can, "Pot Head Pixies" sounds almost normal. Cute, and pretty catchy. "Witch's Spell" opens with Gong's atmospheric orientalisms, which I've always liked (listen to their SHAMAL, half pretty-great). Then it gets heavier. And sillier. Then great sax (as usual) from Didier Mahlerbe over nice light percussion from Pierre Moerlen. Always amazing playing from these guys. Then more silliness. They seem to have an almost mystical cosmic view of sex -- which is OK with me. That whole feminine "space whisper" vibe. It's nice, but they use it a LOT. Then it gets heavier again, with more great sax. Pretty big musical orgasm at the end ... which should have built just a little bit higher before being cut off. Not bad. I might even play it again sometime....
* Caravan -- And I Wish I Were Stoned/Don't Worry. Hated this at first when I got Caravan's CANTERBURY TALES best-of a few years back -- I'm not the "stoned" type. But the singing's pretty emotional, and Dave Sinclair's keyboards are amazing. "Don't Worry"'s pleasant enough, though not stunning.
* Jan Dukes DeGrey -- Mice and Rats in the Loft. Ghod knows who these people were. Fiendish noise. Slide whistles followed by crazed guitar and an equally crazed vocal. The lyrics are ugly. Like a prog-rock-opera. Who knew so much early prog was so repellent?
* Beach Boys -- Mrs. O'Leary's Cow. It was the slide whistles that set me off. Charging fire engines and sirens, and the "wooooh" backing vocals are straight out of the Boys' "W. Woodpecker Symphony" (see SMILEY SMILE). Dramatic, but it's over with fast.
* Beach Boys -- I Love to Say Dada. The opening airy group-vocal part ended up as the centerpiece of "Cool, Cool Water" (see SUNFLOWER). The rest seems almost familiar now, like we've always had it, it's always been around. Light and friendly. With a tag from the wordless-vocal "Our Prayer" at the end.
* Beach Boys -- Brian Falls into a Piano. Too many drugs, man.... The tag is WAY funnier -- a record-store promo in which Capitol Records predicts they'll sell a million copies of SMILE in January '67 alone. But then Reality got in the way....
* Van der Graaf Generator -- Darkness 11/11. Man, what a band! Heavy gothic drama, with amazing sax from David Jackson, great organ from Hugh Banton. And Peter Hammill doesn't screech too much. And it doesn't go on too long.
* Magna Carta -- Lord of Ages. This is silly. A fable set to medieval folk music. Somber group choral vocals. What's this doing on a progressive-rock sampler? That's what I get for listening to them just because one of their album covers was painted by Roger Dean.
* Gentle Giant -- In a Glass House. This is WAY more like it, at least until Derek Shulman's vocals kick in. Complex but melodic. Nice playing, sorta jagged. Jumpy, but in a pleasing way. Wonder why this album never got released in America, back in the day...?
* Clannad -- Harry's Game. In Gaelic, released on half a dozen of their '80s/'90s albums. Something about Gaelic makes it sound so ghostly and somber, even if they're only singing their shopping list. Ghostly, pretty. What's it mean?
* Clannad -- Why Worry? This sounds absolutely NORMAL. Could be anybody. Fleetwood Mac could sing it. Better. With more emotion. Background music. Very nice sax by Mel Collins.
* Hawkwind -- Sonic Attack. Fucking hilarious. One of a kind. Robert Calvert was a great dramatic reader. Do not panic....
* Hawkwind -- Urban Guerrilla. Course we have our own urban guerrillas now, but back in the day I'll bet this was a lot of fun. Besides, Robert Calvert sounds like he couldn't hurt your poodle. No worries here.
* Yes -- Soon. This is the quiet middle section of Yes's epic "The Gates of Delirium," which I've never made it all the way through. That's probably a failing in me. Very sweet and spacey, and probably a nice break in the furious "Gates" ... which I can hardly remember, to be honest.
* Renaissance -- Kings and Queens. Or Illusion, if you prefer. Only difference here is ex-Yardbird Keith Relf on guitar rather than the later John Knightsbridge. This starts as a show-offy prog-keyboard piece, then lightens up a little. Sounds more like the Strawbs, which keybsman John Hawken was also a member of. LOTS of heavy piano, kind of melodramatic. Jane Relf's limited to background vocals. Later Renaissance and Illusion works are all better.
* Nektar -- Questions and Answers. A slice of REMEMBER THE FUTURE, which I never got through even half of. Pleasant, nice song construction, good vocals and guitar. OK, not a stomper. Nektar's better when they rock.
* King Crimson -- The Sailor's Tale. Not sure why Bob Fripp's guitar sounds kinda like a banjo, but whatever he wants. The mellotron backing sounds like the later LARK'S TONGUES version of KC. This could almost be off of GREAT DECEIVER/LIVE. Which means I've overlooked it for years. A warm-up for "Fracture," why not?
* Partridge Family -- One Night Stand. WHAT? How the heck did THIS get in here? Oh well, sounds great! That Keith Partridge could sure sing. And what great group backing vocals!

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