Monday, January 30, 2017

More new-to-me Prog

* Gordon Giltrap: Awakening, Robes and Crowns, from VISIONARY. Mildly New-Agey guitar-led Prog instrumental background music from English guitarist. "Awakening" has a flamenco-style feel to it, "Robes" is more pastoral. Nice, though the tunes aren't real distinctive. Clear production. Songs supposedly inspired by the works of William Blake.
* Gordon Giltrap: From the Four Winds, from VISIONARY. The production is stronger than the tunes. Again featuring keyboards by Rod Edwards, John G. Perry (from middle-period Caravan) on bass, Simon Phillips on drums, plus an orchestra. Unlike Giltrap's later PERILOUS JOURNEY, which seemed to highlight Edwards' keyboards, the focus here seems squarely on Giltrap's guitars.
* Gordon Giltrap: Lucifer's Cage, Revelation, from VISIONARY. "Lucifer's Cage" adds a wordless vocal at the end and picks up a little intensity. Overall, a really short side. Very pleasant and enjoyable. Nice work, though I'm not stunned by the tunes.
* Journey: Destiny, from DREAM AFTER DREAM. Opens with nice pastoral guitar and flute(?), then a thinly-mixed orchestra leaning way too far to the treble side. Then Steve Perry's airy vocals, sounding like he might have a lisp. But at least he's not looking at himself in the mirror. Then some airy choral vocals. Originally this was a high-priced Japanese import, the soundtrack for a Japanese love-story film. Then was released as a budget-priced album in America. Haven't heard this since about 1980. Doesn't sound like commercial Journey at all -- no rock progressions, no catchy choruses. For the first five minutes or so. Then the heavy bass kicks in ... and the excitement picks up. This sounds more like Journey.... Little bit of Neal Schon showing off on guitar, but it's all sparkly, glittery. Not bad, really. Clear high-tech production from Kevin Elson and the band. If you like Journey's album tracks "Daydream" and "People and Places," you'll probably like this.
* Journey: Snow Theme, from DREAM AFTER DREAM. This really does sound like soundtrack music. The orchestra takes over, except from solo passages from Gregg Rolie's piano. Pretty, but it doesn't do much.
* Journey: Sandcastles, from DREAM AFTER DREAM. Still moody, airy soundtrack music, with more light Perry vocals (though not as high-pitched as some he did on EVOLUTION), and added sax played by nobody in the band. Perry's vocals sound kind of tired, like he did on the first track. Not bad, but way light.
* Journey: A Few Coins, from DREAM AFTER DREAM. Lasts about 40 seconds.
* Bruford: Hell's Bells, from THE BRUFORD TAPES. No, not THAT "Hell's Bells." Have Bruford's best-of, but have never heard this, a concert recorded for a New York City radio station in 1979. At first the crowd is louder than the players, but they finally step it up, and Dave Stewart's (no, not THAT Dave Stewart) keyboards actually sound fairly normal and rock pretty good. Sounds a little like King Crimson with added keyboards, no surprise. Little keyboard phrases repeated over and over with minor variations -- you might almost call that a hook....
* Bruford: Sample and Hold, from THE BRUFORD TAPES. Now you can tell Bill Bruford's on here, you almost couldn't hear him on "Hell's Bells." Nobody else has that sort of boxy drum sound. Quick melodic shifts and moves, little phrases from Stewart's keyboards bounced around and elaborated on by the band. Nice, OK, very deft and athletic, not sure if the tunes ever quite grab and hold, but nice moves. Brief guitar freakouts by "the unknown" John Clark, who had a tough act to follow by having to replace Allan Holdsworth in this band. But a lot of talent on display here....
* Bruford: Fainting in Coils, from THE BRUFORD TAPES. Complex, Crimson-y, with some low-end, farty guitar and keyboards. I swear Allan Holdsworth is still playing guitar with this band.... And what is this mechanical, staccato keyboard-and-guitar riff? Thank Ghod they come out of that with more soaring guitar.... Then a silly fake-ending that gets the crowd off.
* Colosseum: The Kettle, from THOSE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE SALUTE YOU. Noise from this late-'60s jazz-rock jam-band. Heavy. But they're better when nobody's singing. Hendrixy guitar from James Litherland. Where's the sax?
* Colosseum: Those Who Are About to Die Salute You. Dated organ-and-sax jam, SO 1968. Then the fuzz-guitar comes in. Guess you had to be there. Yeezus, their "Valentyne Suite" sounds WAY better than this. Gets a little more rhythmic and a little better later on, but still....
* Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Davy's on the Road Again, from WATCH. Written by Robbie Robertson of The Band and producer John Simon. Not bad, moves nicely, Manfred shows off on keybs in the middle, apparently was a good-sized hit single in England. OK. Why had I never heard this before?
* Manfred Mann's Earth Band: Martha's Madman, from WATCH. Good moody drama, builds nicely. Chris Thompson's vocals sure made a difference for the EB. And Mann's keybs, of course. Manfred has that ghostly keyboard sound down in the middle-section here. Would have made a good follow-up to "Blinded by the Light."
* Brand X: Why Should I Lend You Mine When You've Broken Yours Off Already?, from MOROCCAN ROLL. At first it's spacey noise, written by The Phil Collins. Twinkly keybs from Robin Lumley, the usual funky bass from Percy Jones. Gets airy-er and more atmospheric as it goes. Pretty and spacey, airy wordless vocals at the end set it off nicely. A kinda washy but very pleasant 11 minutes.
* Brand X: Hate Zone, from MOROCCAN ROLL. Starts with a drum solo, then some funky bass from Percy Jones and spacey guitar from John Goodsall. Lots of activity, lots going on here, not much in the way of melody, but funky and bouncy enough.
* Brand X: Collapsar, from MOROCCAN ROLL. Spacey keyboards, pleasant but short. Sounds like a work in progress. Fades out too soon.

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