Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mostly New Music Friday #2!

Camel: In the Arms of Waltzing Frauleins/Cloak and Dagger Man/Stationary Traveller/Long Goodbyes/Pressure Points (live).
Jefferson Airplane: Mexico/Wooden Ships/Eskimo Blue Day/Pretty As You Feel/Third Week in the Chelsea/Have You Seen the Saucers?/The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil/Martha/Greasy Heart.
ELP: Jerusalem/Toccata/Benny the Bouncer/Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression (Part 1).
Be-Bop Deluxe: Blazing Apostles.
Keith Jarrett: Pyramids Moving.
Laurie Anderson: From the Air/Big Science/Sweaters/Walking & Falling/Born, Never Asked/O Superman.
Spirit: Fresh Garbage/I Got a Line on You/Prelude -- Nothin' to Hide/1984/Mechanical World/Ice/New Dope in Town/Cold Wind.

A little better selection of new stuff this time, + a few old favorites I couldn't resist playing....
I rather stupidly traded-off Camel's import-only STATIONARY TRAVELLER a coupla yrs back after only a listening or 2, thinking that none of it grabbed me that much, it was a little 2 Alan Parsons Project-ish (not that there's NEthing wrong w/ that), & that I already had the best 2 trax off of it ("West Berlin" & "Refugee") on Camel's ECHOES best-of.
But thanx 2 the recent release of Camel's RAINBOW'S END best-of, I now have over 1/2 of STATIONARY TRAVELLER back in the house 4 another listen. "Cloak and Dagger Man" DEFinitely sounds like the Parsons Project, as does "Long Goodbyes," possibly cos both have vocals by APP's Chris Rainbow. The title track has some nice guitar & a pleasant pan pipes solo by Andy Latimer. "Frauleins" is a German period piece & the live "Pressure Points" opens big & then Dgenerates in2 OK gtr-background music -- it had a bigger impact in the studio version. Dspite this, RAINBOW'S END has a lotta good stuff on it, well worth looking in2 if yr a Camel fan. Course I coulda assembled a better box, but don't get me started....
Ah, the Airplane. Bless its pointed little head. Always Xcellent gtr from Jorma Kaukonen, & summa the vocal blends R AMAZING. "Mexico" is so grabby I played it 2wice -- a brief dope anthem from '70 w/ complex vocal interweaves & a LOT goin on & Grace Slick's marvelous angry singing -- she sure could project. "Wooden Ships" is a ragged after-the-bomb anthem, an intresting contrast w/ Crosby, Stills & Nash's much smoother version (which I know much better). "Eskimo Blue Day" is a Green anthem w/ occasional great lines ("the human crowd don't mean shit to a tree") & another Xcellent Grace vocal.
The jazzy & stupid "Pretty As You Feel" was a single? "Third Week in the Chelsea" has a nice folky tune & funny lyrics -- it sounds like Kaukonen's farewell 2 the Airplane. I like almost all of Paul Kantner's sci-fi epics 4 Jefferson Starship, but 1970's "Saucers" doesn't quite have the formula down yet. "Pooneil" is pretty loud 2 B a ballad, but there R occasional neat lines among the ragged vocals ("Will the moon still hang in the sky when I die?"). "Greasy Heart" has some neat lyrics about sex & more great singing by Grace. All these R from ESSENTIAL.
At the risk of ruining my reputation as a Prog "expert," I hereby admit that I've never listened 2 Emerson, Lake & Palmer's BRAIN SALAD SURGERY -- supposedly their best album -- all the way thru. I don't know why that is. I'd of course heard "Still, You Turn Me On" & the 2 parts of "Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression" (I think the 1st section is WAY better & more dramatic than the "Welcome Back My Friends...." part -- in fact, it's probly my all-time fave of their works) -- but after seeing my buddy Rastro had played "Jerusalem" recently, & after reading Emerson's autobio, I thot I'd try 2 take care of this blank spot. & I'm glad I did.
Talk about over the top. Lake's singing on "Jerusalem" is pretty solid -- almost dignified. But how 'bout Emerson? He's already burbling away. Then there's "Tocatta," in which E makes every possible bubbling, burbling, roiling, farting noise his synthesizers R capable of -- this is hysterical, pyrotechnic entertainment, but is it music? "Benny the Bouncer" is silly, but there's some neat barrelhouse piano in it.
So the reason BSS is ELP's best album is Bcos of the over-the-top-ness of it, the non-stop juggernaut of energy & sheer sound, yes? ...Wonder if I'll survive Side 2...?
Hadn't heard "Blazing Apostles" in years. Great fluid gtr, great choruses -- but Be-Bop's leader/gtrist Bill Nelson sings his rather good lyrics like he was taught English as a 2nd language. His Bryan Ferry-ish voice seemsta have trouble getting the words out. This track's from SUNBURST FINISH, which has a pretty good 1st side -- best thing on it's the glorious "Sleep That Burns," & the thunderstorm of gtr at the end of "Crying to the Sky."
I could C pyramids Bing built 2 music like that conjured up by Keith Jarrett & his saxophonist Dewey Redman. A screechy Egyptian horn, groaning sounds of great weight being rolled up a ramp, wood blocks & gongs & scattered percussion, & U can hear seagulls in the background. Suprised U can't hear flies in the 4ground. From Impulse's GREAT MOMENTS WITH KEITH JARRETT best-of.
Laurie Anderson's "From the Air" is repetitive & hypnotic, w/ some nice sax & Laurie's warm voice & funny lyrics. "Big Science" has some great driving directions that had me laffing. "Sweaters" is silly but has a great kazoo orchestra. "Walking" & "Born" R kinda 4gettable, but "O Superman" takes all the tricks in the previous songs & strips them 2 the bone, making 4 a pretty gripping 8 mins of Minimalism. There R some similarities 2 Philip Glass here, but Anderson is much warmer, not as icy & creepy. & I can't Xplain how a change in her tone of voice can make me laff. All these trax R from BIG SCIENCE, found 4 $1 at Goodwill -- I might even keep it.
Spirit's "Fresh Garbage" has some nice jazzy piano. & 1nce I got started playing their BEST OF I got sucked in. "Line" is brilliant, 2 bad it's only 2-1/2 mins long. "Nothin' to Hide" is nearly as good, but along w/ all the good things in it from the delicate opening 2 the sour vocals, it also has a really neat laff at the end that I never noticed B4.... "1984" is a paranoid rocker about the Men In Black, 1969-style. "Mechanical World" is a dark dirge I couldn't finish. "Ice" is a jazzy keyboard-based instrumental. "New Dope in Town" warns that "too much business is bad for you baby" -- seems obvious enuf. "Cold Wind" is mournful. These last 3 R from CLEAR, a soundtrack album 4 a 4gotten movie, which 1 reviewer at the time called "mood music." Sounds like it'd B right up my alley. Not sure I can buy CBS's claim that these guys were America's answer 2 Pink Floyd, however. Need more evidence....
I was gonna end this session w/ Split Enz's "Poor Boy" cos I haven't heard it in awhile, but I FORGOT. Next time....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whadda ya wanna know?

Been readin some rockstar autobiographies lately. Bill Bruford's recent AUTOBIOGRAPHY (reviewed previously here, see "Still alive and ... well....") is well worth the $$$, showing what seems 2 B YEARS of Deep Thot B4 he ever started writing, + mayB a few 2 many Deep & earnest conversations w/ Robert Fripp about the Meaning Of Music & its connection 2 the Meaning Of Life. The book reveals a lot about the drummer, it's pretty funny in places, U'll learn a lot about the bands he's been in, & my only real complaint was that it was 2 short....
The 2 books up 4 review 2day R an Ntirely diffrent can of worms. Both Keith Emerson's PICTURES OF AN EXHIBITIONIST (2004) & especially Rick Wakeman's GRUMPY OLD ROCK STAR (2008) R much less earnest & thotful than Bruford's book, even tho Emerson's book attempts 2 fairly seriously cover his Xperiences in The Nice & ELP.
From his Bginnings in Gary Farr & the T-Bones, thru his star yrs w/ The Nice & ELP, thru soundtrack work & hand surgery & a painful return 2 live performing, PICTURES covers a lotta ground, but not necessarily in much depth. U'll probly learn a lot about The Nice (Emerson didn't like Andrew Loog Oldham's muddy unfinished production job on "America"), & remain confused about a lotta ELP's history.
Emerson doesn't always Xplain which ELP songs he contributed firey Moog & keyboard work 2 (1 long section Dscribes work on 1 track on ELP's 1st album, which I assume from the description is "Lucky Man," but Emerson never sez so, & there's no index). He sometimes gets the names of his own compositions wrong ("Abaddon's Bolero"), & ELP's 3-yr layoff isn't really Xplained in NE depth -- that's just the way things worked out. U'll also learn summa the inspiration Bhind E's Piano Concerto -- a fire that Dstroyed his country house. U'll also learn what a handful Greg Lake can B 2 work w/....
U'll also learn what it was like 2 B a superstar rock musician touring the UK, America & Europe at the Nd of the '60s & thru the '70s, drinking a lot, blowing lotsa $$$, indulging every whim, & making sure 2 mention how many women he bagged along the way. (No wonder E's wife finally divorced him -- he never sez specifically why, but by the Nd of the book U'll know why....)
Now, I don't Xpect NE deep inner thots 2 B revealed by a writer if he's not really the type -- & I wouldn't Xpect it from Greg Lake's autobio either! Tho an Xtrovert on-stage, E admits in the book that the only thing that finally got him talking 2 people was his use of cocaine in the mid-'70s. If U're a big ELP fan, E's reminiscences may work fine 4 U -- there IS a lotta good stuff here, especially the recording Dtails & E's run-ins w/ summa the composers whose work he "borrowed" (Bernstein, Copland, Ginastera). But overall I thot it was kinda thin, & as usual I wanted 2 know more. & I wish some1 had proofread the book 4 him....
Speaking of thin.... Reading Rick Wakeman's GRUMPY OLD ROCK STAR is Xactly like having Rick pull up a chair in yr living room & telling U the funniest, wildest stories from his career. Even tho some of them Rn't funny at all. Like Rick having 2 heart attacks at age 23, then taking another 15 yrs 2 stop drinking & smoking 2 Xcess -- after he was given 6 mo's 2 live & Dcided 2 quit cold-turkey so he could B around 4 the imminent birth of his newest son.
This is absolutely not a career retrospective. There R some funny stories here, tho: Like Rick's adventures performing KING ARTHUR & THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH live (ARTHUR on ice, JOURNEY w/ giant inflatable dinosaurs), or the time Rick threw artist Salvador Dali offstage when Rick & The Strawbs were playing at a circus....
This stuff is absolutely not introspective -- Byond saying he Njoyed "every minute" of live performances, Rick has very little 2 say about NE of the music, Xcept 4 how much he disliked Yes's TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS & the direction Yes was headed at that time.
This book is strictly 4 laffs. It's short. Kick back w/ a beer or 12 (as Rick woulda done 1nce -- or many times) & U can read it in an hr. There's at least 1 sequel, FURTHER ADVENTURES OF A GRUMPY OLD ROCK STAR.
I'm still waiting 4 Bob Fripp's autobio. He's 64, the time is right, & I KNOW he's got the diary notes 4 it....

Saturday, October 23, 2010


We here at KTAD, in our ongoing effort 2 find great rockin new (old) sounds, spent this past Fri aft playing music that was (almost) completely new to us, in an attempt 2 find something worth adding 2 The Permanent Collection.
For an inaugural effort, this attempt 2 Find Something New (2 us) was an almost complete success. At least the turntable kept working.
But as for finding some great new previously-overlooked tunes ... not so much. We still have a pretty-good-sized pile of stuff gathering dust here, so these "New (old) Music Fridays" will likely continue 4 awhile.
Here's the inaugural playlist:

Mannheim Steamroller: Toccata/Small Wooden Bach'ses/Fantasia: Chorale/Door 1/Door 4/Door 5.
John McLaughlin: Devotion.
Mahavishnu Orchestra: Sister Andrea/Be Happy.
ELP: Abaddon's Bolero.
Procol Harum: The Devil Came from Kansas.
Focus: Sylvia/House of the King.
Todd Rundgren's Utopia: Utopia Theme.
Spirit: The Great Canyon Fire in General/Elijah.
It's a Beautiful Day: Don and Dewey/The Dolphins.
The Dregs: Bloodsucking Leeches/Up in the Air.

Notes: I heard a little of Mannheim Steamroller's work 30 yrs ago in my Record Store Daze & I remember wondering what all the fuss was about, when groups like Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Amazing Blondel & Gryphon were all doing similar things -- taking classical & folk sounds & rocking them up. Sure the Steamroller's work was well-produced, but....
"Tocatta" is OK, but it doesn't really go anywhere, being mostly a showcase 4 kinda-showoffy keybs & drums. "Door 4" is pleasant, & "Door 5" almost rocks -- w/ a harpsichord. But these guys cut their themes 2 short sometimes, & when they're not being showoffy they can B overly delicate. I guess I'm saying this chamber-rock doesn't rock enuf. Some of it isn't rock&roll, & some of it isn't 2 gripping. It's also a little thin on the bass. But "Tocatta" was the only tune that stuck in my head all afternoon.... From FRESH AIRE III & II.
The 1st thing I thot while listening 2 "Devotion" was ... Hendrix lives! The track is a sorta aimless, kinda downbeat droning w/ McLaughlin's ultra-fast guitar runs played over the top. Thru most of the 14 mins I was wishing I could hear more of Larry Young's organ work -- & then Young got a little solo space toward the Nd. It didn't help much. I'm about 2 give up on most jazz-rock -- I need TUNES. This left me as cold as NE bad jazz-rock I've heard. From DEVOTION.
Mahavishnu's "Sister Andrea" isn't bad -- starts out w/ a kinda funky theme, then goes in2 a sorta atonal gtr-jam midsection that sounds a little like middle-period Gong, then back 2 the funky theme. Composer Jan Hammer does some nice keyboard work toward the Nd. "Be Happy" is very quiet & I'm not much of a fan of the singer, whoever she is. Both from BEST OF.
"Abaddon's Bolero" is a little more like it -- a theme w/ variations, repeated over & over & getting progressively louder. I was suprised it didn't get louder & wilder, & it coulda gone on longer.... Part of this sounds like the Air Force Song ("Off we go, into the wild blue yonder...."), or like some old TV show theme -- "Dragnet," mayB? From TRILOGY.
"The Devil Came From Kansas" sounded like kinda a muddy production 2 me, but it might B my cheap, tinny turntable & speakers.... From A SALTY DOG.
Here's 2 4 my new friends in Holland: I don't think I'd heard "Sylvia" in 35+ yrs. Good gtr riff -- it's missing only some yodeling or something 2 set it off. "House of the King" has some nice acoustic gtr & flute. I guess this was a minor hit in some countries. From FOCUS 3.
The "Utopia Theme" has LOTSa nice keybs & synths & of course Todd's gtr. It mighta bn a little over the top, but I didn't mind. Suprised they could keep it going 4 14 mins. From Utopia's 1st.
Spirit did some great stuff ("I Got a Line on You," "Nature's Way," most of 12 DREAMS OF DOCTOR SARDONICUS), & I would like 2 get in2 them more. But. "Canyon Fire" is another 1 of their odd little songs. "Elijah" is an 11-min jazz instrumental that sure coulda used a sax or something over the top of the lite-jazz riffing. I made it thru the bass solo. But I gave up in the middle of Ed Cassidy's drum solo. They needed something else 4 some contrast. From Spirit's 1st.
Beautiful Day's "Don and Dewey" is a sorta violin-led hoedown. Fred Neil's "The Dolphins" could almost B a country love ballad. They show some talent, but.... No wonder everybody 4got them after their 1st album. I'll havta play Side 2 of that 1st album again someday.... From MARRYING MAIDEN.
How do U mess up a song w/ a great title like "Bloodsucking Leeches"? EZ! -- make sure there's no tune. This & "Up in the Air" continue my opinion that the Dregs only had about 4 tunes total. "Leeches" is their flashy lotsa-changes #, & "Up in the Air" is a sorta rustic acoustic gtr showcase. Yes's Steve Howe is credited w/ gtr on "Air," recorded in England, but I only hear 2 gtrs, & he didn't add much. Did he guest just Bcos co-producer/engineer Eddy Offord had the connections? Pleasant but 4gettable. From INDUSTRY STANDARD.

Not much here that I can't live w/o. But this New (old) Music Friday thing will likely B continuing 4 awhile. Next time I'll just try 2 pick better....

Thursday, October 21, 2010


C'mon Blogger, you're making it all up!
I don't really BELIEVE that 42 people viewed this blog on Wednesday, Oct. 20.
Nor do I believe that 39 people from Holland suddenly, almost overnight, started visiting this blog. That's almost 1/2 as many viewers as I've had from the US in the last week!
What attracted them? (Have I been writing about Focus? Does "tad" translate into "dick" in Dutch?) They couldn't all be visiting to read my theories about whether rock critics killed prog-rock -- at least not according 2 Blogger's stats ... & if that's why they swung by, why didn't any of them comment?
I know -- they visited so they could see ANGELINA JOLIE NAKED!!!
Sorry, guys. It was a bad joke. I personally apologize 2 the Ntire nation of the Netherlands -- most of whom apparently visited this blog in the last 24 hours.... But Ghod knows WHY.
If anything, Blogger's "Stats" info doesn't tell me ENOUGH!
All you folks from the Netherlands out there, WELCOME!
Same goes for you Americans, & my handful of buddies from the UK, & any1 else silly enuf 2 wanna C what kind of weirdness I'm up 2 here. Not that I know....
Right now there's just 1 thing I wanna know:
Is anybody else hooked-up-2 Blogger getting any kinda weird stats like these?
...& if U really R viewing this blog from 1/2way across the planet, could U mayB leave a comment, lemme know who U R & what brot U here & if it was worth it?
I'd appreciate it....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Did the critics kill Prog Rock?

Well, no. I've been reading a lotta prog-rock histories over the past coupla yrs, & sooner or later they all discuss how much impact the negative reviews of mainstream rock critics had on the demise of prog.
Jerry Lucky in his PROGRESSIVE ROCK FILES spends sevral pgs defending prog from rock critics who just didn't "get it." Rather late 4 this sorta thing, I think, & defending yr favorite genre from critics doesn't win U new fans -- far better & more productive 2 point-out the Good Stuff, I would think.
Even Bill Bruford in his recent AUTOBIOGRAPHY accuses the rock crits of "chipping away at the edifice" until prog rock simply collapsed.
Hmmm. I agree more w/ Bob Fripp's theory that in the mid-2-late '70s there arose a whole new generation of rock fans who wanted heroes closer 2 their own age 2 cheer 4. These new heroes (Clash, Ramones, Sex Pistols, etc.) hadda lot more in common w/ younger fans than the art-rockers who'd bn performing since the late '60s & were more in2 living well, appearing stylish & mayB stashing away a few bucks.
Of course my own theory at the time was that the demise of prog was due 2 a bunch of REALLY weak albums all released very close 2 1-another over a 2+ yr period. I'll come back 2 this....
& while it's true that critic Dave Marsh never heard a prog band he actually LIKED, he DID include Roxy Music's "Over You" in his HEART OF ROCK AND SOUL book about his choices 4 the 1,001 greatest rock singles of all time.
& while Robert Christgau could B noticeably condescending about most prog bands, he was also a sucker 4 some arty stuff -- Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Mahavishnu Orchestra ... & he gave King Crimson's RED an "A-" rating in a review....
& even Lester Bangs -- champion of all unpolished, informal, loud, noisy & spontaneous music -- gave a grudging rave 2 Emerson, Lake and Palmer's PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION in the pages of ROLLING STONE magazine, where Bangs admitted he played the album twice in 1 nite, pounding his fists on the floor in enjoyment & getting his kicks.
Well, there's no accounting 4 taste....
Tho the criticism could B sneering & vicious in the pages of CREEM, CIRCUS, NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS & MELODY MAKER, prog perhaps got away most EZily in the pages of ROLLING STONE, where many of the mag's critics seemed pretty open-minded about prog, no matter what the perceptions of the past may B.
While RS's Ed Ward slammed the Moody Blues' DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED & IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD, Stu Werbin was pretty positive about the later EVERY GOOD BOY DESERVES FAVOUR, calling the Moodies "the Sistine Chapel of Rock and Roll."
RS also boosted the early work of Yes, w/ Richard Cromelin raving about FRAGILE & CLOSE TO THE EDGE.
The RS crits were also open-minded & supportive about out-there work by David Bowie (HUNKY DORY & ZIGGY STARDUST), The Move (MESSAGE FROM THE COUNTRY), some of the Kinks' more Xperimental work (VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, ARTHUR, LOLA VS. POWERMAN AND THE MONEY-GO-ROUND), Procol Harum (LIVE WITH THE EDMONTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA), Jethro Tull (AQUALUNG & THICK AS A BRICK), even the Beach Boys (PET SOUNDS, SUNFLOWER, SURF'S UP).
Later, Charley Walters even gave a mostly-positive review 2 ELP's mostly-awful WORKS VOLUME 1 -- mainly for "Fanfare for the Common Man."
Some of this open-mindedness even continued in2 the mostly cynical & sarcastic 1st ROLLING STONE RECORD GUIDE, where albums like Caravan's WATERLOO LILY, the Moodies' DAYS & SEVENTH SOJOURN, Pink Floyd's MEDDLE & ANIMALS, & King Crimson's COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING all received 4-star ratings. Pink Floyd's DARK SIDE got 5 stars, along w/ Procol Harum's 1st & A SALTY DOG.
I'm probly forgetting a lot, but this recap should at least indicate that the critics weren't as uniformly negative as it sometimes seemed.
Besides, some prog releases deserved 2 get slammed. From about '78 thru '80 or so there were a series of prog albums that were way weaker than they shoulda been. Whether this was due 2 record company meddling -- pushing 4 a more commercial approach in the face of declining sales -- nevertheless, summa these albums deserved 2 bomb: The Moodies' OCTAVE (& some much-later albums that were even worse), Genesis's DUKE (which actually sold a coupla million offa couple hit singles), Yes's TORMATO, U.K.'s DANGER MONEY, Asia's 1st (VERY popular), Gentle Giant's GIANT FOR A DAY, Mike Oldfield's QE2, Renaissance's A SONG FOR ALL SEASONS & AZURE D'OR, others that were so hideous I'm sure I've blocked them out or at least TRIED 2 ... & others I've heard about but never actually HEARD: ELP's LOVE BEACH, Renaissance's 2 albums of the early '80s, the Giant's CIVILIAN....
No wonder music fans preferred 2 listen 2 Punk or New Wave when faced w/ summa this.
& even while all this was happening, Pink Floyd was selling millions of copies of THE WALL. & ROLLING STONE's Kurt Loder called the Floyd's next album, the grim & mostly-weak THE FINAL CUT, something like "the pinnacle of British art-rock."
At the time I thot prog's demise could B blamed Ntirely onna series of really weak albums. Now I think it was that + changing audiences & styles, a contracting economy, record company meddling, & Fripp's theory about fans wanting new heroes 2 cheer 4. I can also back Charles Snider's theory in THE STRAWBERRY BRICKS GUIDE TO PROGRESSIVE ROCK that mayB the style had simply run its course, like other musical styles do.
But I don't think we can just blame the critics on this 1. It's their job 2 criticize.
Your thots?

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's in a name?

A list of forgotten singles by a cast of unknowns is up 4 review tonite, as we prepare 4 R ALL NEW MUSIC review-session later this week. Any1 who can guess the true identities of all of the following "unknowns" will win the usual free CDs we have lying around the house collecting dust. We'll start w/ the EZ 1's & they'll get more obscure as we go. Good luck & good listening!

* Jethro Toe: "Back to the Family" -- Sorta understated, catchy, funny song-story about the +'s & -'s of having strong family ties. I like the sly way the lead singer & flutist sings the lyrics. These guys might have a future.
* Reginald Dwight: "Ego"/"Teacher I Need You" -- "Ego"'s an affectionate, nostalgic, slightly bitter # about all the "childish, foolish, immaturish" things the singer & lyricist did while growing up, apparently while pursuing an acting career prior 2 taking-up music -- & how their current Xperiences reflect back on their adolescence. Catchy, great lyrics, marvelous choruses. "Teacher I Need You" is a rollicking rocker about a schoolboy stuck on his teacher; not introspective at all. Xcellent piano all over both of these trax.
* Johnny & the Moondogs: "Thank You, Girl"/"There's a Place" -- "Thank You" is a rather downbeat lovesong w/ ragged harmonies & some nice harmonica. The lyrics R a puzzle, perhaps saying less than they mean -- mayB the girlfriend helped the singer get over some kinda sexual problem? The ragged harmonies & harmonica return 4 the altogether more effective & more introspective "There's a Place," which has echoes of the Beach Boys' "In My Room." Could B the start of something big.
* Hollow Notes: "How Does it Feel to Be Back?"/"Diddy Doo Wop (I Hear the Voices)" -- "How Does it Feel" is a strong, smooth modern R&B piece straight outta the '70s, w/ a punchy production, good guitar & Xcellent smooth vocals by a coupla white guys from Philly. "Voices" is something altogether darker & more mysterious -- possibly about the shadowy inspirations 4 '50s doo-wop music.
* Paul Ramon: "Love in Song" -- Big heartfelt ballad w/ a huge production, great vocals & solid gtr & keyboards. This singer/songwriter could have a future.
* Mabel Greer's Toy Shop: "Every Little Thing"/"Something's Coming" -- "Every Little Thing" is a marvelous cover of an old Beatles tune, enthusiastically performed by a band that obviously really enjoys updating this old #. & stealing the gtr riff from "Day Tripper" during the long instrumental intro is hilarious. "Something's Coming" is a remake of the old Bernstein/Sondheim # from WEST SIDE STORY, also enthusiastically done, but a bit less of a song to start with. Still, who woulda thot of doing this in 2010? It's so kitsch!
* Carl and the Passions: "Feel Flows"/"It's About Time" -- "Feel Flows" is retro-hippy, strait outta 1972, w/ marvelous warped gtr, a phased flute solo, & some very warm vocals. The lyrics R a bit over the top. "It's About Time" is a driving rocker, riveting in its impact but still a little high-falutin' -- its lyrics R about The Meaning Of Life. Despite the lyrics, marvelous performances.
* J. Eddy Fink: "In the Winter"/"From Me to You" -- "Winter" is a stark portrait of lost love, brief & haunting. "From Me to You" is advice from the singer/songwriter 2 the man she's leaving; some of the lyrics seem etched in acid. & this woman can SING.
* The Paramounts: "Wreck of the Hesperus"/"Long Gone Geek" -- "Wreck" is a rockin' shipwreck-at-sea tale, w/ a rolling piano, good gtr & Xcellent orchestrations. The vocal coulda been stronger. "Geek" is another rocker w/ some nice gtr & great closing group-vocal choruses.
* White Clover: "Back Door"/"Can I Tell You?" -- "Back Door" is an underplayed ballad w/ some nice drama & Xcellent synthesized bagpipes at the end. "Can I" sounds like a demo, but rocks a bit & has some nice rudimentary violin work & above-avg. lyrics. A name 2 watch 4.
* Group X: "You'd Better Believe It"/"Lost Johnny" -- "Believe" is a driving wall-of-sound rocker w/ lotsa chattering synthesizers. "Johnny" is a stripped-down, menacing rocker w/ eerie lyrics, a mix of metal & punk.
* Giles, Giles and Fripp: "Cat Food"/"Groon" -- "Cat Food" has hilarious lyrics & a pianist who sounds like a cat tiptoeing across the piano keys. Amusingly off-kilter; you'll laff. "Groon" is a warped, reverberating gtr/bass/drums instrumental with the tones bouncing off in all kinds of diffrent directions. This will stretch your speakers & possibly your ears as well.
* Soft White Underbelly: "Morning Final" -- Keyboard-led horror story set in the NYC subways. Great choruses & some very nice gtr at the end.
* Bartley Butsford, Daniel Dust, Wilton Carpet & The Beak: "Doctor Diamond" -- Gtr-led horror story set in the NYC subways. Marvelous vocals, superb lyrics.
* The Architectural Abdabs: "Flaming" -- Marvelous fake-psychedelia, strait outta 1967, w/ tape-loop gtrs, harps, cuckoo clocks, phased vocals, & terrific work by the singer/gtrist & organist.
* Roger, Roger, Rick and Nick: "Jugband Blues" -- Spooky.
* Brew: "Manic"/"Spirit of the Water" -- "Manic" is a driving rocker about schizophrenia, frustrated & angry w/ some screamingly intense gtr in the middle. "Spirit" is a brief, ghostly mood piece, hazy & watery. Haunting.
* Simon Dupree and the Big Sound: "Think of Me With Kindness"/"Knots" -- "Kindness" is a gorgeous tho downbeat, mournful lost-love ballad, let down only by a kinda lame acapella midsection. "Knots" is the confusing, overly-complicated acapella sound of a relationship falling apart. These guys show some real talent.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


...Just kidding, IRS, really.
(The Blogger "Stats" Xperiment continues.... So far there's absolutely no evidence that my "ANGELINA JOLIE NAKED!!!" headline led 2 a massive upsurge in page views. So far. Dammit. ... It's so great 2 B out here in the blogosphere where you can write almost ANYTHING & it doesn't really matter because hardly NE1 actually notices....)

Meanwhile, in Btween Xhausting nites at work & occasional torrential downpours, here's what KTAD's "More Music Friday" playlist looked like:

Wigwam: Do or Die/Simple Human Kindness/Bless Your Lucky Stars.
Camel: Unevensong/Wait/Eye of the Storm/Who We Are.
Weather Report: Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz (live).
ELO: Ma-Ma-Ma Belle/Can't Get it Out of My Head/Boy Blue.
Monkees: Tapioca Tundra.
Joan Armatrading: Persona Grata/Temptation.
Caravan: Place of My Own/Where But for Caravan Would I?
Fairport Convention: A Sailor's Life.
Genesis: Counting Out Time/Firth of Fifth (studio version).
Nektar: Fidgety Queen/Unendless Imaginations.
Jethro Tull: Dun Ringill/Jack-A-Lynn/Farm on the Freeway/Steel Monkey.
Strawbs: On Growing Older/Keep the Devil Outside.
Ciggy Barlust and the Tits from Venus: Backside.
Clannad: Second Nature/Closer to Your Heart.
Procol Harum: Repent, Walpurgis/Shine On Brightly/A Salty Dog.

Notes: Wigwam's "Do or Die" is bouncy, fairly straightforward rock w/ Xcellent guitar, "Simple Human Kindness" is full of silly advice, & "Bless Your Lucky Stars" is a rolling, rumbling, ominous, faintly menacing masterpiece -- the ultimate vocoder song. All are from Wigwam's Xcellent 1975 album NUCLEAR NIGHTCLUB.
Camel's "Unevensong" & "Wait" R fairly similar -- both start out kinda pushy & impatient & then settle in2 Andy Latimer's soaring gtr lines. "Unevensong" also has a long, gorgeous gtr/keyboard finale. "Eye of the Storm" is a beautiful flowing keyboard piece written by Kit Watkins & previously recorded by his prior band, Happy the Man. "Who We Are" is a superb moody lovesong w/ more great gtr from Latimer. "Unevensong" is from 1977's RAIN DANCES, the other 3 R from 1979's underrated I CAN SEE YOUR HOUSE FROM HERE.
Weather Report's "Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz" is the best thing I've ever heard by them, from their 1980 2-record "live" album 8:30. In it, we follow an NYC commuter from his apartment in Chinatown -- leaving 4 work as his wife chatters honey-do's out the window at him -- & follow him as he catches the subway downtown, the music speeding up as he nears his destination.
This thing shifts gears & speeds up at least 3x, & each time U think it can't get NE faster it DOES, until the commuter arrives breathlessly at his destination -- & the subway train barrels across the stage and sprawls across the tracks in a steaming heap of wreckage. It's brilliant. Bassist Jaco Pastorius & drummer Pete Erskine hammer away thruout the whole last 1/2, & saxophonist Wayne Shorter screeches as the subway train thunders downtown out of control. Composer/keybsguy Joe Zawinul is a friggin genius.
ELO's "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" is of course the 1st of Jeff Lynne's songs of praise 2 the telephone co. His other 1 was "Telephone Line," of course. Rumor or legend has it that Marc Bolan of T. Rex played gtr on "Ma Belle" -- I only hear 1 gtr but LOTS of strings. I couldn't finish "Boy Blue." These trax R from the OLE best-of.
Joan Armatrading's pretty brilliant at times. Both "Persona Grata" & "Temptation" gain lotsa dramatic impact from Mike Howlett's huge, booming production. These R from her 1985 album SECRET SECRETS.
Caravan's "Place of My Own" features great singalong choruses & a marvelously shrill organ solo from Dave Sinclair. "Where But for Caravan Would I?" is a sorta dirge about good times, but 1nce it gets rolling it rocks rather harder than they usually did, making 4 a VERY short 9 mins. I'll B playing it again. Both these R from Caravan's 1968 1st album & also from their recent THE WORLD IS YOURS best-of.
Fairport's "A Sailor's Life" was a disappointment. It started off very stark & dramatic, & there is a tragedy in the tale -- but I was hoping 4 a repeat of the opening w/ more drama, & instead there was just a long dull instrumental fade. MayB I missed something. From their MEET ON THE LEDGE best-of.
"Counting Out Time" is the only Peter Gabriel-era Genesis song I've ever been able 2 get into, mayB Bcos of the funny lyrics about sex. "Firth of Fifth" opens w/ some nice keyboards from Tony Banks, but Gabriel's declaiming voice stopped me -- I'm 2 used 2 hearing these old non-hits as sung by Phil Collins on later Genesis live albums like SECONDS OUT & THREE SIDES LIVE.
Nektar's "Fidgety Queen" is a rockin' classic, w/ great loopy gtr choruses from Roye Albrighton. "Unendless Imaginations" opens HUGE w/ a choir & a whole lot more -- but then thins down 2 a long, dull instrumental fade. Both these R from their DREAM NEBULA best-of.
Tull's "Dun Ringill" is a brief, ghostly classic from 1979's STORMWATCH. I couldn't finish the other 3, & I LIKE Tull. They won a Grammy 4 the CREST OF A KNAVE album w/ "Farm on the Freeway" & "Steel Monkey"? These trax R all from the 1993 2-CD BEST OF.
"Keep the Devil Outside" is a classic B-side from Strawbs' HALCYON DAYS best-of. "Backside" is the Strawbs in disguise, poking fun at David Bowie & his Spiders from Mars, w/ some hilarious, paranoid lyrics: "The spiders from Uranus/Climbing up the wall...."
Clannad's "Second Nature" is a flashy, modern, California-ized shoulda-bn-hit from SIRIUS. The rather more natural & moody "Closer to Your Heart" is from MACALLA. Both R included on ROGHA/THE BEST OF.
Procol's "Repent, Walpurgis" is a sorta bluesy instrumental workout 4 piano, organ & gtr. "Shine On Brightly" features some wacko Keith Reid lyrics, great piercing gtr work by Robin Trower, shoulda bn a hit & is 1 of my fave Procol songs, right up there w/ "Wreck of the Hesperus."
"A Salty Dog" is an amazing vocal performance from Gary Brooker, & tho I know it's 4 dramatic purposes I think the pace is 2 slow -- but the sense of resolution at the Nd is pretty great NEway. I'm reminded of Richard McKenna's short-story "Fiddler's Green," in which a group of sailors in a lifeboat create an island paradise out of their group fantasy longings. Keith Reid's lyrics & the gorgeous music paint a vivid picture. All 3 trax R from Procol's 1996 GREATEST HITS.

COMING SOON: In R continuing search 4 new sounds, we here at KTAD plan 2 hold at least 1 complete session in which we play NOTHING BUT ALL-NEW-2-us previously-ear-unheard music, w/ nothing but the artist's reputation 2 go on B4 listening. This should lead 2 some small suprises & possibly big disappointments, + help us tackle some music that's bn lying around the house unheard 4 awhile now. Coming late next wk. Hope U'll tune-in. (Hey, if we could do this "live," we would....)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Ha! Made ya look.
Hope this doesn't sound 2 silly or self-centered, but how bout Blogger's new "Stats" function, eh?
(I mean, it IS new, isn't it? I haven't been using this system 4 a year & just didn't SEE it up til last week, right? Have my eyes really gotten THAT bad?)
Anyway, something NEW 2 play with, Ghod help me. & what AMAZING (frankly unbelievable) statistical information is available right at my fingertips! (No, this is not going to be a commercial 4 Blogger/Google/whoever. Tho I'm sure they must B nice folks....)
4 instance: I'm finding it pretty hard 2 Blieve that a dozen people viewed my last post within the 1st 24 hrs after I posted it. Or that 20 people viewed this blog on the same day last week. C'mon -- there's only about 12 people in the world who know I write a blog ... sometimes. I don't even KNOW 20 people.
I'm also having a hard time Blieving that people in Ghana & Bolivia R viewing this blog. (& Ghod knows what they must think of it.)
& as 4 those folks who stumbled over the Back-Up Plan by doing a blog search -- what the Hell were they looking for?
& if all these people R allegedly out there viewing this stuff -- why the hell Rn't they commenting?
C'mon, don't B shy, I don't bite. If you're in Bolivia & you wondered who else in the world had actually heard the Raiders' 1972 non-hit "Country Wine," go ahead & drop me a line. It would actually be really cool 2 hear from you. If you're really out there. Which I'm not totally convinced about....
Maybe these visits & views R just a random thing -- Do people really do nothing but sit at home & surf the Net 24/7? & do they get PAID 4 it? & how would I go about getting a job like that? Anybody out there who can give me details -- & if there's actual $$$ involved -- fill me in & I'll split the proceeds with you (90/10, of course)....
Wow, maybe I can start attracting more attention by posting stuff with outrageous titles like the 1 above ... or how about "500 Nymphos and a Mule"! That should grab a lotta viewers. Or maybe "Make your penis 6 times bigger -- RIGHT NOW!" ... No, that 1's 2 common already.... Oh, I know -- "Never pay taxes again!!!" That's it.
All I gotta do then is sit back & C how many "hits" I get. (That IS what they're called, isn't it?) Can't wait....
But don't think this means the Back-Up Plan is gonna "go commercial." Oh no, absolutely not. I don't wanna B like every other blog out there, writing about Lady Gaga and the Jonas Brothers, or whether Lindsay Lohan's back in jail again. Hell no. I'd rather talk about music I was too stupid 2 appreciate 40 years ago -- or last week.
Besides, if I really wanted 2 max-out my readership, I'd probly havta start writing in Real English....
(This post brought to you by Blogger, dedicated to letting idiots express themselves worldwide -- whether anybody reads them or not....)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back to vinyl! (mostly)

While I SERIOUSLY think-over whether I've heard enuf off-the-wall stuff 2 try 2 write an average schmuck's guide 2 Progressive Rock, here's what I've bn listening-2 over the past few days:

Gong: Master Builder/A Sprinkling of Clouds.
Nick Drake: Sunday.
Jethro Tull: A Passion Play edit #8 ("Overseer").
Hatfield and the North: The Stubbs Effect, etc.
New Order: Regret.
Squeeze: In Quintessence.
Keith Jarrett: Country.
Pat Metheny Group: The First Circle.
Kansas: Journey from MariaBronn.
Camel: Summer Lightning.
Clannad: Indoor/Blackstairs.
Amazing Blondel: Three Seasons Almaine/Toye/Safety in God Alone.
Golden Earring: Snot Love in Spain/Save Your Skin/Need Her.
Kraftwerk: CometMelody 2.
Pentangle: Sweet Child/Light Flight/Sally Go 'Round the Roses.
ELP: The Great Gates of Kiev/The End/Nutrocker.
Dixie Dregs: Hereafter/I'm Freaking Out/Old World/The Great Spectacular/Night Meets Light.
Gentle Giant: Dog's Life/Think of Me With Kindness/The Boys in the Band/Funny Ways (live)/Experience (live).
Sally Oldfield: Fire and Honey/Land of the Sun.
Steve Tibbetts: Ur.
Bruce Cockburn: Silver Wheels.
Raiders: Country Wine.
Loudon Wainwright III: Dead Skunk.

Notes: I'd like New Order's "Regret" played at my funeral -- along with Gryphon's "Lament" & Group 87's "One Night Away From Day" ... not that I'm planning on GOING anywhere anytime soon....
I'm no Xpert, but has Keith Jarrett ever done anything else as pretty as "Country"? Would love 2 hear more stuff like that....
I think "Journey from MariaBronn" is THE great forgotten Kansas song, right up there w/ "Song for America" & "Miracles Out of Nowhere." It's on their 1st album & their 2-disc best-of box -- you should give it a listen. It gets a little operatic in places, but that just adds 2 it, 4 me. Lotsa great keyboards, guitar & melodrama....
Camel's "Summer Lightning" veers perilously close 2 ... *GASP!* ... disco, but it still has a great vocal by Richard Sinclair & some nice gtr & atmospherics -- it's on BREATHLESS, along w/ a lotta other great overlooked stuff....
Clannad's "Indoor" nails 1 critic's Dscription of them as "a windswept Fleetwood Mac." It & "Blackstairs" R from the Xcellent MACALLA.
Golden Earring's "Snot Love in Spain" & "Need Her" R 2 hilarious trax from their 1979 album NO PROMISES, NO DEBTS. "Snot Love" features singer Barry Hay as a drunken layabout getting in trouble w/ German tourists during a holiday in Spain. "Need Her" is about how Hay's girlfriend makes him so crazy that he wants 2 kill her -- these 2 songs woulda made a killer single back in the day. Hay has a wild singing style -- it sounds like his face is gonna Xplode B4 he can get the words out. "Save Your Skin," unfortunately, was not as good as I remembered....
Kraftwerk's "CometMelody 2" wasn't as good as I remembered, either -- it's really just the same sorta-sparkly musical phrase repeated over & over w/ only minor variations -- 4 almost 6 mins.... From AUTOBAHN.
Still learning about Pentangle -- "Sweet Child" is worth it just 4 the way the band kicks in at the end of the choruses; "Light Flight" is a little disturbing & spooky, tho Jacquie McShee's double-tracked vocals R gorgeous; "Sally" was a touch disappointing, tho -- I Xpected them 2 do something more w/ it.... From SWEET CHILD and BASKET OF LIGHT.
ELP's "Kiev" has some GREAT NOISE in it; the vocal parts of "The End" R kinda boring; & "Nutrocker" is really silly.... From PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION.
"Hereafter" is the best thing the Dregs ever did, near as I can tell -- it's pretty haunting. They obviously had talent, but they only had about 4 diffrent tunes. "Old World" is a very rustic/folkie violin/gtr/lute instrumental -- could almost B Tull, Gentle Giant, Gryphon or Amazing Blondel. Both trax R from their 1980 album DREGS OF THE EARTH.
Gentle Giant's "Think of Me With Kindness" is just a step or 2 away from Bing perfect -- only a kinda lame acapella midsection lets it down.... & then there's the Xtremely creepy "Funny Ways".... From OCTOPUS and PLAYING THE FOOL/LIVE.
Sally Oldfield's "Fire and Honey" sounds like a musical sex metaphor. & "Land of the Sun" is brief but gorgeous. Both R from her superb 1978 album WATER BEARER. Sally woulda bn perfect 2 do soundtrack music 4 the LORD OF THE RINGS movies -- tho I imagine her Middle Eastern imagery mighta raised some eyebrows....
Steve Tibbetts' "Ur" is a gorgeous, stunning gtr-meltdown instrumental from his Xcellent '80 album YR. If you play it loud enuf, it'll move the foundation of yr house. He shoulda done more stuff like this....
I hadn't heard the Raiders' "Country Wine" since 1972. It's not really the lost gem I remembered. Very pleasant, but not suprising that as a single it only peaked at about #90 nationwide....
BTW, 6 of the above R songs I'd never heard B4. Can you guess which 1's? 1st person 2 get all 6 wins a free copy of Animal Collective's MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILLION. Or the Television Personalities' MY DARK PLACES. Or Group 87's A CAREER IN DADA PROCESSING. Or something else I have lying around the house....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Still alive and ... well....

Greetings. I'm still here. Been listening 2 music a lot more than usual lately, been reading a lot as usual, & hava lotta stuff I wanna tell you about. Briefly.

MUSIC: The past few Fridays have been sunny as Western Wash TRIES 2 have an Indian Summer, & I've been awakened early by our next-door-neighbors' sawing, hammering & nail-gunning as they try 2 turn their old garage in2 a church dormitory or something. 2 keep my mood up I've musicked-out a lot more than NEtime since last April or May. Fighting my cheap & cranky CD player all the way, the playlist has included:
Van Morrison: Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)/Wild Night/Into the Mystic.
Jade Warrior: A Winter's Tale.
Happy the Man: On Time as a Helix of Precious Laughs.
Fleet Foxes: Blue Ridge Mountains.
Doobie Bros.: Neal's Fandango.
Rush: Time Stand Still.
Norah Jones: Shoot the Moon/The Long Day is Over.
Vertical Horizon: Everything You Want.
Fairport Convention: Stranger to Himself.
Badfinger: In the Meantime/Some Other Time.
Caravan: Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss.
U2: Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own.
Coldplay: Clocks.
Kenny Loggins: Conviction of the Heart.
Mary Chapin Carpenter: Passionate Kisses/The Hard Way/The Long Way Home.
Fleetwood Mac: Say You Will.
Strawbs: Down by the Sea.
Keane: Somewhere Only We Know/This is the Last Time/Bend and Break.
King Crimson: Sleepless/Three of a Perfect Pair/The King Crimson Barber Shop/Frame by Frame/Happy With What You Have to be Happy With/The Sailor's Tale/Bolero.
Pam Tillis: Whenever You Walk in the Room/Homeward Looking Angel.
Hatfield and the North: Share It/Fitter Stoke Has a Bath/Mumps.
Soft Machine: Why Are We Sleeping?/Feelin' Reelin' Squeelin'/Love Makes Sweet Music/Hope for Happiness/Hibou Anenome and Bear/Out-Bloody-Rageous/etc....

A few notes: On these musicking-out Fridays I start out w/ lite, breezy stuff & then tend 2 search out music that performs open-heart surgery on my emotions, 4 whatever reason. In this lineup, Happy the Man, U2, Fairport & even Kenny Loggins(!) all had me in tears (the latter with the line "To forgive and be forgiven"), so obviously there R still a few issues I have yet 2 work out.
As 4 the others, the Jade Warrior still has a gorgeous guitar-fanfare close, as great as it was when I 1st heard it in 1977; the Doobies shoulda gone on 4 about 6 or 8 mins; Fairport's "Stranger" is a stark, lonely funeral march; MC Carpenter's "Long Way Home" is an (eventually) winning lecture about not forgetting 2 stop & smell the roses; KC's "Barber Shop" is only about the 3rd on-purpose joke in their entire career ("Cat Food" & "Happy With".... R the other 2 I know of -- tho Belew's line in "Sleepless" about submarines lurking in his ceiling gets me every time). "Happy With" was a lot more fun when I saw them do it in concert in Seattle in 2003.... (& how bout going from KC 2 Pam Tillis? Whatta segue! Who else woulda dared....)
The Hatfields' "Share It" is pretty neat -- I like Richard Sinclair's direct-comedy #'s. Late drummer Pip Pyle's "Fitter Stoke" is more of a lonely, forlorn piece, tho still amusingly sung by Sinclair. & "Mumps," the Hatfields' supposed magnum opus, is pretty good, w/ a nice repeating theme that's a real treat when it turns up again toward the end of the piece. Still think Dave Stewart's organ sounds R a little weedy, & the band's twiddly gtr/organ bits w/ female-soprano vocals soaring over the top is pretty much their trademarked sound ... but I'm 2 the point now where I sorta like it.
& Soft Machine. Well, "Why Are We Sleeping?" is pretty great. Nice 2 hear Kevin Ayers' low&mellow vocals again, since I rather stupidly traded-off his ODD DITTIES best-of album a coupla yrs back -- how'm I ever gonna live without hearing "Connie on a Rubber Band" 1 more time?
Mike Ratledge's organ tones sound a lot like early Caravan, which is fine, tho I prefer Dave Sinclair. But hearing early Caravan & the Hatfields mayB gave me a door in2 the Softs, finally. Some of this stuff may strike me as thin or dated or silly, but I'm not giving up -- & I was suprised I remembered the theme 2 "Out-Bloody-Rageous." Haven't tried "Moon in June" again yet, tho....
More soon.

BOOKS: Currently finishing Sid Smith's IN THE COURT OF KING CRIMSON, the best bio on KC I ever Xpect 2 read until Bob Fripp writes his -- which he SHOULD. Smith not only provides a thorough history of the band, he also looks at each album track by track, talks about where each song came from, analyzes musical content, & covers how the band feels about the work in hindsight. Smith also isn't afraid 2 say if something sucks. My only real complaint w/ his book is that it's 2 short -- w/ everything that's here there's still more I'd like 2 know. + I'd like 2 know what kinda gyrations the band went thru while recording THE POWER TO BELIEVE.
Intresting that 4 all the great music that was produced by this band, it still wasn't enuf 2 make the folks in it happy -- Adrian Belew never felt he got enuf credit 4 his great lyrics & wild guitar; Bill Bruford apparently took 25 yrs of abuse. Smith's book also shows-up Bob Fripp 4 the controlling, perverse weirdo he's always been, & puts a different spin on summa the events also mentioned in....
Bill Bruford's THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY, a sorta 400-pg retirement speech from the drummer, who gave up public performance in Jan 2009. There R LOTS of great stories here, tho of course I woulda loved 2 hear more -- Xactly the kinda stuff that Bruford sez in the book bores him 2 tears. Ah well. My only REAL complaint is that his book isn't 600 pgs. You might also B amused by summa the rather icy things Bruford sez about summa the people he's worked with -- How Yes hadta hold a committee meeting 2 Dcide what day it was; the reason why bassist Chris Squire's nickname is "The Fish" -- Bruford calls him "torpid." There's a whole CHAPTER on what it's like 2 work w/ Fripp. There R also chapters about touring w/ Yes, KC, Genesis, UK, Gong, National Health, Bruford, Earthworks, & more. If you like any of these acts, you'll wanna read this book. Sheez, I'm thinkin bout readin Keith Emerson's autobio, now....
Still looking 4 the ultimate prog-rock history book, haven't found it yet. Charles Snider's STRAWBERRY BRICKS GUIDE TO PROGRESSIVE ROCK reviews 250+ prog-related albums from SGT. PEPPER to THE WALL, including a LOT of German & Italian stuff I've never heard -- there's a lot of real good info in it. But. Snider's timeline cuts off a little 2 early -- I think he coulda at least gone on thru 1982 or so. Snider has no idea what 2 do with apostrophes or commas, & he occasionally gets musicians' names, album titles & record labels wrong. Despite that, the info in Snider's book is MILES ahead of say, Jerry Lucky's PROGRESSIVE ROCK FILES. But somebody shoulda proofread it 4 him....
Edward Macan's ROCKING THE CLASSICS is about on the same level as Paul Stump's prog-history THE MUSIC'S ALL THAT MATTERS -- but Macan looks at prog as almost entirely a British creation -- American proggers such as Kansas, Dixie Dregs, Happy the Man, Starcastle, etc. R mentioned, but that's all. Macan is strong on the sociological & economic forces that led 2 the rise & fall of progressive rock, & he is VERY strong on technical analysis. He also analyzes 4 prog pieces in-depth (TARKUS, "Close to the Edge," WISH YOU WERE HERE, "Firth of Fifth"). His book at least mentions Camel, Caravan, Gentle Giant, Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, etc. I wished his range was wider, but he knows his stuff.
Some of the best things in Macan's book R footnotes -- how Atlantic Records Prez Ahmet Ertegun asked ELP to make LOVE BEACH "as commercial as possible;" Dave Stewart's frustration when Virgin Records turned National Health down for a contract after they'd previously been home 2 Stewart's Hatfields....
Intresting that Bruford quotes from both Macan & Stump on their theories about the decline of prog -- BB was there, I thot he might have his own theories on what happened & why. & he does, but you havta read Btween the lines about his experiences w/ UK 2 find out how he feels about the whole commercialization issue....
DO NOT be sucked in by UNCLE JOE'S GUIDE TO PROGRESSIVE ROCK. Joe Benson is an LA DJ who thinks he knows a few things just because he's read the backs of a few album covers. Unless you're looking 4 VERY basic song-title/composer/album/release-date info, you're not going to find much of intrest here. If you're a fan of the bands you probly know more than Uncle Joe does already -- maybe you should write a book? Example from Uncle Joe's chapter on the Moody Blues: Mike Pinder's song "Simple Game" could NOT have been an outtake from the Moodies' 1972 album SEVENTH SOJOURN, because it was recorded in 1968 & issued as the B-side of "Ride My See-Saw" -- after that I gave up.
I've had 2 take a break from music-related fiction 4 awhile, I was burning out. As a result I've gotta lotta novels on the shelf that're gonna havta wait -- Harlan Ellison's SPIDER KISS, Norman Spinrad's LITTLE HEROES, Bradley Denton's WRACK AND ROLL, Don DeLillo's gloomy GREAT JONES STREET, Laurence Gonzales's JAMBEAUX (6 chapters in, still not sure where it's going).
I AM trying 2 finish Rafi Zabor's THE BEAR COMES HOME, about a jazz-saxophone-playing bear in search of the meaning of music & his own destiny. It's funny, & in places it's beautifully written -- Zabor useta write some wild jazz & pop reviews 4 the old MUSICIAN magazine -- but it's not gripping. I set it down a couple yrs ago 3/4 of the way thru, when the Bear was at the start of a nationwide tour in support of his 1st album. Recently I made it another 75 pgs & it's bn worth the trip, but.... THE BEAR won Zabor the PEN/Faulkner Award 4 best 1st-novel -- you can now get a copy from 4 6 cents. (This is not an ad.)
Fiction just isn't grabbing me NEmore like nonfiction can. Lately if I get bored w/ a novel I'll take a break w/ Paul Theroux's travel writing, like the marvelous THE KINGDOM BY THE SEA (about his walk around the shoreline of the British Isles), or the shorter pieces in his FRESH AIR FIEND. I'd still B willing 2 try a good rock novel, if I could find NE. There R a few others out there I'm aware of -- John Shirley's TRANSMANIACON and ECLIPSE, rocker Mick Farren's THE TEXTS OF FESTIVAL....
...Sorry I've been gone 4 so long. Haven't either felt much like posting or had much 2 write about. & sometimes The World's Smallest Laptop has trouble finding enuf signals 2 transmit. But I'm still functioning. Sorta....