Tuesday, June 18, 2013

#686: Music in Turkey

I'm sure there must have been some. I just can't remember much of it.
Outside of the ghostly, wailing, howling Islamic Call to Prayer, which happened 6 times a day starting around 5 a.m., I don't remember hearing much genuinely Turkish music. At one point I received as a present a cassette of a fairly modernized Turkish-woman ballad-singer, who sounded almost pleasant when I heard the music in someone else's apartment ... but on my own I couldn't get into it. For awhile I was disappointed by my failure to adapt & enjoy a new culture, this failure to blend in.
& then I stopped worrying about it. I figured if the music was good enough, IT would grab ME, as always. & that never happened.
My family & I were in Turkey for 2 years -- late 1989 thru late 1991, when the country was just starting to get "modernized." At least that's what the Turks thought. A Pizza Hut had opened in Ankara, & a brand-new McDonald's had just opened in the busiest central square downtown. We never went to either. They were always JAMMED with customers -- all the hip young Turks wanted to be in on Something New.
There were no CDs in Turkish stores back then, but cassettes were EVERYWHERE -- on the shelves of the smallest hole-in-the-wall stores, in the covered stalls of the open-air markets. I bought a Turkish-made cassette of Al Stewart's LAST DAYS OF THE CENTURY there, & though a friend thought it might have been "pirated," it looked fairly legit, complete with the legend "Made in Istanbul" on the cassette, & the official Enigma Records logo & all the artwork & etc. I remember playing the title song & "Red Toupee"; can't remember if I ever got to "Josephine Baker" or "Ghostly Horses of the Plains." But I've still got the tape around somewhere. It still works....
I remember a new Fleetwood Mac album being released just as we went overseas -- BEHIND THE MASK, which shockingly didn't include Lindsey Buckingham. I remember putting it on early in '90 & hoping it would somehow lift us out of the worst of the place, this new land of heat & dust & smog that we'd discovered on our arrival -- & the Mac album failed 2 deliver. It seemed awfully flat & dull, somehow. Or perhaps it was just the heat, I remember thinking. I never even got as far as the hypnotic "In the Back of My Mind," which likely would have woke me right up....
A year later, the same sort of flatness occurred with the Moody Blues' KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, which I had hoped would be a return to the level of their earlier, excellent THE PRESENT -- & which I played all the way through one especially hot summer afternoon while washing dishes. I failed to hear a single memorable melody. By then I was SURE it wasn't the Turkish heat.
There WAS some Good Stuff out there, though because we were so far from home, we had only the sketchiest sort of idea of what was rockin' U.S. ears. I 1st heard Rush's "Show Don't Tell" in Turkey, buying a cassette of their PRESTO cheap & hoping for a repeat of their earlier MOVING PICTURES. Nothing else on PRESTO grabbed me that much -- I don't know if I ever even finished it -- but the opener woke me up....
First heard Kate Bush's THE SENSUAL WORLD in Turkey. Mainly bought it for the devastating "This Woman's Work," & of course I'd heard Kate's 1st 3 albums 10 years earlier. I must've played "This Woman's Work" a lot -- it was my son's favorite song in the world when he was 2 years old.... There were some other good things on SENSUAL WORLD, like the steamy title song & the one where she dresses up like a rocket....
Thanks to the Base Exchange (a "department store" about the size of a big 7-11), we felt like we were fairly up-to-date on music while overseas -- I first saw CD's in Turkey, before I was really sure what the heck they were. When they arrived they came all at once, with no apparent rhyme or reason: Copies of Van Morrison's then-current ENLIGHTENMENT and HYMNS TO THE SILENCE sat right next to the Stories' excellent (& mostly overlooked) early-'70s ABOUT US. But it took me a couple of years before I was "converted" by the value of CDs -- I had to get back to America & notice the extra bonuses & previously-unreleased tracks before I began thinking these funny-looking tiny new discs might actually catch on....
Tho the BX kept us pretty well-stocked, there were some things that were still a mystery: We knew Sinead O'Connor suddenly Got Big seemingly out of nowhere, but it took YEARS before I heard the intensity in her voice in "Nothing Compares 2 U." For years I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about....
We knew INXS had become a pretty big deal back in the States, but we didn't know HOW big. We'd heard KICK, but we didn't realize what a string of hits they were cranking out Back Home.... Janet Jackson was suddenly a huge deal with RHYTHM NATION 1814 right after we arrived overseas. & none of us could figure out at the end of '91 what the heck a Nirvana was supposed to be....
One of my co-workers was a big Country fan, & was Pretty Country herself -- she actually USED words like "moseyin'" in casual conversation. Though she tended to listen to stuff like John Anderson's "Swingin'" (which I couldn't stand), she also had decent taste -- she was a big Steve Earle fan, & I first heard "Copperhead Road" coming out of her tape player at work....
There were other co-workers who were into stranger stuff, which I might have taken more notice of if I hadn't been distracted by a new country, new culture, writing my ass off for the base newspaper, etc. One was a broadcaster at a nearby base, who had two cats named Fripp and Eno. His casual mention of them one day made me pull the world's longest-delayed whiplash-double-take, & I said we needed to sit down & Talk Music at some point. & naturally, we never got the chance....
I even checked-out Turkish radio a few times, but there wasn't much out there: More wailing women singers, lots of atmospheric, droning Middle Eastern music.... The BBC World Service was out there somewhere, broadcasting faintly from a LONG way off -- they just reinforced the sense of foreignness we already felt. Home was literally 10,000 miles away. I've never felt so disconnected in my entire life. Not even when I lived in Wyoming....

Monday, June 17, 2013

#685: Nothing much new....

I'm bored. As usual. I'm trying to find some new-to-me music that speaks to me, that gets me excited, but that only happens occasionally. I'm slowly working my way through a stack of new-to-me stuff, but only sometimes is any of it stunning & worthy of re-playing (like Kirsty MacColl's "Free World" was awhile back). Until I trip over something great to tell you about, here's what I've been listening to lately....

Jade Warrior -- A Winter's Tale.
Fleet Foxes -- Blue Ridge Mountains.
Fleetwood Mac -- Hypnotized.
Icehouse -- Great Southern Land.
Kansas -- Journey From Mariabronn, Song for America.
Pink Floyd -- High Hopes, One of These Days, Keep Talking.
Miles Davis/Bill Laswell -- In a Silent Way/Shhh/Peaceful/It's About That Time, What If? (all remixed).
Brian Wilson -- On a Holiday, In Blue Hawaii.
Alan Parsons Project -- The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether, Don't Answer Me, Days are Numbers (The Traveller), You Don't Believe, Lucifer, Old and Wise.
Porcupine Tree -- The Sound of Muzak.
The Roches -- Hammond Song.
Sly and the Family Stone -- You Can Make it if You Try.
Barclay James Harvest -- One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out, Moonwater, The Joker.

"A Winter's Tale" & "Blue Ridge Mountains" are both gorgeous, well worth tracking down. "Hypnotized" is laid-back brilliant, but it took me YEARS to catch on to its languid mood. "Great Southern Land" is spooky, perfect late-night listening.
"Journey from Mariabronn" is THE great lost Kansas song, as great as "Song for America," if not better. Their poise was amazing, their seemingly effortless ability to mix rock & prog & folk & whatever. Later on they leaned a little too much toward the "boogie" side -- but there should've been WAY more of this kind of stuff....
Why do later Floyd albums get slammed? "High Hopes" & "Keep Talking" can stand up with any of the earlier Roger Waters stuff. & "One of These Days" has a great riff -- really good driving music. I need to check out more of the earlier Floyd stuff from SAUCERFUL through OBSCURED BY CLOUDS....
The Miles stuff all sounds great in its remixed form, but things get kind of noisy after "What If?" Guess if I felt really brave I could play "He Loved Him Madly" at work -- I've inflicted far worse things on customers. & I really should check out JACK JOHNSON and ON THE CORNER....
"On a Holiday" & "In Blue Hawaii" were the two best NEW songs on Brian Wilson's resurrected SMiLE album of a few years back. "In Blue Hawaii" is positively scary in places. & I liked the way these two songs reworked some old fragments that we'd been hearing on bootlegs for years. These were about the only two tracks where I didn't think Brian's vocals were strained....
Parsons' "Tarr and Fether" is an Olde Favorite that Almost Rocks. The rest is ... musically gorgeous, antiseptically pristine production ... nice vocals ... but absolutely nothing unexpected or surprising ever happens. It's all so predictable. These tracks had the life produced right out of them.
Doesn't mean I don't still like them -- I'm a sucker for "Don't Answer Me" & "Days are Numbers," & I think "You Don't Believe" is a neat peek behind the scenes into Parsons' & lyricist/singer Eric Woolfson's creative arguments. But it's all a little too perfect. & I had the same complaints about the Project's INSTRUMENTAL WORKS, & I still think that's pretty great....
But "Lucifer" is too sweet; it should be more menacing. & why isn't "The Gold Bug" on their ULTIMATE best-of? Or "Some Other Time," "Winding Me Up," "I'd Rather Be a Man," "Secret Garden"?
Speaking of perfection, "The Sound of Muzak" has a nice, smooth, updated prog sound, plus some drama.
Heard "Hammond Song" & "You Can Make it if You Try" thanks to the syndicated-radio music-news&reviews show SOUND OPINIONS, where hosts Jim DeRogatis & Greg Kot were doing a special on family bands. I've got the first Roches album at home but hadn't heard "Hammond" in quite awhile -- the vocals are still gorgeous, plus there's great added guitar from Rockin' Bob Fripp! Still remember the first time I heard the album back in '79.... "You Can Make It" I must've overlooked on Sly's GREATEST HITS -- very solid, as always. When I go back into another Soul/R&B phase I'll likely be playing more of Sly....
It's time to finish off Barclay James Harvest. "One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out" indicates they might've been listening to Bowie's "Space Oddity" -- it's tolerable. "The Joker" is a sorta downbeat rocker, not bad, but it certainly doesn't save the HARVEST YEARS best-of collection at the end.
"Moonwater" adds a HUGE orchestra to a possibly-7-minute piece full of BJH's usual self-pity. Why did they feel compelled to do this stuff? This is not rock&roll, closer to chamber-pop. But it's not endless, as I thought when I first heard it 35 years ago on one of Harvest's BJH vinyl-best-of's. There were at least 2 of those, & since then there've been 2 2-CD Harvest-era best-of's -- clearly EMI is still trying to get back the money they invested on these guys.
Mercifully, BJH learned how to write better, stronger pop hooks after they moved to Polydor & MCA -- at least for awhile (check out "Hymn," "Spirit on the Water," "Poor Man's Moody Blues," "The Song They Love to Sing," "Play to the World," & the glorious "Ring of Changes"). By the time they released XII (1978), they weren't writing hooks at all, near as I could hear....
So, from a best-of look at their first four albums, the verdict is: These guys had some talent, but not all that much to say, & hardly any inspiration. I found ONE new-to-me song worth re-hearing ("Ursula"), out of 31 tracks. I won't be keeping THE HARVEST YEARS. Thank Ghod I got it CHEAP.
More soon....

Friday, June 14, 2013

#684: Dog days

Not as in "The dog days of summer," more like as in "I've been working like a dog." But it's all turned out OK, & here's the latest playlist:

Suzy Bogguss -- Drive South.
Genesis -- Undertow, Afterglow, Your Own Special Way, Ripples.
New Order -- Regret.
Caravan -- Place of My Own.
Enya -- Storms in Africa.
Procol Harum -- A Salty Dog, Shine On Brightly, A Whiter Shade of Pale.
Bread -- Let Your Love Go, Too Much Love, It Don't Matter to Me, Why Do You Keep Me Waiting?
Al Stewart -- Where are They Now?, Red Toupee, Last Days of the Century, Fields of France, Trains, Night Train to Munich, A League of Notions, House of Clocks, Waiting for Margaux, Laughing into 1939, Almost Lucy, Running Man.

Hadn't heard "Drive South" in years, & it's a really good waker-upper. So I turned around & played it again. (Now where'd I put that Carlene Carter CD...?)
Have already posted my latest impressions of these middle-period Genesis tracks -- I still think they're all wonderful, but they sound kinda young&naive&story-book-ish to me now. Easy to see now why Phil Collins & Co. hadta punch-up the directness & immediacy a bit to get on the radio. But I think it's too bad they didn't get rich on this stuff. That '76 to around '83 period is still my favorite of their work.
"Regret" was my themesong when I was in the newspaper business. Maybe it still is....
Caravan's "Place of My Own" is a rouser -- but I prefer the remixed & cleared-up version on their CANTERBURY TALES best-of. The version on their first album sounds a bit ... muddy, though sound&approach-wise it could be newer than 1968. Still a great organ solo by Dave Sinclair in the middle....
"Storms in Africa" is about the only thing by Enya that's ever grabbed me by the throat -- it has some actual DRAMA, which a lot of her gentler, billowy, more New Age-y stuff doesn't seemta have much of....
Been playing Procol Harum rather a lot lately, though I dislike them when they start getting too heavy ("Simple Sister," "Whiskey Train"). "Salty Dog" is still three-quarters glorious, though I think the tempo is sludgy. Gary Brooker was quite a singer, though, & Keith Reid's lyrics are in this case mostly beautifully visual & dramatic. "Shine On Brightly" is a great lost single with some really nice screechy Robin Trower guitar in the choruses, & more goofy lyrics.
My complaints about their A&M best-of remain, however -- where's the 20 more minutes of music they could've squoze-in? "Long Gone Geek"? "Wreck of the Hesperus"? "In Held T'was in I"? Do I havta buy an expensive import best-of to hear more...? Never mind, I already know the answer....
Probably working up to another Bread attack here soon. If their DEFINITIVE COLLECTION included "Been Too Long on the Road," it'd be all anyone would ever needta hear. But of course life is not that neat or easy.... They still sound great -- check out that rockin' harpsichord on "Let Your Love Go"! & "Why Do You Keep Me Waiting?" is a lost B-side that almost rocks....
Al Stewart's DEFINITIVE COLLECTION isn't -- Rhino could've made some better choices on the early stuff, & I disagree with several of their choices from his hit years -- but I think it says something for the compilers that they actually left OFF "Midnight Rocks," which was an actual hit, even though it's just a collection of Al cliches....
Though the period from the one-great-side PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE & the really great MODERN TIMES through the above-average 24 CARROTS is pretty well represented, I was mainly interested in the later stuff I hadn't heard before, of which Rhino includes 10 tracks. I was worried some of this would be a letdown from Al's classic years, but happily that didn't happen. Some of these later songs maybe aren't as punched-up commercially as his work with producer Alan Parsons, there's less catchy sax & more use of acoustic guitars. But the songs themselves are pretty strong, definitely not embarrassing.
Probably the best are "A League of Notions," "Night Train to Munich," "Waiting for Margaux" & "Red Toupee." "Last Days of the Century" has the kinda big, dramatic production people used to expect from Al, but some of the lyrics are kinda silly. The same goes for "Where are They Now?"
"League of Notions" turns re-arranging Europe after World War I into a big game of Risk; it's not entirely serious. "Night Train to Munich" takes Al's previous cloak&dagger obsessions & plays them for laughs; it's fun. "Red Toupee" is over-the-top silly in the same way as "Mondo Sinistro" from 24 CARROTS (which should be here); it's an affectionate self-parody. Interesting that the best stuff here should be the closest to comedy -- make me laugh & I'm sold.
"Waiting for Margaux" is a slightly twisted lovesong, very nice. "Trains" is low-key, modest, charming. "Running Man" is Al's cloak&dagger/spy obsessions at their height -- it shoulda been a hit. "Almost Lucy" is another great lost single, sorta underplayed but very effective, especially the choruses.
But my complaints with Rhino's selections remain: They coulda squoze-in another 4 songs per disc. Where's "Modern Times," "Terminal Eyes," "Valentina Way," "Rocks in the Ocean," "You Should Have Listened to Al," "Life in Dark Water," "One Stage Before," "Broadway Hotel," "Mondo Sinistro"? What's here sounds great, but there should've been more....
More soon....

Monday, June 10, 2013

#683: Nothing's better left unsaid

If you're a rock fan, music blogger, music-criticism addict, or just a fan of great vivid addictive writing, Jim DeRogatis's LET IT BLURT (2000), a biography of legendary '70s rock critic Lester Bangs, is an absolute Must Buy.
But I won't blame you if you start reading on Page 50, when Lester starts writing music reviews for ROLLING STONE in 1969. That's where I started reading, & I devoured most of the rest of the book in less than a day.
There's a lot here. You get Lester's life story, plus a history of & close-up look at the people who invented rock criticism, & great inside views of what life was like at ROLLING STONE & CREEM & THE VILLAGE VOICE, plus some of the lyrics Lester wrote for his short-lived punk-rock band. There's a long, funny, previously-unpublished-in-book-form piece by Lester about How To Be A Rock Critic that probably contains more truth than Bangs & his colleagues would want to admit.
Plus there's a 27-PAGE bibliography of the hundreds of pieces Bangs wrote over the years. The actual text itself is 260 pages, & it doesn't seem like DeRogatis missed much.
The only problem is it would be hard to ADD much to the tons of material Lester published in his lifetime, in what were often passionately & hilariously open & unguarded, deeply personal discussions of his private life in the context of record reviews or opinion pieces.
I was glad to see this wasn't as sad a story as I expected -- far from it. Lester might not have had a gloriously happy life, but a lot of this sounds like Good Times to me -- being invited by RS record-review editor Greil Marcus to "write about whatever you want;" moving to Detroit & hanging out with rockers & out-of-control young music writers at CREEM (where Lester practically became The Voice of the magazine, in a stable of writers that also included Dave Marsh); moving to New York & catching Patti Smith & The Ramones & Talking Heads & Television & Richard Hell and the Voidoids & Blondie at CBGB's....
As DeRogatis makes clear here, & as Lester himself said in his works collected in PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG and MAINLINES, BLOOD FEASTS AND BAD TASTE, Lester never stopped searching. Boredom & indifference were the big enemies to Lester -- both in music & when it came to people. He thought if we could all just talk with each other & listen to each other, maybe we'd somehow get through this ugly post-technological world -- which even in 1980 he saw mostly as people mimicking the latest hot addictive technology. It's gotten way worse since then.
When he felt the rock scene was getting too dark, Lester started trying to write other things -- almost-straight journalism, social criticism, philosophy (sort of). From an early age he knew he was a good writer -- & later on he was sure he was right up there with his heroes Kerouac & Burroughs & Bukowksi -- & possibly better than all of them.
He mellowed as he aged, but even his work from the early '80s could get pretty ferocious -- try his farewell to Sid Vicious, "Bye-bye Sidney, Be Good" ... or his piece on Miles Davis's mid-'70s work, "Music for the Living Dead." Ouch. & at all times, you knew there was A Real Person talking to you, warts & flaws & neuroses & all.
I was glad to see that Lester didn't die in as lonely & sad a way as Greil Marcus & Bruce Sterling had assumed previously. This is not a sad story, though parts of it are: Lester lost his father at age 8, he never married, he never had children. But he touched a lot of people & he inspired a couple generations of writers with his work (me included). There's never been anyone like him.
DeRogatis might've been the last person to interview Lester, in mid-April '82 for a highschool assignment to interview your heroes. & he gets a lot out of that interview. But I always want to know more. I just wish there had been more to get.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

#682: MORE obscure Prog Rock classics

Well, the last list went over so well (best viewership numbers I've had in months) that here's another one. & there'll probably be more (& even MORE-obscure stuff), as soon as I remember more. Sometimes it sucks to be geographically separated from my Collection. But check out any of the below for hours of solid prog listening....

Jade Warrior -- A Winter's Tale.
Rare Bird -- Epic Forest, Birdman.
Wigwam -- NUCLEAR NIGHTCLUB: Bless Your Lucky Stars, Do or Die, Simple Human Kindness; Losing Hold.
Yes -- No Opportunity Necessary No Experience Needed, Every Little Thing, Sweet Dreams, Time and a Word, America (long version), Looking Around, White Car, Into the Lens (I am a Camera), Machine Messiah.
Al Stewart -- Roads to Moscow, Terminal Eyes, Nostradamus; MODERN TIMES: Carol, Apple Cider Reconstitution, The Dark and Rolling Sea, Modern Times; YEAR OF THE CAT: Lord Grenville, Flying Sorcery, One Stage Before, Broadway Hotel; Almost Lucy, Valentina Way, Life in Dark Water; 24 CARROTS: Running Man, Rocks in the Ocean, Paint by Numbers, Optical Illusions, Mondo Sinistro; Red Toupee, The World Comes to Riyadh (live), You Should Have Listened to Al, Electric Los Angeles Sunset, The Elf.
National Health -- Tenemos Roads, Binoculars.
Procol Harum -- Wreck of the Hesperus, Shine On Brightly, A Salty Dog, Long Gone Geek, Homburg, In the Autumn of My Madness/Look to Your Soul/Grand Finale (live).
Rick Wakeman -- WHITE ROCK: White Rock, Ice Run, Lax'x, Montezuma's Revenge, After the Ball.
Gong -- Wingful of Eyes, Chandra, Bamboojii, Shamal, A Sprinkling of Clouds, Master Builder.
David Sancious and Tone -- Transformation (The Speed of Love), The Play and Display of the Heart.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band -- Stranded, Heart on the Street, Don't Kill it Carol, Hollywood Town, Belle of the Earth, Waiter There's a Yawn in My Ear, Singing the Dolphin Through, Living Without You.
Saga -- Wind Him Up, Framed, Amnesia, Time's Up.
Styx -- Suite Madame Blue, Mother Dear.
Moody Blues -- Simple Game, Gypsy, Eyes of a Child Part 2, It's Up to You, Our Guessing Game, You Can Never Go Home, For My Lady, You and Me, Meanwhile, Nervous, Veteran Cosmic Rocker, In My World; THE PRESENT: Blue World, Sorry.
ELO -- 10538 Overture (live); TIME: Twilight, The Way Life's Meant to Be.
Alan Parsons Project -- The Gold Bug, Some Other Time, Winding Me Up.
Supertramp -- Babajii, From Now On, Just Another Nervous Wreck, Child of Vision.
Led Zeppelin -- Carouselambra.
Roxy Music -- The Thrill of it All, Over You, Same Old Scene.
Jefferson Starship -- FREEDOM AT POINT ZERO: Lightning Rose, Things to Come, Awakening, Just the Same, Fading Lady Light, Freedom at Point Zero; Save Your Love, Winds of Change.
Clannad -- MACALLA: Caislean Oir, The Wild Cry, Closer to Your Heart, In a Lifetime, Almost Seems Too Late to Turn, Indoor, Blackstairs, Journey's End; Second Nature, In Fortune's Hand.
Enya -- Storms in Africa.
The Move -- Message from the Country, Tonight, Do Ya?
Grace Slick -- DREAMS: Full Moon Man, Garden of Man, Let it Grow, Dreams, El Diablo, Face to the Wind, Angel of Night.
Steve Tibbetts -- YR: Ur, The Alien Lounge, You and It, Ten Yr Dance, One Day, Three Primates.
Nektar -- Do You Believe in Magic?, Fidgety Queen, King of Twilight, It's All Over, Astral Man, The Dream Nebula, It's All in Your Head.

NOW AND THEN: Played some middle-period Genesis at work last night, some stuff from their PLATINUM COLLECTION that I hadn't heard in years -- "Undertow," "Afterglow," "Your Own Special Way," "Ripples" -- my favorite Genesis period, though it wasn't as popular as the Gabriel years & was WAY less successful than their later Phil Collins hit stuff.
& it occurred to me that it's easy to see now why those songs weren't hits: Though I think they're all gorgeous & still well worth hearing, these dreamy, romantic, storybook-style songs lack punchiness & directness. "Ripples" takes over 9 minutes; "Your Own Special Way" takes over 6, which is kinda long for a fairly direct lovesong. "Undertow" has enough drama for anyone, & "Afterglow" adds some at the end, but overall these songs are pretty soft & gauzy, mushy -- sweet & attractive in their gentleness, but not much for immediacy. "Ripples" was even released as a single, & made no known chart.
Still gorgeous, don't get me wrong. Great singing from Phil, nice keyboards & vocal harmonies from Tony Banks, nice ghostly guitar from Steve Hackett & Mike Rutherford. But it's clear to me now why Phil & Co. had to punch up the drama & directness to get some airplay. I always thought these middle-period songs were WAY underrated, & I still think so. But they sound ... well, kinda young & naive now.
More soon....

Friday, June 7, 2013

#681: Obscure Prog Rock Classics

...in no particular order. Track down any of these & they'll be sure to be worth your time. Absolutely recommended. Album titles are in UPPER CASE, song titles are in normal style. Without further ado....

Providence -- EVER SENSE THE DAWN: Fantasy Fugue, If We Were Wise, Neptune's Door.
Gryphon -- RED QUEEN TO GRYPHON THREE: Lament, Opening Move, Second Spasm; TREASON: Spring Song, Fall of the Leaf, Major Disaster; The Ploughboy's Dream, Ethelion, Wallbanger, (Ein Klein) Heldenleben.
Group 87 -- (1ST ALBUM): One Night Away From Day, Future of the City, Moving Sidewalks, The Bedouin, While the City Sleeps, Magnificent Clockworks....
Happy the Man -- CRAFTY HANDS: Wind-Up Doll Day Wind, Service With a Smile, Open Book, Morning Sun, Ibby it is, Steaming Pipes; Time as a Helix of Precious Laughs.
Illusion -- OUT OF THE MIST: Everywhere You Go, Candles are Burning, Roads to Freedom; Madonna Blue.
Renaissance -- LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL: Ashes are Burning (1st 3 minutes), Can You Understand?, Running Hard, Ocean Gypsy, Mother Russia; Rajah Khan, At the Harbour, Opening Out/Day of the Dreamer, Northern Lights.
Be-Bop Deluxe -- Sleep That Burns, Crying to the Sky, Maid in Heaven.
Barclay James Harvest -- Hymn, Spirit on the Water, Poor Man's Moody Blues, Ring of Changes, The Song They Love to Sing, Play to the World, Ursula (The Swansea Song), Taking Some Time On.
Sally Oldfield -- Water Bearer/Songs of the Quendi, Land of the Sun, Sweet Child of Allah, Fire and Honey.
Mike Oldfield -- Ommadawn (Part 1), Incantations (Part 1), Arrival.
Synergy -- Warriors, S-Scape, Icarus, Classical Gas.
Tangerine Dream -- Monolight (live).
Gentle Giant -- PRETENSIOUS best-of: Raconteur Troubadour, Knots, Pentegruel's Nativity, The Advent of Panurge, Proclamation, Cogs in Cogs, Schooldays; Funny Ways (live), Think of Me With Kindness, The Power and the Glory, His Last Voyage, Time to Kill, Free Hand, Talybont, Peel the Paint, Mister Class and Quality.
Grobschnitt -- Anywhere.
Kevin Ayers -- Connie on a Rubber Band, Soon Soon Soon, Butterfly Dance, Gemini Child.
Caravan -- CANTERBURY TALES best-of: Place of My Own, For Richard (live), The Dog The Dog He's at it Again, Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss, The World is Yours, Songs and Signs, Nine Feet Underground, Dissociation, Virgin on the Ridiculous (live); All the Way With John Wayne's Single-Handed Liberation of Paris, Can You Hear Me?, Aristocracy, Be All Right, Surprise Surprise, A Hunting We Shall Go...., The Love in Your Eye suite, The Dabsong Conshirtoe, FOR GIRLS WHO GROW PLUMP IN THE NIGHT.
Glass Moon -- (1ST ALBUM): Sundays and Mondays, Solsbury Hill, Blue Windows, Killer at 25.
Camel -- ECHOES best-of: Never Let Go, Rhayader/Rhayader Goes to Town, Lady Fantasy suite, Breathless, Echoes, Unevensong, Sasquatch, West Berlin, Mother Road; Flight of the Snow Goose, Down on the Farm, City Life, Drafted, Captured, Who We Are, Wait, Eye of the Storm, Manic, A Heart's Desire/End Peace, Spirit of the Water, Summer Lightning, THE SNOW GOOSE, NUDE.
Justin Hayward and John Lodge -- BLUE JAYS: When You Wake Up, This Morning, Remember Me My Friend, My Brother, Saved by the Music, Who Are You Now?
It's a Beautiful Day -- (1ST ALBUM): White Bird, Hot Summer Day, Girl With No Eyes.
Scarlet Rivera -- Day of the Unicorn.
Amazing Blondel -- FANTASIA LINDUM: Fantasia Lindum suite, Swifts Swains and Leafy Lanes, Celestial Light, Lincolnshire Lullabye, Toye, Four Seasons Almaine, Safety in God Alone; Landscape, Seascape.
Strawbs -- Where is This Dream of Your Youth? (live), The Man Who Called Himself Jesus (live), Hero and Heroine, Down by the Sea, New World, Part of the Union, I'll Carry On Beside You.
Spirit -- Nature's Way, Nothing to Hide, Morning Will Come, Life Has Just Begun, Soldier, Animal Zoo, My Friend, 1984, Aren't You Glad?
Love -- FOREVER CHANGES: You Set the Scene, Alone Again Or, Maybe the People Would be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale, Your Mind and We Belong Together.
Journey -- Spaceman, You're On Your Own, People, Daydream, People and Places.
Kansas -- Journey from Mariabronn, Back Door, Reason to Be.
Hawkwind -- HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN GRILL: You'd Better Believe It, Lost Johnny, Paradox, Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke); Urban Guerrilla, Sonic Attack.
Can -- ANTHOLOGY best-of: Father Cannot Yell, Uphill, Outside My Door, Yoo Doo Right, Mother Sky, Mushroom, She Brings the Rain, Mother Upduff, Don't Say No.
Genesis -- Ripples, Madman Moon, Robbery Assault and Battery, Dance on a Volcano, Entangled, Squonk, Afterglow, Your Own Special Way, Wot Gorilla?, Down and Out, Undertow, Deep in the Motherlode, Snowbound, Burning Rope, The Lady Lies, Inside and Out, Vancouver, Counting Out Time, The Knife, You Might Recall, The Cinema Show/In the Cage (live), Like it or Not.
Peter Gabriel -- Family Snapshot.
Kate Bush -- Empty Bullring, December Will Be Magic Again, This Woman's Work, Cloudbusting, Kite, The Saxophone Song, Strange Phenomena, The Man With the Child in His Eyes, Wow, Hammer Horror, Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake, Babooshka, Delius (Song of Summer), Violin, The Wedding List, Breathing.
Sky -- SKY2: Vivaldi, Toccata, Scipio, Fifo/Adagio/Scherzo/Watching the Aeroplanes, Hotta, Sahara; Where Opposites Meet, Meheeco, Connecting Rooms.
U.K. -- (1ST ALBUM): Time to Kill, In the Dead of Night suite, Mental Medication, Nevermore, Alaska; Rendezvous 6:02, Nothing to Lose.
The Nice -- America, Rondo.

...More likely coming soon, as soon as I THINK of some more....

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

#680: Tracking down MORE Olde Favorites

Bob Lefsetz's First Rule Of Entertainment Success: Satiate Your Audience.
So, without further ado....

I've been geographically separated from my turntable, my library, my at-home CD-player & My Stuff since about February, as I continue to spend practically every waking non-work moment with The Girlfriend. But she had a long workday on Tuesday, so I took my empty schedule & the gorgeous weather (near 80 here, pretty warm for us) & made the 10-mile trip Home, played some Strange Music (including stuff I've been sitting-on unheard since April), had some lunch, cleaned-up around the house, enjoyed the afternoon, & vanished again before The Roommate got home. & a Report follows:

The playlist:
Billy Lee Riley -- I Got a Thing About You Baby.
Johnathan King -- It's a Tall Order for a Short Guy.
Randy Edelman -- Pistol Packin' Melody.
Space Art -- A TRIP IN THE CENTER HEAD: Speedway, Odyssey, Eyes Shade, Watch It, L'Obsession d'Archibald, Hollywood Flanger....
Nino Tempo & April Stevens -- I've Been Carrying a Torch for You So Long That I've Burned a Great Big Hole in My Heart, Deep Purple.
Turtles -- Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margret?, Lady-O, Cat in the Window, Like the Seasons, Rugs of Woods and Flowers.
Mott the Hoople -- All the Way from Memphis, Honaloochie Boogie.
J. Geils Band -- First I Look at the Purse (live).
Paul Simon -- American Tune.
Rip Chords -- Here I Stand, The Queen, Gone, Ding Dong.

Billy Lee Riley's 1972 "I Got a Thing" is lighter & breezier than I remembered -- but then I hadn't heard it since '72. Might also be the fault of my turntable, which has LOADS of treble & very little bass response. Anywho, "I Got a Thing" sounds just like 1972, very bright & sweet & innocent. Tony Joe White wrote it, Chips Moman produced it, it was released by Entrance/CBS, & Billy Lee STILL couldn't get a hit out of it?! One of the longest unlucky streaks in rock&roll history....
Ditto for J. King's "Tall Order," another bright&silly non-hit from '72, WAY bouncier & happier than I remembered -- pure pop. & where did those horns come from?
Randy Edelman's "Pistol Packin' Melody" is sung in a higher register than I remembered -- could also be my turntable's fault. Hadn't heard this one since '74. It's lighter than air, but it does the job.
None of these were exactly the revelatory smashes I expected upon re-hearing them -- but neither was Chris Hodge's "We're On Our Way," which I hadn't heard for 40 years but have now re-adjusted to. So....
No re-adjusting required for Space Art's TRIP IN THE CENTER HEAD, the best, most melodic synthesizer album I've ever heard -- & which I hadn't heard a note of since 1982. I'd forgotten the opener, "Speedway," but the first few bass pulses in the opening brought it all back.
The one I remembered best was "Odyssey," with its spiraling opening theme, followed by a bubbling undercurrent. This & the rest of the album beats anything I've ever heard from Rick Wakeman solo, or from Synergy, Tangerine Dream, or any of those other synth giants. Synthesizer music with some LIFE to it, very upbeat & flowing.... Weak ending here, though....
The shorter 5 of the album's 7 tracks are the best -- "Eyes Shade" was a mellower ballad, slower to develop, & I couldn't wait. "Watch It" is another upbeat, chirpy electronic piece, closer to Synergy's sound, but catchier ... though it cuts off too soon.... "L'Obsession d'Archibald" has a silly title, but it's spacey, dramatic & driving in turns, with great refrains & a multi-keyboard midsection very reminiscent of Synergy. "Hollywood Flanger" has another memorable, punchy main theme. I couldn't sit through the 10-plus-minute closer....
I read in an old Jem Records Imports catalog that Space Art was actually Jean-Michel Jarre performing under a pseudonym (D. Perrier) -- but there are several names credited on the jacket; the one credited with "realisation" is Sybil Demarsan....
"I've Been Carrying a Torch" is FAR OUT ... though not as extreme as I remembered -- it no longer sounds to me like some kind of field-work song from another planet. But there are several great moments as Nino slips up into a screaming high falsetto, & the lyrics are a hoot.
Maybe it's not a lost classic, maybe it was just the way the woodblock punctuates the title line. But get the Atco single if you can find it -- it was the B-side of the foghorn classic "Deep Purple," which still sounds great, BTW. The single has a thicker bass & seems punchier to me, though on "Deep Purple" it all sounds like an impenetrable fog.... (From the DEEP PURPLE album.)
The Turtles were another '60s group with talent to burn. "Marry Margret" is pleasant, old-timey & short. "Lady-O" is a gorgeous shoulda-been-hit written by '60s/'70s folksinger Judee Sill. As on so many Turtles songs, the vocals here are AMAZING -- it should've been on their CD best-of. "Cat in the Window" is a short, spacey piece about Getting Away, again with great group vocals. "Like the Seasons" was written by Warren Zevon & is much gentler than I'd expected -- it also ends too quickly. "Rugs of Woods and Flowers" is a sorta fake-opera, very spacey, 3 minutes I'll never get back. (From MORE GOLDEN HITS and HAPPY TOGETHER.)
Mott's "All the Way from Memphis" is a hoot, rollicking good fun with excellent lyrics & great squealing sax from Roxy Music's Andy Mackay -- not far from early Rod Stewart, really. "Honaloochee Boogie" makes just as big an impact in half the time. (Both from MOTT.)
I've heard better versions of "First I Look at the Purse," but Geils does fine -- it's funny & it MOVES, there's lotsa energy, though they do seem to almost rush through it. "If the wallet's fat, that's where it's at." No romance without finance. (From BEST OF 2.)
Paul Simon's "American Tune" is frustrating -- it's produced for High Drama by Paul Samwell-Smith, the lyrics are grand, the orchestra's all lined-up behind Paul ... but the songwriter throws away the vocal by trying to stay modest. It's a letdown. Could Art Garfunkel have done better? (From RHYMIN' SIMON.)
"Here I Stand" has a great acapella vocal opening that'll stop you in your tracks, followed by some great doo-wop-style vocals & some nice twangy, shimmery guitar. I read somewhere that the Rip Chords were Beach Boy Bruce Johnston & Byrds-and-Raiders-producer Terry Melcher in disguise -- the pair co-wrote 4 songs on this 1963 HEY LITTLE COBRA album & Melcher produced, but there are four other singers' names mentioned & one of THEM also gets a songwriting credit, so....
If you're a fan of doo-wop, surf bands or twangy guitar, you might like this -- with the warning that some of the vocals get pretty high-pitched. "The Queen" has some nice vocals on the choruses, though the song is your standard cars&girls breakup-piece. "Gone" is a wild vocal rave-up that degenerates into some great falsetto screeching.... "Ding Dong" may be best of all -- great falsetto vocals & a silly lyric. These guys had real trouble concentrating on a song for more than 2 minutes.
Whoever they were, the Chords also covered 5 Beach Boys/Jan&Dean songs, & do a pretty great "409," "Little Deuce Coupe," "Shut Down," "Drag City," & a surfed-up "She Thinks I Still Care." Great singing on each.
So: 12 songs, 24-1/2 minutes, $8.50 used, no paper inner sleeve -- priceless.

Coming Soon -- A review of Jim DeRogatis's LET IT BLURT, a biography of legendary rock critic Lester Bangs....

Monday, June 3, 2013

#679: Prog Rock Road Test!

Here at the Back-Up Plan, we decided to take a wide selection of mostly-new-to-me Prog Rock (& some other stuff) out on a Road Test to see how well it all holds up. Here's the 65-song line-up, hold tight on the curves:

Incredible String Band -- First Girl I Loved.
Can -- Mother Sky, She Brings the Rain, Mushroom, One More Night, Outside My Door.
Jethro Tull -- Nothing is Easy, Bouree, A Song for Jeffrey, Beggar's Farm, A Christmas Song, A New Day Yesterday, Living in the Past, Teacher, Life's a Long Song.
Sparks -- Eaten by the Monster of Love, Angst in My Pants.
Genesis -- Counting Out Time, Carpet Crawlers, Firth of Fifth, The Cinema Show, Supper's Ready, The Musical Box, The Knife, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
Barclay James Harvest -- Summer Soldier, One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out.
Yes -- Leave It, It Can Happen, Rhythm of Love, Big Generator, Lift Me Up.
Nektar -- Do You Believe in Magic?, Cast Your Fate, King of Twilight, Oops (Unidentified Flying Abstract), Fidgety Queen, Recycle/Cybernetic Consumption/Recycle Countdown/Automation Horrorscope/Recycling/Flight to Infinity/Unendless Imaginations.
Caravan -- For Richard (live), Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss.

From WONDROUS STORIES (4-CD "Complete introduction to progressive rock" set):
Comus -- Diana.
Van der Graaf Generator -- Darkness 11/11.
Atomic Rooster -- Devil's Answer.
Sam Gopal -- Season of the Witch.
Colosseum -- Walking in the Park.
Nucleus -- Song for the Bearded Lady.
Dr. Z -- Evil Woman's Manly Child.
Jan Dukes De Grey -- Mice and Rats in the Loft.
Curved Air -- Back Street Luv.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- Fanfare for the Common Man, From the Beginning.
Mike Oldfield -- Tubular Bells (single version).
Rare Bird -- Epic Forest.
Camel -- Sasquatch.
Caravan -- Golf Girl.
Gryphon -- Opening Move.
Rush -- A Farewell to Kings.
Jethro Tull -- Pussy Willow.
Emerson, Lake and Powell -- Touch and Go.

"First Girl I Loved" is the ISB's usual charming, tuneless, off-key whimsy, quite adorable & nicely nostalgic. Sounds like a throwaway, as does a lot of their stuff -- but the lyrics are cute & funny & well-observed, & there's a nice acoustic-guitar ... riff, sorta ... during the choruses. Nice soundtrack for letting your car warm-up a little. (From BEST OF 1967-1972.)
Can at their best fired on all cylinders, from Jaki Leibezeit's relentless involving rhythm to Michael Karoli's screeching chainsaw guitar, to Malcolm Mooney or Damo Suzuki's odd chanting vocals. "Mother Sky," "Mushroom" & "Outside My Door" are solid examples of their best work -- "She Brings the Rain" is like a lite-jazz-vocal piece, charmingly breezy & unexpected. If you're a sucker for rhythms, you should test-drive these guys. At their very best ("Father Cannot Yell," "You Doo Right," "Outside My Door," "Uphill") you won't care about the words.... (All from ANTHOLOGY.)
Tull's "Nothing is Easy" is my new themesong for work -- mainly it's about how the stress you expect is always worse than what happens in Real Life, I've got no problem relating to that -- & also about how the best way to chill-out is to listen to More Tull. I'd listen to them more often if they actually had a decent, representative best-of.
Tull at their best is like a well-built, rumbling old jalopy with lots of little statues & doodads glued to the body -- lots of extra not-always-necessary ornamentation on top of the pretty-strong songs. & they're gonna make sure you NOTICE EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. ...& I've been wanting to ask for awhile: Why is "Bouree" considered to be a big deal?
"Christmas Song," "Life's a Long Song," "Teacher," etc., all still sound great, & I'm starting to really like "A New Day Yesterday." But my complaints with their many best-of's remain: Not enough stuff from their later, folkier period -- though I will be checking-out their ACOUSTIC BEST-OF.... (All from 30th ANNIVERSARY BEST-OF.)
Sparks isn't Prog (crap, ARE they?), but I couldn't resist spinning "Eaten by the Monster of Love," a hilarious anti-lovesong that should've sold millions. "Angst in My Pants" isn't as sure-fire (if you've seen REVENGE OF THE NERDS, you've heard part of it), but the lyrics are almost as hilarious & the vocal is a lot more ... edgy. Do YOU have angst in your pants? You KNOW you do.... (From BEST OF.)
Early Genesis, hmmm. I have trouble with Peter Gabriel's voice. On "Carpet Crawlers" he sounds positively creepy. For me, the best of these is "Counting Out Time," because it has hilarious lyrics about good ole sex ... & because Pete sounds JUST LIKE Phil Collins. (Is it really Phil doing one of his rare vocal cameos from this period? Neither Wikipedia nor Amazon could tell me....)
Musically, this stuff is all pretty great -- nice melodic keyboards from Tony Banks, good ghostly guitar from Steve Hackett, the usual solid drumming from Phil. But on a lot of these I'm so much more used to Phil's vocals & the re-arrangements from their 1977 live album SECONDS OUT.
That said, "Supper's Ready" still works OK, & still has that great sense of relief & resolution at the end. "The Knife" is surprisingly dramatic, & has an intense megaphonic Gabriel vocal -- an effect he should have used on "Firth of Fifth." I'm not used to "Cinema Show" without "In the Cage" added-on (as on their 1982 THREE SIDES LIVE). "Firth of Fifth" works better with the piano solo in the middle rather than at the start. Bitchbitchbitch.... (All from PLATINUM COLLECTION.)
I would like to love Barclay James Harvest -- they had the right look. But as displayed on their early best-of THE HARVEST YEARS, under the flashy chassis, something somewhere subtly went wrong. All the connections didn't work. They were top-heavy & sluggish & they wandered all over the road. Early in their career they could've written really nice, charming little pop songs (check out especially "Ursula -- The Swansea Song"), but they chose not to. Maybe they didn't know what they were best at.
"Summer Soldier" is a 10-minute anti-war suite, not as heavy & overblown as the earlier "Dark Now My Sky" or "She Said," but still. "One Hundred Thousand Smiles Out" indicates they were listening to Bowie's "Space Oddity." They got better later, thank Ghod....
I find the early-'80s streamlined, revitalized Yes pretty invigorating -- just enough Steve Howe guitar & Trevor Rabin vocals to keep me listening. "Lift Me Up" is not-quite-classic, "Leave It" & "It Can Happen" should be on any Yes best-of, & even "Big Generator" has its attractions after you get past the opening. If "Changes" were here, they'd have the period covered. (From DEFINITIVE COLLECTION.)
Nektar at their best is pretty great driving music -- they just make you wanna go FASTER. "Fidgety Queen" & "Do You Believe in Magic?" are great forgotten rockers; so is "King of Twilight," but in this mix it's much too trebly -- there's no bass at all. "Cast Your Fate" is OK, & "Oops" is a kind-of jam. The RECYCLED suite features lotsa keyboards & strings & choirs -- I'll need more listenings. (All from THE DREAM NEBULA best-of.)
Caravan at their rockin' best also make you wanna push the gas pedal down -- "For Richard" starts off quiet, but the pushy, swinging, ongoing band&full-orchestra riff that fills up the last 9 minutes is freakin' great. "Memory Lain" continues in the same vein. (From the CANTERBURY TALES best-of.)

WONDROUS STORIES is Universal Music Group's 2010 4-disc attempt to fit the history of progressive rock into a box. I've only heard about half of it so far, but can report that it's at least more extensive & more pleasing than Rhino's kinda thin, kinda disappointing SUPERNATURAL FAIRY TALES box issued a few years back.
Both these boxes have licensing problems -- no Pink Floyd, no King Crimson, no Genesis, no Soft Machine, weak choices from bands you've heard of, really BAD selections from bands you've NEVER heard of, etc.
But WONDROUS STORIES avoids SOME of that -- while some obvious prog milestones are included ("Roundabout," "Aqualung," "From the Beginning," "Tubular Bells," etc.), there are also some overlooked acts that deserved more time in the spotlight. Hey, GRYPHON is in here! With "Opening Move," as good an introduction as any....
Unfortunately, what WS mostly shows in its early stages is what a bad idea Prog seemed to be at first. A lot of this early stuff swerves right off the road & ends up crashing somewhere off in the weeds....
The set opens with Sam Gopal's self-consciously jazzy & fairly hideous "Season of the Witch" -- why didn't they just use Donovan's original? It would've fit right in & it still sounds great....
Then they get The Horn Bands out of the way -- Colosseum's "Walking in the Park" is OK except for the vocal; Dick Heckstall-Smith's sax sounds great, he should've had more room to play. Nucleus's "Bearded Lady" is breezy enough, good trumpet from Ian Carr & some nice acrid keybs -- decent jazz-rock, too rocky to be jazz.
Comus's "Diana" is warped folk -- sounds like trolls & witches singing in a wood, with some truly demented violin & drums. Not as violent or extreme as I'd expected from their reputation, sorta like the ISB on acid.
Van der Graaf's "Darkness" is their usual High Gothic Drama -- excellent sax from David Jackson & good doomy organ from Hugh Banton -- but WHAT is Peter Hammill ON about?
Then it's mostly downhill for a bit. Dr. Z's "Evil Woman's Manly Child" is heavy, man. Atomic Rooster's "Devil's Answer" is "eh." Jan Dukes De Grey's "Mice and Rats in the Loft" is some kinda Aztec-human-sacrifice drama with declaiming semi-operatic vocals; the best thing here is the underplayed sax, squoze-over & lost in the right-hand lane. None of these are exactly what you'd call Lost Classics.
After this, it's a pleasure to return to stuff I know: ELP's "Fanfare" & "From the Beginning" still sound great; "Fanfare" absolutely rocks, especially the part near the end where it sounds like Keith Emerson is stomping all over the keyboards, like they're about to collapse ... & then they return to the piece's triumphant main theme -- a classic moment. The single version of "Tubular Bells" still sounds like the best possible version of that piece.
Rare Bird's "Epic Forest" is a great lost prog classic, well worth enshrining here -- the album it's from (1972's EPIC FOREST) is in a Goodwill store near you & features exactly one more forgotten classic, "Birdman." Well worth 99 cents.
Camel's "Sasquatch" is as good an intro to that band as any; nice guitar from Andy Latimer. Caravan's "Golf Girl" is light & cute & funny, but not real representative; I would've picked "Memory Lain" or "All the Way," "Surprise, Surprise," "Be All Right," "Place of My Own," "Can You Hear Me?".... Gryphon's "Opening Move" captures them in all their renaissance-style mastery, with a little bit of their recorder-based wind-up-toy-band sound thrown-in. Timeless.
Rush's "A Farewell to Kings" didn't grab me except for the delicate acoustic-guitar work & Geddy Lee's helium vocal. "Pussy Willow" seemed like a no-big-deal instrumental. "Touch and Go" sounds suspiciously like Asia....
I'll be listening to more of this -- plus there's a whole disc of "neo-prog" & later stuff that I haven't even touched yet....
...Re-loading again soon....