Maxophone

Happy birthday Robbie Robertson (of The Band) (1943)

MAXOPHONE

When this one rolled down the pike about 1976 or so – I hadn’t had enough of Italian progressive rock.  Yet, it was somehow “lacking”; sung in English, even!  And it was on a terrible label, “Pausa USA”.  I never warmed to it, sold my US LP of it to the Japanese in the 80’s, even!

More recently, the Japanese did a paper sleeve SHM-CD of it – and it was the Italian version!  So in 2016, I can listen and…enjoy.  Even after years of hating this LP!  (I forget – was this LP somehow associated with P.F.M.?)  Well, I liked P.F.M., even past their sell-by date!  “Jet Lag” is a real favorite!

Progressive Rock Part 2

Happy birthday to songwriter Burt Bacharach (1929); comedian George Carlin (1938); singer Ian Dury (1942); Ian McLagan (Faces) (1945) and keyboardist / singer Steve Winwood (1948).

Part 2 – 70’s Progressive Rock

WISHBONE ASH “Argus” (MCA Japan UICY 20115)

I do own this one, but I found an old CD of it.  There is a Japanese SA-CD of it, but I never went for it.  I did not do this album when it got released; more like it kept cropping up, again and again.

YES “Close To The Edge” (Atlantic Japan WPCR 80307)

Not my favorite Yes album; I haven’t even bought the 5.1 mix BD of it yet!  In 1972, it was sort of where I stopped, as more interesting European LP’s came into view.

GENESIS “Selling England By The Pound” (Charisma Japan UICY 76718)

Always amazed that this one gets picked over “Foxtrot”, but I guess it happens.  I got an SA-CD of it, back when the British did ‘em (in the green box); I like this LP better than what came later.

STEVE HACKETT “Voyage Of The Acolyte” (Charisma Japan UICY 25537)

The first LP on this list that does not have an SA-CD or DVD-A of it – thus far!  Quite a good LP, actually.  I got on this one as a new release, and even bought what came after it!

PINK FLOYD “Dark Side Of The Moon” (Harvest Japan WPCR 80127)

I got both a European and a Japanese version of this SA-CD.  And I have a nice 1973 LP of it; having worked in a record store in the 70’s, I can attest to the fact that the posters in this album freaked some people out, and they duly got returned as “warped”.  The Japanese did a nice audiophile LP of it, too.

GRYPHON “Red Queen To Gryphon Three” (Talking Elephant TECD 313)

A great album, and no audiophile version?  And no Japanese pressing?  This band didn’t sound like ANYBODY else at the time, it came out in the US and promptly got people to ask if there were non-US copies.

Progressive Rock Part 1

Happy birthday to singer Eric Burdon (1941); comedian Mort Sahl (1927) and keyboardist Carla Bley (1938).

In Japan, the normally straight “Record Collector’s Magazine” has done a “70’s best progressive rock” story, showing LP covers.  Over the next few days, I will try to address some of these.  I wish I had a scanner, so you could see the collage for the cover of this magazine!  It’s the May 2016 issue.

Top of the list: Part 1

THE MOODY BLUES “Days Of Future Passed” (Deram Japan UICY 25554)

An LP that has been issued a lot!  But, justifiably so!  The beginning of ‘progressive rock” – perhaps?  Certainly a nice cover for 1967.  I remember when this was originally issued on CD, the sound was no good; thankfully, they got their act together for the SA-CD (2CD) issue!

KING CRIMSON “In The Court Of The Crimson King” (Wowow Japan IECP 30001)

In 1969, where were you?  Most of us were still under the spell of The Beatles (or The Rolling Stones), when this one rolled down the pike.  Thankfully, it never ever went away and I got to discover it in 1970 or so.  The cover describes the music, and that certainly hasn’t changed over the years.  Nice 5.1 version on the DVD-A version!

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER “Emerson, Lake & Palmer” (JVC Japan VICP 78001)

Another good debut album!  The DVD-A isn’t quite the full album in 5.1, but they do at least try!  Started walking with this one in 1970, with a nice Island UK copy – that I own to this day!

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR “Pawn Hearts” (Charisma Japan UICY-25581)

Their 4th LP, but really quite good.  This version of the album has “Theme One” included.  Quite a good record, in fact – it drove the Italians nuts!  But I guess they went there and played it a LOT.

JETHRO TULL “Thick As A Brick” (Warner Japan WPCR-16473)

I like pretty much all of their early albums, and I don’t feel that any of them have been improved by remixing.  This one sounded pretty good, anyway!  The DVD-A mix is clear and STRONG!

Part 2 tomorrow!

MIDEM conventions

Happy birthday to drummer Ed Cassidy (Spirit) (1931) and to guitarist Zal Cleminson (S.A.H.B.) (1949).

MIDEM Convention

I wonder when they started having the MIDEM convention in France?  As early as 1967, John Phillips & Lou Adler bought a Michel Polnareff song for Scott McKenzie to sing on his debut album; and they probably bought it at the MIDEM convention.

http://www.midem.com/

Says 1967 is the first MIDEM – So by 1969, Dunhill Records (Lou Adler) was signing Vertigo Records act Colosseum – he released 3 of those albums on Dunhill (for the US market).  Philips / Phonogram eventually started keeping Vertigo acts for themselves for the U.S. market – Ian Matthews!  So, how did May Blitz get signed to Paramount Records?  And Uriah Heep stayed with Mercury Records?  But they didn’t remain on Vertigo Records?

Capitol Records would’ve had first right of refusal for all EMI acts; they did a lot of Harvest Records acts for the U.S., intelligently keeping Pink Floyd – but what about The Panama Limited Jug BandKevin Ayers?  And why did Capitol license Gracious! for the U.S. market from Vertigo Records?  They even went all the way to totally repackaging the LP with an unsavory cover!

Buddah Records got many of the Charisma Records LP’s for the U.S. – artists like Genesis and Monty Python and lesser-known band like Spreadeagle and Capability Brown languished on Buddah Records.  All of those bands must’ve been bought for the U.S. market with Lovin’ Spoonful money?  Another MIDEM deal?  However, UK act Lindisfarne got A&R’d for Elektra Records for the U.S. and Rare Bird to ABC / Probe / Dunhill Records.

By the mid-70’s few British artists were being sourced outside of their home labels, for the U.S. market; no big contracts to be signed, many titles got signed up for a single LP to be released.  No idea how many of those “one and done” deals were made, but you can bet some of them came out of MIDEM.

Osanna

Today is the anniversary of Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a dead bat (1982).

Many years before that August event, I was a youngster going into Los Angeles area record stores. I was also listening to KPFK-FM (90.7) after midnight; I was hearing all sorts of stuff! My friend (who doesn’t do FB) was beginning to play Italian bands, about 1972 or so. Holy progressive rock!

I was turned on to band from Italy called Osanna, which is literally what is chanted elsewhere: (“Hosanna! Hosanna!”) – at least that’s what I’ve always understood. And, yes, it is religious music!

Their debut album was called “L’Uomo” ( = “The Man”); can’t find a date anywhere on the jacket, LP or label, but my wild guess is 1971. They look like Italian hippies, have face paint and they rock & roll reasonably! I never got a CD of this album, but I probably should pick one up next time I’m in Tokyo, where they are ‘popular’.

A gentleman (my aforementioned friend) was beginning to play a track off of their 2nd LP, “Milano Calibro 9”, which I understand is an Italian gangster film soundtrack. I recently got the honor of re-buying this title as a Japanese SHM-CD (Super High Materials), it’s short, but sweet – this isn’t a very long album! The original Fonit Italy LP had a very textured cover. We weren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!

This is a real band, and they sort of sound like King Crimson or Van Der Graaf Generator!

“Palepoli” is their 3rd album and a powerful masterpiece it is! I not only have an SHM-CD of it, my SHM-CD is a paper sleeve (kami sleeve)! The CD I have is from 2004, and AFAIK is the newest mastering of it. In the booklet liner notes, they freely mention some of their contemporaries: Premiata Forneria Marconi, Focus, New Trolls, Banco Del Mutuo Sorrorso, Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Latte E Miele, Le Orme most of whom were riding on the backs of King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, VDGG etc.

Recently, Warner Japan got the rights to the Fonit / Cetra catalogue, so they are busily re-issuing Italian progressive rock albums, the last of which today I got was their 4th album, “Landscape Of Life”. This is likely the least of the 4 Osanna albums, at the time, but I am ready to listen to it with renewed vigor!

Italian Progressive Rock

11-1-11                     Italian Progressive Rock

In the October, 2011 issue of Strange Days, they have an “Introduction to Italian Progressive Rock – Top 30” that I mostly agree with.

  1. Osanna – Milano Calibro 9 (LP / CD)
  2. Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – s/t (debut) (CD)
  3. Arti E Mestieri – Tilt (CD)
  4. Goblin – Profondo Rosso (LP / CD)
  5. New Trolls – Concerto Grosso Per Uno (LP / CD)
  6. Le Orme – Felona E Sorona (LP / CD)
  7. Area – Arbeit Mach Frei
  8. I Pooh – Parsifal
  9. Il Balletto Di Bronzo – Ys. (LP / CD)
  10.   New Trolls – Atomic System (CD)
  11.   Opus Avantra – s/t
  12.   Locanda Della Fate – Forse Le Luccione Non Si Amano Piu
  13.   Acqua Fragile – s/t (LP / CD)
  14.   Biglietto Per L’Inferno – s/t (CD)
  15.   Raccamandata Ricevuta Rittorno – Per…Un Mondo Di Cristallo
  16.   Latte E Miele – Passio Secundum Mattheum (CD)
  17.   Celeste – s/t (CD)
  18.   Formula Tre – Sognando E Risognando (CD)
  19.   Jumbo – DNA
  20.   Maxophone – s/t (CD)
  21.   Museo Rosenbach – Zarathustra (CD)
  22.   Picchio Dal Pozzo – s/t (CD)
  23.   Quella Vecchia Locanda – Il Tempo Della Gioia (CD)
  24.   The Trip – Atlantide
  25.   Il Paese Ballochi – s/t
  26.   Semiramis – Dedicato A Frazz
  27.   L’Uovo Di Columbo – s/t
  28.   Il Volo – s/t (CD)
  29.   Alphataurus – s/t (LP)
  30.   Il Rovescio Della Medaglia – Contaminazione (LP / CD)

I have many of these as both LP’s and CD’s.  This style of music is very popular in Japan.  I don’t agree with 100% of their choices – I would’ve picked “Palepoli” over “Milano Calibro 9” by Osanna, for instance.  And the New Trolls are the only band with 2 titles on this list!  I think I would’ve picked 2 albums by Le Orme, instead.  And nothing from P.F.M.?

 

P.F.M.

5-18-11

P.F.M.

I last wrote about P.F.M. (Premiata Forneria Marconi) in 2003 – before I got the chance to completely re-buy my P.F.M. CD collection in Japan once again!

Another fine Italian progressive rock band from the 1970’s!  There are many more than I will list here, but try and hear these ones first:

Storia Di Un Minuto (Numero Uno Italy, 1972) ’03 issue

Per Un Amico (Numero Uno Italy, 1973) ’03 issue

Photos Of Ghosts (Manticore US/UK, 1973) ’99 issue

L’Isola Di Niente / The World Became The World (Manticore US/UK, 1974) ’06 issue

Chocolate Kings (Manticore US/UK, 1976) ’99 issue

Jet Lag (Manticore US/UK, 1977) ’05 issue

Pretty much the first thing I ever got to hear by P.F.M. was their debut Manticore label LP “Photos Of Ghosts”, around 1974 or so.  After hearing that, I easily found their first two LP’s in Los Angeles, and determined that some of “Photos Of Ghosts” has been taken from those LP’s!  OK, some of it is re-recorded, but…there is also a good live album during this time frame (“Cook”, 1974), but what I’ve listed above are their first six studio albums.

P.F.M. were also one of the few Italian bands to be signed to a record company outside of their native Italy, Manticore Records.  Their Manticore debut, “Photos of Ghosts” even has some English lyrics by King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield!

P.F.M. were one of the few Italian bands that I ever got to see play live.  Around the time of “Jet Lag” (1977) they toured the US, and I got to see them at the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, CA – up closeFranco Mussida is a really amazing guitarist, and I am not usually impressed by guitarists.  I also rather enjoyed meeting them, and getting vocalist Bernardo Lanzetti to sign an LP by his other band, Acqua Fragile!

Of course, P.F.M. continued after 1977, but while I continued to buy their new albums for the next few years, it was always these first six albums that captured my imagination.  Of these six albums, I probably like “Photos of Ghosts” the best, but it was what I first heard by them – and I am probably weakest on “Chocolate Kings” – as I never heard it at the time.  Also rather partial to “Jet Lag” – but that’s when I got to meet them, and see them play live.

More recently, I have been impressed with “The World Became The World” – how good it sounds, how well it’s recorded etc.  At the time, I remember being disappointed with it!  But listening to it in 2011, dang – those guys could really play in ‘74!

I think I could actually be tempted by even better masterings of these albums: SHM-CD or 24bit DSD mastering.  I’ve already got them as Japanese paper sleeve CD’s!

Le Orme

05-17-11

Le Orme

Le Orme are one of the more accessible Italian 1970’s progressive rock bands.  The core of the band is Aldo Tagliapietra (bass & vocals), Tony Pagliuca (keyboards) and Michi Dei Rossi (drums).  All of the singing is in Italian.  There are 2 x overlapping 60’s albums by Le Orme (“Ad Gloriam” and “L’Aurora”), still in the Italian pop group vein.  The list below are their 1971 – 1982 releases, and of greatest interest:

Collage (Philips Italy, 1971)

Uomo di Pezza (Philips Italy, 1972) approx. “Man of Rags”

Felona E Sorona (Philips Italy, 1973)

Contrappunti (Philips Italy, 1974)

Smogmagica (Philips Italy, 1975)

Verita Nascoste (Philips Italy, 1976) approx. “Hidden Truth”

Storia O Leggenda (Philips Italy, 1977) approx. “Story and Legend”

Florian (Philips Italy, 1979)

Piccola Rhapsodia Dell’Appe (Philips Italy, 1980) approx. “Small Rhapsody of the Bee”

Venerdi (DDD / RCA Italy, 1982) (CD issue was called “Biancavene” on Replay Italy)

Happily, there are 2009 re-mastered CD’s of the Philips titles, so if original Italian LP’s are not easy to find, you can get very good sounding CD’s.

I first went to Italy in 1979, and I got to meet Aldo Tagliapietra of Le Orme, thanks to an introduction that I was given by my late friend Tony Harrington, who knew the band (from their time in Los Angeles, recording “Smogmagica”).  When I met him, they had recently completed recording “Florian” (which is named after an old, fancy café in Venice).

In addition to their 9 x Philips albums, there were a few non-LP singles, notably “Canzone D’Amore” (1976) – I am not sure if it has turned up on CD as a bonus track or if it’s on any of the many “Best Of” CD’s.

There is also an excellent 2CD set in Japan called “Live Orme” (King Records, 1993) – which has a lot of not-entirely-professional live recordings of the band during their peak years (initially, it was a 2LP set in 1986, and expanded greatly when it became available on CD).

In 1984, Aldo Tagliapietra made his first solo album, “…Nella Notte” – which continued very much in the style of the last Orme album “Venerdi” (1982).  I do not think this album was ever issued on CD.

The original group re-formed around 1990 and recorded at least two more albums, “Orme” (1990) and “Il Fiume” (1996).  I think both Aldo and Tony have now retired from the present-day Le Orme, so I really can’t recommend anything after “Il Fiume”, as I’ve not heard any of it.