King Crimson

11-18-10

King Crimson

KING CRIMSON – In The Court of The Crimson King

KING CRIMSON – In The Wake of Poseidon

KING CRIMSON – Lizard

KING CRIMSON – Islands

Buy the 40th anniversary 2CD sets of these four titles!  Amazing sound!!

These are the four initial works by one of the best and most important British bands of all time: King Crimson.  Start with these four and then decide if you wish to venture forth.  I can support the next phase of the band, with “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”, “Starless and Bible Black” and “Red”, but I absolutely go no further than their live album “U.S.A.” – all of their initial works were released by Island Records (UK).

Nothing I had heard previously could prepare me for “In The Court of The Crimson King” – I was about 12 years old, but I remember my reaction like it was yesterday.  Very little music that I can bring to mind even comes close to “21st Century Schizoid Man” (perhaps only Faust’s “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?”).  For fans of the debut K.C. album, I can recommend the multiple volume set “Epitaph”, with it’s live 1969 shows.

Already splintering by 1970, I think I got “In The Wake of Poseidon” and the McDonald & Giles LP at about the same time; they remain inextricably linked, for me.  I already knew that I liked the sound of the mellotron from The Moody Blues, but “In The Wake of Poseidon” takes mellotron fandom to a whole ‘nother level.

“Lizard” is the odd man out, here.  A new lead vocalist.  Jazz musicians.  Wha…? It grew on me at the time, and I am still fond of it in 2010.  The 40th anniversary edition is super crisp, very clear – and sounds mighty, all remixed.  Definitely the “odd man out” K.C. album.

“Islands” was easier to digest when new, but, again:  A new lead vocalist.  Thank goodness for “The Sailor’s Tale”!  Hook, like and sinker – I kept my favorite British band.  I somehow missed seeing this version of K.C. play live – well, I was too young, in any event – 13 / 14 years old?

I finally got to see King Crimson play live in my hometown in June, 1973 – for “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic” – it was virtually my first rock concert (I was not quite 15 years of age).  To say the least, it made quite an impression on me.  It would be at least another 6 or 7 years in my young life before I saw anything else that matched the intensity of this show (possibly Ultravox in ’78 or Magazine in ’79?).

We are lucky that Mr. Fripp is still alive and releasing archival material to the delight of fans.  You should read his blog sometime; fascinating stuff!

http://www.dgmlive.com/diaries.htm

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

11-17-10

Emerson, Lake & Palmer

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1st)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Tarkus (2nd)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Pictures At An Exhibition (Live album)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Trilogy (3rd)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Brain Salad Surgery (4th)

This is the classic contiguous set of EL&P albums.  You can have your “Works” and “Love Beach”, and all post-80’s albums.  These 5 titles are the reason they are highly regarded in many circles.

Keith Emerson = The Nice, Greg Lake = King Crimson, Carl Palmer = Atomic Rooster.  A “Super Group”, if you will.  They were wildly successful in the 70’s, but EL&P were one of the groups that new wave music rendered redundant.  All but the last of these titles were originally released on Island Records (UK) – those are the vinyl pressings to own.

I do not know quite why – but the US Cotillion label of the first album never had particularly good sound, while the British Island LP has astonishing “sound” – crisp highs, deep low frequencies – real ‘clarity’, too.  In fact, almost any non-US copy of this LP has “real good sound”.  I presently own a Japanese paper sleeve CD version that is, additionally, an SHM-CD ( = Super High Materials; a CD that will last for 100 years instead of 50 years; I bought this – and “Tarkus” – as they were both freshly mastered to 2008 standards).

“Pictures At An Exhibition” I bought originally as an Island Records UK pressing, as it was released in England before it got a US issue – so the black / pink label is what I am used to.  Took ages, but I eventually found a variant pressing, on German Island (with a normal ‘palm tree’ label).  I also have a DVD of this suite of songs being performed before a camera.

I really dropped the ball on “Trilogy”; to me, it’s the weak link in this set.  I suppose I had moved on to European bands like Focus, Amon Duul II, Le Orme – and EL&P no longer had the market cornered on 3-piece keyboard electric prog rock.  I was just busy elsewhere, during “Trilogy”.  And, no, I never had the chance to see them perform live.

Things picked up a bit with “Brain Salad Surgery”; I actually elected to pay attention once again largely due to the lyrical contribution of Pete Sinfield (also late of King Crimson).  It was the mighty “Tocatta” that caught my ear – proving that EL&P still had something to offer the field of esoteric classically-oriented prog rock in 1973.

I like “Tarkus” the best, and always have (Side 1!!!).  The debut album comes a close second (When was the last time you played a good quality copy of “The Barbarian”?  That’s such a hot track!).  Kids today are largely left off of the EL&P truck; that’s too bad – they made some great records for a few years there.

Pink Floyd

9-22-10


Pink Floyd

Oh, no – he’s writing about mainstream progressive rock again!

To get it out of the way, I regard Syd Barrett very highly; I like his two initial solo albums better than almost any Pink Floyd titles.  I am also very fond of “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” – but my interest trails off for a while thereafter.

Before the world-beating supremacy of “Dark Side Of The Moon”, Pink Floyd were vaguely ‘underground’ – and not terribly popular in the U.S.  It’s true, one could hear them on the FM radio before DSOTM, but not often.

You should all be acquainted with:

CD MEDDLE                                                                                                         TOSHIBA JPN      TOCP-65738

1971 6 TRKS (’92 master) (kami sleeve)

LP MEDDLE                                                                                                         CAPITOL US        SMAS-832

1971 6 TRKS re-issue

7″ ONE OF THESE DAYS / SEAMUS                                                             HARVEST JPN     EMR-20388

1971 2 TRKS with pic sleeve, re-issue

CD OBSCURED BY CLOUDS                                                                          CAPITOL US        46385.2

1972 10 TRKS (’95 issue) re-master

LP OBSCURED BY CLOUDS                                                                          TOSHIBA JPN      EOP-80575

1972 10 TRKS insert

7″ FREE FOUR / STAY                                                                                      CAPITOL US        3391

1972 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

CD DARK SIDE OF THE MOON                                                                        CAPITOL US        82136.2

1973 10 TRKS (’03 issue) hybrid SA-CD

LP DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (Anniversary issue)                                    HARVEST UK       SHVL 804

1973 10 TRKS inserts (’03 issue) 30th anniversary issue

CD DARK SIDE OF THE MOON                                                                        CAPITOL US        CDP 746001.2

1973 9 TRKS (’94 issue)

LP DARK SIDE OF THE MOON                                                                        HARVEST US       SMAS 11163

1973 9 TRKS with posters & stickers

7″ MONEY / ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE                                                           HARVEST FR       2C006-05368

1973 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP WISH YOU WERE HERE                                                                            CBS/SONY JPN   30AP 1875

1975 5 TRKS insert, Half-Speed Mastering

CD WISH YOU WERE HERE                                                                            CAPITOL US        29750.2

1975 5 TRKS re-mastered, promo

7″ HAVE A CIGAR / WELCOME TO THE MACHINE                                     COLUMBIA US     3-10248

1975 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

7″ HAVE A CIGAR / SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND                             HARVEST FR       2C010-97357

1976 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

CD ANIMALS                                                                                                         CAPITOL US        29748.2

1977 5 TRKS (’94 issue) re-master

LP ANIMALS                                                                                                         HARVEST UK       SHVL 815

1977 5 TRKS UK original

LPx2 WALL, THE                                                                                                     CBS/SONY JPN   40AP 1750/2

1979 26 TRKS insert

CDx2 WALL, THE                                                                                                     CAPITOL US        31243.2

1979 26 TRKS re-master

7″ RUN LIKE HELL / DON’T LEAVE ME NOW                                              COLUMBIA US     1-11265

1979 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

7″ ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL Pt. 2 / ONE OF MY TURNS               HARVEST UK       HAR 5194

1979 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ COMFORTABLY NUMB / HEY YOU                                                           CBS/SONY JPN   07SP 491

1979 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

7″ WHEN THE TIGERS BROKE FREE                                                          HARVEST UK       HAR 5222

1982 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP FINAL CUT, THE                                                                                           CBS/SONY JPN   25AP 2410

1983 12 TRKS insert

7″ NOT NOW JOHN / HEROE’S RETURN (Parts I & II)                              CBS/SONY JPN   07SP 647

1983 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

12″ NOT NOW JOHN                                                                                          EMI PATHE FR     52943Z

1983 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

Also rather odd to note that I actually enjoy the post-Waters Floyd albums “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” and “The Division Bell” – especially the Anthony Moore lyrics!  I always did like “Not Now John” as a 45 release, too.

I sat in a Toronto hotel room watching the re-formed Floyd perform live in summer 2005, somewhat disbelieving.  Could these incredibly rich English guys put their differences aside – and make some money for charity?  Uh, apparently for one day only.

Odd renewed interest in Pink Floyd came first with the 30th anniversary edition of “DSOTM” – that came with a lovely poster and beautiful vinyl re-mastering – yet with the original UK serial number!  A short time thereafter, a hybrid SA-CD version of “DSOTM” appeared – a compulsory purchase for me.  The mix is meant to have been ‘changed’, but…it just sounds extra ‘clear’ now.

I’ve tried the Roger Waters solo material, with varying degrees of effect; I prefer the solo albums of Nick Mason, actually!  And I really enjoy the first two Dave Gilmour solo albums, and the two proper solo albums by the late Richard Wright.

So, the last frontier for me is the non-Barrett 60’s records: “A Saucerful Of Secrets”, “Ummagumma” and “Atom Heart Mother”.  I actually own them all, but not on CD – I did find a super funky Quad version of the UK LP of “Atom Heart Mother”!  My “Ummagumma” has the LP cover on the floor for “Gigi”.  My “Saucerful” is a UK Columbia / EMI UK original.  So, it’s not like I don’t have the proper versions to listen to.

I guess Pink Floyd were my introduction to Ron Geesin, on “Atom Heart Mother”.  I’ve got loads of solo albums by Mr. Geesin – and I wish I could find a CD for “Right Through”, his masterpiece solo work.  When I wrote to him, he answered!  “A Raise Of Eyebrows”, indeed!

So, will any Pink Floyd titles make my “Ultimate Collection”?  My favorite of the ones listed today is “Obscured By Clouds” – I’ll keep the original soundtrack LP, but I won’t be needing a copy of the film.  But – “Ultimate Collection”?  Likely only Syd Barrett “The Madcap Laughs”, but I’m not ready to add any British music to my “Ultimate Collection” yet.  In due time, folks.

Of note to Barrett fans: Get the Pink Floyd CD called “The Early Singles”, as found in the first Pink Floyd CD boxed set.  It’s great.

Jethro Tull

9-21-10


Jethro Tull

I have been fond of Jethro Tull for over 40 years.  My initial interest trailed off around the time of their first ‘collection’ – “Living In The Past” – I never made it to “Passion Play” (at the time).  These days, I am good with most everything up to 1980 or so.

LP THIS WAS                                                                         ISLAND UK             ILPS 9085

1968 10 TRKS UK original issue

LP THIS WAS                                                                         REPRISE US         RS 6336

1969 10 TRKS

CDx2 THIS WAS (Deluxe edition)                                           CHRYSALIS US     206497.2

1968 35 TRKS (’08 issue) 40th annv. Edition

7″ LOVE STORY / A CHRISTMAS SONG                         ISLAND UK             WIP 6048

1968 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

LP STAND UP                                                                        REPRISE US         RS 6360

1969 10 TRKS pop-up

LP STAND UP                                                                        ISLAND UK             ILPS 9103

1969 10 TRKS UK original issue, pop-up

CD STAND UP                                                                        TOSHIBA JPN        TOCP-65880

1969 14 TRKS (’01 issue) (kami sleeve) (4 x bonus tracks) pop-up

7″ SWEET DREAM / 17                                                       ISLAND/CHR UK   WIP 6070

1969 2 TRKS no pic sleeve, long vers. of “17” – which still isn’t on CD that I am aware of!

LP BENEFIT                                                                           REPRISE US         RS 6400

1970 10 TRKS original US issue

LP BENEFIT                                                                           ISLAND/CHR UK   ILPS 9123

1970 10 TRKS UK original

CD BENEFIT                                                                           CHRYSALIS US     535457.2

1970 14 TRKS (’01 issue) (4 x bonus tracks)

7″ WITCH’S PROMISE, THE / TEACHER                        REPRISE US         899

1970 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

7″ INSIDE / TIME FOR EVERYTHING, A                          REPRISE US         927

1970 2 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo

LP MY GOD! pirate                                                                ATHAPASCAN        20.5

1970? 8 TRKS pirate, blue vinyl; Live + studio

7″ LIVING IN THE PAST (Mono) / (Stereo) promo          CHRYSALIS US     CHS 2006

1970? 2 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo

LP AQUALUNG                                                                      ISLAND/CHR UK   ILPS 9145

1971 11 TRKS original UK issue

LP AQUALUNG (QUAD remix LP) U.S. test pressing    CHRYSALIS US     CH4 1044

1971 11 TRKS Quad test pressing, remixed

CD AQUALUNG                                                                      CHRYSALIS US     95401.2

1971 17 TRKS (6 x bonus tracks) (’98 issue)

7″ LIFE IS A LONG SONG (EP)                                         ISLAND/CHR UK   WIP 6106

1971 5 TRK EP; with pic sleeve

LP THICK AS A BRICK                                                         CHRYSALIS UK     CHR 1003

1972 2 TRKS orig. UK issue w/ newspaper

CD THICK AS A BRICK                                                         TOSHIBA JPN        TOCP-65883

1972 4 TRKS (2 x bonus tracks) kami sleeve (’01 issue) w/ newspaper

LPx2 LIVING IN THE PAST (Collection)                                ISLAND/CHR UK   CJT 1/2

1972 21 TRK Collection, UK original; large booklet

CDx2 LIVING IN THE PAST (Collection)                                TOSHIBA JPN        TOCP-67369/70

1972 21 TRKS (’04 issue) kami sleeve; large booklet

I can really recommend anything on this list that appears before you today.  I have more Jethro Tull than is listed here; the first boxed set (20th Anniversary) is reasonably good (lots of live and BBC stuff, rare singles). I have also enjoyed some “Live 1970” CD’s that have emerged in the last few years.  I’d buy any singles that I don’t already own.

Peter Hammill – Rikki Nadir

8-18-10                     Peter Hammill / Rikki Nadir

Recently, I listened once again to Peter Hammill’s 5th solo album, “Nadir’s Big Chance” (1975) and reacquainted myself with his alter ego “Rikki Nadir” – the rock ‘n’ roller to Hammill’s usual ‘prog rock singer-songwriter’.  I remember that there was even a 45 for the track “Birthday Special” that was actually credited to Rikki Nadir (but kept a “P. Hammill” writing credit).  I am guessing that it necessitated an alter ego for Mr. Hammill to keep up his pace of more solo albums than regular albums with his band Van Der Graaf Generator.

Well, a rock & roll album of 3-4 minute songs it is – as opposed to VDGG’s side-long epic works.  Per it’s 1974/5 recording / release date, it has the sound of 3rd or 4th album Roxy Music, in places – maybe it’s just the use of clavinet?

I am one of the few people that I know that literally did the Van Der Graaf Generator albums in the order of release.  I found “The Aerosol Grey Machine” LP first, in a 99 cent bin – and I tried it because I thought they might be German!  Silly me!  Onto the 2nd album next, “The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other” – first a Probe US LP, then a Charisma UK LP.  I opted for copies of the 3rd VDGG LP “H To He – Who Am The Only One” on both US Dunhill and UK Charisma LP’s, too.  Then comes the first Hammill solo album, “Fool’s Mate” – which I now own a re-mastered CD of.  I got the US LP for VDGG album #4, “Pawn Hearts” – and it took me years to get around to obtaining a UK copy, as I noticed that it had one less track than the US issue!  Then Hammill solo albums #2, #3, #4…

By the time “Nadir’s Big Chance” walked down the pike, I already had 4 LP’s ( + variants) of Van Der Graaf Generator and 4 different Peter Hammill solo albums!  This makes Hammil & Co. one of the most prolific of the late 60’s / early 70’s British singer songwriters!  Roughly 8 albums in approx. 7 years!

Hammill’s 3rd & 4th solo albums, “The Silent Corner & The Empty Stage” and “In Camera” had been real favorites of mine.  “Nadir’s Big Chance” nearly didn’t sound like it was being made by the same guy!  Yes, the voice is the same, but – no erratic time changes, no “electronics”, no science fiction subject matter…Hammill’s 6th solo album, “Over” was easily instantly recognizable as the author of “The Silent Corner & The Empty Stage” and “In Camera” – Rikki Nadir has been a fluke, a “one-off”.  And onward I moved.

With as many LP’s as I have, not everything under the sun gets a second listen.  I thought enough of Hammill as an artist to try and obtain all of his original 70’s albums on CD, so when it came time to re-evaluate “Rikki Nadir”, I could just pop it on, while I rested at home one afternoon.  Out poured a flow of “UK 1975” – worthy of any artist working in England at that time.  No, not quite glam rock – a bit more in the direction of Roxy Music, as I previously mentioned.  1975 rock music – from England.  Listen and enjoy.

Progfest in Japan!

8-17-10

Progfest in Japan!


http://clubcitta.co.jp/001/progfes/

That’s right, kids!  Progfest in Tokyo next week!  I’d pay to see Steve Hackett play live!  I wonder who is in Renaissance these days?  I had no idea that Yoninbayashi had re-formed and were playing again.  And what a cool Roger Dean poster!

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a card-carrying subscriber to Strange Days magazine.  They often have wonderful pictorials on progressive rock – no, the magazine is written in Japanese, so I can’t ”read” it – but the lists are usually written in romaggi (an alphabet I can read and write in).  Nobody but nobody beats the Japanese magazines when it comes to making lists of stuff!

Here’s how quickly things move in Japan:  How long ago were SHM-CD’s introduced in Japan?  2 years ago? Among the first titles offered were the catalogue of Emerson, Lake & Palmer – I quickly went for their debut album.  Anything for a good-sounding CD of that album!  I saw in a recent issue of Strange Days that they’re being re-released (again as SHM-CD’s) but now they have bonus tracks! ELP albums have never had bonus tracks!

I have also recently waltzed in the prog rock parade in Japan – almost all of the Yes titles were recently newly re-mastered, including “Big Generator”, which was not re-mastered by Rhino Records in this country.  I confess that bit was very aesthetically pleasing to see all the Yes albums re-mastered as little LP cover CD’s – I actually picked up a few of them (as I found them used in L.A.)

And yep – geek boy here bought a UK Genesis box of the first five albums ostensibly to have them as SACD’s.  And the first seven Moody Blues albums as SACD’s, too.  So, let’s just say that I have recent editions of all the mainstream progressive rock titles that I am willing to admit that I own.  Who knows?  Maybe even some of this stuff will find it’s way to “My Ultimate Collection” eventually?

Of course, the very thought of progressive rock summons up ‘obscurity’ – and the stuff I have mentioned here today would all pretty much fly on mainstream FM stations.  Don’t worry, I also have little album cover CD’s of tons of great obscure Italian progressive rock and “20th Century Classical” artist Walter Marchetti – who definitely won’t be on any radio station anytime soon.

But my carnival mask of ‘prog rock fan’ is just one of many that I can wear.  I have jazz records.  I went to see Level 42 at the end of July.  I collect 1960’s US C&W music (well, certain artists).  The Monochrome Set!  I have 700+ comedy LP’s.  I like pop music from New Zealand.  So, I am not just pidgeon-holed into being only a ‘prog rock fan’.  I am listening to all sorts of stuff around here, buddy!

Playlist

Tonight, I dug out “Playlist #70”, from May, 2009 – in a progressive rock mode.

Playlist #70 Created 5-27-09          from CD masters

PROCOL HARUM – A Christmas Camel (mono)

EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER – Barbarian, The

BROWN, ARTHUR / KINGDOM COME – Superficial Roadblocks

C.M.U. – Dream

QUATERMASS – Post-War Saturday Echo

CARAVAN – C’Thlu Thlu

GROUNDHOGS – Sins Of The Father

LEAFHOUND – Growers of Mushroom

OLDFIELD, MIKE – Hergest Ridge (excerpts)

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR – Man-Erg

BROWN, PETE / PIBLOKTO – Station Song, Platform Two