I can’t believe it. I just woke up this morning and he’s dead.
I am devastated.
About his new album: you’ve got to listen to it. That is all.
Merry Christmas to everybody, and a happy New Year!
It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post — again. I was busy, really busy indeed. In comparison to my usual workload at the university, I ended up doing 1.5x the courses I usually do. But it was fun, certainly. I even got to teach kids as part of my pedagogical studies.
However, lots of stuff happened in music as well. I began to spend my money on CDs. I have a growing collection of around 20 albums now. It’s an undescribable feeling, when you own music. CDs give music a material form, something to grab with you, something to look at, album art, lyrics, descriptions, labels, credits. It’s like collecting ancient treasure.
I partially feel like I have lost to all the copyright companies that shut down grooveshark. After all, here I am buying music, and that’s exactly what they want. If they only knew they wouldn’t even get a dime out of me if not for my musical education on grooveshark, in a brilliant community together with all other marvellous people. They have no idea.
But I don’t care about that now. My own enjoyment is what matters more. What I do respect however is the work of those clerks at the record store. How they manage to categorise all the discs and listen to the endless requests of the customers that all sound so obscenely similar. I say, I’ve been observing.
The record store I’ve been frequenting, Keltainen Jäänsärkijä. I used the picture from their website — with their blessings, I hope.
A record store is a temple of music really. A gallery of album covers and mysteries of what lies inside the box. It’s a place where a man can seclude himself in his own thoughts and breathe in the magestic air of thousands and thousands of hours these musicians have spent to shape their feelings into music. And once in a while, pretty often even, at the “oldies” department you come across an old friend of an album and you smile. “How do you do”, you ask, and it replies to you, with a similar smile: “I’m as great as ever pal. You should drop by for dinner sometime.”
And at times, you meet a long lost one, a distant, forgotten traveller, a rare bird at that. In your early years you might have exchanged some of those passionate glances at each other and felt the pleasant tention in your silent conversations, but your paths walked side by side never crossing each other, and both of you went your own ways before too long. But this time, you meet her in person again, and in a moment of bliss you hug each other by reflex and recall all the past moments you had. And she still looks beautiful after all these years.
Some days, as you continue walking around, you bump into a stranger. You apologise in a discreet manner, when you are suddenly captivated by the depth in his eyes. It feels like a gamble, but you go out of your way offer him a drink, and since the moment you walk out of the store, for that very night you become the best buddies; there’s so much you want to know, and he has lots of unique wisdom to give. He offers you a drink back, and it turns out he lives in a close neighbourhood and would love to have another chat soon. You promise to come and visit him often. And this time you know your promise is going to hold.
It is perhaps needless to say that my regular stops at the record temple began since I had made up my mind on buying the new Linda Hoyle record (read my post about that here). It was the first time I felt like I wanted to support an artist. It’s amazing how one album might change your life like this, isn’t it? It’s beyond music already — it’s not like The Fetch was any close to the best albums I’ve had to listen. However, it was Linda‘s power, the undying hope and the connection with the past that I felt from it, all feelings that I treasure a lot now. Spectacular, I say.
My first visit to the temple wasn’t quite yet successful, as I couldn’t find that particular album in the store. However, there was a label named Affinity/Linda Hoyle with two albums under it. They knew who she was, I thought! And her first solo album was there too. So I bought it, Pieces of Me.
While I was at it, I asked the clerks for her latest album. They didn’t even seem to have heard about it before. I felt very important for a while, as a harbinger of news, a boy in his prime whose knowledge finally exceeded that of wise old priests and surprised them as they wrote the name of the album down on some tiny piece of paper, which one of them produced from behind a vinyl pile.
For now, however, I had to retreat from the battlefield — with a trophey alright, yet not the main goal still. But the pleasure was already there, as I listened to the album one time after another, each time finding new things from the CD and from inside myself. The whole treasure was there for me to exploit, to touch it, to feel it, to see it, to hear it.
One month later, I dropped by the store again. I didn’t even have the intention to buy anything, but when my gaze did behold Linda’s latest album! — brand and new — oh! How grand was my own surprisement, how majestic my excitement, how immeasurable my amusement. I had changed the world, and there it was for me to claim — and I grabbed it with my palm, payed my respects and marched out of the sacred temple, proud and victorious, yet most thankful. If only all people would listen to requests like these gentle priests do in their domain.
Now what about those strangers I met? Here’s one that I got acquainted with just a week before Christmas. I was searching through old used records, literally recognising each and every album, when suddenly, a raven hit my eye. Most puzzled, I pulled out the CD case and examined it. When the Raven has come to the Earth. The cover, it mesmerised me and called for me. The band’s name? Strawberry Path. Neverheard.
I made a quick search on the Internet for the band, but found nothing sufficient. And then I made up my mind — I shall have it. Actually, I had already made my decision as soon as I saw the cover and was simply gathering courage for it. This is how people treated music back in the 70s, it seemed to me. If the record looked interesting — they bought it. It feels ungraspable now, but bands like Caravan, Uriah Heep, Pink Floyd — all started as no-name bands. There was no Internet to explore the bands beforehand. You had to take a chance and have your mind blown after. Which most certainly happened with Strawberry Path.
Turns out, it was a Japanese band. And boy did the Japanese know how to make good music at the time. Somewhat similar to German krautrock, they incorporated the features of the hard rock and prog rock wave and made them their own. Bands came out of nowhere and vanished a couple of records later back to wherever they came from. Japanese rock scene from the 70s is full of riddles.
As I walked back out the store, I didn’t have a bag to carry the CD in, so I put it in my pocket — and I have a habit of keepin my hands in the pockets as I walk, especially during winter. This way I was continuously reminded of the disc and trembled with excitement the whole way home, which happened to be a particularly long one. The desire to find out what was on the disc was tormenting, yet spectacular. And after all this suspension, I finally got to throw myself back on the couch, put the disc in and listen to it, indulge into the pleasant realm of music and to realise it was good, almost too good; all this was quite something. That happened around 2 am.
I never suspected the disc to be so good. There were hints of Hendrix in the guitar, driving chords and swift melodies. Woman called Yellow “Z” worked great with its heavy riff, but it wasn’t until the drumming tsunami of Spherical Illusion that I got blown away. The next morning I put the disc right in again and tuned up the volume. The party continued and my enjoyment was reassured as I understood that the disc was more than just the sum of its parts. I had found a new friend.
This concludes the tale about some of my best music-related experiences this autumn. Yet this is just the beginning — I’ll continue paying my visits to the temple and find new targets of worship. Moreover, since I do have those bought records in my shelf now, it would be odd not to provide some reviews on them. As a farewell Christmas/New Year gift, I leave you with the Strawberry Path song below, which I would urge you to listen in its entirety. So long, and until we meet again!
Exploring the band further on progarchives.com, it seems like it is classified as progressive rock. I wouldn’t really agree — this album is pure rock, with some very imaginative passages nevertheless. Though one year later, this band grew into Flied Egg, indeed a prog band, one that I’ve heard of too. This could be the reason why some people might regard Strawberry Path as a prog band.
Linda Hoyle sang on that wonderful album, and their music sounds like The Zombies stepping out from their sunshine psychedelia towards mellow, jazzy prog. The band sadly disbanded while they were recording their second album, leaving behind such classics as their 7-minute wonderland visit called Night Flight and their 11-minute cover of All Along The Watchtower.
One year later in 1971 Linda released an album of her own called Pieces of Me. This album is a very personal exclamation, in which Linda unleashes her strong feminist side. Each song is a statement, such as Hymn to Valerie Solanas especially (read more about Valerie Solanas and her relationship to Andy Warhol here) and once I discovered the album, it immediately became one of my favourites. Compared to the sweet prog Affinity had, this album has some unusually rough and heavy material. Black Crow is paying tribute to Beatles‘ Hey Bulldog and the featured song of the album Pieces of Me is one of the heaviest pieces (pieces of me are so heavy!) yet released at the time, while still preserving its somewhat jazzy structure.
Now, that was to remain Linda‘s last release for 44 years, which is a real shame, since she has such a marvellous voice, said by some to be a crossover of Grace Slick‘s grace with the power of Janis Joplin.
Suddenly, while I was discussing Affinity on one of the prog forums and bringing up Linda Hoyle‘s solo production, I couldn’t help but notice that a new album was released — in August of 2015, just one month ago!
That was an even stronger surprise than seeing Robert Plant perform on stage in Pori Jazz. I had to immediately have a listen to the album, and so I did. Even if just for a while, it felt like I was living in the 70’s! It was not just a fantasy anymore — all the music that was made then, all the artists, they suddenly became a reality. And I was a part of that reality.
Let’s not bring up that Linda‘s new album The Fetch wasn’t really that good. Most of the songs were not interesting musically, rather resembling Christmas carols concentrating on the quality her voice — which had lost quite a bit of its shine due to the years. Yet there were a couple of very good, proggy songs, and the voice was good enough to clearly hear that it’s still her singing, Linda Hoyle, in person, true to her style! Some of the lyrics also had some of that feminism left in them (even the word “fuck” was heard, quite abruptly so amidst a relaxing, jazzy piece), and the first song of the album is pleasingly different from all the prog I’ve heard until now. I just hoped that the whole album would be just like its first piece, however this album gave me more than just music. It gave me new feelings, just like Hoyle‘s first solo album. “Affinity fans spanning generations will surely be overjoyed. It’s as if Linda never left…”, Tom Semioli writes in Huffington Post.
What is more, Linda states in the interview above that she’s writing “a lot, so much that I have to restrain myself” and that she’s already working on her next album. This is surely happy news for anyone respecting her style.
I’m considering writing her a fan letter, there is a whole lot that I would like to convey. I also think I’ll drop by the store today and see if I can find either a copy of The Fetch or Pieces of Me. Affinity will also do.
By the way, do you have any idea who is responsible for the album cover art of The Fetch? That’s right, it’s Roger Dean himself! The person who’s famous for painting the surreal album covers of Yes and a great deal of other prog bands. Just another little thing that was done right for Linda‘s album.
(known as No Answer in US)
Somehow I’ve been avoiding ELO albums until now, and I’ve been missing a lot! Their first record is full of creative and experimental pieces that are at least as good as any of their popular stuff. As an album it was somewhat rough, but a pleasantly different experience that expanded my understanding of music.
Even though I was already familiar with the 1st Movement instrumental, which I hold in high regard, my favourite piece ended up being the classical-sounding Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd 1644). Enjoy!
Hello everyone! It’s been a long summer… And lots of stuff happened in it!
For once I was at two music festivals—Pori Jazz & Flow Festival. I discovered lots of new stuff. Yes, new music. Music that was pretty much as good as in the seventies. The surreal Korvat Auki Ensemble, the legendary Robert Plant who continues to keep his bar high, The Stanley Clarke Band that had an extraordinary young drummer, and deep down from the Republic of Mali I enjoyed the Songhoy Blues. Just as I thought, there’s still lots of cool stuff around, it’s just that it got back to where it came from—underground.
But more on that later. This post is concentrated on one of the people who’s been following me since the days of Grooveshark (oh, it seems like ages ago… on the other hand, it seems like Grooveshark was still online yesterday…). Presenting you, the one and only—Avigail!
Together we’ve been discovering great music and she was practically watching over me so that I won’t take music too seriously and go too far into that deep, deep stuff… Because it’s a quicksand that sucks you in, and suddenly you don’t know where you stand…
Recently she was doing a podcast at her friend’s website. And it was great! Avi thanked me for the musical influences, and I was thanking her back—there’s no better feeling for a music enthusiast than to see someone taking a liking to your suggestions! Although I bet this feeling is same for everyone.
The podcast is in Russian, yet it doesn’t really matter even if you don’t understand a word. I still suggest you take a listen (of course I do! After all this build-up, I wouldn’t really say: “nah, don’t really go there, it’s not worth it”). Alternatively, you can just browse the youtube links provided on the page. Perchance you’ll notice some of the songs that have appeared in this blog, or even more than half of them, in case you’ve been listening to my broadcast on Grooveshark before!
Have fun listening and see you soon!
Been a while since I last wrote a review. This album is claimed to be prog rock by multiple sources (Youtube & Allmusic), and when I couldn’t find the album on progarchives.com, the mother of all progsites, my interest grew. Moreover, the band turned out to be Australian, and there was nothing Australian that could come to my mind except for AC/DC. That’s when I knew I had to fix this gap in my knowledge, and fix it quick.
As it turned out, the only album by Cleves wasn’t anywhere near prog, although they obviously have a certain twist in how they groove. The Cleves is a pleasant mix of psychedelic rock and heavy-going solo jams, resembling somewhat the style of Argent. The steady beat on the background seems to unite the whole album. A nice listen, but nothing too special.
Below is the third song from their LP, Keep Trying, which I consider to be the highlight of the album.
It is finally out! The third compilation album, which consists solely of singles previously unknown to me, by the bands that I’ve come to respect greatly.
For the past few years I’ve been so fixated on albums, that I’ve completely missed out all the singles. And there are some truly wonderful ones, by the bands that I’d already come to respect greatly. Compiling this list took me lots of time, but I couldn’t be more satisfied with the result. Unnkerr Swéghléoðras: Part 3 — Single Edition turned into something wonderful.
Play time: 1h 0min 3sec
The Who is a band who had tons of singles in the beginning of their carreer, and good ones too. Circles (Instant Party) / Pictures of Lily (B-side Doctor, Doctor, compare it to Beatles‘ Help! in my previous blog post) / the obscure jazzy Waltz for a Pig (I wouldn’t believe it was The Who if I didn’t know) just to mention a few. Only later would they shift towards more proggy creations. For this compilation I’ve picked I Can’t Explain, their first charting single, and second overall. David Bowie also covered this song on his album Pin Ups.
Zombies were completely a sixties band, so it’s no wonder they had lots of singles, as LP releases weren’t too frequent yet. Most of their singles weren’t too good though, but you just can’t go without digging Colin Blunstone‘s voice as well as Rod Argent‘s sweet keyboard play. This Just Out Of Reach single wasn’t too successful at the time, but I found it to be their one of their best non-album singles for sure—and it fit the mood of this compilation perfectly. The B-side, Remember You, is also a very pleasant experience.
As you might know, in two years between their 2nd and 3rd albums UFO changed their style from spacey, underground garage rock (which I liked more) to mainstream-oriented hard rock (which I liked less). In the meantime they however released a single, which still features their old guitarist Mick Bolton before he left the group in January 1972. That single was Galactic Love. The B-side features a shortened song from their 1971 Live album — Loving Cup.
Who Scared You? is the only track by The Doors sung by Jim Morrison that wasn’t included on any album. It was released in 1969 as a B-side to the Wishful Sinful single. There are other two non-LP singles by The Doors: (You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further with the pianist Ray Manzarek on vocals, and Tree Trunk, which was recorded by the post-Morrison Doors.
Julia Dream is the B-side to the 1968 single It Would Be So Nice. Pink Floyd had a total of four non-album singles released before Syd Barrett had to leave the band. Some of them were later released on a 1971 compilation album Relics, with Julia Dream being the 6th track of the album. All of the singles were magnificent, and this one was a very tough choice to make.
Originally, I wanted to pick a track written by Syd Barrett, such as Candy and The Current Bun, See Emily Play or Apples and Oranges, but it turned out I already knew most of those, and I also found myself captivated by this Waters‘ tune. Additionally, it appears that this song was first one to be sung by David Gilmour, who was already backing up the mentally unstable Barrett at the time. Gilmour performed the guitars for Julia Dream as well. Therefore, ironically, no credit goes to Barrett in this song.
A live version of this tune by Jefferson Airplane is featured on their 1973 live album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland, however they had also released a studio take on the B-side of the Mexico single in 1970. All other JA singles were featured on their studio albums, but right after this particular one was recorded, the drummer Spencer Dryden left the band, followed up by the vocalist Marty Balin. The studio version of Have You Seen The Saucers? was later included on the 1974 compilation album Early Flight.
This track might not be available through Youtube in your country — if that’s the case, I suggest you use a proxy or a VPN. This way you will certainly be able to hear it, and all other songs in the playlist as well!
CSNY didn’t release any other non-album singles than Ohio (1970) with Find The Cost Of Freedom as its B-side. Both were later included on their 1974 compilation album So Far. With Ohio being a well known CSNY hit, this left me with no other choice but Find The Cost Of Freedom, which was a great moody track and more than enough for my purposes.
This Please Let Me Love You single B-side by the early incarnation of The Byrds would be later rerecorded and released on their second album with the song title changed to It Won’t Be Wrong. I like this version best, however, mostly due to the heavy drums that make the right impact. They released no other singles under the name of The Beefeaters. The reason for changing the name was probably this other Danish band, who also called themselves The Beefeaters and released two albums in the 60s. A short probe listen showed they might be pretty nice — going to check them out later.
I was already aware of some singles by Deep Purple, such as Emmaretta. But this one was even better! I’m Alone came as a B-side to Strange Kind Of Woman. This track definitely has a Fireballish feel about it, so I can see why it was included as a bonus track on the 25th Anniversary Edition of that album.
Led Zeppelin had only released one non-LP song, that is Hey, Hey, What Can I Do. It appeared on the backside of the Immigrant Song single in 1970. In 1972, it was released on The New Age Of Atlantic compilation LP, which featured different artists (including the first ever issue of America by Yes). Otherwise this song was unheard of until it was later included as the last track of the compilation album Coda in the 1993 CD release.
Yes don’t have many non-album releases. In fact, they only have one song that can’t be heard on any of their albums: Something’s Coming. This lovely progressive song was released on the B-side of the Sweetness single.
It turns out Jimi had a couple of B-sides that weren’t present on his albums: Stone Free, 51st Anniversary and The Stars That Play with Laughing Sam’s Dice just to mention a few. And of course, Highway Chile, the B-side to The Wind Cries Mary single. As always, his guitar work is amazing. In addition to this, I have learned that Jimi played backing guitars with quite a few bands in the sixties, such as Curtis Knight & The Squires, The Icemen, one single together with Little Richard, and even lead guitars on Stephen Still‘s eponymous solo album track Old Times Good Times (from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). The point being, there’s more to Jimi than his Experience alone.
Jethro Tull have some occasional non-LP tracks spread along the years. The ones released before ’88 are now part of the 20 Years Of Jethro Tull box set. This track in particular served as the backside for their second single, A Song For Jeffrey. One for Jeffrey, One For John Lee. A jolly little flute instrumental.
A B-side to I’ll Be Creeping, this Free instrumental in 3/4 time beat is pretty mesmerising. For people who play music, the structure of this track might be of some interest. At least I find that it has deepened my understanding of what you can do with a beat like this. This is the sole reason why I have chosen this instrumental over other non-album songs with lyrics in them, such as The Worm, which was the second strong candidate for this compilation.
Surprisingly, Emerson, Lake & Palmer also had one B-side instrumental that doesn’t appear on any of their albums. A valentine song without words is just what I needed. Because who needs words when you’ve got such a nice arrangement? The title, too, is nothing else but loveable.
Another early incarnation of a famous band, The Golliwogs would later grow into Creedence Clearwater Revival. They had a big pile of singles, but few of them resemble the sound CCR would later develop. The only exceptions were the somewhat poppish tune called Brown-Eyed Girl, which was the only song that was to receive any kind of success, and the melancholic Walking On The Water. Similarly to The Beefeaters, this tune would also be re-recorded and released on their first eponymous album. This time I love both versions equally, and it is the combination of the slightly electronic sound of the mellotron with distant sounding guitar riffs that I find to work best in this Golliwogs‘ version.
Sometimes I feel like each Atomic Rooster song sounds the same—but it doesn’t make it any worse. It is like they’re performing one long song, slowly coming up with new additions to it. In this B-side to Tomorrow Night I can clearly hear some of the familiar passages, which are just as grandiose as they have always been.
As far as I know, this is the only non-album track Uriah Heep had (B-side to Stealin’). They had a huge amount of outtakes from their albums though. If you ask me, this might be the weakest song in the compilation, but I just couldn’t let it go. And for some odd reason, this song gets better each time I hear it.
If you are a Uriah Heep fan, do also check out the single from their ancestors before the time with Ken Hensley — The Spice: What About The Music / In Love . They also have an unfinished album, the tracks from which can be heard on The Lansdowne Tapes.
This song was the A-side on the first ever Cream single, a happy-go-lucky tune. If you’re feeling silly, also have a look on their Anyone For Tennis video footage which was made for The Savage Seven film (1968). That is their second and last non-LP recording, released as a single.
That’s all for this Single Edition! Hope you enjoyed it!
Previous release: Unnkerr Swéghléoðras: Part 2 — The Dark Book of Love