Album Friday? — Summary

Gentle Giant — Three Friends
★★★★☆

Gentle Giant have failed to disappoint me once again. Three Friends possesses far less diversity in sound than its predecessor, Acquiring the Taste, yet the pieces are smoother and more coherent. In case you felt their previous albums have been too hectic and incomprehensive, you should give this album a go. The amazing Prologue will draw you in immediately and hold you captive right until the end of the album.

Can — Monster Movie
★★★★★

The music at the end of 60’s and in the beginning of 70’s has always been extremely diverse – there were many experimentalists. Yet the anti-mainstream rock movement in Germany, known as Krautrock or Kosmische Musik (space music), had spawned something entirely different. Can is one of such groups, their music style resembling such bands as Caravan or Soft Machine, just as psychedelic and spacish, yet the difference lies in the over-distorted guitar they use on the background. There are only 4 songs on the album, but each of them is a marvelous composition, simultaneously relaxing and exciting the mind. Crowned by a twenty minute long epic Yoo Doo Right, this debut album deserves the full mark. There will be more Can reviews written by me in the near future.

Toe Fat — Toe Fat 2
★★★★

Previously I included the first Toe Fat album among the One Album Wonders list, but I was mistaken – this band had yet another album published. However, the Uriah Heep star Ken Hensley was not participating in the making of this sequel. The drummer Lee Kerslake also left the band, joining Uriah Heep later in 1971, and was replaced by Brian Glascock. Nevertheless the band continues with hard rock and distorted guitars and simple but nice compositions suited for solos and powerful riffs, having added some slower bluesy jams in between like There’ll Be Changes and A New Way. This is a consistent album that fits well to a casual working day.

Jefferson Starship — Red Octopus
★★★

According to Wikipedia, this album was the best sold in the Jefferson history, or by any of its spin-off groups. I was surprised to know that Surrealistic Pillow, the legendary second Jefferson Airplane album, wasn’t at the top. In addition to that, the album also contained their highest charting single, Miracles. I didn’t believe it when I first heard it – this simple and lousy tune wasn’t worth the honour. Most disappointingly, similar poppish cryouts can be heard in every second song on the album.

These are nowhere close the folk instrumental Git Fiddler, or Sweeter Than Honey — another nice, driving piece. Yet I too can say the songs I mentioned just aren’t the right material to become popular. Why do the simplest tunes always make it mainstream? All in all, even though a couple of good pieces can be found here and there, this album didn’t meet my expectations at all. The first Jefferson Starship album, Dragon Fly, has much more class.

ABBA — Ring Ring

ABBARing Ring
★★★

Once upon a time, I decided to listen to ABBA. It’s been a while since I volitionally listened to such “easy” music (in contrast to Zappa, Krautrock or Mahavishnu Orchestra, just to mention a few). Surprisingly enough, I found myself enjoying this album, especially the B-side of it, which was far less dance-floor oriented than its A-side counterpart. The songs are well done, and there’s some variety in the style too, from the rocking Ring Ring to the slower and mind-soothing I Am Just a Girl, yet they’re still too simple for my taste. Also, most annoyingly, almost all of them were about love, and love alone. Yet here’s an exception from this rule, one of the reasons why I picked He Is Your Brother as my favourite track on this album.

Iron Butterfly — In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (album)

Iron ButterflyIn-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (album)
★★★★☆

This album is widely known by its 17 minute B-side epic of the same name. Yet the A-side tunes don’t disappoint either, and the album ensures a fully fledged heavy psych experience. There was one song which I didn’t quite like though, called Termination. Oddly enough, upon investigating the matter it revealed to be the only track which wasn’t composed by Doug Ingle, the pianist and lead vocalist of the band.

Since everyone has heard In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida anyway (in case you haven’t, tend to it at once!), I’m putting another song from this album for display. Are you happy?

Album Saturday: Frank Zappa — Summary

Yesterday I tried to pull off a full scale Frank Zappa show. The idea was to play five albums in a row: Absolutely Free, Lumpy Gravy, We’re Only in It For The Money, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets and Uncle Meat.

However, in comparison to Joe’s Garage, Hot Rats and Freak Out!, these albums proved to be far more paranoid than I could imagine. After listening to the third album, I had to give up listening to the rest due to a strong headache. For the future, I thought I’d restrain myself to only one Zappa album a day.

The Mothers of InventionAbsolutely Free
★★★★

When I wrote about unbearably paranoid music, it didn’t quite yet include this album. Although you can clearly feel the “stream of consciousness” with which Zappa writes his songs, this is a well balanced concept album with funny lyrics, talks about vegetables, etc. The seven minute long instrumental Invocation & Ritual Dance of the Young Pumpkin was especially to my liking.

Frank Zappa and the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra — Lumpy Gravy (reedited 1968 version)
★★☆

This album begins with Duodenum, a nice makeover of Apache, and ends in a mind-soothing piece Take Your Clothes Off, which is probably supposed to relieve you from the pain you acquire in between. Indeed, this album gives you a headache on a sunny day. Is this even music? You might be better off considering this album to be a piece of art that portrays a paranoid state of mind. There’s too much speaking and random elements, too little of what I would call actual songs or compositions. Lumpy Gravy does have some interesting pieces like Envelops The Bath Tub, and it’s good to hear once, but… I Don’t Know If I Can Go Through This Again

The Mothers of Invention— We’re Only in It For The Money

The Mothers of Invention seem to prevent Zappa from going completely paranoid, yet the songs still jump from one style to another, a feature which irritates rather than pleases (and doesn’t help the headache either). However it still is amazing how a human mind could come up with music like this. The brilliancy of Zappa is his ability to come up with stuff that’s completely different from anything else, music from a different existence, which it yet for us to hear. If you feel tired with music in general, listen to this.

I will love the police as they kick the shit out of me on the street.” — Who Needs The Peace Corps?

There were some problems with the latter half of the album, so I will leave this album unmarked for now.

UFO — Phenomenon

UFOPhenomenon
★★★☆

The previous guitarist Mick Bolton left the band after UFO 2: Flying, and UFO lost their amazing space rock sound. The songs in Phenomenon are well performed—but simplistic; enjoyable—but hardly that entertaining. The album had its moments, but this is not the UFO I wanted to hear.

Nektar — Journey to the Centre of the Eye

NektarJourney to the Centre of the Eye
★★★★☆

This debut album by Nektar is an easy listen, and this time it’s not a bad thing. The guitar may appear a little too technical at times, but the songs are highly harmonic and are arranged in a perfect continuum, just in the way a journey should feel like. The Dream Nebula is split into two parts in order to ensure the continuity once the record is flipped to its other side. A delightful album, and if you’re new to progressive rock—a great place to start.

Gentle Giant — Acquiring the Taste

Gentle GiantAcquiring the Taste
★★★★★

I decided to start my Gentle Giant reviews with this second album, because I already had listened to the first one before, and also due to this declaration, found on sleeve text of the album:

“…It is our goal to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of being very unpopular. We have recorded each composition with the one thought – that it should be unique, adventurous and fascinating. It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge to achieve this. From the outset we have abandoned all preconceived thoughts of blatant commercialism. Instead we hope to give you something far more substantial and fulfilling. All you need to do is sit back, and acquire the taste.”

And the album IS extremely rich in ideas. The music takes you by the hand and constantly leads you to a new phrase, hardly ever repeating itself. The sounds itself are extremely diverse. Over 40 different instruments were used in the making of Acquiring the Taste. One time they whisper right into your ear, the next moment they drive you on with rock elements, another while they take you back to the medieval era, just like Gryphon does in their first album.

Listen to this, acquire the taste, and discover something new about yourself as you do.

Album Saturday — One Album Wonders: Summary

The theme for this Album Saturday was One Album Wonders — bands with only one album released: 9 different discographies!

Relatively Clean Rivers — Relatively Clean Rivers
★★★★

The first song of the album promises you an Easy Ride, and that’s what it is, in spite of some more experimental and futuristic sounds along the way in such songs as Babylon. After all, the rivers you’re rowing are only relatively clean. A sunny and lazy album to relax to.

Weed — Weed…!
★★★

Weed is a spinoff by Ken Hensley, and the familiar Uriah Heep style can be heard occasionally eg. in Before I Die. For the most part Weed…! fails to satisfy the listener, though the instrumental at the end of the album is ingenious and deserves especial praise. My Dream is also worth a mention, being the most thought-provoking piece of the album. It starts with an extremely quiet piano, lasting for over 2 minutes, showing the sound of silence at its best.

PanPan
★★★★☆

This Danish band fascinates with its full and grave sound as well as a style that differs greatly from the rest of the 70s scene — Pan are simply one of their kind. The mastermind behind Pan is Robert Lelièvre, a French singer, songwriter and guitar player. Therefore the songs Il N’y a Pas Si Longtemps De Ca and Tristesse are sung in French, and the latter one proves to be the best song of the album. The guitar lovers won’t be disappointed either with the magnificent solo ending in Lady of the Sand.

Toe Fat — Toe Fat
★★★★

Toe Fat is another project featuring Ken Hensley, which precedes Weed…! by a year and appears even before the Uriah Heep itself . Here, the raw sound of the guitar dominates right from the beginning. A nice and fluent addition to any hard rock collection. “Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall…”

The Lovin’ Spoonfulthe Paul Butterfield Blues Band; Al KooperEric Clapton and the Powerhouse; Tom Rush  — What’s Shakin’
★★★★

The blues scale always works — and it does it once again. This collection of rare performances includes Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse, a band which only recorded 4 songs, the fourth of which remains unreleased up to the date. Yet Powerhouse manages to feature a highly enjoyable version of Crossroads and other blues classics such as Spoonful,  Good Morning Little Schoolgirl and Stepping Out are all there. My favourite was the only track by Al Kooper, Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes.

Orang-UtanOrang-Utan

Partially unlistened, a couple of songs wouldn’t play on Grooveshark

 

AardvarkAardvark

Mostly unlistened, due to the same reason.

 

Iron MaidenMaiden Voyage
★★★★

This is probably not the Iron Maiden you’re thinking of, but a band with the same name which appeared much earlier, formed in 1964. This is their one and only work, a hard rock album featuring long and elaborate guitar jams, especially in Liar (somewhat similar to UFO style). These jams are bound together with a concept theme of a sort, and could have been even better if not for the poor sound quality on Grooveshark. Still, I’m glad it played at all, taking into account that the last two albums didn’t.

Titus GroanTitus Groan
★★★★☆

Highlighted by a twelve minute long epic Hall of Bright Carvings and It’s All Up With Us to continue the brilliancy, this album brings out the whole beauty of the progressive rock scheme. Yet a change of pace is introduced with Open the Door Homer, the flute player suddenly quits and all prog vanishes in the air like a puff of smoke — together with my hopes for a perfect record.

Blue Cheer — Vincebus Eruptum

Blue CheerVincebus Eruptum
★★★★☆

Blue Cheer is one of those bands that went through a wide range of styles, in a way that is comparable to The Velvet Underground. Yet their first and legendary piece of work, Vincebus Eruptum, is arguably their best. According to many sources, with this album Blue Cheer did not only shape the hard metal we know today — they invented it. Prepare to be blown away by their raw power.