Amon Düül II — Carnival in Babylon ; Premiata Forneria Marconi — Per un amico

Amon Düül IICarnival in Babylon
★★★★☆

This album by Amon Düül II is extremely underrated. The only reason I can think of is that this band’s fan base grew too accustomed to their crazy music. Amon Düül II are a krautrock band that is well known from their surrealistic themes and a very distinctive, experimental style. Their music often feels to be completely out of this world — but less so in this album (yet still very much out of this world). In spite of all the listeners’ expectations, Carnival in Babylon contains music that is harmonic, coherent and understandable.  This eccentric team has proven here, that they can make “normal” compositions which sound full and entertaining, yet are easier and more pleasant to the ear (if only you forget about the awkward voice of their male singer, the only reason why this album hasn’t scored full points). And there isn’t anything wrong with sounding pleasant — I had a wonderful, blissful time listening to this pack of joy.

 

Premiata Forneria MarconiPer un amico
★★★★

On the other hand, I was a little surprised to find that Per un amico, the second album by Premiata Forneria Marconi is considered to be a classic in the Prog Rock world (#15 on progarchives.com). Even on Allmusic, a full mark was given by most of the listeners. And I can partly agree with that, since there are some pretty amazing parts on this album, like the bestowing beginning of the first track Appena un ‘po, which to my disappointment worsened along the way. The follow-up Generale doesn’t fuse together with the previous track and disturbs the listening experience. Il Banchetto is quite good, and sounds like something Emerson, Lake and Palmer would make, but lesser. When I was listening to that track, I kept imagining all the different passages that felt as if they were left out. The album ends, however, with the brilliant Geranio, in which the alterations in the volume level become a significant part of the melody. Therefore don’t get the wrong impression: 4 stars is still a very high score, and Per un amico is an album definitely worth listening to. But in my opinion it just doesn’t stand among the best there is.

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Eloy — Eloy (album)

EloyEloy (album)
★★★☆

This is the eponymous debut album by the German symphonic rock band Eloy, released in 1971. Later on they have adopted a more melodical approach to music, but in this album they still sound close to what most Krautrock bands did: crude and powerful. Yet, even though I usually like this “raw” sound, here it gets somewhat tiresome, feels somehow out of place, and the compositions feel like they are missing something instead. Due to this reason I couldn’t pick any track that would actually shine amongst others. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed this album, and I’m keen on exploring Eloy‘s other works as well.

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.