Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tasavallan Presidentti - Pop Liisa 01. 1973 Finland

Tasavallan Presidentti - Pop Liisa 01. 1973. Archival.

CD issue: 2016 Svart w/Jukka Hauru & Superkings

LP issue: 2016 Svart

Tasavallan Presidentti are one of the "big 2" when talking Finnish progressive rock in the early 70s, at least from a commercially successful standpoint in their own native land. Like Wigwam, the band are known as diverse - but uniformly excellent - songwriters. Unlike Wigwam, they acted more as a cohesive unit when composing, and thus their albums were more consistent on the whole. But in Finland itsellf, Tasavallan Presidentti were most known for their live concerts, which were driven strongly by an improvisational desire. Lead by superstar guitarist Jukka Tolonen, the band moved in and out of lengthy jams with ease. Up until now, there hasn't been any aural evidence of this side of the band. Once again, these fantastic archival finds from Svart have opened up a new window for all of us to peek inside. For this session, recorded September 12th, 1973, Tasavallan Presidentti offer up two lengthy jams. The first 'Lennosta Kii', clocking in at 19+ minutes, is not easily recognizable. It's actually a composition from equally legendary jazz man Eero Koivistoinen, taken from his rare debut LP recorded in 1968. For those who have their doctoral studies in Tasavallan Presidentti's music, you then will recognize this main melody as 'Caught from the Air' from Milky Way Moses, though with Finnish vocals and significantly rearranged. As far as jams go, 'Lennosta Kii' is more than satisfactory, though perhaps not exceptional. The second and last jam is 'Dance' (14:28), taken from Lambertland, and extended considerably here. This performance is much more engaging, and there's a point past the half way mark where the band is firing on all cylinders and they catch a trance induced groove that is highly infectious. This takes the album one more notch on the rating scale. Overall the session seems like a completely new album, and not simply live readouts of previously recorded material. An absolute can't  miss purchase if you at all have any interest in 70s Finnish progressive rock.

I have yet to hear the second session on the CD from Jukka Hauru, though a quick scan through the notes promises great rewards. Given that I already enjoy his two studio LPs, I'm buying the premise. Probably will have something to share next week on it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

St. Albert's Dream (various artists). 1969-1972 USA

St. Albert's Dream (various artists). Archival

LP issue: 2013 Lysergic Sound Distributors

This is a fantastic compilation of obscure 45's, and unreleased archival material. No duff tracks, everything in the pocket as it were. This to me anyway, is the perfect type of compilation. All non album tracks, superb music, and all very hard to find. Unfortunately like the Devil's Kitchen on the same label, no historical data was provided, which would have enhanced the overall product that much more. Of course, I'm grateful for the music period, so we'll just have to do the rest on our own.

As Tymeshifter indicates, this comp is of the "heavy psych" variety, which is a personal favorite genre of mine as well. Special thanks goes to local Fort Worth associate John Perez (Brainticket label, Solitude Aeturnus, Liquid Sound Company) for turning me onto this record.

Greylock Mansion were from Tucson, Arizona (home base of the LSD label) and released two 45s in 1970 on Dynamic Records. This track is one of the highlights of the compilation.

Butter (not Butler as designated here) - no idea? Says unreleased master tape from Roger Jones (1972).

Jerimiah are reputed to be related to Brother L Congregation, and were from Victoria, Texas (southwest of Houston, and southeast of San Antonio, near the Gulf Coast). This track came out on the Kumquat label as a 45 single (1969).

Weasel comes from a 45 on Westpark Records, a division of Soundville out of Houston, Texas. So we'll presume they were from there (1969).

Wheatridge - no idea again. Says "uncredited acetate" (1970).

Oracle were another band from Tucson, though I can find no evidence of where this track comes from (1972).

Brand X (hmm sounds familiar... but no) were from Indianapolis and released this track on a 45 on Steel Breeze Records (1970). This is another highlight of the comp.

Mechanical Switch were from the small south Texas town of El Campo between Victoria and Houston. This track is on a 45 on Bag One Way Records (Feb 1969 according to one source).

Murphy's Law - can't find anything on this one either. The track is a Uriah Heep cover from their 1971 Look at Yourself album (and sounds a lot like a demo version of Uriah Heep actually with trumpet added). Date listed is 1972.

Sleepy Hollow were from Phoenix, Arizona and released this track on a 45 from ECI Records (1969).

Frozen Sun were yet another band from Tucson. This track was on a 45 from the Capt. Zoomar label (1969).

Streetdancer - Rising. 1977 USA

Streetdancer - Rising. 1977 Dharma

No reissues!

This has been a long time feature over at the CDRWL. Moving here to UMR now with freshly penned notes. And the first two photos represent some of the sealed LP copies we are currently selling over on Discogs and on Purple Peak Records!

From the Chicago area, Streetdancer are one of the more energetic of the jazz fusion bands to come from the USA. Their debut borders on free jazz, is entirely dominated by saxophone, and is a difficult listen. However on this, their sophomore effort, the music is completely different. Adding a guitarist and a violinist, Streetdancer jumped in with both feet in crafting their version of the early Mahavishnu Orchestra sound. And it smokes pretty much from the beginning to the end. This is the kind of rough-hewn fusion I personally love with distorted guitar, soaring violin, and an active rhythm section. It gets a little loose in places, not surprising given their free jazz background, but for the most part it's a tight, kinetic barnburner. No fusion head should be without it.

Nektar - Magic is a Child. 1977 England

Nektar - Magic is a Child. 1977 Bacillus (Germany); Polydor (USA; Canada)

CD reissues:  1990 Bacillus/Bellaphon (Germany); 2005 Dream Nubula/Eclectic;  2006 WHD (Japan mini-LP); 2014 Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid (USA 2 CD)

LP reissue: 2014 Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid (USA)

Well, believe it or not, I'd never heard this record until now. And probably never would have, were it not a throw-in to another LP deal I just purchased. Good thing. Had I heard this 30, or even 20 years ago, I would have dismissed it out of hand. But with my ears today (oh these ears, I tell ya...), I hear exactly what Nektar was going for... and honestly they did a great job at it!

And what they were going for was FM radio airplay. For whatever reason, the radio guys didn't feel there were any hits here. But I disagree, as 7 out of the 9 songs here could have easily caught on with the 1977 crowd. So yes, Nektar are a long way from their (recent) progressive rock past - and even further from their Krautrock roots. But this is still some fine sophisticated AOR, or what we used to call "pomp". A precursor to the neo-prog (later interpretation of said movement) sound honestly.

Good album if bands like Styx, later Starcastle, City Boy, and others of its ilk appeal to you.

I just noticed for the first time that the Cleopatra CD is a 2 CD set that includes a concert at Hofstra University in 1977. This would be different than the two Live in New York concerts since those were from 1974. Anyway, I haven't the slightest if it's worthy of pursuit or not, but it is interesting to me all the same. I picked up the Japanese mini a couple of weeks after getting the LP.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Saga - s/t. 1974 Sweden

Saga - s/t. 1974 Sonet

CD reissue: none

LP reissue: 2013 Sonet/Universal

Saga are a guitar based rock band founded by ex-November members. Great fuzzed-out bluesy guitar ferociously played over jazz, hard rock, folk, and progressive styled tunes. Similar in sound to many of the 1970s Swedish groups, though this is quite a bit more expressive in places, taking it to a higher level. In fact, for the style, perhaps the highest level! How many bands from the modern era (especially from Scandinavia) have we heard trying to capture this very sound? Hear the real deal first, before sampling the imitators. The last two tracks are nothing short of phenomenal.

This title had been a long time feature over on my CD Reissue Wish List blog. Very strange this album has yet to find its way to CD (legit that is - plenty of pirates out there). The Mellotronen label is very friendly with the band, and the major labels in Sweden. The album did receive a legit LP reissue in 2013 for Record Store Day (and they should have just done the CD while they were at it). The bootleg CD I own (no label - Sonet nominally credited) sounds OK (not great I assure you), with no info, a backwards booklet, and the usual crap job you would expect. Fortunately I also own the original LP which stays with me to the end of time, but it sure would be nice to see a high quality CD reissue at some point as well.

Metamorfosis - Papallones i Elefants. 1982 Spain

Metamorfosis - Papallones i Elefants. 1982 Apolo

No reissues!

Despite the surreal cover art, Metamorfosis do not belong to the Spanish progressive rock revival of the late 1970s. Rather, this is a homage to Chick Corea's Return to Forever, or perhaps even fellow countrymen Iceberg. Minus the insane chops that is. No matter, as the melodic content is high, and the compositions are well written. Had this been a private American album from 1982, fusion enthusiasts would be hollering about it everywhere. And so, yes, recommended indeed.

Never been officially reissued on CD or LP but there are at least two pirate editions out there.

Top Drawer - Solid Oak. 1969 USA

Top Drawer - Solid Oak. 1969 Wish Bon

No reissues!

Top Drawer play a straightforward blues rock, but with strong psychedelic and hard rock underpinnings. The latter is best exemplified by the guitar leads which are stronger than most from this era, especially in the Midwest private press arena - in fact, it's a sound you're most likely to encounter in the region circa 1972 or later. So Top Drawer were definitely ahead of the pack in that regard. The organ is present only as dressing to the overall salad. The songwriting is quite good throughout, with only the 'Baker's Boogie' track being somewhat a waste of time, though I'm sure it was popular in the local clubs of the day. I can see from other reviews that folks are frothing about 'Song of a Sinner', but personally I hear it very much in league with the other tracks here, perhaps drawn out a bit more with its bluesy vibe, though arguably it's still the album's best composition  - along with the hard driving closer 'Lies'. Nothing on the album is extraordinary, but a very solid release throughout, and much better than I had anticipated. A little bit of an early Dragonwyck vibe here too (from nearby Cleveland), minus the obvious Morrison-isms.

Top Drawer were not from Kentucky as is widely cited in catalogs and on the internet, but rather from Mansfield in north central Ohio.

Looks to be an album that has escaped a quality CD or LP reissue. Oh, there are many reissues, but they are either dubious or outright pirate. Would be a good title for a psych / hard rock reissue specialist. I don't currently own a copy beyond a CD-R.

RYM erroneously has a listing for a Repertoire release, which would be legit, except best I can tell it's a reissue of this album: The Gods - To Samuel A Son

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sintesis - s/t. 1976 Argentina

Sintesis - s/t. 1976 Profeta

CD reissue: 2016 BlueArt

Sintesis were an obscure instrumental band who released this one fine album back in 1976, and this is my first exposure to the work, perhaps unbelievably considering its greatness. Sintesis' music is at that exciting point between jazz rock and progressive. In particular the guitar playing is kinetic, and provides the jumpy leads over the irregular rhythms. At times, an edgy fuzz tone psychedelic guitar adds an incendiary element. Soft lines of flute and violin smooth the edges, and provide the beautiful melodic phrases. This is an album that seems to be on the precipice of jumping off to immortality, only to be reeled back by more traditional jazz rock offerings, often times lead by the saxophone. In particular 'Algunas Maneras De Expresarme' is sublime, as are the opening two tracks and the closer. The CD on BlueArt (see more below) adds an excellent bonus track. When looking at comparisons, one hears the early 70s Italian jazz rockers such as La Seconda Genesi or Duello Madre. Combine this with local stars such as Crucis, jazz rock era Arco Iris, and the equally obscure El Trio. A super find, when it seemed all others of its ilk had already been dug up and safely placed in museums.

The new CD on BlueArt (2016) is awesome, with excellent sound (appears to be from the masters), and full liner notes (in Spanish though), plus the aforementioned bonus track. BlueArt specializes mainly in jazz and Tango, so this is my first exposure to them, even though they've been around for over 15 years. The CD has yet to be entered into Discogs, which I may end up doing myself (and just did...). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first legitimate reissue. It appears the excellent PRW of Brazil had intended on reissuing it nearly 20 years ago, going so far as to apply a catalog number, but we (the collective we) cannot find evidence of it actually being released. If anyone can prove this to the contrary, I would be much obliged. 

Various artists - Enchantement. 1987 France

Various artists - Enchantement. 1987 Musea

CD reissue: 1989 Musea / Baillemont

Note that the CD reissue is much improved from the original LP here: Two are replacements of different material (Edhels, Boffo), and two are new (Anoxie, Halloween). The latter two total over 16 minutes, so not an insignificant addition. And the Halloween track is arguably the best thing on here. I used to own the LP, but traded it out for the CD not long after release, and considering the excellent Edhels LP track is a bonus on the Still Dream CD, that made the decision easy. The CD booklet is as informative as ever about each band participating.

Overall, this album is quite representative of the late 80s French progressive scene, which is not the same thing as saying it's superb. There's a certain New Wave charm to some of the tracks (Elohim, Pulsar, Ange), and there's the made-up-on-the-spot group Atmosphere, who nonetheless provide one of the album's highlights (just don't go looking for the mythical non-existent LP).

And from the original LP - Minimum Vital, Raison de Plus, and Sombre Reptile were among the highlights. Sadly the latter two never achieved the same level of expertise with their somewhat futile CD efforts later on. Minimum Vital, of course, have continued to be one of the bright lights of French progressive rock for almost 30 years now.

For me, it's all a bit of nostalgia, as I knew the guys from Musea, and was just starting my own extensive journey into the netherworld of obscure progressive rock way back in 1987.

The Tony Williams Lifetime - Ego. 1971 USA

The Tony Williams Lifetime - Ego. 1971 Polydor

CD reissues:  1999 Verve; 2005 Polydor/Strange Days (Japan mini-LP)

The negative opinions are pretty strong on this one. I can appreciate the expectation that one would have for such a talent as Tony Williams in the highly creative year of 1971. And this definitely doesn't come through as a landmark winner of the year. But is it an abject failure? No, not in my opinion anyway. There's 3 throwaway percussion songs, and they are all the shortest, so that helps. The remainder is a fine jazz rock effort, and it closes well with the final 3 compositions. Anything with Larry Young on organ is worth an ear, and he does a fine job here. Overall the tone is pretty loose and raw, which are pluses. Williams' vocals are not a highlight for sure, but we've all certainly heard worse.

Digi-pak CD on Verve is really quite excellent, and features a nice layout, fine liner notes, and great sound. The LP was released in multiple countries initially, so an LP reissue would seem superfluous, as originals are easy to find, though not necessarily cheap.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Duello Madre - s/t. 1973 Italy

Duello Madre - s/t. 1973 Produttori Associati

CD reissues: 1993 Mellow; 2008 Vinyl Magic/BTF

LP reissue: 2008 Vinyl Magic/BTF

Superbly executed jazz rock from this one-off Italian prog band, that featured a supergroup of sorts (Osage Tribe, Nuova Idea, Circus 2000). Musically could be compared to Embryo of the same era, with disjointed and hypnotic bass lines, jumpy electric guitar, wailing sax, and beautiful flute. It's not a solo-over-standard-beat-bass album as has been proposed, but rather a fully realized work, with intense jamming sections, melodic composition, coupled with atmospheric parts (including some fine Italian vocals on the first track). First half of the album combines jazz with Italian flavored progressive rock, whereas the flip side goes more for a deep jazz rock groove. Excellent representation of the genre circa 1973.

The Mellow CD is certainly nothing to write home about. Clearly taken from vinyl, and a whooshy, noisy one at that. Not sure about later reissues from BTF, but history suggests they won't be much better (though I need to hear it first to be sure). Originals are off the charts expensive, so I'm not likely to compare with that I'm afraid.

Stardrive - s/t. 1974 USA

Stardrive - s/t. 1974 Columbia

CD reissue: 2009 Wounded Bird

If only... if only Robert Mason was instead Robert (pronounced row bear) Massonne and he wrapped his neck in a wool scarf, wore octagonal glasses, and had a cigarette dangling from his lips... and he recorded on the Pole label... man, wouldn't he be the hipster's choice in these enlightened times? And, sacrebleu!, there's even a track called 'Pulsar'! Ah, but it wasn't meant to be for our downtrodden American protagonist. He is Robert Mason, a doppelganger for any male extra on Fargo, who released this buck bin LP special, only to be further driven to indignity by having it reissued on CD by Wounded Bird. No info, no enthusiasm, no nothing. But then again, there is hell to pay for naming a track 'Air Sauce', now isn't there?

There's a review in there somewhere. Remember the magazine Highlights at the dentist's office when you were a kid? It's kind of like that.

The Ceyleib People - Tanyet. 1967 USA

The Ceyleib People - Tanyet. 1967 Vault; 1967 Polydor (Germany)

CD reissue: 1991 Drop Out (UK)

From Los Angeles, The Ceyleib People released this one 23 minute album of instrumental psychedelic music with a heavy emphasis on looking eastwards toward India, which was quite the trendy thing to do in 1967. So if the idea of mixing sitar with the Chamberlin (precursor to the Mellotron) is an exciting concept for you, then The Ceyleib People will certainly satisfy. I quite like it myself, though it is a bit of musical wallpaper to be honest. Conditionally recommended. I'll probably hold onto to it for a few years more, though not likely to make it for the long haul.

The second scan is the German original, which appears to have had wide distribution in Europe. CD (on Dropout - only legit version) doubles the length by adding a mono mix, which certainly does sound better in this case. The stereo version is lacking... something.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sod - s/t. 1971 USA

Sod - s/t. 1971 Decca

No reissues!

Coming from Las Vegas, Nevada, Sod are one of many horn rock albums from the late 60s and early 70s to have emerged onto the scene. There are some really great tracks on this one, especially 'Too Loose to Get Tight' parts 1 and 2, 'Things I Wanna Say', and 'Makin' It'. As is often the case with the genre, the random dabbling in blues and soul pop drag down the immense potential classic this could have been. Oh well... still one not to miss if coming across in a rummage sale.

You'll often see the name stylized as the acronym SOD, but best I can tell, especially considering the album cover, the band name is Sod - defined as "the surface of the ground, with the grass growing on it."

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jeremy Steig - Fusion. 1970, 1972 USA

Jeremy Steig - Fusion. 1972 Groove Merchant; 1973 RCA (Germany) both 2 LP set

CD reissues: 1987 Denon (as Something Else) (Japan); 1989 Lester Recording Catalog (as Something Else); 2007 Groove Merchant/Unidisc (Canada)

Groove Merchant's US and German releases of Fusion are a double LP, with the first LP being a reissue of the Capitol Records 1970 album Energy, and the second LP containing Fusion (originally released in Japan as a single album).

Even though the second disc has tracks with 'Rock #' named titles, it's Energy that kicks the most booty. Steig, on both of these albums, is just possessed on the flute, wailing almost non-stop for the duration. And some really fine fuzzed electric Fender Rhodes can be heard as well from Jan Hammer. Really can’t go wrong here if you’re a flute rock/funk fan similar to other like minded artists such as Bjorn J:Son Lindh and Chris Hinze.

You really have to pay close attention to this title, because as mentioned above, Fusion can also be the single LP. And some of the CD reissues are of the single LP, not this double. The Something Else CD reissues are each missing two tracks: 'Energy' and 'Rock #10'. The LRC reissue is owned by Sonny Lester, who was also the founder of Groove Merchant. It appears the Unidisc version (4th scan) is complete.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pi Corp – Lost in the Cosmic Void. 1973-76 USA

Pi Corp – Lost in the Cosmic Void. 1973-76. Archival

LP issues: 2001 Rockadelic; 2010 Almakarma (as Let Them Eat Pi (Musik Spontano Electrik)) (Italy)

CD issue: none

Archival recordings uncovered by Rockadelic, encompassing the dates from 1973 to 1976, and certainly one of the label's more progressive oriented releases. Pi Corp were a space rock band from Cleveland, Ohio and contains plenty of that ancient Vox Continental organ. Honestly these recordings seem like raw rehearsals that have been heavily affected by studio trickery. The latter element most likely added (or enhanced) many years later, perhaps for this LP release specifically. Interesting album, though not necessarily compelling.

I've had both the black and pink splash vinyl copies, the latter of which I currently own. The recent Italian issue (which comes in a gatefold and sports a different cover and title) includes 3 bonus tracks, though honestly the whole thing sounds like bonus tracks to me.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Igauzu - s/t. 1984 England

Igauzu - s/t. 1984 Music Factory

No reissues!

As mentioned on my return back to this blog, I will occasionally be featuring albums that would have normally found their way onto the CD Reissue Wish List in the past (and noted with the blog label to your right (and below) as CDRWL). Often times, I won't even own a copy myself (as is the case here), beyond maybe having a CD-R. So if there's no red or green on the record labels, you'll know that's the situation. Some (not all) of these albums have been dumped onto YouTube in recent years, so you may want to check over there if curious. In addition, I won't be adding back the Priority appellation in these notes. As noted before, I do keep Priority 1 and Priority 2 lists over at RYM as a reference. You'll have to look over there to see if I added a particular album or not. :-) However, anything I add to the UMR will most assuredly be something I enjoy. OK, onto Igauzu...


Very obscure UK band with a Latin tinged fusion sound. First half of their sole album is a light and breezy fusion with flute and acoustic guitar in the lead role with wordless male/female vocals. At this point, I was recalling Galie from Mexico or perhaps Brazil's Cheiro de Vida. The second half becomes aggressively edgier, with more guest stars on electric guitar, synthesizer, and saxophone - almost to the point of freaky, and thus the revelation of a great find is at hand. However there's no denying its 1984 heritage (especially in the keyboard tones and overall production). Despite that fact, this is something of an essential work.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Siddhartha - Weltschmerz. 1975 Germany

Siddhartha - Weltschmerz. 1975 private

CD reissues: 1994 Penner/Garden of Delights; 1998 Garden of Delights

LP reissues: 2004 Amber Soundroom; 2012 Garden of Delights

Random thoughts... The German Wapassou; A basement version of Hoelderlin; A cross between Trikolon and Jessica; Sounds like it was recorded in 1970 by high school students.

This is for the hardcore progressive rock fan who have already bought into the premise. For those more objective, or love the new Dogfish Head IPA made with Lysol spray, or scan 30 albums a day on YouTube - you need to avoid this. Really, go away. Leave us alone. :-)

A very rare album in original form, any one of the reissues is likely going to be your point of entry here. Amber Soundroom partnered with Garden of Delights, so all the reissues most assuredly come from the same source.As per custom, the Garden of Delights CD is chock full of great info, photos, and good sound.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Michael Angelo - s/t. 1977 USA

Michael Angelo - s/t. 1977 Guinn

CD reissues: 2009 Big Pink (South Korea); 2015 Anthology; 2015 Lion (2 CD w/Nuts and A Sorcerer's Dream)

LP reissues: 1997 Guinn; 2005 Void; 2015 Anthology

There are two distinct aspects that define Kansas City based Michael Angelo's work: The year and the mystique. I know for a fact this album gained its reputation originally under the pretense that Mr. Nigro was some sort of forlorn figure who basically lived under a bridge and somehow managed to get this "real people" album recorded (have the catalogs from the 80s to prove this). His bombed-out-of-his mind front cover look may have helped with that legend. And of course, the fact the album came out in 1977 - a year most known for slick pop, glossy fusion, and mirror ball disco - does create quite the anachronism. So with factual history at our disposal, we find out that Michael Angelo was an accomplished session musician recording at a professional studio. Hard to believe really, given the end result, but yes it's true. No idea why this album sounds so under-produced then, which is a somewhat compelling story right there.

So what do we have here? Basically a 10-years-past-its-shelf-life folk psych album, with a certain naive outlook. Now it would be easy to criticize those who love this album as being suckers to an imaginary hype , but I can absolutely understand the allure here. It's beyond my personal interest area, but let's be respectful to those who do love it. The album is somewhat unique despite the historical facts.  I personally find it ironic there is a track called Journey, as to my ears, I immediately could envision Michael Angelo as the lead singer for you-know-who.

As you can see, there are multiple reissues to be had. It would appear that the Lion CD and the Anthology LP are the way to go here, as each features more material, especially the CD which encompasses 3 albums. I recently picked up the self-released Guinn reissue on the cheap, and my copy is 16 out of 450. No idea how it compares to the original or any other reissue. If I get a hold of one, I'll update this post.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bulbous Creation - You Won't Remember Dying. 1970 USA

Bulbous Creation - You Won't Remember Dying. 1970. Archival

CD issue: none (legit that is)

LP issues: 1994 Rockadelic (see below for more info); 2014 Numero Group

Bulbous Creation were from the Kansas City area circa 1969/1970, and whose music can best be described as a powerful blues psych rock, with heavily effected acid guitar, organ, and impassioned vocals (listen to 'Fever Machine Man' to see what I mean here regarding the latter).  'Let's Go to the Sun' recalls the UK band Janus, with its searing guitar leads. Excellent rhythm section as well, even though they rarely stray from the usual 4/4 time. A wonderful find from Rockadelic.

So it turns out that the original issue of this from Rockadelic was unauthorized, which the label was guilty of in the mid 90s more often than they should have been (especially since they started completely above board, and finished that way too). Not that Bulbous Creation holds any ill will, and in fact credit Rockadelic for bringing the album to the world's attention. So we have a happy ending in this case. All other issues are straight pirates, until we finally get our first fully authorized release from Numero, which is LP only. I ponied up for one, but I have to admit I expected more here. It's pretty much the exact same as the Rockadelic version, a thick single sleeve cover and a heavy brick for the vinyl. No liner notes, better sound, or anything else of interest. Given that its legit, and the Rockadelic version is long OOP, it's definitely worth owning.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Algarnas Tradgard - Framtiden.... (Archival). 1971-1972 Sweden

This entry is strictly to celebrate, and make everyone aware of, the recent Subliminal Sounds 2 LP release. We have the 1972 album on Silence already featured here.

Älgarnas Trädgård - Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden. 1971-1972. Archival

CD issue: none

LP issue: 2015 Subliminal Sounds (2 LP set including the original album)

Here's the breakdown of the archival material, which is featured on album #2.

Side 3 ('A Warm Wave of Lunar Mist' and 'The Mirrors of Gabriel') was recorded at The Museum of Art in Gothenburg (1972)
Side 4 ('Rings of Saturn') was recorded at Hagahuset, Gothenburg (1971)
Side 4 ('In the Mode of the Ancient') unknown
Side 4 ('Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom') was recorded at Gardetfest, Stockholm (1971)

The music found on these archival recordings are very much like the legendary album on LP #1. The sound quality is very good, though a bit low volume in the mix overall. It's wild and woolly instrumental psychedelic music - as performed by a band from 1,000 years ago - or a 1,000 years in the future. Who would know?

BTW - these bonus tracks are not the same as any of the CD bonus tracks, nor do they have anything to do with the later Delayed album. These are completely unique to this LP release.

Also, in reading the liner notes, I'm quite fascinated by the political climate of the era. Like Moving Gelatine Plates in France, Algarnas Tradgard were all about the music, not Leftist ideals. And so they were harassed not by the expected Establishment, but rather militant Communist groups insisting on blind loyalty to the cause. Wow. Two of the greatest, most extreme, and creative bands of the era, destroyed by what one would assume to be allies. How I can relate to this... Oh yes I can.

This 2 LP set is awesome. And it's housed in a gatefold cover where the interior is filled with archival photos. In addition, you will receive a large booklet with historical info penned by band member Dan Soderquist. This will be a keeper until the end of time for sure.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sfinx - Lume Alba + Sfinx (EP). 1974-1975 Romania

Sfinx - Lume albă. 1975 Electrecord

CD reissue: 2015 Soft Records (w/EP from 1974)

LP reissue: 1981 Electrecord

Sfinx's debut album is an extraordinary accomplishment given the time and place. Since so few rock albums were privileged to a deprived audience, Sfinx released something akin to a "Beatles Effect" album, with a mixture of popular styles. But being it was 1975 and all, progressive rock was one of those prominent styles, and this is where Sfinx excelled most. Especially on the stunningly beautiful 'Sinteze' which sounds like an underground track on the Pole label from France - and the Moog solos are divine. Plenty of highlights to go around in the progressive, folk, and hard rock genres, understanding that consistency is not what Sfinx were striving for at the time, so be prepared for some downtime too.

----Sfinx (EP) 1974 Electrecord

Debut recordings from Sfinx, who were to flesh out more on their subsequent debut LP in 1975. Opens with the hard rocking 'Coborise primavera', before delving into the pop songwriter 'Ziua ta'. Flip side consists of what could be called a "classic Midwest USA AOR" sophisticated pomp rocker, before closing with the lovely ballad 'Peste virfuri'. Nice EP.

The tri-fold digi-pak 2015 CD on Soft Records is awesome, with fantastic sound, liner notes in Romanian and English (latter truncated somewhat, but informative).  

Special thanks goes to our good friend Eddie for providing this CD!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Taivaanvuohi - Pop Liisa 04. 1973 Finland

Taivaanvuohi - Pop Liisa 04. 1973. Archival

CD issue: 2016 Svart (w/Wigwam)

LP issue: 2016 Svart

Taivaanvuohi were a band operating in early 1970s Finland, that never managed to release an album, though they were slated to be on the Love Records roster. They were a largely forgotten group, until these wonderful Pop Liisa radio sessions showed up and have been sprung upon us, courtesy of Svart. Taivaanvuohi's style is an absolute bulls-eye for what I personally enjoy - that of Hot Rats-era Frank Zappa meets the Canterbury sounds of 1969 Soft Machine. Europe had many such bands in the early 70s, all of them favorites here, such as Moving Gelatine Plates, Brainstorm, first album Solution, Dr. Dopo Jam, etc... Very complex, with a jazzy disposition, but with an added heavy psychedelic rock slant. Vocals are in English, not always a given with bands from Finland (though I would have preferred the indigenous language myself). Since this was a "one time live event" (December 5th, 1973), the performance isn't perfect, and one can only imagine how great these compositions would have been with some quality studio time and production. From Finland one can hear traces of Charlies, Tasavallan Presidentti, and Haikara in Taivaanvuohi's music, but largely they possess their own sound. The album finishes on a high point, with a ferocious cover of Zappa's 'Orange County Lumber Truck'. I had forgotten about this title, and was curious why some Finns from the early 70s had some strange affection for Anaheim and Irvine. lol. Anyway, don't overlook this one if your tastes run similar to mine. This is a fantastic and unexpected find.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wigwam - Pop Liisa 03. 1973 Finland

Wigwam - Pop Liisa 03. 1973. Archival

CD issue: 2016 Svart (w/Taivaanvuohi)

LP issue: 2016 Svart

Wigwam were always something of a "Beatles Effect" type of band, whose diverse membership would compose their music along different lines from each other. But that lack of cohesion also allowed for a blossoming of original ideas. When it worked, such as on Fairyport or Being, the results were divine. In other cases, Wigwam lacked flow and purpose. And they predictably devolved into a commercial rock band in the mid to late 70s.

So it comes as no surprise that when Wigwam had a chance to perform live on the radio in front of a studio audience (November 7, 1973 to be precise), that their set would be random and all over the place. According to the liner notes, John Lennon's 'Imagine' was actually a warmup song, and was not broadcast that evening. Apparently this was a staple of their live act. It's a straight cover song, so we'll consider it a mulligan. On the other hand, Pekka Pohjola's 'Nipistys', from his own debut album, is an instrumental tour de force and easily the highlight of the set. Jim Pembroke's 'Grass for Blades', shows off his singer songwriter skills, though there are plenty of extended instrumentals to capture the imagination. 'Fairyport' is an extended version of the familiar track, but once again quite scattered, with a mix of heavy progressive, blues, rock n roll, etc... Overall, a very fine performance, and a wonderful archival find (as is the whole series). But for me, it was a bit too diverse to be considered excellent.

Tomorrow we'll feature the other performance on the CD, that of Taivaanvuohi.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Taivaantemppeli - Jazz Liisa 02. 1973 Finland

Taivaantemppeli - Jazz Liisa 02. 1973. Archival

CD issue: 2016 Svart (with Unisono Quartet)

LP issue: 2016 Svart

This will be our first report on what I (and many others) consider the most significant archival find since Long Hair dug out the SWF Sessions. As the label notes, this is as significant for Finland as the John Peel tapes are for the UK. I've heard 4 albums so far (2 CDs), and have 2 more here (1 CD). There were 8 initially and another batch was just released. I plan on buying them all, unless I hear something that points that it might be out of my interest area (like Unisono - see below). All of these are "live in the studio" (Liisankatu Studios in Helsinki), and were recorded in front of a modest audience, and broadcast on national radio. What a break for all of us that these were maintained for future generations (though some were apparently re-recorded back over unfortunately). Each recording is being released on vinyl separately, with two recordings combined for the CDs. Perhaps unbelievably, the sessions were set at 40 minutes flat, so it ended up being the perfect length for LPs and 2-for-1 CDs!

Our feature today is for Taivaantemppeli, which translates to The Temple of Heaven. I think I could stop right there, and have everyone's curiosity piqued. It appears the band was a loose collective born out of Unisono, and may have not been a touring concern. The broadcast was recorded on November 21, 1973. Taivaantemppeli play in a decidedly edgy rock-jazz format, similar to other northern European bands of the early 70s. This isn't breezy fusion, but rather the rough edge sound that modern listeners crave. The primary composer is Make Lievonen, whose name I recognized for releasing a very obscure fusion album in the late 70s.  He was also the bassist in the Unisono Quartet. But the two main solo protagonists are what makes this album special: Pekka Rechart on electric guitar and Matti Jakola on flute. Rechart in particular lights it up, and possesses a delicious fuzz tone guitar sound, reminding me a bit of Elonkorjuu. Jakola's flute provides the softer edges, but wails at all the right times. Not to be overshadowed, Olli Ahvenlahti's piano and Rhodes work adds just the right amount of atmosphere and backbone. And the hand percussion only fuels the fire. For certain, the compositions are rather straightforward, and much time is given to soloing. But this is an instrumental rock album as played by experienced jazz warriors. The final track 'Lisa' is sublime, mixing both atmospheric flute with a heavier guitar based climax. Much of this recording reminds me of Wolfgang Dauner's Et Cetera, and that's high praise indeed. Overall a can't miss item for fans of early 70s jazz rock.

---Unisono Quartet

I'm not going to feature the first Jazz Liisa album separately. I recognized the name Unisono from a later fusion album. This is a bit different and it is very good for what it is: A straight instrumental jazz album. Piano based, with plenty of sax soloing, and a bit squonky towards the end at that. I do like it, but it's not terribly distinctive, and gets away from my personal interest area. As 40 minutes of bonus material to Taivaantemppeli, it's great to have, but I wouldn't buy the LP if that's what I was collecting. Solid 3 stars/Gnosis 9 here.