Sunday, October 14, 2018

Electric Light Orchestra - 1976-03-16 - Flint, MI

Electric Light Orchestra
I.M.A. Auditorium, Flint, MI

Audience recording (JEMS Master), excellent quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Here's more from ELO, from a bit later in their career, early in 1976 on their Face the Music tour, and at what I would consider to be their best period. Coming off the success of El Dorado (and their first top ten hit, 'Can't Get it Out of My Head'), they released Face the Music in late 1975, which quickly resulted in two more hits ('Evil Woman' and 'Strange Magic') by the time of their tour. But more than that, Face the Music was a just a dynamite album, with a great mix between the classical, pop, and rock influences of the band. This was their first major tour as a headliner, and they made the most of it, with a great set of songs from all their albums up to that point. Opening with a powerhouse trio of songs from Face the Music ('Fire on High', 'Poker', and 'Nightrider'), they went through sections featuring songs from each of their previous albums. Thus, this was the last tour to feature many of their earlier songs, which would be replaced as more hits piled up, which is why this was my favorite period, as they still featured the old ELO, but also had the added aspect of their middle period songs and hits, bu just before they would become more and more pop singles and hit-oriented. Another highlight is that, unlike in the previous (1973) show, they play the full version of 'Roll Over Beethoven', with Beethoven's 5th intro (which to me is what really makes their version work - the way the screeching guitar lick comes blasting through the classical refrain). Great stuff, and this is a great recording (especially for an audience - thanks JEMS). I've also added as a bonus track (from the Detroit show), a cover of 'Let's Spend the Night Together' with the final part of 'The End' added, that they played at some of the earlier shows on the tour (but not the Flint show). It's an interesting and different (and lesser-known) addition to the show. Enjoy!  

01. Fire On High
02. Poker
03. Nightrider
04. Ocean Breakup/King Of The Universe
05. Bluebird Is Dead
06. Oh No Not Susan
07. New World Rising/Ocean Breakup Reprise
08. Hugh McDowell's Cello Solo W/Flight Of The Bumble Bee(cut)
09. Showdown
10. Eldorado Overture
11. Can't Get It Out Of My Head
12. Poor Boy(The Greenwood)
13. Illusions In G Major
14. Eldorado
15. Mik Kaminski's Violin Solo/Orange Blossom Special
16  Bev Bevan's Intro
17. Strange Magic
18. 10538 Overture
19. Do Ya
20. Evil Woman
21. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
22. Roll Over Beethoven
Bonus Track (1976-03-04 - Detroit, MI)
23. Lets Spend the Night Together/The End

Band Members:
Jeff Lynne - Vocals, lead guitar
Bev Bevan - drums, percussion
Richard Tandy - keyboards, moog, mellotron
Kelly Groucutt - bass guitar, backing vocals
Mik Kaminski - violin
Hugh McDowell - cello
Melvyn Gale - cello

FLAC - Electric Light Orchestra_1976-03-16_Flint,MI(JEMS)_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Electric Light Orchestra_1976-03-16_Flint,MI(JEMS)_mp3.rar

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) - 1973-74 - London BBC Recordings

Electric Light Orchestra
1973-1974 - London BBC Recordings
1973-04-19 – Lower Cinema, London
1974-01-25 - Hippodrome, London

"Rockaria Ouverture"
FM Broadcast Recordings (from Italian Bootleg), very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 versions

OK, at last, here I am, back on the scene. And here I continue my featured look at Progressive Rock in the '70's and beyond. I had a few more European bands I wanted to feature before we moved back to Britain, but after that long break between posts, I wanted to come back with something strong (and more popular than more relatively obscure bands). So, here is the Electric Light Orchestra. Now, many may not consider ELO to be Prog at all, what with their string of decidedly pop-style hits of the Seventies and early eighties, but at the beginning, they were definitely a Progressive Rock band. ELO was formed in 1970 by songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, and drummer Bev Bevan directly from their previous band, The Move, with Bill Hunt (keyboards) and Richard Tandy (bass) and a quartet of string players rounding out the group. In fact, due to contractual obligations, The Move (with Wood, Lynne, and Bevan all still involved) continued even after formation of ELO, and actually, The Move's last album, Message from the Country and ELO's first album, The Electric Light Orchestra were essentially recorded at the same time, and both were released in 1971. ELO was formed from Wood's concept of combining strings and a classical sound and style with hard-driving guitars and rock n roll. Jeff Lynne joined The Move in 1970 precisely because he was interested in pursuing that new musical direction and the creation of ELO. And those early ELO records are definitely 'progressive rock', with long meandering songs with extended instrumental sections and clashes between the classical and rock influences. However, Roy Wood did not stay long, and left during the recording sessions for the 2nd album, ELO 2, in 1972, taking keyboardist Hunt and a cello player with him, to form his next band, Wizzard. In ELO, Richard Tandy moved over to keyboards and Mike de Albuquerque (bass) and some new string players were added for their next album, and On the Third Day was released in late 1973. With Jeff Lynne now in full control of the band, the songs and style moved more towards Beatlesque pop-rock, but the strings and classical influences were also still evident. Although they had received some previous chart success, their next album, the elaborate concept album, Eldorado (subtitled: A Symphony by The Electric Light Orchestra) in 1974 would be their breakthrough. On this album, the small string section of the band was not enough and Lynne brought in a full orchestra for the full and lush arrangements needed for the album. The single 'Can't Get it Out of My Head' became their first top ten hit in the US, and the album also cracked the top 20. More success followed with Face the Music (1975), producing more hits and (one of my favorites) the sensational instrumental 'Fire on High'. Even greater success followed in subsequent albums, but less and less of the classical bravado was evident and more just great pop melodies continued, making them into the pop sensation they became, but not much left of their more progressive origins. Here is a show from their earlier days, one of the only high quality recordings from those early days. Unfortunately, no decent recordings exist from the Roy Wood days with the band. This is the next best thing, a pair of BBC radio shows in 1973 and early 1974, featuring songs primarily from their third album, On The Third Day, and definitely belonging in the category of Progressive Rock. Unfortunately, the version of 'Roll Over Beethoven' played here does not include the classical Beethoven's 5th Intro, but we'll get another shot at that next time (in the next post).        

01. From The Sun To The World
02. Kuiama
03. Roll Over Beethoven
04. Ma Ma Belle
05. King Of The Universe
06. Bluebird Is Dead
07. Oh No, Not Susan
08. New World Rising
09. In The Hall Of The Mountain King
10. Great Balls Of Fire

Tracks 1-3, 1973-04-19, Lower Cinema. London
Tracks 4-10, 1974-01-25, The Hippodrome, London

FLAC - ELO_1973-74_London BBC Recordings_FLAC.rar

mp3 - ELO_1973-74_London BBC Recordings_mp3.rar

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Still not back - try again later

Not back yet

Sorry about the lack of posts in recent weeks. I've just been very busy at work, under a lot of pressure and scrutiny, and have a series of projects with strict deadlines that must be met. So working all day and night recently. Still have 2 more projects to finish this week and next. Should be better after that. So, it'll still be a couple more weeks til things get back to normal, then I will have a break, and get back to the blog (and other things!). So... Sorry for now, but will be back, so...try again later. Thanks for your patience.   

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Focus - 1973-01-xx - BBC, Paris Theatre, London, UK (PRRP-027)

1973-01-xx (previously thought to be from 1973-12-12)
BBC In Concert, Paris Theatre, London, UK
PRRP-027 - The Sky Will Fall Over London Tonight

Soundboard recording (Remastered), excellent quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Continuing with European progressive rock bands, Focus was a band from The Netherlands, formed in 1969 when guitarist Jan Akkerman joined keyboardist-flautist-vocalist Thijs van Leer's rock trio. They were the pit band for the Dutch production of the Musical Hair, and then released their first album, In and Out of Focus (1970), which received little attention. However, the band hit it big with their 2nd album, Moving Waves (1971), which contained what became the worldwide smash hit single, the surprisingly popular novelty rocker (rock yodeling?), 'Hocus Pocus'. Their unique sound and style, combining driving rock with jazz fusion and bits of classical music, captivated audiences and injected some fresh riffs and enthusiasm into the rock scene at the time. Their success continued with their subsequent albums, Focus 3 (1972) and Hamburger Concerto (1974), but their popularity faded after that, leading to the break-up of the band in 1978. Short-lived reunions featuring both Akkerman and van Leer occurred in 1985 and 1990, with a final performance with them both together in 1993. Van Leer also created several new versions of Focus, with other musicians and without Akkerman over many subsequent years, particularly from 2002 on, releasing several new albums as Focus. But their heyday was definitely in the early-mid-seventies, with Akkerman and van Leer together. Here is a show in great quality from those days when they were first becoming known and popular outside the Netherlands. This a remastered soundboard recording (part of the PRRP (Progressive Rock Remasters Project) from a BBC broadcast show in London (the exact date is unknown, but seems to be from sometime in January 1973 - although the show has been widely distributed as being from 1972-12-12 and the Old Grey Whistle Test show, that has now been shown to be incorrect, and the correct date is sometime after that, probably January 1973). Anyway, check it out.
01. Bob Harris Introduction    00:41
02. Anonymous Two    21:42
03. Band Introductions    01:19
04. Focus 1    03:58
05. Focus 3    03:23
06. Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!    12:09
07. Focus 2    04:46
08. Bob Harris Once More    00:18
09. Hocus Pocus    07:22

Pierre Van Der Linden -    Drums
Thijs Van Leer - Keyboards, Flute & Vocals
Jan Akkerman - Guitar
Bert Ruiter - Bass Guitar

FLAC - Focus_1973-01_BBC_London_FLAC.rar

Mp3 - Focus_1973-01_BBC_London_mp3.rar

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - 1975-11-23 - Tokyo, Japan

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
Shibuya Kokaido, Tokyo, Japan 

Soundboard recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Here's more from PFM, an Italian prog rock band that made a splash in the '70's, featuring melodic and instrumental richness, sumptuous compositions and arrangements. This show features the band just a little more than a year later than the previous post, and although they play many of the same songs, there is a fundamental difference in the band, as they had now added a new lead vocalist, Bernardo Lanzetti, which brought a more forceful and dynamic presence to their vocals from this point on, and was first featured on their album Chocolate Kings (1975).

1. Celebration
2. Four Holes In The Ground
3. Paper Charms
4. Dove...Quando...
5. Acoustic Guitar Solo
6. Out of Roundabout
7. Mr. 9 'Till 5
8. Alta Loma 5 'Till 9
9. Violin Solo
10. Bass Solo
11. Drum Solo
12. Impression Di Septembre
13. Celebration (reprise)
Bonus Track: 1975-11-29 - Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo (Audience)
14. Chocolate Kings

Flavio Premoli - keyboards, accordian, piccolo
Mauro Pagani - flute, violin
Franco Mussida - guitars
Patrick Djivas - bass
Franz Di Cioccio - drums, vocals
Bernardo Lanzetti - Lead vocals, guitar

FLAC - PFM_1975-11-23_Tokyo_FLAC.rar

mp3 - PFM_1975-11-23_Tokyo_mp3.rar

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - 1974-08-27 - Ultrasonic Studios, Hempstead, NY

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)
Ultrasonic Studios, Hempstead, NY 

FM Broadcast recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 versions

Progressive rock has often been associated primarily with England and British bands (yes, virtually all of the most famous and successful prog bands are British), but actually there are great progressive rock bands from all over, especially throughout europe. One of the most interesting of the european progressive bands was Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) (translation:Award-winning Marconi Bakery), the most successful prog band from Italy. PFM was formed in 1970 in Milan, when members of the previous band I Queli joined up with violinist-flutist Mauro Pagani. They were the first Italian band to feature a synthesizer. Their first album (released only in Italy) was Storia di minuto (1972), which was an immediate success, quickly followed by Per un Amico (1972) which expanded their influence outside Italy and across europe. Around this time, while on tour in Italy, Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) heard them, and immediately signed them to their new label, Manticore records. Because of this connection, their next album, Photos of Ghosts (1973) was released worldwide (with mostly re-recorded versions of songs from their previous albums), and for the first time featured lyrics in English (in an attempt to reach a wider audience). Interestingly, instead of just translating their Italian lyrics to English, all new English lyrics were written, by King Crimson-ELP cohort Pete Sinfield. The album charted in countries all around the world, including the US. They followed this success with another Italian album (L'isola di niente) followed by an English version, The World Became the World (1974), and then their first U.S. tour. Concerts recorded from this tour became the basis for a Live album, Cook (1975).  The band also reached their largest US audience when they appeared on the TV show The Midnight Special in early 1975. For their next album, Chocolate Kings (1975), they added a new lead vocalist, Bernardo Lanzetti, and a harder rock sound. Jet Lag (1977) was their last album with English lyrics (as well as last album released in the U.S.) and moved more towards a jazz fusion sound. They continued performing and releasing albums in Italy for many more years, but never achieved International success after that. Because of their association with ELP, some (who never really listened to them) dismissed the band as Italian ELP imitators, but that does not do them or their music any justice. They had their own unique sound and were much more diverse in style and instrumentation. They were both uniquely Italian while developing traditional prog influences, producing a lyrical, romantic and delicate music, with a great melodic and instrumental richness, sumptuous compositions and arrangements. They deserve a place among the  very best of the '70's prog bands. Here is a show from their 1974 U.S. tour, as they established themselves as a progressive force to be reckoned with.

1. Four Holes In The Ground (7:41)
2. Is My Face On Straight? (7:53)
3. Instrumental jam (8:58)
4. Dove...Quando... (4:39)
5. introduction (1:32)
6. Mr. 9 'Till 5 (4:25)
7. Alta Loma 5 'Till 9 (11:06)
8. JC violin jam (2:30) (cut - some issues)
9. classic violin solo (3:25)
10. William Tell Overture (1:51)
11. Celebration (5:34)

Flavio Premoli - keyboards, vocals
Mauro Pagani - flute, violin, vocals
Franco Mussida - guitars, vocals
Patrick Djivas - bass
Franz Di Cioccio - drums, vocals

FLAC - PFM_1974-08-27_Ultrasonic_NY_FLAC.rar

mp3 - PFM_1974-08-27_Ultrasonic_NY_mp3.rar

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Nektar - 1977-10-18 - Hofstra University, New York, NY

Hofstra University, New York, NY

FM broadcast (WLIR) recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Here's more from Nektar, from a couple years later, on their tour promoting their current album, Magic is a Child (1977). However, this was after founding member, guitarist, and lead vocalist, Roye Albrighton, had left the band, and was replaced by Dave Nelson. Because of this, Nektar purists tend to look down on this album and period for the band. This was their first release for Polydor, and it did have a somewhat more slick production, and perhaps a bit more mainstream rock sound (even with bits of power pop thrown in), but still with plenty of progressiveness and eclectic charms, resulting in what I think is just a great rock album. Personally, I think it is one of Nektar's very best, my favorite of theirs, and one of the best of that era. Yes, the sound is a bit different, especially with Nelson instead of Albrighton as lead vocalist, but it is a wonderful album, nonetheless. Naysayers should give it another chance (with open ears). Anyway, So, I was thrilled to find this FM broadcast recording of a show from this tour, featuring many of the songs from Magic is a Child, including 'Spread Your Wings', which is just an all-time great straight-up Rocker. Good sound on this recording, although it seems to run a bit fast (either that or they just played these songs very fast in concert), as they all are faster here than on record. Anyway, great show. Unfortunately, this "new" version of Nektar didn't catch on, and the band split-up in 1978, but with original members Freeman and Albrighton re-forming another "new" version of the band (with new bass and drums) in 1979, although that incarnation was short-lived as well. But then, much later, in 2000, as seems to happen with these progressive rock bands from the Seventies, Freeman and Albrighton re-formed the band yet again, (now with Ray Hardwick on drums), and eventually with Moore returning on bass and Larry Fast also joining in on some subsequent albums and tours. Later, Ron Howden also returned (on drums), and the band continued (with various lineup changes, Albrighton being the only constant throughout) over the next several years, right up until Albrighton's death in 2016. So, Nektar did live on for many years after their '70's heyday. Check out the 1977 version of the band here.

01. Midnight Lite
02. Train From Nowhere
03. Remember The Future Part 2
04. Remember The Future Part 2 (continued)
05. Away From Asgard
06. King Of Twilight
07. Magic Is A Child
08. Recycled
09. Eerie Lackawanna
10. Oh Willy / Mr. H.
11. On The Run
12. Spread Your Wings

Allan "Taff" Freeman - Keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals
Derek "Mo" Moore - Bass, backing vocals
Ron Howden - Drums, percussion, backing vocals
Dave Nelson - Guitars, lead vocals
Mick Brockett - Special effects

FLAC - Nektar_1977-10-18_New York_FLAC.rar

Mp3 - Nektar_1977-10-18_New York_mp3.rar

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Nektar - 1975-04-02 - Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO

Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO

Soundboard recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Next up on the tour is another under-appreciated progressive rock band, Nektar. Nektar is an English band, but was formed in 1969 in Hamburg, Germany (by musicians playing the German club circuit in different bands) featuring  Roye Albrighton (guitar, vocals), Allan "Taff" Freeman (keyboards),  Derek "Mo" Moore (bass), and Ron Howden (Drums). Initially their sound  followed in the psychedelic/space-rock tradition of Pink Floyd, but with a bit heavier rock style, and influences from the current German scene as well. The visual style and effects of their shows were very much a feature of the band, so much so that their "visual effects" guy was considered an actual member of the band. Each album featured a somewhat different, or developing sound and style, thus "progressing" through their history. Their first album, Journey to the Center of the Eye (1971) was a sci-fi concept album consisting of one continuous song. By their 2nd album, A Tab in the Ocean (1972), their unique progressive rock style was solidifying (less psychedelic,more progressive) into a satisfying blend, and their following was increasing (primarily by word of mouth). The band continued to experiment with a largely improvised double live-in-the-studio third album, Sounds Like This (1973), quickly followed by the elaborate concept album Remember The Future (1973), which featured 2 multi-part songs and a more melodic rock style, and became their breakthrough album (and most critically acclaimed), especially in the US, where it quite surprisingly rose to #19 on the Billboard Charts. In 1974, they released Down to Earth, another concept album with a circus theme that also did well (with their only charting single, "Astral Man". Their next album, Recycled (1975) featured an environmental concept theme, and also featured the addition of heavier synthesizer work from emerging electronic music whiz Larry Fast (Synergy) for additional layers to their sound. However, by the end of 1976, guitarist Albrighton left the band, to be replaced by Dave Nelson, and their next album, Magic is A Child (1977), featured a slicker, melodic (more commercial?) rock sound (but still with plenty of progressive sparks and twists). But by 1978, the band split, only for Albrighton and Freeman to re-form the band in 1979 (with different bass and drummer) for the release of Man in the Moon (1980), before dissolving again in 1982. I really like Nektar and their ever-changing progressive styles (even as they became more mainstream), and they certainly deserve a revered place in Progressive rock history, but they seem little remembered these days. Unfortunately, there are not many good quality live recordings available from the prime years of Nektar (and most of the really good ones have been commercially released). But here is a great-sounding show from early 1975 (unfortunately woefully incomplete, cuts out after ~45 min), that mostly features previews (early versions) of some new songs from their still yet to be recorded 1975 album, Recycled, and their recent album, Down to Earth, but doesn't include anything from Remember the Future. Thus, I have added as bonus tracks some pieces of Remember The Future (as well as "Good Day" from Sounds Like This), from a 1974 show (but unfortunately, I only have these bonus tracks in lower-res mp3, no FLAC. note - If anybody has this show in FLAC, would love to get it). Anyway, check out the prog-rock classic Nektar. 

01. Astral Man
02. Recycled
03. A Day In The Life Of A Preacher
04. Show Me The Way
05. Marvelous Moses (Cut-Fades out)

Bonus Tracks:
1974-05-30 - Musikhalle, Minden, Germany
(Audience recording, very good quality - only available as mp3 [240 kbps])
06. Remember The Future (Part1)
07. Good Day
08. Remember The Future (Part2)

Roye Albrighton - Guitars, lead vocals
Allan "Taff" Freeman - Keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals
Derek "Mo" Moore - Bass, backing vocals
Ron Howden - Drums, percussion, backing vocals
Mick Brockett - Special effects

FLAC - Nektar_1975-04-02_St.Louis_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Nektar_1975-04-02_St.Louis_mp3.rar

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Camel - 1979-09-22 - Golders Green Hippodrome, London, UK

Golders Green Hippodrome, London, UK
"Moon Dance"

FM Broadcast (BBC Sight and Sound) recording, excellent quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Here's more from Camel, from a couple years later, following their albums Moonmadness (1976) and Rain Dances (1977). Thus, this show reflects the lineup change after Moonmadness, with Richard Sinclair (of Caravan) replacing Doug Ferguson on bass, and Mel Collins (King Crimson, Kokomo) on sax and winds, and marked the beginning of a bit jazzier direction for the band. A fine show, primarily featuring songs from Rain Dances, in very good quality from a BBC broadcast. The version I received of this show contained a couple of bonus tracks from a later date, si I included these as well. These are from a 1980 show in Japan, by which time there were additional lineup changes and a move toward a more commercial sound

1. First Light            5:01
2. Metrognome        4:56
3. Uneven Song        5:56
4. Rhyader-Rhyader Goes to Town 7:20
5. Skylines               5:22
6. Highways of the Sun 5:15
7. Lunar Sea            8:53
8. Rain Dances-Never Let Go 6:33
9. One of These Days I'll Have an Easy Night 7:01

Bonus Tracks (Tokyo - 1980-01-27)
10. Echoes        7:24
11. Nobody Knows    6:22

Andrew Latimer - guitar, vocals
Andy Ward - drums, perscussion
Peter Bardens - keyboards
Richard Sinclair - bass, vocals
Mel Collins - sax, clarinet, flute
(except bonus tracks - Dave Sinclair, Jan Schelhaus-keyboards, Richard Schelhaus - bass)

FLAC - Camel_1977-09-22_London_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Camel_1977-09-22_London_mp3.rar

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Camel - 1975-12-18 - Reading, UK - PRRP-051 - "The Last Flight"

December 18, 1975
Reading Town Hall, Reading, UK
PRRP-051 - "The Last Flight"

Remastered audience recording (PRRP-051), very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Moving on with my featured Progressive Rock bands, next up is Camel. Camel plays a form of progressive rock that incorporates many influences, from jazz, classical, Baroque, blues, and electronic music. Their sound has been favorably compared with bands such as Genesis and King Crimson, however, their style tends to be calmer, more atmospheric and melodic than most other progressive bands. Although they never quite achieved more than a dedicated cult following, most progressive fans now consider their first four albums to be essential prog listening and among the classics of the era. Camel was formed in 1971 in the Guildford, Surrey region of England, featuring Andy Latimer (guitar), Andy Ward (drums), Doug Ferguson (bass), and Pete Bardens (keyboards). Their debut LP, Camel (1973), however, garnered little attention, and they were dropped by MCA. Switching over to Deram, their 2nd album, Mirage (1974), garnered much critical acclaim, but still only limited sales and recognition, although it was initially more appreciated in the U.S. than England (it now is listed among the Top 25 Progressive Rock Albums of all-time, according to rankings by Rolling Stone Magazine). Their next album, an orchestrated all-instrumental concept album, The Snow Goose (1975), was the breakthrough album that brought them somewhat wider attention and success. They followed that with Moonmadness (1976), also acclaimed, but which was their last album to feature their original lineup, as bassist Doug Ferguson left and was replaced with ex-Caravan bassist Richard Sinclair, and Mel Collins (ex-King Crimson, Kokomo) was added on saxophone. The first album to feature this new line-up was Rain Dances (1977) which introduced a somewhat different sound and overall style to their music. After another album (Breathless-1978), keyboardist Bardens also left, but the band continued through the early 80's before breaking up, but then re-forming in the '90's and continuing on from there. However, most agree that those first 4 albums were by far the best of the band. Here is a show from 1975, which features the full Snow Goose show bookended by a few songs from earlier albums, for a wonderful show. This is the PRRP (Progressive Rock Remasters Project) remaster and has very good sound. This was also billed as the very last performance of the full Snow Goose show (Thus titled "The Last Flight").

01 The White Rider
02 Supertwister
03 Introduction to the Snow Goose
04 The Great Marsh
05 Rhayader
06 Rhayader Goes to Town
07 Sanctuary
08 Fritha
09 The Snow Goose
10 Migration
11 Rhayader Alone
12 Flight of the Snow Goose
13 Preparation
14 Dunkirk
15 Epitaph
16 Fritha Alone
17 La Princesse Purdue
18 The Great Marsh (reprise)
19 Homage to the God of Light
20 Lady Fantasy

Pete Bardens - keyboards
Doug Ferguson - bass
Andy Latimer - guitars, flute & vocals
Andy Ward - drums, percussion

FLAC - Camel_1975-12-18_Reading_PRRP051_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Camel_1975-12-18_Reading_PRRP051_mp3.rar

Monday, June 11, 2018

National Health - 1978-03-10 - Bordeaux, France

National Health
March 10th, 1978
BĂ©ret Cosmique, 
Bordeaux, France

Audience Master recording (by Erathostene), very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Here's more from National Health, a couple years later, at a 1978 show, featuring songs from their 2nd album, Of Queues and Cures (1978), and more of their whimsically eclectic jazz/rock, with Phil Miller and Dave Stewart still there, but with Alan Gowen now gone (temporarily) and Pip Pyle on drums. Gowen would return after this tour (but then Stewart left) and continue until 1981, when Gowen died. After that, Stewart returned to do a final album with the band, D.S. Al Coda (1982), which featured primarily previously unreleased songs written by Gowen, as a tribute and finale for the band.  

1-1. Also Sprach Zarathustra/The Bryden 2-Step (18:12)
1-2. The Lethargy Shuffle (11:40)
1-3. A Legend In His Own Lunchtime (12:02)
1-4. DS Improv/ The Collapso (7:21)
2-1. Dreams Wide Awake (12:33)
2-2. Mostly Twins and Trios (12:16)
2-3. Tenemos Roads (12:31)
2-4. Improv/ Elephants (18:50)
Total time : 01:46:38

Phil Miller - Guitar & Backing Vocals
Dave Stewart - Keyboards
John Greaves - Bass & Lead Vocals
Pip Pyle - Drums

FLAC - National Health_1978-03-10_Bordeaix_FLAC.rar

mp3 - National Health_1978-03-10_Bordeaix_mp3.rar

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

National Health - 1976-02-22 - Dundee, UK

National Health
February 22nd, 1976
Dundee, University of Dundee, UK

Soundboard recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Continuing with progressive rock bands associated with the Canterbury Scene in the '70's: In 1972, upon leaving Matching Mole, keyboardist Dave Sinclair and guitarist Phil Miller joined up with cousin Richard Sinclair again (who had also left Caravan by this time), along with Pip Pyle on drums to form the Canterbury jazz/rock band Hatfield and The North. However, Dave didn't stay long (returning to Caravan in 1973), and Dave Sinclair was replaced by keyboardist Dave Stewart. Hatfield and The North recorded 2 albums for Virgin (Hatfield & The North-1974, Rotter's Club-1975) before they split, with members Dave Stewart and Phil Miller, along with keyboardist Alan Gowen (from Gilgamesh), and drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) forming National Health in 1975. Bruford didn't stay long (as he was touring with both Genesis and Brand X around this time), and was replaced with Hatfield drummer Pip Pyle. Although the lineup shifted regularly (with a string of bass players and Stewart and Gowen alternately leaving and returning periodically), they recorded 2 albums in 1978 (National Health and Of Queues and Cures) and remained as a band until 1981 and the death of Gowen. A progressive, spacey, jazz/rock band that played lengthy, mostly instrumental compositions in the Canterbury groove, here's National Health in a show from 1976, while Bill Bruford was still with them.

1. Tenemos Roads
2. Paracelsus
3. Trident Asleep
4. Clocks And Clouds
5. The Lethargy Shuffle
6. Agrippa
7. Elephants

Alan Gowen: Keyboards
Dave Stewart: Keyboards
Phil Miller: Guitar
Mont Campbell: Bass
Amanda Parsons: vocals
Bill Bruford: Drums

FLAC - National Health_1976-02-22_Dundee_FLAC.rar

mp3 - National Health_1976-02-22_Dundee_mp3.rar

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Caravan - 1975-03-21 - Paris Theatre, London

Paris Theatre, London, UK

FM Broadcast Recording (BBC), excellent quality
Mp3 @ 320 kbps

Here's more Caravan, this one from an excellent 1975 radio show. Although more than half the show (2 songs) are songs already included in the previous 1974 show ('The Love in Your Eye' and 'For Richard'), these are excellent extended versions, and this show does feature 2 different songs ('The Dab Song Conshirtoe' from Cunning Stunts-1975, and the rousing audience participation fave 'Hoedown'). More great stuff from Caravan.

1. Intro
2. The Love In Your Eye
3. For Richard
4. The Dab Song Conshirtoe
5. Hoedown
Total Time: 56:30

- Mike Wedgewood / bass
- Richard Coughtan / drums
- Geoff Richardson / violin, guitar
- Pye Hastings / guitar, vocals
- David Sinclair / keyboards

Caravan_1975-03-21_Paris Theatre_London.rar

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Caravan - 1974-11-10 - Record Plant, Sausalito, CA

Record Plant, Sausalito, CA

FM broadcast recording, excellent qualty
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Staying with progressive rock bands associated with the Canterbury Scene, here is Caravan, a band that featured a wonderful mix of rock, jazz, and folk, and deserved much more success and acclaim than they received. Caravan was formed in 1968 from the remnants of an earlier band, Wilde Flowers, after Robert Wyatt and Hugh Hopper had left to join The Soft Machine. The original lineup consisted of cousins David and Richard Sinclair (keyboards and bass/vocals, respectively), Pye Hastings (guitars/vocals), and Richard Coghlan (drums). In their first album, Caravan (1969), they were still finding their identity within the emerging progressive rock scene, but by their second album (and first on the Decca label), If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You (1970), they had settled into their signature sound and style, an intriguing mix of pop, gentle English folk, rock jams, jazz explorations, and eccentric and humorous tales. Their next album, In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971) became their most critically acclaimed, but struggled to find an audience. Frustrated by their lack of success, Dave Sinclair left the band to join Robert Wyatt in his new band, Matching Mole. Caravan added new keyboardist Steve Miller for their next album, Waterloo Lily (1972), which took them in a bluesier direction. But Miller's more straight jazz/blues style clashed with the rest of the band, and he was soon out. By 1973, Dave Sinclair returned to the band (Matching Mole didn't last long, followed by a short stint with Hatfield and The North), which had now also added Geoffrey Richardson on viola and flute (but Richard Sinclair was now gone, joining Hatfield and The North) for their next album, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973), which was another highlight for the band, followed by a Live album with orchestra, Caravan and the New Symphonia (1974). Although gaining a dedicated following, the band could never quite break through to popular success. In 1974, and their first U.S. tour (now with Mike Wedgewood on bass), they attempted to make it in America, and following a successful tour, their next album Cunning Stunts (1975) did finally crack the charts in both the UK and U.S., but just barely. Sinclair left after that, and subsequent more mainstream albums Blind Dog at St Dunstans (1976) and Better By Far (1977) failed to expand their fanbase, resulting in the band calling it quits after that. An eighties revival of the band resulted in a couple of subsequent albums, but could not match the earlier band's ouput. But as seems to be the pattern, the original lineup reunited for an event in 1990, which re-ignited interest, and resulted in re-forming and touring shortly after, and various forms of the band has continued to play right up to the present.
Here we have the band in their first U.S. Tour in 1974, in an excellent radio broadcast recording featuring the band plying songs primarily from their excellent For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night Album, along with some earlier favorites. A fine show from a wonderful band that never quite got their due.     

1. Announcement by radio dj
2. Memory Lain, Hugh
3. Headloss
4. For Richard
5. Band introduction / Virgin On The Ridiculous
6. Be All Right
7. Chance Of A Lifetime
8. The Love In Your Eye

Total time 1:05:40

Pye Hastings - Guitar & Vocal
Geoffrey Richardson - Viola, Guitar, Flute
Dave Sinclair - Keyboards
Mike Wedgwood - Bass & Vocal
Richard Coghlan - Drums

FLAC - Caravan_1974-11-10_Record Plant_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Caravan_1974-11-10_Record Plant_mp3.rar

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

(Pierre Moerlen's) Gong - 1976-10-25 - Tomblaine, France

(Pierre Moerlen's) Gong
Nancy (Tomblaine), France
'Live Express!'

Audience recording, good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

As noted in the previous post, following Daevid Allen's and then Steve Hillage's departure from Gong in 1975-1976, percussionist Pierre Moerlen took control of the band, moved the band more in a direction of percussion-oriented jazz-rock, bringing in brother Benoit Moerlen and Mireille Bauer on vibes and mallet percussion and additional percussionist Mino Cinelli. But also bringing in journeyman progressive rocker guitarist Allan Holdsworth. Because Gong was still under contract to Virgin for 2 more albums, this new lineup continued under the name Gong, but this was a decidedly different band from the Daevid Allen days. Following those next 2 albums (Gazeuse!-1976 and Expresso II-1978), the band's name was officailly changed to Pierre Moerlen's Gong. By 1979, Holdsworth was gone, and Mike Oldfield came in to play guitar on their next album, Downwind (1979), as lineups continued to change each year. By 1980 and the album Time is the Key, the band brought in jazz keyboardist Peter Lemer (as well as Holdsworth on a couple tracks) and featured an even more mallet percussion-based progressive jazz-rock style, to stunning effect. That is actually my very favorite album from any incarnation of Gong, as it is wholly unique in sound and style, and consisting of an almost percussion ensemble instrumentation and a cool progressive jazz-rock vibe, a beautiful album. After a live album (Pierre Moerlen's Gong Live-1980) and another studio album (Leave it Open-1981), the band's output became more sporadic, with albums in 1986 (Breakthrough) and 1988 (Second Wind), before breaking up. However, a Gong band never really goes away, former PMG members Hansford Rowe (bass), Bon Lozaga (guitar), and Benoit Moerlen (percusssion) formed Gongzilla in 1991, and eventually, Pierre started up a new assemblage of musicians under the PMG name, releasing Pentanine in 2004. Moerlen began working on another new album in 2005 with a group of French musicians, but then died suddenly and unexpectedly. The rest of the band eventually finished the album and released it as Tribute in 2010.
Here we have a show from the early stages of Pierre Moerlen's Gong, in 1976, following the release of Gazeuse! (Expresso in North America). Would have liked to post something from the Time is the Key stage of the band, but unfortunately, no available recordings exist. But this is still good, too.

01. Expresso
02. Wish
03. Mandrake
04. Esnuria
05. Night Illusion
06. Flute & Percussion Duet
07. Percolations
08. Shadows Of
09. Expresso Reprise
10. Gattox

Didier Malherbe - Sax, flutes
Allan Holdsworth - guitar
Francis Moze - bass
Pierre Moerlen - drums, percussion
Benoit Moerlen - vibraphone
Mireille Bauer - vibraphone, marimba
Mino Cinelli - percussion

FLAC - Gong_1976-10-25_France_FLAC.rar

Mp3 - Gong_1976-10-25_France_mp3.rar

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Gong - 1974-11-04 - Postaula, Bremen, Germany

Postaula, Bremen, Germany

Pre-FM Recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Going back to the early days of Soft Machine, when singer-guitarist Daevid Allen was denied re-entry into the UK following a French tour (1967), he settled in Paris, and along with his partner, vocalist Gilli Smyth, formed a new band, called Gong. Although both the personnel and style of the band shifted regularly through the early years and their first album (Magick Brother, 1970), by their 2nd album, Camembert Electrique (1971), they had established the sort of hippie, progressive, psychedelic/space-rock they became known for. Their next three albums (Flying Teapot-1972, Angel's Egg-1973, and You-1974) comprise the continuing story of their Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, which chronicles the adventures of Zero the Hero, the Good Witch Yoni and the Pot Head Pixies from the Planet Gong (yes, it's that kind of band), and is generally considered the prime period of Gong. Although lineups still fluctuated regularly, this period featured the classic lineup of Daevid Allen (vovals, guitar), joined by Steve Hillage (guitar), Mike Howlett (bass), Didier Malherbe (saxes, flute), Tim Blake (synthesizers), Pierre Moerlen (drums, percussion), Mirelle Bauer (percussion), and Gilli Smyth (vocal improvisations). Most of this form of the band also participated in recording Steve Hillage's first solo album, Fish Rising, around this time. However, this stage of the band came to an end when in 1975, Daevid Allen suddenly refused to go on stage citing a "wall of force" preventing him doing so, and abruptly quit the band. Gong continued without him (and Tim Blake, who had quit earlier) but Steve Hillage was increasingly uncomfortable in the band without Allen, and left during the recording of their next album, Shamal (1976). At that time, the band was split into 2 factions, with Howlett wanting to continue with vocals, and Moerlen and his cohorts pushing for an all instrumental, more jazz fusion-focused band. Moerlen won out and began shaping the band into a mallet percussion-based progressive jazz-rock band. The first album under this new direction was Gazeuse! (1976, re-titled Expresso in North America). Although the band retained the name Gong for an additional album, Expresso II (1978), due to contractual reasons, this band had little in common with the original Gong, and subsequently changed it's name to Pierre Moerlen's Gong for all subsequent albums (more on them later). But Daevid Allen was not quite finished with Gong-related bands either, and would form and/or encourage several other incarnations in subsequent years, forming Planet Gong from Here & Now in 1977 and New York Gong in 1979, and Gilli Smyth (with Allen's approval) also formed Mother Gong around this time, all keeping the Gong sound going. In later years, Allen started Gongmaison in 1989, which eventually went back to just being Gong permanently in 1992, and has continued on in various forms since then, even after the deaths of Daevid Allen (2015) and Gilli Smyth (2016).
Here we have a great Pre-FM recording from the tale end of the classic period of the band, in late 1974 touring to support You, and featuring a variety of pieces from their Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy, and various weirdness    

01. Magick Mother Invocation / Master Builder
02. Perfect Mystery
03. Tropical Fish
04. I Never Glid Before
05. Sun Song (I Love It's Holy Mystery)
06. Flute Salad
07. Oily Way
08. Outer Temple Gliss
09. Inner Temple Gliss
    Gliss Gliss (Flying Teapot)
    A Sprinkling Of Clouds
10. You Can't Kill Me
11. On The Isle Of Everywhere
12. Get It Inner
13. Ya Never Blow Your Trip Forever
14. Why Don't You Try

Daevid Allen (guitar,voc)
Steve Hillage (guitar,voc)
Mike Howlett (guitar, bass)
Didier Malherbe (sax,flute)
Tim Blake (synth)
Laurie Allen (drums)
Miquette Giraudy (voc,dance)
Lisa Bois (percussion)
Venus Deluxe (Sound mixing)

FLAC - Gong_1974-11-04_Bremen_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Gong_1974-11-04_Bremen_mp3.rar

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Soft Machine - 1975-01-10 - Enschede, The Netherlands

Soft Machine
Vrijhof Cultuurcentrum, Universiteit Twente
Enschede, The Netherlands

Soundboard recording (unknown lineage), very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

Continuing with Soft Machine and the Canterbury Scene in the '70's: With original drummer Robert Wyatt's departure in late 1971 (and the formation of his new band, Matching Mole), followed by the loss of reeds man Elton Dean, Mike Ratledge was the last original member of the band left to carry on. So, in came John Marshall (drums) and Karl Jenkins (reeds, keyboards) for the recording of their sixth album (Six, 1973), and a further progression into jazz fusion. Bassist Hugh Hopper was then replaced by Roy Babbington for Seven (1973) as Jenkins took over the role of leader and primary composer. In 1975, another major change took place with the addition of fusion guitarist Alan Holdsworth, marking the debut of guitar as a prominent melody instrument to the band's sound, and the release of Bundles (1975). Although Holdsworth didn't stay long, guitar remained a prominent sound on their subsequent album Softs (1976), with John Etheridge replacing Holdsworth. But this was essentially the end of Soft Machine (for the time being), as original member Ratledge left during the recording of that album. However, the band did continue to tour into 1978. In the '80's, various members put together short-lived variations on the band, and later ('90's, '00's), various combinations and reunions of sorts formed under such band names as Soft Ware, Soft Works, and Soft Machine Legacy. Soft Machine Legacy was the longest-lasting of these (with John Etheridge, Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, and John Marshall) releasing several albums through the mid-2000's, and continuing on even after further member losses (Dean died in 2006, replaced by Theo Travis; Hopper died in 2009, replaced by Roy Babbington), all the way to 2015. In 2015, the remaining band (Etheridge, Travis, Babbington, Marshall) went back to the original name, Soft Machine, and continues right up to the present day. The music featured here today is from the 1975 lineup that featured Alan Holdsworth and Karl Jenkins.
CD 1
1. The Floating World
2. Bundles
3. Land Of The Bag Snake
4. Ealing Comedy
5. The Man Who Waved At Trains
6. Peff
7. North Point
8. Hazard Profile Pt. 1
9. Hazard Profile Pt. 2
10. Hazard Profile Pt. 3
11. Hazard Profile Pt. 4
12. Hazard Profile Pt. 5
CD 2
1. Four Gongs Two Drums
2. Improv 1
3. audience
4. Song Of Aeolus
5. Improv 2
6. Dave DiMartino interview with Mike Ratledge & Allan Holdsworth
   (East Lansing, Michigan, 3 November 1974)

Allan Holdsworth - guitar
Mike Ratledge - organ, synth
Karl Jenkins - oboe, sax, recorder, piano
Roy Babbington - bass
John Marshall - drums

FLAC - Soft Machine_1975-01-10_Enschede_Netherlands_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Soft Machine_1975-01-10_Enschede_Netherlands_mp3.rar

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Soft Machine - 1970-1971 - Rotterdam, Breda, The Netherlands

Soft Machine
De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Het Turfschip, Breda, Netherlands

Soundboard recordings, very good quality
Rotterdam show available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions
Breda show only available as Mp3 (320 kbps)

Soft Machine (originally The Soft Machine) were one of the pioneering psychedelic/progressive rock bands of the '60's with a free-form improvisational style that paved the way for what would become jazz-rock fusion. Originally formed in London in 1966 by Daevid Allen (guitar), Kevin Ayers (bass, guitar, vocals), Robert Wyatt (drums), and Mike Ratledge (organ, keyboards), Soft Machine were involved in the early UK Underground scene and developed a growing reputation around Europe. However, this form of the band didn't last long, as when returning from a series of gigs in France in 1967, Daevid Allen (an Australian) was denied entry to the UK due to overstaying his visa. So, Allen was out and went back to Paris and formed another influential prog rock band, Gong (more about them later). Soft Machine continued on as a trio for awhile, recording and releasing their first album (The Soft Machine, 1968), considered an essential root album of psychedelic/progressive rock/jazz fusion. However, Kevin Ayers also left the band (to record a solo album) following a successful US tour (as the opening act for Jimi Hendrix) in 1968, and was later replaced by Hugh Hopper, for the recording of their 2nd album (Volume Two, 1969). At this time they transitioned away from the more psychedelic aspects to all instrumental and more of a pure jazz fusion style. Saxophonist Elton Dean was added in late 1969 and this lineup remained for their next 2 albums (Third-1970, Fourth-1971). Third was notable for its 4 extended suites (One per side of the double album), and became their best-selling and one of their most famous albums. This is the timeframe of the included shows here, from late 1970 and early 1971 following the release of each of these albums featuring this line-up. But shortly after this, the line-up would change again, as Wyatt left the band before the end of 1971, and Dean would also leave in 1972, leaving Mike Ratledge as the only original member going forward. Soft Machine was one of the early and central bands of what became known as the Canterbury Scene, which referred to a loose assemblage of intertwined bands and musicians originally based in and around the Canterbury region in the '60's and early '70's, that developed their own improvisational progressive style, incorporating a certain whimsicality with touches of psychedelia into a progressive rock/jazz fusion. Other notable Canterbury scene bands included Gong, Caravan, Hatfield and the North, and National Health (more from some of these later). So, here is Soft Machine and the progressive-proto jazz fusion era of Wyatt, Ratledge, Hopper, and Dean. 
01. Teeth  8:26
02. Slightly All the Time > Kings And Queens  16:17
03. Esther's Nose Job  10:38
1971-03-15 (incomplete)
04. Facelift
05. Virtually
06. Fletcher’s Blemish
07. Out-Bloody-Rageous
08. Eamonn Andrews
09. All White
10. Pigling Bland

Elton Dean - alto sax, saxello
Hugh Hopper - bass
Mike Ratledge - keyboards
Robert Wyatt - drums

FLAC (1970-10-24 show only) - Soft Machine_1970-10-24_Rotterdam_FLAC.rar

Mp3 - (both shows together) - Soft Machine_1970-1971_Rotterdam,Breda_Netherlands_Mp3.rar

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Decade of BB

Quality Music Blog for a Tenth of a Century

Before continuing with posts for my current Tribute to Progressive Rock feature, I must take time out to acknowledge a rather momentous occasion, the tenth anniversary of this blog. Yes, that's right, believe it or not, the BB Chronicles has managed to stick around for a whole ten years! In blog years that's almost like 100. Ok, so, it may not be that much, but it is something, and it has survived long after so many other music blogs have come and gone. So, here we are, after 10 years, and although I post at a somewhat sporadic rate, we have covered a whole lot over the years, from features covering country-rock to pub rock to power pop to progressive rock, from The Kinks to Neil Young to Genesis to Tom Petty, from local to international music scenes, the obscure to the mega-popular, from Aliotta Haynes and Jeremiah to Steve Goodman to Golden Smog to The Vulgar Boatmen, from Aimee Mann to Zoe Daschanel, from The Grays to The Beatles, from America to Wilco, etc., and everything in between, on several hundred music posts, hundreds of thousands of downloads, and millions of pageviews, and it's all still here (mostly). And what I have put out here is some really quality stuff, all music and artists that I personally enjoy very much, and many of these shows are (or at least were) not readily available elsewhere. I try to provide some background and context to the music and artists, as well as my own commentary, rather than just unadorned music files, to give those new to these artists some perspective and history, to explore the music further. And in that sense I hope that what I have provided here has been useful and worthwhile, as well as musically satisfying. And so, I am somewhat proud of what I have assembled here over the past decade, and I hope it has been something that you come back to often and have been introduced to some new music here that you really enjoy, to expand your musical horizons and enjoyment, and be a positive addition to your musical experience as well as your music collection.

And once again, as I have each year at this time, I also want to take this time to thank and celebrate all the others out there who have made so much of this great music, which is not available for purchase anywhere, freely available to all who wish to download and enjoy it. I am only able to offer these downloads because others before me have made them available. So, to all the other bloggers, tapers, forum posters, and music fans that have collected these recordings and made them available over the internet, and most importantly, to all the great artists and musicians out there that have created and performed this wonderful music and allow these recordings to be freely exchanged, I offer a huge and heartfelt Thank You. And again, I implore everyone to purchase all the official releases of your favorite artists, as well as, wherever possible, go see them live in concert. The music here serves to supplement, not replace, all of their officially released music. They are supported by fans like us.

So, I plan to continue on with this little endeavor for as long as possible, such as it is. Perhaps part of my secret to longevity is that I don't spend an inordinate amount of time working on this (just what I can spare at the moment), thus I have not gotten burned out from it. Anyway, I very much enjoy doing it, just have a limited amount of time I can devote to it. But I will always strive to provide new and interesting content that is generally not readily available from many of the the other music blogs. As I've said previously, I do wish I could get more comments, feedback, and discussion from you, the readers of this blog. Please, let me know what you think of what is here, provide your own insight and perspective, and some real discussion of some of this great music. I would love to hear and see more from you, if possible. So, for know, I'll just keep things going as they are, and I hope you will stop by occasionally, check it out, and and join me on this journey. Thanks to all.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Gentle Giant - 1975-01-27 - Agora Theater, Cleveland, OH

Gentle Giant
The Agora, Cleveland, OH

FM Broadcast (WMMS-FM) Recording, very good quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and mp3 (320 kbps) versions

OK, to start my tribute to progressive rock (featuring its breadth of scope and some of the excellent but less commercially successful artists), here we have Gentle Giant, for no other reason than they were where my progressive rock concert experience started. The first official rock concert I attended (other than local events at high school, etc.) was a Procol Harum show at the Kinetic Playground in Chicago, IL, on April 13, 1973 (almost exactly 45 years ago). Gentle Giant was the opening act, and let's just say I was mightily impressed by them, their musical style, and their multi-instrumental versatility (I remember, in particular, being completely blown away by the 4-part recorder section of 'The Advent in Panurge' (which can be heard in the recording featured here in the 'Excerpts from Octopus' track).
Gentle Giant was formed in Portsmouth, UK, in 1970 by the musically diverse, multi-instrumentalist Shulman Brothers, Phil (sax, trumpet, clarinet, etc.), Derek (sax, recorder), and Ray (bass, violin), after some frustrating earlier experiences with various pop and soul bands, when they teamed up with a couple other talented multi-instrumentalistst, Gary Green (guitar, mandolin, recorder, etc.) and Kerry Minnear (keyboards, vibes, cello, etc.). What set Gentle Giant apart from other aspiring progressive rock bands of the time was their versatility and musicality, their complex and sophisticated musical structure, and incorporation of a wide swath of musical styles, including folk, jazz, blues, soul, and classical. And even their "classical" influences were more diverse, incorporating medieval, baroque, and modernist styles in addition to the more common Romantic period classics. Minnear, in particular, was classically trained, with a degree in composition. Their compositions are adventurous and challenging, and perfect for progressive rock. Their only weakness is that, although almost all members sing and do multi-part harmonies, none of them have a great lead voice (although it has infamously been told that Elton John auditioned for and was turned down as lead vocalist). Through their first 2 albums (Gentle Giant-1970, Acquiring the Taste-1971), they were experimenting and finding their sound, but not finding much of an audience. Their pursuit of musicianship didn't fit the mainstream styles of the time. Their stated aim on Acquiring the Taste was to "expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music at the risk of becoming very unpopular". Their next album, Three Friends (1972) was their first concept album, and also first released in the U.S.   For the band's first tour in the U.S. later that year, they were unfortunately booked as the opening act for Black Sabbath, and were not greeted well (mostly booed) by Sabbath fans. Their next album, Octopus (1972-UK, 1973-US), perhaps their best album, marked the beginning of their peak years. For their US tour this time (Spring 1973), they were paired with Procol Harum, a much better audience for them (and where I saw them). Although Phil left following the Octopus tour (couldn't handle touring),  the band continued with a couple more powerful concept albums (In a Glass House-1973, The Power and The Glory-1974), and were building a solid following, although never quite breaking through commercially. By 1975, with a change in record labels and the album Free Hand, they started to try to polish their sound and style to reach a wider audience, resulting in their most successful album to date. But further moves over the next few years to simplify and streamline their songs to achieve a more accessible pop sound (and wider audience) resulted in diminishing returns, and the band eventually split in 1980. But, throughout their career, their live shows have always been sensational and much appreciated by the progressive fans. Although there have been many calls for reunions over the years, there has been no official Gentle Giant reunions, albeit a few unofficial partial ones for specific events. I think this is another one of those bands that are looked back on with much more love and respect now than when they were originally around. So, here is a concert from those peak years, a very nice sounding FM broadcast from 1975, from The Power and The Glory Tour (Unfortunately, I could not find any recordings from the 1973 tour I saw them on, but this one is very good). 

1. Cogs in Cogs
2. Proclamation ->
3. Funny Ways
4. The Runaway ->
5. Experience
6. Excerpts from Octopus
7. So Sincere ->
8. drums
9. Mr. Class & Quality ->
10. Valedictory

Derek Shulman: vocals, mulberry, saxophone, recorder, bass, percussion
Ray Shulman: bass, acoustic guitar, violin, recorder, percussion, vocals
Kerry Minnear: keyboards, cello, recorder, vibes, percussion, acoustic guitar, vocals
Gary Green: guitar, recorder, percussion, vocals
John ‘Pugwash’ Weathers: drums, percussion, vibes

FLAC - Gentle Giant_1875-01-27_Cleveland(FM)_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Gentle Giant_1875-01-27_Cleveland(FM)_mp3.rar

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Progressive Rock Lives On (Part 2)

Some background on progressive rock

Most agree that progressive rock started in the mid-60's, with the exploration and experimentation of The Beatles (Revolver, Sgt. Peppers) and other bands (The Byrds, Beach Boys, Mothers of Invention etc.), and then grew out of the psychedelic music phase of that time. Bands were searching for new sounds and styles, the more avant-garde and eclectic the better, for "tripping" with or without drugs. Now, just what defines progressive rock has been hotly debated ever since the term was invented, but as I noted previously, I take a much more inclusive attitude toward progressive rock than many (which I think is in the spirit of what progressive rock is all about). So, for me, the basics are that it constitutes a synthesis of rock with at least one or more other musical genres, and that the structure is more complex or experimental than traditional rock, in that it involves experimenting with compositional structure, instrumentation, harmony and rhythm, and/or lyrical content. Some progressive bands formed at that time incorporated classical music and themes (Procol Harum, Moody Blues, The Nice), others incorporated more jazz (Traffic, Frank Zappa), while others explored more of a psychedelic space-rock (Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Gong), and still others transformed the folk revival into various forms of electric folk or progressive folk-rock (Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steelyeye Span). By 1968, an explosion of new bands exploring some form of progressive rock emerged (Can, Caravan, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Gong, King Crimson, Rush, van der Graaf Generator, Yes, etc.), with more following in 1969-70 (Atomic Rooster, Eloy, ELO, ELP, Focus, Gentle Giant, Hawkwind, Renaissance, Stackridge, Supertramp, Triumvirat, etc). By the early 1970's, progressive rock had fully arrived, with many of the classic albums of the genre being released, having greater impact on album sales, and becoming ever more popular and more accepted by mainstream rock fans (even resulting in some hit singles!). The bands emerging with the greatest sales, success, and popularity were Pink Floyd (after Dark Side of the Moon), Jethro Tull, ELP, Yes, and The Moody Blues, with Genesis and King Crimson possibly being the most acclaimed, but more cult faves than mass audience successes at that point. This lead to even more bands with a progressive edge as well as bands diversifying and incorporating progressive rock themes into other genres, particularly jazz-rock/fusion (Steely Dan, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jean-Luc Ponty, Return to Forever, Weather Report) and pop-rock (ELO, Kansas, Styx, Boston, Journey, Foreigner) through the mid-to late 70's. This was a very interesting time in rock music history, as many different styles or subgenres were all active and successful at the same time. Think about it, in the mid-70's, in addition to the peak of progressive rock, we had the singer-songwriter wave (Neil Young, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, etc.) going strong, country-rock making waves (Eagles, Poco, Pure Prairie League, SHF Band, etc.), classic rockers (The Who, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Zeppelin) still strong, emerging rockers (Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty) just starting out, London's pub-rock scene transitioning into Punk rock (Sex Pistols, The Damned, etc.), and in the dance clubs, Disco was king (?). All these types of music were popular and present on the radio, at the record stores, and in concert, at the same time, and they all had their audience and all were succeeding (and that's not even mentioning power pop and R&B, which were also doing just fine).

But by the end of the 70's, things were changing; In both the record industry and radio, the time of exploration and experimenting was over, emphasis shifted to slick production, commercial sound, and shorter catchy songs. Radio stations became more corporate entities with strict formats and controlled playlists, big record companies were no longer interested in signing bands or releasing albums with long meandering songs that would not get played on the radio. But progressive rock persisted and carried on, albeit in a less prominent role (Those that insist punk rock killed off progressive rock are just wrong, they coexisted just fine, but changes in the music industry affected both types quite drastically). At the beginning of the '80's, there was more fragmentation and diversification of styles, with all those earlier influences melding into a few distinctive trends. In a way, punk sort of merged with pop and progressive rock to yield many of the "new wave" bands (you can't tell me that bands like Talking Heads and XTC are not progressive at their core).  Although many of the 'old' progressive bands had or were disbanding, others re-grouped and re-focused their sound and style to better fit in with the changing times. Genesis and Yes, after substantial personnel changes, focused on shorter songs and a more commercial pop sound, and started generating hit records, but still maintained their progressive core. King Crimson also re-formed with a tighter sound and style, but still was very much a progressive rock band, as was Pink Floyd. Although certainly not as dominant a style (or nearly as many bands pursuing it), progressive rock continued throughout the '80's. For some cases, like with Genesis, with former members (such as Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips, etc) now regularly putting out their own solo progressive albums, there were more progressive rock albums being released by old faves. Some new prog rock groups, such as Marillion and Saga, did form around that time, as well as bands such as Asia and GTR, which featured former members from various prog rock bands, and they tended to play a mixture of retro prog rock and more streamlined commercial fair. In the '90's, there was another wave of new progressive rock bands, such as The Flower Kings, Glass Hammer, and Spock's Beard, continuing in the tradition of the '70's bands but with an updated sound, but they were generally relegated to the fringes and only known by their cult following. Other bands with decidedly progressive leanings, such as Radiohead, openly rejected or denied any association with progressive rock. In the 2000's there was another wave of heavier, more aggressive progressive rock bands, such as System of a Down, Coheed and Cambria, and Mars Volta, keeping progressive rock active. Even more recently, bands such as Stick Men (featuring current and former King Crimson bandmates) and Knifeworld are putting their own spin and updates on the progressive rock scene. Now, some insist on specifically categorizing all these different eras of progressive rock as distinctly different entities, such as early prog as 'proto-progressive', later stuff as 'post-progressive', then 'neo-progressive' and 'new progressive', etc., but come on, it's all progressive rock, why nit-pick that way. So, progressive rock has not only survived through the decades, it has flourished, albeit with peaks and valleys, it has been influential to so many other styles and sub-genres over the years, and has remained tremendously popular. How else could bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Moody Blues, and countless others, not to mention the individual former members and the various tribute bands, still be around and performing today (and primarily performing songs from the 'golden' days), even with all the personnel changes and re-grouping?

Although there have been progressive bands of all types, kinds, and styles over the years, whenever people talk about progressive rock, they usually refer to just a handful of bands that were the biggest or made the most impact, and they are the big half dozen or so: Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and perhaps The Moody Blues and Rush. Those bands have all been very well-covered already, and there are lots of recordings of their concerts and music available all over the internet. So, in this current feature on progressive rock, I won't be posting any music from any of them (besides, I have already posted quite a bit of Genesis and ELP, and the others are readily available). Instead, I will focus on some of the other progressive rock bands that may not have gotten as much attention as the Big Names. So, over the next several weeks, I'll be featuring various shows from different worthwhile progressive bands, spanning the history of the progressive rock movement. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Long Live Progressive Rock!

Progressive Rock Lives On (Part 1)

I grew up listening to and marveling at progressive rock music. It was at the center of my musical development, as my formative musical consciousness years (junior high through college) coincided with the heyday of progressive rock (1968-1978). Although I liked many kinds of music, progressive rock was the most intriguing, enticing, stimulating, enchanting, and exhilarating. It was about exploration, innovation, and creativity, bringing new and varied styles and influences, breaking down rock conventions to create new and wondrous musical worlds. The complex structures and musical intricacies had me enthralled for countless hours and re-listens. To me, it represented the development and future of rock into whatever we wanted to make it. That's why I am always surprised by the often hostile, derisive, and dismissive backlash it has received over the years. Now, I know that for many, progressive rock represents a a subgenre of rock with a specific style and sound, with numerous cliches that define it, that was confined to a brief period of time (some refer to just 1970-1975?). They say the genre consists of overlong songs and solos, weird concept albums and fantasy lyrics, overly complicated and annoying rhythms and instrumental passages, and an obsessive dedication to technical skill. But that's such an oversimplification, and mostly wrong. Progressive rock is based on fusions of styles, approaches, and genres, integrating major components of folk, jazz, and classical music into classic rock. It covers a broad spectrum of sounds and styles, so cannot be summarily dismissed by objecting to specific traits that may apply to a select few bands. Progressive rock isn't a genre, or confined to a particular sound or style, it is an attitude, a concept, a movement; it represents the freedom and desire to create new music through exploration of nontraditional sounds and influences from many musical genres and styles. What most people who denigrate or dismiss progressive rock are referring to is a rather small subset and purposely extreme caricature of what progressive rock represents. Look, I can understand people who don't like a particular band or style of progressive rock, but not condemning all of progressive rock. For example, if you can't stand Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (ELP), or King Crimson, or whoever, fine, but they are just a small part of what progressive rock is, and there may be many bands and styles that are also within the realm of progressive rock that you would really like. Sure, just like with any other broad classification, some "progressive rock" is pure crap, but much of it is also quite wonderful. Anything that incorporates alot of exploration and experimentation is destined to produce some things that just don't work, resulting in some terrible stuff, but also much that goes very right, producing some glorious sounds, styles, and compositions. I, for one, love the complex rhythms, intricate harmonies and melodies, and compositions evolving and developing in varying directions and unusual chord progressions that are present in many progressive rock songs.

OK, so you may ask, what has prompted this praise (I won't call it a defense) of the glories of progressive rock? Well, last summer, there was an article in The New Yorker ('The Persistence of Progressive Rock', by Kelefa Sanneh, link here) that was featured and passed around many of the online news feeds (Yahoo, MSN,etc.) for quite some time, that sort of pissed me off with it's attitude toward progressive rock (and I've been quietly fuming about it ever since, but just hadn't had time to write about it). And actually, I believe the author sincerely thought he was being supportive, but was so dismissive and condescending, with back-handed compliments amid outright insults. The piece's theme was basically that despite the 'bad reputation' and how 'reviled' and despised the genre is, it has somehow persisted and still has many fans (The subtitle of the article was "Critics think that the genre was an embarrassing dead end. So why do fans and musicians still love it?"). The piece is filled with misrepresentation and a misguided notion of just what progressive rock is all about. Ostensibly, the article is meant to be a review of sorts of the recent book on progressive rock, The Show That Never Ends, by David Weigel, who is usually a political reporter for the Washington Post, but now thinks he has something to say about the problems with and joys of progressive rock. However, although Sanneh references and quotes Weigel's book, as well as several previous tomes on progressive rock, most of the piece seems to be Sanneh's own analysis of 'prog rock' (I always hated that demeaning abbreviation. If you're gonna shorten it like that, why not 'prock'?). I haven't read Weigel's book (and probably won't), but I have read some of his articles on prog rock in Slate and other mags, and am not impressed. Both Sanneh and Weigel have that same very narrow definition of what constitutes progressive rock, thus restricting its designation to specific examples that further their desired points. And Weigel, in particular, seems to proudly parade around this impression that progressive rock is despised by all but its devoted fans as if it is some sort of demented badge of honor. The overall message of Sanneh's essay can be summed up in the following excerpt:
 "Progressive rock was repudiated by what came next: disco, punk, and the disco-punk genre known as New Wave. Unlike prog rock, this music was, respectively, danceable, concise, and catchy. In the story of popular music, as conventionally told, progressive rock was at best a dead end, and at worst an embarrassment, and a warning to future musical generations: don’t get carried away."
There is so much wrong with these sentences, it's excruciating. First, disco and punk didn't 'follow' prog rock, they all occurred around the same time in the '70's, and was not 'repudiated' at all. These types of music all coexisted, as they had, for the most part, distinctly different audiences. Although it's true that progressive rock was not 'danceable' or 'concise', and mostly, not very 'catchy', it was not meant to be, as it was meant to be listened to and enjoyed for what it was. And, come on, new wave was definitely NOT a mixture of disco and punk. It was much more of mixture of punk, pop, and progressive rock (Think bands like Talking Heads and XTC, who were definitely more on the progressive rock side). But the most egregious statement here, that progressive rock was 'at best a dead end', is utter nonsense, as progressive rock was exactly the opposite, it was a gateway. Progressive rock opened the doors and made possible virtually all the trends in rock that followed (including new wave, jam bands, alt-rock, prog metal, etc.). It continued to shape and influence rock for decades to come as well as be an active force in and of itself. Yes, it's true that some prog rockers did get 'carried away' in thinking that they were creating a higher art form, but there is no doubt that progressive rock was responsible for expanding rock into so much more than the standard format that had carried it from the 1950's. The legacy and continued development of progressive rock deserves more than the restrictive stereotypes and misrepresentation of what was and is a great chapter in rock history. 'Embarrassment'? Give me a break. Progressive rock produced some of the greatest bands and greatest rock albums of all time. Sanneh repeatedly points out how 'critics' despised progressive rock, but never mentions that these were just some critics, as many others highly praised many of the top bands and albums associated with progressive rock. Admittedly, a few very prominent rock critics, such as Lester Bangs (Rolling Stone) and Robert Christgau (Village Voice) were the primary voices condemning the prog rock trends, whereas many other critics and popular voices wholeheartedly supported them. Eventually, Sanneh provides his own recommendations regarding what modern day listeners should turn to if interested in checking out progressive rock themselves: He suggests ignoring ELP completely, and checking out what he considers the best of progressive rock, Yes' Close to the Edge, or if you can handle it, King Crimson's Red (my take: ignoring ELP would definitely be a mistake; yes, Close to the Edge is a great album, but it is not even Yes' best - I would rank both The Yes Album and Fragile above it - let alone the best of progressive rock; as for King Crimson, I could never really quite get fully into them. Although I admired their musicianship and much of what they did, they just never moved me and was only rarely what I wanted to listen to. For me personally, Genesis was the best overall, with Foxtrot and Selling England by the Pound at the very top, followed by The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - For an individual extended composition showing all of what was special about progressive rock, my choice would be 'Supper's Ready', the 23 minute epic from Foxtrot).
Anyway, what struck me most when reading the Sanneh article was what younger generations must think of all this. Is this the primary source of information young people have about this music and this era? I was there, I know that this misrepresents what was going on, but for those that weren't there - how can they view this music as presented here as anything but silly and ridiculous, or have any interest in checking it out for themselves? (it also seemed clear to me that these authors - Sanneh and Weigel - were not around at the time this music was being made.) And that is primarily why I felt I needed to do a feature on progressive rock, and tell the other side of the story. So, over the next several weeks I will feature a varied selection of progressive rock, from the '60's all the way up to the present day.

(To be continued in next post)