Sunday, October 28, 2018

Mike Oldfield (& Friends) - 1973-06-25 - London - Tubular Bells Live Premiere Concert

Mike Oldfield (& Friends)
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, UK
Tubular Bells Live Premiere Concert

 Pre-FM Broadcast recording, excellent quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

And now, we come to perhaps the most surprising and unlikely pioneer, architect, and icon of  Progressive Rock, the shy, reclusive master guitarist-composer-multi-instrumentalist, Mike Oldfield. Born in Reading, UK in 1953, Mike taught himself to play guitar while still a child, and by 13 was writing extended compositions and playing at folk clubs as well as part of a beat group. He formed a folk duo with his sister Sally (The Sallyangie), got a record deal and released a folk album at 15. Following that, he was in a rock band, Barefoot, with his older brother Terry. In 1970, he joined Kevin Ayer's backing band, The Whole World, which also featured keyboardist David Bedford, as well as playing guitar in the musical Hair and also playing with Alex Harvey around this time. By 1971 (and still a teenager), he had also made a series of solo home demo tapes featuring extended instrumental compositions and multiple overdubbed parts (the beginnings of 'Tubular Bells') that he tried to shop around to any record label that would take on the project, but he was rejected by them all. That is, until September 1971, when playing as a session musician at a recording session at Manor Studios, he played some of his tapes for engineers Tom Newman and Simon Heyworth, who liked them and brought them to young entrepreneur Richard Branson, who owned the studio (and was also interested in starting his own record company). Branson was impressed enough with the tapes to give Oldfield one week's worth of recording time at the studio to record his work.
          At the end of that week, Oldfield had completed what he then called 'Opus One' (which later became 'Part One' of  'Tubular Bells'), a 25+ minute instrumental composition in which Oldfield played all the parts himself (over twenty different instruments) in numerous overdubs, and that defied all categorization, as it combined elements of folk, rock, classical, etc., into a seamless meandering tone poem that introduced main themes and variations before moving on to other themes and variations, and presented with new and different sounds and styles throughout. However, the second part ('Part Two') took much longer to complete because now Mike had to record in the studio off-hours and when it wasn't booked by others. By early 1973, the complete work was finished (Mike still only 19), and by this time it was decided that Tubular Bells would be the first release of Branson's new record company, Virgin Records. It was released on May 25, 1973, and was a truly groundbreaking release, re-defining what 'progressive rock' could be, and unlike any album previous released within the pop-rock world. Although it received near-unanimous praise, it still did not quite fit in anywhere, and rock critics in particular were more subdued in their reception because they did not consider it 'rock' at all. Following the album release, Branson planned a live concert event to promote the album, but Oldfield was reluctant to perform, and tried to back out right up until the concert date (It's been told that Branson gave Oldfield his Bentley on the trip down to the concert in London to keep Oldfield from backing out)  That show, a live concert performance of the entire album, with Oldfield and numerous guest musicians and session players, including other 'progressive' artists such as Kevin Ayers, Steve Hillage, Pierre Moerlen, David Bedford, as well as Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones, was performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on June 25, 1973 and broadcast live on the BBC (and that is the performance that is presented here). By most accounts the performance was a success, but Oldfield himself was not happy with it and only performed live a few times over the next several years.

     The album became quite popular in England, but was too eclectic for the U.S. and did not attract much attention until much later in 1973, when, quite by accident, the opening theme of the album was used in the the most talked about film of the year, William Friedkin's The Exorcist. After the exposure from the film, the album became a huge International hit, (selling over 15 million copies worldwide). This was also a groundbreaking and world-changing album for me personally (and BTW, I heard and bought the album long before The Exorcist film came out), shaping my musical world and the possibilities of where progressive rock could take you. Just magical. Oldfield followed this masterpiece with a couple more albums that, although not receiving the same level of success or popularity, were just as wonderful, accomplished, evocative, and inspiring (and some would say even better than TB, although different in their own ways), in Hergest Ridge (1974) and Ommadawn (1975), and these three albums solidified his early, impressive career. So, here now, is that first live concert premiering Tubular Bells to the World, as it was presented back in 1973.  

01. Tubular Bells (Part One)
02. Tubular Bells (Part Two)

Musicians for Queen Elizabeth Hall performance:
Mike Oldfield – acoustic and electric guitars, bass, Lowrey organ, mandolin, "prehistoric poem"
Kevin Ayers – bass guitar
David Bedford – grand piano, accordion, organ, choir master, string arrangements
Steve Broughton – drums
Jon Field – flute
Fred Frith – electric guitar, bass guitar
John Greaves – Davoli electric piano, Farfisa organ, tin whistle, Vox organ
Nick Haley – violin
Tim Hodgkinson – Farfisa organ, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Vox organ
Steve Hillage – electric guitar
Simon Ingram Hill – cello, organ
Geoff Leigh (misspelt on the programme as "Jeff Leig") – flute
Ashley Mason – viola
Pierre Moerlen – cymbals, glockenspiel, gongs, tam-tam, tubular bells, timpani
Tom Newman – nasal chorus
Terry Oldfield – flute
Ted Speight – electric guitar
Vivian Stanshall – master of ceremonies
Mick Taylor – electric guitar
Janet Townley – violin
Vulpy – viola
Girlie Chorus: Sarah Greaves, Kathy Williams, Sally Oldfield, Maureen Rossini, Lynette Asquith, Amanda Parsons, Maggie Thomas, Mundy Ellis, Julie Clive, Liz Gluck, Debbie Scott, Hanna Corker.

FLAC - Mike Oldfield_1973-06-25_London_FLAC.rar

mp3 - Mike Oldfield_1973-06-25_London_mp3.rar

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