Issue 1998-006Reviews in this issue:
- England (UK) - Last Of The Jubblies
- Blackmail - A Female Impersonator
- Nash The Slash - Blind Windows
- X Factor X - X Factor X
- Spektakel - Spektakel
- Landmarq - The Science Of Coincidence
- Within Temptation - The Dance
- Levin, Petrucci, Portnoy, Rudess - Liquid Tension Experiment
- Steve Hackett and Friends - The Tokyo Tapes
England (UK) - Last Of The Jubblies
Yes, England, the band that released that marvellous album Garden Shed in 1977. The tapes for the first, Japanese re-issue of that very rare LP, was taken from a heavily worn vinyl version, thus with a lot of irritating clicks. I think Robert Webb, keyboard player, got hold of a copy, realised there was still a lot of interest in the music, and thought it was time to get the master tapes out of his files and re-issue the disc properly. I still thank him for that.
Another result of this, probably, was that some time ago, Last Of The Jubblies was released, a collection of unreleased tracks, including some demo recordings. The CD is under forty minutes, which is a shame, but of course, it could be all of the recordings the band ever made. I'd like someone to assure me of this...
England are known for their very Genesis-influenced style. However, there are some differences. England, for example, paid more attention to the music than the lyrics. But when it comes to singing, I think England are more diverse in lead vocals as well as harmony vocals. Well, I am not talking about charisma, of course...
Most of the music is not as good as the songs on Garden Shed (so, a good choice what to put on that album, then...). A bit more song-structured tunes and less of the good bits with many things going on at once. For example, A One-Day Legged Tale (nine minutes) is not as interesting as thirteen-minute Three-Piece Suite from Garden Shed.
But there's still some really good stuff here. Tooting Bec Rape Case
contains a great gutar riff, and would have been great on Garden Shed.
Mister Meener lacks the genius that marks Garden Shed, but still is a good, and original song. The middle section contains strange keyboard sounds that can be heard on Paraphernalia as well.
The last track, Nanogram, contains something that reminds me of a track on Garden Shed, and is closest to that LP than any of the other songs on this CD. This is actually the best track. Er, wasn't this the B-side of the one and only single the band released?
I know, I compared a lot of this CD to England's original LP. But let's
face it, there's nothing else to compare it to. If there are any, I would love
to hear some live recordings.
This CD is not as essential as Garden Shed, but if you really like that album, you should get this one as well. It is available from Vinyl Tap Records, 1 Whitecloth Hall, Leeds LS1 7BR, United Kingdom.
Blackmail - A Female Impersonator
Swedish band Blackmail have been doing a lot of self-promotion lately. Nothing wrong with that of course. We even got a cop of their mini CD for a review. They describe their music as progressive metal. Nothing wrong with that either, but let me give you my own opinion on that.
There's four tracks on this disc, all in average length (four to five minutes). Song structures are a bit predictable, not a lot of variation. Well, there are some time changes (mainly during intros and breaks), but especially the sound of the guitar and vocals lack variation. Overall, this is not progressive metal.
Metal, sometimes slow (mostly during vocal parts), sometimes faster (soloing), but no prog. These guys take their music seriously, but have a lot of fun as well. The production is good for an independent release like this.
The label progressive metal is being used more and more lately - it seems to sell - and it is increasingly misleading. A nice disc, just not interesting for most DPRP readers.
Nash The Slash - Blind Windows
Nash The Slash is probably best known for his work as violin player of Canadian progrock band FM. He played, I think, on three of their albums, of which two (their first album Black Noise and RetroActive, recorded at the 1994 reunion gigs) are FM's best. (Forget about their AOR album Tonight.)
Since the late Seventies, Nash The Slash (his name is taken from a character in a Laurel And Hardy movie, who was a cut-throat, hence the name of Nash's record company...) also released solo albums of mainly electronic music. The first two have been re-released onto this CD, Blind Windows.
The first release was a 45 RPM, four-track 12" EP called Bedside Companion. When, later that year, Ben Marsden played this record on the radio, but at 33 RPM. Since the music is instrumental (I quote from the booklet), "the songs didn't sound any weirder, only slower and heavier". Listeners picked their favourite songs from both speeds. For that reason, Nash decided to put both versions, the original 45 RPM as well as the 33 RPM (now titled The Marsden Versions), onto this CD.
His second release was an LP called Dreams And Nightmares, and it is also on this CD in its entirety. Both albums contain a version of the song Blind Windows, which accounts for the title of this CD.
And what about the music? Well, I said it was electronics. Nash plays keyboards
and violin, and there is a lot you can do with those. Don't expect forty-minute
tracks a la Mike Oldfield or Klaus Schulze. No soundscapes, but real songs.
Although the songs were all recorded on four-track tapes, many things are going
on. Several layers of synthesizer sounds provide rhythm, harmony, and lead
I find this music far more interesting than, let's say, Oldfield's. Nash's music is a painting of moods, emotions. Moods change and so does his music. One minute dreamy, orchestral at times, the next aggresive, and then back to a dark and gloomy atmosphere, menacing. Actually, I find it very hard to compare this music to Oldfield at all...
I was afraid the 33 RPM versions would be too slow, but they are really great!
Like Nash says in the booklet, heavier.
A very nice piece is Un Chien Andalou, the soundtrack to the Salvador Dali film from the Twenties. There is an 1977 bootleg tape on which FM play this track as well. A nice comparison. :-)
Anyway, this is not your typical kind of prog. I don't know a lot about electronic music, but this sounds quite original to me. Wonderfully timeless.
This CD is available (if still, since I heard this album is going out of print) from Cut-Throat Records, 688 Yonge St. #66, Toronto M4Y 2A6, Canada.
X Factor X - X Factor X
When someone sends us a CD, the least we can do is reviewing it. But sometimes, this is not an enjoyable principle. This album by American band X Factor X is not for DPRP. It has nothing to do with progrock or any related genre at all.
X Factor X play hard rock. Nothing less, nothing more. There is nothing remotely melodic about is, except for a few tinkling of the ivories during the intro and some other tracks. The singing is a bit aggressive (which therefore fits the music), as are all the faces on the pictures in the CD booklet and press info. Hard rock image...
Remarkable how all the tracks are shorter than stated on the CD inlay; this ranges from one second to one minute and twenty seconds! This results in a CD of under forty minutes, which I always thought was the minimum for an LP...
The music (well, parts of it) reminds me of Metallica and, at
times, Living Colour. A bit of freaky play now and then, and a
lot of repetative riffs.
Well, the drumming is tight, the guitar playing rough plus some nice soloing, the singing / screaming is alright for this kind of music. For what seems to be an independent release, the production is very good. Unfortunately for them, this is the wrong web site for this kind of music.
Spektakel - Spektakel
For a (long) while, some of us were too busy on other things to do some serious reviewing. This disc is one of the victims, but I hope this review will be some comfort. I did not bear this in mind when I wrote this positive review - it's really a marvellous album! :-)
Wow, only four tracks in more than one hour! This must be progressive rock or what?! No kidding - just a stereotypical description of prog, but prog it is! Spektakel comprise of, among others, Eduard Schicke and Heinz Fröhling, known from the band they would form with Gerd Führs.
I'm beginning to understand the musical taste of Ken Golden, head of The Laser's Edge. A bit to the jazzy side, anything far from the kind of neo-prog that seems to please so many youngsters in this genre, musicianschip... And I like his taste! Ken has brought us some very fine re-releases of The Load and Finforrest for example, but also set great new band Somnambulist in the spotlight, where they can stay if you'd ask me.
So, if you like Ken's taste for prog, you are going to love this one as well. Spektakel was formed in 1969, and dissolved shortly after the recordings of this album (which remained unreleased, by the way) in 1974. The three tracks they recorded in the studio (sixteen, nine, and eighteen minutes) have been enriched by a live recording (twenty minutes).
Well, what about the music, then? Musical moods, atmospheric paintings, on which the musicians, who show a great feeling for music, play compositions which were clearly born during jams. The booklet says the musicians shared a love for the music of Deep Purple. This is a clear influence on the music, but more on the way of playing (emotional improvisations), than on the actual sound. Spektakel are not as heavy as their idols. Dark, even melancholic at times.
The singing, as this kind of music implies, take no starring role, but fits the music quite well - no accent, not too cheerful. Keyboards are omnipresent. Loads of Hammond and Mellotron! No real long solos as such, all the instrumentalists play a certain part in a great painting, or a story. The songs may be too long to your taste. Clearly, this is a band of young musicians.
Fans of SFF will enjoy this release without a doubt. I think that for this kind of music we have to go back to the early Seventies all the time. Thanks to people like Ken Golden the search for that becomes a lot easier now and then.
Landmarq - The Science Of Coincidence
At last! We have waited a long time for the new Landmarq, but here it is... To conclude this review right away, I could say it was well worth the wait! Well, it is, but let me tell you a bit more.
The first thing that strikes when listening to the eight tracks, is,
of course, the voice of Tracy Hitchings. It's not a big shock hearing
the band with a female singer, but it took a few minutes to realise I
was actually listening to Landmarq.
Her voice, of course, differs from Damian Wilson's. Maybe it's only her voice that is the difference, but maybe the band thought that with a change in line-up like this, they should also change the musical course a bit. You could also say that any band should at least try to change their course with every album. Whatever the reason might be, the music is a step from the songs on The Vision Pit, and I think it's a step forward.
The first track is the title track, which ends the Landmarq tradition of naming albums after a song to appear on the next album. This track is more typically neo-prog than any of the other songs. For that reason, not the best track to my taste, and for a first track, maybe not the best choice for an opening track, since it's not completely representative for the rest of the songs.
A song called 'The Vision Pit' honours the latest of the first three
albums and closing off an era. And what a song it is! The longest on the
album (over twelve minutes), it contains an instrumental part unheard
of! The instrumental passages have always been outstanding, but this
is a new landmark... The same things happens in the last track, The
Overlook (ten minutes) and Lighthouse (eleven minutes). These
three tracks all have an instrumental part about half the length of the
This kind of stuff will go down amazingly, in concert, I am sure! So many things are happening; wonderful guitar, and amazing keyboard solos. Not exactly new to this band, but the way they put it down to disc this time is high class prog!
Heritage and Between Sleeping And Dreaming are the quiet songs, but different from a song like Embrace. Summer Madness and More Flames For The Dancer are just very Landmarq. The first, a happy song with recognisable guitar melodies, in the way that you recognise it is Landmarq.
So, what we've got here is quite a diverse album. Hitchings' voice fits the music well, which is not very surprising, since she wrote most of the lyrics and all the vocal melodies herself. A new era for this band, and what a great way to start it... On stage, lady and gentlemen, please on stage!
Within Temptation - The Dance
Dutch band Within Temptation probably thought it has been a long time since they released their debut, Enter, so they'd better release something. This mini CD, The Dance contains three new tracks, two remixes of three songs from their debut CD, plus a CD-ROM track.
Let me save the best for last and tell you to forget about the remixes. The gloomy dark atmosphere that marks Within Temptation, is spoilt by an irritating rhythm track. I'd rather see a mini CD be filled with, for example, demo tracks, instead of this.
So, leaving out the remixes, from the 28 minutes of music, only 16 remain
interesting. These three new tracks, however, are what makes it worth buying
this CD. I knew The Dance from one of their live shows. It's in the same
style and would have fit on Enter.
Another Day is a bit laid back, a ballad. A bit heavy for a ballad, but it still is a ballad. Therefore, it lacks the variations in speed, which I think is one of the things this band is good at.
Well, I said I would save the best for last... The Other Half (Of Me) is aggression, aggression, and aggression. And that with Sharon's chanting voice. Fortunately, the guitarist's grunts are only present in vocal harmony with Sharon's. I want to hear this live!
The songs on this CD are in the same vein as the tracks on Enter, but is also a little step forward. There are less grunts, a fact which will appeal to most DPRP surfers and other progrock fans. Most of the grunts made me laugh, anyway.
The CD-ROM part contains pictures, a history of the band, and a bonus track: Restless (Classical Version) (in MP3). Only Sharon singing to the piano. Well, add three minutes to the 16 that are interesting, and we've got a very interesting mini CD...
Levin, Petrucci, Portnoy, Rudess -
Liquid Tension Experiment
The Magna Carta label is one of the few record-companies that has the guts to experiment with music. Towards the end of 1996, Morticelli and Varney, the producers of this record-label, asked Dream Theaters Mike Portnoy, if he wanted to select a couple of his favourite musicians for a special project. The result is stunning!
The Liquid Tension Experiment features over 70 minutes of heavy, complex, but still melodic and sometimes jazzy rock-music. The first track, Paradigm Shift, is a heavy opener with brilliant guitar-riffs by John Petrucci. Although this song takes almost 9 minutes, I'm not bored for a second, since the fast melodies and rhythm change often.
Osmosis is a slow, Carribian song, based on a lovely King Crimson-like bass-line by Tony Levin. It leads to another heavy rock-song, called Kindred Spirits. Dream Theater influences are very present in this song. If John Myung, DT's bass-player gets ill, Portnoy and Petrucci know were to look for an excellent stand-in. Rudess is a fast-playing, but melodic keyboard-player, who fills al the empty bits (if there are any) when Petrucci ends another solo.
The Stretch is one of the dozen improvised jams by Portnoy and Levin. (Remember this album was written and recorded within one week!). These shorter songs are very lovely in between the heavy stuff.
Freedom of Speech was the first song that was written by the four of the guys together and it really shows what their capabilities are. Portnoy's drumming is very prominent here. This song has both heavier and softer parts and slow and faster rhythms follow after eachother. The middle part consists, for example, of a heavy guitar-riff and a synth solo, immediately followed by an acoustic bit with piano.
Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure is another of those jams by Portnoy and Levin. This one is really fun, just two man, playing their instruments and whistling the lead. Tongue-in-cheek!
At the same time Rudess and Petrucci had time to write another song together. State of Grace is a beautiful ballad. Where Jordan Rudess lays down the basis of the song, John Petrucci has full opportunity to play a crystal-clear solo on top of it. Sometimes, less is more. Indeed simple is beautiful here.
Fast, faster, Petrucci, that's what it's about in Universal Mind. Although Jordan Rudess can play fast as well. After the very fast intro, the middle part is filled with several breaks that give everyone the chance to start a new solo. Levin and Petrucci are pretty tight together. And the funny breaks at the end complete the whole thing.
The album could have ended here. You would have had almost 50 minutes of great music. But there's some extra stuff. Three Minute Warning is a 28 minute (!) jam, that was recorded in one time, without any overdubs. Just improvisation. Not a single beat or note was discussed before hand. The cover warns anyone that is musically faint-hearted, or impatient, as well as critics of extreme self-indulgence for this track. Indeed, this is not the most accessible part of the album, but it's fun to discover how music gets its shape. This thing is so spontaneous, that you can even hear the moment the multi-track tape ran out. The last minute is taken from a 2-track DAT recording. There's only one problem. A mistake has been made with the mastering. There are several very annoying breaks in this last track. Mike Portnoy has promised anyone who has this wrong pressing (with MAX on the CD), that it can be chanced for a right one (these have MAXX on it).
To conclude, the album could have done without Three Minute Warning, but it's OK the track is there. Liquid Tension Experiment brings you some intense, heavy but still melodic music. Personally I refer it to the latest Dream Theater album. This one is so spontaneous!
Rate: 8 out of 10
Steve Hackett and Friends - The Tokyo Tapes
CD1: Watcher Of The Skies (8.59), Riding The Colossus (3.32), Firth Of Fifth (9.32), Battlelines (6.42), Camino Royale (9.05), The Court Of The Crimson King (7.39), Horizons (1.53), Walking Away From Rainbows (3.46), Heat Of The Moment (4.06), In That Quiet Earth (4.02), Vampyre With A Healthy Appetite (7.26), I Talk To The Wind (5.27)
CD2:Shadow Of The Hierophant (7.14), Los Endos (6.54), Acoustic Medley (2.29), The Steppes (6.47), I Know What I Like (5.51), Firewall (studio track) (4.40), The Dealer (studio track) (4.21)
After his well-received album Genesis Revisited, Steve Hackett arranged a super-group and organised a short tour to Japan. Together with ex-King Crimson and ex-Asia bass-player John Wetton, Genesis-live veteran Chester Thompson, ex-King Crimson multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and long-time musical friend Julian Colbeck, Steve Hackett played just a few concerts, of which this 2-CD is the long awaited registration.
What can you expect from this album? As with Revisited, The Tokyo Tapes won't bring you the exact copies of your all-time Genesis-favourites (although the opener Watcher of the Skies comes pretty close). If you want that, buy Seconds Out. The Tokyo Tapes isn't a Steve Hackett best-of either. If you want that, buy Time Lapse. So what to expect then?
The Tokyo Tapes brings you a unique collection of songs from Genesis, King Crimson, John Wetton and even an acoustic version of the Asia-blockbuster Heat of the Moment. Some of these songs, like Watcher of the Skies or In the Court of the Crimson King haven't been played by the respective bands for a long, long time.
Firth of Fifth is present with a flute-solo (the first since Gabriel left Genesis). The middle of this song is replaced by a psychedelic jam, which ends in the familiar and still brilliant guitar-solo. John Wetton shows us here that he really is a great bass player. It's a pity, that this song is followed by Battlelines, which is (in my opinion) not one of Wetton's best solo-efforts.Camino Royale is nevertheless beautiful and more powerful than the studio version on Highly Strung. Heavy guitars, saxophone, beating drums, just nine (!) minutes of great rock! The voices of Hackett and Wetton really fit together. Steve was really smart to take such an excellent singer with him on tour.
Special attention must be paid to The Court of the Crimson King and I Talk to the Wind. These versions are really gems. A must have for any Crimson-fan. It's mellotron all over the place and it's lovely to hear a real flute again. I wish some of the many ex-Crimson members had the chance to do these things more often. McDonald is the right-honourable keeper of this beautiful heritage!
An acoustic mini-set consists of the aforementioned Heat of the Moment, Horizons, and the melancholic Walk away with Rainbows, a result of the co-operation between Hackett and Colbeck.
The second CD starts with another Genesis song, In that Quiet Earth, which is, in this version, pure and fast jazz-rock. Thompson and Wetton are a hell of rhythm-section here. As with any jazz-song all members get the chance to improvise. You never heard Genesis like this!
Next is Vampire with an Appetite of Hackett's Guitar Noir-album. Starting with a Brian May-like guitar-sound this song is a very dark piece where Steve, singing through a kind of vocoder, takes us to the dark streets of London. Again, there's much room for variation to the original. It's nice that any of these fine musicians get the chance to show their own qualities in this way, even though I doubt if everything (e.g. Chester on electronic drum-pads) is to be taken serious.
Another of those dark songs is Shadow of the Hierophant. This song, taken from Hackett's first solo-album, was written by Hackett and Rutherford. Halfway this song, Chester has the chance to show us his skills. Finally we can hear what he's up to, without Phil. Although I'm normally not really a fan of these long drumsolos, this one is fine, especially since it's developing into .... Los Endos ! This is really the most powerful highlight of the second CD. Several fragments of other songs and various improvised themes are present in this song. Again, it's totally different from the original, but I love it. The 'like father, like son'-melody is played by Ian McDonald on flute. Is this what Trick of the Tail would have sounded like with Gabriel?
Another beautiful acoustic piece follows. Black Night is a again one of those fragile songs, that Hackett has made through the years. When you listen carefully, you will even notice some bars from The Lamb. The audience immediately responds when a tiny bit from Cockoo Cockoon is played.
After the silence, another slow, but bombastic piece is there. The Steppes, from Spectral Mornings is right on the spot here. With its Asian atmosphere, I always tend to think it should have been on Wind and Wuthering. But it isn't, and now it's a Hackett-classic in its own right. The guitar-part is once again very powerful.
It's Genesis again for the finale: I Know What I Like. And indeed, this is what I like. This band, although only together for this occasion is really tight. The funky intro of this song is really misleading, but as soon as the lawnmower starts .... it's fun time. Steve himself 'sings' the lead, but it doesn't disturb me, since the chorus is sang very well by the whole band. Oh, boy, wish I could have been there, but show is over.
As an encore two new studio tracks are featured on the second CD. There fine, but lack the emotion of the live tracks. Both Firewall and The Dealer are real bluesy rock songs. I'm looking forward to Hackett's next rock-album. I hope there's more on that one like these.
To conclude: about a year ago, I heard Genesis latest effort for the first time. My first reaction was: 'Oh, my God, Genesis is dead'. When I listened to this album for the first time, I knew Genesis was alive and kicking. But I was looking in the wrong direction.
Rate: 9 out of 10Jan-Jaap de Haan