1999 Summer Special
Reviews in this issue:
- No Name - The Other Side
- Ars Nova - The Book Of The Dead
- C-One - When The Time...
- Rick Wakeman - King Biscuit Flower Hour
- Steve Hackett - Darktown
- Third Voice - Reflections
- Fish - Complete BBC Sessions
- UK - Concert Classics
- Aether - Visions
- Jethro Tull - J-Tull Dot Com
- Simon Phillips - Out Of The Blue
- Esthetic Pale - Tales From The Ancient Realm
No Name - The Other Side
Tracklist: Horizon (5:26), Dolphin's, Sharks and Flood of Sunshine (5:16), Downpour, Sunflowers and Sadness (4:12), Strange Decisions (5:46), TAN IBHAN (35:50), - consisting of: Leap in the Dark (6:50), The Discovery (4:20), Sha'uri (5:29), Ra (5:57), The Ruler (6:09), No Farewell (6:35) -, In The Name of the Moon (4:58)
The first time I saw No Name, was in their home-city of Luxembourg, where they played as support for Arena, not long after the release of their debut-album The Secret Garden. I remember them as a very bombastic and powerful band. Last year, after a line-up change, they released their second album, called The Other Side.
The opening-track, Horizon is a tribute to IQ, which becomes clear soon after the introduction of electronic beats. A riff from Out of Nowhere has been used here prominently. Although this song is quite nice, it's completely dominated by this riff.
It gives a certain recognition, but at the same time distracts from what's original in this song. The instrumental part in the middle, for example is very nice. Ambivalent feelings tough.
An acoustic guitar sets the atmosphere for Dolphin's, Sharks and Flood of Sunshine, a song about a relation that's no longer to be. Many changes in rhythm and volume, make this song - after a few 'spins' - an attractive composition.
Downpour, Sunflowers and Sadness starts with a beautiful combination of acoustic guitars and 'tubular bells'. The chorus of the song has a nice melody, that sticks in your mind. For some reason this track is one of the more IQ-ish track on the album, but I can't put my finger on the spot 'why'.
The contrast between a subtle verse and a bombastic chorus, which is remarkable in NoName's songs, is also present in Strange Decisions. This song also features a very 'proggie' keyboard-melody. Only problem with the keyboards is that they're either present or absent. It's a bit unbalanced, which is a pity, because also in this song (after a very 'Fishy' bit) there's a nice keyboard-lead.
The sound of wind introduces the epic of the album, the 35-minute! Tan' Ibhan. In the 70s they could have filled an entire album with such a track.
To be honest, I don't consider this as 'one song'. The different parts are too diverse for that. It's a string of songs. Musically, it's not really clear what's the central point or theme of this 'string of songs'. The Discovery is one of the better parts of this long adventure, with changing melodies and lovely interplay between keys and guitar. You can hear NoName has been 'influenced' by some other bands, but it's not disturbing at all. After the 'optimistic The Discovery, Sha'uri starts mystical, to develop in a more romantic way, leading directly into Ra, which is very dark-sounding and mystical. Howling guitars (Brian May?) and a heavy bass-line are followed by a faster keyboard-part and great guitar-solo. This exciting instrumental is certainly one of the best tracks on the album.
In The Ruler several themes and melodies of the first parts of this 'mega-track' re-appear, including a great keyboard-lead. I am very fond of this stuff and keyboard-player Alex Rukavina gives it all. Simply beautiful!
The second part of The Ruler is different from the first part but again features some nice solo's over an on-going bass-line by Gilles Loes.
The last track, No Farewell, is a very joyful song, featuring a flute and a bass-line as most prominent melodies. It builds slowly to a climax, followed by the gentle theme that started No Farewell. Very nice! The wind ends the whole thing.
In The Name of the Moon is sort of 'encore', that opens with Loes' fierce bass-sound, followed by one of Rukavina's nice keyboard-melodies. Towards the end, there's a fade-out, which is a pity thing to end an album with, especially since drummer Chris Sonntag and Gilles Loes on bass are doing interesting things at the time.
To conclude: This album features some really nice music. There are some really interesting instrumental bits on the album and some songs are a joy to listen to. Weaker points are the 'unbalance' of the keys in some songs and the vocal-melodies. Patrick Kiefer has a fine voice, but what he's singing is not too interesting, especially since, he's doing the same sort of thing for 60 minutes long.
Also the 35-minute 'concept-track' Tan' Ibhan may be 'a bridge too far' for NoName. It features great parts, but regrettably also some duller moment. 20-minutes would have been O.K. as well.
Nevertheless, overall The Other Side is sounding allright and really is a product of skill. The beautiful cover-art by Rainer Kalwitz adds that little extra that makes you buying this album. I wouldn't mind seeing this band as a support act again at all!
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.
Ars Nova - The Book Of the Dead
Tracklist: Prologue: Re (1:35), Ankh (5:11), Interlude 1: Nut (1:11), The 42 Gods (5:15), Interlude 2: Anubis (0:40), Held Of Iaru (10:43), Interlude 3: Sekhem (1:03), The Judgement Of Osiris (7:41), Interlude 4: Nephthys (0:33), Ani's Heart and Maat's Feather (9:20), Epilogue: Hapi (1:01)
Ars Nova is a three piece band from Japan. The core of the group, the two female members of the band, Keiko Kumagai (keyboards) and Akiko Takahasho (drums) have worked with Ken Ishita (bass) on this album. An ELP-like line-up is the result. Soundwise there are also similarities between these bands, although a strong Wakemanian-influence cannot be denied either. Ars Nova's music is instrumental, psychedelic and very keyboard oriented.
The Musea-version of The Book Of The Dead features some extra 'bonus'-tracks (called interludes), that form 'bridges' between the longer songs. The interludes are nicely put between the other songs and hence the from a 'resting point' for the listener. This is indeed necessary, since Ars Nova's music is very hectic, fast and bombastic.
The prologue, Re leads to Ankh, a fast song with oriental melody patterns and changing melody-lines, not unlike Wakeman's music, but more psychedelic.
The piano-piece Nut is followed by another bombastic song, The 42 Gods. There are many changes in this song as well. Hammond, mellotron, Keiko Kumagai uses it all in this orchestral composition. In between the orchestration there's room for a nice, almost 80s-sounding keys-solo.
Anubis is an oriental (Persian?) introduction to Held Of Iaru. This composition starts off in a very quiet mood, with church-organ and a great synth-lead on top of it. Twinkling sounds follow, and an orchestra comes in bombastically, including a harp. An interlude features some 'classical' piano, to contrast the bombast of the rest of the track. A lot is happening in this track, like in the other tracks. Key-solo's, drums-breaks and even a bass-solo, it's all there. Aggressive and romantic parts follow each other.
Another middle-east-sounding interlude, called Sekhem, features rhythmic instruments prominently. A fast The Judgment Of Osiris follows. Great rhythm, great keyboardlead. Orchestral sounds in between the solo's. This song is a bit more melodic than Held Of Iaru but is made up of the same ingredients.
Ani's Heart and Maat's Feather begins with sound 'from a night-scene' and other threatening sounds. But soon this track develops along the same pattern: solo's, interludes, fast drums, orchestral sounds. To me, this almost 10-minute track is a bit too much after all the impressions of the aforementioned songs. This is certainly no easy-listening, although very nice, oriental melodies are present here again.
Because of the instrumental and hectic nature of the music, the album is a bit hard to get into. But there are some really awesome bits on this album. The album delivers a lot of variation, primarily within (and not between) the songs, because most of them follow the same 'structure', which makes it difficult to keep them apart.
The Book Of The Dead takes strong nerves to get through and the 45 minutes of the album is more than enough, but it's certainly a beautiful experience. If you like ELP or Wakeman, you should give this a chance. It certainly takes you one step further.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
review by Jan-Jaap de Haan
C-One - When The Time...
Tracklist: Jack The Ripper (5.27), Welcome (5:32), One More Day (4:46), Windows (4:46), Suicide (8:34), Riders (4:14), A Rainy Day (5:04), A.D.R. (7.18),
When The Time... (9.24)
Sometimes a band sends in a copy of their latest album, and we think: "errr...". Very often we don't know a single thing about the band and sometimes we doubt if DPRP is the right place to review the concerning album. But, since we try to be polite, we give it a spin or two....
C-One is a four piece band that plays hardrock. No keyboards, just guitars. Jack The Ripper is a fast 'typical 80s' hardrock song, in the vein of Iron Maiden's Number of The Beast.
Welcome has a bit more variation and especially the guitar-solo at the end is quite nice. Christophe Rubini is a fine guitar player and certainly has some talent. And so have the other guys, but nevertheless the music doesn't really appeal to me. Vocal-melodies are not *that* interesting most of the time. Every time again it appears that a singer can have a fine throat, but that this isn't enough to be an inspiring singer. One More Day clearly illustrates this.
Windows start in exactly the same way as One More Day but soon it appears to be the last chorus of this latter song... Oops... a 'tiny' mistake in the tracking.
The album features three longer songs and I was hoping these would be a bit more progressive. Suicide starts promising with the sound of a church-choir, followed by heavy guitar riffs. But nothing really exiting happens and at some points the song drops 'dead', until the central riff (nice!) returns. After 5 minutes a bass-line introduces the second part of the song, featuring a lot of guitars, including some nice bits as well.
Riders and A Rainy Day show that C-One can play 'up tempo' hard-rock, but nothing more. The guitar is too heavily distorted at points and the vocals suffer from bad mixing.
A.D.R. is a bit longer and has a nice, instrumental part in the middle, in which the rhythm changes a couple of time and every musician gets his own 'space' to do some things. The melody is stolen 'somewhere'.
Finally, the title track: When The Time. This song begins very soft and after a minute or two a slow, but heavy beat comes in. After this, a nice 'Metallica'-like guitar comes in, but sadly enough it doesn't lead to anything spectacular. However C-One really tried to bring a lot of variation into this track and that's what it gives: different themes and rhythms. I can understand why this is the title track ...
All in all, this may not be the right place to judge this album, since it has very little connection to 'prog'. Maybe it's even closer to Iron Maiden or Metallica than to Queensryche or Dream Theater.
Although I am sure that friends of C-One really enjoy this album, but it doesn't do much to me. The production is mediocre and so are most of the compositions. If these guys want to play prog-rock, the least the could do is to add a keyboard player or a second guitarist, in order to make some room for melody instead of 'just' fast riffs.
Finally, the album is dedicated to Anna Nicole Smith.... Please, take yourself a bit serious next time, guys!
Conclusion: 4 out of 10.
Rick Wakeman - King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents...
Only recently I discovered an interesting live-album by Rick Wakeman, although it has been released already in 1995. The recordings origin from November 1975, which makes this album one of the most interesting Wakeman live-recordings, because it's one of the earliest. This album consists of recordings from only one show, in the way as it has been broadcast, so no overdubs guaranteed.
Having listened to Wakeman's latest release Return To The Center of The Earth recently, it was nice to hear the 'original' again. This album starts with a 'medley' of the highlights from Journey To The Center of the Earth. What strikes me is the clear and direct sound of this recording, although Wakeman plays an 8-piece band (including a three piece brass-section). The opening of the album is rather bombastic - as most of Wakeman's material - and shows some new elements to the songs. Wakeman isn't afraid to improvise or change arrangements. Sometimes one of the band-members is slightly out of tune, but it doesn't disturb me at all, the energy makes up for that!
Catherine Howard is one of the three "Wives of Henry VIII" present on this album. The introduction of this song brings very bombastic drums, accompanied by the brass-section in a great way. After the introduction, John Dunstervill has room for a guitar-improvisation, which is very nice and almost ends up as "The Clap". Suddenly, a distorted riff - you will recognise this one - is introduced, immediately followed by some other familiar themes. A lot of variation and Catherine Howard only seems to function as a framework for this all.
The start of Lancelot & The Black Knight is very hectic and even an bit messy, but contains a lot of power. Ashley Holt is screaming his lungs out in this part, followed by a brilliant and fast keyboard-solo.
Anne Boleyn starts very atmospheric, in order to change into a haunting song, immediately after the keys come in. Not an 'easy' song to get into, but worthwhile, because of its many twists and turns. Again, there's a lot of room for improvisation, especially in the middle (up tempo) part of the piece, where Wakeman starts very low and 'climbs' higher and higher! A funky guitar accompanies him. Towards the end, the romantic theme returns.
Some 'bits and pieces of Journey', as Wakeman announces it, form The Forest, which mainly consists of a long guitar-solo at the beginning and a key-solo at the end. Only the middle part is close to the original, the rest has been re-arranged. A fun piece, 'cause it really jams! The finale features a 'stolen' bit by Grieg; simply awesome!
A combination of two songs from The Myths and Legends... forms Arthur & Guinevere. Although a complete orchestra is replaced by only three persons, the famous opening theme hasn't lost its power at all. To the contrary, I'd say. The vocal part that follows is a bit long, but leads to a repetition of that wonderful theme.
The Guinevere-part of the track is performed not very differently from the album version, although there's a very 'big-band'-like intermezzo with different solos by keyboards and guitars. Not the best part of the album, but still special.
Merlin The Magician is a live-favourite of Wakeman and I can understand why. This song, with all its changes and the very weird 'chorus' is interesting from the beginning 'till the end. Not a single dull moment, it brings you slow romance and fast can-can in one song!
The closer of the album is Catherine Parr, as song that starts in a dark and threatening way, followed by one of the fastest key-parts I ever heard. Like the other 'Wives'-tracks, the main theme only functions as a framework for improvisation. Piano, synths, it's all there. A great closer of the album.
To conclude: I wouldn't have reviewed a 4 year old album if I didn't think it was worth it. Besides this, it is very well possible that we deal with a re-release here (for Euro-markets?), since the original 95-version had a different cover.
This album is a unique document of the early Wakeman-era. If you ever asked yourself if he could play his complex compositions live, well, he certainly can. How? Well, buy this album and find it out yourself. Although this is a very 'pure' recording, including some 'bum'-notes and other things going wrong, it's a very enjoyable record. Loads of great music for a nice price!
Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10.
Steve Hackett - Darktown
After a blues-album, some acoustic projects (together with a symphony-orchestra) and two backward-looking projects (Genesis Revisited and Tokyo Tapes), Steve Hackett promised his fans a real 'rock'-album. Darktown is indeed the first 'electric' albums that fits the label 'progressive rock' since the release of Guitar Noir.
Samples and loops, mr.Hackett has discovered them as well. Omega Metallus is a very innovative track with a bass-sample by Sir.Doug Sinclair. This is a very weird track that you other love or hate. I love it! It's fast and haunting. In the middle there's a guitar bit where Hackett sounds exactly like Brian May - I'd swear it's the man himself - and with this opening track Hackett gets your attention immediately.
Darktown is indeed a 'dark' song, not unlike Vampire With A Healthy Appetite. Ian McDonald (ex-King Crimson/Foreigner) delivers some sweeping sax-bits, that could already be heard on some improv-bits on Tokyo Tapes. Personally, I am not very fond of the way Hackett 'talks' and although it suits the atmosphere here, I'd prefer him singing.
The first of a couple of orchestral songs is Man Overboard, which is a beautiful ballad with a wonderful atmosphere. Hackett is singing very well. Golden Age of Steam also is a very impressive song. The 'positive' mood of the song is contrary to the subject of it. The track was inspired by the 'Diary of Anne Frank' and tells a story about children in the World War II. The combination with a children's choir humming the main theme of the song is very nice. The end features a sample from the commentary on the Normandy Beach landing, which symbolises the end of the war.
Day Of Long Ago has been written by Hackett and Jim Daimond, who's featured on vocals as well. This song has an oriental feel and although Diamond's vocals suit this eastern mood, I'm not very fond of the 'nasal' sound of his voice.
Dreaming with Open Eyes is another soft song, with a very romantic atmosphere. Turn the lights down for this one! On top of a great bass-line, a combination of acoustic guitars, strings and flute (by John Hackett) paint a lovely scenery. Yes, I'm dreaming with my eyes open! Orchestral samples are played backwards at the end. Very strange.
The instrumental Twice Around The Sun is next. The great sounds of ancient Mellotron, combined with modern electronic beats, form the basics for this track. But the cream is the wonderful guitar-solo that's played on top it. Haven't heard Hackett for a (too) long time like this. The middle part, with fretless bass and without the beat gives me shivers!
Rise Again features acoustic guitars and Hackett on vocals. I think the man really dislikes his own voice, because he uses a lot (too much) echo. Why is he doing these strange experiments with his voice? When the drums come in I finally get what I was waiting for: fast rhythm, aggressive vocals, and sweeping guitars. This is what Genesis lacks at the moment.... With Hugo Degenhart on drums, Aron Friedman on Keys and Billy Budis on bass, this is one of the few tracks that's recorded with a band.
Jane Austen's Door is another slow, 'echo'-track, with moody-atmosphere. Apart from the guitar-solos, not very interesting, to be honest. Also features Hackett singing French!
If you had fallen asleep during the last song, Darktown Riot will wake you up again. Like Omega Metallicus, this song consists of many samples, weird sounds, chords, clocks, horns, etc... strange, but still interesting.
In Memoriam is another orchestral ballad, and a very beautiful one. Hackett 'reads' the text, a bit like Marc Knopfler in 'Private Investigations'. A choir sings the 'In Memoriam'-chorus. Electric and acoustic pieces alternate. A very atmospheric track.
To be honest, this Hackett-album is not the one I expected. It is, apart from two or three songs, very atmospheric and although it's a nice atmosphere that Hackett creates, this album lacks the necessary variation. Some up-tempo songs, would keep me captivated, but now I get a bit bored at times.
Besides this, I really think Hackett should just sing and don't mess around with his voice, It distracts from the melody, just like the electronic beats that - at some points - are misplaced, especially in the ballads. I think Hackett should write songs and play them together with a genuine band, not a programmer. Don't let me be misunderstood, this album is better than much of Hackett's 80s work and I can imagine moments when this album is the right CD to play (e.g. on Sunday-mornings). But on other moments I think I prefer Guitar Noir, let alone Voyage of the Acolyte or Spectral Mornings.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Review by Jan-Jaap de Haan
Third Voice - Reflections
'Third Voice' is a funny name for a band that consists of only two members. Jeff Kearney (vocals) and Jason Pirone (everything else) are two guys from Pittsburg, who released this CD 'independent'.
The first thing that struck me, was the really 'cheap' production, to put it mild. It really spoils almost every joyful thing on this record. Third Voice plays prog metal and I think fans of Queensryche and Fates Warning might appreciate the compositions if they weren't so badly produced.
Jason Pirone and Jeff Kearney are talented guys, if only they had played with a proper band (no electronic drums!) in a proper studio. Pirone really plays some fine guitar as well as keyboards and Kearney has a high and powerful voice.
At least these guys know where they're going to musically. The compositions aren't bad at all and songs like From Where You Stand and Mission of Time certainly have potential.
The album as a whole gives some variation, for example a more aggressive song like What We'll Be is followed by the mid-tempo song Mystery and the lovely ballad Never Know. If only all songs sounded like this last one. Beautiful!
Innocence is the longest song of the album and starts with an interplay between guitar and keyboards, after which Kearney introduces himself with a big scream. Heavier and softer parts follow each other in this track.
How It Ends indeed ends the album in a more or less romantic mood with a nice guitar-solo over atmospheric keyboards.
To conclude: since the introduction of the CD (and the CD-R!) it has become much easier to release your very 'own', private album. That's a good thing for independent artists, but it also leads to many 'home-productions', like Reflections. That's a pity.
I sincerely hope these two guys find some friends (a drummer at least) to play some gigs with, in order to earn some money to rent a studio next time.
Conclusion: 4 out of 10
Review by Jan-Jaap de Haan
Fish - Complete BBC Sessions
CD 2: Kayleigh (4:35), Lavender (2:30), Heart of Lothian (3:39), Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors (9:41), Credo (7:31), Tongues (7:09), Incubus (9:23), The Company (4:02), Big Wedge (6:29), Internal Exile (4:34), Market Square Heroes (5:24), Windswept Thumb/Heart of Lothian (4:57)
Since his split with Marillion in 1988, Fish has released six studio-albums and about a dozen of live-album, some official, some as fanclub-releases. This one has not been released by Fish himself, but by 'Blueprint-records'.
This Cd-set looks back to 1989 (before Vigil was released!) and 1991, concerts in London and Nottingham respectively. These concerts were recorded by Radio One for broadcasting - although I'm not sure whether they ever have been. As a result, the sound is good (especially the Nottingham-show), at some points even better than Fish's own releases, which are normally taken from a mixing-desk DAT.
The first disk and tracks 1-3 on disk two originate from '89, the other tracks from '91. Regrettably, some of the - always interesting - stories have been cut, and the strange decision has been made to include several songs twice: Vigil, The Company, Big Wedge and Heart of Lothian. I do not know exactly what has been played on these gigs, but personally I would have preferred State of Mind (the current single at the time!), Gentleman's Excuse Me (the upcoming single!), Cliche or Shadowplay (played on the Exile '91 tour), in stead of 'double' songs. I really think this is a pity, but at the same time it's the only negative thing I can think of, when reviewing these CDs.
What can I say about the music? Most of you will be familiar with the material. The album Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors is still considered a classic, and Fish's best to date. Tracks from that album, played together with a collection of Marillion classics, that results in a pretty great set-list.
Only real surprise is Faithhealer, a song originally by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band and recently featured on Raingods with Zippos. The song was also used as a B-side to Big Wedge. Although it's an unexpected opener of the gig, you can hear that it works fine, especially since Fish enters the stage halfway the song in a great way.
The Marillion-material is performed brilliantly and I may even prefer these versions to the '87 ones. The combination of Warm Wet Circles and Slainthe Mhath works very well. Fugazi, Incubus and Script are true gems and in Punch and Judy Fish shows his ferocity as never before.
The band, including a brilliant Mickey Simmonds on keyboards, plays very well. It's rock, but still melodic. Mark Brzezicki really is a wonderful drummer, who hits almost everything on his drumset (listen to the first Big Wedge-version!). On the '91 show he is replaced by Kevin Wilkinson, who committed suicide last month. His style was more 'straight' compared to Brzezicki's but he still was an effective backbone to the band.
Robin Boult and Frank Usher on guitar do their jobs very well and it's surprising to hear that the Marillion-songs don't suffer from this double-guitar treatment. Both Steve Brzezicki and David Paton do a fine job on bass, but Paton features a more prominent role on backing vocals as well.
Fish himself is in top-form. He certainly had some voice-problems over the years, but not here! His voice is powerful and he hits the majority of the high notes right. Quality performance!
I won't go through the entire album, but I'd mention some of the highlights. Very impressive is the (first) version of Vigil which is played to the audience for the first time. Shivers everywhere!
The same goes for Fugazi: not only the fragile first part but, through the aggressive middle part, right 'till the end. Simmonds does a great job here, as well the two guitarists. This version has a lot more power than the original.
The version of Vigil on the second disk might even be better than the first one. The audience is familiar with the song now and is very audible. Audience participation on Credo, Heart of Lothian and Tongues gives these tracks extra energy.
Incubus, fortunately including the introduction, is haunting and dark.
The finale, consisting of Internal Exile, Market Square Heroes and Hearts of Lothian - including Windswept Thumb - is real party-time. A genuine climax to the CD.
All in all, this album is a joy to listen to. The first disk features some of his best songs, the second disk sounds a bit better. Both are very nice. This 2-CD is not very expensive, which makes it extra attractive.
If you already have some live albums from the '89-'91 period, this won't add much, but if you don't, this is a really nice live-compilation for a nice price. As always, an extensive story inside the booklet by Fish himself makes this CD a nice addition to your collection.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10
Review by Jan-Jaap de Haan
UK - Concert Classics
Recently, part 19 of Counting Out Time was dedicated to UK. The band was formed in 1977 by John Wetton and Bill Bruford and included Eddie Jobson on keyboards and violin and Allan Holdsworth on guitar.
After only one album the line-up changed drastically (Bruford and Holdworth left). The concerts by the first line-up were 'bootlegged' many times, especially since these gigs featured material that would be released on the second album. One of these bootlegs is now released on CD. The show on this album was broadcast on the radio and recorded in 1978 in Boston. The bootleg-character is still preserved, because of the really 'cheap' lay-out of the booklet and the many mistakes in the tracklisting. The tracklisting above is the only right one! Besides, the CD has been withdrawn from the markets already, because there's a dispute between Concert Classics and EG-records over the rights. So, if you get a copy, it's a collectors-item already!
The CD starts with Alaska, as we know it from the album. Only difference is the fact that the transition from Alaska to Time To Kill is tracked differently. To me, this one (after one-and-a-half minute) makes more sense than the original. Time To Kill is complex and powerful. It's really incredible how Wetton manages to play bass likes this and sing at the same time. 'Loud and clear', that's how he can be described best.
The third song on the CD isn't even mentioned in the booklet, but it's nothing else than The Only Thing She Needs. The first part of the song is more or less the same as the final version on the Danger Money-album, but the second part is pretty different. Allan Holdsworth still has an important role in this version. If you compare his guitar-solo and Jobson's keyboard-part as it was recorded in studio you understand what 'musical differences' are. This is pure jazz!
Another new song is Carrying No Cross. It shows that much of the material of Danger Money was written before Bruford and Holdsworth left. Although the lyrics differ - Wetton even sings 'Carrying THE Cross' - the scheme of the song is there, including the order of the verses and the instrumental middle part. But, as with The Only Thing She Needs, it's the improvisation that's different. Holdsworth is just 'messing around' in this version. There's a great bass-part here also, followed by a key-solo. The end of this improvisation is very different from the studio-version and even features a very Yes-like part.
Side One of UK is played in reverse order. Thirty Years is first. Atmospheric as on the album and it's incredible how Wetton sings this extraordinary melody live. The melodic 'accents' by Holdsworth are right in place. The instrumental second part is brilliant. Holdsworth is all over the place and Bruford rules!
A short drums-solo leads into Presto Vivace, which originally is the third part of In The Dead Of Night, but is played here as a 'bridge'. In The Dead Of Night is solid and features some extra key-parts here and there. Holdsworth's solo is not exactly 'copied' from the album version. He gives a new interpretation of it, which is nice. How essential this is, was proven recently by Dream Theater, 'cause John Petrucci was clearly inspired by this solo for one of his solos on Falling Into Infinity.
The last song of the CD is another Danger Money-track, called Caesar's Palace Blues, a very violin-dominated track. The vocal-melody is not *that* inspiring, but the violin stuff is! The song speeds up towards the end, which creates a nice climax. Although this version is not as bombastic as the studio-version, it's maybe even nicer, because the contrast between the beginning and the end is bigger!
To conclude: it's really a pity that UK haven't decided to release this album themselves. It's a great - and necessary - addition to the existing three albums. The sound-quality is OK and the song-quality is excellent. The best tracks from UK are present as well as very interesting early versions from three of the Danger Money songs. I wonder what else was played on that night, because it would have fitted on this CD. Overall, the booklet (especially the cover and the track-list) is horrible, although the compilation of bootleg-covers is nice. The CD loses half a point, because of this production. But the music is great! From a historic point of view this album is the missing link between the first and the second UK-album. Buy it, as long as it's available!
Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10
Review by: Jan-Jaap de Haan
Aether - Visions
Tracklisting: 01- Millennium (3:39); 02- Autumn (4:16); 03- Whales (5:32); 04- A Bright New Day (5:13); 05- Trinidade Island (3:38); 06- Kings & Knights (4:49); 07- November (3:04); 08- Altenburg Suite (1:24); 09- The Arrival at the Castle (0:59); 10- Voices from the Past (2:55); 11- The Birth of a Morning (); 12- The Sun of the Tower (4:55); 13- The Lake (5:40); 14- Essence of Freedom (3:45); 15- The Woods, The Ocean (2:27)
Aether is a Brasilian group, with a sound that reminds of Camel at the time of their Moonmadness album.
The first track, Millennium, for example, reminded me of Lunar
Sea. Of course, time has past and so have keyboards, so the overall sound
is more modern than 70's Camel, but the idea is the same. Before all
Camel-fans run to the store, a little warning: the CD overall gives a more
mellow feeling than Camel, a bit more "painting landscapes with
sound". The second song, however, could be dubbed "The great March
part II". The drums sound artificial to me. I lost the booklet somewhere in
my piles of papers, so I can't check if they use a human drummer, but I think
not. Big big minus-points for drumming. In track four, A New Bright
Day, a bit more up tempo song, with some more power, the vocals come in for
the first time. All vocals are song simultaneously by two vocalists (or an
overdub?), which works fine. Vocals remind of Latimer (what else did you
expect?). The guitar is more prominent in this song, in contrast with the
keyboard dominated first three parts. The next tracks in the same vein as the previous
songs, so I won't discuss them individually. It seems that there is a kind of
mini-story starting from track 6-15. The small pieces are rather nice and
symphonic (as in orchestral).
I would say that it is a nice CD for people who like mid-70's Camel. But since it is quite mellow, with only periodic outbursts, it is also well suited for people who would like some relaxing music. Certainly, the melodic structures are worth a better listening than I have given them so far, they seem well constructed and nicely flowing. Big minus is the boring and rather irritating drumming. A good drummer could have given the songs much more expression than they have now, they seem somewhat to electronic to me now, so that a confusion with New Age is quickly made. This is enhanced by the constant water and sea noises at the start of almost every track (o yeah, of course there is a track that starts with the sound of playing children. Yawn).
7 out of 10
review by Remco Schoenmakers
Jethro Tull - J-Tull Dot Com
A few days back this brand new preview copy of the new Jethro Tull album fell in my mailbox. Although I am very familiar with Tull's music the only 3 albums I own are the "oldies" Thick As A Brick and Aqualung (Who doesn't know these ones ??!!). The most recent Tull album I have is Crest Of A Knave. I think J-tull dot com is the best of both worlds; the progressive sounds of the 70' s albums and the modern rocky sounds of the 80's albums. Let's see what Jethro Tull brings us with the new album !
1. 'Spiral' (3:53 min) A heavy rocker that goes straight forward, it's a good opener. As Ian said, 'a song about waking up in the morning and thinking "what the f**k is going on ?"'. It has some nice flute work, but more as effects, playing only the riff. Also a nice b-part with organ and guitar.
2. 'Dot Com' (4:26 min) For the first time since a long time we hear someone others voice on a Tull album! It's Najma Akhtar from India that is singing background vocals in indian style during the verses, but she also sings background in the refrain. The song has a slight eastern style, but all you 'Roots To Branches' haters, don't be afraid, this is a nice popsong with a GREAT refrain. Ian is clearly playing wooden flutes.
3. 'AWOL' (5:21 min) Very nice flute opening with the hookline of the song. Has a good instrumental part and sometimes you already get that nineteenseventies progrock-feeling. Song finishes with a lenghty flute solo and instrumental part. Without doubt my favourite of the album !
4. 'Nothing @ All'(0:56 min) A little instrumental piece by Andrew Giddings.
5. 'Wicked Windows' (4:42 min) This song starts quite with a piano instrumental and the first verse. Bridge and chorus are rocking and there are some great instrumental passages in it. It's one of these Tull pieces that change from hard to soft during the different parts. While I find the slow passages not that interesting, the heavier instrumental parts are great and rocking, nice hookline.
6. 'Hunt By Numbers' (4:00 min) THIS IS IT! Riff rock at it's best! The song starts with a heavy guitar riff that goes trough the whole song, simple but great! This could also be a song by a progressive metal band ... Tull goes Iron maiden (if it was a bit faster)! Has a freaky flute part, that could have been even a bit more freakier ... Surely one of my favourites, but it has no 'typical' Tull sound. Kind of 'evil' feeling song, it's about Ian's cats.
7. 'Hot Mango Flush' (3:51 min) Strange intro, opens with progressive instrumental part, kind of acoustic, but really not quite. Then it goes into a cool guitar riff for the verse. Very nice short acoustic guitar solos and instrumental parts. The refrain is Ian speaking the title, some flute parts are seventies style with keyboards backing the riff. The style of singing the verses reminds me a bit to 'Wounded, Old & Treacherous'. 'hot mango flush' is a Martin Barre composition, at least one of his songs has made it onto a Tull album, unfortunately this is not the best part of the album ..
8. 'El Nino' (4:43 min) Opens in a slight eastern sound with a very dark feeling during the verse and then goes into a heavy guitar riff for the refrain. I don't have the time yet to catch all the lyrics (remember also that I'm not an English speaking person), but I'm pretty sure that the song is about the big storm 'el nino' and, well the music gives exactly that dark feeling that those heavy clouds and the storm is over you.
9. 'Black Mamba' (4:59 min) Nice riff that opens the song and goes through the verses, the end of the bridge has one flute line that remembers me to one Tull song, but I don't know which one at the moment. After several listenings, this song seems to becomes more and more the 'classic' Tull feeling, surely one of my favourites.
10. 'Mango Surprise' (1:16 min) The reprise of 'hot mango flush', a shortie that has Ian singing the title through the whole piece, crazy! Has a slight shuffled mambo feeling!
11. 'Bends Like A Willow' (4:54 min) A nice song, but it gives not that much to me like the other songs, while it has a good instrumental part. One of the weaker tracks which does not mean that it's a bad one! BUT it seems to be one of these songs that you can't quite work with after the first listening, while later you understand it better. The refrain is just beautiful, has also an interesting instrumental part.
12. 'Far Alaska' (4:08 min) Good rocker that opens with a nice flute riff. Verse has an acoustic guitar in it, while the chorus is more heavier, also the refrain and the bridge. The second verse is followed by a great extended instrumental heavy riff rock part with flute in it, as well as keyboard and guitar solos.
13. 'The Dog-Ear years' (3:34 min) I really don't know what to say about this song accept that there is a very nice vocal melody in the verse that is doubled by the guitar.
14. 'A Gift Of Roses' (9:37 min) Finally the Hohner-Akkordeon, played by Andy Giddings made it onto a Tull record! This song has a also some mandolines in it and a slight folky feeling, while it still isn't a quite one, not only because of Martin's great guitar work. Could be one of the newer songs by Fairport Convention, I mean this as a compliment. My CD of 'dot com' has a secret track, a while after the last song 'a gift of roses', Ian is speaking some words about the bonus track, which is the title track from his forthcoming solo work 'The Secret Language Of Birds'! This song is also on the album !Well, finally, after 4 years waiting, the world will see a new album by one of the world's finest rock bands. As Ian Anderson said, 'it's a boys album', it has very dark and heavy songs like 'hunt by numbers' and 'el nino', but also these melodic riffs that we all love and know. There's a lot of great guitar work and you can clearly hear Martin's influences, if you know his solo works or compare to his 'new' guitar sound. While there's still some 'eastern' feeling in some songs, this is not a follow-up to 'Divinities' and 'Roots To Branches'. When I first heard that an indian woman would sing on the title track, I was a bit sceptical what kind of music that would be. Now I know that it was a good solution, the title track is a fine song that could make it into the charts. It has a unique sound that I never expected from Tull, a melody in the refrain that you don't get out of your head once you hear it (what makes it a 'hit'), but it's not one of these ones you're tired about after several listenings. The album shows where Tull are after more than 30 years: they're still fresh and discovering something new without forgetting their roots. After two weeks it's surely hard to say if this one will be a classic album and there will as much people be disappointed as be positively surprised, but that's what keeps things interesting. Anyway I like the album very much and think that is has been worth waiting that long time. Jethro Tull is Millenium Proof !!
Available worldwide from 23 August 1999 on RoadRunner Records. Thanks to Minke Weeda (RoadRunner Netherlands) for providing the preview copy !Conclusion: 9 out of 10.
Dirk van den Hout
Simon Phillips - Out Of The Blue
Tracklist: Kumi Na Moja (8.37), Out Of The Blue (6.04), Eyes Blue For You (6.19), Band Introductions (1.24), Jungle Eyes (7.51), Isis (8.10), Indian Summer (7.15), Rhodes Untravelled (2.46), Another Lifetime (6.33), Midair Decision (5.26)
A biography of Simon Phillips, one of the most famous drummers worldwide, could fill a whole book. He worked for Mick Jagger, Pete Townsend and The Who, Al DiMeola, Jeff Beck, Mike Oldfield and countless others as drummer, songwriter, soundengineer and producer from the age of 15 onwards and is a full member of Toto. Since 1995 he has also developed his own solo career, beginning with the album Symbiosis and was in 1997 followed by Another Lifetime, which reached the pop-album charts in Holland the same year. After two studio albums with intricate arrangements and 48-track productions, his new album Out Of The Blue offers a new level of excitement. It presents the liveshows of the European tour 1998 - recorded digitally live and mixed by Simon himself in his own studio in Los Angeles.
First a warning: Don't explain pure progressive music on this CD .. Simon Phillips makes a very rock-orientated sort of jazzrock, with a few superb musicians ! The result is what the huge fanbase wants (and has quite often asked in e-mails and postcards); a jazzrock performance much more bluesy and tough than the studio albums, which gives the album a roots' appeal and makes it his best album so far. I think one of the main reasons for this is the presence of Andy timmons being the only guitarist here and who is much more blues-orientated than Ray Russel who dominated the studio albums. It's very nice to hear how Simon Phillips' band change into a very good live band compared to the much more jazz orientated studio albums. Especially Jeff Babko on the keyboards plays much more relaxed on this album. But with a band consisting of Simon Phillips (drums), Jeff Babko (keyboards), Wendell Brooks (horns), Andy Timmons (guitar) and Jerry Watts jr. (bass) I think you have a supergroup of sessions musicians !
The album is perfectly structured like a live concert with the most popular songs, drum-soli, talks, features and audience reactions. It is a worthy successor to the enormously populair earlier and a great starting point to explore Simon Phillips' music !Conclusion: 8 out of 10.
Dirk van den Hout
Esthetic Pale - Tales From The Ancient Realms
This is Esthetic's Pale second CD after their first Mini-CD "The Art Of Development". Because the band don't have a record company they recorded the music (both live in the studio and live on stage) and put it on CD-r ! They sell this CD by theirselves .. I think this is a golden method for (beginning) bands with a record contract.
EP play melodic rock, influenced by the great 70's band like Camel and Genesis with a little folk music (in some parts). A very tight band with two female singers. Unfortunately this CD cannot be compared to "produced" albums, because there was no producer involved in this project. The overall sound is acceptable but is very flat (ie there are no dynamic parts in the recording). But I think this recording shows the capacities of this German band at that time of their carreer ! Please keep in mind that there will be new (and according to the band much better !) music by EP later this year !
The album opens with The Approach, a songI have heard before on the DURP sampler before. Esthetic Pale (divided in three sub-parts) is the epic on this album (11+ minutes) while my favourite is Fairy Tales (folky vocals with heavy parts) while another favourite of mine is Weary (balladish piano with very good female vocals).
From the opener The Approach till the closing song Much Too Long (which is played a little unmotivated) this is a very constant prog album. To be honest no absolute highlights while there are also none negative points. Decent product !
If you like to have this CD, please contact: Claus-Peter Fuhrmann, Gartenstr.3, 67482 Freimersheim, Germany. E-mail: email@example.com. There is a new Esthetic Pale album on it's way (to be released later this year) !
Conclusion: 6 out of 10.
Dirk van den Hout