Thursday, June 14, 2012

Anyone's Daughter - Adonis. 1979 Germany


Anyone's Daughter - Adonis. 1979 Brain

CD reissues: 1993 WMMS; 2010 Tempus Fugit/SPV

Packaging details: My first exposure to Anyone's Daughter's music was the original Brain LP (released as a single sleeve). I eventually picked up the WMMS CD release, which became quite rare over time. This availability problem was solved by the Tempus Fugit CD released a couple of years back. The second cover pasted above is from the WMMS CD, though I felt it was unnecessary to alter the original. The WMMS version, like all on the label, is pretty basic with no extras. The Tempus Fugit CD, however, is splendid. This CD, which restores the original cover art, features not only two lengthy extended progressive rock cuts that total close to 20 minutes ('The Taker', 'The Warship'), but also a cool video of the album opener. It also features a full-sized poster (from a cover they would later use for an album called "Last Tracks"), and a booklet with a full band history and unique photos.

Review: The post-Genesis movement had gained some traction in Germany and Anyone's Daughter (named after a Deep Purple song from "Fireball") was one of the more marquee groups to climb out of the scene (other more obscure references include Neuschwanstein, M.L. Bongers Project, Sirius, Ivory). AD's music was one that had the good sense to watch the pop charts while infusing quite a bit of complication to the mix so as to maintain a certain musician integrity. Anyone's Daughter had anticipated the neo progressive movement by about 3 years, and actually did benefit financially (a little anyway) from the exposure, though they came at it from a right angle. 1980s era progressive catalogs would always include Anyone's Daughter as they were, along with Eloy, easily Germany's number #1 export in this category. Hoelderlin's "Clowns and Clouds" is another good benchmark. "Adonis" is a very good album and if you like the more melodic side of progressive rock, then Anyone's Daughter's debut should be considered a must for the collection.

Monday, June 11, 2012

J.E.T. - Fede, Speranza, Carità. 1972 Italy

J.E.T. - Fede, Speranza, Carità. 1972 Durium

CD reissues: 1988 Crime (Japan); 1993 Si-Wan (Korea); 1997 Vinyl Magic; 2005 BMG (Japan mini-LP)

LP reissues: 1988 Crime (Japan); 1993 Si-Wan (Korea); 2010 BTF

Packaging details: The album was originally released with a die-cut textured chalice cover. The chalice itself is a pretty thick cardboard piece (I have a friend who owns a nice original copy).

---Missing from some online discographies is the next issue, which was both a CD and LP on the Crime label (each 1988 Japan). It is this 1988 issue that you'll commonly see two extra tracks for Side 2. These two tracks are both taken from a rare 45 and NOT on the original LP. I once owned this Japan CD, and can confirm. Also - the original LP does not list the final track 'Sfogo' on the back cover even though it's listed clearly on the label. The Japan LP from 1988 came with a perforated chalice, that you could detach yourself and paste into the gatefold. Obviously not the best option and doesn't truly replicate the original, but an interesting idea all the same.

---The 1993 LP from Si-Wan (Korea) features the original gimmix cover, but the cover is smooth and the chalice is a thin sliver not reminiscent of the original (I currently own this version on LP). It isn't until 2005 that the original LP is finally duplicated exactly with the thick chalice insert - in the mini-LP CD format from BMG (Strange Days), which I own as well.

---In 2010, AMS (BTF) replicated the original LP exactly in vinyl format. Worth noting that the BMG Japan CD does not contain the bonus tracks. I would love to own the original, but it's extremely expensive and is rarely found in decent condition. Perhaps one day I'll spring for a copy.

Review: There are few albums that open as strong as this one. The 11 minute title track is right there with the absolute best of the original Italian progressive rock movement - say primo Il Balletto di Bronzo. FAY DAY, SPA RAN ZA, CA REE TA leads right into the first couple of incredible minutes of 'Il Prete e il Peccatore' and then… ugh… the album breaks into a more typical Italian singer songwriter style. Well not exactly as dire as that, but the intensity of the first 13 minutes is never regained. This album usually gets listed as a disappointment by many because of this trend, but I think a lot of that has to do with the expectations that were delivered early on. I've always been partial to the dramatic 'Sinfonia Per un Re' and it sounds better now than ever (love those fuzz guitar solos and Hammond washes). And closer 'Sfogo' is a good - fun - energetic instrumental with wordless voices piece. Oh.............. but that first track - been listening to it for over 20 years and it still blows me away!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Babylon - s/t. 1978 USA

Babylon - s/t. 1978 Mehum Music

CD reissues: 1999 Syn-Phonic; 2010 Belle Antique (Japan mini LP).

Packaging details: The original LP was pressed twice, first with a white cover, and the second with the silver one (the top cover shown). I own the silver one on LP, but they're both relatively scarce. It hasn't been repressed on vinyl since. Along with the LP, I still own the Syn-Phonic CD that I bought on day 1 of release. Nice reissue with plenty of unique photos of the band. There's scant bio info though, which is a bit of a disappointment. Note the CD cover has been doctored a bit to look more like an alien. The Japanese CD restores the original cover art. Still, that's not enough for me to consider getting it, as the original single cover isn't really that interesting.

Review: Well it's quite apparent by reading many reviews, that a lot of folks (mainly progressive rock fans) aren't too keen on the sole studio Babylon album. Not to be a contrarian, but I like it immensely. The CD liner notes say that Babylon were influenced by Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator, Happy the Man and "various European and American progressive bands." Yea, whatever. It's 98% Genesis circa 1970-1973 and 2% the rest and maybe Yes is 1% of that. So they ape the sound of "Trespass" through "Selling England By the Pound". Is that so bad? The songs are entirely original, but the style is ridiculously similar to Gabriel and crew. The US landscape of 1978 is filled with bands that mixed progressive rock with AOR styled pop rock. Not Babylon. This is progressive rock made by geeks to be listened to by progressive rock geeks (I'm guilty as charged). Personally I think 'Dreamfish' is their masterpiece and a song that perfectly fits their sound. It's like Genesis extract: Hyper, intense, dramatic and complex. A great album, and Tampa Bay's one sole contribution to progressive rock... long before they would become the Death Metal capital of the world.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flamengo - Kuře v Hodinkách. 1972 Czech Republic



Flamengo - Kuře v Hodinkách. 1972 Supraphon

CD reissues: 1990 Supraphon; 1998 Bonton; 2000 Wydawnictwo 21 (Poland); 2012 Supraphon

LP reissue: 1990 Supraphon

Packaging: I still own the 1990 CD (the second cover posted above), which is the first time I heard the album. Starting with the Bonton release, all the CDs come with bonus tracks. The Polish release has 7, and would seem to be the most comprehensive reissue out there. The 1990 CD comes with unique liner notes written in Czech. It also features an amazing sound, and I have no intention of upgrading. (April 6, 2014 update): But then again, I was fortunate enough to score the 2012 CD reissue at very reasonable price. What a magnificent package. It comes in a tri-fold digipak (with original album cover art) that fits comfortably into a cardboard sleeve. This version features 3 bonus tracks and all the Czech lyrics. The sound of the album itself is even better than the 1990 disc. I cannot stress enough how great the original production was for this album. It is truly up to Western European standards. For now, I'm keeping both CDs.

Notes: This is an extraordinary album given the time and place. Flamengo's music is similar to some early 70's UK underground bands such as Raw Material, Tonton Macoute, Web's "I Spider", and especially Diabolus. It would be hard to imagine that Flamengo would know any of these albums, and thus came to a similar musical conclusion through a completely different lens. Sax, flute, guitar and organ are the primary solo instruments. Incredible songwriting with memorable melodies, that does remind the listener of the early 70s Italian scene (PFM, Celeste, QVL). Passionately sung in Czech, and I wouldn't want to hear it any other way. Also worth noting is the awesome production, which sounds like it was recorded in Germany or England. Too bad the oppressive governments of Eastern Europe didn't allow more artistic freedom in the early 70s. Flamengo's sole album gives us perhaps the best example of what could have been.