:::BBC Radio 1971-1974:::

Posted: Monday, 21 February 2011 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , , , ,

Aside from the first disc of BBC radio sessions (with Wyatt still in the line-ups), much of the BBC sessions that the Machine played are present on this double disc and the four live radio sessions are spawned over four different line-ups and five studio albums released in the meantime. The first three tracks of the first disc are taken from previous 5 album with Phil Howard on drums and you can feel the man's free jazz tendencies, but they are not obtrusive and the tracks played have much more energy than the cold studio versions of 4 and 5, rendering a whole new light on them. The next track is a medley of four tracks from the 6 album, sporting Marshall and Hopper, but also Karl Jenkins (ex-Nucleus like Marshall), this sticking much more with the spirit of the then-current (and half-live I must say) album. The next two tracks are from a year later (and the 7 album) with another ex-Nucleus (Babbington) having replaced Hopper and again show them in particular fine form giving their instrument a full fitness workout!
The second disc starts with two tracks of the same session than on that finishing off the first disc but shows them in a vastly different mood. The short but impressive Babbington bass-droned track leads into a frenzied 6-sounding with Jenkins even blowing shortly into a flute. The rest of the disc is the same musos but augmented by guitarist Allan Holdsworth (yet another Nucleus refugee - this making Ratledge the only non-Nucleus alumni in the Machine at that time) that will make the Bundles album. The first 3 min track is a weird abstract music (noise?) that sorts of ruin the general ambiance, but the following two tracks more than makes up for it especially the multi-movement suite Hazard Profile.
The ting about this double BBC sessions record that makes it very worthwhile is the fact that the tracks from the 4 and 5 albums are so much warmer and livelier. It also has the benefit of shedding a little light on the oft-shunned (forgotten) 7 album.
Like all posthumous Soft machine release , this album is really of interest to confirmed Machinists , but if you are reading this review , you are probably very concerned , right?
:::Review by Sean Trane:::

Soft Machine - BBC Radio 1971-1974 (2003)

Disc 1 (44:56)

1. As If (7:45)
2. Drop (6:56)
3. Welcome To Frillsville (10:33)
4. Fanfare/All White/MC/Drop (11:13)
5. Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album (3:33)
6. Hazard Profile Part 1 (4:56)

Disc 2 (34:59)

1. Sinepost (1:47)
2. Down The Road (7:34)
3. North Point (3:00)
4. The Man Who Waved At Trains (5:41)
5. Hazard Profile Parts 1-4 (16:57)

- Mike Ratledge / keyboards
- Hugh Hopper / bass (tracks 1-4, CD1)
- Elton Dean / saxophone (tracks 1-3, CD 1)
- Karl Jenkins / oboe, saxophone, recorder, keyboards (tracks 4-6, CD1; all tracks CD 2)
- John Marshall / drums (tracks 4-6, CD1; all tracks CD 2)
- Roy Babbington / bass (tracks 5-6, CD1; all tracks CD 2)
- Allan Holdsworth / guitars (tracks 3-5, CD 2)
- Phil Howard / drums (tracks 1-3, CD 1)

:::BBC Radio 1967-1971:::

Posted: by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , ,

In just two double discs Hux records will release the numerous radio sessions done for the BBC, this one ranging from the Halcyon days of 67 - where the Machine was still a psychedelic caterpillar - until 71 with the most classic line-up including Dean, Hopper, Wyatt and Ratledge. These are just the studio radio sessions but there are two others BBC live concerts available also and as usual with BBC archives the sound is pristine and the interest of them is invaluable.
On disc 1, the first five tracks are due to the line-up that recorded the debut album with Kevin Ayers singing and playing bass and this is maybe the best sounding live recording from that period. With Hope For Happiness and Strangest Scene as showcase for their dynamic qualities, that session may just be the most interesting of all the ones on the two double discs set. The next session is one of the definitive ones showing on how the tracks from Volume 2 have evolved to lead into the famous and seminal Third album. Four tracks from that album are meddled into one suite while the second track from the session is a first version (pre-album) of Moon In June where Wyatt recommends Ayers, Caravan Pink Floyd and thanks the BBC and its orchestra while singing. Du grand art, monsieur!!! This session is also invaluable because those tracks are much more often played as a foursome (with Elton Dean), but more rarely as a trio.
Then comes a strange UFO in the name of Instant Pussy (that should be more at home on a Matching Mole record although it does not sound anything like the latter MM version) that was strangely separated from the rest of the session, which closes the second disc. This anti-chronological order is due to Robert Wyatt, but it is the only one of a kind on this release! Then we jump to the mid 70 session the now classic quartet doing a medley of tracks that are present on the Third album.
Disc 2 starts with an early 71 session the band presenting the rather cold fusion (sometimes right into free jazz thanks to Elton dean's influences) of their album 4, this one not being quite interesting as there are tons of other recordings available on those tracks, although maybe not of this caliber! The next session of the same year but in June and also being of lesser interest if you have any live BBC recordings or anything on Cuneiform records. Do not get me wrong, these two sessions are absolutely essential to the unconditional fan, but again if one is of that category he will already own one or two live version of these tracks. Another strange "gift" on here is another Wyatt vocal improve playing with echoes but this is messy and like the Instant Pussy does not really belong here!
Finally comes the session from late 69 and another invaluable one as this is a rare version of the Machine as a septet before recording the third album. The lengthy medley produced here is an interesting version the machine sounding a bit like a jazzier Chicago Transit Authority with a four-man brass session as they had stripped the Keith Tippett Group from most of its collaborators, but Charig and Evans leaving relatively quickly and Dobson hanging around for just a while longer!
Apart from the two odd choices Monsieur Wyatt chose to include (I would tend to say ill- advisedly as they sort of ruin a bit the record), we have another superb Hux record release that is essential to Soft Machineheads. And apart from the parti-pris (anti-jazz rock attitude) of the liner notes from some writer, the presentation and luxurious booklet make this release hard to resist.
:::Review by Sean Trane:::

Soft Machine - BBC Radio 1967-1971 (2003)

Disc 1 (66:45)

1. Clarence In Wonderland (2:57)
2. We Know What You Mean (3:11)
3. Certain Kind (3:38)
4. Hope For Happiness (4:37)
5. Strangest Scene Recorded (aka Lullaby Letter) (4:55)
6. Facelift / Mousetrap / Noisette / Backwards / Mousetrap Reprise (11:54)
7. The Moon In June (13:02)
8. Instant Pussy (3:19)
9. Slightly All The Time / Out Bloody Rageous / Eamonn Andrews (19:12)

Disc 2 (60:51)

1. Virtually (9:58)
2. Fletcher's Blemish (12:11)
3. Neo-Caliban Grides (7:34)
4. Dedicated To You But You Weren't Listening (2:46)
5. Eamonn Andrews / All White (7:11)
6. Mousetrap / Noisette / Backwards / Mousetrap Reprise / Esther's Nose Job (21:11)

- Kevin Ayers / bass, guitar, voice (tracks 1-5 CD1)
- Robert Wyatt / drums, voice
- Mike Ratledge / keyboards
- Hugh Hopper / bass (tracks 6-9 CD1, CD2)
- Brian Hopper saxophone, flute (track 6 CD1)
- Elton Dean / axophone (track 9 CD1, CD2)
- Marc Charig / trumpet (track 6 CD2)
- Lyn Dobson / saxophone, flute (track 6 CD2)
- Nick Evans / trombone (track 6 CD2)

:::Familjesprickor (Family Cracks):::

Posted: Thursday, 10 February 2011 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

IMHO, it was during their Zamla Mammaz Manna era that the combo extraordinaire Samla Mammas Manna delivered their best stuff - go figure, surpass the SMM material! "Familjesprickor" was their farewell album, so you can say that the Swedish band left the stage with flying colours (in fact momentarily, since a brief reunion took place a few years later). Apparently, this final phase was not easy to carry on: drummer Hans Bruniusson left soon after the recording sessions had started, and had to be replaced by Vilsot Hansson, while the curtain call ambience was clearly felt in the air during the time spent in the studio, performing, rearranging and mixing the new repertoire. Yet, you can tell that this ambience, so inconvenient in terms of emotional stability, proved to be fruitful in terms of musical merits and energetic performing. By this time, new guitarist Enio Haapala (Apetrea's replacement) had instilled an enhanced drive into the guitar parts making them more powerful and psychedelic, in this way, affecting the band's overall sound, which is now more sophisticated, more charged, more aggressive. The band themselves claim that the music in this album is not "as optimistic and happy as it used to be", but the listener should not expect mournful and/or languid music. Everything remains as colourful and exciting as always, only more tense, and as I already stated, more aggressive and more charged - that's where the inner tension comes from, mainly. There is also a decreased number of folly chanting, and that may be another hint of the lack of happiness in the album, a lessened desire to sing and hum. Regarding the repertoire itself, it's perfectly even in its richness and sense of surprise, all the time demanding a lucid awareness from the listener. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the opening track displays an impressive mixture of polka and jazz rock, with some Frippian guitar and Zappaesque extravagant chord progressions in the keyboard parts. A great opener, indeed. Track 2 is more remarkably melodic, with guitarist Haapala assuming the leading role, except for a brief piano solo by Hollmer. 'The Forge' includes some disturbing guitar soundscapes and some delicious circus-like accordion chords on a funky-rock basis: something the listener needs to hear before the ultra-dadaist genius nonsense displayed in 'The Thrall' - Henry Cow fan membership required to enjoy this one. A bit less deconstructive but more intensely aggressive is 'The Panting Short Story', mostly due to the guitar parts: the odd tempos and bizarre chord progressions on keyboards keep things standing firmly on SMM's typical jazzy ground, but the hard rocking vibes in Haapala's riffs and picks remains prominent right until the end of the song. I feel the fade-out comes too soon - I wish this particular fave of mine would have been a bit longer. The nest two numbers bring some extra colours in ZMM's pallet: the reggae cadence in 'Pappa' comes pretty handy in order to convey some jolly, healthy sarcasm; the subtly added touches of Latin jazz in 'The Farmhand' helps to reduce the tension that has been predominant for most of the album. And finally, 'Kernel in Short and Long Castling' starts as typical SMM (burlesque + jazz complexity + folkish nuances), but it won't take long before the tension starts to show again, in this way providing a proper ending for the album. Overall rating: 5 stars, no less for this masterpiece.
:::Review by Cesar Inca:::

Zamla Mammas Manna - Familjesprickor (Family Cracks) (1980)

1. Five Single Combats (5:52)
2. Ventilation Calculation (5:05)
3. The Forge (5:04)
4. The Thrall (5:05)
5. The Panting Short Story (3:52)
6. Pappa (with right of veto) (4:27)
7. The Farmhand (7:33)
8. Kernel in Short and Long Castling (5:40)

- Lars Hollmer / keyboards, accordion, song
- Eino Haapala / guitar, song
- Lars Krantz / bass, song
- Vilgot Hansson / drums, percussion
- Hans Bruniusson / drums, and some percussion on "Pappa"


Posted: Tuesday, 8 February 2011 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , , ,

Some wouldn´t consider this the best Ian Carr or Nucleus album, but there´s plenty to enjoy. Sure, it´s not exactly on a par with the first two Nucleus albums "Elastic Rock" and "We´ll Talk About It Later", but it´s a nice example of the tunes, riffs, rhythms, and improvisation style of the band under Ian Carr´s leadership. And I happen to like the album art. A bit strange for Nucleus, and not totally fitting with the music, but it´s quite nice.
"Belladonna is maybe less complete overall than Solar Plexus but is most definitely the most elusive and sought after of Ian Carr's Vertigo label vinyl releases. By the time this record was recorded only Brian Smith remained of the Solar Plexus line-up, but in the new blood recruited, Carr was able to instill that same kind of energy and spirit that had made the previous Nucleus recordings such critical (if not commercial) successes.
The title track in particular has that rhythmic quality not dissimilar to Snakehips' Dream, a kind of irisistable foot tapping almost danceable beat that is totally and hypnotically infectious from its percussive Ian Carr led intro to it's pure jazz rock electric mid section.
The piece Suspension is apparently Ian Carr's most satisfying studio track; one of those single takes that only happen once or twice in a career ... do I have to say more?"
:::Review by Mr. Paul D. Curtis:::

Ian Carr's Nucleus - Belladonna (1972)

1. Belladonna (Carr) 13.37
2. Summer Rain (Carr) 6.11
3. Remadione (Smith) 3.48
4. Mayday (Carr) 5.40
5. Suspension (Carr) 6.15
6. Hector´s House (Smith) 4.34

Roy Babbington (bass)
Gordon Beck (piano)
Ian Carr (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Allan Holdsworth (guitar)
Dave MacRae (piano)
Brian Smith (saxophone, flute)
Clive Thacker (drums)
Trevor Tomkins (percussion on 01., 03 - 04.)

:::The World of Genius Hans:::

Posted: Monday, 7 February 2011 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

Being one of the most relevant bands in the seminal age of French prog, Moving Gelatine Plates was a peculiar musical force influenced by "Third"-era Soft Machine and Supersister, in this way anticipating (to a certain degree) the kind of sophisticated folly that Gong will turn into an essential part of its signature sound. The progressive element abundantly instilled with jazzy overtones, the touch of psychedelia and the patent humor are the three core aspects of MGP's sound: their sophomore effort "The World of Genius Hans" is really worthy of the word genius that appears in the title. Because of the flamboyant styles provided by Helminger on sax and Thobault on bass we can appreciate the influences from Elton Dean and Hugh Hopper, which makes for the powerful SM element in MGP. All in all, it would be unfair to label this band as a mere clone of Ratledge, Wyatt & co., since the ensemble manages to create a refreshing proposal in a global level. The band really knows how to approach the complexity of the musical arrangements with precision and sobriety. Some guitar inputs by Bertram together with some vocal passages remind me of yet another icon of experimental rock on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - that is, Frank Zappa (big band era). With its 14 minute span, the namesake track stands out as a well- ordained mini-epic that goes fluidly through its various motifs.
'Funny Doll' finds the band going for more candid ambiences: despite the fact that the sax and lead guitar lines are noticeable dissonant, this piece is predominantly gracious, closer to Hatfield & the North than to Soft Machine, with an extra touch of Zappaesque humor. 'Astromonster' bears a more mysterious feel, not in a creepy sense, but ethereal: the initial lines on flute and distorted bass are a pertinent initiation to the elaboration of the intricate passages that emerge from minute 3, creating a combination of jolly and hypnotic vibes. 'Moving Theme' digs deeper in the band's extroverted side, and so does 'Cauchemar': comparing both, I feel that the former is more aggressive. 'We Were Loving Her' is based on a series of monochromatic organ layers upon which various effects and ornaments on sax, guitar and bass go floating by. The emergence of a sung section is a pretext for the elaboration of a cohesive arrangement. This particular piece is closer to late 60s psychedelia than to standard Canterbury (if there is such thing, I mean.). The closing track 'Un Jour...' works as a brief epilogue on soprano sax that bears a very lyrical feel: I wouldn't have minded if it had been a bit longer, at least. Anyway, this is all there is and it is fine by me - actually, more than fine, since this albums is a real prog masterpiece in my book. This gem should not be missing in any good prog collection, regardless of the collector's pet sub-genre(s).
:::Review by Cesar Inca:::

Moving Gelatine Plates - The World Of Genius Hans (1972)

1. The World of Genius Hans (14:00)
2. Funny Doll (4:25)
3. Astromonster (6:15)
4. Moving Theme (3:46)
5. Cauchemar (3:46)
6. We Were Loving Her (3:28)
7. Un Jour... (1:25)
8. Synthème (Bonus-Track CD) (3:28)
9. L'Alchimiste (Bonus-Track CD) (3:20)
10. Les êtres d'or (Bonus-Track CD) (5:50)
11. Ombres (Bonus-Track CD) (3:30)
12. Rire de peine (Bonus-Track CD) (7:07)

- Maurice Hemlinger / organ, trumpet, soprano and tenor saxophone, flute
- Gerard Bertram / electric guitar, vocals acoustic guitar
- Didier Thibault / bass, vocals, 12-string guitar
- Gerard Pons / drums, percussion