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Jiri Schwarz (Prague, Czechia)
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Atom Heart Mother
Atom Heart Mother
Offered by rmdcoleford
Price: 6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You may like it or not - I love it, 10 Jan 2011
This review is from: Atom Heart Mother (Audio CD)
The record I'll choose if I was to take a single one on a desert island (my choice throughout the last 4 decades). To me, the relief and "mindwash" in times of sorrow.

I don't see why some say it is conceptual. I think there's no common motif of the tracks (neither philosophically, nor musically - in contrast to the later albums of Dark Side, Wish You Were Here, Animals and Wall). Anyway, it is a collection of masterpieces. The 1st side of the original LP is occupied by the sole monumental AHM suite (all group members being co-authors), side 2 is reserved to a more traditional song-writing by individual PF members.

The AHM suite cannot be compared to anything else I've heard. Although being so long, it attracts you from the very beginning to the very end. The sound backbone of the record is the essential sound of PF of the early 70's (already the typical sounds of the keyboards, David Gilmour's guitar, and notably, the accurate, sensitive and well recorded Nick Mason's drums) which is here already devoid of the harmonies and arrangements used previously by Syd Barrett (I think the last LP on which we can musically trace Syd was Ummagumma - of course, spiritual heritage of Syd remained, as quoted on Wish You Were Here). The typical feature of the AHM suite are the contrasts of soothing harmonies and weird disharmonies, the contrasts of very calm, peaceful or contemplative parts with epical parts or even the slightly pompous finale (reminding of a happy-end of a drama). The contrasts are boosted by the incredibly sophisticated usage of the choir (wonderful voices so well corresponding to the sound) and horns. It is this unscrupulous ease of mixing the choir a brass arrangements (not at all trendy) with the rock'n blues backbone of PF's music that makes this album so outstanding and different to anything in PF's career.

The triad of the songs on side 2 of the LP) are simply 3 more pearls. If is a quiet acoustic tune (sung in a rather frustrated and shivering voice - asking "If I go insane, please don't put your wires in my brain" - ). Summer '68 is a decent Wright's nostalgia of the fast loves of the Hippie days, with brilliant keyboards. Fat Old Sun is a very fragile tune. The last track - Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast is well defined by its name. It employs some tapes of musique concrete, as we know it e.g. from Ummagumma). You can feel the exhaustion of the last night's trip, with the relief of the bacon crackling on the pan and the WC splash while the sun is rising.


Am Fenster
Am Fenster
Price: 7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Warning - You may not be buying what you intended, 10 Jan 2011
This review is from: Am Fenster (Audio CD)
I got this CD as a present (after I wished to get the original album). The name of this sampler is really tricky - in fact, this "Am Fenster - Platin Edition" contains only 2 songs from the original Am Fenster album (i.e., the original, long German version of "Am Fenster", and "Der King vom Prenzlauer Berg," i.e. tracks 13 and 7) In addition, a short English version of Am Fenster is included (track 1). Track 6 ("Window") is an instrumental remix of a part of Am Fenster (which means By the Window in English). Anyway, what's important, not to be mistaken like my duaghter was when she bought me this CD: IF YOU WANTED TO BUY THE ORIGINAL AMIGA LP "AM FENSTER" YOU SHOULD IN FACT BUY THE CD CALLED SIMPLY "CITY". (Sorry, I was unable to make a product link with the word "City", but it is available through Amazon.com). To be even more tricky, the envelope of the CD "City" is completely different to the original East German Amiga LP "Am Fenster".

As to the musical quality: the album contains one wonderful composition "Am Fenster," and the rest is average at best. Among the rest I would only mention "Der King vom Prenzlauer Berg". This song, although quite simple, has a unique atmosphere (with the interesting synthesizer part - I guess David Bowie must have heard this before he released his superb Heroes album recorded in Berlin - the synthesizers played by Brian Eno are really much alike!). Probably their first album (previously called "Am Fenster" and now simply "City") is the best, but this "Am Fenster - Platin Edition" is no platinum, but rather rust. So do not mix it up.


Ssssh
Ssssh
Price: 5.85

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ssssh. A hundred carat gem concentrating rock & blues power, 5 Jan 2011
This review is from: Ssssh (Audio CD)
I have claimed in my review that TYA's LP Watt was my most frequently played album within the past 35 years. Definitely, there won't be any Watt without its antecedent, Ssssh (1969), the first of the trilogy of TYA's LPs of their most fruitful period 1969-70 (i.e. Ssssh, Cricklewood Green, and Watt). Although quite short in total timing (33:35 min), it is laden with an incredible amount of blues-rock energy, distilled to the bones. High voltage, 100 carat gem. This very record was the basis for the future genuine, unmistakable sound of TYA. On the bluesy web, the power of 5 instruments is presented - Alvin Lee's vocal (although with a limited scale, vigorous enough with lots of rock and blues feeling, and time-to-time, in the more balladic things, even somewhat soft and hollow, in contrast to its unbelievable strength in the shouting and screaming parts), Alvin's virtuoso rock guitar playing legato in an extreme speed, releasing tons of energy all over, Leo Lyons's jerky style of bass-guitar playing (probably he was the one closest to jazz among the foursome, his style being quite different to all other bass-guitar players in the big R`n'R bands). Then comes the superb keyboard playing of Chick Churchill, although inconspicuous, yet perfectly fitting to the sound. His classical rock & blues way of handling piano or Hammond organ is full of feeling. And last but not least, the vigorous, robust, but also highly technical drumming of Alvin's brother, Ric, belongs to the same super class as e.g. that of Led Zep's John Bonham or The Who's Keith Moon.

It was 1969, the year of gross, prolonged, nearly jazzy improvisations and bulky soloing in rock, and also, of experimenting with the new sounds available in the studios of the time. All of this is notable on Ssssh. But (say, in contrast to the long improvisations of e.g. Cream or Grateful Dead of those years), on Ssssh, everything is highly controlled and subsides to the balanced sound and structure of the compositions. This is especially prominent on tracks 4 and 8 - the pieces that have been since quite regularly climaxes of TYA's live shows (even after Alvin's parting the group) - of course, with more abundant improvisations than on the studio-recorded Ssssh. These 2 compositions may serve as typical examples of TYA's songs, with an opening guitar or bass-guitar riff (maybe we would describe it as hard rock if performed by Black Sabbath), with the main theme gradually dissolving into various improvisations with up going tempo and exaltation. Also typical for TYA, a country blues-like style song appears (track 2), as well as the boogie (track 7). As the next typical feature of this and future records, some low- (or rather moderate-) tempo things are included (tracks 5 and 6), making the record pleasantly variable in style. Although track 5 starts like a balladic love song, it ends up in high tempo with full rock and blues power. Also, some new experimental sounds appear on Ssssh, but again, they are functionally built in the songs, without disturbing (this is in contrast with TYA's previous album, Stonedhenge). Well, it is hard to describe. Better go into this - definitely if you like rock & blues of the turn of 60's/70's. No way you might be disappointed - Ssssh is a real gem.


Magia Oblokow
Magia Oblokow
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 18.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic of The Magic of the Clouds, 24 Oct 2010
This review is from: Magia Oblokow (Audio CD)
I have known Grechuta's songs for some 30 years. Together with Czeslaw Niemen, he is probably the biggest personality of Polish rock of the 70's. He has influenced even the Czechoslovak scene of that time. Although I do not know all of his albums, this one is a real masterpiece. I do not understand Polish very well, but I think the name of the album is Magic of the Clouds. Marek, the singer, has written all the music. The lyrics (as far as I understand beautiful) was delivered various artists. Marek's music does not fit in any of the categories of rock or pop. The band is basically rocky (however, the violin plays also a major role), but the sound is very genuine, and the music is time-to-time influenced by Polish folk music, time-to-time by the French expressive chanson. The (instrumentally outstanding) band was: Jan A. Cichy - bg; Kazimierz Jonkisz - perc; Antoni Krupa - el-g, Piotr Michera - el-v, ac-g; Eugeniusz Obarski - p, perc; Marek Grechuta - voc, p.

The original vinyl LP was issued in 1974 by Polskie Nagrania. The technical quality of all vinyl records by this company was poor, the sound being flat, with bulky hiss in the background. The more I am happy by this CD release in 2000 (by Pomaton / EMI), which is surprisingly clear and beautiful in sound. There are 19 tracks on this CD, 9 of them are complimentary pieces - some of them are interesting alternative versions of the stuff on Magia oblokow (although not superior to the originally issued versions). Tracks 6-9 were originally film music (movie Jastrun). These were united on the LP into the suite Spotkania w casie (Meetings within time), the first 3 of them being instrumental. Marek's songs are highly introspective, maybe his observations from everyday life may address even some philosophical issues. His singing is superficially decent, informal and peaceful (his vocal is not a big one), but you need not understand Polish to see that it is very appealing below the surface (it came to my mind: in a similar way as Leonard Cohen). The tunes of the songs are incredible. Melancholic, romantic, you probably cannot hear the progression of chords elsewhere in the world. The excitement of his music also comes from the repetitive figures a rhythms, which may have a hypnotic effect. To exaggerate a bit: imagine something in between Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, performed by an heir of Chopin.

For me, one the most valuable CD treasures I keep at home (naturally 5 stars). I guarantee you will not be dissapointed as well.


Like Children
Like Children
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 12.49

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just remarks to this gem, 24 Oct 2010
This review is from: Like Children (Audio CD)
Just a few remarks:
1) You cannot imagine how uneasy was to obtain this fantastic LP, moreover, created by an emigrant from Czechoslovakia (son of a jazzman and a jazz female vocalist), here in Prague at that time (in common shops, you could not buy a thing - there were just some 10 LP records licensed and issued annually with western music). So after freedom came in the 1990's, I was looking for buying a CD, as my vinyl that I had bought on a black market in the old days, did not sound too well. It is really incredible how long we had to wait for this CD. Especially, I love "The Night."
2) To be fair, the Amazon database refers to this record as to Jan Hammer's work. But to be correct, Jerry Goodman should be named first of the two guys.
3) To translate the shouting in "Country and Eastern Music": the two words ("pivo, vino") mean "beer and wine" in Czech.
So put on this CD and enjoy, be it with beer or wine. A masterpiece of the jazz-rock fusion. You must feel it was just made for fun of those two musicians.


Horizontal
Horizontal
Price: 10.02

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luxurious remaster, 24 Oct 2010
This review is from: Horizontal (Audio CD)
The basic dozen of songs of the BG's 2nd LP was recorded in the second half of 1967 (soon after the BG had finished work on their debut called simply 1st: Remastered & Expanded) and was issued early in 1968 to enter the top 20 (US and UK) in February. The hallmark of the BG on their early albums is their incredible creativity in making memorable melodies, sung in perfect harmonies of the 3 Gibb brothers' vocals. The BG were a British pop group that certainly did not dramatically influence the quick developments of rock music of that time. On the other hand, on Horizontal, one can hear reflections of the new developments, e.g. psychedelia, r'n'b, and time-to-time, interesting sounds come from Vince Melouney's guitar. The creativity of the group between 1967 and 1971 (to Trafalgar) was really great - with the exception of the Beatles, I think only a few other groups were able to write so many tunes that you can preserve in your head at first listening. Of course, the most memorable tunes of Horizontal are the biggest hits, i.e. World, Massachusetts, and Horizontal, which regularly appear on divergent compilations. Superficially, you can take BG's music as a romantic hit pop group. However, the group has the inner power to sound very appealing, pleading and expressive.

The remaster of Horizontal is a very delightful thing. You get the whole original LP (total time 36:40 min) both in stereo and mono versions on Disc 1 (73:20 min). The sound is extremely pure and deep and thus to me much better than on the original vinyl. You can admire the outstanding orchestral arrangements which still seem to sound up-to-date. Disc 2 (34:59 min) contains additional melodies, most of them previously unissued. Among them, there are also interesting alternate versions of songs which do not appear on Horizontal (e.g. Swan Song). Some of the tracks sound as superb as those on Disc 1, but some sound inferior and flatter. In addition, Disc 2 offers also another famous BG single, Words. The 20-page booklet introduces details of each of the recordings.

Horizontal is one of the masterpieces of the first BG's era (along with 1st: Remastered & Expanded and Idea: Remastered & Expanded). Although I think that artistically, an even more interesting album is Odessa, I can recommend Horizontal to collectors, to fans of the old BG and to those, whose vinyls are getting poor - they will appreciate this luxurious reedition (and I suspect that the original 1CD recording is probably currently unavailable). The newcommers to old BG should rather buy one of the numerous greatest hit compilations.


Watt
Watt
Price: 6.58

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece - my most frequently played album, 24 Oct 2010
This review is from: Watt (Audio CD)
Definitely TYA's masterpiece, issued 1970. It's probably my most frequently played album of all times, still after those 40 years. I still feel the smell of the parties of the seventies in Prague, dancing e.g. to Think About the Times. The album has an extremely unique atmosphere (yes, also tired in a way, maybe frustrated, but also full of tenderness and love in Alvin's voice and music as well, subdued lights mandatory), which is only partially captured on other TYA albums (e.g. Cricklewood Green, Space In Time). The totally happy tune, She Lies In the Morning, is really great (maybe adding some genuine British /Liverpool?/ inspiration to the mixture). Alvin's guitar solos are at his best: more "homogenous", with greater than ever melodic invention. In addition, the perfect musicianship of the other 3 members of the group ought to be mentioned (Leo Lyons-bg, Chick Churchill-kb, Ric Lee-ds). Watt heralds the great change from the music of the sixties to the actual modern rock sound of the seventies (what a progress if you compare it to their pure R&B debut some 3 years before). Just listen to the brief shift into a fantastic jazzy improvisation (Gonna Run), years before the climax of the jazz-rock era. There are also heavenly rocky improvisations (I Say Yeah, She Lies In the Morning). The value of Watt is probably in its very specific sound that has brought together divergent inspirations, from blues, jazz to hard-rock. Watt is an extraordinary achievement, the result of previous years of playing the blues (and I guess they must have had experience with jazz as well). I only admit that the closing live piece taken at the Isle of Wight festival, Sweet Little Sixteen, has been performed better by other bands (and TYA themselves could play R'N'R classics also much better), and it never seemed to fit to the remaining tracks of the album. However, it does not hamper the overall feeling from listening to the album. In short, if you want to discover why TYA are so genuine in history of R'N'R, Watt has to be the choice.


Into The Blues
Into The Blues
Price: 9.17

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mature masterpiece of a mature woman, 18 Oct 2010
This review is from: Into The Blues (Audio CD)
I fell in love with Joan in the mid-70's after hearing her Back To The Night album (vinyl issued 1975; so sad it is currently unavailable on CD) and her 3rd album called simply Joan Armatrading (1976). I was extremely charmed by her vocal (smooth & husky & strong & natural, capable of unbelievable finesses, which were, however, very functional and devoid of any signs of exhibitionism). She had an outstanding technique of tone forming which varied with every syllable she sang. The other point was she was a fantastic song-writer of charming melodies, performed with great feeling, only occassionally bluesy. Her lyrics has been also delightful, sensitively marking the intimate spaces between two people. I came back to JA in the early 80's (Me Myself I, 1980) and then again, I somewhat forgot about her (being principally a rock fan). Then it took me another 15 years to get astonished for the third time, by means of her fantastic comeback with the album What's Inside (1995). I thought this was to be her last masterpiece ... and I did not expect she might ever level this.

However, this album shook me again. It preserves all the above mentioned attributes of JA's art, but, in addition, it indeed extends them. (I cannot recall many in the showbiz world that would be artistically growing and maturing being aged 57 - the majority can at best level previous efforts, but never go beyond). Joan's vocal darkened a bit, maybe as a consequence of the repetoire she performs. Although more than one half of the new songs are pricipally bluesy things (as indicated by the title of the album), it is incredible how Joan's creativity made the whole album so variable in mood, tempo, instrumentations. From the gloomy balads (the bluesy Empty Highway) to solidly rocking pieces (Deep Down, held on one single chord; There Ain't a Girl Alive); from her inventive classical song-writing (A Woman In Love; Baby Blues Eyes) to the classical electric blues things (My Baby's Gone; Liza). You may notice traces of funky, reggae, boogie, also gospel (Secular Songs). Another point is the instrumentation - as always, first-class. We used to hear many well-known studio musicians with her in the past - now Joan performes everything on her own with the exception of drums. There are wondeful guitar solos (some even aggressively rocking - There Ain't a Girl Alive), if not to mention the numerous tiny blues miracles she produces on her guitar. On one of the tracks (Baby Blue Eyes), her guitar playing even reminds of old Velvet Underground. The bass lines are perfect as well. Even the mouth harp appears (simple, but powerful). No backing vocals - just perfect overdubbs of her own. And last but not least - the lyrics. Simply you trust her, the charming lady, so open without any pretending in love affairs (..when you sing the blues, I'll take off my clothes for you). Surprisigly, even autobiographic (Mama and Papa) and social themes from an immigrant milieu appear, a feature I was not used to with Joan. The closing, slowly gradating bluesy song (Something's Gotta Blow) with the socially oriented lyrics is really overwhelming. Amen. We've heard the trinity of words, singing and music of JA, a mature woman who has created an extremely mature piece of art.


Foreigner
Foreigner
Price: 5.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be afraid - it's as good as "Tea" or "Teaser," and even goes beyond, 7 Aug 2010
This review is from: Foreigner (Audio CD)
This gem, issued 1973, well belongs to Cat's most fruitful period - the early 70's - his creativity then culminated. The music, the lyrics, the rhythms (speaking of the Cyprian roots) were extremely straightforward, spontaneous, without any shadow of intelectualism. Many reviewers here put this album quite inappropriately as a then trendy prog rock attempt. In my opinion, this is a sad misunderstanding of what Cat actually did. It may be that only because the word "suite" appears in the title of the first track ("Foreigner Suite" - 18 min, i.e. half of the LP/reissued CD), some listeners may deem this to be something very experimental or overcomplicated. However, by no means can this record be compared to what the prog rock groups, such as Yes, Jethro Tull or ELP (as stated in the editorial Amazon.com review), produced by that time. Musically, this has nothing to do with the somewhat experimental music of that kind. The Foreigner Suite is, in fact, just a medley of altogether some 6 tunes, which are now and then connected by several tacts of full-blood music with typical Cat Stevens rhythms, usually produced by Cat's syncopating piano or by woodwinds. These tiny interludes naturally fit to the songs themselvelves; occasionally, one song simply turns to the other one even without this connecting material. Nevertheless, this is still the genuine, typical music of Cat Stevens of that time, full of positive energy and emotion. Only big masters with huge creativity can afford to only gently indicate a catchy motif, and without numerous repetitions and refrains, simply go further (after all, this applies to classical music as well). A lot of pop stars would make a 2-LP of these songs. Cat has made sketches of great melodies, and skilfully connected them into one functional composition. Side 2 of the original LP consists of 4 similarly strong individual songs, all 5-star, without a weaker one (this is, again, in common with the 1970 records of Cat Stevens). The atmosphere of earthy happiness from music in the entire album was maybe amplified by the milieu of Jamaica, where all the tracks were recorded (only the strings and brass/woodwinds were added in New York). I think that there is maybe some unifying element, hard to define, over the mood of all the tracks, making this album very special - I have not felt this from any other Cat's album.

The booklet brings the lyrics and elementary info- on the musician line-ups on each track. The sound of the reissue is superb and matches to what you would expect of Cat's songs. In summary, I am extremely happy with this reissued version of one of the best Cat's records. Simply, it is him.


John Barleycorn Must Die
John Barleycorn Must Die
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 6.88

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great improvisations in a modest line-up, 7 Aug 2010
After another line-up of Traffic split in 1969, Steve Winwood played with the Blind Faith. After that, early in 1970, he planned to record a solo album. Yet, seeking musical partners tuned in the same way as himself, was a bit uneasy. That's why he gratefully accepted co-operation of his old Traffic friends, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi, and after all the album, John Barleycorn Must Die, was issued as as the 3rd Traffic's LP.

The trio (S. W. - keyb, g, bg, perc, voc; C. W. - keyb, saxs, fl, perc; J. C. - ds) was in a wonderful shape that year. The 6 original tracks are a tremendous blend of various musical styles and influences, yet holding perfectly together on one album. The majority of tracks (4-7 min each) allows space for solo improvisations. The instrumental opener ("Glad") starts off with a rhythmic piano and woodwind riff, which might be, by current categorization, assigned even to funky jazz-rock. However, the composition spreads into sax and then keybord improvisations, the piano in the end sounding nearly like a classical one, almost impressionistic style. Track 2 ("Freedom Rider") begins with a sax motif (which might have been an inspiration for the sax jingle of the TV series on Hercule Poirot :-). A lovely flute solo is featured as well. In track 3 ("Empty Pages"), a melodic folk-like tune, Winwood's vocal (commonly somewhat strangled) sounds, especially in the refrain, almost like Phil Collins. Probably no guitars are employed in these 2 compositions (tracks 2 & 3). In contrast, one of the additional tracks that were included into this remastered reissue (track 4 - "I Just Want You to Know"), is a short tune based on vocal harmonies and then it features a lovely guitar solo. Track 6 is the outstanding title composition - an English folk ballad, "John Barleycorn Must Die." As noted on the cover, the first record of this song appeared in 1465 in the age of James 1st. It is said to be about "the effort of people to give up the alcohol distilled from barley." Track 7 ("Every Mothers Son") has appeared on some compilations of progressive rock of the time. It features a catchy legato guitar figure and later, this composition transforms into folk-rock'n'blues keyboard improvisations, with perfect, time-to-time even exalted Winwood's singing (of course, Winwood is no Freddie Mercury, but his voice is very functional and suitable for this kind of music). Tracks 7 & 8 were recorded only by 2 people - Winwood played everything except for drums.

The sound of this remaster is quite nice; to me, only the additional track 4 sounds somehow flatter. The 2 bonus tracks are very pleasing (the total time of the extended issue is no more than 39:31 min), and depite that in general, I quite dislike spreading the added material in between the original one, on this album, it is quite feasible (the extra material being track 4 and the last track 8): in case you don't have the original recording in your ears, you would not recognize the "E.T." among the old material. The cover is the original - very decent. It is an older painting provided by the English Folk Dance & Song Society; it depicts a faggot of barley(?).

Whom to recommend this music: to anyone who likes the progressive rock music with lots of improvisation of the turn of 1960's and 1970's. If you like Clapton, Blind Faith etc., and the British folk, you won't be dissapointed. This record is superb, 5 stars.


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