Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 70% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now
Profile for R. J. Heath > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by R. J. Heath
Top Reviewer Ranking: 582,226
Helpful Votes: 940

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
R. J. Heath "djaitch" (Loughborough, Leics, UK)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Complete Clapton
Complete Clapton
Offered by Acfun Store
Price: £5.87

27 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Marketing Hype & Record Company Cynicism, 13 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Complete Clapton (Audio CD)
For years on British TV, we have had to put up with adverts for the latest album as being 'fantastic' (or some equally abused superlative), for an instantly forgettable, worse than mediocre, band recording. I don't tolerate: I just ignore these regularly rolled out and meaningless cliches. It's the marketing people seemingly having a vocabulary in 3 figures, thinking the younger age group are similarly afflicted and naive to believe this tosh.

But when marketing hype gets printed up as the title of a respected musician's latest CD, I feel comment should be made, with the tiny hope that these illiterate ************(put your own obscenity here),don't try to feed this rubbish to us in the future. The case in point is the heavily advertised Eric Clapton compilation The Complete Eric Clapton. As already said: Complete??? On 2 CDs??? Come on!! Worse, nothing is here representing the period Clapton became known as 'God 'i.e. in particularly the Yardbirds and Bluesbreakers periods. With so much marketing money thrown at promoting the set, surely there would have been money to pay EMI and Decca for the privilege of providing examples of Clapton's music from the early to mid 60's? Could this be a typo, should the cover really read The Incomplete Eric Clapton? With so many Clapton compilations out already, this triplication of what you probably have already, is clearly another Christmas stocking-filler-come-exploitation job on the back of Clapton's recently published "autobiography"? The cynic record company pushing back catalogue yet again. Indeed I wonder how much Clapton was involved, especially after the comments Clapton made on the Cream biographic DVD issued last year, bemoaning that Jack Bruce made most out of Cream through song royalties - the Complete Eric Clapton kicks off with Jack Bruce's I Feel Free. Doesn't smack of Eric being in control and having much say here - so much for this 'god's' omnipotence .

If we haven't heard all before in many packaged forms then we would be close to 5 star set here , but not for the umpteenth variant.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2009 12:35 PM GMT

Art Metal
Art Metal
Price: £12.84

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fusion gets more complex and interesting, 11 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Art Metal (Audio CD)
Another of 2007 albums I have waited for with quite some anticipation, not least for the reunion of Jonas Hellborg with the Johansson brothers, and what appeared to be a continuation of Hellborg's experiments in Indo-jazz fusion.

The CD went on and I admit some faint disappointment at what I first heard. Oh, for sure there is excellent musicianship but the first couple of tunes on 'Art Metal' hit me as fairly heavy, brash, but still, intelligent jazz metal - however, nothing to get too excited about: the expected Indian influences didn't leap out of the speakers. Instead the music's Indian elements only become clearly evident and have an equal weighted to the rest of music, as we are progressed through to the album's later tracks. I seemed to be missing something. So with adjustment of my pre-conceptions, on my second hearing I realised that the Indian rhythms and the structuring of tunes were there from the very start but I was required to listen carefully and cut through the immediate, up-front heaviness. From this point I realised this is a record that has several levels of complexity, and therefore needed several more hearings for me to more fully appreciate it. The second play revealed more of 'Art Metal's complexity of arrangements, the use of light and heavy, the mix of east and west, abrupt changes in song and so on. This second hearing told me that with 'Art Metal' Jonas Hellborg is maintaining his high standard of experimental jazz fusion - and indeed the album's title is apt! This is an album recommended to Hellborg fans and especially those into metal jazz which does something new and special.

'Art Metal' continues the experimental fusion of jazz with other musical forms, that Hellborg started his solo career with in the late 80's. Through numerous DEM Records, Axiom and nowadays Bardo releases, little has seemed off-limits to Hellborg wrt musical cross-pollination. In particular, the heavy jazz fusion of 'e' (predating Niacin by several years), Shining Path's 'No Other Worlds', and of course more recently the Indo jazz fusion of 'Icon', 'Paris', 'Kali's Son' etc., are the precursors to 'Art Metal'. But clearly the music isn't stuck in the 90's.

Anders Johansson continues to impress, being one of the most intelligent metal drummers around, and again demonstrating his great empathy with collaborating percussionists, particularly those using eastern rhythms, (e.g. as found previously on his solo album 'Red Shift'). And I have to say a welcome back to Jens Johansson - it is really pleasing to hear him away from Stratovarius and being pushed. The presence of Mattias IA Eklundh is also welcomed, who's previous, relatively hard to find, master-class albums of shredding have shown him to be an innovative guitarist. As hinted above, Indian percussionist Selvaganesh, playing the kanjeera, seems to be understated as a player, only becoming really exposed to our ears in the second half of 'Art Metal' - but saying such neglects the fact that he is laying down the rhythmic structures of these tunes throughout, in equal partnership to Hellborg.

As a footnote: having seen the instructional DVD, 'The Gateway to Rhythm' by John McLaughlin and S. Ganesh Vinayakram, the information there has provided me with some considerable insights into what Hellborg and Selvaganash are doing in the company of proven metal rock masters of the Johansson brothers and Mattias IA Eklundh. A DVD which can be recommended as an introduction to Indian music.

An add-on. It is now 7 days after receiving this album and it is on its 5th replay. This record is a real grower and has now eased Alex Machacek's 'Improvision' out from being my favourite jazz rock fusion album of 2007. More subleties keep revealing themselves each and every play: like sucking on a large gobstopper and discovering a new set of colours each time. This isn't metal in the traditional sense, too much care has come from the bare-bones arrangements of tunes and the jazz (rock) improvisation that each musician creates as his solo, and also that played as accompaniment to any particular soloist. A most unexpected form of fusion that works, of jazz rock, heavy rock/metal and Indian rhythms. Most definitely new Indo-jazz fusion. A 5 star album!

Price: £13.55

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely there is a new sheriff in town, 31 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Improvision (Audio CD)
There is an advantage presenting a specialist radio show: I get the occasional promo a little time ahead of the UK release date. However, I will admit that I have been waiting this particular album with quite some anticipation after sampling and savoring a track at its record label's website. Now the full 'Improvision' has arrived, and I can report that I am NOT disappointed and go much further, saying it is probably the best jazz rock fusion album I've heard in quite a few years.

I've followed Austrian Alex Machacek's career for a number of years, since being introduced to his first album (under the group name but of different spelling, McHacek) 'Featuring Ourselves", itself a tour de force as an introduction to a major new guitarist. On that album Alex made it clear wrt his musical influences: Parker (including an individual and prize-winning take on "Donna Lee"), Zappa (more "Black Page" than "Yellow Snow") and Holdsworth - indeed a few critics (including myself), suggested that the album often sounded like the Mothers fronted by Allan Holdsworth.

The word spread slowly about the new kid on the (European) block but Alex's interest in polyrhythms meant former Mother, Terry Bozzio soon was working with him. BPM's 'Delete & Roll' resulted, an album of complex time signatures and dense, avant jazz fusion - including a studied avoidance of the Holdsworthian style of guitar playing - featuring the unusual combination of drums, guitar and woodwind. Alex decamped to the American west coast about two years ago, finding gigs almost instantly, and better still the fledgling label Abstractlogix signed him up. '[sic]' appeared earlier this year, in part continuing where 'Delete and Roll' stopped. And now the happy surprise especially within the year, with 'Improvision' being released.

This album is not quite like what has gone before. While on the CD cover, Alex's name heads the list of three: Matthew Garrison (the very gifted bassist who has worked with John McLaughlin, Gary Husband's Force Majeure), and Jeff Sipe (aka Apt. Q-258, and formerly worked with Hellborg & Lane, Project Z and others of Jimmy Herring groups), have equally important parts to play on this album. Their music is modern jazz rock fusion showing this music continues to progress, and nothing is stuck in 70's, so-called heyday of the genre. Their playing is virtuosic most of the album, and they have some pretty good compositions to arrange and improvise around- where too often elsewhere, superb playing has been affected by forgettable tunes. Alex Machacek's playing, whilst acknowledging the masters gone before importantly, as demonstrated on all his albums, you will find he is his own guitarist introducing us to playing and combinations of sounds not heard previously. He has frightening speed whilst playing the most fluid on lines. Matthew Garrison with his 5 string electric bass continues to show he in the major league of post-Jaco bassmen. And Jeff Sipe? This drummer seems to be a best kept secret amongst jazz rock fans, and here is the equal to the other two musicians. He plays subtle, he plays polyrhythms and he plays heavy. On 'Improvision' Machacek, Garrison and Sipe simply gel perfectly well together, playing a variety of tunes, revealing their harmonically sophistication, the ability to be restrained on jams - where other would have go headlong - to summarise; play things that are likely to take you by surprise, and some if you blink, you'll miss.

US critic, Bill Milkowski, writes: "This stuff takes me back to the early 70's, to a time when creativity, concept and risk-taking were the watchwords in fusion music". Yes, true up to a point, but most certainly this is music of the 21st century.

A Breath Of Fresh Air: A Harvest Records Anthology 1969-1974
A Breath Of Fresh Air: A Harvest Records Anthology 1969-1974
Price: £35.18

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A late harvest of underground and progressive music, 29 May 2007
Long long ago, Harvest Records issued a double vinyl set `Picnic: A Breath Of Fresh Air', (see below). And now 36 or so years later, Harvest Records/EMI present 'Breath Of Fresh Air' - the picnic being long devoured - a full three CD set and with only 3 common tracks(marked: *).

I've thought hard, stared into by my now ageing vinyl collection and I can't think that any Harvest signings from the first 5 years of the label's existence have been omitted. Therefore we are presented with a variety of musical styles which happily fell under the joint headings of underground/progressive music, circa 1970. Hence some excellent folk from the Collins sisters, Michael Chapman and Roy Harper. Proto-gothic/agiprop pops up several times from Edgar Broughton, but I'm not sure of the choice of Broughton's 'Evil' to open the whole; there are better tunes on 'Wasa Wasa'. The avant blues rock of Pete Brown (Jack Bruce's lyricist), comes up several times. Good examples of the then blossoming heavy rock of Deep Purple and Quatermass. The beautiful weirdness of The Third Ear Band, Ron Geesin, Kevin Ayers, (a personal hurray for the inclusion of 'Song From The Bottom Of A Well'). Syd Barrett on the edge of complete mental collapse. We are happily given the full danceable, whack of Babe Ruth's Tamla inspired 'Wells Fargo', with the faux Junior Wells sax break. There is Roy Wood's ELO, before they became Mr Lynn's -and to remind of where ELO came from, the Move is represented. And I'm thinking: is that Jan Akkermann track with former Yes-man Pete Banks? And then you'll find a few bands the bands time almost forgot -e.g. Forest, Spontaneous Combustion, Bombadil (hey, I have this track on a single record!). The choice of Floyd is good - for me. And there is Marc Almond!?

`Breath Of Fresh Air' is as good but no better than any one of the excellent 5 compilations from the same period issued by Decca (`Legend Of A Mind'), Island (`Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal') , Castle (`Ars Longa Vita Brevis'), Vertigo (`Time Machine'), Liberty-UA/EMI, (`All Good Clean Fun'), in the last 5 years. However, this particular Harvest set is released quite some time after their old competitors in the provision of underground music/progressive music/emerging heavy rock have done so. Similar to the other five, 3 CD sets all issued in the last 5 years, 'Breath' covers music recorded and released by Harvest in the late 60's to early 70's, and too has with copious and colourful liner notes. (Okay, they did issue the larger 95 track, 5 CD box set `Harvest Festival', taking musical examples from a broader period, and with a large book almost a decade ago, but it came/comes with a somewhat deterrent price).

As a footnote: Dare I suggest that it is worth buying all 6 sets, (i.e. 18 CDs in total, especially with duplication across the sets being almost zero), covering a very, very good cross section of familiar and unfamiliar British rock music in its development and blossoming, (plus a few offshore examples), and get a real bargain for about 100 quid?

LP 1:
1. Into The Fire - Deep Purple
2. Mother Dear - BJH
3. Embryo - Pink Floyd*
4. Twisted Track - Pete Brown & His Battered Ornaments
5. Glenlogie - Shirley & Dolly Collins
6. The Good Mr Square - Pretty Things
7. Song Of The Ages - Roy Harper
8. This Worried Feeling - Bakerloo
9. Eleanor's Cake Which Ate Her - Kevin Ayers
10. Again & Again - The Greatest Show On Earth

LP 2:
1. Water - Third Ear Band
2. Terrapin - Syd Barrett
3. A Glade Somewhere - Forest
4. Golden Country Kingdom - Pete Brown
5. Round & Round - Panama Ltd*
6. Black Sheep Of The Family - Quatermass*
7. Postcards Of Scarborough - Michael Chapman
8. Maybe My Mind - Tea & Sympathy
9. Old Gopher - Edgar Broughton Band
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2015 1:13 PM BST

White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s
White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s
by Joe Boyd
Edition: Paperback

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remembering the 60's & really being there, 7 Mar. 2007
I've long thought the statement, 'If you remember the 60's you couldn't been there', to be a nonsense.

As a weekend hippy who got high on very good music, cheap Canadian Clubs and ginger (and no stronger chemicals), I remember the times pretty well. This meant having the ability to slip into the action at weekends and then do a day job to pay for the records, the gigs..... and then through the drag of the working week, eventually slip into next weekend's action. It was improved most Wednesday evenings by making the trip to Tolworth's Toby Jug off the A3, to see the likes of Timebox (soon to become Patto, and with Ollie Hassell doing a Keith Moon destruction job on his vibraphone), Fleetwood Mac (a half crown for this, and 'Albatross' had just left the No. 1 singles spot), King Crimson (first UK tour - but this was a terrible venue for the band), Led Zeppelin (1st tour and the audience only warming to them in the second hour of playing), Edgar Broughton Band (audience only just in double figures, but still a great show), a classic line-up with Jeff Beck (Nicky Hopkins, Ron Wood, Tony Newman and Rod Stewart), or the Groundhogs backing John Lee Hooker. Then get rather disillusioned about the hippy ethos at the end of Traffic's Oz Benefit concert at Central Middlesex Poly one summer's evening, when I discovered I'd been sit on the floor (of that canteen, which Traffic welcome us to), immediately in front of Oz-man-in-chief Richard Neville. I stood up and accidently trod on his cloak; he mouthed f*** off' retrieving a portable cassette recorder concealed there, on which it seemed he was making a bootleg recording - of a band who were doing him a huge favour.

This is not the first book to describe this period of radical musical change and social "revolution". Several books have been written by some of the protagonists of the London hippy scene of the mid/late 60's - e.g. Richard Neville (him again) now wealthy back in Oz, Mick Farren describing The Social Deviants (and Pink Fairies) and International Times, 'Lost In the Woods' a biography of Syd Barrett and the rise of Pink Floyd, 'Out-Bloody-Rageous' the Soft Machine biography. Now here Anglo-American record producer Joe Boyd, has come up with a most readable gem of an autobiography, concentrating largely on the period 1964 to 1971. The book's title 'White Bicycles'refers to the white bicycles frequently seen then in the Netherlands, (which were for anybody to use - echoing the intended freedom to 'share each other's goods, plough each other's earth', and the related hippy ethos), and of course the hit by one of the first bands he managed, Tomorrow.

Boyd relates how he fell into the music business, discovering a long forgotten blues singer was happy to do a gig at a Harvard Uni student hall for 25 dollars as long as he got a ride to the show. Boyd had a whip round taking a dollar each from everybody who attended, and so was able to give the musician a 75 dollars bonus. Then the summer jobs working for record labels. Or acting as goffer at the Newport Jazz & Folk Festival in 1965, when he claims rock came about i.e. when Dylan brought his electric folk band on stage with Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper in that line-up, so shocking the folk purists, such as Pete Seeger, that they walked out of the Festival. Then road managing elderly blues singers around Europe. The love affair with the UK after Boyd talked himself into a scouting job for talent with Elektra Records, for example claiming how close he was to grabbing Floyd for the label. Seaprately discovering Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention, and then getting Denny into the band. Being stunned by Nick Drake's demos and then being more stunned that nobody bought Nick Drake's records when first released - although when John Cale asked Boyd who was new, on hearing a work-in-progress tapes for '5 Leaves Left', Cale went straight round to Drake's digs, sorted out a couple of tunes, then they recorded these together the following Monday. And then the rise and fall of the Incredible String Band.

What works here for me is Boyd's style of writing, with its constant shift of time and location between neighbouring chapters. This provides a powerful echo for me of the 60's: strong memories but not necessarily in true chronological order and so much there that it wasn't possible to concentrate on all at the same time. One page you are in Boston mid 60's, the next negiotating with Island Records' Chris Blackwell, selling the rights to the recording licenses of Witch Season signings in 1970. The casual decision to start UFO in London's Tottenham Court Road, the bands that appeared there, the drugs sold too which Boyd turned a blind eye until the Met forced the club's closure.

A good book which I strongly recommend to all to give some insight into the original London underground scene, which in part lead to progressive music/rock and the somewhat amateur wheeler dealing associated with it. Also an excellent companion to the 'Forever Changing: Golden Age Of Elektra Records, 1963-73' CD box set.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2014 3:25 PM BST

Out of Sight and Sound
Out of Sight and Sound
Price: £13.34

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the first jazz rock album, 3 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Out of Sight and Sound (Audio CD)
I'm pleased to report I've now have a copy of the 1966 recording/originally 1967 release by The Free Spirits' 'Out of Sight & Sound' hot from Amazon.

The copious liner notes should be read by anybody who still holds the delusion 'Bitches Brew' was the first jazz rock album - this record was recorded ~3 years before. The Free Spirits included jazzers who are much more well-known nowadays: Larry Coryell (this was his first recording), Jim Pepper, Bob Moses, Chip Baker & Chris Hills. Their intention was to make music in a way they imagined "George Harrison would play John Coltrane", although Roger McGuinn of the Byrds might be cited as somebody who was visiting that territory. However, with this record they were constrained by pop single market sensibilities as their original label, ABC Records, insisted that The Free Spirits limit the songs recorded to about 3 minutes each. In the meanwhile the band would be playing much of the set heard here, as extended free jazz jams live. And perhaps another surprise is the use of vocals (a rare instrument for the jazz rock albums that have come since), but alas the weakest element of the record, but presumed again to satisfy the pop singles market demands. It should be noted that The Free Spirits worked with Jimi Hendrix and Velvet Underground - but then alas only in a small way from this CD, can you get a sense of what they might have sounded live.

On listening to 'Bitches Brew' somebody new to jazz rock might fairly ask why the label "jazz rock", when the rock elements are not immediately clear. With 'Out Of Sight & Sound' the use of this latterday tag is much more obvious as soon as you hear the first track. The most marked observation to be made when comparing the music and the recording quality of these two albums: is how much more sophisticated the Miles Davis record is. This has to be what happens when jazz and rock are fused - said in the Joe Zawinul biography to be the last great change in jazz - and then have time to mature and better have some of the jazz establishment embraced it.

As was ABC Records want, this was another one of those albums that got limited promotion in 1967, so it just about sunk without trace. The careful research by Stuart Nicholson found in his book 'Jazz Rock: A History', alerted a lot of fans to its existence. 'Out Of Sight & Sound' is an album of relevance in the history of jazz rock fusion, but because of the associated recording limitations, it is a seminal recording made less memorable than it might have been.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 29, 2013 4:47 PM BST

Middle Earth Masters
Middle Earth Masters
Price: £16.53

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More essential recordings for the rock archeologist, 24 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Middle Earth Masters (Audio CD)
At last we have some recordings that provide a missing link between the 'Rock Generation' demo recordings of 1966, (subsequently a over a decade later gained the name 'Jet Propelled Photograph'), and the first legitimate Soft Machine studio recording of 1968. Many of the tunes on the 'Middle Earth Masters' will be found on both these and other recordings - but on this album the gloves are off, as recording studio restrictions were not imposed. This is early Machine (post Daevid Allan), freaking out with audience and having the space to improvise.

At first listening a non-Machine fan will be most disappointed especially by the sonic quality, discussed in quite some detail in the liner notes. However, a Machine freak should be delighted. Then anybody curious about early prog and jazz rock fusion bands needs to show a little tolerance. But beneath the distortion, the channel imbalance and vocals lost in the distance, lurks a wealth of great inventive music. We are lucky to have these recordings (as liner notes will also reveal), since this is an important oral document in the form of three(?) snap- hot live recordings of progressive music evolving out of the British pop and pop-psychedlia heard for the first time in the mid 60's.

The album has a mix of the 2 to 4 minute pop and/or psychedelic songs which take a few risks, interdispersed with what the out-of-London club and hall managers too often disliked because these longer tunes were almost impossible to dance to. For example there is an extended version of Brian Hooper and co.s 'Hope For Happiness'. This kicks off with Wyatt giving out a vocal drone (the only reminder of the song's former Wilde Flowers' raga incarnation), only a minute or so later to have Ratledge's Lowry smash in - with Ayer's bass - drowning Wyatt's voice out with a startlingly innovative and long keyboard solo. The imbalance of the recorded mix favours Ratledge's organ, but this is what I want, it is superb. What you smacks you in the ears is that in 1967 Ratledge is so ahead of the underground keyboard pack, e.g. Emerson or Wright, and he ain't playing in the blues-jazz style of Brian Auger, Graham Bond, Stevie Winwood or Georgie Fame (to name a few). His technique is excellent, the rock improv is innovative (or literally 'progressive'), and the use of sonic distortion to extend the range of limited effects from a pre-synth keyboard was then frightenly new. How much of this resulted from his post graduate studies in music? The CD is worth its price for these insights to what really was happening almost night by night in the progressive underground scene in the UK.

As Jon Newey (current editor of Jazzwise), reminds in a second set of liner notes: what you hear on this CD is remarkably like being in the acoustically unfriendly cellar of the Middle Earth Club in London's Convent Garden, front row, watching the Soft Machine trio energetically sweat out this new progressive music for the punters. I'm reminded so much of that wall of sound, initially painfully loud in many other clubs and halls at the time from many other 60's bands - and the young me loving it.

Not an album for all, but Machine freaks and rock historians ought to be queuing up to buy and play this over and over. And as a final thought if Machine were sampled in Middle Earth back in 1967, does anybody have Pink Floyd from the period?

Oh Yeah!
Oh Yeah!

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time top 10 jazz rock albums, 9 Nov. 2006
This review is from: Oh Yeah! (Audio CD)
'Oh Yeah!' is Jan Hammer's third solo album (the second for Nemperor Records). It is probably the one with the strongest element of straight jazz rock running through all the tracks. His earlier Nemperor album 'The First Seven Days' had more emphasis on electronica, hinting towards the future Miami Vice period. The first album had been recorded for the German label BASF: that straighter jazz. Now with the full catalogue of Hammer's solo and group albums available on CD, a clear progression can be heard as Hammer moved away from the jazz rock of Mahavishnu Orchestra, through funk and Latin towards straighter rock and then into electronica. The shift away from jazz rock, shown by a near absense on the third solo release 'Melodies', where Hammer and Co. were into funk (indeed lightweight soul) and more electronica. It should be noted that while Hammer's own music was moving slowly away from the jazz influences, he was also a prolific session musician, on call to provide his immediately identifable keyboard sound for the likes of Al DiMeola, John Abercrombie, Jeff Beck, Horace Arnold, Tony Williams and Elvin Jones during this period.

With 'Oh yeah!' you will get the tight interplay between violin and keys on some tracks, that had earlier characterised MO's music. But through use of funky bass lines - from both electric bass and low register Mini-Moog - we are treated to more soulful, groove-based jazz rock than experienced from MO, e.g. check the title track. Some soulful vocals add to this view. But what is perhaps unique for the time, was the funk with violin - although both Michael White and Michel Urbaniak were to release funky violin albums later. And then because of Hammer second musicial love, that of percussion, funk gives way to grooved-based Latin-jazz rock. One track to pick out: 'Red & Orange'. Jan Hammer plays quite a different, more jazz-based Hammond organ interpretation of this tune on John Abercrombie's 'Timeless ' (itself a great version). However, the 'Oh Yeah!' version has all the stops out and let the fireworks explode, reflecting the great energy and dynamics of the whole album.

Some personal factors:
>This has been in my all time top ten selection of jazz rock albums since first buying the LP version in 1976. But with only the vinyl version available until now, it hasn't had its fair share of play over the last 5 year, (cf. my favourite recordings on CD). So with the arrival of this CD, I was wondering if it would still stands up as a personal timeless classic?
> Soon after getting my first CD player, circa 1987 I drew up a 'must replace my then worn vinyl with CD'list. This list totalled 107 LPs, many as obscure as you can get. Nevertheless the 106th to be found was released last year unannounced and duly purchased i.e. 'Don Ellis Live At Fillmore', at which point I thought No. 107 - 'Oh Yeah!' - was doomed never to get a CD issued. But earlier this year Jan Hammer received an award from Moog Instruments in NYC, when he played music from 'Oh Yeah!' supported by the tribute band, Mahavishnu Project - at which point I grew more certain 'Oh Yeah!' was on its way. Now here it is 30 years after the LP release.

Having not listened to this album properly for several years, the CD has been set on continuous play over the last 3 days. I am reminded of a familar friend who I have not seen for some times, but all the qualities of the past came flooding back on reacquaintance. Indeed why this is one of my top ten jazz rock album. Still a classic.

(BTW the liner notes state Jan Hammer did the remastering).

Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £16.54

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seems a Lifetime ago, 27 July 2006
This review is from: Saudades (Audio CD)
ECM have recently released 'Saudades' by the eminent jazz musicians Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield and Larry Goldings, calling themselves the Trio Beyond. This is a tribute to the late Tony Williams who preempted Miles Davis with the seminal jazz rock album 'Emergency'. The Trio Beyond (btw watch out the Trio of Doom recordings are about to be reissued with Tony Williams onside), feature Hammond/keys, guitar and drums and so would suggest some parallels with the original Lifetime line-up. So with that idea fixed in my head I admit some initial disappointment sampling the Lifetime tunes on `Saudades' double set, recorded last year in London. Lifetime's 'Turn It Over' and then later 'Emergency' were my introduction of jazz rock. Having heard the boot of Nels & Alex Cline with Wayne Peet doing a much more spontaneous tribute to Williams' Lifetime, recorded in a Californian nightclub soon after Williams' untimely death, I was here vigorously reminded of the shock of energy and the large slug of the unknown I first experienced in 1970. But 'Sausades' does not have that instant outflow of energy which gets the listener's adrenalin flowing. Indeed on a couple tunes, it was less about jazz rock and more mainstream (modern) post-bop - somewhat over-studied, somewhat stiff interpretations of Williams' compositions.(BTW there's a number of compositions here associated with but not written by Williams).

However, I have realised my immediate disappointment is because of false expectations, and a long delay between reading about the concert last autumn and having its recording to hear. So it has slowly dawned that these three experienced jazz musicians on the top of their game, would make their own stamp on and their own interpretation of the music. At that point I warmed to the music - not Lifetime's way of doing things, but in various number ways an alternative jazz rock fusion approach to some familiar pieces. Yes, in honesty I don't want to hear copies. Then when I discovered Scofield letting loose on a number of tunes, his playing/music hit the spot and the record had me - hey some of those oddly strange guitar and keyboard effects sneaked in and had teased me.

'Saudades' may not be quite the major event that the sticker on the CD box suggests - for me McLaughlin's 'Industrial Zen' and a sneak preview of Alex Machacek's '[Sic]' appeal more, while Soft Machine's 'Grides' provides the live energy - but it can be included amongst one of my favourite five jazz album so far for 2006.

Grides [CD+DVD]
Grides [CD+DVD]
Price: £19.86

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Machine at its most productive, 15 July 2006
This review is from: Grides [CD+DVD] (Audio CD)
I've said it before: where do they (and particularly Cuneiform Records), keep finding these excellent live recordings of Soft Machine? It seems each subsequently released live recording is better than the previous! Most recently we were offered two separate CDs of 1975 recordings with both their line-ups in very good form and the recordings of the very best quality, i.e. 'Floating Worlds' with a revitalised Machine and Holdsworth full intergrated made, in early 1975, and the Nottingham University Rag gig from November 1975 (i.e. 'British Tour'). With the latest, 'Grides' disintered from the archives we slip further back in time to a pair of recordings of the original jazz rock fusion line-up of the Softs, made in 1970 and 1971 on CD and DVD respectively. And WOW!

The CD provides the full performance heard from the stage of the Netherlands' Concertgbouw in 1970, about 6 months after the release of Third. And then the real rarity, DVD footage of Machine playing to the TV cameras of Radio Bremen for a Beat Club session in early 1971. It has been easy to give this recording 5 stars, one advantage here is that the tunes are familar,while most clearly the arrangements, improv and the playing is as good you'll hear on record from the company of Wyatt, Ratledge, Hopper and Dean. Listening to the CD right through, with speakers loud, I found myself joining the Dutch audience from 35 years ago, applauding at the end of 80 minutes of a well oiled Machine in action, at its productive best - hey the last time I applauded like that was at the cinema when Ben Hur won the chariot race...... And of course on the second DVD disc, we have a very long last moving pictures of Soft Machine to own - surely pushing the whole to 5 and half stars!!

Music on 'Grides' comes from 'Volume 2' (significantly jazzier versions of selected elements of Ester's Nose Job), 'Third' , 'Fourth' and 'Fifth' (okay All White is found on 'Six' too), plus the old work horse of live performance(and now live recordings) Eamonn Andrews. All four musicians are up for the gig (cf. 'Floating Worlds' where Ratledge seemed to have merged into the background). Robert Wyatt skitters around the drumkit (reminding me of the suggestion, in the nicest way, of being Elvin Jones crossed with Ringo Starr), one moment rock musician the next swinging. Hugh Hopper's bass is both the expected understated instrument (but you would miss it if it wasn't there), and then on a number of occasions the nominate voice, changing the direction of the band and out there in front. Ratledge's keyboard work is amongst the best (if not the best), I've heard from him. It reminds me that his playing skills, a great ability to improv, and also move the band in explosively different directions, was never matched by those more famous prog keyboardists who never risked major changes in concert (from that heard on the latest album). However, this CD is a monument to the (prematurely) late Elton Dean. Who needs a guitarist with Dean fronting the band with such energy and ideas? Saxello and alto sax work are scinterlating, while his interplay with Ratledge here is at the peak of the two playing together.

Aymeric Leroy again provides the liner notes. And I must admit I'm chuffed that he reiterates and confirms what I've been writing from a very long time, wrt to the independent and equally important directions American and British jazz rock took around 1970, with Miles Davis and Soft Machine respectively.

'Grides' is most surely for all those people who reckon 'Third' is their favourite Soft Machine or Canterbury scene album.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8