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

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Choice Cuts
Choice Cuts
Offered by musicfan46
Price: £5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Tasty morsels from a jazzrock band at the cutting edge, 10 Mar. 2006
This review is from: Choice Cuts (Audio CD)
Professor David Fuiczynski and his band the SHT, have made a handful outrageous good albums, matched by stunning live performances (two of which are available on DVD) for just over ten years. To mark the start of a European tour, which may or may not include the musical backwater of the UK some time 2006, this timely compilation has been released. Fuze has taken recordings from all SHT's albums, and pulled together a compilation of the best (and they are the very best), and seemlessly made the whole with no sense of being cobbled together from tunes sampled over a period of decade or more. In other words the whole has a freshness that suggests all tracks have been laid down only in the last 6 months.
Fuze's masterful guitarwork is stunning, one moment soulful, the next complex jazz, and then round to rock or free playing. This matched by the rest of band who often play at full tilt, the ensemble work chocablock with energy. Sit down and listen to the complexity and be bemused at the talent on display. Or get up a dance to the groove laid. And what a vocalist in Dean Bowman - I hope the Dave Matthews Band is taking note.
Very much the best of the new jazz rock, so don't expect to hear Metheny or McLaughlin or Holdsworth - instead hear a guitar original with a band to match.

Thanks For Flying With Us
Thanks For Flying With Us
Price: £12.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jazz From Hell's Swedish Cousin - once removed, 28 Oct. 2005
Cuneiform Records can do no wrong, at least in my books - and this year's 15 or so releases clearly demonstrate the label's commitment to releasing the most interesting and often the most challenging of modern music. But they are also finders of lost treasures: recordings left mouldering in other record companies archives, unreleased and forgotten. Through them, this year I have discovered Machine & the Synergistic Nuts, Forever Einstein, the rescued John Surman 1969 recording, but now declare 'Thanks For Flying With Us' is my favourite. Cuneiform's press release suggests this album is for fans of Frank Zappa (absolutely) and the Canterbury sound (I'm less certain here). And then the press release speaks of this being the first release by the band outside Sweden, although the quotes of praise from Frank Zappa & Bill Bruford indicate a long history - but it is a challenge to find anything of that history by conventional web-search!
My first impression of the Mats Morgan Band here, is of a very tight band with an excellent keyboard player (the insert shows him - Mr Mats Oberg - sitting the pilot's seat of an aeroplane.....with his white stick next to him. Yes, they like their dark humour), and a fantastic drummer (Mr Morgan Agren), and not forgetting a very tight guitarist and bassist - then plus others. Such an impression continues with the second and now the fifth replay. Musically it is in the territory of Zappa, (Mats & Morgan's hero) and I am kept thinking this a 21st Century take on 'Jazz From Hell', with a greater sense of fun and lightness. Jazz, rock, fusion, even a little electronica - in other words, typical Cuneiform music: music difficult to categorise. And I have mention these guys have a habit of cut'n'pasting short voice tracks some way into tunes, brief stories to surprise you way into an instrumental. (The one that makes me laugh out loud, is Not Us (track 4): a commercial pilot is talking to his passengers as they fly over the Grand Canyon ......... buy the CD since the punchline is a delight).
A lovely album, bubbling and overflowing like a bottle of champagne. An album too, for those who dislike the obvious. And now it's time for me to find their earlier albums.

Running Out Of Time [German Import]
Running Out Of Time [German Import]
Price: £14.13

5.0 out of 5 stars The best jazz rock album of 2005 - maybe?, 30 Sept. 2005
Susan Weinert is a woman who plays great jazz rock guitar, and there are few others that readily come to mind. With a friend in Austria making lots of noise about 'Running Out of Time' early last year, I leapt in purely on his recommendation and bought it: I wasn't not disappointed. Indeed, I've rated this in one poll as the best jazz rock album of 2005, (although Mats Morgan and their different, quirky approach to fusion on 'Thanks For Flying With Us', might edge it)????

Those who don't know Susan Weinert or her albums going back to the early 90's, she is firmly in the jazz rock field but alas only know well in Germany. Stylistically she has been called Holdsworthian, but like other guitar maestros also said to adopted the legato and tangential fast runs in their solos (e.g. Scott McGill, Alex MacHacek) she is her own mistress to her music, interpretations/arrangements and adds significantly to that way of playing. 'Running Out of Time' at first will remind (at a little distance) of Holdsworth's late 70's/early 80's albums, i.e. 'IOU', 'Metal Fatigue' or 'Road Games', possibly because of the vocals (excellent voice here and sung in English) and a little of the guitarwork. Listen well to the album and you'll soon discover something new, 21st Century rather than 80's, and so something special about Susan Weinert and her ban.'Running Out Of Time' is grand point to start with this discovery.

It is about time one of the UK distributors cottoned onto Susan Weinert's back catalogue, and provide us with her music more freely.

Under The Blossom: The Anthology
Under The Blossom: The Anthology

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last, the Tempest BBC Radio One Concert is released., 15 Aug. 2005
This is a most welcome release, not so much for the two studio recordings previously issued as twoforone CD, but rather that which has gained semi-legendary status, the BBC Radio One In Concert live recording. 'Legendary' from the fact of the dodgy nth generation cassette copies of the recording passed around containing a fuzz of sound. Through the fuzz you could make out both Allan Holdsworth (in the same year he had recorded a second album as part of Ian Carr's 'Belladonna') and the late Ollie Hassell (formerly of Timebox, Patto and subsequently part of the Rutles OST sessions). Now with this new release, we have good audio clarity of that session. We have long work outs of the first studio album.
The story goes, unannounced Hassell dropped in on the rehearsals for the BBC recording, and was invited to sit in - 36 hours later he was being recorded with the rest of Tempest. (But alas not so long later, Allan Holdsworth departed). The result of the pairing, for example can be heard on the live version of 'Brothers', as a long furious, guitar duel or strictly interplay. This is an extreme rarity for Holdsworth, especially with this duo recorded in real time. Check elsewhere and Holdsworth always overdubs any occasional duos (e.g. 'Truth In Shredding' with Frank Gambale), or normally doesn't do them. But here Hassell and Holdsworth are on fire! And of course Jon Hiseman powers his band along, while Mark Clark provides a thundering electric bass, (reminding me of Jack Bruce playing on Frank Zappa's 'Apostrophe').
And other rarity, Holdsworth plays violin, and you'll have to wait to a 1979 recording with Gordon Beck before this was to happen again.
As I said: a most welcome release.

Out-Bloody-Rageous - An Anthology 1967 -1973
Out-Bloody-Rageous - An Anthology 1967 -1973

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well tuned machine, 8 July 2005
I've just taken my first full listen of 'Out-Bloody-Rageous', so recently received from Amazon.UK, taking great pleasure in hearing some favourite tunes. This is the official double CD compilation of Soft Machine music taken from the albums 'Soft Machine' to 'Seven', i.e. the ABC/Probe Records to the CBS/Columbia Records period - although I have to ask why has it taken so long? But thank goodness it is here. And of course Harvest Records issued a complimentary (third) album to give fuller coverage of the band's career, some time ago.

As a freak for nearly all and particularly their first 3 or 4 albums, I'm delighted at the choice of tracks taken here. Following the path taken by the now rare 'Triple Echo' 3 LP set (issued by Harvest Records some 25 years ago), CD 1 starts with a couple of their early single records, and then quickly gets to my favourites from their first self-titled album and 'Volume 2'. And great news, these have been 24 bit remastered (as I begged in print elsewhere for quite some time). A favourite of Gary Lucas and myself 'Hope For Happiness/Joy Of A Toy' is no longer a muddy mix; at last better clarity and instrument separation - I can only hope that the whole of both albums will be available in remastered forms very soon! A couple of tracks from 'Third' finishes CD 1 - so providing a break from the Wyatt-influenced Machine and the subsequent post-Wyatt Machine.

CD 2 shows Machine in jazz rock jazz fusion mode and with a number of tracks each taken taken from 'Fourth' through to 'Seven'. These reflect the high quality of young British (and New Zealand) jazz musicians playing some splendid electric jazz, who passed through the ranks - and as several did with Nucleus. It also should remind every jazz historian, that neglecting Soft Machine for any future jazz history will be a major omission from the story of British jazz's evolution in the 70's - Note: earlier this year, BBC 4's series Jazz Britannia, was not guilty of such an omission!

And if you are expecting surprises you will be disappointed: no tracks dragged from some forgotten archive. Cuneiform and Blueprint Records separately have been the raiders of the lost recording archives and recovered many a gem for release - without quite going to complete exhaustion - the US-based Moon June Records are about to issue a mid 70's radio recording of the Bundles line-up recorded on Radio Bremen.

'Out-Bloody-Rageous' is great compilation, and in some way better than the 2 double CDs 'BBC 1967-1971' & 'BBC 1971-1974' (Hux Records) for giving a "history". Anybody wanting to discover what Machine was about and how they changed during their formative period, and this set should be instantly recommended as the perfect recording to start. The liner notes are excellent (but better still, buy and read the book with same name but not directly connected, by Graham Bennett). 'Out-Bloody-Rageous' well illustrates the evolution of a major band, from the soul-based psychedelia to the avant, free jazz rock, that musical went much further than fellow psychedelians, Pink Floyd did, even in the depths of Water's and Co.'s best psychedelic dream.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2010 11:54 AM BST

Closer Than Skin
Closer Than Skin

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A excellent album from a former Krimson player, 17 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Closer Than Skin (Audio CD)
(Now confirmed by David Cross, that the album will be released just about everywhere other Japan (they got the album 2 months ago!!) on 27th June 2005.
I have to reinforce Krimson biographer Sid Smith's comments in the Closer Than Skin's press release, included with the review copy I received: this is probably the best rounded album released by former member of the 'Larks Tongue In Aspic' period of King Crimson. However, in no way does 'Closer Than Skin' dwell in the '72 to '74 period of Krimson, it is album of modern rock and prog rock, the best I've heard this year.
This record takes its influences from a much broad range of musics than the Krimson of 30 years ago, and melds them into tunes which are new sounding and exciting. There are brief references echoing back to that period, e.g. lyrics by Richard Palmer-James, or an instance (which has struck a strong chord in me)of a sample about 3 and half minutes into track 5 (Awful Love), of a classic Fripp guitar riff taken from the mid 70's, which is used to provide a counter rhythm to the established middle eastern feel in the song. At the end I left with the thrill that I'm hearing a modern Krimson album loosely in the style of the mid 70's group but heavily altered by 30 years of experience and changes in its leader.
The young band David Cross has gathered around him is very good. Mick Paul with an excellent no thrills electric bass, Paul Clark on rock guitar (who, Cross tells me, is always being pushed into new territories slightly beyond the fringes of rock and excelling in them), Arch Stauton (who has a warm mellow voice - there are moments when he reminds me of the vocals on the 1971 'High Tide' album - and again Cross has let on that Stauton was auditioned singing the song heard on track 6), and Lloyd with some great drums.
Compared to two other David Cross albums in my collection (i.e. 'Exiles', 'Testing To Destruction'), 'Closer Than Skin' is a far more satisfactory and consistently good album.
A must for Krimson fans.

Spice of Life Too
Spice of Life Too

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to the first real Japanese fusion guitarist, 18 April 2005
This review is from: Spice of Life Too (Audio CD)
Kazumi Watanabe,(not to be confused with tenor saxophonist Sadeo Watanabe), had already produced a run of excellent albums which found their way all too briefly onto the UK jazz rock marketplace in the mid/late 80's (e.g. 'Mobo' and 'Mobo 2') via Gramavision/Pinnacle. These records had a distinct Japanese feel about them which had not been heard in jazz rock fusion previously. Unfortunately I blinked and missed 'Spice Of Life', but was much luckier to catch the follow up, 'Spice Of Life Too',(an intended pun of a title??). Both those albums had the very individual 'instrumental voices' of Bill Bruford and Jeff Berlin providing the rhythm section (i.e. out of the Bruford band of the early 80's), plus for this the follow-up, (if I remember correctly) the keyboard player from Paul McCartney's band, Peter Vetesse. The album throughout works because of a peculiar but fascinating Japanese/English musical hybrid of rock and jazz, Watanabe's excellent electric guitarwork and especially the electronic drumming of Bruford, now playing in his full matured style. However, again neither album lasted long before being withdrawn from the UK record market. So if you can find this and 'Spice Of Life', grab them asap!

Leap Second Neutral
Leap Second Neutral
Price: £13.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cuneiform keeping finding the goods., 22 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Leap Second Neutral (Audio CD)
Machine & The Synergetic Nuts: Leap Second Neutral

Cuneiform Records are doing us proud with their January 2005 issues. After Captain Beefheart reworked on Fast 'n'Bulbous, I want to recommend this album by the Japanese band with the intriguing name Machine & The Synergetic Nuts! Musically this is jazz rock of the joyous, fun sort that occasionally comes out of that part of the east. In an attempt to locate them stylistically with respect to other bands, I suggest Mint Jams, Passport, touches of Soft Machine (in fact track 4, Neutral , strongly reminds me of Mike Ratledge or Karl Jenkin's minimalist/Terry Rileyisms) and the apparent musical abandonment of the obscurer Japanese group, Food Brain (check out the mad track That Will Do on Food Brain's eponymous 1971 album, reissued by the German label Black Rose in 2001).
At the simplest level MATSN might be called no more than an average modern jazz ensemble, but because on top of this foundation of musical sanity they keep hurling all sorts of musical references, fun and indeed quirkiness at you, you have to listen - and enjoy.

The Big Eyeball In The Sky
The Big Eyeball In The Sky
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Primus meets Praxis = Pramis or .....?, 21 Feb. 2005
As soon as you see the name Claypool as part of the band's name on an album cover, then be sure bassist/vocalist Les Claypool is in the thick of it. And with a band with such a convoluted name such as Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, and you have to suspect something experimental is waiting to escape from this album.

The 'Big Eyeball In The Sky' has both Les and the experimental rock in significant and pleasing proportions. But simply reporting the music as "rock" does it a great disservice, since the musical influences to be found are broad: jazz to punk to reggae to hard rock and around again (and again). If you know these musicians' separate work, then this record has perhaps fewer surprises than to somebody who only knows the one or two musicians. Les Claypool in his own inimitable way, provides vocals for all but two tracks, while his bass provides the thunder at the bottom end of the scale. The legendary Bernie Worrel plays Hammond organ and other keys, in his usual funky way - the legendary status coming from his period co-inventing the funkadelia soul sound. Buckethead (the shy one who wears white pancake make-up and a very large KFC bucket clamped to his skull), provides lead guitar, often played at ultra-shred speeds. And Brain (a man of both Primus and Praxis - plus other experimental rock groups),provides the drums, hard hitting but as simple or complex as the music demands.

Inevitably some songs will remind you of Primus, ranging from the hard rock through to the musical hall/vauderville. The latter having Mr Claypool telling you a quirky story about some poor soul in a strange situation. However, beyond the chorus/verse, something of the Bill Laswell concept of arrangement developes, e.g. a sort of Praxis kicks in,(Praxis that most experimental of 90's bands that fused jazz, hip hop, reggae, soul, rock etc.). Don't expect to sit comfortably, chill-out this is not. An album not for the fainthearted: rather those who want the shock of the new and with adventure - loud, big and sometimes laid on with a trowel. Check out the instrumental track: 'Jackalope' for flavour.

'Big Eyeball In The Sky' maybe heard as either a tidied-up Praxis or an experimental Primus - not so surprising considering musicians here, have been common to both bands.

Pork Chop Blue Around The Rind
Pork Chop Blue Around The Rind
Price: £15.44

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And on the heels of Back To Front..........................., 21 Feb. 2005
This album by the Gary Lucas/Philip Johnson lead band, is chocker with excellent interpretations of Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) tunes - perhaps you will consider not that surprising from the title!

The reworking will have met with Van Vliet's full approval, maintaining the musical essence of the originals (see below), while adding something new. This is also classic Cuneiform Records music, i.e. difficult to pigeonhole: quirky rock with odd time signatures a la Beefheart, jazz ranging from free improv to tight arrangements, even hints of New Orleans funeral procession marches and (maybe, just maybe) the new jazz of New York City's Lounge Lizards. And as even the instantly identifiable style of Gary Lucas's guitar sound is heard through out, taking equal roles as lead and as ensemble player, and again Gary demonstrates the Don Van Vliet school of 'exploding note theory'.

A record that is strongly recommended to fans of Beefheart, jazz fusion and RIO. And did I mention there are liberal helpings of rock'n'roll and the blues?

And whilst you're thinking about purchasing this album, you may consider the source albums for Fast'n'Bulbous: Trout Mask Replica, Shiny Beast/Bat Chain Puller, Doc At The Radar Station, Ice Cream For Crow, Mirror Man or Strictly Personal (depending on which of the two you consider the better for Kandy Korn???), and last but not ...... Spotlight Kid.

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