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Friday, September 26, 2008

Brain Salad Surgery

Aqualung (Island) is the fourth studio album by the rock band Jethro Tull, released in 1971. On this album, band leader Ian Anderson's writing voiced strong opinions about religion and society. The title track and "Locomotive Breath" remain staples of U.S. classic rock stations and, to this day, are rarely left out of Jethro Tull's live act. Jethro Tull are a British rock group that formed in 1967-1968. Its music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavour, it has incorporated elements of classical, folk and 'ethnic' musics, jazz and art rock into its music. The band has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide. The album's original cover art by Burton Silverman features a portrait of the title character, Aqualung, which many have considered to be inspired by Ian Anderson, though Anderson denies it. Top/ Brain Salad Surgery (Manticore Records, 1973) is the fourth studio album by progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Designed by controversial surreal artist H.R. Giger, best known for his design work on the film Alien, the album cover is considered one of the most memorable (and often disturbing) of its time. It features distinctive Giger monochromatic biomechanical artwork, integrating an industrial mechanism with a human skull and the new ELP logo (created by Giger). In the original LP release, the front cover was split in half down the center. Opening the halves revealed a painting of the complete face: a human female (modelled after Giger's wife), with "alien" hair and multiple scars, including the infinity symbol and a scar from a frontal lobotomy. Brain Salad Surgery is an epic, futuristic fusion of rock and classical themes. Lyrics were co-written by Greg Lake with ex-King Crimson fellow member Peter Sinfield. "Jerusalem" was the only single, but it was not released in the UK due to objections from the BBC.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Once Upon A Town

Top/ Foreign Affairs is an album by Tom Waits, released in 1977 on Elektra Entertainment. It was produced by Bones Howe, and features Bette Midler singing a duet with Waits on "I Never Talk to Strangers". Tom Waits (born 7 December 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car." With this trademark growl, his incorporation of pre-rock styles such as blues, jazz, and vaudeville, and experimental tendencies verging on industrial music, Waits has built up a distinctive musical persona. He has worked as a composer for movies and musical plays and as a supporting actor in films, including The Fisher King, Coffee & Cigarettes and Down by Law (both directed by Jim Jarmusch), Bram Stoker's Dracula, Wristcutters: A Love Story, and the 1993 Robert Altman film Short Cuts. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart, a 1982 musical film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Lyrically, Waits' songs contain atmospheric portrayals of bizarre, seedy characters and places, although he has also shown a penchant for more conventional ballads. Bottom/ Asylum Years (1986) is the second "best of" compilation covering Tom Waits' Asylum Records years. The album curiously features no tracks from 1975 fan favourite Nighthawks at the Diner but has poignant and touching songs such as his magnificent version of Somewhere (from West Side Story), "Kentucky Avenue" and the classic "Ruby’s Arms".

Friday, September 19, 2008

Higher Ground

Bottom/ It's a Beautiful Day (CBS, 1969) is the self-titled debut album by San Francisco psychedelic band It's a Beautiful Day. It's a Beautiful Day was a band formed in San Francisco, California in 1967, the brainchild of violinist and vocalist David LaFlamme. Although they were one of the earliest and most important San Francisco bands to emerge from the Summer of Love, It’s a Beautiful Day never quite achieved the success of their contemporaries such as The Grateful Dead and Santana, with whom they had connections. It’s A Beautiful Day created a unique blend of rock, jazz, folk, classical and world beat styles during the seven years the band was officially together. Top/ 13th Floor Elevators was a garage rock band formed in Austin, Texas, from late 1965 until 1969. As one of the first psychedelic bands, they have been cited as an influential proto-punk group. Their biggest hit "You're Gonna Miss Me", a Billboard #55 hit in 1966, was featured on the 1972 compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968, which was later to be considered a landmark in the history of garage rock and the development of punk rock. Singer Janis Joplin was a close associate of the band. She sang with the band at a few shows, and considered joining the group in Austin, before she headed to San Francisco and joined Big Brother and the Holding Company. Her style of singing was much influenced by singer/guitarist Roky Erickson's trademark screaming and yelping, as in "You're Gonna Miss Me". Today, the 13th Floor Elevators continues to influence new generations of musicians. In 1990, 21 contemporary bands — including R.E.M., ZZ Top, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Primal Scream — recorded covers of Elevators songs on Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Tribute to Roky Erickson, one of the first tribute albums, in what would become a fad. The band have also been an influence on the "stoner rock" scene the likes of Queens of the Stone Age.

Walking In Space

Bottom/ Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of the "rock musical", utilizing a racially-integrated cast and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-in" finale. Several of the songs from its score became Top 40 hits, and a successful movie adaptation by Milos Forman was released in 1979. That same year, RCA released the 2-record set Hair - Original Soundtrack Recording. For three nights in September 2007, Joe's Pub and the Public Theater presented a 40th anniversary production of Hair at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in New York. Demand for the show was overwhelming, as long lines and overnight waits for tickets "dwarfed" other Delacorte productions. Nine months after its concert version, The Public Theater opened Hair in a fully staged production at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, on July 22, 2008. The Public Theatre has announced that the production will transfer to Broadway in 2009. Said co-author James Rado in 2008: "It was a show about now when we did it. Now it's a show about then—but it's still about now." Top/ Sweetheart of the Rodeo is the sixth album by American rock band The Byrds, released on July 29, 1968 on Columbia. Along with Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding and a handful of other albums, Sweetheart of the Rodeo is one of the seminal recordings of country-rock and remains influential to this day despite being the most commercially unsuccessful album recorded by the group at the time of its release.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Great Gig In The Sky

Richard William Wright
(28 July 1943 - 15 September 2008) was a self-taught pianist and keyboardist best known for his long career with Pink Floyd. Wright’s richly textured keyboard layers were a vital ingredient and a distinctive characteristic of Pink Floyd's sound. In addition, Wright frequently sang background and occasionally lead vocals onstage and in the studio with Pink Floyd (most notably on the songs "Time", "Echoes", and on the Syd Barrett composition "Astronomy Domine"). Though not as prolific a songwriter as his bandmates Roger Waters and David Gilmour, he wrote significant parts of the music for classic albums such as Meddle (Harvest/EMI, 1971) (top), The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here (Harvest/EMI, 1975), as well as for Pink Floyd's final studio album The Division Bell. In the early days of Pink Floyd, Wright was a prominent musical force in the group (although not as much as Syd Barrett, the band’s chief songwriter and front man at the time) and he wrote and sang several songs of his own during 1967–1968. While not credited as a singer on Pink Floyd's debut The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, he sang lead on Barrett-penned songs like "Astronomy Domine" and "Matilda Mother", as well as notable harmonies on "Scarecrow" and "Chapter 24". Examples of his early compositions include "Remember a Day", "Paintbox" and "It Would Be So Nice". As the sound and the goals of the band evolved, Wright became less interested in songwriting and focused primarily on contributing his distinctive style to extended instrumental compositions such as "Interstellar Overdrive", "A Saucerful of Secrets" (EMI Columbia, 1968) (bottom), "Careful with That Axe, Eugene", "One Of These Days" and to musical themes for film scores (More, Zabriskie Point and Obscured by Clouds). He also made essential contributions to Pink Floyd's long, epic compositions such as "Atom Heart Mother", "Echoes" (on which he sang lead vocals) and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". His most commercially popular compositions are "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Us and Them" from 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon. He also contributed significantly to other mid-period Floyd classics like "Breathe" and "Time", singing lead vocals on alternate verses of the latter with David Gilmour. Wright was known for his ghostly atmospheric textures such as the Leslie piano arpeggios at the beginning of "Echoes", the echoed Farfisa organ in the live versions of "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" and "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun", the distinctive Minimoog solos in "Any Colour You Like" and, more famously, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and the jazzy electric piano passages in "Money", "Time" and "Sheep". Bandmate David Gilmour said: "In my view, all the greatest Pink Floyd moments are the ones where he is in full flow. No-one can replace Richard Wright - he was my musical partner and my friend." He added: "In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten." RIP Rick — "Remember a day before today / A day when you were young / Free to play alone with time / Evening never came / Sing a song that can’t be sung / Without the morning’s kiss."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We Are Glitter

Bottom/ In Your Mind (E.G. Records) is a 1977 album by Bryan Ferry. It was his fourth long-playing solo release and the first consisting entirely of original songs: the first two had been cover albums, the second concluding with an original song, the third a collection of B-side and EP material, all of it covers. As Ferry's first solo all-original LP effort, released after the break-up of Roxy Music, it was supported by an extensive tour. Top/ "Butterfly Caught" is a single taken from 100th Window (Virgin Records, 2003), the fourth studio album from the Bristol-based trip-hop group Massive Attack. Of Massive Attack's original core trio, the album only featured Robert Del Naja – Andrew Vowles departed shortly after the release of Mezzanine, and Grant Marshall was on a sabbatical to raise his young daughter. Released in 2003, it was written and produced by Del Naja and Neil Davidge, and features the vocals from Horace Andy and Sinéad O'Connor, as well as an appearance by Damon Albarn. It is the first album by the band that made no use of samples, and contains none of the jazz or fusion stylings of the band's earlier recordings. 100th Window received a generally positive, though somewhat muted critical reception, many arguing that whilst Massive Attack's previous three albums had all broken significant new ground for the group, 100th Window's dark, brooding sound was merely a continuation, although in some areas, less dark, of Mezzanine. The title of the album comes from the book "The Hundredth Window: Protecting Your Privacy and Security in the Age of the Internet"; this title is an allusion to the idea that one's security is compromised if even one window is left open.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fade Into You

An all-time fave of Music Curator Max Chavanne at, So Tonight That I Might See (Capitol, 1993) is the second studio album by the American dream pop band Mazzy Star. A year after its release, the album yielded an unexpected hit single, the wispy opening track "Fade into You". "Fade into You" became a staple of mid-1990s teen dramas, movies, and represented the kind of gentle ennui that was missing from the more aggressive angst of grunge. Mazzy Star's roots in the California Paisley Underground movement of the 1980s are deep. The group's 1990 debut on Rough Trade, She Hangs Brightly, was a post-punk take on the kind of dark psychedelia practiced by The Doors on "The End", as well as the massive guitar drone woven by The Velvet Underground on "What Goes On". Most of the rest of their material is devoted to acoustic-flavoured ballads with heavy blues and folk elements, often featuring David Roback on slide guitar. Roback and singer Hope Sandoval were the creative center of the band, with Sandoval writing most of the lyrics and Roback composing most of the music. Mazzy Star's third release, Among My Swan (Capitol, 1996) confirmed them as champions of the mournful – their brooding, enigmatic public personas seem less a cultivated pose than a complement to the shadowy, brooding mystery of their simultaneously frustrating and entrancing soundscapes. Hope Sandoval was born in 1966 and grew up in East L.A. in a Mexican-American family. In 2000, Sandoval joined with Colm Ó Cíosóig (formerly of My Bloody Valentine) to form Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions. The project retained the laid-back, slowcore sound of Mazzy Star. She has also contributed on several songs by other
artists, such as
The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Chemical Brothers,
Bert Jansch, and
Death In Vegas.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bullet With Butterfly Wings

Bottom/ A Passion Play (Chrysalis, 1973) is a concept album released by Jethro Tull. Apparently concerning the spiritual journey of one man in the afterlife, it is similar to Thick as a Brick in that it is one long track split across both sides of the LP vinyl record (actually a medley of segued shorter songs,) save for the interruption of the oddly-whimsical spoken word piece "The Story Of The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles". The dense lyrics, filled with wordplay and allegory, along with music that some found lacking in creativity compared to earlier work, have made A Passion Play one of the most disputed albums in Tull's catalog. Even today, Jethro Tull fans are still divided over the merits of the album. Jethro Tull's best-known work, Aqualung, was released in 1971. Top/ Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (RCA) is the sixth studio album by the Foo Fighters, released on September 25, 2007. Foo Fighters is an American alternative rock band formed by singer/guitarist Dave Grohl in 1995. Grohl formed the group as a one-man project after the dissolution of his previous band Nirvana in 1994. Dave Grohl joined the Aberdeen, Washington grunge band Nirvana as the group's drummer in 1990. Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home on April 8, 1994, and Nirvana subsequently disbanded. Over the course of the Foo Fighter's career, three of its albums have won Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album, and all six have been nominated for Grammys.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Feel Good Inc

's debut album Leisure (Food, 1991) incorporated the influence of Madchester and shoegazing. Following a stylistic change in 1992 —influenced by English guitar groups such as The Kinks, The Beatles and XTC— they released Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995). As a result, the band helped to popularise the Britpop genre and achieved mass popularity in the UK, aided by a famous chart battle with rival band Oasis dubbed "The Battle of Britpop". Though Blur has not disbanded, of late singer- songwriter Damon Albarn has been more active as the main man behind the music of Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen project. Over his 19 year career he released 35 Top 40 Hit Singles,
all in the