Sunday, July 31, 2016

Music Review #63:
Rusted Root
When I Woke (Revisited)
PolyGram Records

Most likely being the first and last time I do this, I decided to return to one of my favorite albums of all time because I didn't think my original review gave it a fair enough shake as it deserved. Let's dive right in. 

When asked in an interview about the band's biggest hit 'Send Me On My Way', frontman and vocalist Michael Glabicki stated: 

"I was in the process of coming up with lyrics, and it just sounded so good and felt so right that it had a meaning of its own that you couldn't make better by making it a word. So I left it."

 These words speak volumes upon volumes about the way that the Pennsylvanian band conducts themselves, especially in their earliest incarnation. They have an unfettered countenance that many other bands struggle to have. But while these bands struggle under the weight of their own consciousness, Rusted Root hits another goldmine of creativity on their sophomoric release, the infamous When I Woke, released in 1994. 

Unlike much of the traditional rock scene, which exudes a sort of staleness that comes when a genre has been exhausted of ideas, Rusted Root flourished with their unique blend of Latin and Tribal influences, all accompanied by one of the most thunderous and booming percussion sections I've ever heard. The band's combined vocals yield for some excellent climactic moments, such as on 'Cruel Sun' and 'Ecstasy'. You know how I was mentioning the freewheeling attitude that the band does so well before? Well that really comes strongly into play here. The more upbeat songs (e.g. 'Laugh As The Sun',  'Send Me On My Way', 'Food & Creative Love', etc.) have heart pounding moments where the entire band seems to work as a rhythmic machine, cranking out amazing, enveloping songs. Not to mention this is all helped by some of the most catchy hooks that have me constantly coming back to over and over again. 

Some of the best pieces on the album are the reworked ones that come from the band's (fantastic) debut Cruel Sun in '92. These songs include 'Send Me On My Way', 'Cat Turned Blue' (which changed from a more typical Root song to a more RHCP-inspired version on When I Woke), 'Martyr', and 'Back To The Earth'. You can find the one other reworked track from Cruel Sun, 'Scattered', on the band's followup album Remember from 1996. I highly suggest that you also listen to the originals because while they may be the same songs they fairly different when their placed side-by-side. 

When I Woke isn't as much of a musical landmark as it is simply a piece of wonderful music. I suggest that you go check it out- trust, me, it'll be worth your time. 

 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Have a nice day!  
Music Review #62:
A Trick of the Tail
Charisma Records

The end is not yet...

A Trick of the Tail was released in 1976 by what many people believed to be posthumously, due to the departure of everyone's favorite sophisticated stage-clown, Peter Gabriel, the year prior. Desperately, the band tried to find a new vocalist, going through about 100 auditions in order to find one. What they didn't realize until later was they already had a vocalist in their midst- Phil Collins. Before Trick Collins hadn't had a large lead vocal repertoire in the band, in fact the only song where he did was 'More Fool Me', an acoustic ballad off of Selling England By the Pound in 1973. The limelight was set his major frontman debut and this was the product. How does it fair?

It's a loaded question, really. With such a monumental shift in front-men some comparisons should be made between the qualities of their styles. For one, Phil Collins grew into his stage presence fairly well; he had a warm atmosphere that greatly contrasted with Gabriel's theatrical vivaciousness (with a sort of separation between audience and band by some proverbial means). In the studio Collins remained the same: a skilled and intricate drummer whose experimentations have influenced the likes of Neil Peart with their complexity. Let's not hasten to forget the other members, however. Banks is as ever a fantastic song writer and the mastermind behind some of the best songs on the album, such as 'Mad Man Moon', 'Robbery, Assault and Battery', and the title track (not bad on the keys either). Rutherford and Hackett of course are fantastic on the strings, creating some of the best hooks Genesis has ever had.

The album itself is interesting because it both reserved and boisterous at the same time. The synth hits are it perfect spots at serve as sort of climactic cannon shots every time they appear. The songs themselves can range from powerful swagger like 'Dance on a Volcano' and 'Squonk', or soft-spoken like 'Entangled' (funnily enough sounding like it took a lot of inspiration from 'More Fool Me') and 'Ripples. It also may be worth it to mention that this album features much of what the hated 80's Genesis would continue to have: groovy bass pedals from Rutherford, atmospheric yet lumbering chords followed with the echo of Collins' voice shouting self-conjoined harmonies into the symphonic fray. What I believe this album has that the albums following didn't have (aside from the band's eponymous from '83 and some certain selections from other albums) is the stoic refinement that were left from the over-the-top self indulgent days of Peter Gabriel's reign. This refinement would go on to be more like residue with the music becoming less and less subtle as their discography progressed.

Trick of the Tail combines the good parts of both Genesis eras- the elegance of Gabriel and the freewheeling of Collins. If you looking for the true best of both world then this album is the prime example of what you're looking for.

2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 8/1/2016.
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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Music Review #61:
The Moody Blues
Long Distance Voyager
Decca Records

The eightieth decade of the 20th century was a bittersweet one for progressive rock music. Bands started to morph into those that easily conformed to the general demand, basically going opposite of what their genre would suggest them to be. In the midst of this change bands fell left and right, abandoning the artful essence they once had. Of all of them, however, one band remained slightly static. This band of course was The Moody Blues. It seemed with Octave that the band would follow this direction and, with their slight cheese that was present on every single one of their albums to date, that they would fall the hardest. This was funnily enough not the case.

You see, the Moodies were always pop-oriented. Their most popular albums had very innocent, tawdry songs that always had a large dollop of sophistication. Thus when the 80's made it's offer of synth-laden echoes with a cheeseball attitude, the Moodies took it and flourished. Thus, 1981's Long Distance Voyager was born, replete with fully painted cover. Hayward's airy warble is turned up to ten, background vocals get louder, and the orchestral mannerisms get more pronounced with help from The New World Philharmonic Orchestra. The floatier tones (mainly from the keyboard) on this album all sort of complement the band's penchant with the ideas of time and space, seen very clearly on this album. Like many other Moodies albums, the album is rather varied, featuring the cheesy ballads like 'Nervous', but also the groovier songs like '22,000 Days' and 'Veteran Cosmic Rocker'. My tastes for this album are generally the same as they are for other MB albums- the rockier songs are usually more enjoyable, but every song's subtle sense of refinement gives them each a unique charm.

This is doubtless one of the best prog albums in the 80's done by classic bands. The Moodies show great promise, and my only hope is the other albums of the decade from them are just as good as this.

2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 7/30/2016.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Music Review #60:
All Glory to John Baltor
Tokyo Jupiter Records

All Glory to John Baltor is the debut by French post rock act TotorRo in 2011. Usually when you think of post-rock, you expect bands to have a heavy focus on guitars and drums solely and devoid of vocals, at least in my opinion. That is true of TotorRo, whose percussions by Bertrand James and the guitar by Christophe Le Flohic create monolithic soundscapes of pure energy to the point where the only way they stop is to simply run out of steam. But a new addition here is the surprising vocalizations of Le Flohic- well, to call them "vocalizations" may be a bit of a stretch seeing as they are more or less the screaming howls of a wannabe metalcore singer. With this in mind it is actually a bit refreshing to see it displayed next to one of the loudest playing styles in the rock circuit, and it actually creates a sort of dynamic where vocals split away from something separate from the other instruments (guitar, bass, drums, etc.) and become an instrument itself. The aforementioned loudness of the post-rock medium in fact tends to drown out Le Flohic's vocals and, like the genre tends to do, blends it into itself to create an even more gigantic powerhouse cacophony.

If you're a fan of post-rock, this little obscure band is something to check out.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 7/27/2016.
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Music Review #59:
Umphrey's McGee
Anchor Drops
SCI Fidelity

If Umphrey's in 2002 was considered doing OK, then Anchor Drops is doing fantastic. This album's a bit of a tie for loose ends hanging out on the prior album, ironing out most of the amateurism and lack of focus that was at all featured on it. The variety of unique instruments don't over-exert themselves and become cluttered nearly as much, giving the band a renewed sound of a seasoned progressive jam band. The dilettante voice of Brendan Bayliss (like on 'In The Kitchen' and 'Walletsworth') derives a particularly organic feel from the album, and even more interesting when juxtaposed with the complex percussions of Andy Farag and Kris Meyers. The band even strikes a few heavy chords every one and awhile, evoking a powerful presence that it doubtless better when enjoyed watching them do it in action.

Anchor Drops marks a point for the band as an indication of their moving away from their influences and becoming their own unit. All I can say is, godspeed!

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 7/26/2016.
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Single Review #2:
Pink Floyd
One Slip
From A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

As I've said before, 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason was my favorite of the Pink Floyd catalog. Everything about it I liked, from the excellent guitar-work and vocals from Gilmour, Nick Mason's exquisite drumming skills, among other things. 'One Slip' is no exception.

This song uses things like electronic clocks (that perhaps may be a reference the Dark Side of the Moon's 'Time' back in '73), to it's advantage in an ambient sense. With a slow opening, the song quickly revs up into a quick-riffing beast. Some electric guitar and fantastic keyboard work is thrown in at the right times, and the drums are nice and pounding. The one thing that hooked me in the first place was David Gilmour's beautiful lyric-work as well as his strong vocals. Sure, it may a bit more commercial than Waters' works, but that's just how Gilmour works, and we have to accept that. On the flipside we have a live-cross of 'Terminal Frost' and 'Dogs of War', the latter being my favorite from the album next to of course this one. I love both of these songs, the instrumental of 'Terminal Frost' being played well and 'Dogs of War' being a high live highlight, in my opinion, of the band's history.

This is a definite single for the ages. I love this song, and I think any modest-minded Floyd fan would as well. if you've listened to it already, give 'One Slip' another chance. You might find yourself liking it.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 10/12/2014.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Single Review #1:
Home By The Sea
From Genesis (1983)

Genesis' 'Home By the Sea' is probably the most outstanding track on their 1983 self titled (aka Shapes if you prefer). Most of the tracks that fill the album ranged from decent to good, but this track was the best. Many reviewers of the album (if they give it a fair shake that is) state that this is also the most "progressive" of the numbers. The band must have liked it too, seeing as they gave it a whole part two instrumental which lasted two minutes longer than the first part. I myself have already stated both in my review of it and obviously this one too that I love this song.

The song follows a basic yet strange plot. A thief attempting to steal from the home, stated in the title, before getting trapped and taken prisoner in the home by the sea forever more. There's many coinciding themes of darkness, creeping, as well as the overall attitude of a common thief sneaking through a house. Barreling riffs and clever songwriting combine to make this an amazing song, whose second part brings in a more silly, synth-y approach which doesn't hold much water in the wake of the first part. Undoubtedly, however, this track is worth it, and deserves more praise than it gets.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 2/27/2015.
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Music Review #58:
Porcupine Tree
Fear of a Blank Planet
Atlantic Records

Porcupine Tree is definitely a band of many words. Fronted by the one and only Steven Wilson, it's hard to guess what their next sound (although usually temporary) will be. This sort of way of musicianship is rather homogeneous with Wilson's acts, which range from noise and shoe-gaze to art rock and experimental rock. Very interesting man as well as the band he occupies. When asked, people in our present society may have partially forgotten PT, but those who do have an inkling of what they are know this album is their proclaimed best effort.

This band, as I stated before, has obvious similarities between Wilson's releases and their own in the fact that you don't know what they're going to do next. Antecedent to it's release, Porcupine Tree had already well moved on from the alternative spacey prog rock that was present on albums such as Lightbulb Sun. In Absentia of 2003 was most likely the turn-point of the bands musical ideology, moving into whole different sounds that contained heavy crunching riffs. The thing that was clear is that the band liked the new sound they developed, and quickly became one of the flagships of the progressive metal industry along with giants like Dream Theater and Opeth. But this album is something else. It balances both the anger of In Absentia and Deadwing with Lightbulb Sun-esque art rock, making for a decent mix.

My thoughts when I first heard this weren't that great. I've never been a huge fan of progressive metal in general, as stated in my previous reviews. Snark-y art metal seemed inane to me, and wasn't enjoyable in the least. I will admit that coming back to this, however, was actually much more impressive than the first. Wilson's monotone vocals coincide awkwardly with his own guitar and Edwin's base at times, though the quality and care put into the tracks outright redeems it pretty quickly. As an overall effect, this album does extremely well. I give kudos to Wilson and friends; they've impressed me this time.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 9/6/2014.
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Music Review #57:
Organisation / Kraftwerk
Tone Float
RCA Victor

I really had not expected an entrance like this from the electronic band Kraftwerk. In fact, this album is the very last thing I'd think they'd come out with.

This little krautrock gem is a five track release that was recorded by Organisation (pre-Kraftwerk) back in 1969. Mind you, this was before they became Kraftwerk with their 1970 eponymous release. I'd hate to bash on a genre so innocent as krautrock, because I happen to enjoy a number of bands that apply to it, especially Can. But it is obvious after listening why Organisation couldn't stay the way they were.

Wow, these guys tried WAAY too hard to be as experimental as they could possibly be. And when I say that, I mean that they made their music sound excruciating in the name of art. I honestly don't know how people can seem to enjoy this. Sure, I guess you could say that it was 'influencial', but I haven't exactly seen any band that says: "Oh, well we were inspired by the band Organisation. Me and my friends would listen to them all the time while we were kids. Their 1969 album Tone Float really inspired us to make our own sound." If you've heard that from a person, please let me know, because I sure haven't.

I really hate the fact that I have to hate this album. I mean, these guys sure did try and all on this, and it's true that it doesn't sound anything like Kraftwerk, but oh my god. I couldn't even make it through any of the songs during this review. The album has the twenty minute long title track, a compilation of echoes and rhythms, with a third quarter that actually sounds nice. Other than that, this album is completely worthless. 'Milk Rock' could have managed to be a standable track, but instead we get some guitar doodling and incoherent keyboard, all the while a stabbing synth rhythm buries itself in your brain. 'Silver Forest' is worthless, floaty fanfare with unnecessary cymbal crashes and glittery synthesizer. 'Rhythm Salad' is probably one of the most annoying songs I've ever heard, with a ton of people randomly jamming on what seem to be bongos, castanets, and maracas to make something to use as an excuse for art. The finale epic, 'Noitasinagro', is a strange yet painfully boring song with very little context or overall need.

So if you are seeking some good old classic krautrock, here you go. This would be perfect for you, but be warned; if you are searching for krautrock like Can or Neu!, then you are sadly mistaken.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 9/6/2014.
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Music Review #56:

Pink Floyd
Dark Side of The Moon
Harvest Records

I think it's really hard to say that this album is non essential. If someone has, then I have yet to see it. To add, there is not a single album that ages as well as this. Sure, Wish You Were Here is definitely something, but this album is a perfect mix of what everybody wants: road trip, hiking, sleep, rainy days inside, even sitting on a bench contemplating the clouds. All of these thinks can be narrated by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. There are very few albums that can live up to this albums gravitational pull. It was popular back in '73, and it still is today.

I've had this album for awhile now. In fact, it was one of my earliest purchases to my collection. I had obviously heard of it prior, and I had even sampled the album before and heard songs on the radio dozens of times. Even though I wasn't one that listened to it constantly, I did find the album highly enjoyable. In fact, it was right next to Gentle Giant's In A Glass House (which happens to be my second favorite prog record of all time) in my list of wonderful masterpieces. (Coincidentally, these two albums were released in the exact same year.) This was also before I listened to Animals , and it had been a very long time since I had heard anything from Wish You Were Here. So this was one of my absolute favorite albums at the time. I am wholeheartedly ready to review it with full gusto.

The album has some great rocking tracks, especially the huge hit of 'Time'. In fact, for awhile, it was my favorite Pink Floyd song. It includes a reprise of the opening song 'Breathe (In The Air)', which is pretty neat because the original song was a little too short-lived. 'On the Run' is a cool, tech-based instrumental, but I would suggest that you listen to this while you're exercising or something along those lines, because you won't be prepared for airplane crashes while you're taking a snooze. 'Money' is a funky hard rock jam that opens up with what you'd expect: money. It's pretty commercial, but I suppose it's just the same amount as 'Time', maybe even less. 'Great Gig In The Sky' never got me. I always thought the whole soul edge put on the great Pink Floyd sounded terrible, like experimentation gone wrong. I know a lot of people love it, but I just don't. 'Us and Them' is perhaps Wrights greatest achievement of all time. It is just a simply wonderful, flowing epic. 'Any Colour You Like' is a pretty neat instrumental, although it never really got me very much. The outro song(s), 'Brain Damage' and 'Eclipse' both follow along the same sound, but are both really good. The former is a great outro, and 'Eclipse' sort of is just an extended ending of it.

It's a pretty great album, obviously essential. If you haven't heard it already and you're reading my review, you better hurry it up and listen to it tenfold, because this progressive rock masterpiece is something not to miss.

2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 12/24/2014.
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Music Review #55:
Gentle Giant
Gentle Giant
Vertigo Records

Before I move on to reviewing more of the huge hits the band developed in the coming years, I thought it appropriate to take a closer look at Gentle Giant's stellar self titled debut.

One large thing that caught my ear was the general cohesion that the album retained that was different to a lot of other prog debuts from 1967-1970. For instance, I found it more interesting than In the Court of the Crimson King, more complex than Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and much more prog than From Genesis to Revelation (although it usually isn't called their debut because of how much it's disliked). The quality on this little gem is unmatched by the big six of the 70's progressive rock bands that paved the way for the genre. And the funny thing is, all of those other bands were far more well known than this obscure group of brothers, and yet their still able to top them all in my book.

Although the band doesn't acknowledge this release as much as the more mainstream hits of Interview and Free Hand, they still like to catch people off guard by playing tracks like 'Funny Ways' and 'Alucard' at live performances. Another big thing this album has that the others in the discography don't have as much (or in some cases at all) is the entirety of the Shulman brothers playing to their best. It's true that when Phil Shulman left after Octopus, the band continued with their best effort yet. So with this we can't assume that all of them together is better than when they aren't as a whole, because that's clearly not the case. Anyway, onto the songs.

One of my top picks is 'Funny Ways', which takes the brothers at an a Capella standpoint with some genius avant-garde rocking interrupting it at the right times. 'Alucard' is a jazzy, keyboard ridden piece. Even though it has a slightly droning beginning, it does pick up with some strange backwards sounding vocals. From there it morphs into a soft melody where the band quietly jams until it's broken by more guitar slamming and keyboard synthesizer. 'Isn't it Quiet and Cold' is a little stranger, using less traditional instruments as well as coming off with a folk-y beat led by a cello. 'Nothing at All' is a spacey jam song with large acoustic segments taking up most of the first three quarters. 'Why Not?' and 'The Queen' are jazzy, funky bits that sound almost like something that you'd find on Dark Side except without the extreme spaciness.

So, as a whole, Gentle Giant's s/t debut is quite something to behold. Compared with other bands on the market that sounded like it (except for some things King Crimson put out), Gentle Giant was unique in every single way. Great album for your collection.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 1/12/2015.
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Music Review #54:
Self-released/JEMP Records

Raw Phish vs. Cooked Phish

Phish's "White Tape" is the first recording effort they did way back in 1986, and marked for a great series of albums by the band. Of course it did, but is it worth it to buy? Well...yes, I would say so. This was of course back when they still hadn't replaced Grateful Dead as the new hip jam-band of the eighties. Instead, they were a bunch of young men who decided to have some fun and make a neat little record. Thus, they weren't as much devling into the experimental side of rock as much as they would later on albums like A Picture of Nectar and Rift. But aye, do not fret yea phellow Phish-head, these younger versions of the amazing musicians you know today are still there, but maybe not as chiseled musically.

Seeing as this was a very low-budget project for Phish at the time, the production is nothing short of mediocre. I mean, a college-studio recorded cassette shouldn't be expected to have the quality of a top notch platinum release. The entire album retains a gritty, non-filtered quality which, as a whole, gives the band a rawer intensity that you see rarely on their later albums, where they prefer to lay back and just jam to whatever the feel like.

It's really interesting to listen to these jams that I know so well from listening to live Phish material on this album in it's original form. A song that really comes to mind is 'AC/DC Bag', a song that lead singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio wrote back in college. To quote from "The lyrics to this groove-rock tune speak of a certain Mr. Palmer, who is most decidedly "concerned with the thousand- dollar question." He is about to be hanged by the AC/DC Bag (the name of Wilson's plug-in, robotized, bag-headed executioner) under orders from Wilson himself." One of the most recognized song perhaps from the album, and is most likely the most played song from it on Phish's live track list repertoire. Usually extended three-times over length wise, Phish does really make the most of 'Bag' when they do play it. It's quite the spectacular jazz-influenced track that holds much water in my mind. 'Divided Sky' is another one of my favorites, yet it's painfully short and I wish that it could have been extended to a minimum of three minutes. The rest of the album is good, but I would say that the other tracks are pretty forgettable.

So, if you are interested in Phish's history or comeuppance, I suggest that you give this a try. Although, I would not go so far as to say it is an excellent addition to a prog-minded fellow.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 1/28/2015.
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Music Review #53:
Jethro Tull
Rock Island
Chrysalis Records

One of those albums that is obviously constructed with the intention to please the more mercantile rock crowd, Rock Island is the final 80's album released by UK's own Jethro Tull. The album sounds much like the prior Crest of a Knave, albeit with more disregard of artistic input and a substantial amount of commercial values. While not exactly an enthralling experience there are a few tracks from the albums that are fun as casual tunes. Lyrically and composition-ally the songs are structured like classic rock-n'-roll tunes, in the vein of George Thorogood with Ian Anderson's trademark fluting. Not much more really is to be said about this. As a cessation Rock Island has zesty and fun moments, but in equal or slightly greater measure extreme levels of bland claptrap.

© 2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 12/13/2015.
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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Music Review #52:
Pink Floyd
Obscured By Clouds
Capitol Records

One of the most underrated gems I have ever seen.

Out of all the Pink Floyd album out there, 1972's Obscured by Clouds has to be my favorite. Although I doubt that many other people share this opinion, I suppose in my little world of me, my thoughts are all that counts. So just to make clear, I am not here to be a preachy hipster and tell you to fall in love with this album. That would just be inane, and I know nobody wants that. Yet, I have an urge to share my thoughts on it with the progressive community.

Obscured By Clouds is the second of the two solely Pink Floyd-recorded soundtracks. The band was known to perform on other soundtracks, such as Zabriskie Point, The Comittee, and other, more obscure and less known filmscores. But the major, well know releases by the band were More (1969), and this album. The music was made for the 1972 film "La Vallée", written and directed by Barbet Schroeder. Schroeder, a well known Iranian director who's career was based in French cinema during the 60's, was the same man who directed the 1969 film More, which Pink Floyd also recorded a soundtrack for. The soundtrack for La Vallée, an album that they titled Obscured by Clouds, was indeed recorded as the soundtrack to the film, however when they had finished recording, the band promptly fell out with Imperia Films and were prompted to release the album as their own. Thus, the album was released in the year 1972, which was a year in between two well known masterpieces, Meddle (1971), and Dark Side of the Moon (1973). Due to this, the album was largely forgotten by the general public. After people had reveled in the majesty of the trifecta of Pink Floyd hit albums, Obscured By Clouds started to be slowly noticed. Critics were inclined to shrug it off as well, and the album again faded back into Obscure-ity (I'm sorry, I had to).

As for me, my friend actually found this album at a music store nearby to where I lived. Knowing that I sought the entire Pink Floyd chronology, he so kindly bought it for about five dollars and brought it over. After thanking him vigorously, I slotted the album into my computer and gave it a listen. Mind you, this was one first new listens to the band I had in over a year, and I was incredibly excited to give it a listen. At first listen, the album didn't appeal to me as much as I thought it would. I had always been a lover of the under appreciated, and that was probably why A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) was my favorite album by the band for a long time. But this sadly did not strike a chord with me like I expected it to. In fact, I was bored extremely quickly and put the case among my other albums. It sat there for an ungodly amount of time, perhaps two months or so, until I pulled it back out to give it another listen. Then, something that rarely happens with me happened with this album. On my second listen, I loved the album. In the period of time that the album was sitting in my shelf, I was researching more and more on the band in order to grasp everything I needed to know about them. I had already gained Dark Side well before this, and thoroughly enjoyed it. But during my 'studies', I found that this album came out a year before Dark Side. This was actually surprising to me, and I had come to know that usually albums that preceded masterpieces were highly influential to the band's sound. Knowing this, I came at the album with a totally different mentality, and I liked the album much more than I did at first listen.

Unlike the 1970's hit of Meddle, OBC's sound is extremely different. True, the former did propel Pink Floyd into a whole new era, but it was OBC's job to reinforce that sound. It did it very successfully. I can easily say I enjoy this more than Meddle, although I don't think that it is bad in any sense. Everything about this album is right; there is a healthy amount of tracks, a simple yet cool album cover (an unfocused picture of a man sitting in a tree, who would have guessed?), and not to mention some really fine songs. Out of the tracks, there are probably only a few that I enjoy a ton more over the others. Not to say that any of them are bad, but most of them do get sort of the same feeling out of me.

The two rockiest of the tracks, 'When You're In' and 'The Gold It's In The...', are both simple, fantastic little ditties by Gilmour. In fact, I have listened to the latter so much that it could very well become my favorite Pink Floyd song. Very Zeppelin like, especially taking into account the time of this album's release. 'Mudmen' is a nice instrumental, something that you could take a snooze to. Listening through the album may not give it the same effect, because it comes right after 'Wots...Uh the Deal', another really slow acoustic track. 'Childhood's End' is probably my second highest pick for this album. There is so much Dark side influence on it that if you'd put this next to 'Time', and I didn't know the two albums, I would swear they were from the same release. The song is really nice, and could be said that it fore-ran the whole release by giving the band the vibe it needed. 'Stay' is a Wright masterpiece. Although lyrically not as strong as one might expect, this love ballad is certainly something to listen to. So, although many people think this is non-essential, I would say otherwise. This album is really great for those fans wanting to thoroughly understand and enjoy the Pink Floyd experience.

2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 10/12/2014.
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Music Review #51:
EMI Records

I'm not too familiar with the whole psychedelic and spacey side of progressive rock (apart from Pink Floyd, my favorite band), but I recently discovered Eloy and decided to give them a shot. I checked out their page on here and decided that Ocean was my best bet as an introduction to the band. After listening, I have some opinions that I've decided to share. From what I've seen and heard, Eloy does owe a ton to Pink Floyd for their sound. After all, Pink Floyd did pioneer the space rock genre, so you cannot talk about psychedelic bands without bringing up Floyd. But it is true that Eloy did craft their own unique sound, and it could easily be said that they did a bang up job, especially with the release of this album. One thing I do commemorate Eloy for is the more focus on the space-rock side as opposed to the psychedelic side. What I mean by this is, although they are psychedelic, their sound is more floaty and vague as opposed to strange and experimental. At least more on the former, since the latter isn't gone completely. Although they are space-y, they are able to keep a solid beat going even when their rocking a track for twelve minutes straight, seen on the opener epic of 'Poseidon's Creation'.

When it comes to epics, which this 4-track album consists completely of, you must have differentiating sounds and parts in order to keep the listener hooked. And hook me they did. Every track on this release kept me thoroughly enthralled all the way through. I especially love the beat changes from funk to jazzy in 'Poseidon's Creation'. ' Incarnations of Logos' is a slower track, relying heavily to begin with on heavy ambiatic (my own word for something with ambiance) synthesizer, but does quickly evolve in to a foot tapping melodic track around the second half. The follow-up 'Decay of Logos' takes a more vocal-fronted arrangement, with darker accompanying guitars and some excellent drumming. I would go so far as to say that this song is quite reminiscent of krautrock. Combine that with a catchy riff and you've got yourself a winner.

'Atlantis' Agony..' takes the spot as the longest track on the album, coming in at almost sixteen minutes. It starts out with some slightly in-understandable spoken-word dialogue from Bornemann. It is mostly due to the thickness of his accent, but I guess his voice is good enough that it doesn't really bother me that much. Much like 'Incarnations of Logos', the first half is dedicated to ambiance and free flowing synth, whilst the second half half some funky rocking in it. I mean, if you've heard the rest of the album, this isn't anything special. It is nice, I must say, but I've already seen this before on the album. It does have some nice climactic moments, such as when Bornemann is counting from 84 to 88 around the last five minutes of the song.

My overall opinion of this album is sincerely and highly positive. Although my rating would perhaps be a 4.5 as opposed to a full on 5, this album is definitely somewhere in between. Progressive rock fans as well as space/psychedelic rock fans will love this upon listening. It's confident, free-flowing, and above all a mighty fine album.

2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 12/21/2014.
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Music Review #50:
Take Cover
Rhino Entertainment

Some reviews of this kind of took me by surprise.

From what I've listened to from QUEENSRYCHE, I've never extremely enjoyed their sound. Everybody knows of course that I'm not a huge fan of progressive metal, so it's obvious that there are many bands of the genre that I don't like very much. QUEENSRYCHE sadly does fall into this category. But it is not a total hate. It is true that they have mixed and matched several different genres including traditional, alternative, and just simple hard rock. I don't actually mind them doing that. Of course there are people who absolutely despise bands when they do this, and in a way that's the case for this album. But me, I actually love this cover album.

"TAKE COVER" includes songs that range from PINK FLOYD, PETER GABRIEL, and other similarly influential progressive artists (among them there are some more obscure artists as well). I do love the covers they put of from these prog giants though. I especially (of course) liked their cover of PINK FLOYD's 'Welcome to the Machine', because, as a song that is devoid of drumming, listening to it as a metal song was really interesting (in a good way of course.) Peter has never been an artist I've particularly enjoyed, but QR covered him well as well. Of course the other covers are fantastic, and are totally worth listening to.

Overall, I would absolutely give this cover album a listen. Gets a thumbs up from me!

2016 - The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Metal Music Archives on 11/12/2014.
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Monday, July 11, 2016

Music Review #49:
Pink Floyd
Harvest Records

I've always found Pink Floyd's Meddle to be their first real masterpiece (and the site would say the same). After all, the album was released in 1971, years before Dark Side (1973), WYWH (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979) were recorded. I was actually, in my first inquisitions in the whole sound of Pink Floyd, sort of confused on what to do for the album. I mean, I had never heard of it prior, back when all I had was The Wall to introduce me to the band, so I didn't know what to think. Nonetheless, I purchased the album shorty after hearing the great respect many people had for it. I listened to it excitedly, since it was my second only purchase from them.

Afterwards, I was speechless. I was blown away by the pure skill the band showed on this release, especially with the instrumental of 'One Of These Days'. It astonished me how such an early release of a band could be so masterful, without these guys having tried as much as other bands. That was before I knew that the band had learned what they shouldn't do and should continue to do extremely quickly, and were able to easily produce a masterpiece such as this. This release also marked the turning point for Pink Floyd whole sound change from floaty space-rock to more solid, workable material. It definitely got Pink Floyd on the charts with something like the 24 minute long epic of 'Echoes', widely regarded as the song that changed the band forever. So what about my thoughts? I thought, overall, that this album was exactly how people described it; a colorful masterpiece.

The album, even though it is a lot more progressive, couldn't totally shake off the Barrett days quite yet. A song that reminded me heavily of it was 'Seamus', which, in my opinion, didn't really need to be put on the album due to it's nonsensical attitude and extreme brevity, was very reminiscent to the work of Barrett on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. But aside from that, there are some neat psychedelic ditties on here like 'Fearless' and 'San Tropez', both of which are really cool songs that are great for casual listening. The latter I would say, is a unique gem for the Pink Floyd collector, with it's bouncy, lighthearted attitude, and dare I say it, indie like qualities? I shiver at the thought, but I suppose there's no other way to describe it. As stated before, the opener of 'One of These Days' marks the heaviest song since More's 'The Nile Song' and 'Ibiza Bar'. It is really cool track, centerpieced by a bass riff being set through a 'delay unit', causing it to have a double bass effect. Combine this with some really awesome drumming from Mason and great usage of synthesizer, and you've got a real great piece of Pink Floyd music.

While the rest of the album is pretty typical to Pink Floyd, they are all overshadowed by the behemoth epic of Echoes, which is the second longest song in PF history (next to Atom Heart Mother (23:42)). It finishes off the album with a huge firework that was heard all around the world. Starting in with a single and iconic staccato keyboard key being played for a time until it shifts into a more complete sound. Synth comes in to take over and after some time, the song changes into a more recognizable piece. Let me just say, this song did influence Pink Floyd in a variety of different ways, especially with the art-sy use of synthesizer and melodic space-rock guitar riffs that people know from Dark Side of the Moon. Not to mention that this album features beautiful lyrics and vocals that you could hear on their later concept albums. Towards the third quarter, the song shifts several times, from going back to floaty and then to a hard beat that was on 'One Of These Days'. It overall ends with the original sound and goes out with a bang. A real moving experience. Dare I say, you could listen to 'Echoes' as it's own album and still be quite satisfied.

Overall, this album is, in a way, an underrated masterpiece. Perhaps more known by Prog fans and critics, but it is less known to those PF newbies out there. I highly and warmly suggest that any progressive rock fan take a shot at this great work of art if you haven't already.

2016- The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 12/22/2014.
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Music Review #48:
Pink Floyd
EMI/Tower Records

The first of two soundtracks released by Pink Floyd, this film-score was made for a movie called, well, More. The film (which is highly unlikely that anyone has ever seen), tells a story of heroin addiction. The whole movie takes place on the island of Ibiza (which the name for the track 'Ibiza Bar' came from). Although I've never seen the movie, I have heard the soundtrack for it. This album is the most recent purchase to my PF discography.

The reason behind this being one of my last to add to my collection is due to my hesitation behind the reception of it overall. So I admit I saved it for last. I'm sure that many others have to, maybe even for very last, but I thought that getting this underrated gem before I got all the others would benefit me more in the long run. Therefore I picked up the album for eleven dollars and brought it home. I was quick to do a full listen-through, and I came out with an opinion equally as fast. Now here I am, presenting my thoughts to you.

I have stated before that Obscured by Clouds (1972) is my favorite Pink Floyd album, and I make it very clear in my review of it. But Obscured by Clouds was only a half of the puzzle. More, which came out three years before and predated OBC by two albums, is most definitely my least favorite of the two. But after listening, this album is probably the most evolved of the 60's Pink Floyd albums. Although maybe not as SUCCESSFULLY influential, like OBC (which influenced PF's Dark Side heyday), but More most definitely reinforced and solidified their sound after A Saucerful of Secrets (1968). I must say that both albums (OBC and More) have large similarities. This might be due to both films that they scored being directed by Barbet Schroeder, and them both being sort of art flicks. This would lead to high amounts of similar-ness due to the certain sounds these films have. But anyway, enough comparison, onto the album.

The album starts out with the dark and floaty 'Cirrus Minor', with sounds of birds and some light guitar. The riffs from this song sounds sort of like something you'd see from ASFOS, reminiscent to maybe 'Remember a Day'. This overall affect is actually quite nice, a high pick from the album and one of the best album openings by the band. But that quietness doesn't last for long until 'The Nile Song' comes in to blow all of that away. Crunching riffs and a yelling Gilmour, coming in with the heaviest Pink Floyd song in history. It is actually a cool and interesting listen, and features some awesome heavy metal guitar and excellent drumming on the part of Mason. 'Crying Song' slows the album back down with an ominous lullaby type song. It features some key changes that I'd hear on maybe Dark Side, and is actually a neat casual listen. 'Green is the Colour' and 'Cymbaline' are two slow acoustic songs that I really enjoy, especially the latter. 'Green is the Colour' actually has a more lighthearted feel that is taken almost straight from Atom Heart Mother, except this time the lyrics really make me feel warm on the inside. Also, I give great kudos to Wright for the keyboarding; mighty fine. 'Cymbaline' is the second of them, and this time has some good steady drumming from Mason and a much darker tone. If I were to compare the two, think of 'Green is the Colour' as a walk in the fields, and 'Cymbaline' as sitting in a rocker inside by the window during a rainy day. Both are quite exquisite, and are a mighty fine listen for both. 'Ibiza Bar' is sort of like a 'The Nile Song' reprise in a way, using very similar rhythm guitar riffs except it doesn't variate as much. Also, it is not nearly as heavy as the latter, but the recording sounds a lot better. A really cool listen, especially if you wanted to hear a clearer version of that iconic 'The Nile Song' riff. Unfortunately, that is the last of my real highlights. The rest of the album is songs that you'd probably only enjoy if you were actually watching the film, and aren't really that good upon listening to them plainly. So that has given it the rating from me at a 3.5/5. A nice little album full of really neat ditties, and are really nice to listen to. But if you were thinking of getting this as an early or maybe even introductory purchase, you could very well regret it. I would say listen to the rest of their albums first (especially the necessary ones), and you will come to greatly appreciate this.

Go give it a listen.

2016- The Frying Pan & Thatcher 
Originally written for Prog Archives on 12/22/2014.
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