Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Illusion – Renaissance [#610]

Ren_ill2Since rediscovering this in my collection, I have listened to it nearly every day since. It’s curious how the modern way seems to be more playlist orientated than album driven. As an exercise, I listened to the first album, Renaissance, this album, Illusion, and the following three albums, Prologue, Ashes are Burning and Turn of the Cards, in effect the first 5 albums by the band, to see if I could pinpoint something groundbreaking. I couldn’t but it was fun. But this Renaissance exercise has shown me how important music appreciation skills are in the full enjoyment of music by artists and appreciation of how sound develops over time.

As per Illusion by Illusion, I had mostly ignored this album, frightened by what stylistic differences that might exist to affect my enjoyment of core 1973-1978 era Renaissance. However, in true form, I found pre-Haslam Renaissance much more enjoyable. Indeed, it was clear that the style only seemed to change once the Dunford/Haslam crew stopped recycling work by the original band members and focused on their own style.

Illusion is the second album by the first incarnation of Renaissance that would later become Illusion and Stairway. It features the first song to include a member of the second incarnation, Michael Dunford, Mr Pine, which also features a melody that would later resurface in the fifth, and third with the new lineup, album Turn of the Cards. 

To add further twists the album was released in Germany in 1971, then again to the wider world in 1973 but not in the UK until 1977.

Finally, as a footnote, the video that accompanies today’s entry features Binky Cullom in the female vocal lead. Binky was a transitional member between Relf and Haslam. Sadly Binky doesn’t really seem to have the steadiness of Relf or Haslam, but I thought it would be fun to include it here.

Confused? Think about how the band felt!

and for those whose ears are now bleeding, here is the salve.

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Hurdy Gurdy – Hurdy Gurdy #599

 

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Hurdy Gurdy by Hurdy Gurdy

Legend has it, Danish prog band Hurdy Gurdy wrote to Donovan in the late 1960s asking him to help the band break into the music scene. Impressed by the demos he received, Donovan went home and wrote a song for the band but when he heard them perform it, he rewrote a more acoustic version and kept it for himself.

 

That song became Hurdy Gurdy Man.  

Of course whilst Donovan made it big on the world stage, Hurdy Gurdy would have disappeared into obscurity if only for the Great Free-for-All-Download of the mid to late noughties. You know, that big downloady thing people did back then that killed popular music? I often think about my actions during that time and how I wrongly downloaded music from online file sharing locations depriving many artists of their hard earned funds. Hardworking artists and music that I would never have heard of had it not been for the whole downloady thing because, face it, who has time (and money) to spend all day looking through the racks of market approved music in HMV?

Hurdy Gurdy is Hurdy Gurdy’s first and, as far as my limited research has taught me, only album. I came across it while looking for hurdy-gurdy music, which, if you know me well enough you will know, is my favourite musical instrument. Sadly there are no actual hurdy-gurdys on the album. However,  it is saved by being very much a prog sounding album, with lots of guitar twiddling and quite a bluesy feel to the whole. The non-melodic singing is a little shouty for me and reminiscent of some post In the Court Of the Crimson King King Crimson or early Triumvirat. I think the only reason I’ve kept hold of it is that it’s quite a rare album and I’m always a stickler for rarities.  Fortunately, good old Youtube has the whole album for you to hear yourself.

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Fragile – Yes [#495]

FragileI originally bought this album from Woolworths in Pwllheli while holidaying in my Uncles cottage. I remember being excited at the prospect of being able to listen to it on the record player we had there. And so, in 1986 progressive rock reverberated across the Welsh mountains for a brief moment Heart of the Sunrise leading the charge. That was until I was told to turn the music down.

At the time of the album’s release, Yes were coming to the end of an era with the imminent departure of drummer Bill Bruford (who left after the recording of the follow up album Close to the Edgeand the addition, in this album, of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, who replaced Tony Kaye. This was to become what some fans call “The Classic Yes Line Up” which is interesting as it was only like this for a couple of albums and it seems that nobody wants to talk about the regroup non-cannon album Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe .

The album itself features a number of really good songs, Heart of the Sunrise, Southside of the Sky and Roundabout; all fan pleasing tracks that are played regularly at gigs. It also features a handful of tracks written solo by each band member: Anderson’s We Have Heaven sounding like something from Olias of Sunhillow Bruford’s Five Percent for Nothing sounding like an A Level Music submission and the beginnings of later Wakeman solo projects audibly clear in Can and Brahms .

A fun album with some nice classic Yes songs but sounding flat, disappointing and unpromising with today’s ears.

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Fairyport – Wigwam [#455]

Wigwam_-_FairyportDiscovered while exploring the far corners of progressive rock during the noughties, Wigwam’s 1971 opus Fairyport is a curious album. While not in the same attention winning arena as Bodkin, it does show the roots of the likes of Glass Hammer and perhaps the influence of early Genesis.As an eternal pregnant keen to explore the darkest reaches of Progressive Rock, Fairy Port provides a nice restful stop on the way to King Crimson.

The band themselves hail from the land of Prog, Finland and while in some respect, stylistically similar to their contemporary country fellows in dear old Triumvirat, there are sufficient differences in both to distance their music from each other comfortably. Wigwam managed an impressive ten albums during their career, with the most recent surfacing in 2005 and only had a few minor changes in their line up.

Great if you like a lot of twiddle in your prog sandwich and just as wonderful if you don’t.

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Electric Warrior – T Rex [#421]

220px-Electric_warrior_albumAnother tragedy, another electric album.

I was surprised to see Electric Warrior appear into the view of my iTunes. I’ve never really been a big fan of T Rex or, for that matter, Hendrix but it seems that this week we have had two goliaths of twentieth century popular music with more to follow over the next few weeks.

Electric Warrior is T Rex’s 6th studio album on which, Bolan and chums experiment with a new style of folky rock which seemed quite a glamorous thing to do at the time. Of course, this spawned a whole raft of imitative music and gave life to the Glam Rock movement of the seventies to which bands like Sweet and Kiss owe a great deal.

I can take or leave T Rex. I certainly wouldn’t have gone out of my way to obtain this album so I can only assume that it is in the music collection because someone “harvested” it for me or Previous-Mrs-Gnomepants (probably Gay Jamie). Still, there are a couple of songs on the album which seem to feature on TV whenever the producer is trying to send the viewer back to the nineteen seventies. Which isn’t a bad thing if you think about it.

Apart from the pollution and political incorrectness.

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Camembert Electrique – Gong (#240)

Camembert Electrique -- GONG Camembert Electrique – Gong

What more can one say about Gong? French weirdos play odd music about gnomes, pixies and floaty things of all varieties. Heavily drug influenced. Far out.

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