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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Gong Est Mort, Vive Gong – Gong [#537]

Gong_Gong_Est_MortWhile, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong were churning out jazzy numbers and being all “normal” and long after teapots were flown about by pixies and Zero the Hero’s head floated up the vagina of a witch, Daevid Allen and chums had a bit of a break and entered a period of releasing “best of” compilations, live gig recordings and other such lazy productions.

Gong Est Mort, Vive Gong is one such live compilation from Allen’s Gong. Included are tracks from Flying Teapot and Angels Egg as well as a few tracks from You from the Radio Gnome cycle and some from Camembert Electrique.

Unfortunately, there is a wife imposed jazz embargo at Gnomepant’s cottage at present, so I am unable to report on the more jazzy tracks, however I did manage a good listen of the less jazzy tracks, and, do you know? I wish I had gone to see the band back in 1992.

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Going for the One – Yes [#532]

220px-Yes_Going_for_the_OnePossibly one of the first albums I had recorded on cassette. My middle brother had this on cassette and did a copy for me on his twin tape but as home taping killed music, there was nothing after this.

Nonsense of course, I eventually went and bought the album on vinyl, thus saving music for future generations.

Indeed, as a teenager, Going for the One was pivotal in my musical development to such an extent that I performed the track Turn of the Century during a school end of term concert and Wondrous Stories as an exam piece for my Music GCSE. While the majority of my peers enjoyed the likes of Wham, Culture Club and emerging techno, rap and house music, I was busy being ten years behind my contemporaries and enjoying what this album had to offer.

The album sees the return (albeit briefly) of keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman following the departure of Patrick Moraz who played keys for the previous album, Relayer. The return of Wakeman does do some favours to the band at this stage of their career and the track Awaken with its extended organ solo at the heart, really is like a “glad to be back” from Rick.

Sadly, as with all prog bands, the band would separate once more after their next album, Tormato but you can certainly hear the development of the Yes sound and how it is an acoustic ancestor of Tormato with this album.

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Big Big Movie Themes – Geoff Love & His Orchestra (#184)

Big Big Movie Themes - Geoff Love & His OrchestraBig Big Movie Themes – Geoff Love & His Orchestra

Geoff Love was the king of easy listening. Forget Mantovani. Forget James Last. Love was Royalty.

Over several years under the MFP (Music for Pleasure) label, Geoff Love released several LPs featuring orchestrated theme tunes from film and television. Some good. Some bloody awful. Big Big Movie Themes is a kind of “Best of” but actually features some reworkings of some of Love’s best arrangements. Still good stuff though.

It now appears that these golden greats from the 1970s have been rereleased as CDs and are also available on iTunes so hopefully a whole new generation can experience Easy Listening to the full.

This album features:

The James Bond Theme
The Big Country
Somewhere My Love (Dr Zhivago)
Jaws
The Way We Were
A Man and a Woman
Lawrence of Arabia
The Magnificent Seven
Goldfinger
What’ll I do (The Great Gatsby)
A Summer Place
Colonel Bogey
Love Story
Warsaw Concerto (Dangerous Moonlight)

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Album #74 – Animals – Pink Floyd

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 12.26.00Animals – Pink Floyd

The first time I heard this album back in 1991 I was told “You’ll not find this in HMV”. Curiously I did.

This is one of those defining life moment CDs. The ones where every track initialises memories of times past, people long gone and places you’ve not been to in a very long time.

As an introduction to Pink Floyd, Animals was a good place to begin. Political and observational lyrics define this as a Roger Waters masterpiece, a far flung difference to the earlier psychedelic shenanigans of Syd Barratt’s Floyd. It’s by no means the first but it’s one of the best. Clearly a pre-The Wall album and most definately Pink Floyd.

Listen especially to the Dr Whoesque Radiophonic Workshop like track Sheep.

I love this album. It is life affirming in a negative way. Shattering the illusions of the nuclear-age and dancing upon the tattered remains of the pre-Thatcherite British society. Dark, scathing and very well observed. Perfect.

ADDENDUM: I alsohave a “Limited Edition” Trance remix version of this album. It’s shocking. You’d have to be in a trance to like it.

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