Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Incantations – Mike Oldfield [#629]

Incantations_(Mike_Oldfield_album_-_cover_art)Incantations is Oldfield’s fourth album following Ommadawn and precedes Exposed. Musically, this album features themes and motifs that are repeatedly used throughout the four sides accompanied by Oldfield’s stylistically familiar circle of fifths.  Through his guitar wankery, his use of choral and a folksy solo by his singer du jour, Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior (doing a really good impression of Renaissance’s Annie Haslam), the whole album just screams Mike Oldfield.

Incantations requires a good set of headphones, a good red wine and a badly earthed hi-fi for that true middle-class seventies dad experience. It is sadly too minimalist for casual listens and, like most of Oldfield’s work, definitely requires the listener’s full attention to appreciate fully.

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Illusion – Illusion [#609]

Illusion_-_Same.jpgDuring the run-up to the next Music Project entry, I had to do a bit of research. Renaissance is one of those true prog bands whose line up has changed so much over the years, they’re unrecognisable to their original form. 

When Renaissance formed in 1969 it originally comprised of former Yardbirds Jim McCarty and Keith & Jane Relf together with John Hawken and Colosseum Bassist Louis Cennamo but when I first heard the band they were a quintet of none of the original members. The original line up released two albums then kind of went their separate ways in the early seventies. They then had a change of heart and reformed as a different band, Illusion. 

Of course I only kind of slightly knew this and to be honest, I was a little scared to listen to any Renaissance before Annie Haslam.  So when the next Music Project entry was Illusion by the McCarty/Relf lineup naturally I was a bit apprehensive. Then I dug about on Wikipedia and relearned the Renaissance story and how the McCarty/Relf Renaissance split and reformed as Illusion, confusingly later releasing the album Illusion. Curiosity got the better of me and I ended up Apple Musicing the album into my collection. 

So today, we’re looking at Illusion by Illusion. Jane Relf, together with Jim McCarty, John Hawken and Louis Cennamo (basically Renaissance pre-Dunford/Haslam) released this, their second Illusion album in 1978, Keith Relf having died tragically in 1976, is missing from this lineup.  It’s when you hear stuff like this, you begin to see the roots of Renaissance, the influence of other prog bands and how things could have been so-so different. 

Relf has a distinctive a voice as Haslam and there are clear embryonic audible melodic themes that would later resurface in Dunford/Haslam era Renaissance songs, likewise, one can hear the converse. Stylistically, they are subtly different yet the same; piano heavy, with an essence of floaty folk music vocals, airy poetic lyrics and a lick of Floydesque synth motifs here and there. I think my favourite track has got to be Madonna Blue which screams seventies folk rock so much it may as well grow long straight hair and wear a kaftan. Indeed, when listened to in its entirety, one might as well try listening back to back with Renaissance’s Illusion and see if you can tell the difference.

Just like I did.

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Équinoxe – Jean Michel Jarre [#429]

Equinoxe_Jarre_AlbumHaving been brought up in the nineteen seventies and having two older brothers who had been brought through the future yearning decade of the nineteen sixties on a diet of Doctor Who and the promises of holidays on the moon and jet packs, it is no wonder that Jarre features heavily on the music project.

Having listened to Équinoxe for the first time since possibly 1988 I was struck by how Jarre’s music still causes ASMR in me.  From remembering the feeling of the sofa of my childhood, to recalling the scent of my father’s aftershave and the nu-electriconicz smell of the 1970’s record player. All these memories came flooding back. Moreover by the time part IV had started I was already considering nipping upstairs to put on some orange or brown clothing to fully immerse myself in 1970s popular culture.

Equinox was Jarre’s fourth studio album fresh on the heels of Oxygene. While it appears to not have been received well by music critics of the time, the album has proliferated itself into generation X’s collective subconsciousness having, in part, been featured on every futurism, “science” and schools and colleges related television programme between its release and 1986. In fact, I challenge anyone between the ages of 35 and 45 to listen and not think of the likes of Jonny Ball or video sequences of robotic production plants.

 

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A La Carte – Triumvirat [#31]

A La Carte by Triumvirat

Triumvirat, for me, was one of those mystical bands that were impossible to find in conventional music shops. Whenever I went to HMV and browsed the “T” section I was always unsurprised to not find Triumvirat. Triumph, yes. Trivium, Yes. No Triumvirat. It was hardly surprising having “inherited” Illusions on a Double Dimple on vinyl from my brother who himself had “won” it in a competition.

So with the advent of the internet I was able to find out all about Triumvirat. How fantastic they were. How they were from Germany (not Finland as some sources say). How one of the original band members died in an accident. How the style changed following the death and how the line up changed constantly in true Prog Rock fashion. . I was also able to “obtain” their entire catalogue. Acesticks.

In A La Carte, the curious mix of Emmerson Lake & Palmeresque twiddly gets brushed into the musical recycle bin to give way for a more “ELO” tweeness.

Which doesn’t work.

There are two songs on this album that I like: Waterfall (sung by Barry Palmer) and For You. I will give a sample for you, of For You for you. For you, to fore ewe. Four eu?

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Music Project Album #13 – 25 Years On – Hawklords

25 Years On – Hawklords

Hawklords are the little known reformation sub-band of the widely known Hawkwind.

You might know Hawkwind from such mind altering albums as Quark Strangeness and Charm or Pxr5 or the single Silver Machine or perhaps you know Hawkwind as that prog-band with the tits(Hawkwind employed a topless dancer for live concerts who would just squirm and gyrate, topless, to their sets) or the band that Lemmy used to play for before Motorhead. Of course, you might not know Hawkwind at all.

Hawkwind are true prog. Concept albums abound, frequently changing line ups and weird lyrics that morph into socio-political Sci-Fi motivated anthems such as Highrise. For the album 25 Years On, the lineup consists of Hawkwind stalwarts Bob Calvert, Dave Bork and Simon King (no not that Simon King, the other one) with a couple of lesser known musicians. If you are familiar with Hawkwind you will detect the immitable Hawkwind sound permeating throughout the set. In fact that is basically what it is. A Hawkwind  album performed by three regulars and a couple of session musicians.

Songs of note from the album include Psi Power and Flying Doctor. Both testaments to Calvert and Brock’s lyrical genius.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/25-years-on-mw0000808795

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