Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

House of Yes: Live at the House of Blues – Yes [#594]

House_of_YesWhen this album was released back in 2000, the internet as we know it today was still in its fledgeling state. Websites were mostly created and owned by actual people rather than by corporations and users actually had to seek out their news rather than have it shown to them if an algorithm deigned to do so. As a result, I was only aware it had been released because I saw it while I was browsing the CD racks in HMV.

Of course, with it being a Live/Best of compilation and I already had most of the songs Live or in compilations, I was reluctant to part with hard earned cash for stuff I already had and instead bought something a little more desirable like Air’s Moon Safari or whatever else was about in those days. However sometime later, probably during the Great Internet Download Free-for-All of the early noughties, I was given a copy of the album by a work colleague and so it joined my collection.

House of Yes is a live double album featuring music from Yes’ earlier career and their album The Ladder. It also features Billy Sherwood on guitar and Igor Khoroshev on keyboards, Sherwood left shortly before the album’s release and Khoroshev had already been booted out of the band by that time due to a sexual harassment controversy.

I can’t say that I don’t like this compilation. There are some good performances on the album the enjoyment of which can be enhanced by the viewing of the DVD of the gig.

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Gold Collection: The Best of Jefferson Airplane [#534]

Gold Collection - Jefferson AirplaneAnother case of “Why have I got this?”. Gold Collection is essentially one of the bands many greatest hits compilations available on the market

Although I was already familiar with White Rabbit I was a little unsure as to which other songs Jefferson Airplane I knew. Turns out the only other one I knew was Somebody to Love.

Jefferson Airplane are icons of the sixties to many, their history as multi-branched as any prog rock tree.  Much like the earlier music project entry, Black Mass by Lucifer and future project entry, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls by The Coven, Jefferson Airplane slots itself into a specific genre of weirdness garnished with shouty woman lead singer. Pretty much like X.  But I guess, like Grateful Dead, you have to have been a part of the scene or “been there man” to fully appreciate the appeal for the whole angry shouty sixties psychedelic music sound.

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Gold: The Best of Spandau Ballet – Spandau Ballet [#533]

Unknown-1Quite often, as is frequently the case with this project, I listen to albums and become pleasantly surprised by how many of the tracks or songs I am already familiar with.

The other week  I took a long distance trip up the M6 with this album loaded onto the car’s music centre. Before it played, my wife and I discussed how many songs we both could remember that were by Spandau Ballet. Gold was mentioned, but only in relation to the 1984 Olympics. I could remember To Cut a Long Story Short from Club for Heroes and we could both recall True but only because of a relatively recent cover version. However, as the journey continued and the album played, we began to realise we knew more Spandau than we first thought.

Only When You Leave came on followed by Lifeline and  Communication and we were both singing along. It seemed like every song that followed was accompanied by a chorus of “Oh! I didn’t know they did this one as well”. And partly, that is another reason as to why I like “Best of” compilations. Not only are they a good snapshot and introduction to a band but when it’s a more established group like Spandau, they often contain songs that pepper the soundtracks of our own lives whilst removing those songs from the original albums for we have no affiliation to.

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Ghosts from the Darkside III – Various Artists [#520]

R-708447-1150309381.jpegCompilations, it seems, are like buses. You wait for ages then two come along at once.

Ghosts from the Darkside III (I’ve no idea what happened to Ghosts from the Darkside I) is pretty much the same as Ghosts from the Darkside II, darkwave/goth music somewhat difficult to ingest aurally driving to and from work.

This time Tristania, Clan of Xymox and L’Âme Immortelle join the dark pageant but again, the rest of the acts I’d never heard of, nor did I find any affinity with.

Unfortunately, this eagerness to embrace the dark resulted in me getting quite a few albums and fan compilations like this and, advanced warning here, very soon we will see examples of other Gothic compilations on the music project.

1-01 Flesh Field Animal 5:34
1-02 Funker Vogt The Journey 5:52
1-03 Terminal Choice The Saviour 6:46
1-04 In Strict Confidence The Truth Inside Me 5:05
1-05 Yendri Bodyless 5:49
1-06 Diary Of Dreams Winter Souls 5:45
1-07 Clan Of Xymox Crucified 6:00
1-08 Sanguis Et Cinis Phantom 4:57
1-09 Illuminate Energie 4:58
1-10 Umbra Et Imago Mea Culpa 4:47
1-11 Samsas Traum Für Immer 5:23
1-12 Mondsucht Verlies Der Ewigkeit 4:28
1-13 Mantus (2) Feuer 7:08
1-14 Exovedate Truly 2:30
1-15 Ophelia’s Dream Quando Corpus Morietur 3:09
2-01 L’Âme Immortelle The Immortal Part 4:53
2-02 Claire Voyant Love The Giver (Eskil Simonsson Of Covenant)

Remix – Eskil Simonsson

5:28
2-03 Love Like Blood Bleeding 6:02
2-04 The Garden Of Delight Chaos AD 5:09
2-05 Tristania Beyond The Veil 6:39
2-06 Grabesmond Totgeboren 3:45
2-07 Stillste Stund Drei Sind Eins 4:28
2-08 Cinema Strange Lindsay’s Trachea 5:17
2-09 S.P.O.C.K Klingon 2000 (Radio Mix) 3:49
2-10 Klirrfaktor Dekadenz 4:10
2-11 Cleaner Anti-Arctic (Hard Vox Version) 5:38
2-12 Absurd Minds Fairy Stories 5:12
2-13 Hocico Spit As An Offence (Suicide Commando Remix)

Remix – Suicide Commando

5:25
2-14 Siechtum Gesellschaft Mord 3:36
2-15 Dulce Liquido Illusión Hecha Mentira
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From Wishes to Eternity – Nightwish [#503]

Nightwish_from_wishes_to_eternity1Scandinavian rock valkyries again, this time with a live set featuring Nightwish’s pre-breakup line-up and Tarja Turunen.

The album is a live recording of a concert performed in Tempere in 2000 and was originally released as a limited CD run and released in DVD format with footage of the actual gig. It features a number of my favourite tracks from across the Nightwish catalogue.
I was never at the gig. Nor am I likely to want to go to a Nightwish gig these days. But, like with all live albums, I can play it really loud while standing in the garden in the dark and pretend I’m at the gig whenever I like.

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Essential Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan [#433]

Bob_Dylan_-_The_Essential_Bob_DylanEssentially I want to like Bob “Moped starting up” Dylan. Essentially I have tried and really tried. I tried so hard to like Bob “Hair Drier” Dylan, to see why so many people put him on a pedestal, why so many people think he’s the best thing to have ever happened to music since Mozart. I tried. I tried so hard I have strain marks on my ears.

Essential is the “best of” Dylan, not that I’ve been able to distinguish any mind blowing tracks apart from the surprise that Dylan was responsible for a number of songs I had attributed to other artists.

Legend has it the young Dylan mooched about Liverpool before he hit the main stream.While there he met a young bloke who had just started to learn how to play music who was called John Lemon or something or some such bollocks. This is, of course, utter shite,  just like Dylan’s placement on the pedestal of musical greatness.

I’m sure I’ve upset a great deal of people with that last sentence but don’t misunderstand my supposition. Dylan certainly has his place in the hall of music history but the way many people, including my contemporaries, insist on placing the guy on this heightened throne of greatness has become irritating of late. The likes of Presley, Ray Noble and even Glen Miller who came before Dylan and equally had a prolific change on musical culture should also enjoy the same platform. Indeed, let’s be fair about the whole throne thing, let’s turn it into a musical SOFA of greatness. Dylan, Morrison, Presley, Noble, Gallas and whoever else deserves recognition can sit happily on the Sofa of musical greatness and entertain us all with their jostling for the pouffe.

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Conspiracy – Billy Sherwood & Chris Squire [#304]

Conspiracy - Chris Squire Billy SherwoodYes’ bass guitarist, Chris Squire and his chum, former two album Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood, collaborate and produce a sound that is rather quite good under the working band title of Conspiracy.

You can hear where Yes were heading with this collaboration. Hints of Talk and Big Generator permeate the overarching soundscape of this album and a version of More we Live (Let Go) from Yes’ later Union album features as well as Open Your Eyes and the twee  Man in the Moon from later (and best forgotten) Yes album Open Your Eyes. 

Sadly the collaboration only lasted one more album, The Unknown, and technically Conspiracy is a collection of studio workings gathered over several years. People still debate whether it was Squire who did the dirty on Sherwood or whether other forces were at work. Either way, Squire remains the only member of Yes to have played on every Yes album and Sherwood still floats in and out of prog bands and projects, not really adhering himself to any big name.

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Chronometree – Glass Hammer [#272]

440px-ChronometreeChronometree – Glass Hammer

Prog. More prog.

Some claim that punk killed prog with a nasty kick in the chuff back in the late 1970s. However it didn’t die, it crawled towards the back of people’s music collections and lay there. Regenerating. Read the rest of this entry »

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#130 – The Beach (OST) – Various Artists

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 11.22.16 The Beach (Soundtrack) – Various Artists

After surviving a fate worse than marrying a soggy Kate Winslet and the sinking of a cruise liner, Leonardo Dicaprio swims all the way to Thailand and begins a life of backpacking across Asia.

During his adventures, some drunken sop tells him, in whispered tones, about a beach so beautiful it will melt your brain.

So begins the story of 90’s hedonism and awareness that secrets are best kept to yourself as nobody can be trusted. The film rings true to me especially as how every year people go to my favourite holiday spot, enjoy themselves and tell others to go too. Over the years the area has gone from nice quiet relaxing holiday spot to approaching awful Guardian reading family friendly frightfest.

Only without the drug smuggling, violence and Lord of the Flies inspired committees.

The soundtrack isn’t too bad either. It’s a nice snapshot of the 90’s hedonistic holiday nightclub crap that seemed to flood the radio waves, peoples cars and CD racks of the time. Bands such as Blur, Moby and All Saints feature with summer holiday inspiring tunes to whisk you off to your favourite sandy hot spot with a stylus fall.

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Ayreonauts Only – Ayreon [#113]

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 16.35.34Ayreonauts Only – Ayreon

We talked about Ayreon back at the start of this project. Ayreon is one of those European rock stars that wouldn’t be out of place in one of those Euro Rock bands of the late 1980’s like Poison or Europe.

Except he’s far too good for that.

This album acts as a kind of “I can do better than what I did before” Best of compilation album. A Betterer Of, for want of a better phrase.

If the chugga chugga guitar of Into the Black Hole doesn’t get you fired up, then perhaps Eyes of Time or  Cold Metal will.

I love this album. Again, I have no idea why he’s not as well known in the UK as he is in Europe.

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A Little Different – Barry Louis Polisar [#32]

A Little Different by Barry Louis Polisar

During the dawn of the Internet, before Black September, there existed a website called Peoplesound. Peoplesound empowered unsigned musicians to produce an album and sell it through the site. So of course, it was inevitable that other unsigned artists would be keen to promote their wares through the platform.

As a fan of the underdog, I have always been keen to hear artists “raw” and unoverproduced so you will see lots of bands from Peoplesound in the process of this project. One such artist was Barry Louis Polisar. Polisar had already made a name for himself on Sesame Street writing songs for children and had chucked out a fair few albums to a small audience. One of which was this. Of course, when the film Juno came out with a Polisar tune in the soundtrack, people started saying to me “Hey have you heard this guy he’s so cool” and I was like “Yeah, I heard of him years ago. I’m so cool” and they were like “No. We’re cool because we heard of him after you heard of him so we are cooler because you’re not really cool you’re more lukewarm”

Anyway, as my ownership of this album since 2000 holds testament, I am far ahead of all the Coolkids and hipsters, musical taste-wise. Regardless.

So. Polisar is a bit like an American Rolf Harris/Jay Foreman hybrid. Here is a sample:

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Music Project – Album #3: ….the Last Embrace by Arcana

 ….the Last Embrace by Arcana

Ok, so before the pedants start, J River Music Center orders punctuation before numbers and the letter A.

Anyway. Arcana is one of those bands I heard once and thought “Oh that’s a good tune, I’ll download their back catalogue because surely all their other stuff must be the same quality”. This is a stupid idea. Do not fall for such tactics. Building your musical library with albums from artists based on one track (which incidentally you can’t find now) is a stupid thing to do.

To be fair, some of this is alright if you’re into spooky doom laden misery. This is the sort of album you might listen to if you wanted to scare the wits out of a complete stranger you have just invited into your house. Or maybe you are a moody twenty something with a penchant for dark clothing, pentagrams, red candles and joss sticks. I know I always wanted to be that person. Unfortunately when I was that age, the internet was just two computers and a jam jar and my goth friends thought I was too “normal” to be involved in their regular Sunday night listening to dark music while smoking pot and talking about Aleister Crowley sessions. If that’s the kind of thing you’re into though, you’ll like this album.

Moreover, if you are a Dead Can Dance fan in a really bad mood, you might also be drawn into this album with gusto. Arcana mix dark atmospheric synths with tubular bells and wailing women. And probably a few glasses of absinthe with goats blood. Be warned though, this isn’t the darkest album in my collection. This is the kind of darkness where you can still make out shapes. Good to morris dance to. In the dark. With good shoes on.

Of course, it has only taken me three reviews to realise that most people will not have heard of some of the bands I like, so what I should do is somehow link to a sample to give you a flavor. Furthermore, should you want a copy of the music yourself, I suppose I could set some sort of Dropbox thing up. Meh. Listen to it yourself here. Tell me I’m right and that it’s truly the stuff of nightmares. I like this album. It makes me want to eat raw chicken.

http://arcana.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-embrace

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