Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Fish Rising – Steve Hillage [#476]

220px-Steve_Hillage_Fish_RisingUncelebrated guitar king and one time Gong member, Steve Hillage’s first solo album following his departure from Gong.

By all other regards, this really sounds like a Gong album. It has Gong members Howlett, Moerlen, Blake and Malherbe but also features Dave “no the other one” Stewart who you might know from helping to arrange Fear of a Blank Planet or his work with Barbara “Spirogyra” Gaskin or his TV work.

This is exactly what I like about prog. Former band mates, guys you meet in the pub and pals from different groups getting together to make music. You don’t get that in modern times. You never see the likes of Gary Barlow getting together with say, H from Steps, Noel from Oasis and Mel C to do an album about a fish. For a start their agents and recording labels wouldn’t allow it but also it’d be complete bollocks.

As I said, Fish Rising by all accounts sounds like a Gong album but without the Gnomes, Pixies and Flying Teapots. A more relaxed background album than a fully fledged “concentrate or you’ll miss it” progressive concept album. It is however something you – if you’re a fan of Gong, Hillage or embarking on a life changing journey through prog – might want to listen to as an appreciation exercise to see if you can detect distinctive musical styles and flourishes. Or maybe you’re just high on something and have the old oil projection lamps going and need something to help you focus on.

 

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Dirty Dancing – OST [#372]

DIRTY+DANCINGDirty Dancing – OST

Hello again. It’s Steelrattus here with the first of seven consecutive guest posts. This time around I am helping Stegzy out for a whole week, so I have essentially got whatever seven albums are scheduled for this week. So this is why I’m utterly blameless for the first of these posts.

The Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I’m not sure I have ever seen the film. In fact my only real memory of the film is my sister being a huge fan back when it must have been at the cinema in 1987, and subsequently home cinema. But in the interests of… science (and blogging) I have forced myself to listen to the soundtrack. For review purposes I appear to have the 20th Anniversary Edition of the soundtrack, which is twenty seven tracks versus the 1987 original edition’s twelve, to add insult to injury. So the beers that Stegzy owes me have just increased I feel. By an order of magnitude.

The soundtrack itself appears to be a mix of 1950/60s rock and roll, reflecting the 60s setting of the film, and 80s power ballads. I don’t mind the 1950/60s tracks so much, but the 80s stuff doesn’t do so much for me. Listening to the album it all tends to bleed together. And that’s about all I’ve got to say about the music.

For fact fans, apparently the original 1987 soundtrack was a huge success, sold 32 million copies worldwide, and is one of the best-selling albums of all time, proving there is no God. Apparently it spent 18 weeks at number one in the US Billboard chart. Its performance spawned a follow-up called More Dirty Dancing in 1988. Ultimate Dirty Dancing was released in and contains every song in the order played in the film (great for OCD nuts like me… well it would be if I would ever listen to it. Which I won’t. Ever). It transpires that the version I’ve listened to, the 20th Anniversary Edition (unsurprisingly released in 2007), contains remastered and additional tracks in a different order. *shrugs*

Anywhere, here’s the obligatory YouTube video, of what is presumably the most popular track.

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Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd [#336]

Dark_Side_of_the_MoonWhen I was 17, the former acquaintance now known as Shitbag said to me:

“Pink Floyd don’t make any CDs anymore. You’ll not find this in HMV so don’t go looking”

So naturally I went looking, opening up a whole new world to me. I’d been aware of Pink Floyd for several years up to that point, but mostly only for their work The Wall. But as we learnt in Animals, there was a lot more to the band. Indeed, much later works like A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Division Bell just proved that there was still a lot to be produced and earlier albums like Atom Heart Mother and A Saucerful of Secrets proved there was a lot more to discover.

Darkside of the Moon was the second Pink Floyd album I bought. At the time a lot was going on in my life. It was also a time when the new millennium was approaching and with it esoteric disaster, spiritual end times and a new age of yogurt weaving, tofu knitting and miso misery was dawning.

There was also a total eclipse of the sun that was to be visible from the British Isles and Cornwall was to be the best spot to view it from. So, to avoid the crowds I planned an excursion to the nearest westerly point my girlfriend and I could reach without breaking the bank. Having bundled the tent and the king size duvet into the Citroen AX, all that was left was to make a mix tape for the car as entertainment.

Driving through rural Wales with the album on the car stereo blaring out in time to every twist, turn, 60mph stretch, open road and chicane it was uncanny. Culminating in coming down the hill into the picturesque village of Aberdaron on the western Llyn Peninsula just as Pink Floyd broke into Eclipse was possibly on of the most inspiring and thought provoking moments of my life. It was as if the album was written for the journey, the experience and the event.

Synchronicity at its best. Although next time I’ll try the whole experience again while watching Wizard of Oz and see how that works out.

I also have Dark Side of the Sky. A live recording of a performance of this album, but I see little point in writing a separate entry for it.

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Changes in Mind – The Golden Dawn [#259]

CHANGES+IN+MINDChanges in Mind – The Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn were a group of enlightened spiritual adventurers devoted to the study and practice of dark arts, occultism and paranormal activities. This basically means they liked to meet in creepy places, have sex (possibly with each other) and take hallucinogenic drugs. Which is what everyone likes to do really.

However,  in the time of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, such things were frowned upon by stuffy types in society. So it’s no wonder why wealthy people dabbled in a bit of old “wakey wakey Satey” in remote places away from prying eyes, what with everyone else being so repressed and stuck up their own arses and everything. Naturally, good old Aleistair “I’m a complete nut case” Crowley, thought it would be a good idea to be a member but he was a little too weird for the other members. So when the Golden Dawn booted him out, Crowley went off to form his own “Let’s all wank in a box” cult and eventually popped his clogs in a guest house in Hastings.

So imagine my delight when scouring Jamendo, a music site where artists provide rights free music (for use in Youtube videos and the like without the worry that Mr Sony will ask you to take down the video), I found a band called Golden Dawn. “Brilliant” I thought, “Some sort of dark satanic goth music to tickle the old occult glands”.

Disappointed isn’t in it. Surprised, yes, disappointed, no. This isn’t Black Mass. It isn’t death growls and tortured souls. It isn’t even worthy of playing backwards in the hope of some vague musical artefacts that you could mistake for Satanic messages. This is nice plinky plonky electro-psychadelia from songwriter/guitarist Nick Gent and lead guitarist Ben Skultety, who, it seems, have about as much satanic wizardry in them as Sooty.  It also seems, that they have since changed their name to The Mind Orchestra. Probably because of the hounding from nutters hoping to find darkly satanic occult music to have sex and take drugs in creepy places to.

Changes in Mind, is available from Jamendo in it’s entirety for free. Golden Dawn are a nice fit for those looking for simple sounds to aid them with their moody beard stroking or beret wearing but possibly not for those hoping to raise the Goat of Mendes.

 

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Music Project – Album #47–A’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming–Therion

 

imageA’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming by Therion

Back in the good old late nineties, Scandinavian metal and rock bands started to experiment with their sound. Whilst the likes of Nightwish and Within Temptation experimented with female operatics, Therion went the whole hog and opted for a full choir.

 

Curiously it works.

A’arab Zaraq Lucid Dreaming is an early release for the band and the style they later became synonymous for is still on the carpenters bench at this stage so to speak.

I first came across Therion on a “goth rock” compilation album which, is as goth as Metallica. But still, the sound they create is unique and unusual, both aspects that float my boat so it comes as no surprise that I downloaded their back catalogue based on the listening of one song.

Sadly my brain is now becoming close to full with music and my consumption of music has changed dramatically so it takes exceptional musicianship to make me listen to the album in its entirety. Unfortunately, this album isn’t too exceptional.

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Music Project–Album #42– A Secret History –The Divine Comedy

imageA Secret History by The Divine Comedy

Two today because I’m feeling generous.

There is a certain sound that conjures up memories of the 1990’s. Granted, I spent most of the 1990s in a haze of solitude and unemployment. Indeed, I did not really venture much further musically than the compilation album Shine 9. Instead I spent most of the 90s listening to Mike Oldfield, Yes, Triumvirat and whatever I happened upon on my cassette tapes. Those were the days. Days of sitting round, doing nothing. Wasting time.

 

I suspect that The Divine Comedy’s greatest hits, this album, appears in my music library due to Gay Jamie who no doubt put it on one of his many MP3 CDs he wrote for me back in the early noughties.

 

The Divine Comedy are that sound. The sound of the nineties. I’d not listened to this album before I began this project and, apart from a couple of tunes I’d heard on the radio or in other compilations, I’m not all that familiar nor enamoured with the band or their work. I was also surprised by the fact that they wrote the theme tune to Father Ted. So that was a surprise when it started playing midway through the listen.

 

Anyway, I think I’ll just keep the tracks I like off this album and bin the rest.

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Music Project – Album #40 – A Saucerful of Pink: A Tribute to Pink Floyd

A Saucerful of Pink: A Tribute to Pink Floyd by Various Artists

Somebody once said to me “You know when a band is good by the number of tribute acts”. Someone else once said to me “Turn this fucking racket off”. This album illustrates why both these people were correct.

This album is the result of a group of lesser known artists such as Psychic TV, Sky Cries Mary, Eden, Alien Sex Fiend and Controlled Bleeding gathering together to tortuously mutilate 2 hours of Pink Floyd instrumentals and songs. Some say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. After 30 minutes of this album I challenge them to repeat that claim without a grimace on their face.

To be fair, some of it isn’t too bad. Nothing is “individual” or stands out. I suspect this is another album heading its way to the digital recycle bin in the sky. Of course, if you’re brave you’re welcome to ask me to upload it somewhere for you…..

I swear, my musical tastes have become a lot more conservative in recent years….

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