Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Heaven and Hell – Vangelis [#575]

Vangelis_Heaven_and_HellBeardy greek mashes his keyboards once more to produce an enigmatic work with a guest appearance from Jon “Yes” Anderson.

Years ago Carl Sagan did a TV show called Cosmos (the soundtrack to which has already been covered here). It told us all what we knew about the solar system and featured stunning imagery which inspired many young people to get interested in astronomy. Thirty-odd years later, the astronomy factory’s failed to surface and the teacher saying “Astronomy is full of maths” was the right thing to say to impressionable lazy young people embarking on their first tentative steps into the real world. While I was saved a failed career in astronomy thanks to that warning, I carried a little piece of Sagan’s masterwork in my memory, that of the theme tune.  A tune that brought to mind black and white portable television sets and eager cassette recorders waiting to catch the music from the final minutes of the TV show.

Years later, while searching for the music, I learned that the tune was actually from Vangelis’ work Heaven and Hell. While tempting to skip through to the actual bit from Cosmos the album is actually worth listening to in its entirety. Especially as near the end of the first side, our favourite high pitched male singer, Anderson, pops up with an outer space lyrical coda to the side. Indeed, I believe this is the album upon which Vangelis and Anderson worked before forming their own double act, the imaginatively named Jon & Vangelis.

Of course, if you have been following this project for the several years it has been running you might also recall that Vangelis was a member of Aphrodities Child which also dabbled in Biblical musical imagary, with their album 666.

Advertisements
Comments Off on Heaven and Hell – Vangelis [#575]

Friends of Mr Cairo – Jon & Vangelis [#498]

TheFriendsOfMrCairo2FrontBThis was another of the first CDs I bought for my first CD player and I played it over and over and over.

Chris Rose, a boy at my school, was also a fan of the album and we would spend free periods in sixth form discussing the album, the film Maltese Falcon and Dashiell Hammett. We fostered a good friendship through the two years we were in sixth form together solely based on him seeing the albums title written on one of my cassettes while I was reading the book Maltese Falcon listening to the album on my Walkman.

The song from which the album takes its title, Friends of Mr Cairo, is a tribute and nod to the film noir genre made famous by the likes of actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre, Mr Cairo being a character played by Peter Lorre in the film Maltese Falcon.

This is Jon and Vangelis’ “difficult” but popular second album.

Comments Off on Friends of Mr Cairo – Jon & Vangelis [#498]

Drama – Yes [#388]

Yes_DramaChris Squire, bass player and founding member of Yes, passed away a few weeks before I began writing this entry. His passing was about to leave a massive uncertainty with the bands future in that how can you possibly fix a giant Chris Squire sized hole in the fabric of the Yes continuum. Then came news that Squire’s colleague and former band mate and Music Project attendee, Billy Sherwood would step up to the plate.

Which is nice.

Drama arrived at an interesting point in Yes’ history. Jon Anderson had left the band to pursue projects with Vangelis. Rick Wakeman had gone too, his goal to add ice skating and twiddly keyboards to everything. That left a huge hole in the band. No singer; No keyboard player. What to do?

It was about this time that the band met producer to be, Trevor Horn and keyboard jedi, Geoff Downes. You might remember Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes from global supergroup and ground shaking behemoths the Buggles. That’s right, the band that brought you Video Killed the Radio Star.   In recognising their potential, Chris Squire invited the two to join Yes and fill the shoes of Anderson and Wakeman and history was made.

This is possibly my most favourite Yes album. I really wished that the Drama era Yes line up had produced more music like this. Contrasting between the previous Yes album Tormato and the following 90125 it’s certainly a distinctive sound. Horn struggles to reach the same pitches as Anderson, while Downes seems to lack the fingers to compete with Tony Kaye and Rick Wakeman, yet it isn’t a disaster. There are some songs on the album that were many, many years ahead of their time and it certainly shows what sort of geniuses makes up the band.

Comments Off on Drama – Yes [#388]

Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists [#276]

Classic Rock: Symphonic RockClassic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists

This is another compilation where the core idea works but the choices of tracks don’t.

Curiously, it appears that 70% of the artists featured on the album have previously featured on this project, so if you’ve missed those entries you’ll find that the links take you to those articles.

Anyway, Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock has a relatively good mix of tunes really but not ones I’d have chosen to highlight how rock can be symphonic. It’s a little too…. “twee”…for my liking. There are far better bands that could have featured on this compilation. There’s no Queensryche. No Meatloaf. The Yes option is pretty much mundane and the inclusion of Clannad, of all bands, confuses me no end. Clannad are not what I’d call rock for a start.

Tracklist

1-01 Vangelis Pulsar
1-02 Sky Toccata
1-03 Hawkwind Urban Guerilla
1-04 Focus P’s March
1-05 Electra Scheidungstag
1-06 Gentle Giant The Advent Of Panurge
1-07 Triumvirat A Day In The Life
1-08 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Brother Of Mine
1-09 Roger Waters The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range
1-10 Procol Harum A Salty Dog
1-11 Mike Batt Losing Your Way In The Rain
1-12 Clannad Sirius
1-13 Jon Lord Aria
1-14 Barclay James Harvest Child Of The Universe
1-15 Jon & Vangelis So Long Ago, So Clear
2-01 Mike Oldfield Sentinel
2-02 Moody Blues* The Story In Your Eyes
2-03 Rick Wakeman Catherine Howard
2-04 Electric Light Orchestra Standin’ In The Rain
2-05 Alan Parsons Project, The Damned If I Do
2-06 Herd From The Underworld
2-07 Jethro Tull Aqualung
2-08 Gong Ard Na Greine
2-09 Vanilla Fudge You Keep Me Hanging On
2-10 Ekseption 5th Of Beethoven
2-11 Aphrodite’s Child It’s Five O’Clock
2-12 Strawbs Autumn
2-13 Camel Tell Me
2-14 Genesis The Silent Sun
2-15 Yes Heart Of The Sunrise

Comments Off on Classic Rock: Symphonic Rock – Various Artists [#276]

The Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis (#169)

Jon & VangelisThe Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis

Two titans of prog meet and out prog themselves with prog in a very pro-prog kind of way. Jon Anderson of Yes joins forces with Vangelis of Aphrodites Child to forge an unholy progressive rock alliance bringing the auditory senses an extra dose of twee, sax and plinky plonky synth.

I used to really like this album when I was younger. I had it on CD, then on tape and just to be format friendly, nicked it off the internet. I think by the third time I had obtained this album, I’d already overspent.

Sure, its a good album if you’re a fan. But it’s certainly a product of the time. Just too twee. You half expect to sprout a kaftan and start waving a smudge stick about the place while sticking up Roger Dean posters everywhere just by listening to it.

Great if you like Greek blokes with beards and mop haired guys from Altrincham with inexplicable American accents.

Comments Off on The Best of Jon & Vangelis – Jon & Vangelis (#169)

%d bloggers like this: