Monday, December 26, 2016

Joe Satriani - 1988 "Dreaming #11" [EP]

Dreaming #11 is the second EP by guitarist Joe Satriani, released on November 1, 1988 through Relativity Records and reissued on May 27, 1997 through Epic Records. The EP reached No. 42 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remained on that chart for 26 weeks. Its sole studio track, "The Crush of Love", reached No. 6 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart and was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1990 Grammy Awards; this being Satriani's second such nomination. The remaining three tracks were recorded live during the Surfing With the Alien (1987) tour. The title track, absent on the EP, would later be released on Satriani's 1993 compilation album Time Machine. Dreaming #11 was certified Gold on August 15, 1991.

Dreaming #11 is something of an oddity: a mini-disc released in 1988 with three live tracks and one new studio track. The live tracks, taken from the Surfing with the Alien tour and featuring the powerful duo of Stuart Hamm on bass and Jonathan Mover on drums, showcase Satriani's outstanding talents in a live atmosphere; however, they've been heard before ("Ice Nine" was on Surfing with the Alien and "Memories" and "Hordes of Locusts" came from Not of This Earth). The studio track, "The Crush of Love," immediately became a favorite of Satriani fans everywhere, mostly because of its catchy tune and its creative use of the wah-wah pedal to give the guitar an almost human voice. A recommended disc for musicians and fans.

This is the first Satch cd I bought and boy was I amazed! I'd never heard anything that cool up to that point. I have every album he's released and as the title says, this is Joe at his peak. I saw him live a few months ago, and even then, he didn't play at this level. The first track is the studio version of "The Crush of Love," a favorite of many. The other three tracks are live and demonstrate how differently he plays songs live. Which is great for someone who already knows the studio versions note-for-note. These songs reach unbelievable heights and leave you wanting more (on the album "Time Machine" there are additional tracks recorded at this concert, so there you go.) As an interesting side point, at the soundcheck for this concert, a lighting technician high above the stage fell five feet in front of the band flat on his back and had to be revived twice with the band's collective knowledge of CPR. It is something that affected them throughout the performance that night. The tracks even had to be slightly altered because Joe didn't even notice that his guitar had become badly out of tune after awhile. Just thought you'd like to know that little bit of trivia concerning this great album. It would be a shame for any guitar fan to go through life without having heard this.  By Guybert.

Joe Satriani is not just a guitar legend, but also a very good all-round musician. Although players like Yngwie Melmstein might be slightly better technically, their compositional and group-performance skills are sometimes awful.

Satch's versatility is what makes him special, and this EP is a good example. The first track, The Crush of Love, is the only studio track on the album, and is a very catchy, pop-rock guitar piece which has some great melodies, but does not showcase Joe's technical skill as much as the other tracks, apart from excellent Wah-pedalling. Don't get me wrong, it is a flawless performance, but Satch is capable of so much more. This is more an example of Satriani's compositional skills and ever-so-lyrical guitar lines.

The rest of the album is recorded live at a concert held in San Diego in 1988. Track two is a performance of Ice Nine, with some new, cool bluesy solos which are full of fast fingerwork, pinch harmonics and wah-pedal.

Memories, the third track, is my favorite track of the album. It is around twice the length of the original, and has some very technically difficult guitar phrases. Jonathan Mover and Stu Hamm are superb on drums and bass on this track, adding another dimension to this song. Joe's solos are diverse, sometimes lyrical and othertimes utilizing dischord in traditional Satch fashion. He uses a many different techniques to achieve this. It enters many different moods to the listener as it progresses through the piece's several movements, and it has quite a different feel to the original recording (perhaps in a more rock style).

The final track on the album is also strong. It makes use of the harmonic minor scale and has quite an "Eastern" feel. It is marginally heavier than the other tracks, and the guitar lines sound almost neoclassically influenced at times, with some touches of prog. Satch again impresses with some difficult phrases, some possibly harder than in Memories (I am not a guitarist, so excuse me if I am wrong). Mover and Hamm again impress, and it is a very solid group performance.

This is a very good album, although is not the best live album from Joe Satriani; for mine his Live in San Francisco and G3 performances are longer and more diverse. However, if you are a fan of Joe it is an essential album. If you are new Satriani, The Electric Joe Satriani - An Anthology gives a good overview, while I would also reccommend Surfing With the Alien, Crystal Planet and The Extremist.
By Timephoenix.

Dreaming No. 11 is an EP consisting of 4 songs, and tries to point out Satriani's live performance. The Crush of Love is the catchy piece, which is the only song in the EP, which has been recorded in the studio, and it showcases Satch's ability to mix sadness with happiness, in a very emotional way. The professional use of wah-wah makes the guitar sing on this one.
The other 3 songs are recorded in live show and Ice 9 is the starter, and it is played mich more faster than the original with some blues stuff thrown in, making it sound very different but cool. Memories is doubled in time and this version last about 9 minutes, showing how Satch can perform songs out of limits, and make them even sound better. the band is only 3 people and yet they manage to sound incredible and catch the spirit of the songs in very different dimensions. A must have for any Satch fan!  

Recorded At The California Theater, San Diego, CA On June 11, 1988. Relativity Records (Studio/Live Recording).

Track listing

All music composed by Joe Satriani.

1.     "The Crush of Love"       4:22
2.     "Ice Nine" (live - California Theatre, San Diego; June 11 1988)     4:41
3.     "Memories" (live - California Theatre, San Diego; June 11 1988)     9:08
4.     "Hordes of Locusts" (live - California Theatre, San Diego; June 11 1988)     5:12
Total length:     23:23


Joe Satriani – guitar, keyboard, bass (track 1), remixing, production
Jeff Campitelli – drums (track 1)
Jonathan Mover – drums (tracks 2–4)
Bongo Bob Smith – percussion (track 1), sound replacement
Stuart Hamm – bass (tracks 2–4)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Santana - 1969 [2009] "Santana"

Santana is the debut studio album by Latin rock band Santana released in 1969. Over half of the album's length is composed of instrumental music, recorded by what was originally a purely free-form jam band. At the suggestion of manager Bill Graham, the band took to writing more conventional songs for more impact, but managed to retain the essence of improvisation in the music.
The album was destined to be a major release, given a headstart by the band's seminal performance at the Woodstock Festival earlier that August. Although "Jingo" was not very successful (only reaching #56), "Evil Ways", the second single taken from the album, was a U.S. Top 10 hit. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 pop album chart and #26 on the UK Albums Chart. It has been mixed and released in both stereo and quadraphonic.

Before the arrival of Carlos Santana's eponymous band, the San Francisco rock scene drew the inspiration for its jam-oriented music mainly from blues, rock, and Eastern modalities. Santana added Latin music to the mix, forever changing the course of rock & roll history. On their groundbreaking debut album, the group mix Latin percussion with driving rock grooves. Santana's unique guitar style, alternately biting and liquid, vies with the multiple percussionists for the sonic focus.
Unlike later efforts, Santana's first album features an abundance of loose, collective compositions based on a couple of simple riffs ("Jingo," "Soul Sacrifice"). This approach allows for Santana and his bandmates to flex their improvisational muscles to fine effect. The high-energy level on Santana is infectious -- the laid-back feel of other '60s San Francisco groups was clearly not for Carlos and co.

Santana's first album boils, fries and cooks whilst other bands just simmer and whilst recent offerings from the guitarist are less than hot this is where any prospective fan ought to start. The band of excellent musicians play with professional abandon and vitality. This is Latin music that is infectious and exciting and deserves to be in any self respecting music lovers collection. The next couple of albums improved on the formula but this is a joy to listen to from start to finish. 

By the time Santana arrived on the San Francisco scene in 1968, the Grateful Dead's freeform antics were already legendary. But Santana was a jam band of another order--fueled by Latin rhythms, blues, bebop, and straight-ahead rock. Having set the audience at the 1969 Woodstock festival on its collective ear, the band did the same for the nation with its self-titled debut, released later that summer. Songs such as "Evil Ways," "Jingo," and "Soul Sacrifice" contain extraordinary ensemble playing, powered by percolating congas and timbales and topped by the grippingly human cry of Carlos Santana's guitar. The 1998 reissue of the album contains three bonus tracks recorded live at Woodstock: "Savor," "Soul Sacrifice," and "Fried Neckbones."

 Carlos Santana was born in Mexico in 1947, and moved to San Francisco during the 1960s. With a love of jazz and blues music, he began to develop into a talented guitarist, at the same time absorbing the hippie scene of San Francisco. He formed the Carlos Santana Blues Band in 1967, which soon became renowned for their improvisational jam-based style. They stood out for their incorporation of latin musical styles into their sound, and by 1969 were signed to Columbia Records, having changed their name to simply Santana. Their big break was their highly-acclaimed performance at the Woodstock festival, which really brought them to public attention.
Their debut album came out that same summer. It was a truly innovative release, laying down the framework for their signature sound, with its fusion of latin-styled rock, blues, jazz, salsa and African rhythms. By this time the band's line-up consisted of Carlos Santana (guitar/vocals), Gregg Rolie (keyboards/vocals), David Brown (bass), Michael Shrieve (drums), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Jose Areas (percussion). The focus of the album was on their instrumental interplay, driven by the three-piece percussion section and led by Santana's fast-paced, bluesy electric guitar work. Most of the album consisted of instrumentals, as was fitting considering their jam band roots, though there were a few vocal numbers brought in to attract a wider audience, with Gregg Rolie proving to be an excellent lead singer. This was a good idea, as their cover of "Evil Ways" (originally written by Clarence 'Sonny' Henry) became a #9 hit single. Following in its wake, the album got to #4.

Track listing

All tracks written by the members of Santana except where noted.

1.     "Waiting (instrumental)"       4:03
2.     "Evil Ways" (Clarence "Sonny" Henry)     3:54
3.     "Shades of Time" (Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie)     3:14
4.     "Savor (instrumental)"       2:47
5.     "Jingo" (Babatunde Olatunji)     4:21
6.     "Persuasion"       2:33
7.     "Treat (instrumental)"       4:43
8.     "You Just Don't Care"       4:34
9.     "Soul Sacrifice (instrumental)" (Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie, David Brown, Marcus Malone)     6:37


    Gregg Rolie – lead vocals, Hammond organ, piano
    Carlos Santana – guitar, backing vocals
    David Brown – bass
    Michael Shrieve – drums
    Michael Carabello – congas, percussion
    José "Chepito" Areas – timbales, congas, percussion

Herbie Hancock - 1965 [1999] "Maiden Voyage"

Maiden Voyage is the fifth album led by jazz musician Herbie Hancock, and was recorded by Rudy Van Gelder on March 17, 1965 for Blue Note Records. It was issued as BLP 4195 and BST 84195. It is a concept album aimed at creating an oceanic atmosphere. Many of the track titles refer to marine biology or the sea, and the musicians develop the concept through their use of space and almost tidal dynamics. The album was presented with the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.
According to Bob Blumenthal's 1999 liner notes, "Blue Note logs indicate that an attempt had been made to record 'Maiden Voyage', 'Little One', and 'Dolphin Dance' six days earlier, with Hubbard on cornet and Stu Martin in place of Williams. Those performances were rejected at the time and have been lost in the ensuing years." A different version of "Little One" was also recorded around the same time by Miles Davis and his quintet (including Hancock, Carter, Shorter and Williams) for the album E.S.P., also released in 1965.

"Maiden Voyage", "The Eye of the Hurricane" and "Dolphin Dance" have now become jazz standards and are featured in Hal Leonard's New Real Book vol. 2. Hancock rerecorded "Maiden Voyage" and "Dolphin Dance" on his 1974 album Dedication and updated the title track on his 1988 album Perfect Machine. "Dolphin Dance" was rerecorded in 1981 for the Herbie Hancock Trio album. Hancock has released live concert versions of "Maiden Voyage" on CoreaHancock (1979) and An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert (1980) (both with Chick Corea). Hancock recorded "Maiden Voyage" and "Eye of the Hurricane" with the VSOP Quintet on VSOP: Tempest in the Colosseum (1977).

The history of jazz is often told through the exploits of its firestarters, outsized personalities like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis who sent shockwaves through every bandstand they visited. That’s the headline level, and it’s useful for understanding various periods and styles. But as the music evolved and expanded in the 1960s, priorities shifted, and so did the roles of the players. There was need for musicians who were perhaps not always so flamboyant. The collective pursuit of a sound became as important as individual heroics, and that created opportunities for gifted team players and facilitators, musicians who sought to complement what was happening rather than dazzle people all the time.
Maiden Voyage springs from the mind of one of the most adept and creative of the sound-sculpting facilitators, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock. By the time he recorded this, Hancock had been in the Miles Davis Quintet for several years, an experience he, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, the rhythm section here, all described as transformative. Among Hancock’s tasks in that group was to create expansive landscapes for Davis; the pianist stoked and framed what became epic discussions by drawing on a range of sources. His accompaniments might glance at the syncopated jabs of 1920s Ellington, or the clusters of free jazz, or the gorgeous pastel chords associated with Debussy. Hancock has said that in the Davis fold he learned about space and subtlety, about how something small and slight, like a three-note chord, could trigger torrents of spontaneous creativity. To hear that in action, consult virtually any recording of the ‘60s Quintet.
Or check out this record, because Hancock brought those strategies for conjuring and slyly shaping a tune into his own projects. Maiden Voyage, arguably his peak solo statement from the 1960s, appropriates elements of the Davis group dynamic for a transfixingly understated meditation on the lure of the sea. It’s a classic that’s justifiably revered for its compositions and its solos, and also, perhaps most importantly, the rich and delicate interactions that run throughout. The album is a perfect case study in the art of group interplay; it offers an array of thoughtful answers to the question “How, exactly, does conversation happen in jazz?” Hancock starts with the notion of melody: Each of these five pieces is built around a singable theme, one that’s durable enough to be inverted, paraphrased or passed around the group in the heat of improvisation. The melodies of Hancock’s tunes serve as a kind of through-line, echoing in the margins. Hancock refers to his themes, in oblique ways, when accompanying trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and tenor saxophonist George Coleman: He’s cultivating an atmosphere of expansive openness, and sometimes those glancing references help remind everyone involved about the dimensions of the canvas, the color palette and overall tone. This tactic proves particularly wise on the deceptively challenging “Dolphin Dance:” The mood is placid but the solos get stormy, and whenever it seems like the music is about to fracture, Hancock slips in some little phrase that gathers everyone back together.
In the headstrong jazz year 1965, lots of players were screaming “Look what I can do!” trying to grab attention by any contrived means possible. Hancock’s Maiden Voyage represents the flipside of all that: His windblown, undulating, intentionally low-key environment proceeds from the belief, acquired from Davis, that a minimal setting can inspire all kinds of meaningful musical conversations. Everybody is listening carefully, and out to enhance the proceedings. There is great grace, and concision, in every gesture here, and it’s not an accident that within these discussions, there are also bold, wailing outbursts and provocations. That’s what happens when everyone involved is in pursuit of musical aptness rather than audacity.

Less overtly adventurous than its predecessor, Empyrean Isles, Maiden Voyage nevertheless finds Herbie Hancock at a creative peak. In fact, it's arguably his finest record of the '60s, reaching a perfect balance between accessible, lyrical jazz and chance-taking hard bop. By this point, the pianist had been with Miles Davis for two years, and it's clear that Miles' subdued yet challenging modal experiments had been fully integrated by Hancock. Not only that, but through Davis, Hancock became part of the exceptional rhythm section of bassist Ron Carter and drummer Tony Williams, who are both featured on Maiden Voyage, along with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and tenor saxophonist George Coleman. The quintet plays a selection of five Hancock originals, many of which are simply superb showcases for the group's provocative, unpredictable solos, tonal textures, and harmonies. While the quintet takes risks, the music is lovely and accessible, thanks to Hancock's understated, melodic compositions and the tasteful group interplay. All of the elements blend together to make Maiden Voyage a shimmering, beautiful album that captures Hancock at his finest as a leader, soloist, and composer. 

"In January 1965, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock received a call from a Hollywood jingle agency. Its client, Yardley, needed background music for a TV commercial and wanted a trio playing something jazzy, since the men’s fragrance ad took place in a sophisticated club. But instead of writing straight-ahead jazz, Mr. Hancock arranged a catchy rhythmic line that was closer to rock.

"In the weeks ahead, Mr. Hancock completed the assignment and then used the rhythmic chords as the bones for Maiden Voyage—the title song of what would become his most iconic and majestic album. The recording combined the freer, modal jazz popular at the time with a fresh romantic lyricism and vulnerability. The result is a timeless, career-defining opus of emotional uncertainty and guarded optimism——an album that would become his equivalent to the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.”

"In the years since the release of Maiden Voyage, the album’s title song, The Eye of the Hurricane and Dolphin Dance have become jazz standards, and the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Today, 50 years after it was recorded on March 17, 1965, Maiden Voyage remains Blue Note’s third-most-popular legacy album and Mr. Hancock’s No. 2 best-selling recording after Head Hunters, his electro-funk hit from 1973."

Track listing

All compositions by Herbie Hancock.

1.     "Maiden Voyage"       7:53
2.     "The Eye of the Hurricane"       5:57
3.     "Little One"       8:43
4.     "Survival of the Fittest"       9:59
5.     "Dolphin Dance"       9:16


    Herbie Hancock — piano
    Freddie Hubbard — trumpet
    George Coleman — tenor saxophone
    Ron Carter — bass
    Tony Williams — drums

Wes Montgomery - 1964 [1999] "Movin' Wes"

Movin' Wes is the twelfth album by American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, released in 1964. It reached number 18 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart in 1967, his second album to reach the charts following the success of his later release Bumpin'.
Movin' Wes was Montgomery's debut album on the Verve label. Produced by Creed Taylor, the album sold more than 100,000 copies initially, Montgomery's biggest seller to this point in his career.

Wes Montgomery's debut for Verve, although better from a jazz standpoint than his later A&M releases, is certainly in the same vein. The emphasis is on his tone, his distinctive octaves, and his melody statements. Some of the material (such as "People" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker") are pop tunes of the era and the brass orchestra (arranged by Johnny Pate) is purely in the background, but there are some worthy performances, chiefly the two-part "Movin' Wes," "Born to Be Blue," and "West Coast Blues." 

A superb Verve/Creed Taylor recording first produced in 1965.
Much has been said of the so-called 'selling out' of jazzists--Wes was a hard-bopper, originally--and this was to have been his white washing or sell out album. That whole labeling thing, of course, is a bunch of B.S. Even hip hoppers would not mind being accompanied by a full orchestra and rhythm section. This is Wes' first with Verve, accompanied by an orchestra arranged and conducted by the great Johnny Pate: the recording was engineered by Phil Ramone and Creed Taylor.
"Theodora" is pure heaven, and "Born to Be Blue" is simply perfect. But I'm quite sure you'll find favorites among the nice selection presented here....La Barb's "People", Wes' "Moving Wes". The CD is like I said. Excellent, per-i-od.
In the liner notes by Gene Lees, he tells how Wes developed his style of playing. It is said he had an epiphany one day after listening to a Charlie Christian record. So much so that he went out and purchased a guitar and amp post haste and proceeded to strum the darn thing. He solicited the aid of a buddy to show him some chords and he commenced to playing--loudly, clumsily--with the aid of a guitar pick. His wife, being the person that she was, did not share in the epiphany and did not want Wes to be making that noise in the living room. Can you imagine that? So she requested that he move elsewhere in the house. He finds a corner and He plays some more. Nope--still too loud for the lady of the house. So, he turns the amp down a little. Nope, still too loud. So, he turns the amp down a lil more, gets rid of the pick and finds that thumb strumming style we hear in all his recordings. Talk about epiphany!
His wife finally, FINALLY approves and the rest is, as they say, history.
Thank God for that because the next step for ol' Wes may have been out on the curb with nothing but a guitar, an amp and a guitar pick...and no electricity! And we probably would have missed out of his greatness...
So, the moral of the story is, always, always give your spouse one more chance, even if it is hard on the ears.

This album contains some fine understated guitar work from Wes - He doesn't get the long extended solos of some of his more traditional jazz albums - nevertheless, one gets a magnified look at his approach as he sounds very relaxed against the Creed Taylor arrangements. Wes has the distinction of being one of the few instrumentalists who aren't ruined by this more commercial setting - Charlie Parker is one of the other immortals who strangeley benefitted from orchestration. I am blown away by Wes' octave and chordal work on this as well as some single line play on 'Caravan'. He is the envy of all guitarists! 

This recording is Wes Montgomery's first big band outing. This record was a milestone for Wes in many ways and showcases him in top form. The problem I have with some of these reviews on here is that as usual, they don't know what they're talking about and think because they have an opinion, which is not based on facts, or history, it should be considered valid. It's usually biased towards their own likes and dislikes, and lacks the experience to even know what they're listening to or for, which makes it totally about THEM and not about the artist and the music. The reviews often use blanket terms like "cheesy", "pop", and, "commercial" to make the recordings appear less valid than other recordings. What the heck does "cheesy" even mean? Not understanding what skills an artist and arranger has to have in order to make recordings such as this one, does a disservice to the artist, arranger, and the educated listeners who know the music, has seen the musicians, and understands the process. To suggest the compositions on this recording are inferior shows no knowledge of the composers, their works, or history, and that's just the first inaccurate bias. There are four songs written by Montgomery, one written by the great jazz pianist and jazz historian, Dr. Billy Taylor. "Caravan" and "Born To Be Blue" are old jazz standards, "Moca Flor" and "Senza Fine" are Brazilian standards, and "People" and "Matchmaker" are from two different famous theater plays. Jazz musicians have ALWAYS recorded songs from plays, not because of the play, but because of a song in it that they like. When people on the web write these reviews, they seem to think that they know as much about the music an artist chooses to record than the artists themselves. What arrogance; how something an artist considers to be beautiful, yet challenging can be so easily dismissed by these people with such disregard for the artist's own experience and musical expertise is just astonishing. If you like Wes Montgomery, wouldn't it be respectful to do some research on him before you go around trashing his recordings because they're not what YOU think they should be? How egotistical is that? Montgomery came up in the big band era, and his first traveling job was with Lionel Hampton. Wes' main influence, Charlie Christian, made major recordings with Benny Goodman's big band and Wes' love for big bands stems from those experiences. So it's only logical that he would devote many recordings to a big band setting because this is the style that helped to shape his concept of jazz guitar. What most people don't understand is that it takes a special skill to know how play with and fire up a big band. This is a skill that has been lost by jazz guitarists in the last 35 plus years. As far as the arranger Johhny Pate, this man's credentials far outweigh the uneducated opinion of one reviewer who accuses Mr. Pate's arrangements of being "cheesy", especially for 1965. If one were REALLY listening with experienced ears, they would hear the harmonically advanced band voicings being used throughout the recording. Another thing to pay attention to is the way Mr. Pate included the use of a tuba in his orchestrations. "Movin' Wes" was the first recording to showcase the many different sides of Wes' musical personality and his mastery of playing in a big band setting. It was Montgomery's big band experience that made this recording possible, and why you hear his familiar guitar sound soaring over the top of the band. People need to realize that to an artist, their recordings are like their children. You can't compare them to each other and say this one is better than that one. Being their parent, you know they are all different, and each have something unique to say, but you are still proud of them all. This is not to say that you as a listener have to like everything any artist does, but please have enough respect for that person's work to refrain from going online to criticize them as if you know more about their music than they do. THEY'RE the artist, not YOU. This is a landmark recording for Wes Montgomery, and like it or not, it is part of history. The people who know about him understands this, it's up to the uniformed listeners to find out what they are missing, and fill in the blanks.

Track listing:

 01   "Caravan" (Duke Ellington, Irving Mills, Juan Tizol) – 2:39
 02   "People" (Bob Merrill, Jule Styne) – 4:23
 03   "Movin' Wes, Pt. 1" (Wes Montgomery) – 3:31
 04   "Moça Flor" (Durval Ferreira, Lula Freire) – 3:12
 05   "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" (Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick) – 2:52
 06   "Movin' Wes, Pt. 2" (Montgomery) – 2:55
 07   "Senza Fine" (Gino Paoli, Alec Wilder) – 3:28
 08   "Theodora" (Billy Taylor) – 3:58
 09   "In and Out" (Montgomery) – 2:53
 10   "Born to Be Blue" (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 3:40
 11   "West Coast Blues" (Montgomery) – 3:12


    Wes Montgomery – guitar
    Bob Cranshaw – bass
    Grady Tate – drums
    Willie Bobo – percussion
    Bobby Scott – piano
    Ernie Royal – trumpet
    Clark Terry – trumpet
    Snooky Young – trumpet
    Jimmy Cleveland – trombone
    Urbie Green – trombone
    Quentin Jackson – trombone
    Chauncey Welsch – trombone
    Don Butterfield – tuba
    Harvey Phillips – tuba
    Jerome Richardson – flute, saxophone, woodwinds

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mahavishnu Orchestra - 1974 [2016] "Apocalypse"

Apocalypse is the Mahavishnu Orchestra's fourth album, released in 1974.
It is performed by the second line-up of the Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as the London Symphony Orchestra. It was produced by George Martin, who regards it as “one of the best records [he has] ever made”.
The back cover features a poem by Sri Chinmoy as well as a group photo of those who created the album.

The first recording of the second Mahavishnu Orchestra was a real stretch for John McLaughlin, an encounter with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. The union wasn't taken seriously at the time, and it ended up harming the reputation of Thomas -- a remarkably adventurous young conductor who defied the stuffy classical powers-that-be and thus probably delayed his eventual rise to the top -- more than McLaughlin. But those with ears, then and now, beheld a remarkable series of pieces that neatly juxtapose and occasionally combine the combustion of McLaughlin's group with rich, tasteful symphonic statements orchestrated for McLaughlin by Michael Gibbs. The new Mahavishnu-ites, electric violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and keyboardist/vocalist Gayle Moran, have their moments, but the real focus of this disc is the quality of the symphonic conceptions and how well McLaughlin blends his lyrical and fiery guitar into the mixture. The best stretch is the breathtakingly ethereal opening of "Hymn to Him"; the promise of fusing rock, jazz, and classical elements had never been executed so alluringly before -- and wouldn't you know, an old experienced hand at introducing classical textures into rock, the Beatles' George Martin, is the producer. Don't let old, outworn preconceptions on either side of the fence prevent you from checking out this beautiful record. 

Wow! This 1974 recording had a great pedigree. First, you had Beatles producer George Martin. Then Michael Tilson Thomas, the young and gifted classical conductor, waving his magic wand in front of the London Symphony Orchestra. Jazz violin superstar Jean Luc Ponty stepped up as part of a newly expanded Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the teenage bass phenom Ralphe Armstrong more than capably held down the bottom end. Gayle Moran, Chick Corea's girlfriend, handled the keyboards and vocals, and Narada Michael Walden played drums. Last, of course, the guitar master Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, leading an Orchestra that was augmented by an impressive string section of its own. Producer Martin has stated in interviews that he considers this album to be one of the greatest he's ever produced. And that's saying a lot considering the landmark albums he produced for the Fab Four.

McLaughlin's compositional skills stand out on Apocalypse. Jean Luc Ponty made his debut with the Mahavishnu Orchestra on this album, and added energy to McLaughlin's inspired tunes. In a precious moment on "Hymn to Him," McLaughlin and Ponty achieve hyper stellar overdrive.

The true sleeper on this album is the opening "Power of Love." McLaughlin wields his acoustic guitar to front the LSO on this piece, a deliberate and uplifting tune. The remainder of the album features a highly charged McLaughlin. His electric playing is reminiscent of a finely tuned car engine: it purrs as smooth as a kitten, but can accelerate or stop abruptly when necessary. Ponty, McLaughlin's original choice for the first Mahavishnu Orchestra, really excels on Apocalypse. Years later he would say he probably left this band too soon. One only has to hear his musical interaction with McLaughlin to quickly agree.

The album does have one low moment, the misinformed "Smile of the Beyond". Despite some great playing on this tune, you have to suffer through a lengthy build-up which includes a vocal section. Moran's vocals are very nice, but because they are part of an overlong introduction, they are lost a bit. If McLaughlin had shortened the tune by three minutes, it would be a classic!

The London Symphony Orchestra deserves recognition as well. Yes, I know these guys would play just about anything for a paycheck. There was even some complaining about a few arrogant string players. But they did take advantage of these compositions and the orchestral arrangements, in which McLaughlin was greatly aided by Michael Gibbs. Many times on recordings like this—by Emerson, Lake and Palmer for example—the orchestra seems to be there for the effect only. In this case, the LSO had some really interesting things to say.

To perform this music live with a symphony orchestra was a nightmare. McLaughlin occasionally speaks upon the impossible technical requirements of the day, and in particular an unpleasant but eventually rewarding last minute experience with America's Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.

Witnessing the break-up of a band is never a pleasant experience to bear for a fan. It's almost impossible for us to not take the situation personally, especially if we develop an intimate connection to the music. And of course, there is that overwhelming sense of skepticism that arises in us when we hear that our group will continue to compose music, even after losing key members. Because no matter what happens afterwards, we know that the music will never be the same. Of course, in the case of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin composed all of the music and the other members contributed under his direction. John McLaughlin may have been the soul of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, but Birds Of Fire and The Inner Mounting Flame wouldn't have been nearly as captivating if it lacked the eruptive intensity that Billy Cobham brought to the music with his bombastic drumming. And John McLaughlin's guitar solos would have never been as enrapturing without the intuitive synergy that he and violinist Jerry Goodman would reach when they complimented each other's vibes.

And now here we are, in midst of a new era, and we couldn't be anymore dubious. The fate of The Mahavishnu Orchestra now lies in the hands of George Martin. Certainly an accomplished composer and producer, who is acclaimed for helping The Beatles expand their sound, but is he a right fit for the dynamic style of Jazz music that The Mahavishnu Orchestra is famous for? No, but then again, those days are long gone. Apocalypse introduces a brand new sound, and for better or worse, all we can do, as fans, is accept it. The fifth Beatle makes his presence instantly perceptual in every single composition as the music is embellished with the evident influences of Classical music. "Vision Is A Naked Sword" gives us our first impression of the new Mahavishnu Orchestra, and for the most part, it isn't so unfamiliar. The bowed string and wind instruments work thematically with the percussive sections to create a powerful overture to the piece, and from there we embark into a long musical voyage were we encounter the familiar dextrous instrumental jams that we've come to revere. John McLaughlin's guitar techniques haven't changed in the slightest bit, still as eruptive and innovative as always. Narada Michael Walden, who has replaced Billy Cobham, even manages to adequately imitate the vigorous percussive dynamics of the pervious albums. But now there are these classical ornaments that flourish in the background of every song, delivering grandiose clashes that bombard us with potency to more harmonious displays of emotive atmospheres.

"Smile Of The Beyond" reveals a new feature that has never been heard in the previous efforts, singing. Gayle Moran's voice is coalesced with a violin and cello section to induce a sense of musical elegance and beauty, and in the beginning when it's just her and the bowed string instruments, it is enticing and even angelic. But when it descends into a rambunctious jam in the midsection, it loses all of its grace and the vocal deliveries even begin to feel a bit cliché as they try to retain that sense of eloquence in all of the chaos. "Hymn To Him" is the piece that saves Apocalypse, as it is the culmination of everything John McLaughlin and George Martin were striving for in this endeavor. It opens with such a marvelous and gentle melody. The music fluctuates with such a soothing texture before escalating into some of the most intense instrumental displays that The Mahavishnu Orchestra has ever performed. The Classical aesthetics even coalesce exquisitely with the Jazz Fusion style, making for a mesmerizing listening that inveigles enthusiasm with ease.

As Apocalypse reaches its climax, it's difficult to express an opinion of everything we have just experienced. In all of its musical innovations, Apocalypse is closer to Progressive rock than Jazz Fusion. And even though the album embraces a more diverse variety of harmonies, structures, and sound, it lacks the inviting mysticism of the previous two efforts. The content of the album strives so desperately to galvanize enthrallment with its glorious epical orchestrations, but instead it often comes off as pretentious and overwhelming rather than impressive. Contrary to what most fans will claim, this fault doesn't lie in George Martin's insistance on Classical arrangements, but in the fact that John McLaughlin's style of playing does not thrive in this kind of setting. He forcefully tries to recreate the abrasive sound of the previous albums within this new symphonic concept, and the two elements tend to compliment each other in a very hit-or-miss fashion. This is without a doubt The Mahavishnu Orchestra's most ambitious effort, but it's also a more laborious listening experience compared to the other two albums because there is so much to perceive and grasp, which inevitably makes it less accessible. But there are moments of genius in this album, and it's enlightening to see John McLaughlin branch out of his comfort zones and experiment with a new approach. Apocalypse is certainly an entertaining album, but it requires an honest commitment to really understand the concepts of the music at hand.

Tracks Listing

1. Power Of Love (4:13)
2. Vision Is A Naked Sword (14:18)
3. Smile Of The Beyond (8:00)
4. Wings Of Karma (6:06)
5. Hymn To Him (19:19)

Total Time: 51:56

Line-up / Musicians

- John McLaughlin / guitars, vocal composer
- Gayle Moran / keyboards, vocals
- Jean-Luc Ponty / violins (electric & baritone electric)
- Ralphe Armstrong / bass, double bass, vocals
- Michael Walden / drums, percussion, vocals, clavinet (?)

- London Symphony Orchestra
- Hugh Beau / orchestra leader
- Michael Tilson Thomas / piano (2), orchestra conductor
- Michael Gibbs / orchestration
- Marsha Westbrook / viola
- Carol Shive / violin, vocals
- Philip Hirschi / cello, vocals

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Albert King - 1989 "King Of The Blues Guitar"

Atlantic's original vinyl edition of this was comprised of Albert's Stax singles -- a few from Born Under a Bad Sign, along with "Cold Feet," "I Love Lucy" (two of King's patented monologues), and the beautiful "You're Gonna Need Me." Great stuff. Even greater, though, is the CD reissue, which includes those singles (which didn't appear on any other LPs) and all of Born Under a Bad Sign. Need I say more?

These 17 tunes come from King's most fertile period, his 1966-68 tenure at Memphis's Stax Records. Stax chief Jim Stewart had been reluctant to sign blues artists because he felt straight blues wouldn't mesh with Stax's patented Memphis soul. Ironically, the fusion of King's sharp guitar wails with the dynamic rhythms of Booker T. & the MGs--the Stax house band--was what set King apart from other bluesmen. The unique blend produced classic after classic: Booker T. Jones' rolling piano propels "Laundromat Blues." Al Jackson's drum shuffle supports "Crosscut Saw." The driving horns of Andrew Love, Wayne Jackson, and Joe Arnold accent "Born Under a Bad Sign." King's ripe and mellow vocals are a perfect match for the soul-drenched music while his dramatic string bends leap out.

ALBERT KING-KING OF THE BLUES GUITAR: Memphis soul label STAX/VOLT's biggest blues star, ALBERT KING honed a stylish trick book of passionate licks that has schooled guitar heroes for decades...CREAM, GARY MOORE and FREE dusted off BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN, OH PRETTY WOMAN and THE HUNTER respectively, while protégé STEVE RAVE ON guested on the instant classic IN SESSION album. The Mississippi born string bender, noted for earthy, low-key vocals (which STAX often buried in the mix) and reflective monologues, is represented here by funky standards such as CROSSCUT SAW and PERSONAL fact, his best known album BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN is included in its entirety. Ably supported by BOOKER T & THE MG'S and the MEMPHIS HORNS, the big man also flooded covers of WILBERT HARRISON's KANSAS CITY and IVORY JOE HUNTER's I ALMOST LOST MY MIND with his down home brand of heat sinking soul. Although many of his smoky chestnuts (CALL MY JOB, CADILLAC ASSEMBLY LINE and THE SKY IS CRYING) are available elsewhere, KING OF THE BLUES GUITAR stands as a powerful statement for rabid fans of roots rockin' royalty.

King of the Blues Guitar (Atlantic 8213) is a compilation album by blues guitarist and singer Albert King. It was released by Atlantic Records in 1969 and re-released on CD format in 1989.
King of the Blues Guitar essentially combines the entire Stax Records album Born Under a Bad Sign, and six of King's Stax singles.
In addition to King on guitar and vocals, the album also features the following musicians:

    Steve Cropper: Guitar
    Donald "Duck" Dunn: Bass
    Wayne Jackson: Trumpet
    Booker T. Jones: Keyboards
    Andrew Love: Tenor Saxophone
    Al Jackson, Jr.: Drums

Track listing

  01  Laundromat Blues
  02  Overall Junction*
  03  Oh, Pretty Woman
  04  Funk-Shun*
  05  Crosscut Saw
  06  Down Don't Bother Me
  07  Born Under a Bad Sign
  08  Personal Manager
  09  Kansas City
  10  The Very Thought of You
  11  The Hunter
  12  I Almost Lost My Mind
  13  As The Years Go Passing By
  14  Cold Feet*
  15  You Sure Drive A Hard Bargain*
  16  (I Love) Lucy*
  17  You're Gonna Need Me*

    previously released singles.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Various Artists - 1994 "Guitar's, Practicing Musicians" Volume III

Guitar's Practicing Muscians, Vol. 3 spotlights a new generation of guitar virtuosos, as sponsored by one of the leading guitar publications in America. Certainly, this is the kind of thing that will only appeal to guitar fanatics, since it only spotlights the instrument, not the songs; for proof, check out Shawn Lane's version of "All Along the Watchtower" or how Buck Dharma reworks his "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" so that the playing, not the melody, is emphasized. Every guitarist on the record is technically impressive, capable of playing some stunningly complex solos. However, several of the cuts feel like dead ends, that they're just a showcase for technical skll. Some guitarists overcome these problems, but enough fall prey to the temptations of excessive soloing and technique to make this of marginal interest even to guitar fanatics.

Guitar's Practicing Muscians, Vol. 3 spotlights a new generation of guitar virtuosos, as sponsored by one of the leading guitar publications in America. Certainly, this is the kind of thing that will only appeal to guitar fanatics, since it only spotlights the instrument, not the songs; for proof, check out Shawn Lane's version of "All Along the Watchtower" or how Buck Dharma reworks his "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" so that the playing, not the melody, is emphasized. Every guitarist on the record is technically impressive, capable of playing some stunningly complex solos. However, several of the cuts feel like dead ends, that they're just a showcase for technical skll. Some guitarists overcome these problems, but enough fall prey to the temptations of excessive soloing and technique to make this of marginal interest even to guitar fanatics.

Track listing:

01     –Mark Hitt     Manic Depression     4:22
02     –John Christ     For Christ's Sake     5:16
03     –Nathan Cavaleri     Josh's Boogie     2:48
04     –Shawn Lane     All Along The Watchtower     5:40
05     –Wolf Marshall     Rainbow Roll (Extra Spicy)     4:58
06     –The Jack Bruce Band Featuring Blues Saraceno     Politician     5:59
07     –Alex Skolnick     So What     4:57
08     –Buck Dharma*     Don't Fear The Reaper     5:29
09     –Jake E. Lee     Jade's Song     3:17
10     –Johnny Gale     Daddy Long Legs     6:28
11     –George Lynch     Satan's Shorts     7:16
12     –Dream Theater     Bombay Vindaloo     6:56
13     –Mark Wood (6)     This Is America     4:45
14     –Pride & Glory     The Wizard     3:50

Various Artists - 1991 "Guitars, Practicing Musicians" Volume II

Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 2 CD was released Sep 10, 1991 on the Guitar Recordings label. Includes liner notes by each performer. Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 2 CD music contains a single disc with 16 songs.

This 16-track CD was released in 1991 and includes Steve Morse, Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 2 songs. It consists of mostly rock material Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 2 album for sale. ~ Paul Kohler

Track listing:

01. Marc Bonilla - White Noise 3:01
02. Nuno Bettencourt - Too Much Of A Good Thing (Where's The Hook) 3:11
03. Brad Gillis - Galaxy 500 4:44
04. Steve Lukather - Smell Yourself 4:06
05. Billy Sheehan - L.A. A La Mode 4:05
06. Ed King - Eileen 4:53
07. Blues Saraceno - Never Look Back (Demo) 3:02
08. Steve Morse - Picture This 2:43
09. Mark Wood - The Howling 3:12
10. Bruce Kulick - Zeptune 3:48
11. Steve Stevens - Funkcaution 5:54
12. Randy Coven - A Minor Disturbance 3:30
13. Jason Becker - Meet Me In The Morning 5:23
14. Fates Warning - At Fate's Fingers 4:47
15. Reeves Gabrels - McCarthy At The Levee 5:18
16. Eric Johnson - Cliffs Of Dover (Live) 6:13


Brett Tuggle (vocals); Eric Johnson , Al Petrelli, Frank Aresti, Jason Becker, Jim Matheos, Marc Bonilla, Nuno Bettencourt, Steve Lukather, Blues Saraceno , Brad Gillis (guitar); Mark Wood (violin, keyboards); Faith Fraiola (violin); Michael Monroe, Brandon Fields (saxophone); Don Smallwood, Keith Emerson (piano); David Garfield, Derek Sherinian, Kevin Moore (keyboards); Gregg Bissonette, John O'Reilly, Mark Zonder, Tom Polce, Tommy Taylor, Troy Luccketta, Ed King (drums); Lenny Castro (percussion); Pat Regan (drum programming).

Friday, December 9, 2016

Various Artists - 1989 "Guitars, Practicing Musicians" Volume I

This thirteen-track CD, featuring 13 rock guitarists and bassists, was released through Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine. With a nice mixture of styles, it includes Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, Billy Sheehan, Randy Coven, Paul Gilbert, and eight others.

Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 1 CD was released Mar 26, 1990 on the Combat label. This thirteen-track CD, featuring 13 rock guitarists and bassists, was released through Guitar for the Practicing Musician magazine. Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 1 buy CD music With a nice mixture of styles, it includes Steve Vai, Vinnie Moore, Billy Sheehan, Randy Coven, Paul Gilbert, and eight others. ~ Paul Kohler. Guitar's Practicing Musicians Vol. 1 CD music contains a single disc with 13 songs.

Great CD with exclusive tracks unavailable elsewhere including a live version of Steely Dan Bodhisattva with a "?" listed as performing on keys and vocals who sounds a lot like Donald Fagen (wink wink nudge nudge)! Also solos from Allan Holdsworth on the Jeff Watson track. 

I used to have this on cassette a long, long time ago! What a rush! The Reckless Fable alone is worth the price (at the time I think that it was the only place you could listen to it; Steve Vai released the whole album on his label since). But you also have Steve Morse, Vinnie Moore, Billy Sheehan, Randy Coven, etc. etc!!! I'm glad I got my paws on this cd. Keeper for sure! If you're lucky enough to get a copy, don't hesitate! 

This is a good cd of hard rock instrumentals. This was put out in 1989 and The best tracks here are by 'buck dharma" of blue oyster cult. and one by 'Vinnie moore' , some tracks have that 1980's drum sound , some don't;. back then some songs would push the drums to the front and some do that as you would expect from a hard rock cd from that era. But others are just hard rock songs that are melodic in nature. I don't remember seeing this back then , but it's worth owning if you like hard rock from that era. Like I said some songs do not do the drums forward sound and you could place them in any decade from the 70's until now. others are just that type of song. A number of really good guitarists are on this one too. Leslie west and Vinnie moore are on here. Vinnie is currently the lead guitarist of UFO. A band which began in 1969! and is still making great songs. If you like instrumental hard rock from the 80's then this will be worth your effort in owning. I collect blue oyster cult music so I had to grab this one because it has bd on it. The sound is good too as this was digitally recorded back then. wait is it really that long ago? 

Track listing:

1 Giant Steps (Jennifer Batten) 1:37
2 Gamera Is Missing (Buck Dharma) 3:21
3 Born To Be Wild (Leslie West) 3:07
4 Free (Vinnie Moore) 4:47
5 Southern Steel (Steve Morse) 4:03
6 El Becko (Paul Gilbert) 4:12
7 Tree (Randy Coven) 4:15
8 Western Vacation (Steve Vai) 6:30
9 NV43345 (Billy Sheehan) 2:20
10 Bodhisattva (Elliott Randall) 4:37
11 The Snakes (Blues Saraceno) 3:33
12 Sixgunz (Vivian Campbell) 3:33
13 Rodo Lana / Play That Funky Music (Jeff Watson/Allan Holdsworth) 6:27 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

King Crimson - 1975 [1990] "A Young Person's Guide To King Crimson"

A Young Person's Guide to King Crimson is a 2-LP compilation album by the band King Crimson, released in 1976. At the time the band had split. The track selection was by Robert Fripp.
Its name is most likely derived either from the famous orchestral work The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra from composer Benjamin Britten or the 1960s television series Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, created by conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein.
The gatefold-sleeve featured, as the front and back cover, artwork by Scottish artist Fergus Hall. Included as part of the package was a booklet, replete with photographs, and detailing gig history and notable events: this was compiled by Robert Fripp from his own archive.
To date, its sole CD release has been in Japan, in 1990. This 2-CD set, which faithfully duplicated the vinyl running-order, included a reproduction of the booklet, scaled-down. Playing times are approximately 40 minutes long for CD1, and 35 minutes for CD2.

For almost two decades before King Crimson's catalog became a minefield of odd retrospectives, live oddities, and archival treasure troves, A Young Person's Guide to King Crimson was the only worthwhile retrospective the band had ever had -- or seemed likely to receive. Originally released in 1976 following the band's apparently irrevocable split of the year before, this Robert Fripp-compiled double album rounded up an excellent, if somewhat idiosyncratic, survey of the group's seven years together, its contents ranging from the unimpeachable classics to unimaginable rarities -- the pre-Crimson demo of "I Talk to the Wind" was a collector's dream at the time, while the presence of "Groon" took the heat off anyone who missed out on its sole previous appearance, as the B-side of 1970's "Cat Food" single. Of the other tracks, three-fifths of the debut album included the anthemic poles of "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Epitaph," and served to remind just how powerful In the Court of the Crimson King was on release, while more recent highlights included both "Red" and "Starless" from the band's final album (Red), Starless and Bible Black's eternally atmospheric "The Night Watch," and, as if to prove that the band's sense of humor was never far from the surface, the ribald saga of "Ladies of the Road." A vast booklet of facts and figures, again compiled by Fripp and drawing from his own squirrel-like horde of King Crimson memorabilia, rounded off the package. It's a sign of just how well conceived this collection was that, no matter how many more so-called "best-ofs" the band has endured, A Young Person's Guide remains the definitive study of the original King Crimson.

"A Young Person's Guide to King Crimson is a very good compilation, containing a wide variety of tracks from 1968-1974. One will notice that it was compiled by Fripp himself in 1976 and, yes, both Schizoid Man and any representation of the Lizard album are missing, at least sonically. The inclusion of a rare and rough (although sprightly) Giles Dyble Giles Fripp version of I Talk to the Wind from 1968 AND the accompanying scrap-booklet, however, are the best features of this release. They alone are worth the hiked up price at most used record stores. The insert contains a list of every gig KC performed from 1969-1974 with the omission of the surprise Wolverhampton gig of 1971, and a ton of pictures, many of which haven't seen the light of day anywhere else since then. There are rare photographs of the 69 incarnation on stage and in transit during tours, some capturing the brief 1970 incarnation with Haskell, Tippett and McCulloch, many from the 71-72 line-up at Hyde Park, and some really neat pictures of Jamie Muir and his battery of instruments on stage with the band dressed in his animal skins circa late 1972. Plus, the album cover is really spacey!"

 This is a great collection and contains most of the band's best music. The material was recorded between 1969 and 1974. There are 15 tracks and it lasts 74 minutes. In my opinion, the band recorded two classic albums: "In the Court of Crimson King" (1969) and "Red" (1974). This record also includes the best tracks from the band's five other studio albums.

The original version of the band included Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Greg Lake and Mike Giles. Jimi Hendrix saw them play at the Marquee Club In London and declared them the best band in the world. Their debut in 1969, In the Court of the Crimson King, was probably the first progressive rock album. The band set a benchmark for rock that has rarely been surpassed, combining high standards of musicianship with an urge to experiment.

Ian McDonald wrote a lot of the music on the band's first album including the songs "In the Court of Crimson King" and "I Talk to the Wind." McDonald and Giles left the band after the first US tour unable to deal with the pressures of sudden fame. Greg Lake left in 1970 to join ELP because he thought the band would not be the same without McDonald & Giles.

Musicians needed serious chops to play Crimson's music and Fripp became a demanding bandleader. Fripp is one of rock's finest guitarists and not many players can live up to his standards. After the break-up of the first band, line-ups changed frequently. Fripp remains something of an enigma. During the 1970s he seemed to fall-out with many of his former band mates. McDonald was due to rejoin in 1974, but Fripp decided to take a break from the music business in order to enter a spiritual retreat in his native Dorset. This ended the band's first era of existence. Crimson returned in 1981 with a new line-up. For me, the later versions of Crimson were a disappointment. The musicians were good, but the music was less interesting.

I have always loved the version of "I Talk to the Wind" on this album, although it sounds like a demo. It was recorded at a flat in 93A Brondesbury Road in London. It features Judy Dyble on lead vocals. Dyble was a founder member of Fairport Convention and Fripp's landlady in the early 1970s. The musicians include Fripp, Mike Giles, Peter Giles and MacDonald. This is my favourite version of the song.

Everything is brilliant. There are several great tracks which feature the violin playing of David Cross. He added another dimension to the music, but he only managed to stay for two and a half albums.

The original vinyl release came with a booklet which told the history of the band through album reviews and interviews with former band members in the music press. It is a fascinating read, mainly because it is so honest. It documents the tensions within the band. It was edited by the then "Bob" Fripp, who mysteriously chose to not reveal his side of the story.

Tracks Listing

Disc 1
1. Epitaph (8:52)
2. Cadence and cascade (3:36)
3. Ladies of the road (5:27)
4. I talk to the wind (3:15)
5. Red (6:18)
6. Starless (12:17)

Disc 2
1. The night watch (4:38)
2. Book of Saturday (2:52)
3. Peace - A theme (1:14)
4. Cat food (2:43)
5. Groon (3:30)
6. Coda from Larks' Tongues in aspic part one (2:09)
7. Moonchild (2:24)
8. Trio (5:38)
9. In the court of the Crimson King (9:21)

Total Time: 74:14

Line-up / Musicians

- Bill Bruford / drums, percussion (5, 6, 7, 12 & 14)
- Boz Burrell / bass, vocals (3)
- Mel Collins / saxes, flute (2, 3 & 6)
- David Cross / violin (7, 8 & 14) viola & voice (12)
- Judy Dyble / vocals (4)
- Robert Fripp / guitars, mellotron, devices (all)
- Michael Giles / drums, percussion, backing vocals (1, 2, 4, 10, 11, 13 & 15)
- Peter Giles / bass (4, 10 & 11)
- Gordon Haskell / vocals (2)
- Greg Lake / bass, vocals (1, 10, 13 & 15)
- Ian McDonald / woodwinds, reeds, keyboards, mellotron, vocals (1, 4, 6, 13 & 15)
- Robin Miller / oboe (6)
- Jamie Muir / percussion, voice (12)
- Peter Sinfield / words (1, 2 & 15)
- Keith Tippett / piano (2 & 10)
- Ian Wallace / drums (3)
- John Wetton / bass, vocals (5, 6, 7, 8, 12 & 14)