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YES Fragile Album Cover Fragile
YES
4.77 | 25 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Songs in the Key of Life Album Cover Songs in the Key of Life
STEVIE WONDER
4.82 | 12 ratings
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PARLIAMENT Mothership Connection Album Cover Mothership Connection
PARLIAMENT
4.81 | 11 ratings
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SOFT MACHINE Third Album Cover Third
SOFT MACHINE
4.65 | 62 ratings
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YES Close To The Edge Album Cover Close To The Edge
YES
4.72 | 20 ratings
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YES The Yes Album Album Cover The Yes Album
YES
4.69 | 20 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Album Cover The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.63 | 48 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Album Cover Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
JIMI HENDRIX
4.64 | 36 ratings
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YES Relayer Album Cover Relayer
YES
4.65 | 23 ratings
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NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures Album Cover Of Queues and Cures
NATIONAL HEALTH
4.67 | 17 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
KING CRIMSON
4.60 | 41 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.59 | 45 ratings
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jazz related Music Reviews

CHET BAKER Blood, Chet And Tears

Album · 1970 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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js
Does a cheezy album title mean that the music on said album will be cheezy too, in the case of Chet Baker’s, “Blood, Chet and Tears”, it certainly does. In case you don’t get the reference, the album’s title is based on the band name, Blood Sweat & Tears, only they snuck Chet’s name in there, ha ha ha, get it, yeah it’s a real downer. Anyway, with a title like that I assumed the whole album would be BS&T covers, and there are several of their songs on here, but they also felt the need to put some real corny classics on here like “Sugar Sugar:” by the pretend band, The Archies. Chet plays trumpet on all the songs and also sings on two of them. His backup band contains some top jazz and session musicians like Joe Pass, Tommy Tedesco and Hal Blaine, but nobody can save this album from being a rather bland outing. The arrangements are nothing special and most of Chet’s playing sounds like he is barely interested.

Of the bad entries, one of the worst is Chet’s vocal version of the Beatles’ “Something”. The original is a pop masterpiece but Baker seems very uncomfortable with the word flow and his usually distinctive vocal style never gets a chance with the overall plodding presentation. None of the BS&T songs do well, which is odd because there was a lot of jazz and big band arranging in that group, but the tunes don’t seem to inspire Chet too much. There are a few good ones on this album, “Evil Ways’ hit’s a groove and Baker almost sounds like Herb Alpert for a while. Chet’s lazy behind the beat phrasing on the trumpet is used to good effect on “Sugar”, making this one a good cut for one of those kitsch exotica CD compilations. The very best track by far though is Baker’s vocal version of “Come Saturday Morning”. It’s a well written song and Baker’s vocals floating over the string section is just sublime. Sometimes these kind of pop cover outings can be a lot of fun, such as Don Ellis’ “Connection”, but there just seems to be a lack of inspiration and energy on most of this Baker opus.

JEFF BECK Rough and Ready

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock
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as1978
I can't find a true identity for this second Jeff Beck Group.I know it's common thing but I'm a Cozy Powell fan and Jeff Beck is one of my favorite guitarists. Also here plays Max Middleton, one of the best keyboard players of that era. Bob Tench is too underrated a singer and bassist, Clive Chaman, is certainly no fallback. It must be said that Jeff Beck was a fantastic innovator and without him there would be no Heavy Metal. But it is equally true that here, in this "Rough and Ready", he drastically breaks with the past to devote himself to a sort of POP Jazz Rock that has Soul and Funk moments that I don't mind at all. Only that POP component does not help to understand this choice.And today it also destabilizes the fact that the next album, "Jeff Beck Group", is a really beautiful and compelling Blues Rock album and more in line with what Jeff Beck was known for.

Musically I think that "Rough and Ready" is more interested in an audience open to certain contaminations of Progressive Soul and certainly Blues Rock than a Jazz audience, although it is, in truth, a Jazz Rock album with various digressions in other musical genres (and well blended). In my head, although "Rough and Ready" is certainly a good album ... It just doesn't convince me as an album. Great music in general. Which convinces me, as single songs. But that leaves me very bitter in my mouth. And that makes me say "Rough and Ready" is a wrong album.

MELVIN VAN PEEBLES Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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js
An intense movie deserves an intense soundtrack, and that’s what we get with “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Revenge”. A controversial movie when it was released in the early 70s, “Sweetback” is considered one of the first of the “blaxploitation” genre and the first film to feature a militant African American man in confrontation with the authorities and succeeding. Whereas some soundtracks can stand alone musically with plenty of songs that you can listen to apart from the movie, not this OST. Much of this album features sounds, jarring noises and dialog from the movie, not just music. This is a very intense album, almost avant-garde in places when snippets of dialog overlap with gun shots, police sirens, snarling dogs, yelling, screaming, pure chaotic noise, sexual climaxes and gospel choirs. No, this one is not for the timid, and if played loudly in a dark room, it can be downright intimidating. But, boring it is not. Any collector of the unusual and the bizarre in music ought to check this one out.

Side one opens with main character Sweetback answering a gospel choir acting as a sort of ‘Greek chorus’ letting him know what he is up against if he takes on ‘the man’. There is plenty of noise interspersed as this soundtrack builds a hallucinogenic inner city nightmare of confusion. “Running Song” is a fast paced jazzy rock groove with Sweetback saying over and over to his feet and legs to get moving as he runs from the law. This side ends with a relentless jazz funk workout. The band on here is no other than Earth Wind and Fire making one of their first appearances and playing a lot of old school funk and soul that sounds nothing like the slick sophisticated style they would develop later in their career.

Side two opens with a couple of RnB numbers that are probably the closest to regular music that you will hear on here, but when the off-kilter sounds of “Sanra Z” enter, it sounds like the band is falling down drunk and we are back into chaos land. What follows is some of the most intense moments yet as sections of dialog are layered on top of each other with plenty of yelling, cussing and racial epithets to spare. This album is not for everyone, but those who seek the unique and unusual will find a goldmine here.

JOE BONAMASSA Royal Tea

Album · 2020 · Jazz Related Rock
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snobb
American blues rock guitarist and vocalist Joe Bonamassa is probably one of the known blues-rock artists of his generation. Different from previous generations of American bluesmen, his influences were the British blues-rock of John Mayall and Cream, as well as early bluesy prog rockers (Jethro Tull, etc). Starting his recording career in 2000, Bonamassa jumped up right to the forefront of the modern blues rock scene, combining American blues and r'n'b roots with British rock energy and prog complexities.

Still it took two decades before he did the next step in the same direction-recording a British blues rock album at Abbey Road studio in London with some of the genre's leading legends on support. The result is as great as one could expect.

"Royal Tea" sounds as if it had been recorded in the early seventies, or late 80s, in Britain. Nothing strange - almost all of the song's co-authors are Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden and former Cream lyricist Pete Brown. Marsden participates as backup vocalist as well as another British celebrity, Jools Holland (co-author/piano on one song).

The opener, "When One Door Opens", is a big sound high energy hard rock hymn recorded with The Bovaland Symphonic Orchestra. Rest of the songs are all perfectly recorded in a fashion of Cream's early albums - full bodied soft clear sound. Most important thing is Bonamassa doesn't try to copy or imitate his heroes, he just plays original music that could be created in England during the late 60s. His band's drummer, Anton Fig, (who played on tours/recordings with Madonna, Mick Jagger and Kiss among many others) does a fantastic job creating an atmosphere of the stadium rock era.

Album's first half is all winners with the heavy ballad, "Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye"(influenced by both Cream and Whitesnake), groovy rocker "Lookout Man!", and the album's trade mark "Royal Tea". When listening, seasoned rock fans can easily recall late 60s/early 70s period of time, when almost any new album was a collection of fresh and extremely high quality songs, no fillers.

The album's second half is strong enough too, but is less influenced by British blues rock and sounds mostly as just another Bonamassa typical "American" album. "Lonely Boy", a Jools Holland influenced rockabilly, sounds quite strange and is out of the place here. The closer, "Savannah", is a Southern rock piece, which looks like it's added just to complete the album's space since there were not enough original material.

Still, the whole album sounds fresh and really inspired, it's material alone could build a strong tour program, which will be released soon (and recorded on Bonamassa's next, live album).

MAHOGANY FROG In The Electric Universe

Album · 2021 · Jazz Related Rock
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js
Mahogany Frog is a modern instrumental group that often gets lumped in with the contemporary prog rock crowd, but there is so much more to their music than what a simple genre label like that can describe. The Frogsters describe their music as a meeting of today’s electronica with 70s progressive rock, 60s psychedelia and 50s exotica. This isn’t too bad a description, especially if you add in movie soundtracks, particularly of the Italian persuasion. As far as the prog rock influence goes, we are not talking about the heavy-handed clichés that took hold post 1972, but more about all that great experimental music that ran from 1966 to 1972. Frog's latest outing, “In the Electric Universe”, took much longer to conceive than their previous albums and this shows in the very careful sound sculpting that takes place on here. Sounds, noises and sonic textures play a big part on this new one, and whether or not you think that emphasis has weakened their melodic content would probably be a matter of individual taste.

The opening track, “Theme from P.D.”, is like a suite with its many themes and developing sections. The next two tracks feature Frog's interest in late 60s psychedlic progressive rock filtered through an electronica lens. Follow up number, “CUBe”, is a heavy trip-hop/rock groove with a phat synth bass line. "Octavio" has a grand sound as it moves from modern RnB to cinematic glory rock. Album closer, “Sun Dog”, has a beautiful ambient melody that is slowly engulfed in noise only to finally emerge again. Much more than just a ‘rock band’, fans of electronic jam bands, classic exotica and movie soundtracks should give Mahogany Frog a chance. These guys are creating instrumental monuments that are hard to equal.

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KING CRIMSON Neal And Jack And Me

Movie · 2004 · Jazz Related Rock
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Sean Trane
This DVD will please many of the third Crimson phase fans combines two tours: the Beat tour and the Three Of A Perfect pair. Oddly enough, they are presented in a non- chronological order, but this is a very minor point. One of the things I was particularly uneasy about was Bruford's use of electronic percussions and drums and we get a load of those "things" and like all technology novelty, the risk is that it ages poorly and sadly here, it is the case. Another point I had not appreciated is the stage presence of Adrian Belew, which is clearly copied from David Byrne from his collaborations with The Talking Heads - I love the T Heads, but Belew's stage antics are too derivative and ill fitted for Crimson. There are a few tracks present twice and most notably the boring Mate Kusadai.

Strictly on the visual front, Crimson was clearly making efforts to look hip and appeal to a more new-wave-ish public. Those were the days! But I never said that they were good, either!

Among the bonuses, are a video clip and a few titbits, but sadly still missing is that mini- concert footage filmed for the Discipline release and them playing four tracks in front of a red curtain. I may be severe with my rating of this DVD but I am not a real fan of that era.

GONG Classic Rock Legends

Movie · 2000 · Jazz Related Rock
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seyo
This video contains live performances from 1990 Live on TV album. Four original members of GonG are present: Pip Pyle, Didier Malherbe, Gilli Smyth and an oddball-harlequin persona of the spiritus movens, Daevid Allen.

Performance is focused on their legendary Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, with 3 starters from Camembert Electrique. Since I have no idea what GonG looked like on scene back in the early 1970s (that is, before I took a peek at several Youtube clips recently), I guess this DVD makes up a lot for that, the age of the performers notwithstanding.

In fact, seeing these unique art-performers in their senior age can just assure you how the music and art in general can surpass generations, years and ages if you wish. Musicianship is great, movie direction very good with several cameras shooting from different angles, while only the engagement of the dancers to invoke the mystical gnomey creatures may be seen as too over-stressed.

The finale presents perhaps too long goodbye with the extended "I Am You" jam, but when Daevid jumps down into the audience you can actually see the highly emotional and spiritual connection between the band and the people, done in an almost religious-like chanting. This is excellent video and should be seen by all those who have at least some knowledge of the Planet GonG trilogy repertoire!

BILL BRUFORD Bbc Rock Goes To College: Live 1979

Movie · 2006 · Jazz Related Rock
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Dick Heath
I remember seeing this originally on BBC 2 a few weeks after it was recorded in one of the canteens of Oxford Poly, and getting a mix of intense pleasure. In particular pleasure from the tour de force that Holdsworth had developed into (and screamed out at me on Feels Good To Me)and the unknown bass-wiz Jeff Berlin. But there was disappointment over Annette's contribution to the set - when her husky voice breathed sex at me on the album.

Now here from the Beeb's archives is the original 70's video quality footage as originally shown on 625 lines. The pleasure points remain, with some details emphasised. However the disappointment is worse, in particular there is a promise of something special as Peacock flounces on part way through the set, dressed as the fashion queen,(thereby drawing the contrast with the blokes in the band). However,again the expectation of something special evaporates quickly - the diva can't 'deave' live in sympathy with the music, the band i.e. her vocals are poor. Fortunately we don't have to suffer this for long and thank goodness for the skip button.

Yes this is a short recording*, and isn't there a missed opportunity here? One DVD burn (of a copy of a copy, etc.) of this gig I saw some years ago and suffering horribly from colour dropout, had the addition of two extra numbers by Bruford recorded off from the Old Grey Whistle Test - here with I think Neil Murray deputing for Jeff Berlin. Surely the Beeb could had offered these as well?

*Interesting to see another Rock Goes To College recording of Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters recorded at the now defuncted Chelsea College, that had resurfaced on BBC 4 2 years ago, was an hour long.

STING Bring On The Night

Movie · 2005 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Slartibartfast
The concept here is a documentary of a band forming, The Blue Turtles Band, rather than a band at their peak or breaking up. Fortunately it is heavier on the music than the documentary.

The first half takes place in a French countryside chateaux and consists of presentable songs from nine days of practice sessions for what was to be their first show. Everyone in the band seems to be having a good time. The chateaux provides nice a nice backdrop to the sessions. The second half is the show itself.

Since this was Sting's first post Police effort, there's a lot of reworked Police songs mixed in with tracks from the first album. It's sort of like the Police meets jazz with Andy Summers ejected so Sting could play guitar. The band line up is primarily younger jazz musicians that already had a good reputation for work they had done before hooking up with Sting.

There are interview excerpts between the songs. One of the more interesting ones was Miles Copeland, Sting's manager and Stewart's brother going on about negotiations with the rest of the band. He was extremely dismissive of the band in relation to Sting when it came to monetary compensation. I suspect that was more about himself getting a bigger piece of the pie than a reflection on Sting, although I do recall him guest appearing on a Saturday Night Live show with Steve Marting and Steve introducing him as Stin-gy.

I originally saw this one in a theater and was really pleased to see it released being reworked with "high definition digital anamorphic picture transfer and digitally remastered surround audio." It actually does look a little sharper than I recall and I think the orginal sound was just stereo.

BILL BRUFORD Bbc Rock Goes To College: Live 1979

Movie · 2006 · Jazz Related Rock
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Slartibartfast
This is incredible. I had the good fortune of seeing Bruford, unfortunately post Holdsworth, at the now defunct Atlanta Agora. I did get to catch Holdsworth touring for his I.O.U. album, but that's another story. My first pass through this concert really gave me the goosebumps.

It is unfortunate that this DVD is only 41 minutes, but the set list is excellent. Four tracks from Bruford's best album, One of a Kind. Annette Peacock even shows up for a couple of songs. I always thought that she didn't fit in well with this kind of music, but it's nice to see her all the same. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think there's any live video out there of Alan Holdsworth, so seeing him in action is a special treat. One of the things I remember most from seeing Bruford was that at times Jeff Berlin's picking fingers were a blur and seeing him again live, I know I wasn't imagining it. Dave Stewart, or as I like to call him, The Dave Stewart, not that Eurythmics guy, is also a lot of fun to see in action. I noticed he had a music stand with no sheet music, but a synthesizer diagram, interesting. And then of course there's Bill. Those of you who may dislike his electronic drum work, I'm not one, will be happy to him playing strictly acoustic. What can I say? He's really one of best drummers around. The audio quality is excellent and sometimes the camera man crop off Holdsworth's left hand when I'd like to see it, but other than that, this is really nice for a concert captured in 1979.

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