Monday, September 15, 2014

Brutality, Pain, Anguish, And Lies Lead To REVENGE THROUGH MY MUSICAL KINGDOM!!!!! Prepare Yourselves For A Real Hell Hammering!

I can't believe it. No entries since the beginning of July!!!!!? Am I that far gone and demolished by all the Hell I've been through!!!? Maybe I am, but maybe I'm going to strike back now. I've had the biggest worst falling out of my life and no moral support at home thanks to irrationality. I'm really battered down and wounded. I don't want to tie up this blog entry with the whole story, so here's a small summation. Where do I begin? That I spent all my summer going there spending ludicrous money only to be lied, cheated, swindled, and maligned after half a lifetime of me going there!? That the owner turns out to be a complete bastard? It's a real shock to be lied to that many times by him and his staff and I just kept wishing that it wasn't really happening to me. It's a tragedy for sure and I'm just so horrified I don't know how to express it. I think of revenge, but it does no good. I think of trying to sit down with my mother and father and come up with some kind of real concrete plan about a new start and my future, but I have NO SUPPORT AT HOME. The store is a fraud and a lie and is no longer in my life. I'm slamming the same door that was slammed in my face.
            -A Trip Back In Time And A Trip To The Present Day Still Residing In Hell-
        What I've learned through the years is that you don't ever succumb to physical violence. That will get you nowhere except jail, the madhouse, or at least a few broken bones. I wish people could see that MUSIC IS THE GIFT TO HEAL THE WOUNDS EVERYONE SOMETIMES SUFFERS. I would get into scraps in school back at the beginnings of my time and then it just seemed like every physical battle I was losing. Even a few infamous ones that I succeeded in pulling off left me completely drained. If you are a reader go find a really good book. If you love movies then go find some movies that won't upset you to watch, but are riveting enough to get the point across. If you, like me, want the best things there are that can transcend and put you in a whole other world MUSIC IS THE TRUE GOD! This isn't new to me. Now I blast my music alone in my room where I feel safe and in the beauty known as solitude, but back in the beginning my mother and father and I used to turn the volume to the highest level and cruise around in the car. It's odd and a bit disturbing the way music and my vinyl addiction which I'm quite proud of are seen in my home. It's sad more than anything else. I find that I am best off alone sometimes, but not really alone. Music is the key to opening up your life to the real solution- love.
It's music that is giving me the only pleasure in life. Music, relaxing, basking in the Autumn sun, and trying to relieve the tensions and pressures of everyday life. Back in the darkest periods of private school Hell only music got me to a place where I could survive and I want to thank all the great bands that I still listen to even at my 38 years old age. I'm talking about what was once heavy metal before it all went wrong. Let's take a trip into the world of darkness and light. Come with me. Don't be afraid.
         -Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, AOR, Progressive Rock, And All Classic Music Are Where It's At-
            I can't believe that there were still persecutions against so-called "Controversial and Evil Music" in the mid to late 80s into the early 90s which eventually brought music down to something that truly is offensive and isn't music at all, but there were. I can't forget the mass burnings of bands as harmless as Uriah Heep by Evangelical Christian fanatics and other right wing organizations and the loathsome P.M.R.C run by Tipper Gore that tried to bring the entire world of heavy music and even soul/funk artists like Prince down. Even Michael Jackson, God Bless Him And His Memory, was often seen as "evil" and "A threat". I say that I see a pattern of racism and Neo Fascism here! Yeah, it was really bad.
      Nowadays we have these fools trying to take over our country and the world. We have violent despots demolishing whole countries in acts of unforgivable hate. We have people without food and shelter who need our help and aren't getting it. The world is a dangerous place now and had metal triumphed over the real evils I'm sure that we'd all be living in a better place. Had the 60s dream of peace and harmonious living not been destroyed it would be a better place. What do you do when the bad guys and bad women are winning? As I said before violence solves nothing AND DON'T WATCH HORROR MOVIES! Horror films and the new media machine are the true evil. Parents and teachers who abuse their children are the real evil and abuse can be everything from physical and psychological harm to negligence.I experienced psychological torture in school and it was atrocious. I wish my mother would be as supportive now as she was then, but I'm not that young anymore and have to face that fact. I have always looked at music as what is the true saving grace and it really is. My taste is ultra-eclectic, but lately I've been going back to all my old favourites and a lot of new things too. Renia when I'm listening in the living room where the record player resides are my favourite band at the moment and they are as far from metal as you can get. They're my favourite band that I own. My favourite band that I don't own is an amazingly talented bunch of hard rockers from Mansfield in Northern England called Witchfynde. Do check them out they are all over YouTube. I'm hoping to get at least one of their records in the near future.
    I think the wrong attitude is displayed towards music. It couldn't be more ridiculously misunderstood as a lot of the time in my own home. Yeah I'm a vinyl addict. I'm a vinyl and music junkie. I could care less. In fact, I'm proud of it. To think that something this harmless could turn my own parents against me is very sad, but I wouldn't say "against" really I would say more that they don't know what's really going on. I try to shut it out. I can appreciate their opinion even though I don't agree with it. I have so much tension in my life that I sometimes have really violent thoughts about becoming some kind of a warlock, but that would solve nothing. It never solves any struggle with anyone. I know that music is a gift from heaven- a wonderful thing that just never tarnishes when it really is classic. Even lesser division bands have their place if they had enough good songs. During the first wave of metal in the 70s some of the second division stuff was pretty interesting. During the 60s there was no room for anything except the absolute best music. The whole psychedelic movement may have had some bands that just tried to pull off ersatz psychedelic nonsense, but those bands often were more successful than the best bands in that whole genre. The bands who truly were creating musical revolution may not always have sold the most copies of their albums, but their music smashes right through the garbage of today! I mean bands like The Koobas, Jason Crest, The Move, The Who, The Yardbirds, and the great American and Canadian and European ones too. The last three especially the last two had huge successes, but what about The Pretty Things then? Why did they not break the market open with S.F SORROW? The album is now regarded as a classic and was highly thought of at the time by names as big as Pete Townsend in The Who and he has gone out on a limb to praise the hard work put into that album. Then there's The Zombies and The Marmalade. They had a few hits and then it was the end. The huge loving following wasn't enough to support either band, but thankfully they still have that following.  Music is my obsession and my first love. It will stay that big a love when things are as bad as they are for me in times like now even more.

            -Honoring The Fallen Heroes Of Music And A Tip Of The Hat To Soldiers-
      In music there can be a lot of tragedies. The lifestyle which is by nature hard living often takes the lives of very talented people before their time, but then there is the more disturbing physical illness that killed off many of my biggest heroes from Ronnie James Dio to Frank Zappa to Steve Harris of Shy. I was shocked at the beginning of this year to find out that the amazing drummer Clive Burr had passed away too. Very bad. Music in and of itself can almost never be destructive. That isn't what it's here to do. If you listen to bands like Traffic, Cream, and the more soul/blues/jazzy ones and especially Procol Harum you are dining with The Gods! There also was a great band called that who turned into my favourite band ever Uriah Heep! Don't forget Deep Purple and another tragic ending in Jon Lord's death. He was one of the greatest geniuses ever to have roamed this planet and hopefully is playing his mighty B3 Hammond up there in Heaven now. Deep Purple were one of the first bands to really do freaky stuff and write art songs. There would be the Ian Gillan era where things took on a heavy metal edge with very progressive leanings and then there would be the fantastic David Coverdale and Glen Hughes period, but back at the beginning some of the most bizarre music ever made was created by Deep Purple. Listening to Frank Zappa is hard for me to do now without intense sadness. We have to honor the ones who gave us our inspirations and our dreams who are still doing it in Heaven, but not on earth. This brings me to my other main passion- soldiers.
     I could go on for pages and pages and pages about how important soldiers are to me. They have inspired me, instructed me, and we've hit it off great. Never look past them and never look past music. They can save you. Violent acts and murderous thoughts should be put out of your mind and you should just go spend some time out in nature and let your mind clear. Take it on the easier level and don't get fucked up after getting fucked over by stupid people like I have been. I just slam the door on Siren and the people I hate. Life is too short to waste it in hatred. Look for many more entries and excitement soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Wonderful Lacewing from Ohio The Best American Progressive Band There Ever Was!

It's been awhile since my last posting here about Coven. I'm still on the hunt for the very hard to track down Witchcraft as an original as I WILL NOT BUY THE TRASHY BOOT REISSUE. Even that is rare now. Soon I'm gonna have my hands on some incredible stuff after a trip to Philly with many stories to tell after I come back, but at the moment there are two, one of which the entry you are reading is about, that I have decided never to sell that are two of my faves and relatively not in the ludicrous price margin although they will set you back a bit. A little trip back we're gonna take to the hope and despair of the end of the 60s beginning of the 70s.
     Everybody with half a brain knows about what the bastards in the Ohio National Guard did at Kent State University in 1970 and how that was the last disaster and nail in the coffin of the 60s utopian dream, but what you should know is that the Nixon administration and officials in Ohio planned the whole thing. The Ohio National Guard gave and what they did still gives American soldiers a bad name, but in my world they never will have a good one. Don't get the wrong idea I care and I do have some really good mates in the 82nd Airborne, but they are the Elite so they should be the best. No hard feelings to Americans as a generalization, but demolish the bad ones!
      Where Lacewing come into the story is that the band were a progressive folk-rock group from Kent itself and were there at the time of the shootings. I can't imagine how scary that must have been, but the recurring weary and mournful lyrical themes should give you some idea of how disillusioned everybody was about the horrific events that happened. This wasn't Bloody Sunday which was a completely faked out "shame" and a stupid, sick victory for the IRA and Republican movement where the British Para soldiers were egged-on and attacked first and nobody wants you to know that- this was a cold murder of innocence. Lacewing, however, take the right direction on their one album on Mainstream and I wish there had been more. Together with Fifty Foot Hose and Coven they are America's best female fronted psych/progressive/folk-rock band and Mary Sterpka is where things get really interesting...
      A progressive band from Kent, Ohio? That would be unheard of unless you know what a brilliant music scene Ohio had and how the Midwest helped shape progressive music in America. A progressive band with a female singer however is completely astonishing as there are so few if you don't think a long time about it. I never figured it out myself. Mary Sterpka is the singer in question and she had a voice more like a cross between Sandy Denny and the last-entry raved about Jinx Dawson than Grace Slick (horrible!) and Janis Joplin (brilliant and very, very sad story behind her tragically short life) which make her even more different. The two driving forces behind the band's writing consisted of guitarist extraordinaire Bob Webb and keyboard maestro Dave Andress and the group also had one of the tightest rhythm sections around. Lacewing are really something unusual in that they sound much more like a British band than an American one. Soaring vocal harmonies and astonishing guitar/electric harpsichord interplay make this a killer album and the songs are tremendously good! I will hands down say Lacewing is the best American progressive album and they also are the closest we came to some of the best UK melodic prog/psych bands like The Parlour band. In fact, they are good enough to be described as our closest equivalent to peak period Fairport Convention!
        There are just 7 tracks on Lacewing with several of them quite long and complicated, but the album gets off to a rockin' start with the fantastically punchy progressive folk-rock psych of "Paradox" where the harmonies are the best I've ever heard on an American record. This is real. This isn't some band copying and trying to imitate other bands this is a band who lead rather than are led. The lyrics are about confusion, destruction, and the death of the 60s counterculture dream which are themes prevalent throughout: "I Can See The Beginning Has Ended With Our Cries." Mary Sterpka's clear and beautiful voice is very much like Sandy Denny's, but the harmonies would have been impossible for Fairport to duplicate. This ain't off key Jefferson Airplane abysmal moaning and groaning or Grateful Dead country boy up the creek without even a boat ineptitude this is real and surprisingly the production is really good at last on a Mainstream record. Lacewing were not on a label that was going to nurture and care about them, alas. Mainstream bands tended to all be one-offs because Mainstream didn't do anything for them. When the only multi-album band on a label is shithead Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes you know you're in trouble!
    "Crystal Myth" follows "Paradox" and the band's signature electric harpsichord is very different from the usual heavy organ bashing of the day. Mary Sterpka mournfully sings out another song about the passing of a beautiful dream only there is a dark, haunting, and very atmospheric thing going on in this track which sounds even less American than "Paradox" again bringing about the Fairport comparison. I think this album is of a higher level than even the likes of England's Trees and Germany's Emtidi- this is the best.
      "Our World (It Can Happen)" features more stunning vocals and harmonies with the lead voice of Sterpka now more belting and wailing out the agony of what HAD JUST HAPPENED. It was a million years before I found out this band's story, but I always wondered just what made them go for such a resigned and haunting sound. Having read of Lacewing's coming about in Kent Ohio I now am fully aware of what was going on. Lacewing also may be more British leaning because they were disgusted and sick of America and all the lame country rock bands out there who give that genre a bad name. There is no old time Mama And Apple Pie tired out Americana here and that makes me particularly love Lacewing. "Our World (It Can Happen)" is another song that is filled with soaring harmonies and lyrics about how evil is ever coming about in America making the country a shameful monstrosity, but without the heavy handedness that would make it mean and cynical in the hands of some stupid band like Jefferson Airplane.
     "Time To Go" is a short romantic ballad and the only song with a Mary Sterpka compositional credit (with bass guitarist Jeff Curry). The words are about the end of what seemed like a perfect  relationship with more great vocals and harmonies. This track, perhaps because of the whining guitar solo, reminds me of a premonition of the Little River Band a bit, but much, much darker. If Lacewing had left America, gone to the UK where they sound like they are already from, and settled there chances are their story would not have been such a short chapter in the history of rock. This is not an album to be overlooked or passed up- if you ever see a clean copy (it has to be clean for this kind of mellower music) for offer at a fair price buy this album!
     Side Two begins with a two part suite called "Epicycle (The Storm and Rebirth)" and on this uncharacteristically loud and manic rocker the sadness gives way to some real venom and a slamming of what a lie America had turned into. Mary Sterpka sings it brilliantly and the harmonies are again of the highest quality, but this fiercer track is more like hybrid of Deep Purple and the one time the Airplane were a great band- early on around the time of Surrealistic Pillow which granted is a classic album.
     I'm not a Jefferson Airplane fan. I think they were a band more about spreading hate than love and are overrated, but I will admit that some of their music in the very beginning of their career deserves all the praise it gets. It wasn't like Grace Slick couldn't sing you'd have to be insane to say that it was more like she wasn't as good as she thought she was and had a voice that was too cold and mechanical sounding once they got to the dreadful Crown Of Creation and Volunteers was only a little better.
   After the harsh and crashing sounds of "The Storm" comes one of the first atmospheric experimental passages in American progressive rock "Rebirth" which is all overdubbed instrumental dream-like guitar with a volume pedal and a few other effects bringing to mind Robert Fripp.
     "Play For You" is another different sounding kind of track- a rocker with raunchy bluesy vocals and progressive keyboard/guitar interplay. Sterpka belts it out great and the whole band just take off and cook. No other female vocal American 70s record I can think of has quite the same level of astonishing progressive brilliance as Lacewing. They are the American Parlour Band and a group worthy of  the use of the big word revolutionary.  Lacewing get slammed by most Mainstream freaks because they aren't garage psych, but when Mainstream was getting strange with who they signed was when they were getting tasty! I love all of it both the best of the 60s garage popsike and heavy ones and the 70s underground bands, but as said Mainstream did nothing for the bands they signed up. No promotion is always a bad strategy and something of an American label disease which would later destroy any hope for success and make the whole grunge hype sell millions with the evil labels and evil MTV putting all the effort into shit bands like Kurt "Asshole" Cobain's Nirvana who did a large part of killing off great rock music. Lacewing were a band around at a time when most bands if they didn't make it with one record would just pack it in and go look for regular jobs. It was very good when Eric Carmen and The Raspberries made it in a big way because it opened up so much more room and brought so much more hope to really brilliant bands.
      "Galvanized Midget" is an instrumental and ends the album with cartoon like keyboards and some brilliant guitar work from Bob Webb. I strongly suggest going on a big search for this album. It won't be easy to come across, but is much easier than some of the really impossible to locate records from rock's golden era. You will find on Lacewing some of the best music ever laid down. I sincerely hope all the band members are still alive and actively playing and singing. If you find this album you will find THE BEST!
    I would recommend you to look into the American Midwest bands further as they seem to like the British and they also seem to be good at making Crosby, Stills and Nash sound like amateurs (that's amazing!)! CSNY didn't have great songs all the time they merely had some great songs. It's an eerie coincidence that their best song was Canadian genius Neil Young's "Ohio" which you all are aware of is an attack on Nixon and the Ohio National Guard. Neil and the lads would love Lacewing's album. I'm sure if you like harmony rich music Lacewing and some other great Midwest bands such as Jake Jones and The Damnation Of Adam Blessing will be a rewarding listen for you. The Midwest was a place where bands had to fight against all kinds of evils and so was the South which also produced many of our best bands and many of our worst (I despise nearly all Southern Rock). The East Coast had also many attributes and so did California with loads of great bands, but equal to the great vibes of the West and East the Midwest was where the most progressive music was being created somewhere back in the distant days of musical experimentation with no cares for record sales and the entire emphasis was on making great music. Look for Lacewing and also look for my next entry which should be somewhat less of a huge space in time.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

To The Lovely Jinx Dawson And Her Coven- You Are A Catalyst And A Beautiful Woman

Sorry for the long wait in publishing a post again!. I've been having a lot of serious issues that I won't bore you with here, but there's been a lot of good ideas and a lot of great music. The summer is here and the time is right for dancing in the street! Well, I don't feel like dancin', but I just might this time around if I can get past the nightmares that attack me during waking hours...
     New favourites and old favourites can oftentimes be the same thing and then there's things that are a huge let down and that I was wrong about a million years ago. Perfect cases in point are my huge shock in a bad way at hearing Vinnie Vincent Invasion's All Systems Go again for the first time in 26 years and the huge revelation of hearing and becoming a huge fan of Jinx Dawson and her groundbreaking music with Coven. A new album is supposed to be out there, but no one seems to have it... What A shame, but it was always hard for this magical woman and her magical friends.
     While All Systems Go doesn't ever go anywhere except down the loo (what an awful album- just unforgivably bad! then, I ain't a big Kiss fan, but I am a big Slaughter/Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum fan and this is not how I want to hear them!) Coven which I hated and destroyed 21 years ago when I was 17 have over time really developed into a band that are more than a band and dare I say more than even what the word "Magic" can conjure up!
     Jinx Dawson and most of Coven originally came from Indiana and then settled in Chicago. Jinx is still beautiful and was always the best looking and singing and writing all at once (!) female singer so what held her back? Why didn't things work out except for one horrible hit which was really just her solo with an orchestra ("One Tin Soldier" from the movie about a massacre on a reservation Billy Jack)? Well, there's a lot going on here and Jinx was always a revolution in one person. Coven, like no other band before them, were the first group to stage a kind of occult rock theater and since Jinx was born into a family of magical heritage and illustrious background she and her buddies in Coven follow The Left Hand Path. Often mislabeled as "Satanists" I'm afraid I'm gonna have to tell all you narrow minded people she is not Satanic nor is the band and The Left Hand Path is a lot more complicated than that. 
     Coven may have been in a darker realm, but no other band summed up the death of a beautiful dream and the beginning of a huge period of some kind of soul searching. Back in 1967 Arthur Lee And Love had made the amazing and not always cheerful masterpiece FOREVER CHANGES which prophetically hinted at the cracks in the dream of the 60s and peace, flowers, and love. By the time Coven formed in 1968 some horrible things were happening to people all over the world and Jinx as a then 17 year old herself and her somewhat older band-mates Christopher Nielsen (Vocals, guitar), Mike "Oz Osbourne (bass and way, way before Ozzy!), and a drummer who was there from the beginning I'm hazy about the name of now (very sorry! If you read this correct me!), and then later on John Hobbs on keyboards were more a different kind of 60s people than your average Satanic thug. Black Sabbath, it's time for you to admit that Coven existed long before you and beat you to the whole occult thing you never were a part of really till the great Tony Martin too who you sacked without even telling him he was fired ! I love Sabbath, one of my favourite bands, but they went way too far in ripping Coven off and getting people to be selfish drug addicts. Jinx is angry at Sabbath still and with good reason Coven savaged their dressing room by spray painting inverted crosses in blood the one time they were on the same bill. If that wasn't paying them back I don't know what is!
     Coven were a band who would go through some different things, some chameleon-like changes almost in their musical approach, but always were a heavy psychedelic band with their roots in folk, heavy metal pioneering, and West Coast psychedelic rock that sends Jefferson Airplane straight into oblivion and beats them at everything they ever tried to do! Also, they were early purveyors of progressive rock and rock theater and Jinx was only 18 just a year older than the already amazing beginning of the band at 17 when their masterful Witchcraft was released.
    This album says it all. I am looking for an original copy, am steering you away from the sickening Akarma bootleg which I WILL NOT PURCHASE (!), and am avidly playing the album to death on YouTube since it inspired a whole opera from me last year! Witchcraft sums it all up. The dream of peace, flowers, and tranquility was dashed to a sad and mournful grave starting in a rather creepy way at the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968 and ending with what would have the album pulled by their know-nothing label Mercury- the disgusting, horrific, and sicker than sick Manson Family Murders. Had people tried all that time for it to just blow up like this!? Had nothing been accomplished!? Had the dream of peace been in vain!? I'm sorry, but in disgusting America it was demolished, yes, but adjustments would be made and psychedelic rock, progressive rock, all the great music would survive worldwide just in a very different way.  In America the 70s would continue to produce a lot of great music, but a clear path to take disappeared and led to something pretty tasty in the end. Also, it must be stressed that people would continue to be free spirited just more with their guard up. It was a time when things were changing, but not altogether in a bad way. Unfortunately, however, the 60s would from the time of the Kent State shootings on (great military eh? FUCK 'EM!) be dashed to a grave of more violent political outbursts and hard times living out what was a dream.
       Witchcraft is an album you have to play with an open mind. You have to free yourself of all prejudice and just listen to Jinx's banshee wails and sweeter phrasings. You have to groove with Nielsen's psychedelic guitar work. The lyrics are all about violent magical happenings and events in history. The songs are sophisticated and haunting. Jinx already was asserting herself as a catalyst, prodigy, and great writer. I really think that Coven are one of the great bands and as they evolved their abilities would grow even more. This album tells you in the most blatant manner about the destruction of the dreams of people who were trying to stop this country from destroying the world. There are no songs about war and no songs with political sentiments, but through the netherworld of darker magic we hear all we need to hear and Coven's atmospheric sound won't let go of you when you open your mind and heart and soul to it. The first track a full year before the band of the same name's first album had been written is "Black Sabbath." This demonic psychedelic number is really something incredibly good! Listen to Jinx wail and roar, listen to all the effects, listen to the progressive structuring- an amazing song! The album is full of songs like the haunting ballad "Portrait" where Jinx sings beautifully, the Airplane style yet way better psych-rock of "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge," and the psychedelic masterpiece "Coven In Charring Cross" which together with the amazing rock song "The White Witch Of Rose Hall" (who really existed) are major standouts on an album only marred by the inclusion of the groundbreaking, but impossible unless you could have seen them do it live "Black Mass." Jinx takes early Grace Slick and way beats her out. The Jefferson Airplane had begun as one of our brightest bands, but only for the first three albums and destroyed by the sick and nasty and disgusting Crown Of Creation (Crap And Destruction is what I call it!!!) which ended them for me. You can't write songs that are as sick as that album's closing track "House At Pooneil Corner" (about nuclear holocaust and knowing nothing on that subject! Listen instead to Denmark's Pretty Maids earthshaking "Future World" on that subject from way later in 1986 when people knew more) nd the horrifying "Curse Of The Witches" by The Strawberry Alarm Clock and get away with it. It only shows you have no conscience and nothing else.
      Coven's first album was greeted with horrible reviews, an impossibility to play most of it live at regular clubs, and the sad simple fact it was too ahead of its time to sell. The album was not seen in the right way and Jinx at one gig was confined to having to do the between songs talking in Latin! Jinx, in an interview I heard, says that later in their career they were almost murdered and just barely escaped! So there's American Freedom (up your arse Amerika!) for you! Coven scared stupid people shitless. And people who would love their music couldn't get Witchcraft when Mercury pulled it from release when Rolling Stone showed a picture of horrible and should-be-dead Charles Manson holding it in one of their issues. Jinx wants all of you to know that COVEN HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MANSON AND DO NOT SUPPORT MURDER! It was time for some vengeance. Coven got that vengeance by burning Mercury's offices and fleeing to the friendly company of Frank Zappa and his Mothers Of Invention (this was the early 70s era Mothers to be exact and I love you  Frank rest in peace)  in L.A. Zappa took the band under his wing and the whole Zappa and Mothers band took really good care of the disillusioned Coven.
        Coven wanted to play live. They wanted to take their music to new levels, but it would only be in a very different way that they could mature as a band and take themselves into their best musical and songwriting abilities. Unfortunately, fame and fortune took Jinx and nearly demolished her career in the process when Linda Ronstadt (the lark voiced Linda who is suffering horribly now) who was then with Zappa wasn't available to sing the theme song in 1972 for a movie about a massacre on a reservation (shame on the White fools for putting the Natives there!) called Billy Jack and Jinx was kind of pushed into it. A solo performance of Jinx and orchestra the sad and heartbreaking, but TOO SAD AND HEARTBREAKING "One Tin Soldier" was already a hit for Canadian band The Original Caste (it was actually stolen from them by Lambert and Potter) and Coven would ultimately get credited for Jinx's version when it had nothing to do with Coven. The song shot up the charts and MGM signed Coven to a tiny imprint called something like "Sunshine Snake." That's all that the success had done for them after the commercial flop of a brilliant band effort.
       It wasn't what the band wanted, but they'd take the huge hit and they tried at that point with John Hobbs on keyboards to make a new fresh start musically. Taking the Chicago blues, progressive rock, and their psychedelic ambitions along with hard rock and pop in equal alignment Coven made quite a good album with their self-titled second in 1972, but it was miles from their original intentions and curiously Nielsen's bluesy rock vocals were featured more than Jinx's on Side Two. Chris and Jinx probably both decided on that and John Hobbs turned out to be a fantastic keyboard player. It was time for Coven to lick their wounds. In America at that time music was a bit behind the rest of the world and in a strange place, but for the most part a good one. Unlike the more musically evolving and exciting Germany, England, and Scandinavia America was not really and never will be as good at music on a large scale despite our size. Also, America never was the country it puffs itself up about being when it comes to that now vomit-inducing word "Freedom," This was the Nixon era and a bad, bad, BAD(!) time.  However, bands were beginning as far back as 1970 to get mad and get even with the political situation and the industry and I in no way shape or form hate American bands. People were still trying and for Coven in particular it was gonna be a fight against all the crookedness and bullshit. They would run into more difficulties when the new sound didn't take off and it was really upsetting and hard to believe that Jinx and the whole band were being given such a horrendous treatment. The band were just beginning the battle, however, and would go out musical champions!
     Two full years went by before Coven's final and best album Blood On The Snow now on Buddha Records (their third label). It was released in a striking watercolour gatefold with very dark allusions including Jinx licking a skull. The album came out rather unnoticed, but it  brought down all the competition. Blood On The Snow was Coven without any strings being pulled. This album was a new beginning for just one record, a bright warm day in the middle of a long cold spell, and the best American album of the early 70s all rolled into one! With Jinx singing beautifully or wailing her heart out and the band playing with the tight discipline only hinted at on the previous 1972 album listen to Blood On The Snow and it's clear that Jinx created what would be chart-topping hugeness for the Buckingham/Nicks era Fleetwood Mac and Anne Wilson in Heart. So a career that began with theft resulting in fame for another band would end with knowing loving tribute I think more so this time. Anne Wilson and Stevie Nicks have never been vicious and mean people who lie through their teeth.
     Blood On The Snow is a different kind of an album and is more similar to the progressive rock and melodic power pop things going around, but not going around enough. Coven were now back to sounding more British/American combined, but in a very different light. Jinx proved she could master beautiful vocals with intelligent lyrics and some things were sneaked by Buddha who were paying no attention to the band. "I Need A Hundred Of You" is a masterpiece with subtle witchy leanings in the lyrics and lovely vocals from Jinx, "Don't Call Me" starts the record off with a hard rocking fist in the face like the best of early Heart before early Heart (!), "This Song's For All You Children" is achingly soul-searching and full of love, and the album is wonderful from start to finish.  Other amazing tracks are "Lady-O" which is a beautiful pop/rock song and the epics "Blue Blue Ships" and "Lost Without A Trace." Also of note is the sly cover of "Easy Evil" an old soul standard and Chris Nielsen's fun, sassy, and great rocker "Hide Your Daughters." The album closes with the dark and chaotic psychedelic freakout mastery of the title track. Coven's best and by far one of the best albums in the whole entire history of rock in this sick country that would soon destroy Coven's career.
     There are no weak links here, and Coven across three albums had made three wondrous albums, but unfortunately this movie wasn't gonna end with our heroes triumphing and going out with a huge bang of success. No, Coven would be victims of real and frightening violence and derision against them for their whole career and when they were nearly murdered I'm pretty sure that was the end.  Misunderstandings, poor management, too far ahead of the time, it was all working against a band who later WOULD BE HAILED AS HEROES. Jinx and the band just sort of fell into disarray and after 1975 Coven were no longer around. In 1975 there had been no albums, but a great song and video you can see and hear on YouTube called "Come In Out Of The Rain." Coven also invented videos before MTV with the wild and demonic video for "Blood On The Snow" I might add. Coven and Jinx weren't going to sulk and whine and moan. For them their music and their magic had always come before any kind of commercial breakthrough. They were a real band. They are still playing together and planning some new exciting things and Jinx is a happy beautiful woman. I must stress how beautiful Jinx is both in her appearance and as a person. I usually, as a gay man, am not very interested in having much to do with the opposite sex, but Jinx would make a great friend and a great teacher. She rejects Christianity for the same reasons I do and she practices magic and comes from a family tradition that is strong, resilient and proud. I love Jinx. I have dreams where she makes them wonderful dreams. Jinx, if you happen to read this I hope your career has in bringing you a following of devoted music and magic lovers brought you what you hoped it would bring you. Coven and Jinx, keep the music alive. Thank you so much for the inspiration and the courage you give to me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Megaton And The Die Anderen Trilogy Of Brilliance Megaton Especially Hitting The Right Spot

Some American bands are great. Some I'd be glad to have in my collection if I could find them, but how many stupid Grateful Dead wannabes and loser bar band and supper club lounge rock records does one country need!!!!? None is the answer, but we have about a zillion. From the trash pop of The Frederic down to the morbid sickness and irritatingly talentless Strawberry Alarm Clock there are so many bad American records you could, if your taste was bad enough, have about 600 horrible American albums. At a time when exciting music was being produced in this country so was absolute drivel and the sheer volume had a lot to do with it. Everybody wanted to get in on every trend that was going on in America from the psychedelic era through the metal era. It would not sour completely until grunge and alternative came along, but there were too many bands without enough to say or enough musical abilities to make them worthwhile. Megaton have few American bands who can match their quality, but in all fairness for brilliance you'd have trouble beating them out with a lot of good to even great British bands. Megaton were long believed to be British because of the ultra rare and expensive UK press on Deram (which I could have had for $60 back in 1994 and didn't even have that much money then....), but that is completely wrong. They were basically a studio project formed by British vocalist Jimmy Bilsbury previously of The Magic Lanterns and ex members of the German group Die Anderen which had made two amazing albums one called KANNIBAL KOMIX and the other under the moniker Apocalypse. I could go on further in my introduction, but let me get straight to the point here: Megaton is the best album there is in a loaded genre and for the expensive price tag on any pressing of it by now they are a case of quality matching the rarity and expense. As the German press sounds amazing I'm very happy with it and when you consider this is a German based record it also makes more sense to own it as a German original issue.
So you're probably wondering now what makes these two albums so good. Read further.
              -Megaton's Amazing One Off Masterpiece A Classic Of Hard Rock Pop Psych-
      Megaton are astonishingly good. This album is a masterpiece and an unlikely pairing of 60s influenced pop hooks, early 70s melodic rock, and all out screaming Led Zeppelin alike hard rock riffs and vocals. Personally, this is a better album to me than Elias Hulk as much as I love them and wish I owned their record. The vocals are better, the songs are better, and so is the playing. A unique album, it actually is the third in the Die Anderen trilogy with a new singer/co writer in Englishman Jimmy Bilsbury who had been the lead singer in the fantastic pop rock group Magic Lanterns. As far off from them as you can get is what you'll hear from him in Megaton. He sings with some real ferocity and throws in the Robert Plant wailings here too. His tough R&B gets an extra push from his unexpected banshee-like screeches. There is plenty of variety in Megaton too. There's great melodies, really impressive and lighthearted much of the time lyrics, sharp cutting guitar work, and awesome riffs in every song. For my ears this is a dream record- perfect from start to finish.
     "Out Of Your Own Little World" reminds me of what would happen if Steve Winwood had stepped into Led Zeppelin with pop hooks and thickly German accented harmonies. Bilsbury sounds amazing- spot on! Also, the extended guitar solo is mind melting. The vocals couldn't be stronger or better, the melodies are awesome, and you'll groove on the Latin percussion rhythms which are another Megaton trademark. Where Apocalypse were as dark and menacing as their name implies Megaton are very different from that. The band Die Anderen changed from album to album and this album seems to capture the best of early 70s melodic hard rock as much as Kannibal Komix is a great pop psych record and Apocalypse is fantastic for a heavy psychedelic freak out album. I'd suggest tracking down all three, but get the German of Kannibal Komix as the triple foldout cover and sound quality beat the shit out of the American issue which also omits "Die Anderen" as the band name. The band didn't do very well commercially at the time and for no good reason Megaton did not reverse this trend. Not enough people could hear them at the time and as they didn't really do much outside of the studio they partially have only got themselves to blame or else thank because they made music they believed in and music that mattered maybe unfortunately only to them at the time. Megaton, however, I think well should have made them a worldwide sensation. From the powerhouse riffing to the melodic rock last two tracks which are outstanding this album packs the best of everything in.
     "Niagara" and "Wanna Be A Hero" are two more hard rockers with classy guitar work, frantic vocals, and in the latter some excellent anti war lyrics. "Niagara" is a nonsense lyric that may only have sense in him blowing off every girl who tries to turn him on whilst "Wanna Be A Hero" is an angry slamming of the consequences of pointless warfare. The cutting lyrics attack every war as a blatant abuse of human rights and a brainwashing of young people to go off and get killed for their country with the heroic actions not worth the losses. I would agree. Most of Megaton is about having  a good time, but one serious track is a nice change of pace from the carefree nature of the rest of the album. Give full marks to the whole band- this is superb musicianship mixed with sloppy raw power reminding me a good deal of the UK bands Stray and Free as well as Led Zeppelin. Dare I say even better than the nearly equally awesome Leafhound!? I think I would say that!
       "Fairy Tale Song" captures Megaton at their most out of this world nonsensical with screaming crazed vocals turning Alice In Wonderland into something only Jimmy Bilsbury could make sense of. For the fiercest track on the album it's also lyrically the most humourous together with Side One's closing track "Coo Cooki Choo." Megaton is hard rock with killer pop hooks. Catchy music for when you feel down and depressed. If you want an album that will pick you up look no further. I want to dance to this album when I play it. I always shake around and move a lot when it's on. It makes me feel brilliant! Personally, I'm a big fan of Magic Lanterns and British pop in general. I also love some American 60s through 80s pop. There is a bit of The Grass Roots during their peak in here too which is fine with me. I think that "Shame Shame" is a great song, but is outclassed by other tracks on the Magic Lanterns' album which have more depth to them. The Magic Lanterns albums were a solid thing for Jimmy Bilsbury to use as a springboard for when Megaton mixed the solid pop with solid hard rock. If you want really furious loud blasting dark hard rock then look elsewhere. If you have an open mind and especially if you like melodic hard rocking albums look no further.
      "Coo Cooki Choo" is as you can guess from the title a bright, silly, fun, happy track about getting high and having a good time. I can get high on music I don't need drugs. There's a lot of congas, timbales, marracas, etc on this album with Latin and African rhythms lending some exotica to the songs. I like percussive grooving riff heavy rock a lot so this is really cool- you can dance to it as I said. The world is a very upsetting place. People are selfish slime a lot of them and politicians lie through their teeth at us. It was a different place back then, although the issues go back a million ages. When I'm sick of the world and sick of other people bringing me down I go to music for the cure that never fails. I love "Coo Cooki Choo," but don't let this song make you think smoking tons of pot will solve your problems- you will end up brain damaged! Drugs were one of the main things that demolished the 60s. The more drug use there was the less real issues were being solved. People's fantasies that they thought drugs would bring out more instead turned to a nightmare. With the high casualty count of drugs and alcohol it's pointless to argue against my anti drug beliefs. I saw what it did to my mates in high school and it was a major tragedy to have to break off every friendship I had when the damage of drug intake ruined all of them. I love "Coo Cooki Choo" for how fun it is, but don't think this good time lyric about marijuana makes it or any other drug a good way out.
      Side Two is in some ways even better than Side One. It continues the solid rock, but progressively the songs get more melodic rock/pop oriented and Bilsbury sings so well you just won't believe how good this guy is! His performances in every track on Megaton put him up there with the best. I mean the best. Steve Winwood, Paul Rodgers, Robert Plant, Rod Stewart, Glenn Hughes- this guy is up there with them all! "Carry It On At The End" is almost Afro Rock- lots of rhythms, tribal harmonies, and some unexpected Reggae influences also. Not being afraid to try new things is always good. If you want hard rock with a high freakiness factor this is closer to the great band Lake than hard rock or Lucifer's Friend at their most straightforward and least histrionic. It rocks and rocks hard, but the melodically oriented songwriting which for some people will leave them wanting something more noise than content have always had me convinced this is better than nearly all the most over the top screaming albums of the time especially some of the utterly horrendous sub Deep Purple bands of whom only Warhorse is worth investigation. I won't name anyone specifically, but I think you may know who I mean. Leafhound is a great record, one of the best ever, but remember that Pete French is a real singer and Leafhound had real songs. Some people put Megaton and Leafhound down because they don't fit in with Stonewall or the other American rubbish bands of that all screaming no melody kind. You're better off with New York Dolls and Aerosmith. I think you get my point. Melody is needed in hard rock. Where would Sabbath have been without it!? NOWHERE! Black Sabbath, the classic bands, they don't include Deep Purple for me as if I want something out there I prefer it to at least have some intelligence. Do I really have to say it? Iron Maiden- that is where I draw the line. I like some of it, but you won't find any of their albums in my collection. Judas Priest did it a lot better. Bruce Dickinson's tantrums and screaming fits are done in by more interesting singers such as Tony Mills in Shy and that other Tony dude Tony Harnell before TNT sold out on INTUITION. Back in the 70s there seemed to be more of an emphasis on songs and melodies which by the 90s were killed off by noise. I love heavy metal. It's one of my favourite kinds of music, but I want my metal with substance.
      The further Megaton get into Side Two the more melodic the songs get and "Woman I'm Gonna Make You Mine" rocks with great soulful vocals, driving guitar riffs, and Bilsbury's trademark boogie rock piano which brings to mind some of Peter Hecht's work in Asterix and the band they became Lucifer's Friend.  Do you Like John Lawton? You'll like Bilsbury. I love them both! "Woman I'm Gonna Make You Mine" I wish had been a hit. I'd way rather hear any song off Megaton than the throw-it-out-the-window rubbish of the Doobie Brothers who for me are probably the worst of the worst from America in the 70s. Jeff Skunk Baxter's name is true only in that all he can do is stink, but he ain't cute like a skunk more like a pile of crap! If I start to hear a Doobie Brother's song I scream for the station to be changed. Awful! My most hated commercial rock hit of the 70s indeed is "Listen To The Music" which is utterly useless. If I want commercial I'll stick with The Eagles thank you.
       There is nothing wrong with radio friendly music and I don't understand what the big problem with that is supposed to be. If a song is catchy and quality at the same time how can you put it down and trash it? Megaton will not be your cup of tea if you are a snob. So don't be such a snob! People get into some strange things. They don't like melodic progressive rock so for them it starts and ends with Canterbury Fusion which I've never liked. Early Soft Machine is awesome and so is early Caravan, but they wrote real songs. The vocals were not tuneless they were just under the music. I usually prefer the vocals to be right on top of the music which is how they are in Megaton also in most AOR. So the question can be asked about Megaton as a proto AOR band. I would say definitely yes, but AOR of a different kind. This is a unique album. The production job is a bit rawer than the music itself which is very radio geared, but also very clever. There's some outright weirdness too.
     "Man In An Aeroplane" is the strangest track on the record and leans towards progressive pop without the form and structure of the other songs. This track sounds like Die Anderen in a weird and experimental version of God Knows What! Unreal to the point of surreal. A lot of Megaton is coming out of what happened to Germany in World War 2 and that is common for German records of the 70s. It was an awful and tragic loss that saw a madman rise to power and abuse his own people to the point of utter devastation and the crushing of a whole world in war. War is the worst thing. I don't understand the point of getting young men killed for an "idea." That idea is always ill-founded and a lie. We haven't learned. "Man In An Aeroplane" is about a guy who runs out of gas in his plane on a mission and who falls into a well. Not a happy lyric.
      After the one downer come the two most perfect upbeat songs of Anglo/Germanic pop rock before Lake "Life Was Easy Yesterday" and "Tomorrow Never Comes My Way." No other record I can think of has two songs this good to close the album. The melodies are fantastic and the Elton John influences I'm fine with! I love some of Elton John's songs and these two would have fit well on one of his early records or on the Orange Bicycle record which featured three John/Taupin covers. However, the sound is more European and more like Lake who may well be my favourite band. "Life Was Easy Yesterday" is sparkling pop- wonderful! The groovy piano riffs and sweet harmonies are awesome. "Tomorrow Never Comes My Way" is a great melodic pop/rock song with emotive soulful vocals and a surprisingly Band influenced pastoral take on early 70s rock. I've not mentioned The Band before as only in this song is the influence really visible, but they did a lot for music. In many ways they ushered in the 70s with their melody rich songs and earthy warm vocals. The Band were catalysts. So were The Hollies, but unfortunately the promise of the two didn't last as long as I wish it had. I guess you get a bit of everything on Megaton. Find this album, please track it down. It really is special and you can't lose. I would say that here there is the absolute zenith of the early 70s- the very best there is! Music from a time that I can happily imagine when I listen to all the great classic 60s/70s/80s rock bands. Keep an open mind and you'll be surprised at what you'll find!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fields From The UK Give Good Vibes In Bad Times + How To Face An Uncertain Future Wish I Knew!

I was sick for nearly the whole month of April. At the beginning of the month I was looking forward to the great records I would be getting for my regrettably 38th birthday (with my trouble-plagued life I don't think I wanted to live this long that's how I feel a lot of the time unfortunately), but when my birthday came I'd already had horrible bronchitis for a week and would continue to have it for another week and even at the end of May I'm still sick with the after effects and what may be another plague. Personal stuff I know, but when life is shite I feel like letting you know why my life has been SO SHITE THAT I COULDN'T GET BACK HERE FOR OVER A MONTH!
                 -A Lot Of Great Music Came, But The Biggest One Was Not The Most Expensive Fields And Megaton Are The Two Best-
It's nice to have all the great records I got for my birthday, but the one that cost the most although an absolute masterwork by an unlikely name  (Incredible Hog- how much stupider a name could there be for a serious band?) is outclassed by two old standbys that I now fortunately have back- Fields from England on Dutch original press and the German/Anglo Megaton. All three however, are albums made at a time when anything in the world seemed possible. England was full of amazing bands as was most of Europe. Incredible Hog play music that is melodic heavy psych with brutal lyrics to a lot of the tracks and that downer vibe may be one reason why I listen more to Fields and Megaton. Fields gave me a lot of listening pleasure when I first heard it and it most certainly has not tarnished with the passing of the years. The songs are uniformly excellent and the performances stunning in their power, depth, and feeling. I would say that Incredible Hog takes some time to get used to the various different things going on which have me convinced about the quality, but the lyrics could have been a bit less like a sledgehammer and more like the whimsical nature of the group's name. You still should look for it, though, but look for Fields and the more affordable German original of Megaton (somewhat more affordable than over $1,000 that is!!!) first.
Fields from 1971 were a break off group by Graham Field of Rare Bird who sought to form a more down to earth band than the pretentious prog rock of his former group with Andrew McCullough from King Crimson's seminal LIZARD on drums and vocalist/session guitarist Alan Barry making a huge difference. Although Fields are a trio they have a far richer sound than Rare Bird who were a quartet with the rather risky instrumentation of two keyboards and no guitar. Graham Field wrote or co wrote much of Rare Bird's material on their first two albums, but he was saving his best or just put more into it to make it his best for Fields.
     The difference is remarkable. Alan Barry replaces the low bellowing harshness of Steve Gould with a high pitched, strong, and piercing yet very melodic voice and Fields may best be described as an early Pomp Rock band where British melodic rock and progressive inclinations meet. I've known Fields for a very long time, but I never lose interest in music that never loses impact. So here's the secret formula to making music that works- you go for strong songs AND THEN THE CHOPS!
I will give a song by song analysis as part 2 of my entry here on Fields and the also brilliant and amazing Anglo/German hard rock pop psych masters Megaton are gonna be my next post.
                 -Fields Put Together One Of The Strongest Albums Ever Made Here Are The Songs-
     The first track "A Friend Of Mine" begins with epic classically inspired organ solos and riffs supported by virtuoso bass from Alan and astonishingly played drums from Andrew who was a key contributor into why LIZARD may have been King Crimson's career best. Then there are a few notes ringing out bell like from the organ before the song settles into a beautiful romantic sparkling progressive pop number that features great lyrics, soaring vocals, and amazing playing from all three of the musicians. I think Graham Field faced up to the whole truth behind why Rare Bird were at best a pretty good and never a great band and at worst dire. The problem with Rare Bird was the plodding samey tempos, the overindulgent strained vocals, and hackneyed lyrics that too often replaced the good things that the band had. Fields made me lose interest in Rare Bird. I had been a huge fan of them before I heard songs like "A Friend Of Mine" where the pretentious doom-obsessed musings are left to bands more capable of that kind of very English darkness. Fields have an optimism about them that's much more refreshing than the always brooding nature of Rare Bird's music.
      "While The Sun Still Shines"  is an Alan Barry composition. Graham Field wrote most of the album and Alan Barry contributed 3 songs. This song is very melodic pop rock with strong vocals, great melodies, and that missing ingredient from Rare Bird- a guitar! Alan is quite a good guitar player and a fantastic singer. His voice is on the high end of tenor, but never shrill or overindulgent. I don't think anyone could possibly dislike this album if they are in their right mind. It's a good pick up album when I'm depressed. I sure can't say that for Rare Bird! The words to this song are all about traveling and being carefree, going wherever you may go to find that most elusive thing many of us, me included, have none of- a comfortable life.
    "Not So Good" takes the concept of protest and statement songs and doesn't bash them into you. Instead, this song is something I can agree with completely. Like what comes before it and after it the whole sound is far off from Rare Bird, so far off that it makes me wonder if Rare Bird had the same effect on Graham Field that they have on me! Rare Bird fans will rave about his keyboards, but they'll need to make their ears a lot more open minded to appreciate Fields for what they are- a band between progressive, power pop, and rock not the bombast of Graham Field's former group. "Not So Good" is about growing troubles in England and the world. People are unhealthy and selfish and politicians never stop scheming and doing wrong. The lyrics are particularly concerned with environmental issues and political intrusion into the vast public's lives. Sort of a 1984 like concept, but not as dark as that would suggest. Sadly, today's world is exactly what "Not So Good" is a protest about- "We've got to fight and hold it tight/We've lost our air/Lost our food/Our clothes and homes/Don't touch our minds" is the key line in the chorus. The melodies are more Beatles than Keith Emerson and the vocal is high and confident which again put the song at odds with what Rare Bird had done.
     "Three Minstrels" is a very romantic and uplifting song about 3 musicians who make magical happiness with Medieval folk influences in the phrasing of the verses and the lyrics and pure rock for the basis of the song. It doesn't get more perfect than this song and usually "perfect" doesn't exist. I would, again, not suggest this to progressive only buffs, but I would say that a lot of the early progressive bands aimed at writing melodic songs so you should give Fields a try even if you are an arch prog fanatic which oddly I was when I first got into their album. "Three Minstrels" is Yes if they were a rock band not a progressive rock band with long tracks or Genesis without the dithering they occasionally wandered into. Yes combined progressive with solid rock so there's a bit of a similarity between them and Fields particularly in the vocal department. I think Jon Anderson is the best voice in the world of progressive rock together with Peter Gabriel at his best. Both of them had a warmth and honesty that many other singers in that genre lack. A human element must be retained. I would say that despite the fact that he was always overdoing it and going crazy Martin Griffiths in Beggar's Opera more so because of his weaknesses than his strengths sounded human and listenable, but for bad machine made prog I think you know what's coming- Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and their ilk. Unlike some people who laugh at E.L.P and find them unintentionally funny I find it sad. Three of the best musicians in the world and they just didn't ever gel for a full album with the promising first 4 albums that all had some good songs giving way to the worst trash ever recorded by a famous progressive band. Pete Sinfield should be ashamed of himself for the lyrics he wrote for them. I saw them live in 1997 and I will have to admit how shockingly good they were in concert. Nobody expected them to put on such a great show. How sad that the hugely talented Emerson, Lake, and Palmer didn't gel on record after some bright spots on their early ones. I prefer The Nice even though I prefer Greg Lake's voice to the harsher Lee Jackson. "Three Minstrels" is what Emerson, Lake, and Palmer would have sounded like had the pretensions been thrown out the window.
     "Slow Susan" is one of two instrumentals. The closing track on side one it certainly is very slow and atmospheric. Fields on the whole are a pastoral progressive rock/pop group of the highest order and it is only because of the Rare Bird connection I think that they aren't mentioned with bands as great as The Parlour Band and The Dog That Bit People. There's some beautiful melodies and a sweet sound to the organ that I wish more progressive bands had. Keyboards are the only instrument here with no drums and I never notice any bass either. It's a solo showcase for the talents of band namesake Field.
      Side Two follows the exact same path as Side One. The first track is the prog rock blow out and then a much more melodic rock oriented sound for the rest of the side. "Over And Over," like "A Friend Of Mine," is a melodic progressive track based around heavy dramatic organ work and strong vocals. Alan Barry's delicious phrasing makes this song great to listen to when you're depressed. So does the sentiment that things are getting better instead of worse. I wish I could say that for my life and for the world. This song has a melodic power and conviction to it that place it up with the best in the progressive genre. There's some roaring organ work, powerful thundering drums, and thick heavy bass capturing a power that E.L.P seldom reached. However, this one track does have some similarities to Emerson Lake and Palmer, but with a Beatles influence (McCartney) that makes it far more palatable. Lyrically, again a statement is made. The song is about how the world is turning into a better place, but how law enforcement is corrupt and vile. It may sound like a "Hippie Sentiment" when actually it is far deeper than that. I find most police now don't abuse their power, but I ran into the most obnoxious bastard in the world last week who happens to be a nasty little cop literally. Don't generalize. This song says not to generalize. It also says a better time is here if we can open up to it.
    "Feeling Free" like "While The Sun Still Shines" on Side One is more melodic rock than progressive rock. Again everything is perfectly done. The melodies are top class, the vocals are great, and the playing is superb. If you're as interested in the evolution of music in the 60s, 70s, and 80s as I am then you'll probably like me find this album to be essential. I never would have imagined so much progress made just by Field starting a new band especially one called "Fields" which gives an impression it will be a showcase for extravagant organ solos. He's clearly more interested in the songs than in showing off his prowess as a master of bashing an organ in. "Feeling Free" is about getting closer to nature, about living in a beautiful house on a hill and appreciating all the beauty that you are ignoring. A very goodhearted song.
   "Fair Haired Lady" is one of two Alan Barry compositions on Side Two of the album and is a wonderful romantic ballad with soothing vocals, acoustic guitar, and sweet woodwinds making for a song that calms the mind instead of bringing you down. Instead of an angst-ridden break up song it simply says "We had a nice thing at the time, but I think I'll move on now." I wish I could find it that easy not to be seduced by happy events in the distant or recent past. This is a really nice and mellow song- very much something that like the whole album could have gained enough airplay to be a hit.
   "A Place To Lay My Head" rocks. It's the rockiest song on the record with sharp guitar lines, strong vocals, and a power pop as opposed to progressive rock sound. Fields broke out of what Rare Bird had been in which was mostly a quagmire of boredom. I know I'm sounding really hard on Graham Field's former band, but I find it irritating that Rare Bird were always going over the top in the wrong way and that Steve Gould had a voice that seemed to be aiming for ugliness. I wish it had been Fields with the long career and not Rare Bird although funnily enough after Graham Field left Rare Bird recorded the excellent melodic progressive album EPIC FOREST which went much more in the direction of The Parlour Band or Fields (I wonder if that was intentional) than anything on their first two releases. Of course, it didn't go over well with their fan base and of course the good period for Rare Bird only lasted for one album. I know how hard I am being on a once favourite band, but ever since I heard Fields I heard what Rare Bird lacked in nearly all aspects of their music. "A Place To Lay My Head" and the whole Fields album couldn't have been done by Rare Bird and I find it very surprising to hear the difference in Graham Field once he's out on his own with total freedom and far superior musicianship and vocals. This is such a great album. An absolute gem and a masterwork.
     "The Eagle" closes the album in splendid fashion and is the third song on the album written by Alan Barry. It's also the most progressive track, an instrumental with guitar featured much more prominently than keyboards. Fields jam here. They stretch out and go for the throat, but keep the strong melodic sense. "The Eagle" also features a mellotron which is a very nice touch to the song. There's lots of amazing guitar work, great melodies, and real power and emotion. This is one of the best albums of progressive melodic rock with wide appeal, great songs, and is uplifting much more so than most progressive albums are maybe because they are more rock oriented than chops oriented. Don't wait until you've finished your progressive listening for the day, put this record on first and take it from there. Anyone who appreciates great music needs to own this amazing album.  Fields are a somewhat harder rocking pastoral progressive/melodic rock band and for that sound their album is one of the best in a genre full of great albums that unfortunately were oftentimes one-offs. Fields would split up after just one album which is really a shame. I wish they could have gone on much longer.
    I don't know where my future is headed. It could be to a brighter life or it could be to an untimely end. I find so much anger and rage in me at things that I can't change or control and that is very hard to deal with. VERY HARD. I wish people would not be so pigheaded, selfish, and bellicose, but all three of those things are what Amerika is all about. This country needs a right proper kick in the arse. We've been abusing each other, abusing the world, and holding the world hostage for too long. I realized a long time ago there was nothing I could do about that, but it doesn't exactly help me to know there isn't anything I can do about it. I would like to make the world a better place, but making my own life a better one is about all I can try to do. I urge people to care more about nature and other people. I have experienced disgusting behavior in the last two months that have made me hate Amerika even more than I already hate it. This country was only good in the 60s and during the part of the 70s where people would rise up and speak out against the injustices of our nation. I would like there to be more upheavals and a heavy punishment sentence handed out to us, but that is unlikely to happen in the near future or at all. I can't resort to irrational behavior. I won't resort to it because it gets me nowhere. I'm hoping for better times ahead and time will show me whether it will be more of the same painful misery or to a happy, safe, and less draining life. Right now music is helping me in a huge way. I suggest it to you as a remedy for your issues. Peace out don't go crazy. Live for the right reasons and the right beliefs. These are things that you and I should know by now are priceless. I wish the good people well and the bad people Hell. Here I sign off and leave you with this recommendation- go for a listen to great favourite music or purchase great music. Give up on the whole political thing because there is no hope for it to improve now that we've been too blind to change it before it could get this ugly. Just live a better life if you can yourself.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

After A Long Low Period My Tale Of Revelations And Finally Becoming A Better Person- Hail Britannia! (Especially The British Army And Royal Navy)

My longest period away from writing a blog entry now will be fully paid back for by a long and extensive look into how much help came my way from the brilliant music of 9.30 Fly and other top flight British bands and the best organization in the world- The British Army.
       Rewind back to January/February of this year I had walking pneumonia and my life was in complete and total disarray and misery. Not only was I physically sick for the entire beginning of this year I was not helping myself get over personal and emotional problems kept private here as all things about even the recent past no longer have any relevance and I've put them in the grave. To face the truth of being a record junkie who was wasting his whole life getting ripped off on Discogs and Musicstack and living in a fabricated view of the past that had brought my life the past 4 years down into a pit of worthlessness came after I was hit by a revelation that came not surprisingly after a long period away from the record addiction. This revelation hit me like a good hard blow and awakened me. Here is my story and I'd especially appreciate any comments from currently serving British soldiers and if someone from 9.30 Fly sees this post.
        There was something known as The British Invasion which happened quite a long time ago that was a musical invasion and a huge earth shaker that leveled the Yanks and changed the world. After the excitement of the early rock and roll era had died music in America had gone stale and nobody would ever have thought that was going to change. It was sterile, boring, uninspired, and America was typically clueless to anything happening elsewhere. Over in the UK in 1962-1963 thousands of bands were in the midst of a revolution. They were picking up their own instruments and invented the "Self Contained Band" which has been firmly in place since The Beatles exploded onto an unsuspecting world in 1963/1964. What had began as Skiffle music took on a new form when early rock, blues, soul, R&B, jazz, folk and other British traditions were joined together in the kind of inventiveness only Britain could come up with. At the start most of this hugely exciting music and cultural revolution was kept to England and Germany where down and out British bands went to work. It would take some time for the music to be good enough for an international breakthrough, but unlike most other inventions musical or otherwise the fine tuning of British rock happened at the speed of light. America was reeling from post war gloom, the Blacklisting and Witch Hunting period, and the shocking assassination of president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. It seemed the country was dead and in true fact it was dead from its inception. Things had to be uprooted and on the unsuspecting Yanks in 1964 The Beatles stormed onto our shores. Who were these guys with their Northern English sexy accents and Mop Top hair who changed the world for good was what most Americans wondered. Soon every girl was in love with John, Paul, George and Ringo and in no time music and the world were changed for eternity by England. The Beatles did what had never been done before and the ensuing "Beatlemania" is hardly anything to be surprised at they were/are so special.
    The Beatles are still something to be marveled at. They did what no one before them had done with four part vocal harmonies, jangling guitars playing chords and scales they themselves created, and went from a well kept British secret who were already adulated in England to a worldwide revolution. The Beatles began like most bands would with a mixture of original material and cover versions, but with each successive album there came more originals, more startlingly exotic sounds, and more maturity to prove this was going to be a lasting phenomenon and soon it wasn't like a dream. The Yanks and the World had been conquered by the British and other bands began to arrive on the scene with in many cases enough power and originality to be as meaningful as The Beatles. America was terrified of England when it came to authorities and parents, but the kids couldn't get enough of The British Invasion. Bands as diverse as the hard blues rock of The Rolling Stones and The Animals, the brash hard rock of The Kinks that would later find Ray and Dave Davies coming up with an entirely different melodic very British brand of storyteller's thinking man's music, and the mellower jazz and Baroque inspired Zombies changed the world for good, but also were banned from touring the States until the stupid bans against these musical warriors got lifted and America was blasted down by thee bands who accomplished what The Redcoats should have accomplished back in the 1700s. Next thing you know America would find itself in the midst of the counterculture and some good homegrown British inspired bands like The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield,  The Doors,  Love, the electric Dylan and actually quite a few others.
      My own life has held a longtime love of England, but I couldn't feel love for way too long I could only dwell on the distant past. It would take England to make me fall head over heels in love and change my life forevermore. What happened was I was beginning to get stronger and heal. I was beginning to spend more and more time away from the deadly sickness accumulating over graded overpriced worthlessness in the mail, and after about 200 disasters too many something had to happen, something huge. Getting back an even better copy of what is one of the rarest British albums and probably the best too 9.30 Fly helped tremendously, but at the beginning of this month I was watching a lot of The British Army on YouTube and spending more time with British soldiers on the phone. The inspiration started to come about and then all of a sudden I was hit by a revelation and a huge awakening. The past was unclouded all of a sudden and the miserable life of being a teenager and all the ugliness of those years was revealed. Then I got inspired to write song lyrics and then before I could go one inch back into the morass I was in I fell madly in love with England again and now began writing about real issues in my life and the real love that took me over and made me the man I am today. I could go on further about how I saw the past for what it was, but since it would be traumatic to relive the lies, destruction, and pain I suffered and inflicted then I will speak no further on the subject. Love is a healthy addiction to have and I'd say the only healthy addiction. When love hits your life so does inspiration and so does a total break from whatever disease you suffer. I will state firmly that if you, like me, have suffered from a devastating addiction the only way you'll ever get over it is to not only replace it, but to take a long hard look at what your life has turned into because of it. Is that easier said than done? Unfortunately, yes. I really was hit by an explosion, rocked to the core by England and my love for that country all of a sudden. It happened as if by magic, but I know something must have grabbed me in my mind and my heart and made me look at the mess I had created and the disaster I had brought on against myself, my family, and my loved ones. All that is dead now, though. All that matters is right now: The Present. Also what matters in a huge way is The Future which will see me back in my true home of England the best country in the world.
    The new lyrics and musical inspirations are a Godsend. I'm no longer afraid to express my desires and beliefs and when I turn the basic songs into actual musical reality it will be amazing. I not only have ditched the addiction, but another awakening is how full of absolute shite the protest movement and all the Do Gooders are. The Hippie movement spawned some amazing music, but most of the amazing music came from England and Europe and was created by an entirely different mindset. 9.30 Fly, Philwit & Pegasus, World Of Oz, and most all of the wondrous music from 1967 through 1989 are a perfect case in point. Kestrel would be another good band to mention. 9.30 Fly is probably the best band to discuss here. Sounding as dark as a Gothic Cathedral, as mystic as a forest full of strange creatures and madcap Human friends dancing about it, as English as the clash of swords in Medieval combat and the roar of guns against an enemy brought to their knees, as English as the majestic beauty of that country itself and people themselves 9.30 Fly despite a horrendous amount of getting slammed by critics are something truly incredible. The group are based around the husband and wife team of Michael (Lead vocals and all songwriting) and Barbara (vocals, keyboards) Wainright and the 7 tracks that make up their album have a dark, haunting, and somewhat eerie yet very evocative sound that ranges from psychedelic folk rock to progressive flourishes with an entirely original take on songwriting and also from guitarist Lyn Oakley savage outbursts of roaring fuzz tone guitar virtuosity. If you were to spend the huge top price on this album you'd not regret a penny of it. Thankfully for me it came as a complete bargain!
     The Anti War movement is bullshit. It isn't "Anti War" it's Anti Soldier created by old farts who know nothing of warfare, nothing of peace, and nothing of life. If peace means sitting on your ass and judging other people's so called "flaws" and "follies" then it is far from what peace actually is. I am not a pacifist and yet I also am not actively in support of conquest. The protestors are way more conformist than who they blame for conformity and just as smug, smarmy, and clueless as their tie for the ultimate evil- politicians. Disowning the protest movement and my hippie past is a huge part of my new life and new look. It would not be an opinion but a statement of fact to say the handsomest, most special, most giving, and closest to the true right way to live with the earth boys and men are British soldiers. I am proud of my passion and love for them and I also am proud of my love for ACTION!
      Adrenalin, action, creativity, power from Nature, this is what the Anti War assholes are trying to keep us from. If you want to join any kind of Left Wing movement do as I have done and fight for The Environment. The more we steal from nature the more the end of the world is going to come faster. If we give into animal temptations, natural instinct, and both the romantic and sexual side of Love the better we will be. You know a movement is a hypocrisy and an evil outmoded lie when it relishes in posting hideous and disturbing images of maimed and slaughtered people on places like YouTube and is undoubtedly getting off on those sick and horrible images. I will not only never attend a protest again I also will never vote again as all politicians are an evil bunch of selfish scumbags. If you find that your life is spiritually and emotionally starving, stuck into a vicious cycle of self-destruction, and without any inspiration or true knowledge whatsoever then look to who will take those ailments and heal them: reach out and support England, seriously consider moving there, and also get closer to nature and others and further away from thinking there is only you. I know I'm  not the only person who suffers adversity. I also know you have to battle through it.
    Music that is created for love of music and creativity mainly comes almost entirely from Britain and Europe, but give full marks to American West Coast based melodic rock, soft rock, and a few choice psychedelic and harder rock outfits who were more interested in the musical and love end of the Counterculture than drug use. For a long period of time everybody looked to the British or blues rock and country rock for inspiration and that is without any doubt the best music and the best period. As far back as the 1966 there were major advancements and from the birth of original material based bands to the oncoming every second it seemed advancements in technology things got tastier and tastier. It's staggering to note that there were musical developments and true cultural revolution going on from those first days of The British Invasion right through to the end of the 1980s where everything went to rot in the 90s except in England where there still were some really great bands like Blur, Portishead, and Radiohead. Most American bands in the 1960s and 1970s who are great wanted to either be from the UK or just make their own kind of melodic rock that would meld both our traditions of blues and soul music with solid British rock. A good protest song can only come from the heart of someone who sides with soldiers and doesn't want them to get slaughtered by politicians and mocked by Goody Goodies. The best is to be found on the aforementioned 9.30 Fly album in that record's closing epic "Time Of War." This stunning progressive rock work of genius with folk and psychedelic leanings follows a young soldier from his desertion in fear from a pointless battle to his fight against those who pursue the clueless young man and try to kill him, to his eventual safety and when the last major vocal part comes in you'll hear England personified in music as you will for the whole album! Michael Wainright's vocals are very mysterious sounding and a bit ominous, but they also are very warm evoking parallels with both folk rock and solid rock vocalists as diverse as Fairport Convention and David Bowie. The song ends with joyous harmonies at the soldier's freedom and escape. I think love and sexual desire are all in all the best subjects to base music on because the whole political thing unless it comes from an emotional standpoint is tiresome. You're better off addressing loneliness and powerlessness in Warfare than the rubbish the protestors and their organizations feed their victims with violence and tired old shit about "baby killers" and all that garbage. No good anti war song has been written by Do Goods as they only Do Bad.
         My journey through life's main goal is to find love, but you can only gain love through trust and finding somebody or a group you love and can imagine spending your life with. I love British soldiers and I can most certainly spend all the time in the world with them. Often as they are taken up with a huge workload and major demands this is not possible over the telephone. For those who haven't the time I understand. For those who give me their time and continue to give me inspiration, joyfulness, and affection I love you! I would like to see soldiers get more power in England, but a loss of power in the States. If ever there was a worthless bunch of losers who aren't even proper soldiers it would be the Amerikans. I bet even The French are better than us! If I can't believe in someone or something I walk away from them instead of moaning and groaning about them. Do not dwell on negativity. I will be from now on myself as I have finally turned out to be- resilient, strong-willed, emotional, and romantic. Finding love with help you lose addiction. Try hard enough or dream hard enough all the best will happen and come to you. Keep on reaching for the best and forget the past and live for the present and future. My warmest appreciation and love to the 1st Battalion Of The Rifles, The Household Calvary, and all my mates in not just those regiments but all over the UK and my musical inspirations for never letting me down. Cheers to you and here's to a brighter future and a rapidly fading past.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


First things first. I am very apologetic it has taken so long for me to write another blog entry/review and I owe this one to my mates David Sinclair in Canada of Straight Lines and the entire band Fairfield Ski especially keyboards man/vocalist Bill Bonham and bass guitarist/vocalist Matt Bridger who all 3 have given me faith, courage, and support that I value as much as life itself when I don't wish I was dead. I have been suffering from flu symptoms, major chronic depression, and a horrible living situation and home where for my own sake only I won't go into detail about my true feelings towards my power mad mother and clueless father. The love has turned to hate and the victim of abuse, mistreatment, extortion, and lies is me enough said. If you want to read any further into that then do so yourself and think about how lucky you may be to be living on your own. I know sometimes my parents love me, but all too often we're fighting over my record addictions and spendings which are the only thing that bring me pleasure and will not be given up on no matter how hard they may try to demolish my dreams. Simple misunderstandings and arguments that shouldn't happen have led to deterioration and depression.

              -Straight Lines Are The Best Band And They Also Tell It Straight From The Heart!-

      When I am so low that death sounds like a good thing I play one of my favorite records and there is the end of the depression and I find blissfulness while listening. One such band who really bring me up when my life is disgusting is Vancouver Canada's Straight Lines. I was contacted last year by guitarist/vocalist/co leader David Sinclair and he's a really great guy. I admire him very much and this one is for you David and your band. Straight Lines were something of a Canadian supergroup in that all of them (Sinclair, keyboards man/saxophone/backing vocals/string arrangements W. Bob Buckley, bass guitarist/lead vocalist Peter Clarke, drummers  Daryl Burgess, Pete Padden, and on their second album drummer/vocalist Geoff Eyre) had been active on the Vancouver scene since the mid 70s and Sinclair had even recorded at least one solo record before Straight Lines.
     The band were a five piece on the first and quartet on the second which is called RUN FOR COVER. Both these albums are full of crisp clear harmonies, infectious melodies, brilliant guitar work, and some of the best songs since the heyday of The Beatles and Pilot. The two albums are very different from each other with their self titled first much more progressive pop/rock oriented and RUN FOR COVER more AOR/power pop (lots and lots of Beatles influences). If you want to hear the best Canadian melodic rock ever got go straight for Straight Lines. I'm telling you this band really know how to play like virtuosos and sing like melodic geniuses without once straying into self indulgence.
     Their first album from 1980 begins with the somewhat atypical apocalyptic "Heads Are Gonna Roll" which is about inner city violence: "The street's alive you can feel it breathe/If You wanna survive then you better leave/Coz heads are gonna roll" is the chorus. A song of frightening power and real menace it certainly is not like anything else Straight Lines ever attempted. It's on "Flyin' Blind" and Peter Clarke's "Hope I'm Feeling Better" that the Straight Lines sound comes to the fore here on the debut. I'm not a fan of Supertramp so I'm gonna say Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, and 10cc come to mind with more emphasis on piano than synthesizer and let me tell you how much better that sounds! Supertramp had a great piano sound, but shit writing and songs. Straight Lines in a better world would have steamrolled over them, but they did make it huge in Canada. On "Flyin Blind" there's a few throwback passages to earlier California bands and I wonder if that means I could call this "Canadian West Coast Rock?" Maybe. Then again maybe not. Progressive sounds like a better word, but song oriented progressive pop. The guitar of Sinclair throughout both albums is outstanding- melodic, soaring, and majestic. The vocals are crystal clear, friendly to the ears, and also very McCartney a lot of the time and that can only be good. If you, like me, are a big fan of Pilot and New England then Straight Lines are the Canadian equivalent and just as good. Some songs such as "Sweet Water" and "Midnight Woman" mix bawdy misogynistic references with a good dose of playful humour, but in general the sound is just "let's go for a really good lyric and an even better melody."
     Everyone in the band gets a chance to take off and fly and that often isn't through solos it's through how well they work together. The playing is never jack off and the vocals are never pretentious. In fact, pretension is something that doesn't exist in Straight Lines. I could go on further about Beatles similarities, but the most consistent one is the freshness. This is palette cleansing stuff and a lot of fresh air when I look at some of the utter rubbish that was being made at the same time although the early 1980s were for the most part a fantastic time for music. I'm thinking of the worst of Emerson Lake And Palmer or Gentle Giant in the 70s era more. I'm a huge progressive fan, but that's the wrong kind of progressive. Straight Lines are clever and they also come up with something rewarding beyond just being clever- when you feel really low and burnt out and destroyed put their albums on and some of the melancholic and also at times uplifting emotional melodies, lyrics, and vocals will put your life back where it should be.
      I have my favorite songs on their debut and one of them is Side Two's catchiest song ever written "Roanne" which sounds like New England jamming with Asia! They came before Asia and I think that means that Sinclair and friends were thinking along the same lines as John Wetton before Wetton got there! "Roanne" is easily the catchiest song I've ever heard in my whole life. If The Beatles had had a happy instead of tragic ending this is how an all-arguments-mended Beatles would have sounded like. I've been mentioning The Fab Four a lot and that is because if you want to make great music that is usually the best place to start.
    Even heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden have to start with a melodic band to build their music around and the good ones do. It's either The Beatles, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin who always had good craftsmanship, or any of the melodic great bands who you have to begin with and also end with. I'm not a huge fan of Iron Maiden or heavy metal in general because melody and structure are thrown to the dogs. I can, however, appreciate that kind of music sometimes and what I'm saying is that rock is a multifaceted kind of music as much as jazz, classical, or anything esoteric- Rock and Roll is damned esoteric!
    There are songs on both Straight Lines albums that are so sophisticated that you know there was classical training involved. If you want the classics meeting pop, rock, and art song in a brilliant collision of sound and emotion look no further than the haunting closing track on their first album "The Things You Didn't Do." Bob Buckley wrote  the string arrangement- now you can't tell me this band isn't the work of geniuses. There are some tracks that will please out and out pop rock fans like "She's A Rounder" and "Heart To Heart," but something here cuts way, way, WAY deeper than most of the usual troubled relationship pop. I'd say that Straight Lines understand a lot more about what people can go through in unfortunate situations than most other bands and for a band who for once lack cliches look no further.
    RUN FOR COVER comes in one of the worst covers ever. A tasteless front design is made even worse by an attempt to shock by the band appearing half naked with a fake cover over them on the back! Thankfully, if the cover makes you think this is gonna be a disaster the music is the exact polar opposite. RUN FOR COVER moves away from progressive rock towards more AOR and Power Pop, but I have no problem with that as the solid writing and great vocals and playing of the first album are continued in a different kind of style of music. The title track and a few other songs are very similar to the wondrous German/Scottish band Lake especially "Run For Cover" which begins the album with a really strong track. Most people up in Canada will be more familiar with the second album by virtue of the inclusion of the huge hit "Letting Go-" a song that is purely Beatles in conception, melody, and quality. Before that there is the solid melodic rock of "There Are No Secrets" and the brilliant power pop of "It's Gotta Be Tonight." Straight Lines don't make mistakes. How few bands are capable of that, of knowing what's just right and what isn't should really make you think about how special David Sinclair and the rest of the band are. "Letting Go" is really, really sad. I've experienced the kind of sorrow that comes pouring out of this song many times and the beautiful melodies instantly grab hold of you and don't let go for a second. Especially impressive are the vocals which are soft and comforting at the same time that they are highly emotional. There certainly is nothing comforting about the lyrical content!
    "Illusions" gets more into the earlier more progressive Straight Lines with a great lead vocal from David Sinclair. Side Two begins with another Lake type of melodic progressive pop track "Lighten Up" which is something we all should do- especially me! The rest of Side Two is heavily geared towards really visceral put down songs that are sharp, clever, and again are bringing to mind The Beatles. They sure don't look it, but the music is what matters and Straight Lines take all the best aspects of that great band and make magic happen with their own creativity. Clearly this is power pop influenced by the band who created that along with just about everything else, but the sophistication of Straight Lines is really astonishing. One of my favorites here is "I've Got News For You" which even features an electric sitar playing George Harrison style licks. If you love Pilot, Blue, New England, those kinds of bands as much as I do then do not miss Straight Lines. If everything is bringing you down and you need something new and exciting look for Straight Lines and grab them if you can find their quite hard to track down two albums. Both Straight Lines records are amazing and I feel really a lot better about myself to know that I have David Sinclair as a friend who occasionally corresponds with me. He's not the least bit full of himself which also is a great thing that I never take for granted when a lot of musicians let past achievements make them think they are something they most certainly are not. It makes sense David is a down to earth guy- this is down to earth music that takes you higher without blowing itself up into some big huge hyped up mess like Supertramp or any number of unworthy bands who sold way more in the States. If Canada has a latter day answer to the Fab Four it most certainly is Straight Lines. They did it not by imitation. They did it through the same kind of quality writing, vocals, and playing. Track their albums down- they are really amazing.
         -A followup synopsis of Fairfield Ski- Now The Real Deal Is Available! Rush Out And Grab It!-
    Fairfield Ski I have written about in detail several times before,  but now their masterful lost in the mist of the dark ages of acetates and a shoddy hack job bootleg album have finally been put to rest as their at-the-time unreleased gem is available from the Guerrsen label in the way it was meant to be heard back in 1973 which means it took 40 years for justice to arrive! Done last year in limited pressing with a great band photo sleeve, fantastic sound quality, and  a detailed insert included you need to get this album or you will have a very incomplete collection! Forget Oddesey and Oracle this album blows that out of the water! I better not say anything too mean
about The Zombies as they were a seminal band who led to even better things from Colin Blunstone he of the lovely magic soaring velvet voice and Rod Argent made magic in his own band, but there are issues I have with Oddesey and Oracle or rather one issue. All of Side One is a melodic pop heavenly dream with beautiful songs, wonderful vocals, and a really strong almost spiritual atmosphere, but what goes wrong on Side Two!!!!!!!!????? You get 3 more beautiful songs from the pens of Chris White and Rod Argent and then Chris White decides to turn this Oracle into something more like a living horror movie with the gory, violent, sick, and disgusting rant about the horrors of World War 1 "Butcher's Tale" a track that isn't even a song and destroys the album. It reveals how contrived the whole fucking thing is and how it was thrown together hastily in a way such as to make The Koobas much more satisfactory as an album of throwing the towel in. No, I'm sorry, I'm saying no to this album. The great songs are some of the greatest ever, but contrived. I don't understand why the cover is blown- if this war song is supposed to be an ambush against what preceded it it most certainly makes the point clear.
     So I suppose you're gonna ask me if Oddesey and Oracle is neither of those things what is the best melodic UK album? FAIRFIELD SKI! Fairfield Ski are a band who had a very bright and yet very sad kind of a sound and who thanks to painful mismanagement it took ages for anybody to actually hear and most of us heard them through an atrocity called Fairfield "Sky." Yeah, I was one of those people. I find it staggering that something so musically rewarding couldn't get any kind of chance for  a release at all at the time, but the music industry can be a really bad curse to many bands and their futures and this is one such band. Nigel Wright sings beautifully with a kind of control usually never heard and there's also some great musicianship from the ultra talented Birmingham foursome. I'd firmly recommend you go out and buy Fairfield Ski in this beautiful edition which features a real cover complete with "flip back" sleeve and that you simply go for Argent or Blunstone's solo career and just listen to something you can string together of the best songs The Zombies made from the revolutionary "She's Not There" through to the great tracks on Oddesey and Oracle. The best songs on Oddesey and Oracle for me are "Care Of Cell 44," "Brief Candles," and "Hung Up On A Dream" and if you're looking for something like the best of that album without the disaster "Butcher's Tale" which butchers the album I'd highly suggest this. Fairfield Ski's album is all over the map with an epic tour de force in "Would You Mind/The Writer," Sweet type power pop in "Circus" and "Man From Galilee" (both sung by my mate Matt Bridger), and emotional pop psych at an absolute peak for the rest of the album. Also, you should do a bit of Brummie music history if you find Fairfield Ski's ultra melodic sound of beautiful soft progressive rock out of character with the hard heavy metal all out attack of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. While it is true that Birmingham is a rockin' city its also a very much well rounded music city that gave us Tinkerbells Fairydust, Fairport Convention, and a whole host of other very different and always great bands. You can't forget Traffic's first album and their best work and really just open your mind a little.
     All music can be good music. All parents can be bad parents. Sedentary people set in their ways, nasty, sick, greedy are gonna suck. Don't kill yourself- DO NOT EVEN CONSIDER IT FOR TWO SECONDS! Life is too short. If you, like me, suffer  from parental abuse as unintentional as my parents do it or as intentional as yours might just keep your distance and don't let it make you get any stupid ideas. Life can be a pain in the ass there is no denying that, but I've found that through music there is something that makes life worth living. I've been having a horrible time of late, but I'm not about to cave to any stupidity on the part of blind and stupid people (politicians, people I have to deal with every day et. all). To lower myself to the level of insolent adolescent moanings is not something I'm about to let happen. By the way when I was a teenager I was pretty sharp, but I've grown without having to grow out of the best things I had then. If you need help or advice or encouragement and don't have any friends then go out and seek out music- it can really work wonders. I wish you a bright and productive future and I wish myself a way out of Hell and into Heaven.