REFLECTIONS IN A VINYL DISC
Watcha’ do is take a band of semi-pro musicians from South London, manufacture an entire image ( never mind if people can figure it out or not) land a rec’)rd deal and market your product. Plasticity, you say! It ain’t music, you say! Well, for the Doctors of Madness, the marketing campaign has been the proverbial Yellow Brick Road. It’s put them in the eye and mind of the public before the album came out, and now that it’s here, it’s possible to effectively judge the collective works of Kid Strange, Urban Blitz, Stoner and Peter Dilemma.
Happily, the Doctors have turned out to be-
more than just cosmetics and odd names.
Combining swooping viola lines with the
Ominous voice of Kid Strange ( he of the blue hair), the Doctors emit an aura of imminent destruction coupled with a certain demonic pleasure at its’ occurence. At times, the Doctors resemble the venerable Velvet Underground in approach, at others, Cockney Rebel. Relying heavily on the dynamic interplay between lyrics and music, the band
`… Kevin Ayers is wonderfully gifted, consistently engaging and so incorrigibly self-effacing that some of his most inspired material gathers dust while the mediocrities of opportunists flourish.’ Thank goodness Harvest Records were persuaded to release these early tracks in light of Kevin’s present stagnant state following a couple of difficult to-accept albums. It seemed as soon as he was realized to be a major cult figure, Island Records scooped him away to semi-stardom and vapid compositions. In the deal, Kevin swapped his quirky, deft charm for sincere professionalism. Recently, Ayers has taken a hiatus from the music biz, choosing to relax and wait for his tru-Muse to return: he, too, felt the pressures of new labels, new bands, new deals, new exposure, and new success. ‘Odd Ditties’ is a new collection of idiosyncratic, bizarre, funny, and thoroughly entertaining tunes written and recorded from 1969-1973: out-takes from his various LPs and previously unreleased singles. Mmmmmmmm good. Thanks, Kevin, for recording these odd ditties of a wit and singularity which most composers would impale themselves on their tuning forks to achieve…
Selected cuts: ‘Take Me To Tahiti’, ‘Soon, Soon, Soon’, ‘Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes’, `Puis-je?’, ‘Lady Rachel’, ‘Gemini Child’
Vertigo 6360 126
It’s bands like this that make the world of import albums such a pleasure. City tioy is a brand new outfit, and their album is nothing short of sheer joy. Fronted by the lead vocals of Lol Mason and Steve Broughton (Edgar’s brother), and more than ably augmented by three other singing bandmembers, City Boy has a large arsenal of sounds from which to choose. There’s also a great deal of instrumental mobility, opening up a pleasantly dense texture of playing. ‘( Moonlight) Shake My Head and Leave’, the 1p’s opening cut, sounds like it should have been on ‘Ziggy
Stardust’, but it’s the only number to sound this way. If comparisons have to be made (a common method of description in the Groping world of imports), City Boy resembles IOCC – kinda. Each and every song has a strong melody – a leftover from the band’s folksinging days coupled with imaginative playing. The band is tight, talented and ready to break loose; release of the City Boy album in this country would be a service to everyone. (My thanks to Alan LeWinter.)
Best cuts: (Moonlight), Surgery Hours (doctor, doctor). 5,000 Years-Don’t Know Can’t Tell, Haymaking Time
…Going – going Gong are not the same band progressive rock fans have been believing in for the past seven years. mainly because the two guiding genies decided to follow their own stars. David Allen, of the pot-head-pixie panache quit when the band had really solidified its stature and growth as top-rate recording artists and performers. Steve Hillage, of the demon-melodic guitar flow, took over the reins and took the band into musical territory it had only hinted at before ( take a listen to his solo LP: ‘Fish Rising’ ): a combination of bombast and bliss, dynamically staggering. Well, now with the, front-men gone, Gong have continued, but have chosen to follow a more orthodox route than the preceeding outfits: on this album they are playing progressive jazz-rock that sounds like everything from Gentle Giant to Return to Forever or even the more tranquil Mahavishnu Orchestra. The new Gong have lost a lot of their strangeness, which may disappoint those long time fans who were captivated by the group’s outer-space explorations of the inner mind…
Selected cuts: `Wingful of Eye’, ‘Bain booji’ ( with Hillage on guest guitar)
DOCTORS OF MADNESS
“LATE NIGHT MOVIES, ALL NIGHT BRAINSTORMS”
Polydor Super 2382 278
;moves from darkly quiet passages to bone crushing power with ease.
This band’s good; don’t be put off by the advance talk. Anytime a band steps out of the Everyday routine, they’re in line for a -lagging. The Doctors make interesting talk, but they make even more interesting music.
BEST CUTS: ‘Waiting’, ‘I Think We’re Alone’, ‘Mainlines’
“NORTHERN DREAM” Smile I.AF 2182
This I971 offering from Bill Nelson serves to remind us all that an ‘overnight success’ rarely is made overnight. Hailing from the north of England ( like Bryan Ferry, The Move, etc.), Bill Nelson is creating quite a stir with BeBop Deluxe these days, but it’s really only the final germination of a style Bill developed over the last five years.
Physically, the album package resembles either a very elaborate demo record or a bootleg; musically, Nelson’s guitar work is uneven. There are a number of acoustic blues-styled songs, none of which are particularly outstanding; hut – the electric tunes ( especially ‘Smiles’, ‘Photograph’ and ‘End Of The Seasons’) reveal a clarity of playing and writing that would, in time, become quite popular. An interesting touch on the album is Bill Nelson’s flute and recorder playing, something which he sadly has neglected.
Even the rowdiest of numbers here take on an added aura when either instrument is played.
As a musical and lyrical starting point for one of the 70’s brightest stars, ‘Northern Dream’ certainly deserves attention. One look at the back cover photo depicting a bearded, shaggy-haired Bill Nelson sitting on a stone step ( and looking very much like Mike Oldfield) will be enough to demonstrate that ‘…we all have a past to outrun when the mask comes undone…’
First off, ‘Discreet Music’ is not a rock-record, but an atypical stance by an avantegarde artiste who’ll try anything for-with anyone – even dabbling in semi-classical, electronic veins….oh Brian, quo vadis?
There are two related motifs employed in both discs that serve as nuclei for such experimental sound-music: I.) music as slowly evolving change producing slightly new formulations of ititial patterns; and 2.) music as subconscious stimulant or background music… ‘Evening Star’ falls into the first category; ‘Discreet Music’ is the latter.
Since, also, so much attention relies on absolute ambivalence, Eno (and Fripp) can’t help but take himself quite seriously; at least to insure the music’s validity-creditability. Electronic music is such a new field which seems to be pioneered by only a few souls dedicated to it alone, and not to its incorporation with other styles of music. For example, Robert Fripp, guitar mentor and genius extraordinaire of King Crimson, since teaming up with whiz-kid, Eno, has sought soley to expand the vocabulary of the electric guitar. He has taught it to whine, scream, growl, bite, hum, soothe, sing, swoon and croon while floating on a bed of electronic loops, fluff, and synthesized whirlpools ready to suck sound in and onto itself, spewing it forth in another eddy measures away… yeah: just like that! Fripp works with sound, and not notes ( that are notes) to counter Eno’s own aural adventures in drone. If there is melody, there is Fripp. If there is repetition-drone, thank Eno. And sometimes, vice versa…. I’ve listened to these discs for countless hours. The ‘music’ is cold and sterile, but uncompromisingly picturesque.
(and if that doesn’t warm your cerebrum, don’t take it to heart: save your swoons for ‘Another Green World’…aaaahhhhh….
Selected cuts: none or all
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“ODD DITTIES” Harvest SHSM 2005
“IIAMAIr Virgin 2046
‘DISCREET MUSIC’ Obscure Records No. 3
FRIPP & ENO
“EVENING STARIsland.Help 22