Get this crazy baby off my head!




Balligomingo - Beneath the Surface - 2002 - Windham Hill Records

Good mix of electronic, acoustic, and orchestral sounds, Beneath The Surface features a guest appearance (on "Heat") by Kristy Thirsk, lead singer of Delerium and the Juno Award-winning ensemble Rose Chronicles. If you are not into ethereal electronic vocal sounds, then this album is probably not for you. Nevertheless, it,s a much better album than most in this genre. It is very well produced, has some great rhapsodic vocals, and if you just want to relax or chill out, it's well worth listening to.


1. Purify (Jody Quine)
2. Escape (Colleen Coadic)
3. Falling (Beverly Staunton)
4. Sweet Allure (Jennifer Hershman)
5. Wild Butterfly (Jennifer Baldwin)
6. Beyond (Beverly Staunton)
7. Privilege (Jody Quine)
8. Heat (Kristy Thirsk)
9. Lost (Camille Miller)
10. Marooned (Beverly Staunton)
11. Lust (Beverly Staunton)
12.Being (Colleen Coadic) - Hidden track)


Kristy Thirsk
Jennifer Baldwin
Jody Quine
Beverley Staunton - vocals
Camille Miller
Colleen Coadic
Jennifer Hershman
Garrett Schwartz; Vic Levak - Producers
Vic Levak - Engineer


Fans of the celestial sounds of Enya and the lush trip-hop beats of Delerium and Enigma will love Balligomingo. Contrary to its Eastern-sounding name, Balligomingo is the baby of one Garrett Schwartz, a keyboardist-programmer who collaborated with a variety of musicians for Beneath The Surface. Though purely a U.S. and Canadian affair, the music does create an ethereal air of mystery and tension not unlike that of Asian underground pioneer Nitin Sawhney's recent Prophesy (though Balligomingo is far less profound). The buoyant, atmospheric tracks of Surface include various female vocalists who extend the songs' allure, a live band treated to sound like sweet computer rhythms, and a 15-piece orchestra. Most of the songs flow together, sustaining the album's dream sequence mood like a long summer rain. Occasionally, the vocals border on teen-pop, but mostly they blend into the foreground, helping to advance Balligomingo's lush world-beat-and-tone poetry muse. © Ken Micallef, © 1996-2007, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates

Aural nectar ... sonic ambrosia ... how to best describe the new full-length release--Beneath the Surface (BMG (USA) 01934-11606-2, 2002) from Balligomingo--auditory nirvana ... celestial soundwaves?
Whatever words fans ultimately select, it is likely that all will agree that this long-awaited full-length debut release by Balligomingo sets a new benchmark in the genre of electro-pop music. It may even be fair to say that, in terms of sheer listenability, Balligomingo's Beneath the Surface surpasses Delerium's more recent efforts.
Without question, vocalists Jody Quine, Colleen Coadic, Beverley Staunton, Jennifer Hershman, Jennifer Baldwin, Kristy Thirsk, and Camille Miller have elevated Beneath the Surface to a higher plane by contributing some of the most lush and rhapsodic singing ever recorded. This album is simply a "must have" for any fan of female vocal-based music.
Part of the joy in listening to Beneath the Surface stems from the superb sonic aspects of the recording. Each of the instrumental and vocal parts blend uniformly while retaining their own distinct character. This has much to do with the skill of the mix-engineer, Greg Reely, who has masterfully mixed this album to enhance every auditive element. Our track-by-track review of Beneath the Surface lists both title and vocalist for each song for the benefit of our readers.
"Purify" - Jody Quine: Balligomingo wisely chose this most radio-friendly song to open the album. Recalling the production and texturing of a William Orbit (who produced Madonna’s "Ray of Light") number, "Purify" is the embodiment of melodic, ethereal electronica. Importantly, Jody's assertive and effortless vocals keep the song well-grounded and accessible. Listeners are hooked from the outset by this hopeful melody.
"Escape" - Colleen Coadic: Slightly slower and more measured than "Purify," "Escape" takes full advantage of Colleen’s haunting, plaintive voice. In fact, one almost senses an element of danger in the way that Colleen stretches the lyrics over the beat. The mesmerizing percussion and pumping bass-synth provide a few perfectly chilled-out moments on this journey.
"Falling" - Beverley Staunton: This languorous and heavenly piece marks one of several high points on the album. Fans of Balligomingo may notice that this album version differs slightly from the promotional version. Beverley's voice has been mixed so as to allow listeners to more fully appreciate her sublime and passionate vocal phrasings. In addition, newly layered orchestration has replaced the synth-strings featured on the original version. Finally, a beautiful piano track has been incorporated, punctuating the harmonic line. This is rare and lovely music-making at its finest. Simply incredible!
"Sweet Allure" - Jennifer Hershman: If Suzanne Vega and Delerium could be sonically merged, the end result might be something closely akin to the sounds found in the song, "Sweet Allure." Featuring folksy acoustic guitars and a riveting percussion line, "Sweet Allure" presents another unique foray into Balligomingo’s world. Jennifer’s unique style of signing also helps set this song apart from other tracks on the album. We especially like use of the tribal, timpani-like percussion during the intro.
"Wild Butterfly" - Jennifer Baldwin: Evoking images of beautiful seascapes, meadows, and flowing water, "Wild Butterfly" is a transporting interlude. An arresting piano track propels the melody, which is accompanied by Jennifer’s exquisite voice. This is that rare song that makes the listener feel as though he or she were in flight enjoying a vast panoramic view of the earth below.
"Beyond" - Beverley Staunton: "Beyond" is a luxurious, ambient track that makes the most of Beverley’s aching vocals. If fans are seeking the sounds of warm summer nights and pulsating ocean waves, this is the song for them.
"Privilege - Jody Quine: Hands down, this reviewer's favorite track on the album, "Privilege" opens with an inspired and majestic string arrangement reminiscent of The Verve's widely played "Bittersweet Symphony." This noble introduction quickly merges into a sensual melange of mid-tempo percussion, light piano accompaniment, and blended synths. Most impressive is Jody Quine's penetrating vocals--this reviewer can hardly recall hearing a voice so elegant and controlled. The lyrics to "Privilege" also make this track especially enjoyable. Certainly gets the vote for most likely to be a "hit."
"Heat" - Kristy Thirsk: Kristy Thirsk has long been recognized as on of Canada's most talented female vocalists. After listening to the mechanistic "Heat," it is obvious that such recognition is highly deserved. In her trademark way, Kristy purrs, croons and takes control in this highly seductive foray into sensory pleasure. The grinding rhythm and Kristy's recurring angelic keening are darkly compelling. Mysterious but beckoning, "Heat" is sure to beguile both Balligomingo and Kristy Thirsk fans alike.
"Lost" - Camille Miller: "Lost" provides another subtle shift in the listener's journey. Much of the credit here can be given to Camille’s dense and commanding voice. Crossing into Dead Can Dance territory, "Lost" is the most "ethnic" styled song on Beneath the Surface--and it works perfectly. Glimpses of Persia and the Orient appear through use of guitar and dulcimer. Enchanting throughout.
"Marooned" - Beverley Staunton: Esoteric and elusive, "Marooned" categorically succeeds as one of the outstanding tracks on the album. The gentle and melancholic reverbed B-Tribe-esque guitar picking backed by Beverley's masterful vocals are incomparable. This newly mixed version includes additional lyrics and some surprises including the subtle modulation of Beverley's voice at the 0:40 second mark and the wonderfully epic bass-strings introduced at the 2:07 mark in the song. "Marooned" will certainly appeal to fans of Enya, B-Tribe, and early Sarah McLachlan.
"Lust" - Beverley Staunton: "Lust" illuminates Balligomingo's more industrial, darkwave qualities. Again, Beverley Staunton provides vocals, enlivening the music with her gripping performance. More ominous, "Lust" is nevertheless a clever shift in the album’s tone.
Bonus Track - "Being" - Colleen Coadic: Attentive fans will note the hidden track, "Being," at approximately 6:13 into track 11. And a pleasant surprise it is. Leaning towards a sound closer to Vanessa Daou, Morcheeba, or Zero 7, "Being" actually incorporates the chorus from "Escape," providing a nice tie-back to the beginning of the album. One is instantly impressed by Balligomingo's ability to move in a somewhat different direction musically (this time, a more trip-hop/downtempo vein) while maintaining continuity. A genuinely satisfying song that demonstrates Balligomingo’s earthier side, "Being" is a fabulous conclusion to a fabulous recording.
One of the finest albums released in recent memory,Garrett Schwarz, Vic Levak, the contributing vocalists, and all others involved in the realization of Beneath the Surface deserve the highest praise for creating such an exquisite release. Thank goodness that RCA saw the wisdom in signing Balligomingo to its label. We, the fans, are the fortunate recipients of such foresight. More, please! © Justin Elswick, © www.musicaldiscoveries.com/reviews/balligomingo.htm
With a record as polished as Beneath the Surface, it's difficult to fathom that producer Garrett Schwarz had no musical training before helming Balligomingo in 1999. He did get a lot of help: seven female vocalists (including Kristy Thirsk of Delerium and Camille Miller, among others), guitarist Vic Levak, string arranger Graeme Coleman, drummer James Kaufmann, programmer Jerry Wong, and the Mark Ferris Orchestra. Regardless, Beneath the Surface is a gorgeous combination of dazzling electronics, beautiful vocals, and stunning worldbeat sounds. Each vocalist is nearly indistinguishable, but that's hardly a bad thing. Their voices soar high above the atmospheric programming, bringing with them strong emotions and lyrical imagery. Opening track "Purify" is immediately breathtaking, the apt accompaniment for soaring through the clouds and diving into clear blue oceans. Beneath the Surface was designed to take your mind to an exotica land and find deeper meaning within yourself. This impressive debut delivers on that concept. © Kenyon Hopkin, © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved


Garrett Schwarz was working as a business consultant for IBM when he'd finally had enough. He was no longer interested in corporate business, since the repetitive routine wasn't creative enough for this musician in the making. He had a hidden agenda and Balligomingo was it.
Schwarz grew up in the Chicago suburb of Romeoville, later moving to Minneapolis during his senior year of high school. He was already fond of the electronic sounds of Jean Michel Jarre and Pink Floyd thanks to his father's interests. Still, music wasn't a tangible idea, let alone a sensible career move. He graduated from Arizona State University with a business degree, later earning additional graduate credits in business. Having a typical nine-to-five job in Los Angeles was secure for awhile, but Schwarz wasn't satisfied. He was too enthralled by the musical beauty of Enya, Massive Attack, Sunscreem, and mesmerized by the intensity of Nine Inch Nails and the Prodigy. By the late '90s, he threw caution to the wind and began making music on his computer. After talking with Delerium's Kristy Thirsk, he left for Vancouver, BC, to work with programmer Vic Levak. There, the exotic sounds of Balligomingo were born.
In 1999, Schwarz scored a deal with RCA Victor. He, Levak, and Delerium's Bill Leeb and Chris Peterson honed Balligomingo's atmospheric instrumentals for the next year.
Seven female vocalists from the U.S. and Canada were also brought in to capture Balligomingo's artistic expression and emotion. He made his first introduction with "Lost" being included on the ambient techno compilation Elevation, Vol. 3, while "Heat" appeared on Under Water, Vol. 1. Balligomingo's lush soundscapes were finally spooled into a daydream trip for a debut album. In June 2002, Beneath the Surface was released worldwide. © MacKenzie Wilson, © 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved

BIO (Wikipedia)

Balligomingo is an electronic music project by Garrett Schwarz and Vic Levak. Their music has been compared to that of Delerium (the lead vocalist, Kristy Thirsk, sings in a few of their songs), Massive Attack, Nitin Sawhney and Enigma.

The Necks


The Necks - Next - 1990 - Fish Of Milk

The Necks are one of the great cult bands of Australia. With next to no publicity, their thirteen albums have sold in their thousands. Chris Abrahams (piano), Tony Buck (drums), and Lloyd Swanton (bass) conjure a chemistry together that defies description in orthodox terms. These three musicians are among the most respected and in-demand in Australia, working in every field from pop to avant-garde. Over 200 albums feature their presence individually or together, but the music of The Necks stands apart from everything else they have done. Featuring lengthy pieces which slowly unravel in the most intoxicating fashion, frequently underpinned by an insistent deep groove, the thirteen albums by The Necks stand up to re-listening time and time again. The deceptive simplicity of their music throws forth new charms on each hearing. Not entirely avant-garde, nor minimalist, nor ambient, nor jazz, the music of The Necks is possibly unique in the world today. © www.thenecks.com/default.htm

Prepare yourself for a space age journey with this album. Experimental jazz at it's best, The Necks unique sound contains so many different grooves and time changes, that it takes time to appreciate the complexities of their music. If you like seventies German progressive rock, this type of music should appeal to you. An excellent and very original album. Recommended by A.O.O.F.C. If you can find it, buy their 2006 "Chemist" album.


1.Garl's (7:19)
2.Nice Policeman Nasty Policeman (4:54)
Guitar - Dave Brewer (2)
3.Pele (28:31)
4.Next (9:49)
Guitar [Pedal Steel] - Michel Rose
5.Jazz Cancer (6:12)
Guitar - Dave Brewer (2)
6.The World At War (16:35)
Saxophone [Alto], Saxophone [Tenor] - Timothy Hopkins
Trumpet - Mike Bukovsky

N.B: Track 6 is on a separate post. See comments for details

Mastered By - Don Bartley
Producer, Mixed By - Gerry Nixon , Necks, The


Unclassifiable, the Necks stand aside any other musical act Australia has gave birth to. Neither jazz nor rock, this deceptive piano trio has kept a single line of conduct throughout its career. They usually start playing a very basic melodic and rhythmic figure, and then keep going at it for an hour, gradually introducing microscopic changes and variations. Some critics have compared them to Krautrock groups like Can and Faust. Others find similarities in the works of minimalist composers like LaMonte Young, Tony Conrad, even Philip Glass.

The Necks were formed in Sydney, Australia, back in 1987. The original lineup of pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton, and drummer Tony Buck remained stable, even though they all lead busy and highly different careers. Abrahams is an acclaimed session keyboardist who has released a couple of solo piano albums, has written music for film and television, and toured the world in 1993 with the rock group Midnight Oil. Swanton is a much in-demand session jazz bassist and a regular of the jazz festival circuit. He has played in the Benders and the Catholics, and accompanied Stephen Cummings and Sting. Buck spends most of his time in avant-garde circles, with multiple collaborations and projects. His best known engagements have include the trio PERIL and the klezmer-punk group Kletka Red.

The Necks' first album came out in 1989 on their own label, Fish of Milk. The reviews were enthusiastic, most people praising the group's ability to blend simplicity and experimentation. They would play whenever the three musicians were in Australia at the same time. The next three albums experimented with the format, integrating occasional guests (Stevie Wishart on Aquatic), electronics, and more. But, by the 1998 Piano Bass Drums, the recipe had been fixed and would not change anymore.

In 1996, the label Private Music released Sex in the United States. It was the group's first exposure on the American continent and it did not get them far. But Europe was catching on and the group began a series of annual tours there. Piano Bass Drums and the soundtrack for Rowan Woods' film The Boys both received Australian award nominations in 1998. The more energetic, almost space rocking Hanging Gardens, released in 1999, opened more doors, including a first American tour in late 2001. The album was picked up for distribution by the British avant-garde label ReR Megacorp the same year. Another North-American tour in 2002 followed the release of Aether, the group's studio masterpiece. Drive By followed in 2003. © François Couture, All Music Guide, © 2007 Answers Corporation. All rights reserved

BIO (Wikipedia)

The Necks are an experimental jazz trio from Sydney, Australia, comprising Chris Abrahams on piano and Hammond organ, Tony Buck on drums and Lloyd Swanton on bass guitar and double bass. The band plays improvisational pieces of up to an hour in length that explore repeating musical figures. As well as jazz, they are strongly influenced by Krautrock.
Typically a live performance will begin very quietly with one of the musicians playing something very simple. One by one, the other two will join with their own melodies, all three independent yet intertwined. A piece of music usually lasts about 45 minutes and over this time grows in volume and pace and complexity before petering out.
The Necks are also well known in Europe. Their soundtrack for The Boys was nominated for ARIA Best Soundtrack Album, AFI Best Musical Score and Australian Guild of Screen Composers Award. They have also recorded soundtracks for What's The Deal? (1997) and In the Mind of the Architect (three one-hour ABC-TV documentaries, 2000).
Venues played in Sydney include The Basement, the Harbourside Brasserie, and the Vanguard in Newtown. A performance at the Sydney Opera House in 2003 was interrupted by the venue management due to a minor technical problem, to the obvious dissatisfaction of band and audience.


Stevie Ray Vaughan with Buddy Guy


Stevie Ray Vaughan with Buddy Guy - It's Still Called The Blues - 1989 - Swingin' Pig

The first tune is just Buddy and the band, he brings SRV out on the second tune. Rarely have I heard sound quality this good on a boot CD, great performance, killer duets with Buddy Guy... Nice change from the usual setlists found on most SRV boots...worth the outrageous price they charge for the so-called “imports.” A great record with a very good sound and a lot of wild and freaky guitar work. Way above average and that it is a must have if you are both an SRV and Buddy Guy fan...one of the top five to get. Sound quality is very good. Sound quality, tracklist etc. Same as “Birthday Jam” NEITHER of these are “audience recordings.” BOTH are “from the board” and have excellent sound quality. “ISCTB” is about one point better in the audio quality department. The last 3 tracks on “BJ” are not part of the birthday jam, they are SRV from a different venue and date. a doubt, these live “Birthday Jam” recordings capture some of Buddy's and Stevie's best moments. An excellent recording with some great songs. My humble opinion on this is that this is way above average and that it is a must have if you are both an SRV and Buddy Guy fan...one of the top five to get. Just listened to this thing for the first time and was blown AWAY!!! 'Champagne and Reefer' is absolutely awesome. That's one of my favorites, too. Great, great show! It was Buddy's birthday, and he said he had a lot of friends he could ask to come and celebrate his birthday with him onstage, and Stevie showed up, and he was really happy about that. He was praising Stevie on this too. I think this is a great recording, and their dueling guitars are super good, with great interchange in their talking and playing. (My copy has very good sound quality, too). © www.srvrocks.com/boot_review/entry.htm

N.B: The above paragraph is composed of different comments from various posts/e-mails to site.


1.It's still called the blues - Tony Joe White

2.Champagne and reefer - Muddy Waters

3.Mary had a little lamb - Buddy Guy

4.Leave my girl alone - Buddy Guy (This track segues into "Worry, Worry" ), which is named as Track 5 on some releases of this albun.


Buddy Guy - Guitar and Vocals

Stevie Ray Vaughan - Guitar and Vocals

? - Sax?

This album was recorded at Buddy Guy's Legends Club on July 30, 1989. Buddy celibrated his 53th birthday that night and one of the guests was Stevie Ray Vaughan. There is obviously another musician on this recording. If you have any info, please post

Dee Dee Bridgewater


Dee Dee Bridgewater - Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver - 1995 - Verve

Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver is a fitting tribute to the great Horace Silver. Her intrepretations of Silver's great syncopated and rhythmic music is just brilliant. If you have heard Silver's compositions like "Song for My Father", or "Tokyo Blues", you should enjoy this album. One of Dee Dee Bridgewater's best albums. Horace Silver himself makes two guest appearances on "Nica's Dream" and "Song for My Father". Bridgewater's performance earnt her a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Buy her great 1992 Keeping Tradition album. Also listen to Horace Silver's classic album, "Song For My Father," one of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded.


"Permit Me to Introduce You to Yourself" – 3:25
"Nica's Dream" – 5:14
"The Tokyo Blues" – 5:44
"Pretty Eyes" – 5:05
"St. Vitus Dance" – 2:40
"You Happened My Way" – 6:29
"Soulville" – 4:16
"Filthy McNasty" – 4:51
"Song for My Father" – 5:30
"Doodlin'" – 6:06
"Lonely Woman" – 5:21
"The Jody Grind" – 5:00
"Blowin' the Blues Away" – 3:55

Recorded on December 1994, At Plus XXX Studios, Paris, France. Produced by Dee Dee Bridgewater. All songs composed by Horace Silver


Dee Dee Bridgewater - vocals
Stephanie Belmondo - trumpet
Lionel Belmondo - tenor saxophone
Horace Silver - piano
Hein Van DeGeyn - double bass
Andre Ceccarelli - drums


Dee Dee Bridgewater performs 13 of Horace Silver's songs on her very well-conceived release. On most selections she is accompanied by her French quintet, but there are also two guest appearances apiece for organist Jimmy Smith and pianist Silver ("Nice's Dream" and "Song for My Father"). Bridgewater uplifts Silver's lyrics, proves to be in prime form, and swings up a storm. Other high points include "Filthy McNasty," "Doodlin'," and "Blowin' the Blues Away." A gem. © Scott Yanow, 2007 All Media Guide, LLC. All Rights Reserved


Born Denise Garrett, May 27, 1950, in Memphis, TN; daughter of Matthew Garrett (a musician and teacher) and Marion Hudspeth; married Cecil Bridgewater, 1970; daughter: Tulani; married Gilbert Moses, c. 1975. Education: Attended Michigan State University, 1968, and University of Illinois, 1969; studied with pianist Roland Hanna. Addresses: Home-- Paris, France. Record company-- Verve Records (Polygram), 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019.
Dee Dee Bridgewater's lives, personal and professional, have taken a lot of unexpected turns since she first emerged as a top jazz diva in the early 1970s. Her quest to create a life satisfying on both levels has included stops on both coasts of the U.S., a return to her childhood hometown in Flint, Michigan, and finally a flight across the ocean to Paris, where she has lived for the last several years. Along the way, Bridgewater has established herself as one of the best and most versatile vocalists of her generation, as well as a skilled actress. Her career entered as new phase in the 1990s, as she took over creative and financial control of her own work. The result has been a couple of Grammy Award nominations and a degree of international recognition that had eluded her in the past.
Bridgewater was born Denise Garrett on May 27, 1950, in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Matthew Garrett, was a prominent trumpet player in the Memphis jazz scene, and had worked as a sideman with the likes of Nat (King) Cole. When Dee Dee--Denise's nickname since infancy--was three years old, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, where Matthew opted for the security of a teaching job. The Bridgewaters remained in Flint for the rest of Dee Dee's childhood.
While her friends listened to the pop hits of the day, Garrett immersed herself in jazz at home. Among the many vocalists she admired, Garrett's favorite was Nancy Wilson. She plastered her room with photographs of Wilson and taught herself to mimic Wilson's style. Garrett formed a vocal trio called the Irridescents while she was still in high school, but that group was shortlived. After her graduation in 1968, she enrolled at Michigan State University. It was there that Garrett began to bloom as a performer, working college clubs and jazz festivals with a quintet led by saxophonist Andy Goodrich.
In 1969 the Goodrich group performed at a festival at the University of Illinois in Champaign, where Garrett caught the eye and ears of John Garvey, director of the U. of I. jazz band. A few months later, Garvey invited Garrett to join his ensemble for a six-week tour of the Soviet Union. The band included trumpet player Cecil Bridgewater. Garrett and Bridgewater married in 1970, and shortly thereafter moved to New York, together in search of a successful career in jazz.
Cecil caught on first in New York, working initially with noted pianist Horace Silver and then landing a steady job with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, the de facto house band at the legendary Village Vanguard jazz club. When Jones and Lewis discovered that Dee Dee could sing, she joined the group as well, and remained its featured vocalist from 1972 through 1974. During this period, she returned to the U.S.S.R., this time with the Jones-Lewis orchestra, and also performed in Japan. Her steady gig at the Village Vanguard put Bridgewater at the center of the New York jazz scene, and she became much sought after for session work by some of jazz's biggest names, including Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Roland Kirk. In 1974 she was named best new vocalist in Down Beat magazine's annual poll.
In 1974 Bridgewater decided to audition for the Broadway musical The Wiz, an updated African-American version of the classic The Wizard of Oz. She landed the part of Glenda, the good witch of the South. The part was relatively small, but included several featured songs. Bridgewater's performance earned her the 1975 Tony Award for best supporting actress in a musical. Having divorced Cecil Bridgewater by this time, she also landed her second husband, Wiz director Gilbert Moses.
Bridgewater grew tired of Broadway by 1976. She quit The Wiz that year and moved to Los Angeles, with an eye toward trying her hand at film acting and pop singing. Although she remained primarily a jazz singer, Bridgewater sought to stretch her talents in more commercially viable directions. The next several years were frustrating ones. Caught between the worlds of jazz and pop, Bridgewater was unable to find a comfortable spot in the hearts of either audience. She was especially bothered by the mediocre "Black muzak" that record producers tried to make her sing. By the mid- 1980s, Bridgewater was ready to abandon her musical career entirely. In 1985 she moved back to Flint to live with her mother, who was in poor health.
The following year, Bridgewater moved to Paris, where, like so many jazz artists before her, she found a public far more appreciative of her talents than American listeners had ever been. In 1986 and 1987 she starred in the one-woman show Lady Day, a musical about the life of Billie Holiday. She performed in other musicals as well, including a revival of Cabaret. Meanwhile, Bridgewater resumed her singing career. She toured the Far East with a band that ncluded such notable players as Clark Terry, James Moody, and Jimmy McGriff. By the end of the 1980s, Bridgewater had established herself as one of the top jazz vocalists in Europe.
In 1990 Bridgewater released In Montreaux, her first album on the Verve label. By this time she had managed to regain creative and financial control over her projects, a fact reflected in her choice of material for the album, notably a medley of Horace Silver compositions. In Montreaux served notice to the jazz world that Bridgewater was once again a force to be reckoned with. Her next recording, Keeping Tradition, was nominated for a 1993 Grammy award. The Bridgewater-Silver connection became even more concrete in 1994, when Bridgewater got the idea for her next album while performing the Silver tune "Love Vibrations." The resulting recording, Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver, was released the following year. It earned Bridgewater another Grammy nomination, and brisk crossover sales in Europe landed the album on the pop charts on that continent.
Bridgewater performed to an enthusiastic audience at the Village Vanguard in 1996, more than 20 years after her earlier brush with fame at that venue. Although she has remained based in Paris, her successful return to the U.S. was music to the ears of audiences on the side of the Atlantic where jazz was born. © Robert R. Jacobson , © 2007 Net Industries - All Rights Reserved


The Golliwogs (A.K.A Creedence Clearwater Revival)


The Golliwogs (A.K.A Creedence Clearwater Revival ) - Pre-Creedence - 1975 - Fantasy

This is a compilation album of singles released by the early formation of C.C.R. All the tracks were singles released between 1964 and 1967. The album was released in 1975 afterCreedence Clearwater Revival had broken up. The album consists of tracks recorded and released under the band's prior name, The Golliwogs, although the final two songs on the album, originally released in 1967 as a Golliwogs single, were re-released as the first CCR single in 1968. There is nothing great here, but it may be of interest to CCR, & John Fogerty fans.


"Don't Tell Me No Lies"
"Little Girl (Does Your Mama Know)"
"Where You Been"
"You Came Walking"
"You Can't Be True"
"You Got Nothin' on Me"
"Brown-Eyed Girl"
"You Better Be Careful"
"Fight Fire"
"Fragile Child"
"Walking on the Water"
"You Better Get It Before It Gets You"
"Call It Pretending"


John Fogerty: Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals
Stu Cook: Bass, Piano
Doug Clifford: Drums
Tom Fogerty: Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals



Splinter - Harder to Live - 1975 - Dark Horse UK

Almost forgotten vocal duo from N.E England, Splinter are probably only remembered for their hit single, "Costafine Town." They were excellent songwriters, and impressed George Harrison, who once tried to sign them to Apple records. Harrison had a large input into much of their work. Check out their first album, The Place I Love, if you can find it, although recordings by Splinter are not generally available. Any more info on recordings by Splinter would be appreciated by A.O.O.F.C



1. Please Help Me -Robert J. Purvis
2. Sixty Miles Too Far -Robert J. Purvis
3. Harder To Live -Robert J. Purvis
4. Half Way There -Robert J. Purvis
5. Which Way Will I Get Home -Robert J. Purvis


1. Berkley House Hotel -Robert J. Purvis
2. After Five Years -Robert J. Purvis
3. Green Line Bus -Robert J. Purvis-
4. Lonely Man -Robert J. Purvis-Mal Evans
5. What Is It (If You Never Ever Tried It Yourself) -Robert J. Purvis


Bill Elliott : vocals
Bobby Purvis : vocals
Chris Spedding : guitars
Bill Dickinson : bass
Earl Palmer : drums / percussion
John Taylor : keyboards
Tom Scott : horns / synthesizers

All songs produced by Tom Scott, except Lonely Man , produced by Tom Scott and George Harrison


On Harder To Live, Splinter's sophomore album, Harrison only participated on one track: "Lonely Man" was co-produced by Harrison and Tom Scott, and "Hari Georgeson" played guitar. It's a transcendent ballad with impressive vocals. It was used in the 1974 movie Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs, which was Harrison's first foray into film production. It's the only song on Harder To Live that measures up to the promise of The Place I Love.

The rest of the album is given comparatively thin production by Scott, who also played several instruments. Without Harrison's intervention, Splinter turned out to be good instead of great. Most of the songs resemble a folkier version of Badfinger. The songs are not quite as downbeat as the album's title suggests; the title track is a bouncy tune about the high monetary cost of living. Another set of impressive musicians provide backing (i.e. Chris Spedding, Waddy Wachtel, John Taylor), but they are not in the same class as the first album's ensemble. Harder To Live is no dud, but it lacks the splendor of its predecessor. The second side is the better one. © RAREBIRD'S ROCK AND ROLL RARITY REVIEWS, http://home.att.net/~rarebird9/splinter.html
Splinter's second release on Dark Horse had a lot less involvement from George Harrison, which is felt throughout the album. This means that the album is not as strong as their debut (1974's The Place I Love), but it is still a very good album. Splinter is comprised of Bill Elliot and Bobby Purvis, both vocalists, who create a beautiful harmony together. They also managed to form a tight, talented, and famous backup band, arranged by the ever-talented Tom Scott (who also contributes musically). Included in the band is Chris Spedding providing strong guitar, and Harrison, who contributes production and guitar (under the name Hari Georgeson) to the wonderful and moving "Lonely Man," which was also the theme to Harrison's first venture into film producing, Little Malcom and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs. It is also co-written by Mal Evans and is by far the strongest track on the album. Other highlights include the beautiful "Green Line Bus" and "Berkley House Hotel," which harkens back to the folk sound of their debut. The music on the album drifts between easy listening pop/rock to folk, but never focuses on one distinct sound. This makes for an uneven listening experience, but the highlights far outweigh the low points. © Aaron Badgley, All Music Guide

BIO (Wikipedia)

Splinter was a two-man vocal group from South Shields, near Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England, consisting of Bill Elliott (William Elliott) and Bobby Purvis (Robert J Purvis).
They were connected with powerful people (George Harrison, of The Beatles) and had good groups of instrumentalists to back them on each album. One of those musicians was a guitarist by the name of "Hari Georgeson" (Harrison's pseudonym). Splinter was the first artist signed to Harrison's Dark Horse Record label, when it was still partnered with A&M Records. All of Splinter's albums are out of print. Splinter, who had worked together at various times in the Newcastle and London music scenes, first came to the attention of George Harrison of The Beatles through Mal Evans who was involved with both groups. Harrison was impressed with one of their songs which he felt would be ideal for an Apple film "Little Malcolm And His Struggle With The Eunuchs". Harrison initially wanted to sign Splinter to Apple Records and arranged sessions at Apple Studios to work on the song - he brought-in Pete Ham from Badfinger to participate. Finally entitled "Lonely Man" plans were made for the song to be released as an Apple single and Splinter were shown performing the piece in the film. However, as Apple fell apart Harrison decided to establish his own record label, and once he heard more of Splinter's material he invited them to record an album. Work on this album spanned 18 months. Also in this period Purvis and Elliot co-wrote the song "Kyle" with Harrison's pianist friend Gary Wright - it appeared on the 1974 Spooky Tooth album The Mirror.
On their debut album The Place I Love, the duo got plenty of input from Harrison, who produced and pseudonymously played guitar on all the songs. (The harmonium and Moog synthesizer on certain tracks are credited to a P. Roducer, who may be Harrison) Similarly, the pronunciation of percussionist "Jai Raj Harisein" is evocative of "George Harrison". Other musicians included Alvin Lee, Billy Preston, Gary Wright, Jim Keltner, and Klaus Voorman. Most of the songs were written by Purvis, with Elliott co-writing lyrics on "China Light" and "Costafine Town". "Costafine Town" was a major international hit, reaching the top 10 in Australia and South Africa and the top 20 in the United Kingdom. Both this single and album also appeared on the Top 100 Billboard charts. The follow-up single, "Drink All Day", was banned in the UK by the BBC for the inclusion of the word "bloody".
While some of the songs recall Badfinger (especially "Gravy Train" and "Haven't Got Time"), most of The Place I Love very much resembles a Harrison solo album, but it is more consistent than most of them. Even the vocals sometimes resemble Harrison's; Purvis and Elliott harmonize in a beautifully Beatlesque way. Any Beatles aficionado who hasn't discovered The Place I Love ought to search it out. Lost classics such as "China Light", "Costafine Town", and "Situation Vacant" are among the best Beatles songs that the Beatles never made and Harrison's guitar playing on this album is some of the best on his career (notably "Somebody's City", "Drink All Day" and "The Place I Love").
In preparing for a second Splinter album Harrison recorded Splinter in 1975 running through new material at his Friar Park studio. Such were Harrison's enthusiasm and resources that he pressed this as a private album on Dark Horse Records - known simply as "Splinter" or "The White Album" (after the white sleeve it was housed in), this record commands prices in excess of £300 amongst collectors.
On Harder To Live, Splinter's second album, Harrison only participated on one track. "Lonely Man" was co-produced by Harrison and Tom Scott, and "Hari Georgeson" played guitar. Its a transcendent ballad with impressive vocals. It was used in the 1974 movie Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs, which was Harrison's first foray into film production. It's the only song on Harder To Live that measures up to the promise of The Place I Love. "Lonely Man" was a popular hit in Japan, and in recording a version of the song in Japanese, Splinter became the first western artists to sing in Japanese. They were helped to achieve this by the notable Japanese actor / singer Masatoshi Nakamura.
The rest of the album is given comparatively thin production by Scott, who also played several instruments. Without Harrison's intervention, Splinter turned out to be good instead of great. Most of the songs resemble a folkier version of Badfinger. The songs are not quite as downbeat as the album's title suggests; the title track is a bouncy tune about the high monetary cost of living. Another set of impressive musicians provide backing (i.e. Chris Spedding, Waddy Wachtel, John Taylor), but they are not in the same class as the first album's ensemble. Harder To Live is no dud, but it lacks the splendor of its predecessor. The second side is the better one. The album was not helped by the fact that Harrison would soon fall out with A&M records.
Also in this period Splinter won the Outstanding Song Award at the 1976 "Yamaha World Popular Song Festival" at the Budokan in Tokyo with the song "Love Is Not Enough". This performance was released on an album that documented this annual song festival. As a result of this success, "Love Is Not Enough" was released as a single in Japan. This first version was produced by Tom Scott and is an entirely different arrangement from the one that subsequently appeared on Two Man Band.
Although the duo of Purvis and Elliott continued to perform together until 1984, the 1977 release Two Man Band was the last Splinter album released in most countries, including the United States. Harrison is credited as co-executive producer, and played some of the guitar (most recognizably during "Round & Round"). The main production duties were entrusted to Norbert Putnam, whose ultra-slick treatment added a deadly dose of saccharine to Splinter's sound. Much of the music is gooey 1970s soft rock. Guitarist Parker McGee, who wrote two of the songs, had written middle of the road hits for other artists. A few of the tracks ("Black Friday", "Love Is Not Enough") spill over into disco territory! Aside from two vintage Splinter songs, "Little Girl" and "New York City (Who Am I)", most of the songs are cloying. It's a shame; Splinter's recording career deserved a better end than this.
Although Two Man Band was Splinter's last release in the U.S. and most other parts of the world, the duo did record two more albums that were each released in no more than two countries. Both albums were done without Harrison.
The first of these, titled Streets At Night, was released only in Japan in 1979. Purvis and Elliott produced and arranged this album themselves. It has a more natural sound than the overproduced Two Man Band. This album also benefits from the musicianship of Alan Clark (the Dire Straits keyboardist-to-be), who played keyboards, synthesizers, and clavinette. Streets At Night is heavy on ballads, but most of them are agreeable enough. "Stateside Girl" is reminiscent of their earlier work, complete with Harrison-like guitar chords. "Evergreen" is a good bluegrass picker. The thumping "Where Do I Go From Here?" is the closest that this mellow album comes to rock and roll. On the downside, the last two tracks are too schmaltzy, and they hint at the adult-contemporary blandness that would soon sink Splinter's final album.
In this period Splinter were associated with the Japanese music TV station NTVM and worked with the headline Japanese rock band Godiego. A single of Splinter singing the popular Godiego song "Ghandara" (associated with the TV show Monkey) was released, and they also appeared on a compilation album called Our Favourite Songs, a set led by members of Godiego.
The final Splinter album was the self-titled Splinter, which was released in England in 1980 on the Bellaphon label. (The album was also issued in Japan the following year under the title Sail Away, with a song called "Pigalle" used in place of "All That Love". That was released by Columbia, catalogue no. YX-7292-AX). This album also was totally Harrison-less, although George's influence can still be heard on a few tracks ("Plane Leaving Tokyo", "Passing Through"). The album is mired in a mellow easy-listening format, which makes for quite grating listening by the time you reach Side Two. Purvis and Elliott are both in good voice here, but the mushy adult-contemporary material leaves something to be desired. It's not surprising to learn that producer Jimmy Horowitz had previously worked with Air Supply. The saxophone sound on "Innocent" and "Touch Yet Never Feel" should have sounded fresh, but it's simply boring. There was still no denying the duo's vocal talents, but without the right producers and/or backing musicians, Splinter seemed unable to deliver the goods on record.
In retrospect Splinter’s involvement with Harrison was a mixed blessing. At the time they chose to sign with Harrison over the other offers they had, Harrison was the biggest star in world popular music. However, by the time Splinter’s Dark Horse releases appeared Harrison had fallen from favour with the music press and most things associated with him were treated in this light. While the Beatles were expert at being successful artists themselves, most of the acts they signed to their various labels met with little success, or in the case of Badfinger, tragedy. The irony is that Splinter's first album was a success which spawned a major hit - the fact that this was not built-on arose because the primary interest A&M had in hosting Harrison’s Dark Horse label was to release Harrison’s albums. The promotion of the other acts on the label was far from relentless.
And the obstacles continue to this day - while it is widely agreed that The Place I Love is a significant album deserving of release on CD, it is owned by the Harrison Estate who show no signs of reviving it. Thus, sadly, Splinter's excellent songwriting and singing that so impressed Harrison in 1973 are not generally available.


Stone The Crows


Stone The Crows - Niagara - 1971/1972 - Label Unknown

Stone The Crows founded by guitarist Leslie Harvey featured the great Glaswegian vocalist Maggie Bell. They played a brilliant brand of raunchy blues-based rock. Maggie Bell was once called "The Scottish Jamis Joplin." Can anybody please post any info on this great blues rock album. Were the tracks recorded in London, in 1971/1972? Are they part of BBC Sessions? Was this album ever officially released? Any details on venues, dates, musicians, composers, etc, would be greatly appreciated by A.O.O.F.C. Check out Stone The Crows' great "Teenage Licks" album.


02-Keep On Rollin'
03-Big Jim Salter
04-Mr. Wizard
05-Don't Think Twice, It's Allright
06-Goin' Down


01-On The Highway
02-Palace Of The King
03-Penicillin Blues
04-Sunset Cowboy
06-Mr. Wizard
07-I'm Not A Good Time Girl
08-Goin' Down

BIO (Wikipedia)

The band was formed after Maggie Bell was introduced to Les Harvey by his older brother, Alex Harvey. After playing together in the Kinning Park Ramblers, they rejoined in a band Power, later renamed Stone the Crows, after Led Zeppelin's manager, Peter Grant, heard them and took them on.

Original Band

Maggie Bell, vocals (born Margaret Bell, 12 January 1945, in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland.
Les Harvey, guitar (born Leslie Harvey, in 1945, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland died 2 May 1972).
Colin Allen, drums
Jim Dewar, bass (born James Dewer, 12 October 1942, in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland).
John McGinnis, keyboards

The band's first two albums were produced by the above line-up, with Bell's vocals "reminiscent of Janis Joplin"

Second Line-UP

McGinnis and Dewar left 1971, to be replaced by Ronnie Leahy and Steve Thompson. The tragic death of Les Harvey (electrocuted by a live microphone on stage at Swansea's Top Rank Suite in May 1972) almost led to the breakup of the band. After trying Peter Green, the band brought in ex-Thunderclap Newman prodigy Jimmy McCulloch as lead guitarist. Stone the Crows broke up in June 1973. Maggie Bell recorded two albums in the early seventies, Queen of the Night and Suicide Sal and joined Rod Stewart on Every Picture Tells A Story.



8mm - Songs to Love and Die By - 2006 - Curb Appeal

A great indie rock album, with the electronic touches of Zero 7, Portishead, and Morcheeba. Juliette Beavan's smoky vocals are surrounded by incredible soundscapes created by the great multi-instrumentalist, Sean Beavan. A wonderful album, full of addictive hypnotic, and catchy sounds. Highly recommended by A.O.O.F.C. Check out their debut EP, Opener.


"No Way Back" – 5:03
"Bones" – 3:37
"You Know" – 3:43
"Stunning" – 4:35
"Never Enough" – 4:15
"Liar" – 2:48
"Quicksand" – 3:25
"Angel" – 3:21
"Give It Up" – 6:30
"Forever And Ever Amen" – 9:46
"Unjustified (The Outlaw Song)" - Hidden track written by Sean Beavan. In spirit, it is an homage to Johnny and June Cash.


Juliette Beavan
Sean Beavan


When the new review assignments were posted for this week, I found there were a whole lot of really great discs assigned. Brendan got MXPX, Matt McGraw got My Chemical Romance and Liz got hooked up with the latest Copeland effort. But I was assigned a group called 8mm. At first I was kind of bummed but all I had to do was listen to the first track off their self-released effort, titled “Songs to Love and Die By,” and I knew I was hooked. Combining delicate melodies and transparent guitars this husband and wife team churns out a solid group of indie rock masterpieces that are a perfect soundtrack for the grey months ahead.

The title of the album is perfect. Each track displays so much emotion that the listener can not help but identify with the words and melodies entered their ears. Mainly played on piano, the songs are driven by lead vocalist Juliette Beavan with her husband and long time Nine Inch Nails producer Sean Beaven taking on most of the musical aspects of the effort. The two work out to be a perfect combination. The songs are pretty stripped down and transparent yet they do not seem daunted by that. The couple seems to embrace it by making their music inherently catchy, and I applaud them for doing more with less. Listen to the track “Stunning” and I guarantee you will be humming the melody all day. Each aspect of the music is extremely deliberate. “Now way Back” is a perfect microcosm of this disc. A vocally driven track accompanied by a piano and some ambient production leaving a lot of open space in the music yet the song is still contained through the vocals and piano.

Each track is a delicate and flowing journey into Juliette’s mind. “So here we are / I have seen this place before/ you look at me as though I am incomplete” she swoons in “Never Enough.” Juliette moves seamlessly from note to note so smoothly that is no wonder the whole band is set up around her fantastic voice. Her voice is also so dynamic that it she goes from sounding like Poe on “No Way Back” to The Dresden Dolls on “You Know” to Azure Ray on “Never Enough.”

If you are a fan of indie rock with a female lead singer, you need to check this out. This was definitely a welcome surprise and has made my top 10 of the year so far. © Alex Drumm, © Emotionalpunk.com 2001
The music of 8mm is a mix of triphop and melancholy, acoustic pop whose sound betrays any number of possible influences, from Massive Attack and Portishead, to Beth Orton, Zero 7 and even Nine Inch Nails, but ultimately 8mm delivers a unique blend that's two parts sexual tension, two parts emotional melancholy, and a dash of dark mystery with equal parts Los Angeles and New Orleans...and they've got a smoking torchy image to match. Sean and Juliette took a minute to answer some questions on finding each other, discovering 8mm, and what guides their music. Enjoy! © 2005-2007 Properly Chilled. All Rights Reserved
8mm wrap us in a thick, smoky, cinematic beauty that has been described as a cross between Portishead, Massive Attack, Aimee Mann and Mazzy Star – but they are definitely a sound of their own.
Femme fatal frontwoman Juliette Beavan’s voice portrays an intimate combination of vulnerability and sexuality that one feels almost voyeuristic listening to. Wrapped around her vocals is a smoldering soundscape created by multi-instrumentalist producer/mixer and 8mm co-founder, Sean Beavan.
Sean helped forge the Nine Inch Nails sound from stage to studio and is known for the groundbreaking sonics and contagious hooks that have underpinned career-defining records with artists as diverse as NIN, Marilyn Manson, No Doubt, Kill Hannah and Thrice.
After quietly self-releasing their debut EP, Opener, through their website, the band quickly generated a local underground buzz in Los Angeles, attracting the attention of the LA Times. Internet word-of-mouth led to tremendous organic support, including critical acclaim from both artists and influential tastemakers like Nic Harcourt of KCRW. Following a string of television placements, 8MM made their cinematic debut on the "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" soundtrack with their sultry version of the James Bond classic, "Nobody Does It Better." They have maintained a Top 3 position in Trip Hop and Down Tempo on myspace throughout 2005-6, while their plays range from 2,000-7,000 per day.
"Songs To Love and Die By" is one of those classic albums that fits comfortably in any record collection. © 1996-2007, Amazon.com


Somewhere in the heat of New Orleans you'll find that life is lived differently. It's a place of ghosts and celebration, a place where music hangs heavy in the air and all the music and all the souls that have ever played it there somehow remain, alive and buoyant in the humidity. The thickness this gives the air slows things down a bit, and when you breathe it in it soaks through your bones and settles in the marrow. There is an ethereal wave, a pulse really, that you can ride through the chaos. It becomes part of your blood and your eyes begin to change. You will never see this world the same. You will never feel the same about this city or this life. It has taken part of you and given something beautiful and painful back. This kind of enchantment is the reason that people are drawn to New Orleans. It's as if the city wakes and surges to the surface just enough for you to hear her heart beat, hear her breath.

The city itself is curved into the shape of a crescent moon by a dark and muddy river that would drown you as soon as let you swim in it. Moss hangs from ancient oak trees that look down on their dark reflections in cracked and wet asphalt. In this city, beneath their gaze, there was Juliette, her heels clicking, marking time on the make shift mirror. In this city, she met Sean.

Sean had moved from the post industrial age wasteland of Cleveland, Ohio to this haunting land of jazz funerals and brass bands with Trent Reznor and the band Nine Inch Nails. As Trent's longtime engineer, co -producer, and musical director, Sean helped forge the sound of NIN from studio to the stage. Finally having a home base for various projects, Sean and Trent set about building a studio in an old abandoned funeral home in the heart of uptown New Orleans. It was during this time that, being a mortal man, Sean succumbed to the whimsy and sway of a southern girl and met his muse in Juliette. After finishing mixing Marilyn Manson's epic Antichrist Superstar, Sean left the NIN camp and followed up with Manson's "Mechanical Animals" During production of which Sean and Juliette moved to the land of stars, scars and broken dreams: Los Angeles.

While Sean was producing the Atlantic Records band "Kill Hannah" the request to add a female voice to a chorus led him to ask the lovely Juliette to add some vocals on the last day of recording. When Juliette started to sing, the texture and dynamic of her voice bewitched both Sean and his engineer "Critter". Inspired by her ethereal voice, Sean immediately set about to write the music for the song "Never Enough" almost as an experiment. He gave Juliette the music and asked her to write lyrics and a vocal melody to it. The resulting confessional story with the plaintiff refrain "I'll never be enough for you" became a blue print for the tapestry of sorrow and beauty in the works that followed.

The two decided to become 8mm, a name that reflected the tone of their songs. The image of an old 8mm projector whirring in a clandestine back room called to mind innermost secrets and forbidden desires. The kind of thoughts we keep to ourselves, the hidden motives that drive our public lives. Very much influenced by the pulse and undercurrent of the haunted and haunting New Orleans and the bluster and underlying power plays that accompany even a simple "hello" in Los Angeles, 8mm has opened our diaries and shown us how alike we are.

Following several years engineering and mixing for Nine Inch Nails, Sean Beavan formed trip-hop act 8mm along with wife Juliette. He had spent time in the studio in New Orleans with NIN's Trent Reznor, working on such NIN recordings as The Downward Spiral. Through Reznor, Sean had also worked on Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals. While in New Orleans, he met his future wife and the two relocated to Los Angeles. While producing a record for Kill Hannah, Sean brought in Juliette to add some vocals and liked her voice enough to form 8mm along with drummer Jon Nicholson. An EP in 2004 was followed by the debut LP Songs to Love and Die by..., released on Curb Appeal Records in September 2006. © Kenyon Hopkin, All Music Guide


Mama Cass Elliot


Mama Cass Elliot - Bubble Gum, Lemonade &.... Something For Mama - 1969 - Dunhill/ABC

This is a rare Mama Cass Elliot album. Her 2nd solo album , released in 1969, has some great songs & dynamite singing. " IT'S GETTING BETTER " is a definitive pop single, and is the longest charting single of any Mamas & Papas associated single ever! This album also has one of the biggest ballads that Cass ever sang - " HE'S A RUNNER " written by Laura Nyro. Cass really belts out this ballad so heartfully that is just amazing to hear this woman's talent. Another great ballad is the closing song " WHO'S TO BLAME " that was written by her sister Leah Kunkel. Plus, there is a return to the old-time yester-year sound on " I CAN DREAM CAN'T I ". Cass' talent & way with a song is something that will always live on. Even when the songs aren't great (the psuedo-Country "Sour Grapes", the forced nostalgia of "When I Just Wear My Smile"), Cass always is. This is very simply a must-have for a Cass Elliot fans. A nice collection of songs, sung by one of the truly unique voices in the history of pop singing.


It's Getting Better
Blow Me a Kiss
Sour Grapes
Easy Come, Easy Go
I Can Dream, Can't I
Welcome to the World
Lady Love
He's a Runner
Move in a Little Closer, Baby
When I Just Wear My Smile
Who's to Blame
Make Your Own Kind of Music (Bonus Track on Import CD)


Called the Earth Mother of Hippiedom by fellow band member John Phillips, Cass Elliot brought charm and vocal muscle to a stormy and transitional period of American music history. In flowery print dresses of the mid-1960s, made tentlike to accommodate her great size, Elliot, born Ellen Naomi Cohen on February 19, 1941, in Baltimore, grew to fame with the tightly harmonic vocal group the Mamas and the Papas. During their three-year reign at the top of popular music charts, the Mamas and the Papas melded folk and psychedelic styles in a quartet whose half-dozen remembered songs still evoke a time prior to the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention, when hippie ideologies of communal living and relaxed standards of dress and demeanor had not yet divided the recording industry or the nation along fierce political lines. In 1966, the Mamas and the Papas made their television debut, singing “California Dreamin” on the variety show The Hollywood Palace. It was broadcast to American soldiers in Vietnam, and host Arthur Godfrey sent “our boys” a message of hope.
Cass Elliot looked like the mother of a commune, photographed lounging on the grass, a bottle of wine at her side. The band’s familial names lent credence to the public image that their lives were one continuous summer picnic. Papa John Phillips, baritone and songwriter, was a gangly opposite to his wife, Michelle Phillips. Michelle Phillips's delicate beauty offset the robust Mama Cass. Rounding out the quartet was tenor Denny Doherty, who shared the band's penchant for long hair and brightly colored clothing. Musically, the Mamas and the Papas created a sound never duplicated in American pop music. Their harmonies, indebted to the power of Elliot's voice, resemble a distant, often eerie echo that suddenly appears to be closer than it sounds. “California Dreamin’,” “Monday, Monday,” and “I Saw Her Again Last Night,” all written by John Phillips, remain staples of both AM radio and elevator music circuits, an honor never bestowed on songs by the band’s hard-edged contemporaries Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. But even within the Mamas and the Papas’ lush harmonies, the candor of Cass Elliot's voice is conspicuous.
Though very much a California band, the members of the Mamas and the Papas found each other through the folk music network in New York. Elliot had had her own group, Cass and the Big Three, and had been a member of the Mugwumps with Doherty before joining John Phillips's new band at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, where the quartet perfected its sound in sunlight and penury. One of the Mamas and the Papas' biggest hits, the autobiographical chronicle "Creeque Alley," details the genesis of the band down to John Phillips's American Express card, which sustained all four until they arrived in Los Angeles and were immediately signed to a recording contract at Dunhill Records in 1965.
Although always overweight, Cass Elliot appeared comfortable with her size, and allowed it to inspire a few of John Phillips's lyrics. Verses of "Creeque Alley" conclude with the refrain, "No one's getting fat except Mama Cass." In his autobiography, Phillips says Elliot repeatedly tried to lose weight, but such worries never penetrated her public persona. A solo LP called "Bubblegum, Lemonade, and ... Something for Mama" features Elliot in a white baby dress seated on a wicker chair looking positively enormous. Labeled "the queen of L.A. pop society in the mid-sixties" by Rolling Stone, Elliot lived in a home in Laurel Canyon once owned by Natalie Wood. She surrounded herself with famous and soon-to-be famous peers in the recording industry, including David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Joni Mitchell. Elliot was first married to James Hendricks, of Cass and the Big Three, with whom she had a daughter, Owen Vanessa, in 1967, and again briefly to Baron Donald von Wiedenman in 1971.
Elliot's solo career began in 1968 with the release of the Mamas and the Papas song “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” Solo performing deprived her of the opportunity to serve the sumptuous harmonies that made the quartet distinctive, although “Dream a Little Dream” remains the clearest indication of her gift. She released eight albums as a solo artist (one as part of a duet with former Traffic member Dave Mason), but none was successful. Cass Elliot contented herself with a career in cabaret, and in the early 1970s was a frequent guest on television programs like The Hollywood Squares. Ironically, she was a guest host on The Tonight Show as the nation learned of Janis Joplin's death. Soon afterward, Elliot died after completing a show at the London Palladium on July 29, 1974. Speculation that Elliot choked on a sandwich has bound her musical legacy with her weight in perpetuity, a turn of events Cass Elliot might have heartily enjoyed. (Source: Paula Hyman and Deborah Dash Moore eds. Jewish Women in America. NY: Routledge, 1997. Reprinted with permission of the American Jewish Historical Society. ) Copyright 2007, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise,


Van Der Graaf Generator


Van Der Graaf Generator - Godbluff - 1975 - Charisma

Excellent progressive rock album from the neglected Van Der Graaf Generator. One of the few seventies prog. rock outfits who remained faithful to their musical style, and spurned commercialism. Check out their great " H To He Who Am The Only One " album from 1970.


1. The Undercover Man — 7:25
2. Scorched Earth — 9:48
3. Arrow — 9:45
4. The Sleepwalkers — 10:31


Peter Hammill, vocals, piano, guitar;
Hugh Banton, organs, bass;
David Jackson, saxophone, flute;
Guy Evans, drums, percussion


Van Der Graaf Generator labored in obscurity virtually their entire career leaving behind one of musicdom's strangest catalogues of sound. Godbluff is a great bit of prog-rock history getting its due. In the early seventies, just around the time that everyone began to go disco crazy, there were a faithful few who refused to give up on the majesty and pomp of their beloved art-rock. Bands like Caravan, Gentle Giant and Strawbs proudly waved the flag of pretension, but it was on Britain's Famous Charisma Label that two of the most overblown progressive rock bands offered up to the masses their gloriously twisted idea of music. One band, Genesis, after a string of brilliant oddball releases, went onto huge popularity when they lost the groups leading visionary, Peter Gabriel. The other band, Van Der Graaf Generator (named after American physicist Robert Van de Graaf's high voltage invention) labored in obscurity virtually their entire career leaving behind one of musicdom's strangest catalogues of sound. The re-release of Van Der Graaf's entire output thus continues with two classics from their middle period, Godbluff, and Still Life. Both contain only a few songs, which average around 8 minutes in length, but they are two distinct and separate steps toward a more mature sound. As uncompromising as ever, mainman Peter Hammill leads his fellow musicians through a quartet of typically dark visions containing all the ear markings of serious prog-rock. Hugh Banton's heavy organ fills and relentless bass lines fight for control over David Jackson's soaring, searing Saxophone. Drummer Guy Evans keeps the whole moving through numerous time changes with plenty of percussive histrionics. On top of it all, of course, are the singular vocal stylings of Peter Hammill. Using his voice like a fifth instrument, Hammill goes from falsetto to growl and back again, punctuating his introspective, searching lyrics with a frightening conviction. Capable of both great tenderness and harsh cynicism, Hammill's voice is the defining element of the Van Der Graaf sound. These are not songs to dance to. They are more like songs to think to. The album opens with Jackson on an echoing flute followed by Banton's familiar keyboards upon which Hammill whispers the opening lines, "Here at the glass -- all the usual problems, all the habitual farce." Somewhat existential, always questioning, these tunes are meant to stimulate the brain, not sedate it. Of course, it isn't long before the music picks up speed growing more insistent. The song drifts seamlessly into "Scorched Earth," another grim view of the world, one that seems surprisingly relevant in today's polarized atmosphere. Hammill and company are nothing, if not prophetic, stretching the boundaries of rock here as no other band had in 1975, except for perhaps the equally challenging King Crimson. Van Der Graaf, however stick closer to the rockier side of progressive music, using jazz timing to spice things up a bit. It is a perfect marriage to the free verse lyrics, which Peter Hammill employs, resulting in a provocative mixture. The current resurgence of "head music" from bands like The Mars Volta and System Of A Down, both of which utilize the jarring staccato effects that VDGG and others perfected over thirty years ago, shows the influence that these progressive pioneers have had. Many of these older groups have dated well, proving their ultimate worth. Art-rock has never really left, being carried on in one form or another through the 80's and 90's. It is only now that this hard-edged classical rock is returning to the forefront. The second half of Godbluff begins with a drum and bass workout slowly leading into a full-fledged jam with Jackson's familiar sax and then Banton's keyboard giving way to the song proper. Hammill's lyrics hint at the human condition, describing the world like some unknown Bergman epic. "We are all on the run, on our knees; the sundial draws a line upon eternity across every number." Although the viewpoint is often grim, the music can be quite moving, even beautiful at times. It seems to serve as a contrast to the more oppressive, angry passages. The final piece from this set, "The Sleepwalkers," jumps right in and marches forward showcasing some of Guy Evan's best percussion. Here again we have a narrator that wonders what the point of living is, making life's absurd condition more apparent. The overall message of Godbluff is the thin veil between life and death, a subject that Van Der Graaf was destined to tackle eventually. As Peter sings, "I'd search the hidden corners of all this world, make reason of the sensory whorl if I only had time, but soon the dream is ended." As a bonus for this CD re-release, two live tracks, "Forsaken Gardens" and "A Louse Is Not A Home" have been added. Not exactly up to the quality of the rest, they are still of interest to hardcore VDGG fans. The vocals are mixed poorly, sometimes overriding the music. The musicianship, as always, is superb. Overall, this is a great bit of prog-rock history getting its due. © Lindsay Bianchi, Copyright © 2007 PM MEDIA REVIEW, www.pmmediareview.com/archives/2005/12/van_der_graaf_g_1.aspx
Summer 1975: I was in London when I happened to read about one of my favourite groups ever, Van Der Graaf Generator, having reformed in their original line-up. And not only that, they were also playing on the Continent. Imagine my surprise when I read that, precisely at that very moment, the group was busy doing some dates in... Italy! (And since we're talking about timing: that summer was the only time that Henry Cow played in my hometown - while I was away...) I tried (in vain) to overcome my disappointment. Sure, on the surface this reformation appeared to be more than a bit strange - just like when practically everybody had been caught by surprise by the news of the group splitting up, three years earlier: right at a time when a dedicated following, hot live dates and a brilliant progression of excellent studio albums - The Least We Can Do Is Wave At Each Other ('70), H To He, Who Am The Only One ('70) and Pawn Hearts ('71) - all seemed to announce that the group was about to break big.
In the end, I was lucky: I attended the (London) New Victoria Theatre gig on August 30th. Definitely known for their not playing by the rules, the group started the concert in almost complete darkness, with just a lone, thin flute playing the intro to The Undercover Man, the opening track of the yet-to-be-released new album, Godbluff. If I remember correctly, the new album was performed in its entirety, with just a few old favourites like Lemmings and Man-Erg being performed; while the group also played a few songs (Forsaken Gardens, In The Black Room and A Louse Is Not A Home) from Peter Hammill's solo albums.
Godbluff was released in October '75. Attentive listening showed that the group had changed considerably, abandoning the aesthetic of their earlier albums - which had been characterized by a meticulous production work with tons of overdubs - in favour of a more direct, streamlined, "live" approach where the musicians' roots in soul, jazz and r&b easily showed. Which didn't mean that the music was now more palatable or commercial; quite the opposite, in fact; and there was a new sense of urgency, a nervous, harder surface.
Godbluff proved to be my favourite Van Der Graaf Generator album from that period (though quite good on its own terms, the 1977 The Quite Zone, The Pleasure Dome is a different album by a very different band). It still is, by the way: 'cause while Still Life ('76) had higher highs, it also had lower lows (my opinion, of course); while Godbluff's four long tracks - The Undercover Man, Scorched Earth, Arrow, The Sleepwalkers - showed a unity of inspiration and appeared as having been cut from the same cloth.
I decided to purchase the new, digitally remastered edition of Godbluff. I'm usually disappointed by digitally remastered editions: too many high frequencies, not enough bass, no "warmth", a terrible, fatiguing sound where cymbal hits threaten to damage one's hearing. I'm quite pleased I can say that the album sounds very good - much better, I'd say, than the tracks that appeared a few years ago on the group's 4 CD box set called The Box. There's nothing really "new" here, but the bass pedals on The Undercover Man, the clavinet work on Scorched Earth and Arrow, the bass guitar on The Sleepwalkers can be more easily appreciated, while cymbals never go "fi-zz...". Two brutal-sounding (and officially unreleased) live tracks from that period - Forsaken Gardens and A Louse Is Not A Home - complete the set.
Listening to Godbluff - an album that I know from memory, and that I hadn't listened to in a long time - I thought about how in those days this kind of quality, this concept of "song-stretching", were taken for granted. While now Godbluff sounds like the precursor to a music that never came. Funny, or what? © Beppe Colli 2005, CloudsandClocks.net | Aug. 23, 2005
After Pawn Hearts, the band happily disbanded, much to the relief of critics who were now free to concentrate on more accessible, lightweight, easy-goin' stuff like A Passion Play and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Peter Hammill went on with his solo career, which many fans claim to have been just as interesting, if not more interesting, than Graaf itself; and yet, apparently he felt something was still left unsaid, because four years later the band - hah hah - regrouped. With the same lineup, as far as I understand.
And yet, this "Mark II" of Van der Graaf Generator turned out to be a completely different band, apparently, due to huge transformations in Hammill's style along the way. Formally, this music can still be recognized as VDGG: minimal or no guitar, a heavy reliance on keyboards and saxophones, lots of jazzy and avantgarde, dissonant noodling, and Hammill's pretentious singing. But the overall effect is certainly different - for better or for worse. First of all, the production on Godbluff and all of its follow-ups is heavily stripped: very little overdubbing, very few special effects, very low volume level (the first track, 'The Undercover Man', starts almost in a whisper and the record very rarely picks up "true" steam). Apparently, by now Hammill no longer wanted the tunes to possess a certain "universalist", bombastic aspect - and so the elements of 'prog theater' are severely reduced. This is music to listen to late in the evening with the lights dimmed and the mood more contemplative than rocking. Well, we just have to grow older, don't we?
Second, Hammill has very seriously matured as a lyricist - in fact, I'd say that Godbluff finally finds him bravely acquiring the post of one of rock's premiere poets. The lyrics are still hard to get, but they're not meaningless; essentially, he's just continuing the 'pessimistic human theme' which he started touching upon in Pawn Hearts and even before that, but he very rarely relies on cliches and he never steps away from the direct path into a world of obscure and fake fantasies. What's with us? Well, we're all lunatics ('The Sleepwalkers'), we all have a mysterious alter ego ('The Undercover Man'), we are all trailing a senseless and wretched existence ('Scorched Earth'), and we're all condemned to eternal torture anyway ('Arrow'). A very fun and welcome concept, I suppose - of course, there might be other interpretations, but I doubt any of them will be more optimistic. Nevertheless, the album does not give the impression of being utterly depressive: Hammill seems almost to be revelling in his contemplation of man's essence, but not in a Satanic way - rather assuming the part of an 'outside observer'. In the same way certain Chinese philosophers used to make their theories about the original evil character of man: with a tranquil and indifferent expression on their faces. What there is, should always be, I suppose.
In the good old prog tradition, there are only four songs on the album (and the tradition would be carried on afterwards), and, strange enough, none of the four are particularly irritating. It takes much more than three listens to get into any of them, though, and while I can easily see people dismissing this with a wave of their hand, I'd beg 'em to reconsider. It's a clever record. And it's definitely clever in the musical sense, too: Van der Graaf are still a band, after all. 'The Sleepwalkers', I think, is this album's most interesting piece of melody-making: the organ/sax riff which carries the tune forwards is very strange, yet very bouncy, but the main fun starts near the middle when the tune suddenly slips into several almost vaudevillian instrumental passages. It bears a slight resemblance to 'Pioneers Over C', too, and some moments bring up associations with Jethro Tull's Passion Play (although that album could never hope to be as good because of its not making any sense at all). And the stately, gritty section that clocks in at around 5:05 into the song defines the very principles of 'VDGG Rock' for me: a good slab of organ/sax hard rock, catchy, stompy and self-assured.
'Arrow' is also pretty good - the funny thing is that at first I thought the song to be messier than anything else on here, but later on it struck me as the catchiest piece on the entire record. I guess that first impression just had to do with Hammill's singing: I don't like when he's overrelying on screaming, because he's not a very convincing screamer. I far prefer the soft tones in his voice, or at least the "icy cold" majestic intonation of 'Killer'. But that vocal melody can't be beat anyway, and the song embodies a vivid atmosphere of battle and torture just as the lyrics suggest - 'How strange my body feels, impaled upon the arrow!'. 'The Undercover Man' has a cool operatic feel to it - the song should certainly be taken as a free-flowing aria rather than a well-structured rock epic. Funny, I don't really mind the lack of structure here, maybe I'm just falling under the Hammill charm. 'Scorched Earth', then, is the tune that inspires me least of all: it's the closest to the band's Pawn Hearts style, with less introspection and more fake epicness, yet even here there can be found scraps of good riffs and interesting ideas. Occasionally. On occasion. On occasion, I enjoy an interesting idea, and Godbluff certainly has a fair share of these - and it's an album that really makes you think, unlike Pawn Hearts, which only makes you wonder.
Concluding on that intriguing note, I'd also want to warn you that Godbluff is the first, but not the best of Van der Graaf Generator's second period; so don't rush out to acquire it (in case it ever gets back into print, that is) until you have a couple other records that follow it. © George Starostin, http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm

Van Der Graaf Generator


Van Der Graaf Generator - H To He Who Am The Only One - 1970 - Charisma

A massive masterpiece from beginning to end. VdGG at their ultimately best. Every track is a classic. Some disharmonious elements begins to appear, mostly in "Lost" and "Sequel to C.", making an interesting contrast to the more melodic parts, and adding some incredible energy to the music. "House with no Door" is on the other hand an excellent example of the more lyric and melodious side of the band, while "Emperor in His War-Room" has a almost spacey feel to it. The opening track "Killer" is hard and energetic progressive rock as good as it can get. The songwriting is pure genius, and I feel really sorry for the people who didn't buy this back in 70`. If they only knew what they missed! If you don't like this, then you simply cant be a progressive rock fan. © www.vintageprog.com


1) Killer;
2) House With No Door;
3) The Emperor In His War-Room;
4) Lost;
5) Pioneers Over C.


- Peter Hammill / lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano (3)
- Hugh Banton / organs, oscillator, piano, bass (2,5), vocals
- Guy Evans / drums, tympani, percussion
- David Jackson / saxes, flute, vocals

- Nic Potter / bass (1,3,4)
- Robert Fripp / electric guitar (3)


They picked it up. And, in all sincerity, they really picked it up - without a doubt, H To He (the title refers to the fusion of hydrogen from helium, so there's nothing particularly flabbergasting about it) is the best prog album of 1970, which is saying something, because the competition was quite strong. However, where their main competitors were still learning (Genesis with Trespass, Yes with Time And A Word), or indulging in ultra-complex affairs that threatened to have too much ideological content and too few musical substance (Jethro Tull's Benefit, King Crimson's Lizard), VDGG suddenly made a definite breakthrough and demonstrated all the ample possibilities of the genre in one go. This is "glam-prog theatre" at its most elaborate and immaculate, and I really have a hard time trying to come up with any specific complaints about this record - apart from certain overlong sections and a couple instrumental and vocal melodies that come off a wee bit more thin than the others, this is a prime progressive album.
For starters, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a better multi-part progressive anthem than 'Killer'. Maybe I'm not too imaginative - the song is indeed considered by many to be the band's peak and is the critics' favourite, and maybe it's the only possible VDGG song you'll ever hear played on the radio. But hey, what can I do? It's not too often that you hear a band like VDGG come up with a brilliant riff like that, and set it to such positively frightening lyrics sung in such a positively frightening voice: 'So you live in the bottom of the sea, and you kill all that come NEAR YOU-OOO-WHOO-OOO... but you are very lonely, because all the other fish FEAR YOU-OOO-WHOO-OOO..." Not only that - the intro and the opening verses might be the most epic and memorable moment on the album, but the mid-section, with the 'death in the sea death in the sea' chantings, is also prime stuff. Wow dude, what a song. I find myself coming back to it all the time, again and again; VDGG might have easily earned themselves a place on this site if they'd never done anything else. This is where it all comes together, and where 'White Hammer' was the nadir, almost a self-parody, 'Killer' is the zenith, symbolizing the band in full flight and Peter Hammill as a completely idiosyncratic, self-assured writer making a brilliant artistic statement. With 'Killer', the band finally proves that there was a reason of its existing in the first place.
And to top it off, 'Killer' is immediately followed by what I consider VDGG's best ballad ever - the operatic, yet strangely sincere and moving 'House With No Door'. It's a little Bowie-like, which isn't a compliment - I don't usually like Bowie doing that stuff; but since the melody is a bit better than, say, Bowie's 'Time', and Hammill's singing is far more elaborate than David's (no offense, Bowie fans - Hammill has got a voice quite worthy of an opera singer), I can forgive the theatricality. The song's structure is immaculate, too: a sad, melancholic verse, a rousing chorus, a gentle flute solo, and a good buildup throughout - when Hammill screams out the last chorus in desperation, it's as if you could already predict that. For me, it's kinda comforting.
The next two tracks, dominated by guest star Robert Fripp's guitar playing, are a bit of a letdown, but not a serious one - they are just overshadowed by the previous two masterpieces. It's absolutely clear that for this album the band had really spent a lot of time carefully working out the song structures and thinking about setting Hammill's lyrical imagery to some real music instead of sonic drones. So 'The Emperor In His War-Room' makes heavy use of the flutes; the entire first part is set to a steady, clever flute rhythm, and wisely alternates from super-slow and gentle to martial rhythms to anthemic heights. Unfortunately, Hammill does go overboard with the lyrics, but I hardly pay attention to these, preferring to concentrate on the cool melodies. Then it all dies down, and the drums kick in the second, faster part, where Fripp finally comes in and gives us some much needed guitarwork. Wow.
'Lost' comes next - again, Peter is the main star, this time mainly pulling out the song based on the strength of his singing. The melody is far too convoluted and twisted, with time signatures flashing like cards in a dealer's hand and never giving you much time to enjoy them all; but whenever that gorgeous voice comes in and chants 'I know I'll never dance like I used to', there's some lump coming up my throat that almost makes me cry. Or when he intones in that super-duper pleading intonation: '...somehow I don't think you see my love at all...' This is not just rock theater; this is something far above. I still haven't found the term for it, but for now, I'll just say that Hammill's vocal performance on 'Lost' gotta rank as one of the most magnificent uses of human voice (at least, from a technical sense) on a rock record. And, quite unlike the previous track, it's just a... hell, it's just a love song. It's only a love song, get it? It's not pretentious. It's just a little suite that Peter probably cooked up to be sung as a serenade under someone's window. Why don't you try singing it to your girlfriend? (Hmm. On the other hand, I can imagine her reaction when you say 'oh, it's just a Van Der Graaf Generator song').
And how do we finish this minor masterpiece? Why, with 'Pioneers Over C'. Which is everything 'After The Flood' wanted to be, but failed. On here, Hammill tackles the traditional art-rock thematics of space travel - but it's not the lyrics this time, it's the atmosphere and the musical stuffing that makes the track so thoroughly unforgettable. Especially that cute little bass/sax riff in the middle of each verse to which Hammill tries singing in unison. And all the sections are just so dang cleverly constructed - I tip my hat to the masters. Fast, slow, moody and relaxed, energetic and fast-paced, and never getting boring.
I'm still a bit puzzled as to how the hell could this group come up with such a consistently great record, especially considering that it's sandwiched by two considerably more weak efforts. Where did these killer riffs (actually, 'Killer' riffs, heh heh) come from? How come they didn't do any more shattering ballads of similar quality? Where did that grandstanding operatic voice disappear afterwards? How come? Whatever; the band was definitely on a roll and it shows; the record's currently one of my Top 10 Prog albums of all time, and I heavily recommend it to all progressive lovers out there. And kudos to producer John Anthony who didn't bury Hammill's voice too deep this time around. © George Starostin, http://starling.rinet.ru/music/vander.htm#One
In a overview of the music from the last thirty-odd years of this century, Van Der Graaf Generator should simply not be overlooked. VDGG is one of those bands fans do not speak constantly about, unlike, when the biggies are listed, Yes, Pink Floyd, and Genesis. However, the references to the ingredients that comprise VDGG can be found in a lot of others' work.
For the DPRP ProgHistory, I picked VDGG's 1970 album H To He Who Am The Only One. I could have picked almost any other album from between 1969 and 1975, but we needed still a title for 1970. I don't mind, I like talking about all of their albums.
Let's take a look at some of those ingredients. First of all, there's the complex side of VDGG. The music was mostly written by the genius of Peter Hammill, who as a unique way of composing without losing touch of what is real, feeling, emotion. The complexity is found in the music of, for example, Yes as well. But where the latter fill every gap of silence to impress, VDGG know the emotion lies between the notes.
Not to be missed is Peter Hammill's voice. He sings like he plays - from the heart. The strong poetical lyrics are not seldomly written on melody lines other lyricists would find it very hard to sing any words on. And it still sounds as it can be done no other way. Whether he is screaming or singing on the top of his voice, it fits the music, and even if you're not listening to the lyrics, it's all part of the great emotional expressions of a wonderful band.
Very important for the sound is what distinguish VDGG from a lot of other prog bands: the saxophone. It's used for a foundation on which the rest of the composition is built together with the organ, but also for solo melodies, and, as in the first song Killer, a freaky highlight. This song contains a hypnotising melody of keyboards (organ) and saxophone that make you float with the music, being soaked into it. It portrays the haunting atmosphere this band is able to create with their music.
VDGG can do differently, as is shown in the second track, House With No Door. A slower piece with blues influences, but the easiness of the piano does not hide the sensitive agression that marks the voice, that can show even in the quietest moments. The Emperor In His War Room musically is somewhere between the first two tracks, alternating quiet, almost laid back verses (with flute), with menacing verses that are heavy, but not fast. It is the fear and agression that speaks.
Pioneers Over C, besides a guest appearane of Fripp on guitar, also contains those hypnotizing sax and keyboard lines. The song is over twelve minutes, so that phrase does not describe the whole thing. As with almost any VDGG composition, verses can be long, but the musical bits are never repetitive in a the way of a song and chrorus structure.
This album was released too early for prog cliches, but it still is as unique as it was then! There's so many parts of VDGG's music that have set the benchmarks for the bands to come. Every, and I mean every record collection should at least contain two VDGG albums. If only never to forget what progressive music with a great voice sounds like without the pressure of forced complexity. © Jerry van Kooten , © 1999 - 2007 : Dutch Progressive Rock Page, http://www.dprp.net/proghistory/index.php?i=1970_01

BIO (Wikipedia)

Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band. They were the first act signed to Charisma Records. The band achieved a considerable amount of success in Italy during the 1970s. In 2005 they embarked on a reunion, which continues to the present day.
The signature VdGG sound in the 1970s was a combination of Peter Hammill's distinctive and dynamic voice and David Jackson's electronically-treated saxophones, generally playing over thick chordal keyboard parts (such as Hammond organ and/or clavinet). Van der Graaf Generator albums tended to be darker in atmosphere than many of their prog-rock peers (a trait they shared with King Crimson, whose guitarist Robert Fripp guested on two of their albums), and guitar solos were the exception rather than the rule.
Hammill is the primary songwriter for the band, and the line between music written for his solo career and for the band is often blurred.
The group was named after a piece of electric equipment designed to produce static electricity, the Van de Graaff generator. The name was suggested by early member, Chris Judge Smith. The misspelling is accidental.
The band first formed in 1967 while its members were studying at Manchester University. The three-piece was comprised of Peter Hammill (guitar and vocals), Nick Pearne (organ) and Chris Judge Smith (drums and wind instruments). On the basis of a demo, this blues- and jazz-influenced first incarnation were offered a recording contract with Mercury Records, which only the 19-year old Hammill signed.
In 1968, Pearne was replaced by Hugh Banton. The band were able to secure Tony Stratton-Smith as a full-time manager. Through him, the band acquired a bass guitar player, Keith Ian Ellis. Drummer Guy Evans joined not too long afterwards. This line-up recorded a series of demos for Mercury, before releasing a single ("The People You Were Going To" b/w "Firebrand") on Polydor Records. The single was withdrawn under pressure from Mercury, since it violated Hammill's contract as a solo artist.
Although the band performed on BBC Radio 1's Top Gear radio show in November, and was touring successfully, it broke up in early 1969. Pressures leading to this included the theft of the band's gear and transport in London, combined with Mercury's refusal to let Hammill out of his solo contract and the band's unwillingness to sign under the "harsh" terms to which Hammill had agreed.
In July 1969, Hammill went to record his first solo album at Trident Studios. Banton, Evans, and Ellis joined him as session musicians. Through a deal worked out by their manager, Hammill's intended solo album, The Aerosol Grey Machine, was released by Mercury under the band's name in return for releasing Hammill from his solo contract. The album was initially only released in the United States.
Tony Stratton-Smith formed Charisma Records and signed the band as his first act. Before recording their second album, The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other, Ellis left (eventually joining Juicy Lucy and a very brief incarnation of Iron Butterfly) and was replaced by Nic Potter, and David Jackson (saxophone and flute) was added to the line-up.
A new sound was established, leaving behind the psychedelic influence of The Aerosol Grey Machine in favour of darker textures influenced by jazz and classical music. The Least We Can Do... was well received, and was swiftly followed by H to He, Who Am the Only One. Potter left mid-way through that recording, and the band decided to carry on without a bass guitarist, with Banton substituting with the organ's bass pedals. Robert Fripp of King Crimson contributed guitar on the song, "The Emperor in His War-Room".
The Hammill/Banton/Jackson/Evans quartet that resulted from H to He is now considered the 'classic' line-up, and went on to record Pawn Hearts, which is considered by many to be their finest work. It contains just three tracks, "Lemmings", "Man-Erg" and the 23 minute concept piece "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" – very much in keeping with the times. Fripp again provided a cameo appearance on guitar. The album proved highly successful in Italy, topping the chart there for 12 weeks. They toured Italy for a while, but the shows were plagued by different extremist organisations from Red Brigade to neo-fascists. The band toured extensively from 1970 to 1972, but a lack of support from the record company and possibly also financial difficulties caused the band to implode and Hammill left to pursue a solo career.
The three remaining members recorded an instrumental album with Nic Potter, Ced Curtis, and Piero Messina, under the name "The Long Hello". Their self-titled album (The Long Hello) was released in 1973.
Hammill's split with the group was amicable, and Banton, Jackson and Evans, among others, all contributed to his solo work at various times. By 1975 the band were ready to work with each other again, and three new albums were recorded in just 12 months. The sessions were produced by the band themselves (all previous VdGG albums had been produced by John Anthony at Trident Studios), and displayed a somewhat tauter, more streamlined sound. Godbluff in particular saw Hammill making significant use of the Hohner clavinet keyboard. Still Life followed within the same year.
Following World Record, first Banton and then Jackson departed. Nic Potter returned, and in a typically eccentric move Banton was replaced by a violinist, Grahame Smith (formerly of Charisma folk-rock band String Driven Thing. This line-up produced the album The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome. The band also shortened its name to Van der Graaf. Charles Dickie then joined the band on cello for live work, documented on the live album Vital. By the time Vital was released, in the summer of 1978, the band had already split.
One album of 'new' material was released after the split. Time Vaults is a collection of out-takes and rehearsal recordings from the 1972-1975 hiatus. The quality of the recordings varies from demo-standard to very poor.

Banton, Jackson and Evans all made occasional appearances on Hammill's solo albums following the 1978 split, and the classic line-up also played occasionally together. In 1991, they played several songs at a fortieth birthday party for David Jackson's wife. In 1996, the quartet appeared on stage during a concert by Hammill and Evans at the Union Chapel in London to perform "Lemmings". In 2003, Banton, Jackson, and Evans joined with Hammill to perform the song "Still Life" at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Both of these latter appearances were unannounced to the audience in advance.
Following the Queen Elizabeth Hall performance, discussions between the band members led to writing and rehearsal of new material in summer 2004. A double CD, Present, containing this material was released in April 2005. A reunion concert took place at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 6 May 2005, followed by several European dates in the summer and autumn of 2005. The concert in Leverkusen, Germany on 5 November 2005 was filmed for a TV show ("Rockpalast") and was broadcast on January 15, 2006.
Peter Hammill stated in a December 2005 newsletter that there were no plans for further recordings or performances by the 'classic' VdGG line-up. In September 2006, Hammill announced that the band would be continuing as a trio, for live and studio work, without Jackson.
A live album, Real Time, was released on March 5, 2007 on Hammill's label, Fie! Records. It contains the entirety of the band's 2005 concert at the Royal Festival Hall.


1967: Peter Hammill, Nick Pearne, Chris Judge Smith 1968: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton, Keith Ian Ellis 1970: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton, David Jackson, Nic Potter 1970: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton, David Jackson 1975: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton, David Jackson 1977: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Nic Potter, Graham Smith 1978: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Nic Potter, Graham Smith, Charles Dickie, David Jackson 2005: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton, David Jackson 2006: Peter Hammill, Guy Evans, Hugh Banton