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Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

Auch wenn bei „The Final Cut“ noch der Name PINK FLOYD auf dem Cover steht, auf der Rückseite des Albums verrät der Satz „The Final Cut – a Requiem for the post war dream by Roger Waters. Performed by Pink Floyd“ einiges über die Entstehungsgeschichte des Albums.

Hierbei ist „PINK FLOYD“ mit Vorsicht zu genießen: Keyboarder Rick Wright, auf dem Vorgängeralbum „The Wall“ bereits nicht mehr als vollwertiges Bandmitglied gelistet, fehlt auf „The Final Cut“ komplett. Inwiefern es sich hierbei also um das letzte „klassische“ PINK FLOYD Album oder bereits die erste Roger Waters Soloscheibe handelt, darüber gehen die Meinungen weit auseinander.

Das Album, 1983 veröffentlicht, ist geprägt vom Kalten Krieg und refernziert auf mehrere damals aktuelle Geschehnisse – insbesondere den Falklandkrieg, welcher von April bis Juni 1982 andauerte.

Wer die Ereignisse nicht mehr so richtig präsent hat, wird spätestens beim Text von „Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert“ gleich mehrmals zum Lexikon seines Vertrauens greifen:

Brezhnev took Afghanistan.
Begin took Beirut.
Galtieri took the Union Jack.
And Maggie, over lunch one day,
Took a cruiser with all hands.
Apparently, to make him give it back.

Die textlichen Aussagen sind – wie von Roger Waters gewohnt – oft mehr als deutlich und an einigen Stellen scheint die Musik lediglich dazu zu dienen, die Texte zu transportieren. Dazwischen glänzen Songs wie „The Gunners Dream“ mit einigen der beeindruckendsten Melodien, welche auf einem PINK FLOYD Album zu finden sind.

Der Song „The Fletcher Memorial Home“ zeichnet das Bild eines Heims für unheilbare Tyrannen und Könige, die dort im abgregrenzten Bereich ihre Reden schwingen und Medallien polieren können. Ein fast friedliches Bild, wäre da am Ende nicht die letzen drei Zeilen

Is everyone in?
Are you having a nice time?
Now the final solution can be applied.

Aufhorchen lassen auch die superben Soundeffekte wie z.B. der quer durch den Raum fliegende Jet am Anfang von „Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert“, nach dessen ersten Bombenwurf sicherlich der ein oder andere Hörer panisch die heimischen Lautsprecher auf Schäden untersucht hat.

„The Final Cut“ schließt mit „Two Suns In The Sunset“, einem Antikriegssong, der sich mit der Möglichkeit eines Atomkriegs beschäftigt („the sun is in the east, even though the day is done“) und gleichzeitig – passend zum Rest des Albums – neben der stärksten Leistung von David Gilmour mit Andy Newmark am Schlagzeug auf ein weiteres PINK FLOYD-Mitglied verzichtet.

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Jon Lord – Windows vinyl reissue: a closer look

On September 27, 2019 earMusic will continue the series of Jon Lord vinyl re-releases with “Windows”, an album featuring a cooperation between Jon Lord and conductor and composer Eberhard Schoener. Schoener, who was also involved in progressive rock masterpieces like “The Turn of a Friendly Card” by The Alan Parsons Project may also be known for being the creator of the main theme for the TV series “Derrick“.

“Windows” was recorded live at the Herkulessaal in Munich on June 1st, 1974 as closing performance of the “Prix Jeunesse International” festival under the “Rock meets Classic” banner and was broadcasted by German TV station Bayerischer Rundfunk to a potential audience of 300 million people.

The album consists of two parts, the 18 minute piece “Continuo on B.A.C.H.” and the name-giving 32 minute “Window” (without “s”), both composed by Jon Lord and Eberhard Schoener.

“Continuo on B.A.C.H.” plays with the idea of continuing on “The Unfinished Fugue”, the last part of “The Art of Fugue” by Johann Sebastian Bach and features way more Jazz influences than focussing on Jon Lords hard rock background (as the two predecessors “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” and “Gemini Suite” did) using the orchestra more as soloists than using them in a more conventional rock meets classic way.

The first part of “Window”, called “1st Movement – Renga”, was composed by Eberhard Schoener and starts with a more blues-like feeling featuring the voice of David Converdale, later contrasted by two sproaons, who make this part hard to enjoy in its entirety.

As the name hints, the second part “2nd Movement – Gemini” recycles the vocal section from “Gemini Suite”, likely some sort of compromise because Jon Lord and Eberhard Schoener were running out of time. “Windows” was a contract work for the Bayerische Rundfunk to close the Prix Jeunesse International festival and had to be finished in time.

The closing “3rd Movement – Alla Marcia: Allegro”, composed by Jon Lord reminds of “Gemini Suite” but also includes moments which would later become parts of “Sarabande”, Jon Lords following solo work.

The band consited of Jon Lord on piano, organ and keyboards, his DEEP PURPLE bandmates David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, both on vocals and Glenn also on bass, Tony Ashton on vocals and keyboard and last but not least SPENCER DAVIS GROUP members Ray Fenwick on guitar and Pete York on drums. The classical section included the Munich Chamber Opera Orchestra conducted by Eberhard Schoener, featuring sopranos Erminia Santi and Sigune von Osten, Günther Salber on violin, and finally well known actor Klaus Löwitsch as narrator.

Sadly the recording doesn’t include leaves out the “Einleitungsfanfare zu Also Sprach Zaratusthra” by Richard Strauss and all narration parts by Klaus Löwitsch without explaination. This might have been because the narration was completely in German and its content hard to guess even for native German speakers. Thanks to Youtube, there is at least a low resolution video of the whole event available for everyone to watch.

While being published on LP in 1974, the first straight-to-CD-transfer of “Windows” was released 1987 by Line Records, followed by a 25th Remastered Anniversary Edition on Purple Records in 1999 and a reissue in 2010. The current vinyl reissue is based on the 2017 CD issue.

Parts of this text were originally published on April 20th, 2017 as “Jon Lord – Windows

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Jon Lord – Gemini Suite vinyl reissue: a closer look

Back in 1969, the lineup of DEEP PURPLE had seen a drastic change: Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice split up with singer Rod Evans and bass player Nick Simper and hired the former EPISODE SIX musicians Ian Gillan and Roger Glover to complete the lineup.

One of the first shows to feature the new lineup was the live performance of Jon Lord’s „Concerto For Group and Orchestra“, an ambitious work to unite the different worlds of a rock band and a full orchestra which lay the foundation for Jon Lords career as composer / writer and solo artist. About a year later, the follow-up of the „Concerto“ faced the light of day during a live performance at the Royal Festival Hall, again featuring his DEEP PURPLE bandmates and conductor Malcolm Arnold.

While the „Concerto“ had its focus on band and orchestra as a whole, „Gemini Suite“ did focus on the different instruments, dedicating a track to guitar, piano, drums, vocals bass guitar and organ respectively. Also contrary to the „Concerto“, which took more than 40 years to be recorded in a studio, Jon Lord went to the studio in 1971 to record „Gemini Suite“ as a studio project. At that time, the rock career of DEEP PURPLE was in full flight and Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore showed no interest in participating in the recording and were replaced by guitar player Albert Lee , multi talented Tony Ashton and singer Yvonne Elliman.

The 2019 vinyl release is based on the 2016 remaster by Rob Cass, using the original stereo mixes of the album. Luckily, the remaster doesn’t follow the popular trend of brick-walling every track and preserves the dynamics and overall feel of the original recording.

There’s still no explaination why the original artwork has been dropped and was replaced by completely new design, but the 2016 foreword by Roger Glover is also included on the inner sleeve.

Parts of this text were originally published on December 4th, 2016 as “Jon Lord – Gemini Suite

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Paice Ashton Lord – Malice In Wonderland

When DEEP PURPLE disbanded in 1976, Jon Lord and Ian Paice decided to start a new band, not trying to recreate what they already had with DEEP PURPLE but to explore new musical directions.

As frontman they recruited singer and keyboard player Tony Ashton. Jon Lord had already collaborated with Tony Ashton composing the soundtrack for “The Last Rebel” (published 1971 as “Musical score composed by Tony Ashon & Jon Lord, performed by Ashton, Gardner & Dyke”) and on “First Of The Big Bands” (published 1974 as “Tony Ashton & Jon Lord”), an album which could be seen as some sort of blueprint for “Malice in Wonderland”.

The lineup was completed with Paul Martinez on bass and Bernie Marsden on guitar, a brass section fronted by Howie Casey and two female background singers, Sheila McKinley and Jeanette McKinley.

The recordings took place in Munich in autumn 1976 in basement studio of the Arabella hotel (inspiration for the song “Arabella”) and the album was released in early 1977, surprising many DEEP PURPLE fans with a mix of Rock, Blues, Funk and Jazz.

To promote the album, a tour covering major European cities had been planned, but as tickets didn’t sell as expected, most dates were dropped from the oncoming tour, leaving just five British dates to be performed.

As time went by, Tony Ashton felt more and more uncomfortable with his role as frontman of PAL and it also turned out the fans needed more time to adjust to the sound of Paice Ashton Lord as expected. By the end of 1977, the band started the recordings for a second album, but as the momentum was gone the album was never finished and the band called it quits in 1978.

“Malice In Wonderland” will be reissued on May 17 2019 by earMUSIC, using the 2001 remaster by Nick Watson for the tracks of the original album. The release will also include eight bonus tracks from the never finished second album, remastered in 2019 by Eike Freese. The booket contains previously unpublished photographs by Alan Messer and detailed liner notes by Simon Robinson.

Sadly the reissue misses the opportunity to include the “Sight & Sound In Concert” live recording, which would have been a perfect addition to this otherwise fine release of an impressive album.

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Album-Highlights 2018

Meine Album-Highlights des Jahres 2018 in alphabetischer Reihenfolge:

Abel Ganz – Gratuitous Flash

Aus dem Dustkreis um COMEDY OF ERRORS stammen ABEL GANZ, deren Debut „Gratuitous Flash“ lange Zeit überhaupt nicht auf Silberscheibe erhältlich war. 1984 erschienen, bietet das Album eine faszinierende Mischung aus GENESIS mit Peter Gabriel und MARILLION mit Fish, angereichert mit jeder Menge eigener Ideen.

Ayreon – Best Of Ayreon Live

Auf Studiowerken oft einen Tick zu langatmig, bietet „Best Of Ayreon Live“ nicht nur eine gut gewählte Übersicht über das Schaffen von Arjen Anthony Lucassen, sondern gleichzeitig auch eine sowohl optisch als auch akkustisch überzeugende Party mit unzähligen Gästen am Mikrofon.

Big Big Train – Grimspound

Alle Jahre wieder gibt’s beim Night Of The Prog-Festival mindestens eine gute Band neu zu entdecken – 2018 waren dies BIG BIG TRAIN, deren aktuelles Album „Grimspound“ mindestens so überzeugend ist wie der etwas eingängigere Vorgänger „Folklore“.

Epica vs Metropole Orkest – Beyond The Matrix – The Battle

Das Rennen zwischen „Beyond The Matrix- The Battle“ und „Epica vs Attack On Titan Songs“ um einen Platz in dieser Liste war extrem eng. Beide Alben zeigen EPICA von einer ungewöhnlichen Seite, aber letztendlich konnten die Grows zum Big Band Beat auf Grund des Coolness-Faktors doch einen leichten Vorsprung für sich verbuchen.

Riverside – Wasteland

Das erste Album nach dem Tod von Gründungsmitglied Piotr Grudzinski zeigt RIVERSIDE von einer düsteren, melancholischen Seite. Songs wie das für RIVERSIDE eher untypische“Guardian Angel“, das spannungsreiche „Lament“ oder das in der Instrumentalarbeit an PINK FLOYD erinnernde „River Down Below“ packen den Zuhörer von der ersten Sekunde an (nicht nur) mit ihrer Atmosphäre.

Maßgebend war das Anschaffungs-, nicht das Erscheinungsdatum.