Fame was a film directed by Alan Parker, a serious auteur (some would say overly serious, especially in light of the work that came later) who designed the film for posterity, and the same attitude carried over the music. Yes, the production techniques often do sound dated – the over-reliance on state-of-the-art synthesizer ironically now sounds helplessly tied to the year of its creation – but the music by Michael Gore is dynamic, varied, and alive, sung with real passion and vigor, and it still retains its essential spark 23 years after it was a pop culture phenomenon. Sure, it's glitzy and glossy, sounding like show tunes, but that's the tradition of this music, and it was done better than most Broadway tunes and movie soundtracks of the '80s. Years later, this still has the spark and vitality of kids trying to make their big break, no matter the kind of music they're singing, and that's one of the main reasons (along with Gore's fine compositions) Fame retains its power and entertainment value years later.
Vinegar Joe's second album was workmanlike, early-'70s mainstream British rock, though with more of a soul and rock & roll influence than the usual such band of the era, due to the one-two punch of lead vocalists Robert Palmer and Elkie Brooks. It's fair but not astounding stuff, Palmer and Brooks both singing together and taking individual leads of their own. The original material tends toward the commonplace good-time rock & roll vibe, though it gets a bit more interesting on Palmer's two original compositions, "Falling" (which clearly points toward the reggae-funk of his early solo career) and "Forgive Us" (which is a decent facsimile of rootsy southern Californian country-folk-rock). As for the three covers, it's doubtful anyone needed a version of Jerry Lee Lewis' classic "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On." But they showed better taste on Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" (Brooks' most impressive vocal on the record) and the obscure American folk-rock tune "Rock & Roll Gypsies," originally done by the Gypsy Trips and Hearts & Flowers in the 1960s.
Imagine the Mamas & the Papas without the arranging prowess of John Phillips or the powerful voice of Cass Elliot and you get a pretty good idea of what the Deep Six sounded like. During their brief existence, they released one self-titled LP in 1966 on Liberty. Over three decades later, the U.K.-based Rev Ola label not only reissued that rare collector's item, but also included five non-LP cuts, rare photos, and excellent liner notes. The light, if somewhat generic, folk-rock arrangements and close harmonizing are pleasant enough on the majority of tracks; versions of "A Groovy Kind of Love," "Where Were You When I Needed You," and "Solitary Man" fit the band's smoothness to a tee.
Vega were one of several Andalusian and Spanish bands who flourished in the mid- to late seventies by making music that blended flamenco, folk and jazz at times with English progressive tendencies, often resulting in a colorful and rich fusion sound. Acts like Triana, Cai, Mezquita and Azahar would establish themselves as the preeminent players on these scenes, along with the more contemporary counterparts like Los Canarios and Alameda. In this vein Vega combined Andalusian instrumentation (and sometimes traditional arrangements) with a less well-defined progressive bent, emphasizing instead a heavy flamenco influence and the showcased guitar work of band leader Tómas Vega. The group released three albums in three years, each accompanied by one single. The first two are heavily imbued with flamenco-driven fusion compositions.
A very obscure and difficult to locate album produced in Germany in the early-70's. This is a dreamy progressive folk album that appears to be a duo augmented by sessions musicians (in the manner of Witthuser + Westrupp but with vocals sung in English). The album does venture out into a tougher rock sound at times while at others it will float on a bed of mellotron sound which hazily recalls the sound of early King Crimson or The Moody Blues. A very interesting and rare album which is well worth a listen.
Unhalfbricking is the third album by British folk rock band Fairport Convention, released in 1969. It is seen as a transitional album in their history and marked a further musical move away from American influences towards more traditional English folk songs that had begun on their previous album, What We Did On Our Holidays and arguably reached its peak on the follow-up, Liege & Lief, released later the same year. In 2004 Q magazine placed Unhalfbricking at number 41 in its list of the 50 Greatest British Albums Ever, and in the same year The Observer, describing it as "a thoroughly English masterpiece", listed it at number 27 in its Top 100 British Albums. The following year, 2005, it was included in Robert Dimery's "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".
Pentwater is an interesting Chicago combo whose high-decibel rock effectively utilizes contemporary classical elements. They have found a sound that is extremely complex with layer upon layer of instrumentation supported by a lyrical violin and a bewitching flute and characterised by an abuse on polyphonic vocals and counterpoints. All the members are excellent musicians, which is important as the tunes are often intricate. Combining heavy helpings of Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis and ELP with some of the weirdness of Frank Zappa. One of America's finest progressive bands and recommended highly.
Originally recorded in 1973, Green Desert did not see the light of day until it was remixed and released as part of the In the Beginning box set in 1986, then as its own album later the same year. It is difficult to ascertain how radical this release is from the original recording, but as it stands, it is a logical step between the rawer-produced Atem to the ambient/sequencer-driven style of Phaedra. A key element of this is attributable to Edgar Froese's guitar playing on the title track, an unhurried solo that lasts only about five minutes in the nearly 20-minute piece, yet is easily the most memorable part of the entire song. None of the three shorter songs are as dynamic as the first, each containing a keyboard melody played over synthesized noises and the rhythms of drums, sequencers, or a series of chords.
GDigitally remastered and expanded edition of this legendary 1967 collaboration from Rock 'N' Roll and R&B pioneer Larry Williams and Johnny Guitar Watson, who took his R&B roots into pimp-friendly Funk in the '70s. The album is a Northern Soul classic with three bonafide stompers in the title track, the legendary 'Too Late' and 'A Quitter Never Wins'. Also features the even rarer 45 'Nobody', which the duo recorded with US Psychedelic outfit Kaleidoscope. The package is expanded even more with six tracks from Watson's OKeh album the Fantastic Piano And Guitar of Johnny Watson - BAD! And two tracks from the OKeh album in a Fats Bag - the Johnny Guitar Watson Trio Plays Fats Waller.