1960s singer-songwriter Kevin Ayers sings ‘Funny how the situation changes’, at the start of The Unfairground, his first album for fifteen years. How true that appears to be, given the biographical facts surrounding this formerly psychedelic, and almost mythic, ex-Soft Machine operator. Running to seed, as the story goes, in the south of France, he gets re-discovered, hauled back to the UK and a batch of new songs – recorded on the hoof in a range of locations – is conjured around Ayers’ wry, addictive, but ever so slightly broken, vocals.
From the opening tour de force reading of Coleman Hawkins' "Bean and the Boys" to the closing performance of Charlie Parker's "Dexterity," Magnificent brilliantly illustrates Barry Harris' unique rapport with the bop piano tradition. Absolutely unlike the enervating, curatorial approach of the neo-con movement, Harris deals with the tradition as a continuum, perpetually rejuvenating and extending it. Along with the opening and closing tracks, the classics on this 1969 date include a caressing exploration of "These Foolish Things" and a dazzling treatment of "Ah-Leu-Cha."
In the '80s, Jethro Tull was no longer the dominant force on the rock scene they had been throughout much of the previous decade, but the indomitable Ian Anderson continued to make ambitious records based on themes of ages past, even in an era of skinny ties and drum machines. BROADSWORD AND THE BEAST has a marked swords-and-sorcery motif; Anderson is depicted as a winged elfin creature on the cover. Despite such leanings, producer Paul Samwell-Smith–original bassist for the Yardbirds–gives the record a modern gloss, weaving the synthesizer playing of Peter-John Vettesse and the out-sized guitars of Tull stalwart Martin Barre through BROADSWORD's vaguely medieval-sounding romps.
This CD/DVD combination pack, in a jewel case, features the digitally remastered CD "A" and the bonus DVD "Slipstream", which features 60 minutes of classic, live footage from the 1980 concert in Los Angeles, along with 2+ music videos.
By the end of the 1970s, the golden age of progressive rock was over, and Jethro Tull, former rulers of the prog-rock roost, entered the '80s sporting a radical change in both personnel and sound. Some of the change was a result of circumstance–longtime piano player John Evans and keyboardist/arranger David Palmer departed after '79's STORMWATCH, and bassist John Glascock had recently died, leaving only Ian Anderson and guitarist Martin Barre. Anderson enlisted Dave Pegg, the rock-solid former Fairport Convention bass player; prog-rock veteran Eddie Jobson on electric violin and keyboards, and Mark Craney, the first of several Tull drummers in the '80s.
Rush's sophomore release FLY BY NIGHT has become a milestone in their recording career. Although such future releases as 2112, HEMISPHERES, PERMANENT WAVES, and MOVING PICTURES would be superior albums, FLY BY NIGHT signaled a change from Led Zep blues-rock to more original and challenging material. But most important of all, FLY BY NIGHT was drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's first recording with the band. Peart had replaced original member John Rutsey just in time for Rush's inaugural U.S. tour, and became an integral member by the time of FLY BY NIGHT's recording.
The opening chords of "Finding My Way" signal the beginning of a song, album, and career that would have a permanent place in rock history. The debut album from the Canadian progressive metal outfit features drummer John Rutsey who, although a talented drummer, would quit after this album to be replaced by Neal Peart. Peart contributed to the band's songwriting progression and use of time changes.
Stormwatch marked the end of an era in Jethro Tull's history, as the last album on which longtime members Barriemore Barlow, John Evan, and David Palmer participated, and the final appearance of bassist John Glascock, who played on three of the cuts (Anderson supplied the bass elsewhere) and died following open-heart surgery a few weeks after its release.
Along with Kind of Blue, In a Silent Way, and Round About Midnight, Sketches of Spain is one of Miles Davis' most enduring and innovative achievements. Recorded between November 1959 and March 1960 – after Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley had left the band – Davis teamed with Canadian arranger Gil Evans for the third time. Davis brought Evans the album's signature piece, "Concierto de Aranjuez," after hearing a classical version of it at bassist Joe Mondragon's house. Evans was as taken with it as Davis was, and set about to create an entire album of material around it. The result is a masterpiece of modern art.
With IN A SILENT WAY, the elements of popular music, blues and electronics that had been implicit in Miles Davis' previous recordings now came center stage, and the trumpeter never looked back again. IN A SILENT WAY is Miles' BIRTH OF THE COOL/MILES AHEAD/KIND OF BLUE for the rock generation.
Gone are the rhythmic and harmonic trappings of bebop. In their place, Miles conjures a hypnotic, subliminal dance pulse and an airy, celestial drone of electric keyboards. Miles fell in love with the bell tones and flute-like textures of Fender/Rhodes electric pianos, and in the hands of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul (who doubles on organ), they create layer upon layer of choral texture, in great reverberant washes of color and counterpoint.
ON THE CORNER enjoys a special cult status among musicians, anticipating as it does the punk funk/acid jazz movements. For Miles Davis, ON THE CORNER was another seismic shift. Miles was particularly fond of the lyric sweep of Hendrixian electric guitar, the James Brown-like rhythmic thump of Fender bass, and the bell-like timbre and chordal possibilities of the Fender/Rhodes electric piano. Now the trumpeter sought to incorporate the feel of street rhythms from around the world and to reflect the influence of modern electronic composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen.