YES/Highlights from Seventy Two (long distance but no runaround)

yes    As the progressive rock age and all its components including massive instrumental passages of time and virtuosity beyond the threshold of imagination came to a valiant close, the true purveyors of that endeavor continued on in gallant fashion. Bands like King Crimson, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, early Genesis and the like bolstered on with their fancy finger work and tales of mountains coming out of the sky, schizoid men, and giant hogweeds. Yes has held onto a legacy that has most definitely filled the void of progressive onslaught throughout the stones of years.  These recordings created room for interesting improvisation, spectacular vocal soaring, and writing that permeated the atmosphere with a combination of talent which together formulated the band known as Yes. In their earlier days, mostly focused on their first two albums, Yes ventured through an identity crisis, not certain of their place in the music universe. However, once they established their ideals and where they headed with several magnum opus’s and intricate mastery, they have risen to remain one of the progressive giants of the industry. Much of the reasoning for the “Yessongs” album was all of the controversy surrounding the ability to replicate such complicated music live was a near impossibility. However, with their live flair and added expansions they rose above and soared to new heights. This album represents a great year in which the band gained an amazing place in the music world. They lasted a long distance but never gave us the runaround.

Jethro Tull/Minstrel in the Gallery:40th Anniversary La Grande Edition (no one here but us minstrel’s)

Tull minstrel     If ever there were modern day minstrel’s, Jethro Tull would be it. I can’t vouch for all of the galleries they’ve been in, but after seeing them perform countless times in many different venues, I can say that this album holds them true to their word(s). This showcase collection encases the final year of that ever wonderful lineup of musicians ever to grace the band. In their eighth effort in their musical venture Jethro Tull has surpassed those moments of mincing lyrics with fantasy and has endeavored to a higher realm of writing. What Ian Anderson proposes is a formulation of words that others never enter.

This case bound study of the “Minstrel” moment is donned with an amazing recording of the original album additionally engraved with b-sides, outtakes, and alternate cuts pertaining to the time. Also included is a live performance from Paris with a blend of their best tunes interpolating improvisational guitar riffs by Martin Barre, tagging along with flute solos, and variations of “Back Door Angels”.

In DVD glory we have musical mixes and rare footage of “Minstrel in the Gallery” live in Paris in its entire eight and a half minute splendor.

You will find some of the songs performed with a slightly unorthodox flair which for anyone who knows the language of Jethro Tull can certainly attest to the fact that they have most certainly reshaped their cuts from instrumental, to lyrical, to acoustic, and beyond.

Forty years in history and Jethro Tull continues to play in whatever gallery they wish…after all there’s no one but but us minstrels.

Mandala/Midnight Twilight (a house with many doors)

mandalaNow here’s a band that simply refuses to be tied down to any particular genre or musical realm. This album has generated a flurry of styles that has pretty much incorporated something for everyone. The opener for example is heavy and loud with a most prominent guitar exuding riff after riff without ceasing. Moving onto acoustical numbers that flaunt the genteel sense of the same instrument with a tender appeal. Their instrumentals are either haunting or strange or both, bordering inevitably towards some King Crimson style improvisations. The variations in direction delve indiscriminately, even touching upon the pop aspects of sound. you can gently slide into the mellow aspects of this bands well rounded range and even share in the vocal arrangements and notice the mellow and the moribund changes. Many other bands such as Todd Rundgren and Jethro Tull haven’t placed stakes in only one endeavor as well leaving the door open for many a tale to be told. And the beat goes on…in many different ways.

Quincy/the final season (a job well done)

quincy   Many a show has passed through the airwaves, but not many have endured the direct storylines and forceful entertainment provided by one of the greatest television dramas ever produced. Jack Klugman has given his all in this role and has always had the best supporting actors surrounding him. He’s an uncompromised medical examiner with a heart and soul for his work without a net. This season ends with the exploration of drug abuse, the corruption buried deep within the confines of our judicial system and it apparent brokenness, teenage suicide, and the lingering effects of lyrics in the songs we listen to and the impact it holds upon our nations youths. Ever provocatively poking at the social issues of the day, Quincy leaves us in full form, always the avenger with truth by his side.

Tempest/The Tracks We Leave (Celtic kings of the open green mountains)

tempestMy wife and I adore Celtic music. And finding Tempest in a tempestuous barrage of Irish traditional songs, original numbers, and a menagerie of instrumental expression fills the atmosphere with a delightful candor for the love of its roots. This band, which has been around a long time, has endeavored to enhance its musical directions with a massive flair and choice of instruments that have created and recreated the genre, evolving it into a cross of unyielding expansion. There are many ways that this band has derived bits and pieces of instrumentation from the likes of Jethro Tull, other nations around the globe, and perhaps even the ancient druids themselves. However, fully and truly making them all their own. It’s amazing how some good old folk can be delivered into the hands of semi-progressive rock and back again which they have done. They certainly aren’t afraid of including an electric guitar to multiply their reaches into the outer regions of Celtic experimentation. The flute finds it way into the tunes as does a Calliope of many ventured instruments unknown to most, but not to the Celtic kings of the open green mountains. This album is a pleasant journey on the road less traveled by the mainstream. It is indeed a musical adventure that draws all near to it as the songs either touch your heart or bounces you into an unexpected jig. Celtic on…

Skowron/Resurrection Road

scan    New albums come and go. New artists do the same (as do some old ones). Some of them delve into the feeling of the art more than the typical pop or expected structure, which is the path of least resistance here. Look towards cuts like “Shake yer Love” which handles quite the driving bounce musically throughout. Or “The Eagle” lending itself towards Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” with its melodic acoustics. We could lean on “All dis Jass”for all of its blusey nightclub dramatic feeling, or soar about with the heartfelt “Pain” onto a place where the heart wrenching questioning derived within the vocals remains buried in its unrequited call for an answer. It provides a raw emotion gliding throughout with a most rhythmic overtone. Give a listen and squeeze out what you need. It all seems to be there.

Fireball XL5 (the complete series)

fireball  Rocket yourself into the cosmos with one of the most original and amazing pieces of nostalgic work ever put together. Welcome to the world of marionettes, or better penned by creator Gerry Anderson, supermarionation. This five DVD set includes every single episode during its time, special interviews, audio commentary and a featurette about the art of Fireball XL5. Those of you who can’t exit the earths atmosphere enough will stormtroop your way into the outer regions of space with Steve Zodiac, Venus, the professor, and no one can forget the indisputable Robert the robot who mans (or robots) the controls. The imagination is beyond evident with all of the strings in full view as marionettes are known for. The motion is wonderful and the models for the ships and such come to life in glorious black and white. This is a most collectable series noting the beginnings of space travel and warring with those terrible aliens who dare to give the crew a bad time, losing to the greatest space crew ever. Take a ride with this fireball and you’ll experience what its like to fly high.