Friday, 5 November 2010

PETER HAMMILL - Happy Birthday

Thanks for those unforgettable masterpieces that helped me discover new directions through my adolescence years :-)

Foto above:
The book "Killers, angels, refugees", first edition, was released in 1974.  I met Peter for my first time, in 1975, during the sound check of the fresh reunited VDGG concert, he was changing the strings to his guitar, and I asked if  I could keep the "old" ones :).  Once again, I recorded that concert. He also signed the book for me, and from that time I know that his birthday falls today. 62 years so far.

I will never forget the very first time that I saw Van Der Graaf live, it was in 1972, in Florence, at the Space Electronic! I recorded the concert, the COMPLETE concert, and I still have it today.  But in those middle-age years, some friends borrowed the tape from me and one of them (named DP, who was a fanatic trader) did a scrap copy on a C-60 cassette and let it tour the whole world.  Therefore today we have the bad copy of that concert around, where the gig is incomplete, and also the title sequence is wrong. You can find it even in one of these blogs! They claim that the concert is entire - LOL!  The worst is that "Refugees", marvellous song that the band played as an encore, is cut, because this "friend" didn't have a C-90 tape to copy my concert on, in its completeness...  So, maybe one of these times I'll make a new scan of this recording and will post it here :-)
For REAL VDGG fans only! :-)

For HAMMILL and VAN DER GRAAF lovers, please see my "Hommage" that I posted months ago:

Friday, 15 October 2010

BERT JANSCH - "L. A. Turnaround" and "Moonshine" (1974 and 1972)

The song you hear as you open my main blog "Countess Vanessa's Castle, is "Fresh as a sweet Sunday morning", by Bert Jansch, from this fabulous album:

It's the album where BJ somehow "betrayed" all us fans of him, he merged his splendid and personal  exquisite folk vein with some elements of country... the result was anyway superlative.
What a shame that so many CD reissues don't reproduce more than the 30% of the original covers and inserts and inner artworks...
Above: the insert sheet with lyrics, and the label
Also strongly recommended:
"MOONSHINE" (Reprise, 1972)
"Moonshine" is a real milestone, not only in the discography of BJ, but also for the general development of British Folk Music.  For some people this is even the highest point of his artistical production.  Speaking for myself, I never could get decided, I always loved "LA turnaround" too much, but also, how can you leave out things like "Birthday blues" and "Rosemary lane", and "It don't bother me"...??   As you know, some LPs of BJ were issued in the USA on various labels with different covers and/or titles  (IE: "Strolling down the highway", "Jack Orion" on Vanguard, etc etc), but for this album it's something you wouldn't expect: the USA edition sleeve was gatefold while the UK wasn't, as you can see in the following pictures, and included a short Curriculum Vitae of BJ (not present inside the UK edition) probably meant as a further divulgative push to conquer the American public... The LP was produced by Danny Thompson
above: the UK edition with label, not gatefold cover.
Above: the back cover of the UK edition

above: the UK edition includes a gatefold insert with the lyrics.

above: the spread outer gatefold sleeve of the USA edition, where front and back coincide with the UK issue.

above: the USA edition's innere sleeve, where the lyrics are reproduced.
above: the two album covers and the biography sheet, in an unusual A4 format, included only in the USA edition.

As usual, I won't post these album, as I'm sure you can find them all on some other blogs.

BELOW: The six Bert Jansch albums favourite of mine [fronts and backs]


Saturday, 9 October 2010

JOHN LENNON - Self Portrait

John turns 70 today. Difficult to find words for or about him that yet haven't be said or written, so I'll let his pinsel expresss something visual for himself in my place.

This is the particular of a self portrait that he made in 1971.

I always wondered - "What among his records would he choose to represent himself, if he was here now to decide?" -  And I often thought that the early years with Yoko must have been the most happy and creative for him, if her closeness allowed him to conceive masterpieces like "JL & Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine". And the three "impossible " records full of alternative sonor material which he published in 1968 and 1969, give a precise characterization of his mood and inspiration, something complementary that can't be separated from his exquisitely musical albums, they should be considered part of the same artistic "construction". Therefore, in a way, I consider them representative of those years, important in the same measure of "Imagine".
For these reasons, I also feel like saying a big 'Thankyou' to Yoko, a Lady I always admired.

Above: the famous CAKE present in the box of "Wedding album": it was just a photograph, but the album wasn't too easy to find - not even in those early 70s - and I remember of certain people who just read a description on some magazines, but never saw a copy of it, nor ever heard it from other owners, who were asking me: - "But rrrreally there was a REAL piece of REAL cake inside the box?!?!?!".....

above and below: the giant poster, front and back
below: one of the many pages of a booklet named "The Press"

Impossible to take pictures of all the gadgets and books present inside "Wedding album" ;-) ...

Above: the big poster included in "Imagine".
Below: the postcard inside "Imagine", meant as an unspoken but direct attack to Paul McCartney (specifically: a parody of his cover of the album "Ram", released five months earlier), as if the text of "How do you sleep?" wasn't enough. 


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Opening songs - XTC, Locanda delle Fate, Kenso, Egg, Aphrodite's Child...

A message by Ottadamson:
Hello! Could you tell me please what are these songs (artist and song name) which are in the Medley series, File Factory upload section? All the songs are really really good and I would be very happy to know what songs these are :) I'm from Estonia and I love your blog! My e-mail is.... [xxxx], so maybe you could send me the names of these Medley songs :)
Dear Ottadamson and all the other visitors who asked me for titles of the songs in the sequence: here you find all titles, authors and verious sources you need. Including Photos!  :-)
Happy listening  :-)))
The song named LDF is by "Locanda Delle Fate", an Italian band; the LP is named "Forse le lucciole non si amano piĆ¹" (Polydor 1977). The track is the one opening the album, "A volte un istante di quiete". The band did a big promotional tour in Italy at the time, and from those tapes a posthumous LP wsas published, "Live" (Mellow, 1993), but the group disbanded in 1978. Many years later, in 1996 the band reformed and published a second LP, "Homo homini lupus" (BTF, 1999), very different from the marvellous first work. These are the only albums I have of them, I don't think they did a fourth record. If you search a bit around through the blogs, you're going to find some link for direct download without problems

The song named "S" is from the band XTC, and it's titled "Somnambulist".  It saw the light at the time of the band's fourth LP, "Black Sea" (Virgin, 1980), but was not included on the album.  Strangely enough, because I find this piece unique and adorable, hypnotical and placidly erotic...
Below: the very first edition of the album Black Sea by XTC, where the album was wrapped by a light green paper outer bag. Same idea as it was by John Lennon's "Two virgins" (Apple 1968) and the "United States of America" (CBS, 1968). Inside this green bag there was the "normal" album, with cover and the original lyrics insert, and this remained the official edition for all the worldwide reprints.

Below: The "normal" cover version of the Black Sea album, with the lyric insert, as it was originally included and wrapped inside the green outer bag.  This cover picture is the one that we regularly know to this day, but actually the real cover should have been the one reproducing the green bag ;-)
Below: the EP "Generals and majors", where "Somnambulist" was first published, on side B.
I had to wait years before finding a better copy of Somnambulist: it finally was first released on LP on the double album "Waxworks / Beeswax", two separated single records where XTC reissued almost all those songs taken from EPs, Maxis and 45 singles, that for years were never issued on LP.  "Somnambulist" was present on the second LP, "Beeswax" (picure below).  It is also available today on the CD reissue of "Black Sea", as a bonus track.
The song named "SD" belongs to a fabulous Japanese Neo-Prog band, Kenso. The title is "Sacred dream 1" and the album that you can see below is titled "III".  If you search a little bit around, this is an LP you can find on some other blog.
The track "TCS" is by the band Egg, entitled "Germ patrol", it's the opening number from their third album "The civil surface" (Caroline, 1974).  The band was in regular activity in the years 1969 and 1970 with two studio albums, "Egg" and "The polite force", on Decca Nova and Deram. They disbanded and reformed for this one-off last studio album, but as far as I know they didn't tour.  However, I shall add that for those who love the band - and I'm one - that there exists a live recording of a concert, "Live in Colchester", of medium quality, the year is said to be 1972, although this leaves me a bit perplexed.  there is also a version of Germ Patrol included, very faithful to the official one published later, in 1974.  Probably I will soon upload this bootleg here.

Below: their first two studio LPs, very much recommended:


The marvellous track named "AS" is by Aphrodite's Child, stays for "Aegian Sea", from the double album "666" (Vertigo, recorded in 1971 but released one year later after problems and controversies).  Back in 1975, the first time I heard the notes of the guitar solo of David Gilmour on "Shine on you cazy diamond part one", I jumped up and said: -  "But what the fk...!?!  this is the copy of Aegian Sea!!!"   -  I didn't change my mind to this day, I must frankly say.  All the music on this album was composed by Vangelis, but we own this wonderful solo to a Greek guitarist named Silver Koulouris.  He was supposed to be in the first line-up of the band sharing their first successes, but compelled to join the army, he couldn't be part of the picture.  All my most sincere compliments to him,
Above: a particular of the inner artwork of the "666" double album.
Also recommended: "It's five o'clock" (Mercury, 1968)


The track RD stays for "Rain dance", it's by Gryphon from their fourth album, named also "Rain Dance" (Transatlantic, 1975). Sadly, is the last album containing this bizarre and wondrous hybrid of folk and prog that characterized the middle-period of the band, two years before their conclusive album of betrayal, perfectly-for-the-occasion named "Treason" (Harvest, 1977)
The track "TD" stays for Todd Rundgren's "Tiny Demons".
If you look for "Tiny demons", you must first look for the album "Healing" (Bearsville, 1981), a very good LP from the middle-period production of TR, at the time that he had long time given up making fabulous albums full of brilliant lunacy and pirotechnical pastiches (see especially "A wizard / A true star" and "Initiation", my two top favourite LPs of him, fling yourselves to GET them if you didn't yet!!), in favour of records made of ... songs.  Tiny demons was not included on the grooves of "Healing", but on a bonus free single contained inside the album, precisely the B-side of "Time heals".  I don't follow the market CD reissues, but I imagine that surely this song is available today on some "Healing" CD release.


The last - but not least - of the medley tracks belongs to an Italian composer, Ferruccio Busoni (1866- 1924).  As you may already know, Classical music is also a favourite of mine, anywayy I won't put myself to  write about Busoni's life and works, you can easily find anything you wanna know on some online Encyclopedia.  You can see above the LP I took the piano Sonata from, BUT please notice that what you hear on my medley is a complete reworked and refiltered version that I have done for myself, "for my pleasure" only ...  A purist might find this operation absolutlely disrespectful, incoherent and destructive, but me personally, I feel it's something extremely pleasing, cathartic and even erotic, to listen to all these harmonies that become sonor waves upon waves upon more and more waves... 
So that's why I named it FBP, stays for Ferruccio Busoni Pastiche ;-)
In case someone is interested, I will publish tis fabulous LP where so many extraordinary pieces for piano solo are recorded.  The pianist is Paul Jacobs, year 1979, Nonesuch Records.
BYBY for now  xxx