Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jethro Tull-Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)

In 1975, Jethro Tull rebounded from the uneven Warchild with the great Minstrel in the Gallery. Minstrel is the band's eighth studio album and, in marked divergence with the fortunes of most of theother first-generation English progressive bands, heralded for Tull the onset of a creative second wind that propelled them through the years 1975-1978 in (mostly) superlative form. If I was to make a list of what I thought were Jethro Tull's three best albums, it would include Minstrel in the Gallery. Minstrel presents a refinement of the musical advances that the band had been making since around the time of A Passion Play, resulting in an album that has a foot in Tull's past while also portending future successes.
If Warchild tended toward sonic excess, Minstrel is all about economy and wastes nothing. It was Tull's most acoustic album to date, and remains one of Ian Anderson's most lyrically personal. Vastly diminishing the prominence of electric keyboards (most of what you'll hear from John Evan is on a piano) and perfecting the usage of David Palmer's strings, Ian Anderson created in Minstrel an atmosphere that is both intimate and organic, and which skillfully accomodates each dynamic extreme, sometimes within the same track. The album finds lead guitarist Martin Barre with plenty to do, as the first three songs have blazing guitar solos; yet, both "Cold Wind To Valhalla" and "Black Satin Dancer" also feature some of the album's most graceful, unobtrusive string passages. "Requiem" is a very pretty acoustic song that reminds me a bit of the shorter pieces on Aqualung — in fact, a good deal of Minstrel sounds like a more logical successor to Aqualung than Thick as a Brick, even if the music is often much more sophisticated.
That sophistication comes in the form of Tull's increasingly complex harmonic language. For all of the keyboards, the classically-inspired motifs and the big concepts in Jethro Tull's recent past, the band's music on Minstrel in the Gallery (and 1977's Songs From the Wood) is more original, complex and "progressive" than Thick As A Brick or A Passion Play. One of Jethro Tull's most important formalistic contributions to their genre was their pioneering usage of additive rhythms and beats (a technique discussed at length in Allan Moore's excellent book Rock: The Primary Text and referenced in Paul Stump's The Music's All That Matters: A History of Progressive Rock). The style is fully matured on Minstrel's ensemble pieces, distinguishing Tull's rhythm section (drummer Barrie Barlow, bassist Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and, later, bassist John Glascock) as among the most creative in all of progressive rock. Additionally, Anderson continued to rely less and less on riffs as musical foundations and instead built his songs by weaving together different melodic lines, which increased the compositional potential for harmonic creativity and was conducive to unorthodox verse/chorus structures. It also opened the door for more contrapuntal activity, a trait that Anderson is said to have admired in the music of Gentle Giant.
The second half of Minstrel is taken up mostly by the multi-part "Baker Street Muse," a 17-minute piece that, in retrospect, was the final song approaching this length that Jethro Tull would record. "Baker Street Muse" is evidence that Ian Anderson never did quite master long-form composition, as it is more a sequence of collages than a unified piece. Because I find each of the sections to be melodically appealing and musically interesting, however, I must consider "Baker Street Muse" to be a success; at least, until the various themes are all hurriedly reprised in succession at the song's conclusion.
In my opinion, much of Minstrel In the Gallery displays Jethro Tull at the top of their game. I would recommend it to anyone. The album was remastered in 2002 and now contains a few bonus tracks. While the three studio recordings are all very good — particularly "Summerday Sands" — the two live tracks are irritating: if you're only going to include the intros to "Minstrel in the Gallery" and "Cold Wind to Valhalla," why bother at all?

King Crimson - Lizard (1970 King Crimson - Lizard 1970)

Lizard is very consciously jazz-oriented -- the influence of Miles Davis (particularly Sketches of Spain) being especially prominent -- and very progressive, even compared with the two preceding albums. The pieces are longer and have extensive developmental sections, reminiscent of classical music, and the lyrics are more ornate, while the subject matter is more exotic and rarified -- epic, Ragnarok-like battles between good and evil that run cyclically. The doom-laden mood of the first two albums is just as strong, except that the music is prettier; the only thing missing is a sense of humor. Jon Anderson of Yes guests on one key number, "Prince Rupert Awakes" (which vocalist/bassist Gordon Haskell never completed), and the album is stronger for his presence. At the time of its release, some critics praised Lizard for finally breaking with the formula and structure that shaped the two preceding albums, but overall it's an acquired taste

The Moody Blues-A Question of Balance (1970)

The Moody Blues' first real attempt at a harder rock sound still has some psychedelic elements, but they're achieved with an overall leaner studio sound. The group was trying to take stock of itself at this time, and came up with some surprisingly strong, lean numbers (Michael Pinder's Mellotron is surprisingly restrained until the final number, "The Balance"), which also embraced politics for the first time ("Question" seemed to display the dislocation that a lot of younger listeners were feeling during Vietnam). The surprisingly jagged opening track, "Question," recorded several months earlier, became a popular concert number as well as a number two (or number one, depending upon whose chart one looks at) single. Graeme Edge's "Don't You Feel Small" and Justin Hayward's "It's Up to You" both had a great beat, but the real highlight here is John Lodge's "Tortoise and the Hare," a fast-paced number that the band used to rip through in concert with some searing guitar solos by Hayward. Ray Thomas' "And the Tide Rushes In" (written in the wake of a fight with his wife) is one of the prettiest psychedelic songs ever written, a sweetly languid piece with some gorgeous shimmering instrumental effects. The 1997 remastered edition brings out the guitar sound with amazing force and clarity, and the notes tell a lot about the turmoil the band was starting to feel after three years of whirlwind success. The only loss is the absence of the lyrics included in earlier editions

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The best progressive rock bands according to Rolling Stone Magazine

The best progressive rock bands, as readers of 'Rolling Stone'
A few weeks ago, followers of the American edition of 'RS' voted for their favorite bands of the genre more sophisticated
The number ten shows Dream Theater
Three years ago, New Yorkers collection published Dream Theater Greatest Hit (... And 21 other pretty cool songs). The title refers to the 1992 single Pull me under, who was among the top ten of the rock charts that year and in fact sounded on the radio. For a progressive rock band, especially one that began in the mid-eighties, is a great feat. They failed to repeat it, but that he could not care less about his legion of fans. Probably prefer it that way. Led by guitar god John Petrucci, Dream Theater plays to be considered as the only band worth.
In the ninth The Mars Volta
For some fans of rock, progressive began in the late sixties and ended with King Crimson in the early eighties, when Yes, Genesis and Rush began to achieve success on the radio with songs shorter and less momentous. While gender certainly reached the peak of his popularity at that time, has never entirely disappeared, or at least has not stopped evolving. The Mars Volta may not be progressive in the truest sense of the word, but it is impossible to hear the banda of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and not realize the great influence that gender has had on them and their songs. It is also one of the few progressive formations with a very young age, they would not know to distinguish Robert Fripp (King Crimson) if they are put forward.
It is followed by Tool (8)
If The Mars Volta defined the progressive rock of the last decade, Californians Tool represent the nineties. The group responds more to the progressive metal genre, and retain a huge cult mass despite its low production: been together 21 years, but in that time have only released four albums. They have nothing like a hit single, but fill stadiums and festivals lead whenever they leave the road. They toured in 2010 and spoke of a new album, but their leader, Maynard Kennean, is devoting much time to his side project A Perfect Circle.
From here are beginning to look like the classic of all life
7. Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Some critics say his name sounds more like that of a law firm than that of a rock group, and that is wrong with his pompous stadium rock of the seventies. People say, ironically, by themselves they inspired the punk revolution. That's a lot of responsibility to a single group. Reviews aside, there is no denying the importance of songs like Lucky Man, Karn Evil 9 and her version of Fanfare for the common man. Began as a progressive rock supergroup formed by members of Nice (Emerson), King Crimson (Lake) and Atomic Rooster (Palmer). They combined classical music with progressive and packed stadiums in the mid-seventies, but times changed and soon began to despise each other. There have been regular meetings and last year gave a memorable concert.

6. Yes
His story is the longest soap opera in the history of progressive rock. Alliances within the group can not stop change, and its members come and go. In the center is the bassist Chris Squire, the only man in each version of the training. Everything is very complicated. Anyway, no one can argue that his material early seventies represents some of the best moments in the history of progressive, especially Close to the Edge (1972) and Fragile (1971). Staged a great comeback with Owner of a lonely heart in 1983 but since then have had some ups and downs. In recent years, the original singer Jon Anderson, has been replaced by the leader of a Yes tribute band, now going on tour with former keyboardist Rick Wakeman. It is difficult to explain and understand.
5. King Crimson
The big bang of progressive rock was the debut of King Crimson In the court of the Crimson King (1969). Months after the album release, the original lineup broke up and since Crimson has existed under various forms. The only constant member is Robert Fripp, but seems to have lost interest in the band and do not touch for years.In a diary of 2010, Fripp said: "Now I have more pressing needs to make new music with King Crimson and touring to present to people who would rather listen to the classic [...] The music of any period of the Crimson would be worth Live is worth, but I doubt that you will have some influence on the contemporary musical debate. "Robert, here's an idea: the original group together for one last concert. If you're sick, full circle, back to the beginning and then disconnect.
4. Jethro Tull
In the early nineteenth century, Jethro Tull invented the seed drill, giving way to modern agriculture. About 270 years later, a British band called Aqualung Jethro Tull released, and was born with them progressive rock with flutes of commercial success. No other album reissued as famous, but they tried. The band has 23 albums and do not stop acting. His album Crest of a Knave (1987) grabbed the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance / metal vocal or instrumental ... And Justice for All, Metallica. They have been teased about this, but it is clear that the Grammys are the bad guys. The Tull were not anti-Metallica, and did not choose its category. Leave them alone.
3. Genesis
The English training does not meet many rules of rock and roll. It is assumed that the bands should not gain popularity over the decades, and should sell more records after the departure of its charismatic leader. The battery should not become a singer. But Genesis are pioneers. The first records of the time of Peter Gabriel, as Foxtrot (1972), given an infinite credibility in the progressive community. In the eighties, Phil Collins had assumed command and delivered pop songs like Illegal alien and In Too Deep. And filled stadiums around the world. It was a strange time.Phil left the band after the tour, 1992 We Can not Dance and his replacement, Ray Wilson, never quite connecting with the audience. The formation of Phil Collins gave concerts in 2007, but Peter Gabriel flatly refuses to commit to a tour. In 2005, convened the group and almost accept a meeting, but he was afraid. This is very frustrating for fans of Genesis.
2. Pink Floyd
We owe it to Bob Geldof. In 2005 it seemed impossible that the classic lineup of Pink Floyd were to tread the boards again. 24 years ago that Roger Waters and David Gilmour did not share the stage. At the time, walked with complaints of the right to use the name, eternal disputes in the press and there was no sign of a meeting. Geldof can be very convincing, and after trying again and again, got to agree to the four men. The four songs they played at the Live 8 sounded glorious.Three years after keyboardist Richard Wright died, ending any real meeting. Did you hear that, Peter Gabriel? If you think you may therefore be too late.
1. Rush
They get first place, and a landslide. The Canadian trio has what is possibly the strongest fan community and rock enthusiast. The band deserves such a commitment. While most peers are separated due to greed or laziness, Rush kept the same lineup since 1975, and his concerts are equally fascinating than before.They also have one of the best drummers in the world, Neil Peart. They just close an epic tour which have touched Moving pictures (1981) from start to finish and are already working on a new album. We hope that next time touching 2112 (1976), is the only way to overcome this last tour.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Todd Rundgren´s Utopia (1974)

After very great albums, of course, I dedicate an article to each gradually Rundgren in 1974 gives us one of the best works of American progressive rock. I am referring to Utopia. That same year he founded a band TR with the same name Utopia, That first training would lead to the great progressive rock album. With a futuristic cover, which was in line with the group's image, inside we found a very elaborate music of the highest quality. The opening track on the album Utopia Theme is a quality exercise brutal. Maybe now your listening to us is complicated by the constant changes of pace. Combined with slow passages attacks lightning fast guitar solos TR answered by keyboard locked in grueling talks between guitars and keyboards.