Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 122: Sonata in Z [long tracks]

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Six masterful songs around ten minutes in length each. To make amends for generally avoiding long tracks in these comps, here's an hour's worth of nothing but long, heavy prog tracks that have space to breath, and go to some amazing places...

All these names are new to the blog and many of you will recognise them I'm sure. The UK, the US, Germany and Japan are all represented by talented bands that liked to push the envelope and take rock music into deeper realms than your average four minute axe-bashers. Here's some more results of the amazing experimentation that progressive rock and psych explored during those important times, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire the heavy bands of today. Just in case you are wondering, this is guaranteed 100% drum solo-free!


01. Steamhammer - Telegram (1972) - 11:54
       from album 'Speech'
02. Road - Road (1972) - 9:08
       from album 'Road'
03. Fusion Orchestra - Sonata In Z (1973) - 11:41
       from album 'Skeleton In Armour'
04. Silberbart - God (1971) - 10:07
       from album '4 Times Sound Razing'
05. Eiliff - Uzzek Of Rigel IV (1972) - 10:46
       from album 'Eiliff'
06. Horizon (1980) - 10:33
       from album 'Horizon'

Steamhammer - "Speech"
Speech LP
This set opens with Steamhammer's "Telegram", from their final LP, "Speech". They are a hard band to describe concisely as they had a revolving-door lineup and made four albums that varied in style and quality. A quick look here shows how many members passed through, although founding guitarist Martin Pugh was a constant.

After Steamhammer split in 1973, Pugh and bassist Louis Cennamo joined up with former Yardbirds vocalist Keith Relf and drummer Bobby Caldwell (ex-Captain Beyond) to form Armageddon in 1975 (see Vol26). I really dig "Telegram", it's an extremely heavy and evil-sounding prog workout, all twelve minutes of it. The LP may be an acquired taste in it's entirety though, as one third of the whole album is taken up by a drum solo of over ten minutes, something hard to take for even the most patient prog fan!

Track two, although not typical of the album it comes from, introduces itself with a passing similarity to Sabbath's tri-tone riffage. Road started in Los Angeles in 1970. With bassist/vocalist Noel Redding (previously of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Fat Mattress), guitarist/vocalist Rod Richards (formerly of Rare Earth) and drummer/vocalist Leslie Sampson. They recorded one album in 1972 called "Road" and disbanded shortly after.

They got together after Redding left Fat Mattress and Richards left Rare Earth. During Road's existence, Redding and Sampson were involved in jam sessions that resulted in Randy California's 1972 "Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds" album (see Vol5). Following Road, Redding and Sampson formed The Noel Redding Band, while Richards went on to a solo career. Sampson also joined Stray Dog, (see Vol8) played in The Gas in the early '80s and Sally Barker And The Rhythm and The Pirates in the '90s.

The following is a piece of a Noel Redding Interview that I found here:
"Do you think that Jimi was being manipulated by the music industry when the 'Experience broke up?"
NR:- I think he was under pressure, because there were all these contracts going down that no-one knew nothing about. Hendrix wasn't coming up with the same quality material because the record company was saying that he had to come up with stuff "comparable" to his previous stuff. I do think the guy was a bit lost and I do think he was getting manipulated business wise. The poor guy, bless him, just needed some time off. He should have come to Ireland for a year!

"Do you think the music industry has changed much over the years?"
NR:- Not really, I still don't get paid.

"After you left the 'Experience what did you do?"
NR:- Well, I'd had the Fat Mattress earlier as a writing outlet for songs and that. When I left the 'Experience, the Fat Mattress did a German tour and an American tour, then that all collapsed as well and I was living in Los Angeles. I had another band called Road. A three piece Heavy Metal type thing, and in 1972 I moved to Ireland.

Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour line-up, clockwise from left, Dave Bell, Stan Land, Dave Cowell, Colin Dawson and Jill Saward
Fusion Orchestra - Skeleton In Armour
line-up. Clockwise from left, Dave Bell,
Stan Land, Dave Cowell, Colin Dawson
and Jill Saward
Fusion Orchestra might be of interest to Babe Ruth fans, or those of Room. Frequently-heavy prog with a great front woman in Jill Saward, who also played flute, keyboard and more. The sole album 'Skeleton In Armour' is good progressive rock, drawing in many influences from Canterbury scene to hard rock, thankfully the band has a great attack and this LP keeps up momentum throughout, as you can hear in tracks like the one appearing here, and "Have I Left The Gas On?".

On the album, she is joined by the three founding members Dave Bell (drums), Stan Land (2nd guitar) and Colin Dawson (lead guitar). Dave Cowell played bass. Later in the bands' life Colin Dawson quit, so Alan Murphy took over, he later played in English pop bands Level 42 and coincidentally, Go West, who cropped up in the last volume via Hustler drummer Tony Beard. Although the band had a good live reputation, with fans frequently enjoying Jill Saward's titillating stage antics at the Marquee in London, they did not achieve commercial success on EMI and didn't get the green light for a second album. Jill had the most successful career afterwards, in the pop group Shakatak, and surprisingly none of the other players were in notable bands later. Colin Dawson started Fusion Orchestra 2 in 2008, in which he is the only original FO member.

The bulging pants of Silberbart
The bulging pants of Silberbart
I have often had Silberbart (trans. "Silver Beard") recommended to me for this blog, and here is a great opportunity to use one of their long free-form compositions. Little is known about this trio from Hamburg. Their 1971 album, Four Times Sound Razing, is regarded as a lost classic of Krautrock, It combines heavy metal and avant garde improvisation.

The band was formed in early 1971 by Hajo Teschner on guitars and vocals, Peter Behrens on drums and percussion, and Werner Klug on bass. Teschner had been in a Shadows-styled band Die Schocker in the mid-'60s before joining bubble gum pop band The Tonics. After that, Teschner, who had always been interested in free jazz, was ready for something more adventurous, and started the experimental power trio Silberbart. Given his Tonics connections with Philips, he was able to make an album on the label. Unfortunately the strange record did not attract much attention at the time, but by the end of the '70s they had appeared on the Nurse with Wound list of influences (link), and Julian Cope says the LP "....tears at the stitches as elements of Guru Guru’s first two albums and Alice Cooper’s first three are straddled simultaneously in a jarring, screaming and ultimately razing proto-metal masterpiece".

I would recommend Eiliff''s LPs to fans of all that's heavy who would like to explore the possibilities of jazz prog, and this style of prog is not what I usually go in for. They play hard and fast all the time though, so there's enough aggression in their long saxophone and hammond-infused tracks to pique the interest of open-minded hard rock fans. The musicianship is consistently brilliant and they remind me of Eindhoven's Mr. Albert Show a lot (see vol63). "faust3d" at RYM said: "Together with Gila and Eulenspygel, Eiliff was one of the best bands to come out of jazzy Stuttgart krautrock scene". Coincidentally, both those bands have appeared in TDATS before.

This comp ends with a suitably epic track that takes a departure from the previous prog/psych tracks here. It's from the guitarist of a Japanese band that has appeared in the blog before, Bow Wow (vols 18 & 36). He made a solo album in 1980 and it ends with "Horizon". I was blown away when I first heard it and it's a real blast, something you'd want to hear during the end credits of a particularly tough Japanese video game or in a movie scene with triumphant space ships returning from battle. On that point, I was pleased to see that he recorded some theme music for a TV sc-fi puppet show that I liked when I was a kid, X-Bomber (aka Starfleet). Goodbye and thanks for listening!

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  1. Great songs ALL!
    Horizon is my fave of these!
    thanks Rich all best

  2. I love this so much I want to marry it.

    1. "Guten Morgan", as the jaded German guys in Silberbart would say