Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Year present from The Juicy Fruits…

It's been nearly a year since The Juicy Fruits took its first steps in the world of blogging. With a little help from fellow bloggers from all over the globe many music lovers found their way to this blog.

With around average 500 visits a week, it all makes things worthwile. So thanks for your visits and comments. Stick around during the next year, keep visiting TJF and tell your friends…

Anyway, to celebrate one year of TJF I've put together a little compilation of some of the best songs from the past year, featuring rock bands like Marillion, Porcupine Tree and Vintersorg, alongside some indie stuff by The Good, the Bad And the Ugly, Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys and some electronica (Air, Menomena)…

Check it out! I hope you'll like it…
Link in comments…

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best album of 2007 - Mayhem - Ordo Ad Chao

Okay, the next review may seem a bit 'out of character', considering the nature of previous album reviews and recommendations you've been presented with on TJF. But what the hell…

Mayhem is considered one of the most controversial bands in the history of rock, especially due to the vast number of urban legends surrounding their early years. Much controversy has followed the various murders, suicides and other forms of violence involving the band in the early years.

Over time Mayhem has evolved through a variety of black metal styles, delving at times into areas of dark avant-garde industrial and electronica.
In 2007 the legendary pioneers of black metal, the self-proclaimed best band in the world, have yet again amazed friend and foe with the chilling album Ordo Ad Chao.
I can't think of a lot of recent black metal albums that sound different from those released about ten years ago (apart from old-time favourites Mayhem and of course Satyricon, the most avant-garde BM band ever)… The rest of them have all become a bit too bombastic for my taste, a bit too mainstream as well.
That's just why Mayhem's most recent work is such a surprise. The minimalistic, low-fi production value takes the listener back to the olden days, when black metal was still very underground. Though technically a lot more improved, the band sounds a lot more basic than on their previous albums. The grim atmosphere, the complex song structures and phenomenal rhytm section is reminiscent of Mayhem's first full album called De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.

So, if you're into some old-school BM, you might get used to the new (old) sound of Mayhem? If you're not, then there's plenty of other stuff on this blog.

Check the comments for a link to this album…

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Looking back on the musical year

The year has nearly ended. A good time to look back on what have been 12 exciting months musically (and otherwise)…

In 2007 I've been mostly (re)discovering some old (progressive) rock bands like Flairck and Trace, old and new jazz, funk and soul. Check out the many album reviews I've posted in the past 12 months and you'll know what I mean.
Some of my favourite new releases have been Justice - Cross (hailed as the next Daft Punk), Eric Truffaz - Archangelsk (Miles Davis meets indie rock) alongside great albums by Porcupine Tree (art rock), Chick Corea & Bela Fleck (jazz/fusion) and a surprising release by black metal gods Mayhem…

Best rock albums of 2007 (classic/post/indie/progressive rock and metal)
1. Mayhem - Ordo Ad Chao
2. Dream Theatre - Systematic Chaos
3. Van Der Graaf Generator - Real Time

Best electronic albums of 2007
1. Justice - †
2. Air - Pocket Symphony
3. Daft Punk - Alive 2007

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden (2007 / rock)


It would seem 70's rock music is back… Well, the mainstream classic rock style anyway. The legendary Eagles decided to cash in on that.

With 'Long Road…', a 2 CD effort, the band doesn't seem to succeed in capturing the atmosphere of their wonder years (e.g. 'Hotel California'). Although most of the tracks on this album are well crafted (as you would expect from a bunch of guys with over 40 years of experience behind them), they somehow lack spirit.
If I have to pick out one song that really stands out on this album, it definitively would be 'Waiting in the Weeds'. A typical Eagles ballad: it'll cut you like a knife but you'll still be coming back for more…

In conclusion: this album - although a nice treat for fans of smooth classic rock - won't raise a lot of eyebrowes. Well, better next time I guess…

So, even really good background music still is what it is…

Procol Harum - Secrets of the Hive - The Best Of (2007)

About 4 years ago, Procol Harum made their comeback with the highly acclaimed 'The Well's on Fire'. Now, 40 (yes, forty) years after the release of their first album PH decided to release a 2 CD compilation album…

Procol Harum? you say, never heard of them… Well, chances are you actually have. The band - which is considered one of the earliest progressive/symphonic rock bands in history - made their fortune with classic rock hits like 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale', 'Homburg' and 'A Salty Dog'.
I for one love their sound… Imagine melancolly piano chords, majestic Hammond organs and soulful vocals and you've got Procol Harum.
And before you say, "Well, what's so great about just another compilation album?", just consider this: 'Secrets of the Hive' is the first (of quite a bit) PH compilation albums that really portrays the band at its best, from 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' to the closing track of their latest track 'The Signature'…
This compilation proves that classic rock doesn't have to sound outdated… PH's music is timeless.
Find this album on http://blogsearch.google.com.

Uriah Heep - A Magic Night - Live (2004 - heavy prog)

Hi, I'm back after a little sabbatical... And how about some good old Uriah Heep to get things back on track? Heep's most recent album Sonic Origami (a classic if you ask me) dates from 1998, and the band plans to release their 21st studio album in 2008. I can't wait till it's out. I'll keep you kids posted…

The old time favourites of heavy prog still kick ass! Just check out Magic Night - Live (2004). There’s a good diversity of old and newer tracks, some of which are of course long time favourites (Easy Livin’, The Wizard, etc). The band does not dwell on these though, and Heather Findlay’s contribution to Love in Silence from the more recent Sea of light adds an extra dimension to a beautiful piece... Get it here.

A little lesson in history…
Uriah Heep were formed in December 1969 when record producer Gerry Bron invited keyboardist Ken Hensley (previously a member of The Gods and Toe Fat) to join Spice, a band signed to his own Bronze Records label.
Sometimes jokingly referred to as "The Beach Boys of heavy metal" for their melodic songs, and trademark multi-part harmony backing vocals, although their music draws on diverse influences including: progressive rock, hard rock, heavy metal, jazz and even country on occasion. As one of the first bands to fuse prog with metal, they are a precursor to the 'progressive metal' genre.
In spite of their huge popularity in Britain and continental Europe, Uriah Heep were never able to break into the American market in a big way, with the exception of three hit songs, Easy Livin' from the 1972 album Demons and Wizards, Sweet Lorraine from the 1972 album The Magician's Birthday (a top ten album in Australia), and Stealin' from the 1973 release Sweet Freedom. The band released several commercially successful albums in the 1970s, including the seminal Uriah Heep Live (1973), but their audience declined during the 1980s, to the point where they became essentially a cult band in the US and UK. Uriah Heep maintain a significant following however, and they still perform at stadium-sized venues.
Uriah Heep still tour and release both (occasional) studio and (frequent) live albums. The lineup has been the same since 1986 with veterans Mick Box at the helm, Trevor Bolder on bass and Lee Kerslake on drums. The vocalist is Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon on keyboards have been present since 1986. Making it 20 years as of 2006 that the same act has been touring and recording, and have music spanning five decades. Their principal tour circuit is in Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian Peninsula, Japan, and Russia, although they return to Britain for a tour each year that culminates in The Magician's Birthday Party (named for one of their most popular albums) in November in London. This event consists of fan gatherings at local venues featuring current and former band members, and a concert, often with guest appearances by former members. To date, the last Party was in 2004.
In December 2006, the band announced that they were recording a new album with producer Mike Paxman for Sanctuary Records, with release planned for 2007. In early 2007 drummer Lee Kerslake had to leave the group due to ill health. In March 2007, the band recruited Russell Gilbrook as their new drummer, and immediately started recording Wake The Sleeper, which is to be released in early 2008.

Check out this great live album…
Part 1.
Part 2.

Monday, October 1, 2007

The missing link…

Hi y'all… I often receive comments by visitors who report missing or dead links. It goes to show this blog is still enjoying some interest, even though it's been a while since I've last posted something.
Anyway, thanks a lot to those who are kind enough to report dead links. In some cases I try to return the favour by looking up and posting a new url by using a Google search engine which can be found via this link. Visitors of TJF could also help me out by posting alternate links to certain albums.
In the event a certain requested album cannot be found, I might consider uploading it myself, even though I'm generally not inclined tot do so. But it doesn't hurt to ask of course.
Later!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blue Note Records Festival 2007 - Part II

Last night (Wednesday, July 11) the BNRF featured an amazing bill. Four great acts in a row, offering over 6 hours of fantastic sounds!

Koop (electronic/jazz/pop)
Koop is an electronic jazz duo from Sweden. The band, which consists of Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson, have made three albums, and has also been involved with numerous remix projects, including a remix for Astrud Gilberto's "Here's That Rainy Day" for the Verve Remixed project (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
Up till yesterday, I hadn't really heard a lot of their music. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by their refreshing mix of electronica, lounge and nostalgic swing and big band music. The show started off with a loungy instrumental song called Beyond the Sun featuring a narrative by Earl Zinger (whose voice mistook for Gary Brooker's of Procol Harum – silly me).
The rest of the set was made up by a selection of Koop's most uplifting tunes like Let's Elope and Darling.
Zingman and Simonsson were backed up by an energetic live combo and a captivating female vocalist by the name of Yukimi Nagano.
I've located some links to two of Koop's albums – Koop Island and Waltz for Koop. You'll find them in the comments section. Enjoy!

Eric Truffaz (fusion)
Eric Truffaz played quite a few songs from his lastest album Arkhangelsk (for a review and RS-download of the album, see earlier post). Onstage, the intimistic atmosphere of that record was transformed into about over an hour of fusion extravaganza.
At times it was almost hard to believe that it was just 4 guys on the stage. Truffaz was at his best on trumpet, while Patrick Muller blew the crowd away on electric Rhodes piano. But the real sensation was singer Ed Harcourt, who performed on the vocal pieces of the set!

More on Cinematic Orchestra and DJ Shadow later on...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Blue Note Records Festival 2007 - Part I

It's been a while since I last did a post here. Well, let's say I've been quite busy lately...

The holidays are coming up so I'm looking forward to a whole month of doing absolutely nothing! Well, I'll start by enjoying some concerts at The Blue Note Records Festival. I'll make sure to let you know how that went.

This Sunday (July 8th) I kicked off my annual vacation by attending day 3 of the festival. Jef Neve trio (B) – being one of my favourite acts for the evening – offered a great gig and proved that the trio is at its best in a live environement. The studio albums by the trio are a bit on the mainstream side of jazz, however the energy they genarate onstage and their great sense of improvisation took their performance to a higher level.
The closing act that evening was Chick Corea and xylophone player Gary Burton. A pretty minimalistic line-up for a fusion combo, if you ask me... But the results sounded surprising. The minimalistic approach left a lot to the imagination of the audience, which is always fun of course.
Anyway, I'll look forward to finding more about this particular duo.
By tthe way, I posted a review of Chick's latest album earlier this year. If you haven't already checked it out, do it now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos

Good old Dream Theater is back with a new album…

Fans of the band know DT for their well-balanced blend of highly melodic symphonic rock songs and progressive metal compositions. I guess that combination would explain why their music would appeal to a great diversity of music lovers: both lovers of mainstream melodic rock and the musically (even) more challenging progressive side of some of Dream Theater's stuff.

The fans will be happy with 'Systematic Chaos' (I know I am)... This is DT at their best. Well-composed symphonic rock songs like 'Forsaken', 'The Ministry Of Lost Souls' will stick in the back of your mind for days, while the albums's grand finale 'In The Presence Of Enemies (Part 2)' offers nearly 15 minutes of overwhelming progressive metal: soaring guitars, over the edge keyboard wizzardry and highly emotive vocals.

The big surprise on this CD is 'Prophets of War'. In this song, the band seems to take a stand against the whole 'war for oil' issue. A great track that is testimony of the band's admiration for neo progressive/space rockers Muse. The song is an amazing blend of both Muse's and DT's sound!

Again, I've located the links to this great album, so try it before you buy it! Links in comments.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Porcupine Tree - Fear Of A Blank Planet (post rock - 2007)

Back in the 90's Purcupine Tree were hailed as the next Pink Floyd. Albums like On The Sunday of Life (1991), The Sky Moves Sideways (1995) and Lightbulb Sun (2000) were indeed heavily influenced by these pioneers of space rock, but Purcupine Tree managed to develop a style of their own by encorporating elements of neo progressive rock and electronic music into their sound.

By 2005 however, the band seemed to want to take a different course of action. They mostly abandoned the electronica elements and sounded much less airy and ambient than they did earlier. Their album Deadwing was the firts phase of PT's musical transition.
The band's latest album, Fear Of A Blank Planet, introduces us to an even grungier, much more rock oriented sound. This 'back to basics' approach doens't necessarily mean the band are aiming for a more mainstream sound though. It's just a means to direct attention towards the songwriting rather than the soundscaping... In conclusion, PT might sound a lot less complex than they used to, they are still way above most avarage alternative rock bands.

Get it here.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Eric Truffaz - Arkhangelsk (fusion/rock)


French trumpet player Eric Truffaz is no stranger to fans of nu jazz. This summer he'll be performing live with his band at the Blue Note Records Festival in Ghent, Belgium.
On his latest album Truffaz presents us with a blend of smooth jazz and melancholy singer/songwriter oriented rock. One of the pieces on the album especially caught my attention: Manon is a refreshing version of a song by Serge Gainsbourg.

I found a link for those who want to check out the album. Links are in the comments section.

New CD releases (progressive rock)

Marillion - Somewhere Else (2007 - neo progressive rock)

I guess there's two kinds of Marillion fans. The ones who liked the era when Fish was lead singer back in the 80's and the one who support Marillion lead by Steve Hogarth. You might say I'm inbetween there. I especially like the earlier Marillion stuff. The music was imaginative and cutting edge, even for a neo prog band. Very tasteful, intricate and great sounding keyboards!
Back in the 80's Marillion scored a bunch of hits with Kaleigh, Clutching At Straws and Tuxon. Listening to their latest album Somewhere Else, I rediscovered a whole new Marillion with a different sound. Seems like I have a lot of catching up to to.
Somewhere Else features a classy bunch of neo progressive pieces. Stripped down to the basics. A brand of rock that can be enjoyed by fans of the more radio friendly variety of rock as well as by progressive rock enthousiasts. A far cry from the lush and complicated sound of the old Marillion, but still displaying a lot of sophistication and style. An interesting release.

Try the new Marillion album: get it here.

Van Der Graaf Generator - Real Time (2007 - progressive rock)
A while ago I posted some solo albums by Peter Hamill, the vocalist of VDGG. The band made a surprising comeback in 2005 with the stunning double album Present. Real Time is a live recording of one of VDDG's first live gigs in 29 years...
VDGG consists of legendary vocalist and mastermind Peter Hamill, organ builder and keyboardist Hugh Banton and one of the most inventive horn players in rock history ever – David Jackson – on 'double sax' and flute.
Most of the early VDGG live recordings or bootlegs I know of, are of really inferior sound quality so I'm really happy about this one! This double CD contains the entire VDGG reunion concert held at the Royal Festival Hall in London back in 2005. Apart from tracks from their Present album (Nutter Alert, Every Bloody Emperor) the band tackles some old classics like Lemmings, Man-Erg and the magnificent opening piece The Undercover Man. The band's stage shown still sound as raw and vibrant as it use to 30 years ago...
Real Time is an excellent album by one of rock music's most avant-garde outfit. A real must-have for fans of Van Der Graaf Generator, better yet, a must-have for all serious rock fans.

Look for the link to Real Time in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chick Corea - The Ultimate Aventure (2006 - fusion)

A bit of a 'late' discovery this one (Chick Corea's new album has been around for a few months now) - but better late than never. I stumbled upon The Ultimate Adventure when researching the bill of this year's Blue Note Records Festival.

Blue Note Records Festival has become a bit of a classic and is high on my to-do list come July. Some interesting names are featured on the bill: contemporary acts like The Cinematic Orchestra, DJ Shadow, Eric Truffaz as well as some classic bands like Sly and the Family Stone, Winton Marsalis and even Chick Corea.
If you're anywhere near Ghent this summer, you should check it out. Visit the website for a complete update on the program. I had some great times therelast year: music by the likes of Dr. John and Randy Newman, nice atmosphere and good food...

Anyway, back to Chick Corea's latest album. The Ultimate Adventure features a nice collection of richly layered jazz-rock fusion, very laid-back and ideal for the summertime! During the album's 75 minutes runtime, there's never a dull moment. There's nothing better than this kind of well-crafted soft fusion for a relaxing listen... The use of percussion and the subtle infusions of elements of world music from Africa to the Far East provide an interesting, exotic touch.

A real treat for fans of jazz/fusion. I can't wait to see Chick and his band perform live this summer!

Get it here!
Part one.
Part two.

Coming soon…

Well, things have been busy lately. Check back in a couple of days for reviews of the new Van Der Graaf Generator and Porcupine Tree album.
Also, my thoughts on Chick Corea's new disc and the upcoming Blue Note Festival.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Earth & Fire (Dutch progressive rock)

Yet another Dutch prog rock legend from the 70's... Not to be confused with Earth, Wind & Fire – the equally fantastic soul collective.

I'm a sucker for Dutch prog rock. Regular visitors of this blog may already know that I'm really wild about bands like Focus, Kayak, Supersister, Trace and Flairck.
The music of Earth & Fire is quite theatrical, sometimes a bit over the top. The use of elements of funk, folk, electronic and soft/symphonic rock result in an interesting ecclectic sound that really appeals to the 'avarage' progressive rock fan.

Anyway, check out some of their stuff I found on this blog.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Kayak (update)












Last summer I was over the moon when I stumbled upon some vinyl copies of a couple of albums by Kayak. I found them on a local flea market (I live in Ghent, Belgium) and purchased these forgotten gems for a couple of euros each.


I got to know the Music of Kayak back in 2005, in the same year the band released their monumental double concept album entitled 'Nostradamus'. Not because I was interested in the band, but because I had been reading a biography on the enigmatic figure Nostradamus. As they say, one thing leads to another and I became hooked on the music from this Dutch progressive rock band.

Periscope Life (1980).
I really love this album. A nice mix of pop and progressive rock. Kayak's influences include the illustrious Supertramp, Genesis (UK) and Styx (US). Personally, I'd like to think of the late 70's/early 80's incarnation of Kayak as the thinking man's Abba (I mean that in a good way, folks)...
Anyway, I'm convinced this is Kayak at their best: catchy, upbeat symphonic rock, full of intricate melodies and emotionally charged vocals (well, in a manly kind of way).
'Lost Blue Of Chartres' is one of the most notable track on the album. This overly sentimental instrumental power ballad made in on the soundtrack of one of Holland's most famous cult movies, Paul Verhoeven's 'Spetters', a raw 'coming of age' flick about a couple of working class amateur dirt bikers. A saga with a tragic end.

Phantom of the Night (1979)
'Phantom' has the same qualities as the aforementioned album. I accidentally bought two copies of the original vinyl album. Each album had a different cover. Also, the tracklist of each issue was slightly different.

I found links to the reissues of both albums, each containing some nice bonus material. Enjoy!
Periscope Life.
Phantom of the Night.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Doobie Brothers - The Very Best of The Doobie Brothers (2007 - Classic Rock)

This one's called 'The Very Best of The Doobie Brothers'… Not a very original title for a best of record, but at least you get a sense of what this double album is all about: not just the best, but the very best of this great classic rock band.

Tracks like 'Listen To The Music', 'Long Train Runnin'' and 'China Grove' are probably etched in the collective conciousness of everyone between 8 and 88. The ideal soundtrack for a careless summer... It's The Doobies at their best: soulful, upbeat classic rock songs, simple yet very well crafted. A brilliant formula that even survived the 80's, when Michael McDonald joined the band on vocals. Some of the most memorable tracks from that era are on the album ('Wheels Of Fortune', 'What A Fool Believes').

Obviously, the Doobie Brothers liked to stray from their beaten track once in a while. I was especially surprised by 'I Cheat The Hangman', an intricately woven composition that leans towards progressive rock. As well as some brief exercises in soul, New Orleans blues and soft fusion...
The final part of the compilation is devoted to some of TDB more recent work, which in my opinion is a bit disappointing. It's just stale blues rock and I've heard better...
In conclusion, though, this album will keep you happy for the best part of its 2 hours' running time. So check it out!

Update: I've located links to this album! Check the comments...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Kayak (Dutch symphonic rock)

Kayak is one of the best symphonic rock acts in Holland. They recently released the theatrical concept album Nostradamus, The Fate Of Man (2005) but have been around since 1973.
The music of Kayak has often been described as a blend of early Genesis and Supertramp, however they managed to establish a sound of their own, mixing upbeat poppy symphonic rock with high quality rock ballads.

Kayak - Royal Bed Bouncer (1975)
PW = flexine

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Peter Hamill

Back in 2005 legendary progressive rock band Van Der Graaf Generator made a smashing comeback with the double album 'Present'. In my opinion, one of the best releases since the last couple of years – a double CD consisting of a magnificent studio album that has that same raw energy as their live performances back in the 70's, and a collection of exciting instrumental jazz improvisations.
As to what the band are up to now, things are uncertain.

Fans of VDGG might also like vocalist Peter Hamill's solo work. You get what you'd expect from one of the greatest singer/songwriters in (progressive) rock music: compelling vocals, disturbing lyrics and the ever growing need to experiment with different styles and moods.
Often pretentious and pompous at times, true. But Hamill still is one of the few rock artists who gets away with that.

'In Camera' (1974) still sports some of those old Van Der Graaf Generator vibes (minus the legendary double-sax of Peter Jackson). I strongly recommend this album.
In 'The Future Now' (1978), Hamill expands his musical horizon by enriching his sound with synths and drum machines on most of the tracks.

In Camera (1974)
The Future Now (1978)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007)

Britpop band Kaiser Chiefs' new effort is a nice collection of upbeat, poppy rocktunes.

In comparison to 'Ruby' - their smash hit single - the rest of the album might sound a little on the average side. However, 'Yours Truly' still is a lot of fun to listen to.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Los Van Van... Cuba's Number One

Los Van Van has been around for decades. Fusing Cuban dance rhythms like salsa with reggae, pop/rock, latin jazz and many other styles the combo really offers something for everyone...

The Legendary Los Van Van - Volume One. Try it!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Derroll Adams, Banjo Man (folk)

Derroll Adams was a legendary folk artist, originally from the US, who settled in Belgium. A folk artist in the most traditional sense, travelling from town to town to play his banjo and tell his little stories...

A couple of months ago, I saw a music documentary about him on Belgian television. Although I'm not your typical folk fan, I was impressed by Derroll Adams' presence: a simple man playing simple music with an honest message. Especially his voice struck me. Adams' vocal style is quite similar to Johnny Cash' and though Adams' music sounds really oldfashioned and monotonous at times, his deep, mesmerizing voice gives it a real edge.

Here's a link a found to his 1972 album Feelin' Fine.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Rotary Connection (psychedelic soul)

I'm currently exploring some great early 70s psychedelic soul bands. So why not check some out yourselves. First up is an album by The Rotary Connection...
The following text is a copy of a wikipedia document. If you don't feel like reading and want to start groovin right away, just skip to the link below.

Rotary Connection was a psychedelic soul band formed in Chicago in 1966. The highly experimental band was the idea of Marshall Chess, son of Chess Records founder Leonard Chess. Marshall was the director behind a start-up label, Cadet Concept Records, and wanted to focus on music outside of the blues and rock genres, which had made the Chess label popular. This led Marshall to turn his attention to the burgeoning psychedelic movement. He recruited Charles Stepney, a vibraphonist and classically-trained arranger and producer for sonic wizardry. Marshall then recruited members of a little-known white rock band, The Proper Strangers: Bobby Simms, Mitch Aliotta, and Ken Venegas. Sidney Barnes, a songwriter within the Chess organization, also joined, as did Judy Hauff and a Chess receptionist named Minnie Riperton, who would later be successful in her own solo career. Marshall also called up prominent session musicians associated with the Chess label, including guitarist Phil Upchurch and drummer Morris Jennings.

The band released their self-titled debut album in late 1967. It plays like a melange of styles, borrowing heavily from pop, rock, and soul, but in a way that isn't entirely radio-friendly. The album also boasts an Eastern influence through its use of the sitar on Turn Me On and Memory Band. Stepney's arrangements, brought to life by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, imbue the album with a certain dreamlike quality; this would become a trademark of both the arranger and the mouthpiece. The album proved to be a modest success within the Midwest, but failed to make an impact nationally -- this was to be the Rotary's ultimate fate.

The band returned in 1968 with a pair of albums, Aladdin and Peace. The former was the group's proper sophomore effort, and it found Riperton assuming a more prominent vocal role than the "background instrument" status she had on the debut. The latter was a Christmas release, with strong pervasive messages of love and understanding for a nation in the grips of Vietnam. The album's cover art of a hippie Santa Claus more than makes its intentions known. Peace is notable for being involved in controversy: an anti-war cartoon in a December 1968 edition of Billboard magazine featured a graphic image of a bruised and bloodied Santa on a Vietnam battlefield. Mistaking this cartoon for the album's cover art, Montgomery Ward cancelled all shipments of the album.

Rotary Connection would release three more albums: Songs, in 1969, a collection of drastic reworkings of other artist's songs, including Otis Redding's Respect and The Band's The Weight; Dinner Music in 1970, in which they added elements of folk and country into the mix along with some electronic experimentation, and; Hey Love in 1971, where the band, oddly credited as the New Rotary Connection, ended its career with a jazz-oriented affair. From this particular album came the uplifting I am the Black Gold of the Sun, which was famously covered in 1997 by underground dance outfit Nuyorican Soul.

After the break-up of the band, Stepney served as a producer and arranger for other artists, most notably the soul outfit Earth, Wind, & Fire. He died in 1976 of a heart attack. Minnie Riperton enjoyed the fruits of a successful solo career until breast cancer ended her life in 1979. Sidney Barnes continues to work a singer and songwriter, and in recent years has gained a following in the U.K. The other remaining members of the band either attempted other, lower-profile, musical endeavours or divorced themselves entirely of the business. Thanks to reissues of their catalog in the late 1990s and the appropriation of material through sampling within the hip-hop community, Rotary Connection has been formally introduced to a new generation.

The Rotary Connection - Hey Love (1971). Get it here.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Such A Night!

Last summer a friend of mine invited me to attend a concert by Dr. John (Malcolm 'Mac' John Rebennack Jr.) at the Blue Note Festival in my hometown of Ghent. It was a night to remember...

It was great to see the legendary New Orleans blues/jazz artist perform live. At the age of 66 he seemed a bit tired and down, still shaken by the mayhem reaped by hurricane Katrina in his hometown New Orleans a year earlier. His hopefulness in times of despair gave the performance an extra dimension: the city of New Orleans would fight back and rise above the devastation, Dr. John claimed.

After Dr. John, Randy Newman performed a humorous concert. Such a night!

A friend at the PNF forum posted a link to 'Such A Night - Live in London' by Dr. John. Check it out here.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A cure for the blues and other short stories...

Some interesting new releases have been brought to my attention. I fell in love with that old Motown sound all over again, discovered one of the most highly acclaimed electronica releases of the past months and... some nice indie too.

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (2006 - soul)
Winehouse's single 'Rehab' currently airs on every radio station in the land. It's one of the great collection of songs on the album 'Back to Black'.
The album owes a great deal to the Motown sound of the 60's. In fact, it really sounds as if it was produced during that era. 'Back to Black' has got all the right ingredients for that: a hint of Phil Spector in the production and the arrangements and heartfelt vocals that remind us of legendary vocalists like Etta James, Shirley Bassey and Billie Holliday. An impressing effort indeed, especially compared to het debut album 'Frank' (2003), which was a bit too much on the contemporary R&B side for my taste.
Back to black, that's vintage soul from 2006. A cure for the blues.

The Knife - Silent Shout (2006 - synth pop)
This one has been an office favourite for quite a while now. The Knife is an enigmatic Swedish duo (brother and sister) that produces electro-pop with heavy eastern and tribal (dare I say folk) influences. The vocals are very prominent: Karin Dreijer Andersson's voice sounds a lot like Bjork's.

The Good, The Bad and The Queen (2007 - indie)
Blur and Gorillaz member Damon Albarn's
new project balances between indie rock and electronic music. The album produced by Danger Mouse is surprisingly diverse. Some of the stuff reminded me of Blur and The Beatles, while the single 'Herculaneum' - my personal favourite - seems to be influenced by the music of Air and Lemon Jelly. Although some of the accoustic songs seem a bit out of place on this album (well, that's just my opinion), it still comes highly recommended!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Finally, some fresh AIR!

How about a little album review? Well, contrary to previous posts I would like to recommend a brand new album release to you. Two years after Talkie Walkie, Air are back with new stuff: Pocket Symphony.

Their critically acclaimed first album Premiers Symptômes was followed by the release of Moon Safari, The Virgin Suicides Soundtrack, 10,000Hz Legend, and Talkie Walkie.
Although Air's music is often referred to as electronica, their form of electronic music actually owes a lot to the synthesizer sounds of the 70's. Their influences include Pink Floyd (the mid to late 70's era anyway) and spacerockers Tangerine Dream.
Air uses many of their studio instruments (like Moog synthesizers, the Korg MS20, Wurlitzer and Vocoder) live on stage. The band performs the well-known tracks from the albums live as extended or altered versions.

Songs like Once Upon a Time, Napalm Love, Photograph, and my personal favourite Mer du Japon, have all the ingredients for the typical Air sound that most of us are used to and love. One Hell Of A Party and Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping feature guest vocals from Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy. These tracks are a bit more rock inspired, but fits surprisingly well on the album.
So far, the reviews I read are somewhat mixed. I guess some people don't like it when a band feels like taking a little side track – musically speaking. I however, as a fan of Air, am quite happy with Pocket Symphony. The only negative point I can come up with, is that the album should be longer!

Also check out Phoenix, Air's backing band. This french soft rock band would probably never have the cult status it has today if not for their collaborations with Air, but they're well worth listening to.
In addition, Air And Alessandro Baricco's City Reading (2003) is also recommended material. As far as I know, the album is the soundtrack to a ficticous western movie, narrated (in Italian) by Baricco. The music is by Air. I guess this album should be considered as a tribute to the music of Ennio Morricone... At least, that's what I make of it. Nice one, though!

Samples of Pocket Symphony here: paulfucito.blogspot.com

Friday, January 19, 2007

FLAIRCK (progressive folk)

The Dutch folk collective Flairck has been around since the late 70's. I never heard about them until very recently - when a Juicy Fruits visitor sent me a link to a nice blog that has been posting stuff about Flairck.

The music of Flairck - mainly instrumental folk music - was heavily influenced by Celtic folk and classical music in the beginning. Later on the band adopted many other influences like Meso-American music, Inuit music and many other world music styles. Their ever growing, rich musical repertoire is a direct result of their fascination for folk music from every corner of the world.
Although Flairck's music is very rich in texture, the line-up is often quite minimalistic: an accoustic guitar, violin and flute. Flairck however, is also famous for their experiments with other, more exotic instruments such as the sitar, xylophones or even a fairground organ... Through the years the musicians of Flairck have proven successful in attempting to constantly innovate their music, fusing different styles into a coherent sound and sending out a positive message towards a multicultural environement.

If you're a fan of classical music or world music, you should check them out. So visit my friend Sakalli's blog to learn more...

Get it while it's hot!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Spin - Whirlwind (1977 / fusion)

Earlier I posted some comments on a Dutch progressive rock/fusion band called Ekseption. Spin actually is a 'spin-off' of that band, concentrated around the main horn players from Ekseption.

I found a link to a vinyl rip of one of their second (and final) album Whirlwind.
The music of Spin is much more straight forward than Ekseption's, they dropped the classical influences and the arrangements were much more focused on electric guitars and horns (which are very recognizable to fans of Ekseption).
Enthousiasts of jazz/rock fusion might find this album a little bit on the soft side though, but the songs are well balanced and feature some catchy horn arrangements. So if you're up for some 'easy listening', why not try this one...

Get it here (pw=dutchoriginals).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut (1983)

Originally intended to be the third disc of The Wall, Floyd's record company would not let them put out a triple album. As a result, The Final Cut was released as a separate album four years later. Still, the album should be considered as a part of the Wall in order to make sense.

Once again frontman Roger Waters uses his music to come to terms with some of his personal problems and pains during that era. Because of that many Pink Floyd fans turned their backs to the band, as you can read in this comment by G. Vázquez: "Roger Waters criticized dictators, but he became one of them in Pink Floyd. I agree, it is more a Waters's solo album (even Nick Mason said it in interviews...)".
Despite the fact that Waters's ego was getting way out of control, The Final Cut is still a great record.

So anyway, find out for yourselves!
Find the album at mp3nova.org.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Some more Guru Guru

A friend of The Juicy Fruits looked me up some links to more stuff by Guru Guru. I'm more than happy to share. So this is one of them...
'Der Elektrolurch' (1974) is a double album which consists of all tracks from 'Kän Guru' (1972) and 'Guru Guru' (1973). This is probaly the best collection of classic Guru Guru prior to CD era.
Link to the album: here.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Guru Guru live in 1978 (space rock/fusion)

Guru Guru were one of the wildest and most imaginative bands to emerge from the 1970's Krautrock scene. Fulled by a combination of LSD and loud raunchy experimental music, it incorporated many styles, from jazz to pop.The band remains active to this day and has a huge following in Japan where they have often toured. Mr. Guru Guru himself, Mani Nuemier - one of the greatest drummers ever - is considered a German rock icon.

Live 1978 is an extremely well engineered live recording. The material on the album reflects many aspects of the band, the free jazz experiments and the funkier direction the band took, as well as revisiting the psychedelic LSD fueled past. It's the sheer variety of the selected tracks that make this album so appealing.
Mani Neumier's bizarre humour is in evidence as well. Look out for a wild version of Der Elektrolurch, a classic Guru Guru track!
This is an excellent live album of the band, which showcases the wild and imaginative fusion capabilities of Mani and his ever rotating band colleagues. Lots of guitar solos and percussion improvisations with a touch of psychedelia. Highly recommended.

Track listing
1. Transylvania Express
2. As long the Music's Flowing
3. Formentera
4. Conga Jam
5. What's the matter with the Kids
6. Herzflimmern
7. Dooga Booga Special
8. Der Elektrolurch
9. Moroso
10. Medicinman's Overdose

Line-up

- Dieter Bornschlegel / guitar
- Mani Neumeier / drums, keyboards, producer
- Roland Schaeffer / synthesizer, guitar

Releases information
2 LP Brain #0080018 - 1978, 1 CD Think Progressive 1995

I've located the links to high quality vinyl rips. However, the files have not been split (just a single file per LP side) and tagged.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Rick van der Linden - UPDATE

As a follow-up of my previous post on Rick van der Linden, I'm happy to recommend a couple of albums by Ekseption. 5 (1972) and Trinity (1973) were the last two albums (at least for quite a while) with van der Linden as a key member. After that he founded Trace.

The following links were kindly provided by a blogger friend of mine. They're excellent vinyl rips. So if you want to explore these rare gems, don't thank me! Especially Trinity comes highly recommended... Check out the killer track Imrovisation, a great mix of symphonic prog rock and loungy grooves!
5 - get it here.
Trinity - get it here.

If you want to buy some music by Trace, visit the iTunes Music Store or Musicstack.com.