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)