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Heading back to the smaller ensembles and leaving the 20+ players in the League of Crafty Guitarists behind, we slip down to five players, still very crafty. There's a bit of Frippertronics going on here. The middle of the three acoustic guitarists is playing with an EBow, a device that allows infinite sustain. There's also - in place of a bass guitar - a guy playing the Chapman Stick.

Here's the Robert Fripp String Quartet, with Kan-Non Power, from the album The Bridge Between:

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As seen in the next video - as in it's the only thing you can *see* - the song heard via today's video can be found on the Intergalactic Boogie Express: Live in Europe 1991.

It's a short little humorous piece, played by twenty or so guitarists... here's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", by Robert Fripp and The League of Crafty Guitarists:

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More from Robert Fripp today, but not so much with the Frippertronics (or Soundscapes, as they were later called).

This piece is a portion of a performance by Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists. Even though I always joke that everyone plays guitar, that's exactly what's going on here. Essentially, you take 20 people, sit them in a half circle, teach them guitar, and record it: The League of Crafty Guitarists Live.

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I also had a link to his video Exposure from the album of the same name. Unfortunately, it's the version without Daryl Hall singing lead vocals.

However, as a bonus for completely messing up Sunday's post - I expect that wasn't entirely my fault, and LJ ate it; I remember seeing it come up the FL, so unless I sent it to a community by mistake, it *was* there...

Anywho, here's Daryl Hall - yes, of Hall and Oates fame - in a way you're not likely to have heard him before... this is You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette from Fripp's album Exposure:

...under the cut... )
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Bit late, but here's today's video...

Don't know where the one from yesterday went... I seem to have misplaced it, although I know I posted it Sunday morning...

Anywho, here's Robert Fripp & Brian Eno's song Evening Star from the album Evening Star

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When I first started posting the Zoe Keating stuff, I mentioned a bit about the loops and how I used to do something much like that - bit more limited - with a digital delay.

I used to play around with a couple of delays and record hours of bizarre sound effects, making the electric guitar sound more like a keyboard or a church bell or anything but a guitar, really.

Had a guitar teacher who advised me not to do that. No one experimented like that, it wasn't healthy, it would grow hair on my hands, and it certainly wasn't commercial.

No, it wasn't commercial. Not entirely.

But there are folks like Keating who mix and match with the effects processing to create their music.

Robert Fripp - guitarist of the prog rock masters, King Crimson - worked with the effects so much that he's done albums (and not a small number of them) played entirely by 1 guitar and effects. Frippertronics, he calls them.

Here's a bit of Mr. Fripp speaking about creativity and musicianship - although, really much of it can be applied to any art. Some Frippertronics supply the backing music.

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One more Apocalyptica-plays-Metallica, this one from the album quite accurately named Apocalyptica Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (Amazon.com), with the song Enter Sandman from Metallica's fifth album, allegedly self-titled, although everyone knows it as the Black Album (Amazon.com).

By this time in Metallica's career, they had simplified so far beyond where the started that, if a die hard fan from days of old listens to this album at all, they consider it the band's last album. Although the music may not be as complex and intricate and interesting as before, some of these tunes are fairly catchy - a large part of the reason fans deserted them.

Despite all that, I find they still translate excellently to four cellos, and, even in this state of weakness, provide some good music.

Here's a live performance that differs from the recorded offering indicated above by including a drummer and reducing the number of cellos by one. The crowd knows all the words:

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One last time - before we move on to something else - here's the Kronos Quartet... once again playing some Hendrix...

Purple Haze can be found on the Kronos Quartet's 1986 release Sculthorpe, Sallinen, Glass, Nuncarrow, Hendrix (what a snappy title for an album! =)
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Martin Barre: Trick of Memory

The surprising thing about this is not how good it is - that's almost expected! - but how little most of the songs sound like Tull. Why's that you ask? Well, if you have to ask, you just might be one of those folks who might not see beyond Ian, in thinking Mr. Anderson = Mr. Tull. Fortunately, you are about to learn Jethro Tull, the person, was a farmer and the inventor of a plow, and that Jethro Tull of Aqualung-type musical fame, is not a single person, rather a whole entire band of them. Martin Barre has been the guitarist of Jethro Tull as long as I've been alive, to the year, which means most times you've heard Tull, you've heard Martin. Thus, on this, Mr. Barre's first - to my knowledge - solo outing, one would expect some similarities.

They are there - there's a couple of tunes that just might have been potential Tulltunes, but really, most of them are their own creatures entirely. That's actually one thing I've come to notice with a lot of first solo albums from long-time band members - they play, and they range far and wide, when they get out on their own. Leastwise the best of them seem to. As a f'rinstance, I think this album fits in really nicely with the jazz/rock fusion stuff I've been listening to. Martin cruises around the neck of the guitar, and it fits right in there with the other jazz guitar slingers. And, more surprising, the funk. Not every tune, but more than a couple, have - at the least - some great horn arrangements. So it fits in with the funk and R&B stuff that's getting heavy play lately.

There are vocals - by Barre and a few others - on maybe half the tunes (I didn't count lyrics to verify, but it's close.) In some cases, it reminds me a bit of the first solo outing by another British band member - Bill Ward, the drummer for Black Sabbath. Certainly, Martin doesn't range as far into the eccentricities as Ward does, and his sense of humor really only pops noticeably into one tune, but, still, there are some similarities.

This album should be a must for Tull completists, and a good choice for anyone who likes some variety, especially when the varieties might include classic rock, jazz, fusion, funk, or good music.
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Aldo Nova

All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days...

Okay, so, no, this album doesn't contain that tune. Although, to be sure, the musical did come out in the same year as this album, which is kind of funny, considering the only reason I knew that was that I checked to see if I could make some kind of joke about one or the other being older. Stole my funny right off, both of them copywritten with the same year.


And, yeah, so many memories tied up in these sounds. This was often the soundtrack for basketball. Well, this was amongst the tapes that were played. Probably closer to the mid-eighties for that memory, though.

Of course, the lead off track, Fantasy is probably his most famous tune, but the rest of them are also surprisingly familiar after many moons of not hearing them - ever since I moved and left the bulk of the tape collection behind me. Not that it mattered - the tapes had all been played to stretching, and the tape players I owned (and the ones I still own) are all notoriously hungry machines, so the next time you listen to something is likely to be the last.

These tunes are incredibly dated - sound, production, vocal style, arrangements - but these are the tunes everyone listened to and ripped off. And you know, if you actually listen to them instead of passing them off as something past tense, they're still good tunes. Sure there's some cheese factor there, but it's not supposed to be rocket science in musical form, they're just love songs of one flavor or another. Of course, if you actually existed during the early eighties, you probably listened to these tunes - or, at the least, heard the aforementioned lead-off track. Which is not about love, its about drugs.

If you think of Jon Bon Jovi's Runaway when you listen to Aldo Nova, it's not just a fluke. Aldo played guitar on that tune, and on the Blaze Of Glory Young Guns II semi-soundtrack.
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Micki Free: Gypsy Cowboy

This is good guitar driven, blues based rock. There's a psychedelic edge to it, think Hendrix and you're in the right area. I'd compare it to Stevie Ray Vaughan, but find comparison to Hendrix more apt - although both guys are - or were - quite obviously smitten with Jimi's stuff, they took it in two different directions. I've heard a lot of great stuff on this first listen, but I'll bring attention to the eleventh track, Wounded Knee, with its funky, choppy rhythm, and an extended guitar solo or two and a great keyboard solo as well. The instrumental track brings to mind Eric Johnson, and maybe even a bit of early Satriani (although without the drum machine Satch used for the first few releases!)

The last track - Baker Canyon Boogie - is an acoustic number, traditional blues slide thing. And then Susan Sheller does a Native American vocal riff. And then Micki's vocals are reminiscent of maybe Axel Rose or Gary Cherone, getting a little funk rock edge into things especially on the chorus - all the while the music stays with a solo guitar and a thumped-out rhythm.
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Quiet Riot: Quiet Riot

Funny how my favorite Quiet Riot album misses out on all the original members - no, Carlos Cavazo and Frankie Banali, who play guitar and drum on most of the Slade tunes you've heard of, are not original. Kevin DuBrow was the only original member during the days of Mama Weer All Crazee Now (Slade's original) and Cum On Feel The Noize (Slade's original), although I believe Rudy Sarzo had joined QR back when Randy Rhoads still played guitar with them...

Anywho, no DuBrow on this, making it far less of a Quiet Riot album and more of... something else. Vocalist Paul Shortino came in from Rough Cutt - a band that didn't impress me in the least. Color me very surprised when Stay With Me Tonight came up on the big screen at Narsyphilis back in the day (which was a Wednesday). Shortino brings in a very bluesy sound, and if he ever used that approach in Cutt, I missed it. This was almost a David Coverdale-like feel, and it was great stuff. The whole album carries more of this vibe than of anything remotely resembling the rest of the band's catalog.

While I understand getting QR back together again under DuBrow - it was his band (well, it was Randy & Kelly's band, but DuBrow was their first vocalist...) and that's what I think of as Quiet Riot. Even though this album has Carlos on guitar and Frankie on drums, and even though both of those guys get co-writing credits on every tune, there is nothing on this that would make me think the same guys are involved.

In fact, I'll go further and go back on what I opened up with to say this is absolutely the worst Quiet Riot album ever. However, it's also one of the best bluesy metal albums ever.

Multimedia (i.e. YouTube) Extra!... behind the cut! )
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What, it's only been November since the last review... and August, the one before that... the list of "to be written" reviews scrolls for hours... I'll catch up some day... =)

Half A Mile Away, by Debby Holiday

I first heard Debby's vocals on a flamenco-inspired track by former Megadeth guitarist Jeff Young. Her voice completely blew me away. It's kind of funny - I mean, I certainly liked Jeff's playing, maybe even more so than his contributions to So Far So Good So What, but the voice was definitely the revelation.

After that, I just had to hear more...

Somewhere between rock and pop and soul, there's music that can appeal to multiple audiences and succeeds beautifully as good music and fails utterly at being pigeonholed until tiny, little discrete categories.

Of course, something that doesn't have a clearly printed label on it often fails to do what it should - that is gain a wider audience amongst all the catagories it touches - because it's not wholly one thing or another. Rock? Metal? Country? Soul? Ditto. The tune playing at this moment - Strangers Like Us - could come off most any contemporary country album released in the past 10 years, except better. I suppose there's not enough piano to warrant an Alicia Keys comparison. I could probably mention Bon Jovi - particularly some of his solo albums, although Peculiar could have been off any of his last half dozen releases (solo or otherwise). Never Needed It isn't disco, but for some reason that comparision comes to mind, maybe in the vocal hook of the chorus? My Bad could fit in on a Shania Twain or other Def Leppard album.

This is a great album sung by a great voice that a lot more people should hear.
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Mythica (MySpace) - Vicarious (band site)

Mythica does Celtic rock right. There's a blend here that runs from a very Celtic feel with fiddle, mandolin, and harmony vocals reminiscent of Maggie Drennon/SixMileBridge or, even, Nickel Creek, to a much more experimental - and edgy - feel ala Tori Amos or Kate Bush with piano, lyrics, and vocal stylings.

The instrumental track "Just Kidding" reveals the extreme sides of the band - from the hammered dulcimer in the intro to the bass and percussion that follows, to the Uilleann pipes that take up the melody, until it's passed to the flute. The musical chops the quintet (and two guests) display is incredible.

Lyrics evoke The Princess Bride - both word for word, and regarding tumbling down a certain hill, and fire swamps, and lightning sands, and so on - all in a sweet love song. Other tunes pull their influence, with mentions of Rohan and Gondor, or their titles ("Tolkien's Fever") from a certain author some of my readers may have heard mentioned once or twice.

This is a very strong album - there isn't a weak tune on it. I'm looking forward to a lot of repeat listenings, and, from what I know about most of my flist's listening habits, I can picture most of you doing the same. =)
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Bill Miller - Raven in the Snow

I stumbled across Bill Miller while trying to find out more about Robert Mirabel's other recordings. This happened at a very fortuitous time, with my interest in what I want to play shifting formats from a 13 piece symphonic metal orchestra to an acoustic guitar, quite possibly with vocals, but more or less solo. Now, I don't really want to give the impression that this album consists of Bill and a guitar - it's got that, but usually along with a band. It does, however, have a folksy feel to it, and most of the tunes *could* be performed by a guy with a guitar.

Of course, some of the pieces I like best feature the Native American flute and little to no guitar. Go figure.

The songs vary in style - sometimes evoking more of a Texas blues thing, with distorted guitars, sometimes a bit of a Dylanesque style of writing. It needs to be said that the latter includes absolutely no shade of Dylan's vocal ability, or lack thereof.

Really hard to come up with favorite cuts - I like Brave Heart, Listen to Me, After the Storm and the title track for their lyrics. There are a number of instrumentals, including three parts of In Every Corner of the Forest scattered amongst the other tracks. Although the lyrics might - or should - reveal Bill's heritage, these instrumentals dig deeper into the mix of traditional Native American musical elements.

I suppose if I had to pick one favorite, I'd pick two tracks that are back to back and quite dissimilar. The Final Word, which might be something Hendrix would record, if Jimi had made occasional use of loops of a horn section and other effects, as he sang about a people who stole the land and will pay for their evil ways. The other, Eagle Must Fly Free has an olde-tyme bluesy feel, with bottleneck slide guitar, harmonica, and a banjo-mando in prominence. If you really twisted my arm, this 12-bar blues tune would take the top spot. If I ever felt I could handle the vocals (as in: not scare people away; as a blues piece, they're not especially vocally challenging, but they just work perfectly), I would do this song. Well, if I could find someone to play harp on it. Could do with or without the piano, snare, or even the banjo-mandolin, and you could fake it decently (if you had to) with one guitar instead of two, but without the harmonica it just wouldn't sing the same.
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Streets Of Fire: A Rock & Roll Fable (1984 Film Soundtrack)

You know, there's just something about Jim Steinman's music. It doesn't matter if his name's only in fine print under the name of the guy who sings lead, sort of like this: "Songs by Jim Steinman" appearing like a bat out hell under the immense and weighty name of a dinner meat. Mix. Thing. It's more than that - his style is identifiable even if all you have to go off of is "Fire, Inc." Slow the credits down, though, once DVDs are invented, and you can clearly read the fine print and see where the song came from.

Of course, it's often easier to just listen to the tune. That didn't help me when I first watched Streets of Fire: A Rock & Roll Fable, as I hadn't been overly interested in my first exposure to Jim's tunes, although that other album grew on me over time. The songs in Streets of Fire caught me right off the bat: the whole attitude, most extremely 80's, but with huge doses of a fantasy 50's or 60's blended in, and the two Steinman songs were the biggest draw. I can recall back in the day, my brother and I trying to figure out who this Fire, Inc. be, knowing it was likely just a band name cobbled together for the film. Certainly, we knew Diane Lane most likely didn't take the lead vocals. Actually, I'm not even sure if we could discern the credits on HBO - that might have waited until the fuzzy pause on the VCR came into being. And then, unfortunately recently, I began to put 2 and 2 together, and suddenly I was picking Jim Steinman songs in non-Loafy places.

The soundtrack has some other great tunes on it. Although I recognized the Dan Hartman tune and Countdown to Love for what they represented in the film, I often resented the fact that MTV spent all its cycles on Dream About You instead of the Steinman tunes. I appreciate them a lot more now, ditto for the Ry Cooder tune and the two Blasters tunes. Always kind of liked the Fixx tune, which stands as a shining example of 80's (over?)production, even as it remains a strong tune to this day.

As with another Michael Paré film of the era - Eddie and the Cruisers - and several others, such as The Lost Boys, Streets of Fire is a movie that is intertwined deeply with its soundtrack, yet the soundtrack stands on its own as an excellent album to listen to. Often a song used in a film is only strong through its association with the imagery, and, perhaps more often, a scene in a film is only held aloft because of the music behind it, but these three - and, from the 90's, The Crow comes to mind - exert their power of association in both directions, each medium capable of wooing and winning its own fan base.
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Jon Anderson - Olias of Sunhillow

I've read really mixed reviews of this: some hail it as a prog rock masterpiece that is - or is one of - Jon Anderson's greatest works, others as aimless spacey ethereal crap that is a godawful mess and they expected better from a guy of Jon's talents.

I'm really not quite sure what to make of the latter camp - I've seen their reviews for other Anderson solo albums, and they rip into them as being too New Agey or too this or that, mostly because, well, they're supposed to be New Agey or this and that. You don't buy Angels Embrace to hear shades of Owner of a Lonely Heart - it happens to be exactly what it sounds like: a New Age mood album. Likewise Deseo - complain it sounds too much like Latin music? Right on target - it is supposed to be exactly that.

Now, I don't feel Olias... is supposed to be aimless or crap, but spacey and ethereal and 70's psychedelic art rock are exactly the reasons why I picked it up. Some detractors felt the cover art promised them something else, and I took one look at it and said, "Ooooo, this will have the same feel as, say some of the soundtrack for Bakshi's Wizard or maybe that outer space Christmas short flick by the folks who did Rock and Rule. Yeah..." Of course, I worried that what I wanted it to be was exactly what the cover and general reviews hinted it was going to be, and *that* was what everyone else wanted. Maybe a hint of early Yes stuff, but not Yes. That's what I was hoping for. Spacey synths, and layered ethereal vocals. Now I was second guessing myself: what if it missed that mark?

Of course, this was exactly what I expected, what it was advertised to be, and what it should be. A spacey, ethereal prog rock masterpiece.

Kind of makes me wonder what exactly those other folks were really expecting? Maybe it needs a warning label: DANGER! CONTAINS SYNTHESIZERS AND HARPS! BEWARE! SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY CONCEPT ALBUM! WARNING! CONTAINS MUSIC!

I'd say I've overplayed this since I first picked it up, but I keep finding more and more in it - and I still haven't tried actually figuring out what, exactly, the story line is getting at.

The only two problems I have with this are: the bit of storyline and lyrics inside might have been readable on a 33 1/3 slab o' vinyl sized album sleeve, but that yellow print is rough on the eyes at compact disc size; and, the most troublesome issue, I haven't figured out whether I should keep this in the 'Ensemble' section (where anything that's not exactly rock or classical - unless the classical is by performer and not composer (Kronos Quartet, Erich Kunzel, and so on) or rock instrumental (Joe Satriani, Jason Becker, and so on). In any case, it would have company no matter what decision is made: in between some Ian Anderson (Divinities: Twelve Dances with God) and a few other later Jon Anderson solo discs (Change We Must, in addition to the two mentioned above) if it goes to 'Ensemble', and between another Ian Anderson (Rupi's Dance) disc and the first Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe disc if I decide upon 'Rock'.
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Bursting Out: Jethro Tull Live

And yet another live album from the guy who allegedly doesn't like live albums. I had this on tape, and pretty much wore it out. In fact, I think that tape was the first Tull recording that I owned. The mixture of both broad musical textures - rock at one moment, folk at the next - and instruments - distorted rock guitar and glockenspiel, amongst many others - really came to help shape what I believe a band should be capable of doing. At the time I was first listening to this - and for years after - I considered a five piece band ideal: two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. Although the need for more meaningful lyrics and more dynamics were a core concept, it would take many years before it sunk into my head that what I really wanted as far as musicians was more along the line of the multi-instrumentalist, if not the all out small orchestra.

Anyway, listening to this on disc the other night, lying back on my bed, brought back memories of listening to the tape, something I did, for the most part, while lying on my bed. There are a number of favorite Tull tunes on here, both those that get radio airplay and others which I was introduced to with this recording. Jack in the Green is probably my favorite Tull tune of all time (although two tunes not on this album - Cold Wind to Valhalla and Dun Ringill - often battle for that first place). Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day probably single-tunedly (like handedly, except musically so) took care of the aforementioned lesson learned, as it has the entire band picking up other instruments.

My reviews generally tend to be overly positive - even when I don't like something, I try to get some good out of it, and these reviews do come out of my own collection - but I will say there is something I do not like about the spiffy new remastered edition: there's a couple of words in the stage banter that are bleeped out. I find this exceedingly annoying. You can tell what the f*cking words are, so what the h3ll benefit do you get from disrupting the d@mn thing with bleeptones? Other than that, the sound is noticeably better than I remember it being on tape. Just seems a shame to have the censorship on an album like this. Fine, if you do a Teletubbies live album and Tinky Winky starts cussing, than bleep it out - that is marketed to kids, after all. This is intended for adults. Besides, I don't even think they bleep out "bastard" and whatever else Ian said on television anymore.
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Eatin' Ain't Cheatin' by Sweet Cheater

When I think of these guys, the first thing that comes to my mind is not the music.

I think of Charlie's cool poise and presence and Tommy's boundless energy. Great guys.

Of course, you won't be picking up this disc because it was made by a bunch of your friends. You most likely didn't play guitar (or something somewhat resembling that) with mutual friends, and there's a pretty good chance that a larger number might have - but most of you didn't - catch them at one of their shows Back in the Day (which was a Wednesday, according to certain recognized experts on the subject).

No, you won't be picking this up for that reason, or, most likely, because you're a friend of mine, and so are they (although that would be cool if you did). The reason you should pick up this disc is because you like glam, 80's hard rock, and/or hair metal. Because it's good.

Tommy puts that boundless energy to good use behind the drumset - he was definitely one of the better drummers on the scene. Charlie had that poise and presence for a reason - six of them or nine, depending on how you count (that would be EADGBE or imrptimrp). Not that Mike, Tom, and Mark were slouches, but I knew the Leger brothers a bit better, so it's almost reasonable that I'm somewhat unfair on focusing on them.

It's funny, because listening to this tonight, I am reminded of exactly how good they were - I think if Nirvana hadn't imploded on the music scene when they did, you'd already know these guys, and dozens of others from all genres, because the Boston music scene had some incredible musicians.

Just give the track Summer a listen, and tell me that doesn't take you back to the late eighties/early nineties, cruising along Hampton Beach on a hot summer night... or riding the Subway Train into South Station, and then crossing the bridge to check out the local and national lineup playing at The Channel that night...
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Live! In the Air Age, by Be Bop Deluxe

Because my reviews more often than not tend to be reminisces about how I first was introduced to the album, band, composer, book, movie, or what have you - because you know I already like the piece, as I'm reviewing things I have picked out and purchased myself or were gifted to me - it will come as no surprise that not only is there a story involved in it, but I think everyone should go out and by a copy of this album.

Be Bop Deluxe first came to my attention through their inclusion in a collection of heavy metal cover art. Right off the bat, I will say that these guys might be just a bit more heavy metal than David Bowie and probably slightly less than Pink Floyd. On art alone, I had no idea what they were about: Axe Victim had a skeleton head guitar taking up all of the view and this album has a scene from Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition).

And then [livejournal.com profile] patrixa and my brother went to NYC, and she went to a record store and proceeded to talk about guitars with the guy there, telling him to listen to Fates Warning and, maybe, whatever my band name was at that moment. He, in turn, said that as a guitarist I should listen to this, and he sold her Live! In the Air Age on vinyl.

Here's the problem, and it's all mine. I love to introduce people to new music. I do this to the point of annoyance, at least with my wife, who now refuses to listen to anything I pick out on account of it costing me money, or, in the case of a gift, including things she doesn't like (organ, choral music, female vocals, male vocals she doesn't like, and so on). I have a track record for being resistant to new things at first - refer to the earlier review of Children by The Mission, or the forthcoming one on Marty Friedman's Dragon's Kiss for examples.

So I refused to listen to the vinyl for a while, thinking they were just a hack average-to-sloppy metal band. Finally, because I didn't always get a chance to listen to vinyl anyway, I recorded the album to tape. Putting it mildly, I listened to it on tape. Many, many years later when my friend John owned a music store, I had him try to hunt it down for me on CD to no avail. A quick search rather more recently on Amazon.com turned it up as an import from Holland, so it made my wish list, and now here it is (thanks to anon!)

This is without a doubt the best live album, especially for its time (1979). The clarity of each instrument is incredible. Of course, Bill Nelson's ability to sing and play complex guitar lines at the same time (as opposed to potentially multitracked one at a time in the studio) is amazing. This really does have some of the best rock - not metal! - guitar playing on it. Very bluesy, with a lot of the late 1970's jazz fusion thing going on. There's some long extended instrumental excursions, and odd and insightful lyrics. In a few places, there are some rock rhythms which sound familiar - and some of them were even used by metal bands many years later. This, perhaps, is the connection with metal.

Well, that, and the pentagram on the cover, behind the robot's chair, as she gets up and walks towards you...


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July 2014



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