Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dio - Holy Diver, 1983

Dio - Holy Diver album cover, 1983
01 - Stand Up And Shout
02 - Holy Diver
03 - Gypsy
04 - Caught In The Middle
05 - Don't Talk To Strangers
06 - Straight Through The Heart
07 - Invisible
08 - Rainbow In The Dark
09 - Shame On The Night
Strength is not a function of size, and he wasn't tall. But the strong one he is. Ronald James Padavona, known to most of us as just Dio (meaning “God” in Italian) – the man this world has lost only few years ago; the man to stay remembered for how he enriched the rock music.

Brought up on opera records, a self-taught vocalist with a strength of a million. It was his voice to support me whenever things were getting really bad, his strength I could always rely on. It was him to replace Ozzy in Black Sabbath, him to become a landmark voice of Rainbow, him to record some of the greatest parts for The Butterfly Ball… Progressively moving towards heavier and heavier sound along the career, he didn't record a single soft song with his band of the same name Dio for the first 13 years since this debut in 1983 till the closing track of The Angry Machines in 1996.

So let me offer to your attention what I find to be the best Dio's album – Holy Diver. Not too much sense in going through the tracks – they're all brilliant if you ask me. From Stand Up And Shout to Shame On The Night. Rainbow In The Dark is quite an anthem. And on and on… Just note the line-up: Jimmy Bain, former of Rainbow; Vinny Appice whose rhythms always build up around Dio’s part, constructing one whole together; and of course Vivian Campbell - the one to replace Steve Clark in Def Leppard few years after.

Here is the quote from RJD himself on the time of recording:
“It was a good time to be in that band. It was perfect for us. Everything just fell into place. The ethic in rehearsal was amazing. The effort in the recording was just as good. Everybody wanted it to be great. We really believed in what we were doing and couldn't wait to get that product out and have people hear it."

Thus I advise you to get to it and enjoy – it's a wonderful heavy album. And note Murray on the cover – the band's mascot to appear on every early record's front.

And just to embed a piece of YouTube – here is the original promotional video for the title track (quite funny visual by today's standards – 80's – what can you do...):

Full album's text at DarkLyrics

Wikipedia: Album|Artist 

Wayne Kramer next time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Animusic - Part 1

First of all, I would like to thank both of you, my loyal readers, for the patience and tolerance shown so far. And then, after a notable pause, goes not yet another album, but that very visual intermission mentioned the last time.

Since the day I've learned of it about ten years ago, the Animusic project did influence me significantly as a visual artist. Now, revealed by a memory flash, it just seemed unknown and cool enough to share over both of my blogs (laziness rules).

They have released 2 films back then and are working on finishing the third one now after the successful kickstarter campaign.

Pipe Dream is probably the most fascinating piece in these collections of bizarre awesomeness. Trying to think about it - I guess it is seeing the sounds before they appear, that makes the experience and impression that unique and strong.

Check out their website

And a couple of insights into the graphics involved are coming in the second part at

The great and mighty Dio next time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Angel Station, 1979

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Angel Station album cover, 1979
01 - Don't Kill It Carol
02 - You Angel You
03 - Hollywood Town
04 - Belle" of the Earth
05 - Platform End
06 - Angels at My Gate
07 - You Are - I Am
08 - Waiting for the Rain
09 - Resurrection
I am only the working man (as my other blog suggests) and yes - fitting sixty-something hours into a five-days working week under a decent flu does slow me down with posts a bit. Nevertheless, here goes (just as was promised the last time) something more classical.

I guess the people are right and it is Nightingales and Bombers which should be considered Manfred Mann’s shiniest record. But may be because Spirits In The Night is actually a cover and was known too well to me before getting to hear the album, or may be because Angel Station just sounds more unusual, I am choosing it to represent Manfred Mann and his Earth Band in my List of Recommended Rock Albums.

This LP is a surreal and gentle riddle. A puzzle set in Maurits Escher’s space, just like the brilliant artwork suggests (not that easy to find the proper credits, but I would guess it should be shared between Martin Poole and John Shaw).

Don’t Kill It Carol - the opening track - is the essence of strange beauty. Fastest piece of the album, very poetic in the text and arranged with that synthesized sound of 1970’s, which would totally lose its appeal in the following 1980’s. This mixture produces a cognitive dissonance of a sort - a feeling that carries throughout the tracklist. As if a noir film director would have shot a love story set in the rich cumulus cloudscape. And then the whole thing sounds surprisingly pop.

Well, this is Manfred Mann - The Great Experimentator with a track record in pop, rock, electronic and jazz fusion. One person understanding and feeling the Music and the Universe through it. In case you’re not familiar with, tonight’s Wikipedia references at the post’s end are particularly worthy. I find the album article especially interesting with the insight into the structural aspects of the Angel Station (which I can at least loosely try to understand thanks to the magic film on how music works).

Was thinking of throwing in more epithets to describe this MMEB’s masterpiece, but though even have found them, I'd rather suggest you just press play and listen to the record. In no rush, lights dimmed and with maximum comfort achievable wherever you are at the moment.

A sort of visual intermission next time.

Manfred_ Mann's_Earth_Band_Angel_Station_lyrics_1979.txt

Wikipedia: Album|Artist 

P.S. Went on listening to Masque after Angel Station while writing this - the Mann is really good.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gas Huffer - One Inch Masters, 1994

Gas Huffer - One Inch Masters album cover, 1994
01 - Crooked Bird
02 - Mr. Sudbuster
03 - More of Everything
04 - Stay in Your House
05 - 14th & Jefferson
06 - Walla Walla Bang Bang
07 - Appendix Gone
08 - Chicken Foot
09 - What's in the Bag?
10 - Hand of the Nomad
11 - Quasimodo '94
12 - No Smoking
13 - Action/Adventure
14 - Goat No Have
Now when Lemonade for Vampires has arrived and I became a happy owner of Gas Huffer's complete studio discography (not too easy thing when you live in Europe), I can confirm that One Inch Masters is the best of their albums to me. Melodic diversity and overall quality of the material are the points which make this record stand out most significantly in the band’s body of work.

Gas Huffer is another artist I've got introduced to through my Prague's favorite Maximum Underground. A garage/punk quartet from Seattle – the mother-town of grunge music. They possess both the great energy and tons of irony blending into the sparkling songwriting - “goofing around” as they put it themselves.

Formed in 1989 and disbanded in 2006, GH is one of those groups which never went through a lineup change. There is something very right in it.

The frontman Matt Wright wouldn't probably get a prize for his vocal talents alone, but that charismatic energy he's putting into the performance generously compensates for all possible lacks. I mean, Mark Knopfler also doesn’t have that much of a voice and still he sounds.

Sincerely brilliant record. What’s In The Bag?, 14th &Jefferson, Stay in Your House, Crooked Bird... - the whole tracklist is outstanding indeed. How many songs do you know about the contents of a bag or discarding an appendix in general? And then how many good ones? These are the ones.

Guess it’s too late to order, but for every album release prior to the 6th album they were creating a comic book which included the lyrics as well. (The bassist Joe Newton is also known as a deputy art director for Rolling Stone magazine by the way). Without those at hand, I managed to scratch together only few tracks’ lyrics from the record - thus would appreciate anyone willing to share some texts.

And just in case someone would care to check on my humble opinion, here goes the rest of them sorted by the level of personal appeal:

One Inch Masters, 1994 - see above.

The Inhuman Ordeal of Special Agent Gas Huffer, 1996 - Tiny Life is a gem.

Lemonade for Vampires, 2005 - more serious, still wild.

Just Beautiful Music, 1998 - a touch softer, as the cover suggests.

The Rest of Us, 2002 - no, it’s not a compilation.

Integrity, Technology & Service, 1992; Janitors of Tomorrow, 1991 - the two first albums from Empty Records are punkier and noisier than later work - not exactly my style, but I imagine might be the opposite for someone else.


Wikipedia: Album|Artist 

Next time - something more classical from The List.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Music Works

How Music Works with Howard Goodall is an exciting journey through the fundamentals required for understanding music with a brilliant guide. Four episodes of the show cover the key aspects: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony and Bass.

The only similar show I know is Understanding The Fundamentals of Music by Professor Robert Greenberg.

Next time: Gas Huffer.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Roger Glover and Guests - The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast, 1974

Roger Glover and Guests - The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast album cover, 1974
01 - Dawn
02 - Get Ready
03 - Saffron Dormouse And Lizzy Bee
04 - Harlequin Hare
05 - Old Blind Mole
06 - Magician Moth
07 - No Solution
08 - Behind The Smile
09 - Fly Away
10 - Aranea
11 - Sitting In A Dream
12 - Waiting
13 - Sir Maximus Mouse
14 - Dreams Of Sir Bedivere
15 - Together Again
16 - Watch Out For The Bat
17 - Little Chalk Blue
18 - The Feast
19 - Love Is All
20 - Homeward
Roger Glover - one of those legend-makers and bass-playing songwriters (McCartney, Sting). This album – overlooked, underrated and pretty much forgotten – stands out of his work for me so much, that I rather associate his name with The Butterfly Ball first than even with Deep Purple. It is a musical created by some of the biggest rock names after a children's book based on a poem from nineteenth century. If that doesn't sound intriguing enough, here are some of those names:

David Coverdale of Deep Purple and Whitesnake

Ronnie James Dio of Dio, Black Sabbath and Rainbow

Michael Giles of King Crimson

Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Phenomena

Eddie Jobson of Curved Air, Roxy Music and Jethro Tull

John Lawton of Uriah Heep and Lucifer’s Friend

Micky Lee Soule of Elf and Rainbow

Can you imagine Ronnie James Dio singing a little froggy's part? Those, familiar with his Elf years probably should, but those coming from his metal side might not. It's charming.

Love Is All seems to be the only track widely recognized. Although a very good song to me, I perceive it as a version of All You Need Is Love by you know who. Personal favorites are rather Old Blind Mole and Sitting In A Dream. Then go Behind The Smile, Sir Maximus Mouse, Watch Out For The Bat and Little Chalk Blue.

There was a wonderful CD reprint in 90's (could be the one from 1995) in a cardboard sleeve and with quite interesting liner notes – not the copy I own though (mine is a veteran CD from 1989 with some history attached, including quite an effort from my father to obtain it around 14 years ago and that little IT-slavery he got me into in return for a record :)

Anyway, recalling some of those notes and things read/heard elsewhere, I can't stop thinking of this Deep Purple turmoil background Glover must've been going through those years: leaving the band due to that Blackmore thing – arranging a new band with Dio during the Butterfly Ball sessions – Blackmore leaving DP and getting Dio to his newly formed Rainbow instead – Glover producing Rainbow... Still in the middle of it, beaten by the oil crisis of '73 but powered by a lot of talent The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast was born. A record emitting light and celebrating life in its various styles and genres. Filled with enthusiasm and devotion, where songs were conceived right in the studio and just before recording.

Transparent and gentle. As if artwork by Alan Aldridge alone wouldn't make it worth owning.

An animated feature film has been planned as well, however didn't happen due to aforementioned crisis. Here is what has left:

Butterfly Ball's lyrics at Roger Glover's official website

Wikipedia: Album|Artist 

Next time: How Music Works

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sour Jazz - American Seizure, 2009

Sour Jazz - American Seizure album cover, 2009
01 - Masquerader
02 - Fun Dumb Daze
03 - Cigarettes & Coughy
04 - Bad Times Coming
05 - Black Maria
06 - Action!
07 - Without You
08 - Monsieur Flop
09 - Nippon Twist
10 - Mrs Popular
11 - Little Hands
My new visual effects showreel is being presented today. A piece of music I dared to choose to accompany it comes from American Seizure – an album by a contemporary New York rock band Sour Jazz, which occupies its place on the list of recommended rock albums for a reason. Thus I'd like to use this occasion to share few words about them.

What happens to punks when they grow up? The whole concept sounds like oxymoron, but something does. Some just end, some refuse, some keep getting younger, some start blogging and some keep writing music. Real music.

How does American Seizure sound? Pretty much like the cover looks. Sour Jazz's visual representation seems to fit their music quite well in general. Cardboard sleeve of the CD gets worn out on the edges fast, but even through it's rough matte finish it already gives you an idea that you're holding something different in your hands. Words that come to mind trying to describe the sound are “funky” and “haiku”. Well, quite modernist haiku probably... Tito & Tarantula would be another association – partially in sound, a lot in visual.

Not too fast, not too slow. With keyboards and saxophone. Energy without yelling. RHYTHM in capitals. Lazy charismatic vocals. Guitar gorgeously showing off.

If, like me, you grew up in a city – they'll make you feel nostalgic about your hometown. They love the city and they are taking me for a walk with them on almost every track. This resonance could be purely personal, but it's strong enough to be shared here. Other personal preferences from this record are Masquerader, Action! and Cigarettes & Coughy.

Apparently they are releasing a studio CD once in four years – so let's hope.

They are good. And shockingly, they are happening right now. I don't know them, I am doing this on my own stupid initiative, but I am urging you to try them out and, if you'd happen to experience similar kind of delight - spread the word. It's a shame they still don't even have a Wikipedia article. Really.

Sour Jazz's official website. Some free music downloads there among the other bits.

Last thing: I'd appreciate the lyrics, if anyone has it – googling wasn't so efficient for me yet...

Next time: The Butterfly Ball

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rush - Test for Echo, 1996

Rush - Test for Echo album cover, 1996
01 - Test for Echo
02 - Driven
03 - Half the World
04 - The Color of Right
05 - Time and Motion
06 - Totem
07 - Dog Years
08 - Virtuality
09 - Resist
10 - Limbo
11 - Carve Away the Stone
Here we go. Vertigo...

Given you don't live in Canada, how many Canadian bands do you know? Given now the positive number, chances are Rush is on the list. They are big, and they are good. And there are definitely things outstanding about them.

A trio to start with. A progressive rock trio to amplify the challenge of potential shortage of hands. Good thing – it's really not about the quantity. Alex Lifeson, the founding member, deals with guitars – all kinds of guitars – he's good at it. Frontman Geddy Lee takes on the bass and keyboards responsibilities, vocals aside. Neil Peart – a drummer. Only? Not really, since he is the person responsible for Rush lyrics since the time he joined the group (which is pretty much the time the group exists). Only 1.5 lineup changes since 1968, both happened before the second album out of 19 so far. And on top of this all - they are the artists (sadly enough, not that frequent epithet in popular music, but it is theirs rightfully).

Band's discography comes in stages. First there was hard rock mixed with classical progressive sound of the time. Surprisingly, not my favorite period though. Then came electronics around 80's. Not the electronics-electronics, but surely something which can be opposed to good old yell-drums-n-guitars within the rock music. And yet later, around the change of millenia, Rush's sound deviated again into pretty much the mixture of their previous experiences. Test for Echo was released at the border of these last two periods and incorporates the best of both worlds in my humble opinion.

A wonderful record, balanced with energy of faster pieces, emotional strains and melodism. A record where Geddy shows to the full extent one thing I value him as a vocalist most for: insinuation – ability to subdue the strongest emotions in the voice, only to make them stand out more through this suppression. Listen to it – it's like a man torn apart by the feelings of unbearable strength, but directing his last powers not to let anyone see. Something I was once taught a man should be.

And being a visual artist, another thing I appreciate is that Rush traditionally devote more time and thought to the look of their albums than would be expected from a rock'n'roll band. Test for Echo not being an exception.

As usual – hope you'd give it a try and find pleasing. Next time – Sour Jazz.


Wikipedia: Album|Artist 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jethro Tull - Rock Island, 1989

Jethro Tull – Rock Island album cover, 1989
01 - Kissing Willie
02 - The Rattlesnake Trail
03 - Ears Of Tin
04 - Undressed To Kill
05 - Rock Island
06 - Heavy Water
07 - Another Christmas Song
08 - The Whaler's Dues
09 - Big Riff And Mando
10 - Strange Avenues
I really like it when Jethro Tull play hard rock. They have some special kind of grace about it. Locomotive Breath, Something’s on the Move, This Is Not Love... And Rock Island, although not really a hard rock record in my understanding, still lets you taste this side of Mr.Anderson and friends more than usual. Enough to feed the hungry.

Opening with Kissing Willie, the original side A is the faster one. I might be alone in this, but in places find it reminiscent of some late Dire Straits (like The Bug). The title track, closing the side, makes the whole album’s statement - just like the sleeve artwork. I don't know how much of the intention was there (reminds of Jan Anderson’s comment on Aqualung’s conceptuality), but one theme which I see going through the record and its every song is loneliness. A solitude of one kind or another. And the record really explores all various shapes, tastes and sizes of ot.

The tempo and loudness tend to slow down overall in the second half of the album, with Strange Avenues sounding already like a residue. Time to confess here: I used to perceive this song as a weak and a touch boring one while admiring Rock Island’s hard sound, till a friend noted it’s the best track of the LP to him. So then I finally heard it - I mean really heard. It’s a truly strong one - simply unrealistic emotional strain packed into a piece of whisper. Beautiful. And very sad. ...looking like a record cover from 1971...

Take a closer look at the lyrics (back to the overall album now) - as usually with Tull - it’s real poetry. And if I may suggest another worthy record from this period - it would be Catfish Rising.


Wikipedia: Album|Artist 

Next time - Rush.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I know that no one cares...

Professor of Occultism and Demonology - an image by Denis Kozlov

...But I just started another project

It is a blog intended to be covering my professional interests like computer graphics and art education. It’s going to serve as my homepage for a while either, redirecting from and showcasing some imagery I am doing both as an artist and a professional. I guess that's why they call me, They call me the workin' man...

So now, after quoting Rush, I am glad to announce that The List of Recommended Rock Albums (which I still consider the principal part of my attempts to be useful here) just got updated. More than doubled in length, to be precise. It started becoming biased in a sense that some bands are receiving notably more coverage than the others, which I was initially trying to avoid. However, there are reasons for such disbalance and if a record feels worth marking as a gem - I believe it should be. On the other hand again, listing the complete discographies even for the greatest artists doesn’t feel right either -
thus I’m rather trying to pick a representative album for a certain period in such cases.

Anyway, there was never a claim for justice or objectiveness neither for the rock music picks I am posting here, nor for the Universe in general - so let it live till the next edit. Let me know.

An Umbrella - image by Denis Kozlov
An Umbrella
French Horn - an image by Denis Kozlov
French Horn

Thank you for your attention:)
Chances are, next time I’ll be writing on Jethro Tull.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead, 2007

Serj Tankian, Elect the Dead album cover
I shouldn’t have liked this album. First solo release from a System of a Down’s vocalist - one of those bands I never really cared about even without much listening to. All I did was put on headphones and pressed play, following a friend’s recommendation. Interesting thing is that both back then, while listening and already starting to understand the whole beauty of deadman’s elections, and right now, when every note and beat are almost known by heart - I still realize with crystal clarity that I couldn’t have liked this album.

How did he do it? A person with definitely outstanding and one-of-a-kind vocalism, strong cultural roots (Have you seen his duo with father by the way?), courage and opinion - he mixed up the sounds as if accidently. No - rather as if experimenting in cross-species incompatibility on racoons, seals and ostriches. And that adds on top of a heavy experimental underground genre. Sounds like too much to me, but altogether it screams - fast, loudly, sarcastically and ...charmingly beautifully. With lyrical inserts, broken of overtempering.

The Cowardly Lion of Oz could’ve probably saved a trip given this record instead. And although Imperfect Harmonies - Tankian’s second studio album - has lost a lot of this beautiful bravery to me, and even Harakiri (latest so far) only did a partial job of recovering, still I’m looking forward to his new releases.

Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead alternative cover
Alternative cover for you not to miss it accidentally.

Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead special edition cover
And another one.

Wikipedia: Album|Artist

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Bomb Turks - Scared Straight, 1996

New Bomb Turks - Scared Straight, 1996 album cover
I do have a music dealer. His name is Max and he runs a shop in downtown Prague called Maximum Underground. He's a nice person who patiently bears with me occupying his headphones and talking nonsense most of the time. It's a pleasantly weird little place, so please support them by stopping by if in the area.

It is thanks to Max I am getting introduced to many records I wouldn't have a chance to be introduced to otherwise. This was exactly the case with New Bomb Turks.

Warning first: neither of their following two albums managed to impress me – one partially, another one at all. But Scared Straight is The Album. Lightning fast, sometimes feeling like being run in a fast forward by the overdriven guitars, it might slightly conceal however doesn't lose a melody for a single second, sparkling with bold vocal modulations here and there. Energy filler and spirit raiser, I find its track list composed at a relatively uniform and quite high level with my personal preferences peaking around the middle – somewhere from Jukebox Lean to Look Alive Jive.

The kicks you'd get from this LP are very different from the kicks packed into the albums I tried to describe so far. It's a pure call for action, a demand for it – someone kicking you in the back to set your bones in motion when you desperately need this but keep hesitating somehow. Scared Straight possesses the spirit of classical rock-n-roll inside the contemporary punk package. Not a proper goodnight record for sure.

Give it a try.

Wikipedia: Album|Artist

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Def Leppard - High 'n' Dry, 1981

The way I see it, there are bands growing up during their careers and there are bands aging. (Clearly with all possible scenarios in between) For a long time I perceived Def Leppard strictly as a growing up kind, who literally started as kids and were absorbing life's lessons from album to album. And this way I should have probably begun with Slang – another listed album of theirs, which I personally perceive as a peak in their recording history.

However, I'm choosing to save that for another post and to sing anthem for youth rather than wisdom today. I guess it took me to pass a certain stage in my own ongoing growing up to suddenly reevaluate their early records as a quintessence of energy and sincerity – essentially the youth. And the brightest of the earliest has always been High 'n' Dry to me.

Second out of three first albums - the Pete Willis era, who was the main songwriter at the time and got fired during the recording of Pyromania (first out of two lineup changes Def Leppard had ever had). The sound of albums following Pyromania has changed a lot, but out of these first three High 'n' Dry is my sure preference. The reason being melodism: while being far from the “most melodic album” nomination in general, it would definitely win it out of the early Leppard records. While at the same time preserving the energy and that charming touch of naivety showing through unbreakably strong band’s voice.

Starting in an action manner and finding a comfy pace of fast and slow songs interleaved down the playlist, the sound of High 'n' Dry is becoming perceived both hard and smooth at the same time. And be sure to get a release featuring Me & My Wine as a bonus track – the guys were in the perfect spot to write and sing about hangovers.

Wikipedia: Album|Artist

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Iommi, 2000

And this is how it was. In the year 2000, after 5 years in the making, probably pretty tired of all this Black Sabbath reunion hustle, Tony Iommi, the god and father of heavy music, a person playing his own signature line of equipment, released his first solo album. (Okay, okay - first official...) With a modestly humble cover design, self-explanatory title, respectably clerical image on a photo and impressive list of friends, most of whom most likely grew up on his music.

Long story made short, it is tracks 1, 7 and 10. This is something I tend to tell people when passing the record or hear from them when getting it back. So why is it on THE LIST then? Well, there is something into it. Atmosphere, spirit – cannot find the exact word, but something very respectful, still something different for each piece – a very pleasant form of unified variety.

Don't get me wrong – those songs which might be perceived as a background are anything but crap! In fact, the vocalists' line up provides a very careful selection of artists worth being introduced to. But then listen to The Three. Ritual, maniacal laughter of the opening title – the fastest track on the disc. Then Flame On, coming over as a storm, as a wall of emotions too strong to be held inside. Not really fast, but with some kind of a tribal voodoo rhythm, forcing heart to synchronize. And in the very end, just right after Ozzy has said his word, comes the climax moment performed by Billy Idol. First part of the song, deeply moody and atmospheric on its own, turns out to be merely a warm-up for the burst of the second part, which in order is changed into the final slow-down, making sure your inner whatever is swept clean after the hurricane. For me personally it was truly lucky to get acquainted with Mr. Idol from this side rather than his classical works first.

Two more albums followed in 00’s, both featuring Glenn Hughes as a vocalist. But with all the respect and sympathy, neither of them managed to get me close to the emotions of this first release.

By the way, check out Tony Iommi's biography – it's really worth it.

Wikipedia: Album|Artist

Saturday, July 6, 2013

About being pop...

It is easy to notice that a lot, if not most, of the albums gathered in THE LIST are quite pop in a sense that those might not be the subtlest and most extravagant or sometimes even not the most expressive works of a respective artist. Rather those are the records possessing the quality to appeal easily to a wider range of listeners – being more pop. And I think it's worth explaining my position here.

I do believe that “pop” in this meaning is not a bad thing at all. Of course, there are other meanings like being purely commercially driven for instance, which is a topic for a whole different conversation. But the ability of an artistic product to move the masses is a huge achievement, requiring a talent of a further level imho. And thus I put this ability among criteria to enter the list; among things valuable. You do not necessary devaluate yourself by being more understandable! On the contrary, communicating sophisticated ideas and subtle emotions in an accessible way is a solid mark of a real talent, potentially bordering with genius. Just like Shreks and onions, art can have layers – so put it there – as many layers of subtext as you wish or can, but make the front one strong, clear and appealing – at least to make it heard.

Just like Samsara – a movie called a triumph of cinematography for a reason. It says so much about so many things so deep, important, but overdiscussed till the loss of public interest or attention; and yet does it in a form so right for cinematography but so unusual to the most of us, that it would've been a sure failure if it wasn't so beautiful and so CLEAR. At least in its front layer.

Just like Norman Rockwell.

Just like Led Zeppelin.

So be deep, be good, be purple if you choose, but be popular.

With two remarks:

1)I'm absolutely NOT saying EVERYTHING should be easy going. I'm a strong believer of diversity as a greater good. And we desperately need works harder to grasp as the only means possible to grow and evolve, to learn feeling and thinking deeper. It's just that as well I see a danger of refusing things pop only on the basis of its popularity – which has a strong scent of snobbery and decadence – intellectual elite's other best friends.

2)And of course not all the records I dare to recommend here are of that magic multi-layered kind – some are just what it says – a good rock record. ...Or I simply did not see through it – hopefully yet.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Electric Six - Switzerland, 2006

Electric Six did happen to become an accidental discovery for me. Shuffle did its job of starting Pink Flamingos only to be switched to normal playback after few seconds. And it were the following tracks which managed to turn one happy accident into the deep interest for the band.

Six people: dedicated vocalist, two guitars, bass, drums and keyboards – you could play pretty much everything with such lineup. And this is exactly what they do – with musical irony and lyrical sarcasm, Detroit's optimism of a dying city and a kind of talent that seems unrealistic for the popular music of the 21st century. Although being rejected by the musicians themselves, my favourite definition of the genre they're playing is „disco metal“. And the place they've taken on my shelf is right next to Queen.

Switzerland – their third and my debut album. All other musical merits aside, it happens to be the most „rocky“ item in Electric Six' discography, thus becoming the perfect candidate for an introductory role (since the rest of repertoire, brilliant which it is, might request a little warm-up from a die-hard oldschool rocker).

Openning with The Band in Hell – a song in the best traditions of Tito & Tarantula and From Dusk Till Dawn. Have you ever been thrown overboard? Well, you're gonna recall it. By the way, the Southamerican topic is almost symmetrically supported at the end of the LP in Germans In Mexico. Fast songs have quite uniform distribution in the tracklist: I Buy The drugs, Pulling The Plug on the Party, aforementioned Pink Flamingos and a gastronomical rejoicing Slices of you – all worthy and melodic. Other titles like Mr. Woman, Infected Girls, Rubber Rocket and Chocolate Pope clearly state what this record is all about. Love.

I wish This Song Was Louder.

Wikipedia: Album|Artist

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Deep Purple - Machine Head, 1972

At the age of 16 I used to be a zealous purist of the seventies' progressive rock movement. I was barely beginning to discover the greatest rock discographies, and from within that yet undiscovered abundance could afford a luxury of not liking Deep Purple. Feeling respect, but by no means affection – finding their songs too chopped compared to the fluent melodism of Uriah Heep's golden line up's sound. Plus a touch of a teenage snobbery was involved to be completely honest. But that's not the point – the point is that even back then Machine Head moved every single muscle of my weird soul and I considered it exceptional at the very least. And by the way, for a long time I wouldn't believe that the cover art was produced in a precomputer age.

The record sounds rather a greatest hits compilation than a studio album. No, seriously - Highway Star, Maybe I'm a Leo, Pictures of Home, Never Before, Smoke on the Water, Lazy, Space Truckin' – all on the same album?! Juicily heavy, without a single slow three-hankie but with a plenty of marvelous guitar and organ sections, recorded by likely the greatest line-up of one of the greatest bands from the Known Universe – it's a freaking work of art! Once in Berlin I happened to see a “best of '72” compilation CD, which (out of about 20 tracks) included 2 titles from Machine Head.

So would it come as a surprise there is a Wikipedia article for each song and a tribute album to the album? And could it be you haven't heard it yet?

Wikipedia: Album|Artist

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Uriah Heep - Demons and Wizards, Magician's Birthday, 1972

These two are one. You can tell it just by looking at the magnificent cover artworks painted by Roger Dean (also famous for his Yes and Asia covers). Then you check the release dates - only six months between two greatest albums Uriah Heep have ever put together. They were pushed hard, but they managed with honor - the newly formed lineup of unearthly gifted musicians which will forever stay the golden one, and which was not going to last long. In few years Thain would join the 27 club; the bottle would take over Garrick; star sickness over Hensley; even Kerslake would try his luck with Ozzy; and Box would be desperately searching for powers to save the ship, of which only the flag remains above the waterline. But all that was only going to happen later, right now they are in 1972, in the very middle of progressive rock blossoming over the United Kingdom and the rest of the Known Universe. 

And then you hear them... One after another, one as the continuation of another. Albums. And musicians. Opening with a delicate acoustic fingerstyle of The Wizard it immediately starts building up melodies in layers, twisting and overlapping within each song, still never obscuring the melody itself - clear and fluent. Faster and heavier with Traveller In Time and its a little bit surrealistic bridge in the end to the eternal action hit Easy Livin'. Poet's Justice takes off the tension a bit, leading us to the ending of the original side A - Circle Of Hands, which actually took me a while to appreciate. Nevertheless this ballad is exactly when Byron's voice makes me shiver and Thain reminds that bass guitar is an instrument indeed. 

Moving on to side B, Rainbow Demon probably did more for my artistic career than quarter of art instruction books I've ever read. I still ultimately adore the character, the image painted so thick, vividly and subtle at the same time with Ken's pen and David's voice. Measured and powerful - just stepped out of Warhammer universe – he... 

Guess that was enough bullshit for you to realize Uriah Heep are my favorite band. Thus it would be fair to deprive you of suffering further lines and discover the rest on your free will.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The list of recommended rock albums

So here goes THE LIST, which is the essence of this so-called website. It will be going through constant changes and adjustments, but at least from now on it is published. With time and despite laziness I'll be trying to share my notes, reasons and impressions for each album included. Let me know if you'd happen to find some use in it.

Adam West - Longshot Songs For Broke Players 2001-2004
Asia - Arena
Axxis – Back To The Kingdom
Bad Religion - The Process Of Belief
Beatles, The - Help
Beatles, The - Revolver
Beatles, The - Sgt. Peppers’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Beatles, The - Abbey Road
Black Sabbath - Never Say Die!
Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell
Black Sabbath - Born Again
Black Sabbath - Seventh Star
Black Sabbath - Forbidden
Blue Van, The – Man Up
Cooper, Alice – Brutal Planet
Def Leppard – Slang
Dio – Holy Diver
Dio - Strange Highways
Dire Straits - Communiqué
Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms
Dire Straits - On Every Street
Dream Theater – Images And Words
Electric Light Orchestra - Time
Electric Light Orchestra Part II - Moment of Truth
Electric Six – Switzerland
Electric Six - Kill
Emerson, Lake and Powell
Green Day – American Idiot
Hangmen, The - Cacklefest
Hangmen, The - We’ve Got Blood on the Toes of Our Boots
Humpers, The - Euphoria, Confusion, Anger and Remorse
Idol, Billy - Cyberpunk
Idol, Billy – Devil's Playground
Iggy And The Stooges – Raw Power
Jethro Tull - Aqualung
Kiss - Carnival of Souls 
Kiss – Psycho Circus
Lake of Tears – Black Brick Road
Lawton, John – Heartbeat
Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin - Presence
Madness - Wonderful
Manfred Mann's Earth Band – Angel Station
Meat Loaf - Welcome to the Neighbourhood
Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose
Monster Magnet - Powertrip
Monster Magnet – 4-Way Diablo
Motley Crue - Too Fast for Love
Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles
Nazareth – Exercises
Nazareth – No Mean City
Queen – Sheer Heart Attack
Queen – A Night at the Opera
Queen – Made in Heaven
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow
Rainbow - Down to Earth
Rainbow - Stranger in Us All
Rush - 2112
Rush - Counterparts
Rush – Test For Echo
Santana – Supernatural
Sour Jazz - American Seizure
Sting – Ten Summoner's Tales
Supersuckers - The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers
Supersuckers – Motherfuckers Be Tripping'
Tankian, Serj – Elect The Dead
Throw Rag - 13 Feet and Rising
Tito & Tarantula – Little Bitch
Uriah Heep – Magician's Birthday
Uriah Heep – Firefly
Uriah Heep – Conquest
Uriah Heep – Sea Of Light
Webber, Andrew Lloyd - Jesus Christ Superstar
White Stripes, The - Elephant
White Stripes, The - Get Behind Me Satan
ZZ Top - XXX

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello World

I have a good reason to start a blog - Greed - strong desire to increase the income as effortlessly as it might seem. And for sure I know it won't work out. So what? Looks like I have something to say anyway.

Rock is dead. Nothing to listen to. No light in the end of the tunnel. All good records were issued in the previous century and are known by heart by now. Some of those guys are still alive, though just pretend to be kicking. Young punks... I cannot tell the difference between them. And the saddest thing is that's mostly true. 

Mostly. So long live rock. N'roll.

The problem is I'm not a teenager anymore (big issue, I know - still working on it). Which means I don't need music to show off, stand from the crowd or declare my unique and perfectly subtle taste. But I still need it as a drug, and these days mostly as a drug. I don't care that much how do they look, what do they play or where are they from anymore, I just need them to get me high. And I like rock. And rock is dead.

All my statements are completely subjective, usually intentionally unproved, hopefully provocative and most likely wrong. I know nothing about music, I just get my kicks from some of it. Neither I know anything about those musicians. But still there is my rock'n'roll. My stories. Don't take a word seriously - try to enjoy instead.

And instead of trying to review records (the World can survive without extra flow of expressed disappointment) I'd rather try to recommend - to write only about albums which I consider one of a kind - and to explain why.

I would have given a lot for a person who would name me the albums I will like. So if somehow my taste would seem close enough to yours - there is a chance you might find the crap I'm going to post useful and get some fun out of it. There might be even a slight decrease in the universal entropy - who knows.

The whole story in one picture...
This whole story in one picture...