The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Thirty-Three): However

One might imagine that a band that adopted a common conjunctive adverb as its name would lack creativity; however, that is not the case. Among the many bands I have covered in this series so far, However is without question one of the more rhythmically complex. In fact, comparisons to Gentle Giant and Frank Zappa would not be uncalled for. Like Gentle Giant, However’s four members display an impressive dexterity on a variety of instruments: brothers Peter and Joe Princiotto play everything from synthesizer and autoharp (Peter) to drums and trash can lids (Joe). Bobby Read’s saxophones steal the show on most songs, but he’s also no slouch on the clarinet, xylophone, and glockenspiel (among other instruments). And Bill Kotapish, although not credited with an equally long laundry list of instruments, performs superbly on bass and lead guitar. Like Frank Zappa, these boys clearly had some fun with the lyrics which, although used sparingly (on four out of ten songs), would appeal to many a progger’s quirky side (check out “Beese” below).

Despite the tracks’ complex structure and melody, they tend to be on the shorter side: the first three pieces are under four minutes each, but are nevertheless delightful to the music lover’s ear. The fourth piece, “Louise Sitting in a Chair,” is downright lovely: Peter’s piano and Bobby’s saxophones will have you convinced that Louise ought to remain forever fixed in her position. The title track features eerie soundscapes a la Robert Fripp punctuated here and there by Bobby’s saxes, which need no rest on this album. But the highlight of the ten, as mentioned earlier, opens with spoken word: “The bumblebee makes two different musical tones as it flies.” And the band seem to take this to heart, treating our ears to quirky synth sounds that imitate the frenetic buzzing of bees before re-introducing the sax and allowing Bill to shine with some deft work on his electric guitar. A touch of Zappa appears about five minutes in with some bizarre spoken word vocals that any fan of prog will appreciate.

The vocals may not blow you away, but they are not However’s centerpiece. What this band offers is a fantastical journey through a land of melodic and rhythmic complexity. Sounds to hear along the way will include the standard drums, bass, guitar, and keys, but as a bonus you will also be treated to the sounds of the duck call, marimba, kalimba, and – as the album ends – the gentle lapping of waves. Bon voyage!

Stay tuned for number thirty-four!

The Fall 2021 Box Set Bonanza

As previously promised, a look at the big reissues landing in the next few months — especially those available in one or more box set formats. Ordering links are embedded in the artist/title listings below.

Out Now:

The Beach Boys, Feel Flows – The Sunflower and Surf’s Up Sessions, 1969-1971: between their initial impact and their imperial phase as timeless purveyors of fun fun fun, Brian Wilson and his family pursued heaviness and relevance in a market that thought it had outgrown them — at least for the moment. This slice of the Boys’ catalog features less slick, more homespun takes on their timeless concerns (the same amount of girls, less cars, more daily life), with Wilson brothers Dennis (on Sunflower) and Carl (on Surf’s Up) taking the lead. The brilliant moments — “This Whole World,” “Forever,” “Long Promised Road,” “Til I Die” for starters — outweigh the embarrassingly dated ones, and music to make you smile is never too long in coming. Available from The Beach Boys’ webstore as 2 CDs, 5 CDs, 2 LPs or 4 LPs (colored vinyl).

BeBop Deluxe, Live in the Air Age: when Bill Nelson’s avant-glam guitar heroics didn’t generate bigger record sales, a live album was the next obvious move for this sterling British quartet. Better chart positions weren’t forthcoming, but 1977’s Live in the Air Age is an exquisite slab of BBD at work — Chuck Berry updated for the Apollo era, with a bit of Bowie/Mercury panache in Nelson’s vocals and blazing solos aplenty. Available from Esoteric Recordings as 3 CDs (adding the complete 1977 London concert) or 15 CDs/1 DVD (adding all surviving recordings from the 1977 British tour and a live television special).

George Harrison, All Things Must Pass: the quiet Beatle exploded on his first album after the Fabs’ breakup, immersing his radiant devotional compositions in Phil Spector’s patented Wall of Sound and drafting Ringo, Badfinger and the embryonic Derek and the Dominoes as his rock orchestra. The new remix scales back the symphonic swirl, brings forward George’s vocals, and gives the rhythm section a kick in the pants; just right to these ears. A serious contender for the single best solo Beatle album, well worth an immersion course. Available from the Harrison webstore in Standard (2 CDs or 3 LPs — limited colored vinyl available as well), Deluxe (3 CDs or 5 LPs), Super Deluxe (5 CDs/BluRay or 8 LPs) and Uber Deluxe (5 CDs/BluRay/8 LPs/various bespoke gimcracks/”artisan wooden crate” — you don’t wanna know what it costs) editions.

The Elements of King Crimson – 2021 Tour Box: the 7th annual compilation of tidbits from the Discipline Global Mobile archives, doubling as a concert program. This year’s selection of rarities focuses on the nine drummers that have called King Crimson their musical home (sometimes two or three of them at once). Studio snippets – like the one with Fripp, John Wetton on bass and Phil Collins on drums – live tracks, oddities, previews of coming attractions, and more. Available from Burning Shed or on Crimson’s current USA tour.

Lee Morgan, The Complete Live at the Lighthouse: never a mass media superstar, Morgan was nonetheless a jazz icon — one of the finest trumpeters of his day who played with heroes of the music like Art Blakey and John Coltrane, recorded more than 20 albums as a leader for Blue Note Records, and even managed to score a Top 25 pop hit with his funky “The Sidewinder.” This box (another product of jazz archivist Zev Feldman’s boundless energy) sets forth an entire weekend’s worth of recordings by Morgan and his dedicated, powerful 1970 band. Bennie Maupin on reeds, Harold Mabern on piano, Jymie Merritt on bass and Mickey Roker on drums bring the sophisticated, challenging compositions and spirited solos and backing; Morgan takes it from there, lyrical and fiery in turn. This is a great potential entry point if you want to explore jazz as a newbie, and a serious desert island possiblility for those already into the music. Available from Blue Note’s webstore as 8 CDs or 12 LPs.

Clive Nolan and Rick Wakeman, Tales by Gaslight: keyboardists Nolan (Pendragon, Arena) and Wakeman (Yes, Strawbs) box up their out-of-print concept albums Jabberwocky (with dad Rick W. reciting Lewis Carroll’s nonsense verse) and The Hound of the Baskervilles, adding a bonus disc collecting rough drafts of a 3rd album based on Frankenstein. Separate booklets and art prints for each of the 3 CDs included. Theatrical as all get out, and surprisingly good fun if you’re in the mood for Victorian-flavored melodrama. Available from Burning Shed.

September:

Bob Dylan, Springtime in New York – The Bootleg Series, Volume 16, 1980-1985: Outtakes, alternate versions, rehearsals, live performances and more from the era that yielded Dylan’s albums Shot of Love, Infidels and Empire Burlesque. Out September 17; pre-order from Dylan’s webstore and elsewhere in the following formats: 2 LP Highlights, 2 CD Highlights or 5 CDs complete. (There’s also a subscriber-only 4 LP set from Jack White’s Third Man Records.)

Marillion, Fugazi: the band’s 1984 album, perceived as a “sophomore slump” at the time, is much more than a bridge between the feral debut Script for A Jester’s Tear and the early masterwork Misplaced Childhood, with plenty of gripping moments to recommend it. A new remix by Andy Bradfield and Avril Mackintosh compensates handily for the production nightmares recounted in this deluxe edition’s copious notes. Also includes a complete live set from Montreal; the CD/BluRay version adds bonus tracks, documentaries, and a Swiss television concert. Out September 10; pre-order from Marillion’s webstore as 4 CDs/BluRay or 4 LPs.

Van der Graaf Generator, The Charisma Years, 1970-1978: VDGG may have shared the stage with Genesis in each band’s formative years, but they were a thoroughly different beast. Peter Hammill’s desperate existential narratives and the wigged out instrumental web woven by David Jackson, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans made for a unique, highly combustible chemistry — bonkers dystopian sci-fi narrative over free jazz one moment, raggedly soaring hymns to human potential the next. This 17 CD/3 BluRay set collects the band’s 8 studio albums from the Seventies, adding extensive BBC sessions, a live show from Paris, all surviving television appearances “and more.” Now available from Burning Shed; the four newly remastered albums in this box (H to He Who Am the Only One, Pawn Hearts, Godbluff and Still Life) are available as separate CD/DVD sets for those wanting a lower priced introduction to this underrated band’s indescribably stirring music.

October:

The Beatles, Let It Be: the Fab Four’s star-crossed attempt to return to their roots – recording live in front of movie cameras – ultimately became their first post-break-up release, drenched with Phil Spector’s orchestral overdubs to cover the rough spots. With a new 6-hour Peter Jackson documentary on the sessions hitting Disney Plus Thanksgiving weekend, Apple unleashes a fresh stereo remix (the 4th in the series that kicked off with Sgt. Pepper’s 50th anniversary). Super Deluxe versions also include 27 sessions tracks, a 4-track EP and a test mix of Get Back, the proposed original version of the album. Out October 15th; pre-order from the Fabs’ webstore in Standard (1 CD or 1 LP), Deluxe (2 CDs with selected bonus tracks) and Super Deluxe (4 CDs/1 BluRay or 4 LP/1 EP) editions. (The companion book of photos and transcribed conversations from the sessions, Get Back, is released on October 12.)

Emerson Lake and Palmer, Out of This World – Live (1970-1997): a compilation of key live shows in ELP’s history: their 1970 debut at the Isle of Wight Festival; a career peak show at the 1974 California Jam; the 1977 full-orchestra extravaganza at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium; 1992’s comeback concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall; and a previously unreleased 1997 show from Phoenix, Arizona. Out October 29; pre-order from ImportCDs as 7 CDs or 10 LPs.

Joni Mitchell, Archives , Volume 2 – The Reprise Years (1968-1971): more archival recordings from the early days of Mitchell’s recording career. Home and studio demos, outtakes, unreleased songs, her Carnegie Hall debut and much more — a complete acoustic set recorded by a enraptured Jimi Hendrix, anyone? Out October 29; pre-order from Mitchell’s webstore on 5 CDs or 10 LPs (4000 copies only), The Carnegie Hall concert is available separately on 3 LPs (black or white vinyl).

Pink Floyd, A Momentary Lapse of Reason (Remixed and Updated): the 2019 remix of Floyd’s post-Roger Waters comeback from the opulent The Later Years box, now available on its own. “Sounds less like the 1980s, more like classic Floyd” is the party line here. Out October 29; pre-order from Floyd’s webstore in 1 CD, CD/DVD, CD/BluRay or 2 LP formats.

November:

Genesis, The Last Domino? Yet another compilation of Genesis’ greatest hits, fan favorites and core album cuts, released just in time for their first US tour in 14 years. No real surprises in the track selection, but the blurbed promise of “new stereo mixes” of four Gabriel-era classics is intriguing. Out November 19; pre-order from Genesis’ webstore on 2 CDs or 4 LPs. (The UK version of this compilation, out September 17, sports a slightly different track list.)

Elvis Presley, Back in Nashville: the King’s final sessions in Music City, stripped of overdubs a la last year’s From Elvis in Nashville box, that yielded material for three years worth of albums. 82 tracks encompassing country/folk, pop, religious music and Christmas music. Out November 12; pre-order from the Presley webstore on 4 CDs or 2 LPs.

In the Works (release date forthcoming):

Robert Fripp, Exposures: another exhaustive (and potentially exhausting) set from Discipline Global Mobile. This one promises to cover Fripp’s “Drive to 1981,” including his guest-star-heavy solo debut Exposure, the ambient Frippertronics of God Save the Queen and Let the Power Fall, and the egghead dance music of Under Heavy Manners and The League of Gentlemen. Tons of live gigs promised to supplement rarities and studio outtakes.

Marillion, Holidays in Eden: the new Marillion album (now officially titled An Hour Before It’s Dark) may push this further back on the release schedule, but Steve Hogarth’s second effort with the boys (an intriguing effort that tried and failed to go commercial) is next up for the deluxe reissue treatment.

Porcupine Tree, Deadwing: a promised deluxe set in the vein of 2020’s In Absentia. Internet gossip flared up when Steven Wilson, Steve Barbieri and Gavin Harrison were rumored to have reset the band’s legal partnership earlier this year; who knows how or when the Tree may blossom again?

Renaissance, Scheherezade and Other Stories: coming from Esoteric Recordings, the folk-prog quintet’s finest hour in the studio, melding orchestral grace with an Arabian Nights theme for the half-hour title track. If this is in the vein of other recent Renaissance issues, hope for a multi-disc set with a bonus live set and a surround remix.

— Rick Krueger

The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Fifteen): Rob Thomsett

What do you get when you combine an Australian Aboriginal creation myth, jazz guitar, several flutes, mellotron, and a healthy dose of psychedelic and ambient soundscapes? Yaraandoo. The brainchild of Rob Thomsett, an Australian guitarist, Yaraandoo is considered quite the collector’s item in the world of obscure prog: only 100 LP copies were originally released in 1975.

Yaraandoo tells the tale (through the instruments listed above, in this case) of the world’s creation and the fall of man. According to Thomsett, the story includes several elements that make it distinctively Australian, including gum trees, kangaroo rats, and the red earth of the Outback.

The album opens with the soft sound of mellotron and percussion, and this ambient, dreamy, and spacy sound, driven by the mellotron, several flutes, and Thomsett’s luscious guitar, never lets up. (The best comparison I can think of is some of Robert Fripp’s ambient work.) Although jazz is clearly an influence here, it is not the kind of jazz-inspired music you would hear on Relayer or In the Court of the Crimson King; this is much more ethereal in tone. About twenty minutes in, however, we get to enjoy some faster-paced interplay between the saxophone and electric guitar. And too soon, alas, Yaraandoo closes as it opens: softly, with chimes and acoustic guitar gently returning us to earth after this serene cosmic journey.

Caveat emptor: for those looking for an epic, this may not be the album for you – most of the songs are very short (under three minutes). But that does not mean you should overlook this obscure gem. And if ever you find yourself pondering the permanent things in the Outback, consider Yaraandoo as a source of inspiration.

Stay tuned for number sixteen!

King Crimson’s Music Is Our Friend USA Tour

It’s been a long, long, loooong wait for King Crimson to reschedule their pandemic-postponed tour, originally planned for last summer. But as of today, there’s rejoicing in the air at Discipline Global Mobile:

We are pleased to announce the dates for the re-scheduled 2021 King Crimson tour of the USA. This is also a good moment to publicly thank all those who have worked so hard to make this tour possible. The dates have changed on an almost daily basis over the last six months as rules and restrictions have changed.

The California Guitar Trio will be appearing as a special guest for the first leg of the tour. King Crimson will be accompanied by the Zappa Band for the whole of the second leg of the tour from 22nd August – 11th September, and also for the concerts in Concord and Los Angeles on 5th and 6th August.

There are currently Royal Package places available at all these concerts. The Royal Package gives priority seating at the front of the venue, early access, special merchandise, and personal insights and answers from David Singleton and one of the band members. Anyone with an existing place reserved last year, who now needs to move to a different venue or apply for a refund, should contact iona@dgmhq.com.

Crimson manager David Singleton has much, much more on the headaches involved at his DGM diary. And Crimson founder/mainman/guitarist Robert Fripp has also reacted in characteristic fashion:

The Crimson Beast Of Terror has woken from its enforced slumbering and is venturing out to stomp flat the psyches of innocents not yet experienced in the hammering onslaught of King Crimson’s uncompromising pounding – bish! bish! bish! – before turning on a beat to jellify hearts with gut-wrenching passion and soul-squeezing epic unfoldings to remind us that we are all mere subjects in the unfolding drama of the universe’s unfathomable mysteries while simultaneously rocking out and having a great time bopping about with Tony and Bobby and Gavin and Jakko and Mel and Pat and Jezza too.

Tour dates are listed below; Royal Packages are available by clicking the appropriate link, and regular seats will go on sale soon. I look forward to entering the Court of the Crimson King for the 10th time on August 18 at Meadow Brook Amphitheater!

July 22, 2021 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall

July 23, 2021 – Delray Beach, FL – Old School Square

July 24, 2021 – St. Augustine, FL – St Augustine Ampitheater

July 26, 2021 – Orlando, FL – Dr. Phillips Walt Disney Theater

July 27, 2021 – Atlanta, GA – The Fox

July 28, 2021 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium

July 30, 2021 – Fort Worth, TX – Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium

July 31, 2021 – Cedar Park, TX – H-E-B Center

August 2, 2021 – Greenwood Village, CO – Fiddlers Green Amiptheater

August 3, 2021 – Sandy, UT – Sandy Ampitheater

August 5, 2021- Concord, CA – Concord Pavilion

August 6, 2021 – Los Angeles – The Greek

August 7, 2021 – Scottsdale, AZ – Talking Stick Ballroom

August 23, 2021 – Saratoga Springs, NY – SPAC

August 24, 2021 – Northampton, MA – The Pines Theater

August 26, 2021 – Canandaigua, NY – CMAC

August 27, 2021 – Lewiston, NY – Artpark Ampitheater

August 28, 2021 – Rochester Hills, MI – Meadow Brook Ampitheater

August 29, 2021 – Highland Park, IL – Ravinia

August 31, 2021 – Milwaukee, WI – Miller High Life Theatre

September 1, 2021 – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica

September 2, 2021 – Huber Heights, OH – Rose Music Center @ The Heights

September 4, 2021 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center

September 5, 2021 – New Haven, CT – Westville Music Bowl

September 7, 2021 – Philadelphia, PA – The Mann Center

September 9, 2021 – Forest Hills, NYC – Forest Hills Stadium

September 10, 2021 – Boston, MA – Leader Bank Pavilion

September 11, 2021 – Washington, DC – The Anthem

— Rick Krueger

King Crimson: Celebrating 50 Years of Hot Dates in Concert

King Crimson, Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, Chicago Illinois, September 10, 2019.  (Featured photo by King Crimson manager David Singleton.)

“Expectation is a prison.”  Robert Fripp says that a lot.

He said it again this past Tuesday in Chicago.  Specifically, to about sixty fans who had paid a lot of cash for a King Crimson pre-concert VIP package.  Even more specifically, to one particularly zealous fan, who nervously, repeatedly begged Fripp to reveal if “Cat Food” was on the evening’s setlist.

Fripp wasn’t biting.  Having already pivoted from reflections on music’s ability to change the world and the necessity for presence in the musical event (like an abbot exhorting his monastic chapter) to “wittering” on the disadvantage of playing guitar while seated (“pimples on my arse”, spoken with the endearing delivery of a bawdy rock-and-roll Mr. Magoo), his response was firm, but simple: when you don’t know what’s coming next, consider it a challenge to pay more attention.  And to be more present.  Then Fripp let us take his picture while he took ours; manager David Singleton teased another possible US tour next summer (he deliberately doesn’t look at the setlist); and bassist Tony Levin engaged in a much lighter Q&A session (but he wasn’t telling, either).

As blunt as Fripp frequently is, his admonition came in handy Tuesday night.  This is the third time I’ve seen the current version of King Crimson live, and the personal temptation to tune out in anticipation of repetition from previous years (even seated in the center of the sixth row) was surprisingly persistent.  Fortunately, Fripp and friends weren’t about to let the sold-out, 4000-strong audience off the hook; the evening swiftly turned into another hot date with one of the best working bands in the world.

Continue reading “King Crimson: Celebrating 50 Years of Hot Dates in Concert”

Travis & Fripp Appdate

From Discipline Global Mobile:

Three new [IPhone/IPad] apps featuring Theo Travis & Robert Fripp go on sale today.

Each app features a different selection of performances by Travis and Fripp, contrasting in mood and key. This trilogy recreates the unpredictable dynamics of live performance, creating a new experience on each listen.

The three apps utilise a wide selection of performances by the pair ingeniously designed to work together in infinite permutations. Both Travis and Fripp have recorded brand new music for the apps in the studio in 2018, but these performances blend and combine with others gathered from live multi-tracks from the albums: Live at Coventry Cathedral, Thread, Discretion and Between the Silence (2018 3CD) and also concert recordings from Malaga, Madrid, Newlyn, Rome, Broad Chalke and the Bath Festival.

Developed by [Burning Shed founder] Peter Chilvers, who has previously collaborated with Brian Eno on the apps Bloom, Trope and Reflection, each recombines a selection of performances painstaking assembled by Travis from multi-track recordings from over a decade of collaboration, enabling old performances to mix with new, studio recordings to mix with live, and exclusive unreleased material to play with familiar performances.

The apps present a unique type of performance of musical texture and space, the building of long slow melodies, and the creation of slowly shifting harmonic soundscapes. Once the apps are started they will play continuously allowing endless performances by this remarkable duo.

As DGM head honcho David Singleton says in his latest diary entry:

[The apps feature] improvisations and multiple layers that will randomize in glorious ways to create a unique performance every time you listen.

Anyone who has been reading my diaries will know that I am something of a “broken record” in my passion to liberate music from the single “frozen recording” into something more fresh and exciting. Not computer-generated music, which holds limited appeal for me, but recordings no longer frozen into a single artefact …

This is not for everyone, or for all music … I am a huge fan of the well-made recording. But just imagine if you did not have to choose between a number of different, but equally good, guitar solos. Or vocal takes. Or drum parts. They could be subtly combined so that you captured an extended present moment. Perhaps think animated GIF, not a full movie. Here’s to dreaming! In the meantime, anyone listening to the Travis & Fripp Apps will be hearing something that no-one has heard before or will ever hear again.

Not unlike a King Crimson concert …

Having been a stone fan of Robert Fripp’s ambient efforts since I attended a 1979 Frippertronics performance at Detroit’s Peaches Records, I give all three of these apps my heartiest recommendation.  Firing them all up today provided a marvelous musical experience while going about my daily business, reading, writing a blog post — or just relaxing and letting two master players do their thing in ways even they didn’t anticipate at the time …

— Rick Krueger

soundstreamsunday: “Starless” by King Crimson

kingcrimsonKing Crimson appeared in 1969 as an island, on the far side of the bridge joining a tiring psychedelic scene to a studied, if no less freaky (for its age), “progressive” rock.  In its nearly fifty years the group’s membership has drifted in and out through orbits around guitarist Robert Fripp, his steady hand and heart dissolving and reforming Crimson as there is music for it to play.  As Fripp assembled the band’s third incarnation, Crimson was riding a wave of popularity the rewards of which didn’t settle entirely well with him, and in promising a more difficult, rockier terrain he was able to lure drummer Bill Bruford, looking for a similar fresh start, from megaprog juggernaut Yes.  With violinist David Cross and bassist/vocalist John Wetton, the band created three albums in quick succession, ranking among their diverse best.  1974’s Red, the last of the trio, is an able summation of Crimson to that point, before Fripp forcibly retired the band (he would let Crimson lie dormant until a brilliant, left-field return in 1981).  The music is a metallic, abrasive take on contemplating the dying of the light, its mood no doubt reflecting Fripp’s, and his band’s, growing uneasiness.

In its lyric, “Starless” is an extension of the previous album’s title, Starless and Bible Black,  but the resemblance more-or-less ends there.  It has more in common with the grandeur of Crimson’s first record, In the Court of the Crimson King, mellotrons drifting into Fripp’s signature sustained tones, with Wetton’s vocal part an overtly dramatic (such was Wetton’s m.o., but here it works) preamble to a long instrumental passage as heavy a piece of jazz metal fusion as has ever been created.  For all his professorial demeanor and seriousness, Fripp loves a good stoner riff, and the tension he can build around such beasts — harmonic, exploratory — separates him from the pack.  Brainy, yes, but beguiling, gorgeous, devastating.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section.

David Bowie’s Berlin Years, Boxed

The next David Bowie box set, A New Career in a New Town, is coming on September 29. This one covers 1977-1982 (Bowie’s last years on the RCA label), including the “Berlin Trilogy” and other notable collaborations with prog rockers.  Contents on 11 CDs or 13 LPs:

  • Low (with Brian Eno)
  • Heroes (with Eno and Robert Fripp).  A EP of foreign-language versions of the title track is also included.
  • Stage (with the pre-King Crimson Adrian Belew and Roger Powell of Utopia in Bowie’s live band) in 2 versions: the original album and the 2005 version (with songs in the concert running order & bonus tracks, including 2 new ones).
  • Lodger (with Eno, Belew and Powell ) in 2 versions: the original album and a new remix by Tony Visconti (exclusive to the box).
  • Scary Monsters (with Fripp).
  • A new exclusive compilation, Re:Call 3, which includes singles, B-sides, extended versions, and Bowie’s collaborations with Bing Crosby and Queen.

This is my favorite period of Bowie, so I’m genuinely excited for this release.  Lots more details and a price tracker at Paul Sinclair’s marvelous Super Deluxe Edition website.

 

soundstreamsunday: “Live in Japan 1993” by David Sylvian and Robert Fripp

sylvianfrippFinding abandon in structure is what rock is about, but it’s rarely approached with such intentional power as on the live sets that Robert Fripp and David Sylvian played in Japan in 1993, which make up the album Damage and the film presented here, Road to Graceland: Live in Japan 1993. It’s not surprising that one of the great live albums in rock would come from a duo whose very distinct songwriting and voices meshed with such ease, but the precious vein they mined yielded such a small set of work and such little attention — after all, art rock/pop in the early 90s was in a far different place in the popular consciousness than it had been a decade earlier — that the record is nearly invisible today even if you’re fairly well-acquainted with the careers of both men.  This is neither In the Court of the Crimson King (or Discipline) or Gentleman Take Polaroids (or Rain Tree Crow), but a striving towards something that summed higher, capturing two artists with deep histories and still in their prime.  Fripp’s work here, as always, is masterful; a guitarist whose technical ability is matched by a uniquely creative sound and spirit and generosity, he creates space for Sylvian’s profoundly expressive voice and writing.  Sylvian, in turn, doesn’t fill the frame either, yielding his significant presence when necessary to the outstanding band he’s playing with.  This is my favorite pairing of Fripp with a vocalist, because as much as I like the work he did in King Crimson with Adrian Belew in the 80s and John Wetton in the 70s, he and Sylvian have a chemistry that gets to the center of their strengths, and, appropriately — given Fripp’s brief but incendiary participation in the Berlin Trilogy — summons the work of Eno and Bowie.  With Fripp familiars Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto, and Michael Brook on additional guitar, the band kills, in a performance as intimate and deep as the emotions and moods that Sylvian and Fripp stir.

soundstreamsunday archive and playlist

CRAK-ing open the THRAK BOX

John Kelman writes regular reviews at my favorite jazz site, AllAboutJazz.com–and he appears to have probably forgotten more about King Crimson than most of us know about the legendary (and still very active) prog band. Here is the opening of his detailed and excellent review of King Crimson’s THRAK BOX: Live and Studio Recordings 1994-1997:

King Crimson: King Crimson: THRAK BOX - Live and Studio Recordings 1994-1997

After three years spent extensively focusing on its 1972-’74 lineup—documented over a massive 66 CDs, DVDs and Blu Rays (plus some additional downloads) on Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (40th Anniversary Series Box) (Panegyric, 2012); The Road to Red(Panegyric, 2013); and Starless (Panegyric, 2014)—King Crimson turns the clock ahead 20 years to an almost completely different lineup, a radically different sound and a far more unwieldy six-piece incarnation dubbed “the double trio” on THRAK BOX: King Crimson Live and Studio Recordings 1994- 1997. Like its predecessors, the box is part of the group’s ongoing 40th Anniversary Series, which began in 2009 with the release of new stereo and surround sound mixes of the progressive rock progenitor’s earth-shattering 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King, its highly influential 1975 studio swan song for the ’72-’74 group, Red and the divisive album that series remixer (until now) Steven Wilson dubbed “the album that stereo couldn’t contain,” 1970’s now more recognized classic, Lizard. As usual, alongside the box sets come CD/DVD-a sets with the new mixes, original mixes, and a smaller collection of bonus material.

Unlike the three boxes from the past three years, however, THRAK BOX was constructed with a different purpose in mind. Those previous boxes—while each containing the studio (or more accurately, in the case of Road to Red, studio/live conglomeration) or live album that was its core raison d’être—focused more heavily on live recordings: largely audio only and ranging from low to high fidelity, and sourced from audience bootleg cassettes, soundboard recordings and full, professional multi-track tapes.

Recording technology had come a long way, in terms of portability, ease and cost in the two decades separating the ’72-’74 lineup from the double trio that expanded the ’80s Crimson lineup of guitarist Robert Fripp, guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, bassist/Stick player Tony Levin and electro-acoustic drummer/percussionist Bill Bruford with two younger newcomers: Stick/Warr guitarist Trey Gunn and another electro-acoustic drummer/percussionist, Pat Mastelotto. Both newcomers came to the group through associations with Fripp: his Guitar Craft classes and/or the King Crimson co-founder’s collaboration with singer/songwriter David Sylvian on 1993’s The First Day and/or its live follow-up, ’94’s Damage. Every note the group made was recorded…and in high fidelity. Releasing a box like the Larks’ Tongues box—which included every known note played by the band (more to the point: every known note recorded by the group, which was far from all-inclusive)—would not just be an absurdly oversized box that would dwarf those that came before, it would have served no real purpose.

The double trio represented a more decided return to being an improvisational band after King Crimson’s largely form-focused ’80s incarnation, of which only one of its three studio recordings has, thus far, received the 40th Anniversary treatment: 1981’s groundbreaking Discipline, which introduced an entirely different Crimson, featuring the group’s sole remaining founding member (Fripp) and the only holdover from the ’72-’74 group, (Bruford). But the double trio was still heavily predicated on structure—whether it was blistering instrumentals or some of the most radio-friendly songs Crimson had released to date—and so a box containing a large number of live recordings would simply have been overkill.

And so, instead, THRAK BOX is a set of 12 CDs, two DVDs (one audio, one video) and two Blu Rays (also one audio, one video) that tells as complete a story of the 1994-1997 King Crimson as any pathological Crimhead would need, ranging from the early early studio recordings that resulted in, as Fripp called it, the 1994 calling card VROOOM EP, which also suggested that this new incarnation was going to be, quite possibly, the densest, most angular and most flat-out aggressive Crimson yet, to (in addition to the 2002 remaster of the double trio’s only full-length studio recording) new stereo and surround sound mixes of 1995’s THRAK—this time done by current Crimson guitarist/vocalist/flautistJakko M. Jakszyk, with input and approval from/by Fripp.