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Un Voyage En Progressif
Volume 5

Musea 2000
The fifth collection of the Musea Records recent releases which represents all the range of the label’s roster. Moody and solemn “Invizible” by Jean-Pascal Boffo sports the magical violin musings on an elusvie classical themes. Underpinned by female vocals, violin steps behind to let guitar to the fore. Those into Steve Hackett‘s acoustic stuff will fall for it – and for CAFEINE’s atmosperic “Hubble” too. The band, also from France, use the same harmony guitar as Steve’s. Arresting is Japanese KBB’s “Hatenaki Shoudou” with loaf organ hidden between the intense guitar and bass lines and even a violin played in the David Cross manner. More relaxed appears “In The Phases Of The Night” by VERSUS X from Germany, sung in English. They do know how to treat a listener with acoustic guitars, little by little pouring electricity in to create a melancholy mood. Too eclectic but good. Even more so with furious jazzy “Kundabuffer” from Japanese SIX NORTH.

Violin/guitar interplay seems to be a main trick now and again appears in France’s NOETRA’s “Venise”, quite CRIMSO-esque. At last someone got on with national motifs – this time Latino style, presented by Mexicans CRUZ DE HIERRO in “Key II: The Last Warning” with a dose of neoclassic metal a weak point amidst those hot rhythms. Nothing new to pure art rock of “Awake” by another band from Japan, GERARD, while in terms of melody it’s great, on par with classic artists of the genre. Russians DECADENCE are heavily influenced by Fripp but certainly found their own niche – especially with a note the style’s dead in former USSR – and drive at full throttle in “Dream 6: The Dancing Bells”. Accordion adorns the most original piece of the collection, a vaudeville of “Izumi: From The Dark Side”, one can assume they’re off Japan, THETA. Hidden deep are RENAISSANCE harmonies that only make the tune brighter.

Some of the tracks prompt to head for full albums, which means the sampler serves as it should.


Listen To The Pictures

Musea 2000
With a title like this and an artwork like that one can hardly keep from laughing. But only until the moment the music comes in, serious as can be. With atmospheric feel and relaxed vocal of “Images Of Childhood” the band from Luxembourg reminds Sting rather than GENESIS or FLOYD. Guitar soars high to reflect the sun and clouds up in the sky and returns burnt as Icarus, acoustic and heart-rending. Children voices and… What is it, a musical box? Be Pol Feltes’ voice more sincere sounding, as Wetton’s, then “Ordinary Man” would be a smash – especially with Giuliano Arpetti’s flute “singing” a la Ian Anderson. An exqusite piece but prematurely abrupted to introduce “Esperanza Latina”. Call it progressive Santana – until the voice cuts in quite unexpectedly and really pointless it is, amidst this guitar and sax dinner for two. So while “Farewell” is more of a filler, instrumental “Open Mind” a vehicle for guitar to cry again – and it’s hard to say who’ll love the piece more, Gary Moore’s fans or Allan Holdsworth’s.

Two minutes of “Paradise Lost” strumming around the voice touch the soul strings but once the mood is set, it expires with rather standard “Days Of War”, fortunately equally short. Melancholic “Harlequine” appears remindful of “I Talk To The Wind”, the point which by no means lessens the piece’s charm. The major impact lurks in the end, an epic “Indochine”, a kind of concise “Snow Goose”, as fluent but much more jazzy. Arresting raga with sax woven in the guitar created crystal. One hell of a work simply needing to be spiced up. Add a sparkle to these pictures and the listening will be even more groovy.


The Services Of Mary Goode

Gargoyle 1999
What do you think, can a combination of well-known progressive camp players be a losing one? JANISON EDGE are ARENA’s Ian Salmon, LANDMARQ’s Dave Wagstaffe and MEDICINE MAN’s Paul Brown called to arms by SHADOWLAND’s Mike Varty and a debutant singer Sue Element. But even not being familiar with the line up, you’re drawn by the artwork – and the music lives up to the expectations. It creeps into you little by little, from the very beginning, “A Twist In The Tale Of Earth History”. Quite difficult to escape thinking of “Foxtrot”, yes, with these time changes, keyboards and even modest vocal approach but who denies, it’s interesting. “Oldman”, a short piano and vocal ballad, serves good for demonstrating the band’s elegance and leads into “Beneath The Boy” – a time for instruments to shine. If only the voice be more up in the mix: Sue’s vocals are not high and not so strong and at this point all the dramatic turns get lost. Isn’t voice another instrument to treat it accordingly? What’s good is that, while balancing in the edge, they rock but keep the straight line between progressive and hard’n’heavy.

“Mary Goode” doesn’t come as a concept album in terms of a certain storyline yet the songs build a chain and there’s a center to it, a three pieces comprising the title track. If only anywhere was a really distinct melody to remember and relish! Well, that’s a problem of many a nowadays band – mighty music and a slim vocal line. “The Birth Of Mary Goode” is brighter, indeed. The deeper, the better. Think of RENAISSANCE of the Eighties (and love that of the Seventies).

After “Mary Goode And The Dwarf Of Dreams” in comes a bouncing “Joker”, a jazzy scherzo with a well-hiden classical roots. And again – lack of strong melody mars the impression. Maybe it’s worth it, not fear to be mawkish instead of clever? RENAISSANCE of the Seventies? Yes, “Julie Lies”, a new “Scheherazade”, gentle and delicate. Back to the album’s protagonist with “The Day That I Fall”. A good track, full of promise – a brilliant guitar solo breaks all the style’s boundaries and a folk harmonies get through. A confident debut it is. Number two must be a killer.


You Never Can Tell

NMC Music 1997
A sad compilation – Ronnie died at the time of this album being in the works. The material of SLIM CHANCE here encompasses Lane’s most prolific period of 1973-1976. In 1973 Ronnie had just parted from THE FACES so no surprise that SLIM CHANCE begin their BBC sessions, which occupy Disc One, with “Ooh La La” and “Flags & Banners”, making them different, even the latter, originally sung by Lane. “How Come?”, close to its single version, witnesses live atmosphere Lane preferred – thus, BBC version appears weaker than that of 1975’s Victoria Palace performance, presented on “Tin & Tambourine”.

Poignant are country “Anniversary”, in 1974 still to be laid down in the studio, and beautiful “Don’t Try & Change My Mind”, mellower compared to the album version. On the same session more tracks of the forthcoming “One For The Road” LP were registered, a title track and “Steppin’ & Reelin'”, which could be a smash had Rod The Mod nailed it. What was special about “Sweet Virginia” that turned Ronnie onto that? He fell for it – and made it his own, once dismissed macho thing for a gentle feel. The Glimmer Twins should have thanked their little friend as he exhibited THE STONES’ folky roots, very obvious here, where next follows traditional “Careless Love” with soaring sax solo.

All the way through it’s rather hard to get rid of the feeling of circus presence, as Ronnie too often seems to be clowning – just listen to “Lovely”. But with one exclusion, SMALL FACES’ classic “All Or Nothing”, mighty as ever, Ronnie even tries – almost successfully! – to belt out in Marriott’s way.

And now – to the live Ronnie’s Passing Show. 1974’s performance at The Hyppodrome is presented on Disc Two almost in its entirely. It’s different, kicking from the off, from the FACES’ “Last Orders”. Very innocent is electro-piano’ed “Anniversary”, still not recorded at the moment, unlike "Anymore For Anymore" tracks, magical “Roll On Babe” and “How Come?” paired together with “Lost”, that was written for “Mahoney’s Last Stand” film and re-appeared on the soundtrack as “From The Late To The Early”. Compare that to the FACES’ “You’re So Rude” and Lane’s progress is clear. Warmly welcomed are contemporary single, double-fiddled “What Went Down”, and “Chiken Wired”, yet not more than “Ooh La La” and “You Never Can Tell”. Tagged to that is part of the 1976’s Paris Theatre gig with Ian McLagan on the keyboards. Effort more confident, with interesting “Steppin’ & Reelin'” and “Walk On By” (a take of this Leroy Van Dyke tune is on Lane’s “Lucky Seven” compilation).

On listening to SLIM CHANCE live you eventually find the missing link between rock and folk. Thanks, Ronnie!


WISHLIST – Granted
Wishlist 1998
What is it? A new attempt to bring folk into rock textures? Seems so. Guitars wearing bagpipes and fiddles masks in an exqusite “Fantasies” change their tones for murky drone of “Ode To The Dusky Seaside Sparrow”. Elegant strumming and velvet voice make for some early Bowie effect. A little portion of sharp guitar – “Heavy Horses”, ain’t it? – coming amid keyboards-painted landscape but the piece ends too early before it’s fully developed. Some might say WISHLIST took the lessons on how to create the right mood from Nick Drake. Maybe, but “Moment In Another Place” preceded by acoustic guitar sketch “Broken Escalator”, bears more of CAMEL space and time conceptions with sound sometimes too overloaded. Altogether beautiful but very, very, very pessimistic point of view.

Had “Granted” been a good old vinyl, all the Side Two would be taken by “Statues”, that GENESIS fans will surely love. A similar approach of combining the pastoral with the anxious, although a little unfocused in places, devours a listener. For his goodness. So don’t take it for granted, you get the drift once returned musically to the very beginning. A full circle.


Il Potalo Del Fiore E Altre Storie

Mellow Records 1999
While reading the concept of this album story it’s difficult to avoid thoughts of “Lamb Lies Down”. Fortunately, music is different. Closer to “Nursery Cryme”. The problem is that the story prevails and, thus, vocals and instruments go separate ways. Parallel yet separate. Keyboards are good and could be even greater, had they been more highlighted in the opener “I Bimbi E Il Burrone”, with voice too flat. PFM it’s not, while easygoing sax breathes fresh air in. “Il Petalo Del Fiore” appears to be more of a band effort rather than Andrea Pavoni’s, the mastermind behind GREENWALL. But once solid interplay of intro makes way for another story portion, it’s changed for a grand piano – a kind of chamber effect created. And, interesting, even without paying attention to the lyrics, one could easily say, they’re Italian. Remember “Felicita”? You got it!

In places GREENWALL sound not unlike Wakeman’s Italian works that always lack the depth needed. And sometimes it works for good when acoustic guitar comes up with ambient, new age feel. Vocal harmonies and flute unexpectedly add another dimension while down-to-earth vocals ruin the picture again. Pure instrumental “Nonno” is great in it’s folky/baroque glory – maybe, there’s some of TULL but it nevertheless makes for joyful listening. Of Steve Hackett smells “Le Stanze” – but mainly due to the fact that it’s a guitar-driven piece as contrary to the keyboards-laden rest.

As if to remember that the album was recorded about ten years ago there’s a hidden track, a new version of “I Bimbi E Il Burrone”, recorded in 1998. A slow version, a new vision. And a new style, too – mighty swing, jazzy feel, piano, sax and expressive female voice. All grown up, indeed. Will there be a whole album like this?


Tin & Tambourine

NMC Music 1998
Yet another collection off the late Lane’s vaults. “Ain’t a perfection?” – how they used to sing back in the Sixties. Compare quite a spare Ronnie’s released work with archives of his, rather rich for bright melodies, and you’ll come up with the right answer. “Tin & Tambourine” presents previously unreleased recordings that really stand up to standards set by Ronnie and only his perfectionism prevented this gems from being put out.

Exquisite, mandolin-stricken “Give Me A Penny” is so warm that the only excuse for its shift from 1974 on to 1975 may be the fact that "Anymore For Anymore" LP was brimful with “Slim Chance” in the pipeline. A rehearsal, you say? Well, many would die to have such a quality stuff on their album. Ronnie lives the song here, telling it rather than singing. Difficult to say why this one’s marked “unreleased recording” yet “Tin & Tambourine”, “You Never Can Tell” and “A Little Piece Of Nothing” labeled “alternate versions” when all the four ended up on the same “Slim Chance” album. If alternate means a little slack, so it is – especially as regards “You Never Can Tell”, which doesn’t live up to Berry’s original. SLIM CHANCE version not only, er… slim, but Ronnie’s voice comes too weak to even properly intone and needs to be backed up. Laid-back country feel doesn’t suit the track as well, although it’s where it oughta be in “Piece Of Nothing”, a pleasant shanty.

“Winning With Women” planned for the “Self Tapper” album released eventually in 1980 under “See Me” title is strong for demo yet hardly on par with lively “Rat’s Tails”. Lane had a go on THE PLATTERS’ style with “Only You”, the other song, not the famous one. Ronnie shines at full, but one easily feels he wears a mask as his own manner was much more sincere as seen in elegant moody “Three Cool Cats”, far removed from rumbustious BEATLES’ version, and an amazing acoustic demo of “Richmond”, a little out of place here being THE FACES’ tune.

There are triplet from SLIM CHANCE 1975’s show in Victoria Palace (two more tracks tagged to the NMC issue of “Kuschty Rye” compilation); the band rocks yet THE FACES’ “You’re So Rude” doesn’t come close to the Stewart-sung smash while “From The Late To The Early” co-written with Ron Wood for the “Mahoney's Last Stand” soundtrack runs even more smoothly, seamlessly stitched to mighty “How Come?”. No less interesting, with deeper insight into Lane’s methods, are songs being rehearsed prior to the “One For The Road” sessions. “Joyride”, a raw and quite dull run-through, has few indications on “Steppin’ & Reelin'” it turned into later on. Oh, Lane himself found it inspiring, as you can hear from his comments, and he did worked it out well – as well as “Nobody’s Listening” and “One For The Road”, already more elaborate here, when “Innocence Lost” didn’t make it at all.

The more Ronnie’s songs unearthed, the more we understand his soul, the more sadly he’s missed.


We Came, We Saw…

NMC Music 1997
Very aptly titled double CD set documents the band’s concerts at two Reading Festivals – of 1980 and 1982. In fact, they played Reading thrice, in 1981 too, but it’s the first time and the last one, when they were headliners, that were exiting the most. Surely, that was no prime time for the band, which paved the road for many NWOBHM bands and, subsequently, METALLICA, who covered two of the BUDGIE tunes on their “Garage Days”. Nevertheless, live Burke Shelley and Co were always excellent.

Strange yet challenging seems BUDGIE decision to give the people not what they longed to hear, the classic stuff, but the band’s latest material off the “If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting”, “Power Supply” and “Nightflight” albums – with a few exclusions. Their 1980 gig the three-piece unit kicked in though with “Breaking All The House Rules” from 1975’s “Bandolier”. Solid and heavy rock’n’roll, a wakening slap in the face, remindful of Rory Gallagher’s endeavours coming straight from the blues. Bouncing “Crime Against The World”, a fresh track rocking to the bone, in its playfulness sounds not unlike SLADE, but while you can liken Shelley’s vocals to those of Noddy, John Thomas’ riffs come sharper than Dave Hill’s.

A flashback to “Bandolier” to deliver “Napoleon Bona Part One and Part Two” – what a mighty band it was, always overshadowed by ZEPPELIN, almost gone at the moment to let BUDGIE shine in full glory. Unison between vocals and guitar, underpinned by Shelley’s groovy bass and Steve Williams’ drums, is just amazing. A moment of reflection gets out to be followed by strong but standard rock’n’roll of “Forearm Smash”, which opened up the “Power Supply” album. Remember, NAZARETH those days went reggae with “Fool Circle”, so the audience’s response to BUDGIE is understood. More original appears “Panzer Division Destroyed” with rhythm loved by all the MAIDEN and DIO fans. It’s quite hard to believe there’s only three people playing – listen to “Wildfire”: twin guitars trick could be reproduced by one harmony guitar. Interesting that BBC, having transmitted the BUDGIE gig, omitted legendary “Breadfan” off “Never Turn Your Back On A Friend”, a showcase for Thomas’ leanings for classical music and Chuck Berry hooks.

By 1982 the Reading crowd were up and ready for their heroes, so BUDGIE would “Forearm Smash” the audience strictly with new songs from the last four LPs. “Crime Against The World” that time came more relaxed and lost some of its attack, the point compensated by the SCORPIONS-styled ballad “I Turned To Stone”, good but too predictable in its development. “Truth Drug” off the then new album “Deliver Us From Evil” has almost the same beginning as SABBATH’s “Children Of The Sea” and comes throbbing yet not catchy but with Lindsay Bridgewater’s keyboards given prominence. Back on the stomping blues ground lead “Superstar” and “She Used Me Up”, hardly on par with BUDGIE’s old stuff – so no surprise it was the band’s dusk and the twilight needed to be highlighted by “Panzer Division”, always a killer.

One could downplay these recordings, but given notice that BUDGIE have no official live album of classic era, they’re a must have. For METALLICA-devoted, too.


Lucky Seven

NMC Music 1998
Quite a good collection of late Ronnie’s rare stuff: out-takes and demos recorded in 1977 in a warm company of friends including THE STONES’ Ian Stewart, Eric Clapton, Hughie Flint and Lane’s cohorts Charlie Hart and Brian Belshaw. The sessions were registered around the time of Ronnie’s joint project with Pete Townshend, that resulted in the album titled “Rough Mix”. Which it wasn’t, of course. And you can say this of these seven blues variations of different tempo.

“Around The World”, massively sprinkled with Hart’s accordion, is a typical for Lane folky boogie, soft and modest, sung right from the heart. You can easily imagine Rod singing it but with no chance for sincerity like that. Pace’s quickened up with “Last Night”, obviously a backing track. No vocals supplied, yet, being familiar with the artist’s style, one can picture what it could turn out like, chromatic piano and accordion throughout. Deeper and deeper into classic rock’n’roll of 50’s with “Annie Had A Baby”, which used to be a single for Ronnie that year. Eventually guitars are welcomed to the fore to a certain extent while all the decorations provided by Ian Stewart, a star of the sessions.

A little slower with “Same Day” and you start wondering how such a gentle person as Ronnie could go for rock, a case of rebellion. Elvis was a big influence, that’s probably the right answer. Another backing is “Walk On By” boasting of Clapton’s guitar. But listen closely and you’ll hear the vocals behind the music, caught by the instruments’ microphones. Hart’s great violin soloing adds a huge country feel to the piece. From that point, it seems Lane was trying to go way back to disintegrate rock’n’roll to its country and boogie elements.

Two last pieces are “Ron’s Take” and “Charlie’s Take”, just sketches showing a brilliant musicianship – especially in the accordion-driven latter played in the Bo Diddley guitar style. So “Lucky Seven” appears to be a valuable addendum to the Lane catalogue – but was the barrel’s bottow scraped out for these seven, or was the title good enough to give us that little?


MARC BOLAN & T.REX – Electric Warrior Sessions
NMC Music 1996
“Electric Warrior” was the album that established Marc Bolan’s reputation as a top-notch musician. Gone were the days of acoustic rave of TYRANNOSAURUS REX and with the name shorted Bolan decided to head off re-living his mod past. Electrified, he waved goodbye to fairy tale lyrics having concentrated on sex driven bop and boogie. “Electric Warrior” was a cornerstone for Marc’s career, even its title signalling of a killer fantasy/technology combination the gist of which Marc explained in an interview on the bonus CD.

Simplicity of T.REX music is of deceptive kind as this set proves showing the band’s work in progress. Some preparations and they kick in with still not polished but no less fascinating “Get It On”, which sounds as familiar as strange here. Maybe not so much strange in this take which boasts of Ian McDonald‘s (of KING CRIMSON and FOREIGNER fame) soaring sax solo and is close to the album track, as in very raw – basic rhythm guitar played by Marc and Bill Legend’s drums – run-through that already contains a lot of energy ready to ooze out. There’s a third variant, too, on bonus disc, a full length version of a master tape.

Early take of “Monolith” comes monotonous without solo guitar and claps but somehow magnificient, sung in vibrant voice. Again, here’s another version, a lively one, even more than that on “Warrior”. Bass-loaded “Cosmic Dancer”, on the contrary, is a bit lifeless, stripped of all the glitter added to it later by Tony Visconti. Impressive and so poignant is “Life’s A Gas” in its acoustic embryo – and how far from “Linda lost her cherry”. At the end of the second CD catch some seconds of “Mambo Sun” made in the same vein.

Did Bolan really want to pin old standard “Honey Don’t” down to album? Yes, it fits the band’s canon well, though many attempts documented on this disc demonstrate obvious lack of Marc’s own morale to get it right. He finds more inspiration in self-penned “Woodland Rock” presented here in rough mix, yet Eddie Cochrane’s “Summertime Blues” was a favourite, recorded previously without proper band and now rocking at full swing.

Live renditions of “Jeepster”, “Jewel” and “Baby Strange”, the latter still to be recorded in the studio, are too relaxed and weirdly mixed. Moreover, in good quality, it’s strange to hear them without crowd roaring. But on hearing such rarities it’s about time for ourselves to roar. MORE!


In The Name Of A Band

NMC Music 2000
Did you ever think why specialists say BLONDIE were a punk band? “Call Me” and “Heart Of Glass”, being good songs, nevertheless had nothing to do with punk and this wonderful bunny called Debbie surely is no Wendy O’Williams. So why?

This live album recorded in December 1978 shows a band on the verge of turning big. Punk’s already almost behind – American punk which, unlike English, was never taken seriously by those who played it – but this spiky attitude retained almost intact even in “In The Sun”, a track deeply rooted in the early Sixties girls bands THE BEATLES were so into. And pay attention to this mighty Chris Stein’s keyboards adding a little progressive feel. With background like this Harry’s voice in places reminds that of ANNIE HASLAM. Well, RENAISSANCE hardly could come up with rock’n’rolls as sharp as “X Offender” or “I’m Gonna Love You To”, the latter is pure Buddy Holly. Soft and organ-soaked “Picture This” comes as a sign of things to come, a real predecessor to “Heart Of Glass”, contrasting with edgy “Will Anything Happen?”, a good-bye to punk.

“I’m On E” approach gives a best hint of punk’s origins that are rock’n’roll standards so there’s no surprise in “Denis”, a hit for RANDY AND THE RAINBOWS right before Beatlemania came in. “I Know But I Don’t Know” is a vehicle for all the BLONDIE members to showcase their skills – they could even do this Indian thing THE YARDBIRDS liked – a mature band. Keith Relf comes to mind again in “Youth Nabbed As Sniper”, a combination of blues and psychodelia is a killer and not to notice it means to let this great band down. Does “Kung Fu Girls” depicts Debbie herself? Yes and no, one may say after listening to this set (or watching it – these are enhanced CDs), because she was there to stick rather than hit and run.


NMC Music 2000
Only in recent time when brit pop stuck here people began to value SMALL FACES, a band of huge success back in Sixties. They were pure mods, not THE WHO which did their maximum rhythm and blues without strutting the attitude SMALL FACES stood for. Basically, it’s pure English pop turned psychodelic plus good modesty that started to peel off on the Rod The Mod’s arrival and the SMALL attribute falling out. This set gives a unique opportunity to relish the cute foursome not in pristine studio atmosphere but live – both sonically and visually – at their peak.

How raw SMALL FACES were in 1966, even HUMBLE PIE lacked this rough sound. Listen to the voice still giving no indication of what a superb warbler Steve Marriott would turn out to be. In organ-dominated “Hey Girl” you can easily make comparisons with THE ANIMALS while “All Or Nothing” already bears the band’s individuality – clear intonations and sparkling guitar throughout. Ronnie Lane’s bass drowns everything bar voice and guitar solo in “Wat’cha Gonna Do” and even so you can’t help but surrender to the energy oozing out of it. Who could stand against “Sha La La Lee” which, loaded with vocal harmonies and catchy chorus, owes very much to the early Sixties girls groups.

Pre-“Sgt. Pepper” 1967 was in awe of something’s coming and this feel present in “I Can’t Make It” and, especially, “Here Comes The Nice” filled with richer textures than before, McLagan and Marriott came up with perfect interplay while voices became much clearer. “Green Circles” and “Lazy Sunday” are exquisite pieces of THE KINKS’ kind. Everything seems immensely changed – pay attention to the Jonesy rumbling or Ian baroque piano. Old bluesy leanings proved relevant in new circumstances with immortal “Itchycoo Park”. Magic atmosphere, beautiful melody and already mighty Steve’s vocals make a killer combination.

“Tin Soldier”, on which SMALL FACES are joined by the female back singers, live appears to be much greater, unrestrained and swooping. (Er, URIAH HEEP’s version seems pale compared to this one.) Marriott’s singing “I don’t need no…” and to your mind immediately comes “…doctor”. But that’s to be later when this band – alas! – was dead and gone.

A booklet containing detailed interview with surviving SMALL FACES Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones comes as a last straw for all the fans to enjoy the stuff.


At The Lyceum

NMC Music 1998
In rock history never was a duo as mighty and self-contained as TYRANNOSAURUS REX – back off, Paul and Art! It was a passing but very important phase for Marc Bolan, say many praising T.REX, a band superb in its boogieing glory but never as fantastic as its predecessor. This recording of April 11, 1969 Lyceum gig is one of the few in existence – T.REX material’s much easier to find. Those into Bolan’s early stuff are to be amazed on hearing nervous “Debora”, the most recognisable song following more obscure but no less inspired “The Lion And Unicorn/Hot Rod Mama” and “Afghan Woman”.

Some years before T.REXtasy college circuit was a devoted audience for the duo giving the band a hand even on not well-known songs as “Wind Quartets” in its folk beauty akin to “Goin’ To California” which ZEPs still had to register. Steve Peregrine Took instinctively felt his partner’s drift to provide a groove needed. There are flaws, sure – “Salamanda Palaganda” doesn’t stand up to studio version and “One Inch Rock” lacks a bit of energy. But who cared while listening closely to Marc’s fairy tale lyrics that were gone once the band turned electric? Unfortunately, together with words T.REX lost innocence abundant here. In places Bolan serenades just like Jacques Brel – as in “Nijinsky Hind” – an obvious influence both on him and Bowie.

There are surprises for fans hidden: “Children Of Rarn” woven into drone of “Do You Remember” tagged to which is a snippet of FLOYD’s “Interstellar Overdrive” contrasting with laid-back “Seas Of Abyssinia”.

TYRANNOSAURUS were doomed – Seventies were no time for simplicity of “The Wizard” and required more bright melodies, too. Arenas awaited on REX…


Kuschty Rye
The Singles 1973-1980

NMC Music 1997
A full collection of the late musician’s 45’s excluding those recorded with Pete Townshend in 1977. “How Come” isn’t far from THE SMALL FACES hits, catchy and singalongble but much softer, reflecting Ronnie’s inner nature – acoustic version is added to "Anymore For Anymore" album re-release as is THE FACES’ “Tell Everyone” which Lane decided to record again to return it original beauty marred by raspy Stewart’s voice. Another B-side, “Done This One Before” could make for a great gospel had it been arranged differently. Lane was experimenting with orchestrations at the time as witnessed by the string-laden “The Poacher”. Well, Ronnie was closer to Harrison rather than Macca. To give half of "Anymore" tracks to singles was a strange strategy yet showing Lane eager to be noticed.

Ronnie was obviously hooked on vaudeville as “Lovely” points out so it’s natural he was asked to record “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime” for a movie about Depression – sax and electric guitar solos wrap the voice and Ronnie seems to be quite comfortable here as on the firm land of accordion and mandolin adorned “Ain’t No Lady”. Ronnie’s vibrant voice makes a jaunty “What Went Down” poignant to the core as well as playful “One Step” from the last 45′ of 1980.

Nervous “Don’t Try And Change My Mind” represents band not so relaxed as before but even so “Well, Well Hello” and “Lad’s Got Money” come unexpectedly bluesy while “Kuschty Rye” implants folk into disco contrasting with rock’n’roll of “You’re So Right”.

To relish Ronnie’s voice more, listen to THE STONES’ “Sweet Virginia”, one of two live tracks from 1975, added to this collection.


Live At Croydon Fairfield Halls

Eagle Records 1998
Towards late guitarist’s 50’s anniversary the first Koss’ live album was put out. The show recorded on June 15, 1975 represents BACK STREET CRAWLER, a band Paul had after falling apart with FREE. And while it’s mainly FREE fans this albums aims at, they shouldn’t expect nothing like the quartet’s raw blues. Terry Wilson sometimes sounds similar to Paul Rodgers yet he’s not as versatile as former Kossoff’s colleague.

“The Band Plays On” which gave a title to the album released three months later is great anyway, bouncing and catchy. But, sure, all shook up once guitar solo kicks in. Koss might be not in top form then but he played like hell! It’s only him who saves “Sidekick To The Stars”, rock’n’roll so weak you can barely stand it. No surprise, there’s Paul’s name on the cover, not the band’s.

To avoid FREE songs was a smart move, however, CRAWLER tried in vain to imitate their predecessors in “Train Song” or “All The Girls Are Crazy”, a rip-off of “Stealer”. Slow stuff like “It’s A Long Way Down To The Top” they manage to do best, if not for lack of energy this piece could be a hit as well as brass-tinged “Jason Blue”, the most wonderful piece of the set. Which can’t be said of “Let It Be”-modelled “New York New York”.

“Rock’n’Roll Junkie” is alright but what a sad irony this title implies now – Koss was dead in a year after this concert, ended with “Molten Gold” – the song FREE recorded for Paul’s first album presented here with all its potential. There was more of it in Koss.


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