"Listener’s Corner" - A look at some of the other sounds to be heard recently at TWR HQ.
Believe it or not, your editor does not restrict himself solely to the musical output of Genesis and its members - no sirree! Music in most of its shades can be found here at TWR and so I thought it might prove interesting to give you a glimpse of some of the other stuff I have been listening to recently.
First of all as a lover of orchestral music I was delighted while on a recent trawl round the Classical Music department of our HMV store to find a marvellous double CD of the music of Sir Arthur Bliss. I had really only known his music from the score to the film Things To Come, Alexander Korda’s magnificent 1936 big screen adaptation of the HG Wells novel: The Shape Of Things To Come. The march from the film score is still one of the most exciting pieces of music I have ever heard but here also was the rest of the remaining fragments of the film score and much more besides. The Colour Symphony, based around the colours used in heraldry is another delightful piece of music and the ballet music for Adam Zero was another unexpected pleasure as indeed was the rest of the music on this double CD - and a bargain too at a mere £6!
Sir Arthur Bliss: A Colour Symphony/Things To Come/Adam Zero/Cello Concerto/Discourse For Orchestra/Christopher Columbus Suite/Concerto For Two Pianos.
EMI Classics British Composers Series 7243 5 86589 2 7
The next CD up might be a bit of a surprise for some of you. I have been a long time fan of Norwegian group A-Ha and their 1988 album Stay On these Roads has been another recent visitor to the TWR CD player. Always a band a cut above most of their counterparts; A-Ha have written some of the finest crafted POP songs in the real sense of the world ever since they broke into the music scene with Take On Me with the incredibly original promotional video. Stay On These Roads is a bona fide classic POP album, everything from the annoyingly catchy Touchy and The Blood That Moves The Body is well crafted and impeccably performed. There’s even the added bonus of one of the best theme songs ever written: The Living Daylights, taken from the James Bond film of the same name. All in all, if you like your pop with a bit more bite, give this one a listen!
A-Ha : Stay On These Roads Warner Bros Records 7599 - 25733 2
The next pair of albums will not take anyone by surprise however. My love of Jethro Tull is probably well known by now after all, I was listening to their music a LONG time before I started listening to Genesis! And with the band now on their FORTIETH anniversary tour I thought it high time to pay tribute to two of the albums by the hardest working band in Rock that have inspired me the most.
1977 was a great year all round and my three favourite bands all produced their best albums (in my opinion) in that year. In Tull’s case it was the extraordinary Songs From The Wood which is by far and away my favourite album by ANY band. Eclectic and eccentric by turns this album never fails to bring a smile to my face. The title track alone is a stunning example of the storyteller’s art and there’s plenty more where that came from on this album: Hunting Girl tells an altogether politically incorrect tale of lust and leather (!) while if you want a classic rock guitar solo listen to Martin Barre on Pibroch and eat your heart out. Superb stuff all round.
Tull followed that album up the following year with another classic and one which isn’t far behind in my favourites list. Heavy Horses takes the Folk-tinged roots of its predecessor and expands on them. Storytelling and musical excellence make this another great album. Listen to the title track and Weathercock and if you haven’t got your toes tapping and humming along by the end then you are either deaf or dead - or both!
With the fortieth anniversary tour under way, check out the band if you can, and if any of you are at their gig at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool on 13th May then don’t forget to say “hello”.
Jethro Tull: Songs From The Wood Chrysalis Records 7243 5 81570 2 4
Jethro Tull: Heavy Horses Chrysalis Records 7243 5 81571 2 3
Another recent re-discovery next. I suppose the marvellous thing about having a fairly large collection of music is that periodically you stumble across albums that you have forgotten about. That was certainly the case with the next one. I first heard this band at the Nostell Priory Festival back in 1984 when the first wave of British Neo Prog was well under way. Sadly, Marillion took the lion’s share of that cake leaving bands such as Pallas trailing in their wake. Fortunately, Pallas weathered the storm and have continued producing great music ever since. This album: Knightmoves To Wedge, combines an EP (remember them?) titled Knightmoves and their 1986 album The Wedge in one neat and tidy package. This is an excellent album where Prog meets pop in a happy amalgam. Throwing Stones At The Wind and Imagination are great examples of great songs that if there had been any justice, would have graced the upper reaches of the charts. Prog fans will enjoy Nightmare and Stranger and the highlight of the album is without doubt the emotional tribute to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust: Sanctuary. Musically an impeccable album and Alan Reed’s vocals are simply amazing - another highly recommended album.
Pallas: Knightmoves To Wedge Centaur Discs CENCD002.
Last, but by no means least; an EP of music by a very talented lady whose light has been hidden under a bushel for far too long! Sarah Dean is a singer and harpist who writes her own material as well as performing traditional material either solo or as part of a group. Blueprints is exactly that; a sampler of material which she is currently working on and possibly expanding into a full album’s worth of songs and instrumentals. Three of the four tracks here are original compositions which admirably serve as a great showcase for Sarah’s talents not only as a singer but also as a performer on what is a notoriously difficult instrument to master. Alongside these three originals is a marvellous rendering of the Northumbrian lullaby; Bonny At Morn which is another delightful offering. If this is anything to go by, then a full album’s worth of material by Sarah will definitely be on my shopping list - excellent stuff all round!
Sarah Dean : Blueprints.
For more info: www.myspace.com/sarahelizabethdean