Riccardo Cocciante – Quando Si Vuole Bene (1° Tempo) (1986)

FrontCover1Riccardo Cocciante was born on 20 February 1946 in Saigon, French Indochina, now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to an Italian father from Rocca di Mezzo, L’Aquila, and a French mother. At the age of 11, he moved to Rome, Italy, where he attended the Lycée français Chateaubriand. He has also lived in France, the United States, and Ireland. (wikipedia)

Born of an Italian father and a French mother (so it’s no surprise he uses the name Richard for his French records), he often performed in pop events, and his first album, “Mu” (1972) presented a mixture of progressive rock and religion.

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But it was only with his following works, “Poetry (Poesia)” (1973) and “Soul (Anima)” (1974), that his very personal approach to song-writing became apparent: the coarse voice strokes the chords of a tortured intimacy (“Poesia”) or bursts into an irrepressible, almost raging cry, that became famous with “Soulless beauty (Bella senz’anima)” and “When a love story’s over (Quando finisce un amore)”.
If “Dawn (Alba)” (1975) hovers in some way between manierism and ritual, it is with “Concert for Margherita (Concerto per Margherita)” (1976) that Cocciante reaches superstar status: arranged by Vangelis, the album contains several very successful songs (“Spring (Primavera)”, “When you’re fond (Quando si vuole bene)”), not least “Margherita” – written four-handed with Marco Luberti – which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Italian love songs of all time.

Riccardo Cocciante01An artist by this time know well known throughout Europe and South America, with “Riccardo Cocciante” (1977) and “…and I sing (… e io canto)” (1979) he continues along the successful path set by the earlier albums: in ’77, as proof of the appreciation he enjoys as a songwriter, both Mina and Mia Martini decide to record versions of his “Once again (Da capo)”. A change comes with “A deer in springtime (Cervo a primavera)” (1981), in which Mogol – soon after the end of his collaboration with Lucio Battisti – lends a hand with the lyrics: the collaboration produces excellent results, as is proven by pieces such as the one that lends it’s title to the album and “My dearest friend (Il mio amico carissimo), both fated to become old favourites. The presence of Mogol has beneficial effects on the subsequent “Cocciante” (1982), that is steeped with future classics such as “A hole in the heart (Un buco nel cuore)”, “A new friend (Un nuovo amico)”, “On a bicycle (In bicicletta)” and “Blue nostalgia (Celeste nostalgia)”.

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Having changed recording company, moving from Rca to Virgin, Cocciante attempts to make the big leap into international pop: the results however are uneven and the only song to stand out is “Questione di feeling” (from the album “The Sea of poppies (Il mare dei papaveri)”, 1985), performed as a duet with Mina.

Riccardo Cocciante04Having retired with his wife Catherine Boutet to the United States, the singer only returns to Italy to take part in the Sanremo Festival in 1991, which he wins with “If we stay together (Se stiamo insieme)”. The rest is recent history: the success achieved with the music for “Notre Dame du Paris”, the work inspired by Victor Hugo’s tale which, following its Parisian debut in 1998, is now being staged worldwide and selling millions of records, and established him as an internationally famous artist.
In 2006, Sony-Bmg publishes “All my dreams (Tutti i miei sogni)”, a three CD box set with a collection of all his hit songs: they range from “Now I am the light (Ora che io sono la luce)” and “Man (Uomo)” both from Mu up to the recent “You Italia (Tu Italia)” and “On the lips and in the mind (Sulle labbra e nel pensiero)” from “Songs” recorded in 2005. (Francesco Troiano)

And here´s a real nice live recording:

‘Quando si vuole bene’ is the first live album by Riccardo Cocciante.The album was recorded during the singer-songwriter’s tour in (1986).

Wonderful Pop Chansons in Italian, very lovingly arranged and played by excellent musicians.

For all romantic readers of this blog.

Recorded live during the 1986 Italian Tour

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Personnel:
Dino d’Autorio (bass)
Riccardo Cocciante (vocals, piano)
Valerio Galavotti (saxophone, flute)
Maurizio Lucantoni (keyboards)
Agostino Marangolo (drums)
Carlo Pennisi (guitar)
Michele Santoro (guitar, keyboards)
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choir:
Chattanooga:
Ezio Mazzola – Vittorio Fiorillo – Rossella Cassese – Daniela Cassese – Riki Graziano

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Tracklist:
01. Tu Sei Il Mio Amico Carissimo (Mogol/Cocciante) 3:08
02. Un Buco Nel Cuore 4:30
03. In Bicicletta 4:08
04. Sulla Terra Io E Lei (Roda-Gil/Cocciante 4:12
05. Primavera (Luberti/Cocciante) 5:10
06. Cervo A Primavera 5:05
06. È Passata Una Nuvola 3:46
07. Il Mare Dei Papaveri 3:31
08. Celeste Nostalgia 3:59
09. Parole Sante, Zia Lucia 4:56

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The Unforgiven – Same (1986)

FrontCover1A real unique and special band:

The Unforgiven were a roots rock band that existed for four years during the 1980s. They were signed with a two-record deal to Elektra Records after a bidding war with Warner Bros. Records and several other labels. One label was willing to sign the band unseen and unheard. The band’s attire and overall look was compared to that of actors in a Spaghetti Western; three-quarter length overcoats, dusty boots, and wide brimmed hats.

The lineup on the band’s sole album (released in 1986) featured Steve Jones aka John Henry Jones (lead vocals, guitar), Johnny Hickman (guitar and vocals), Just Jones aka Mike Jones (guitar and vocals), Todd Ross (guitar and vocals), Mike Finn (bass and vocals) and Alan Waddington (drums and vocals). The self-titled album sold 50,000 copies. Steve Jones previously sang with and led the group The Stepmothers; two other members of The Stepmothers performed with a later incarnation of The Unforgiven, bassist Larry Lee Lerma and guitarist Jay Lansford. During the period that the band was active bassist Mike Finn was a teacher at an Orange County public school.

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When asked during a Los Angeles Times interview about the record label’s bidding war leader Steve Jones replied:

I can only tell you what they tell me. The timing seems to be right for a band that seems healthy. We play very aggressive music, but it’s still pop. We’re not trying to be overly political — we mean what we say, we don’t say more than we mean…

In the same interview Craig Lee wrote that the band came into the Los Angeles rock scene with a “defiantly macho image”. The tough look wasn’t just an act. Before each rehearsal the group would run and lift weights.Johnny Hickman gave up smoking in order to join the band.

Drummer Alan Waddington stated in an May 24, 1985 interview at Madame Wong’s West in Santa Monica:

It’s great to know you’re wanted, and that you’re going to do something with a major label. The label has sunk a lot of money into us just trying to get a record made. Right now, that’s their main concern.

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The Unforgiven were unusual in their four-guitar lineup, their use of “gang vocals”, their vintage cowboy image, and their embrace of a country-influenced roots rock sound that would find greater popularity after they broke up. They appeared at the 1986 Farm Aid II concert held at the Manor Downs horse track in Manor, Texas, and at the Farm Aid III show the following year held at Lincoln, Nebraska. The band was one of the earliest bands to have their music videos distributed on channels other than MTV, helping that format move beyond a single TV channel in genres other than mainstream pop/rock.

Alan Waddington moved on to perform with Desperation Squad from Pomona and is on staff at Citrus College in Glendora, California. Johnny Hickman became a member of Cracker, and Just Jones, Mike Finn, and Unforgiven roadie Tim Allyn perform with the band The Hickmen.

Steve Jones went on to write, direct, and compose in the music and television industries. He is credited with writing the “Days Like These” track off of Asia’s Then & Now album from 1990. More recently he worked as series producer for Discovery Channel’s first season of Pitchmen, and in 2010 co-founded a talent development agency.

The band reunited for what was called “one last show” during the 2012 Stagecoach Festival held at Indio, California. Several of the original band members, plus one guest fill-in, played several tracks including “Some Days”, “Hang ‘Em High”, and “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”. Jay Lansford (now living in Hanover (Germany) and playing lead guitar for the Simpletones and Ch. 3) along with Steve Jones and Alan Waddington (living in Azusa) all performed at the event. (wikipedia)

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For a brief time — a matter of months, really — the Unforgiven were the most wanted band in Los Angeles. Every label looked at the six-string slinging sextet and saw cash, maybe because the group seemed to be the American counterpart to the Big Music surging through England in the mid-’80s — the majestic, surging sound typified by U2, the Alarm, the Waterboys, and Big Country. Led by Steve Jones, who adopted his grandfather’s name of John Henry Jones, and featuring no less than four guitarists (one of whom, Johnny Hickman, would later go on to play in Cracker), the Unforgiven harnessed this arena-conquering roar and married it to imagery from the American West, a seemingly irresistible combination on paper that proved hard to peddle to America at large. Their lone album, an eponymous record released on Elektra in 1985, tanked and the group faded away, leaving behind a small cult that eventually clamored for a one-time reunion at the Stagecoach festival of 2012.

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Prior to forming the Unforgiven, Jones played in the L.A.-based punk group the Stepmothers and also spent time in the metal band Overkill, but come 1983 he had the idea for a band inspired by spaghetti Westerns and strident rock & roll. At first, he brought in drummer Alan Waddington and guitarist Mike “Just” Jones, with Johnny Hickman following next, and the group grew even larger a year later when Todd Ross — the brother of Jeff Ross from Rank & File — joined the lineup. The Unforgiven started gigging regularly in Hollywood but the bidding war was sparked overseas thanks to music newsweeklies publishing stories on the band due to their fondness for the Stepmothers. NME featured the band as a Next Big Thing and soon every label was after the band, with Elektra eventually winning the war.

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With their new contract came heavy-hitter deals with CAA and Mötley Crüe/Bon Jovi manager Doc McGhee, and John Boylan, the man who produced Boston’s 1976 debut, helmed the group’s first record. Everything was in place for a hit, including supporting slots for Tom Petty and ZZ Top, but the record went no further than 185 on Billboard and spent only two weeks on the charts. Soon afterward, Ross was fired, Hickman bailed, and the band went through a few lineup changes, settling down to Steve Jones, Waddington, and some former Stepmothers. A failed attempt to revive the band at Atlantic led to a permanent split, with Jones going on to work behind the scenes at Hollywood Records and as a writer (Asia covered “Days Like These”) before turning to reality TV (he produced Pitchmen for Discovery Channel).

The Unforgiven retained at least one powerful fan in the form of Paul Tollett, president of concert promoters Goldenvoice, who wound up convincing the group to reunite for the 2012 incarnation of the roots music festival Stagecoach. Two years later, the Unforgiven’s lone album was reissued by Real Gone Music, featuring liner notes by Chris Morris that told the band’s tale. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Storming across the dusty streets of a Western town are the Unforgiven, a sextet of street slingers hailing from the mean streets of Los Angeles in 1986. It was a rough time, one when money hung heavy in the air, one when any group of rocking vagabonds could possibly strike gold if they were teamed with the right set of prospectors, which the Unforgiven undoubtedly were. Surviving a furious bidding war, the Unforgiven signed with CAA and manager Doc McGhee, who was then riding high on the success of Mötley Crüe, and set up shop at Elektra Records, where they were put in the studio with John Boylan, the guy who produced Boston’s debut a decade earlier. The Unforgiven didn’t sound like a relic of the ’70s, nor did it seem like it belonged to the punk and metal undergrounds where leader John Henry Jones used to roam. It is a record that thoroughly embodies its time, capturing every misbegotten and forgotten trend of 1986. At their core, the Unforgiven were an American version of Big Country borrowing the Last Gang in Town persona of the Clash: messianic rockers determined to follow in the footsteps of U2 right into an oversized arena.

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Some of their Western imagery had thematic ties to the nascent roots rock of the ’80s — the Los Angeles-based indie Slash had plenty of nervy, back-to-basic bands and cowpunk was on the rise in 1986 — but the Unforgiven only had designs on MTV and AOR radio, so they made a massive, steel-girded rock, an album constructed to intimidate via its sheer size. Apart from an instrumental version of “Amazing Grace” that attempts to end the album on a lyrical note, every one of the songs piles on the guitars and shout-along vocals, anchored by rhythms that echo in a cavern. This is Big Music, rock & roll as a calling, but where the Alarm, U2, and Big Country often looked outside themselves and found the troubles at large, Jones constructs ad hoc myths out of half-remembered TV Westerns. It’s all a façade, which perhaps would’ve made The Unforgiven an ideal album for 1986, a transitional year in the reign of MTV when the network was in need of a big new guitar band to rally the troops. Instead, The Unforgiven stiffed, possibly because it’s all sound and fury and no hooks, but probably because it was so damn silly. These were detriments in 1986 but, years later, they’re attributes because this hubris captures the spirit of 1986 in a way so many hit albums did not. Real Gone’s 2014 reissue contains two bonus tracks: a single edit of “I Hear the Call” and the non-LP “The Long Run Out (Ballad of the Unforgiven).” (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Have no idea why they didn’t make it really big. They should’ve.!

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Personnel:
Mike Finn (bass, background vocals)
Johnny Hickman (guitar, vocals)
John Henry Jones (vocals. guitar)
Just Jones (guitar, background vocals)
Todd Ross (guitar, background vocals)
Alan Waddington III (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. All Is Quiet on the Western Front 4.05
02. Hang ‘Em High 4.02
03. I Hear The Call 4.08
04. Roverpack 3.33
05. Cheyenne 4.24
06. The Gauntlet 4.04
07. With My Boots On 3.19
08. The Ghost Dance 2.58
09. The Loner 3.41
10. The Preacher 4.05
11. (Amazing) Grace
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12. The Long Run Out (Ballad of the Unforgiven) (previously unreleased) 4.26

All songs written by John Henry Jones
except 11.: Traditional
except: 12. written by Dennis Hill – Steve Jones – Alan Waddington

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Chet Baker – As Time Goes By (1990)

FrontCover1Chesney Henry “Chet” Baker Jr. (December 23, 1929 – May 13, 1988) was an American jazz trumpeter and vocalist. He is known for major innovations in cool jazz leading him to be nicknamed the “prince of cool”.

Baker earned much attention and critical praise through the 1950s, particularly for albums featuring his vocals (Chet Baker Sings (1954), It Could Happen to You (1958)).

Jazz historian Dave Gelly described the promise of Baker’s early career as “James Dean, Sinatra, and Bix, rolled into one”. His well-publicized drug habit also drove his notoriety and fame. Baker was in and out of jail frequently before enjoying a career resurgence in the late 1970s and 1980s.

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As Time Goes By, (subtitled Love Songs), is an album by trumpeter/vocalist Chet Baker which was recorded in 1986 and released on the Dutch Timeless label.,(wikipedia)

ChetBaker03While Baker’s chops are clearly subpar there is a quaint romanticism to it all that somehow snares the listener. Performing with a first-rate trio (pianist Harold Danko, bassist Jon Burr, and drummer Ben Riley), the trumpeter runs through ten tunes, most of which Baker has recorded before. Nonetheless, the more than an hour of recording time gives everyone a chance to stretch. And, Baker’s vocals on “As Time Goes By” and “Round Midnight” are never tiring. Baker is a more than a bit muddled in his singing, sounding as though his mouth is filled with steel wool. Yet, the feelings he displays are so pure and touching that every note is imbued with deep emotion. Most of the songs are performed slowly, sometimes heart-wrenchingly so. While Baker seems tired, there is a cool, raw touch throughout, making this a decent example of the trumpeter’s later playing. His range seems even more limited than usual, too. Danko is a thorough joy, and plays splendidly in support. (by Steve Loewy)

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Personnel:
Chet Baker (trumpet, vocals)
Jon Burr (bass)
Harold Danko (piano)
Ben Riley (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. You And The Night And The Music (Schwartz/Dietz) 5.27
02. As Time Goes By (Hupfeld) 6.48
03. My Melancholy Baby (Burnett/Norton) 6.58
04. I’m A Fool To Want You (Wolf/Herron/Sinatra) 8.40
05. When She Smiles (Danko) 6.02
06.Sea Breeze (Burr) 6.57
07. You Have Been Here All Along (Burr) 7.40
08. Angel Eyes (Brent/Dennis) 6.05
09. You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To (Porter) 4.31
10. ‘Round Midnight (Monk/Williams) 7.37

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Latin Quarter – Live At Glastonbury Festival (1986)

FrontCover1Latin Quarter is a British band formed in 1983. They had one top 20 single “Radio Africa” in the United Kingdom.

The British radio were cautious in the eighties to play their singles because of their political based lyrics. They became more popular in Germany and in northern Europe.

Latin Quarter released their latest album, Releasing the Sheep, on 29 October 2021. Their sound mixes elements of pop, rock, reggae and folk with largely political based lyrics.

Latin Quarter began when ex-printer and founder-member Steve Skaith left Liverpool for London in 1982 to write songs for music publishers Chappell. Skaith was also working on some rather more radical music with lyrics from an old friend of his called Mike Jones, both were members from the left wing political group Big Flame.

Mike Jones himself did not play with Latin Quarter, but he wrote the lyrics to the songs. The former technical school teacher from Liverpool had already been writing political songs for eight years and had been a friend of Steve Skaith’s since grammar school.

Their political viewpoint were sometimes reflected in the choice of subject matter and lyrics of Latin Quarter’s output.

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Latin Quarter were the first band to be managed by Marcus Russell (who is from Ebbw Vale along with Mike Jones). Russell formed the Ignition Management in 1983.

Skaith and Jones formed Latin Quarter in autumn 1983 with guitarist Richard Wright, a classically-trained musician and ex-member of the Inversions, a band active on the jazz/funk scene. Yona Dunsford (vocals/piano) and Carol Douet (vocals/percussion) joined the trio at the end of the year, with the line-up completed by Richard Stevens (drums), Greg Harewood (bass) and Steve Jeffries (keyboards). After the band’s first sporadic London gigs in 1984, ex-Police producer Nigel Gray recorded two of Latin Quarter’s songs at his own expense, and the band released Radio Africa on its own independent record label, Ignition in September 1984.

The band was signed by Rockin’ Horse Records, an offshoot of Arista Records, and completed work on their debut album Modern Times. After being re-released, Radio Africa finally became a UK hit at the start of 1986 when it reached number 19 in the UK Singles Chart.

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Jones described their first album Modern Times as “a veritable manifesto”. The album only spent two weeks on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at Number 91, but was a top twenty hit in Germany and Sweden and sold well throughout Europe. They played at Glastonbury Festival 21 June 1986 and at the ‘Rock for Peace Festival’ in East Berlin at the Palace of the Republic in February 1987.

Darren Abraham and Martin Lascalles were new members on the follow-up Mick And Caroline, released 1987. An album that was not as successful as the debut. Skaith later told in an interview that he was not satisfied with Jason Corsaros production of the second album. Corsaro was a Grammy Award Winning music engineer and record producer.

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The band had slimmed down to the quartet of Skaith, Wright, Harewood and Dunsford by their third album Swimming Against the Stream, released 1989 on the RCA label in Germany. They recorded the album in Los Angeles, with producer David Kershenbaum and engineer Paul McKenna, but the album was not released in the US. With all lyrics still written by Jones, that album was dedicated to the eleven workers at Dunne’s stores, Dublin, who were sacked for refusing to handle South Africa goods. Their three year fight against dismissal culminated in the Irish Government’s ban on the importation of South Africa Agricultural produce. The single Dominion was originally recorded for the T.V. documentary series Animal Traffic, directed by Arpad Bondy & Ron Orders

After low sales in the UK the band originally split up. In October 1990, however, another album, entitled Nothing Like Velvet was released, which was made up of unreleased demos, alternative versions and live tracks. Judging by the sleeve notes, the band agreed to the release of these songs.

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However, the members, they all stayed friends, meeting each other privately. Skaith, Wright and Jones continued as Latin Quarter, and they collaborated with The Bhundu Boys on the latter’s 1993 Friends on the Road album, including a re-working of Radio Africa and two new songs written by members of both bands. Latin Quarter, released the albums Long Pig 1993 and Bringing Rosa Home 1997, both on German record labels. Both albums were recorded with session musicians and Latin Quarter finally went on hiatus in 1998.

Jones went on to run courses in Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. Skaith went to live in Mexico where he formed the Steve Skaith Band with Mexican musicians, and released the albums Mexile 2003, Empires and Us 2005 and Imaginary Friend 2007. He then returned to England and re-recorded some early Latin Quarter songs on Latin Quarter Revisited 2010.

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In 2011, Skaith and lyricist Jones re-formed Latin Quarter with original vocalist Yona Dunsford, bass player Greg Harewood and keyboard player Steve Jeffries. The band toured Germany and UK and they released the albums Ocean Head in 2012 and Tilt in 2014. Chris Rea was a guest star playing slide guitar on the Tilt album. Steve Skaith re-recorded acoustic versions of Latin Quarter-songs on Bare Bones in 2015.

In September 2016, Latin Quarter released The Imagination of Thieves, now featuring Skaith, Jeffries, Martin Ditcham (Drums), Yo Yo Buys (Bass and Guitars) and Mary Carewe (vocals).

In February 2018, the new track Pantomime of Wealth was released as a digital release on Westpark Music. The album with the same name was released 13 April 2018.

In April 2019, Latin Quarter released The Colour Scheme, now as a trio featuring Skaith, Jeffries and Carewe. The album consisted mainly acoustic rearrangements of early Latin Quarter songs plus a couple of songs from the Steve Skaith Band albums.

In October 2021 they released the album, Releasing The Sheep. (wikipedia)

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And here´s  a wonderful, a brilliant live recording (taken from the legendary “BBC In Concert” series).

Their music was a very special form of pop music, very subtle and always a little fragile. And the lyrics were much needed comments on all those damn topics of those years … Unfortunately, these problems have not really been solved to date, on the contrary.

Latin Quarter were and are an uncomfortable band, unfortunately indispensable in “modern times”.

Enjoy this rare live recording !

Recorded live at the Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm, Pilton/UK, June-21, 1986

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Personnel:
Carol Douet (vocals, percussion)
Yona Dunsford (keyboards, vocals)
Greg Harewood (bass)
Steve Jeffries (keyboards)
Steve Skaith (vocals, guitar)
Richard Stevens (drums)
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Tracklist:
01. Sandinista (Skaith/Jones) 5.23
02. Remember (Skaith/Jones) 4.32
03. Freight Elevator (Jeffries/Jones) 5.05
04. See Him (Skaith/Jones) 5.07
05. Truth About John (Skaith/Jones) 4.03
06. Eddie (Skaith/Jones/Keefe) 3.03
07. No Rope As Long As Time (Skaith 5.02
08. I (Together) (Skaith/Jones) 4.20
09. Radio Africa (Skaith/Jones/Keefe)  6:35
10. The Night (Skaith/Jones) 4.32
11. Pyramid Label (Skaith/Jones) 8.36

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Tesla – Mechanical Resonance (1986)

LPFrontCover1Tesla is an American rock band formed in Sacramento, California, in late 1981 by bassist Brian Wheat and guitarist Frank Hannon. The band is ranked at No. 22 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hair Metal, and have been described as a “thinking man’s hair metal band”.

Lead vocalist Jeff Keith and drummer Troy Luccketta had joined them by 1984. They are the longest serving members and have appeared on all band’s releases. In 1996, the band disbanded, with members devoting themselves to solo projects. In 2000, they reformed, but Tommy Skeoch departed the band in 2006 and was replaced by Dave Rude. They have sold 14 million albums in the United States.

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Mechanical Resonance is the debut studio album by the American hard rock band Tesla. It was released on December 8, 1986, by Geffen Records.

The album peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard 200 on April 3, 1987,  and was certified platinum by the RIAA on October 5, 1989.(wikipedia)

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Sacramento’s oddly named Tesla (a moniker inspired by renegade inventor and pioneering electrical engineer Nikola Tesla) took the side door to ’80s hard rock success, sneaking up on the charts and into the bedrooms of none-the-wiser glam metal consumers with their rock-solid debut, Mechanical Resonance — itself titled after one of Nikola’s better-known experiments, and a fascinating case study in musical compromise if ever there were one. Essentially, the album was partitioned into two quite different halves, with side one predominantly tailored to seduce the aforementioned music fans via radio-friendly templates and therefore packed with mostly throwaway, cliché-ridden arena anthems like “EZ Come, EZ Go,” “Cumin’ Atcha Live,” and the gloriously dumb “Rock Me to the Top,” boasting few surprises but plenty of testosterone. Yes, a few hints of Tesla’s substantial songwriting intelligence can be glimpsed within the gritty strut of “Gettin’ Better” and the bluesy balladry of “We’re No Good Together,” but most of the band’s more mature and accomplished songs are saved for Mechanical Resonance’s revelatory side two.

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Here, lead guitarist Frank Hannon really takes charge and establishes himself as the band’s de facto difference maker, beginning with an epic of Led Zeppelin-like class and complexity in “Modern Day Cowboy,” which was built upon a lopsided riff so irresistible that not even its finger-twisting complexity could keep it from becoming one of their most popular standards. This was followed by another pair of eventual fan favorites doubling as good examples of Tesla’s creative range, since the wintry drama of the piano-laced “Changes” stood in stark contrast to the upbeat summer vibe of “Little Suzi.” And finally, as though the aforementioned detours didn’t proffer enough food for thought, Tesla even flirted with art rock on the odd rhythms and clever economy of “Cover Queen,” before concluding with the desolate sobriety of closer “Before My Eyes.” Given all these qualities and contrasts, it’s no wonder that Mechanical Resonance stood out as one of the 1980s’ most eclectic hard rock albums, and provided a formidable introduction to one of the era’s most underrated American bands. (by Eduardo Rivadavia)

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Personnel:
Frank Hannon (guitar, keyboards, mandolin, background vocals)
Jeff Keith (vocals)
Troy Luccketta (drums, percussion)
Tommy Skeoch (guitar, background vocals)
Brian Wheat (bass, background vocals)
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Jimmy Maelen (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. EZ Come EZ Go (Hannon/Keith/Luccketta/Skeoch/Wheat) 3.33
02. Cumin’ Atcha Live (Hannon/Keith/Wheat) 4.26
03. Gettin’ Better (Hannon/Keith) 3.21
04. 2 Late 4 Love (Keith/Skeoch/Hannon/Luccketta/Wheat) 3.50
05. Rock Me To The Top (Keith/Skeoch) 3.38
06. We’re No Good Together (Hannon/Keith/Luccketta) 5.18
07. Modern Day Cowboy (Hannon/Keith(Skeoch) 5.19
08. Changes (Hannon/Keith/Luccketta/Skeoch/Wheat) 5.03
09. Little Suzi (Diamond/Hymas) 4.58
10. Love Me (Hannon/Keith/Wheat) 4.16
11. Cover Queen (Hannon/Keith) 4.32
12. Before My Eyes (Hannon/Keith/Luccketta/Skeoch) 5.31

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The official website:
Website

Chris Rea – On The Beach (1986)

LPFrontCover1Christopher Anton Rea (born 4 March 1951) is an English rock and blues singer-songwriter and guitarist from Middlesbrough, England. He is of Italian and Irish descent. He is known for his distinctive, husky singing and slide guitar playing, with the Guinness Rockopedia describing him as a “gravel-voiced guitar stalwart”. After learning to play the guitar relatively late, a short burst of local band activity led to his launching a solo career in 1978.

Louder magazine calls Rea “rock’s ultimate survivor”, given his recovery from several bouts of serious illness. He has produced 25 solo albums, with several from his later blues period – such as Blue Guitars (2005) – having multiple discs. British Hit Singles & Albums says that Rea was “one of the most popular UK singer-songwriters of the late 1980s” and “already a major European star by the time he finally cracked the UK Top 10 with the release of the [1989] single “The Road to Hell (Part 2)…” his 18th chart entry.” Two of his most successful studio albums, The Road to Hell (1989) and Auberge (1991), topped the UK Albums Chart.

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His other hit songs include “I Can Hear Your Heartbeat”, “Stainsby Girls”, “Josephine”, “On the Beach”, “Let’s Dance”, “Driving Home for Christmas”, “Working on It”, “Tell Me There’s a Heaven”, “Auberge”, “Looking for the Summer”, “Winter Song”, “Nothing to Fear”, “Julia”, and “If You Were Me”, a duet with Elton John. Rea was nominated three times for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

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Rea has never toured the United States, where he is best known for the 1978 single “Fool (If You Think It’s Over),” which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This success earned him a Grammy nomination as Best New Artist in 1978. A decade later, Working On It topped the Mainstream Rock chart. As of 2009, Rea had sold more than 30 million records worldwide.

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On the Beach is the eighth studio album by British singer-songwriter Chris Rea, released in 1986, and built on the success of the preceding Shamrock Diaries. It reached No. 11 in the UK Albums Chart (and also in Sweden), topped the Dutch charts (where it charted for more than nine months), reached number two in West Germany and No. 4 in New Zealand (where is also spent more than nine months in the charts). It reached the Top 10 in Norway and Czechoslovakia. In 2019, a deluxe remastered version of the album was released.

In an interview for the deluxe edition of the album, Rea said of the song Giverny, written after a visit to Monet’s celebrated home, “I didn’t want to be there. I was only there because she (his wife, Joan) was there… so there’s kinda, a funny twist to it”.

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A retrospective review finds that the album “taps into the same kind of jazzy, introspective pop/soul sound that the likes of John Martyn, Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison were flirting with in the same period, helped by an excellent band including Fairport Convention/XTC drummer Dave Mattacks”, adding that Little Blonde Plaits is “a vehicle for [Max] Middleton’s expressive Mini Moog, very redolent of his atmospheric playing on John Martyn’s Glorious Fool”. (wikipedia)

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The perfect album for a day at the beach, Rea’s eighth album takes the listener from the water’s edge of the title song to the sunny fields of the French countryside in “Giverny.” The upbeat reggae feel of “Lucky Day” works particularly well, but it is “On the Beach” that’s the standout track. Rea seems to think so, too, as he’s recorded it numerous times. The version here, though, is the most evocative, a little slower and more meditative than others. The lyrics, as in many of his songs, deal with remembrance and old love. “Little Blonde Plaits,” “Hello Friend,” and “It’s All Gone” are other examples of this theme that appear on the album. While his later release, The Road to Hell, shows the darker side of Rea’s worldview, On the Beach is an excellent introduction to his brighter, more optimistic songwriting. The last three songs are bonus tracks that were not on the original LP release, “Bless Them All” being a smooth, fluid instrumental. (by Rob Caldwell)

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Personnel:
Robert Awhai (guitar)
Martin Ditcham (percussion)
Kevin Leach (keyboards)
Dave Mattacks (drums)
Max Middleton (piano, synthesizer)
Eoghan O’Neill (bass)
Adrian Rea (drums)
Chris Rea (vocals, guitar, slide-guitar, keyboards, bass)

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Tracklist:
01. On The Beach 5.05
02. Little Blonde Plaits 4.20
03. Giverny 5.40
04. Lucky Day 3.57
05. Just Passing Through 5.21
06. It’s All Gone 7.28
07. Hello Friend 4.20
08. Two Roads 3.44
09. Light Of Hope 4.34
10. Auf immer und ewig (*) 4.12
11. Freeway 4.14
12. Bless Them All 2.30
13. Crack That Mould 4.33

All songs written by Chris Rea

(*) Titel track from the film of the same name)

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Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra – Má Vlast (Smetana) (1987)

FrontCover1And here´s the most important composition of Bedřich Smetana:

Bedřich Smetana ( March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style that became closely identified with his people’s aspirations to a cultural and political “revival.” He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Internationally he is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride and for the symphonic cycle Má vlast (“My Fatherland”), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer’s native Bohemia. It contains the famous symphonic poem “Vltava”, also popularly known by its German name “Die Moldau” (in English, “The Moldau”).

Smetana was naturally gifted as a composer, and gave his first public performance at the age of 6. After conventional schooling, he studied music under Josef Proksch in Prague. His first nationalistic music was written during the 1848 Prague uprising, in which he briefly participated. After failing to establish his career in Prague, he left for Sweden, where he set up as a teacher and choirmaster in Gothenburg, and began to write large-scale orchestral works.

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In the early 1860s, a more liberal political climate in Bohemia encouraged Smetana to return permanently to Prague. He threw himself into the musical life of the city, primarily as a champion of the new genre of Czech opera. In 1866 his first two operas, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and The Bartered Bride, were premiered at Prague’s new Provisional Theatre, the latter achieving great popularity. In that same year, Smetana became the theatre’s principal conductor, but the years of his conductorship were marked by controversy. Factions within the city’s musical establishment considered his identification with the progressive ideas of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner inimical to the development of a distinctively Czech opera style. This opposition interfered with his creative work, and may have hastened a decline in health that precipitated his resignation from the theatre in 1874.

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By the end of 1874, Smetana had become completely deaf but, freed from his theatre duties and the related controversies, he began a period of sustained composition that continued for almost the rest of his life. His contributions to Czech music were increasingly recognised and honoured, but a mental collapse early in 1884 led to his incarceration in an asylum and subsequent death. Smetana’s reputation as the founding father of Czech music has endured in his native country, where advocates have raised his status above that of his contemporaries and successors. However, relatively few of Smetana’s works are in the international repertory, and most foreign commentators tend to regard Antonín Dvořák as a more significant Czech composer.

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Má vlast (Czech pronunciation: [maː vlast]), also known as My Fatherland,[n 1] is a set of six symphonic poems composed between 1874 and 1879 by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. The six pieces, conceived as individual works, are often presented and recorded as a single work in six movements. They premiered separately between 1875 and 1880. The complete set premiered on 5 November 1882 in Žofín Palace, Prague, under Adolf Čech.

Má vlast combines the symphonic poem form, pioneered by Franz Liszt, with the ideals of nationalistic music of the late nineteenth century. Each poem depicts an aspect of Bohemia’s countryside, history, or legends.

The works have opened the Prague Spring International Music Festival, on the 12 May anniversary of the death of their composer, since 1952.

Má vlast consists of six pieces:

Vyšehrad (The High Castle)
Vltava (The Moldau)
Šárka
Z českých luhů a hájů (From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields)
Tábor
Blaník

Vyšehrad above the Vltava River:
Vysehrad

The first poem, Vyšehrad (The High Castle), composed between the end of September and 18 November 1874 and premiered on 14 March 1875 at the [Prague] Philharmonic,[6] describes the Vyšehrad castle in Prague which was the seat of the earliest Czech kings. During the summer of 1874, Smetana began to lose his hearing, and total deafness soon followed; he described the gradual, but rapid loss of his hearing in a letter of resignation to the director of the Royal Provincial Czech Theatre, Antonín Čížek. In July 1874 he began hearing anomalous noise and then a permanent buzzing. Not long after the onset he was unable to distinguish individual sounds. At the beginning of October he lost all hearing in his right ear, and finally on 20 October in his left. His treatment was based on maintaining isolation from all sounds, but was unsuccessful.

Notes

The poem begins with the sounds of the harp of the mythical singer Lumír, and then crosses over into the tones of the castle’s arsenal. This section of the music introduces the main motifs, which are used in other parts of the cycle. A four note motif (B♭–E♭–D–B♭) represents the castle of Vyšehrad; this is heard again at the end of ‘Vltava’ and once more, to round the whole cycle off, at the conclusion of ‘Blaník’.

In the score two harps are required to perform the opening arpeggios. After a dominant seventh chord, the winds take up the theme, followed by the strings, before the whole orchestra is employed to reach a climax. In the next part, Smetana recalls the story of the castle, using a faster tempo which becomes a march. A seemingly triumphant climax is cut short by a descending passage depicting the collapse of the castle, and the music falls quiet. Then the opening harp material is heard again and the music reminds again of the beauty of the castle, now in ruins. The music ends quietly, depicting the River Vltava flowing below the castle.

Army of knights led by St. Wenceslas: Věnceslav Černý:
Cerny-Jirasek

Conceived between 1872 and 1874, it is the only piece in the cycle to be mostly completed before Smetana began to go noticeably deaf in the summer of 1874. Most performances last approximately fifteen minutes in duration.

Vltava, also known by its English title The Moldau, and the German Die Moldau, was composed between 20 November and 8 December 1874 and was premiered on 4 April 1875 under Adolf Čech. It is about 13 minutes long, and is in the key of E minor.

In this piece, Smetana uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of one of Bohemia’s great rivers. In his own words:

The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).

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Vltava contains Smetana’s most famous tune. It is an adaptation of the melody La Mantovana, attributed to the Italian renaissance tenor, Giuseppe Cenci, which, in a borrowed Romanian form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah. The tune also appears in an old Czech folk song, Kočka leze dírou (“The Cat Crawls Through the Hole”); Hanns Eisler used it for his “Song of the Moldau”; and Stan Getz performed it as “Dear Old Stockholm” (possibly through another derivative of the original tune, “Ack Värmeland du sköna”).

The piece is featured in the 2011 American movie The Tree of Life and in Don Hertzfeldt’s Everything Will Be OK.

The third poem was finished on 20 February 1875 and is named for the female warrior Šárka, a central figure in the ancient Czech legend of The Maidens’ War. Šárka ties herself to a tree as bait and waits to be saved by the princely knight Ctirad, deceiving him into believing that she is an unwilling captive of the rebelling women. Once released by Ctirad, who has quickly fallen in love with her, Šárka serves him and his comrades with drugged mead and once they have fallen asleep she sounds a hunting horn: an agreed signal to the other women. The poem ends with the warrior maidens falling upon and murdering the sleeping men. It was first performed under the baton of Adolf Čech (sources disagree whether this was on 10 December 1876 or 17 March 1877).

Šárka

Smetana finished composing this piece, commonly translated as “From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields” or “From Bohemian Fields and Groves”, on 18 October 1875, and it received its first public performance nearly eight weeks later, on 10 December. A depiction of the beauty of the Czech countryside and its people, the tone poem tells no real story. The first part is dedicated to the grandeur of the forest with a surprising fugue in the strings, interrupted by a soft woodland melody of the horns, which is later taken over by the whole orchestra. In the second part, a village festival is depicted in full swing. This tone poem was originally written to be the finale of Má vlast.

Bohemia's Woods

This piece, which was finished on 13 December 1878 and premiered on 4 January 1880, is named for the city of Tábor in the south of Bohemia founded by the Hussites and serving as their center during the Hussite Wars. The theme for the piece is quoted from the first two lines of the Hussite hymn, “Ktož jsú boží bojovníci” (“Ye Who Are Warriors of God”).

Blaník was finished on 9 March 1879 and premiered on 4 January 1880. It is named for the mountain Blaník inside which a legend says that a huge army of knights led by St. Wenceslas sleep. The knights will awake and help the country in its gravest hour (sometimes described as four hostile armies attacking from all cardinal directions).

Musically, Blaník begins exactly as Tábor ends, “hammering” out the motto which was left unresolved, but now continuing on, as if in the aftermath of the battle. Thus these last two tone poems of the cycle form a cohesive pair, as do the first two; the High Castle’s theme returns as the Vltava’s river journey triumphantly reaches that same destination, and again returns triumphantly at the end of Blaník. Once again, the Hussite hymn used in Tábor is quoted, though this time it is the third line which rings out in the march at the end of the piece. The original lyrics to this line in the hymn are “so that finally with Him you will always be victorious”, a reference to the eventual victorious rise of the Czech state. (wikipedia)

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And here´s the version of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra , Amsterdam (produced for the German record market; the booklet is in German only)

Czech composer Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884), an intense nationalist, wrote the six symphonic poems known collectively as Ma Vlast (My Country or My Fatherland) between 1874 and 1879, ironically, following his having a nervous breakdown and going deaf. He dedicated the cycle of works to the city of Prague, the first two movements dealing with the sights and sounds of the city.

With Hungarian conductor Antal Dorati leading the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Newton Classics’ current reissued Philips recording, we get spirited, red-blooded accounts of all six episodes of the score, with plenty of color and characterization. The performances perhaps lack something of the subtlety and stylishness of several rival versions, like those from Neumann (Berlin Classics), Kubelik (Supraphon), Berglund (EMI), Pesek (Virgin), and Wit (Naxos), but Dorati’s energy, vivaciousness, animation, and warmth more than make up for any minor concerns.

The cycle begins with Vysehrad (1874), named after the venerable castle of Bohemian kings in Prague. Under Dorati, the music sounds beautifully smooth, lyrical, and Romantic yet well sprung, too, with finely articulated tensions and releases. Dorati perfectly judges the tempos throughout this segment, even if they are a tad faster than we usually hear. Still, the conductor works up a passionate response in the process.

Antal Dorati

Next up we hear Vltava (1874), which describes the river called in German the Moldau, and uses an old Czech folk tune as its principal theme. Smetana’s original program notes tell us that the music traces the countryside the river runs through: meadows, forests, even conjuring up water nymphs along the way. This is the most-famous section of the work, and conductors often play it by itself; thus, you’ll find quite a few more separate recordings of Vltava (or The Moldau) than of the complete Ma Vlast, my own favorite Moldau being one recorded long ago by Leopold Stokowski, available in an RCA collection of rhapsodies. In any case, here Dorati again seems brisker than other conductors, yet his timing is actually slower than four other recordings I had on hand for comparison. It’s a trick Dorati employs, seeming to be quickening the tempo when he is really slowing it.

After that we get Sarka (1875), which refers to a female warrior in Czech legend who exacts a bloody revenge on the male sex. This portion of Ma Vlast ties in with the final two sections in describing Bohemia’s fierce struggle for independence. Dorati succeeds in capturing its excitement and mystery.

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From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields (1875) is pretty much self-explanatory. In this segment we’re back to the pastoral pleasures of the countryside. Dorati is properly lilting and melodic, the music’s lively ebbs and flows harking back to the conductor’s handling of the Vltava section.

Tabor (1878), which introduces us to a Hussite war tune (the Hussites were followers of John Huss, who initiated a nationalistic movement in Bohemia in the late fourteenth century); and Blanik (1879), the mountain where the Hussites retreated before their ultimate fight for liberation. I always think of these final portions of the cycle as the battle sequences. Like other people, I’m sure, though, I have never found these pieces as satisfying as Smetana’s preceding music; it’s a little long and more than a little repetitious. Nevertheless, Dorati plays up the drama for all it’s worth and makes one sit up and take notice as much as or more than other interpreters have done. Perhaps only in the concluding section, Blanik, does Dorati seem a touch hesitant or tardy, but without a direct comparison to other recordings, he seems right on. Besides which, the more relaxed pace lends a greater weight and dignity to the final chapter.

The companion filler piece, the symphonic poem In Nature’s Realm by Smetana’s countryman, Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), makes an appropriate choice. Dvorak wrote it as the first in a trio of independent overtures connected by a related musical theme. Dvorak’s idea was to show Man in the face of Nature and how nature can affect one in a positive way if we let it into our lives. Dorati conducts it delicately yet powerfully and allows us to take pleasure in the music’s sweet harmonies. ( John J. Puccio )

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Personnel:
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Antal Dorati

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Tracklist:
01. Vyšehrad 13.37
02.  Vltava (The Moldau) 13.12
03. Šárka 10.41
04. Z Českých Luhů A Hájů (From Bohemia’s Woods And Fields) 12.26
05. Tábor 13.54
06. Blaník 15.26

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The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is a Dutch symphony orchestra, based at the Amsterdam Royal Concertgebouw (concert hall). Considered one of the world’s leading orchestras, Queen Beatrix conferred the “Royal” title upon the orchestra in 1988. (wikipedia)

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Big Country – Look Away + Restless Natives (1986)

FrontCover1Big Country are a Scottish rock band formed in Dunfermline, Fife, in 1981.

The height of the band’s popularity was in the early to mid 1980s, although it has retained a cult following for many years since.

The band’s music incorporated Scottish folk and martial music styles, and the band engineered their guitar-driven sound to evoke the sound of bagpipes, fiddles, and other traditional folk. (wikipedia)

And here´s one of their countless singles (7 “) from the Eighties.

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Look Away was taken from the album “The Seer” and the B-side “Restless Natives” was a non LP track.

Listen … and take the chance to discover Big Country, one of the best bands of the 80s and 90s !

They really had a very unique sound !

And I add the 12″ edition with longer versions of boh songs.

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Personnel:
Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, vocals)

The 12″ edition:
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Tracklist:
01. Look Away 4.25
02. Restless Natives 4.15
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03. Look Away (Outlaw Mix) 6.57
04. Restless Natives (Long) 16.45

Music and lyrics: Stuart Adamson

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Neil Young – Landing On Water (1986)

FrontCover1Neil Percival Young OC OM (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian-American singer, musician and songwriter. After embarking on a music career in Winnipeg in the 1960s, Young moved to Los Angeles, joining Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and others. Since the beginning of his solo career with his backing band Crazy Horse, Young has released many critically acclaimed and important albums, such as Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, Harvest, On the Beach and Rust Never Sleeps. He was a part-time member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Young has received several Grammy and Juno Awards. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him twice: in 1995 as a solo artist and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. In 2000, Rolling Stone named Young No. 34 on their list of the 100 greatest musical artists. According to Acclaimed Music, he is the seventh most celebrated artist in popular music history.

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His guitar work, deeply personal lyrics[8][9][10] and signature high tenor singing voice define his long career. He also plays piano and harmonica on many albums, which frequently combine folk, rock, country and other musical genres. His often distorted electric guitar playing, especially with Crazy Horse, earned him the nickname “Godfather of Grunge” and led to his 1995 album Mirror Ball with Pearl Jam. More recently he has been backed by Promise of the Real. 21 of his albums and singles have been certified Gold and Platinum in U.S by RIAA certification.

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Young directed (or co-directed) films using the pseudonym “Bernard Shakey”, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008). He also contributed to the soundtracks of the films Philadelphia (1993) and Dead Man (1995).

Young has lived in California since the 1960s but retains Canadian citizenship. He was awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2006 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009. He became a United States citizen, taking dual citizenship, in 2020. (wikipedia)

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Landing on Water is the 15th studio album by Neil Young. The album was released on July 21, 1986, by Geffen Records. Several of the songs on the album were resurrected from Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s failed 1984 sessions – a set of sessions where, according to longtime producer David Briggs, the musicians “played like monkeys”. (wikipedia)

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Backed only by co-producer Danny Kortchmar on guitar and Steve Jordan on drums, with all three playing synthesizers, Neil Young turns in an album that attempts to mix the raunchy rock thrust of his Crazy Horse-style music with contemporary trends in pop, especially the tendency to turn the drums way up in the mix. It’s an uneasy combination in which Jordan’s forceful drumming dominates the tracks, with Young’s vocals nearly buried. But that only means that the production has ruined a group of songs few of which were any good anyway. The only one that offers the promise of being one of Young’s better efforts is “Hippie Dream,” a sober criticism of what became of ’60s idealism in general and Young’s erstwhile bandmate David Crosby in particular. But if Landing on Water was not a good album, at least it seemed to point Young away from the stylistic dabbling of his last three albums and back toward the kind of rock he did best, and at least some of his fans returned as a result, giving him a slight uptick in sales. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Personnel:
Steve Jordan (drums, synthesizer, background vocals)
Danny Kortchmar (guitar, synthesizer, background vocals)
Neil Young (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica, synthesizer)
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San Francisco Boys Chorus (vocals on tracks 02. + 05.)

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Tracklist:
01. Weight Of The World 3.38
02. Violent Side 4.18
03. Hippie Dream 4.10
04. Bad News Beat 3.13
05. Touch The Night 4.27
06. People On The Street 4.29
07. Hard Luck Stories 4.05
08. I Got A Problem 3.15
09. Pressure 2.42
10. Drifter 5.02

All songs written by Neil Young

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Roky Erickson – Don’t Slander Me (1986)

FrontCover1Roger Kynard Erickson, 15 July 1947, Dallas, Texas, USA. Erickson came to the fore in the infamous 13th Floor Elevators. He composed ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, the band’s most popular single, while his feverish voice and exciting guitar work provided a distinctive edge. This influential unit broke up in disarray during 1968 as Erickson began missing gigs. Arrested on a drugs charge, he faked visions to avoid imprisonment, but was instead committed to Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He was released in 1971 and began a low-key solo career, recording several singles with a new backing group, Bleib Alien. In 1980 the guitarist secured a recording contract with CBS Records but the resultant album, Roky Erickson And The Aliens, was a disappointment and compromised the artist’s vision for a clean, clear-cut production. Erickson’s subsequent releases have appeared on several minor labels. Their quality has varied, befitting a mercurial character who remains a genuine eccentric – he has persistently claimed that he is from the planet Mars. His music borrows freely from horror and science fiction films and, when inspired, he is capable of truly powerful performances.

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Erickson was imprisoned in 1990 for stealing mail, but his plight inspired Sire Records’ Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye, wherein 19 acts, including R.E.M. , Jesus And Mary Chain, ZZ Top and the Butthole Surfers interpreted many of his best-known songs, the proceeds of which should ameliorate his incarceration. Following his release from a mental institution a grizzled Erickson recorded 1995’s All That May Do My Rhyme, and against all expectations of a drug-wrecked casualty record, it was one of his better efforts. Like Syd Barrett, Erickson may never return to our cosy and supposedly sane world, but unlike Barrett he is at least still attempting to make new music. (The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin)

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Don’t Slander Me is a fortunate rarity among Roky Erickson’s solo albums — it actually captures the man playing with a tight and emphatic rock & roll band, and was recorded in a quality recording studio with a competent engineer at the board, and given the amount of shoddy semi-bootleg Erickson releases that have oozed into the market over the years, this alone makes it worth a listen. Even better, Don’t Slander Me is one of Erickson’s strongest rock albums, with his voice sharp as a switchblade and his rhythm guitar work clicking perfectly with Duane Aslaksen’s fierce leads and Billy Miller’s gloriously eccentric autoharp patterns. (Former Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady is also on board, helping to anchor the rhythm section.)

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While many of the songs on Don’t Slander Me popped up before (and since) throughout Erickson’s recording career, the versions here are focused and passionate (especially “Bermuda,” “Can’t Be Brought Down,” and the storming title cut), and while Erickson and his band were obviously in a hot-wired frame of mind when they recorded this material, “You Drive Me Crazy,” “Starry Eyes,” and “Nothing in Return” prove they could shine just as brightly on less hard-edged material. While Erickson was at the height of his legendary eccentricity when Don’t Slander Me was recorded, this album sounds passionate, focused, and coherent on all tracks, and if his lyrical bent is a bit strange here, at least he can convince listeners that his madness is more than just a pose. (by Mark Deming)

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Personnel:
Duane Aslaksen  (guitar, vocals)
Jack Casady (bass)
Roky Erickson (vocals, guitar)
Bill Miller (autoharp)
Paul Zahl (drums)
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Bill Burgess (guitar on 06.)
Martin Fierro (saxophone on 02.)
Mike Hinton (guitar on 01., 03.)
Jack Johnson (leadguitar on 09.)
Jeff Sutton (drums on 08.)
John Whitelaw (bass on 08. + 09.

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Tracklist:
01. Don’t Slander Me 3.24
02. Haunt 2.48
03. Crazy Crazy Mama 2.00
04. Nothing In Return 2.47
05. Burn The Flames 6.00
06. Bermuda 3.09
07. You Drive Me Crazy 2.26
08. Can’t Be Brought Down 4.59
09. Starry Eyes 3.05
10. The Damn Thing 4.54

All songs written by Roky Erickson

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