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(03-12-2015 06:27 PM)BrianW Wrote: [ -> ]The Alan Parsons Project, I Robot.

I Robot and Tales of Mystery and Imagination are some of the finest LPs in my opinion. The latter is one of my favorites of all time.
Every once in a while we travel back to the old country to see a ballgame, jam with old band mates and eat great food. This year our April trip will include the Cubs, Pizzeria Due, Brookfield Zoo and a jam-boree. A couple cool ditties we will be playing are Red Barchetta, Away From You (Kansas Monolith)...

Used to think about what I would grow up to be
Good or bad, right or wrong it was no harm to me
Steve Walsh
Robert Plant and friends special.
Porcupine Tree Spotify mix
I have been spinning two new discs: the newest release by Glass Hammer and a newly released 2-disc set of Renaissance's 1974 concert at the Academy of Music (originally broadcast by WNEW-FM). The former is very interesting and the latter is a delightful snapshot of the band at such a great point in the career (and Jon Camp's Rickenbacker is nice and loud).
I finally - FInally! - got my DVD of the Onmyoza concert for the disc I consider their metal masterpiece, "Kishibojin," after an incredible amount of wrestling with a shipping service - which will remain nameless. Actually I'd like to tell everybody to avoid this company like Ebola, but if I did I'd just get sucked into a whole lot of angst I'm supposed to be done with, so I won't. Or just did. Urrgh.

My Nihongo skills are still not a whole lot beyond The Three Most Important Phrases In Any Language, namely: "Where is the beer?," "Where is the toilet?," and "I love you," in that order. So aside from some random words and phrases here or there, I have no clue as to what these lyrics are about - but the "Kishibojin" album by Onmyoza is easily in my top 5 list of hard rock concept albums, despite having no idea what the story is about - other than that it deals with Yokai, the mountain demons of Japanese folklore. I think.

Awhile back somebody had posted the entire Kishibojin concert on YouTube, and it was up and running for a couple of months before it got shut down for blatant copyright infringement. Long enough for me to watch it from start to finish at any rate, and at max-1080p resolution, no less. Upshot: "Gotta have this disc, dammit." After some significant digging (Onmyoza's got an arse-load of concert DVDs available,) I discovered that the DVD of the complete Kishibojin suite - plus a bunch of other stuff - is called "Zekkai Enbu," which I think means "Demonstration of many things." (Corrections emphatically welcomed.)

It's easily one of the best concert recordings I've ever listened to. The sound quality is spectacular; the performance is spot-on, an instant reminder of a certain frostbitten north-of-the-wall-dwelling band which shall not be named, in the sense that they have the ability to reproduce a fairly intricate set of tunes flawlessly live; the staging is not elaborate but perfectly suited to the material. And of course the album they're performing is a hard rock masterpiece to begin with.

Even with next to zero understanding of what it's about, the music is so evocative that my imagination fills in some blanks and I've got this overriding desire to find out what the story is about. It's like I'm listening to the soundtrack for some incredible movie that I. Have. Got. To. See. Immediately. If. Not. Sooner.

And that, folks, is some powerful songwriting. It's music that tells you a story and takes you on a journey - just like... well you know. It also makes me a little frustrated, in that I crave the day when I'm fluent enough at Nihongo to understand what I'm hearing without having to sit down and try my hand at amateur translation. So it's also motivation to learn a language. But there's also that "filter" thing I mentioned on here earlier: If you understand bits and pieces of the lyrics at best, the music has to stand on its own or you know it's lame right away. For a band to hold you spellbound without benefit of lyrics is a guarantee of excellent tuneage.

Anyhow, as previously mentioned, it's likely the only hard rock/metal band fronted by a husband/wife team ("Onmyoza" translates loosely as "the meeting of the yin and yang," so the male/female vocal is an expression of that,) and these guys are tight as the proverbial gnat's arse - they've done a ton of albums and live shows, and it shows in their performances.

There are only two criticisms I can make of the band. One is that they tend to be a little formulaic - therefore their songs tend to sound a lot alike (though not in this particular suite.) The other is that Kuroneko-san shares a sometimes-annoying trait with French jazz-pop-rock singer Patricia Kaas: a pronounced vibrato which, when she lets it get away from her, can traverse a whole step in either direction around the note she's actually singing. Most of the time she keeps it under control (a lot better than Patou, fer sure,) but when she lets fly with it, it sounds like someone is physically shaking her. Given the Maiden/Priest/Heep metal context, it's not as big a problem as in the jazz context, but... still an occasional annoyance.

"War and Peace" a little longer: If you're a fan of '70s-'80s metal - as distinguished from the constipated thrash-metal tough-boy garbage that got dumped on us through the '90s - "Zekkai Enbu" is one of those rare concert vids that make you feel as if you were there, at a pre-MTV rock concert, where the music itself drives the performance, not the extraneous visual frills or publicity or posing or staging. Just a great performance by a band in its prime.

A couple of sorely-truncated tastes: the intro "Shuushuu" and roughly the first half of "Samayoi"
and
an excerpt of the title tune (the 8th of the suite,) "Kishibojin."

/soapbox
Kansas lately for me.
I saw the recent documentary so I pulled out a few CDs. Leftoverture being the main classic for me.

(Doesn't our resident Executive Chef admire much of Phil Ehart's drumming style?)
Just got the 'Labbits new single called "Climax" (the "flipside" is "I'll Miss Havin' Ya 'Round Tonight") and...

I still love this band and hope they happen to be in town when I hit J-Land this fall, but this tune is roughly a half-and-half mix of everything I've loved about them (tight as the proverbial gnat's arse, an irresistible personality in Uki-chan, and a bass line I could listen to all day,) and everything I've hated about what they've been doing since their 2012 disc "Condenser Baby" (lots of silly, whimsical pop vibes instead of the unforgettable melodic/instrumental things before then.) Once upon a time they could turn that playful attitude into something to shout about, like "88 Royal Ska," but their newer stuff has been tepid in comparison.

Some dude (*cough!* *ack!*) did a rave for their 2004 disc "Clutch" at Amazon - which will always be one of my Top 10 desert island albums and which I consider their peak. 'Getting very discouraged that they'll ever release anything that good again, and this single, though not as forgettable as the stuff on "Condenser Baby," is not encouraging. Dodgy "Climax" is not a bad tune, but more "Mushroom Cat Number Plate" and "Monologue" is what I'm Jonesin' for...
.
Metal - stuff with a lot of angst in it, such as Pantera, Five Finger Death Punch, and Sevendust.....
I am stuck on Todd Rundgren's Liars CD. An excellent disc with Todd flexing his mighty musical muscles.
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