Wednesday, July 31, 2019

W.O.C.K On Vinyl: Little Richard - Little Richard And His Band (1956) E.P

Before things get too serious at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song at the end of each month, that could be considered to be either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.....
Richard Wayne Penniman (born December 5, 1932), known as 'Little Richard', was an American musician, singer and songwriter.
An influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades, Richard's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his dynamic music and charismatic showmanship laid the foundation for rock and roll. His music also played a key role in the formation of other popular music genres, including soul and funk. Little Richard influenced numerous singers and musicians across musical genres from rock to hip hop; his music helped shape rhythm and blues for generations to come, and his performances and headline-making thrust his career right into the mix of American popular music.

Little Richard has been honoured by many institutions. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of its first group of inductees in 1986. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" (1955) was included in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2010, which stated that his "unique vocalising over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music."

"Tutti Frutti" became an instant hit, reaching No. 2 on Billboard magazine's Rhythm and Blues Best-Sellers chart and crossing over to the pop charts in both the United States and overseas in the United Kingdom. It reached No. 21 on the Billboard Top 100 in America and No. 29 on the British singles chart, eventually selling a million copies.

Little Richard's next hit single, "Long Tall Sally" (1956), hit number one on the R&B chart and number 13 on the Top 100 while reaching the top ten in Britain. Like "Tutti Frutti", it sold over a million copies. Following his success, Little Richard built up his backup band, The Upsetters, with the addition of saxophonists Clifford "Gene" Burks and leader Grady Gaines, bassist Olsie "Baysee" Robinson and guitarist Nathaniel "Buster" Douglas. 

Little Richard began performing on package tours across the United States. Art Rupe described the differences between Richard and a similar hit maker of the early rock and roll period by stating that, while "the similarities between Little Richard and Fats Domino for recording purposes were close", Richard would sometimes stand up at the piano while he was recording and that onstage, where Domino was "plodding, very slow", Richard was "very dynamic, completely uninhibited, unpredictable, wild. So the band took on the ambience of the vocalist."

Little Richard - The Showman
Little Richard claims that a show at Baltimore's Royal Theatre in June 1956 led to women throwing their undergarments onstage at him, resulting in other female fans repeating the action, saying it was "the first time" that had happened to any artist. Richard's show would stop several times that night due to fans being restrained from jumping off the balcony and then rushing to the stage to touch him. Overall, Little Richard would produce seven singles in the United States alone in 1956, with five of them also charting in the UK, including "Slippin' and Slidin'", "Rip It Up", "Ready Teddy", "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Lucille".
This month's W.O.C.K on Vinyl came about after I watched a video of  Richard performing "Tutti Frutti"on late T.V while I was in hospital.  I found this E.P in amongst a box of old 45's that was given to me by a mate (a collection of 45's that his late father had collected over his lifetime, dating back to the 50's and 60's and numbering @200). This EP is one of the many collector items I found within the box - thanks Ian.
IMHO Little Richard hits the W.O.C.K mark because his outrageous persona and stage antics defined him as a very Weird and flamboyant performer. In addition, the age and 'above average' condition of this E.P makes it an Obscure and very collectable piece of musical history.  

I hope you enjoy listening to these pristine recordings, ripped from vinyl to FLAC and includes full EP artwork and label scans.
Track Listing
01 - Rip It Up 2:06
02 - Ready For Teddy 2:05
03 - Tutti Frutti 2:22
04 - Long Tall Sally 2:00

Friday, July 26, 2019

Jimi Hendrix - Nine To The Universe (1980)

(U.S 1963 - 1970)
Another posthumous album in the discography of the Jimi Hendrix with Alan Douglas as producer. This time, you can only hear the guitar of Hendrix (except the vocals on the first track) and also various musicians also Miles Davis who took part in a jam session. The album is different than so far, because here climatically is closer to jazz than rock and blues from Hendix was known.

The closing half of the 1960s was fast forwarded. Somebody pushed the button and people and events hurtled ahead with no regard for the markings of Bulova, Timex or Longines.
Jimi Hendrix had but three years to get in his whole shot. Even in the accelerated blur of 1969, it wasn't enough. Hendrix had achieved instant pop celebrity with his first television appearance (on England's "Ready, Steady Go"), his first British single, "Hey, Joe" and a first album (Are You Experienced?) that, if it didn't found a music and a culture. surely defined it.

He had outraged, menaced, seduced, evoked a generation. In three years. He'd done Monterey, Woodstock, the Isle of Wight, Johnny Carson. And in the translation from musician to pop deity he was feeling increasingly hemmed in. He couldn't take one more "Foxy Lady."

And so it was that he wound up on a very different stage in 1969, in a swank jazz club in London's West End, Ronnie Scott's. Known as the place for jazz in London by those who have the money to get in it, Ronnie Scott's was at least several light shows from the circuit the rock-guitarist had begun three years prior right down the rain-slicked street in Soho.
But, true to form, Hendrix had chosen the perfect fellow traveller with whom to clearly state his growing interest in jazz, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The late Kirk, who could play three instruments at once and was every bit the innovator in his realm that Hendrix was in his. They hit it off. They planned to record together, but Hendrix didn't live to see it out.

When Hendrix went back into the Record Plant in New York he continued to complain about the restrictions, contractual and managerial, that kept him from stretching out beyond pop confines.. Despite the pressures he couldn't deny his own evolution, which was leading inevitably to an embryonic fusion of jazz and rock.

The sparks of fusion were already crackling through the Record Plant. John McLaughlin, who had switched to electric guitar with a vengeance, would often drop by to trade notes with Hendrix. Larry Young and Tony Williams were frequent guests. Miles Davis, whose music guided all of these players — and was a Hendrix favourite — was an important visitor.

Hendrix with Buddy Miles (Right)
In many ways, it was no surprise when Hendrix changed personnel in the spring of 1969, recruiting army buddy Billy Cox on bass and drummer Buddy Miles. In between sessions for his last pop album, Hendrix jammed with his new band and his many visitors, thus creating the music that now makes up 'Nine To The Universe'.

These five performances are the result of un-pressured, almost leisurely recording done during 1969. If they sound unrehearsed, it's because they are. The music on this album was never intended for release; what you hear on it is Hendrix having fun, the master at play. There is a great deal of give and take in evidence as Hendrix relaxes, playing —for perhaps the first time— with the musicians around him, instead of playing in front of them. This is what "jamming" is really all about; Miles, Cox, guitarist Jim McCartey and particularly the late Larry Young effectively take Hendrix' cues and, in the best exchanges, reciprocate, feeding the guitarist ideas as generously and confidently as he feeds them.

As in any jam, perfection is not the goal; playing is. These tracks have been compiled from jams that went on as long as 30 minutes. There's been no attempt to make the edits as 'smooth' as possible; the only attempt is to reveal Hendrix at his free-est, freshest. The performances take shape in Hendrix' usual working style: he sets up a rhythm pattern for bass and drums, they fall into it, thus providing him a solid starting block from which to launch not only his incomparable riffing but a surprising rhythmic charge as well. His guitar playing becomes so full at times, so broad in its scope and color, it sounds like an entire big band.

To provide a more challenging musical environment, Hendrix in early 1969 called in producer Alan Douglas. Douglas, who'd produced recordings by Charlie Mingus, Duke Ellington, Muddy Waters, John McLaughlin and other jazz greats, was instrumental in bringing to these Hendrix sessions musicians like McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock and Larry Young. Young, at the time playing in McLaughlin's band, was anything but the average rock musician so easily intimidated by playing with Hendrix. Here, Young's distinctly jazzy organ rises breakneck to the task and careens in and around Hendrix's leads. the perfect complement.

Alan Douglas singles out the ""freedom"' and 'generosity'" Hendrix displays on these performances. He even foes so teas to label Hendrix's playing here "ego-less," quite a surprising (and accurate) statement about a musician perceived around the globe as the Everest of rock instrumentalists.

Release of Nine to the Universe has been a long time so obviously intimates Hendrix had music on his mind whose scope lay well beyond the pop song format he had already helped to revolutionise.
If Hendrix had become restless within the confines of his public role as evidence indicates, this set gives indication of some of the specific directions he wanted to take.
Planned recordings with Kirk, Gil Evans and other jazz luminaries offer prospects of even more imaginative Hendrix music, music which, sadly, we can only speculate about.  [Liner Notes]
Album Reviews

'Hendrix as Jazzman'

He was in the public spotlight for less than four years, but Jimi Hendrix has been called — validly — the most important instrumentalist in the history of rock music. What he might have gone on to do with his talent, had he not died a squalid, barbiturate-induced death Sept 18, 1970, is conjectural. A clue, though, is provided in the newly-released album "Nine to the Universe."
This is the third in a series of albums distilled by producer Alan Douglas from a river of unedited Hendrix studio tapes. The first album, "Crash Landing" dealt with pop, and the second, "Midnight Lightning," with blues. Now we have samples of Hendrix's tentative explorations into jazz.

Hendrix (top) and Young (bottom)
By 1969, Hendrix was already growing impatient with the musical limitations of rock and the contractual and managerial restrictions that kept him in it The five cuts on this album were recorded in the first half of that year, in jam sessions with his regular sidemen, bassist Billy Cox and drummer Mitch Mitchell, as well as drummer Buddy Miles (soon to become a member of Hendrix's Band of -Gypsies), and guitarists Larry Lee and Jim McCarty and the late organist Larry Young.
Young is the catalyst for the most interesting cut, the 19 1/2-minute "Young/Hendrix," recorded May 14, 1969, at New York City's Record Plant with the backlog of Cox and Mitchell.

Young, who was playing at the time with John McLaughlin's energetic and innovative band, was a forceful, accomplished jazz musician, not inclined to be cowed by playing pop deity Hendrix. That is obvious from the way he aggressively, takes tie lead, pushing a series of. long organ moans into the accelerating mass of a freight train.

If anything, it's Hendrix who seems a bit intimidated. But after a hesitant beginning he asserts himself, ventures farther from his own musical cliches and trades the lead with Young. Typically, Cox is smooth and understated on bass while Mitchell is, relatively, all thumbs on drums.
In contrast to the Young-Hendrix synergy, the "Jimi/ Jimmy" track is dominated by Hendrix with Jim McCarty playing at a respectful distance. On the title track, "Nine to the Universe" drummer Buddy Mites falls back on his long funk experience In tandem with Cox to provide an exemplary, steady rhythm foundation for Hendrix's guitar forays. "Easy Blues" and "Drone Blues" are much lesser opuses.

While the plaintive and searing emotional qualities of Hendrix's guitar artistry are in evidence on this album, it really only hints at the jazz this genius might have played if planned sessions with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Gil Evans had taken place and he had been challenged by those authoritative musicians.

'Guitar Wizardry, ensemble jams fill Jimi Hendrix's 'Universe'

Fun power-chord riffs fly off the vinyl immediately Possessed of the distinctive Hendrix guitar sound, yet devoid of most of his gratuitous flashiness, the title cut of "Nine To The Universe" gives an inkling of the command Jimi Hendrix had of straight playing. Although the drumming by Buddy Miles is its usual muddy self, the rhythmic support he and bassist Billy Cox provide is freer, if less intense, than the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Essentially the cut is two riffs from which Hendrix takes off. He responds to some of Miles rhythm and weaves around Cox's repeated bass line.
The liner notes say that Hendrix is playing with the musicians rather than in front of them, but that misstates the case on this cut. However, the other numbers show greater interplay and an even more understated Hendrix.

The gem in this regard is "Young/Hendrix," a jam featuring the late organist Larry Young, along with rhythm by Cox and Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell
Young offers a lot of explosive material and Hendrix responds in kind. The result is a funky propulsive tune that skirts both jazz and rock and presages what would become jazz-rock fusion.
The rhythmic exploration in 'Jimi/Jimmy Jam" with guitarist Jim McCarty, bass player Roland Robinson and drummer Mitchell is equally intense. Robinson feeds Hendrix some colourful bass tiffs while McCarty maintains some light rhythm chords and lines reminiscent of Eric Clapton
Hendrix's chording midway through the piece has some wonderfully staggered rhythmic articulation. Robinson picks up and Hendrix is off on some soulful lines ending with some octave playing in counterpoint to Robinson and McCarty.

The other pieces, "Easy Blues" with Larry Lee on second guitar, Mitchell and Cox, and 'Drone Blues/' with Mitchell and Cox, give more insight into Hendrix the guitar wizard.
"Easy" shows his command of a straight blues idiom and Lee gives him some excellent rhythmic support. The rapport between Hendrix, Cox and Mitchell is at its best on "Drone" (ironically it's the earliest cut here featuring them together).
This is by no means a polished recording. That's good, considering that producer Alan Douglas' previous attempts to polish up some of these jam tapes by adding new backings were disastrously lifeless.

Obviously, it's just too bad Hendrix died when he did. This unpolished music is so well-conceived that whatever final product was germinating in Hendrix's mind would almost assuredly have been staggering. —

Jimi Hendrix - Nine to the Universe (Reprise)

With the release of "Nine to the Universe" one is reminded of Hendrix, the guitar mastermind as well as the impact he created in a fleeting three year career. Liner notes indicate that this record is intended to show where Hendrix' music might have gone, had he not interrupted his record company's plans by dying in September 1970. Those plans, though, roll on. If you're counting, this is album number nine since January 1971. Hendrix released only six while he was alive. To call "Nine to the Universe" a complete commercial cop out isn't fair though. The five instrumental jams that fill its 37 minutes may have some value for Hendrix fanatics — only.

Side 1. features two cuts recorded at the Record Plant in New York City in Spring 1969. On the title track, Buddy Miles continues to be the monotonous metronome he was on the Band of Gypsies 1 live album. The second Jam features guitarist Jim McCarty, who spends a sweaty eight minutes trying to catch up with Hendrix.

Side 2. is better with organist Larry Young, on loan from the John Mclaughlin band, Injecting excitement and a jazzy feel to the Jam. Young is the only musician not intimidated by Hendrix and the only one who effectively challenges him on this album, Producer Alan Douglas has danced on a spectre of Hendrix for years, releasing most of the guitarist's products since 1975. Almost like the greedy professor stumbling about In King Tut's tomb, Douglas appears motivated by the gold rather than the artistic integrity At least "Nine to the Universe" isn't a bastardised collection like "Crash Landing" or "Midnight Lightning" in which original Hendrix tapes were "finished" by session musicians in 1975.

Supporting Musicians

Roland Robinson (Bass)
Looking back on Robinson's background, as a youngster he was always around great music as his cousin was legendary guitarist & songwriter Teenie Hodges from Hi Records Rhythm Section. At an early age Robinson was nicknamed by a family member as QUO Jr. and the name stuck with him through childhood. Years later it became Roland Robinson's alias while later he dropped the Jr. portion of the nickname and it became the official name of his band.

Robinson had been around the block one or two times prior to starting his own band, having played bass with many known artists such as Eddie Floyd, Buddy Miles, the Cactus Band while also doing sessions work with The Hi Records Rhythm Section. Robinson was a well respected musician and even jammed and recorded with the legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix. That jam was captured and released on the posthumously released album 'Nine to the Universe'. By 1984 Robinson had blossomed into a successful songwriter when he teamed together with Dewayne Hitchings to co-wrote Rod Stewart's classic hit song "Infatuation."

Larry Young (Organ)
If Jimmy Smith was “the Charlie Parker of the organ,” Larry Young was its John Coltrane. One of the great innovators of the mid- to late ’60s, Young fashioned a distinctive modal approach to the Hammond B-3 at a time when Smith’s earthy, blues-drenched soul-jazz style was the instrument’s dominant voice. Initially, Young was very much a Smith admirer himself. After playing with various R&B bands in the 1950s and being featured as a sideman with tenor Sax-man Jimmy Forrest in 1960, Young debuted as a leader that year with Testifying, which, like his subsequent soul-jazz efforts for Prestige, Young Blues (1960), and Groove Street, (1962), left no doubt that Smith was his primary inspiration.

But when Young went to Blue Note in 1964, he was well on his way to becoming a major innovator. Coltrane’s post-bop influence asserted itself more and more in Young’s playing and composing, and his work grew much more cerebral and exploratory. Unity, recorded in 1965, remains his best-known album. Quick to embrace fusion, Young played with Miles Davis in 1969, John McLaughlin in 1970, and Tony Williams’ groundbreaking Lifetime in the early ’70s. His sound with Lifetime was made distinct by his often very percussive approach and often heavy use of guitar and synthesizer-like effects.

He is also known for a jam he recorded with rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, which was released after Hendrix's death on the album 'Nine to the Universe'. Unfortunately, his work turned uneven and erratic as the ’70s progressed. Young was only 38 when, in 1978, he checked into the hospital suffering from stomach pains, and died from untreated pneumonia.  [extract from]

Jim McCarty (Guitar)
James William McCarty (born June 1, 1945) is an American blues rock guitarist from Detroit, Michigan. He has performed with Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, the Buddy Miles Express, Cactus, The Rockets, the Detroit Blues Band, and more recently, Mystery Train. Since about 2014 Jim McCarty has joined forces with Detroit blues guitarist/songwriter Kenny Parker in The Kenny Parker Band along with several other veteran Detroit blues/rock musicians.

He also makes guest appearances with other Detroit bands, most notably for an annual pre New Year's Eve party at one of his favourite clubs, "Callahan's", with The Millionaires, a nine piece jump blues band. He also recorded with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Seger. He plays in a heavy blues-rock style that has inspired fledgling guitar players for more than 40 years.

Jim McCarty
In an August 2006 interview on VHI Classic, Ted Nugent remarked "I'm the only guy in rock'n'roll that plays that hollow body jazz guitar and it's because in 1960 I saw Jimmy McCarty creating those big fat full chords like I do on "Stranglehold"; I learned that from Jimmy McCarty. Remember the name Jimmy McCarty. He is as important as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry and Les Paul...a god on guitar. [extract from Wikipedia]

Larry Lee (Guitar)
Larry Lee was a fellow guitarist and longtime friend of Jimi Hendrix.
He was born Lawrence H. Lee Jr. on March 7, 1943 in Memphis, Tennessee. Larry Lee would meet up with a fellow young guitarist-Jimi Hendrix-in early 1963 and forge a mutual friendship that would last a lifetime. At the time of their first meeting, Lee was playing guitar for Earl Gaines and Hendrix fresh from a brief stint with Bobby Taylor & The Vancovers was back in Nashville trying to make a name for himself on the Chitlin' Circuit playing with the likes of Slim Harpo, The Imperials, and alongside mutual friend, bassist Billy Cox in The king Kasuals.

Hendrix with Larry Lee (Right)
As 1963 progressed, Lee's relationship with Hendrix deepened with the two routinely getting together to play music, trade chops, or even venturing to a local club for a game of one-up-man-ship amongst the local axe slingers-adventures that would even see their paths cross the likes of Nashville's own renowned Johnny Jones.

That year, Larry's personal connections had managed to land Hendrix a role with Bob Fisher & The Barnesvilles who backed Curtis Mayfield and The Marvelettes (Motown's first all-girl group) on a packaged tour throughout central Tennessee. Later that year, despite Hendrix heading to New York in an attempt to spread his own musical wings; the friendship forged with Lee and Billy Cox ensured the trio remained in regular contact over the coming years.

Hendrix and Gypsy Sun (Woodstock)
By the summer of 1969, Hendrix was the most acclaimed touring act in America but at the same time, he was looking for new and innovative ways to evolve his music and expand his work on the Electric Church / Sky Church concepts.  To help strengthen these ideas, Hendrix was looking for some calming and familiar influences in his immediate surroundings-for which he sent invitations to both Billy Cox and Larry Lee to come to New York and join his new band-Gypsy Sun and Rainbows.

One of Hendrix's first projects outside of his usual gigging and preparation of  'Electic Ladyland' material were some Jazz influenced recordings that he made with fellow musicians Larry Young, Jim McCarty and Larry Lee at the Record Plant and Hit factory in N.Y.  Some of this material was released by Alan Douglas after Hendrix's death in 1970 in the form of the release 'Nine To The Universe'.  Not only was this new band the start of something new musically for Hendrix, it was also the band that he would lead to the grand finale at the Woodstock Art & Music Fair in mid-August.

For Lee, the whirlwind escape to New York came after being back home for only two weeks after returning from his tour of duty in Vietnam. But for Lee, long remembering his earlier days with Hendrix, clamoured at the unique opportunity to head to upstate New York with guitar in hand and reunite with Hendrix. Over the coming couple of weeks, the expanded ensemble group-Gypsy Sun & Rainbows-prepared for their debut at Woodstock. The resulting performance is widely considered one of the single most influential live experiences in music history.

Larry Lee passed away on October 30, 2007 at the age of 64. [extract from]

This post consists of  FLACs and MP3 (320kps) ripped from my 'near mint' Vinyl which I purchased back in the early 80's from Reading Records in Carlton, Melbourne. I'm pretty sure I paid $25 for the LP (a small fortune for a poor Uni Student at that time) but was stoked when put it on my turntable for the first time (and have enjoyed these recordings ever since). As mentioned previously, this release showcases a different aspect to Hendrix's guitar playing with strong Jazz undertones that could almost be classified as Jazz-rock fusion. I just love Jimi's ability to focus on a riff  and then improvise around it for hours, without losing his way.
I have included full album artwork along with label scans and all photos / articles featured above.

If you a fan of Hendrix and you haven't heard this album, then you really need to rectify this oversight now - you won't be disappointed.  You should also take a look at the following website Dead Hendrix (brought to my attention by a blog follower) which offers a comprehensive coverage of Jimi's posthumous albums produced by either Alan Douglas or Michael Jefferey, including 'Nine To The Universe'.
One final note: The spelling of Jim McCarty seems to be vary depending on which resource you refer to, with the album Liner Notes spelling it 'McCartey',  while websites like Wikipedia and Dead Hendrix spell it without the e 'McCarty'.
Track listing:
A1 Nine to the Universe 8:45
(Jimi Hendrix,Billy Cox, Buddy Miles)
A2 Jimi / Jimmy Jam 8:00
(Jimi Hendrix, Jim McCarty (g), Roland Robinson (b), Mitch Mitchell)
B1 Young / Hendrix 10:32
(Jimi Hendrix, Larry Young (or), Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell)
B2 Easy Blues 4:30
(Jimi Hendrix, Larry Lee (g), Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell)
B3 Drone Blues 6:16
(Jimi Hendrix, Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell)
Jimi Hendrix – Guitar
Jim McCarty – Guitar

Roland Robertson - Bass
Larry Lee – Guitar
Larry Young – Organ
Billy Cox – Bass
Buddy Miles – Drums
Mitch Mitchell – Drums

Nine To The Universe FLACs Link (218Mb)
Nine To The Universe MP3 Link (95Mb)

Monday, July 15, 2019

Vangelis - Original Sountracks: Blade Runner (1982) & Antarctica (1983)

(Greece 1963 - Present)
I decided to do a double post today, which focuses on my two favourite Vangelis's albums, both of which are soundtracks to movies.

Firstly, 'Blade Runner' which I saw at the movies when it first premiered in 1982 blew me away from the opening scene (where Harrison Ford is seen flying through the streets of L.A in a 'spinner') to the final credit listing at the end of the movie which features the sound of Acid Rain falling. And what about the lazy, haunting sax solo (by Dick Morrisey) in Love Theme, backed by Vangelis's superb electric piano and symphonic accompaniment. And of course, I like anything Sci-Fi based.

The second Soundtrack 'Antartica' took my interest more because I was working as a research assistant at the time at Melbourne University in 1982, for the Antartic Botantical Research dept.
It was was my dream to visit Mawson over the  summer period the following year, however the government pulled the pin on all scientific research at the end of 1982 (monies went into Mining instead), so I never did get there. So the closest I could get, was to see a newly released movie called Antarctica in 1983, which featured some amazing photography of this icy dessert landscape.
Of course it also featured a some awesome sound affects to enhance the visual experience, and was pleasantly surprised to learn during the credits, that Vangelis was once again behind this musical culinary delight.
Vangelis - Blade Runner (1982)

In the 21st century, a cyberpunk vision of the future is introduced, man has developed the technology to create replicants - humanoid androids with short, fixed lifespans - which are illegal on Earth but are used in the off-world colonies. In Los Angeles, 2019, Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner, a cop who specializes in terminating replicants.

As a failsafe, replicants were designed to have only a four-year life span to prevent them from having enough time to develop complex human emotions. These replicant mutineers, lead by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) return home to find their makers, hoping to find the key to extend their life span, in the remaining underworld where only misfits remain.

Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer)
Deckard is forced to come out of retirement when these four replicants escape from an off-world colony and come to Earth. Before starting the job, Deckard goes to the Tyrell Corporation and he meets Rachel (Sean Young), a Replicant girl he falls in love with. The city in which Deckard must search for his prey is a huge, sprawling, bleak vision of the future. Man's obsession with creating a being equal to himself has back-fired. This film questions what it is to be human, and why life is so precious.

Sean Young as Rachael
Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner remains one of the relatively few soundtracks to establish an enduring reputation as fine music in its own right. Vangelis, by mid-1981 when he was first invited to view a rough cut of footage from Blade Runner, was at the peak of his fame as a solo artist, following a half-decade long run of successful albums. On 29th March 1982, a month prior to submitting his compositions for Blade Runner, he would crown his career as a creator of movie soundtracks (which began as far back as 1963) by winning an Oscar for his work on Chariots Of Fire. His work on Blade Runner took place in the midst of a truly auspicious moment for the Greek composer, and he fully lived up to the expectations placed upon him.

For a more extensive description of the story line see HollyWood Reporter and album review see UnderThe Deer
Vangelis - Antartica (1983)
Antarctica is a soundtrack album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in 1983. Vangelis had recently written music for Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, before he released this haunting soundtrack. It is the score of the 1983 Japanese film Antarctica ("Nankyoku Monogatari", lit. "South Pole Story") directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara, and was nominated by the Japan Academy for "Best Music Score".

In 1958, a Japanese expedition to Antarctica led by meteorologist Kenjiro Ochi (Tsunehido Watase) and doctor Akira Ushioda (Ken Takakura) leave their exploration base, abandoning their loyal team of sled dogs. When the scientists who are supposed to replace them have their mission canceled, Akira and Kenjiro are worried their dogs will die. A year later, the scientists embark upon a dangerous expedition to rescue their faithful animal companions.

Synthesisers of "Theme from Antarctica" conjure cold and desolation, but also a bright landscape not lacking in beauty. "Antarctica Echoes" has minimal melody showing the vastness of the landscape. "Song of White" is cold-sounding, while "The Other Side of Antarctica" has a sinister sound. "Deliverance" is the theme that plays at the end of the film when the handlers on the first expedition
find corpses of seven dogs, that eight of the dogs broke loose, and two of the dogs, Taro and Jiro, return alive. [extract from Wikipedia]
Review / Storyline
This 1983 soundtrack to the obscure and ultimately rather touching movie directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara (1927 – 2002) was only released world-wide some five years later. The film was apparently based on a true story and a big success in Japan at the time, where in 2001 it was released on a double DVD set that unfortunately lacks English subtitles. However, the story line is easy to follow and this movie is as much about that story as it is about the often breath-taking shots of Antarctica and its wildlife.

Across the opening titles we hear Life of Antarctica, a dramatic piece that uses sequencers, various layers of harmony and flute-sounds to set up an atmosphere of adversity. It is used for this purpose at a few points throughout the movie. The actual story develops as follows: about halfway through the film, a team of Japanese arctic explorers is forced to abandon camp due to extreme weather circumstances. Those circumstances make it impossible to take along the full complement of dogs, who are left behind chained to a rope. This is especially hard on their two caretakers, who had developed an emotional bond with the dogs, after having been saved from trouble by them during one of their treks across the continent. This trek, made by 3 men and the dogs pulling a sleigh across the icy mountains, provides the first opportunity for the music to fully play its part. A couple of short ambient non-album pieces are introduced here as periods of intense activity alternating with periods of rest plus shots like a beautiful sunset are accompanied by tracks such as Deliverance and Memory of Antarctica.

Man's Best Friend
Of some 20 dogs left behind, 7 eventually manage to break free to start a long battle for survival. They initially bond together, but fatal events and various injuries make the group split up and become smaller and smaller. There are extended scenes showing the dogs trying to find food (frozen fish in the ice, the occasional bird), running across the ice (Kinematic) and witnessing some amazing sights. 

One of those, the strange magnetic phenomenon of Aurora Australis (or Aurora Borealis, as it'd be called in Canada, where the film was mostly shot) has an ambient piece which would have been worthy of inclusion on the album. Some sad scenes show the dogs come to an end in different ways. Here the contemplative music of Antarctica Echoes and Memory of Antarctica is often used.

Meanwhile back in Japan the two caretakers keep wondering about the fate of their dogs and be depressed about their having been so powerless to do anything about it. When summer returns to the white continent, two dogs have somehow managed to survive the ordeal. 

Finally Re-united
Eventually an opportunity comes along for the two men to return to the camp and at least put their minds at rest. As expected, they find most dogs dead but are then happily reunited with the two survivors to the majestic sounds of the Theme, which also covers the end-titles. That theme, the opening piece on the album, is a magnificently orchestrated blend of harmony and percussion. Its drawn-out melody is trademark Vangelis - using only a few notes and achieving harmonic resolution by the simplest of means it's got class written all over it due to its spacious arrangement. I've heard it being used for a TV-documentary about ocean sailing as well, it evokes that sort of feeling of heroism very well.The album's own overall effect is one of virtuosity, an inspired Vangelis at a high point in his musicianship.

There is some, but not much additional music and alternative versions in the movie that are not on the album, on the other hand none of the fully worked out pieces on the album are heard in their entirety in the movie. 

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my 'mint / pristine' vinyl (both titles) and includes full album artwork for both Vinyl and CD formats.  The rip of Antarctica is particularly impressive, as my copy is a Japanese Pressing and it is well known fact that Japanese pressings are the best in the world, in terms of their quality (from cover to vinyl). I hope you enjoy these soundtracks as much as I do.
NB>  Another movie worth looking out for (with a similar story line to that of Antarctica) is called 'Eight Below' and although the soundtrack is not credited to Vangelis, you would be forgiven in thinking that it was.

Blade Runner Track Listing
01 Main Titles 3:42
02 Blush Response 5:47
03 Wait For Me 5:27
04 Rachel's Song    4:46
05 Love Theme 4:56
06 One More Kiss, Dear   3:58
07 Blade Runner Blues      8:53
08 Memories Of Green     5:05
09 Tales Of The Future      4:46
10 Damask Rose      2:32
11 Blade Runner (End Titles)   4:40
12 Tears In Rain 3:00

Antarctica Track Listing
01. "Theme from Antarctica" 7:29
02. "Antarctica Echoes" 5:58
03. "Kinematic" 3:50
04. "Song of White" 5:17
05. "Life of Antarctica" 5:59
06. "Memory of Antarctica" 5:30
07. "Other Side of Antarctica" 6:56
08. "Deliverance" 4:30

Vangelis – composer of all instruments

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Various Artists - Sick Music (Custom Compilation)

(Various Artists 1960's - 2000's)
The inspiration for this somewhat 'average post' comes from a recent 2 week stay in hospital for which I was only released 5 days ago.  Several operations later and a 12 month battle with Bowel Cancer has resulted in a good prognosis for which I am very grateful, especially to a wonderful medical team consisting of surgeons, oncologist, radiologist and gastroenterologist.

During this time, I have been able to maintain this blog as best I could although the number of posts has dwindled more recently, requiring me to schedule postings in advance for those times when I have not been in front of my trusty computer and research materials.
The obvious theme for this post is centred on 'Bad Health' and songs related to this theme have been drawn from my collection for this very SICK compilation (pun intended).
I have only included songs with a minimum quality of MP3 (320kps) along with custom made cover artwork. There is a wide variety of music genre on this homemade compilation, yet all songs have a common theme of 'bad health' and are mostly well known. The one band that you may not be familiar with is the 'Cold Chisel sound-a-like' band called Koritini, an Australian band formed in the early 2000's. The remaining tracks and bands should be familiar to you, closing with Zepplin's epic "In My Time Of Dying", making this an interesting and diverse compilation, released on my special custom label called 'Sick Records'

So, to put sum things up; Aussie Rock is officially back to fight another day

Track Listing
01 The Aztecs - Sick 'N' Tired
02 Robert Palmer - Doctor Doctor
03 The Beatles - Doctor Roberts
04 Led Zeppelin - Sick Again
05 Alice Cooper - Sick Things
06 Bon Jovi - Bad Medicine
07 John Mayall - Medicine Man
08 Wings - Medicine Jar
09 Linda Ronstadt - Hurt So Bad
10 Cutting Crew - (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight
11 Koritini - Sick Again
12 Weird Al Yankovic - Like A Surgeon
13 Madder Lake - Hospital Of Love
14 Led Zeppelin - In My Time Of Dying

Sick Music Compilation Link (114Mb)