Lee Speaks About Music… #38

Three Piece Suite (CD/Blu Ray) – Gentle Giant

GG - TPS

Introduction…

Well the chances of getting anything new from the great prog rock band Gentle Giant is never really going to happen, especially has they very much ceased being a band and gave up decades ago now. However that’s not to say that something can be done in the studio in the way of revitalising their old albums and breathing a bit of fresh air and a new lease of life back into them. Something that surround freaks like myself and many others are very well aware that can be done in this day and age, and this is my personal incentive when it comes down to buying something like a product such as this that I already have, all over again.

Three Piece Suite is not the first of the bands material to be given this new 5.1 treatment, and in relation to both the albums Octopus and The Power And The Glory that were given the 5.1 treatment by Steven Wilson over the past couple of years. This particular release unfortunately is a bit of a compilation of the bands first 3 albums, rather than an actual album. It was unfortunate that many of the original multitrack master tapes of the bands first 3 albums were lost. So they decided to do a compilation out of the multitrack master tapes that did manage to survive, to give you this 5.1 presentation.

Does it work one may ask? Is it really worth buying a release such as this?. Well you can find out in my detailed review of this compiled album.

The First Time I Acquired The Taste…

I have to confess I never got into Gentle Giant till very late and back in the 70’s from what little I did get to see and hear of them, their music never spoke to me at all back then. It was not until around 2008 that I really got to acquire my taste more for them and this would of been basically down to the fact that today’s music just never says the same thing to me, especially when it comes to progressive rock. I very much still live in the 70’s and every now and then I have to go back to it, to see if there was something that I missed when looking for something new to buy for my record collection. There is a stack of really great stuff I missed from that decade, and the fact that I did in all honesty I see has a good thing. Because 70’s prog rock cannot really be touched today, even by many of the dinosaurs who are still around who made it originally and are still making records.

I decided to start from the beginning with Gentle Giant by buying their very first self titled debut album. It’s an album that still till this day still sounds very strange. But it was their strangeness that made them quite different and set them apart from many others. It’s also this strangeness that made me continue to buy their records in the chronological order that they originally released them.

The bands first 3 albums basically follow the same path regarding the music they are presenting you with. The main element of their music is very much more leaning towards the folk side of things. It’s the other elements of instrumentation that really orchestrate it all like an orchestra and give it the diversity to go in many other directions. They even threw in a bit of avant garde for good measure. There was no doubt these guys can play, and most of the band members are in fact multi instrumentalists who want to throw everything they have into the pot.

The very fact that the band do throw in an arsenal of instrumentation is the very strange part, and one in reality that is not really fitting to the original piece of folk music they originally set out to play in the first place. This is the factor that changes it all and makes their music have more of a bold statement, but also perhaps made it more inaccessible, especially to the first time listener in relation to the many other bands that was out there at the time.

This is a band that in reality that not only broke the rules, but bent and reshaped them, and in reality this is why they did not achieve more success in their heyday. It’s very much music that one has to give the time to grow into, and once they do, they will reap the reward this band had to offer with the great music they churned out.

Three Piece Suite CD/Blu Ray Review…

Three Piece Suite by Gentle Giant was officially released on the 29th September. It was originally supposed to be released a week earlier on the 22nd but got held back a week. I myself did originally have it pre-ordered on Amazon a good month before, but cancelled it due to lack of funds that week, and brought it a week or more later for the same price of £17.97.

I have to confess I am very much an albums man and not one for compilations at all. So this is not the sort of thing I would buy in general. My only real incentive here was the 5.1 mixes I am afraid. I would also say that this particular release is perhaps aimed at surround freaks and not the sort of thing that would offer you a lot more, despite the array of bonus material you get on the Blu Ray disc here.

The compiled album of Gentle Giant’s first 3 albums known as Three Piece Suite is perhaps not a compilation of the best tracks from the bands first 3 albums, but rather a compilation of the only multitrack master tapes they could find to be able to do a new stereo mix with and a 5.1 mix with these tracks only.

The Packaging & Artwork…

P & A

The Packaging.

The packaging is very much made in the same way the King Crimson 40th Anniversary releases were made, in that it uses two thin layers of cardboard glued together to make the sleeve. Only this does not come in a box like the King Crimson releases did. The discs are mounted on sturdy plastic holders that not only adds strength to the packaging, but also offers you far more better protection for the actual discs, in that you can retrieve the discs without getting finger marks all over them, and because it’s a smooth shiny surface it will also prevent scratch marks unlike storing them in cheap cardboard wallets.

It also comes with a very well detailed booklet, to which can be slotted and stored very nicely in the little pocket they have made on the bottom of the left hand side of the cardboard sleeve. Overall the packaging is done perhaps on the cheap for its price point, but never the less does an adequate job of it all. But in reality for the price of £17.97. It should really have been constructed out of thicker hardbound cardboard and with the booklet fixed inside. It would of also added a lot more value to its presentation if they would of done so too.

The Artwork.

The artwork is perhaps a bit corny but well apt to the title of the album. The cover was designed by Carl Glover for Aleph Studio and the bands bass player Ray Shulman was the guy who provided the furniture which displays all 3 original album covers.

Back To The Review…

Three Piece Suite contains 11 tracks in total spread over a playing time of 5 seconds over the 67 minute mark. But 2 of these tracks are bonus tracks, so in reality only 9 of the tracks here are from the original 3 albums that Gentle Giant made.

The CD.

The 11 tracks on the CD are all new mixes done by Steven Wilson. As with all new mixes they may not be for purists, especially for those who brought the bands albums well over 40 years ago and know exactly what it should sound like. But one thing I will say about Steve Wilson is that he very rarely will go over the top on them, and tends to keep them as close to the original mix has he can.

To be honest I quite like what Wilson does in most cases and it can make an improvement in some circumstances but not all the time. To be perfectly honest I always tend to keep my original albums and will get the best out of both worlds regarding the new mixes and the old ones. But the one thing you always get with such releases like these that come with a DVD or a Blu Ray. Is the fact that they do also include the original mixes. So for me personally the new mixes are also an added bonus.

Here is a breakdown of the tracks from the original albums you do get, and they are placed on the disc in chronological order.

From the 1970 self titled debut album Gentle Giant you get 3 tracks out of the 7 original tracks that were on the album. They are “Giant“. “Nothing At All” and “Why Not?”.

From the 1971 album Acquiring The Taste you only get 2 out of the 8 tracks that were on the album, and they are “Pantagruel’s Nativity” and “The House, the Street, the Room“.

From the 1972 album Three Friends you get a generous 4 tracks out of the 6 that were on the album. They are “Schooldays“. “Peel the Paint“. “Mister Class and Quality?” and “Three Friends“.

So has you can see this s hardly a best of compilation you are getting here, and it’s missing some of the best tracks from at least two of those albums. It’s only the bands 3rd album Three Friends that is missing the least here, and although I do like all of the bands first 3 albums. It’s unfortunate that my favourite album out of the 3 here Acquiring The Taste is the one that’s missing the most.

The other 2 bonus tracks you get are a 7 inch single edited version of “Nothing At All” and an unreleased track entitled “Freedoms Child“. It’s a track that the keyboard player Kerry Minnear originally wrote in mind for a television program. The band added Beach Boys style harmonies to it to try an make it work better, and in the end decided it was not fitting with the new direction they was heading in at the time, and never used it.

The Blu Ray.

SS 1

Upon loading the Blu Ray it presents you with an easy accessible menu and an animated revolving triangle that displays all 3 album covers of the bands original 3 albums. It’s quite like an hologram in that you can see through it and you can also see all the album covers at the same time.

The Blu Ray features 10 of the 11 tracks that are on the CD with 5.1 surround versions once again mixed by Steve Wilson. The only track that got omitted from the 5.1 treatment was the 7 inch edited version of “Nothing At All“. It also contains instrumental versions of the same 10 tracks.

SS 2

The top of the menu contains the 5.1 section and by clicking on audio select it presents you with the 2 choices for the 5.1 mix and also the option to play it in stereo if you wish. By default it’s set to my preferred choice the DTS HD Master. All the audio comes in high quality formats of 96K 24 Bit.

Has a matter of a fact everything even including the bonus material comes in the same high end format of 96K 24 Bit. The bonus material is in stereo only though. Speaking of the other bonus material on the Blu Ray. It also gives you the complete original stereo masters of the first 3 albums.

The 5.1 Mix.

The 5.1 mix by Steve Wilson is very good and there is no doubt that Gentle Giant’s music tends to lean itself more to having the 5.1 treatment with its vast array of instrumentation played by the many multi talented instrumentalists in the band. This is music that very much can be brought back to life and sound far more superior and more vitalising and fresh spread over 6 channels, and Wilson has utilised them very well and has not gone over the top with the mix.

There is no doubt these 5.1 mixes are the best there is of the tracks from the bands first 3 albums. It’s just a shame they never had all of the multitrack master tapes to be able to do the complete albums in 5.1. The fact that Three Piece Suite is a sort of compilation of the bands first 3 albums, I am not going to go into the details of the individual tracks with my review here.

Summary…

In reality Three Piece Suite by Gentle Giant is perhaps a package that is aimed more towards 5.1 freaks like myself and those fans who are collectors, and like to have everything of the artist, even down to buying the same thing with a different cover that was released in another country. It’s certainly not a compilation aimed at introducing you to the band Gentle Giant and no way would it work that way either.

Regarding my first original question in the introduction. Does it work one may ask? I would have to say NO!. Simply because it’s strange hearing the tracks this way, and there is way too many of the best tracks from the 3 albums that are missing. Like I said my only real incentive for buying this package was for the 5.1 mixes only. Regarding my second question in the introduction. Is it really worth buying a release such as this?. Once again I would have to say NO!. Even though I will say the 5.1 mixes are excellent.

The fact they have also included the 3 original albums on the Blu Ray is perhaps more of a strategic ploy to entice you to spend your money on it. They had to give you something extra to make up for all the missing tracks. Even though the albums do come with high end audio quality. Does it mean that I will be using this Blu Ray to play those original 3 albums from now on?. I really do not think So! Because I prefer the individual album and the individual package it comes in I am afraid.

Had they have had all the multitrack master tape tracks in the first place to do the 5.1 mixes. They would have been put out separately and would of cost you 3 times the amount of money for them buying them individually. But that is something I personally would of preferred. Looking at the 3rd album Three Friends. The fact that they had 4 of the 6 original multitrack master tapes. They could of put this album out as an individual release and done a Pseudio 5.1 mix with the other 2 tracks. I know it’s not the same as a genuine 5.1 mix and I have a few albums that have been done this way, and they still work a lot better than what they have done here with this release.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of Three Piece Suite by Gentle Giant. There is no doubt that the biggest majority of reviews will point towards this release being a Fantastic release, and the best way to hear what there is out there with even what little you do get in the way of the tracks from the bands first 3 albums that have been mixed in 5.1. I would even say regarding the 5.1 mixes they are very much right. But for me personally presenting an album in this way does not really work for me. No doubt the album Three Friends is almost complete and does contain the best tracks from that album. But regarding the first 2 albums, you are going to be missing a hell of a lot here, and the best tracks from them albums without a doubt too.

I think for its price point it’s about right with all the extras you are getting in the bonus department. But I could not personally recommend it despite the excellent 5.1 mixes Steve Wilson has done. It just does not work as an album does I am afraid and you would be better off spending your money on the CD/Blu Ray releases of the albums Octopus and The Power And The Glory even though they contain very little in the bonus department in comparison to this release. But least they are complete albums.

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Giant. 6:26.
02. Nothing at All. 9:06.
03. Why Not?. 5:32.
04. Pantagruel’s Nativity. 6:57.
05. The House, the Street, the Room. 6:08.
06. Schooldays. 7:41.
07. Peel the Paint. 7:36.
08. Mr. Class and Quality?. 5:51.
09. Three Friends. 2:56.
10. Freedom’s Child #. 3:58.
11. Nothing at All (7 Inch Edit Mix) #. 4:54.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus Tracks Rating Score. 10/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 9/10.

The Album Rating Score. 5/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #37

The Silence Of Perez de Cuellar – The Bob Lazar Story

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Introduction…

The 2nd release of Matt Deacon’s project The Bob Lazar Story comes in the form of a 6 track EP entitled The Silence Of Perez de Cuellar. The title is inspired by a book Matt read which was written by a Sci Fi author who goes by by the name of Budd Hopkins who wrote a book supposedly based on a true story about an alien abduction that happened in New York back on the 30th of November 1989. The book in question was entitled “Witnessed”.

I have to be honest I am not into UFO’s and its phenomenon and am more of a realist myself. However Matt must be heavily into it all to even want to base the name of his project around the likes of a physicist who is involved with alien technology. Namely Bob Scott Lazar.

Personally I do not see everything in Matt’s music about green bug eyed monsters from another planet, though he may have an higher intelligence that may have come from another planet. Simply because the talent he possesses to write material like this and play his guitar the way he does is quite complex and sophisticated that’s for sure.

He does however also come with a good funny sense of humour and his music can also be out of this world :))))))).

The EP Credits…

All music composed by Matt Deacon.

Matt Deacon – Guitars & Other Stuff.
Mike Fudakowski – Bass (On tracks 1, 2, 3, 4. & 5).
Simon Fox – Drums (On tracks 1, 2, 3, & 4).
Unknown Drummer – (On Track 5)

The EP Review…

The EP The Silence Of Perez de Cuellar by The Bob Lazar Story was released on the 25th of October 2007. It contains 6 tracks and has a grand total playing time of 21 minutes and 19 seconds which is a very respectable time slot for an EP release.

Unlike Matt’s debut album (Sic) which was mainly done by himself the EP The Silence Of Perez de Cuellar does feature another couple of great musicians playing on it. The drummer Simon Fox who did happen to play on 1 and a bit of a track on his previous album, plays more of a role here and gets to feature on 4 of the 6 tracks.

This EP is also the first time we get hear the bass player Mike Fudakowski who does also feature on the next 2 releases, and I have to say just like Matt, this is one really class musician. Although Mike did not appear on the last 2 releases of The Bob Lazar Story. He is certainly one guy I would love to see return back to the project in the future.

Track 1. Wheat Hat.

The opening track no doubt does have that UFO vibe about it, and just like “Son of Six” from Matt’s debut album (Sic) it contains a very well structured theme. It’s got quite a  well chilled jazzy swing and feel about it over the first minute and a quarter of the track. Both Simon’s drums and Mike’s great bass groove work very well here.

It then breaks away from its rather nice consistent theme with some fine sequenced synth work that adds a touch of mystery to the drama of the piece. More power gets thrown into the equation with some great heavy power chords from Matt’s guitar. The piece has great diversity with its changes and ends off mysteriously again with some fine acoustic work.

It’s a very well composed piece of music and the longest track on the EP. It’s very much a contender for the top spot on the mini album too and gets it all off to a great flying start.

Track 2. There’s No Trolley.

Has short as this track is, its one that very much has great chord progression and is a very well constructed and well worked out piece. Just like some of the more heavier rocked up tracks we seen on the debut album (Sic) it lends that style but is more complex and sophisticated.

If anything “There’s No Trolley” reminds of a cross between the Groundhogs with its heavy side, and Frank Zappa with its more sophisticated vibe. The interplay between the guitar, bass, drums and keyboards is quite something on this studio version and no doubt it’s another contender for the top spot on the mini album.

Here is a live version from 2007 that displays both Matt’s and Mike’s precision in playing the piece. It features Kevin Roberts on the drums rather than Simon Fox who is the drummer on this studio version.

Just by looking and listening to the live version here, the only the thing it’s really missing is the keyboard work. If you added a good keyboard, marimba and vibraphone player to this line up, you would have the making of one very super band.

Track 3. My Hand Looks Like A Brontosaurus. 

My personal favourite track on the EP is another superb piece that shows great diversity and chord progression throughout the great track. It contains some really great rhythm and lead work from Matt, and Mike Fudakowski even gets to feature a really great bass solo here too. All 3 musicians play an integral part here and it really is a fantastic piece of work.

Track 4. The Silence of Perez de Cuellar.

The self titled EP track is another extremely great track that weaves it’s way around superbly with the interplay of all 3 musicians. It’s got a great sense of timing about the piece and Simon’s drums on this one play a major roll in the close nit tightness of it all. It really is another superb track and another contender for the top spot of this really superb EP.

Track 5. Meat Whores/Glass Eyed and Frankly ft. Crazy Legs.

A two part track that’s first part is a rather splendid intro that utilises the acoustic guitar and the Ebow very well. The 2nd part is more of a rocky jazzy affair that Matt describes as Cartoon Jazz and quite heavy. He also goes onto say that its one of his best tunes.

The piece was written around a pre-recorded drum track, hence the reason for it being credited as an unknown drummer.

It’s another really excellent track that has loads of diversity, heavy guitar riffs, wonderful vibes and keyboards, great interaction between the guitar and bass, bags of well good chord progression and changes, and is another top contender for the favourite spot.

Track 6. Foodstool 82.

The album gets put to bed wonderfully by Matt himself playing a lovely two part guitar piece. I must admit when I seen the title I thought he may have originally wrote it back in 1982, But Matt describes the 82 as being the amount of times he played the piece to get it right :))))))))))).

Well it certainly sounds right here and round the album off superbly.

Summary…

To sum up my review here I would say that when comparing Matt’s debut album (Sic) to the EP The Silence of Perez de Cuellar you can certainly see how well he is developing his writing skills. In terms of progression there is more to be found on this EP that’s for sure, and the material I feel is more solid, not that I can personally fault his debut album at all.

I also feel that the addition of having two other really great musicians onboard with the likes of Mike Fudakowski and Simon Fox make the difference why this is I feel is a much stronger album, and it works better for it too.

The material we have here is top notch and up to par with the two EP’s I have already reviewed Ghost Of Foodstool and Self Loathing Joe. I also think this particular EP is the strongest of them all, due to the fact that we have no little snippets in between the tracks. Which makes it’s better value for the buck.

Conclusion…

The Silence of Perez de Cuellar by The Bob Lazar Story is a remarkable strong body of work. It’s up there with the very best material Matt has ever produced. This is music that has bags of diversity and goes in many directions in the same way the very best of progressive rock music does.

It also contains some really great jazz fusion too and for anybody who is into such music, this should be in your record collection, simply because it’s highly addictive music and is made to last you a lifetime.

You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of The Silence of Perez de Cuellar here : https://theboblazarstory.bandcamp.com/album/the-silence-of-perez-de-cuellar

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Wheat Hat. 4:59
02. There’s No Trolley. 2:02
03. My Hand Looks Like A Brontosaurus. 4:38
04. The Silence of Perez de Cuellar. 2:55
05. Meat Whores/Glass Eyed and Frankly ft. Crazy Legs. 4:48
06. Foodstool 82. 1:57

Lee’s EP Rating Score. 10/10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Speaks About Music… #36

(Sic) – The Bob Lazar Story

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Introduction…

The music of Matt Deacon has very much an effect on me, that much it’s like a very infectious decease and I simply could not stop until I had every release he has put out under his project of The Bob Lazar Story.

Has you may be aware I started out by buying a couple of his EP’s to which I have already reviewed this month. Both EP’s were more recently made too, and were released in 2014 and 2015. Out of the 6 releases in the discography of The Bob Lazar Story 3 of them are EP’s and the other 3 are actual albums.

This particular release happens to be the debut album, and considering it was done over a decade ago now back in 2006. Matt’s musical style and direction has not really changed at all. Which for me is a very good thing, because no doubt this is music that very much speaks to me and my personal taste 100%.

No doubt Matt does quite complex music. It’s very much a cross between progressive rock and fusion and has familiarities with the music of Frank Zappa. Gentle Giant. King Crimson and even some refined elements that can be found in the medieval prog rock band Gryphon to name a few. He of coarse has his own style which is also thrown into some magic pot to construct it all this way too.

I would go as far as to say that if you like any of those bands I did mention here, you would have to be a complete idiot not to like what The Bob Lazar Story has to offer. Because there is no doubt that this is entirely addictive stuff and just as good in my book.

Though I would also stress that the music here is not entirely done in the same way those greats did make their music, and there is another element or equation used to create it. It’s what Matt calls the mathematical equation.

But I would also stress that this is not what I would call Jigsaw Puzzle Music either. In the way that somebody just got hold of a DAW like Fruity Loops and pieced it together by using samples.

Matt predominantly is a guitarist, though he does like to tinkle with the odd keyboard and other instruments as well. But a lot of the more complex keyboard work is very much midi programmed rather than played by his own fingers.

Just as some of the drums on this particular album would of been, especially has this debut album of his is not like the ones that followed it, where he brought in a bass player and a few drummers to contribute to music he wrote for them.

There is no doubt that Matt given the right musicians can perform his own material live on stage. To prove my theory, here is a live performance of Matt with Mike Fudakowski on bass. Kevin Roberts on drums and Razor Nathon on keyboards playing material from this very album.

The Bob Lazar Story Live

The bass player Mike Fudakowski is in every way just like Matt Deacon is when it comes to being solid musicians who are really great players. Mike Fudakowski featured on many of The Bob Lazar Story albums after this release up until recently.

In my own personal opinion Mike is very much a bass player Matt should of kept hold of. Because just as much as Matt is solid on the guitar, no way can he play the bass like Mike that’s not to say that Matt cannot play the bass.

It’s really down to the fact that a dedicated bass player such as Mike will come out with more of an idea when it comes to bass lines. Guitar players quite often go about the bass in a more simplified manner, and never speak the same language that a dedicated bass player will ever do regarding the instrument.

There is a lot more to the bass guitar than what meets the eye, and in reality the bass can be just as technical and complex to play as the guitar. Though Matt does cope well on this particular album, but never the less even he can see the importance of a dedicated bass player, which is why afterwards he brought one in.

They are both class musicians without a doubt, and with the drummer they have now Chris Jago all they would need is a very good keyboard player and this band would be as good as many of the mainstream bands for sure.

Having just seen quite a few videos of the recently reformed Brand X live on stage. I honestly believe that if Matt had those musicians I mentioned on stage with him. They would be in every way just as good.

(Sic) Album Credits…

All music composed by Matt Deacon.

Matt Deacon – Guitars. (Everything else on most tracks)
Simon Fox – Drums (On track 2. Outro drums only on track 4).
Ross Devereux – Saxophone (On track 4).
Tanya Didham – Spoken Word (On Track 8)

(Sic) An Album Review…

The album (Sic) by The Bob Lazar Story was released on the 5th January 2006. It’s very much an album that Matt made almost entirely by himself regarding all the material and the instrumentation we get on the album here. The album itself comes with 8 tracks over a short but respectable time slot of just over the 30 minutes.

The word (Sic) by the way is the Latin word for “ThusIt is used to indicate that something incorrectly written is intentionally being left as it was in the original.

To be honest I never knew that at all and had to look it up and I thought it was commonly used by young louts who say things like “Bad” and “Sic” meaning the opposite in that they are good. Instead of being Bad and even Sick :))))))))).

I can assure you that this is not music that will make you sick or throw up :)))))). It will have you throwing it back on the turntable so to speak for several more spins as it’s highly addictive.

Has with all albums and EP’s by The Bob Lazar Story they tend to come with very minimalistic and simplistic artwork for the album covers. Yet the music is way more complex and sophisticated and will tell you a completely different story to what Bob Scott Lazar a physicist who is involved with alien technology will. But no doubt this is music that is as they say “far out man” :))))))))).

Though the opening track may bear some sort of resemblance to the spaceship on the front cover. So now let’s take a closer look in detail of how the music comes across as I tackle all the 8 tracks that are featured upon it.

Track 1. Levers of Doom.

The album gets off to a great start with it’s opening track “Levers Of Doom“. It opens up with a mysterious dramatic intro that resembles something along the lines of a flying saucer landing on earth. It builds its way up very well and around the 1:22 mark it breaks out into more of a steady melody with the bass and it’s electric guitar riff.

Has it goes along the acoustic guitar adds very well to the equation with some fine lead lines in a sort of Arabic or Eastern style. The electric guitars add more power with an heaver riff and with the lead lines now on the electric guitar replicating the lines played on the acoustic.

Musically it’s very well apt to the title and the drama fits the bill intensely. It’s a very powerful track that rounds itself off just like it started.

Track 2. ThreeFourFaster.

The pace heats itself up with the 2nd track on the album and I can only presume the title is referring to its time signature. But this one is on fire with Matt’s guitar work and it’s got some super changes and chord progression along its path. I love the hold on the sustained guitar sections too which sound like a musical saw and also give it that UFO feel. This is very much a contender for the top spot on the album and a superb track.

Track 3. Double Turn Double Safe.

A very powerful track that’s opening riff reminds me a bit like the same sort of tone, mood and feel Tony T.S. McPhee had on the Groundhogs album Split. There is some nice changes along the path of this superb track and the next riff that follows this reminds me a bit like King CrimsonsFacts Of Life“.

The piece comes down very well and changes it’s more powerful mood to some splendid acoustic blues. Matt also plays the Jews Harp here too and does a grand job of it as well. It’s the longest track on the album and also happens to be my personal favourite too.

Track 4. Heavy Sandwich.

Another really great track that has a great build to it. The bass and acoustic work by Matt work very well on the piece, and it also features some fine drums throughout played by Simon Fox. Has the build progresses along Ross Devereux’s contribution on the sax adds very well to the piece giving it a bit of a jazzy touch to it all. It’s another really great track

Track 5. Greengold.

A track with a great groove and great rocking riff section that interplays between the keyboards very well. Interesting enough even the drums on this track sound very much like real ones rather than being programmed and it makes me wonder if Matt is also a dab hand on the drums too.

Matt describes this one has his love poem to Spirulina without words, and it’s another really great track that develops very well along with its build up in quite a dramatic way.

Track 6. Son of Six.

Son Of Six” is very much a track that contains a Sci Fi theme with it’s melody lines. The vibes on it are very Zappa esquire and it’s another superb track on the album that utilises the lead guitar, bass and keys very well. It also has a great reversed phasing effect towards the end of it that comes into play.

Track 7. The Progressive Adventures of Foodstool.

The first of an ongoing series of tracks about a Foodstool that appears to pop up on all of The Bob Lazar Story albums. Matt seems have a fascination with his stool and this is the very stool pictured here.

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The Famous Foodstool

I am not entirely sure that there is food on it, and it’s more like either paint or bits of plaster :)))))) but never or less this very thing has played a big role in Matt’s creativity over the years.

This is another superb track with great diversity and progression along its path in the way the piece has been structured and developed. It starts off with the piano and an acoustic guitar, it also uses a bit of marimba to give it that Frank Zappa or Gentle Giant feel.

The piano, electric and acoustic guitars are utilised superbly around the half way point and towards the end. It really is another fabulous piece of work and another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 8. I Didn’t Get Anything Off That.

The final track on the album is made up over a repeated melody line on the guitar. The additions of other instrumentation work wonderfully and so too does the words Tanya Didham is reciting in the piece. To be honest I have no idea if Tanya wrote these words herself or is simply reading them from a book. But whatever, they fit in very well here.

The humour in the title we have here was inspired by one of Matt’s friends who when passed a spliff to have a smoke, used to smoke it all and leave the next guy nothing. Afterwards he would say “I didn’t get anything off that” :))))))))))).

I am sure somebody will get something from this great track, and it rounds off the album very well in a great chilled out way.

Summary…

The album (Sic) by The Bob Lazar Story is a really great album that does not in any way disappoint.  Considering this is Matt’s first album he has done incredibly well on it and even though the material is perhaps more rock based in relation to the albums that was to follow, there is no doubt he has done a solid piece of work on it, and it’s a really great album.

I still even find this album quite addictive to be honest and once again all the tracks have been given some serious thought about the placement on the album. The fact the album may be short over its 30 minute time slot, very much works in the way that you can get to hear it more times over in no time at all, and really get to appreciate it more and more.

The other thing I do find with Matt’s music is the fact that it’s not so inaccessible like some of the other prog rock bands music can be, where as you need to really grow into it more to get to appreciate it.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the album (Sic) by The Bob Lazar Story I would say that Matt’s music really speaks for itself. It’s not an album that needs words and a singer to speak up for it, the music does all that on its own merit and it works extremely well for it with the very well written and structured material that Matt has wrote here.

For the price of 4 dollars you cannot go wrong here, its peanuts in relation to the joy the album will give you over many years. I can honestly say that even if I brought this album back in 2006. I would still be playing it today, because this is music that speaks to my personal taste 100% and is as good as anything out there in the mainstream world too.

You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of (Sic) here : https://theboblazarstory.bandcamp.com/album/sic

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Levers of Doom. 4:02
02. ThreeFourFasterm. 2:47
03. Double Turn Double Safe 4:39
04. Heavy Sandwich. 4:36
05. Greengold. 4:02
06. Son of Six. 2:30
07. The Progressive Adventures of Foodstool. 3:49
08. I Didn’t Get Anything Off That. 3:44

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.

 

 

Lee Speaks About Music… #35

Live At Pompeii (2 CD/2 Blu Ray Deluxe Box Set) – David Gilmour

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Introduction…

The amphitheatre at Pompeii in Italy is no stranger to David Gilmour. It was the very place where he and the band Pink Floyd decided to film a documentary way back in October 1971. It featured the band playing a set of their songs to camera crew only and no live audience, due to the fact that a live audience was not permitted at the time.

The last time the amphitheatre had seen a live audience was many, many moons ago back in AD 79 and that would of been to see some gladiator in battle or thrown to the lions, rather than watch some 70 year old man in 2016 plug in his guitar and play to a much smaller audience that they did this time around.

Since the release of David Gilmour’s last solo album Rattle That Lock in September 2015. He very much spent the rest of 2015 and 2016 touring to promote the album with live shows performed in various parts of the world. The amphitheatre at Pompeii was the smallest venue of them all. But I dare say Mr. Gilmour now granted with the permission to play in front of a live audience, perhaps wanted to make another little piece of history.

Live At Pompeii Release…

Live At Pompeii by David Gilmour was released on the 29th September 2017 and was made available with the choice of the following releases. A 2 CD version. 4 Vinyl LP version. A DVD. A single Blu Ray version. A Digital Download and a Deluxe Box Set containing 2 CD’s. 2 Blu Rays and various other collectibles inside the box.

Prior to its release it was screened worldwide on various cinema houses from the 13th September 2017. Though some of the songs on the official release were omitted from the cinema screenings. Maybe Mr. Gilmour is getting a bit hard up for cash or something because it does appear that he is certainly milking this release.

I myself opted for the 2 CD/2 Blu Ray Deluxe Box Set and there were a few reasons why I did so. The main reason was for the 2 Blu Rays simply because I already have quite a few David Gilmour concerts on DVD and I can tell you the best one by far is the 2 DVD Special Edition of Remember That Night which was released back in 2007. The venue for that concert was at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The really good thing about that particular release is that the 2nd DVD contained some superb bonus material and the double DVD contained over 5 hours of footage on it. It cost me all of about £14 back then which was a genuine bargain. So that was another good thing I liked about it :)))))

So it was a must for me to make sure I had all the extras by going for the Deluxe Box Set of Live At Pompeii has it was the only way I could be sure of not missing out on anything.

The single Blu Ray release was never gonna do it for myself and being as this was not like expensive Pink Floyd Box Sets costing hundreds of pounds and at a more modest price of £45.68p which I eventually got it for having it pre-ordered on Amazon a couple of months before its release.

So What’s In The Box?…

Well regarding of what you get inside the box and is it worthy of its price point? I done a quick unboxing video on the same day of its release when it arrived.

You may think my video presentation of the unboxing is a bit unfair with some of the things I said here about the way it’s packaged and everything you are getting here for the money. But having already brought the CD/Blu Ray Deluxe Box Set of David Gilmour’s Rattle That Lock back in 2015 which only cost me £20. I knew exactly what to expect before I even opened the packaging, and both Box Sets have been packaged in exactly the same way.

Comparing The 2 Box Sets & Weighing Up The Price Point…

I thought it would be a good idea to make a comparison between the both box sets to try and measure up why this particular cost me £25 more than the previous one. Here is what comes in both the box sets, starting with the 2015 Box Set of Rattle That Lock.

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The contents you get inside are as follows: A Poster. An envelope that contains 1 Post Card. 1 Small white Guitar Plectrum with David Gilmour signature on it. 2 Mini sized hardbound books. 1 CD and 1 Blu Ray. Now let’s take a look at the Live At Pompeii Box Set.

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The contents inside are as follows: A Poster. 4 Postcards. A Booklet. 1 Mini sized hardbound book. 2 CD’s and 2 Blu Rays.

Although it may look like there is a lot more inside the Live At Pompeii Box Set out of the 2 here, it practically only weighs half as heavy as the Rattle That Lock Box Set. This is down to the fact that you get 2 Mini sized hardbound books instead of only 1. These mini sized books are also the most expensive items to make that are inside these box sets.

Inside the Live At Pompeii Box Set you get 4 post cards instead of 1 that comes with the Rattle That Lock Box Set. But you do not get a guitar plectrum. In terms of cost it works out pretty much the same, but the guitar plectrum is perhaps the most collectable item here, and right now I would also say that the Rattle That Lock Box Set is winning by 2 points to 0.

You do get a booklet inside the Live At Pompeii Box Set to which you do not in the Rattle That Lock Box Set. I am not entirely sure if it’s worth a point but never the less let’s give it one, and so far the Rattle That Lock Box Set is winning by 2 points to 1.

The last contents inside the box sets are the discs. No doubt the Live At Pompeii Box Set is the winner of this section being has it does have 4 discs instead of 2. So has it does have 2 discs more I am going to give it another 2 points, making the overall score 3 – 2 to the Live At Pompeii Box Set.

Overall it’s only really the amount of discs being twice as much that really makes the Live At Pompeii Box Set the winner here. But in reality it still cost more to make the Rattle That Lock Box Set simply because it has 2 mini hardbound books which are without a doubt the most expensive items to make.

Regarding the price point of the Live At Pompeii Box Set I would say that in relation to the Rattle That Lock Box Set that only cost £20 that it’s well overpriced by at least £15. I think that £25 to £30 is where the price point should of been set for the Live At Pompeii Box Set and not £45.

Live At Pompeii (2 CD/2 Blu Ray Deluxe Box Set) Review…

Released on the 29th September 2017 David Gilmour’s Live At Pompeii is yet another live concert release and this one takes in his tour of his latest album to date Rattle That Lock which he released in 2015 so your lead to believe :))))). I say that simply because regardless of if you are buying a David Gilmour live concert or a Roger Waters live concert. The one thing you are sure to get is very little of their own solo material and the biggest majority of it will always be made up of Pink Floyd material.

Though to be fair Gilmour does tend to feature a lot more of his own material than Waters does at live shows, and you do get 8 out of the 10 tracks from the album Rattle That Lock in total.

Oddly enough both Waters and Gilmour have both made 4 rock solo albums to date, yet when they go on tour they would both rather play the material they made with Pink Floyd simply because that name alone is bigger than both of them. It’s that very name alone and the fact that they both still go out and still play Floyd’s material, that attracts and draws the attention to pull in a crowd for people to pay for a ticket and to buy releases such as this one, and not the solo material they both make, which I feel is a shame in a way.

There is no doubt that both artists on tour are capable of still playing and making good the material they did with Pink Floyd regardless of who’s on the stage playing it with them. Nearly every concert they have both put out is still exiting in that they have always made slightly different arrangements to the songs with the different musicians they do take on tour with them. Its this that keeps it perhaps a bit more fresh and is why even I still buy them today. Though no doubt some will stand out way more than others.

This particular box set of David Gilmour Live At Pompeii comes with many extras besides the actual concert he played in 2016 at the amphitheatre itself. So let’s take a look at the contents more closely and see exactly what you’re getting here.

The 2 CD’s…

The both CD’s contain the whole of the concert that David Gilmour played at the amphitheatre in Pompeii. The 1st CD contains 12 tracks and has a total playing time of 73 minutes and 56 seconds. The 2nd CD contains 9 tracks spread over a total playing time of 74 minutes and 26 seconds. Making the whole concert near enough 2 and half hours long.

The sound quality is really excellent and the concert has been very well mixed to make it even enjoyable listening to it on CD. Though with any concert I myself very much more prefer to watch it, rather than listen to it on CD. But I have played the CD’s just for the sake of making this review, and they are quality.

The track listing of the both CD’s are as follows:

CD 1. 1. 5 A.M. 2. Rattle That Lock. 3. Faces of Stone. 4. What Do You Want From Me. 5. The Blue. 6. The Great Gig in the Sky. 7. A Boat Lies Waiting. 8. Wish You Were Here. 9. Money. 10. In Any Tongue. 11. High Hopes. 12. One of These Days.

CD 2. 1. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5). 2. Fat Old Sun. 3. Coming Back to Life. 4. On an Island. 5. Today. 6. Sorrow. 7. Run Like Hell. 8. Time/Breathe (In The Air) (Reprise). 9. Comfortably Numb.

As we can see from the set list we have quite a mixed bag of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd material here. 6 of the songs here are from his latest album Rattle That Lock and he has also done 2 from his previous solo album On An Island. The other 13 songs are all Pink Floyd songs.

The Blu Ray’s…

The Blu Ray’s for me are my personal incentive with this release. To be honest I would not give a damn if it never came with the CD’s at all. Why listen to a concert when you can see it with your own eyes in high definition (HD) picture quality and have a far more superior sound quality over 6 channels in 5.1 at an high end audio rate of 24 bits 96 K. This is by far the best thing to being at the actual concert itself, and no vinyl record or CD is gonna ever get as near either.

Blu Ray Disc 1.

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The menus are very well detailed and when the disc loads up they change colour and provides you with some background music which happens to be a snippet of “5:15 A.M.” from the Rattle That Lock album.

The 1st Blu Ray disc contains the whole of concert played at the amphitheatre in Pompeii. It features the same set list that are on the CD’s only hear you do not get any interruptions by having to change the CD :)))) and you get to see the guys playing the whole thing as well as the audience enjoying it all.

But you can also choose to play either part 1 or part 2 of the set if you do not fancy taking on all the 2 and half hours in one sitting.

Besides the actual concert itself on the first Blu Ray. You also get a 7 minute documentary entitled “Pompeii Then And Now”. This is really a great to see and for most of the documentary David Gilmour is with his other half Polly Samson and a another guy or two inside one of the tunnels in the amphitheatre which has a great photography display of Pink Floyd back when they was there back in 1971.

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I have to say the inside of the tunnels looks as if it’s been well cleaned since the days I last seen them on some old films many moons ago. It really does like a stunning display but I guess it’s only a temporary one put on for the show.

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Those were the days and this display is that impressive I am wishing I was there to see it myself.

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Besides being stuck in one of the tunnels it also shows you outside and them setting up the stage for David Gilmour’s 2016 concert to which he played there for 2 nights.

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This really is a super bit of footage and my only gripe about it, is that I wished they filmed a lot more and discussed a bit more about it, and the 7 minutes and 16 seconds you get here is just not long enough.

Blu Ray Disc 2.

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The 2nd Blu Ray disc features the bonus material and as we can see from the menu here it contains more music and documentaries. So let’s take a look at the extra music section we get here first.

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Has you can see from the menu above here, the extra music we get here is from 2 of the other countries David Gilmour played at during the tour of his 2015 album Rattle That Lock. Though it does not give the whole of these concerts, it does show that the set list got changed during the tour, and you do get a couple of extra tracks on the both set lists that were not featured on the main concert at Pompeii.

The first mini set is from the South American tour from 2015 contains 5 songs and is some 35 minutes long. Both “Astronomy Domine” and “Us and Them” were not played at Pompeii. For this tour the band was also different in relation to the other 2 tours at Wroclaw and Pompeii he played at in 2016.

The band consisted of the following:

David Gilmour – electric guitars, lead vocals.
Phil Manzanera – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, backing vocals, high-strung acoustic guitar on “Comfortably Numb”.
Guy Pratt – bass guitars, backing vocals.
Jon Carin – piano, keyboards, electric guitars, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Time” and “Comfortably Numb”.
Kevin McAlea – keyboards.
Steve DiStanislao – drums, percussion, backing vocals.
João Mello – saxophones.
Bryan Chambers & Lucita Jules – backing vocals.

The 2nd concert footage is from Wroclaw in Poland on the 25th June 2016 and once again it contains 5 songs and is 29 minutes long. Both “Dancing Right In Front of Me” and “The Girl In the Yellow Dress” were not played at Pompeii.

The band features the same line up that played at Pompeii apart from the fact that this concert also contained an orchestra which was the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zbigniew Preisner. It also featured Leszek Możdżer playing the piano on “The Girl in the Yellow Dress“.

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In the documentary section there are 5 of them in total, but the first 4 are really short ones just showing the setting up and the odd little snippet of a performance at the different venues Gilmour played at.

For example the Europe 2015 is a 12 minute Doc. South America 2015 14 minutes. North America 2016 15 minutes and Europe 2016 16 minutes.

The best documentary out of them all in this package is by far the last one entitled David Gilmour Wider Horizons. This documentary is 72 minutes long and was made back in 2015 and shown on BBC 2 back in March 2016. But it’s a great bonus to have because it’s very much an autobiography of his life from a child to where he is now.

Live At Pompeii Concert Review…

David Gilmour’s return to Pompeii started with him playing 2 live concerts at the amphitheatre on the 7th and 8th of July 2016. The concert that is featured on this release I do believe the concert footage was taken from the first night he played there being as it was the first public performance the amphitheatre had seen since August in AD 79.

The Musicians…

David Gilmour – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, classical guitar, console steel guitar, lead vocals, cymbals on “One of These Days”, whistling on “In Any Tongue”.
Chester Kamen – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, 12 string acoustic guitar, high-strung acoustic guitar on “Comfortably Numb”, backing vocals, harmonica on “The Blue”.
Guy Pratt – bass guitars, double bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Run Like Hell”.
Greg Phillinganes – piano, keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Time”.
Chuck Leavell – organ, keyboards, accordion, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Comfortably Numb”.
Steve DiStanislao – drums, percussion, backing vocals, aeoliphone on “One of These Days”.
João Mello – saxophones, clarinet, additional keyboards on “The Blue”, high-strung acoustic guitar on “In Any Tongue”.
Bryan Chambers – backing vocals, lead vocals on “In Any Tongue” and “The Great Gig in the Sky”.
Lucita Jules – backing vocals, lead vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky”.
Louise Clare Marshall – backing vocals, cowbell on “Rattle That Lock”, lead vocals on “The Great Gig in the Sky”.

This was the same line up that played at the Wroclaw in Poland on the 25th June 2016 apart from Louise Clare Marshall who was brought in for the Pompeii concert only.

There are some extremely talented session players in this line up especially with the likes of both keyboard players Chuck Leavell and Greg Phillinganes and the bass player Guy Pratt who have all played for many other well known artists over the many years they have spent in their career as professional musicians. These musicians are more than capable of playing both David Gilmour’s solo material and the Pink Floyd material.

Even the rest of the guys in the line up here do a very good job to be fair, though I would not say that João Mello was a replacement for either Dick Parry or Mel Collins when it comes to playing the saxophone.

Back To The review…

There is no doubt that David Gilmour is devoting this concert to his latest album Rattle That Lock and he rolls off the first 3 tracks from that album straight away here at Pompeii. I am not going to go through every track that was played at the concert with my review here, and will merely point out some of the highlights of the show that stick out.

Set 1.

The first track that does stick out is very much the opening instrumental track “5 A.M.” this is also perhaps my favourite track off the original album, only on this live version of it touches me more deeper, and the precision of Gilmour’s tone, touch and feel on the guitar on this opening track, brought tears of joy streaming down my face.

The one thing you are going to notice on this concert is that Gilmour’s voice is not perhaps what it used to be. I am not saying it’s in any way bad, but he does appear to have lost some certain tonal and refined qualities he used to have in it.

But hey this guy was 70 years old when he did this concert and it’s quite remarkable that he still has got quite a good voice still at his age. He does struggle a bit on some of the tracks, but it’s nothing in comparison to say watching Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull who’s voice has been shot since the mid 80’s.

Another great track that has a great slightly different arrangement is “What Do You Want from Me” and Guy Pratt’s bass guitar goes to town on this track and in some ways it’s got quite a disco vibe about, even though it is more hard edged. It’s not quite got the same grit that it has when Pink Floyd performed it live back in 1994 at Earls Court or even the studio version on the Division Bell. album, but never the less it’s always great to hear it done that bit different to keep it fresh, and it works very well here for it.

At the end of the 6th track “The Great Gig In The Sky” Gilmour says a few words about the writer of the song, his old band mate Richard Wright who has we know is sadly no longer with us, and he dedicates the next song from his latest solo album “A Boat Lies Waiting” to him. It’s very much a song he wrote for Wright and it’s quite moving.

The first set finishes off with 2 Floyd classics “High Hopes” and “One Of These Days” and they do them extremely well. The latter of the 2 songs is the only song that Pink Floyd played in Pompeii back in 1971, and I would of also of loved to see them do “Echoes” here again, especially with how well Gilmour last done it live with Richard Wright back in 2007 at the Royal Albert Hall.

Set 2.

Whereas the first set rolled out 3 tracks from Gilmour’s Rattle That Lock album. The 2nd set rolls out 3 Pink Floyd tracks and mainly features the bands material. It opens up with a classic from the Wish You Were Here album with parts 1 – 5 of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond“. This is followed by “Fat Old Sun” from the Meddle album which is becoming another regular feature with Gilmour’s solo concerts and it’s another classic he can pull off very well.

It’s nice to see the self titled album track “On An Island” here, and it’s the 2nd track that gets featured from his 3rd solo album and for me personally is damn site better than “The Blue” which he does play in the first set. But it’s one song from that album that I have always found completely boring. The only good thing about that song is the musical outro I am afraid.

I never thought I would say this, but it’s also great to see one of the song’s from Floyd’s Momentary Lapse Of Reason album. For me personally that album only does have a couple of good tracks on it and “Sorrow” is certainly one of them.

I cannot say I am a fan of the track “Run Like Hell” from “The Wall” either, but they do this one very well I will say. They also do a super job of “Time/Breathe (Reprise)” and that is the best classic out of the 3 tracks that are in this encore.

The show gets ended off with a 10 minute version of “Comfortably Numb” which is a real treat for the fans I am sure and another superb job is done on it here, and it winds up a very satisfying and very good concert.

Summary…

There is no doubt that David Gilmour’s Live At Pompeii is a very good concert that comes with not only really great picture and sound quality but also comes with all the lights, lasers and visuals you would get at a Pink Floyd concert. The material upon it is very much like I said earlier a mixed bag of David Gilmour and Pink Floyd songs and is what perhaps is to be expected.

Though regarding both sides of the material. I personally would of loved to seen perhaps a couple of songs each off Gilmour’s first 2 solo albums on here as well, and something you never get to see on any of the David Gilmour or Pink Floyd concerts without Roger Waters which is something from the classic album Animals.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the Live At Pompeii 2 CD/2 Blu Ray/Deluxe Box Set by David Gilmour  I would say at its price point it’s very expensive and well overpriced. For me personally there is loads more in the bonus department on his 2007 2 DVD version of Remember That Night which can still be purchased for around £17. I also think that is the best concert of David Gilmour too.

The only real good thing that is on the 2nd Blu Ray in this particular package is the BBC documentary David Gilmour Wilder Horizons. Which is something I dare say you could even watch on Youtube.

There is no doubt that Live At Pompeii is worthy of buying though, and it’s a different concert that features material from his latest album Rattle That Lock beside the usual Pink Floyd material that he always tends to play. It is without doubt a very good concert and has been captured very well. It comes with stunning HD picture quality and very well detailed 5.1 Surround sound in 24/96k.

I would personally recommend the single Blu Ray or DVD version of it, rather than forking out the £45 I did for it.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 5/10.

The Price Point.  6/10

The Bonus Material. 6/10.

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8/10.

The Overall Concert Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #34

Self-Loathing Joe – The Bob Lazar Story

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Introduction…

The 5th release by The Bob Lazar Story is another remarkable EP done in much of the same musical style of prog rock and fusion of its predecessor Ghost Of Foodstool. Self-Loathing Joe features the usual simplistic artwork for the album cover and once again comes in the choice of a digital download for $5 or a physical CD with a free Fridge Magnet for $12.

Only 2 of the band members Matt Deacon on guitars, soft synths, and Chris Jago on drums feature on this release and the bands 6th album Baritonia and it appears that their long time bass player Mike Fudakowski is no longer with them.

Credits…

All music composed by Matt Deacon & Chris Jago. Except for tracks 1 & 7 by Matt Deacon.

Matt Deacon – Guitars & Mouse.
Chris Jago – Drums.
Tanya Didham – Vocals (On Track 6)
Zeke Deacon – Other Vocals.

Self-Loathing Joe (EP) Review…

The EP Self-Loathing Joe by The Bob Lazar Story was released on the 23rd August 2015. It contains 7 tracks mostly instrumental over a playing time of 20 minutes and 24 seconds. Musically the material is perhaps a bit more driven and more up pace with its tempo in relation to the bands previous EP Ghost Of Foodstool.

But never the less still has the same great style and feel about it, even down to how the tracks work in the same way as a nonstop album. It also works a lot better for it not sounding too midi-fied in the keyboard department in relation to all the 4 previous releases.

Track 1. Harmonics.

The opening track is a very short 16 second intro of overdubbed harmonics played by Matt on his guitar. It’s a very sweet way to kick off the mini album and a nice little touch.

Track 2. Don Branch Venom.

A purely brilliant piece of work when it comes to diversity and chord progression at its utmost best. This is without a doubt the best structured piece of music on the album. But then again I am pretty sure I could say the same about the tracks that are about to follow it as well.

Don Branch Venom” is a piece that very much throws you into the action right from the start. It kicks off with its superb heavy guitars and the sound of them is very familiar to the great driving sound that can be found on King Crimson’s album Red. Oddly enough the guitar riff reminds me a bit like “Facts Of Life” from their Power To Believe album. You will even hear Zeke Deacon going ooh on it :)))))).

But that’s only the beginning of the track and this one weaves it’s way along superbly in many directions. The use of the clav in the keyboard department is very Gentle Giant like, has too are the super fast sharp changes. Has it progresses along it’s like listening to a cross between Gryphon’s Red Queen To Gryphon Three album and Sky’s self titled debut album.

To be perfectly honest this track is a massive contender for the top spot on the album, and it was very hard for me to surrender the spot to another track on the album. This is without a doubt Progressive Rock in its finest form.

Track 3. No Wait. Yes Chips.

Once again the opening guitar riff on this track reminds me a bit like King Crimson’sFacts Of Life from their Power To Believe album. The track also features superb progression very Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant like. It also has a sense of drama about it especially with the keyboard work and even features and haunting creepy saw like synth. Both Matt’s guitar work and Chris’s drums feature superbly in the piece.

The strange title oddly enough has me thinking of my time in Australia and I wonder if New Zealand is the same regarding their Fish n’ Chip Shops :)))))).

I know that Matt went back to his home town Liverpool for a year to do some taxi driving to make some extra cash whilst living in New Zealand to which is where he now still lives.

But whilst I was in Australia I could not believe how long I had to wait to get a bag of chips from a chippy over there. They like to cook everything fresh and they do not even cook what you order till your turn comes up at the counter. Nothing like here in England and there is “No Wait” and you do get your chips a hell of a lot faster. “Yes Chips” :))))))))).

Very much another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 4. Self-Loathing Joe.

The self titled mini album track is another superb piece of work. It’s perhaps more constructed around the great keyboard work in the piece. Both the guitars and drums are once again superbly executed into it all, and this one not only has power in parts, but it also has a soothed, relaxed laid back feel to it as well.

There is no doubt that every track follows each other superbly on this album, and most of the tracks on it are all pretty much contenders for the top spot.

Track 5. Foodstool Exacts Revenge Upon Gilchrist The Traitor.

Another adventure with Matt’s “Foodstool” that tends to always get a spot on one of his albums or mini albums. Man if I could make music like this guy does I would get one myself and give it my dinner every day :)))))))))).

This is another superbly structured piece of music that features lashings of great keys, guitars and drums all done in that familiar style of Frank Zappa. This is perhaps my most favourite of all the Foodstool adventures too, and is another top contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 6. Ezekiel II.

The 6th track on the album is very much my favourite track on the album and grabs the top spot for me. It’s opening riff is very infectious and grabs you immediately. It builds itself along superbly with the use of heavier guitars adding to the equation and some fine melodies on the hammond organ. It’s the longest track on the album and 1 second under the 9 minute mark, and this infectious intro takes up 3 minutes of it.

Then in comes Tanya Didham at first moaning and groaning :)))))))). It actually sounds like she has several clones of her as well and they are all in some cave moaning to get out I think :)))))).

This whole change and section is very well done how it’s been mixed so well too. Especially with the use of the repetitive guitar riff that can be faintly heard at first which gets followed by some nice notes on the synth to accompany Tanya has she recites some words that describe Ezekiel’s Chariot so very well.

The fine notes on the synth continue and has Tanya’s voice starts to fade out around the 5 minute mark some excellent hammond organ builds its way up superbly. Then in comes some very tasty slide guitar that is very Pink Floyd like and then around the 6 and half minute mark the acoustic guitar blends into the equation superbly followed by some tremolo guitar lines, it really is superbly done.

It finally rounds itself off beautifully on the acoustic guitar on its own  and brings it to an end wonderfully.

Track 7. Scinomrah.

The shortest track on the album by 1 second puts an end to this superb EP and it’s merely a reverse effect. Maybe it’s telling me to rewind the EP and stick it back on :)))))))))). I can tell you that I have several times too.

Summary…

Once again The Bob Lazar Story have produced another truly superb Gem of an EP in the world of Progressive Rock. You get 20 minutes of pure bliss with the EP Self-Loathing Joe and playing this mini album from start to finish is mind blowingly very exciting. It will have you give it repeated plays again and again.

To be perfectly honest when I look at all the new mainstream artists out there today such has the likes of Frost*. Magenta. Haken. Riverside and so on. There is no doubt that those bands are more of your neo prog rock unlike progressive rock which this very much is 100%. The only other new band I can think of who I would class has doing genuine prog rock out there today is Anglagard.

Considering there is no Mike Fudakowski on the bass. Both Matt Deacon and Chris Jago have done extremely well to make this still work so well. I quite liked Mike and he was another very talented musician and great part of the bands line up. But no doubt even without Mike. The Bob Lazar Story are still very infectious and are still a powerful force that can deliver the goods.

Conclusion…

Most progressive rock albums come with really great artwork to try and make it more appealing for the person to go out and buy it.

The Bob Lazar Story does not need make up to make the music stand out and speak in the way that it does so very well in the world of prog rock. I rather think that cup on the front of the cover here, contains vintage wine and the EP Self-Loathing Joe would certainly be a lot more than a cup of tea when it comes to prog rock.

To conclude my review of the EP Self-Loathing Joe by The Bob Lazar Story. I have to say it’s worth its weight in Gold with the material you are getting here. It’s up there with the very best in the world of Prog Rock and Fusion. It’s one very exiting EP and another superb fine body of work. For me personally this is my ultimate favourite of all 6 releases The Bob Lazar Story has put out so far.

You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of Self-Loafing Joe here : https://theboblazarstory.bandcamp.com/album/self-loathing-joe

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Harmonics. 0:16
02. Don Branch Venom. 3:00
03. No Wait. Yes Chips. 2:45
04. Self-Loathing Joe. 2:05
05. Foodstool Exacts Revenge Upon Gilchrist The Traitor. 3:04
06. Ezekiel II. 8:59
07. Scinomrah. 0:15

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #33

Ghost Of Foodstool – The Bob Lazar Story

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Introduction…

Perhaps one of the strangest artists I have ever stumbled across in the way he goes about putting out his music. The Bob Lazar Story is the creation of Matt Deacon originally from Liverpool in England and now residing in Christchurch in New Zealand.

Besides being quite an excellent musician who knows how to craft music brilliantly. Matt very much strikes me has the kind of guy who has some sort of strategic market strategy in the way he promotes his music, and not everything you see here is a simple as it looks.

To be perfectly honest the simplistic artwork he chooses for his album covers and even with music titles such as the “Funniest Cat Video Ever II” he associates with his music. He very much strikes me has the sort of person who is very much more associated with cartoon animation, rather than anything remotely to do with how his own music very much presents itself to some extent. Which is very much in the style of progressive rock.

He also describes himself as a “Purveyor of tritonal wankery” and I have a couple of my own observations as to why he does so. The first being that it’s down to his very funny sense of humour, and secondly this may very well be down to the fact that not all the music here was constructed with the use of real instrumentation.

There is also a mathematical equation thrown into the process here with the use of the computer and midi regarding the biggest majority of the keyboard work you are hearing here. Though the guitars, bass and drums are the real thing.

Though the end result I have to say is purely fantastic and there is no doubt that Matt studied music theory very well to be able to construct and structure music in this way. He is also a very good guitarist who is capable of even performing the music we have here live on stage with the other two excellent musicians he has in the line up that make up The Bob Lazar Story.

Credits…

All music composed by Matt Deacon.

Matt Deacon – Guitars.
Mike Fudakowski – Bass.
Chris Jago – Drums.
Tanya Didham & David Biedny – Vocals (On Track 4).

Ghost Of Foodstool (EP) Review…

The Ghost Of Foodstool by The Bob Lazar Story was released on the 13th July 2014. It’s a very short EP  and the shortest release out of all 6 albums and EP’s that have been released so far. It contains 7 mainly instrumental tracks over a playing time of precisely 14 minutes, and not the “nearly fifteen minutes of aural thunder” that is advertised on Bandcamp. Though the latter part of that statement may well be right :))))).

It’s the 4th mini album release out of the 6 releases he has to date, and even though this EP only has 14 minutes worth of material on it, it’s been made available in the form of both a digital download for $4 and physical CD for $12 to which you also get a free Fridge Magnet should you order the CD.

I myself opted for the digital download and with Bandcamp’s tax rate added as well that still cost me some £3.79p which in all honesty is about the same price of a mainstream artists physical CD of an EP sold in a record shop over here. No way would I fork out the price of the CD I am afraid and Matt must think we still get 2 American dollars to the English pound since he left all those years back to go to New Zealand :))))))).

Though to be perfectly honest there is no doubt that even the 14 minutes you get on this release is well worthy of the price I paid, and this is music that genuinely rocks my boat 100%. It’s that addictive, I had to buy it and still pay my respect to the superb musicians we have here that made it all happen.

The music of The Bob Lazar Story is very much heavily influenced by many of the 70’s prog rock and fusion artists and there is no doubt that this is music that is structured very closely to many of those greats from that decade and is very skilfully done.

One of the biggest influences you will notice immediately I would say is that this is very close to the likes of Frank Zappa. Though there are other influences here as well such as the 70’s medieval prog rock band Gryphon which lends it medieval folk side slightly to it, and also the diversity of the band Gentle Giant for its musical transitional sharp changing chord progression.

Some have even mentioned King Crimson but for my ears I do not hear that in the music we have here on this release but have done on some of the others, and this for me is much more complex in its musical structure and more along the lines of the 3 artists I already mentioned. Plus of course it has their own elements thrown into the pot here.

For me personally the brilliance in the way that The Bob Lazar Story has constructed the music here, is really in how its all done over such a short time span with the short tracks that are on this EP. It’s a very hard thing to do over such a short space and cram all the chord progression we are getting into one short piece of music and make it work so amazingly well.

There is no doubt that this is music done on higher level and out of the artists I already mentioned earlier I would think that only Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant were the only capable ones of doing such a thing with so little space to work around back in the 70’s. The only other newer artist I can think of right now who is also capable of doing such thing today is perhaps Neil Morse. Though even Morse himself was heavily influenced by Gentle Giant.

So let’s take a closer look at the 7 short pieces you get over the 14 minutes and I will try and analyse just what we have here, if I can :)))))))))).

Track 1. Westminster.

Though the title of this fabulous piece may sound like it’s to do with a place of politics that can be found in the capital city of London here in the England. It was in fact inspired and conceived by a ride Matt had down Westminster Avenue in his now home town of Christchurch in new Zealand.

No doubt this superb constructed piece goes through some superb chord progression and lovely melodic changes. The piece is also very well structured and it may have been written originally on the keyboard has a basis and starting point.

Though Matt is mainly a guitarist and he does not credit himself or anybody on the album for keyboards. I suspect that the keyboards on this track are played by himself in some parts and it may also have been programmed to play some of its parts.

Only Matt could answer that question, and has I have not tried to get in touch with him to make my review here. I honestly could not tell you the truth, and can only make my own observation which could be right or wrong I am afraid.

Besides the some super keyboard work in the piece it features some beautiful melodic melodies played on the acoustic guitar. It’s these acoustic sections of the piece that are very familiar with medieval side of Gryphon’s music and reminds of Graeme Taylor from that band.

The rhythmic section side of things here are quite Frank Zappa esc and this is the first album or EP that features Chris Jago playing drums on all tracks and from here on he has featured on the other 2 mini albums that followed it as well. Chris is without a doubt a solid drummer and his contribution to The Bob Lazar Story is formidable one and gave the band tremendous strength.

The track also features some more heavier electric guitar from Matt that adds the strength to some of its sections, as well as the odd touches of more cleaner electric guitar lending an hand. It’s also supported very well by Matt’s long time bass player Mike Fudakowski who has been a member of the band since their 2nd album The Silence of Perez de Cuellar done way back in 2007.

Westminster” gets the album off to a terrific start. It has terrific diversity, well focused melody sections,  and is very much a very high contender for the top spot on the album. I would also add that the keyboard work here sounds less midi-fied in relation to how they do sound on many of the other tracks on this album.

Track 2. Suhmassshh.

The shortest track on the album is a mere powerful burst of guitars and drums more familiar with an ending of a track that lasts all of 14 seconds. If anything it may work as a little ditty for the next track to follow. But I am not going to make a big thing out of it that’s for sure :))))))).

Track 3. Threadkiller.

A rather fast short ditty over a minute and half that catches some great interplay between Matt, Mike and Chris who are getting it together in an energetic tight groove. It’s not gonna bring the house down, but never the less is a great little rocker of a track.

Track 4. Ghost of Foodstool (ft The Sefton Knowledge).

The self titled track of the album happens to be the longest track on the album at some 3 minutes and 57 seconds. It’s another great track that has some great diversity about it with how it builds itself up.

The intro is really superb and although this particular track does once again feature quite a bit from the keyboards from Matt especially with the medieval motifs. He also uses his electric guitar to great effect with the opening lead lines, and even some heavier riffs to beef up parts of the track that work very well.

Mike’s bass plays more of dominate part on this track. He even gets to play a lovely little solo in a section of it which is very well supported by Matt on the organ and Chris’s drums.

The piece rolls through some nice changes up until around the 2:20 mark in which it settles down to a more steadier well driven pace to allow both Tanya Didham & David Biedny to come in with the spoken voice parts.

Tanya has featured on some of the other albums in the bands discography and even featured on their debut album (SiC) back in 2006. Has for the “Featuring The Sefton Knowledge” in the tracks title. I can only presume that it was inspired by Matt’s previous job as a taxi driver when he lived in Liverpool many years ago.

I have no idea of what Matt’s obsession with the word “Foodstool” is all about. But so far there is a track on all 6 of his albums that have the word in their title. This is another really excellent track and my personal fave of the album and merits my top spot award.

Track 5. J-Rod’s Pigeon Ladyshapes.

Another very short piece and one that’s title derived from an amalgamation from a few suggestions from fans on their Facebook page. It’s got a quirky little melody line but is perhaps a bit too midi-fied in the way that this has been done with the computers general midi rather than the sound from any real keyboard.

Track 6. Day Off More So.

This is another track that features midi-fied keyboards only here they are supported very well by the bass and drums and also some lovely acoustic guitar too. It’s a got a very relaxed feel about it and music is well apt to the title chose here too. The midi-fied keyboards do add to the dramatics of the piece and this piece would also fit very well to an animated cartoon.

It’s a cracking very well structured piece of music and another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 7. Funniest Cat Video Ever II.

Another dramatic piece just like the previous track but has a lot more going for it with its diversity and structure. Despite the use of the midi-fied keyboard work on the piece the musicianship in all other departments is outstanding from all 3 musicians here.

It’s very much a very high contender for the top spot on the album and my 2nd favourite track on the album, and rounds off the EP superbly.

Summary…

To sum up Ghost Of Foodstool by The Bob Lazar Story. I would say that it’s a very well constructed body of work you are getting here, even over its short time of 14 minutes. Has for the music itself it’s highly addictive and the EP works amazingly very well with how all the tracks have been placed on the album.

It’s an EP that works from the beginning to the end, and a couple of the much shorter snippets on the album such as “Suhmassshh” and “J-Rod’s Pigeon Ladyshapes” work better from hearing the EP this way rather than play them as individual tracks where they simply will not. It’s very much like a nonstop album.

However I do feel that most of the music here was originally constructed by a mouse on a computer and not so much from the real instrumentation in the first place. The real instrumentation was put in afterwards, and there is no doubt that the 3 musicians who played on it are extremely very talented musicians to be able to play around music even constructed in this way in the first place.

It perhaps uses modern technology to construct the music those greats I mentioned certainly never had in the first place. Never the less it still takes a lot of working out to be able to make music this way, hence the fact that even over the 6 mini albums The Bob Lazar Story have produced over the last decade or more, is not in an abundance and each album contains very little material on them.

Conclusion…

Overall the 7 track EP Ghost Of Foodstool by The Bob Lazar Story maybe on the short side with the 14 minutes of music you get here, but it’s very infectious and addictive to a person like myself who happens to love progressive rock.

Having heard all 6 releases by The Bob Lazar Story several times over now. For me personally I feel that both the EP’s Ghost Of Foodstool and Self-Loathing Joe. Contain the strongest written and best structured material on them, and are without doubt both solid EP’s and are his best work to date.

I very much feel that if your into the likes of Frank Zappa. Gryphon. Gentle Giant or even King Crimson and many others, this is music that will appeal to you a lot and of course to those who love prog rock and fusion.

Regarding its price point I would recommend the digital download, simply because the CD is way overpriced for a product that only contains 14 minutes of material on it. But has a digital download I highly recommend it, and you are getting genuine quality for the money.

You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of Ghost Of Foodstool here : https://theboblazarstory.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-of-foodstool

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Westminster. 3:06
02. Suhmassshh. 0:14
03. Threadkiller. 1:32
04. Ghost of Foodstool (ft The Sefton Knowledge). 3:57
05. J-Rod’s Pigeon Ladyshapes. 0:32
06. Day Off, More So. 2:13
07. Funniest Cat Video Ever II. 2:26

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.

 

Lee Speaks About Music… #32

The Fall of the House of Usher – Gordon Midgley

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Introduction…

The latest album The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Gordon Midgley was released just over a week ago now, it’s been an album I have very much been following along with its development on both Soundcloud and Facebook. It’s also an album I have been very much looking forward too.

It was only just over 5 months ago now that I first started this very blog site doing album reviews, and I started the whole thing off by doing a review of Gordon’s latest mini album at the time entitled The Darkness Of Error.

That album was his 3rd solo piece of work under his own name, and was also another haunting adventure, only it was an instrumental album just like his 2 previous releases. Now he’s back with another haunting adventure, only this one comes with songs with words to put across a very well known story based around the original story of Edgar Allan Poe done in the way of a concept album in Gordon’s own great style.

Previous Works…

Gordon is very much a man who likes to keep himself busy, and besides working on his own solo albums he is very much involved in a few other musical projects. He not that long ago finished off doing some production work for Lizzie Taypen’s great album Dancing In The Light which I also reviewed a month ago on the 10th of August here: : https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/lee-speaks-about-music-23/

He is also involved in another project that goes by the name of Selena & Gordon’s Factory which is more of an electronic collaboration between Gordon and Selena Jay. He is the singer in The Bluebottles which is a 3 piece band that features David ‘ELT’ M on guitars & bass and Gary Reeves on drums. And perhaps more noticeable for his other main project Napiers Bones he does with Nathan Jon Tillett.

No doubt he has been involved in countless other collaborations with the talent he possesses in both his musical and production skills.

My Own Observations Of Poe’s Story…

Regarding the subject matter of the story here I have to confess I am not a great reader of books myself, and about the only thing I know about Edgar Allan Poe is that he wrote poems and stories. This so called story was one of Poe’s many short stories he wrote, and The Fall Of The House Of Usher he wrote way back in 1839.

Has it was a short story I actually took the liberty of reading it myself for this review. To be perfectly honest I actually read 3 different versions in total of the story, because having read the original manuscript of Poe’s story first I have to confess that it was certainly not like any book I have read in the past, and it was completely very strange to say in the least in the way he had actually gone about writing it.

Poe strikes me has the kind of person who would go all the way around the Wrekin 50 times before he got to the next part of the story or to the point of things. Has a writer of stories I feel he puts way too much emphasis on the surroundings that is around the characters in the story.

To put it in a nutshell. Poe tends to write a thousand words to many in between each part of the story, and it will take you an eternity to get to the point of things with how he goes about it. You will even get lost with the way it’s been written and it’s no wonder that the other 2 versions of his story I read was also different to each other.

I dare say there are countless versions of it, and I have to say the other 2 versions I read were more of an enjoyable read in comparison to the headache I got from reading Poe’s original version. Do not get me wrong he is a very intellectual and intelligent man with the words he chooses to describe all the surroundings, but I feel he just went completely over the top with them here.

The Concept Story…

The story behind The House Of Usher is a very haunting tale told by the narrator of the story who Poe never gave a name too. Besides the narrator there are only 4 other characters in the story and it’s mainly focused around the narrator who was a childhood friend of Roderick Usher who is now the proprietor of the house and last heir of the Usher family.

Both had not seen each other since their childhood days, and the fact that Roderick had no other friends and was very ill, he wrote a letter to his old childhood friend in a cry for help sort of thing.

The story begins with his friend the narrator (who knew very little about his friend) approaching the house and its surroundings, who has accepted the invitation to stay there for awhile and help Roderick out.

Two of the other characters in the story play a very small part and are the servants of the house. The first one to greet narrator and take his horse, and the 2nd servant takes the narrator through the large mansion of an house to the room where Roderick is  resting and residing at the time.

The Usher family itself were quite a small but very wealthy and notable family. They was popular over the years when they was alive, and known for its understandings of the arts and there kindness to the poor.

They was not only painters but also musicians and had many stringed instruments lying around the house. Roderick Usher for example played the guitar and wrote songs. One of the songs he wrote in this story was “The Haunted Palace”.

I can see why Gordon was fascinated by this story in the first place having read it myself.

During the narrators stay at the house he notices that things are far from normal about the place, and even on his arrival before he entered the house, he noticed that the house itself reflected it’s evil and decay in the lake that stood outside. Not only is the house rotting but so is Roderick who does not appear to look as if he’s in the land of the living, and more like something from the living dead :)))))))))).

Also during his stay he gets to see the only other character in the story who happens to be Roderick’s twin sister Madeline, and she is not in the land of the living either :)))))))

It’s all quite a fascinating ghostly and ghastly horror story that is brought to an end by the narrator legging it from the house in fear of his life. The house of Usher itself is very much rotting away the very people who live inside it, and has the narrator gets as far away as he can from the house as possible, he takes a final look back to see it split in half and see it disappear before his eyes.

Though there are quite a few alternative endings and many things have been altered over the years to Poe’s original story, and some make a lot more sense as well I will say.

The Fall Of The House Of Usher Album Review…

The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Gordon Midgley was released on the 22nd September 2017 in the form of a digital download only. The album itself contains 10 tracks over a total playing time of 69 minutes 10 seconds. Most of the albums tracks are quite lengthy and this is near enough a double albums worth of material your getting here for its very small price tag of £4 so there is certainly value to be had for the bucks.

I have to confess I very much prefer the much more older time slot from years back over 40 minutes, and even an album over this distance could of been put out as a double album. To be honest I was myself very much considering making it into a double album myself, which is something that one could easily do being as its a digital download, just by re-tagging the tracks and putting them into 2 folders.

However seeing how it’s an album that is telling a story it’s perhaps more understandable to be over this distance to get it all across, and it works pretty well for the listener as a single album as well. So I decided in the end to leave it has it is.

Gordon’s fascination in Poe’s works goes back to 1978 when he stumbled upon Master Of The Macabre since then he became hooked on Poe’s passion for horror stories. In the 80’s Gordon attempted to write a mini rock opera of an album based on Poe’s house of usher, but soon gave up the idea after doing a couple of songs.

Now after all this time his passion for Poe’s great works is still very much with him, and regardless of if the world is ready for another version of The Fall Of The House Of Usher or not, he felt that the time was right for him to work on it, and unleash its haunting ghastly terror with his own interpretation of the story, and I have to say he has certainly made it not only Rock, but he also managed to create and capture the haunting atmosphere and dramatics of it all.

Album Credits & Artwork…

Gordon is a very talented multi instrumentalist and with his array and arsenal of instruments he very much knows how to craft and sculpture the many fine pieces he has written over the years. He is also very capable of doing everything on this album by himself. But he also included a couple of his friends from his other projects to lend an hand on a couple of the tracks.

Credits.
Inspired by the genius of Edgar Allan Poe.
Music & Lyrics : Gordon Midgley.

Gordon Midgley : Vocals/Guitars/Bass/Keys.
Nathan Jon Tillett : Vocals (On Track 3 Doctor’s Warning).
Gary Reeves : Drums (On Track 8 Storm).
Madeline Usher as herself.

Artwork.
The artwork was also done by Napiers Bones vocalist Nathan Jon Tillett and I have to say he’s done a terrific job, not just on the haunted house, but also capturing the reflection and the ripples of the water on the lake.

Apart from track 8 on the album, all the drum programming on the rest of the tracks are also done by Gordon. He also uses an array of pedals for his guitars and I like the way he has also featured a ghost here in the credits here too :))))))))))

Back To The Album Review…

There is no doubt that Gordon has paid a great deal of attention to Poe’s short story of The Fall Of The House Of Usher and he was truly inspired by the story in the way he has so very well put all the words very well into context to put the story over and across so well in this fine musical adaption of Poe’s fine story.

Musically just like many of us are Gordon’s inspiration comes from an array of mainstream bands and artists, such as the likes of Steve Hackett. Pink Floyd. Rush. Queen and several others no doubt. But there is also a lot of other styles contained within the music here, and you will also get to hear some fine classical baroque acoustic and folk elements blended into the equation that gives it that extra appealing factor.

Now that I have a more clear vision of Poe’s story having read it for myself, let’s take you through the 10 tracks that make up this fine version of Gordon’s adaptation of the story.

Track 1. Painful Memories.

The opening track “Painful Memories” is a very well constructed song over the excellent lengthy 8 minutes and 10 seconds you get here. 2 minutes and 4 of those seconds are devoted to the very haunting dramatic musical introduction. It sets the opening scene of the story very well, and portrays the journey of the narrator on his travels through the dark misty countryside on his way to usher house.

Gordon has used quite an array of dissident effects with his guitars and keyboards and it’s built up very well with the support of the bass and drums too. I also fizzles its way out very effectively with the kind of effect Steve Howe used on the intro to the Yes song “Roundabout“.

Gordon plays the parts of the narrator very well with his speaking voice, and this first track portrays the purpose of the narrators visit to usher house very well with how he has put Poe’s original story into context. The narrators sections are also superbly backed up with some superb melodies and counter melodies on the acoustic guitar.

The song is very built up with its dramatic dreamlike transitions between the chorus sections, and it uses some fine lead lines on the electric guitar. Quite Brian May like it parts yet they also sound very haunting.

The chorus sections are very strong and Gordon uses his singing voice very and the puts the story over superbly in very much a minstrel style fashion. Ian Anderson maybe the Minstrel In The Gallery, but Gordon Midgley is perhaps the Minstrel In The Haunted House and this is one really superb piece of work and track on the album, that is certainly a contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 2. Last Rays.

The story heats itself up with its 2nd track “Last Rays” and this one features a lot of really great influences you can hear in this superb rocker of a track. It kicks off in great rocking style with its superb intro which is like a cross between “The Heat Ray” from Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds and Led Zeppelin’sKashmir” and just before it end’s for the vocals to come into play we even get a touch of Pink Floyd with the Gilmourish slide guitar.

Once again the words have been very well put into great context true to Poes story, and this is the scene where the narrator sees house and all its eerie decaying surroundings for the first time. Gordon does a very well good expressive job putting the words over too. The song features some superb lead guitar and synth lines, and ends off superbly in very much a great Steve Hackett style.

In many ways even though its perhaps hard to take a song from a concept story album like this. I do feel that this song has the strength and would be the track I would personally choose to release as a single, and this is my personal favourite track on the album that merits my top spot award.

Track 3. Doctor’s Warning.

The “Doctors Warning” is another really great song that features Gordon’s Napiers Bones partner Nathan Jon Tillett on vocals playing the part of the doctor. Though the doctor is not one of the few characters that does appear in Poe’s original story it, does mention the family doctor much further on than this part of the story in the book.

In the book it is Roderick Usher who mentions the doctor when he is telling the narrator about his sisters illness. But like all adaptations of Poe’s story Gordon’s vision to include the doctor as a character, and in an earlier part of the story in that the narrator encounters him on his way out of the house, as he is entering it works pretty well for it I feel.

It also works very well with both Gordon and Nathan working their parts in the way of a duet in this particular song, and they both express the words for the parts superbly.

Musically the instrumentation works very well and both the bass and acoustic guitar play a major feature in the song. The electric guitar adds powers it along and it certainly rocks even if it does appear to start off like a lullaby with its chimes on the keyboard.

There are even some more great familiar influences here such has Rush chord progression that comes in at the transitional change at the 1:57 mark, and another touch of Queen with a Brian May sounding guitar solo. It even ends off with a fine touch of Mozart on the acoustic guitar. No doubt this is another contender for the top spot on the album.

During the process of making the album. Gordon started to do some videos of its progress, and has this song was complete and such a great job had been done of it. I thought I would include here.

Track 4. Roderick Usher.

Well when Gordon had the idea of turning this haunting story many moons ago into a Rock Opera there is no doubt that he has succeeded to do so now in a very powerful way. The 4th track on the album “Roderick Usher” truly rocks big style. This is without doubt one of the highest contenders for the top spot on the album.

Once again the story is back on the original path of Poe’s original story, and here we are at the scene where the narrator enters the room where Roderick is resting, and catches first sight of him after all these years. Another super job has been done on fitting the words into context here too.

The song itself is very powerful with the use of heavy power chords on the guitar. and it even utilises the mellotron very well in the come down section too. Some great lead guitar work and the bass and drums support it in every way too.

I have to say considering that this a full blown out powerful rocker of a song. I would of felt it was one that he would have to call upon his old friend Nathan again to perhaps sing it. But Gordon has very much done a superb job on the vocals on his own on this one. Even his harmonies are superbly done too. He really has done the dogs bollox on this song and I can see it being many people’s favourite track on the album.

Track 5.Witness.

The second longest track on the album starts off on the piano in a fine ballad style, but soon changes it’s moods and styles to fit in with this scene of this particular part of story. The scene is set where the narrator first catches a glimpse of Roderick’s sister Madeline and Roderick is feeling much more at ease for a while and glad to have the presence of his friend there the narrator to put his mind at ease for awhile.

It’s also in this part of the Poe’s original story that Roderick picks up his guitar and starts playing some fine melodies on it, and Gordon has used his own words to take advantage of this scene very well indeed and once again has come up with a very well good structured piece of work.

This particular song features great chord progression and transitional changes throughout. Superb lead guitar solos with haunting atmosphere. Great dominant bass work and once again his vocals do the businesses on the song. Another very high contender stand out track for the top spot on the album without a doubt.

Track 6. Haunted Palace.

A most beautiful acoustic ballad of a song that utilises Gordon’s fine voice and harmonies accompanied by a 12 string acoustic guitar, fused with some fine blending of electric guitars into the piece. Once again Gordon has done very well with the lyrics here and has written his own version of Poe’s song based around the subject matter of the structures of the house.

It’s the shortest song on the album and like everything so far it’s far too enjoyable to leave out of being yet another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 7. Announcement.

Once again the heat is turned back up for the 7th track on the album “Announcement“. Musically it starts off with the same theme and intro used on the 1st track of the album “Painful Memories” and then unleashes its power in another direction with the use of some great heavy power chords on the electric guitar followed by a great lead section before it comes to settle down for the vocals to come in.

Once again Gordon’s voice works very expressively to put over the words and the bass and drums drive it along very well with also some fine work on the synth adding some nice touches of lead notes along the way.

At this part of the story the scene is set where Roderick announces to the narrator that his sister Madeline is dead and has been placed in a coffin in the tombs in the lower regions of the mansion. Once again the lyrics are very well put into context by Gordon here and it’s another excellent song.

Track 8. Storm.

Another great rocking song that perhaps storms along too as its title would suggest. This one is driven along by the drums played by Gary Reeves from The Bluebottles. Besides Gary’s great job on the drums it also features some powerful lead solos on the electric guitar and some more great lead synth work.

Very little words are needed for this track, but the scene is the part in the story where Roderick is aware that the storm is coming and he even opens the window to let it in and even the narrator at this point feels it’s evil force and is looking for a way to escape from the place.

Track 9. Escapist Tales.

The scene continues where narrator has closed the window and comforted his friend by leading him into the library to read him a book to settle him down. Because of his urgency to escape himself from the house, he picks up the first book that he can find and begins to read to Roderick and plan his escape.

Gordon has once again followed Poe’s story very well here, even to the choice of the book, and once again has done a grand job putting them into context. Musically the song is quite a jolly up-tempo one, and once again we get some fine acoustic guitar and bass work with some more excellent Brian May sounding lead work on the electric guitars. It’s got a jolly good old ending too

Track 10. The Fall.

The final track of the album and the longest one on the album too weighing at some 14 minutes and 8 seconds. Another very well structured piece of work that goes through some excellent transitional changes with the excellent chord progression Gordon has used throughout here.

Once again it’s full of goodies in the musical department with some fine acoustic guitar work excellent Hackett style and other influences lead work on the electric guitars and some excellent synth and bass work. It’s full of haunting sections and the dramatics is very well portrayed with both the music and the expressive use of Gordon’s great voice.

Once again Gordon has done the business in putting this final scene of Poe’s great haunting tale to bed with how he has written the words very well put them into the context. No doubt this in another high contender for the top spot on the album and it rounds off the album superbly with haunting ending too in the way that it entered at the start.

Summary…

To sum up The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Gordon Midgley. I honestly think he’s done quite an outstanding piece of work on the album, especially in the way he has very well put all the words he wrote into fine context, and he has done so without deviating too far away from Poe’s original story.

No doubt there are a couple of his own ideas he has thrown into the pot here, to fit into his own musical adaption of the story. There is also no doubt that the changes he has made are also very well done and work very well for it.

Musically I feel it works very well and Gordon uses quite a few styles of genres such as  rock, progressive rock, folk, and classical to put it all over. It’s also combined with expressive voice and vocals and has the haunting dramatics to make it all stand together very well too.

As a concept story album I feel the album will work as it is to be able to get the story across to those who are not familiar with it. But if you already know Poe’s story. I certainly think you will enjoy it even more so.

I have to confess that I have had the album Tales of Mystery and Imagination by the Alan Parsons Project for many years. It’s an album I quite like that touches on the same story of Poe’s we have here. But I could not tell you a dickey bird what the story behind it all was about, because I have never read anything is about it up until now.

Not only have I enjoyed Gordon’s album a lot here, but I also very much enjoyed doing the research about Edgar Allan Poe for this review, and I got to learn a lot more about the man himself.

I got to learn about how death always surrounded his own life with his upbringing and the loss of many of his close family. How his own mind was tortured and he became insane in his latter days before he died. How he based the story of the Raven around his own autobiography, and even how the French composer Claude Debussy was working on an opera of this very story of The Fall Of The House Of Usher. But died before he completed it.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Gordon Midgley. I think he has done a brilliant job here and it’s a very strong body of work, and a very strong solid album with all the material that has been written for it. I also personally think it’s the best album he has made to date.

You have to be a bit of a genius yourself and great all round musician to put together something like this, and as far as the story goes personally I feel that this album portrays it a lot better than the Allan Parson’s album I spoke of earlier.

The album is available in the form of a digital download only and can be had from Bandcamp for the small price of £4 or more. The album also comes with all the album cover art so you can print it out and make you own CD if you wish.

It also comes with a very descriptive well detailed video with Gordon himself speaking about the story and the process of making the album. Which is very good and a lot more informative than my review here.

You can grab your own personal copy here : https://gordonmidgley.bandcamp.com/album/the-fall-of-the-house-of-usher

Don’t You See It? Tell me, Can’t You Feel It?…. 

The track listing of the album is as follows:

01. Painful Memories. 8:10
02. Last Rays. 6:42
03. Doctor’s Warning. 4:40
04. Roderick Usher. 6:42
05. Witness. 9:12
06. Haunted Palace. 2:52
07. Announcement. 7:38
08. Storm. 4:34
09. Escapist Tales. 4:32
10. The Fall. 14:08

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.