The Samurai Of Prog are definitely a modern ‘Progressive Rock Enigma’. There is a uncanny ability among its members to celebrate progressive rocks’ past while appealing to a modern more current audience with more contemporary elements that make for their unique sound. Last year in 2016 I was introduced to this Progressive Rock Enigma by Marty Dorfman at House Of Prog. It turned out to be one of the best introductions I have had with a pure progressive rock band in the past 20 years. What I heard defied some of my expectations as to what a progressive rock band could do.
When Steve Unruh sent me the promotion copy of Lost And Found I was floored by the physical presentation of the packaging. It was at that moment I noticed that this band was very different from where their contemporaries were and are. It may of been a CD , however it certainly opened in the way a gatefold would with a vinyl experience. The individual disc’s even had their very own sleeves within the fold out jacket as a whole. The very detail in their packaging and physical representation translated very well into the music itself. My review for The Samurai Of Prog Lost And Found can be found HERE
Where Lost And Found was older music dusted off the shelf and reworked, re-recorded and remastered, On We Sail is a album of all brand new material. On We Sail on the surface gives you the appearance that it might be a conceptual work, however the 9 songs on the album are more set to a common theme or thread throughout the album. Once again Marco Bernard, Steve Unruh and Kimmo Porsti have gathered together a all star cast ensemble of world class musicians as noted above in the ‘Guest Musician’s’ roster. On We Sail also sees the band bring both its progressive rock influences such as Jethro Tull ,Gentle Giant, Yes, Camel, Caravan, Renaissance on the early end. On the modern end there are influences from 1980’s Neo Progressive Rock with the likes of Marillion, IQ, Galahad, Pallas, Pendragon and Enchant.
The Samurai of Prog seem to know what they want in album art and never shy away from recruiting top artists in the progressive rock art genre. One name that has remained synonymous with The Samurai Of Prog has been Ed Unitsky. I remember when I reviewed Lost And Found last year how utterly accurate Ed Unitsky captured both the band’d personality and their personalities in relationship to the music on the double album. Ed Unitsky is easily in the same conversation with the likes of Roger Dean and Storm Thorgerson as one of the definitive progressive rock album artists of the past 50 years. Once again Ed Unitsky has captured the personality and mood of The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail perfectly like he always has. The packaging is almost too gorgeous to open.
When you open The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail it is a 6 panel digipak style with the exception that the plastic tray has been replaced with a very fine mini jacket sleeve much in the tradition of a vinyl album. When you remove the CD it even share the same spirit and tradition of a vinyl release in a otherwise digitally handicapped musical atmosphere. With the lyrical content on the album having a heavy nautical theme throughout it, Ed Unitsky has perfectly and tastefully captured that in a moment in time that will help preserve the albums integrity and eventual legacy.
The Common Nautical Thread
The listener does not have to look into it too much to realize that The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail has a common theme through it. This is a heavy nautical theme. Although there is not a main concept, each song is a representation of what the band want to convey to the listener. The listener also hears something new or something different with every listen due to the multiple instruments and melodic layers. Let us now journey into The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail with a track to track analysis.
On We Sail Music – Kerry Schaklett Lyrics & Vocal Melodies – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin , Kerry Schacklett – Keyboards, Srdjan Brankovic – Electric Guitars
This one opens up with a beautifully done vintage style synth with modern neo progressive rock elements. Soon the deep rhythm section of bass and drums adds to the deepening layers the band utilizes through out the song and the album. Soon heavy melodies of violin come into the mix. The instrumental melodies really jump out with brief breaks to allow the composition to breathe. Soon a Gentle Giant style vocal comes in perfect harmony and melody with the instrumental backdrop. The violin enters in and soon provides even more layers to the song. The instrumental solo’s are very deeply rooted a more neo progressive mindset. The guitar solo’s really allow the track to gel with this heavily stringed section composition. Some of the guitar work reminds me a lot of Steve Howe meets Ronnie Stolt of the Flower Kings.
Elements Of Life
Music – Octavio Stampalia Lyrics – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin/Flute , Octavio Stampalia – Keyboards , Ruben Alvarez – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
This one has a very unique isolated flute to open up the track. The isolated flute reminding me more of Camel with a little bit of Jethro Tull in it. The flute also adding a more classical music imprint. Soon the song takes a more lush orchestral direction before the deeper warmer bass comes in both as a melodic and rhythmic instrument. The track itself has a deep classical musical aesthetic throughout it. On the instrumental portion of this the band provides for a great soundtrack to the various weather elements of the human experience. This is perfectly matched in harmony with the lyrical content of the song. Like Fire, Wind, Water, Earth the band explores all these within the melody in relationship between the instrumental and lyrical content. Part of this reminds me of parts of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. The deep Rickenbacker bass adds a deep Earth like tone to the rhythm section. The guitar solo’s do a great job in conveying the wind elements. The keyboards have a heavy Dixie Dreg’s style to them.
Music – Luca Scherani Lyrics – Pikko Salhi & Kev Moore Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass, Kimmo Porsti – Drums/Percussion & Backing Vocals , Steve Unruh – Violin/Vocals/Flute , Luca Scherani – Keyboards , Ruben Alvarez – Electric Guitar , Michelle Young – Vocals
If you like Annie Halsam and Renaissance you will like this. Michelle Young stands out as a true treasure on vocals. She sings with a very sultry yet soulful voice. The opening of this track sets up much in the tradition of Renaissance’s Mother Russia. The guitars have a heavy Floydian influence about them. The opening top this is very stringed section driven with obvious emphasis on guitar’s , violins, and keyboards interchanging and weaving like a beautiful web. It is matched in melody and harmony with both rhythm sections and beautifully orchestrated feminine vocals. This is a track that also places a great emphasis on time signatures and chord progressions. There is also beautiful exchange of both male and female vocals. The backing vocals are very heavily symphonic in their nature. There are some nice breaks in between vocal lines allowing the track to breathe so the listener can take in its full intended purpose.
Music – David Meyers Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass, Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Violin/Flute , David Meyers – Keyboards , Jacques Friedmann – Electric Guitar
This open up with a very atmospheric keyboard orchestration that is soon picked up in melody with a subtle and brilliant bass line from Marco Bernard. It soon takes a more fusion funk chord progression with the gentle style of the flute accentuating the instrumental melody. The electric guitar opens this one up into a deeper layer of a atmospheric track. The way this was tracked you can tell they had some fun with this instrumental. It all comes together like they played it live as a unified band in the studio. This is one of those tracks that appears to have been minimal effort with the pay off of maximum distribution. The piano allows a classical element to be present in the song as well.
Music – Sean Timms Lyrics & Some Vocal Melodies – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Violin/Vocals/Flute , Sean Timms – Keyboards , Mark Trueack – Vocals , Jacob Holm Lupo – Electric Guitars , Ruben Alverez – Electric Guitar Solo
This opens with a beautifully guitar led passage that is enhanced with the subtle sound of the flute and immediate vocals. It is a perfect set up for a great story. There are great melodies and layers of violins and flutes along with the guitar and keyboard stringed sections. This has a very heavy Celtic/Folk atmosphere about it much like a element of World influences. The rhythm section really anchors this allowing every other instrument involved their ‘Day In The Sun’ if you will. I also feel at times elements of Camel and Caravan peaking through the melodic veil. Steve Unruh has such a highly distinctive flute that has become a major staple in the discography of The Samurai Of Prog. I like the way the track isolates the piano and vocals around the 5:30 mark. The vocals are very Southern Empire meets IQ. This is also a very uplifting song lyrically wise. The band also has a very astute ability to let every song breathe where all the instruments shine through and this song is a perfect example of it.
The Perfect Black (Instrumental)
Music – Oliverio Lacagnina
Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass ,Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Flute/Violin/AdditionalClassic Guitar , Oliverio Lacagnina – Keyboards , Flavio Cucchi – Classical Guitar
This is a little bit darker track. It begins with a deep rhythm section along with a open atmospheric style Hammond Organ. This is a heavily stringed section based track along with a heavy wind instrument track. Its nature carries a tone about it like the captain of a ship navigating through some rough waters. The Perfect Black is a excellent title due to the unpredictable chord progressions and time signatures. The very backbone to this track is heavily classical in nature. For those who score films this track gives the listener the appearance that a symphony orchestra is playing to a set of film clips. This track also allows the listener to breathing room to absorb the adventure as they see fit instead of forcing the motion picture on the screen of the theater of the mind. The piano reminds me more of Bach or Mozart playing progressive rock. The classical guitar’s also have a heavy Latin element about them.
Music & Lyrics – Kerry Schacklett Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Volin/Flute , Kerry Schacklett – Acounstc & Electric Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals ,Brett Kull – Electric Guitar
This definitely has a very vintage Jethro Tull element about it. Much of the opening passage is in the tradition of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick. The band does a great job in storytelling with the lyrical content. Even traditionally non progressive fans can relate to its content. The heavy Ian Anderson influenced flute of Steve Unruh is the unsung hero in this song. The drums of Kimm Porsti really allow the flute and stringed instruments the opportunity to engage the listener on many levels. This is another uplifting and positive song of childhood innocence. In general this is a very fun song that will resonate with many objective listeners.
Over Again (Instrumental)
Music – David Meyers David Meyers – Bosendorfer Grand Piano
This opens up with a baby grand piano passage about it. The piano really reminds me a lot of Beethoven meets Bach. This is a great transition instrumental that will work in live sets to give the other members of the band a brief rest period. This is also a very soothing track that allows the listener time to digest the album thus far. It also transition’s seamlessly into the final track on the album Tigers.
Music & Lyrics – Stefan Renstrom Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin/Flute , Stefan Renstrom – Keyboards/Vocoder ,Daniel Faldt – Vocals , Roberto Vitelli – Moog Taurus Pedals
This comes right in smoothly and seamlessly off Over Again. The track opens up with most its instrumental in one melodic coco phonic harmony. The opening has some very heavy piano and violin elements. It drops and then the isolated piano in harmony with isolated vocals begin to tell the story intended by the band. This track is a very traditional progressive rock track. It is heavy on the keyboards, flute and violin to add greater depth and layers that are the signature of The Samurai Of Prog. The vocals are very soulful and executed with great conviction. The vocals not only serve as a harmonic story teller, they also hit every note perfectly as they go. The transitions within the vocals are spot on perfect. The open ended guitar solo’s add a depth of great emotion about them. The rhythm section also picks this up quite nice towards the 7:00 to 8:00 minute marks.
This final track gives the listener the appearance that they have taken the album to its final destination thus finishing the beautiful melodic journey that has been The Samurai Of Prog On We Sail.
Although this was not a deliberately planned out conceptual piece it certainly felt that way. I like how the band always leave breathing room for the listener to absorb and digest every album according to their individual personalities. The Samurai Of Prog also prove there is still a market for organic uncompressed traditional progressive rock. Nothing ever seems forced to appease a record label or the industry whatsoever. They also have a intelligent awareness to incorporate newer elements that may attract a newer listener base. I am giving The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail a 5/5.
The Beatles | Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band | A 50th Anniversary Retrospective
In Memory Of;
John Lennon – October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980 George Harrison – February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001 George Martin – January, 3, 1926 – March, 8 , 2016
Label – Original Release: EMI Studios and Regent Sound Studio, London Release Year: 1967 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Pop Rock/Psychedelic Rock/Art Rock/Proto-Progressive Rock
Band Members – The Players
John Lennon – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Piano/Hammond organ/Cowbell Paul McCartney – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Bass/Piano/Lowery Organ George Harrison – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Harmonica/Tambura/Sitar/Maracas Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Harmonica/Tambourine/Maracas/Congas/Bongos/Chimes George Martin – Hammond organ/Lowery organ/Piano/Pianette/Harpsichord/Harmonium/ Glockenspiel Mal Evans – Harmonica/Hammond organ/Piano/Alarm Clock Neil Aspinall – Harmonica/Tambura Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, José Luis Garcia, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – Violin’s John Underwood, Stephen Shingles, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – Viola’a Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan, Francisco Gabarro, Alex Nifosi – Cello’s Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce – Double Bass Sheila Bromberg, John Marston – Harp Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy, Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – Clarinet’s Roger Lord – Oboe N Fawcett, Alfred Waters – Bassoon’s Clifford Seville, David Sanderman – Flute’s Barrie Cameron, David Glyde, Alan Holmes – Saxophone’s David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – Trumpet’s Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore, John Lee – Trombone’s Alan Civil, Neil Sanders, James W Buck, Tony Randall, John Burden, Tom (surname unknown) – French Horn’s Michael Barnes – Tuba Tristan Fry – Timpani/Percussion’s Marijke Koger: – Tambourine’s Unknown Musicians – Dilruba/Svarmandal/Tabla/Tambura
Producer – George Martin Engineers – Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson, Malcolm Addey, Ken Townsend, Peter Vince
Track Listing – Original Soundtrack
Side 1 1. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Paul McCartney 2. “With a Little Help from My Friends” Ringo Starr 3. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” John Lennon 4. “Getting Better” Paul McCartney 5. “Fixing a Hole” Paul McCartney 6. “She’s Leaving Home” Paul McCartney with John Lennon 7. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” John Lennon
1. “Within You Without You” George Harrison 2. “When I’m Sixty-Four” Paul McCartney 3. “Lovely Rita” Paul McCartney 4. “Good Morning Good Morning” John Lennon 5. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” John Lennon/Paul McCartney and George Harrison 6. “A Day in the Life” John Lennon and Paul McCartney
It was 50 years ago this monththat what many believe to be the very first concept record was released to the world , depending who you ask. .Some consider this a loose conceptual album while others consider it as a concrete master of concept albums. It is definitely the first proto progressive concept album that would go on to inspire and be ‘The Blueprint’album in which progressive rock and progressive metal bands would use in creating their own respective concept albums. This would also be The Beatles first album made after they retired from touring, thus allowing the band much more studio time and a longer creative process. This retrospective is broken down into three major categories of discussion, the first section is, The Genesis To The Genius – Method To The Madness – Influencing Facts and Factors Of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Journey Through The Trip – A Track To Track Analysis Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Genesis To The Genius – Method To The Madness
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band The Beatles. Released on 26th May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2nd June 1967 in the United States, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. On release, the album was lauded by the vast majority of critics for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and legitimate art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year 1967 , the first rock LP to receive this honour.
In August 1966 , The Beatles permanently retired from touring and began a three-month holiday from recording. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian era military band that would eventually form the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. Sessions for the album began on 24 November in Abbey Road Studio Two with two compositions inspired by their youth, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”, but after pressure from EMI, the songs were released as a double A-side single and were not included on the album.
In February 1967, after recording the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”song, Paul McCartney suggested that The Beatles should release an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. During the recording sessions, the band furthered the technological progression they had made with their 1966 album Revolver. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they adopted an experimental approach to composition and recording on songs such as “With a Little Help from My Friends”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life”. Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick’s innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos. Recording was completed on 21st, April 1967. The cover, depicting The Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.
It’s an analog heirloom that’s still resisting oblivion — perhaps because, even in its moment, it was already contemplating a broader sweep of time. The music on “Sgt. Pepper” reached back far before rock as well as out into an unmapped cosmos, while its words — seesawing between Paul McCartney’s affability and John Lennon’s tartness — offered compassion for multiple generations.
We simply can’t hear “Sgt. Pepper” now the way it affected listeners on arrival in 1967. Its innovations and quirks have been too widely emulated, its oddities long since absorbed. Sounds that were initially startling — the Indian instruments and phrasing of George Harrison’s “Within You Without You,” the tape-spliced steam-organ collage of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” the orchestral vastnesses of “A Day in the Life”— have taken on a patina of nostalgia. George Harrison was also under the ‘Spiritual Tutelage’ of Ravi Shankar. “Sgt. Pepper”and its many musical progeny have blurred into a broader memory of “psychedelia,” a sonic vocabulary (available to current music-makers via sampling) that provides instant, predigested allusions to the 1960s. Meanwhile, the grand lesson of “Sgt. Pepper” — that anything goes in the studio — has long since been taken for granted. Psychedelia is also the organic improvised creation of music that is not really pre written nor preconceived.
Recorded in over 400 hours during a 129-day period, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandhelped define the 1967 Summer of Love, and was instantly recognised as a major leap forward for modern music.
The mood of the album was in the spirit of the age, because we ourselves were fitting into the mood of the time. The idea wasn’t to do anything to cater for that mood – we happened to be in that mood anyway. And it wasn’t just the general mood of the time that influenced us; I was searching for references that were more on the fringe of things. The actual mood of the time was more likely to be The Move, or Status Quo or whatever – whereas outside all of that there was this avant-garde mode, which I think was coming into Pepper. There was definitely a movement of people. All I am saying is: we weren’t really trying to cater for that movement – we were just being part of it, as we always had been. I maintain The Beatles weren’t the leaders of the generation, but the spokesmen. We were only doing what the kids in the art schools were all doing. It was a wild time, and it feels to me like a time warp – there we were in a magical wizard-land with velvet patchwork clothes and burning joss sticks, and here we are now soberly dressed.
Paul Mc Cartney : The Beatles Anthology
Even more so than its predecessor, Revolver, Sgt Pepper saw The Beatles pushing boundaries within the studio, creating sounds which had never before been heard. They made extensive use of orchestras and other hired musicians, and combined a variety of musical styles including rock, music hall, psychedelia, traditional Indian and Western classical.
From the fairground swirls of Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!to the animal stampede that closes Good Morning Good Morning, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandsignaled to the world that The Beatles were no longer the lovable moptops of old, unwilling to sing simple love songs and perform for crowds who were more interested in screaming than listening.
The album was always going to have Sgt Pepper at the beginning; and if you listen to the first two tracks, you can hear it was going to be a show album. It was Sgt Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band with all these other acts, and it was going to run like a rock opera. It had started out with a feeling that it was going to be something totally different, but we only got as far as Sgt Pepper and Billy Shears (singing With A Little Help From My Friends), and then we thought: ‘Sod it! it’s just two tracks.’ It still kept the title and the feel that it’s all connected, although in the end we didn’t actually connect all the songs up.
Ringo Starr : The Beatles Anthology
During The Beatles’ final US tour in August 1966, Paul McCartney noticed the inventive names adopted by many new bands. This was making word play off some of the titles of bands that were primarily coming out of San Francisco, California.
Sgt Pepper is Paul, after a trip to America and the whole West Coast, long-named group thing was coming in. You know, when people were no longer The Beatles or The Crickets – they were suddenly Fred and His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got influenced by that and came up with this idea for The Beatles.
John Lennon, 1980 – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The title came from a conversation between Paul McCartney and Evans about the sachets marked S and P which came with their in-flight meals.
Me and Mal often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P’. Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.
Then, ‘Lonely Hearts Club’, that’s a good one. There’s lot of those about, the equivalent of a dating agency now. I just strung those together rather in the way that you might string together Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. All that culture of the sixties going back to those travelling medicine men, Gypsies, it echoed back to the previous century really. I just fantasised, well, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. That’d be crazy enough because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band? If it had been Sergeant Pepper’s British Legion Band, that’s more understandable. The idea was to be a little more funky, that’s what everybody was doing. That was the fashion. The idea was just take any words that would flow. I wanted a string of those things because I thought that would be a natty idea instead of a catchy title. People would have to say, ‘What?’ We’d had quite a few pun titles – Rubber Soul, Revolver – so this was to get away from all that.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Although the idea was well received by the other Beatles, it wasn’t intended as a concept album; indeed, an early working title was One Down, Six To Go, a reference to their contract with EMI.
As I read the other day, he said in one of his ‘fanzine’ interviews that he was trying to put some distance between The Beatles and the public – and so there was this identity of Sgt Pepper. Intellectually, that’s the same thing he did by writing ‘He loves you’ instead of ‘I love you’. That’s just his way of working. Sgt Pepper is called the first concept album, but it doesn’t go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt Pepper and his band; but it works ’cause we said it worked, and that’s how the album appeared. But it was not as put together as it sounds, except for Sgt Pepper introducing Billy Shears and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.
John Lennon, 1980 – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Having finished touring in August 1966, The Beatles were free to spend time in the studio working on their next masterpiece. As EMI owned the studio at Abbey Road time and costs were of little consequence, and The Beatles knew that the songs recorded wouldn’t have to be performed live.
The first songs to be recorded were When I’m Sixty-Four, Strawberry Fields Forever & Penny Lane. When I’m Sixty-Four actually had its origins in The Beatles’Hamburg days, though it was recorded in December 1966.
Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, meanwhile, were taken for the group’s first single of 1967, a decision which George Martin later described as “a dreadful mistake”.
The album’s monumental closer, A Day In The Life, was recorded from January 1967; the second Sgt Pepper song to be taped. The third was the title track, which was first recorded on 1 February 1967.
I used to share a flat in Sloane Street with Mal [Evans]. One day in February Paul called, saying that he was writing a song and asking if he and Mal could come over. The song was the start of Sgt Pepper.
At my place he carried on writing and the song developed. At the end of every Beatles show, Paul used to say, ‘It’s time to go. We’re going to go to bed, and this is our last number.’ Then they’d play the last number and leave. Just then Mal went to the bathroom, and I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compÃ¨re of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil.’
Soon after The Beatles began recording the song Sgt Pepper, they realised that it could introduce a fictitious concert.
The idea came about gradually. Basically it was Paul’s idea: he came in and said he had the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and that he was identifying it with the band, with The Beatles themselves. We recorded the song first, and then the thought came to make it into an idea for the album. It was at a time when they wanted to concentrate on the studio, and that probably fomented the idea of the alter-ego group: ‘Let Sgt Pepper do the touring.’
George Martin – The Beatles Anthology
George Harrison, meanwhile, was less enamored by the album and The Beatles in general, having lost his heart to India. His main contribution to the album was Within You Without You,although his first offering – Only A Northern Song – was first recorded in February 1967.
I felt we were just in the studio to make the next record, and Paul was going on about this idea of some fictitious band. That side of it didn’t really interest me, other that the title song and the album cover. It was becoming difficult for me, because I wasn’t really that into it. Up to that time, we had recorded more like a band; we would learn the songs and then play them (although we were starting to do overdubs, and had done a lot on Revolver). Sgt Pepper was the one album where things were done slightly differently. A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren’t allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process – just little parts and then overdubbing – and for me it became a bit tiring and a bit boring. I had a few moments in there that I enjoyed, but generally I didn’t really like making the album much.
I’d just got back from India, and my heart was still out there. After what had happened in 1966, everything else seemed like hard work. It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point.
Before then everything I’d known had been in the West, and so the trips to India had really opened me up. I was into the whole thing; the music, the culture, the smells. There were good and bad smells, lots of colours, many different things – and that’s what I’d become used to. I’d been let out of the confines of the group, and it was difficult for me to come back into the sessions. In a way, it felt like going backwards. Everybody else thought that Sgt Pepper was a revolutionary record – but for me it was not as enjoyable as Rubber Soul or Revolver, purely because I had gone through so many trips of my own and I was growing out of that kind of thing.
George Harrison – The Beatles Anthology
During the Sgt Peppersessions Ringo Starr was aware that The Beatles were doing their best work to date, although he learned to live with the sporadic nature of the recording sessions.
Sgt Pepper was our grandest endeavour. It gave everybody – including me – a lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material. John and Paul would write songs at home, usually – or wherever they were – and bring them in and say, ‘I’ve got this.’ The actual writing process was getting to be separate by now, but they’d come in with bits and help each other, and we’d all help. The great thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea (it didn’t matter who), that would be the one we’d use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, ‘Well, it’s mine,’ and getting possessive. Always, the best was used. That’s why the standard of the songs always remained high. Anything could happen, and that was an exciting process. I got to hang out and listen to it unfolding, although I wasn’t there every day.
As we got up to Sgt Pepper, George Martin had really become an integral part of it all. We were putting in strings, brass, pianos, etc, and George was the only one who could write it all down. He was also brilliant. One of them would mention: ‘Oh, I’d like the violin to go “de de diddle”,’ or whatever, and George would catch it and put it down. He became part of the band.
John, Paul and George – the writers – were putting whatever they wanted on the tracks, and we were spending a long time in the studio. We were still recording the basic tracks as we always did, but it would take weeks to do the overdubs for the strings or whatever, and then the percussion would be overdubbed later and later. Sgt Pepper was great for me, because it’s a fine album – but I did learn to play chess while we were recording it.
Ringo Starr – The Beatles Anthology
Influencing Facts and Factors Of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Within this part we will mention many of the facts and factors that influenced Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. These facts and factors have been long agreed upon by The Beatles, those who worked with them on the album and the general pop culture and industry consensus.
The Beatles’ status as the Biggest Music Group in the World was in danger of being taken away from them during the first few months of 1967. The band had announced they were no longer going to perform live because of the growing physical dangers that came with touring, largely thanks to John Lennon’s seemingly blasphemous comments on Christianity, which stoked religious fervor in the United States. Guaranteed sellout audiences—crowds so loud that nobody, not even the band, could hear a note of the music—were replaced by half-empty stadiums by the time the Fab Four performed in San Francisco on August 29, 1966 for what would be their final concert (not counting that rooftop performance in 1969).
When they reconvened in November of 1966, they found themselves with as much time as ever to get their next album as perfect as they could. What John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, producer George Martin, and engineer Geoff Emerick came up with was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a loosely conceptual album that was both a celebration and a piss-take on the psychedelic bands that had been popping up at the time. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandwas released to the public on June 1, 1967—50 years ago today—and served as a confirmation that The Beatleswere not only alive and well, but still at the forefront of pop music innovation; “The Summer of Love” came shortly after. These will be the Top 5 facts or factors that happened leading up to and during the recording sessions , although there are much more.
1. The Title Came From Airplane Salt And Pepper Packets.
By the time The Beatles took a three-month vacation in the latter part of 1966, they were all tired of being The Beatles. Paul McCartney and tour manager/assistant Mal Evans ruminated on this problem as the two traveled together, ending their international adventures in Kenya. On their flight back to London, McCartney was developing an alter ego for the band for their next record.
“Me and Mal often bantered words about, which led to the rumor that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper,” McCartney explained to author Barry Miles about how he came up with the name. “But I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P.’ Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.” McCartney then added “Lonely Hearts Club” to “Sergeant Pepper,” and figured it would be a “crazy enough” band name, “because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band?”
2. The Band Was Under a lot Of Pressure.
Because of the perceived fading popularity of the group, The Beatles manager Brian Epstein and their label EMI put pressure on George Martin and the band to release a “can’t-miss” hit single. Caving in to the pressure, two of the first three songs from the Sgt. Pepper sessions were released as a double A-side single: “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” As was the practice at the time with singles, those two classic songs weren’t included on the album. George Martin later said that listening to Brian Epstein and EMI in this instance was “the biggest mistake” of his professional life.
3. It Was Influenced By The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, And Frank Zappa.
George Martin was quoted as saying that if Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys had not created and recorded their classic album Pet Sounds,
“Sgt. Pepper never would have happened.”
Paul McCartney repeatedly played the album at Abbey Road during recording sessions. Unbeknownst to The Beatles, they were fulfilling their part in a pop group ouroboros, because Wilson was inspired to write Pet Sounds after hearing The Beatles’ Rubber Soul.
In June 1966, Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention came out with the double-record Freak Out!, a satirical album that also happened to contain classical music-influenced movements instead of individual tracks; some consider it to be the first rock concept album. “This is our Freak Out!” Paul McCartney supposedly said during the Sgt. Peppersessions.
4. Dogs Might Go Nuts If You Play Them “A Day In The Life” All The Way Through.
A 15-kilohertz high-frequency tone/whistling noise can be heard—if you have the remastered CD version and not the vinyl repressing anyway—after the iconic final piano chord finishes resonating and before the backwards talking that closes the album. It was John Lennon’s idea to add the equivalent of a police dog whistle after he had an hours-long conversation with Paul McCartney about frequencies. Paul McCartney later admitted to it all in 2013. Some believe the inclusion of the dog whistle was a subtle nod to the influence Pet Soundshad on the album.
5. The BBC BANNED “A DAY IN THE LIFE.”
Sgt. Peppermade its public debut on May 20, 1967 at 4 p.m. on the BBC’s Where It’s At. Excerpts from every song except “A Day In The Life” were played, as the tune had been officially banned the day before for promoting “a permissive attitude toward drug-taking.” BBC believed that Paul McCartney’s singing “found my way upstairs and had a smoke” was a drug reference, and that John Lennon’s line about “Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” might be a reference to a heroin junkie’s arm.
Because of that ban—and the belief that “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”also referenced drugs—the three suspicious songs were omitted from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when it was released in South Asia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.
A Journey Through The Trip – A Track To Track Analysis Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Here we revisit The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band track by track. Within the analysis there will be some factoids that you may or may not have heard concerning the origin’s, recording, production and mastering of each and every track. To those of us old enough to remember they only had a 4-Track process they had to get creative with instead of the multi tracked systems of computer programs such as Pro Tool’s affords both artist and producer today. To those progressive rock fans that credit this as a proto prog album, they only had 3 chords they made useful to their maximum. Food for thought to keep in mind here.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Lead Guitar/Bass John Lennon – Vocals George Harrison – Vocals/Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums James W Buck, Neil Sanders, Tony Randall, John Burden – French Horn
The song itself is just a show intro where the lyrics mimic an MC talking to the audience before introducing the lead singer – Billy Shears.
Just imagine the words – no music – being spoken before a concert starts:
Crowd anxiously waiting for their show to start, then a hush when the lights go all the way down. You begin to hear a voice start with .
“It was twenty year ago today…) and from there the excitement and tension builds until the star is announced with “So let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears…”
If you’re asking who the band is supposed to be, the Lonely Hearts Club Band is the alter ego of John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; Paul McCartney pulls double duty as the Master of Ceremonies doing the introduction and his alter ego Billy Shears.
If you’re asking WHO Sgt Pepper is, it’s been speculated about for years. None of The Beatles have ever said, but some of the speculations are John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Brian Epstein, various singers that influenced them, etc… and also speculated there is no specific person because the Beatles would have been in early childhood 20 years earlier – but that only works if you think SPLHCB is actually The Beatles and not their alter egos.
With A Little Help From My Friends
Written by -John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Tambourine John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Cowbell Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Piano/Bass George Harrison – Lead Guitar George Martin – Hammond organ
The album was recorded as if Sgt. Pepper was a real band. It opens with the title track, then segues into “With A Little Help From My Friends.”Beatles drummer Ringo Starr sang lead, introduced as “Billy Shears,” a name chosen because it sounded good and played up the idea that the group was in character.
The song was never released as a single, but became one of the group’s most enduring tracks. Since it there is no break on the album between the fade of the title track (and “Billy Shears” introduction) and the beginning of this song, radio stations were forced to either play the tracks together or play the awkward open.
This was one of the very last songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney sat down and wrote together in a true collaboration.
They were at Paul’s house messing around on the piano.
The original title was “Badfinger Boogie.” The Beatles got some use out of the name when they signed a group to their label, Apple Records, and named them Badfinger.
The cheering at the beginning was taken from a Beatles concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The Beatles had stopped touring by the time this was recorded.
This hit #1 on the UK chart three times: first by Joe Cocker in 1968, again by Wet Wet Wet in 1988 and finally by Sam and Mark in 2004. >>
John Lennon claimed this was not about drugs, but many people didn’t believe him, including US vice president Spiro Agnew, who once told a crowd that this song was a “Tribute to the power of illegal drugs.”He said the lines, “I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends,” “Is a catchy tune, but until it was pointed out to me, I never realized that the ‘friends’ were assorted drugs!”
The first line was originally “What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?” Ringo did not want to sing it, fearing that if they ever did it live he would be pelted with tomatoes.
The Beatles finished recording this the night they shot the cover for the Sgt. Pepper album. This continued the “Concept” of the album, but until the reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at the end, the theme of the fictional band ends with this.
When Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, he performed this song with many of the evening’s participants, including Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus, Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Lead Guitar Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Lowrey Organ/Bass George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Tambura Ringo Starr – Drums/Maracas
The “Lucy” who inspired this song was Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John’s son Julian Lennon when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said, “Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: “I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant… Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school.”
Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail article that claimed the “Lucy” was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000’s Chocolat and 2004’s The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer.
Many people thought this was about drugs, since the letters “LSD” are prominent in the title, and John Lennon, who wrote it, was known to drop acid. In 1971 Lennon told Rolling Stone that he swore that he had no idea that the song’s initials spelt L.S.D. He added: “I didn’t even see it on the label. I didn’t look at the initials. I don’t look – I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It’s like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don’t know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything.”
John Lennon affirmed this on the Dick Cavett Show, telling the host,
“My son came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.”
It’s not just fans that didn’t believe him: Paul McCartney said it was “pretty obvious” that this song was inspired by LSD.
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineers – Malcolm Addey, Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Bass Guitar/Piano John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Handclaps George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Tambura Ringo Starr – Drums/Congas George Martin – Piano/Pianette
The idea of “Getting Better” came to Paul McCartney while he was walking his dog, Martha. The sun started to rise on the walk and he thought “it’s getting better.” It also reminded him of something that Jimmy Nichol used to say quite often during the short period when he was The Beatles drummer. This song was a true collaborative effort for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with John Lennon adding that legendary part about being bad to his woman. He later admitted to being a “hitter” when it came to women. He said “I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself, and I hit.”
John Lennon had a bad acid trip during the recording. While doing the overdubs, John began to get very sick. He said, “I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going to crack. I said I must get some air.” George Martin took him up on the roof of the studios for air and John started walking towards the edge. Martin panicked, thinking that John would fall or leap off and that would be it. On the roof, when John saw Martin looking at him “funny,” he realized he was on acid. John decided he couldn’t do any more that night, so he sat in the booth and watched the others record. Paul eventually took him home and stayed to keep him company, and he decided to drop some acid with John. It was Paul’s first LSD experience.
George Harrison played the tamboura, a large Indian string instrument. It is the droning noise about 2/3rds of the way through.
The string sound at the end was The Beatles producer George Martin hitting the strings inside a piano.
Fixing A Hole
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineers – Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson
Paul McCartney – Lead & Backing Vocals/Bass John Lennon – Backing Vocals George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums/Maracas George Martin – Harpsichord
Paul McCartney wrote this after fixing the roof on his farm in Scotland. McCartney said the song was “about the hole in the road where the rain gets in, a good old analogy.”
This was the first time The Beatles used a studio other than one owned and operated by their record label EMI. The takes in this new studio – Regent Sound Studio, located in Tottenham Court Road, London – were numbered 1-3. They returned to Abbey Road the next day however, recording “A Day In The Life.”
It was rumored that this was about heroin, as in “getting a fix.” There is no truth to this rumor.
She’s Leaving Home
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Lead Vocals/Backing Vocals John Lennon – Vocals/Backing Vocals Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, José Luis Garcia – Violin John Underwood, Stephen Shingles – Viola Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel – Cello Gordon Pearce – Double Bass Sheila Bromberg – Harp
This was based on a newspaper story Paul McCartney read about a runaway girl. On February 27th, 1967 the London Daily Mail’s headline read: “A-level girl dumps car and vanishes.” That girl was 17-year-old Melanie Coe, who had ran away from home leaving everything behind. Her father was quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine why she should run away, she has everything here.” McCartney said in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutnerand Spencer Leigh,
“We’d seen that story and it was my inspiration. There was a lot of these at the time and that was enough to give us the storyline. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and the parents wake up, it was rather poignant. I like it as a song and when I showed it to John, he added the Greek chorus and long sustained notes. One of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly.”
Melanie Coe, who became an estate agency director, told Dave Simpson her story in a 2008 interview for The Guardian. Said Coe: “London was a very different place in the ’60s. I went to a club called the Bag O’ Nails [Soho] and I met everybody. You sat on the next table to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, because there weren’t many clubs in London. I got in coz I was a cute little girl and I dressed in the latest fashions. I’d go to Mary Quant and Biba, sketch the dress and get my aunt to make my clothes. Ready Steady Go! loved that. They held open auditions. I was 13. It went on what you were wearing and how you danced. I was asked to come every week. I met the Beatles at Ready Steady Go! George was great to meet – I looked a lot like Pattie Boyd, who later became his wife, of course.
I was always going out. I danced the night away and was a face in London. In those days, to be trendy everything had to be French. I bought the T-shirt of the moment, which was my star sign in French. I loved that T-shirt. One day I got home and my mother had cut it to ribbons. She wanted me to look like Princess Anne, not my idol, Marianne Faithfull. When my parents found out I had the pill they grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and made me flush them down the toilet.
I was 17 by then and ran away leaving a note, just like in the song. I went to a doctor and he said I was pregnant, but I didn’t know that before I left home. My best friend at the time was married to Ritchie Blackmore, so she hid me at their house in Holloway Road. It was the first place my parents came to look, so I ran off with my boyfriend, who was a croupier, although he had been ‘in the motor trade’ like it says in the song. I think my dad called up the newspapers – my picture was on the front pages. He made out that I must have been kidnapped, because why would I leave? They gave me everything – coats, cars. But not love. My parents found me after three weeks and I had an abortion.
I didn’t realize for a long time that the song was about me. Years later Paul was on a program talking about how he’d seen a newspaper article and been inspired by it. My mother pieced it all together and called me to say, ‘That song’s about you!’
I can’t listen to the song. It’s just too sad for me. My parents died a long time ago and we were never resolved. That line, ‘She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years’ is so weird to me because that’s why I left. I was so alone. How did Paul know that those were the feelings that drove me towards one-night stands with rock stars? I don’t think he can have possibly realized that he’d met me when I was 13 on Ready Steady Go!, but when he saw the picture, something just clicked.”
No Beatles played instruments on this. John and Paul contributed vocals, which were double-tracked to sound like a quartet, and session musicians played strings. The first female to play on a Beatles album, Sheila Bromberg, played harp.
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Lowrey Organ Paul McCartney – Acoustic Guitar/Bass Guitar George Harrison – Harmonica Ringo Starr – Drums/Harmonica/Shaker Bells George Martin – Piano/Harmonium/Hammond Organ/Tape Loops Mal Evans – Bass Harmonica Neil Aspinall – Harmonica Geoff Emerick – Tape Loops
On 31 January 1967, while The Beatles were in Sevenoaks, Kent, making a promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever,John Lennon wandered in to an antique shop close to their hotel. There he bought a framed Victorian circus poster from 1843.
The poster announced Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal, coming to Town Meadows in Rochdale. It grandly announced that the circus would be for the benefit of Mr Kite, and would feature “Mr J Henderson the celebrated somerset thrower” and Zanthus the horse.
Mr Kite was William Kite, a performer and the son of circus owner James Kite. In 1810 he had founded Kite’s Pavilion Circus and later moved to Wells’ Circus. It is thought that he worked in Pablo Fanques’ fair between 1843 and 1845. Fanque, pictured below, was Britain’s first black circus owner. He was born William Darby in Norwich in 1796.
John Lennon hung the poster in his music room at his home in Weybridge, and began to use it as inspiration for a song. Some of the facts he changed – the circus was coming to Bishopsgate rather than Rochdale; the horse became Henry; the circus became a fair; Mr Kite was ‘late of Wells’s Circus’ rather that of Pablo Fanque (pictured below); and Mr Henderson, rather than Mr Kite, promised to challenge the world.
Minor changes aside, the words of the poster found their way almost unchanged into Lennon’s Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, which closed the first half of the Sgt Pepper album. Lennon sat at his piano and sang phrases from the poster until he had the song, possibly with help from McCartney.
John Lennon was later dismissive of the song, as revealed in a range of interview snippets collated in the Anthology book,
.I wrote that as a pure poetic job, to write a song sitting there. I had to write because it was time to write. And I had to write it quick because otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the album. So I had to knock off a few songs. I knocked off A Day In The Life, or my section of it, and whatever we were talking about, Mr Kite, or something like that. I was very paranoid in those days, I could hardly move.
John Lennon, 1970 – Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
Within You Without You
Written by – George Harrison Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
George Harrison – Vocals/Sitar/Acoustic Guitar/Tambura Anna Joshi – Amrit Gajjar/Dilruba Buddhadev Kansara – Tamboura Natwar Soni – Tabla Unknown musician – Svarmandal Erich Gruenberg, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene – Violins Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan – Cellos Neil Aspinall – Tambura
Within You Without You was composed on a harmonium following a dinner party at the London home of Klaus Voorman, the German artist and musician whom The Beatles first met in Hamburg. Written by George Harrison, it was the only non Lennon-McCartney song on the Sgt Pepper album.
The song was George Harrison’s second full-blown Indian recording, after Revolver’s Love You To. Although regarded by some as a dull interlude in the otherwise masterful Sgt Pepper, Within You Without You encapsulated the exploration of spiritual themes that had become popular in 1967’s Summer of Love.
Clear references to the counterculture (‘Are you one of them?’) and the LSD-related ego death (‘And to see you’re really only very small and life flows on within you and without you’) can be found amid the more other-worldly exploration of spiritual philosophy and religious teachings.
The laughter at the end of the track was Harrison’s idea. While some listeners initially thought it was the sound of the other Beatles mocking his songwriting effort, it was in fact meant to lighten the mood after five minutes of sad, almost mournful, music.
Within You Without You came about after I had spent a bit of time in India and fallen under the spell of the country and its music. I had brought back a lot of instruments. It was written at Klaus Voormann’s house in Hampstead after dinner one night. The song came to me when I was playing a pedal harmonium.
I’d also spent a lot of time with Ravi Shankar, trying to figure out how to sit and hold the sitar, and how to play it. Within You Without You was a song that I wrote based upon a piece of music of Ravi’s that he’d recorded for All-India Radio. It was a very long piece – maybe 30 or 40 minutes – and was written in different parts, with a progression in each. I wrote a mini version of it, using sounds similar to those I’d discovered in his piece. I recorded in three segments and spliced them together later.
When I’m Sixty-Four
Written by – John Lennon/Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Guitar George Harrison – Backing Vocals Ringo Starr – Drums/Chimes Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy – Clarinets
The first of the Sgt Pepper songs to be recorded, When I’m Sixty-Fourwas originally intended to be the b-side to Strawberry Fields Forever.
The song dates back to The Beatles’ earliest days. Paul McCartney had composed it on the family piano at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool “when I was about 15”.
Back then I wasn’t necessarily looking to be a rock ‘n’ roller. When I wrote When I’m Sixty-Four I thought I was writing a song for Sinatra. There were records other than rock ‘n’ roll that were important to me.
Paul McCartney used to perform a variation of the song in their Cavern Club era, on piano, when the group’s equipment used to stop working.
When I’m Sixty-Four was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck a few more words on it like ‘grandchildren on your knee’ and ‘Vera, Chuck and Dave’. It was just one of those ones that he’d had, that we’ve all got, really; half a song. And this was just one that was quite a hit with us. We used to do them when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano.
John Lennon – The Beatles Anthology
The song was dusted down in 1966, the year Paul McCartney’s father Jim turned 64. When I’m Sixty-Fourfocuses on a young man anxiously looking towards old age; the vocals were sped up in the studio to make them sound more sprightly.
The music is suitably old-fashioned, with a music hall melody and an arrangement prominently featuring George Martin’s clarinet score.
I thought it was a good little tune but it was too vaudevillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek.
It’s pretty much my song. I did it in a rooty-tooty variety style… George helped me on a clarinet arrangement. I would specify the sound and I love clarinets so ‘Could we have a clarinet quartet?’ ‘Absolutely.’ I’d give him a fairly good idea of what I wanted and George would score it because I couldn’t do that. He was very helpful to us. Of course, when George Martin was 64 I had to send him a bottle of wine.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
When I am 64 In Studio
On 6 December 1966 The Beatles recorded Christmas messages for the pirate stations Radio London and Radio Caroline. Afterwards they spent some time rehearsing When I’m Sixty-Four, before two takes of the rhythm track were recorded.
Two days later, without the other Beatles being present, McCartney added his lead vocals to take two. The song was then left until 20 December, when McCartney, Lennon and Harrison taped backing vocals and Starr played chimes.
When I’m Sixty-Four was completed the next day, with the overdub of the three clarinets. During the mixing stage, meanwhile, McCartney decided that the song needed speeding up. On 30 December they scrapped all previous mixes and created a new mono one, which raised the key from C to D flat major.
Written by – John Lennon- Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass/Comb and Paper John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Acoustic Rhythm Guitar/Comb and Paper George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Acoustic Rhythm Guitar/Comb and Paper Ringo Starr – Drums/Comb and Paper George Martin – Piano
Paul McCartney’s affectionate tale of a female traffic warden was originally written as an anti-authority satire. As Paul McCartney later explained,
“I was thinking it should be a hate song… but then I thought it would be better to love her.”
Traffic wardens were a relatively new feature of British life in 1967. In America they were colloquially known as meter maids, a term which caught the imagination of McCartney via a newspaper story.
There was a story in the paper about ‘Lovely Rita’, the meter maid. She’s just retired as a traffic warden. The phrase ‘meter maid’ was so American that it appealed, and to me a ‘maid’ was always a little sexy thing: ‘Meter maid. Hey, come and check my meter, baby.’ I saw a bit of that, and then I saw that she looked like a ‘military man’.
Paul McCartney – Anthology
Paul McCartney wrote the words for Lovely Rita in the Wirral near Liverpool, while walking near his brother Michael’s house in Gayton.
I remember one night just going for a walk and working on the words as I walked… It wasn’t based on a real person but, as often happened, it was claimed by a girl called Rita who was a traffic warden who apparently did give me a ticket, so that made the newspapers. I think it was more a question of coincidence: anyone called Rita who gave me a ticket would naturally think, ‘It’s me!’ I didn’t think, Wow, that woman gave me a ticket, I’ll write a song about her – never happened like that.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Lovely Rita – In Studio
Recording began on 23 February 1967 in Abbey Road’s studio two. Eight takes of the rhythm track were recorded, with George Harrison and John Lennon on acoustic guitars, Ringo playing the drums and Paul on piano. Take eight was the best, and onto this McCartney added his bass part.
The next day his lead vocals were taped, following which Lovely Rita was left until 7 March. On that day the song’s distinctive backing vocals and sound effects were recorded. Led by John Lennon, The Beatles made various groaning, sighing and screaming noises, played paper and combs, and added some cha-cha-chas for good measure.
The paper and combs can best be heard immediately before the line “When it gets dark I tow your heart away”. The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans was sent to collect paper from Abbey Road’s lavatory. Stamped with the words, “Property of EMI”, the paper was threaded into hair combs and blown, giving a kazoo-like effect.
On 21 March George Martin recorded the song’s piano solo. It was recorded with the tape machine running at 41¼ cycles per second, and was mixed at 48¾ cycles. This made the solo much faster and higher pitched than it had been during the recording.
Good Morning Good Morning
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Bass George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums/Tambourine Barrie Cameron, David Glyde, Alan Holmes – Saxophone John Lee, Unknown Talent – Trombone Tom (Surname Unknown)– French Horn
Born of John Lennon’s post-touring retreat into suburban daydreaming, Good Morning Good Morning was inspired by a Kellogg’s commercial he heard while working with the television playing in the background.
Good Morning is mine. It’s a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought. The ‘Good morning, good morning’ was from a Kellogg’s cereal commercial. I always had the TV on very low in the background when I Was writing and it came over and then I wrote the song.
John Lennon – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The Kellogg’s jingle went
Good morning, good morning The best to you each morning. Sunshine breakfast, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Crisp and full of fun.
With time signatures varying almost from bar-to-bar, Good Morning Good Morning’s unruly meter was a result of Lennon’s tendency to write words first before fitting the music around them.
John was feeling trapped in suburbia and was going through some problems with Cynthia. It was about his boring life at the time – there’s a reference in the lyrics to ‘nothing to do’ and ‘meet the wife’; there was an afternoon TV soap called Meet The Wife that John watched, he was that bored, but I think he was also starting to get alarm bells.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Bass Guitar John Lennon – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar George Harrison – Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Tambourine/Maracas George Martin – Organ
The idea for a reprise of Sgt Pepper’s title track was suggested by The Beatles’ assistant Neil Aspinall, who thought the album should be bookended with words from the imaginary compère.
I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compère of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil’… That was when I knew that John liked it and that it would happen.
Sgt Pepper (Reprise) was the final music recorded for the album, apart from the strings overdub for Within You Without You. Taped in a single day, it was the perfect rousing performance to introduce the grand finale, A Day In The Life.
The reprise was faster than the previously-recorded title track, and with different lyrics. Opening with Paul McCartney’s 1-2-3-4 count-in and John Lennon’s cheeky “bye”, it featured all four Beatles on vocals and was one of the more straightforward rock songs on the Sgt Pepper album.
Take five of the song, with a guide vocal by Paul McCartney, was released on Anthology 2. A remix of the more familiar version, meanwhile, was used between Hey Jude and All You Need Is Love on theLovealbum.
A Day in the Life
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
The Players John Lennon – Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Piano Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass George Harrison – Maracas Ringo Starr – Drums/Bongos George Martin – Harmonium Mal Evans – Piano/Vocals/Alarm Clock Erich Gruenberg, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – Violins John Underwood, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – Violas Francisco Gabarro, Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Alex Nifosi – Cellos Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce – Double Basses John Marston – Harp Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – Clarinets Roger Lord – Oboe N Fawcett, Alfred Waters – Bassoons Clifford Seville, David Sanderman – Flutes Alan Civil, Neil Sanders – French Horns David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – Trumpets Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore – Trombones Michael Barnes – Tubas Tristan Fry – Timpani/Percussion Marijke Koger – Tambourine
The climax of their masterpiece Sgt Pepper, A Day In The Life found The Beatles at the peak of their creative powers, an astonishing artistic statement that saw them fearless, breaking boundaries and enthralling generations of listeners with the timeless quality of their music.
A Day In The Life – that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said ‘yeah’ – bang, bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully.
John Lennon – Rolling Stone
A 41-piece orchestra played on this song. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest.
This was recorded in three sessions: First the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in.
The beginning of this song was based on two stories John Lennon read in the Daily Mail newspaper: Guinness heir Tara Browne dying when he smashed his lotus into a parked van, and an article in the UK Daily Express in early 1967 which told of how the Blackburn Roads Surveyor had counted 4000 holes in the roads of Blackburn and commented that the volume of material needed to fill them in was enough to fill the Albert Hall. Lennon took some liberties with the Tara Browne story – he changed it so he “Blew his mind out in the car.”
John Lennon stated this regarding the article about Tara Browne:
“I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.” At the time, Paul didn’t realize the reference was to Tara. He thought it was about a “stoned politician.” The article regarding the “4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” was taken from the UK Daily Express, January 17, 1967 in a column called “Far And Near.”
John’s friend Terry Doran was the one who completed John’s line “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill…” Terry told him “fill the Albert Hall, John.”
Paul McCartney contributed the line “I’d love to turn you on.” This was a drug reference, but the BBC banned it for the line about having a smoke and going into a dream, which they thought was about marijuana. The ban was finally lifted when author David Storey picked it as one of his Desert Island Discs.
The final chord was produced by all four Beatles and George Martin banging on three pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds, and the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.
This being the last song on the album, The Beatles found an interesting way to close it out. After the final note, John Lennon had producer George Martin dub in a high pitched tone, which most humans can’t hear, but drives dogs crazy. This was followed by a loop of incomprehensible studio noise, along with Paul McCartney saying “Never could see any other way,” spliced together. It was put there so vinyl copies would play this continuously in the run-out groove, sounding like something went horribly wrong with the record. Kids, ask your parents about vinyl.
David Crosby was at Abbey Road studios when The Beatles were recording this. In an interview with Filter magazine, he said:
“I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear ‘A Day In The Life.’ I was high as a kite – so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down; they had huge speakers like coffins with wheels on that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got the end of that piano chord, man my brains were on the floor.”
As you can see much of this masterpiece has been over analyzed and over commentated on. The entire goal to this retrospective is to open the eyes and hearts to newer generations to this album and to perhaps renew interest for those long time fans who are still seeking more information or tidbits on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s Darkside Of The Moon & The Wall, Yes’ Tales Of Topographic Oceans, Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed, The Who’s Tommy & Quadraphenia, Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention We’re Only In It For The Money, Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell Trilogy, RUSH’s 2112, etc.. may not otherwise exist without The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Neither would all those albums respective influence on future bands and concept albums may not exist either.
The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will never stop being a topic of keen interest within the pantheon of rock. With every anniversary milestone and birthday you will always see articles and retrospectives like this one. This is a testament of the utter generational defying reach The Beatles have had as a band and that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandhas had as a album for the last 50 years and will for the next 50 or so years. ‘It was 50 Years Ago This Month ……’
When I first heard that The Wizards Of Winters’ guitarist Fred Gorhau was going to be putting together a project that would allow him to leave the ‘Christmas Time Only’ cocoon I was elated. I was also in a bit of anticipation of the unknown. To be honest I had only heard him in The Wizards Of Winters and Trans Siberian Orchestra. With his new project Dark Sky Choir it is a return to force of quality old school prog related heavy metal with a very modern and contemporary twist to it.
Make no mistake about it Dark Sky Choir are NOT a reflection or a re-visitation of what is now termed ‘Hair Metal’. I mean back in the day we all had hair whether we were thrash, glam, death, power, progressive or black metal with the exceptions of Rob Halford, Graham Bonnet or UDO Dirkschneider ex- Accept. If there is any visitation of the past with Dark Sky Choir it is the mentality of when bands were out drawing and designing their own fliers to have them wrapped around the local telephone poles of the vicinity of the local club or venue for the show promoted.
‘To you millennials who only know of and rely on photo-shop there was a time when we actually hand drew up fliers and printed them out in mass.’ We did not sit at home on a computer and hope people would show up.’
Dark Sky Choir also is a legitimate reminder that no matter how metal changes and evolves it will always return to its roots. Joining Fred Gorhau on this run are Hollywood How – Vocals, Joe Stabile – Bass and Mike James Sakowski – Drums. There is also a certain creative democracy going on with the album because the listener can hear every instrument come through where they properly need to. This may be a new concept to those millennials who have bought into a cheapened form of compressed music for entertainment. The guitar, the bass and the drums are all allowed to breathe and be heard. Hollywood How -Vocals is also allowed to be heard and tell a actual story with the lyrical content instead of it only serving as background noise or instrumental elements. Yes the album is a return to common sense straight away metal performed with a hint of the progressive.
Yes this is a album that is also a triumphant return to the verse/bridge/chorus/solo that metal enjoyed in the 1980’s and early 1990’s here in America. It is also a return of the style of music you would see on MTV instead of shitty and cheesy reality programs that make no sense whatsoever. Now some brief highlights from every track.
Death Of A Nation
The track Death of A Nation is both a track laden with progressive tendencies met with some heavy social commentary. Hollywood How – Vocals soars up into ranges that are explored by Rob Halford, David Coverdale and Primal Fear’s Ralph Scheepers. Fred Gorhau – Guitars shows us a entirely other dimension of his playing. This is a dimension that is more straight away progressive hard rock/heavy metal than what we have been accustomed to hearing in his other outfit The Wizards of Winter. There is also some powerful spoken word element on this track as well.
Like It Or Not
This track fades in a frenzy of a heavy distorted rhythm based chord progression. It has the signature verse/bridge/chorus with great raunchy heavy instrumental passages in harmony with the high end vocals. The guitar solo really shines through with a wonderful melody from the rhythm section.
Walking By Myself
This track here is the standard ballad. For those who were not there or this is still alien to you, the power ballad usually showed up on a album around the second, third or fourth song into the album. It standard ballad fashion this opens up with a beautiful lush acoustic guitar to create a more classical chord progression. The band does a great job painting a beautiful guitar oriented atmosphere for the ballads lyrical content. The guitar solo is spot on with the instrumental off the atmospheric layers.
Die Young (Maybe He Wanted To)
This one is almost a straight away power metal track. Its charging and galloping guitar in harmony with a rather fast bass/drum rhythm section really establish it as one of the faster and heavier songs on the album. In the midst of the fast chord progressions there are some breaks to take the song into a heavier layer. The guitar solo reminds me a lot of Uriah Heep meets Iron Maiden. There are some layers of progressive metal sprinkled throughout this track. The backing vocals serve more as a echo vocal than melodic vocal.
This one starts off on a more old school doom metal chord progressive passage. It contains some very heavy handed and deep doom like rhythm section between the bass/drum/guitar. Even the lyrical content reminds me more of a Black Sabbath Children Of The Grave. The guitar channels Tony Iommi quite well. The bleak instrumental definitely works in perfect harmony with the brooding lyrical material. Part of me feels like I am listening to Trouble meets Iron Maiden on this one. This is definitely a unique tribute of original material to Black Sabbath.
The Sails Of Charon
This one opens up with a blistering down tuned guitar passage. There are breaks in between the rhythm section and the lead guitar. Those breaks allow the song to breathe and grow into itself naturally. A lot this track reminds me a lot of Savatage’s Hall Of The Mountain King both instrumentally and lyrically. The vocals even soar like Jon Oliva’s at times.
Cry For The Legions
This opens up with a blistering thunderous frenzy of layer upon layers in the chord progressions. This track is very heavily progressive induced with the way it builds various layers upon layers on the instrumental half of this. The chorus takes a slight anthem form with the backing vocals. This track is definitely one of those that is designed for fist pumping.
Show No Mercy
This another track that opens up with the galloping Iron Maiden style rhythmic progression. This also is a track that builds layers upon layers. It carries both traditional heavy metal elements with light progressive metal elements. It does take a few breaks to allow the song to breathe so the listener can digest it. The guitar solo is one raunchy beast driving straight away which works very well for the soaring vocals.
This is the final song on the album and subsequently the end of the journey for now. This track is half a ballad style track and half a straight away traditional metal track. This is also the only instrumental on the album. The rhythm section and stringed sections still do a wonderful work telling their own story throughout the instrumental composition. Some of the elements we have come to know of Fred Gorhau from The Wizards of Winter project shine through on this track more so than the other tracks on the album.
I approached this album with some reservation and caution. It exceeded all of my expectations. This is definitely not a clone of The Wizards of Winter nor does it sound dated where it can easily fall through the cracks and branded as a nostalgia album. This does visit a era of metal many have forgotten about but maintains very modern and updated elements. The updated elements definitely prove this album is not your father’s metal but is also very modern to be your metal as well. With this project Fred Gorhau now has something he can work with on a year round basis without being pigeonholed to a specific time of year like he does with The Wizards Of Winter. I give Dark Sky Choir Dark Sky Choir a 4.5/5.
Whatever fell from the cosmic sky, it landed in our home town Berlin. And is ready to take your mind on a beautiful journey. Bringing Earthless-level Heavy Psych into the local scene! Taking you into the endless universe, the lonely desert and the depth of the ocean as relaxing sounds and moody melodies will go along with you on this journey. Do you smell it? It’s time for another take off !
To understand a band like Germany’s Cosmic Fall in the present, we must take a journey to Germany’s ‘Krautrock’ past. The very definition to ‘Krautrock’ is ‘Cosmic-Rock’, very contrary to how it was labeled in the United Kingdom. The term “krautrock” was originated by English-speaking music journalists as a humorous name for a diverse range of German bands whose music drew from sources such as psychedelic rock, the avant-garde, electronic music, funk, minimalism, jazz improvisation, and world music styles. You could say that ‘Krautrock’ had a wild west mentality with a broad and vast range of experimentation. Largely divorced from the traditional blues and rock and roll influences of British and American rock music up to that time, the period contributed to the evolution of electronic music and ambient music as well as the birth of psychedelic improvised long form jam band rock, post-punk, alternative rock and New Age music. Important acts of the scene include Amon Dull ii, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, and Faust.
Cosmic Fall definitely falls in line with this rich tradition of improvised jam band songs that are practically played out more than a premeditated write, record, produce process. This form of progressive/psychedelic rock depends more on all the sum of the parts of the instruments to produce a unified wall of sound instead of the instruments coming in off the hands of virtuoso’s with intricate interchanges in time signatures. It allows for every instrument to both breathe and be heard allowing the listener to decide how they will absorb and digest the individual compositions. In modern time bands like Cosmic Fall, Oresund Space Collective, Earthless, Pharaoh Overlord, Hydria Spacefolk, to name a few have really opened up different dimensions of progressive/psychedelic rock that have not recently been tapped until now.
Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams is a bold and ambitious follow up to their debut album First Fall released back in 2016. Although the band were gracious enough to send me the physical CD copy I am reviewing the Digital Bandcamp Edition with the extra track Purple Weed. Kick Out The Jams Digital Bandcamp Edition contains 3 more mind expansive tracks over their debut First Fall taking the album to just about 90 minutes. Keep in mind Cosmic Fall are only a three man unit but this does not deduct from the vast huge wall of sound they are capable of. Now allow me to analyze this vast expanse of music track by track.
Saturn Highway is a monster 19+ minute epic that opens the album gracefully. This track immediately paints a picture that the listener is experiencing space travel on a deep interstellar level. The guitar opens it with a very heavy 1970’s psychedelic chord progression on the lead and the drums and fuzzy stoner style bass come in and pick up the rhythm off the guitar lead. The guitar also serves in a heavily atmospheric induced capacity during this time. The band already displays in uncanny prowess to add layers upon layers with the instruments at their dispose. Mathias Rosmann – Guitars has a intricate knowledge of guitar pedals and the various sounds they make possible. The same can be said for Klaus Fredrich – Bass. Their effective work on the bass and guitar pedals allow for the track to move forward creating a wall of various progressive and psychedelic atmospheric layers.
Daniel Sax – Drums really has a very flexible vibe about him top adjust to the various chord progressions from the bass and guitars. At about the 8:50 mark the entire composition takes on a strong interstellar echo as if the journey into space gets deeper and deeper to where it takes a subtle break. About the 11:11 mark the track starts to build again with layers upon layers. There is a brilliant isolation with the drum beats and soon the fuzzy style stoner bass comes into compliment the drums. The remainder of the track remains on point towards their objective of quality improvised psychedelic space rock with some heavy elements.
White Stone opens up with a very heavy psychedelic progressive passage that is more rooted within 1960’s style psychedelic rock. The track is very up tempo with plenty of well crafted fuzzy rhythm based guitar and bass. The drums completely carry the vast up tempo that the guitar and bass set up quite eloquently. About the 3:02 mark the track begins to taper off peeling back the layers towards a subtle finishing passage.
Earthfull This is another lengthy epic and longest song on Kick Out The Jams clocking in at 21+ minutes. It begins with a very deep bass drum complimented perfectly by a deeply down tuned bass drum and bass rhythm section. The guitar comes in more as a lead again running congruent with the deep rhythm section. The opening minute reminds me heavily of the band Earthless’ Sonic Prayer from 2007’s Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky.
The chord progressions on the guitar are also a very heavy 1960’s influenced progression in the vein of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane meets Robby Kreiger from The Doors.Mathias Rosmann – Guitars has a very intricate knowledge and ability to use both guitar pedals and a wammy bar to produce the maximum sound distribution with minimal energy. The bass/drum rhythm section give the listener the appearance of a well choreographed dance between the fingers on the bass fret board and the tom tom, hi hat, snare combinations the drums continue to experiment with. This track has some serious stoner rock fuzzy passages throughout it. From a free flow improvised perspective this track has heavy Earthless and Oresund Space Collective influence all over it. About the 10:00 mark the track starts to take a more Lo-Fi minimalist approach very much in the spirit of Can, Popol Vuh and Faust from ‘Krautrock’s’ past. Cosmic Fall are not shy on full experimentation which makes for a very unique listening experience. At about the 14:40 mark the band allows the ‘objective listener’ a strong sense in floating into deep interstellar space. It also allows breathing room for the listener to digest the epic before picking back up again at the 16:00 mark where the band takes a more heavy prog approach.
Purple Weed is the bonus track on the ‘digital version only’of Kick Out The Jams which is what I am using for this review. It starts out like it is a cut away from another song. It opens more with a bridge style passage instead of a traditional genesis where they star off simple and proceed to build layers upon layers. The opening also captures the band in a more straight away psychedelic rock passage. This track does break and takes on another direction around the 2:30 mark allowing for the listener the choice to breath and digest or be alert and anticipate. Cosmic Fall have a unique and distinctive way of allowing the listener a choice of how they want to experience the music. The ambiguous jester within is very on point with the music as well.
Interstellar Junction in a strange backhanded way is probably the bands ‘most’ tangible track to attract people that are new to the band and their genre of progressive/psychedelic rock. It starts very up tempo with straight away 1970’s stoner/psychedelic chord progressions. Think Amon Dull ii meets Can meets Vanilla Fudge. The passages are very heavily progressive laden with various psychedelic atmospheres. This one is also recorded and performed live and is one of two on the album. This track also gives the listener the impression that there are two distinctive personalities on the album. Those personalities being of course, psychedelic and progressive. The last three tracks are more progressive/stoner hard rock than the previous four which are more experimental.
Stairway Jam starts out with a very seriously deep down tuned bass. Soon the methodical and sometimes off timed drums come in and start building a very organic rhythm section. Within that rhythm section and its progressive thunder comes the guitar that is allowed to breathe and take a more front and center approach, allowing the rhythm section of the bass/drums to lead it into various layers and dimensions. This jam takes on some very very heavy fuzzy chord progressions like those from the late 1960’s to middle 1970’s when psychedelic rock carried some heavier doom style elements. In the middle the rhythm section takes a more laid back approach and the guitar is allowed to take the listener on a strange , yet genius, cosmic journey towards the inner-space of the mind of the audience.
Cosmic Conclusion starts out with some seriously heavy hi-hat to tom – tom back to hi-hat drum blast beats. The drums immediately start out more in the aesthetic of doom metal in a very odd progressive kind of way. They literally even take the bass and make it initially as a percussive instrument until they both balance out with a more melodic rhythm section. The bass/drum rhythm section elegantly produce such a thunderous wall of sound that if envelopes the fullness of senses within the listeners audio pallet. For the most part this is a straight away heavy progressive/psychedelic track.
With the rich progressive rock and psychedelic rock heritage from Germany, Cosmic Fall has managed to create their own unique and distinctive sound that separates them from other bands of the genres. They maintain a creative minimalist sound while allowing the fullness of the instruments speak for itself. Kick Out The Jams certainly will give the band a ever growing fan-base while giving the band a much fuller live set. I give Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams a 5/5for integrity to the genre.
Yes | Close To The Edge | A 45th Anniversary Retrospective
This Retrospective Written With Love In Memory Of: Chris Squire – (March, 4, 1948 – June, 27 , 2015)
Label: Original Distribution/ Atlantic Records Release Year: 1972 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Progressive Rock
Band Members – Classic Yes ‘Close To The Edge’ Lineup
Jon Anderson – Lead Vocals Steve Howe – Guitar/Backing Vocals Chris Squire – Bass/Backing Vocals Rick Wakeman – Keyboards Bill Bruford – Drums/Percussion
Track List – Original Pressing 1972
1. Close to the Edge Lyrics – Jon Anderson/ Steve Howe Music – Jon Anderson/Steve Howe I. “The Solid Time of Change” II. “Total Mass Retain” III. “I Get Up, I Get Down” IV. “Seasons of Man”
2. And You and I Lyrics – Jon Anderson Music – Jon Anderson/Themes by Bill Bruford/Steve Howe – except “Eclipse”/Chris Squire I. “Cord of Life” II. “Eclipse” III. “The Preacher, the Teacher” IV. “The Apocalypse”
3. Siberian Khatru Lyrics – Jon Anderson Music – Jon Anderson/Steve Howe/Rick Wakeman
* Editorial Note * This retrospective is meant as a nostalgia piece and celebration of such a fine classic of progressive rock. Please note, Power of Prog or myself will not be forced into publicly taking sides as far as the fractured camps of Yes are concerned. We will not condemn nor condone any public behaviour displayed by the respective surviving members of Yes. This is why I have included various ‘Contact Links’ in my introduction. Furthermore this will be a very objective and unbiased article. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.
-RUSH’s Geddy Lee to Rolling Stone Magazine- June, 6th, 2016 –
“To my mind, Yes may be the single most important of all the progressive rock bands,” said Rush’s Geddy Lee, who calls Close to the Edge “among my favorite rock albums of all time.”
Preface – Signs Of The Times
During the 1960’s in the United Kingdom there was much going on at that time. The United Kingdom were still rebuilding from World War 2. The United Kingdom were also as much a part of the Cold War with the Soviet Union as the United States of America was. Due to the rebuilding from World War 2 and the Cold War to follow things appeared to be very bleak and dark in the United Kingdom especially in England. Much like the USA, the United Kingdom also was experiencing its very own ‘Baby Boom’. It would be a set of ‘Baby Boomer’s’ such as these that would go on and make rock history.
In the USA the Civil Rights movement was well underway, Psychedelic Rock and ‘Flower Power’ was born in San Francisco, California. America had been totally wrapped up in the Vietnam War which resulted in protest marches across the country which sometimes ended in violence. One of the protests resulted in four people dead in Kent State University in Ohio. The United Kingdom was also a mirror reflection much like America however much much darker times.
Employment was at an all time low with the post war economic boom and it was important to the economic and cultural development with in English society. A better economy allowed for parents to the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation to send their children to institutions of higher learning and art schools. This was clearly apparent with the musical education of Rick Wakeman – Keyboards , who went to the Royal Conservatory, which was a absolute essential instrument in the creation and evolution of the new fledgling genre of progressive rock movement. Chris Squire – Bass , had some early formal musical training as a choirboy. That experience of vocal melody and harmony would become a fixture in his personal and professional life musically until his untimely passing in 2015.
For those too young to know or to some that need a reminder late 1940’s through early 1970’s in the United Kingdom was not really a beautiful place to live as it is in 2017. These ‘Baby Boomers’ in the UK had to pass by places everyday that were a vicious reminder of World War 2. Many of their parents solely went to work to just rebuild the United Kingdom.As they were coming of age like their American counterparts they too in the United Kingdom also took to the streets to protest nuclear weapons with the Aldermaston Marches. There were plenty of jobs and development but if you were a child like many of the progressive rock bands were during this time, all you knew was old bombed out areas under construction. They did not have the luxury that their counterparts in the USA or Canada that were being raised in what we call the suburbs and subdivisions.
Given all that mentioned above these ‘Baby Boomers’ or Fathers of Progressive Rockwere looking to create a world through music to perhaps escape from the post war madness. This is probably why they sat in studios or basements or even the sheds practicing and writing for hours on end. The long epic compositions of fantasy and otherworldly concepts was birthed out of both the pain of childhood and a coming of age attitude that also produced ‘Acid Rock’, ‘Heavy Metal’, ‘Psychedelic’ and ‘Folk’. Progressive Rock was another tentacle and extension of the ever growing counterculture on a global scale.
Yes’ Close To The Edge – Revisited
Close To The Edge is the fifth album in the Yes library. Yes had just wrapped up their tour in support of their previous album, 1971’s Fragile. They entered into Advision Studios to begin work on what would become Close To The Edge. This was also around the time that the band really started to stabilize as a collective union. After many laborious sessions in the studio Bill Bruford – Drums decided to leave Yes to join King Crimson after the tour and Alan White from the Plastic Ono Band. Now you had what would become the ‘Classic Yes Lineup’ of Jon Anderson – Lead Vocals , Steve Howe – Guitar/Backing Vocals, Chris Squire – Bass/Backing Vocals ,Rick Wakeman – Keyboards and Bill Bruford – Drums.
As far as song volume, Close To The Edge is one of the shorter albums in the Yes library. This is highly ironic due to the fact that the album opens up with the nearly 19 minute epic and self titled track Close To The Edge, which in those days on vinyl almost rode the fine line with the 22+ minute physical restriction that vinyl had. This left Side B that only housed And You And I & Siberian Khatru, which both averaged 10 minutes a track. The recording studio for the band to perform in, thoroughly enabled Bill Bruford’s drums to resonate with the wooden platform and making the group sound “more live”. The studio also housed a booth-like structure constructed of wooden boards which Steve Howe performed in to further enhance his sound. During the recording, the band decided to use a particular take for a track, but realised the studio’s cleaner had put the tape in the rubbish. A scramble in the bins outside the studio ensued, and the missing piece was found and inserted into the master.
During their month of recording, Melody Maker reporter and band biographer Chris Welch visited the studio to observe the recording progress. Welch described a stressful atmosphere, coupled with “outbursts of anarchy” from Bill Bruford, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman and disagreement from each member after one mix of a song section was complete. Welch sensed the band were not a cohesive unit, with Anderson and Howe the only ones who knew what direction the album was to take, leaving the rest adding bits and pieces “to a vast jigsaw of sound”, to which Chris Squire and Offord were the two who helped put their idea into shape. Wakeman and Bruford, to Welch, remained “innocent bystanders” in the matter. In one instance, Welch arrived at the studio to hear a preview of a completed passage that took several days of round the clock work to produce. He heard a dull thud, to find Offord had fallen asleep on top of the mixing console from exhaustion, “leaving music from the spinning tape deck blaring at an intolerable level.”Bill Bruford found Close to the Edge particularly difficult to write and record with the rest of the band, calling the process torturous and like “climbing Mount Everest”. He became frustrated with the band’s happy, diatonic music and favoured more jazz-oriented and improvisational compositions. Bill Bruford was constantly encouraged by Jon Anderson to write, something he felt grateful for years later, but by the time recording was complete, he felt he had done his best on Close to the Edge and could not offer better arrangements.
Bill Bruford had this to say about that time recording the album before leaving the group.
“So then I knew I needed a breath of fresh air”.
Track By Track – A Look Into Yes’ Close To The Edge
Close To The Edge
This song would be written in four symphonic movements, each staying on point and coming to the intended message the band wanted to say and the tapestry they desired to paint. This was also the very first song where I heard every instrument in a well balanced harmony with one another. The first song I heard where not one instrument overwhelmingly drown out one another or the vocal narratives.
This song was written by Yes lead singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe. Jon Anderson has said that many times the lyrics he writes reveal their meanings to him later. He told us that this song is one such example,
“The lyrics, ‘Season witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace,’ I realized what I was singing was all about the idea that your higher self will always save you if you keep your heart in the right place,” he said.
This song came about at a time when the members of Yes were concerned with how to follow up their successful Fragile album. Rick Wakeman had joined Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Bill Bruford on that album. Yes had already amassed an impressive collection of epics that hovered around the ten-minute mark, exceeding what was perceived as the standard length in popular music. But song length itself wasn’t the point, the band wanted to take the time to say what they had to say.
It was during the recording of this album, and particularly this song that Bill Bruford decided to part with the band. He felt the group was going too far with the progressive music and he also felt he had nothing to contribute to the new direction Rick Wakeman would leave for similar reasons after the band’s next album, Tales From Topographic Oceans. He quit shortly after they finished the album, prompting Jon Anderson and Chris Squire to politely ask session drummer Alan White to join for the upcoming tour just days away, or be thrown out of the window of the room they were in. He agreed and has been with the band ever since.
This was one of the songs Yes recorded that couldn’t be recreated live without some outside help. They solved this problem by bringing their producer, Eddy Offord, on the road. He put various church organs, sound effects and vocal bits onto tape, and played them during performances at opportune times from a Revox tape machine. On this track, he was the live sound of the pipe organ and the waterfall.
During a radio show called Yes Music – An Evening With Jon Anderson, the singer explained,
“The end verse is a dream that I had a long time ago about passing on from this world to another world, yet feeling so fantastic about it that death never frightened me ever since. That’s what seemed to come out in this song, that it was a very pastoral kind of experience rather than a very frightening one.”
Jon Anderson is no fan of organized religion, and he takes some shots at the institution in this song, both in the lyrics “How many millions do we deceive each day?” and in the music , a church organ comes in, which is replaced by a Moog synthesizer. Here is what Jon Anderson went on the further say,
“This leads to another organ solo rejoicing in the fact that you can turn your back on churches and find it within yourself to be your own church,”
The chorus lyric “Close to the edge, down by a river” was inspired by Howe while he lived in Battersea by the River Thames. The music played during this section was originally a song of the same name that Howe put together several years before that was in part based on the longest day of the year. Anderson and Howe agreed this section fitted best with a Jon Anderson composition titled “Total Mass Retain”, thus joining the two ideas together.
And You And I
Written by band members Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe and Chris Squire, this song runs 10:08 and is divided into four parts: I) Cord of Life II) Eclipse III) The Preacher the Teacher IV) Apocalypse
A 5:45 edit was released as a single and charted at #42 in the US.
So who is the “you” referred to in this song? In a interview with Jon Anderson, he answered,
“Probably God. Or it could be we collectively. The audience and I, collectively we look for reality of being a true understanding of the beauty of life. We reach over the rainbow for an understanding of things. You and I climb closer to the light.”
Few song titles start with the word “and”; a more logical title would be “You And I.”Jon Anderson said in a interview why the conjunction appears at the beginning:
“I sang it that way as I was writing it with Steve (Howe) and it just stuck: ‘And you and I climb over the sea to the valley.’ It’s all about the reasons that we have to call our connection with the Divine. So it was something that just rhythmically worked.”
Rick Wakeman, who played keyboards on this track, said,
“It has different movements which all go into each other. The object was having a piece of music that was everything that the Yes critics hated us for and the Yes fans loved us for, which was emotion.”
This was a highlight of the band’s live shows, and one of their favorites to play in concert. The Close To The Edge album was conceived with live performance in mind, which was prescient considering they were still performing it more than 40 years later. They played it start-to-finish along with The Yes Album and Going for the One on a tour that spanned March 2013 – June 2014. When the group resumed touring in July, they once again played the full album, this time along with Fragile.
In a 2014 interview with Chris Squire, he said,
“The audiences respond real well to hearing the music in that format. It reminds them of when they first heard probably what was a vinyl album.”
It originated as a more folk-oriented song that Jon Anderson developed with Howe. Its style and themes were worked on by Howe, Bruford, and Squire, the only track on the album that credits Bill Bruford and Chris Squire as writers.
The closing track on the Close To The Edge album, this song is about unity across cultures. Jon Anderson, who wrote the lyric, has given different accounts of what “Khatru” means. He has said that it means “winter,” and also that it translates to “as you wish” in Yemenite Hebrew.
The meaning of the song is more clear: Jon Anderson is expressing how Siberians go through the same emotions that he does. They’re people like us, just geographically distant. We may be from different places, but we’re all basically the same.
Jon Anderson is credited with writing the lyric to this song, with keyboard player Rick Wakeman, guitarist Steve Howe and Jon Anderson credited for composing the music. The songwriting credits on Yes songs can be deceptive, since the full band was usually involved in some aspect of working up the song.
Steve Howe said that this song was one of their more collaborative efforts.
“That song came together with the arranging skills of the band,” he told Guitar World. “Jon had the rough idea of the song, and Chris (Squire), Bill (Bruford), Rick and me would collaborate on getting the riffs together.”
It is the only track on the album that has Rick Wakeman credited as a writer. In terms of its lyrics. Eddy Offord, who produced the album, remembers using a primitive studio technique to get a swirling sound in the mix: he had an assistant attach a microphone to a cable and swing it around the room to get a Doppler effect.
Siberian Khatru – Through The Filter Of The Musician
“Siberian Khatru” is written in the key of G major and is typical of Yes’ music of this period, featuring abstruse lyrics, complex time signatures and poly-rhythms, and it is divided into multiple sections, with alternating vocal and instrumental passages. The album version begins with an introductory guitar riff, after which the main instrumental theme (played by the keyboards) is introduced. The structure of the main theme is a four-measure phrase consisting of three bars in common time (4/4) and the last bar in 3/4. This theme is repeated until the verse section begins. The lyrics start at about 1:05. The song progresses through various sections, featuring solos by Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. There is a poly-metric section featuring the guitar, playing in a meter of 12, and bass and drums playing in a meter of 8. Jon Anderson begins singing seemingly random two-syllable words and phrases, which has since become a Yes tradition. The conclusion is similar to the introduction, returning to the main instrumental theme with a guitar solo on top of it, which fades out to the end of the track.
The Art Of Roger Dean – Sleeve Design
Close to the Edge was packaged with a gatefold sleeve designed and illustrated by Roger Dean, who had also designed the cover for Fragile 1971 . It marked the first appearance of the band’s iconic logotype, placed on top a simple front cover design of a linear colour gradient from black to green. Roger Dean’s logo has been described as a “calligraphed colophon”. In his original design, Dean wanted the album to resemble the quality of a gold embossed book. The sleeve includes pictures of the group and Offord that were photographed by Dean and Martyn Adelman, who had played with Chris Squire in the late 1960’s as a member of The Syn. Dean wrote the sleeve’s text and lyric sheet by hand. On reflection on the album’s design, Roger Dean said,
“There were a couple of ideas that merged there. It was of a waterfall constantly refreshing itself, pouring from all sides of the lake, but where was the water coming from? I was looking for an image to portray that”
Close to the Edge received favourable reviews among critics. New Musical Express printed a more mixed review from Ian MacDonald on 2 September 1972. He thought the group were “not just close to the edge, they’ve gone right over it”, though they “played their God-damned guts out” on the album which he called “an attempt to overwhelm us with which resulted in only unmemorable meaninglessness”. MacDonald concluded: “On every level but the ordinary aesthetic one, it’s one of the most remarkable records pop has yet produced”Henry Medoza opened his review for The San Bernardino Sun with: “Not since … Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band has there been one side on an album that expressed such a complete and exciting a musical thought as side one”, and thought it presented the group with a new level of sophistication. He praised the group’s vocal harmonies and Bill Bruford’s“deep irregular bass drum” on the opening of the title track, but picked its third section as the most interesting with the trading vocals Rick, Wakeman’s “dream-like” and “powerful” organ playing. Mendoza described side two as more “uninspiring” than the first, but praised the vocals and harmonies on both tracks, noting they sound like its own instrument on “Siberian Khatru”
John Galanakis – Guitars/Orchestras/Brutal Growls-Clean Vocals Alexandra Misailidou – Female Vocals Jon Soti – Male Vocals Marios Konnaris – Lead Guitars John Sotirakis – Bass Guitars Nikitas Mandolas – Drums
Special Guest Musicians
George Konstantine Kratsas – Bionic Origin – Guest Guitars on The Alpha Origin & Engineering/Mixing/Mastering on entire Entropia Album.
Iliana Tsakiraki – Enemy Of Reality – Additional Leggro Soprano Vocals – Featured on Sense Of Matter
Astral Nova – Intro Shadow Provision The Alpha Origin Sense Of Matter Alternative Hypothesis – Interlude Deceptive Projection Attribution Theory Aggression Entropia – The Final Chapter
Entropy : a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system’s disorder, that is a property of the system’s state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system 2 a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
Quadrus band is a symphonic metal project from John Galanakis that formed in Athens Greece at June of 2014 with Marios Konnaris and began with the creation of ENTROPIA – concept album. Later on, after 2 years of composing and orchestrations for ENTROPIA, John came in contact with Nikitas Mandolas who recorded the drums for the whole album alongside with Jon Soti, who recorded the Male Vocals, Alexandra Misailidou who wrote the lyrics and the Female Vocals, Marios Konnaris who recorded the lead guitars and John Sotirakis who recorded the bass guitar. Lots of influences from progressive,djent,thrash,death,black,symphonic,folk,celtic, music and guided from the sound of Wintersun, Dream Theater, Symphony x, Epica , Dragonland, Ensiferum, Nightwish,Two steps from Hell and Hans Zimmer, led to the current sound of Quadrus and formed the cinematic style of Entropia
It seems throughout the course of the history of humankind that there has always been a change to totally alter the course of things. Keep in mind that humans have only been on Earth for just under 20,000 years. We have went from being hunter/gatherers, to small tribal villages to the first democratic city states such that was founded in Greece ,to absolute utter crushing and dominating origins of the Persian, Roman, Mongolian, Ottoman , British and American Empires. It also seems when these various Empires got to big or way to coveted by smaller more second or third world populations coming together, that these massive Empires fell and fell hard.
Humankind has not really learned very much from its past. We constantly and repeatedly create circumstances where we can not be self sufficient on the natural and human made resources that were given to us in the this life, that were given to us in this world. We have ran in vicious cycles of political and civil decay through Dystopia that has ultimately led down the road to Entropia. Such is the very futuristic world that new Greek symphonic, progressive metal, cinematic band Quadrus has done such a great job articulating in their independent self financed and distributed album Entropia.
These same universal laws and made made conundrums can also apply to the vast expanse of space over time. Entropia can happen when a solar system or whole galaxies are devoured by super massive black holes, gamma ray’s, or even quasar’s. The story of Quadrus’ Entropia is a combination of both human irresponsibility and the lack of cooperation of the known universe around us. As with all albums that are conceptual in nature we all see the story differently on the big screen in the theater of our minds and listen to the music through various and different filter’s of our comprehension and understanding. It is also becoming more frequent in the symphonic and progressive metal community that we are seeing more and more conceptual albums even as ‘Debut-Albums’. Both sub genres seem to have the proper atmospheres to allow for this to happen. Now a little break down track by track of Quadrus’ Entropia.
Chapter 1 – Born/Fear/Anger/Doubt
Astral Nova – Intro – Born
This begins with a spoken word element to begin to paint the picture on the screen inside the theater of the listener’s mind’s. It is certainly one of the most beautifully articulate spoken word tracks I have heard on a concept album in the last 25 years. That is no exaggeration whatsoever. Alexandra Misailidou – Female Vocals are not only radiant, they are eloquently elegant as she charms the listener into the story and preparing them for the darkness and the silver lining around some otherwise very dark and bleak moments on the album. This is all done over a beautifully elegant keyboard passage followed by a big drum passage like that of a marching band or a race have been given marching orders. It is like the band are looking at a film on the screen and playing to its intensity and various parts much like a symphony would score a film. This seamlessly transitions very smoothly into the next song in Chapter 1 Shadow Provision. Shadow Provision – Fear
Begins with a very high end keyboard chord progression that has transitioned seamlessly from its prior track Astral Nova – Born. Soon after that a blistering intro chord progression begins to take the song and album with it into a very dark and heavy realm. John Galanakis – Guitars/Orchestras/Brutal Growls-Clean Vocals adds some vocal depth when he uses the ‘death growls’ more like an additional instrument perhaps in the emotion of anger due to the fear unleashed on the population through the self inflicted chaos to the people in the story of Entropia.
The drum/bass rhythm rhythm section creates a immediate sense of urgency so that when the clean male vocal comes in it already gives the listener the sense of a chaotic event occurring within the story and on the planet of humanity. Between the deep rhythm section and blistering guitar riffs the male vocal narrative begins to question the very existence past. present and future of his own species. The beautiful female soprano vocal comes in and there is a dialogue between one another as to the situation and questions towards a solution to the problem they now face.
Under the clean male vocals and female vocals there is a underlying death growl. This track is a very cinematic track with heavy straight away power metal style vocals with various progressive chord progression changes. The band wastes absolutely no time engulfing the listener into the world they want to paint and create in the theater of the mind. The guitar solo’s are very wickedly insane along with the perfect accommodation of the various keyboard passages.
The Alpha Origin – Anger -(Featuring George Konstantine Kratsas -Guest Guitars)
This begins in a very thick dark power metal passage much like the style of Nightwish or even Epica. Soon the track has some very rhythm based crunchy guitar chord progression over a clean guitar lead. Soon among the instrumental rhythm and lead chord progression and interchanges come the female soprano vocal, male ‘death vocal’ and male clean vocal that blend and interchange perfectly on time and on key. The male ‘death growl’ on this one serves both a vocal melodic verbal narrative as well as a vocal instrumental narrative in the story. Some of the straight away rhythm guitar and bass/drum rhythm sections are in a very galloping matter much like Iron Maiden meets Dream Theater.
All this brutality in the instrumental half is to set up a very angry lyrical narrative. The instrumental allows for the very cynical, hateful, sarcasm lyrical narrative to breathe where it can be understood clearly. I believe it is intentional. The male vocal also serves as a hardcore indictment to the general population as to what they have done to their world as a collective community. The male ‘death growl’ begins to not only convey anger but it also begins to tell the people how to channel their anger to a legitimate and everlasting solution a motivator.
About the 5:05 mark the piano comes in and the brutality of both the instrumental narrative and lyrical narrative wane a little to allow the listener to absorb the situation from both sides. To the listener that really follows the story from the CD booklet, they can identify and relate to some of the anger the band articulate both lyrically and instrumentally. They start to realise that they can find themselves in a situation as this. Anger is a powerful motivator for change and the band do a great job painting a picture of it on this track. The guitar solo’s are quite fluid. The track ends on a very orchestral passage with various harmonies that convey the appearance of various choirs.
Sense Of Matter – (Featuring Iliana Tsakiraki – Enemy of Reality – Leggro Soprano)
This starts out with a beautiful classical piano that appears it is being played in a concert hall. The clear male vocal come in to continually articulate the overall story in the concept. Then the track explodes with various rhythmic chord progressive passages that are sheer blistering. The passages are definitely and purposefully over the top with the cinematic and dramatic to match the intensity of the story. The band go above and beyond painting the emotion of doubt of the people in the story to the intended audience they are targeting. The ‘death growls’ can actually be very understood, a welcomed surprise where this particular music is concerned. They also continue to serve as a instrument along side the chants from the soprano half of the vocal narrative.
Chapter 2 – Living/Deception/Guilt/Sadness
Alternative Hypothesis – Interlude– Living
Is a instrumental thus, the sub title of Interlude is added. It opens up Chapter 2 – Living/Deception/Guilt/Sadness much like a second ACT in a Three Act stage play. The population of the people are really starting to acknowledge the plight of their situation. This instrumental begins to also set the atmosphere for the Second portion of Entropia.
Deceptive Projection – Deception
Just as a shred of Truth starts to come in so does Deception. The track opens up with a thunderous rhythm section with a dark male spoken word narrative. The instrumental also does a good job building a sense of anticipation for the lyrical narrative. It is the classic a case of you can not have one without the other trying to remove its enemy. There is also multi dimensional choirs to convey various emotions within the people. This is also the point of the story where the resolve of humanity really begins to be tested. The chaos on the outside begins the war for the soul and spirit on the inside of the individual and humanity as a collective. The harmony between the instrumental and lyrical is really tight and cohesive about now and the band really start working as one, much like a well oiled machine. On a lyrical note humanity knows some great deception is coming and scramble to prepare for it. The ‘death growls’ begin to really get more and more intense to match the equal intensity of the brutal almost blackened death metal style instrumental half. The keyboard passages go into the area symphonic fusion. The band ends this with what appears to be machine like effects in progress that will easily and seamlessly transition into the following track Attribution Theory – Guilt.
Attribution Theory – Guilt
This picks up seamlessly in transition off the previous track before it Deceptive Projection – Deception. It appears the machine is turning on a instrumental half of the track. By this point of the album when things get brutal they stay brutal both instrumentally and lyrically. As far as instrumental and effects there is a definitive turn of events in the story. This contains beautifully done keyboard passages with blistering guitar rhythms sections. The instrumental emotion and lyrical narrative displayed are those where humanity seems beside itself and in disbelief over the events that are happening on their Planet Earth. You can say that humanity are truly bearing the burden of guilt over their own actions. The instrumental is very climatic to a further tipping point in the story. Instrumentally it concludes on a major melodic note with various double soprano vocals layer in and out of one another.
Aggression – Sadness
Begins with a thunderstorm effect that is perfectly complimented by a crunchy rhythm guitar. Soon a cleaner guitar chord progression comes in and matches the lush layered keyboard atmosphere on the stronger end of the melodic side. The beautiful soprano and male clean vocal really pay justice to the instrumental portion of this. This track takes on a very odd Gothic element within both the vocal and instrumental much more like Epica. Lyrically the population of Humanity reconcile with their plight and begin to chart the course towards their own survival and preservation. The keyboard atmospheres really remind me of Jens Johanssen of Stratosvarious. This track also marks the end of Chapter 2 much like a second part to a three Act play or stage performance.
Chapter 3 – End Of Circle/Redemption/New Beginning
Entropia – The Final Chapter
This is the finishing epic of Entropia. It opens up the third and final chapter to this epic concept. It is just under 18:00 minutes in length and serves as a major third of the story.
Part 1 – Atom
This starts out with a very subtle keyboard passage in the background while various audio clips from news agencies report disaster, a new planet that is 60% larger than our Earth but is habitable like our Earth. Here you really get the sense as a listener that humanity is doomed and in desperation to find a place of redemption and salvation. It is a Epiphany on a very mass scale.
Part 2 – Epiphany
Lyrically is a definite wake up call for humanity and the very fact they either change their ways and adapt to the circumstances of their actions or they perish under them. This is followed in by some lush glossy keyboard sections with some very brutal rhythm sections blended in with symphonic death metal elements. This is a very angry portion of the epic. The perfect blend of death growls and strong female soprano vocals and choirs really place a sense of conviction here.
Part 3 – Cosmos
This opens up giving the appearance of a intergalactic choir acknowledging the knowledge and understanding they have left. Although they have this understanding they also begin to really recognize their complacency and how it is beginning to devour them from the inside out. All this emotions are conveyed with a very easy and palatable symphonic and cinematic section in the instrumental portion. It is as if they are starting a journey towards perhaps a new home or solution.
Part 4 – Shadow Light Spirituality
This part is very brutal in the sense that this is straight away symphonic/cinematic death metal blended in harmony with spoken word sections. After the emotion give by both the lyrical and instrumental content for the first half or verse of this portion, the band utilizes their native Greek language as if it is the language spoken by this particular sect of humanity. They do this in a very coherent and articulate manner in the midst of such a angry instrumental portion.
Part 5 – Justification
Lyrically this is the age old war between the sciences and religions of humanity. It is as if both sides are making futile attempts to justify their actions and contributions on the race of humanity. This emotion is done with a interchange of the male clean and female soprano with the death growls coming in to convey the utter anger between the sciences and religions. The anger in both the lyrical and instrumental side are in total harmony. The band remains on point and objective with this particular portion of the epic.
Part 6 – Elevation
This seamlessly transitions from Part 5 – Justification with a deep and tuned down symphonic rhythm section that is both cinematic in nature and the appearance of a little bit of space metal. It is a bit slower to allow the listener to breathe and absorb the epic and story that the band has been painting in their minds. The female soprano comes in this time more as a voice of reason and the various instrumental elements allow for that to be possible in harmony with the vocal elements. Humanity also sees they may have a second chance for survival.
Part 7 -Redemption
This last portion of the epic starts at the 13:24 mark and proceeds to bring the entire epic and overall story within the concept of the entire album. The transition is remains continuous and on point towards the end. This conclusion is very blistering and brutal on the instrumental half. It is a non stop power rhythmic sections blended with cinematic keyboard atmospheres. The band does a great job bringing this story and concept to it climatic conclusion. The choir provides the illusion of a humanity once again unified towards the common goal to go on despite all its imperfections and disasters.
In a year that has already produced concept albums by Pain Of Salvation In The Passing Light Of Day and Ayreon’s The Source, that are actually signed artists, it seems that some bands and artists have chosen to go independent/unsigned for their conceptual debuts. Earlier in the year I reviewed some independent/unsigned concept albums from Ireland’s The Vicious Head Society Abject Tomorrow and Aeloias, The Architect and now Quadrus’ Entropia, it appears that this may turn out to be the year of the independent artist or band doing concept albums without any label support whatsoever. Although Quadrus have only been together just under three years they sound and operate like a band that has been around anywhere from 10 to 15 years. This was very well written, arranged, produced, mixed and mastered. This gets a very strong 5/5 for independent quality.