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August 2002

 

     
 

 
YES


WIGWAM

DEEP SEA SWIMMERS
 
DAVID BOWIE
 
FLAMING LIPS
 
JETHRO TULL
 
     
  YES
Symphonic Live
(Eaglevision)

Going all the way back to their 1969 self-tiled debut album, Yes were always most highly regarded as a studio band. The fact that they were also among the first of the post-Beatles prog-rockers who could actually perform their albums live, took nothing away from the expert musical craftsmanship that permeated albums like The Yes Album, Time & A Word, Fragile and Topographic Oceans. Many years and many albums later, Yes are still at it in a big way, having released some excellent albums over the past over the past five decades and especially over the past five years. A fitting document of the group’s 2001 orchestral world tour, Yes Symphonic Live blends all the best aspects of the group’s live show within the context of a greatest hits video. Recorded live in Amsterdam on 11/21 & 22, 2001, the group’s recent double disc DVD on NYC-based Eagle Eye Media is clearly the group’s best live document to date. While the group were on tour promoting their groundbreaking 2001 album Magnification, there’s only three tracks from that album with the bulk of the classic material—with the exception being “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”—dating back to the ‘70s. Backed by The European Festival OrchestraAlan White, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire and Steve Howe bring the best of Yes to life once again on Symphonic Live. For the DVD, Yes are assisted by keyboardist Tom Brislin, who revives some of the brilliant keyboard parts once performed by big names like Pat Moraz, Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye. While it’s disappointing that there’s nothing from recent Yes album like The Ladder and Open Your Eyes and nothing music from any of their recent solo albums, it’s also easy to admit that Symphonic Live not only sounds great, but it’s a total pleasure to watch. The state of the art filming of the entire show was incredibly well thought out and there’s even a second disc—apart from the concert DVD—documenting the concert entitled Dreamtime and a bonus video of the Magnification track “Don’t Go”. For the tail end of the ‘60s, for much of the ‘70s and for the past 20 years, Yes have withstood all kinds of musical changes and have come out better for it all. Watching the group perform Yes classics like “Close To The Edge”, “Ritual” and “I’ve Seen All Good People”—backed up by a full fledged orchestra on Symphonic Live—is a watershed moment in the history of a group that clearly knows no creative limits. www.eaglevisionusa.com


 
  WIGWAM
Titans Wheel
(EMI / HARVEST)

Long a favorite among progressive rock and pop fans in the know, Wigwam are best remembered for their 1975 album Nuclear Nightclub, which was released in Finland on Love Records and in England on Virgin Records. Led by U.K. singer-songwriter Jim Pembroke, Wigwam were the biggest band in Finland from the late ‘60s through most of the ‘70s. They reformed for a fantastic album in ‘92, entitled Light Ages, and now ten years after they rise again for a fantastic studio album called Titans Wheel, released in Finland on EMI / Harvest Records. Pembroke has written some incredible new tracks for the album and he’s joined by long time Wigwam members including the outstanding guitarist Pekka “Rekku” Rechardt—co-writer of many of Wigwam’s best songs. Over the years, Wigwam have often been compared to music legends like The Band, Procol Harum, Warren Zevon and The Beatles and they prove their excellence yet again on their monumental 2002 masterpiece Titans Wheel. Filled with catchy rock riffs, Pembroke’s stirring vocals, amazing rock guitar work from Rechardt and a great performance by everyone, Titans Wheel is an admirable CD, an album to keep for the ages. http://members.surfeu.fi/mmerilai/wigwam


 
  DEEP SEA SWIMMERS
Deep Sea Swimmers
(Teetering)

For discriminating pop fans, the new self-titled CD from Atlanta-based Deep Sea Swimmers is a bonanza. Sounding like a cross between R.E.M., Beck and mid-period Genesis, the album just blows you away with one song after the next. The group obviously knows how to craft a solid pop hook and on their new album—written by lead singer Mark Henderson and his brother and group producer / guitarist Robert Henderson—there’s plenty of rock solid vibes to go all the way around. Assisted by Chad Paetznick (drums), DSS scale new heights. The Deep Sea Swimmers CD—released on the group’s own Teetering Records—is one of the best new outings of the 2000’s. www.deepseaswimmers.com


 
  DAVID BOWIE
Heathen
(Columbia)

33 years after “Ground Control To Major Tom”, made it’s big splash on FM radio, during the summer of ‘69, David Bowie is back again with his 2002 opus, Heathen. The first of a multi-record deal on his self-owned ISO imprint, via Columbia Records, Heathen is filled with a number of Bowie jewels, reflecting all those changes he’s made over the past five decades. For Heathen, Bowie reunites with long time producer and band-mate Tony Visconti, while his new band features Visconti on bass along with guitarists David Torn, Carlos Alomar, Tony Levin (bass) with a special appearance by the great Pete Townshend. Matt Chamberlain handles the drums while Bowie and Visconti conjure up a wide palette of bizarre and often evocative soundscapes on a myriad of instruments. Musically, it’s a pretty mixed bag, vaguely directionless in the spirit of Bowie’s ‘76 classic Station To Station. Songwise, new tracks like “Afraid”, “Everyone Says ‘Hi’”, “Better Future” and the brilliant set-closer “Heathen (The Rays)” will soon be considered Bowie classics. Also of note are new Bowie covers of Frank Black’s “Cactus” and the Neil Young jewel “I’ve Been Waiting For You”—possibly Heathen’s highlight. Ultra bizarre cover art, no lyric sheet (?), but in summation, Heathen is a fine Bowie album worthy of repeat spins. www.davidbowie.com


 
  FLAMING LIPS
Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
(Warner Bros.)

Flaming Lips’ lead singer Wayne Coyne affectionately describes his band as a kinda cross between The BeeGees and The Butthole Surfers. That vibrant sense of vintage ‘60s pop meets trendy post-punk adventurism comes sharply into focus on the Lips’ best album ever. A magnificent masterpiece of 21st Century pop psychedelia, Yoshimi skirts around a hi-brow Japanese sci-fi fantasy storyline, but the songs are so catchy and the production and playing is so well attuned that you just sort of get swept away amid the fun. On Yoshimi the Lips sound very much like the Upstate, N.Y.-based Mercury Rev—a group that features former Lips member Jon Donahue and Dave Fridmann, whose co-songwriting and production on Yoshimi further elevates the entire album. The current Flaming Lips line-up of singer-guitarist Wayne Coyne, multi-instrumentalist / drummer Steven Drozd and bassist Michael Ivins really hit their stride with their latest and most far-out effort yet. www.flaminglips.com


 
  JETHRO TULL
Living With The Past
(Fuel 2000)

Having performed over 3000 concerts since their 1968 breakthrough album This Was, Ian Anderson and the many fine players who’ve been in and out of Jethro Tull over the years remain living legends. Tull’s long awaited DVD on L.A.-based Fuel 2000 captures the current band in fine form at recent live shows including a November 25, 2001 appearance in London. For Living With The Past, Anderson and company perform all their big hits and more on this expertly filmed and recorded DVD. For long time Tull fans the big surprise will be a January 2002 filmed reunion of the very first Tull lineup—Ian Anderson, guitar legend Mick Abrahams, Glenn Cornick (bass) and Clive Bunker (drums)—performing tracks from This Was. There’s also an acoustic session with Anderson performing tracks like “Life’s A Long Song” supported by a string quartet. The full color 12 page booklet—with current photos and 1,870 words penned by Anderson—casts the Tull tale in yet a new light. www.jethrotull.com


 
 
 
   
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