Monday, April 30, 2012

Concerning Comments..

   As some of you may have noticed, it was kind of difficult to leave comments here.
The reason was that in order to leave a comment, you should have your own blog and make the comments through it. Well, not any more!
  I manage to change a few settings, and from now on anyone can leave a comment without any problem. (At least i hope so...)
I believe  this will make things far easier, and therefore more people will be tempted to write their opinions, suggestions, or whatever they like in general.
   Thank you in advance :)

IAN ANDERSON: Thick as a Brick 2...


'Thick as a Brick' was released on 1972, and it was the answer of Ian Anderson to critics and media when they were 'accusing' Jethro Tull of having become a Progressive Rock band. I believe the whole idea was extremely sarcastic, but in the end became one of the best and most famous albums ever recorded by the band.
The record contains just 1 song in 2 parts, (one part on each side). (approx. 20 mins each). If it was today, it could be one song of 40 mins length, but back then they had to make the song  in two parts, because of the two sides of the vinyl records.
   And now, on the album's 40th anniversary comes from Ian Anderson 'Thick as a brick 2'. The sequel...
 Truth is that except the title, and very few tunes that brings to the mind the first album, these two albums are quite different. Thick as a Brick 2 is a concept album, it contains 17 tracks, that most of them are between 2-4 minutes long. (Only exception the song 'A change of horses' that is 8 minutes long).
 But the songs are so cleverly placed in order, and also they have no space between them, that the final outcome is very nice. Here Ian Anderson tells the story of the 8-years-old-poet 40 years later. The story also incudes a few different options of our poet's future, given with the so familiar sarcastic way of Ian Anderson.
   For me part 1 of the first 'Thick as a Brick' was a masterpiece! Here you will not find any materpiece, but instead you will listen to a mature album, and by far the best Ian Anderson's solo work. (Also compared to Jethro Tull's latest records this is a better one.)
  His voice is in a good form, (or the studio engineers did a very good job), the songs are over the average, and the record as a whole is a very interesting job, that bends towards Prog-Rock in my opinion.
   Allthough in this record almost all the musicians who are playing are the ones under the name of Jethro Tull the last years, the record was released as a solo album.
   I believe that we live in a time that new good rock releases are very rare, and this record is one of them. It sure is worth giving it a try...
   Here you can watch the official trailer for this album:

 

Friday, April 27, 2012

A small useful hint...

   When I started this blog I had in mind the idea of making theme categories on the side, so if someone is just interested in travels for example,to be able to click this specific category and see all the travel posts.
As I found out later on, this can't happen. Or if it does, it is propably so complicated, that I don't know how to do it...
 Instead, if you notice at the end of each post I have put a label. For example travels, music etc...
So if someone wants to read posts only from one category he/she can just press the name of the label.
Then you will see in the screen only the posts from the category you chose.
I hope this will be a helpful hint.
Thanks :)

TRAVELLING: To the Land of beautiful Horses and beyond. Part. 2


                               In order to avoid the heat, we left Kusadasi  early in the morning. 
 A few hours later, and after we had passed some unimportant places we reached Pamukkale. The word Pamukkale in Turkish means cotton castle, and the name  fits perfectly in this place. In the middle of a plain area stands a –not –so- high- mountain, with its front side totally white. It looked like it had snowed, although it was the middle of summer.  This phenomenon is caused by the water which is running there for centuries and contains certain carbonate minerals that leaves a white mud. With the passing of time this mud holds on to the rocks, and becomes hard. So the whole cliff takes this white colour.
Every here and there you can see some small natural pools of therapeutic water. It is impossible to describe this phenomenon and the beauty of the place with words  I'm afraid. Only looking at the pictures you can get a small idea...
  Around the same area, you can find the ruins of ancient Hierapolis. A Greek city at first, and later Roman, very popular in the ancient world because of the hot springs. Hierapolis was maybe actually the first natural spa we know. The whole area of both Hierapolis and Pamukkale is considered to be a World Heritage and is protected by Unesco.
   Upon our arrival there, we found a descent  hotel and rushed out to visit the sights around.
 First we wandered in the ruins of the ancient city, which surely was very impressive at its glory days. Today the ruins cover  a very wide area which is better to be avoided under the hot sun. The ruins are scattered around, but the most impressive ones are the ancient market, the theatre, and of course the huge necropolis, with the hundreds of sarcophagus that are almost everywhere. There are many more to see there, but we were tired, it was almost noon, and the sun was burning like you couldn't believe. So we left the city and moved to the cliffs of Pamukkale to experience this unique feeling.
   We visited the white cliffs, enjoyed the hot waters in the little pools on the rocks, took a few pictures of the panorama around, and headed to the pool with the natural soda water. We paid the entrance fee and we entered to a very beautiful area with a few cafe's and restaurants. In the middle lies a very big pool that contains hot natural soda, and is on the exact same place as the ancient Roman baths. Inside the pool you can see parts of ancient artifacts, such as columns, parts of walls, roofs, etc. The pool itself is a very big one, with many small channels, bridges, waterfalls etc. Again the feeling of this place is very hard to describe. But I can assure you that we enjoyed for quite sometime the swimming there. We made head massages under the small waterfalls, we swam over the ancient artifacts, and in general was a great experience! But time had passed, and after all these the only thing we wanted was a nice food. So we left this area and headed fast to the small and very traditional village of Karahayit, where we enjoyed a really tasty food in a very traditional restaurant. When I say traditional restaurant, I mean that you leave your shoes in the entrance, you sit down on carpets and big pillows, and you eat on some very low tables. Interesting eh?
   Really very tired after all these rounds, we spent our afternoon exploring the small village of Pamukkale that lies under these rocks, but it has nothing special to offer, except for the nice view of these white cliffs. At night the whole mountainside is lighted with colours and is a really magnificent view!
   The next day again very early, we hit the road once more moving further into the inlands of Turkey. Next stop the small island of Egirdir, that lies in the middle of a lake and is connected with a very narrow road with the coast. It looked interesting in the books, so we decided to spend the night there.
 To be continued...
                                Next part: Egirdir and Konya

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Greece slideshow

More than a year ago me and my wife made a slide show about Greece, and we uploaded it on YouTube.
It was especially made for some friends from Europe with whom we were playing the Lord of the Rings Online.
Because my mind is scattered in general, and I'm also not famous for my memory, I forgot the passwords etc, and therefore I couldn't log in to my own account on YouTube. The main problem was that among all the others, I had also forgotten the title of the slide show, so even I couldn't find it! hahahaha
  But after making many different combinations, I did manage to log in at last, and... there it was!
 I also changed the name of the post, to be easier to find.
So, if any of you wants to take a look, you can watch it here:

video


Or by clicking on the following link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OK_85mU1XsY&feature=context-gau

Thanks! :)

Greatest Rock albums of all times Part. 11


                        WISHBONE ASH: ARGUS

   I don't know about other countries, but 'Argus' is a legendary record in Greece.
It was released on January 1972, it is the 3rd album from Wishbone Ash, and it is considered their best work by far. Many music magazines named it as 'album of the year' on 1972.
The sound engineer was Martin Birch, who had also worked with Deep Purple and later on with Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden.
 The sound in this album is Rock with very nice melodies, and at some point it is 'flirting' with Progressive Rock. The basic characteristic here are the 2 leading guitars (instead of the usual one lead and one rhythm guitar), that gave to their sound a very different feeling, and actually this album it is considered a landmark for it's special sound. This style we listen here, was adopted later on from bands like Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden, among others.
In the years that followed, 'Argus' became a big live attraction, and that is still valid in our days.
   The record contains 7 songs, and with the exception of 'Leaf and Stream' (3.55), all the rest are over 5 minutes long.
  Songs like 'Warrior', 'The King will come', and 'Throw down the sword' are examples of how good rock music sounds like.
 I'm putting 2 videos here so you can listen and have an idea...
In the first video is the song 'Throw down the sword'. Pay attention especially on the 2 guitars, (after 3.40) so you will understand better what was this 2 lead guitars sound I'm talking about. In the second Video is the famous (I believe) song 'Warrior'.
Other albums I recommend: Wishbone ash, Live Dates.


















Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The city I come from, and the town I live in...


  
   I think I should have made this post earlier, but as the saying goes ' better late than never'...
   I was born and raised in Athens, in a rather central neighbourhood called Pagrati. It’s  location is great because it is close enough to many important places, and although it is considered a centre, at the same time it is not. We have Acropolis in 3km distance,  Syntagma square (where the parliament is) at 2.5 km, the centre of Athens at 4 km, and so on... The trademark of Pagrati is Panathinaikon Stadium, an all marble stadium that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
The problem started, when I realised that the neighbourhood I grew up was not there anymore, and Athens as well.
Everything around me seemed to be changing fast in the last years, and not in a good way. 
Pagrati became more populated, noisier, more polluted, and so on.
Exactly the same thing I can say about Athens, but in a larger scale. Don't get me wrong, I love Athens, I love my old neighbourhood, and I believe that is a very interesting place with many things to see and live. But in the last 5-6 years I started to realise that I didn’t want to live in a big city anymore. I was thinking what it was that the life in this city was offering me. Well, not much I had to admit. Maybe as I am growing older my priorities are changing, or maybe the quality of my life was getting worse year by year, or maybe both.
  It all started when for the first time in my life I was thinking how it would be to live in a small town and not in a central metropolis of almost 5.000.000 people.
The truth is, it was very difficult for me to imagine such a thing, because I had never lived anywhere else. (Except for small holiday periods here and there).
After giving some thought on that matter, I started discussing it with my wife (who is Turkish as I have mentioned in another post here), and we were both trying to figure out what to do, and what were our options. We didn't come to any conclusion then, and we let it hang for a while.
  Two things happened that made us start all over again thinking about these things: The birth of our first child Alexandros, and the forthcoming crisis.
For almost a year we were trying to find out what to do, how to do it, when, etc... We were considering every option that looked logical. We changed our minds 3-4 times about where we would live in Greece, and finally we decided something totally different!
 We were to move to Turkey! To be honest the idea was very scary for me.
This scenario was maybe the most difficult above all the others we had discussed so far.
   My wife comes from Istanbul, another huge metropolis. But in the last years  her parents had moved out and now they are living in a town next to the sea in the Aegean coastline of Turkey. The town is called Didim and took it’s name from the ancient Greek town that was in the same place called Didimos and was very famous for the temple of Apollo and the oracle center that were there once upon a time. So we thought that this was our best shot for many reasons.
   First of all, this town was kind of what we had in mind. The area looks a lot like Greece, the environment, the food, the climate, etc.
Second of all we had let's say a job ready waiting for us, as my wife's father owns a very big shop there and he needs all the help he can get.
                                             
   Didim is a medium size town for the standards of Turkey. On winter is about 50.000 people, but in summer there is a big increase on this number, especially because many Europeans (mostly English) are staying here 4-5 months, from spring till autumn. There are also about 4000 English living in Didim and around, throughout the year. Didim’s main income resource I believe is tourism, therefore you can find many restaurants, bars, cafe’s, and even a couple of clubs. In other words that means that at least half year is lively enough. The other half though.... :(
I’m not gonna get into details about the moving process, but I assure you it was a nightmare! We sold a few things, gave others as presents, we did throw many, and finally because of very bad luck and a stupidity we did, almost all our electronic goods were stolen. That includes, a pc, a laptop, Tv, a surround system, couple of dvd players, a play station etc... I have to admit that this incident was a serious blow!
After all these wonderful  things, we moved here and we tried to start a new life. Right now that I’m writing this, we are still trying... It’s almost a year we are here, and in this year I found many things that  I like and enjoy, and many I don’t like. But that’s normal I guess...
   The life here is more simple in general, calmer, without the stress that Athens was giving me.
We also found a nice house with a garden so the little monster can enjoy himself, we have many beautiful places to swim around, but on the other hand I’m missing many things that  I was used to all these years in Athens, and most of all my friends and my family. Well, I guess that is one of the prices I have to pay.
One of the main reasons I started this blog is to have something to occupy myself with, and not die of boredom! Hehehehe.
 As you can see already, I have added a few pictures in this post. On the top half are from Pagrati, and at the down half from Didim, so you can see how  the places I’m writing about looks like...
Thanks for reading this... :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Greatest Rock albums of all times Part. 10

                                                    

                                       PINK FLOYD : THE WALL

   Starting this post I want to make something clear: For me Pink Floyd was a Progressive-Rock band, (specially in the '70's). But they became so famous everywhere, that they are considered as a classic Rock band, & that's the reason I am mentioning their records in these series of posts instead of the ones that are specifically for Progressive Rock.
   Now, about 'The Wall': It was released on 30th of November 1979 as a double album, and it became a smash hit almost everywhere. It is a concept album, and the production is from Pink Floyd and Bob Ezrin. (Famous for his productions regarding Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Lou Reeed among others).
   The story here is about 'Pink' (the main character), and his relations with the people around him as he grows up. Starting from his over-protective mother, his teachers in school, his girlfriends, his wife, all his friends etc; and it ends with his final breakdown. The main idea is that 'Pink' builds slowly slowly an imaginary wall around him as he grows up, and in the end he is isolated from everyone. There he collapses.
   There are rumours saying that this album was actually a Roger Waters project, and the main character is himself as he was growing up. The story contains also many traumatic memories that Roger Waters (as a child) had from the 2nd World War where he lost his father. (Eric Fletcher Waters died in Italy in the battle of Anzio in 1944).
   Some other rumours saying that 'Pink' is actually a mix between R.Waters and Syd Barrett. (The band's first leader in the '60's).In any case, the only sure thing is that R.Waters is heavily involved with the story of this record.
   During the recordings there were many problems between the members of the band, and at this point Richard Wright (the keyboard player) quit the band, but he remained as an 'extra' musician (with a salary), perfoming with them during 'The Wall Tour'.
   Commercially, 'The Wall' was a huge success. Up to 1999 it's sales were over 11.500.000 records  in the USA , and over 20.000.000 worldwide.
Upon it's release, critical commentaries it received were contradictory. Some fancied it as a masterpiece, whereas others found it pompous and shallow. Despite the bad critics, the album climbed at the charts all over the world, reaching No.1 in many occasions.
   On 1982 the director Alan Parker made 'the Wall' a movie with the same title, and Bob Geldof (from Boomtown Rats) played the role of 'Pink'. For the sake of the movie one extra song was recorded (When the tigers broke free), and many others were re-recorded (or re-mixed), having Bob Geldof replacing Roger Waters on vocals.
  (Speaking for Greece, 'The Wall' was the best foreign album ever in sales, from the day of its release until 1997. (I don't know about now though).)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spotlights on: CAROL OF HARVEST

   Carol of Harvest is a widely unknown band from Germany. It was one of those bands that released one album in a private label and in a limited number of copies (500 if I'm not mistaken), and then vanished forever.
Their first (and last) record, named after the band's name, was released on 1978 and it is a great example of Progressive Rock. Their music consists of long arrangements with Moog synths, acid guitar solos, and the female voice that fits perfectly in the atmosphere of the album.
   With the passing years this record has been released a couple of times both in vinyl and cd, but again from small labels and in limited numbers.(The cd version is the one I  found myself). Therefore you can say it is kind of a collector's item. (The vinyl records).
I really tried to find more info on this band, but it seems impossible.
   So I decided to present them here without having actual informations to share with you, only because I believe that every Prog-Rock fan should have the opportunity to get to know them and listen to this album, which in my oppinion is a hidden jewel!
Here is the tracklist of the CD release:

1. Put On Your Nightcap (16:02)
2. You And Me (2:31)
3. Somewhere At The End Of The Rainbow (6:26)
4. Treary Eyes (4:17)
5. Try A Little Bit (9:59)
6. River (2:36) (Bonus Track)
7. Sweet Heroin (7:04) (Bonus Track)
8. Brickstone (1:14) (Bonus Track)

You can listen to a couple of songs from the afore-mentioned album here:

                                             
                                         









Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part. 2

            VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR: STILL LIFE (1976)

   I'm sure that VDGG fans will propably disagree with me as they would prefere one of the first period's albums. But for me the second period (that starts with 'Godbluff' and finishes with the live album 'Vital'), is more mature, less experimental, and contains some of the band's finest moments.
 Van Der Graaf  is a difficult band to listen to, if you are not 'well trained' with Progressive Rock. Their music is dark, based more on piano/organ and saxophones, and with Peter Hammil's weird voice which at some parts is melodic and soft, while other times it is flirting with cacophony. (many times that happens in the same song).
 'Still life' released on 1976 a few months after 'Godbluff', and a few months before 'World Record'.
(The band actually released these 3 albums in a 13 month period).
It didn't become success, it didn't sell particularly, (only in Italy became kind of success), but it is a very strong album, that if you get used to it you will discover the magic of VDGG in all its glory.
Songs like 'Pilgrims' 'Still life' and 'Childlike Faith in Childhood's End', are in my opinion among the greatest synthetic moments of VDGG.

                                  My personal rating: 8 out of 10

In the following videos you can listen 2 songs from this record: 'Still Life' and the epic 'Childlike Faith in Childhood's End'...

       
                                         

Greatest Rock albums of all times Part. 9

JETHRO TULL: AQUALUNG

   'Aqualung' is Jethro Tull's 4rth studio album, and by far their most successful one.
After the release of their first 2 albums which were mostly blues-rock in style, they tried to change their sound with the release of  'Benefit' and up to a point they did it. But the release of 'Aqualung' on 1971 was the real turning point for the band. They became famous, their songs were playing at all radios, and they became a band which was filling big stadiums in their live performances.
 'Aqualung' is considered as a concept album, and there is a story on each side (on the vinyl version of course), but that is something Ian Anderson denies.
The painting on the cover was inspired from some pictures of homeless people that were living around Thames, and were taken by Ian Anderson's wife. Aqualung is one of these people, and the first side of the record tells his story.
   The music style is Rock (in Jethro Tull's point of view), with elements of blues and folk, and in many occassions is "flirting" with Progressive Rock. It is Jethro Tull's best selling album with more than 7.000.000 copies sold worldwide. In the years to come it would inspire many artists and bands, and one of them is no other than Iron Maiden, who in 1983 made a cover version of  'Cross-Eyed Mary' and released it as a B-side on the single 'Trooper'.
   Upon it's release received very good critics, it climbed in the charts both in USA and UK, but it failed to reach the top. Best chart position it was No.4 in UK. The first (and only) single released from this album strangely it was not the self titled track. It was 'Hymn 43', but it failed to reach the high positions in the charts. With the passing years two songs became the trademarks of Jethro Tull, both from this album: 'Aqualung' and 'Locomotive Breath'.
   'Aqualung' was re-released on 2011 at the album's 40th anniversary. This release contains a new stereo and a surround 5.1 mix made by Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree.

Other Jethro Tull albums I recommend: Thick as a Brick, Minstrell in the Gallery, Songs from the Wood

 Here you can watch the not-so-famous song 'My God' performed live in the Isle of Wight festival 1970

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An update

Hello again!
Something sudden occured, and I will not be able to travel to Athens as I have said in a previous post.
Therefore I will continue posting new things as I was doing until now.
Thank you...

Greatest Rock albums of all times Part. 8

                            QUEEN: 
                A NIGHT AT THE OPERA

   ‘A Night at the Opera’ album took its name from the Marx Brothers movie with the same title, it was released on November 1975, and it was the most expensive album that had been recorded until then.
It became an immediate success, reaching No.1 at the UK LP charts, and stayed there for 4 weeks, while in the States reached No.4.
The music critics and the magazines praised it on many occasions, but because the style of this album is not clear, they categorized it from Heavy Metal up to Progressive Rock. Of course it is nothing of these. The truth as usual lies in the middle…
The band is at its best form in this album, with Brian May’s guitar  giving the lead in many songs, or just ‘painting’ small melodies and solos in others. Roger Taylor and John Deacon hold the background very tight, while Freddie Mercury gives some of the best performances of his career.
The album starts with the medley of the  ‘noisy’ ‘Death on two legs’ continuing with the operetta-like ‘Lazing on a Sunday afternoon’, and closing with the Hard Rock-like ‘Im in Love with My Car’, followed by ‘You’re my best friend’ and the ballad ‘39’ that slows down the rhythm.
 The second side opens with the 8 minute Prog-like ‘The Prophet’s song’, followed up with the sweet  tunes of 'Love of my Life' and  let’s not forget the ultimate moment here that is no other than the extremely famous ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. When it was released as a single climbed at No.1 of the UK singles chart, stayed there for 9 weeks, and within a year sold over 1.000.000 copies. After Freddie Mercury’s death in 1991 it climbed again at No.1 and stayed there for another 5 weeks.
 ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is considered to be one of the best songs of the 20th century.
There are thousands of pages written in the past for this album, and tons of ink used, and I don’t believe I have something new to add that hasn’t  been written already. The only thing I want to say is that in my opinion ‘A Night at the Opera’ album is a ‘must have’ for any Rock music fan’s discography.

Other Queen albums I recommend: A Day at the Races, Live Killers

Here you can watch a very interesting medley played live at Hammermith Odeon back on 1975:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A few words from me...

   A big hello to everyone!
    I started this blog 2 weeks ago, mostly from curiosity to see what a blog looks like, and also for fun.
In these 2 weeks I tried to learn how this thing is working, and also tried to put posts that I believed they will be interesting to some people. As I said in my first post, this blog will contain lots of music, and travels. Maybe from time to time I will be posting other things as well, but these 2 are the main so far. This may change in the future, I don't know yet...
   In these 2 weeks this blog reveived over 300 'hits' (or views), which it made me very happy, and kind of surprised I must say. I see it has many views from Greece (which is natural), enough from Turkey, many from Russia, many from the UK, and some from Germany and even USA.
I want to thank you all very much that you have spent some of your time visiting my blog, and the only thing I can say is that I will try to make it beter all the time. The problem is that I don't know how yet, but I will work on it. hehehe
    If any of you want to post an article here that has something to do with the style of this blog, he/she can send me an email with this article and I will post it uder his/her name. (of course). (for example if you want to make a presentation of a good but unknown album, write some things about a trip you made and want to share it, say a few things about a movie you found very nice etc), please feel free to contact me. After all, blogs are places that people can express their likes, right?
 Finishing this post, I want to inform you that after 2 days from now I will be visiting Athens, therefore there will be no new posts for a week or so. Never mind, I will post many alltogether when I return.
Thank you all folks! :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

TRAVELLING: SANTORINI

Santorini (Thera), is located in the Aegean sea in the Cyclades complex. Together with Myconos are the most famous islands of Cyclades. It lies in an area of about 73.000 square meters, and has a population of about 14.000 people. The island we see today is the result of an enormous volcanic explosion that occured 3.600 years before, and changed forever the face of Aegean, while in the same time a huge tsunami destroyed the famous Minoan civilization. (Some historians claim that it is not true though, and Minoan civilization was destroyed many years later).
 Santorini took its name from the church of Saint Irene at Perissa. Before it was known as Kallisti, or Thera. (Actually Thera is the official name). The main port is 'Athinios', the capital is 'Fira', and the main archaeological site is 'Acrotiri'.
The last decades Santorini has been a very popular destination for tourists all over the world, and every year hundreds of thousands are visiting and enjoying this very beautiful and unique island.
The most famous places are: Fira, (the capital), Kamari and Perissa (with the famous beaches with black sand), and Oia with the astonishing sunset.
 The view from Fira to the Aegean and the volcano crater in the middle of the sea is simply breathtaking. There are no words to describe this feeling.
 As for myself, I feel extremely lucky because being from Greece gave me the priviledge (because it is a priviledge) to visit this amazing island 14 times so far!
   Chinese (I think) say that one picture equals with a thousand words. So I'm putting here a few thousands words with these pictures, so you can have a small idea of the beauty of this island...
  

Greatest Rock Albums of all Times Part. 7

                                         THE WHO: 
          WHO'S NEXT (1971) & QUADROPHENIA (1973)
    Again two albums in this series of posts, this time by The Who.
Who's Next was released on August 1971. After the Rock opera  'Tommy' (1969), Pete Townsend had in mind to record one more Rock opera called 'Lighthouse'. It was a very ambitious concept, but after big fights with their producer the project collapsed, giving Pete Townsend a nervous breakdown.
After that incident, the band changed producer, joined the studio with many unfinished songs and scraps, and started to record new songs or finishing a few older ideas.
   It was the years that synthesizers were something rather new, so they decided to use them in this album. (In the intro part of Baba O' Riley for example).
  The result of all these, was a very powerful album, that upon its release received very good critics and entered the charts instantly. (No.4 in the US Billboard charts, and No.1 in the U.K album charts).
Many songs from this album gained massive air-play in the radio stations, and some of them you can listen from the radios even in our days, almost 45 years later. Songs like 'Baba O' Riley', 'Behind Blue Eyes', and 'Won't Get Fooled Again' among others in this album, left their mark in Rock History and increased The band's fame all around the world.
In 2006 TİME Magazine chose 'Who's Next' as one of the best albums of all time.
  Because the idea of another Rock opera had been always in their minds, after Who's Next they decided to give it another shot, and this time they made it. The result was Quadrophenia, which was released on 19 October 1973, as a double album.
   The story is about  the 'Mod movement' and it's taking place mostly in London and Brighton in the years 1964 & 1965.
  During the recordings, Pete Townsend spend many hours in the countryside with a small portable recording machine, trying to capture sounds from the nature and outdoors environments. Many of these sounds were used in the album such as the sounds of the sea, the rain etc..
Quadrophenia reached No.2 in the United States  (that's the highest position that any album by The Who ever reached in America), and No.2 in U.K as well.
   In 2011 Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend received the 'Classic album award' for Quadrophenia from the Rock n' Roll Honour Awards.
  By clicking on the following YT links you will be able to listen to the  song Behind Blue Eyes, taken from the album Who's Next, and to Love Reign O'er Me taken from Quadrophenia.
THE WHO: Behind Blue Eyes
THE WHO: Love Reign O'er Me




  










Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part. 1

                         GENESIS: NURSERY CRYME (1971) 

   Nursery Cryme was the 3rd studio album recorded by Genesis, and it was released on the 12th November 1971. It is the band’s first album including Phil Collins on drums and Steve Hackett on guitar. (Phil Collins replaced John Mayhew and Steve Hackett came as a replacement of Anthony Phillips). This classic, five-piece line-up of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks, will remain unchanged until the departure of Peter Gabriel on 1975.
  Nursery Cryme signifies a major change in the band’s sound, by moving away from the folk-oriented sound of ‘Trespass’, and getting into a more aggressive guitar-driven Progressive Rock style.
   Upon its release, the album received mixed reviews and wasn’t commercially successful. It became famous only in Italy, reaching at No.4 in the album charts. (Italy always had - and still has - a devoted Progressive Rock fan base).  
  The album begins with one of the band’s most famous songs; The Musical Box, with the bizarre  and kind of twisted lyrics.
The story is written by Peter Gabriel and is taking place in Victorian England, concerning two brothers (a boy and a girl) that live in a farm. The girl (Synthia) kills her brother (Henry), by chopping off his head with a cricket bat. (That’s the picture on the cover actually). After his death, Synthia discovers Henry’s Musical box. When she opens it, Henry returns through it as a ghost, and he starts aging very fast. As he had already grown, he tries to persuade Synthia to have sex with him. At that point his nurse grabs the musical box, throw it at him, and they are both destroyed.
  The next song, ‘For absent friends’ is a ballad, about two widows that are going to church and pray for their dead husbands. That is officially the first song where Phil Collins is taking the role of the lead singer, and that is something he will do a lot later on, after the departure of Peter Gabriel.
  The lyrics in ‘Fountain of Salmasis’ are taken from the Greek mythology. It is the story of the nymph Salmasis, who tried to rape Hermaphroditus. In this version of the myth, Salmasis and 
Hermaphroditus are becoming one in the end.
   Another very interesting (lyric-wise) song is The Return of the Giant Hogweed, in which, Peter Gabrile tells the apocalyptic story of a "regal hogweed" being brought from Russia by a Victorian explorer to the Royal Gardens at Kiev. Later, after being planted by country gentlemen in their gardens, the hogweeds take on a life of their own and spread their seed throughout England,
preparing for an onslaught. The citizens attempt to assault the hogweeds with herbicide, but the plants are immune. After a brief instrumental (subtitled "The Dance of the Giant Hogweed"), the song ends in a crashing climax where the hogweed reigns victorious over the human race.
(Did I mention that one of the reasons I love Genesis so much is because of their lyrics)?
   In my opinion ‘Nursery Cryme’ is a brilliant album and a very good example of Progressive Rock of the 70’s. It's not an easy album to listen; perhaps it’s the contrary. But if you discover its hidden pleasures, you will love it for the rest of your life. (As I do for the last 20+ years now).
                        My Rating: 5 stars.
 If you click on the following link you will see a live performance of The Musical Box filmed for the Belgian TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W35wtfcByIY

Friday, April 13, 2012

TRAVELLING: To the Land of beautiful Horses and beyond...


   This is my first post about a very nice travel I did with some good friends many years ago. It was a long travel full of very interesting and unique places and  because I want to make it right, I will write about it in parts. (If you are wondering about the title, according to one theory  the word Capadokkia comes from the anc.Percian name  ‘Katpatuka’ which means the land of beautiful horses, because that area was famous for its horse breeding).
Well, we’d better get started...
    Many years ago,( it was late spring if i remember well) we were sitting at a cafe with my girlfriend back then (now my wife), and a couple who were our friends, talking of what we could do on summer. We wanted to go on a nice trip with the bikes but didn’t know where.We  said we could maybe visit the coastline of Turkey, and it sounded nice, but suddenly my  girlfriend (who is Turkish by the way) saıd ‘why don’t we visit Capadokkia?’
Capadokkia… A fairy tales’ land (in my head at least), the land with the undeground cities, the houses carved in the rocks, the monasteries dating back to the 1st century… But also the land that lies in the center of Turkey.
We all fell silent for a moment. I guess we all liked the idea, but we were considering if we can do it and how.  I saw my friend looking at me, smiling, and he said ‘at least we can give it a try’.That was it! 2 minutes later we were all talking in excitement on how to go , when  to go, what to see etc…
2 motorcycles, 4 people, a great travel ahead, everything looked great!
The next months passed very slowly mainly over maps and  travelling brochures in order to gather as many information as possible. Every time a new place was added, and finally we decided to make a big round in order to see many places that were close to the route of  Capadokkia, and from there and on.
I don’t remeber very well now, but if I’m not mistaken the whole trip would be approximately  4000 km. Great stuff!
   Last days before the travel another friend was added to join our company, but with a car not a bike. So finally we were 5 people with 2 bikes and a car. What a waste of fuel!
    The big day finally arrived, and we all took the ferry from Athens to Chios and from there another small ferry to pass to Cesme, a small Turkish port  in the Aegean coastline.Everyone was so excited, and we couldn’t wait to ride our bikes and begin the trip. We reached Cesme, and headed south. First stop: Kusadasi. The famous touristic resort of Turkey. We stayed overnight only to be able to  visit the ruins of the ancient Greek (and later Roman) city of Ephesus. Despite the crowd and the heat, Ephesus was spectacular!
 I strongly recommend it to everyone that visits the coastline of Turkey. Huge city, well preserved in many parts, including among others  the very big ancient theatre (60000 people capacity), and the breathtaking Celcus Library. After we satisfied our cultural needs it was time for some fun. So, next stop: a huge watermania ! hehehe.
   The next morning we left Kusadasi, on our way to the inlands to visit an amazing place called Pamukkale, and the ancient city of Hierapolis that lies next to it.
To be continued...


 









Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tales from the Progressive Oceans

Here im starting a new series of posts about the music category thas is called Progressive Rock.
(Or Prog Rock, or Art rock, you name it).
Progressive Rock was mainly an English thing. What I mean is that mostly english bands were involved in it. Of course there are bands from everywhere that played progressive (even from Japan), but at a percentage of 79% I believe are English.
Here I will present some very good records (according to my oppinion but also in general), so it maybe will be a nice place for some of you to get an idea about this great music style.
Because allthough it is rock, it'is a very unique kind of rock. With long songs many times, many changes withing the songs, strange instruments sometimes, or total absence of classic rock instruments some other times, (guitar for example), and even classical orchestras playing together with the band.
If there is something very characteristic about this music idiom it is the complete absence of refrains at most of the times. You know, the part of the song that you sing slowly when you are doing a job at home, or when you are in the car, you will not find it here. Because this music is not the music to listen when you deal with other things. You have to sit down and listen!
Many of the musicians involved in this are coming from music schools or universities, with classic studies in music, perfectionists that most of the times they tried to combine their classical studies with rock sounds. But it doesnt end there. The lyrics are often odd, poetic, hard to understand sometimes, and also lets not forget the album covers. The usual rock album covers with the band in any possible photograph are absent here. Here you will see paintings, strange photographs, and so on.
What I want to say is that Progressive Rock is Art!
Starting from the cover, until the last piece of music inside the record.
Here I will be presenting some classic prog records, some others not so known, and I will also include sometimes records from bands that are not considered as progressive, but at some point they released 1-2 records that can fall into this category. So, the hard-core progressive fans please be a little open minded about it! :)
P.s: The picture you see is a painting from Roger Dean, and it was the cover of the album 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' by Yes. (Now you also know where the title of this post came from...)

Greatest Rock albums of all time Part.6

VAN MORRISON: ASTRAL WEEKS & MOONDANCE
  Again two albums in this list, from 'Van the Man' this time.
'Astral Weeks' was released on November 1968, it was his second album, and had  nothing to do with the previous one, which was including the hit song 'Brown Eyed Girl'.
 This album was actually recorded in just 3 days, with Van Morrison having  surviving problems, and it's a difficult album to listen to and to enjoy. It needs well trained ears in order to appreciate it, and therefore is highly respected in the musical circles. It is considered to be as one of the most influential albums  for many musicians ever since.
Upon its release, it received very good critics, with Rolling Stone magazine naming it 'album of the year' among others.
 The musical style of the album is a mix of Jazz, Blues, Folk and Rock. The album didn't have any hit song, failed to have massive air play in the radios, and therefore didn't sell very much.
  Despite that, it is considered as a very important album, and in 1987 Rolling Stone magazine placed it at No.7 in the list with the 'best albums of the last 20 years' and at No.19 in the list with the '500 greatest albums of all time', whilst Mojo magazine placed it at No.2 in the list with the '100 best albums'.
The best moments of the album in my oppinion are 'Madame George' and the very beautiful 'Ballerina'.
I surely don't recommend this album, unless you concider yourselves 'trained listeners' and/or you like jazz music more than I do...
 
   But I strongly recommend his next album which was released on Februaly 1970 and it's no other that the famous 'Moondance'. This is probably one of the best albums Van Morrison ever recorded, if not the best.
  Upon its release it received praises from the critics, gained A+ in many occasions, and had a massive air time in the radio stations almost everywhere. It is also the first album on which Van Morrison did the production all by himself.
  The music style here is more Blues, Rn'B and Jazz and the mix of all those three styles, creates a wonderful listening experience.
  Moondance was the album that actually established Van Morrison as a great singer/songwriter, and its sales continued for the next 40 years, making this album a 'classic' in Rock music.
Some tracks you might know from this album are: 'And it Stoned me', 'Crazy Love', 'Brand New Day', and of course the widely known 'Caravan' and 'Moondance'.
Other Van Morrison's records I recommend: Tupelo Honey, Hard Nose the Highway, It's too Late to Stop now (Live)