Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Camerata Meiga, one of those unknown little jewels

As I mentioned in the facebook page ( a couple of days ago, I don’t have much time this week. That’s why I’ll write about an extremely short-lived band. In fact, they only released one album with that name. There’s not much to say really, this will be a very short post. It’s (again) a folk band, but I’ll do something different next week. I found out about these guys by chance. Once, I was listening to an album by a Basque accordeonist I like quite a lot, when something different started playing. The thing is that, at the end of the album, two more songs had been added (it wasn’t, ahem, the original album), songs played by a band I’d never heard of. I liked those two tracks so much that I spent weeks (maybe months) looking for the whole album online, which was a difficult task, as they are virtually unknown.
When Xeque Mate (which means checkmate), a folk band that had released two albums (applauded, by the way, by both the critics and the public), welcomed three new musicians, they became Camerata Meiga.

Their only album, Habelas Hailas, was recorded during the first half of 1999. Those two words are the answer when someone in Galicia (where the band’s from) asks if meigas (witches) exist: they don’t, but “habelas hailas” (there are definitely some of them around).

The whole thing is outstanding, the musicians are superb and most of them can play several instruments, so you can hear quite a few of them. Habelas Hailas represents a brilliant attempt at making traditional folk music a bit more modern looking. Older sounding instruments such as the lute or the rebec are complemented perfectly by more modern ones, such as the bass guitar and the sax. Violins, accordions and some others also add moments of brilliancy to the album. Let's not forget the Portuguese singer Amélia Muge, whose voice shines in several songs, especially in A Tentaçao, and makes us think a bit about Portuguese fados. Given the consistency of the album, it's hard to highlight just one song; however, after thinking hard, that one would be the six-minute opener, Praça do Ferro.

As Youtube deleted my channel, part of the album is not there anymore. Here are links for some of the songs other people uploaded:

By the way, if you want to download the album, here’s a place where you can do it. And yes, when it says “a tip from our friend Aqualung”, that’s me, I’m almost proud of myself. Ok, not so much. By the way, that blog is pure gold, dozens of folk albums from all over the world, available for downloading!

I was going to start with Jethro Tull next week, but I may write something about Paco de Lucía instead. He's sadly just passed away, and, although my knowledge of his music is rather superficial, he was an amazing musician, probably the best guitarist I've ever heard. Oh, and sorry about the quality of this post, I wrote the whole thing in about fifteen minutes. I'll do better next time, promised!

Bonus track: that Basque accordeonist I mentioned at the beginning of the post

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Alan Parsons Project (II): pyramids, women and gambling

One week ago, I wrote about the early albums of The Alan Parsons Project. In this post I continue talking about their albums in chronological order. As it's one of my favourite bands, top3 I'd say, I'll write about each and every album they produced, even the ones that are a bit below average for their standards. If you don't have much time or just want to go straight to the really good stuff, skip the first two albums of the post. The third one, The Turn Of A Friendly Card, is the true star here. As always, here's the link to the blog's facebook page, if anyone has music to recommend, please do it there!

So, back to Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. The British duo would release Pyramid in 1978. While it’s not a bad album at all, it pales in comparison to its two predecessors. As you can imagine, it deals with pyramids, their mystique, etc, pretty normal considering there was a wide interest in them at the time, at least in the UK and the States.

Although the album is not that good overall, it kicks off with one of the Project’s little jewels, a less-is-more instrumental called Voyager. Simple and effective, it makes you want more. This introduction is linked (I mean, the sound doesn’t stop completely) to the first proper song of the album, What Goes Up. This combination of short instrumental and longer song linked together is also present in their first album and in their biggest one, Eye In The Sky. Anyway, What Goes Up is still a good song, especially the instrumental parts, where electric guitar and orchestra are put together again.

Then comes one of the best songs in the album, or so people say. I personally find The Eagle Will Rise Again languid, slow, cheesy. Not my thing, to be honest. The exact same thing happens with the last song, Shadow Of A Lonely Man. To finish with the disappointments, One More River and Can’t Take It With You are definitely more enjoyable songs but still far from the best tunes crafted by Parsons and Woolfson.

There are only three more songs in the album. Pyramania is a great song if you feel hyperactive. Ok, it’s not a big deal but it’s kind of funny. Hyper-Gamma Spaces is a great song if... if... if you’re high on something, I guess. I’m just fond of it for some reason. There was a video on youtube which combined this song with some pictures which had weird optical effects, perfect for an epileptic seizure. The video got deleted though, I found a new one but it’s not the same thing.

Finally there’s In The Lap Of The Gods, absolutely fantastic instrumental... you really feel you are where the song says. Powell’s orchestra and some vocal choirs shine again and, although the whole thing is superb, the last hundred seconds are delightful. Such elegance, such greatness, it makes my hair stand on end.

Eve came out in 1979. While (slightly) better than its predecessor, it’s still below average (or at least far from the great stuff) when it comes to this band’s standards. The album is about the female’s overpowering effect on man, because let’s face it, weak sex? You girls do what you want with us!

Joking apart, the two instrumental tracks are, as always, very good, particularly the opener, Lucifer. Nothing new to explain here, one melody, another one joins, etc. Mysterious and haunting, as always.

The sung tracks, though... I don’t know, many of them seem kind of bland, irrelevant. Sure, the lyrics are good and there are some nice details (Winding Me Up, a song about how a woman is able to dominate her boyfriend or whatever, starts with the sound of a wind-up doll being cranked). Still, I don’t find anything special about You Won’t Be There, You Lie Down With Dogs, Don’t Hold Back and I’d Rather Be A Man. Winding Me Up has at least a cool instrumental intermezzo, the orchestra provides an excellent back-up in Damned If I Do, and the sadly deceased Lesley Duncan delights us with her beautiful voice in If I Could Change Your Mind. All in all, it’s still a rather forgettable album, in my opinion.

The next album may need a longer explanation. After two disappointing CDs, Parsons and Woolfson recharged batteries and started the eighties nailing it. On the spot. 1980’s The Turn Of A Friendly Card may be their best album (it’s either this or their debut one). It deals with the story of a man who starts gambling and loses everything.

First of all... the album design is extremely cool! That makes me feel less sorry about buying the album before having proper internet and knowing the correct websites to download this stuff.

May Be A Price To Pay kicks off the album. An orchestra, arranged and conducted as always by Andrew Powell, starts the song, first making you hold your breath thinking what’s next, and then officially welcoming us to the eighties with a catchy instrumental intro, which leads to the voice of Elmer Gantry, who does a good job here. Games People Play is even catchier though, and it was a pretty big hit back then, a very 80s disco-like track.

Time features the first appearance of Eric Woolfson as lead singer. Alan Parsons was not a big fan of his partner’s voice, which is the reason why Woolfson didn’t take the main singing role before that. The change proved to be a great decision, as Woolfson’s sweet and dreamy voice dominated most of TAPP’s subsequent hits. In the little booklet that comes with the remastered edition of the CD, Parsons literally admits he misjudged his partner’s vocal talents. The song reminds me of Spanish poet Jorge Manrique and his comparison between life and a river.

The album is so good that even pretty nice songs such as I Don’t Wanna Go Home, Snake Eyes (the casino sounds were recorded by the duo in Montecarlo’s casinos) and the instrumental The Ace Of Swords (which kicks off well but later seems more like just the “skeleton” of a song, a bit underarranged) seem almost dull.

The Gold Bug (which, by the way, is the title of a story by Edgar Allan Poe) is a tremendously cool instrumental. It starts with some whistling and then guitars, bass and amongst others are added one after the other. Because of its title, it makes me think of (and no, I’m not drunk or high or anything like that) a fat gold bug (which would be the bass guitar) walking in an almost dancing way while being joined by different insects each time a new instrument makes its way into the song. Ok, this was weird. Ahem. Let’s continue, shall we?

The Turn Of A Friendly Card is a sixteen minute suite composed of five tracks: The Turn Of A Friendly Card (part 1), Snake Eyes, The Ace Of Swords, Nothing Left To Lose and The Turn Of A Friendly Card (part 2). The last two songs are outstanding. Nothing Left To Lose is a ballad-like composition sung again by Woolfson and features a beautiful accordion solo by an anonymous Parisian session musician. Unfortunately, the instrumental epilogue, while good, doesn’t fit the rest of the song at all (if you read the first post about The Alan Parsons Project, the same happened with I Robot’s Don’t Let It Show). The second part of The Turn Of A Friendly Card does have a wonderful instrumental part which skillfully combines, as in so many other occasions, Ian Bairnson’s electric guitar and Andrew Powell’s orchestra.

Although there are five more APP albums, next time I'll probably write about something different and I'll leave those albums for later.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day

I already wrote something for this week, but I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to post some more or less romantic songs, as it's Valentine's Day. No never-ending text though, just music (ok, I'll still write, but not so much!). I don't want to post the four or five cheesy romantic songs everybody knows though, that would be boring. I'll try to be more or less original so whoever reads this posts discovers a few nice songs. As I said, the songs won't necessarily be super cheesy, but at least more or less love-related (a romantic-ish melody is enough to fit in that category in my book, by the way!). Oh, and, as always, here's the link to the facebook page for this blog:

Anyway, here are the songs:

Lágrimas Negras isn't really the kind of song anyone would listen on Valentine's Day... it's a love song, but not precisely a happy one. Still, this version is magnificent; you won't listen to a more elegant piano. You just won't.

Ok, time for another sad song, but that'll change soon, I promise. Damn it seems I've just been dumped or something, but it's nothing like that, I'm fine, no tears in my eyes, promised! Anyway Don't Think Twice, It's All Right is (one of) the saddest song(s) I've heard. It's a pity youtube blocks 90% of uploads concerning Bob Dylan. I uploaded the version from the album Dylan but it's not there anymore, so this other version will have to do. Still, the guitar work in the blocked one made the song much more heartbreaking that it already is... although the lyrics are more than enough. If anyone identifies with them, it'll be a tough three minutes.

Smiling time now! Cali has a few love-related songs in his album L'amour Parfait, some happy, some sad. My French is not perfect but after reading the lyrics (and well, the mood of the song makes it pretty clear, I'd say) it looks like Pensons à L'avenir is a song about... a happy couple thinking about the future. Comforting stuff.

If I write "love song by Eric Clapton" maybe the first one that will come to mind is Wonderful Tonight. My choice is still pretty obvious: Layla is not as romantic, but holy cow, just listen to this version. One of my favourite songs of all time.

Update: Youtube deleted the version I mentioned, so here's another one.

Next one's pretty sad again. Don't Let The Moment Pass is a song from the Freudiana album by Eric Woolfson (it was going to be an APP effort at first but things changed, I'll explain that another day). Now tell me this song is not beautiful.

Now, I know Jethro Tull is not the most romantic band of all time but hey, they do  have some love songs. This one kind of reminds me to the one from Cali I posted earlier.


This one kind of has a special meaning for me, many memories. Anyway it's beautiful right? It just can't sound more romantic!

This song is about an ex-girlfriend of Paul Simon, if I'm not mistaken. For those who have an ex far away and still remember him/her!

Ok ok I'm almost done. Last sad song of the day. Very sad. If I could choose a voice, I'd choose this man's voice, though, it's so sweet even in sadness that it breaks my heart. The song is about an impossible love story because the girl's family just won't allow it. Here's the translation to English:

I know I've posted quite a lot of sad songs, which maybe is not the most appropriate thing for today, so to make up for that, here's a song that will make everyone smile! I guess most of you already know it though.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The Alan Parsons Project (I): tributes to Edgar Allan Poe and Isaac Asimov

Well well, I feel a bit lazy (I mean, more than usual) so this time I’ll talk about a band I don’t have to research much about, as it’s one of my favourites and I already know a few things about them. The Alan Parsons Project is a prog rock/soft rock/whatever you want to call it band which is atypical in some aspects, as you will see. Oh, and before I start, this is the facebook page for the blog:

First of all, the band didn’t have many regular members. It was basically Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson surrounded by a bunch of session musicians (although some of them were regulars, like Ian Bairnson and his distinctive electric guitar, singer Lenny Zakatek and Andrew Powell and his orchestral arrangements). In most songs, it was Eric who would have the idea for the song and then Alan would give it a shape, as he was an audio engineer. Quite a good one, in fact: previously to the birth of the Project, he was involved in the making of The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon (Pink Floyd even credit him as an important contributor... he was paid 35 dollars a week though... ok, that meant more back then) and Atom Heart Mother, and Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat, amongst other albums.

Parsons and Woolfson met in 1975 at Abbey Road Studios. Once both men were there, they saw each other immediately... because they were the tallest men in the room. They would soon start their partnership, which would last fifteen years, in which ten albums were produced. However, there would be no concerts during those years, as they remained a studio band. Only after their separation would Parsons start touring, using the songs born during their time together, while Woolfson dedicated himself to musical theatre.

Their first album is, if not the best, one of their two or three best ones. Tales Of Mystery And Imagination- Edgar Allan Poe is a true masterpiece, although you may have to read some stories by Poe first.

As in the next four albums, Tales Of Mystery And Imagination opens with an instrumental. Or almost. I mean, in A Dream Within A Dream, first it’s Orson Wells who says a few words, while some instruments start stirring slowly in the background. Then he stops and a haunting instrumental begins. Instrumentals are probably the best and most distinctive aspect of The Alan Parsons Project. While some of their (sung) songs sound a bit like cheap 80s pop, their instrumentals are just different from anything else you’ve heard.

If you listen to a few APP instrumentals, you’ll realize that they often use the “layer on layer” technique, that is, one melody with one instrument, then the same thing again but with another instrument and melody, then three instruments, etc.

So after this superb beginning, Edgar Allan Poe comes into scene. If you haven’t read any of his stories, you should. Dark and creepy. Rivers of ink and sheets of paper that turn into moments of unbearable tension. In short, good stuff. The following song is The Raven, which transforms into music the poem with the same name (in case you want to read it, this is the link Unknown fact: this was the first rock song to feature a vocoder. You don't know what's that? Google it, that's what I did!

The next song is The Tell-Tale Heart. If you haven’t read Poe’s story, this will probably be just a good-ish rock song. If you have, it’ll be an amazing adaptation. I’ll explain the story in a (hopefully) concise way, but, oh, I do need to spoil the ending, so feel free to skip to the next paragraph. The narrator is nuts but he tries to convince everyone that he’s totally sane. He kills an old man he supposedly loves just because of his “vulture eye”, dismembers him and hides the little pieces under the wooden floor of the old man’s room. When the police questions him in that very same room, he thinks he’s hearing a ringing noise... the old man heart is suddenly beating louder and louder, or so he thinks, so he admits having killed him. Arthur Brown sings like a real madman here, and the moment when the heartbeats are begun to be heard (at about 2.53 in the video) is great.

The following two songs/stories are The Cask Of Amontillado and The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether. I’m overexplaining things too much already, so I’ll keep it simple this time: more adaptations, cool music, please do listen to them. Both have a instrumental part in the end (great orchestra in the first one). The System’s instrumental part includes bits of the melody from the two first songs in the album.

At this point it looks like Parsons and Woolfson wanted more “grandeur” and decided to do a five-song adaptation of The Fall Of The House Of Usher. The five parts are Prelude, Arrival, Intermezzo, Pavane and Fall. The first, third and last part are not proper songs, but rather Andrew Powell’s orchestra attempting (successfully) to put you in an appropriate mood. On the other hand, Arrival and Pavane are superb songs... I especially love Arrival, which begins with the sound of rain and a church organ and continues with a wind effect made by a synthesizer. Magical melody. Haunting. Damn, I love this album.

The last song is To One In Paradise, a dreamy melody taken from one of Poe’s poems. It’s almost scary how Parsons and Woolfson combine a sweet melody with those lyrics (they would do it again in the future, and now that I think about it, the same thing happens in The Cask Of Amontillado).

One year later, in 1977, Parsons and Woolfson would change Edgar Allan Poe for Isaac Asimov. The title of the album is I Robot (does anyone know Asimov’s book with the same name?). I haven’t personally read any books from Asimov apart from the first part of the Foundation series, so this time I can’t play the pompous wannabe cultured guy and explain what makes the songs better than they seem. The album is still very good, although I prefer Tales Of Mystery and Imagination.

The sound here bears a rather strong ressemblance with a lot of Pink Floyd stuff, which isn’t that strange, as Alan Parsons worked for them a couple of times. The opener is also the title track: I Robot is a six minute song in which the British duo just nails it. Well, the first minute and a half is not a big deal, more like mysterious sounds with no discernible melody, but after that it’s mindblowing. As in their first album, there’s a melody played by one instrument and little by little new melodies and instruments are added. Give it a try... sounds monotonous and boring at first? Now think about this: the melody that starts at about 1.40 and the one that starts at about 2.10 have totally different rhythms (or is it my imagination?) and the song still doesn’t fall apart. I don’t know, maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but I think in normal circumstances the song would be a total mess and instead it’s brilliant! Ok, I’m getting overenthusiastic and you probably think it’s still boring, here’s the link, feel free to bash me.

The whole CD is pretty psychedelic, and the thing is I don’t like when stuff gets really psychedelic, it just doesn’t make sense to me. Well I’d call it psychedelic, maybe you would use another word. Anyway, two songs are “too psychedelic” or whatever you want to call it, and thus they are pointless (to me). Those are Nucleus and Total Eclipse.

But let’s rather talk about the good songs. Breakdown’s last seventy seconds (the vocal choirs) are totally epic... Freedom, freedom, we will not obey/ Freedom, freedom, take the wall away/ Freedom, freedom, we will not obey/ Freedom, freedom, take them all away... robots talking about humans? I don’t really care, the song’s great (I’ve always been more of an instruments guy, I often don’t pay much attention to lyrics and I’m terribly dumb with metaphors and stuff like that).

Some Other Time is pretty cool too... The Voice is nothing special but it has a funny part when it gets all funky... oh, Day After Day (The Show Must Go On) definitely sounds like Pink Floyd. Actually a song from Pink Floyd’s The Wall is called The Show Must Go On, although I don’t think there’s a connection or anything like that.

Almost done, I just want to mention a couple of songs. Don’t Let It Show is beautiful, although I think the instrumental epilogue doesn’t really fit there. A matter of taste, I guess. And finally there’s Genesis Ch.1. V.32. The last track on the album may have a strange name for some. It did for me, until I read why. In the story of Creation, the first chapter of Genesis has only thirty-one verses, so it looks like this instrumental (which is simple but great, by the way) represents the following verse, the creation of Robots.

I'll probably post something about the next two or three albums of The Alan Parsons Project next week. Also, I may post a bunch of not so well known romantic (kind of) songs on Friday for Valentine's Day, it depends on how much time I have.

Bonus track: as I said earlier, Alan Parsons worked with Pink Floyd in, amongst others, Atom Heart Mother. Here's my favourite song of the album: 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Ian Anderson: his solo albums

Everyone who knows me has no doubt that my favourite band is Jethro Tull. I guess I’m pretty much a JT freak, so it’s just a matter of time before I write about them... probably three, four or five posts... however I want to write about Ian Anderson solo albums first. By the way, before I forget about it, I created a facebook page for this blog, I'll post all the stuff I write here and maybe also some songs from time to time. It'd be nice to discuss music there!

Back to today's musician! Ian Anderson, for those who are totally unfamiliar with the stuff I’m talking about, is Jethro Tull’s singer, flutist, acoustic guitarist, multiinstrumentalist in general (I’ve heard the guy also play piano, saxo, electric guitar, bass guitar, bouzouki, drums...), and absolute showman. He’s composed tremendously complex music, and his lyrics (although I often don’t really care much about lyrics in music) are often very intelligent and kind of poetic. By the way, about the complexity thing, I guess his solo efforts are slightly “easier for the ear”, if you know what I mean.

He was born in Scotland in 1947 and moved to England when he was twelve. He started a band with some childhood friends in 1963, called The Blades, which didn’t last long. Those friends would be members of Jethro Tull at some point, though. In 1967 Tull was born, and while they’ve never totally disbanded, Ian Anderson has found time to produce a few solo CDs.

Anderson has four solo albums, if we exclude Thick As A Brick 2, which, although it’s supposedly a solo effort, has a very Tullish sound to me. My blog, my rules, TAAB 2 is Tull stuff, end of the story. Oh, and he’s apparently going to release another album in April, can’t wait!

Ok, I’m done with the little introduction, to business, to business! The first, and worst, of those albums, is Walk Into Light (1983). It was released at a time when Jethro Tull stopped releasing one album per year (1983 was the second year without a Tull album since 1968), and also a time when the band started making very 80s-welovesynths-pseudoelectronicrock music. This album is no different, with Peter-John Vettese (who was a Tull member then) on keyboards  and co-writing half of the songs on the album (he’s a big reason for the electronic era of Jethro Tull).

The album is overloaded with heavily electronic keyboards and the other instruments barely tiptoe throughout the whole thing. Half of it is totally forgettable, and the other half, although catchy, is nowhere near the variety, complexity and brilliancy of Jethro Tull’s previous music (I told you I love the band!). Fly By Night, Made In England, Walk Into Light and Different Germany are the only songs that are really worth listening to.

Fortunately for many (at least for me), Mr Anderson would soon wake up from his synths fever. Four years after this, he would prove that he still could make great music; however his next solo effort wouldn’t see the light until 1995. But oh, what an effort.

Divinities: Twelve Dances With God, even if it has some songs in which it’s a bit easy to stop paying attention, is an absolute masterpiece. In fact I’m getting overexcited and I don’t know where to start. Hm. Ok, first of all, the album is totally acoustic, or rather orchestral. Forget about electric guitars or anything like that; the instruments played are the following: different kinds of flutes, keyboards (not the 80s electronic style ones, thank God), percussion, clarinet, oboe, violin, cello, harp, french horn and trumpet. Ian Anderson doesn’t sing at all, which I don’t really mind, as his voice was already screwed by then.

The album opener, given its title (In A Stone Circle), reminds me of a foggy dawn in Stonehenge where the mist slowly disappears until the sky is a clear blue. Slow song that makes you little by little more curious about the rest of the album. Here, as well as in the whole CD, Ian Anderson doesn’t play the flute in his usual harsh style which has been so acclaimed in many Tull albums, but rather in a much smoother one, which suits these songs much better.

Many songs in this album are fantastic. In Sight Of The Minaret has a cool Arabic touch, In A Black Box reminds me of a circus, In Maternal Grace is a really sweet lullaby, En Afrique... well, I can’t help thinking about Africa. In The Pay Of Spain doesn’t really remind me of Spain, though...

The last song, In The Times Of India (Bombay Valentine), is a really mood-lifting piece that intelligently uses the opener’s melody in the second half of the song to disappear little by little leaving the listener with the feeling of having finished a worthy, somewhat spiritual album.

Anderson’s next solo project was The Secret Language of Birds. There are some differences with the previous album, mainly that all of the tracks (except Boris Dancing) feature Anderson’s voice, shaggy, but still decent, as it was a studio album and not a two hour concert. Also, while it’s still an acoustic album, it’s not the same orchestral stuff. You may hear a violin here and there, but this time most of the work (at least the colorful one) is done by Anderson’s flute and acoustic guitar, another instrument he masters. Interestingly enough, a barely twenty-year-old Ian Anderson gave up putting much effort into learning the secrets of the electric guitar because he thought he’d never be as good as Eric Clapton.

The music here, although consistent, is not really pretentious, but rather a nice and calm bunch of sometimes ethnic flavored songs to enjoy in a summer day while laying on the sofa. The flute in Postcard Day is absolutely refreshing and I'd say it makes this song my favourite track of the album. I haven't found a linke to the song on Youtube, since those ******* deleted my channel.

I’d also like to highlight Aside, Sanctuary, The Habanero Reel and Circular Breathing. The first is a little ninety second piece which... well, I just like it, what can I say! I guess it’s nothing special for others. The second is tremendously peaceful (the violin was a nice touch indeed, Ian!). The Habanero Reel rocks because the accordion plays an important part, enough said. It talks about... capsicum. Spicy stuff. For food, I mean. As I said, don’t take the album too seriously, just relax and enjoy. Finally, Circular Breathing is one of the only songs where you don’t miss Ian Anderson’s 70s voice. His then weak (and nowadays sadly weaker) voice kind of fits the music.

Last but not least comes Rupi’s Dance. It’s basically another few flute-and-guitar based, generally acoustic tunes (the electric guitar is only heard is only heard in Lost In Crowds, if I’m not mistaken). However, while I described the previous CD as a summer-ish album, this one sounds more like winter music, at least most of it. Wrap yourself in a blanket and stuff like that.

I’ll unveil one of my darkest secrets now. Eurology is my pre-party song. I know, I know... I guess I’m weird and proud about it? It just makes me start dancing around like a (stupid) madman. Actually, that’s what I do while I put on my clothes. One day I’ll break my neck while trying to put on my trousers and jump around at the same time.

Old Black Cat is proof that Ian Anderson can describe grief and sadness perfectly. It’s amazing how a song about (the death of) an apparently bland cat makes you want to cry over a cat you’ve never had; the helplessness with which he sings here is almost pitiful. Anderson has always loved cats and I think I’ve read that this song was indeed about a cat he had.

Forgot to give his Christmas present.
Black cat collar, nice and new.
Thought he’d make it through to New Year.
I guess this song will have to do.

There are two more songs I want to talk mention. Griminelli’s Lament is a beautiful two-fluted composition dedicated to his friend (and flutist) Andrea Griminelli. Finally, Two Short Planks is a smile-maker epilogue for a very pleasant album. Again, it contains some delightful flute playing. It reminds me of my hate-hate relationship with tax law, though...

So these are Ian Anderson’s solo albums... one of these weeks I’ll start with Jethro Tull, however I’ll try to write about some other music first, as Tull will take quite a few weeks. Or maybe I’ll do one week Tull, next week non-Tull. Meh, I’ll see.

Bonus track: Ian Anderson in one of his flute playing frenzies. He's the man.