Sunday, December 31, 2017


ISR Music Magazine

"The Shaman"



A shaman is a specialist, usually a male figure found in hunter-gatherer and some other nomadic and simple agricultural societies.

The 'ideal type' of a shaman is characterized by having experiences of contact with the spirit world, or some other unseen world, in states of altered consciousness.

Shamans have various functions such as healing ('medicine men'), and providing advice, judgement, and understanding ('sages').

Shamans seem to be a clear prototype of the creative person and his role in society.

Shamans are seemingly marked-out from an early age, chosen by their nature for their particular role, and creativity is part of a package of unique personality traits.

Creativity is something like an innate disposition, a way of relating to the world - and not a thing chosen or deliberately adopted.

Thus a person is a shaman, and shamanism is his destiny; this person is "a creative", and creativity is his destiny.

A destiny transcending both form, and utility. In other words a creativity that knows no bounds.

Born in the sign of Taurus with the moon in Leo as; Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Eno is a simple man who creates deceptively simple music.

Known internationally as the Grammy-winning producer for U2, David Bowie, Talking Heads, and many others, Eno has earned the title of "GENIUS" due to his innovative and incredible body of work in disparate genres.

His resume includes ambient textural music, progressive rock music, and everything in between.

He is an artist as much as a musician. His music so subtle, moving and engaging that it has been used in the background of more than 100 television programs and movies.

He has never had a music lesson, plays no musical instrument fluently, and does not sing very often.

Yet his gifts in mixed media, art installations, and performance/work have been featured in art galleries all over the world.

Brian Eno was awarded the title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) which is awarded to England's top designers in all disciplines who have achieved ‘sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value, or significant benefit to society.’

The RDI is the highest accolade for designers in the UK. Eno won for; "Designing with Sound" in 2012.

The record albums he has produced sell well into the tens of millions, including Bowie's most critically acclaimed trilogy, U2's biggest selling CD, and the Talking Heads most iconic song.

A shaman, a mystic, and a guru, Eno has devised revolutionary techniques for record production and the creative process. Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas) is a deck of (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black container box. Created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt, each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.

Eno's solo albums as a leader are so artistic that you will return to them again and again, as his music does not provide the same experience every time you listen.

To the contrary, depending upon your mood, or your environment, your reaction to his music will make it seem as if the music itself has dramatically changed from the last time you heard it.

“Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences.” - Eno

"Artworks are made only as well as how people interact with them — and therefore by what quality of interaction they can inspire." - Eno

"Apollo" is perhaps my favorite of all his works, along side; "Once In A Lifetime" (same as it ever was), which he produced for Talking Heads.

"The Joshua Tree" which he helmed for U2 is one of the world's best-selling albums, with over 25 million copies sold. U2 released a remastered edition of the record in 2007 to commemorate its 20th anniversary. This album won the Grammy for Album of The Year.

By James Clark with Bruce Charlton

The Producers

ISR Music Magazine 


"You and I"


The Producers - Made in Basing Street

A wonderful release, a mixture of yes, wings, the beach boys high harmonies, and the "dream-pop" of 10cc.

Very lush and uplifting, in true Trevor Horn production style. The musical arrangements and lyrics are diverse and thoughtful, as Mr. Horn wouldn't have it any other way.

This album is kind of obscure in today's era of "corporate indie-rock". There is no whistling, ukulele or handclaps to be found here.

So to all 'Yuppies' hooked on Hozier, The Killers, or Black Keys, you should pass on this review.

And if you are a fan of the White Stripes or Imagine Dragons then you probably won't appreciate the sublime hypnotic sounds of The Producers.

Many of the tasteful references and influences are classic rock motifs that only over-40 'DILF-Rockers', dad's i'd like to fuck would recognize.

Ash Soan the drummer is a London-based session player who has played with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Hamish Stuart of the AWB and numerous others.

Lol Creme was the dream-pop singer slash keyboard player in 10cc. ('I'm Not In Love').

Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson are together again here for the first time since FGTH's Liverpool album. All their usual cleverness is here. At times things almost sound a bit too-slick with plenty of sheen and layered textures on everything.

The songs range from power-pop "Waiting for the Right Time", to acoustic ballads; "Man on the Moon", to The Buggles influenced; "Seven".

My personal favorites from the album are "Freeway" and "You and I".

The lead vocal duties are split between vocalist Chris Braide and Lol Creme (10cc), though Trevor Horn (Seal, The Buggles, The Art of Noise), takes the lead on a few tracks, and gives many of the background vocal tracks a nice polish with his high harmonies.

Stephen Lipson (a Horn protégé, studio musician, producer, guitarist, and synthesizer programmer) and drummer Ash Soan (Sheryl Crow, Squeeze) round out the band.

Since most of the performers are also producers, hence the name of the group, the quality of the arrangements is phenomenal, and the sound mix is a stunning aural experience.

Based on my adoration of music producers Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson, I had high expectations that this would be an incomparable album.

I was not disappointed.

The most notable tracks are:

"Freeway", a tribute to California's bucolic coastal highways, and luxury automobile driving in general.

Horn wanted to capture the experience of speeding through the Santa Monica Mountains, cresting the hills off Sunset Drive in the wee hours of the morning until the Pacific Ocean in all it's splendor comes into your view.

The song is steeped in Horn's signature sound; lush harmonies embellished by elevated lofty guitar riffs over a bed of multi-layered optimistic synthesizer chord progressions.

Mr. Horn and his protégé Mr. Lipson are renown for a wonderfully lucid audio experience in this signature style. (Seal: 'Don't Cry', 'Kiss From A Rose', and FGTH: 'Lunar Bay', 'Relax')

"Man On The Moon" is a heartfelt lullaby with Elton John's ballad sensibilities as an influence. It carries you wistfully away with sentimental lyrics and a soulful guitar solo.

"Garden of Flowers" is Trevor's lament for his late wife, record executive Jill Sinclair. Composed on a day of inclement weather when he was unable to go out on his boat, this touching lyrical song gently carries you in an undercurrent wave of pretty guitar playing.

"You and I" is a YES circa 90210 prog-rock pulsing synth-fantasy groove. This is an audiophiles kaleidoscope delight.

The vocal layering on the bridge section is clearly an homage to Jon Anderson and the acoustic guitar work pays tribute to both Genesis' Steve Hackett, and Steve Howe the YES guitarist.

"Your Life" also has YES signatures, borrowing riffs from "Roundabout" it starts out minimalist, the way Seal's songs do, then a graceful and subtle build up effect climaxes to emotional perfection.

I pre-ordered and bought the limited edition CD version of this album after I read an article about who was going to be in this band.

Everyone in this group has such an esteemed and world renown pedigree as a master craftsman.

I'm happy to say my expectations have been more than met. They have been surpassed.

''Basing Street'' is an extremely well-produced album. The music is lush, highly atmospheric, sophisticated and really rocks out.

Go get ''Made In Basing Street'', after you view the video below. The video will show you The Producers know EXACTLY what they are doing, live or in a studio.

If you like the all the flourishes that Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson include in their productions for FGTH, Grace Jones, YES, Annie Lennox, Propaganda, Buggles, and Seal, then you'll enjoy the imagination in this release.

The pedigree of Horn, Lol Creme, Steven Lipson, and Ash Soan is not to be denied here. Chris Braide's lead vocals are the perfect cherry on top.

One closing note is Horn's "Garden of Flowers," written on a rainy day for his coma-stricken wife Jill Sinclair (a ZTT Records executive and Seal's former manager), this song leaves a deep emotional mark.

This is a wonderful album with memorable melodies and strong lyrics.

The sound is closer to classic progressive-rock than alternative or indie-rock.

The exciting instrumentals really jam, and these guys prove they can still rock out with the best.

Highly recommended for anyone into contemporary British-pop.

Absolutely wonderful.

Wendy & Lisa

ISR Music Magazine 


"Friendly Fire"

Wendy & Lisa - "Friendly Fire"

"Wendy & Lisa" are a music duo consisting of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman. They are the daughters of famous 1960's L.A. session musicians Mike Melvoin and Gary Coleman.

Wendy's dad worked on TV music and Lisa's dad worked with Steely Dan, The Beach Boys, and others.

Wendy and Lisa through their dads grew up in L.A. together and were friends since they were in diapers.

They began working with Prince in the early 1980's and were part of his band The Revolution.

They appeared on numerous important Prince tracks: "Pop Life", ''Raspberry Beret", "Erotic City", "Take Me With You", "Lady Cab Driver", and my favorites; "Wild & Loose" by The Time, and the 12'' version of "Irresistible Bitch". Wendy & Lisa made major contributions to the Vanity 6 album and the Apollonia 6 album (''A Million Miles'' being my favorite Lisa Coleman co-write).

They appeared and had speaking roles in the motion picture "Purple Rain" and did numerous tours with the 'diminutive purple diva' but by the late 80's they left, or were fired, depending on who you get the story from, and began to release their own albums.

The best of which are: "Fruit at the Bottom", "Wendy & Lisa", and my favorite; "Friendly Fire".

"Friendly Fire" is the rare and hard to find deleted album by Wendy & Lisa produced by the legendary Trevor Horn (YES, ABC, FGTH, The Art of Noise, Malcolm McLaren, Seal). This 2-disc set is a rare album by the duo that was never officially released.

The playlist samples below are un-mastered songs that would have been mixed and mastered if the album was completed and released publicly.

Please leave comments and let me know what you think.

The back story to "Friendly Fire" is Mr. Horn was so demanding that W&L gave up on the creative collaboration as the project neared to a close. The sessions and relationship became so acrimonious that the project was shelved and there was no official release even though 14 to 20 songs were written and recorded with Mr. Horn.

W&L have a long history of producing, mixing, and arranging their own albums. Trevor has a long history as a rigid taskmaster in the studio, but after working together on the Robin Williams' Soundtrack to the movie Toys, and on Seal's debut and sophomore albums a fierce bond was formed between Mr. Horn and W&L.

Their chemistry was off the chain! Check out Seal's "Wild", "Bring it on" and "Bring it on" (reprise), and you'll see why they were drawn to each other and began to work together on an album of their own produced by Mr. Horn.

Unfortunately they all have very strong personalities and creative visions. Seal and Mr. Horn had a well publicized bloody fist fight outside the recording studio, W&L were a lesbian couple who were secretly married for 20 years, Trevor's teen son accidentally shot his mother, Trevor's wife, Jill Sinclair the ZTT Records executive, in the neck and she almost bled to death and was in an induced brain dead coma for eight years. (She recently passed away).

Suffice it to say there were 'perfect songs' alright, but enough drama, YES Drama (hidden pun), to sour any recording project including Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Well anyway, the music is masterful as expected, borderline genius, although sound issues were not addressed or corrected, since the album was never released.

Again, let me know what you think. I think it is one of the most romantic, sweeping, gorgeous, funky things I have ever heard orchestrated. It echoes their prior work separately and together in the production and composition characteristics.

It is passionate, loving and inspired, funky and sexy, and irrepressibly confident. Too bad shots fired by their own side fatally wounded the project just prior to completion.

By James Clark ISR

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Allan Holdsworth

ISR Music Magazine 

"In The Mystery"


Jazz Guitarist - Allan Holdsworth

Few things power the human imagination more than a sense of mystery.

Mystery inspires reverence, and wonder. It brings us to a feeling of utter awe.

Allan Holdsworth is a musician and somewhat of a mystery.

His guitar is used to evoke the sound of a saxophone more than anything reminiscent of Hendrix or Clapton.

More influenced by 'Bird' and 'Trane' (Charlie Parker and John Coltrane), than Page and Beck.

And his compositions invite us into a state of mystery. Of not knowing.

His poignant tone full of pathos and longing brings our arrogance down a notch, and reminds us that we are but humble passengers on Earth.

Listening to Jazz requires that we develop our emotional capacities to the point where we trust forces beyond what our minds can understand.

Allan is both a master and a magician at playing in this lost, suspended emotional space. At home in a place we can barely understand or perceive, but we know with certainty that he knows, it is there.

His legato technique honed to perfection from countless hours practicing scales and improvising solos over obtuse jazz chord (harmonic) changes.

Speaking, crying, moaning, wailing, even screeching. His playing runs the gamut of all the inherent and imagined possibilities that could ever be found in music.

Perhaps this is why Jazz is his first love.

Jazz allows the instrumentalists to explore and seek out new musical terrain. Moreover, it requires that they do.

And thus enjoying Jazz requires our trust.

You have to trust the drummer is playing 'off-tempo' to accentuate the beats he intentionally left out during the previous eight bars.

You have to trust that the soloist will find his way 'back home' and end up resoundingly in the key his solo departure began in. And when he arrives back home, you have to trust he will be there...right on time.

Knowing we live in a profound mystery in this life; none of us knowing why our lives began the day it did, nor what day our lives will end.

We experience a sense of reverence at the Universe when we look up at the night sky.

Perhaps Jazz, like life, is only here for us to improvise and fulfill a unique and beautiful role in our life in the process. And to find our own sense of reverence.

This is the basis of Allan Holdsworth's music. Its also the basis for a profound understanding of Jazz.

The humble position we put ourselves in when listening to Jazz is one of reverence, where we allow ourselves to fall under the spell of powers we cannot understand or predict with our rational mind.

Allan Holdsworth's music requires that same humbled 'Jazz response'.

Whether it's "Looking Glass" featuring Jazz legend Tony Williams on drums, or "Five G" from Bill Bruford's "One Of A Kind" album, Allan Holdsworth's music has indeed taken us in, and placed us mysteriously under the spell of powers we cannot understand with the rational mind.

The sound of sweet emotion in the true spirit of beauty, healing, and wisdom is all that is left.

Please enjoy.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


ISR Music Magazine 




Frankie Goes To Hollywood - "Liverpool" 


This album got short shrift when it came out.

FGTH made quite a splash and had all of their commercial success with 1984's "Welcome to the Pleasure Dome," album and the worldwide hit from it; the sexually suggestive: "Relax" (don't do it, when you wanna "come").

Their debut was an MTV smash and the controversial sexually-charged video for 'Relax' launched FGTH to a triple platinum debut album.

(Frankie Say: Three Million copies!)

But the band "came".

They came too quickly, and due to legal and contractual and creative issues with their label (ZTT Records/Island Music Group) many of their MTV fans didn't even know that this 1986 follow-up effort was ever released.

FGTH is thought of today as just another 80's new wave one-hit wonder. And due to internal band squabbles and the protracted legal matters with their manager, their producer and their record label this sophomore album; "Liverpool" was indeed their last.

That's a shame, because this is an incredibly progressive innovative band. "Liverpool" was expensively made, given the huge worldwide hit they had under their belt the budget for recording their second album was reportedly 1 million British pounds.

This album was recorded over nearly two years using top studios in four countries, and thankfully it was completed prior to the filing of all the lawsuits.

"Liverpool" has a sound far more Prog-Rock than their new wave-meets-disco debut album: "Welcome To The Pleasure Dome".

The concept this time was still hedonistic. But lyrically it reflects both their towering success and the accompanying hedonism set against the melancholy of the ordinary man in an increasingly meaningless technological modern world.

''Liverpool'' is eight tight, well-crafted songs, with a hyper alternative-pop sheen provided by producers Stephen J. Lipson and his mentor, the legendary 80's pop producer Mr. Trevor Horn.

''Liverpool'' kicks off with 'Warriors Of The Wasteland', at first atmospheric and peaceful, it then turns sweepingly grand and powerfully aggressive.

Track 2 continues the aggression in the dance-funk bombast of 'Rage Hard', which was released as the lead single at the time of the original album release.

'Rage Hard' fell well below the record label's and the band's lofty expectations on the pop charts. It is a motivational song about aspiring to fulfill one's potential. We can have the life we imagine if we have the courage to take focused action on our dreams.

Next up is the guitar rock of 'Kill The Pain', a song about the inner fight it takes to even so much as desire a better life.

Side one ends with the grand optimism of the synthesizer odyssey: 'Maximum Joy'.

Side two (track 5 on the CD) begins with the lushly orchestrated: 'Watching The Wildlife'. It's about the day-to-day humdrum of the working man.

In it lead singer Holly Johnson reminisces on his youthful daydreaming for a life of freedom while enduring the drudgery and the daily grind of a meaningless 9-to-5 existence.

Then 6; the beautiful and sublime: 'Lunar Bay'This is probably my favorite track. It echoes the excitement of the new wave 80's with a pumping 4/4 drum groove. Add the layering of multiple synthesizers for a space-fantasy-love-song tour de force. Think Bowie's 'Moonage Daydream' meets 'Relax'.

The seventh and second to last track is: 'For Heaven's Sake'.
A mellow song asking us to think of what we have we done to our world in our reckless ambition to promote consumerism and modernize daily life.

The album closes with the atmospheric, thoughtful and heartbreaking love song: 'Is Anybody Out There?This is another big fave of mine, and it's as moving and poignant as 'The Power Of Love' was from their debut album.

It closes this concept album out perfectly and beautifully.

In summation, if you can manage to separate this music from all the madness going on during the recording of it e.g., the constant in-fighting about which direction the songs should take, and the battles with Trevor Horn driving everybody so hard with his intense controlling method of music production, that Stephen Lipson actually had to take over and finish it, then you'll find this is a stupendous album of 8 really fantastic songs.

Produced in the larger-than-life Horn/Lipson signature 80's Brit-pop new wave sound, all eight tracks are BIG sweeping opuses meticulously performed.

Music arranger Richard Niles adds symphonic orchestral arrangements to many of the songs and it really elevates the music to more than your typical 80's synth pop.

It's a real shame that FGTH didn't last into the 90's. It would have been really interesting, if they wouldn't have split up, to see where the band would have gone next after the "Liverpool" album.

This album deserves repeated listening as it is very, very, VERY imaginative and quite visionary in it's stylistic sound.

Anyone who likes prog-rock with heavy synth-work, and fancy orchestral arrangements will hear something amazing, new and wondrous with each new listen.

There are lovely little percussion effects and background vocal tricks providing ear candy that you won't notice the first time.

You are highly advised to give this disc more than one chance.

Each additional time you sit through the whole album you'll fall enraptured into a new meaning of the words. You'll fall for the romance of the violins, and into the fantasy world of elaborate sampling and synthesizer textures.

The lyrics and singing by Holly Johnson are immaculate. Holly gives a stunning emotional performance for every word in every song.

Each song has an urgency and yearning. Holly obviously had a few things to get off his chest. Each song thus has a distinctive story to tell about a young homosexual man growing up in Liverpool England just raging for a more fulfilling life. A life of 'Maximum Joy'.

A young man trying to kill the daily pain of a wasteland existence by keeping his dreams alive.

Liverpool as Holly's lyrics tell it, is an indifferent yet bustling city where most residents are all too comfortable in their lives of banal mediocrity.

His words and vocals throughout the disc passionately inspire one to 'seize the day' and pursue your hearts desire...or die inside while still living in quiet mediocrity.

You can 'Rage Hard' for your dream, make your mark, and conquer the world, or you can fade into the background in an increasingly mechanized technological apathetic way of life.

It many ways this concept and these lyrics were ahead of their time. With the advent of the internet and social media many years later, people became more distant than ever as technological reality took priority over human interaction.

The ahead-of-it's-time concept, the expensive and clever studio production, and Holly's singing are worth the price of admission alone and make this disc a classic.

Our highest recommendation.

A hidden treasure for Alternative-pop fans, or 80's dance music fans, or British Prog-Rock fans.


We must make peace with ourselves before
we can become one with the world. 

Brand X

ISR Music Magazine 




Brand X - "Fusion" 

My main focus, when rating and reviewing a disc is: "How much do I love this music?"

I don't worry much about the categorization of the music (which is largely subjective) or the date of its release, because, for me, the "pleasure factor" is the primary consideration.

My sole criteria is: is it a classic?

Does the music sound timeless?

BRAND X is, no doubt about it, one the most original unpredictable and timeless rock bands of the seventies jazz/rock fusion scene.

Made of British musicians that are technical virtuosos at their respective instruments, they are inspired as song-smiths and talented as dynamic performers.

They were around for quite a while, touring the world on Jazz and Prog-Rock bills and releasing eight studio albums, three live albums and five compilation discs from 1975 to today.

Their best album for me, is the one called: Masques.

The line-up for Masques is:
John Goodsall - rock n' roll guitar
Percy Jones - fretless jazz bass
Morris Pert - exotic sounds & percussion
Chuck Burgi - drum set
J. Peter Robinson - keyboards & synthesizer

All of the songs on this disc are INSTRUMENTAL ONLY.

If you like Jazz mixed with Rock then great, but there are also atmospheric soundtrack elements at work here also.

For example; the ethereal "Deadly Nightshade," the ebullient "Earth Dance," and the gorgeous and delicate "Black Moon."

"The Poke" and "Access to Data" are exciting balls-out instrumental rock jams!

As a band their sound on this album leads the listener down many winding, weird and wondrous paths, with complex rhythms and time signatures.

Throughout it all, their sense of unity, phrasing and orchestration is impeccable. These are passionate, flawless musicians.

Brand X was as influential in their heyday as Mahavishnu, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Return To Forever.

That said, if you have an open musical mind, and room for diversity in your collection, you'll grow to really appreciate this fabulously-talented band's unique, eclectic 'brand' of 'x-traordinary' music.

MASQUES is the best way to commence your musical journey into the Brand X discography.

Add your favorite herbal tea or cannabis strain to lift your mind and soul to where they are musically.

Best listened to when all alone, and you have 45 minutes to yourself to explore your own imagination.

Lights off, quiet please.

Ladies & Gentlemen...Brand X

By Peter
Edited by James Clark