Cookin’ Mama (USA): New Day (Rock Bottom CFS 3007, 1974?)
Sherry Fox (joint lead vocals)
After RJ Fox/Oasis, Sherry Fox (or ‘Foxx’ as she is credited here) went on to this Christian jazz/rock band, whose line-up included prolific guitarist Pat Thrall and whose album was co-produced by Steve Miller. However, she is not heavily featured: she writes nothing and shares lead vocals on one song, on which she is unrecognisable (having swapped her Joni Mitchell stylings for a more soulful approach). Musically this is firmly in the West Coast vein, with some nice jamming moments, particularly on the superior second side. GRADE: C+.
See also Indigo, Oasis, RJ Fox, Starcrossed
Cool Breeze (Luxembourg/Belgium/Germany): Cool Breeze (Eurodisc 913 011, France, 1975)
Monique Melson (joint lead vocals), Nelly Miotto (joint lead vocals)
Some of the musicians here had also operated with the Yugoslav band Dah, which had linked up with a number of musicians from Belgium and Luxembourg during a sojourn in the latter country. Their sole album as Cool Breeze (although some sources suggest that they actually performed under the name of Land at the time) is a pleasant pop/rock set similar to a dreamier, folkier Shocking Blue or to the softer cuts from the Agamenon LP. The album was also released on Jupiter in West Germany, with a completely different sleeve. GRADE: C+.
See also Family Tree
John & Philipa Cooper (South Africa): The Cooperville Times (Parlophone PCSJ 12050, with poster, 1969)
Philipa Cooper (joint lead vocals)
Packaged in an unusual die-cut sleeve exposing the label, this is possibly the rarest South African major label LP. Musically it’s delightful whimsical psychedelic pop with a folky edge and a distinctly baroque Swingin’ London feel. The best tracks are probably ‘The Mad Professor’ (with some powerful distorted guitar leads from Julian Laxton, later of Hawk) and the delicate ‘I’ll Be More Than Satisfied’, with a beautiful vocal from Philipa. Song titles like ‘My Pair Of Spectacles’ and ‘Man In A Bowler Hat’ give a fair indication of the level of whimsy, but the songwriting and performances are excellent throughout. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Rags (Ré, with booklet, 1983)
Sally Potter (joint lead vocals), Georgie Born (bass, cello), Lindsay Cooper (keyboards, accordion, drums, saxophone, flute, bassoon, oboe)
Recorded during 1979 and 1980 and based on Cooper’s soundtrack for Sally Potter’s film ‘The Song Of The Shirt’, this mixes Henry Cow-like Brechtian songs and more minimalist instrumentals. Whilst intermittently interesting, it’s not the most compelling LP and often sounds like a collection of mediocre Henry Cow outtakes. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Music From The Gold Diggers (Sync Pulse 0617, 1983)
Sally Potter (joint lead vocals), Colette Laffont (occasional vocals), Georgie Born (bass, cello), Lindsay Cooper (guitar, piano, saxophone, bassoon, oboe)
This is slightly more cohesive than its predecessor, but once again this isn’t a patch on the music Cooper created with Henry Cow and News From Babel. Once again, this was the soundtrack to a Sally Potter film, with the director herself fronting two cuts. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): The Small Screen – Music For Television (Sync Pulse 625, cassette, 1984)
Maggie Nicols (joint lead vocals), Kate Westbrook (occasional vocals, horn), Dagmar Krause (occasional vocals), Georgie Born (guitar, bass), Lindsay Cooper (bass, keyboards, saxophone, bassoon, oboe)
Cooper’s third solo album is a collection of short (typically around 90 seconds or so) songs and instrumentals used in a variety of programmes on Channel 4 (where else?). Although the end result is inevitably quite fragmentary, this is actually her best solo work to date. GRADE: C+.
Maggie Nicols, Lindsay Cooper & Joëlle Léandre (UK/Belgium) Live At The Bastille (Sync Pulse 1789, 1984)
Maggie Nicols (lead vocals), Joëlle Léandre (contrabass, backing vocals), Lindsay Cooper (saxophone, bassoon)
This is light, playful free jazz: Nicols intones random nonsense (or so it appears) while Léandre noodles on contrabass and Cooper plays around on saxophone and three different types of bassoon (acoustic, electric and ‘dismantled’, whatever that is). That description should make pretty clear whether you will like this or not: I did, but I can’t imagine ever needing to hear it again. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Music For Other Occasions (Sync Pulse SP3, with inner, 1986)
Dagmar Krause (joint lead vocals), Maggie Nicols (joint lead vocals), Sally Potter (joint lead vocals), Kate Westbrook (joint lead vocals, horn),
Lindsay Cooper (bass, keyboards, glockenspiel, saxophone, bassoon)
Like previous Cooper solo albums, this gathers short songs and instrumentals (in this case, from a variety of TV programmes). Unlike previous Cooper solo albums, it never sounds fragmentary or overly arch, and at its best rivals Henry Cow or the Art Bears for quality and invention. As a footnote, Dagmar Krause’s contributions to three songs reinforce how she outclasses any other vocalist in the RIO sphere, whilst the mostly female band (including Henry Cow alumnus Georgie Born on guitar, bass, piano and cello) contribute some fine performances. GRADE: B–.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Oh Moscow (Victo VICTO cd015, CD, Canada, 1991)
Sally Potter (joint lead vocals), Lindsay Cooper (saxophone, bassoon)
Recorded live in 1989, this entirely song-based album was cut by a line-up including Phil Minton, Hugh Hopper and Alfred Harth. Very much jazz as opposed to jazz/rock, it has something of a big band sound despite the comparatively small ensemble, and whilst both competent and listenable doesn’t contain much to excite prog fans. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): An Angel On The Bridge (ABC 846 594-2, CD, Australia, 1991)
Cathy Marsh (lead vocals), Lindsay Cooper (keyboards, saxophone, bassoon)
Quite different from the song-based RIO of her first few albums, this is wordless, austere and very classical in feel. With only a percussionist and a harpist to back her, Cooper creates some delicate and beautiful soundscapes, mostly crafted from intact and disassembled bassoons. The music ranges from hints of free jazz to minimalist moments with pattering percussion resembling raindrops, with the whole thing having a very haunting and intriguing ambience. GRADE: B–.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Schrödinger’s Cat (Femme Music FECD9.01093, CD, Germany, 1991)
Lindsay Cooper (saxophone, bassoon)
The music here was composed to accompany a ballet performance, and reminds me conceptually of mid-period and later works by Art Zoyd. The musical resemblance is less obvious – this is jazzier and less electronic and it has recognisable tunes, making for an interesting and atmospheric listen. GRADE: B–.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Sahara Dust (Intakt CD 029, CD, Switzerland, 1992)
Lindsay Cooper (saxophone, bassoon)
Different yet again, Sahara Dust offers a suite of vocal and instrumental music scored for a small ensemble. It’s quite minimalist for the most part, with strong neoclassical touches counterbalanced by some quite weird and experimental moments (particularly in Phil Minton’s singing), adding up to a varied and very inventive RIO trip. GRADE: B–.
Lindsay Cooper, Alfred Harth & Phil Minton (UK/Germany): State Of Volgograd (FMP CD 57, Germany, 1994)
Lindsay Cooper (piano, bassoon, sopranino, electronics)
Recorded in 1991 but unreleased for three years, this live performance is pure free-jazz, with lots of improvisation and arrangements dominated by Phil Minton’s experimental singing and Harth and Cooper’s winds. It’s intriguing, highly creative stuff, containing some superb moments, but I definitely prefer my avant-garde jazz leavened with some rock or prog elements. The album is sometimes credited to ‘Trio Trabant A Roma’, with the artwork crediting both this group name and the individual members. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper & Charles Gray (UK): Pia Mater (Resurgence RES124CD, CD, 1997)
Lindsay Cooper (saxophone, bassoon)
Another radical departure for Cooper, Pia Mater sees her collaborating with synthesist Charles Gray to produce two long and tranquil soundscapes fringing ambient and new age music. Midway between Enya and eighties Popol Vuh at their most minimalist, this is lovely, relaxing and almost hypnotic stuff that really soothes the senses. GRADE: B–.
Lindsay Cooper, Fred Frith, Gianni Gebbia & Lars Hollmer (UK/Italy/Sweden): Angels On The Edge Of Time (I Dischi Di Angelica IDA 031, CD, Italy, 2015, recorded 1992)
Lindsay Cooper (saxophone, bassoon, electronics)
This intriguing archive release comprises a continuous suite of improvised music: pure free-jazz that’s weird, dissonant, austere and minimalist. Unsurprisingly, the standard varies somewhat, with some fine moments counterbalanced by passages where nothing much seems to happen, but overall it’s fascinating stuff, though not an album I’d wish to hear every day. GRADE: C+.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): A View From The Bridge (Impetus IMP CD 29831, double CD, 1998, recorded 1990-1998)
Lindsay Cooper (occasional vocals, keyboards, saxophone, bassoon), Cathy Marsh (occasional vocals), Sally Potter (occasional vocals), Maggie Nicols (occasional vocals)
Starting with the superb ‘Concerto For Sopranino Saxophone And Strings’ and ending with the entire An Angel On The Bridge album, this collection of Cooper’s ‘composed works’ offers a wealth of rare and unreleased material. I could have done without the theatrical ‘The Rain Song’, but the remainder makes a strong case for Cooper as a serious modern composer – hugely impressive and expansive stuff. GRADE: B.
Lindsay Cooper (UK): Rarities | Volumes 1 And 2 (RéR LC2/3, double CD, 2014, recorded 1979-1991)
Maggie Nicols (occasional vocals), Dagmar Krause (occasional vocals), Sally Potter (occasional vocals), Georgie Born (occasional vocals, guitar, bass, cello), Lindsay Cooper (bass, keyboards, saxophone, bassoon, oboe, electronics)
This compilation is a marginal case for review as most of its material is previously released: the entire The Small Screen cassette, its limited edition counterpart Outtakes For Other Occasions, the one-sided EP Pictures From The Great Exhibition, an excerpt from ‘Concerto For Sopranino Saxophone And Strings’ and a few stray cuts from other compilations. However, there’s also 33 minutes of unreleased Trio Trabant stuff and an 11-minute piano solo, so this is a worthwhile purchase and an interesting counterpart to A View From The Bridge, focusing on the Brechtian and free-jazz end of her repertoire. This is the Lindsay Cooper I like less, but this is still a fitting tribute to her, especially given the heartfelt sleeve notes by Chris Cutler, Tim Hodgkinson, Sally Potter, Kate Westbrook and David Thomas. GRADE: C+.
See also Henry Cow, News From Babel, Officer!, Stormy Six, Mike Westbrook Orchestra
Ruth Copeland (UK): Self-Portrait (Invictus ST 7802, with booklet, USA, 1970)
Ruth Copeland (lead vocals, guitar)
Ruth Copeland is best-known as an associate of Parliament, co-producing and writing several songs on their debut album, Osmium. She was English, but all her recordings were made in America using American musicians (mainly the Parliament and Funkadelic crew, plus a number of top soul players). Her solo debut is an eccentric affair indeed; opening with a heartfelt monologue over orchestrated backing, it takes in psychedelic funk (‘Your Love Been So Good To Me’, ‘I Got A Thing For You Daddy’), a rather eerie fusion of Celtic and psychedelic elements (‘The Silent Boatman’, which also appeared on Osmium), an acapella number (‘A Gift Of Me’) and even a piece of opera with added fuzz guitar (Puccini’s ‘Un Bel Di’). There are also some odd stylistic combinations within tracks: at one point the soulful ‘The Music Box’ sets Copeland weeping dramatically against a cheery children’s choir. Overall it’s far too schizophrenic to hang together, but every track is a good example of its style, and this is significant as one of relatively few late sixties or early seventies albums to be entirely masterminded by a woman (Copeland arranged and produced, played guitar, and wrote or co-wrote everything except for the Puccini excerpt). GRADE: C+.
Ruth Copeland (UK): I Am What I Am (Invictus SMAS 9802, USA, 1971)
Ruth Copeland (lead vocals)
Her second sensibly drops the folky elements from her debut, along with most of the wild experimentation, and instead focuses on the rock and funk end of her repertoire. It’s a fine LP, bookended by its best tracks: the superb heavy psychedelia of ‘The Medal’, with guitarist Eddie Hazel on fine form, and a powerful cover of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’. Once again, Copeland produces and arranges, as well as co-writing all the original songs. The elaborate triple foldout sleeve is also notable – a whole panel is devoted to a close-up of her navel.
Ruth Copeland (USA): Take Me To Baltimore (RCA ALP1-1236, with inner, USA, 1976)
Ruth Copeland (lead vocals)
For her belated third and final album, Copeland wrote nothing alone, played no instruments, and neither arranged nor produced. Although professional (and clearly with a big budget), the whole thing sounds rather half-hearted, offering lush orchestrated pop with rock, funk and disco elements – typical of its time and utterly anonymous. Her list of co-authors is interesting, however, including Daryl Hall and Alice Cooper’s guitarist Dick Wagner. GRADE: C–.
Googie & Tom Coppola (USA): Shine The Light Of Love (Columbia JC 36194, with inner, 1979)
Googie Coppola (lead vocals)
The former leaders of jazz/rock outfit Air return with an album leaning closer to a disco/pop/soul hybrid than anything resembling jazz. This is little more than uninspired bandwagon-jumping, a couple of years after the disco bandwagon had really passed, with the inane and vapid material compounded by a surprisingly poor and messy production. As a final bonus, this has Christian lyrics throughout. The Coppolas were also members of another disco outfit, Herbie Mann & Fire Island, which issued an eponymous album in 1977 that I’ve been lucky enough not to hear. GRADE: E.
See also Air, Jeremy Steig
Coralspin (UK): Honey And Lava (Altrospire ALTROSPIRECD0001, CD, 2012)
Ellie Blyth (lead vocals, keyboards)
It’s not exactly unusual for progressive rock to have a retro sound, but whereas most modern prog bands aim to recapture the seventies, Coralspin sound more eighties or nineties. The obvious reference point here is eighties Renaissance, but I can also hear strong echoes of German bands like Amenophis and Merlin; with their strong pop sensibilities, hard rock-edged guitars and lush synthesised keyboards, Coralspin would have been right at home on the WMMS label. What’s more, with their knack for melodies and hooks and Ellie Blyth’s sheer class as a singer (with definite echoes of Annie Haslam), they’d have been one of the best outfits on the label, and this charming, unassuming set makes me hope they’ll finally finish the long-delayed follow-up. GRADE: C+.
Frank Corbin (USA): One Fell Swoop (Prelude 10022, 1976)
Pat LaSalle (joint lead vocals)
This unusual and quite scarce LP offers singer/songwriter material across a wide range of styles: from ballads to rural rock to progressive-edged soft rock. To add further variety, the opening ‘Poltergeist’ is a mellow progressive instrumental, penned by Corbin’s keyboardist Cheryl DuCoin. With Pat LaSalle taking lead vocals on three cuts and all the musicians pictured on the back, this is arguably as much a band effort as a solo album. GRADE: C+.
Corima (USA): Quetzalcoatl (Soleil Zeuhl 36, CD, France, 2012)
Andrea Itzapapalotl (joint lead vocals, violin)
Mostly a continuous suite of music, Quetzalcoatl offers lively uptempo zeuhl (unsurprisingly), falling somewhere between late seventies Magma and early Eskaton in style. Whilst inevitably derivative, it’s frequently quite impressive stuff, with the long violin-led instrumental section in the middle allowing the band to demonstrate its own identity. Corima also released a self-titled album back in 2007 with an all-male line-up; this is apparently not zeuhl. GRADE: B–.
Corinna (Italy): El Grillo È Bon Cantore (Picci GLA 2008, 1973)
Corinna Rosini (lead vocals)
This extremely rare and little-known LP is one of the most unusual electric folk sets imaginable. The cover makes it look like traditional folk, with its woodcuts of ancient instruments, but it takes renaissance songs and reinterprets them in a progressive rock style, with lots of synthesiser but also some orchestrations. The results are constantly surprising, frequently beautiful and always very accomplished, hinting towards a more modernistic Opus Avantra. Rosini subsequently went to join Quel Giorno Di Uve Rossi. GRADE: B.
See also Quel Giorno Di Uve Rossi
Corkscrew (UK): For Openers (Highway SHY 7005, 1979)
Romie Singh (principal vocals)
This excellent album offers energetic electric folk, mainly influenced by Steeleye Span, with an occasional progressive edge and some proto-festival touches (including reggae rhythms here and there). It remains one of the best affordable British folk obscurities. As a footnote, Romie Singh worked extensively as a session singer in Germany, appearing on a number of the Krautrock albums of the era, and later issued a solo LP. GRADE: B–.
See also Romie Singh
Coronados (Mexico?): Hey, Love! (Jubilee JGS 8022, 1969)
This is top-notch harmony pop: unlike many albums in the genre, the orchestrations are used subtly, and occasional fuzz guitars and sitars are integrated well instead of sounding like token attempts to appear hip. Another plus is that half the material is self-penned, although the covers are mostly good too. Judging from their names and some of the material, the band was likely Mexican. GRADE: C+.
Coronal Rain (Germany): Memories Of Suns (No label, CD, 2011)
Katja Hübner (joint lead vocals), Kerstin Leidner (joint lead vocals), Nicole Schnargl (occasional vocals), Nerissa Schwartz (harp)
This offshoot project by Andreas Hack and Nerissa Schwartz of Frequency Drift is rather interesting, taking a folkier and slightly more ambient sidestep away from the parent band. Guest vocalists appear on half the numbers, but it’s the instrumentals, where Schwartz’s elegant acoustic and electric harp work is supported by Hack’s Mellotron and other keyboards, that the album really shines. In fact, as an all-instrumental album, this could easily have been a B–.
Corpse You Luv (USA): Corpse You Luv (Ventricle CD10, CD, 1999)
Maya Terry (lead vocals), Kerry Thistle (electronics)
The band name might lead you to expect goth rock, but whilst this is certainly gothic it’s another variation on the familiar Ventricle label sound. Stalwart Kelly Thistle provides the electronics and Maya Terry the treated vocals, with the whole thing sounding like a more ambient twist on Fifty Foot Hose’s ‘Cauldron’. GRADE: C+.
See also Angel Provocateur, Dream Radiation, Konkrete Kantikle, Steeple Of Fyre, Thistle
Corpses As Bedmates (USA): Babaa & Scheibel = 69 (Cow-Op Industries COW-02, cassette, 1984)
Susanne Lewis, Karen Sheridan
Based on the four (out of nine) tracks I’ve heard, this female duo’s album offers interesting avant-garde rock and ethnic folk, though it’s strongly rooted in punk and new wave. Vague comparisons could be drawn to the Slits, though its lineage stems more directly from the American experimental underground: both the late seventies ‘no wave’ scene and earlier, folkier excursions by artists such as Erica Pomerance on the ESP Disk label. The grade here is inevitably tentative, but this is an interesting, creative and slightly unsettling set. Whilst this is generally considered to be their debut, the catalogue number implies otherwise. GRADE: C+.
Corpses As Bedmates (USA): Halo (Cow-Op Industries COW-03, cassette, 1985)
Susanne Lewis, Karen Sheridan
Their second album (which I have heard in full) makes clear the industrial undertones underpinning their sound. The folky and ethnic touches from their debut are gone, with most songs feature echoing quasi-tribal drums, thin post-punk guitar lines, sound effects and doomy vocals, creating a sound similar to a number of Siouxsie & The Banshees B-sides. The results are interesting, unsettling and decidedly gothic, but this isn’t a particularly varied or exploratory LP. GRADE: C+.
Corpses As Bedmates (USA): Venus Handcuffs (Dead Man’s Curve DMC 016, 1986)
Susanne Lewis (lead vocals, guitar, synthesiser, viola)
For the third and final Corpses As Bedmates album, Karen Sheridan was replaced by drummer and multi-instrumentalist Bob Drake (who had guested on the previous two cassettes). The first couple of cuts are the strangest thing the band ever recorded, falling somewhere between industrial and pure avant-gardism, but much of the rest is more song-based and conventional, though still very weird, austere and neoclassical. A later CD reissue gives ‘Venus Handcuffs’ as both the band name and album title. GRADE: C+.
See also Hail, Kissyfur, Susanne Lewis, Thinking Plague
Corral (Poland): Revenant (Lynx Music LM-91-CD, CD, 2014)
Agnieszka Kot (lead vocals)
I’ve seen this Polish band’s debut compared to the Gathering, and that’s spot on: this offers the same kind of atmospheric rock as the Gathering’s mid-period, fringing both metal and progressive, and Agnieszka Kot is a dead ringer for Anneke van Giersbergen. As to the quality of this pastiche: it’s not as good as the Gathering’s more ambitious work post-van Giersbergen, but a damn sight better than anything she’s managed as a soloist. GRADE: C+.
Cortex (France): Troupeau Bleu (Espérance ESP 155 524, 1975)
Mireille Dalbray (lead vocals)
This is an excellent jazz-fusion album, with some intricate playing and superb (often wordless) vocals from Mireille Dalbray. However, with a relaxed, almost loungy edge, it may not appeal to many progressive rock fans. GRADE: B–.
Cos (Belgium): Postaeolian Train Robbery (Plus PRS-8000, with booklet, 1974)
Pascale Son (lead vocals, oboe)
This classic album of jazzy progressive recalls both Canterbury bands like Hatfield & The North and the zeuhl sound of Magma. Light and playful yet intricate and complex, it sets Pascale Son’s helium-pitched scatting and improvisations against relaxed but knotty backing with virtuosic performances from all concerned. Sadly, all reissues omit the cut ‘Karbok’ which the band apparently didn’t want on the original LP. GRADE: B.
Cos (Belgium): Viva Boma (IBC 4B062-23605, 1976)
Pascale Son (lead vocals, oboe)
Easily the equal of its predecessor, this is as good as jazz/rock gets: complex yet accessible, dissonant yet tuneful, avant-garde yet never pretentious. From the weird electronics of the brief opener ‘Perhaps Next Record’ to the ten-minute masterpiece ‘L’Idiot Léon’ (easily the band’s magnum opus), not a note is wasted. GRADE: B.
Cos (Belgium): Babel (IBC 4B058-23794, 1978)
Pascale Son (lead vocals)
This isn’t inferior to their first two, but it is both less surprising and less consistent. In particular, the thirteen-minute closer ‘Greeneldo’ slightly outstays its welcome, despite containing some excellent passages. Nonetheless, this is a fine album of experimental jazz/rock, and it’s a great pity they didn’t continue in this direction. GRADE: B–.
Cos (Belgium): Swiss Chalet (IBC 1A064-23902, with inner, 1979)
Pascale Son (principal vocals)
In a bizarre change of style, the band offered a hybrid of white reggae and new wave for their fourth album, with Son singing in a mannered style recalling Lene Lovich. It’s uniformly pleasant and mildly interesting, with good musicianship and some progressive touches on side two (a Slapp Happy-like ballad and five minutes of excellent prog at the end). However, it’s not a patch on their earlier work and Son is entirely wasted – anyone who could hold a note could have provided the vocals here. GRADE: C+.
Cos (Belgium): Pasiones (GeeBeeDee 60-1804, with inner, West Germany, 1982)
Ilona Châle (joint lead vocals)
Their final album is different yet again, offering new wave-ish funky pop with lots of complexity and invention. With some longer tracks and a bit more experimentation, this could have been an excellent LP; as it is, it contains some fine music but sometimes feels a little fragmentary. Ilona Châle proves an unusual replacement for Pascale Son, with her singing varying between pseudo-Siouxsie Sioux and quasi-operatic. GRADE: C+.
See also Julverne, Daniel Schell & Karo
CosaRara (Italy): CosaRara (AMS AMS 275 CD, CD, with gatefold minisleeve, 2016)
Francesca Goria (keyboards)
The grade here may be a little generous: this instrumental album is neither adventurous nor complex, concentrating on riffing rather than pyrotechnics. But the music, which is beautifully recorded, sizzles in all the right places, the guitar and fuzz bass work is suitably assertive, and the whole thing makes its presence felt in no uncertain style. GRADE: B–.
Cosmic Gardeners (West Germany): Prayers + Protest Songs (Stono St 110 500 016, cassette, 1990)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards, percussion)
The duo formerly known as the Twist return under a new guise (in fact, this was their second release as the Cosmic Gardeners: the first was a remixed reissue of the final Twist album World, It’s No Miracle Baby!, though I haven’t heard either version). There’s no significant difference in their sound, though they’ve become a touch mellower, a mite folkier and perhaps a hint more introspective, adding up to a nice album of home-made melodic psychedelia. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Gardeners (Germany): Concerning Internal Signets (Stono St 110 500 017 L, with inserts, 1992)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The duo’s first vinyl release is better recorded than anything they’ve done before in either of their guises. It’s also a touch folkier and a mite more ambitious, culminating in an excellent ten-minute track that takes them into mildly progressive territory for the first time. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Gardeners (Germany): Calling Joy-Sele (Stono St 110 500 019, CD, 1993)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards)
If Concerning Internal Signets was a tentative step forward, Calling Joy-Sele is a quantum leap – it even includes a 28-minute suite stitching together songs and instrumentals. Everything still has a low-budget garage feel, but the music here is spacious and elegant and sometimes quite delicate – not words I would ever have associated with the Twist. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Gardeners (Germany): Fortune Bells And Magic Candles (Stono St 110 500 023, CD, 1996)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards)
In the liner notes, they cite Fit & Limo, the Beatles, the Incredible String Band, Hawkwind and Daevid Allen amongst others as their inspiration, and I can hear echoes of all those acts in the home-made folky garage psych here. But whereas their last album represented a significant step forward, this is a step back – perfectly pleasant but a great deal less ambitious or imaginative. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Gardeners (Germany): Big Kisses (From Outside) (Stono St 110500025, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklets, 1997)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards, cymbals)
This rather unusual release, titled Big Kisses, contains two albums on one disc, each with its own small lyric booklet: the new From Outside and a reissue of the five-year-old Concerning Internal Signets. From Outside is a fairly short set, running for a fraction under half an hour; most of it is taken up with the 20-minute suite ‘Ten Sides For A Great Question’. It’s all pleasant stuff, though no real progression from anything the duo have done before. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Gardeners (Germany): Brainpool Of Tongues (Stono St 110 500 029, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklets, 1999)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards, vibraphone)
In contrast to the somewhat slight From Outside, this is a whopper of an album, with 14 songs and instrumentals totalling 72 minutes. The longer-song format gives the duo a chance to stretch out, and the relaxed and spacious mood sets this apart from their earlier work. To these ears, the instrumentals are the best moments, and I still find myself wondering how they’d sound with a bigger budget and real drums. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Gardeners (Germany): Stars And Tears In Melange (Stono St 110 500 033, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2002)
Bela Ha (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The duo’s final album is a good way to close their career – with tracks of up to 16 minutes, they’re continuing to push ahead whilst remaining true to their roots as the Twist. For sure, their music wasn’t the most profound or the most experimental, but it always had an element that many more accomplished bands lack – heartfelt charm. GRADE: C+.
See also Twist
Cosmic Jokers (West Germany): Take Your Headphones (No label CC 2010, with wax seal and letter, 1974)
Contrary to an assertion I have seen online, this promotional-only sampler does not have the same contents as Gilles Zeitschiff, Sci Fi Party or Galactic Supermarket. However, the concept is very similar to the former – this consists of extracts from the Cosmic Couriers stable with new voiceovers from Gille Lettmann (and Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser) and was intended to introduce the label’s acts to the USA. It’s rather cruder than Gilles Zeitschiff in its editing and considerably shorter too, mixing in snatches of classical music with the Krautrock, and is ultimately more a fascinating curiosity than anything. GRADE: C+.
Cosmic Remedy (Brazil/Romania/Finland): The Cosmic Remedy (Seacrest SCR – 1007, CD, Finland, 2013)
Iulia Pardou (occasional vocals), Vera Klima (occasional vocals), Andrea Emese Ercsey (occasional vocals)
This multinational band was led by Ákos Bogáti-Bakor of Yesterdays, and most of the numerous guest singers and musicians are also ethnic Hungarians from Romania. The album is divided into four suites, one of which (‘Lost Marbles Suite’) has female vocals on all four of its songs. Musically, the album offers a mixture of McCartney-esque pop and neoprogressive: pleasant and well-crafted, but lacking the great songs to make it really memorable. GRADE: C.
Cosmos (Switzerland): The Deciding Moments Of Your Life (DFP Music International DFP 55196-60182, CD, 1994)
Regula Kamber (backing vocals)
This Swiss band’s style can be summed up in four words: Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Whilst this doesn’t have any of Floyd’s conceptual vision, it does share their love of sound effects, rich melodic textures and elegant guitar work, making for a pleasant if derivative set. Although Regula Kamber contributes only backing vocals, she is credited (along with the rest of the band) for co-composing the music, and provides the lyrics to the title track. The reissue (Pino Music RH 07) adds three bonus tracks from 2007, which are a bit more accomplished but in exactly the same style, indicating that the band had not broadened its remit in the intervening thirteen years. These cuts feature female lead vocals, presumably by Silvia Thierstein. GRADE: C+.
Cosmos (Switzerland): Different Faces – Demo 2003 (No label, CD, 2003)
Regula Kamber (backing vocals)
Although their second LP is billed as a demo, the recording quality is as good as a conventional studio album. This time round, they actually cover Pink Floyd (‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Brain Damage’, ‘Eclipse’ and a brief snatch of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’); these numbers are indistinguishable from their own material, which says a lot about their work. GRADE: C+.
Cosmos (Switzerland): Live 2004 (No label, CD, 2004)
Silvia Thierstein (occasional vocals)
Their live album is also a pretty good Floyd pastiche, mixing originals from Different Faces with more Floyd covers (this time, ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Another Brick In The Wall (part two)’, ‘Run Like Hell’ and once again a brief quotation from ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’). The result is a solid set, but again completely lacking in any individual personality. GRADE: C+.
Cosmos (Switzerland): Skygarden (Politur 224046, CD, 2006)
Silvia Thierstein (occasional vocals)
There are no Pink Floyd covers this time around, but this still sounds uncannily like a Floyd album. In fact, it’s decidedly more Floyd-like (and decidedly more consistent) than the real band’s first post-Roger Waters outing A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. GRADE: C+.
Cosmos (Switzerland): Mind Games (No label, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Mirjam Heggendoorn (occasional vocals)
There’s nothing you might call artistic development here, but the fact remains that Cosmos are pretty good at what they do – and once again, this is better than the majority of eighties and nineties Floyd. GRADE: C+.
Gal & Caetano Veloso (Brazil): Domingo (Philips P765.007P, 1967)
Gal Costa (joint lead vocals)
The first album by the prolific Gal Costa has none of the tropicália leanings of its more celebrated follow-ups. Instead, this is straight chanson and bossa nova stuff – relaxing, pleasant and breezy, but also thoroughly conventional. GRADE: C+.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Gal Costa (Philips R 765 068L, 1969)
The reverberating feedback that opens the LP makes clear that this isn’t going to be another Domingo, though much of it is at the straighter end of the tropicália spectrum. However, the screeching fuzz guitar on ‘Namorinho De Portäo’ alone should make this of interest to collectors of exotic acid-rock. GRADE: C+.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Gal Costa (Philips R 765.098 L, 1969)
This is the Gal Costa album everyone wants, due to its acid-drenched cover and fuzz guitar- and effects-drenched songs. It’s a fascinating collision of musical worlds, with the actual songs being firmly rooted in chanson, complete with orchestrations, but garlanded with all manner of psychedelic decorations to achieve a level of eccentricity recalling fellow Brazilians Os Mutantes. GRADE: B–.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Le Gal (Philips 765126, 1970)
This is only occasionally as wild as its predecessor – ‘Acauã’ has some squalling fuzz guitar – but it’s a solid album, with enough of a rock orientation to appeal to those whose tastes steer away from chanson, bossa nova and MPB. GRADE: C+.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Gal A Todo Vapor (Philips 6349 020/21, double, 1971)
Gal Costa (lead vocals, guitar)
Costa’s first live álbum is a game of two halves: the first disc sees her performing entirely solo, accompanied by her own acoustic guitar, whilst the second has band backing. As a result, both LPs break new ground for her: the first is folkier than anything she’s done before, whilst the second (which, unsurprisingly, I much prefer) is far bluesier, with some slight psychedelic edges. I’d thus rate the first disc as a C+ and the second as a B–, but I’ll err on the side of generosity as this is a varied and excellent overview of Costa live. As a footnote, the back cover lists the second disc (with the higher catalogue number) before the first, leading some sources to order the tracks the other way round, though all CD reissues have the acoustic numbers first. GRADE: B–.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Índia (Philips 6349.077, with insert and plastic bag, 1973)
Gal Costa (lead vocals)
Slightly different yet again, Índia mixes mildly funky semi-acoustic numbers with lush ballads featuring rich keyboard textures. Whilst there’s nothing here for rock fans, this is beautifully crafted stuff – atmospheric, carefully layered and frequently surprisingly absorbing. GRADE: C+.
Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa & Gilberto Gil (Brazil): Temporada De Verão – Ao Vivo Na Bahia (Philips 6349.108, 1974)
Gal Costa (joint lead vocals)
This live album is a marginal case for inclusion as it’s more-or-less a ‘various artists’ set, with Caetano Veloso contributing four songs, Gilberto Gil three and Gal Costa two. Musically, it’s all pleasant and atmospheric album, but very safe even by the standards of Costa’s post-sixties work. GRADE: C+.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Cantar (Philips 6349.117, 1974)
Gal Costa (lead vocals)
The funky ‘Flor De Maracujá’ and the slightly eerie, percussion-driven ‘Jóia’ may be the highpoints for many listeners, but mostly this consists of ballads and light bossanova. It’s classy stuff, though, and so well put together that it’s rather slick and safe nature never becomes offensive. GRADE: C+.
Maria Bethânia, Gal, Caetano & Gil (Brazil): Doces Bárbaros (Philips 6349 307, double, 1976)
Gal Costa, Maria Bethânia
This collaborative LP is a good deal livelier than much of Costa’s solo work, with a bit of rock strength to the arrangements. It’s varied, too, as one might expect from an 84-minute double live set created by four principals, and is certainly a very pleasant listen. GRADE: C+
Gal Costa (Brazil): Gal Canta Caymmi (Philips 6349 174, 1976)
As the title suggests, this consists of Costa performing songs by Dorival Caymmi – not a name that really means anything to me. Musically, it’s typical of her mid-seventies work, consisting of gentle ballads and light funky numbers and showcasing her stunning voice to good effect. GRADE: C+.
Gal Costa (Brazil): Caras E Bocas (Philips 6349 335, 1977)
Costa’s mid-to-late seventies albums are somewhat interchangeable – this one has the usual mix of mildly funky numbers and mildly epic ballads. She even gets to rock out – again mildly – on ‘Meu Doce Amor’, adding a little variety to another classy set. GRADE: C+.
Coterie (Ireland): A Swing To Folk (Emerald Gem GEM 1026 / GES 1026, UK, 1969)
Kathleen Maguire (joint lead vocals, guitar), Catherine Donnelly (joint lead vocals, guitar), Jacqueline McDarby (joint lead vocals, guitar),
Margaret Maguire (joint lead vocals, guitar, autoharp)
‘The[se] sweet little schoolgirls are now four lovely young women, all of eighteen years’ announce the sleeve notes: whilst the statement may appear twee, it accurately sums on the music on this delightful album. With its feather-light teenage harmony vocals and simple acoustic guitar backing (plus occasional bass and organ), this is possibly the best school project album that wasn’t actually a school project. Comparisons could also be drawn to Spinning Jenny and the peerless Folkal Point, and at its best this comes close to equalling the latter. Ultimately, the label name says it all: this is indeed a little gem. GRADE: B–.
Country Coalition (USA): Country Coalition (BluesWay BLS 6043, 1970)
As the band name suggests, this is rather good country/rock and harmony pop, with richly melodic arrangements and a bright and punchy production. None of the songs are self-penned and there are a whole host of session players, so I’d assume the band contributes vocals only. Oddly, the album had two completely different covers: one showing a half-eaten pie and the other the band in silhouette. Both came with identical discs, so it’s unclear which came first. GRADE: C+.
Country Folk (UK): Country Folk (No label, 1974?)
Susan Lovell, Jane Williams, Jackie Thompson, Ilona Lovell, Lynn Green, Carolyn Stirling, Janice Mooney, Karen Graham
Nothing to do with the Orkney-based outfit of the same name, this was a musical project by Southwood School. It’s typical of the schoolgirl folk genre, with massed vocals backed by acoustic guitar, tambourine and woodwind on material like ‘Streets Of London’, ‘Donna Donna’, ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘All My Trials’. Whilst it doesn’t bring any particular innovation to the style, it’s a lovely LP, with a very striking purple laminated sleeve. GRADE: C+.
Country Folk (UK): The Country Folk (Thule SLP 101, 1970?)
Kathleen Baikie (joint lead vocals)
Totally unrelated to the band above, this outfit’s sole album did exactly what it said on the tin, offering lightweight, loungy interpretations of material like ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Rambling Boy’ and ‘Last Thing On My Mind’. A delicate reading of ‘Donna Donna’, beautifully sung by Kathleen Baikie, shows their more sensitive side, however, and reminds me more than a little of Folkal Point. The members mostly hailed from the Orkney Isles, and I can imagine they were a popular live act in pub and cabaret settings. GRADE: C.
Countryside Unitarian Fellowship (USA): Hey, Jesus Christ Welcome To This World – A Rock Oratorio By D Le Mieux And Jeanne Peters (Wright Recordings WRIGHT 3372, with booklet, 1971)
Jeanne Peters (joint lead vocals), Mary Ann Cowles (occasional vocals), Betty Larson (occasional vocals)
As the subtitle makes clear, this is a musical interpretation of the nativity story, in the manner of a school play (although this seems to be performed by adults). It’s given distinction by the raw, garagy backing, the mildly proggy pretensions (that notably outstrip the composer’s and musicians’ abilities) and the bizarre singing: a pompous stentorian approach from Joseph, inept quasi-operatics from Mary (Jeanne Peters) and bizarre attempts at soul emoting from the Innkeeper. This has given the album quite a reputation among ‘incredibly strange music’ collectors, leading it to sell for many hundreds of pounds. GRADE: C.
County Folk (UK): County Folk (No label CF 323, 1972)
Jean (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Trish (joint lead vocals, recorder)
Although the back cover credits the band with a variety of instruments, most songs are acapella, featuring four-part harmonies. Overall, this is typical Northern traditional folk, closely resembling Tickawinda at their least ambitious or some of the Folk Heritage acts. GRADE: C+.
Couriers (UK): The Couriers (Sound News Productions SNP 172, 1971)
Rosemary Reeves (joint lead vocals)
Blending elements of folk with touches of ragtime and jazz, this Christian album offers intricate and pleasant acoustic music. All the compositions are originals, and fans of the rootsier side of Pentangle (as opposed to the more progressive elements, which are what make me love them) could find much to enjoy here. The best tracks by far are ‘Things Are Different Now’, beautifully sung by Rosemary Reeves, the eerily mournful ‘Sunny Springtime Morning’, and ‘The Man On The Hill’, which features some uncharacteristic electric guitar leads, giving a haunting and rather psychedelic atmosphere. GRADE: C+.
Court Of Appeal (USA): …You Be The Judge (Appealing Sounds SRS-2311, 1974)
Grace Masraro (joint lead vocals)
This lounge rock album is unusual in two regards: first, most of it was recorded in the studio, and secondly (and more interestingly) it features quite a bit of Mellotron. Otherwise it’s par for the course, with a slightly strange and impressionistic recording making for a mildly interesting listening experience. To these ears, the best number is the Mellotron and Hammond-led instrumental ‘Love’s Theme’. GRADE: C+.
Courtyard Music Group (UK): Chan Eíl Ann Seo Ach Cuíd Dha’r Du Rachd Dhuít (Kilquhanity, with poster and insert, 1974)
Mary Cartwright (joint lead vocals, tambourine), Anne Vickerstaff (recorder), Bridgie Bailey (recorder)
The rarest of the rarest of acid-folk private pressings, Courtyard Music Group’s album (also known as Just Our Way Of Saying Hello) is also the best of the best, being on a par with luminaries like Caedmon and Stone Angel. Much of the time, it sounds like an alternative soundtrack to ‘The Wicker Man’, with eerie pagan themes, lots of tuned percussion and a wistful, distinctly Scottish feel. Indeed, the opening cut is a version of ‘Summer Is Icumen In’, while the instrumental ‘Haggis’ Tune’ (actually written in honour of a band member’s hamster) always puts me in mind of the film’s triumphal procession, with the animal masks. For most people the highlight will be the extended psychedelic improvisation ‘Jam and Gipsy Cream (Magician)’, which takes up most of side two. Whilst the album is distinctly lo-fi, the playing and singing is of an exceptionally high quality, making it hard to believe that it was cut mainly by teenagers as a school project. 100 copies were pressed, of which four have resurfaced at the time of writing. The year before, most of the same musicians released another, even rarer, album as Killy Country; this is a good deal less consistent, but the best cuts are definitely on a par with the Courtyard Music Group material. GRADE: A–.
See also Killy Country
Luc & Lise Cousineau (Canada): Tout Le Monde Est Heureux?! (Polydor 2917 006, 1971)
Lise Cousineau (joint lead vocals)
For their first album under their own names, the duo formerly known as Les Alexandrins offer a political concept piece with hippie folk/rock backing. It’s a fine LP, with lots of hand percussion and plenty of fuzz guitar, and is lyrically quite daring for its era, with 'Frontenac Et Phipps' including the repeated phrease 'Fuck you!'. GRADE: C+.
Luc & Lise Cousineau (Canada): Laisse Un Temps À L’Amour (Polydor 2424 046, with insert, 1971)
Lavishly packaged with both a gatefold and sleeve and insert, this sees them moving much closer to rock, with a higher level of energy in parts. Borrowing from soul, folk and (very subtly) country music, the songs have a typically laid-back Québecois style, with a few jazzy edges and lots of clever arrangement touches. GRADE: C+.
Cousineau (Canada): Cousineau (Polydor 2424 074, 1972)
Lise Cousineau (joint lead vocals)
With progressive and bluesy edges more apparent than on their other albums, this may just be their best work (although all the LPs issued under various permutations of their own names are worth hearing). Confusingly, the follow-up, also issued as just ‘Cousineau’, was actually the first of Luc Cousineau’s many solo albums. GRADE: B–.
Lise Cousineau (Canada): Moi, Lise Cousineau (Le Tamanoir TAM-27017, with inner, 1979)
Lise Cousineau (lead vocals)
Cousineau’s first solo album offers pleasant mildly funky pop, hinting towards contemporary Catherine Lara and Véronique Sanson. ‘Pas De Crise, Marquise!’ has an African flavour, reflecting her work with Toubabou, whilst the 10-minute closer ‘Moi’ allows her band to stretch out a little. GRADE: C+.
Lise Vachon (Canada): Vocalise (Say No More Music, CD, 2006)
Lise Cousineau (lead vocals)
The former Lise Cousineau offers an interesting album that steps forward from her work with Toubabou (whose ‘Yama Nekh’ is reworked as the opening track), taking her further into the world music genre. Other cuts are jazzier, including some relatively straight ballads, and the album sometimes hints towards RIO in general and Dagmar Krause in particular. With Cousineau in superb voice, it’s an unusual and worthwhile listen. GRADE: C+.
See also Alexandrins, Toubabou, Ville Emard Blues Band
Coven (USA): Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls (Mercury SR 61239, 1969)
Jinx Dawson (joint lead vocals)
Vaguely comparable to the contemporaneous Fantasy, but much more theatrical (a remarkably unscary occult theme runs throughout, culminating in a recreation of a black mass), this is one of those awkward early West Coast-into-prog affairs. Jinx Dawson’s vocals sometimes sound like an odd mix of Toyah Willcox and Fantasy’s Lydia Miller, whilst the musical backing is fairly straight late sixties rock spiced up with some shifts of mood and tempo, plus a few hammy intonations of magic rituals. But despite some clever production touches (notably the prominent percussion on ‘White Witch Of Rose Hall’) and some lively rock jamming (‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’), as usual with this sort of thing it’s the lack of truly great songs that is the album’s undoing. As for the black mass, its thirteen minutes contain almost no musical content, making it a remarkable waste of vinyl. GRADE: C–.
Coven (USA): Coven (MGM SE 4801, with insert, 1972)
Dropping their debut’s satanic shtick, this is a straightforward album of melodic hard rock. Unlike its predecessor, this mostly features band-written material, and they’re competent composers and performers, with some good hooks and riffs on offer: fans of the era and style will enjoy their time in the LP’s company. Unfortunately competence isn’t enough in such a crowded genre, and despite the presence of the band’s only hit (the uncharacteristically cloying ‘One Tin Soldier’) there’s nothing really special on offer here. GRADE: C.
Coven (USA): Blood On The Snow (Buddah BDS 5614, 1974)
Jinx Dawson (principal vocals)
For their third and final album Coven retained a similar (albeit much softer) musical style to their second, whilst opting for a hammy horror-themed sleeve that recalled their debut. Again, it’s well written, structured and played, but it’s all pretty generic. GRADE: C.
Julie Covington & Pete Atkin (UK): While The Music Lasts (MJB BEV LP 1008, 1967)
Julie Covington (joint lead vocals)
Contrary to popular belief, The Beautiful Changes was not Julie Covington’s first album: she had already cut two obscure private pressings with the same collaborators, Pete Atkin and Clive James. This one, issued in a run of 160 copies housed in a minimalist paste-on sleeve, consists of downbeat songs with something of a stage musical feel, sometimes recalling the straighter material issued by Holyground. GRADE: C+.
Julie Covington & Pete Atkin (UK): The Party’s Moving On (MJB BEV LP 1160, 1969)
Julie Covington (joint lead vocals)
Making its predecessor appear positively plentiful, this was issued in a run of just 99 numbered copies. With the unwelcome theatrical edges gone, this is a lovely period folk piece with a mournful, introspective mood and simple backing from acoustic guitar or piano and occasional bass. This time round, Clive James also receives a credit on the front cover, though his only participation is as a lyricist. GRADE: C+.
Julie Covington (UK): The Beautiful Changes (Columbia SCX6466, 1971)
Julie Covington (lead vocals)
The changes she’s made here certainly work: the bigger studio setting (with backing from top sessionmen like Clem Cattini and Herbie Flowers, plus intermittent orchestration) suits her. This is also undeniably beautiful, creating a delicate, haunting atmosphere similar to Catherine Howe’s What A Beautiful Place (with which it is frequently compared in dealer lists). The odd foible of panning the drums to the left – something that had generally become history by the early seventies – makes it sound older than it actually is, which works to the advantage of Atkin and James’s nostalgic material. However, the closing ‘My Silks And Fine Array’ is something else: a stunning piece of psychedelic folk/rock that builds to a shattering climax, making one wish that Covington had favoured more rock-based settings in her other work. GRADE: C+.
Cowsills (USA): The Cowsills (MGM 4498, 1967)
Giving few hints of the band’s tender years, this is professionally executed sunshine pop, with some lovely original tunes. For sure, it’s sometimes twee, but that’s par for the genre, and this is about as good as the style gets. GRADE: C+.
Cowsills (USA): We Can Fly (MGM SE 4534, 1968)
Basically more of the same: a little more MOR in parts, and decidedly more saccharine in others, but still consistently good. GRADE: C+.
Cowsills (USA): Captain Sad And His Ship Of Fools (MGM SE 4554, 1968)
A couple of cuts have a vaudeville or music-hall feel, but mostly this is excellent late sixties pop: better than its predecessor, and on a par with the best stuff from their debut. GRADE: C+.
Cowsills (USA): II x II (MGM SE 4639, 1970)
This is more mature and varied than their earlier work, with elements of folk, country-rock and harder-edged West Coast rock. Overall, it emphasises just what fine songwriters they were, with some really excellent hooks, harmonies and melodies. GRADE: C+.
Coxon’s Army (USA): Live From Sam Miller Exchange Café (Trace, 1974)
Pat Benatar (joint lead vocals)
This is a big ticket lounge album, mainly because Pat Benatar went on to a highly successful career as a rock and pop singer. However, it’s an interesting LP in its own right, not least for the professional-level musicianship and recording quality, which are the opposite of what one might expect from an obscure private pressing. Covers of ‘I Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’, ‘Respect’ and ‘Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show’ are par for the course for this kind of LP, but pianist Coxon had clear progressive ambitions, made obvious on an instrumental ‘Macarthur Park’ and his own ‘Theme And Variations Unfinished’. As a result, whilst most people will buy the album for Benatar, it’s the instrumental cuts that are the most noteworthy. As a footnote, the album is known with two label variations: the purple version is rarer. Benatar released an obscure solo single with Coxon’s involvement at around the same time (‘Day Gig’/‘Last Saturday’, Trace NP5293): the A-side is orchestrated funky pop with an early disco feeling, whilst the rather superior B-side is a sort of singer/songwriter and MOR mix. GRADE: C+.
Cozmic Corridors (Germany): Cozmic Corridors (Psi-Fi PSCD0001, UK, CD, 1996, recorded 1973?)
Pauline Fund (occasional vocals, percussion)
Controversy surrounds this band, whose music first appeared on Virgin Records’ Unknown Deutschland compilations in 1996 before their full album gained its own release later the same year. Press material at the time stated that this was a reissue of a very rare German private pressing (Pyramid PYR 009) limited to 100 copies and released in 1973. However, other sources suggested that the Pyramid label had never existed and that these were contemporaneous recordings (possibly overseen by the Aphex Twin) designed to cash in on the then-current Krautrock boom. This possibility seems unlikely, since percussionist Hans-Jürgen Pütz and producer ‘The Mad Twiddler’ (aka Toby Robinson) were real individuals active on the seventies Krautrock scene. That said, no evidence has ever come to light of the Pyramid label – two decades on from its supposed rediscovery, not one of its LPs has ever been offered for sale. My own take is that these are unreleased seventies recordings, with the Pyramid label a concoction to add collector appeal to the CDs. Musically, it offers eerie keyboard-based sounds with a rather cosmic, meditational feel, occasionally recalling late seventies or early eighties Popol Vuh in the mood (though ‘Niemand Versteht’, with spoken vocals by Pauline Fund, is rather similar to Ash Ra Tempel’s ‘Jenseits’). In any case, there is some superb and haunting material here. Oddly, the booklet artwork – supposedly taken from the Pyramid LP cover – displays a different running order to that on the disc. GRADE: B.
See also Temple