Gegenwart Absolut Windstill (Austria): Gegenwart Absolut Windstill (Extra Platte 23, with insert, 1982)
Doris Zeman (occasional vocals, guitar, recorder), Gabriele Cikanek (occasional vocals)
This rather odd album consists mainly of male spoken voices intoning poetry, with some musical interludes from classically-inclined female singers, strings and flute, plus occasional electric and acoustic guitars, percussion and keyboards. It’s odd, relaxing and slightly eerie, but whilst atmospheric it’s also an acquired taste as the music generally takes second place to the poetry, especially on the side-long track. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Osorezan • Dounokenbai (Victor SF-10056, with insert and obi, 1976)
Keiko Yamamoto, Machiko Tomisho, Kyoko Ueno, Kyoko Kamino, Atsuko Nakata, Shoko Sasaki, Michiko Sasada, Keiko Sano, Yuriko Tsuchida, Kimiko Yamazaki, Etsuko Yamamoto, Mariko Saito, Ikuko Honda, Junko Sugiyama, Kayoko Matsumoto, Hajime Moriyama, Kazuko Morita, Kyoko Asada, Hiroko Yuyama, Setuko Katayama, Kiwako Yaguchi, Reiko Shin, Miwako Takeuchi, Mieko Hatori, Mitsuko Nagao, Ikuko Aoki, Chieko Iida, Chieko Takashima, Masayo Mochizuki
Conceptually, this huge Japanese theatre and music troupe sits somewhere between Chêne Noir and the large-scale works of JA Seazer, though musically they’re not that close to either. This has none of the free-jazz or space-rock leanings of Chêne Noir or the zeuhl leanings of Seazer, instead offering two side-long suites that are very different from one another. ‘Osorezan’ opens with an ear-splitting scream and clattering drums but transforms into a hypnotic, percussive piece that builds to a frenzier climax, whilst ‘Dounokenbai’ focuses on voices and offers doomy, minimalist Buddhist stylings. Both numbers are frequently fascinating, adding up to a remarkable debut that largely defies classification – or description. GRADE: B–.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Chi No Hibiki (Victor SF-10064, with obi, 1976)
Radically different from their debut, this is a purely choral – and entirely acapella – work in which the group reinterpret Eastern European songs is an almost liturgical manner. The results are beautiful and sepulchral and could appeal to fans of Popol Vuh seeking something even more refined and delicate. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Yamato Gensho (Invitation VIH-6001, with booklet and obi, 1977)
Yuriko Tsuchiya (joint leadl vocals), Nobuko Ono (joint lead vocals), Shizuko (shamisen)
Blending elements of their first two albums, this combines choral vocals with traditional Japanese instrumentation and ocasional mantric percussion to create an eerie and haunting sound. Still, what would I know? According to the Discogs listing, this is ‘jazz/funk’ and ‘fusion’ – but whilst the superb long closing track creates a funky and trippy groove with some snaky lead guitar, I don’t recommend playing this to your favourite Level 42 or Shakatak fan. GRADE: B–.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Exultent Pisces In Cantics Nostris (Invitation VIH-6017, with booklet and obi, 1978)
Yuriko Tsuchiya ((joint lead vocals), Noriko Kashima (keyboards)
This 20-minute EP returns Geinoh Yamashirogumi to a purely choral and classical sound that’s almost entirely acapella, with only the closing cut featuring keyboard backing. The results are beautiful and sepulchral, though this may have narrower appeal than their most rock-oriented (and more experimental) albums. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Live “Hirakareta Gassho” Junen No Tenkai (Invitation VIH-4003/4, double, with insert and obi, 1979)
This live double album is almost entirely acapella, yet its 70+ minutes pass relatively quickly – with the notable exception of the spoken-word sections and attempts at humour, which obviously mean nothing to non-Japanese ears. However, the closing version of ‘Osorezan’ is clearly the highpoint and is vastly more exciting than the choral stuff that proceeds it. From the stunning front cover, it’s clear that their performances were very theatrical, with considerable attention paid to sets, choreography and lighting, and it’s this aspect of the band live that is entirely overlooked by a purely audio document. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Shonentachi E No Chikyusanka (Invitation VIH-6051, with insert and obi, 1979)
As the image of a black child on the cover implies, this is Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s stab at African music. Crossing mantric percussion and chanting with their usual classical choral style, the results are unusual and intriguing, though the second half of the LP veers away from the ethnic theme, offering first pure musical theatre with piano backing and then cheesy space disco, which proves that this unpredictable crew would have a go at almost anything. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Silk Road No Genjo (Invitation VIH-28028, with booklet and obi, 1981)
Despite the rather psychedelic cover, this is one of Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s straighter albums. Entirely choral and mostly acapella, it occasionally adds some hand percussion and once in a while becomes quite manic, but for the most part it’s serene and haunting stuff that drifts by without making much of an impression. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Byzantine No Hibiki (Invitation VIH-28041, with booklet and obi, 1981)
Kyoko Fujiyama (joint lead vocals)
At 25 minutes, this is more an EP than an album; and being wholly acapella and choral, it’s one of their straighter works. Nonetheless, like almost everything they issued, it has a chilly, haunting beauty and benefits from another beautiful sleeve. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Africa Genjoh (Invitation VIH-28099, with booklet and obi, 1982)
It’s back to Africa for Geinoh Yamashirogumi, blending hand percussion with chanbting on this world music voyage. The results are well recorded, lively and, for all I know, authentic, but I can’t imagine this figuring among anyone’s favourite albums from the band. GRADE: C+.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Ecophony Rinne (Invitation VDR-1200, CD, with obi, 1986)
The first in a trilogy of albums focusing on ecological themes, Ecophony Rinne sees Geinoh Yamashirogumi returning to their progressive and experimental roots. Its four tracks unify choral vocals, ambient textures, electronic percussion and cavernous echoes in different combinations to create an eerie and unsettling score that evolves constantly and is at times chilly,spooky, uplifting and simply plain weird, whilst always remaining minimalistic and intriguing. GRADE: B–.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Japan): Ecophony Gaia (Invitation VICL-14, CD, with obi, 1990)
The band’s final album again offers a cross-section of their varying styles, but is much more successful all round – with four tracks over ten minutes and the other two over eight, their powerful, dramatic ethnic-meets-classical-meets electronic music has the room it needs to breathe. As such, this provides a fitting end to both their fascinating career and the highly exploratory Ecophony trilogy. GRADE: B–.
Gekko Project (USA): Reya Of Titan (Melodic Revolution MRR CD 22108, CD, with digipak, 2015)
Jojo Razor (principal vocals)
Since the band is American, I expected this to be influenced by Rush, but thankfully it has no metal elements and no overbearing angular riffing. Instead, it’s a pleasant enough symphonic progressive set telling a science-fiction tale, though it’s a bit too wordy and fairly unadventurous. GRADE: C+.
Gene & Debbe (USA): Hear And Now (TRX LPS 1001, 1969)
From the front cover, you’d expect them to be one of the many baroque folk/rock duos that existed in the late sixties; on the back, Gene looks like a folkish minstrel whilst Debbe resembles a soft porn actress. In fact this is country/pop with gentle vocals and period arrangements, including a lot of dreamy organ. That description doesn’t make the LP sound promising, but in fact it’s a surprisingly pleasant listen, with most of the songs being self-penned. This was their only album, although they enjoyed some commercial success, with the single ‘Playboy’ reaching the US top 20. GRADE: C+.
Genesis (USA): In The Beginning (Mercury SR 61175, 1968)
Sue Richman (lead vocals)
Nothing to do with any other band of the same name, this Genesis purvey powerful acid-rock with excellent guitar work. Also on the plus side, they manage a remarkable version of the notorious Hungarian standard ‘Gloomy Sunday’. That said, not everything is perfect – covers of ‘Suzanne’ and ‘Mary Mary’ are respectively unexceptional and throwaway, and the closing sixteen-minute ‘World Without You’ does outstay its welcome, though it contains some outstanding passages. GRADE: C+.
See also Indigo, Thieves
Gentiane (France): Musique d’Auvergne (Cezame CEZ 1007, 1976)
Emmanuelle Parrenin (lead vocals, épinette des Vosges, vielle)
Recorded by Emmanuelle Parrenin and husband Phil Fromont with a new set of collaborators, this is almost entirely instrumental. Focusing on folk dance material, it’s a pleasant and gentle set with wide-ranging instrumentation, and stands as a fine example of French traditional folk. GRADE: C+.
See also Chants À Répondre Et À Danser, Confrèrie Des Fous, Phil & Emmanuelle Fromont, Galant Noyé, Yvon Guilcher, Emmanuelle Parrenin, Phil Fromont & Claude Lefebvre
Gentle Knife (Norway): Gentle Knife (Bajkal BAJ CD 002, CD, 2015)
Melina Oz (joint lead vocals), Astraea Antal (flute)
The most obvious comparison for Gentle Knife would be their countrymen White Willow: this has exactly the same kind of dark, chilly and distinctly Scandinavian sound. Lengthy, complex and dynamic, the album is packed with twists and turns that recall the seventies heyday of progressive rock whilst remaining distinctly modern. In short, this is a very striking listening experience – and an instant classic. GRADE: B.
Gentle Knife (Norway): Gentle Knife II – Clock Unwound (Bajkal BAJDCD023, CD, 2017)
Veronika Hørven Jensen (occasional vocals), Astraea Antal (saxophone, flute, chanter), Charlotte Valstad Nielsen (saxophone)
This is a touch less substantial than their first, but every bit as intense and atmospheric, with a slightly jazzier flavour. Whether it’s nature or nurture, Scandinavia seems to produce some of the finest modern prog, and Clock Unwound can take its place among the contemporary greats. GRADE: B–.
Gentle Soul (USA): The Gentle Soul (Epic BN 26374, 1968)
Pamela Polland (joint lead vocals, guitar)
The ornate ‘Overture’ suggests that this is going to be a progressive album, but the remainder has more of a singer/songwriter feel, with strong baroque edges and notable hippie elements. It’s a lovely LP, with superb arrangements and orchestrations, but it’s not entirely surprising that they didn’t hit the big time: this isn’t catchy enough to cross over to the top forty, nor adventurous enough to appeal to underground listeners. Nonetheless, the haunting, slightly trippy ‘Reelin’’ is an outstanding piece, and probably the best cut along with ‘Overture’. The duo broke up immediately after recording the album, with both Rick Stanley and Pamela Polland launching solo careers. GRADE: C+.
See also Pamela Polland
Siwsánn George (UK): Traditional Songs Of Wales (Saydisc CD-SDL 406, CD, 1994)
Siwsánn George (lead vocals)
Doing exactly what it says on the tin, George’s solo album offers surprisingly varied acoustic settings of traditional Welsh folk songs. Beautifully performed and superbly recorded, it’s a lovely addendum to her work with Mabsant. GRADE: C+.
Siwsánn George (UK): Caradog Y Coblyn Cas (Gomer/CBAC, cassette plus book, 1997?)
Siwsánn George (joint lead vocals, guitar, concertina, harp)
George’s last album was a half-hour cassette featuring a children’s story and music, accompanied by a hardback book. Whilst this could be regarded as a sidestep from Mother Gong’s Fairy Tales, the narrator’s ‘funny’ voices (and the fact the whole thing is in Welsh) will make the set slightly hard going for many listeners, though the (all too brief) musical interludes are pleasant enough. GRADE: C+.
See also Mabsant
George Watson Ladies’ College (UK): GWLC Closing Concert June 1974 (No label, 1974)
For the most part, this document of a school concert is pretty uninteresting, consisting of choral and orchestral classical music. There are also a few numbers by the younger kids and two songs (‘The Verdant Braes Of Screen’ and, inevitably, ‘Scarborough Fair’) by the Folk Group. These provide the real meat here, though they’re also somewhat choral. GRADE: D+.
Geraldine (UK): Geraldine (Beltona Sword SBE 128, 1971)
Rather oddly, this singer – a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl, according to the sleevenotes – was from Northern Ireland, but the album was recorded in Dublin and issued on a label normally noted for Scottish music. Musically, it’s sweet and charming baroque folk/pop with some country tinges, including covers of Gordon Lightfoot, Elton John, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman material. GRADE: C+.
Tony Kearney & Geraldine (Ireland/UK): Hang My Country – The Story Of A Tragedy (Cuchulainn CCHS 1001, Ireland, 1974?)
McKeever’s second album is quite different, being a strongly pro-Republican concept piece about the Troubles. Tony Kearney provides the linking narration and much of the lead vocals, with Geraldine in a rather secondary role; the album music is surprisingly mellow folk with full band backing. GRADE: C+.
Geraldine (UK): Sing My Country Vol. 1 (Cuchulainn CCHS 1002, 1974?)
Developing the style of her contributions to Hang My Country, this consists of versions of Irish favourites including ‘Danny Boy’, ‘The Banks Of Claudy’, ‘Connemara Cradle Song’ and ‘Curragh Of Kildare’. With accompaniment from accordion, piano and sometimes a rhythm section, the more uptempo cuts resemble the kind of jolly folk featured on TV variety shows but the more delicate numbers are lovely, recalling a more MOR side-step from Shades Of Mac Murrough. GRADE: C+.
Geraldine (UK): Sing My Country Vol. 2 (Cuchulainn CCHS 1007, 1974?)
Vol. 2 is very much in the same vein as its predecessor, but is better all round. I could still do without some of the more uptempo cuts (in particular, her bouncy version of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ is not a joy to behold) but the more haunting numbers like ‘She Moves Through The Fair’ and ‘My Lagan Love’ are nothing short of stunning. As a footnote, this is unique among Geraldine’s four albums: it’s the only one where she wears a different dress on the cover. GRADE: C+.
Gery (West Germany): Lieder Aus Meinem Leben (Neue Stadt 8101, 1981?)
Gery De Stefano (lead vocals, guitar)
Sounding a few years earlier than its apparent release date, this folky singer/songwriter set takes most of its influences from the first couple of Joni Mitchell albums. Accompanied only by her own acoustic guitar, De Stefano delivers a selection of pleasant Mitchell-like tunes; indeed, the opening ‘Tag Für Tag’ has a verse melody that sounds like it’s lifted directly from ‘Both Sides Now’. GRADE: C+.
Geysir (Canada/Iceland): Hljómsveitin (SG SG-076, Iceland, 1974)
Judy Niblock (occasional vocals, flute)
Although this was recorded and released in Iceland, complete with Icelandic title and liner notes, three-quarters of the band were expatriate Canadians and all the songs are in English. The style is distinctly Canadian too: this is of that mellow, introspective style of folk/rock, with acoustic guitars, electric bass, flute and occasional hand percussion and strings creating a gentle, dreamlike mood; fuzz guitar puts in an occasional appearance. GRADE: C+.
Ghost (UK): When You’re Dead – One Second (Gemini GME 1004, 1970)
Shirley Kent (joint lead vocals)
This brilliant album blends soul, folk (on Shirley Kent’s two rather out-of-place compositions), psychedelia and heavy prog into an irresistible whole, powered by some wonderful period organ work and heavy lead guitars. ‘Night Of The Warlock’ may have an almost identical hook to Mungo Jerry’s ‘In The Summertime’, but it’s the impassioned title track, the Kent-sung ‘The Storm’ and the superb ‘Too Late To Cry’, with its seemingly endless guitar solo, that are the highpoints of this wonderful (if very dated) LP. GRADE: B.
See also Shirley Kent, Virginia Tree
Ghost Medicine (USA): Discontinuance (Uranium UC00921, CD, UK, 2016)
Sarah Höfer (joint lead vocals)
This seventies-styled hard rock band have quite a distinctive sound, with almost every song blending acoustic and electric sections with both male and female vocals, with the whole thing having a slightly desolate, rural sound. However, what they don’t have are the great songs that would have elevated this from a solid album into an exceptional one. Mention should be made of the remarkable 50 copies limited edition, which features the CD in a sealed paper bag, plus a sealed envelope containing several postcards, a plastic bag containing four badges and a miniature bottle of spirits, all contained in an oversized, hinged box with silver foil print. GRADE: C+.
Ghosts (USA): The Ghosts Playing In The Heart Of Gold Band (Whirled 01967, 1984, recorded 1979 & 1980)
Donna Godchaux (joint lead vocals), Greta Rose (backing vocals)
The Ghosts was the initial name of Keith and Donna Godchaux’s first post-Grateful Dead project, although they quickly became the Heart Of Gold Band (and equally quickly disbanded following Keith Godchaux’s death). Although the credits do not make this clear, this appears to feature studio recordings on side one and live cuts on side two. Both sides offer a mixture of original songs (by drummer Greg Anton) and cover versions, with the music basically being barroom rock with a few Grateful Dead-like guitar solos. Strangely, Donna Godchaux writes nothing here, and doesn’t sing much either. The entire album was included on the Heart Of Gold Band CD Double Dose (Relix RRCD 2020, 1989), whilst most cuts reappeared on the 1998 release The Heart Of Gold Band (Grateful Dead Productions GDCD 4060). GRADE: C+.
See also Donna Jean, Jerry Garcia Band, Grateful Dead, Heart Of Gold Band, Keith & Donna, ZÓÉ
Ghoulies (UK): Dogged By Dogma (Lounging LA1, 1982)
Elaine Morgan (joint lead vocals)
To describe this as a bargain-basement song-based Hatfield & The North might be unnecessarily damning but it wouldn’t be unfair – Charlie Summers, the mastermind behind this one-off project, even has Richard Sinclair’s sardonic vocal style down to a T. Then again, with Dave Stewart and Pip Pyle playing on most tracks, it’s hardly surprising. But more importantly, this is pretty good in its own right – not truly great like the Hatfields themselves but a decent enough pastiche with a few new wave elements thrown in to give it some identity of its own. GRADE: B–.
See also Dan Ar Braz Et L’Héritage Des Celtes, Elaine Morgan, Rose Among Thorns