Q

 

Q (Japan): The Catcher In The Air (Flying Beans ICR-I 069, with inserts, 1976)
Rock/Progressive
Keiko Suzuki (joint lead vocals, synthesiser)
This extremely obscure private pressing offers very enjoyable guitar-led rock and prog with a garage flavour. Some songs are quite mellow and melodic, whilst others have hard rock elements and some strong guitar work; side two is vastly better than side one, peaking on a couple of superb long tracks. This is one of the hardest Japanese albums to track down. GRADE: B–.

Quadrangle (UK): Quadrangle (New Sylvan NS 101, 1971)
MOR
The front cover of this mysterious and minimalist private pressing simply gives the band name, whilst the back states it is in mono, gives the catalogue number and credits it to Sylvanbury Records of Central London (though the label states New Sylvan, which correlates with the catalogue number). I’m therefore presuming that the disc originally came with an insert or booklet that is missing from my copy, but since I can’t find a single reference to this on the internet it’s destined to remain terminally obscure. In any case, it’s not very interesting musically, consisting of songs performed by a female singer with a rather formal, classical style fronting a small combo of bass, piano and drums. A male singer with a more modern approach fronts a few cuts on side two, one of which is a pleasant pop number with some flute. Overall, the disc sounds like a collection of material from a stage musical, with a middle-of-the-road and sometimes quite jazzy flavour; but given the album’s rarity and the sleeve’s low-budget minimalism this is the kind of thing that could be hyped and sold to an unsuspecting collector for a substantial sum. GRADE: E+.

Quanah Parker (Italy): Quanah! (Diplodisc DPL 004, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2012)
Progressive
Elisabetta Montino (lead vocals)
Initially sounding like a slightly jazzy twist on seventies Renaissance, this Italian band’s debut offers an authentic recreation of classic seventies prog styles. Relaxed and melodic yet varied and inventive, it mixes Italian and British influences, creating some fine instrumental textures. If there’s a downside, it’s perhaps a little slight, with mostly fairly short songs and a few hints toward AOR and straight ballad styles. Nonetheless, it’s consistently engaging and there’s plenty of promise here. GRADE: B–.

Quanah Parker (Italy): Suite Degli Animali Fantastici (MP MPRCD068, CD, 2015)
Progressive
Elisabetta Montino (lead vocals)
Most of their second album is given over to the titular suite, although this isn’t obvious on casual listening. They’ve sensibly abandoned the straighter AOR end of their repertoire here, focusing on relaxed, mellifluous mid-paced prog that is never startling or hugely compelling but is consistently accomplished, engaging and finely crafted. GRADE: B–.

Quasar (UK): Live Tape 1984 (No label, cassette, 1984)
Progressive
Susan Robinson (lead vocals)
More than 35 years removed, Quasar’s synthesiser-led neoprogressive style feels quintessentially eighties, not least in Susan Robinson’s Toyah Willcox-like vocals. As a live recording intended as a demo tape, this is also rather thin-sounding and a touch lo-fi, though it’s not unpleasant for all that, The set was reissued in 2013 as the CDR Live At The Heathery Bar (Q QUA-L3); this version corrects the erroneous track listing of the original cassette, which even incorrectly split the tracks between the sides. GRADE: C.
Quasar (UK/Japan): The Loreli (Progressive PRO QU2, CD, UK, 1989)
Progressive
Tracy Hitchings (lead vocals)
Quasar’s second studio album – and first with a female singer – can be credited (or blamed, if you prefer) for introducing Tracy Hitchings to the world. It’s an odd set, packed with contradictions: the thin, low-budget arrangements sound like they’re based around synthesisers and a drum machine, but there are no synths (instead the parts are played on a MIDI guitar) and a live drummer is credited. Some strange and unexpected tempo changes heighten the oddness quotient, but this would still be just about tolerable if not for Hitchings – like Susan Robinson, she sometimes recalls Toyah Willcox but she has also has one foot in the musical theatre camp, and her singing is often so arch as to be downright obnoxious. GRADE: E+.

Quasar (UK): Live 1984-1990 (Q-Records QUA-L1, 2010, recorded 1984-1990)
Progressive
Tracy Hitchings (joint lead vocals), Susan Robinson (joint lead vocals)
The problem here isn’t the material, which works better on stage than in the studio, or even Tracy Hitchings, who fronts the five songs recorded in 1990. The problem is the sound quality, which is barely better than a bootleg on the two songs from 1984 (which may or may not be taken from the earlier cassette) and three from 1986 fronted by Susan Robinson. Come to that, the sound quality is pretty variable on the Hitchings numbers too, so this more an official bootleg than a high quality historical document. GRADE: C–.
Quasar (UK): Live At The Noorderligt (Q-Records, download, 2017, recorded 1990)
Progressive
Tracy Hitchings (lead vocals)
Given the fairly low audio quality of previous Quasar live releases and the presence of Tracy Hitchings throughout, I didn’t have high hopes for this. However, the sound quality isn’t too bad, Hitchings is less arch on stage than in the studio (though she does get a bit carried away on ‘As You Fall Asleep’) and the material from The Loreli works better live, so this is a pretty decent document of Quasar in its Hitchings incarnation. GRADE: C+.
Quasar (UK): Live 2011 (Q-Records QUA-12, CDR, 2011)
Progressive
Keren Gaiser (principal vocals, keyboards)
This is the Quasar live album to get: the sound quality is decent, the performances are lively and Keren Gaiser is a significant step up from Susan Robinson or Tracy Hitchings. That said, Quasar’s synth-driven neoprogressive sound doesn’t embody a huge amount of musical ambition, and their eighties roots remain clear, but for anyone who likes neoprog this is definitely worth a listen. GRADE: C+.

Quasar (UK): Memories Of Times Yet To Be (Q-Records, download, 2016)
Progressive
Keren Gaiser (lead vocals)
This studio album – Quasar’s first since 1989 – is by some margin the best thing they’ve ever done. With five tracks, four of them around the 10-minute mark, it’s simultaneously quite intense and yet relaxed, with a very understated mood and a complete lack of the theatricality that marred them during the Tracy Hitchings period. That said, the sound quality is a touch murky and this is firmly rooted in neoprogressive, so don’t expect instrumental pyrotechnics, but this is still a significant step forward from anything they’ve done before. GRADE: C+.

Quasar (UK): Fire In The Sky (Q-Records PRO-QUA1X, CDR, 2021, recorded 1980)
Progressive
Susan Robinson (lead vocals)
Quasar’s debut album, recorded in 1980 and released in 1982, originally featured male vocals; however, this modern remix substitutes vocals by Susan Robinson, who was their singer slightly later in the eighties. The LP is far superior to their other eighties release The Loreli, offering some pleasant (if lo-fi) symphonic rock with nice melodies and a strong conceptual feel. Alternatively, its superiority could arguably be summed up in just three words: no Tracy Hitchings. GRADE: C+.
See also Gandalf Featuring Vocals By Tracy Hitchings, Tracy Hitchings, Landmarq, Strangers On A Train

Quasar Light (USA): Experience This (Jet Eye 108009, with inner, 1981)
Rock/Metal
Robin Wiles (joint lead vocals)
Oddball amateurish heavy AOR and borderline metal with pretentious, science fiction-inspired lyrics delivered so badly as to be indechiperable without the lyric sheet. On ‘Gargon’s [sic] Of Ganymeade [also sic]’, the band impersonate cockerels to a background of weird synthesiser effects, taking the album into ‘incredibly strange music’ zones. Overall this is an interesting record and a sort of ‘real people’ companion piece for the Groundstar LP, but it’s not a very compelling listening experience. GRADE: C.

Quasar Lux Symphoniae (Italy): Abraham – One Act Rock Opera (WMMS 038/039, double CD, Germany, 1994)
Progressive
Annalisa Malvalio (joint lead vocals)
A religious-themed rock opera by a neoprog band is not my idea of a good time, especially when it’s a double album. In fairness, this isn’t too lyrical or bombastic, with quite a few relaxed instrumental passages. On the downside, nothing much happens, the compositions and playing are rather bland and monotonous, and the vocalists’ English pronunciation is predictably dreadful. The second disc is notably better than the first, ranging from classical-styled solo piano to a drum solo to some energetic rock sections. GRADE: C.
Quasar Lux Symphoniae (Italy): The Enlightening March Of The Argonauts (WMMS 127, Germany, CD, 1997)
Progressive
Annalisa Malvalio (occasional vocals)
Musically this is an improvement on their first, with some powerful uptempo rock passages and a few Renaissance-like piano solos, although at heart it’s average and rather disjointed neoprogressive. But guitarist Roberto Sgorlon’s dramatic singing is truly awful, and he inexplicably takes four lead vocals to Annalisa Malvalio’s one. Consequently, this veers from the adequate to the unlistenable. GRADE: C.
Quasar Lux Symphoniae (Italy): Mit (Mellow MMP 382, CD, 2000)
Progressive
Annalisa Malvalio (joint lead vocals)
This is a huge step up from their first two: Sgorlon isn’t singing any more and at least half the lyrics are in Italian. The result is a pleasantly laid-back album with a much more Italian feel and strong influences from opera, though whilst atmospheric it’s still somewhat over-lyrical and lacking in dynamics. GRADE: C+.
Quasar Lux Symphoniae (Italy): Synopsis (Artesuono art073, CD, with poster booklet, 2009)
Progressive
Annalisa Malvolio (joint lead vocals)
Recorded to mark the band’s thirtieth anniversary (they had released two albums with an all-male line-up as Quasar in 1977 and 1984 before resurfacing with Abraham ten years later), Synopsis attempts to recapture a different era of their history on each of its seven tracks. The resulting album is nowhere near as varied as that description suggests, being a pleasant collection of neoprogressive sounds with a folky slant and (as usual for the band) heavily-accented singing. GRADE: C+.

Quaterna Réquiem (Brazil): Velha Gravura (Faunus 465.043, 1990)
Progressive
Elisa Wiermann (keyboards)
Led by keyboardist and composer Elisa Wiermann, Quaterna Réquiem offered beautifully crafted instrumental prog on their impressive debut. Eschewing both Änglagård-style über-complexity and ELP-like bombast, the music here is relaxed and melodic, with strong classical influences, showcasing Kleber Vogel’s violin to great effect. On a couple of cuts, Wiermann opts for more modern synthesiser sounds, adding an unwelcome neoprogressive tinge, but for the most part this is quite superb. The two short bonus tracks on the 1992 CD reissue (Faunus FCD-01) are pretty impressive too, rounding off a superb set. GRADE: B.
Quaterna Réquiem (Brazil): Quasímodo (No label 107.249, CD, 1994)
Progressive
Elisa Wiermann (keyboards)
The loss of Kleber Vogel’s violin considerably changes the band’s sound; with Wiermann’s keyboards now dominating proceedings, this is closer in style to other keyboard-led instrumental outfits such as Altair or Ars Nova. It’s still a fine album, with plenty of ambition (‘Quasímodo’ itself runs for 39 minutes) and not too much bombast, but it’s mostly shallower than its predecessor, despite great musicianship and occasional use of woodwind and classical vocals. GRADE: B–.

Quaterna Réquiem (Brazil): Livre (No label QR 2, CD, 1999)
Progressive
Elisa Wiermann (keyboards)
Quaterna Réquiem’s music definitely works better in the studio than on stage: the truncated ‘Quasímodo’ loses all the interesting bits, the music often recalls ELP and there’s even a lengthy drum solo. On the plus side, Kleber Vogel returns for the closing ‘Velha Gravura’, which is by far the best thing on offer. GRADE: C+.
Quaterna Réquiem (Brazil): Quaterna Réquiem (No label 107.249, DVD, with booklet, 2006)
Progressive
Elisa Wiermann (keyboards)
With Kleber Vogel back, plus a guest flautist on one number, Quaterna Réquiem are in fine form here and display some exceptional musicianship. That said, there’s only so much you can do with their purely instrumental approach and over the course of nearly two hours their limitations start to become obvious, particularly with little or no interaction with the audience. GRADE: B–.
Quaterna Réquiem (Brazil): O Arquiteto (Quaterna RF00326, CD, 2012)
Progressive
Elisa Wiermann (keyboards)
As the title suggests and the liner notes confirm, this is a concept album about architecture, though being entirely instrumental it’s hard to see how the concept shapes the music. In any case, this is easily their finest release since their debut: superb symphonic rock with great dynamics and variety and sensitive playing from Wiermann, Vogel and their ensemble. GRADE: B.
See also Wiermann & Vogel

Mike Quatro Jam Band (USA): Paintings (Evolution 3011, 1972)
Progressive/Rock
Patti Quatro (occasional vocals), Nancy Quatro (occasional vocals)
If you ever wondered what the rest of the Quatro family was getting up to while Suzi was becoming a glam-rock superstar, here’s the answer. Mike composes just about everything (two tracks are co-credited to ‘S Quatro’, very likely Suzi) and contributes keyboards, percussion, effects and occasional vocals, whilst sisters Patti and Nancy sing. Also on board is Ted Nugent, playing guitar on two cuts. Strangely, the album alternates numbers in two completely different styles: superb keyboard-led progressive with haunting neoclassical atmospheres, and bog-standard early seventies rock. The result is half a brilliant LP and half a pedestrian one, which almost nobody is likely to enjoy from start to finish. Nonetheless, there’s enough good stuff here to make it an essential purchase, especially as it’s not expensive. GRADE: C+.
Mike Quatro Jam Band (USA): Look Deeply Into The Mirror (Evolution 3021, 1973)
Progressive/Rock
Patti Quatro (joint lead vocals, guitar)
On the follow-up, Nancy is absent and Suzi doesn’t get any writing credits, but Patti has been promoted to lead guitarist and co-writer, arranger and producer, while Mike gets to play a broader range of instruments. It’s slightly less schizophrenic than Paintings, making some attempt to mesh the two styles; the result is a more consistently enjoyable LP, although nothing equals the best tracks on its predecessor. Patti went on to join Fanny, while Mike went solo. GRADE: C+.
See also Fanny

Queen Anne’s Lace (USA): Queen Anne’s Lace (Coral CRL 757609, 1969)
Pop
Anne Phllips
The sleevenotes make much of band leader Anne Phillips being a ‘singer, writer, composer, arranger and producer’, but she doesn’t produce, isn’t the main vocalist and writes just three of the eleven songs. Contradicting the hype, this is run-of-the-mill flower-pop with a middle-of-the-road edge and several familiar covers (‘Fool On The Hill’, ‘Always Something There To Remind Me’, ‘Ticket To Ride’, ‘Sally Go ’Round The Roses’). GRADE: C–.

Quel Che Disse Il Tuono (Italy): Il Velo Dei Riflessi (Mas AMS311CD, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2020)
Progressive
Francesca Zanetta (guitar, Mellotron)
Francesca Zanetta was previously the guitarist with Unreal City, and her new band bears many of the same sonic hallmarks. This is classic old-school Rock Progressivo Italiano: mellow, atmospheric and dark, with lots of classical references and intriguing twists and turns, adding up to an accomplished LP. GRADE: B–.

See also Unreal City

Quel Giorno Di Uve Rosse (Italy): Quel Giorno Di Uve Rosse (PCC 0079 LP, 1976)
Progressive
Corinna Rosini (occasional vocals)
This rare Christian concept album features two side-long suites of delicate, rather baroque music, complete with male and female solo voices, narration, choirs and orchestration. Along the way, there are some excellent instrumental passages, but with all these different elements the album never really settles into a groove for more than a few minutes. Corinna Rosini had previously cut an even scarcer and more expensive solo LP. GRADE: C+.
See also Corinna

Quidam (Poland): Quidam (Ars Mundi AMS 005R, CD, 1996)
Progressive
Emila Derkowska (lead vocals, cello, flute)
This Polish band’s debut is a little low on originality – elements of Camel, Caravan, Pink Floyd (including a near-pastiche of ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’ during ‘Nocne Widziadla’) and others abound – but it is absolutely superbly crafted. The band have real flair for creating gorgeous melodies and riffs, and whilst the underlying sound is rooted in neoprog, there’s plenty of invention and complexity on offer too. The real star of the show is Emila Derkowska, whose gentle voice and haunting flute bring a folky, feminine air to the proceedings, although some listeners may bemoan the absence of any rough edges. With a little more of their own personality, this would have been a classic; as it is, it’s easily one of the better progressive LPs of the nineties. The ‘tenth anniversary edition’ (Rock-Serwis RSCD 101, 2006) adds a bonus disc Rzeka Wspomnien featuring demos, live recordings and material by Quidam’s predecessors Deep River and Ogrodnicy. (The latter apparently issued a cassette entitled Apokryf in 1993, which I would be interested in hearing.) From this disc, a rather psychedelic ten-minute cover of Camel’s ‘White Rider’ is especially good. As a final bonus, four video clips are spread across the two discs. The first pressing of the reissue featured a gatefold minisleeve and two separate booklets, but the sleeve had a tendency to fall apart so later versions came with a super jewel case. GRADE: B–.
Quidam (Poland): Sny Aniolów (Rock-Serwis RSCD 059, CD, 1998)
Rock/Progressive
Emila Derkowska (lead vocals, cello)
A huge disappointment after their debut, this is nothing more than a pleasant folky soft rock LP, with a few minor neoprogressive leanings. The disc was also issued in an English-language version for the international market (Angels’ Dreams, Muséa FGBG 4256, France); both releases were later compiled together on a double CD (Rock-Serwis RSCD 102), which like its predecessor comes with a gatefold minisleeve that tends to fall apart plus two booklets. GRADE: C+
Quidam (Poland): Baja Prog – Live In Mexico ’99 (Rock-Serwis RSCD 060, CD, 1999)
Progressive
Emila Derkowska (lead vocals)
Thankfully this excellent live set focuses on the more complex and progressive end of their repertoire, and is a vast step up after the rather dull Sny Aniolów. Most of the material is original, but there’s also an effective cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Child In Time’. This time round, the deluxe double disc reissue (Rock-Serwis RSCD 103, 2006) features a rather amateurish bonus DVD taken from the same festival but with a somewhat different tracklisting. GRADE: B–.
Quidam (Poland): Pod Niebem Czas (Rock-Serwis RSCD 602, CD, 2002)
Progressive
Emila Derkowska (lead vocals)
Their third studio album is something else again – an unusual tapestry of folky songs with neoprogressive edges, atmospheric instrumentals and sound effects, with a dark, wintry feel and some faint Arabic edges. Not at all a consistent record, it’s frequently brilliant (mainly the instrumentals), sometimes mediocre (mainly the songs) and once quite transcendent (a truly astounding twelve-minute cover of ‘No Quarter’ played in the style of some imaginary fusion of Pink Floyd and In The Woods…, beating the more restrained original into a cocked hat). Once again, an English language version was issued (The Time Beneath The Sky, Muséa FGBG 4441.AR, France). The deluxe edition features another ‘live bootleg’ DVD, entitled See Emily Play, recorded in 2003. The band continued with a male vocalist, and have issued several albums since this set. GRADE: B–.

Quiet Touch (Canada): The Quiet Touch (Mark MC-5614, USA, 1970?)
Folk
Eileen Kraatz, Edie Funk
This is coffeehouse-style folk from an obscure quartet, with simple acoustic guitar backing and gentle female harmonies. The material is divided between self-penned songs and covers, and half the twelve numbers are under two minutes, leading to a very short album (around twenty-five minutes). Pleasant as it is, there’s nothing really distinctive or memorable on offer here; notwithstanding, this is a very rare and expensive LP. GRADE: C.

Quikion (Japan): Hallelujah!! (Poseidon PRM-001, CD, 1997)
Folk
Yukiko Totoki (lead vocals, drum programmes, concertina), Emi Sasaki (glockenspiel, accordion)
With unusual arrangements based around acoustic guitar, concertina, accordion and glockenspiel, this is a beautiful and haunting folk album with a few slight psychedelic tinges. The 2006 reissue, subtitled Early Recordings Of Quikion (Muséa Parallèle MP 3053.AR/Poseidon PRF-037) adds six bonus tracks: a live version of the title cut, taken from their 2005 DVD with Lithuma Qnombus, and five demos recorded between 1993 and 1995. GRADE: C+.
Quikion (France): Escargot Bianco (Kinakotake OHTAKE-2, CD, 1999)
Folk
Yukiko Tokoki (vocals, percussion, concertina), Emi Sasaki (accordion, glockenspiel)
Strictly speaking an EP rather than an album (four songs in around 19 minutes), this is slightly different from its predecessor, despite featuring the same line-up and instrumentation. Though recognisably the work of the same band, the music here is more uptempo, slightly jazzier and a little more experimental, with the title track in particular hinting towards RIO. GRADE: C+.
Quikion (Japan): Yoru No Harp (Trinity Tr-101, CD, with poster booklet, 2001)
Folk
Yukiko Tokoki (lead vocals, concertina, percussion, psaltery, kantele, toys), Emi Sasaki (accordion, drums, percussion, psaltery)
This time round, the mediaeval elements are a touch more prominent, and at times this slightly reminds me of both Stone Angel and Trader Horne. Once again it’s a very pleasant album, with a dark, mournful tone and occasional avant-garde edges. GRADE: C+.
Quikion (Japan): Ramadan (Gazul GA 8676.AR/Poseidon PRF-018, CD, France, 2004)
Folk
Yukiko Tokoki (lead vocals, harmonium, percussion, concertina, effects), Emi Sasaki (pianica, accordion, percussion, psaltery, effects, backing vocals)
The title might lead you to expect something Arabic-sounding, but this actually draws most of its cues from European gypsy music. It’s a nice album with a jazzy slant and some intricate playing, with the highpoint being their rendition of ‘The Cuckoo’, which has more of an English acid-folk feel. GRADE: C+.
Quikion + Lithuma Qnombus (Japan): Live (Poseidon PPS-001, DVD, 2005)
Folk/Rock
Yukiko Tokoki (principal vocals, harmonium, maracas, concertina, psaltery), Emi Sasaki (accordion, percussion, backing vocals)
Backing from the rhythm section of Lithuma Qnombus lifts Quikion’s music enormously, and this live DVD beats any of their studio albums into the proverbial cocked hat. Unsurprisingly, they’re not exactly Pink Floyd on stage, but this is beautifully filmed and the stunning sound quality lifts the wonderful musicianship to new heights. GRADE: B–.
Quikion (Japan): Kaprico (Poseidon PRF-046/Muséa Parallèle MP 3072.AR, CD, 2007)
Folk
Yukiko Totoki (lead vocals, concertina), Emi Sasaki (pianica, accordion, percussion, backing vocals)
This is another charming album in their usual style, with the Parisian café-folk elements being perhaps a little more prominent than usual. But beautiful and melodic as it is, this band is clearly best experienced live. GRADE: C+.

Quikion (Japan): Waltz Nostalgie (Nuovo immigrato NIQK-0001, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and poster booklet, 2014)
Folk
Yukiko Totoki (lead vocals, concertina)
Deftly played, with Yukiko Totoki’s concertina and high-pitched vocals synthesising European gypsy and Japanese musical traditions, Waltz Nostalgie is another accomplished LP. But with its straightforward song-based format, this is not an ambitious record and it’s hard to see what it adds to the band’s less than varied catalogue. GRADE: C+.
See also Stella Lee Jones

Quill (UK): Live (Kite KR10, 1979)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Joy Strachan (principal vocals, percussion)
With its driving folk/rock style, long and complex songs and soaring violin, this often resembles a folkier Curved Air, and is one of the better private pressings of its era. GRADE: B–.

Quoth The Raven (USA): Nevermore (Triple G TGS-1/2, 1972)
Folk
Janice Gold (joint lead vocals, guitar)
Accompanied by acoustic guitars and acoustic bass, this folk trio offer ten of their own compositions. The amateurish singing and faint raga undertones of their material place this firmly in the hippie rather than coffeehouse era, although the album isn’t really psychedelic in any conventional sense. Occasionally, this recalls the vastly more expensive Virgin Insanity LP, with the eerie ‘Virgil’ probably being the best cut. GRADE: C+.