Y (Canada): Y – A Rock Musical (No label PRP-151)
Alice Calder, Eliza Fenton, Jennifer Gustar, Brenda Ough, Catherine Prior, Susan Uilkema, Patsy White, Carolyn Jamieson, Brenda Walker, Debbie Watson, Jane Laurie, Beth-Anne Mendes, June Marvin, Gail Heard, Heather Hunt, Christine Tukendorf
This bizarre release barely qualifies as an album, as it’s a single-sided disc running for little more than twelve minutes. A sort of audio play, it consists of a mixture of spoken-word bits and amateurish, clumsy snatches of hard rock and jazz (with several tracks lasting no more than a few seconds). Although intriguing, it’s mostly a curiosity more than anything, with the exception of the exquisite ‘Norway’, an absolutely beautiful piece of teenage acid-folk. GRADE: C+.
Gabriel & Marie Yacoub (France): Pierre De Grenoble (Barclay 920 429, 1973)
Marie Yacoub (joint lead vocals, guitar, dulcimer, tamboura)
This one-off album by the duo who would go on to lead Malicorne already has most of that seminal band’s sonic elements in place: eerie, minor-key acoustic guitars, droning ethnic instrumentation, piercing Breton bagpipes and doomy nasal vocals. Despite electric guitar and bass on most tracks, this is sometimes as close to traditional folk as to folk/rock, and the balance towards rock would only gradually tip during Malicorne’s productive career. Even at this early stage, their considerable talent was evident, and – despite some nods in the arrangements to Steeleye Span circa Please To See The King or Ten Man Mop… – they already had the distinction of not sounding like any other folk/rock outfit. The seven-minute title track, which is the longest and most adventurous cut on offer, is especially impressive.
See also Malicorne
Yamma (UK): Live At Freerotation 2018 (Door 13 Music, download, 2018)
Cary Grace (lead vocals, synthesiser, sequencer, drum programmes)
Yamma is Cary Grace’s synth-based project with veteran electronic maestro Basil Brooks, and this live recording firmly places them in Berlin School territory whilst occasionally hinting at a more minimal sidestep from Gong’s You. Whilst it’s all relaxing, hypnotic and appropriately trippy, I’ve never been the biggest fan of synth music so I definitely prefer Grace’s projects under her own name. GRADE: C+.
Yamma (UK): Live In Glastonbury 2018 (Door 13 Music, download, 2018)
Cary Grace (lead vocals, synthesiser)
On the plus side, this set – recorded four months later, and with Steve Everitt temporarily replacing Brooks – is less ponderous than its predecessor. However, whilst there’s plenty of good music here, I still find myself wishing they’d made more of the band backing – Mike Howlett and Graham Clark supposedly appear here, but don’t appear to do much. GRADE: C+.
See also Cary Grace
Yankee Dollar (USA): The Yankee Dollar (Dot DLP 25874, 1968)
Liza Gonzales (joint lead vocals)
One of a number of Jefferson Airplane-lite outfits to land a major label deal, Yankee Dollar were also one of the better examples. Their sole album has an agreeably mellow groove, with rich harmony vocals and organ textures, plus some assertive fuzz guitar soloing and even a drum solo on the one extended cut, ‘Follow Your Dream’s Way’. The Donovan and Dylan covers are also interesting, being almost unrecognisable owing to radically reworked arrangements. Unsurprisingly, the LP has long been sought-after by collectors. GRADE: C+.
Yavanna (West Germany): Bilder Aus Mittelerde (Lord 33 545, with inner, 1984)
Gitta Löwenstein (occasional vocals)
More a loose collective than a band, this outfit was masterminded by former Eden leader Dirk Schmalenbach. The music here is varied high-tech progressive – from the über-dramatic opener ‘Valinor’ to the two relaxed instrumentals that close the set – that never threatens to rival Eden in quality. Werwolf’s Gitta Löwenstein fronts side one’s closer ‘Lúthiens Frühlingsgesang Und Tanz’. GRADE: C+.
See also Jacamis, Werwolf
Joy Yates & Dave MacRae (New Zealand): Forecast (Tartar TRL 033, 1984)
Joy Yates (lead vocals)
The last couple of Pacific Eardrum albums were pretty unpalatable, so I didn’t have high hopes for this. However, it’s a nice album of smooth jazz ballads, with a sound similar to Elkie Brooks’s early eighties work, showcasing Yates’s fine voice to good effect. GRADE: C+.
See also Esperanto, Pacific Eardrum
Yays & Nays (USA): Yays And Nays (Neo 4228/4229, 1968)
Dawn (joint lead vocals), Bev (joint lead vocals), Sue (joint lead vocals)
This odd, quirky little album falls between several stools: the basic style is pop/folk with a bit of a late coffeehouse vibe, but the backing is often garagy and electric and male singer FD is clearly channelling Elvis Presley. Whilst not overtly psychedelic, it is likely to appeal to fans of the style and the LP benefits from all-original material, much of which has satirical lyrics discussing men’s attitudes towards women and vice-versa. GRADE: C+.
Yellow Autumn (USA): Children Of The Mist (Vala VC 4599, with insert, 1977)
Lorraine Dechter (joint lead vocals, guitar, tambourine)
This acoustic acid-folk album has mostly original material and a sound similar to the better tracks on the first Gwydion album. It also displays some mediaeval edges and a slight Incredible String Band influence, and with neoclassical touches from violin, viola and cello here and there could at a push be compared with Comus at their calmest. Overall, it’s a strong and consistent album, although not among the all-time greats of the genre. GRADE: C+.
Yesterdays (Romania): Holdfénykert (Rockszerviz RSZ-001, CD, Hungary, 2006)
Kinga Jánosi (principal vocals), Emese Kozma Kis (flute), Tímea Fülöp (backing vocals)
Formed by ethnic Hungarians based in Western Romania, Yesterdays offered mellow folky and jazzy soft progressive with lots of flute and a fair bit of Mellotron. It’s mostly too diffident to be truly memorable, but it’s all beautifully done and wonderfully atmospheric, and there are a few moments of intensity (notably on the extended number ‘Seven’). GRADE: C+.
Yesterdays (Romania): Colours Caffé (Disk Union DUPG069, double CD, Japan, 2010)
Linda Horváth (principal vocals), Andrea Emese Ercsey (occasional vocals)
Recorded with a slightly different line-up, the band’s second album retains the sonic textures from their first (notably the Mellotron and flute) but largely substitutes more upbeat, pop-influenced material. The end result is unusual and pleasant, if rather inconsequential. Whilst a domestic release also existed, the Japanese ‘author’s edition’ added a second disc mostly comprising alternate versions of songs from both LPs. GRADE: C+.
Yesterdays (Hungary): Senki Madara (No label, black CDR, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, USA, 2018)
Stephanie Sameniuc (principal vocals), Edina Mókus Szirtes (joint lead vocals), Csenge Tarsoly (occasional vocals)
Returning to the style of their debut, this offers delicate jazzy and folky progressive rock, with all the songs being based on traditional poems and melodies. As with their first two, it’s lovely, unassuming stuff, but the band rarely stretches out or delivers any surprises.
Yeti (Finland): Ritual (No label, CD, with digipak, 2015)
Kaisa Kari (lead vocals)
The band name might make you expect something inspired by Amon Düül II, but this is actually stoner rock. It’s a solid enough example of the genre, though their music is a touch repetitious and one-dimensional; the album is also insubstantial in terms of length, comprising five short songs followed by the nine-and-a-half-minute title track. Nonetheless, there’s definite potential here, and the artwork is lovely.
Yog Sothoth (Corsica): Yog Sothoth (Cryonic, France, 1985)
Cathy Camilleri (lead vocals)
With just three tracks (two clocking in at over seventeen and twenty-two minutes) and titles like ‘Nekrosis’ and ‘Fou: L’Art Noir’, it’s obvious that this Corsican band’s album is not going to be easy listening. Musically, it falls midway between free jazz and experimental prog, with influences from RIO, chamber music and to a lesser extent zeuhl. Cathy Camilleri provides wordless vocals, sometimes very avant-garde, on two of the cuts. Overall, this is one of the most interesting and challenging albums of the eighties. GRADE: B–.
Kumiko Yokoi (Japan): Sing For Hanoi (Mugibue LRS-370, with booklet, 1974)
The opening few cuts are precisely the type of folk music I detest – accompanied only by her own guitar, Yokoi warbles Dylan-esque protest songs in a clear, bell-like tone. As an added bonus, it’s a rather poor live recording, with lots of audience interaction and lengthy between-song chats. Things improve with a studio cut with electric band backing, but side two is mostly live and acoustic (this time with better performances and recording quality) apart from one foray into country/rock. Overall, this is a decidedly underwhelming album, and feels interminable with its playing time of nearly an hour. GRADE: D.
Yole (France): Lead Us Away (Muséa Parallèle MP 3060.AR, CD, 2006)
Marion Bleuse (occasional vocals)
From the artwork and instrumentation, I expected this to be some kind of light progressive new-age world music fusion with folky or jazzy edges. In many ways, that’s exactly what it is, though it’s far less diffuse and rambling than I anticipated, with a couple of actual songs and a few moments of rock strength. In fact, it’s lovely stuff, offering a broad range of moods and textures, and makes me wish they’d issued a string of albums instead of this sole offering. GRADE: B–.
Yolk (France): Yolk (No label, 2001)
Delphine Delagorgue (lead vocals)
This is excellent avant-prog, with a heavier sound than most and the jazz elements kept in check by the guitar-dominated arrangements. At times the music fringes extreme prog-metal, with definite hints of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum et al, and the deranged closing cut (and also the album’s highpoint) sounds like a bizarre fusion of Bondage Fruit and Camembert Électrique-era Gong. GRADE: B–.
María Rosa Yorio (Argentina): Con Los Ojos Cerrados (Sazam 50-14.541/1, with inner, 1981)
María Rosa Yorio (lead vocals)
Yorio’s first solo album is in a mainstream singer/songwriter vein, alternating between delicate ballads and mellow soft rock. That said, she co-writes only one cut, with former Porsuigieco colleague Charly García contributing several songs and the cream of the Argentine rock underground providing the backing. The results are as beautifully executed as one would expect, showcasing her lovely voice to great effect, but this is a little short on excitement. GRADE: C+.
María Rosa Yorio (Argentina): Mandando Todo A Singapur (Sazam 50-14.644/7, with inner, 1982)
María Rosa Yorio (lead vocals)
Once again, Yorio co-writes just one song, with almost everything else being provided by Miguel Angel Mateos, who also produces, arranges and plays guitars, bass synthesiser and keyboards. He does a good job: this is beautifully recorded and musically is a step up from her slightly bland debut, offering mellow soft rock that’s a logical step forward from her work with Los Desconocidos De Siempre. That said, the disc runs out of steam of side two, descending into rather average pop and concluding with a stab at reggae. GRADE: C+.
María Rosa Yorio & Jorge Mehaudy (Argentina): El Disco De Chicos Enamorados (CBS Columbia 20.396, 1983)
María Rosa Yorio (lead vocals)
From the title and cover, I expected this to be a children’s album, and I was unfortunately right: this is relentlessly bouncy and cheerful, with a kids’ chorus putting in an unwelcome appearance here and there. Oddly, every copy I have seen is a promo (marked by both promo labels and a huge printed legend on the cover), making me wonder whether this ever got a commercial release. Equally strangely, all known copies have a large sticker adding Yorio’s name to the front cover, as this had been missed off. GRADE: C.
María Rosa Yorio (Argentina): Por La Vida (Interdisc SLIN 3533, with inner, 1984)
María Rosa Yorio (lead vocals)
For the first time, Yorio is writing most of the material herself, and she’s a more than competent songwriter. On the downside, this shows her beginning to develop interests in jazz/funk and bossa nova, meaning that about a third of the material really isn’t to my taste. GRADE: C.
Yorio (Argentina): Puertos (CBS 20.729, with inner, 1986)
María Rosa Yorio (lead vocals)
I’m not sure why she’s plain ‘Yorio’ now, but then I wouldn’t want my full name associated with this collection of obnoxious high-tech pop songs and bland ballads either. Since she only co-wrote one song, she can’t really be blamed for the material, but she must have signed off on the arrangements, which are even worse. She made several albums after this, but I won’t be acquiring them unless I can find them dirt cheap. GRADE: D.
See also Porsuigieco, Nito Mestre & Los Desconocidos De Siempre
York Pop Music Project (UK): All Day (No label YES 1, 1973)
Melody Lovelace (joint lead vocals), Dianne Beddow (backing vocals), Julia Pigott (backing vocals)
Often erroneously described as a compilation of different bands and solo artists, this was in fact a venture by the University of York’s Electronic Music Department, and features a large collective of musicians performing in different combinations on the various tracks. Very much a game of two halves, the album’s first side features low-key folky underground rock with psychedelic and progressive tinges, not unlike A-Austr or one of the other Holyground releases. This side reaches a peak on the title cut, a brilliantly atmospheric extended piece that strongly resembles Pink Floyd’s ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’. In contrast, the second side is quite patchy, and only the penultimate track, an electronic-tinged piece à la Annette Peacock or United States Of America, really rivals anything on the A-side.
Steve York’s Camelo Pardalis (UK): Manor Live (Virgin V2003, 1973)
Elkie Brooks (joint lead vocals), Diane Stewart (congas, backing vocals)
A sort of Vinegar Joe supergroup project (Elkie Brooks fronts three cuts and co-writes one, while Tim Hinkley, Rob Tait, Pete Gavin and Jim Mullen also appear), this features a few big-name guests including Graham Bond, Boz Burrell and Micky Moody. Musically, it’s a solid blues/rock set, but like most early Virgin releases underlines the label’s initially non-commercial nature – there was no way this was going to sell in any quantity. GRADE: C+.
See also Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Graham Bond, Elkie Brooks, Dada, Gong, Various ‘Flash Fearless Vs The Zorg Women, Parts 5 & 6!’, Vinegar Joe
You & I (Hungary): You And I (Kotta CD 001, CD, 1995)
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (lead vocals, programming)
For the most part, this is very lyrical soft folky neoprogressive: not particularly creative and certainly not original, but perfectly mellifluous and pleasant. There are also two instrumentals (one providing the album’s only real moment of rock energy), a slightly more ambitious ten-minute closer on which they occasionally resemble Renaissance, and best of all an eerie and haunting version of ‘She Moved Through The Fair’ that’s in a different league to the rest of the disc. GRADE: C+.
You & I (Hungary): Go (Periferic BGCD 023, CD, 1998)
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (lead vocals)
The band’s second album mostly consists of polished power ballads with strong AOR edges and the drums mixed unusually high, making this sound as though it dates from the eighties rather than the nineties. ‘Mistaken’, meanwhile, sounds like Earth & Fire crossed with Abba, whilst the bizarre funky pop/rock number ‘Decision’ also sounds like Earth & Fire, but this time crossed with Chic. Finally there are two extended progressive numbers: ‘Invisible Ties’ isn’t a brilliant song, but is very atmospheric and well-crafted, whilst ‘Snowdance’ is simply gorgeous. Altogether, this is a really odd album considering the band’s nationality and the era in which it was made. GRADE: C.
You & I (Hungary): Exit (Periferic BGCD 042, CD, 2001)
Fanni Völgyessy Szomor (principal vocals)
Almost like the yang to Go’s simplistic yin, this concept album is their most complex and most seventies-sounding set. It’s pretty good too, often recalling Pink Floyd and heavier bands like Deep Purple, and showcasing Szomor’s superb singing to excellent effect. Overall, it’s a very enjoyable listening experience, and it’s a pity they didn’t continue recording. GRADE: C+.
See also Fanni Völgyessy Szomor
You Guys (Greece/Canada): Love In Armour (Mercury 812 456-1, with inner, Greece, 1983)
Niki Mackinnon-Andrew (lead vocals, chimes), Ariadne Mackinnon-Andrew (keyboards, backing vocals)
This is a nice album of light progressive rock, with about half the LP being instrumental and the other half songs. It’s tuneful and upbeat throughout, with strong pop edges but also a moderate degree of complexity and invention. A third Mackinnon-Andrew sister, Danae, was responsible for the lyrics. GRADE: C+.
See also Koules, Ariadne Mackinnon-Andrew
Young Folk (UK): Ribble Valley Dream (Midas MR001, 1972)
Julie Swiatczak (principal vocals)
This band of mid-teenagers was actually called Harewood Magna (under which guise they issued a 1975 EP in West Germany), but briefly changed their name to Young Folk to release the first album on the much collected Midas label. Ribble Valley Dream is a pleasant collection of traditional folk/rock, recalling Galley or labelmates Gallery in the music, and Spinning Jenny in the female vocals. However, their version of ‘Travelling Folk’ is very similar to Spriguns Of Tolgus at their best (as on ‘Curragh Of Kildare’), and something of a minor classic.
Cathy Young (Canada): A Spoonful Of… (Mainstream S 6121, USA, 1969)
Cathy Young (lead vocals, guitar)
The opening cover of Willie Dixon’s ‘Spoonful’ gives the album its title, and it’s the disc’s best-remembered track, thanks to its squalling fuzz guitar and assertive organ. The remainder is completely different: folky singer/songwriter fare occasionally resembling a less ethereal Joni Mitchell. Overall this is a good album, but psych fans will probably find themselves compiling ‘Spoonful’ (and maybe the rather trippy ‘Colour That Lightning’) and rarely listening to the rest. Young was Canadian, but I’m only familiar with an American pressing. GRADE: C+.
Cathy Young (Canada): Travel Stained (GRT 9230 1035, 1973)
Young’s much lesser-known (and less sought-after) second album has a more rural and rootsy sound, with a spacious production. It’s well done, and quite rocking in parts, but I do find myself longing for the fierce fuzz guitar and organ interplay of ‘Spoonful’. GRADE: C.
Michelle Young (USA): Song Of The Siren (Naosha, CD, 1996)
Michelle Young (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, chimes, flute, ocarina)
Young’s fellow Glass Hammer associate Tracy Cloud may have borrowed from Kate Bush’s vocal mannerisms for her solo album, but Young goes the whole deal – her singing and songwriting is a remarkably accurate pastiche of The Kick Inside and Lionheart. Whilst she doesn’t have early Bush’s songwriting chops, she’s rather more varied: there’s a fair bit of prog here (with Glass Hammer helping out as backing musicians), a couple of lively rockers and one mildly experimental instrumental drawing on Japanese music. The end result is rather good, but there’s a limit to how exciting this kind of homage to another artist can be. GRADE: C+.
Michelle Young (USA): Marked For Madness (Naosha NACD002, CD, 2001)
Michelle Young (lead vocals)
For her second and final album, Young opted for a new set of collaborators, including neoprog bastions Clive Nolan, Karl Groom and Peter Gee. If that fills you with foreboding, relax: this is actually the better of her two albums, being more of a progressive set with singer/songwriter influences than the other way round. It’s both more varied and more rocking than her first, though it’s biggest asset is that she’s no longer attempting to ape Kate Bush. In fact, it’s good enough that it’s a pity she didn’t continue recording. GRADE: C+.
See also Glass Hammer
Mike & Debbie Young Of Kara Kompany (USA): Mike And Debbie Young Of Kara Kompany (No label 36350, 1977?)
Debbie Young (principal vocals, guitar, piano, percussion, mandolin, flute)
Who Kara Kompany were, I have no idea; they’re not the backing band, as the couple play all the instruments themselves. In most cases, the songs simply feature acoustic guitar or electric piano and something else (such as flute or trumpet); the overall effect somewhat resembles a stripped-down Bermuda Triangle. The duo sound as though they have roots in the lounge circuit, an impression confirmed by the sleeve, but with its spacy, minimalist sound (peaking on a superb, trippy version of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’) the album takes them into different zones entirely. Seven of the eight numbers are covers, with Debbie Young’s self-penned ‘Stacey’ being the loungiest thing on offer. GRADE: C+.
Yuan Ye (Italy): Que Viva Sanico! (No label, cassette, 1988)
Marinella Ollino (joint lead vocals, bass)
Limited to 50 numbered copies and issued only to friends as a Christmas present, this enjoyable album sees three members of Franti et al, plus guests, playing a variety of folk/rock and garage rock covers to a small audience. The material is drawn from sources as diverse as Phil Ochs, Nico, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Odetta, Tracy Chapman, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, interspersed with some Gilli Smyth-like space whispers, and the results are good fun. According to the inlay card, there were three other volumes in the series: Saint Martin’s Christmas (1985), Atto Secondo Christmas (1986) and Live! Christmas Tour (1987). GRADE: C+.
See also Environs, Franti, Howth Castle, Ishi, Lalli, Orsi Lucille
Yūgen (Italy/USA/Germany): Iridule (Altrock ALT013, CD, Italy, 2010)
Elaine di Falco (lead vocals), Elia Marini (violin), Enrica Di Bastiano (harp)
This international RIO collaboration opens dramatically and the tension never lets up, with plenty of dynamism, powerful riffing, a careful balance of dissonance and melody and occasional understated singing by the superb Elaine di Falco. If it has a failing, it occasionally sounds like a catalogue of different jazz/rock styles with some selfconscious weirdness thrown into the mix, but by any standard this is an impressive piece of prog. The ubiquitous Mike Johnson and Dave Kerman both put in appearances. GRADE: B–.
Yūgen (Italy/USA/Germany): Death By Water (Altrock ALT-053, CD, with digipak and booklet, Italy, 2016)
Elaine Di Falco (joint lead vocals), Dalila Kyros (joint lead vocals)
Devilishly complex, frequently fiery, often elegant and constantly surprising, this is truly impressive avant-prog. The only drawback is that they chose to create discrete tracks, rather than a continuous suite, which can make this feel a little scrappy and unfocused at times. GRADE: B–.
See also Caveman Shoestore, Combat Astronomy, Hughscore, Thinking Plague
Yuka & Chronoship (Japan): Water Reincarnation (Muséa FGBG 4886, CD, France, 2011)
Yuka Funakoshi (lead vocals, keyboards)
The former pop singer Yuka Funakoshi’s progressive rock project debuts with a lovely, mellifluous and charming album of mainly instrumental music. Despite a near-avant garde close to the beginning, this isn’t a record that’s particularly surprising or challenging, but anyone who enjoys atmospheric, understated keyboard-leg sympho-prog should find this quite satisfying. GRADE: C+.
Yuka & Chronoship (Japan): Dino Rocket Oxygen (Muséa Parallèle MP 3271, CD, France, 2011)
Yuka Funakoshi (lead vocals, keyboards)
Chronoship’s second album consists of three lengthy suites – ‘Dinosaurs’, ‘R Is For Rocket’ and ‘Oxygen’, unsurprisingly enough. Once again, the bulk of the LP is instrumental, with three actual songs, and whilst I remain unclear how the material relates to its putative subject matter, this is an enjoyable enough prog LP. More obviously seventies-influenced than their first, the music features some chunky guitars and some elegant keyboard work, but on the downside it’s solid rather than outstanding and relaxing rather than challenging. GRADE: C+.
Yuka & Chronoship (Japan): The 3rd Planetary Chronicles (Cherry Red YCUK-003, CD, UK, 2015)
Yuka Funakoshi (lead vocals, keyboards)
Another mainly instrumental album with another lofty concept – this apparently charts the history of the human race, although that’s not obvious from the music. However, what is obvious is that everything has come together for Yuka & Chronoship: whilst this is in the same vein as their first two, the music ebbs and flows effortlessly here, with some great hooks and dynamics, making for a fine modern prog LP. GRADE: B–.
Yuka & Chronoship (Japan): Ship (King KICS 3687, CD, with obi, 2018)
Yuka Funakoshi (occasional vocals, keyboards), Sonja-Kristina Linwood (occasional vocals)
There’s nothing especially adventurous or unexpected here – the biggest surprise is the presence of two guest vocalists, including Curved Air’s Sonja-Kristina Linwood, who fronts the opening ‘Tears Of The Figurehead’. But like its predecessor, this is great mainly instrumental prog – richly melodic, carefully structured and well recorded. GRADE: B–.