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Friday, June 28, 2013

Baba Scholae - 69 (1969 france / uk, superb progressive experimental rock with jazz, blues and psych traces, 2012 AV release)

«69» of the Baba Scholae is a major album of the year 1969. It is a cult disc that never disappoints - quite the reverse, when, like me, you can listen to it in the very best conditions after decades of obscurity. Some legendary records lose their power once they are revealed and it becomes obvious that the fantasy of the music lover exceeded the realities of the work. 

This is not the case here: Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi, John Arthur Holbrook and their friends conceived a classic work worthy to be ranked with the Rock masterpieces of the period. But today - all nostalgia put aside - is the Baba Scholae album still as meaningful as it ever was? Unlike some other discs reminiscent of the famous "Madeleine de Proust" the album of Jean-Yves, John, Jules, Steve, Alan and Woody far surpasses even those very appealing legendary names of the 60's such as the Marquee, the Speak Easy, Zanzibar Productions and the Rock'n'roll Circus. 

This album that you can (at last!) hold in your excited hands takes us by surprise because it still affects us, here and now, as pristine as ever. The 21st century listener is perhaps even more capable of understanding this project than his 20th century counterpart because he can rely both on hindsight and 40 years of musical productions which his glorious predecessor could not enjoy. Terms such as "rock psyche" or "progressif impose too many limits to apprehend this Anglo-French opus. Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi and his "partners in crime" were far too young, proud and ambitious ever to want to imitate the groups of the late 60's who nevertheless brought out "instant classics" with disconcerting ease.  

Baba Scholae is a stubborn entity that aimed at going forward to explore new territories with a freshness that prevented them from falling into the pitfalls of the ironic post modern pastiche that weights down many contemporary discs. "If it does not exist, it must be invented" such seemed to be the watchword of Baba Scholae which could rely on the recklessness of the young that allows progress to be made without following established tracks. Pioneers are not conscious of being so and allow themselves to make creations which their successors would never dare to imagine once the "tables of the law" of rock had been set in stone. 

In this sense, without knowing it, Baba Scholae enters into the family of artists and cross current groups who, even if they are inspired by their environment and their times, are not their prisoners. Some names?: Frank Zappa, Devo, Brian Eno and the Flaming Lips, are explorers who, in their own way, like "the Enterprise" of Star Trek, have all sampled worlds where man had never previously set foot. Some proofs?: 1984-Melancolia Street is a folk song stamped with Saudade that would not be amiss amongst the present day renewals of this musical style. 

Half Day could have been a title of Gorky's Zigotic Mynci with its accents of the school of Canterbury revisited. Kaleidoscope is a timeless pop song, perverse in its structure, that would make the galaxy of artists of the Elephant 6 collective such as Olivia Tremor Control green with envy. Keep it "rythmique", with its mixture of folklore and hypnotic playful pop, is worthy of the great moments of post-rock. 

I must stop here - or I could go on for hours, but I am sure you have grasped the gist of my remarks. Like the greatest uncut diamonds in the history of rock, Baba Scholae "69" is an exceptional record which could remain buried for several generations without losing its lustre. Let us meet in 2050 when I have no doubt that the musicologists and critics of the future will reach the same conclusion.
by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe, July 2012

1.1984 - Melancolia Street - 8.40
2. Half Day - 4.03
3. Will Meant Ciment - 2.10
4. Julius - 2.14
5. La Chasse Au Serpent A La Flute - 1.55
6. Go Down Sunset - 2.31
7. Telegram - 0.31
8. Song My (My Lai) - 3.29
9. Kaleidoscope - 2.02
10.Keep Rythmique - 4.04
11.Just Like George - 1.01
12.White Bird - 3.53
13.She's An Indian In Minor - 2.13
14.Song For A New Connection - 2.58
15.L'oeil Du Maitre - 4.44
16.1984 - Melancolia Street - 11.24
Lyrics and Music for all songs Labat de Rossi, Holbrook, Vigh, Baytis, Jones, Woodbine, Piat.

Baba Scholae
*Steve Baylis - Drums
*John Arthur Holbrook  - Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Alan Jones - Bass
*Jean-Yves Labat De Rossi - Flutes, Saxophone, Bombard, Keyboards, Vocals
*Jules Vigh  - Guitar, Melotro
*Woody Woodbine  - Lead Vocals

Caravan - Caravan (1968 uk, debut masterpiece, psych, early prog canterbury scene, japan SHM-CD remaster)

For their first album, Caravan was surprisingly strong. While steeped in the same British psychedelia that informed bands such as Love Children, Pink Floyd, and Tomorrow, Caravan relates a freedom of spirit and mischief along the lines of Giles, Giles & Fripp or Gong. The band's roots can be traced to a British blue-eyed soul combo called the Wilde Flowers. 

Among the luminaries to have passed through this Caravan precursor were Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Hugh Hopper and Brian Hopper (pre-Soft Machine, naturally). By the spring of 1968, Caravan had settled nicely into a quartet consisting of Pye Hastings (guitar/bass/vocals), Richard Coughlan (drums), David Sinclair (organ/vocals), and Richard Sinclair (bass/guitar/vocals). 

Inspired by the notoriety and acclaim that Soft Machine encountered during the burgeoning days of London's underground scene, Caravan began a residency at the Middle Earth club. Additionally, the band was shopping a homemade demo tape around to local record companies. Before long, entrepreneur Tony Cox worked out a deal for them to record on the newly founded U.K. division of the Verve label. Caravan's self-titled debut is equally as inventive and infinitely more subtle than the Soft Machine's Volume One or Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Two of the album's best tunes -- the ethereal "Place of My Own" was backed with the dreamlike "Magic Man" -- were issued as the band's first single. 

Those tracks accurately exemplify the subtle complexities that Caravan would hone to great effect on later recordings. The same can also be said for album cuts such as "Love Song With Flute" and the extended nine-minute "Where but for Caravan Would I?" The latter title aptly exemplifies Caravan's decidedly less than turgid attitude toward themselves -- a refreshing contrast from the temperamental and serious Art School approach adopted by Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues. 

The mono and stereo mixes of the long-player are striking in their disparities. The stereo mix is at times opaque and virtually swallows the vocals most specifically on the tracks "Policeman" and "Grandma's Lawn." Otherwise, there are numerous additional nuances that discern the two. The single version of "Hello Hello" is also included as a bonus. This track was the follow-up 45 to "Place of My Own" and would appear in a slightly different form on their next LP, If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You.   
by Lindsay Planer

1. Place Of My Own - 4:01
2. Ride - 3:42
3. Policeman - 2:44
4. Love Song With Flute - 4:10
5. Cecil Runs - 4:07
6. Magic Man - 4:03
7. Grandma's Lawn - 3:25
8. Where But For Caravan Would I Be (R. Coughlan, P. Hastings, B. Hopper, D. Sinclair, R. Sinclair) - 9:01
9. Place Of My Own - 4:01        
10.Ride - 3:42
11.Policeman - 2:44
12.Love Song With Flute - 4:10
13.Cecil Runs - 4:07
14.Magic Man - 4:03
15.Grandma's Lawn - 3:25
16.Where But For Caravan Would I Be (R. Coughlan, P. Hastings, B. Hopper, D. Sinclair, R. Sinclair) - 9:01
17.Hello Hello (Single Version Bonus Track) - 3:12
All compositions by  R. Coughlan, P. Hastings, D. Sinclair, R. Sinclair except where indicated.
Tracks 1-8 Mono album
Tracks 9-17 Stereo album

*Pye Hastings – Guitar, Singer, Vocals
*Dave Sinclair – Electronic Organ, Organ, Piano
*Richard Sinclair – Bass Guitar, Bass, Guitar, Vocals
*Richard Coughlan – Drum Kit, Drums
Additional Musician
*Jimmy Hastings - Flute

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