Peter, Paul & Pianos

Label / Cat. No: PYE - NSPL41005 
First Released: 1971 

What The Album Blurb Says...

Every now and again in show-business an exciting piece of talent comes to the surface - it happened with Tom Jones and Barbra Streisand, but it doesn't happen often.

Stars are not made by managers or impresarios, they are made by the public - sure, managers or agents recognise a star quality and then groom it, but most stars are there because of that contact with an audience, because they are selling the goods the public wants and because that public wants them as people.

I first saw Rostal and Schaefer perform to a live audience in Johannesburg; they were closing the first half of a bill I was appearing on. From my dressing-room I heard shouts from the auditorium of 'encore!' and 'more!' - it sounded sweeter than the music they had been playing. On this night I witnessed not one but two stars being born and to watch them blossom over the past twelve months has pleased me more than I can say.

No wonder they have been booked for television shows, concerts, and asked to record sounds like you have here on their first major disc.

Although in their early twenties, they have somehow packed twenty-odd years between them in practising at the keyboard - no wonder the powers that be decided to include them in the 1970 Royal Variety Show, some entertainers work a life time for this honour - they achieved it in twelve short months.

Fly away Peter, fly away Paul and keep delighting us with your magic. It is a privilege to have this record, almost a first edition, I shall treasure it.

Most sincerely, Max Bygraves.


What I Say

I bet that Paul Schaefer rues the day he met Peter Rostal. Fine, they share interests, they work together well, and conveniently enough, they both play the piano. But in the wake of 'Peter, Paul and Mary', Paul was only ever going to get second billing. 'Paul, Peter & Pianos' just sounds wrong, even though it's in lovely alphabetical order. I bet Paul is still kicking himself that he didn't change his name to something with three syllables - Francisco, maybe. Anything to make him stand out head and shoulders above Peter.

Yet it wasn't to be. I notice that in later years they became known as 'Rostal and Schaefer' which is infinitely more exotic than 'Peter & Paul', but it means that Peter still gets top billing. The swine.

Max Bygraves seems to be pretty taken with these two young men. And who wouldn't be? Look at the pair of them with their sensible haircuts and dinner jackets. Fashionable pink shirts, and bow-ties that you just know, you just know are made of velvet. The wry smile on Paul's face, the confident 'trust me' grin on Peter's. yes, these are clearly the kind of young men that you could take home to mother. And even when they're not in their concert finest, they clearly know how to dress to impress. 

Why, just look at them in their casual fineries. Cravats, Crew-necks and Crimplene trousers. What more could a girl ask for!

But I'm being unfair. Those were wonderful clothes in 1971 and I'm judging them harshly purely because fashions have changed. This is supposed to be all about the music.

Ah! The music. I have a small confession to make - I recorded this album to review ages ago - months and months, and had the file kicking around. On listening to it this week, I loved the frantic, furious opening number - only to hear my past self go back and switch the album from 45 back to 33 1/3. It didn't seem quite so lively after that. Bum. But still and excellent opener showing these two lively guys at their best. It has a bit of an Eastern European feel, Balkan possibly.... though of course, I could be talking out of the back of my head.

The rest of side one is an odd mix. Popular standards, arranged to show off the pianists virtuosity make this album the audio equivalent of a doily - all frills and fluff, but with little obvious purpose. I mean, you could put a cake on it I suppose, but what's the point of that? And it would leave crumbs in the grooves.

Anyway.... I digress. Despite the knockabout between the two pianists, there's no killer punch. The version of 'Tonight' from 'West Side Story' is actually an arrangement of the quintet (For once I know what I'm talking about - I was two (count 'em, two) of the Jets in an amateur production in 1989, so I'm completely qualified and everything....) is artfully done, but has none of the aggression that the song should have.

Maybe that's the point though - Paul and Peter (as I shall refer to them in an effort to restore the balance) aren't in show-business to break new territory, or to threaten the Status Quo. Though that's a fight I'd pay to see - Rostal & Schaefer vs Rossi & Parfitt. Hmmm... I feel a celebrity tag boxing blog coming on... where was I? Oh yes, they don't offer anything new, but why should they. Like Max says, they give the public what they want.

And sometimes the public don't know what they want. I went into this album thinking I was going to hate it. Pre-packaged, bland cover-versions, I thought. But if you don't expect anything more from this album than a few nice tunes, then you won't be disappointed. I mean, I doubt this is going to make it onto any playlist, but it's pleasant enough. And for today (and probably only today), I'll settle for 'pleasant enough'.

Sound Clips

Tracks

Side 1

1. Hejre Kati
2. Edelweiss
3. Tonight
4. Czardas
5. Yesterday
6. Malaguena

Side 2

1. Love Story
2. As Long As He Needs Me
3. Love Is Blue
4. Ritual Fire Dance
5. Clair De Lune
6. Bolero


Final score:

7 out of 10

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Claude Denjean - Moog!

Label / Cat. No: Decca PFS 4212 
First Released: 1970 

What The Album Blurb Says...

The Moog Synthesizer, this incredible and new electronic musical wonder, has had an uneven ride on records, especially in the popular field. Effectively used on two great-selling albums (Switched-on Bach and The Well-Tempered Synthesizer), the Moog served the classics as a kind of musical duplicator, that is, reproducing and imitating the sound of real instruments. In the "pop" field it has been a fairly different story. Most often used as a gimmick for the odd effect, the Moog has not fully come into its own in the popular field. This may be due to the Moog's personality: it speaks with strength, it doesn't care to be in the background and if used improperly it completely overshadows everything else that is going on.

On this LP Claude Denjean comes to terms with the problem by giving the Moog its rightful place in a fair exchange between synthesizer and orchestra. To exciting settings of twelve great hit sons, this LP really gives the Moog, it all its electronic glory. That plus the stereo excellence of Phase 4 adds up to irresistible listening.


What I Say

Imagine it - 1970. It was a good year, vintage some might say. An especially good year for boys born in Croydon. Around September time I'd say. Yes, very good indeed.

Of course, space was still sexy, the Moon looming large in people's minds as well as in the sky. Music and technology coming together in one big cosmic fusion, with the magnificent Moog! leading the charge. Wibbly wobbly farty noises added a bit of universal mystery to any song, and boy is that a lesson that Claude Denjean has learnt.

Claude Denjean. Ah, the mysterious Dutchman who rode to the rescue of the Moog!'s reputation. Noble Claude, the man who was going to put the Moog! centre stage to show it's critics what it could do. What I can't understand is why anybody wouldn't like the Moog! it's got an exclamation mark and everything. It's also one of only three instruments named after a real person - The Moog!, The Sousaphone, and of course Rolf Harris' Stylophone. Actually, that would be an album I would pay to hear, one combining those three iconic instruments. Someone should pitch this to E.M.I.

Anyway, it seems a bit unfair to call this a 'Forgotten Album', because there's plenty of pictures and copies of it all over the internet. I fear that it may have become a bit of a cult classic because, like the moon, this album is made of pure cheese. Extremely cheesey cheese at that.

I shouldn't be harsh. It's just a reflection of the times, and I'm happy to accept an album that hangs on the idea of a synthesizer as a novelty. I would of course be happier if it was a better album though.

Stylistic tics aside, this could have been an opportunity not only to showcase the versatility of the Moog!, but also to use it to enhance the songs chosen for the album. Instead, it really is mostly an opportunity to make wibbly wobbly farty noises over pretty bland arrangements of popular songs.

The Moog! also seems to take on the melody lines of the songs, which is fair enough. It is after all the Moog!'s album - it says so on the cover and everything. It's trying to have its cake and eat it (do Moog!'s eat cake? I'm not sure....) It could work if it were being purely tuneful, it could work if it were trying to be atmospheric, but trying to be both ends up as overkill.

The Moog! may well be a victim of its own success. It shows too much variety in what it can do to give this album any kind of thematic structure (oh, look at him, old Mr. Forgottenalbums, getting above himself and talking about thematic structure....) There's no common thread through the (wildly differently arranged) songs here.

And the arrangements themselves are, frankly, weird. Not just odd, but outright looney tunes. All you need to do is play the two (yes, two!) 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' clips to see what I mean. Without the sleeve notes, it took me over half a minute to work out what the song was.

'Come Together' is unusually sombre, 'Everybody's Talkin' has completely removed that beautiful rolling guitar that makes the song, and 'Lay Lady Lay' literally, honestly made me laugh out loud.

If this is the sound of the future, then we are all doomed. Doomed I tell you.
Sound Clips

Tracks

Side 1

1. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
2. Nights In White Satin
3. Sugar, Sugar
4. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
5. House Of The Rising Sun
6. Everybody's Talkin' 

Side 2

1. Venus
2. Come Together
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water
4. Lay Lady Lay
5. United We Stand
6. Proud Mary


Final score:

3! out of 10

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Passive Aggressive Artistes, and a hint of a comeback....

Shhhh.... whisper it quietly. It seems that one of the Artistes featured here took exception to my review of her album. Enough exception in fact to write me the most passive aggressive e-mail I have ever received. Which was fun.

I replied courteously and honestly defending my position, but I received no reply. Therefore 6 months on I feel no guilt in relaying that e-mail to you, gentle reader. No editing or grammatical clean-up have been applied.

Enjoy!

"I laughed till the tears rolled down! What a HOOT!! OK - I’ll answer some of your observations/accusations/criticisms/assumptions. 1) The “up-to-date” lyrics WERE as such then in the ’70’s - we even sang for universities. 2) We have covered a very wide range of audiences in 40 countries. 3) I have my A.R.C.T. degree from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Torornto in piano and voice, and an Artist Diploma from the University of Toronto Faculty of music in voice and violin/viola. merv has his Bachelor of Music at the same university, and has taught band in several high schools as well as in Jerusalem. Having developed from a child prodegy, I’ve been a professional musician since I was 15 years old. The reason why I’m holding a guitar in the album photo AND playing it is because at that time folk music was vogue and I could scarcely accompany myself when I was singing on a violin!! If you send me your e-mail address i will send you our bios - just for fun, and maybe as a sideline to keep you on track. 5) We decided purposely to put my name last, simply because it SOUNDS better - you were right the second time! it was MY idea! 6) That WAS a harpsichord in the one or two selections - not a guitar. As to the music flavour, I was never trying to be like anyone else - just myself - and all the types of music I had been introduced to. Now my hand: - I am still playing, even after my horrendous accident - at 72 years old - and often professionally in symphony orchestras and string quartets- and still singing with my husband - and both our voices have shown no typical wobbles. The song “Time of the Singing of the Birds” - this was for kids primarily. Sorry you thought it was for you! Guess you’ve past that age though. huh? We’ve been called a lot of things - but “freakish” evoked a mad chuckle! We now have about 15 albums, and they sell all over the world - so one of us is wrong, nu??

Visit our web site and do view our photos button where you will see us as we are - only 2 years ago. Not bad for two old cronkers!!

Merla"

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