John Wetton & Richard Palmer-James — Monkey Business 1972-1997
(Blueprint BP-295-CD, 1998, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2000-05-01
When was the first time you heard “Exiles” or “The Great Deceiver” and were taken aback about the lyrics? It’s a pretty strange role to find yourself by trying to fill the shoes of Peter Sinfield with King Crimson. Richard Palmer-James took that job and has been a long time school friend of John Wetton as well as contributor to the wordier side of some of the best-loved Crimson songs. This disc is an odd collection of early demos, unfinished recordings and updated versions of songs from Wetton’s career including Crimson, recent solo work and a few aborted projects. The most enticing pieces are those with Bill Bruford: “Confessions” and “The Good Ship Enterprise” recorded during the interim between the 1974 King Crimson and UK. These could be the long demos for the Wakeman, Wetton and Bruford project which A&M derailed and ultimately led to UK. Both tracks show signature time keeping from Bruford and some tricky word play from Wetton in what could have been some promising pieces. A few pieces have undergone some lush arranging to wind up in current form on the album including “Starless” and “Doctor Diamond.” But it’s the rough versions of “Book of Saturday,” “Easy Money,” and “Magazines” which give you an account of Wetton’s songwriting process where he enlisted Palmer-James to flesh out ideas and come up with the compelling verse. Monkey Business is for Wetton collectors primarily and those who want to peer into the looking glass of his early writing process.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more