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Pete Sinfield  Still (LP)

Pete Sinfield Still (LP)

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Genre: progressive
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Still
Company: Manticore
Catalog: C
Year: 1973
Country/State: Putney, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6101
Price: $15.00

Hum ... letting someone best known as a lyricist record a solo album. Hard to imagine something like that happening today ! Admittedly, Pete Sinfield had quite a resume to his name. He was one of the original members of King Crimson, responsible for the lyrics on the band's first four albums. He also worked with McDonald and Giles and produced the first Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music album. Easy to see why a label might sign him to a solo deal.

Sinfield's work with Emerson, Lake and Palmer led to a 1972 contract with their Manticore imprint (distributed by Atlantic) and the release of "Still". Produced by Sinfield with Mel Collins and Greg Lake listed as associate performers, the album wasn't bad. To my ears it felt and sounded a lot like those early King Crimson releases; simultaneously experimental, progressive, but with a hint of mainstream commerciality (that's not to say any of these songs would ever be heard on top-40 radio). Sinfield's strained and clipped vocals made it clear why he'd been more comfortable turning over vocals to other parties, though you had to give him credit for daring to take the spotlight and when all was said and done, he wasn't the worst thing you've ever heard. The same comments could be made about his writing. Much of this was the kind of over-the-top pompous crap that drove punk bands crazy, but Sinfield also had a sly sense of humor (check out his environmental statement 'Wholefood Boogie') and if you could get over the pretense factor, some of his lyrics were interesting in the way a crossword puzzle captures your attention. Anyhow, if you liked the first couple of King Crimson releases and had a thing for heavily orchestrated progressive stuff in the Genesis/Gentle Giant vein, then this was probably going to scratch your itch. If you hated that kind of stuff, then you'll want to stay clear. Elsewhere, the extensive list of supporting musicians served to underscore Sinfield's reputation with British music circles.

- 'The Song of the Sea Goat' found Sinfield pulling out all the stops (including appropriating a melody from Vivaldi - 'D Major Lute Concerto') in an effort to underscore his relevance as a serious musician. I dare anyone to read the lyrics without breaking out into a smile ("The sea goat casts Aquarian runes through heads of mirrored tears ..."). The song was actually pretty and relaxing in an early Sunday morning kind of fashion. rating: ** stars
- 'Under the Sky' had a relaxing, dreamy feel though it was a but short in the melody department - imagine half of the Moody Blues showing up for a recording session. rating: ** stars
- Hum, Sinfield does Fairport Convention ? Sound strange? It was. That said, the country-tinged 'Will It Be You' was actually one of the album's most mainstream and enjoyable performances. Nice melody with Brian Cole contributing some tasteful pedal steel guitar. Even Sinfield's normally strained voice sounded decent on this one. rating: *** stars
- In addition to sporting some of the funniest environmentalist oriented lyrics you've ever heard (and remember this album came out in 1973), 'Wholefood Boogie' was the closest the album came to rocking out. With a propulsive boogie structure, you had to laugh when the gang screamed out 'fish and chips'. rating: *** stars
- The title track started out with Sinfield reciting some dreadful, navel gazing and over-the-top lyrics before Greg Lake took over the lead vocals and somehow managed to drag this progressive behemoth to the shoreline where it finally crashed and burned. rating: *** stars
- Simply based on the lyric 'I need to suck the breasts of time and freeze her milk in ink .." 'Envelopes of Yesterday' gets my nod for pretense overload. I will admit Snuffy Walden's lead guitar was pretty cool. rating: ** stars
- With Sinfield employing some sort of weird-assed accent, the pastoral 'The Piper' sounded like Sinfield trying to channel the late Syd Barrett via Jethro Tull. Very bizarre, but then maybe that was the point. rating: ** stars
- 'A House of Hopes and Dreams' took awhile to get going, but propelled by some nice martial drumming and a nice horn segment, was one of the more mainstream songs, featuring one of Sinfield's better vocals. rating: *** stars
- 'The Night People' was interesting just to hear it mutate from genre-to-genre. The song started out as a typical dreamy ballad with Sinfield nasal vocal sounding quite ominous, before switching gears and moving into a surprisingly funky mid-section. The final segment saw the track dissolve into Mel Collins led ,discordant jazz meltdown. I'll give it an extra star for simply being so strange. rating: *** stars

Needless to say, the album failed to generate much in the way of sales, leading Sinfield to return to production and songwriting.

"Still" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) The Song of the Sea Goat (Phil Jump - Pete Sinfield - Vivaldi) - 6:08
2.) Under the Sky (Ian McDonald - Pete Sinfield) - 4:24
3.) Will It Be You (Richard Brunton - Steve Dolan - Phil Jump - Menie - Pete Sinfield) - 2:42
4.) Wholefood Boogie (Richard Brunton - Steve Dolan - Phil Jump - Menie - Pete Sinfield) - 3:40
5.) Still (Richard Brunton - Steve Dolan - Phil Jump - Menie - Pete Sinfield) - 4:45

(side 2)
1.) Envelopes of Yesterday (Pete Sinfield) - 6:19
2.) The Piper (Pete Sinfield) - 2:51
3.) A House of Hopes and Dreams (Pete Sinfield) - 3:57
4.) The Night People (Richard Brunton - Mel Collins - Phil Jump - Pete Sinfield) - 7:56

For hardcore fans, there's actually an alternate cover ... in the UK some of the covers were pressed with a blue edge. Not a major difference, but enough to make the alternative cover version quite collectable.
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