Previously unreleased 1978 album by former King Crimson/McDonald & Giles member, featuring members of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Caravan, Matching Mole & King Crimson. Voiceprint. 2002…………
Michael Giles recorded ‘Progress’ in 1978 (even so the record was only released in 2002) mainly with the help of musicians from the Canterbury scene in particular multi- instrumentalist Geoffrey Richardson ('Caravan’), who is also the only musician playing on all the tracks but the two track where Giles plays all instruments . Among the other musicians playing on the various tracks are Dave Mc Rae, Jimmy Hastings, John G.Perry and Ray Warleigh, a Who’s Who of the Canterbury scene influencing obviously the sound. BTW there is an interesting paralelle to Perry’s solo record, 'Sunset Wading'with a similar athmosphere. The record opens with 'Sunrise’ a short athmospheric track for piano and guitar followed by 'Departure’ a funky up-tempo track featuring Giles on hi-hat and Cymbals over an E-piano pattern and some distorted guitar by Richardson. 'Rolling’ remains in the funky area with a trademark crash cymbal counterpoint that Giles used already in th KC times and an overall mood that reminds KC with a funkier edge featuring a treated trombone solo by Blakesly and an E-piano solo by Mealing. .seguing into the short 'Daydream’ a beautiful rubato track for E- and acoustic piano, bass an flute.
'Moving’ another funky track featuring Giles on vocals over brother Pete’s driving bass line and a great instrumental passage for bass , drums and e-piano that reminds 'RandomHold’. 'Midsummer Day’ a duet for Giles & Richardson with both musicians playing guitar, a nice repetitive pattern with a great flute melody on top and moody vocals by Giles reminding 'Camel’ and again the crash cymbal on counterpoint : the most original track on the record. 'Progress’ a heavy funk featuring a horn section reminding Carla Bley again with a pile driving bass-line by Peter Giles and aggressive vocals by Michael reminding again 'Random Hold’.
'Sunset’ starts with a great neo-classical piano intro followed by a short beautiful flute theme, doubled on vocals by Catherine Howe, establishing a delicate jazzy tune not unlike some 'Caravan’ tunes, especially when Richardson enters on viola : the most beautiful theme on the record. On 'Shunter ’ Giles plays all the instruments himself , a repetitive piano pattern with a lead synth sound on counterpoint against a walking bass-line : another great track with stunning dynamics.
'Rocking’ another heavy funk introduced by Giles on clavinet with a funky horn section and a Klezmer like clarinette melody on top. 'Nightdream’ the second solo effort by Giles for percussion , not really necessary and leading with a crash cymbal stroke into .. 'Arrival’ the end of the journey, driven by a rolling rhythm with a trumpet melody on top again doubled beautifully by Catherine Howe on vocals, over a great fat bass line by Peter Giles and a short guitar solo by Richardson leads into the melody sung this time by Howe and ending and outstanding Canterbury record…….by Alucard ……….. In an interview done with Michael Giles at the time of the release of King Crimson`s “Epitaph” live album, done in 1997, Giles was asked about why this album, which was recorded in 1978, was still unreleased. He said that he was not satisfied with the album, and that he even looked for a record contract with a label but he didn`t get it then. He liked the songs but he thought that he still had to re-work some of them. Five years later, in 2002, this album was finally released, but I don`t know if he re-worked some of the songs. In fact, I think that the album was released as it was originally recorded, but I really don`t know. With a list of tracks with titles which maybe suggest a “concept” on which a man goes on travel from the sunrise until he arrives to another place at night (I could be wrong, but even the cover design shows Giles waiting for a train with his packed drum kit), this is a very good album which fortunately was finally released in 2002. Even the main melody from the first proper song (“Departure”) is reprised in the final song from the album (“Arrival”) which also suggests a “concept”, a cycle or a theme in this album. This album is very Progressive in some places (particularly in the title song “Progress”, which is maybe the best from this album) and sometimes with a lot of influences from Jazz-Rock music. This album is more related to the “McDonald and Giles” album from 1970, sometimes sounding very close to that album, not only because of Giles`s very good drums playing, but also with the use of the saxophones and other wind instruments. There are also some influences from the original King Crimson, of course, but most of all this album shows how important was Giles in the original line-up of that band, not only for being the drummer, but also as part of the original sound of the band. In that interview he says that in King Crimson he mostly was an arranger and a composer of some parts of songs, suggesting some rhythm changes, and he also was one of the backing singers in that band. But, as I wrote before, this album is more related to his work in the “McDonald and Giles” album with Ian McDonald, another very important musican from the original line-up of the band, showing how influential were both musicians in that band. Greg Lake also said in one interview that when both left the band he did not want to continue with King Crimson because he considered that both musicians were very important for that band (this despite Lake and Giles appeared in the second album of the band more as guests or sessions musicians in a band which became mainly Robert Fripp`s band after that).
Giles in this album appears as a multi-instrumentalist, playing keyboards, a bit of guitar, and also singing very good vocals. And his drums and percussion playing is very good, of course. He even plays a drums and percussion solo in “Nightdream”.
A very good contributor to this album is bassist Peter Giles, playing very good bass guitar parts with his very personal style and doing very good parts playing along with the drums. Both Giles brothers are very good musicians, but both remained in their musical careers playing and recording more as session musicians, with Michael appearing in a lot of albums from other musicians particularly during the seventies.
This is a very good solo album from Michael Giles which also shows that he also is a very good composer. The songs are played and linked one after the other with good continuity, and even some of them are “introduced” by the sound of cymbals and other percussion instruments. These “sound effects” work very well giving a very personal “identity” to the album………. by Guillermo ……… The second half was included on a text file that came along with the album when I found it on a p2p program, and alas, not being able to find a decent review, I have chosen to use that as a description of the album.
Michael Giles had his first professional gig in 1964 with Trendsetters, Ltd., later moving on with his brother Peter Giles to become Robert Fripp’s partner in obscurity as a member of Giles, Giles and Fripp in 1967. This of course led to the first incarnation of the mighty King Crimson, but almost as soon as the band was underway it was falling apart, with Giles and Crimson multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald turning in their notice and recording the much less aggressive McDonald and Giles in 1970.
In the 1970s Giles worked as a session player for artists ranging from Steve Winwood and Kevin Ayers to Leo Sayer and Neil Sedaka. His own musical output in subsequent years has been almost nonexistent, the few exceptions being the soundtrack piece Ghost Dance (a collaboration with Jamie Muir and David Cunningham, recorded in 1983 but not released intil 1996), and his only solo album Progress (recorded in 1978 but not released until 2002). In 2002 Giles joined with McDonald and his brother Peter, as well as former Crimson wind player Mel Collins, to form 21st Century Schizoid Band, a band primarily focused on rehashing songs from the early stages of King Crimson; he was replaced in 2003 by fellow KC ex-drummer Ian Wallace.
Progress was recorded in 1978 and is a previously unreleased album written and performed by Michael Giles aided by an amazing collection of classic progressive rock & jazz 'names’ including Geoffrey Richardson (Penguin Café Orchestra, Caravan), Jimmy Hastings (Caravan) and John G. Perry (Caravan, Quantum Jump), Dave McRae (Matching Mole), Peter Giles (King Crimson/Giles, Giles and Fripp) and Ray Warleigh.
Following his days with the original King Crimson and the release of his LP with Ian McDonald, drummer Michael Giles focused on studio work. After building his own recording facility, he began work on 'Progress’, completed it around 1978, mixed it and then put it on a shelf, waiting for the right moment to put it out as prog rock was experiencing an abrupt decline in popular favour. It came out only in 2002 and thus will appeal mostly to nostalgic fans.
A loosely conceptual album built around a trip by train, 'Progress’ is a very nice album of prog-rock with hints of jazz fusion and Canterbury-style writing. Michael Giles is not a great singer. His voice recalls Chris Squire’s on the latter’s solo LP 'Fish Out of Water’, i.e. it lacks strength and character to assume a leading role. Then again, only five of the 12 tracks have lyrics. The other tunes range from delicate atmospheres to full-on prog-rock anthems and feature established UK musicians like Geoffrey Richardson, John Perry and Jimmy Hastings, plus brother and also ex-Crimson Peter Giles. Highlights include 'Departure’ where the drummer reminds us that he has the finesse of a free improviser, the quiet 'Midsummer Day’, 'Progress’ and the jazzier 'Arrival’. Most of all, 'Progress’ shows how good a session player and studio arranger Giles could be. It will be of more interest to fans of Cunning Stunts-era Caravan and Hatfield & the North although the music adopts a friendlier mood reminiscent of Anthony Phillips’ pop albums from the same period than to King Crimson completists.
Highly Recommended for King Crimson aficionados……..Prog NotFrog………
It’s hard to believe that such a superb album sat in a vault for nearly 25 years before finally seeing the light of day. Here is everything that was wonderful about progressive rock, without any of the bombast or empty pretension that saddled the worst examples of the genre. Built around the concept of a daylong train journey, the music is subtle & complex, melodic & jazzy, always transporting (pun intended). And the album concept itself can easily be read as allegorical, for the journey of life, or the journey towards enlightenment; yet this level of meaning is always understated, never heavy-handed. Michael, please give us more music like this! Highly recommended! ….. ByTim Lukeman ……..
To my mind, Michael Giles is one of the best rock drummers too few people know about.
It did not have to be that way. Back in 1969, Giles was in King Crimson and played on their first, In the Court of the Crimson King. For a few months, it looked as though the band was truly going to take over the world. You saw this album, with a cover that still scares, in mainstream record shops. In the window. In The Court got rave reviews, became a huge FM radio standby and campus album, and had distribution by Atlantic, a heavy hitter in 1969. The album was on inner sleeves, which did not happen to cult bands in those days.
All this never bore the expected fruit. Giles, with sax player Ian McDonald, left in 1969, sighting the music has too heavy–(frankly, my guess was working with Robert Fripp was too heavy.) The two turncoats put out one album, McDonald & Giles, a fantastic album–light to Crimson dark– that went absolutely no place in 1970, and is now known among samplers and music heads. Crimson stayed a cult band–albeit a massive fish in the cult pond–which may have been good because they did far more daring work than mainstream prog acts.’
But one of the things music people remember about In The Court Of The Crimson King was Giles drumming. He had this totally fresh and unique style of working concise phrases without really maintaining a steady pattern. When he did set one, is was extremely attuned to the music with no fat whatsoever. This never really caught on in rock because Crimson Mach I never became the commercial monster expected: besides, Giles’ esoteric creativity would have never worked in 1970s stadium rock: But trust me, you have to hear Giles’ work to really hear all the great rock skin men.
So hear this: Progress is 100% Giles: happy, jazzy music with his amazing style in full force. This work is melodic and song oriented: a far cry from the dark caverns of In The Court that he sited as a reason for leaving the Crimson King so early.
But his amazing style is in full tact: listen to is cymbal work here, his amazing discipline on the drums themselves, the way he always works towards melody. Giles was one of the few `1970s progressive drummers never to give way to heavy flash and up and down flashing strobe stage devices, and this is to his credit, and in full evidence on Progress. His work is so lean, so tasteful, so uncompromisingly good, you need this for the drumming alone.;
And Giles winds up doing 4/4 straight with Leo Sayer to pay the bills. What a scummy, unjust world………….ByBill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ……………..
The imprint Michael Giles has left on music is vastly underrated. From the earliest work under the guise of Giles, Giles and Fripp (both “Cheerful Insanity of” and “The Brondesbury Tapes” are essential to any collection) to the original King Crimson and on to the also underrated McDonald and Giles self-titled album, Michael Giles was and is one of the most unique and distinct writers and drummers in rock.
“Progress” is finally available to us, thanks to the people of Voiceprint. It exhibits none of the dark calamity of the first 2 King Crimson albums. Instead, the music is much closer to the bright, crisp and airy textures of the McDonald and Giles album that precedes it. Listening to the well-defined punch of the bass and drums, the slightly distant vocals and rounded horns the listener can only conclude that Mr. Giles is one of those musicians with truly golden ears. In fact, if you have had the chance to hear “The Brondesbury Tapes” you cannot help but be amazed by the engineering the Giles brothers deliver by bouncing tracks on a 2 channel Revox.
So, aside from hearing some wonderfully written and performed music (think of “I Talk to the Wind”, “Suite in C” and even “Tomorrow’s People” as markers) you also experience what can only be described as an amazing job of recording and mixing. At moments it can make you sad that it was Fripp who wrested control of Crimson. We might have all been spared some unforgivably pretentious episodes (amid some admittedly brilliant work, too) had the original vision of King Crimson remained in the hands of Giles and McDonald. Who knows? What matters is that we can finally hear this music. “Progress” is a completely engaging and rewarding record……………ByHank Napkin………………..
Mike Giles was one of a trio of great drummers (including Bill Bruford and Ian Wallace) who were at one time or another involved with the progressive rock band King Crimson.
Giles is the most “European” of the three in his drumming sensibilities, and the most poorly represented on cds. In the liner notes to “Progress”, Giles says that he made this album with his children in mind while he lived in a cottage in rural England. The album could be described as “program music”, depicting the stages of a train journey from inner England to a resort town on the coast. The segment which gives the album its title is rambunctious music depicting the initial stage of the journey. Later, the music becomes calm, pastoral, and rather moving.
This album compares favorably with the 1971 Giles collaboration with Ian McDonald, simply titled “McDonald and Giles”. On “Progress”, as on that earlier album, Giles is joined by his brother Peter, who plays bass guitar. Most of the other musicians are veterans of the “Canterbury School” of progressive rock.
“Progress” highlights Michael Giles as a drummer, percussionist, composer and arranger. The pastel tones and simplicity of the album’s theme should appeal to both children and adults. Pity that Michael’s cv isn’t chock full of more cds like this one. Pick it up if you get the chance……..ByPeter Baklava………..
Line-up / Musicians - Michael Giles / drums, percussion, vocals; piano (1,2,4,6), electric piano (2,3), guitar (6), keyboards (9), clavinet (10)
- Geoff Richardson / guitar (1,2,6,7,12), viola (4,6,8), flute (4,5,6,8,12), backing vocals (5), fretless bass (6) - Dave MacRae / piano (2), electric piano (5,12), Hammond organ (10) - Peter Giles / bass (2,4,5,7,10,12) - John G. Perry / bass (3,8), backing vocals (3) - John Mealing / electric piano (3,4,10), piano (8) - Michael Blakesley / trombone (3,8,10) - Ray Warleigh / alto saxophone (7,12) - Martin Drover / trumpet (7), flugelhorn (7,12) - Pete Thoms / trombone (7,12) - Colin Bryant / clarinet (10) - Jimmy Hastings / tenor saxophone (10) - Catherine Howe / vocals (8,12)