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Birds Of Beauty - 2007 - "Mean Old Men"

(53:47, Calibrated Records)


TRACK LIST:                                 

1.  Take No-1 Speed 5:31
2.  Hot Five 2:43
3.  Megalomania 6:16
4.  Mean Old Men 2:53
5.  In the Desert 7:04
6.  Paid for the Mess 5:10
7.  Acid Jungle 8:03
8.  All Quiet 5:07
9.  Tied up Being 4:48
10. Dust 1:35
11. Come See Me 4:24


Karsten Vogel - saxophones; keyboards; vocals
Kenneth Knudsen - keyboards
Klaus Menzer - drums
Assi Roar - bass
Ole Fick - guitars
Rasmus Hedeboe - vocals; guitar

Prolusion. Karsten Vogel is one of the veterans of the Danish jazz and rock scene, his career now in its fifth decade. He is best known for being a member of the '70s bands Burnin' Red Ivanhoe and Secret Oyster to the world at large, but also has been involved in numerous other projects and bands over the years, Taylorís Universe in particular. BIRDS OF BEAUTY is a group he formed after Secret Oyster disbanded in 1977, and now in 2008 the third release from this outfit, "Mean Old Men", has been released by the Danish label Calibrated Records.

Analysis. "Mean Old Men" is a somewhat misleading title for this album. Karsten Vogel and his merry crew of experienced Danish musicians may be both old - and mean - for all I know, but from a musical point of view you'll have to look hard to find any vitriolic tendencies in the compositions on this release. The style explored by these excellent musicians resides in a musical landscape that is somewhere in-between pop, rock and jazz fusion; with elements from the first two dominating. The musical expression is slick and smooth, and the manner quite laidback and casual. Most songs use three common elements as their foundation, with careful keyboard textures floating in the back of the soundscape, a melodic bass line giving the composition drive and basic melody, and good, effective drumming keeping the pace. On top of this guitar licks are added, as well as guitar soloing and sax soloing - sometimes one or the other, at other times a mix of the two. The eleven tunes here can mainly be categorized as three different varieties. Take No-1 Speed, Megalomania, In the Desert and Acid Jungle are all longer instrumental pieces, with slight leanings towards jazz rock. The last two of those also take on some hypnotic repetitive grooves, while the first two are more regular jazz-rock influenced tunes. Hot Five and Dust are moody pieces and are the only tracks on this album where the jazz or fusion tag might be applied. Both these short cuts are dominated by sax soloing. Mean Old Men, Paid for the Mess, Tied up Being and Come See Me set themselves apart as the only tunes containing vocals, and are the compositions with the strongest leanings towards regular pop and rock music. Lastly, All Quiet is the one track on the album that's really different from all the rest, a lush, mellow, slightly ambient piece with keyboard textures and short improvisational sax soloing bursts on top. The songs and the album as a whole are a solid release for purveyors of this kind of music. However, many readers might want to approach this one with caution, as there aren't too many progressive or challenging elements to be found here.

Conclusion. Fans and followers of Karsten Vogel's work obviously will take notice of this release. People interested in melodic pop and rock with slight jazz influences should also check this one out, and if the slicker jazz rock made in the late 70's and early 80's is to your liking, there's a fair chance that this is an album you'll enjoy too.

OMB: April 12, 2008

Related Links:

Karsten Vogel
Calibrated Records


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