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Jakszyk, Jakko M: The Bruised Romantic Glee Club

It's easy to approach this CD with a boatload of preconceptions, especially given Mr. Jakszyk's now legendary ability to play the Fripp part as guitarist of the 21st Century Schizoid Band. Probably best to set those aside for a few hours and get acquainted with something quite different from the Schizoid and the associations that adhere thereto.

The first disk offers mostly originals from Jakszyk along with a collaborative piece featuring Jakszyk and Fripp. The music embraces a wide range of expression and is anything but guitar-centric (this is true for the whole album). The goal seems to be one of playing with a number of different forms -- not unlike the rock to jazz to "classical" compositional palette of King Crimson -- and finding a way to reconcile all and everyone with an overriding concern for good, solid music. And he comes pretty close to accomplishing this, but with a much softer edge than the influences of King Crimson might imply. While the title admits to a "romantic" orientation, things tend at times to get downright sentimental in both form and content. Lyrics like "I will forgive you If you'll forgive me, too" (comma added for emphasis) are less than profound and actually become cloying enough to merit being labeled cliché. By the time we reach this track -- titled "Forgiving" -- there are really quite strong jazz-like inflections present that call to memory the sort of lovely, off-center sensibility exemplified in pieces like Bowie's recent "Bring Me the Disco King". Unlike Bowie though, Jakszyk's singing isn't his strongest talent and there is a surprising bit of it over the first 11 tracks.

The second CD might be considered a tribute to some of the most deserving music from the original progressive scene. In his lengthy liner notes, Jakszyk details the influences this music has had upon him since his first exposure to it. While it's hard to immediately see how this influence is wrought on the preceding disk, anyone with an even casual exposure to the early Canterbury scene and the formative years of King Crimson will experience more than a twinge of the still living past. His choices are expert to say the least -- just scan the track listings below. And given the overall tone the only cover that might be considered "missing" is David Sylvian's "Nostalgia". This music comes from a time of more clearly etched purpose and promise. And there are few songs in any time or place that still have the lyric force of Tim Hodgkinson's "The Citizen King". A song which, if anything, seems even truer today. But the fact is that the pieces performed here were generally so tightly written that they leave only small spaces for interpretation. Jakszyk shows the requisite respect, usually applying his interpretative skill to the closing moments which allow him to stretch out once the formal work of performing the piece as written has been completed.

This double package represents an enormous amount of effort, especially given its intimate tone. Though it is at times uneven and perhaps overly sentimental it is equally expert in its performance. After all, Jakszyk is clearly working in a highly personal, even private way. The fact that so much space is given to that which so influenced him is an especially generous gesture and acknowledgment of all that comes before. What lacks is what some artists excel at -- being both critical and more willing to self-edit. Still, given the strength of this outing, it's safe to assume that Jakszyk will develop that discipline as well.

Track Listing
CD One
1) The Bruised Romantic Glee Club
2) Variations on a Theme by Holst
3) Catley's Ashes
4) When Peggy Came Home
5) Highgate Hill
6) Forgiving
7) No One Left To Lie To
8) The Things We Throw Away
9) Doxy, Dali and Duchamp
10) Srebrenica
11) When We Go Home
CD Two
1) As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still
2) That Still and Perfect Summer
3) Astral Projection In Pinner
4) Pictures of an Indian City
5) Nirvana for Mice
6) Islands
7) The Citizen King
8) Soon After

Added: January 30th 2011
Reviewer: Kerry Leimer
Related Link: More Information
Hits: 2336
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Jakszyk, Jakko M: The Bruised Romantic Glee Club
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-01-30 12:22:20
My Score:

Finally available domestically here in North America, The Bruised Romantic Glee Club is the 2006 solo album from former Level 42 & The 21st Century Schizoid Band guitarist Jakko M. Jakszyk. A sprawling 2 CD set, The Bruised Romantic Glee Club features a wide assortment of guest stars from bands such as Porcupine Tree, Soft Machine, King Crimson, Hatfield & the North, Level 42, and others. Blended with prog, jazz, and pop influences, it's a fine collection of songs that deserves the attention of any prog fan.

Though Jakszyk is a formidable guitar player, this is by no means a guitar oriented release. Plenty of Mellotron to go around throughout the album, and if you are into flute there's a heaping amount of it courtesy of Mel Collins and Ian MacDonald. The guitarist does let loose on the Crimson-ish "Catley's Ashes", where he rips into some scorching Fripp inspired lines over beds of Mellotron and the sexy sax of Collins. The drum work of Gavin Harrison is also spectacular here as well.

Other gems on disc 1 of the album include the prog rock winner "Highgate Hill", the dreamy "Forgiving", the hard rocking "No One Left to Lie To", and the searing yet emotional guitar workout "Srebrenica".

Over on CD 2, Jakko has recorded some splendid covers of classic tunes from Soft Machine, Henry Cow, and King Crimson, and he's enlisted the help of Dave Stewart, Hugh Hopper, Clive Brooks, Mel Collins, Gavin Harrison, Ian MacDonald, and others to make it happen. There's a breezy take on the Soft's "As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still", and a sizzling "Pictures of an Indian City" from Crimson, complete with muscular sax from Collins, jagged guitar lines and plenty of Mellotron. "Nirvana for Mice" is given a heavy fusion feel, and Jakko's guitar work here is outstanding, but "Islands" is worth the price of admission alone, a dreamy, jazzy take on the King Crimson classic, featuring Dave Stewart's majestic piano, Collins' tender flute & sax, gentle stick work from Ian Wallace, and Jakko's tender guitar textures. Throw in a quirky version of Henry Cow's "The Citizen King", and you have a strong second disc of covers that turns out to be a fun listen for lovers of the genre.

Here's to Jakko Jakszyk's triumph on The Bruised Romantic Glee Club, and hopefully he has another strong statement on par with this one in the not too distant future.

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