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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jakko M. Jakszyk

The Bruised Romantic Glee Club

Review by Julie Knispel

Jakko M. Jakszyk has had a long and diverse career, careening wildly from pop/funk band Level 42 to Canterbury bands featuring Dave Stewart (Rapid Eye Movement), David Jackson, Peter Blegvad and John Greaves (The Lodge) and countless others. During the first few years of the 21st century he effectively replaced both Robert Fripp and any of a number of past vocalists in the 21st Century Schizoid Band, a group which reunited former members of King Crimson to recreate the band’s earlier material, with an eye toward future, newer compositions. Jakszyk also has a fairly significant solo discography as well, with material ranging from singer-songwriter to pieces drawing heavily from his history and work with many of the legends of Canterbury progressive rock. Following the interruption in active work with 21CSB, Jakko began work on a new solo release, which would evolve into The Bruised Romantic Glee Club, a 2 CD set of new solo material and cover renditions of material which influenced Jakszyk during his formative years. The list of guest musicians on this release is lengthy and shows how well connected Jakszyk has been throughout his career: Lyndon Connah, Gavin Harrison, Dave Stewart, Nathan King, Pandit Dinesh, Robert Fripp, Peter Sinfield, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace, Danny Thompson, Mark King, Hugh Hopper, Clive Brooks. As befits such a project, the material is diverse, ranging from chamber renditions of classical material through heavy rockers with a distinct King Crimson tinge. Throughout, elements and washes of Canterbury-esque jazziness permeate, over which Jakszyk’s pleasing tenor vocals soar and twist, weaving a series of tales taken directly from his life’s experiences. Even the cover material has his distinctive stamp on them, rather than being simple regurgitations of the material.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Bruised Romantic Glee Club
The album opens quietly, with plaintive, fragile vocals courtesy of Jakszyk and a pleasing, jazzy feel. Things do not remain thus for long, as schizoid, psychotically heavy sections with dueling saxophone and guitar blast the piece from potentially sedentary realms.
Variations On a Theme by Holst
This sweet instrumental interlude is based around the “Jupiter” movement from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Arranged for flute/viola/cello/clarinet, former King Crimson founder member Ian McDonald shines on flute. Despite the “Jupiter” movement being subtitled “The Joybringer,” this snippet is anything but joyful, having instead a mournful feel.
Catley's Ashes
Jakko featured as vocalist and guitarist for the 21st Century Schizoid Band during their activity from 2001 to 2004, and “Catley’s Ashes” was one of the new compositions the band played. This is a phenomenal studio recording of the piece, with former King Crimson sax player Mel Collins providing some excellent wind work, and Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison holding down the shifting, Crimson-like rhythm changes.
When Peggy Came Home
This is another brief musical palate cleanser, with spoken word courtesy of Chris Baker and a distinctly Irish/Celtic feel thanks to Jakszyk’s use of Irish low whistle.
Highgate Hill
This track hearkens back to Jakko’s birthplace. As Jakszyk has never spent much time there, in his mind the place has evolved in a nearly mythical way. The song is musically pretty straightforward, with nicely layered vocals and sweetly symphonic keyboards.
Forgiving
“Forgiving” is a song written too late to actually ask for the forgiveness that Jakko felt he needed from his father, while simultaneously forgiving him for the mistakes he made in his past. The song is built around a Robert Fripp soundscape, and is beautiful in its simplicity and emotional honesty.
No One Left To Lie To
This track, as befits such a cynical title, is edgy and driven, with alto sax courtesy of Mel Collins. Jakszyk’s guitar is tortured and keening, screaming out long sustained guitar lines before fracturing in staccato chunks. The final lyrical passage says it all: “There’s no one left to lie to...No one but yourself.”
Thing We Throw Away
Piano and acoustic guitar playfully balance each other in this sweet instrumental, which allows for a respite after the vitriol of the preceding track.
Doxy, Dali and Duchamp
Dave Stewart’s piano playing is the centerpiece through which this track evolves. The piece slithers around a shuffled jazzy beat, while the lyrics tell a tale of stolen moments, deception and hushed love affairs lived in the few moments available to them.
Srebrenica
Another in Jakszyk’s collection of instrumental interludes, this is based on a Balkan folk melody and originates from sessions for a BBC radio play. Jakszyk provides all instruments, including whistles, guitar, keyboards and programming.
When We Go Home
While “Forgiveness” was written for Jakszyk’s father, this piece is dedicated to the memory of his adoptive mother. Sweet, quiet and carefully constructed, the song is fragile and evokes longing, loneliness, and loss. Female vocals and lovely electric guitar (courtesy of Robert Fripp) add layers of depth and feeling to an already emotionally wrought composition.
As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still (Incorporating That Still and Perfect Summer and Astral Projection in Pinner)
Based around a piece from Soft Machine 2, this medley also includes a section of original material from Jakszyk and Dave Stewart. In order to do this composition justice, Jakszyk assembles a veritable Canterbury super group, with Hugh Hopper (bass), Stewart (piano) and Clive Brooks (drums), along with sax and flute courtesy of Gary Barnacle. The performance is quick, engaging, and wholly honest to the Soft Machine original.
Pictures of an Indian City
Jakszyk’s rendition of this King Crimson classic from 1970’s In The Wake of Poseidon completely reinvents the piece, with sitar replacing guitar, and original lyricist Peter Sinfield providing new lyrics for a new age. Connecting this new rendering to the old is an excellent soprano sax solo by Mel Collins, who recorded parts on the original studio outing.
Nirvana for Mice
Anyone willing to cover Henry Cow is worthy of more than just a passing look. Listening to this rendition of “Nirvana For Mice,” I am struck by how Crimson-like this arrangement is. Jakszyk’s guitar hangs precipitously over some incredibly complex stop/start drumming in 21/8 by Gavin Harrison.
Islands
This is the second of two King Crimson covers, this time the title track to the band’s 1971 album. Jakszyk cuts to the heart of the piece, stripping out the symphonic mellotron and focusing more heavily on the plaintive acoustic feel of the original.
The Citizen King
Another Henry Cow cover, this piece again features a stripped down trio of Jakszyk, Harrison and Dave Stewart, heavily layered vocals sit atop some eerie carnival-esque keyboards as the song slowly builds, adding drums and electric guitar in increasingly complex layers.
Soon After
The only completely original track on this second disc, this piece dates back to 1973, when Jakszyk was 15 years old. Recorded on an old Revox A77 mono recorder, this brief recording shares a lot with 1970’s Frippertronics recordings in sound and style, while adding slightly industrial characteristics that set this apart. While slight, it is in many ways an appropriate way to close the second disc of this set, showing a younger Jakszyk in the thrall of his influences.
 
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