DPRP.net • CD & DVD Reviews • 2014 • 038
Rudi Tchaikovsky - Yachting on the Niagara
Country of Origin:UK
Record Label:CD Baby
Year of Release:2013
Yachting on the Niagara (9:14), Comet by Day (16:14), The Castle's Equivalent (10:04), Xanadu D'ath (6:13), Smokescreen (13:46)
Once upon a time, progressive rock was a much different animal than what we know and love these days. In the closing days of psychedelia, British record companies established "boutique" labels" such as Vertigo and Harvest, in order to take advantage of the emerging, progressive rock boom. In those less structured days, progressive rock could be folk, blues, hard rock, or anything else that wasn't obvious chart material. Rudi Tchaikovsky is a throwback to those innocent days, when prog rock wasn't nearly as well defined as it is now.
This cd is a live recording from 1975, when the band was slowly coming to an end. The sound is less than perfect but it's certainly acceptable for a vintage recording of this type. To my ears, the band exhibits elements of Caravan, Gentle Giant, and Camel. Mostly they remind me of Bundles era Soft Machine. They are progressive rock with a definite flavor of jazz/fusion, in the mix.
The album's title track kicks things off with soft, echoey piano leading into pleasant guitar and keyboard interplay, backed by insistent drumming. The vocals arrive belatedly but to me, they are a bit weak and add little to the song. The harmonies are nice but I keep hearing this as a Soft Machine instrumental track. Nice playing that ends up being let down by uninspired vocals. The extended guitar solo however, would've done Allan Holdsworth proud! Comet by Day features a guitar and synth into, very tasteful and well played. Mo Bacon's drumming propels the tightly played guitar and keyboard soloing. (Mo had a brush with fame as part of the 60's pop group The Love Affair.) At times fiery, at times reflective, the track flashes across the speakers, showing great dynamics and much promise. Joe Jacobs on keyboards and Mick Norton on guitar provide the pyrotechnics, while the rhythm section keeps them well grouded. The vocalist makes an appearance about 2/3 of the way through the track but his contribution seems pretty much an afterthought. It is the musicians' interplay that is Rudi Tchaikovsky's calling card.
The Castle's Equivalent opens with more fine playing from Jacobs and Norton but once again, it suffers from overly theatrical vocals. Like most of the tracks on this album, I would love to hear Castle in a fully realized, studio version. The band wasn't short on ideas but a little tightening up would've helped here and there. Norton's guitar shines on this track. The backing vocals give a nod to Gentle Giant, an obvious influence on the band. Xanadu d'Ath is probably the tightest and most radio friendly song thus far. The vocal is fully incorporated in the song and seems less like an afterthought. Jacobs and Norton come up big again. Norton in particular shines with some tasteful, slide guitar.
Smokescreen closes things out rather nicely. Guitar/piano intro leads to some rather heavy guitar riffing. The vocal is solid and there's a nice Caravan style keyboard solo and a lengthy yet inventive, percussion break. This is the band's closing number and they go out in style!
In summation, Rudi Tchaikovsky were a strong instrumental band who were sometimes let down by less than stellar, vocals. This recording is a nice introduction to the band, but it leaves you wondering what they might've accomplished in the studio. Overall it's an enjoyable live set.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10