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Old 06-06-2021, 09:40 AM   #211 (permalink)
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Magma make Dream Theater sound like Nickelback.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:03 AM   #212 (permalink)
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All right then. As we head down into what can perhaps be called the bargain basement of 1970 prog rock, all the good albums done and all the decent bands looked at, we’re left with what appears to be a pretty eclectic collection of bands who had one or two albums and split, or who perhaps started as other than prog, changed and then either went back to their original format or folded altogether. I feel these guys are kind of like the unwanted, homeless children, the orphans of the prog world, and while for all I know many of the albums here may be great, I’ve never even heard of any of these people.

Normally I’d be reviewing them under the heading of “Over the Garden Wall”, but that kind of deals more with bands who are or were on the fringes of the prog movement, and I don’t know anything about any of these bands, so I feel they may not fit in there. In which case, I’ve decided to kick off a new section which will look at bands who had one or a maximum of two albums and then just faded away, forgotten by time, or to use a typical nautical phrase

Since, as I say, I know nothing about any of these I’m going to just take them in the order they appeared on Wiki’s list, and on mine. Which gives us this one to get going with.


Album title: Goliath
Artist: Goliath
Nationality: English
Label: CBS
Chronology: Debut and only

Tracklisting: Port and Lemon Lady/Festival of Light/No More Trash/Hunter’s Song/Men/I Heard About a Friend/Prism/Emerge, Breath, Sunshine, Dandelion/ Maajun (A Taste of Tangier)
Comments: Unsurprisingly, this is not easy to track down, but I found it on YouTube so here goes. The only album released by this Manchester outfit, they must have felt a little silly calling themselves what they did when they completely failed to take the world by storm. Was their demise deserved? Let’s see. You know, that was the wrong album. Strange as it may seem, there was a US Goliath too, and they released their self-titled album in 1970. Spooky. Or not. Anyway, the one I’ve found doesn’t have all the tracks, for some reason. I doubt I’ll care, as I listen to “Port and Lemon Lady” which is a kind of psych rock thing with mucho flute and a female vocalist. Yeah. Inevitably, given the flute, comparisons surface between these guys and Jethro Tull. So far, I don’t like either.

You know, I thought the album cover was a bit graphic, a torn off arm resting on the ground, but now I see it’s actually a close-up of a bent cigarette butt. Clever, and possibly the only interesting thing about this album. Well, the next two tracks are missing so we’re on to “Hunter’s Song”, which runs for a worrying ten minutes, and sounds a little jazzy for my liking. Oh well actually it’s getting a bit better. Oh, until she starts singing. I really don’t like her voice. Think she mistakenly sees herself as Janis Joplin or something. Still, I guess you have to give credit to her as one of the few, at the time, female prog vocalists. The basic rhythm and melody of this is pretty decent to be fair, and I could probably enjoy it with someone else singing. As it is, the vocal kind of ruins it.

Gets quite introspective once she shuts her yap, and goes into a kind of slow blues thing, very moody and certainly displays the talents of the guitarist, whose name I won’t bother with as none of these people were ever heard of again. Most likely he ended up selling computers or running for local office, or maybe became a serial killer. But a career in music was apparently never in the cards for any of these people. Which in his case is a pity as - to hell with it, let’s give the nameless guy his name - Malcolm Grundy is a pretty fine guitarist. And while we’re at it, we should also praise Joseph Rosbotham on woodwinds, and make a note that here is a prog band who didn’t use keyboards. Perhaps that accounts for their downfall. Perhaps not. Oh damn she’s back again. It was going so well.

There’s a bit of a somewhat confused beginning to “Men”, lots of honking brass, trundling percussion, sounds a bit disordered and then it looks like it might be turning into a blues boogie. Maybe. Actually yeah, it just picked up a Texas strut sort of thing and it’s rocking nicely now. Wish they’d let someone else sing though. Herself thinks she’s Suzi Quatro now, though the guitar does seem to be emulating Rory Gallagher, which can’t be bad. Sounds a little like the main riff from “In Your Town”. And now the sax fits in perfectly, ripping off a fine solo while she does her thing, and how I wish she would not. Or at least, do it somewhere else.

“I Heard About a Friend” is a slower, sort of mid-paced affair with peppy flute and a nice kind of beat to it, even the singing isn’t too bad here. The extremely oddly-named “Emerge, Breath, Sunshine, Dandelion” has an even stranger opening, almost ambient, before picking up on bright flute and boppy percussion, then it all fades away to a sultry bass line bringing back in the flute. Meh. Thought it might have been an instrumental. No such luck. God, the singing is just truly awful here, while the closer “Maajun (A Taste of Tangier)” kind of sounds like something out of a Sinbad movie, very eastern, very upbeat, very dancy in its way, and very much driven by flute and handclaps. Would be better if she had just shut it and left the guys to it, but no, she has to chant and moan all over it.


Favourite track(s): Hunter’s Song, I Heard About a Friend
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Can’t really see how this is considered any sort of prog. I wonder had they a different singer might they have gone a little further? As it is though, I can kind of see why they failed. Some good ideas, great musicians but maybe paired up with the wrong frontperson? Or maybe it wasn’t her fault - maybe they were just trying too hard to straddle the boundary between psych rock, folk and just failing to reach the closest edges of prog rock.
Personal Rating:

Here, for this section only, I’m adding in a new category, which will chronicle whether or not I believe the band or artist deserved to go further. For the fun of it, and to tie in with the nautical theme of the section, they are:

Davy Jones’ Locker: deserved never to be heard from again, and not surprised that was what happened.

Clinging to driftwood: A possibility that they might have done better had a few small changes been made

Just missed the rescue boat: Something of a mystery why they did not do better

Man overboard! Can’t believe they didn’t make it.

In this case, it’s Clinging to Driftwood.
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Old 06-06-2021, 10:08 AM   #213 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland View Post
I wouldn't expect you to like Magma but this really crosses the line.

Also: https://www.musicbanter.com/general-...ml#post1785519
Well I'll be the brother to the father of a simian! Maybe there's hope. Still, it could not have been as bad as this one. And also:

"but unlikely to be anything I would listen to again"

so, you know, maybe I was just being over-nice.
All I know is that while there were a few decent things I could say about that first album, it didn't help that it was a double, three in the morning when I was reviewing it, and that yer man kept shouting and roaring at me.
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Old 06-06-2021, 11:55 AM   #214 (permalink)
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Album title: Marsupilami
Artist: Marsupilami
Nationality: French, no English in fact.
Label: Transatlantic
Chronology: Debut
Tracklisting: Dorian Deep/Born to be Free/And the Eagle Chased the Dove to its Ruin/Ab Inito Ad Finem/Facilis Descensus Averni
Comments: These guys went one better than Goliath, and had two albums before calling it a day. Given that they were French, and there were really few French prog bands around in the early seventies (Gong being a standout exception of course) maybe they just couldn’t gain the attention they felt they deserved. Oh no wait, they weren’t. French, that is. I got confusticated there. They’re English, they is. Well maybe they were just crap. The truth will be revealed when we return.

We’ve returned.

Nothing is short here, with tracks running from just under six minutes up to beyond ten, and “Dorain Deep” opens with a sound of whistling wind and then a church organ allied to a chanting voice, some flute and well to be fair this sounds pretty tight. Good guitar work, a certain sense of psych rock in the music, and though there’s a good slice of jamming here, even in the opener, which runs short of eight minutes, it’s well executed and gives an idea of early Santana in places. The copious flute does not, for once, evoke the cavorting figure of Ian Anderson, as Marsupilami use it much differently, thanks to the talents of Jessica Stanley-Clarke. I would have to say I have an issue with the vocals of Fred Hasson, who doesn’t make himself too understandable, and it may be another case of decent music which suffered on the back of inadequate singing.

It’s kind of like listening to a cross between Eldritch, a restrained Iggy Pop and a totally zoned-out Nick Cave, taking the worst elements of each, in terms of vocals. Can’t say anything bad about the music, but unfortunately when someone’s singing it’s that which you end up concentrating on. Guitarist Dave Laverock certainly knows his stuff though, and is ably assisted by Leary Hasson (brother to Fred?) on the organ. Nice work on the harmonica, recalling early Supertramp, thanks to the other Hasson. Maybe he would have been better sticking to that and leaving the vocals to someone else. I would have to say though that I didn’t mark the transition from the first track to the second, and “Born to be Free” sounds more like a continuation of the opener than anything else. I’m sure it isn’t, it’s just there isn’t a sufficient demarcation between the two. Nice backing vocals, I think from Ms. Stanley-Clarke, though they’re right at the end.

There’s a powerful guitar opening to “And the Eagle Chased the Dove to its Ruin”, slowing down then on Jessica’s flute into a pastoral kind of thing, and the slow, dark passage with the organ and the almost sepulchral singing works very well. The last two tracks (already?) are the longest, and I’m just beginning to wonder if Marsupilami were the architects of their own downfall, trying to run before they could walk? I mean, who puts an opera (in one track) on their debut album? Well, these guys did and they seem to have put everything into it, with the opening minute alone containing bird sounds, squelching sound of feet walking, thick organ intro and the sounds of breathing. Some very tribal drums then and so far no vocals, which I’m grateful for, but doubt can remain the case. Flute now joining in and adding a lush layer to the melody, then the guitar takes over in a fine display.

Believe it or not, that takes us to the seventh minute, as the organ begins a slow, stately march before the guitar again flies all over the place. I’m considering the possibility now that this may, despite my misgivings, be an instrumental, which would be great. Well that was, to coin a phrase, awesome. Just shows what these guys could do if Hasson shut up. The final track is almost as long, another Latin phrase - “Facilis Descensus Averni” - I think that’s something falls easily? Anyway it’s a lot more frenetic and sort of improvisational than the previous one, with lots of unfettered organ and urgent, humming sort of percussion running through it. Not so much in the way of vocals, though at this stage we’re only about a third of the way through. Jessica Stanley-Clarke’s flute takes over then, slowing everything down really nicely, before Laverock’s guitar picks up the threads and the pace quickens again.

Then we have a spoken word piece, with thereafter the guitar acquiring quite an edge, and organ and percussion pulling the track into its sixth minute; the vocal when it comes back is not really too grating this time, and there’s some nice what sounds like Spanish guitar in the last minute or so. I’m just not quite sure what the guys were trying to achieve here, and I’m left a little baffled and actually feeling slightly dizzy.


Favourite track(s): Kind of liked everything, despite the singing
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Hard to say. A lot of it is enjoyable, but it’s pretty dense and sometimes a bit difficult to separate the sounds. Very ambitious, but perhaps overly so? I’m not quite sure the world was ready for this in 1970.
Personal Rating:

End result: another Clinging to driftwood I think.
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Old 06-06-2021, 02:33 PM   #215 (permalink)
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Seems that, despite my rather hasty dismissal of the bands left in 1970, more than one of them was relatively successful, and so can’t be included in this section. There is, in fact, only one more, and this is they.

Album title: Walrus
Artist: Walrus
Nationality: English
Label: Decca/Deram
Chronology: Debut and only
Tracklisting: Who Can I Trust/Rags and Old Iron/Blind Man/Roadside/Why/Turning/Woman/Turning/Sunshine Needs Me/Coloured Rain/Mother’s Dead Face in Memoriam/Coloured Rain (reprise)/Tomorrow Never Comes/Never Let My Body Touch the Ground
Comments: If this band has even the slightest claim to fame, it’s that Ian Mosley, who went on to play drums in Marillion (and still does) played with them once or twice, though not on this album. The blurb on ProgArchives seems to try to postulate that founder Steve Hawthorn invented jazz fusion, which is of course nonsense; probably just badly written. Seems to be a fair bit of brass in this which naturally enough gives it a jazzy feel. The vocal is quite ragged and harsh on “Who Can I Trust”, puts me in mind of the faster, bluesier elements of early Supertramp. The next track is broken into three parts, whether you’d call it a suite or not I don’t know. It kicks off with “Rags and Old Iron”, sort of a mix of blues and soul on a jazz base, with extra trumpet on the side, the vocal very high in the mix. Think this part anyway may be a cover.

What I assume to be the next part, “Blind Man”, seems to be a sort of tribal chant against bongos or something and then a flute comes in as the tune picks up. It then stops. Entirely. For like two or three seconds, before coming back in on flute. And stopping again. A bit disconcerting to say the least. Not bad though. The third section, “Roadside”, is a sort of blues boogie with attendant brass, which seems to be everywhere on this album. Nice guitar work. “Why” is a slower, almost pastoral, flute-led piece, where vocalist Noel Greenaway gets to display the softer side of his voice, though in a way this is akin to saying the skinhead kicking your face in is wearing slippers instead of hobnail boots. This guy just doesn’t do gentle, and you can kind of hear him straining to contain growls and roars, which then get let loose in the much more raucous “Turning”, which kicks off, oddly, with a spoken word piece.

Once it gets going though the song hurtles along at the fastest pace of anything on the album so far, and it, too, is broken into three parts, these being this one, the second part, called “Woman”, and a reprise of “Turning” at the end. Don’t really see the break to be honest, but there you go. Next up is “Sunshine Needs Me”, sort of reminds me in places of The Kinks on “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”, though it’s really nothing like that, just the vibe it gives me. Another suite, which looks to be a cover of a Traffic track, “Coloured Rain”, which again has three parts, the final a reprise, an opens with a Waits-like busy bass line, and a big drum solo at the end. Could have done without that.

The final track is called "Never Let My Body Touch the Ground", but seems to be some sort of weird pastiche of all the other tracks, like a sampler, only in reverse. They shouldn't have bothered; it only serves (for me anyway) to remind me how poor the album is.

The problem here I think is that there’s nothing that stands out as memorable. Plenty, again, of good musicianship, pretty poor vocals to be fair, decent arrangements but the “h” word is not there in any of the songs, and let’s be honest, usually a song without a hook is not a memorable one. A lot is made of the use of brass here, and there is a whole lot of it, but it’s almost like they think “it’s there so now we have a good album.” Well, no, you don’t, and this is probably one of the many reasons why you never had another one.

Favourite track(s): Nothing really
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Just a bit of a confusing mess, and while the walrus may not be an endangered species, this one was from the moment they began recording, and they went extinct pretty quickly.
Personal Rating:

End result: Davy Jones’ Locker
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Old 06-09-2021, 10:05 AM   #216 (permalink)
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Album title: Act One
Artist: Beggar’s Opera
Nationality: Scottish
Label: Vertigo
Chronology: Debut
Grade: B
Previous Experience of this Artist: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: I’m not sure. As they seem to have been mostly passed over in favour of bigger bands, probably not that much really.
Tracklisting: Poet and Peasant/Passacaglia/Memory/Raymond’s Road/Light Cavalry
Comments: A band who, though quite active in the prog scene of the seventies, seem to have been passed over a little by history. Could be due to their hailing from Scotland, which wasn’t exactly bursting with a prog scene at the time, or maybe not. The song titles certainly give you a feeling of mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth century, throwing in a flavour of the country gentleman espoused by the image of bands like Jethro Tull, and when the opener gets going it’s very organ-driven, running at a good pace until a very declamatory vocal comes in, a little harsh for my tastes. Good proggy track though; I feel the vocal lets it down. Now where have I said that before? It’s not that Martin Griffiths is a bad singer, I just think he’s articulating a little too forcefully here.

“Passacaglia” (huh?) improves considerably on the vocal, far more restrained, with a sweet guitar track though again riding invariably on the banks of keyboards from Alan Park, particularly the well-used organ. You certainly can’t ignore Ricky Gardiner’s fine fretwork though, put through its paces here in the midsection of the song. The problems with the vocal return with “Memory”, which is a much shorter song but has more singing than the last one, and suffers greatly, in my opinion, for it. The keys aren’t even as good in this one. The final two tracks are epics, nearly twelve minutes each, and “Raymond’s Road” kicks off with a fine sprightly keyboard run, a galloping bass line and, well, they throw in Mozart’s “Turkish Rondo”, Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue”, and possibly some other classical standards along the way.

Unfortunately, this, while clever and interesting, is not original, and only begs comparisons with The Nice and ELP, and while the Emerson-led trio only have their debut out this same year, he has been doing this sort of thing with the Nice since the late sixties, so you can’t help but think Beggar’s Opera are copying his style, and perhaps hoping to profit off being linked with the keyboard madman. I don’t think it worked though. Still, give them their due: it’s not all left up to Park to carry the tune, and Gardiner rips off some impressive solos and figures himself. Five minutes in now and you have to wonder if there are going to be any vocals?

I think I hear Ravel’s “Bolero” in there too, and you have to give credit to the rhythm section for keeping it all so tight. It’s probably the best on the album so far. They certainly improvise well around the classical tunes, I might venture to say better than I’ve heard ELP or The Nice, indeed. Nine minutes in now, and clearly this is an instrumental. There’s the “William Tell Overture” - you can almost play “spot the classical piece” here! Oh and now we have “In the Hall of the Mountain King” - Grieg would be proud I’m sure. This is three years before ELO would rework the piece for their album On the Third Day; whether they got the idea from Beggar’s Opera or not I don’t know.

The final track then is, as I say, another twelve-minuter (well, both fall a few seconds short, but we won’t quibble over that) as “Light Cavalry” again utilises to the full the wizardly fingers of Alan Park on the ivories. Sadly this turns out not to also be an instrumental, the vocals sort of ruining what was shaping up to be a very good piece, and making, I think, the very clear point that, certainly at least on this album, Beggar’s Opera work much better as an instrumental band rather than one with vocals, also perhaps providing a further link towards their contemporaries ELP.

Favourite track(s): Raymond’s Road
Least favourite track(s): Memory
Overall impression: As an instrumental band, these guys take some beating. Unfortunately for them, they insist on having a singer, and to my ears he’s really not up to the job. Perhaps we’ve uncovered the reason why Beggar’s Opera never achieved the same glory as bigger prog bands.
Personal Rating:
Legacy Rating:
Final Rating:
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Old 06-09-2021, 02:08 PM   #217 (permalink)
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Album title: Gracious!
Artist: Gracious
Nationality: English
Label: Vertigo
Chronology: Debut
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artist: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: Probably little to none; a year later they had disbanded and then they got back together in 1990 for one album. Hardly setting the prog world alight, were they?
Tracklisting: Introduction/Heaven/Hell/Fugue in “D” Minor/The Dream
Comments: I’m not sure if this is a concept album, though looking at the song titles I would wonder. It kicks off in more a hard rock vein really than prog, hard growling guitar almost reminiscent of a nascent Black Sabbath, good vocal harmonies; sort of a sense of very early Rush about this too. Not half bad. This band certainly appear to rely more on guitars than keys, with Alan Cowderoy providing the licks, then it’s the turn of the hilariously named Martin Kitcat on the organs and keys to lead in “Heaven” with a, well, heavenly lush opening, slowing everything down as Cowderoy dials it right back on the guitar, Paul Davis coming on on the twelve-string acoustic on a breezy little Beatlesesque passage. Very nice, and very evocative.

It’s well past the midpoint before the vocals come in, and somehow it works perfectly, good vocal harmonies again adding to the clear voice of Cowderoy then a really sweet acapella from the rest of the band and a bright little piano section. “Hell” then features, rather appropriately, a descending run on the piano into dark, doomy organ and buzzing guitar, everything slowed to almost (say it) funereal pace, giving a great sense of ominousness and oppression, claustrophobia and paranoia. Some fine manic work on the piano really helps before it breaks out into a proper run, again ending up at the bass end and then kicking into an almost “Iron Man” melody on the guitar. Again it’s more than halfway in before the vocals make an appearance, and even then it seems just to go “La, la, la, la” leading to a very early rap (not really, but a spoken piece) and then an extended ragtime section on the piano, which is admittedly rather weird, the vocal going mono and tinny to fit in with the new style I guess.

That turns into something of a “knees up”, which is very odd, for who would party in Hell, you would assume to be a not unreasonable question. Sadly, though this started very well and was going along nicely, I think they’ve lost themselves somewhere along the line here. Getting very confusing now and hard to follow the idea, if there is one. “Fugue in “D” Minor” is, well, a fugue in D Minor. Not a lot to say; sounds like it’s being played on harpsichord, maybe a twelve-string guitar? Pretty boring really. The closer then is the epic, running for almost seventeen minutes, quite a feat in 1970.

Despite its length, “The Dream” does not appear to be a suite, broken up into parts, sections or movements, but one long track from beginning to end. This isn’t unique of course, but conventional wisdom at this time usually had bands split up such long tracks into recognisable portions and naming them, but Gracious have chosen not to do this. Will it stretch the song out beyond endurance? We’ll see. Kicks off with yet another classical standard, and one of my favourites, Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, but then breaks into a rather beautiful piano ballad with Beach Boys-style harmonies which gives way to a pretty funky guitar solo kind of reminiscent of early ZZ Top maybe.

Now we have Park exercising his jazz chops, which are to be fair pretty impressive, and what sounds like brass, but I don’t see any credit for same. A spoken piece then over this, and the organ goes a little wild before it all settles back down into the previous rhythm. The voice (won’t call it a vocal as it’s really more spoken than sung) is quite off-putting, though now there is a vocal and it’s much better. So where are we? More than halfway, and it’s, um, getting a little strange now. I fear these guys are trying too hard to make this oh wow so weird and strange and out there man, when in fact it’s just annoying and comes across as very very unfocussed.

Dropping back into some decent music now, good guitar solo and piano, rocking along nicely and taking us into the eleventh minute, but it kind of goes off-track again fairly quickly. Then we get the sound of an alarm clock ringing (oh how original! Though maybe it was, in 1970. I keep forgetting this is over fifty years old) and a soft piano and guitar piece presumably wrapping the track up. Sort of loops back around to the original beginning with some sharp guitar interspersed with those vocal harmonies, except I don’t see any sign of a resolution, as I had expected to. A very powerful ending, kind of channelling Holst’s “Mars, the Bringer of War.” Yeah.

Favourite track(s): Heaven
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Another case of some good ideas, great musicianship but confused concept. I would have thought they were happy with this album, but I think a lot of people may have been quite baffled by it.
Personal Rating:
Legacy Rating:
Final Rating:
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Old 06-09-2021, 06:42 PM   #218 (permalink)
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Seems those gelatine plates weren’t moving for another year, in other words Wiki ****ed up again and the album from the French proto-prog outfit with the interesting title is a 1971 release. So we’ll shelve that for the moment, and remember to add both it and the Gomorra one to next year’s list. Moving on then (but without plates, gelatine or otherwise)...

Album title: Present From Nancy
Artist: Supersister
Nationality: Dutch
Label: Polydor
Chronology: Debut
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artist: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value:

Tracklisting: Present from Nancy (Introduction/Present from Nancy)/Memories are New (Boomchick): (Memories are New/11/8/Dreaming Wheelwhile/Corporation Combo Boys)/Metamorphosis (Mexico/Metamorphosis/Eight Miles High)/Dona Nobis Pacem
Comments: Just why you would decide to call your band Supersister when all the members are male is a question I can’t answer, but these guys once again break the mould slightly, stretching prog outside of the bounds of the UK in 1970, and like their countrymen Focus they’re still going, so there must be something in it. Indeed, as the title track kicks off with a flurry of drums and some superb piano, I think there may indeed be something in it. Some nice peppy flute, and it’s quite impressive how the almost frenetic drumbeat counterpoints the piano. Nice. The introduction is instrumental, and as we get into the title track itself there’s a definite feel of jazzy lounge merged with later Genesis, say the mid-eighties.

Oh, okay, rather surprisingly this is instrumental too (and damn good I may say) - I assumed the vocal was going to come in, as these guys definitely have a lead vocalist, but I guess they’re waiting to introduce him on the next track. Which is “Memories are New (Boomchick)” and split into a total of four parts. Okay, well there are the vocals now, and they’re not at all bad. This feels a little more disjointed than the other track though, and it goes a little wild and experimental here which doesn’t go down well with me. “11/8” seems to ride on what is credited as a fuzz bass, which is a little hard on my ears, then a piano comes into the mix and it’s a little better, but I still wouldn’t rate this one highly. “Dreaming Wheelwhile” (what?) is much slower and more restrained, as you might expect from the title, faintly reminiscent of “Bolero”, nice use of vibes and flute, and another instrumental, leading into the closing part, “Corporation Combo Boys”, a mere minute and change, a combination acapella thing. Kind of pointless really.

The last suite, as it were, “Metamorphosis”, is in three parts, the first, “Mexico”, a breezy little upbeat tune with some snarling guitar seeming just a little out of place in there, while the title part of the track hammers along breathlessly, the drumming almost sounding like the chugging of a steam locomotive or something. Some good guitar work here and I doubt there’ll be vocals like there was in the other part. Now it sounds like there’s an ambulance joining the steam engine! All good fun, and the last part is thirty seconds of a few words as the tune begun in “Metamorphosis” comes to its end.

That takes us to the closer, “Dona Nobis Pacem”, more Latin which I can guess at being, I don’t know, woman is noble and peaceful? Probably not, probably not. Beautiful slow, stately, almost sepulchral church organ intro, could be on the way to making this the standout. Halfway through now, if they don’t ruin it this could be something truly stunning. Don’t do it, guys. Don’t do it… well okay it sped up right at the end into a piece of nonsense, but even at that it’s a hell of a vehicle for their keysman and one doozy of a closer. Damn though; why didn’t they just leave it as it was. Kind of ruined it at the end. Oh, and there’s a gong.

Favourite track(s): Present from Nancy, Dreaming Wheelwhile, Metamorphosis, Dona Nobis Pacem
Least favourite track(s): Most of Memories are New except Dreaming Wheelwhile
Overall impression: A lot better than expected. The organ and keyboard work is faultless, and these guys really play well together. The only minus I see really is a tendency to go off on tangents and play around a little, maybe for the fun of it, but with seemingly no real end in sight. If they were able to mature a little over the years their next albums might be truly excellent.
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Old 06-10-2021, 09:57 AM   #219 (permalink)
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The penultimate album, then, on our journey through 1970, is this one:

Album title: It’ll All Work Out in Boomland
Artist: T2
Nationality: English
Label: Decca
Chronology: Debut
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artist: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
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Tracklisting: In Circles/J.L.T/No More White Horses/Morning
Comments: A band who had the dubious honour of being “rediscovered” decades after they had split, leading to a new fanbase and an actual reunion, T2 played the prestigious Isle of Wight Festival but the ever-present “artistic differences” pulled the band apart and they only released this one album in the seventies. There are, as you can see, only four tracks on it, though one, the closer, hits the twenty-one minute mark, so there is that. Sounds a bit hard rock/psychedelic to me when “In Circles” begins, not quite what I’d call prog. Very guitar driven, though they do apparently use keys too (don’t hear them here though, not yet anyway) with decent vocals. Kind of gives me a feeling of very early Gary Moore or Randy California maybe. Keith Cross is the heart of the band here, playing both keyboards and guitar, and proving himself very talented on at least the latter so far.

Vocals are provided, in what might very well have been a first for the time, by the drummer, Peter Bunton, while Bernard Jinks on the bass completes the power trio. I have no idea what “J.L.T.” stands for but it’s a much more restrained song, soft breathy organ driving it this time with a nice humming bass line and some expressive piano, gives me a sense of early Pink Floyd. I’m glad to see the guitar dialled back on this one; it certainly took over the opener. It’s back though to lead in “No More White Horses” but the basic mood stays fairly low-key and laid back for this one too; a lot of acoustic guitar here, with quite a sense of The Eagles. That leaves us with the closer, and epic, twenty-one minutes and twenty-six seconds of “Morning”, which opens on soft acoustic guitar and crooning vocal, and I guess we can assume from its length that it’s going to change considerably over its run.

Well of course it does, as the guitar winds up in about the third minute into a semi-Rush pastiche (yes I know Rush were not around at this time, but you know what I mean) - I wonder if Alex listened to this album? Slowing down now in the sixth minute into a nice sort of ballady thing with a laconic guitar riff that evokes The Hollies' “The Air That I Breathe”, again before it was written. Could these guys have been such an influence on future rock acts, or is it just me finding correlation where there is only coincidence? Do you care? You surely do not. And meanwhile the song has moved into its tenth minute and gone into an extended instrumental passage with, unless I miss my guess and am very lucky, a drum solo. Oh dear. They’re bad enough in a live setting, but at least understandable there. Why do they need to be on a studio recording?

Nice motif running through the melody here in the fifteenth minute, and now it’s picking up again as we head into I guess the final section. Incidentally, despite its length this is all one song, no parts, no movements, no chapters. Pretty superb guitar solo to take us near the conclusion, then returning to the soft acoustic guitar to usher us out.

Favourite track(s): J.L.T./No More White Horses
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: A decent album, but I don’t see that it was so great that it was “rediscovered” in later decades and led to the band reforming. I mean, it’s all right for what it is, but I don’t feel it’s anything that special personally. A bit dated even for 1970.
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Old 06-10-2021, 02:41 PM   #220 (permalink)
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And we end on…

Album title: Tombstone Valentine
Artist: Wigwam
Nationality: Finnish
Label: Love Records
Chronology: Second
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artist: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: n/a
Tracklisting: Tombstone Valentine/In Gratitude!/Dance of the Anthropoids/Frederick and Bill/Wishful Thinker/Autograph/1936 Lost in the Snow/Let the World Ramble On/For America/Captain Supernatural/End
Comments: I may not be correct but I think this may be the first prog act from Finland we’ve come across. Of course, in recent times Finland, indeed all of Scandinavia, has become quite the wellspring of talent for prog bands, but this was 1970 after all, when probably hardly anyone had even heard of the country, never mind any music from it. So it’s a very jaunty, Beatlesesque opening with the title track, led by, um, banjo? Some rather nice violin work, and I see there’s an actual synth mentioned here, surely one of the first? Vocals are very good, and the song does somewhat wear its ethnicity and folk roots on its sleeve, but straddles the divide between that and progressive rock quite well. More old-school blues then for “In Gratitude!” with a nice honky-tonk piano line while “Dance of the Anthropoids” is a mere minute of mostly just a bass run I think - actually no; I see it’s that synth I was talking about earlier (recorded in 1968, so like I say, surely one of the first) before we move into “Frederick and Bill”, the longest track on the album at a staggering four-and-a-half minutes!

And it takes us back into blues/psych territory, some really good guitar licks here, song seems to reference racial violence right at the end, which is a little jarring, given the upbeat, cheery nature of the tune, then it’s all country ballad for “Wishful Thinker”, lovely piano and organ, accordion and fiddle for “Autograph” with some banjo thrown into the mix, then the shortest track other than the “Dance of the Anthropoids” is “1936 Lost in the Snow”, coming in at just barely over two minutes, driven on powerful piano and violin, and which I imagine may be an instrumental too. A feeling of 1970s summers in New York pervades “Let the Whole World Ramble On”, evoking the best of Randy Newman or early Paul Simon, with some nice harmony vocals and stabs of electric guitar at just the right time, leading to a Santana-like solo.

Very jazzy then as we go into “For America”, ragtime piano and bubbling organ (ooer!) with some very cool guitar work, and yes it’s another instrumental, which brings us to “Captain Supernatural”, a Bowie tribute if ever there was one. You can almost sing “Space Oddity” to it as it begins. Sounds like brass here (sax or trumpet maybe) but I don’t see any credited, so I don’t know. The album finishes on the most appropriately-titled closing track ever, as “End” leads us out with some ambient, spacy organ work which then develops into a real workout on the keys with one last vocal to wrap things up. Nice.

Favourite track(s): I’d have to say I like just about everything here.
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: A pretty damn fine album, and a good way to end the review of the year 1970. I’m not certain it would fit in with what would have been considered progressive rock at the time, necessarily, but for what it is, it’s damn good.
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