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Old 03-12-2023, 09:01 PM   #301 (permalink)
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Album title: Spring
Artist: Spring
Nationality: English
Label: RCA
Chronology: Debut
Grade: C
PA Rating: 3.78
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Tracklisting: The Prisoner (Eight By Ten)/ Grail/ Boats/ Shipwrecked Soldier/ Golden Fleece/ Inside Out/ Song to Absent Friends (The Island)/ Gazing
Comments: Like, I guess, the NWOBHM ten years later, so many hopeful prog bands rose in the early 1970s only to sink back down into obscurity, having failed to make their mark with their one or two (or occasionally, three) albums, and were never heard from again. Has anyone ever heard of Spring? Not me, that’s for sure, and they managed to get two albums out between 1971 and 1974, neither of which did a thing. Was there a reason for this, or did they just get lost in the overall morass of wannabe prog bands trying to kick their way to the surface and swim alongside the big boys?

Well it’s very seventies indeed when it begins, but is it prog? Give me a chance: I’m only one or two minutes in here! Nice sort of pastoral opening to “The Prisoner”, though I have to admit I’m not a fan of the singer’s voice. Kind of sounds more like sixties folk rock really, which I know contradicts what I said a moment ago; it just gives me that sort of vibe now. Hmm. Looks like they have not one, not two, but three Mellotrons! Well I have to say at the moment their sound does not reflect that: I can barely hear one. Anyway “Grail” is a slower, more laid-back track with some nice twelve-string guitar and gets a bit more dramatic as it goes on - guess that’s the Mellotron coming through. Quite pleasant song. The next is barely two minutes, guitar-driven and very folky indeed.; you could imagine a guy singing it with just his acoustic guitar, which is kind of almost how it goes down here.

It runs directly into “Shipwrecked Sailor”, which has a biting guitar riff and certainly gives the album a kick up the arse, but is it any better than what has gone before? Nah not really but the next one has promise. “Golden Fleece” is the longest track at just under seven minutes and has a nice lush keyboard melody with some peppy guitar work too, decent amount of power and energy in it. Sort of reminds me of the Moody Blues in one way. The only track that has made me actually sit up and take notice. So far, anyway. “Inside Out” is again heavier with a big guitar punch but then sort of slides into a sub-Beatles groove, which is disappointing after the rather excellent previous track. This is banal to the nth degree, and despite the Mellotrons it really doesn’t scream prog rock to me at all. Nice little passage with glockenspiel, and it does sort of “prog up” in the midsection, but that only makes the song look more like it has no idea what it wants to be, ends up falling between two (or more) stools and falling on its face.

That leaves us with two tracks before we’re done, and “Song to Absent Friends (The Island)” is the second-shortest at just under three minutes, a… song I don’t have as it’s not on the YouTube. How weird. Have to see if I can hunt it down. Maybe it’s not worth it, but still, gotta try. Until then, “Gazing” is the closer, with a nice powerful lush Mellotron opening and ringing guitar but again it’s for me more a pastiche of folk and some prog. I mean, it’s not bad. Managed to get that missing track, and it’s a nice soft piano ballad, worth tracking down for sure. Overall though I don’t see anything here that pointed the way to greatness for this band. I see a lot of enthusing and gushing praise for them in reviews, but personally I don’t agree. They were all right, they had their moments, but they weren’t good enough to survive and thrive in the new progressive rock soil being seeded by bands like Camel, Genesis, Yes and King Crimson. Not weeds, as such, but far from the hardy annuals these other bands became. Easily uprooted and disposed of, come spring. Sorry.

Favourite track(s): Golden Fleece, Song to Absent Friends (The Island)
Least favourite track(s): Inside Out
Personal Rating: 2.50
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Old 03-12-2023, 09:08 PM   #302 (permalink)
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Album title: Los Jaivas aka Volantín
Artist: Los Jaivas
Nationality: Chilean
Label: Self-released
Chronology: Debut
Grade: C
PA Rating: 2.65
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Factsheet:
Tracklisting: Cacho /La Vaquita /Por Veinticinco Empaná /Tamborcito De Milagro /Que O La Tumba Serás /Foto De Primera Comunión /Ultimo Día /Bolerito
Comments: I can’t be one hundred percent certain (six years since I began this now) but I feel this may be the first prog artist we’ve had from Chile, if not from the continent of South America. I expect to hear some pretty ethnic stuff here, though when it starts it’s an almost music-hall piano melody; this quickly fades out though and here come the national instruments, some sort of horn with an organ, thumping, slow drums and a kind of chanted vocal, obviously in Portuguese (or is it Spanish? One of the Latin languages anyway). Yeah, looking at the album’s notes I see such things as maracas, caja, cultrun, trutruca and guiro, none of which I know anything about, other than the maracas of course. So you have a pretty authentic I guess South American sound, but is it prog? Well, so far I’d say no, but this is only the first track so let’s give it a chance.

“La Vaquita” starts off with congas and a whole lot of flute, certainly brings to mind hot nights up in the Andes maybe, or gatherings in the Amazonian rain forest if I had a clue what I was talking about, pretty evocative anyway, but still more what I’d class as World Music or South American traditional if such a thing exists, which I’m sure it does. Keep expecting some Ewoks to come out and start dancing! I would however have to say that so far this is not for me and this could be a struggle. Now it sounds like the Orangemen marching down the Falls Road on the Twelfth! Whistles and annoying drums and some ****er chanting - there’s no way this is prog. How can this even be considered slightly prog? Like listening to a bunch of Clangers. Shut up, they were cute and remind me of my childhood.

Next one’s just a confusing mess of percussion and xylophone and low chanting, though at least “Que O La Tumba Serás” isn’t as bad, with some nice guitar and peppy flutes and some actual singing. The only one so far that has come even within spitting distance of being prog - and it really isn’t, it’s just the one that comes closest - is “Foto De Primera Comunión” but I have to qualify this by also pointing out that the singer is pretty woeful. I mean, maybe this is ok for traditional or indigenous singing, but for prog it’s way below par. At least there’s an almost Carlos Santana guitar, but the percussion rises above far too much here to make it in any way enjoyable, there’s no keyboards and it just doesn’t do anything for me. Well, I gave it its chance, and a fair one, and now I’m dropping it, and just waiting it out. One more track to go. I won’t be listening to these guys again. All right, this one isn’t bad and it is quite catchy; like the idea of the church bells at the end, though for me they’re more in the nature of death knells than ones of celebration.

Favourite track(s): Foto De Primera Comunión
Least favourite track(s): Everything else
Personal Rating: 0.5
Legacy Rating: 0.0
Final Rating: 0.5

This is, as you can see, the very lowest rating I've given any album since I began this journal. I even considered giving it a zero, but hell, I have one favourite track so that has to count for something, even if not much.
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