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Friday, March 11, 2011

Passenger, England

Passenger - Jail Notes. 1977 Mulbery.

Another of the latest batch from The Alaskan Connection. This would typically be a main list afterthought, but given the rarity and the fact that I know many of you are interested in this one - I figured it was worth an entry and some commentary.

This one has been on my curiosity list for a long time, ever since first seeing it in one of those Pokora books. After hearing it, you have to wonder why records like this get hyped. Personally, I think people all the time incorrectly use the word hype and over-hype. Generally I see folks use it when they disagree with an accepted standard viewpoint. "Anglagard's Hybris is over hyped!!" That's not hype, that's a difference of opinion. Hype is described as to intensify (advertising, promotion, or publicity) by ingenious or questionable claims, methods, etc... or a swindle, deception, or trick. When I think of hype, I think of the New York Times gushing over a new restaurant that charges $200 a plate and closes in 2 months because everyone hated it. In the music world, hype can simply be described as: Passenger.

Of course, it's easy to understand why a dealer would do this. The record is genuinely rare*. It just doesn't happen to be any good. I'm sure someone out there will say it is awesome, and maybe even mean it. But if you're a fan of progressive rock, or underground sounds, then there's a really good chance you won't like this. Especially at the prices this album is likely to fetch in the open market. Why? Because it's just plain 3 minute-a-track rock. The kind of album that was dime a dozen in the 1970's and now rightfully will cost you 25 cents at your local record fair. Which is why I say it's HYPED.

The AC, as always, nails it by stating "I had heard this was supposed to be some sort of prog album, maybe even in the Canterbury vein. But that was obviously nonsense, as this sounds more like anachronistic soft-psych and folky rural rock, as heard on many a crappy Acid Archives type of album from the US private press scene."

*- Continuing on from above, I have to admit to being a little more than suspicious about this album (though the pressed in 100 copies is probably authentic). Maybe it's a genuine 1970's article, but there are some clues here that state otherwise. The AC kindly provided detailed photos. Strictly limited to 100 copies. Why do that? From what I understand, there was a specific tax law in the UK on why you would want to press an album in only 99 copies - like the Holyground albums for example (that's based on memory, so I may be entirely wrong here about the tax thing). Then there's the 2 cover songs that struck me as odd. First is 'Elizabeth Reid', which is a cover of The Allman Brothers Band 'In Memory of Elizabeth Reed'. Awfully sloppy on the spelling and truncation don't you think? I guess I'm supposed to buy that they were so stoned, they didn't notice? Or that they didn't want to have to pay the rights to cover it? Hmmm... But the one that really caught my attention is 'Indian Summer'. This track is the cover of the namesake band's 'From the Film of the Same Name', one of my all-time favorite early 70s UK progressive rock instrumentals. That's how I noticed it. But seriously? Calling the track 'Indian Summer'? And who the heck would cover Indian Summer in the 1970s anyway? They were always obscure. I could see someone doing that in the 1990s or 2000's. And I'm starting to wonder now if this wasn't put together by some psych collectors. Some other oddities on the back cover. It says "File under Amazing". That's not a 1970's way of stating things. That's more of our own era. A wink-wink type of thing. And how about "This record is not mono; if in doubt consult your dealer". In 1977?? That was a 1960's issue. I dunno - I could be way off base here. So if anyone knows any different, for certain rather than rumor - then please comment away. It's just a bit weird that's all.

In conclusion, the Passenger album isn't terrible. Not in the same way as that awful Mongrel album that is also HYPED. The Indian Summer cover was nicely done for example. A couple of the other songs were well penned I thought, like the opener. It's a 7 on the Gnosis scale.

Thanks again goes to the The AC for helping satiate my curiosity!

Priority: none


Anonymous said...

Wow, I found this while trying to find if someone has ripped this to MP3 to save me the bother.
I have a signed copy of this album.
I belive it is from around 1977.
I got mine as a christmas present from Tim Jones who is a band member. I will tell him about this site and let him comment himself.

Tom said...

Hi Anon,

That would be great! No one else has chimed in yet. Even if it's not from 1977, that doesn't mean it's not worth hearing or owning. There were just a lot of clues pointing to a different era. But like I said, I could be wrong.

- Tom

Anonymous said...

Bit late in the day, but I've just noticed this post. You might not like the album, but it's definitely a 1977 pressing. The reason for earlier UK prog/psych/folk albums being pressed in quantities of 99 copies was because Purchase Tax kicked in when 100 copies or more were produced. But Purchase Tax was abolished in 1973 and replaced by Value Added Tax - which meant that it didn't make any difference whether albums were pressed in 99 or 100 copies. So pre-1973 limited edition UK albums would be pressed in 99 copies rather than 100, but anything after that date would be the round figure. Simple really.

Tom said...

Hi Anon,

That wasn't the crux of my argument though. As you noted, the tax law situation had been removed by 1977. So again, I ask why anyone would release something in a quantity of a 100? In 1977, you couldn't even recoup your costs for that small amount. That would be even hard to do today, much less in 1977 when albums were relatively more expensive to produce. Read my other points though. I'm not saying I'm right, just postulating a theory. No one's refuted them yet. You say it's "definitely a 1977 pressing". OK - I want to believe you. Tell me why it's authentic then. Address my other concerns. It looks phony baloney to me.

Thanks for the comment!

- Tom

Mike said...

If it's any help, I got my copy of this album from a charity shop in the early 90s for about 25p. I've always liked it. Played it yesterday and googled it which brought me here. I doubt if my copy is worth much though. It's probably good + condition at best and the cover has a big tear on it! I seem to remember from earlier research that one of the band members now worked on The Orient Express.

Tom said...

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the comment! I could believe the album was pressed in the late 80s or early 90s for certain.


- Tom