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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Fents, USA

The Fents - s/t. 1979 private (EP).
The Fents - First Offense. 1982 VIP (later on the Not Yachting label).

When I first got together with my good friend Jeff in the late 1980s, we did what any two fanatical music fans do: Bring new tunes over to discover. By that time I had a pretty decent collection of rare progressive rock LPs from Italy, Germany, France, Scandinavia, etc... and Jeff possessed a lot from the US, England and Japan. And Jeff was also way ahead of the curve when it came to fusion. I wasn't as keen on the sounds of the 1980s back then, so some of the obscurities he brought over were lost on me. The Fents "First Offense" was one of those albums. A couple of years ago, Midwest Mike sent me a pile of CD-R's and this was included amongst them. That reignited my interest.

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I finally managed to get together again (we're lucky if we see each other once a year these days) for a day of food, beer, wine and of course music. And this time, I was hell bent on picking up one of his extra Fents LPs.

There's no question that "First Offense" is of 1982 vintage, especially after taking in the opening track. Funky slap bass, synthesizers and slick production qualities are laid out early and offer a somewhat dubious beginning. Perhaps a First Offense indeed. But The Fents were far more interesting than that, and as the album unfolds, a sophisticated blend of instrumental jazz and rock emerges, with complicated rhythms, smoking solos, and grittier sounds. The band themselves were influenced by some of the leading fusion artists of the day like Bruford, Holdsworth and the Dixie Dregs, and those artists' fingerprints are all over this.

Perhaps even more surprising on this visit with Jeff was his rediscovery of the very rare first EP. This album contains 4 songs, and a decidedly rougher edge - more akin to the progressive rock meets fusion bands of the late 70s. A CD that contains both of these albums would be ideal. The Fents finished their career with the 1987 album "The Other Side", which I understand was pressed on CD at the time of release.

Of interest to modern progressive rock fans, keyboardist Adam Holzman now occasionally plays with none other than Steven Wilson.

I'm having no luck finding the first EP's cover online. Obviously a rare artifact. I'll see if I can get Jeff to scan his in.

The second cover I have posted here is the original pressing of "First Offense", and is from a current ebay auction.

Priority: 3

1 comment:

Adam Holzman said...



I have done a nice transfer from the original vinyl of the Fents EP, and I am happy to fill a few custom orders! $15 bucks for the CD (with restored artwork).

Folks can email me about this at adamhjaneg@aol.com

FYI, this was a demo record we made while Ted and I were in college.

-Adam Holzman

p.s. I will be on tour with Steven Wilson for most of 2013, keep an eye out!