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Friday, December 27, 2013

Trust, France

Trust - Le Mutant. 1970 Philips

Another one from the CD-R revisit pile...

"Le Mutant" is basically a French pop rock album, with a distinct British proto-prog feel where The Beatles have to be considered an obvious influence here, despite it all being sung in French. Similar to countrymen Iris and M.O.T.U.S. in that same way. Not as adventurous as the first two albums from Alain Markusfeld, for example. Speaking of which, it is rumored that both Markusfeld (guitar) and Jacky Chalard (bass) play on this (though uncredited). Non-essential fluff for the most part, but a good one to hear for specialists. This Trust is not related to the French hard rock group of the same name that later supplied Iron Maiden with its drummers.

Priority: none

Monday, December 23, 2013

News: Latest announcements from Lion Productions


I haven't heard any of these, but they look interesting enough to call out. And we know Lion will do a top notch job on them! Presumably, if you've been following my blog, you know the Laurence Vanay's are available now. LP's are on their way early next year as well. Don't miss those gems! As well, Probe 10 looks like a February 2014 release - can't wait for that one!

OK, onto the latest batch, with descriptions provided by the label:

The CASE "Blackwood" LP edition—catalogue number: (LION LP-119); UPC: 778578311919; CD edition—catalogue number: (LION 659); UPC: 778578065928: Blackwood. The title alone is portentous, at the very least semi-evil sounding. Fear not, there are no devils, demons, or witches lurking in these woods. Instead we have a heretofore almost completely unknown and rarely spoken of album of nine original tracks, self-released on the legendary RPC Records label by a group of self-motivated teens from Pennsylvania. Luckily for lovers of musical mayhem, the Case got access to their school music room and a four-track recorder over a Christmas break in 1971. A rock-solid, hard-driving rhythm section lays down the necessary underpinning for moody organ and beautifully-toned guitar. There is sheer joy at play here, a kind of rock 'n' roll exuberance—with ample raw talent and wicked riffing—which shines through on every cut. Terrific raw, primitive album, simultaneously loose and intense, like the Velvet Underground at their best. • American primitive album recorded in 1971 by very advanced high-schoolers during their Christmas vacation, self-released on the legendary RPC Records label • Color insert includes notes by the band + rare photos • Both formats limited to 500 copies

FUSIÓN "Top Soul" (LION 673); UPC: 778578067328: Impossible to find jazz/soul/funk monster by Fusión, issued in Chile in 1975 by ALBA (ALD-041)—a fulsome combination of funk, electric jazz, and soul, with Latin roots. Bassist Enrique Luna had lived and studied art in New York, and knew first-hand the last, avant-garde years of John Coltrane, and Miles Davis’ mutation from hard bop trendsetter into an electric jazz pioneer; Matias Pizarro had appeared on the scene in the mid-60s as a young pianist of outstanding technical ability and advanced ideas. Together they formed a band around a core of Peruvian musicians, with soloists including David Estánovich (tenor sax) and Lautaro Rosas (guitar), plus a rhythm trio of Mario Lecaros (electric piano, former Village Trio), and Orlando Avendaño (drums), with guest appearances by trumpeter Daniel Lencina, and young percussionist Santiago Salas (Santa y su gente). Censorship during the Chilean military regime meant heavy restrictions on the artists in the local jazz/soul/funk scene. Thus the Fusión album was pressed in a very limited quantity, and never legally re-issued—until now! Comes with a bi-lingual booklet which explores the story of Fusión in the context of the rich Chilean rock music scene.

SANTA Y SU GENTE (SANTA & HIS PEOPLE) (LION 674); UPC: 778578067427: In the 1970's in Chile, recording anything was complicated. The state-owned IRT label was administered by the military. Domestic releases gave way to an invasion of foreign music. Recitals or concerts were impossible—at most a group could hope for one appearance on television, or a very low-key event—this was the reality of the music world after the coup. Yet a few groups had the good fortune to overcome the prevailing censorship: this was the case with Santa y su Gente (Santa and his People). Santiago Salas was a percussionist stepped in jazz. It was he who assembled a band with musicians of the caliber of Lautaro Rosas and Mario Lecaros. The latter was a powerful musician, who would appear in other jazz fusion projects in those difficult years, and then leave Chile together to do an impressive job abroad with his group Comet. The one and only album of Santa y su Gente, “Urgente,” was released by RCA/IRT/Alba in 1974. This album is very rare, and therefore not very well known; but it contains all you can ask for: a Latin Afro-jazz fusion, half salsa and half Afro, with something powerful to say. Highly recommended. Comes with a bi-lingual booklet which explores the story of Santa y su Gente in the context of the rich Chilean rock music scene.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Montoro, Spain

Montoro - Esencia. 1991 Perfil-Divucsa.

And yet another CD-R revisit. This album would be at the tail end of the LP only era, before CDs became de rigueur. 20 years later, LP only releases are back in fashion. Who would have thunk?

Montoro's sole album is a good example of Flamenco Rock, past the 1970's glory days of course. The spiritual successor to Triana's “Sombra y Luz” as it were. Make no mistake, this album is as commercial as it is progressive. But it features fine lead guitar, excellent Arabian vocals, and thoughtful compositions. Much better than contemporary Medina Azahara, for example. Worth hearing, though not exemplary by any means.

Priority: none

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Plebb, Sweden

Plebb - Yes It Isn't It. 1979 private

And we continue with the CD-R revisit project.

Plebb are in essence a hard rock band with that patented twin guitar attack. They offer a smorgasbord of musical styles presenting the instrumental palette of two guitars, bass, and drums. With "Yes It Isn't It" you will hear reggae influenced hard rock ('Reaggie IIb'); Brilliantly intense dual guitar jamming like the Dutch group Cargo ('Push Box'); Hard rock party music ('Rockaria'); Early riffing metal with nice melodic leads ('Tankar om Natten'); Heavy rock balladry / proto Power Pop like early 80's Scorpions ('Förflutet'); Instrumental dual acoustic guitar ('Psst'); And proggy hard rock ('Fresh Fish'). Some of the lead electric guitar work presented here is truly sublime. Swedish vocals add an exotic touch, for us English speakers anyway. 'Push Box' and 'Tankar Om Natten" are the highlights for sure. This album has grown on me over time.

Priority: 3

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Bigroup, England

The Bigroup - Big Hammer. 1971 Peer International

More from the CD-R revisit project... Moving away from the US bands for the time being.

In today's culture, one might presume the Bigroup to be some sort of avant garde transsexual troupe. But most likely in 1971, it stood for nothing more than "The Big Group". Then again, they do have a composition entitled 'Blow-Suck Blues', so perhaps they were ahead of their time after all? Musically, however, they sound more like a late 60s group than a pioneering cutting edge post-Swinging London progressive band from 1971. "Big Hammer" is, in effect - if not actually the case - an all instrumental film library psychedelic album with copious flute, sitar, surf guitar, and roller rink organ. There's not much in the way of compositional development, which would be typical of the incidental film music genre. Somewhat similar to the Italian groups like Blue Phantom, Psycheground Group, or Fourth Sensation. Fun stuff.

Priority: 3

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Second Coming, USA

Second Coming - The Second Coming. 1970 Mercury

Another one from the CD-R revisit pile, though in this case, I went ahead and bought the vinyl afterward (it's not an expensive record for those of you in the market for one). The cover above is that copy, since there really wasn't good scan out there. Comes in a nice gatefold. There's also a UK press with a different cover (and considerably more expensive).

Second Coming are an old school horn rock band originally on Mercury Records (also the label behind the even better horn rock band Aura). I’m probably one of the world’s biggest horn rock fans, but it’s rare to find albums in this style with any kind of consistency. And Second Coming are no exception. They’ll mix a brilliant 7 piece instrumental with simplistic blues and pop music. Their arrangements were a little tighter than most, and they actually allowed their guitar player to go in frenzied Terry Kath mode, which is what kept the early Chicago albums interesting (and kept them rooted in the underground). Second Coming take this inconsistency even a bit further, and have brilliant moments within each track - along with the ordinary. For example, the staccato trumpet and drum corps bit on 'Requiem for a Rainy Day' is about as good as it gets. 'Landlubber' and the 11 minute progressive oriented 'Jeremiah Crane' also have much to recommend with some fiery guitar solos, and wonderful brass charts. But the boozy woozy numbers 'Take Me Home' and 'Roundhouse' are wretched in comparison, though the latter features a fine bluesy guitar solo at least. Tracks like "Requiem.." and 'It's Over' most certainly had major hit potential, but it wasn't meant to be I guess. A very talented band, that time has forgotten. Worth seeking out for fans of the style.

Priority: 3

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pulse, USA

Pulse - s/t. 1968 Poison Ring. Also 1969 Major Minor (UK)

Next from the CD-R revisit pile:

Pulse are a heavy blues rock band from New Haven, Connecticut. I particularly enjoy the heavy tone coming from the guitar and the appropriate-for-the-genre gruff voice. There's quite a bit of harmonica to sit through, which is unfortunately one of my least favorite instruments. For the style, Pulse is a cut above the norm. Some of the tracks are lengthy and as such, they’ll throw in a creative idea or two with respect to composition and instrumentation. Still, in the end, nothing to get overly excited about. A classic period piece.

Priority: none

Friday, December 13, 2013

Valhalla, USA

Valhalla - s/t. 1969 United Artists

And we continue the CD-R revisit project...

Valhalla's sole album is more typical of the "USA confused year of 1970" than 1969. You can tell they are shedding their psychedelic past, yet that sound is still very prominent in Valhalla's repertoire. Certainly UK bands like Deep Purple had a profound influence on Valhalla and there's also an obvious - what we now call - proto-progressive sound with a strong organ presence. Comparisons to bands like Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly wouldn't be out of place either. Definitely worthy of a professional reissue. At this point, the album is languishing in the gutters of the pirate market.

Priority: 3

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Randy Holden, USA

Randy Holden - Population II. 1970 Hobbit.

Next one up for the CD-R revisit project...

After playing on one half of a Blue Cheer album, Holden launched this literally named solo album with the addition of the drummer from Kak (hence a population of 2). For fans of loud, bluesy guitar and screaming gruff vocals with pounding 4/4 rhythms, then here you go. No tricky meters and any of that art school stuff here, just blitzed out hard rock - one style, all the time. This album has to be the source of the "just turn the amps to 11" gag. So uncompromising, it was bound to be a cult classic. And it is. Limited appeal, but too obscure to fall into the wrong hands. 

There is a legit LP reissue put out by Holden himself in 2005, but never pressed on CD (legit that is - there are plenty of bootlegs out there). Perhaps the prevailing thought is that you need the fuzz on the needle for this one anyway. :-)

Priority: 3

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sapphire Thinkers, USA

Sapphire Thinkers - s/t. 1969 Hobbit.

More from the CD-R revisit project...

At its core, Sapphire Thinkers are a psych pop band. Sometimes complex, while elsewhere a naïve simplicity is brought forth. All the tracks save the close are between the 2 and 4 minute mark. Reference groups are Strawberry Alarm Clock, Crosby Stills & Nash, The Free Design, and Phluph. Very good album, though not exceptional, despite flashes of brilliance ('I Feel a Bit Strange', 'Not Another Night', and 'Doin' Alright' in particular) with some good fuzz guitar and flute. Boots exist on LP and CD.

Priority: 3

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

News: Steve Linnegar's Snakeshed to be reissued by Guerssen

Thanks to a note from Steve Linnegar's sister, Diane, we learned today that "Classic Epics" will be coming out on CD from Guerssen. Now of course Guerssen is more known to all of us for LP reissues (and we presume it will also come out in on vinyl as well), but they have done CD issues in the past. Definitely welcome news! Our feature for the album here.

Phluph, USA

Phluph - s/t. 1968 Verve.

Next one up on the CD-R revisit project. This album received a CD press from Akarma in 2001, but like most of their US releases, the origins of the rights are dubious at best. So, at the very least, we are calling for a better reissue from a specialist label like Sundazed or Lion, with new liner notes from the band and an attempt at using the master tapes.

Phluph were like many one-offs during the psych era - faceless, nameless, and a $1 cutout bin special. On the clueless Verve label, and lost in the shuffle with many of their Boston ("Bosstown Sound") contemporaries, Phluph went away with barely a murmur. Starts off in typical lame-o psych / rock territory. But then it takes an interesting turn towards the weird by the third track (though perhaps  not weird enough). One distinguishing characteristic of Phluph's sound is the prominent use of organ. Has that carnival sound, like The Doors, but the similarities end there. Some surprising fuzz guitar outbursts too. Even a rare progressive rock move here and there. A very good listen that grows on you over time.

Priority: 3

Monday, December 9, 2013

Velvert Turner Group, USA

Velvert Turner Group - s/t. 1972 Family.

More from the CD-R revisit project...

This is one of those albums that had two releases: a Soul and a Rock mix. Of interest to us is the latter of course. Velvert Turner is heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, influenced by classic Jimi Hendrix, whom apparently he had a student/mentor relationship with. On this, his only album, Turner pretty much imitates the vocal and compositional style to perfection. Nice guitar work as well, but of course falls short of the master. A bit too much hero worship here for me to recommend further. Multiple boots exist.

Priority: none

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Purple Image, USA

Purple Image - s/t. 1970 Map City

OK, back to the CD-R revisit project (see the John Bassman Group entry below for a quick explanation). I have a few of these ready to go. Let's see how many I can get out this week.

Purple Image's sole work is nominally a hard rock album with touches of Motown soul pop, which primarily surface via the harmony vocals (especially on 'We Got to Pull Together'). Some good psychedelic guitar and studio phasing are evenly spread throughout the LP. From the ghettos of Cleveland. In comparison to similar bands from that background, Purple Image are not as intense as Philadelphia's Del Jones' Positive Vibes nor "Maggot Brain" era Funkadelic (Detroit). All the same, a worthy listen if you can track a copy down. Bootlegs exist on both LP and CD, but nothing legitimate has surfaced to date.

Priority: none

Saturday, December 7, 2013

News: Wooden Hill reissues rare Charge demo album from the UK

Saw this one come over the wire today. This was one of many obscure Kissing Spell reissues that first popped up in the mid 1990s, which is why I never put it in the main list. According to the below, this is the first authorized version, and it appears to include significant bonus material. I wouldn't mind hearing this album again - it sort of blew by without notice nearly 20 years ago. Wooden Hill is an interesting label. They tend to come up with one intriguing reissue every year or two.

Label says: "Recorded in January 1973 as a demo-only pressing to hawk around the major record companies of the era, heavy rock trio Charge's frenzied, guitar-drenched album was counterfeited on both vinyl and CD in the 1990s, and consequently is now firmly established as one of the most legendary rarities to escape from the early Seventies British psychedelic/progressive underground scene. This first-ever authorised reissue adds a previously undocumented LP from twelve months earlier and tells the band's story for the first time. With re-mastered sound and a 12-page booklet with numerous hitherto-unpublished photos, this is the definitive issue of a definitive album!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

News: Bureau B reissues Gunter Schickert's "Kinder in Der Wildnis"!

Apparently this is the year of reissues for one Gunter Schickert! This was the last of his solo releases to not find its way onto CD prior (only on CD-R). Perhaps next will be the GAM "1976" cassette?

I just learned of this release today via the Wayside catalog updates (also reissued on vinyl). Strange I had not seen a single update regarding this, even though it's been out for close to two weeks now. I guess I'll need to start scanning the Bureau B website for updates!

Anyway, great news - and entirely unexpected!

Friday, November 29, 2013

News: Strawberry Rain and Majemuk Records to reissue Abbhama from Indonesia

And speaking of albums I never got around to giving its own post, but have in the main list ("The Original CD Wish List"), here's one that I most assuredly would have eventually covered. And now I don't have to! Abbhama is an interesting album that mixes English Big 3 progressive rock with Asian pop music. I believe it was only issued as a cassette prior, similar to many Indonesian items from the 70s and 80s.

Here's the news announcement from Strawberry Rain: "One of the nice things about trading and collecting records is you meet people around the world.  One person I’ve dealt with for many years now, and developed a strong friendship with is AGUS from Jakarta, Indonesia.  Due to the amount of work we’ve both put in to the region, we’ve decided to combine forces to help bring the best products and licenses to both the World market, and Indonesian markets.  This will not only improve our overall output, but it will help the Indonesian market to get reissues in a more efficient manner.  Our first joint contract was finished today, and we’re proud to announce the upcoming release of the progressive rock “ABBHAMA BAND”, which we’ll release together on LP and CD for the first time ever!  This means both Strawberry Rain and Majemuk Records will be releasing “ABBHAMA BAND” on LP and CD in a joint venture, splitting the pressing across our regions respectfully.  I will also be supporting and helping to distribute all of Majemuk Records releases, and Majemuk will continue to support Strawberry Rain within the Indonesian region.  Look out for many projects from both labels, including Marcell Thee which is currently in production!"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

John Bassman Group, Netherlands

John Bassman Group - Filthy Sky. 1970 A.S.P. (Germany)

I've got a whole new batch of rarities that have come in - some came from even before I finished the last series. I haven't had a chance to listen to any of those yet, and I'm targeting January/February to launch the 2014 Rarities Series.

In the meantime, I've been revisiting old CD-R's that I have laying about. Most of these are in the CDRWL now. Some have already been published with their own post, and on those I'm just updating the entries as I go (small tweaks to the reviews - maybe a priority change one point up or down). If there are any significant changes, I will let everyone know.

In addition to the small revisions, many of the titles never got their own post. In some cases, I still won't bother, but in others - such as this series of posts I have coming up - I think they're worthy. The reason this happened was - if you recall - I had moved to blogspot from my personal website (in 2009). So I was posting one album a day. But I was trying to focus on only the very best titles. As such, many of the titles just fell through the cracks. And John Bassman Group is a good example of that.

"Filthy Sky" is mostly run of the mill blues rock – some tracks are closer to the country barn than to the cities' dark brick alleyways. There are a couple of great tracks – especially 'His Name Was Tom', which has some of the coolest wah wah effects this side of Amon Duul II’s “Tanz Der Lemming”. The slow burn of 'Two Rings' is also not to be missed. There's some real junk on here too, namely the country/blues/gospel duo of 'Teddy Boy's Blues' and 'Sing a Song at my Grave'. And I've never been a fan of the selfish look-at-us hippy dippy rock of 'Woodstock Generation'. 'Can You Dig It' oddly reminds me of a jangly Black Sabbath 'Paranoid'. The John Bassman Group features a mix of XX and XY vocals. Might appeal to fans of Affinity and Goliath, but there's not near enough meat on the bones here to satisfy the hungry psych collector.

There is a legit LP on Missing Vinyl of Greece. But no legit CD to date.

Priority: none

Friday, November 22, 2013

News: Eloiteron's "Lost Paradise" to be reissued by Belle Antique

Well it's been a long time, if ever, that we received news on a Friday night for a new CD reissue. The always surprising Belle Antique (Marquee) of Japan have announced their intention to reissue Eloiteron's sole album on December 20th, in their usual mini-LP format. I couldn't find any supplemental reissue news around this - that is to say maybe something indigenous to Switzerland - but we know Belle Antique does things the right way, and achieves official rights upfront. Let's just hope they get a fine mastering on this like Old Man & the Sea and not like the tinny Aquarelle.

We featured Eloiteron years ago, and fortunately I own the original LP in case things go south.

As an aside, Panna Fredda's brilliant album will also be reissued in Japan for the first time by Belle Antique. I have both the original LP and the BTF CD, but might splurge for the extra Japanese copy here to see what they do with it.

And heck, while I'm at it, look for Abus Dangereux's debut and the Surya album to come out on Belle Antique as well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

News: Jimmy, Yoko & Shin to be reissued on Think

Here's one I was planning on featuring for a long time, and just never got around to doing it. And now I don't have to, thanks to a tip from Laser Ken! Disc Union's jazz based label Think will be reissuing this scarce album from the progressive keyboard trio of Jimmy, Yoko and Shin. Though it was originally on Three Blind Mice - a label that is becoming increasingly collectable amongst jazz collectors "in the know" - the music on "Sei Shonagon" falls squarely in the progressive rock camp. I was most reminded of the obscure archival release by Mahoujin, that we featured over on the UMR a long while back.

I'm buying!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

News: Shroom Angel to issue archival album by Chameleon

Great to see fellow Texans' Shroom Angel getting back into the game. My home state was purportedly home to many progressive rock bands throughout the 70s, and yet so very few have surfaced. But Shroom certainly have done their part, as have others (Hands in particular, which was practically in my back yard growing up in NW Dallas, and yet I never knew of them!).

By description, Chameleon sound exactly like my kind of American band toiling away in the local clubs. Shroom says: "Previously unreleased vintage studio tracks spanning 1976 to 1978. Beginning in the early 1970s and continuing until 1980, this relatively unknown band from Houston managed to record a stunning collection of songs that are the musical expression of the word Chameleon. Twisting and turning, changing colors, leaping out of your speakers at times with unbridled ferocity- this band will hold your attention throughout the 70+ minutes contained on this disc. Musicians Spencer Clark (guitars, vocals), Mike Huey (drums), Craig Gysler (keys, vocals), and Rick Huey (bass) rounded out the mid-70s line-up with a key change being made later in 1978 with the addition of Marty Naul (Oz Knozz) on drums. The band's sound and style reflect the artists they listened to and loved yet at the same time they managed to craft their own unique tones. One may hear reflections of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, Canterbury heavyweights Camel, King Crimson, Dixie Dregs, and Eloy in their music."

In addition to this title, Shroom also announced their intention to release an archival CD/LP from a Dallas rock band called Shotgun. Apparently they received area radio play on the legendary KZEW from 1976 to 1978. The summer of 1977 is when I first started tuning in attentively to "The Zoo", but I just can't remember Shotgun. But that was a looong time ago, and I was only 12 years old. It appears they were a straightforward rock band with female vocals, but the descriptions I've read aren't very telling. I may get it just because of the local connection.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Metaphysical Animation, USA

Metaphysical Animation - s/t. 1973 private.

Well, after much ado, here we are. You know, we all hear so many rarities... so many things that just don't live up to expectations, that it seems unreal something as sublime as Metaphysical Animation's sole album can actually even exist. We often see the term HOLY GRAIL used in ebay auctions. And yet, if it's available for auction, how can it be a Holy Grail? My definition of a Holy Grail is Metaphysical Animation. That is, something you're not likely to ever witness. We are talking about an album that has existed for exactly 40 years in the wilds of the record stores/flea markets/warehouses throughout the world, and it is just now being discovered for the first time. And did I actually discover it? No, I did not. But the AC did. No, he really did. As in, he invested over $150 of his own money on some demo LP listed on ebay that no one had heard of, nor ever spoke of. It wasn't listed with any key terms that we all look for. It was just a demo album thrown out there and by pure happenstance, the AC stumbled onto it. Right time, right place. Fortunately, three short samples were put up, which helped mitigate the risk somewhat, but not too many folks are going to blow a good amount of money on a few snippets of sound. So he was taking a big chance. But the payoff on this one is the equivalent of a Vegas multi-casino jackpot.

After meeting with 3 of the 4 band members, between them only one copy was saved for posterity. It has been, it appears, completely sold out at the source as they like to say in the marketplace.

Here's how the AC first introduced the album to me. And before I do that, you know him as well as I do now. He does NOT exaggerate, or foam at the mouth for the smallest of rarities. So when I saw this, I about fell off my chair: "Okay, here it is. By far the biggest discovery of my record collecting "career" (so to speak), and one that may go down as among the more significant finds in American prog history..... But, something like this really does make you wonder what could still be lurking out there, languishing undiscovered in some dusty warehouse, on the very brink of extinction..."

As it was so eloquently stated on the incredible TV show The Wire once: "Omar listenin'"

"Part 1: The band Metaphysical Animation was first formed in 1968 in Gainesville, Florida, and later ended up in the Miami area. Their sound and lineup evolved gradually over this time, eventually coalescing around the core of guitarist Alberto de Almar and keyboardist Bill Sabella. They gigged around the small clubs of the area regularly, and by 1972 were ready to record an album. By then the lineup consisted of de Almar and Sabella, along with drummer Robbie Hanson and bassist Steve Margolis (another bassist, Larry Jessup, also played with them around this time). The album was recorded that same year at a professional studio in the area, over the course of one or two sessions. They had a test pressing made of it, but were never able to secure a record deal and soon disbanded. The musicians went their own separate ways, with Alberto de Almar ending up in another local band named Faustus, who opened up for some of the larger rock acts that toured the area. By 1976 they too had called it quits, and I believe de Almar then left Florida to pursue more advanced musical education elsewhere. 

Part 2: The album: Less than 50 copies were pressed, housed in a plain white demo sleeve with the band name hand-written in pen on the cover. Now here's where we get to the most amazing part: It's a double LP set, clocking in at nearly 65 minutes in total! I'm not sure if I know of any other instance where an unreleased test press of an underground band like this was done as a double LP. Anyway it seems that they had a sort of uncompromising attitude and never really did try to market it too hard. After failing to be signed, they sold most of the few remaining copies at local gigs, which might account for why no other examples seem to have survived. A few comments on this album's actual discovery: The seller who ended up with this apparently dug it up in a warehouse find that may have been associated with the particular (long defunct) pressing plant where these LPs were actually made, which would explain how it managed to survive these 40 years at all. This lone copy was buried amongst a bunch of other test presses, all the rest of which were just various 45s of local radio jingles and other such ephemera. 

Part 3: The music I'll say right now that I think this album is fantastic, pretty much from start to finish, which is quite an accomplishment considering its unusual length. The basic style here could probably be summed up as classic 70s prog, with significant elements of fusion and psychedelic rock. But this band really had its own identifiable sound, which holds firm over the course of the entire sprawling opus, even though there's quite a bit of diversity displayed here as well. Being a bit more specific, the then-recent works of Yes and Mahavishnu Orchestra seem to be obvious building blocks for their style, as well as the more advanced forms of jamming psychedelic rock. Some of their early roots in blues-rock and jazz also peek through just a bit at times, as you might expect from an exploratory band of the era. Finally, Alberto's background as a Spanish guitar player can be heard informing some of the phrasing and rhythms on this album as well. What's really refreshing is that they seem to have come to this synthesis very naturally. As probably only an early 70s group could do, these guys were sort of making it up as they went along, using their influences as a starting point, rather than the be-all end-all. In that sense, they were following the same path of many of their own chronological peers over in continental Europe, especially in Italy and Germany. With all that in mind, let's talk about the individual instrumental performances a bit. First, there's de Almar. His guitar is phenomenal, and often loaded with cool effects, lending a very psychedelic tone. Along with the occasional hint at his Spanish guitar background, there's a sort of "Mclaughlin gone prog" feel to his playing. Then there's the rhythm section, which is very active and nimble, never allowing the music to get stuck in a rut, but also capable of locking into a steady, hypnotic pulse for the intense jamming that frequently breaks out overhead. Last but not least are the keyboards. Oh man... Anyone who's into vintage keys is just going to keel over when they hear this album. The most noticeable thing is Sabella's organ work, which is just over the top incredible. He's able to alternate between dark, spacey textures and extremely intense, choppy soloing like it's second nature to him. Then there's the mellotron. I'm only half kidding when I say that there must be more mellotron on this one album than the entire King Crimson back catalog put together. It seems to be going almost constantly in the background, and other little flourishes are added here and there to great effect. And of course there are plenty of classic synth lines as well. As for the vocals, here is where you'll see the strongest Yes influence. They're definitely Anderson-like, but not in that overly high-pitched and strained style that some Yes-influenced bands insisted on. The lyrics are also mostly in the Anderson mold, with lots of crazy made-up words and weird turns of phrase, spaced-out hippy dippy mysticism, etc. The vocals most definitely take a back seat to the instrumental work, but when they're there, they fit the mood perfectly. As for the sound quality, it's quite good, all things considered. Obviously a bit raw, but still better than many private prog albums that actually did see wide release. To use a relevant example, I'd say that this album actually has a much more pleasing, vital sound than the otherwise excellent Polyphony LP, which I've always thought suffers from a very dull, lifeless production job. 

I read all of that before actually hearing the album. He had submitted it during a particularly crazy busy period in my real life (that is, my paying job). So it took a couple of weeks for me to actually sit down and focus on a 65 minute album. And here was my initial reaction back to the AC, which I have no qualms sharing: "

Wow.

Wow.

This is an absolute jaw dropper. It's almost too good to be true. Normally I would be suspicious, except that it is so authentic in sound. So original, but totally a 1973 context is delivered. It could have only come from the USA in the early 1970s. All your observations are so spot on. I can only imagine how future listens will propel this to one of the all-time great progressive albums from the United States.


My early observations from a comparison standpoint: As you noted, I think Polyphony is about as close as anything. Polyphony itself is an anomaly, since we have so few examples of progressive rock in the US during the early 70s. That statement alone is almost mind blowing. How the US ended up missing on the entire progressive movement in the early 1970s would be a great doctoral study (not even one label like Silence, Brain, Ohr, Trident or any major stepped up). So in some ways, Polyphony was the only one that really got out there. The other album that MA could relate with is the-beyond-underrated Ram "Where in Conclusion" album. That album has the unfortunate street rock opening, but by the time of the side long suite, it features some of the intensity and creativity I hear on MA. And I'd also throw in the Baltimore group Id on "Where are We Going?" Not so much in the song craft (because there really isn't any with Id...), but in the overall guitar / mellotron aural backdrop. One aspect that links all these bands together is the awkward American vocal delivery, that was still prevalent well into the early 1980s.

And the Santana observation you made is astute, and dare I say I hear some Chango here? The organ/guitar rave-ups of Chango are unrivaled anywhere (with the exception of an occasional live Santana show), and yet I hear MA doing the same kind of thing. There are a couple of places where I catch an early Chicago Transit Authority vibe, especially in the vocal song portions. And I feel Chicago was a huge influence on American bands in the early 70s."

If you think the above is all made-up-fantasy, I've spoken with Bill Sabella myself when trying to line up a CD reissue. He informed me that de Almar "went nuts with all the effects and phasing", which he didn't personally enjoy, and he thought it ruined a perfectly good recording. I, of course, couldn't disagree more. But I love the honesty. Bill is a very level headed guy, who has done quite well for himself in "the real world" outside of music, and I found myself bonding with him on many levels beyond the album. As for Alberto de Almar, he is something of a local Miami legend. And you can read some reminiscing about him here. And listen to his current music here.

There's no doubt that the first person who hears this album will rush to chat boards and scream "It's OVERRATED!!!". Or worse it's "OVERHYPED!", as if I actually have something to gain from my personal enthusiasm. Yea, the CDRWL has been a financial boon like you have no idea. I can assure you, this is not my pension plan. To date, I've netted an entire $0 dollars for my endeavors. A lot of grief I get, but no money. And for the overrated crowd, which believe me is coming, do you really think the CDRWL is the barometer for what is worthy and what is not? So save the self-serving declarations please. Because if YOU had discovered this album, you'd be going nuts telling everyone about it. And that's exactly what I'm doing.

Both the AC and I worked behind the scenes for the last year for a CD reissue. The three band members we have spoken with have given tentative approval. The master tapes are long gone, as would be expected I suppose. The first - and only - label I contacted was very interested. We'll see if anything comes of that. If not, we'll go to the next label on the list.

Priority: 1 (ZERO really - this has to be heard by the masses)

And with this, the CDRWL plans on taking an extended break. It's tempting to call it a day right here. It's not likely to ever get better than this. But as long as I'm still buying LPs and CDs, we'll keep the flame on this blog going. I have received numerous other submissions, which I will most certainly entertain at a later date. And, as always, News items will be reported as announced. Look for new rarities in 2014!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tomorrow is the Big Day!


Tomorrow we will unveil our amazing discovery. One of the best progressive rock albums ever made, and it remains a complete unknown as I write this. Not in Gnosis. Not in Discogs. In RYM, with exactly zero ratings. Even the deepest divers don't know this one. Shadoks? No. Strawberry Rain? No. The most knowledgeable collectors in Japan or Russia? No idea of its existence.

All of that is about to change.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

News: Strawberry Rain announces reissue of Julien Grycan album

While we await our big announcement (and there may be a delay, as a new development came along late yesterday - we'll see), we were recently contacted by the good folks behind the Strawberry Rain label. They let us know that the very rare Julien Grycan 1980 album "Post-Atom" will be reissued on CD and LP. Ms. Grycan is a new name for me, but SR stated that it would be of interest to the CDRWL. I believe him! Cool stenciled drawing cover, that's for sure. The photo above comes from a former ebay auction, where the description stated: "French acid folk psych on private label Kiosque d'Orphée . with stoned vocals, effects and great guitars and acidy parts. Like 1st Manset , Denis , en ces jours or Beautiful losers..."

As well, SR filled in more detail on the Mar-Vista album we reported on earlier. This sounds better than I had imagined!  He further describes the album as thus: "Side A is influenced by Ash Ra Tempel, Popol Vuh and even Balinese music and is very killer.  It plays as 1 long song, but it's 6 songs blended with sound effects and strangeness.  It's like a bad dream on vinyl with fuzz, lo-fi vocals like Dandelion, keys, strange loud sound effects flying left to right speaker & looping etc...  but it's not experimental, it's song oriented and progressive. Side B is 1 long song made of synths like Klaus Schulze or Tangerine Dream." Sounds great to me!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Teddybjorn Band, Sweden

Teddybjörn Band - s/t. 1980 Piglet.

Like yesterday's Touch album, I've had the Teddybjörn Band on a Curiosity list for a long time. From an obscurity standpoint, this album is one of the hardest to find. Other than a reference in the now-gone Progg.se site, I never could gather much info about it. So I was very happy to see it as part of The AC's latest batch of goodies. While listening to the album (and enjoying it immensely), I started on a fresh round of research, and I saw that my friend Progvarius had an LP of it for sale. So I jumped on it! Out of this last batch of rarities, I ended up getting Teddybjörn Band and Sidesteps on vinyl, and just missed out on a copy of Rantz. I'm ultimately a vinyl/CD collector first, so this has definitely been a successful series for me. We're getting very close to our big announcement here. I'm writing this 4 days before its publish date, and I might have one more entry before we get to that one (still on schedule for October 15th). Either way, Teddybjörn Band is a great way to begin closing things out.

So who are the Teddybjörn Band anyway? As odd as it may seem, it's a literal name. That is, we have two main protagonists: One named Ted(dy) and another named Bjorn. And then there's "Band", which is an 11 piece group including vocalists. Put that together and you have Teddybjörn Band - or in more familiar terms perhaps, Teddybear Band.

The AC tells us that "Quality Swedish prog. This band had a Samlas connection, which you can sometimes hear in the music." Yep, and I did recognize instantly from the back cover that drummer Hasse Bruniusson is involved here. Now I'm not the world's foremost RIO / Avant Prog fan (the genre can be paradoxically either overly academic or too cartoonish for my tastes) , but I do find Samla Mammas Manna to be one of the better examples of the sound - mixing traditional Swedish folk music with rock instrumentation. This is a long way from the Northside label's variation of same sound. It definitely has more of that 1970s psychedelic recklessness about it - which is what I find appealing about the music. Now in my mind, there's great Samla ("Familjesprickor") and lousy Samla (För äldre Nybegynnare). As you can surmise by now, Teddybjörn Band is the former and its recording date mirrors close with Samla's masterpiece. I doubt I need to say more here. If what I'm saying above fits into your wheelhouse, you'll love Teddybjörn Band. Not sure if Italy's AltRock plans on getting into the reissue market, but if they do, this album fits their oeuvre perfectly.

Priority: 2

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Touch, Germany

Touch - s/t. 1981 Cain

There are about 238 bands out there with the name Touch, so it should be noted this group is not related to any of them - including the other German TOuCH (Tom und Charlie) album we've already covered from my own vinyl collection. This is a title that's resided on my Curiosity List for some time now. Almost 3 years ago, my friend Heavyrock finally sourced a copy (after noting it from my list), but I haven't been back over to his pad since then to check it out. Heavyrock did say it was pretty good, and he's a fairly tough critic, so that was a good sign.

Leave it to The AC to come through once again. His comment was simply: "Strange little "supergroup" led by H.J. Putz (from the first Mythos album) and Zeus B. Held, and also featuring guys who had played with Pell Mell and Guru Guru. Blatant Genesis cloning. A bit poppy at times, but not bad. Hilariously awful cover art." 

Germany certainly had no shortage of bands influenced by Gabriel era Genesis in the late 70s and early 80s including Neuschwanstein, Ivory, Sirius, and a host of others. The populous nation had a head start on the burgeoning NWOBPR scene that was about to take hold in England. Unfortunately there was little market for progressive music in Germany at the time, and all the bands faded rather quickly. Touch features a violinist, and his fine playing recalls Hoelderlin's own Genesis phase ("Clowns and Clouds" specifically). The vocals do resemble the theatrical elements of Mr. Gabriel quite well. The instrumental work throughout is above standard, and I'm impressed with the overall production. The use of Moog sequencing is refreshing in this context. There is, as noted by The AC, a fair amount of commercial pandering - yet another harbinger of the ill-conceived "neo prog" aspect of the once promising NWOBPR movement. The compositions are diverse, and well thought out. Fans of early 80s Genesis inspired progressive music will love this one.

The instrumental work sells this one for me. So I give this a:

Priority: 3

Monday, October 7, 2013

Birth of a New Place (various artists), Germany

V.A. - Birth of a New Place. 1978 Offers Musik.

Here's another one I saw on ebay earlier in the year, and subsequently added it to my Curiosity list (yes, that would be the root list for the CDRWL). But before I could even push it out there to my most knowledgeable friends, The AC had this embedded into his latest submission pile. Cool!

Let's start off with The AC's thoughts: "Very obscure split album/compilation of three unknown German groups. All three (Sloe Gin, Flintsprint and Pythagoras) sort of play in the same style, which could basically be described as laid-back, mainly instrumental, jamming jazzy prog. Pretty good stuff, especially Sloe Gin. Too bad none of them ever released an LP." 

The first two tracks are from Sloe Gin, and I thought they were nothing short of amazing. A real Canterbury vibe exists throughout, with wonderful flute and fuzz guitar soloing. Good soft affected English vocals on the second track as well. This is one of those bands you hope that Garden of Delights or Long Hair would find some obscure archival radio session to release. Reminds me of some of those great bands you'd find on the Umsonst and Draussen albums. Both Flintsprint and Pythagoras have a similar sound, but definitely have less compositional acumen, nor do they possess the instrumental palette of Sloe Gin. The latter in particular sounds like a rhythm track awaiting some front line soloist to jam on top of. Flintsprint sounds like they were about 6 months away from having some significant material (their first track on here is quite good). All in all, a very good compilation - one that is worthy of a reissue on its own. Though even better would be separate albums from Sloe Gin and Flintsprint.

Priority: 3

Sunday, October 6, 2013

J & F Quintet, Switzerland

J & F Quintet - Contrast. 1976 private.

And here's the final submission from He Who Must Not Be Named. All the others I'd already received earlier in the year, and I figured maybe that would be the last I'd ever hear from him again. But as soon as he saw his name in bright lights, here on Monday Night CD Reissue Wish List Football he felt obligated to throw one more out there. Called it a teaser even. I'm afraid of him now. Anyway, came with the usual back story - says he got it from the same Swiss bank deposit box in Geneva as the Sideline, but yadayadayada I say.

Now this is a pure jazz album with a rock subtext. Flute with rock styled rhythms lay the foundation for sax and keyboard (mainly piano) solos. These rock foundations recall no less a luminary than Soft Machine, so they definitely make your head rise when listening. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this album is the use of language. I could swear I heard French and German, and maybe Italian. Heck, maybe even Romansh, therefore covering all the official Swiss languages. Some of the atmospheric flute passages recall the great Lloyd McNeill Quartet. The usually tight lipped HWMNBN offers this: "You MUST report this because of its progressive mix of folk with fusion, along with experimental passages, soft machine 3-type fuzzy fusion noodling in track 2, the whole reminiscent of masterpiece German album Exil Fusionen with its crazed mix of jazz rock and folk, and to top it all off, no one has it - mooohahaha" as the chilling laugh slowly fades into the ether. And as we do immerse ourselves further into Side 2, the album does change its tone from jazz to rock. And goes from very good to extraordinary.

Browsing popsike, I found the following excellent ebay review and recital of the original liner notes: "Very rare private record which really seldom turns up nowadays! Unique style which ranges from funky Jazz to experimental Fusion. All tracks are self composed by the groups member. "L'Auca" is great with a straight funky beat, superb bass line, Sax and Rhodes, excellent Jazz Funk track!! This copy comes with the rare insert sheet! On the backside of the cover is written:   "The J + F Quintet got known as a "Hard-Bop" group in German, French and Swiss Jazz clubs. For the last three years this group has played in the underground, concerning itself with experimental music. The group also finds time for studio recording sessions and film soundtracks.   This record is a representative example of their compositions, containing a wide spectrum of Jazz oriented music. If we here the motif of a folksong or of a classical chord, it doesn't disturb us, on the contrary we feel that the musicians use the different forms and join them with love in a perfect union.   The musicians of the J + F Quintet consider the record to be sketches in sound, and we would like to point them out as sketches of a very contrasty, interesting and lively world.""

This is a deep release, folks. Of the top echelon of jazz releases that experimented with rock structures, energy, and tones. Requires a couple of listens to fully comprehend. One of the better albums to come out of this last batch - and comes highly recommended.

Priority: 2

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Synthesax, Germany

Synthesax - Grundlos. 1981 Leico.

He Who Must Not Be Named strongly suggested I listen to his latest find, which he claims was found from someone in the CIA witness protection program and there was only one pressed or some such nonsense. Where does this guy come from anyway. "So let's get this straight: Band name is Synth Sax and it's from 1981?" I asked exasperated. Then I boldly stated "No thanks Shadowy Figure Who I Can't See. Out of my interest area". Then he starts talking about having CIA agents wandering around my house and office. "Could happen" he droned in his artificially treated voice. OK, OK, I give in. Jeesh.

Of course the album isn't a "Party Sax With Synthesizers" covering-your-favorite-tunes type of album. It was just an unfortunate choice of name for a band. Perhaps had they gone with Mörder Böse, it would have generated a bit more excitement out there. So it's obvious that my accusations are groundless (ehhh... look that last word up. In German).  

Synthesax are an instrumental group who play a fiery fusion with, yes, synthesizers and saxophone. As well as a very tight rhythm section, Fender Rhodes, and... some pretty mean electric guitar licks too. There are some really fine peak moments here when they get into the zone and rock out. The more introspective moments tend to drag and then I feel ready for a nap. And there is a little too much happy sax here for me (of course there is), but fans of the genre won't want to miss out on this one. I'm a borderline Priority 3 here, but will settle on:

Priority: none

Friday, October 4, 2013

Yucatan, Germany

Yucatan - s/t. 1982 Tricom.

OK back to that shady figure that we cannot even name. And here's his latest entry.

My first reaction: What the hell is this? Or perhaps I should reverse it and say that perhaps the band had no idea what they wanted to be, so they threw a lot of mud against the wall, and hoped something would stick. History tells us that strategy never worked. And it appears Yucatan were yet another victim. But not before demonstrating they had immense potential to be a great progressive rock band. Even though Germany had some odd obsession with Mexico during this period in time, Yucatan, despite the name, has zero influences from our neighbor to the south.

I suppose if I was to summarize in a hurry, I'd call Yucatan a Deutschrock band and walk away. But that would disregard the fact that when Yucatan wanted to, they could deliver a highly fascinating and complex sequence of progressive rock music. And yet they could as well incongruously take a direct lift from Eddie Van Halen's 'Eruption' solo and stick it in the middle of a song. For no reason, it would appear, other than to perhaps satisfy the guitarist that he indeed learned how to play it after 4 years of intense practice in front of the mirror. I just sat there waiting for the riff of 'You Really Got Me' but instead got the Gunther blues voice. And speaking of which, there is a tepid attempt at playing heavy metal here too. There's some galloping guitars (with no heft at all), and a few other tries at a sound that local countrymen Accept had already mastered with their brilliant and very heavy "Restless and Wild" album (and sadly, Accept then degenerated into an AC/DC party band not long after, much to my dismay). And then there's the 4th track. A very fine slice of instrumental organ/guitar driven progressive rock (though the ridiculously thin sounding synth at the opening is entirely unnecessary)!

So what we have here is AOR radio friendly, 70s progressive rock, German vocal, English vocal, metal, progressive, boogie, symphonic, badly dated sounding synthesizers, killer organ, excellent psychedelic blues solos, good hard rock guitar, bad metal guitar.... album. That was privately released. If there was ever an album that would be better to cherry pick a few songs off for a compilation of unknown German progressive bands, then this would be that album. Hence, I give the record as a whole a:

Priority: none

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Franklin Street Arterial, USA

The Franklin Street Arterial - s/t. 1980 Dad Hat.

And yet another great submission from the AC. If you all remember from the original teaser post for this series of rarities, I mentioned one of the albums is posted online by a band member. And here it is! This is quite a rare album, and it definitely has been rising in price amongst those in the know. So don't miss out on this generosity! As I write this, there are no ratings in RYM (though it's been cataloged) and not even listed in Gnosis. That's all about to change I suspect.

The Franklin Street Arterial were from Portland, Maine and are the type of band I've come to appreciate since I started this blog. Mainly due to the enthusiasm of both Midwest Mike and The AC - and reinforced by many others. It's that late 70s and early 80s light fusion sound (but not smooth jazz!). Definitely more on the jazz side rather than rock, but with well crafted melodies and solid professional playing from all. There is some absolutely sublime synthesizer work here, with fine guitar (including one nice ripper), and fantastic sax. This latter comment is not something you will usually hear from the CDRWL, but this is how I personally like to hear the instrument played. All these dudes who squonk like cats-in-heat drive me batty.

And as a bonus, The Franklin Street Arterial had a very nice professionally done video (in 1978!) that has been shared on the same website (and is also on YouTube). It's a superb video, so don't miss out (Oh, and that synth solo! Goosebump stuff right there).

Priority: 3

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Oakley, Germany

Oakley - Peculiar Autumn. 1978 Lava

The AC simply states on his latest entry: "German (from Hannover) symphonic prog, typical for the time but enjoyable nonetheless."

From an obscurity perspective, this may be near the top of this year's batch. I couldn't find much at all about this band on the internet. Even Dhope had more entries. Oakley seem to straddle the border between the more overt late 1970s German progressive bands such as Trilogy and Rousseau - and the Christian folky singalong types such as Eden and Credemus. Overall, it's a rather simplistic album for the progressive rock genre, but the melodies are a cut above the norm and the instrumentals are good if not a bit too straightforward. Some old time revival flute mixed in here and there as well. File under: Nice and harmless. Maybe not enough here to warrant a CD reissue, but worth a spin if you get a chance.

Priority: none

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nekropolis, Denmark

Nekropolis - Suite til Sommeren. 1976 Hookfarm.

Now back to the AC's pile of rarities. He informs us that Nekropolis is a "Danish rarity which clings to that whole "rural rock" oriented prog/psych/folk thing the Danish scene had going a few years earlier." Which is absolutely true about Denmark, and the whole thing-with-nature bit. At its best, Denmark produced the remarkable debut by Culpepper's Orchard, but even that band's second effort was a bit hard to get excited about. Midnight Sun and Day of Phoenix are a couple of other bands in this field, and each have excellent albums, and those that aren't so hot. From the obscurity front, probably the best one I can recall in this particular genre is Masala Dosa, which we featured about 3 years ago.

I would say that Nekropolis fall on the folk side of the genre. Pleasant music to sing around the campfire so as to keep the wolves away. It's vocal heavy (in Danish) and lacks any kind of solo instrumental arrangements, so there's little to grab onto here if you're programmed that way. Recommended to those that love that particular 1970s styled woodsy Scandinavian folk rock.

Priority: none

Monday, September 30, 2013

Gold, USA

Gold - No Class What So Ever. 1980 Alpha

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Bob Bath Band, USA

The Bob Bath Band - Traces of Illusion. 1984 RPC.

And here's another entry from the shrouded figure known as He Who Must Not Be Named. RPC was an on-demand custom pressing plant from New Jersey, and some of the rarest albums from the USA are on this imprint, because it wasn't a true "label". Not in the traditional sense anyway. Generally RPC was used for churches and schools, and the final product was meant for family, friends, congregations, i.e. keepsakes. On "Traces of Illusion" they even used the generic "clouds" cover that other private presses used throughout the US during the 70s and 80s.

The Bob Bath Band is basically an instrumental guitar based trio with occasional synthesizer accompaniment. Most of the material is subdued, but not sleepy. The songwriting is above average, as actual thought was given to melody. Generally the music continues to drive forward at a steady pace. So there aren't any neck breaking shifts in meters, but rather a more methodical approach is applied. And every once in awhile, ole "Bobby" kicks the pedals into gear and rips off a mean solo. Had he done that throughout the album, it most certainly would have added one to two points to the overall grade. Definitely doesn't sound like an album from 1984, as the tones are still psychedelic edged, and there's none of that mid 80s gloss. Blindfolded I would have gone with the late 1970s for this album.

This is a good one. Bob Bath is still active in the Pennsylvania area, and has a webpage here.

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sideline, Germany

Sideline - Sidesteps. 1979 private

Here's the next submission from the mysterious He Who Must Not Be Named. He says he had it stored in a safe deposit box in an unlisted private Swiss bank that sits on a cobblestoned winding street somewhere in Geneva. You know, this guy....

Interesting Switzerland comes up, as the country is often referenced in relation to this album. I'm not sure why as the back cover clearly attributes a Bremen address to a leader of the band - violinist Hartmut Koehler. Perhaps some of the other musicians are Swiss, but I would consider this a German band. And they fit squarely into the very large Kraut Fusion genre of that era. Some have suggested that if you wanted to obtain any kind of educational degree in Germany between 1976 and 1983, then you had to produce at least one jazz fusion album. I'm starting to think that may be more truth than fiction.

Before offering my own insights, if indeed I actually have any, I think our friend Lev has done a fine job summing this one up on RYM: "A rare example of highly obscure German/Swiss fusion LP from the late 1970s / 1980s, which actually stands out from the lot. It is no secret that for some strange reason this music style really took root on these shores, with one little-known band after another recording harmless and useless albums of run-to-the-mill breezy tropical jazz-rock, expertly performed but totally devoid of any substance. Sideline weren't like that, they explored more edgy / angular sides of prog and fusion and weren't afraid of going into more experimental realms - thanks not least to the excellent unpredictable violin playing. So, if you're thinking about diving into this scene (which I've been wallowing in for the last few years), make this one of your starting points."

And how many times have you seen the CDRWL use almost that exact language when describing these European fusion bands: Tropical and breezy?  There's just no other way to put it. It was just the cruise ship / island vacation / Love Boat mindset of the day. It was in the music, on the television, in the movies, on the LP cover of ELP....

But Sideline is for certain different, as Lev points out above. The music is a bit edgier, more melodic, and sounds like it was recorded a few years earlier when jazz musicians were still exploring the exciting possibilities of rock. Violin, as would be expected from a leader, is the dominant instrument (though the music is all composed by guitarist Hugo Vogel). Sometimes electric violin can be too flashy (Jean-Luc Ponty) or too hoedown like the Appalachian Americana influenced bands. Here the sound, style, and playing by Koehler is just perfect. If I had a preference though, I would have preferred the guitarist to go beyond the jazz tone here. If only he'd let 'er rip psychedelic style (as the violin will on occasion), then this album would've jumped two points.

A solid effort for the style, and worth a CD I think.

Priority: 3

Friday, September 27, 2013

Circles, Germany *** REISSUED ***



Circles - s/t. 1983 Einhorn
Circles - More Circles. 1984 Einhorn
Circles - Third Cycle. 1987 Einhorn

*** Mental Experience (Spain) has reissued the first 2, and Bureau B has issued an archival release. *** No word about Third Cycle, though I'm considering this band as closed for now.

Moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Synthesis, France

Synthesis - s/t. 1971 Fabulous.

While on the topic of horn rock bands from the AC, let's cover another of his submissions. The AC states: "French horn rock with strong prog/psych leanings. Not to be confused with the later French Synthesis, this is a completely different group. Interesting, in that not too many French bands picked up this particular style, despite its popularity at the time (T.N.T.H. is the only other one that immediately comes to mind). Cool fuzz guitar and gruff vocals. Gets kind of freaky at times!"

Oddly enough, about the only other French horn rock band that leaps to mind is Magma at their absolute very beginning, and their offshoot group Univeria Zekt. Obviously, it's a real stretch to call either of them horn rock bands (and if so, at the very jazz end of the spectrum) but the influence was there before the Zeuhl style had fully developed.

As the AC says, this one is more squarely in the traditional horn rock genre, similar to many of the US/UK bands of the era. I'd say Synthesis tracks closest to classic early Chicago, and that's a good thing in the CDRWL book. With song titles like 'Dilemma of My Life', 'Walkin' In the Hell', 'Insanity', 'My Obsession', and the 3 part closer 'Symphony for a Stranger', I think it's safe to assume that Synthesis weren't aiming for the bubblegum hit parade. The songwriting is top notch, the horn charts are exhilarating, the guitar is fuzz laden / psychedelic, and the energy level is high. And the album gets freakier as it goes, and I've said this a few times before, that's always a hallmark of a great album. As if they said, "Oh screw it, no one will buy this, so let's just GO FOR IT!". Yea, baby.

I really dig this one. A few more listens could bump it even higher.

Priority: 2

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eight Day Clock, Australia

Eight Day Clock - Clockwork. 1976 RCA

And here's another one from the stack sent in from the AC. Eight Day Clock are a large scale horn rock band, right out of the 1970 playbook. So 1976 is way past the glory days of this scene. It almost seems like the Jackson 5ive TV show had just arrived in Sydney, and Blood Sweat and Tears was getting regular airplay on the local radio stations.

When evaluating horn rock bands, there are two types to consider: Vocal and Instrumental. This one definitely falls in the Vocal category. From there, is it soul based, or more pop sounding? Mainly the former. So that leaves the actual quality of the songwriting. Here I'd give them a C+. There are no monster tracks to call out like on The Gas Mask album for example. But it avoids the downer blues aspect of bands like Sod, Brut, Little John, or Chelsea Beige. Eight Day Clock are no Rodan or Brainchild that's for sure. The cover of The Doobie Brothers 'Listen to the Music' is most certainly a low point here. And the album as a whole peters out on the second side.

Overall, a pretty harmless 11 track run. There's some good horn charts here, and a few good sax/flute/brass/guitar solos to toe tap with. Reminds me quite a bit of the two Puzzle LPs (1973/1974 Motown). A pleasant album.

Priority: none

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sponge, Scotland

Sponge - Foam Spins (One).1989 Alternate Media Tapes. Cassette

Let's get back to the AC's rarities' pile here. He tees this one up as follows: "Scottish space-rock band. This was recorded live in Edinburgh throughout 1987. They spend a lot of time messing around with free-form spacey electronics, but when they finally get around to kicking out the jams, they do muster up a pretty intense Hawkwind-meets-Ash Ra Tempel type of sound. Released a bunch of hopelessly obscure cassettes in the late 80s, but this is the only one I've heard. Sound quality isn't great, but I suppose that's to be expected. Yet another interesting piece to the forgotten UK festival/space-rock puzzle".

Ultima Thule, the long standing mail order shop, and publishers of the excellent Audion Magazine, adds this review for Discogs: "Sponge were amongst a family of bands/musicians from Edinburgh in the late 1980's. They played a brand of space-rock that stepped on from classic Hawkwind, especially so on this tape of live improv/jams, fleshed-out with copious amounts of synths/electronics. Strangely many of their releases were cassette only on the Birmingham Alternate Media Tapes or American Audiophile Tapes, and thus they are extremely rare nowadays. The only problem with this tape is the cruddy quality, someone did something seriously wrong with the mix, although the music is brilliant, if you tweak your bass and treble controls!"

And perhaps the oddest aspect of all is that they have at least 6 albums all released between 1988 and 1989 (?!), and this supposedly is the last one. So from an obscurity perspective, Sponge would have to be considered in the same league as Rancid Poultry, another band that the AC helped fill the CDRWL's collection on, and we covered at length a couple of years ago. How a group could be so prolific,and yet completely unknown until now, is definitely a mystery. But the UK Festival scene certainly produced a lot of interesting material out of its primordial stew. It's like discovering entirely new organisms out of the Amazon rain forests. As we mentioned in an earlier post, Head Duster continues to educate us about some of the truly rare bands from the scene. Our good friend Spacefreak also saw many of these bands back then, and has provided valuable information to us regarding the scene. Perhaps they knew Sponge?

There's over an hour of improvised space rock on here, and like most of these type of live outings, the album itself could have used a good edit. It's like having to eat spoonfuls of the spinach, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, rice, beans all before actually getting to the meat. As mentioned by both gentlemen above, the sound quality is of bootleg standard.  I'd say Sponge relates closest to AMA, another long form improvisational space rock band - though AMA didn't possess synthesizers or  saxophone. And I'm also reminded of the Milwaukee collective F/i, at their most loose and reckless jam mode. If you're a fan of space rock, this is one you'll want to hear. When they get "in the zone", there's some pretty good ripping going on here. But it's not really anything that needs to be pressed on CD.

Priority: none

Monday, September 23, 2013

Indiscreet, Germany

Indiscreet - Difficult to Contribute Silence. 1985 Nabel.

Perhaps the great irony of this post is that it's the next entry from He Who Must Not Be Named. If anything HWMNBN is discreet. So discreet in fact, he tells me of fantastical tales of providing only the finest young ladies for oil rich sheik's in Dubai. I dunno, sounds far fetched to me but...

Indiscreet are a German band who are clearly a product of the middle 80s, when no one, and I mean absolutely no one, was going 1970s retro. Everyone had to have a modern, cold, and clinical sound. Belew-era King Crimson is of course the blueprint here. But I was reminded perhaps even more of Michigan's Inserts, especially in the sense of open space the band operates in. This has more of a jazz angle rather than rock, and is on the margins of the scope of the list. Some of the alto and soprano sax playing here is as annoying as it can possibly get. A lot of the free improvisational stuff on here does not work, and is truly dull, if not downright teeth gnashing. Indiscreet are at their best in full ensemble mode, especially when the violin is present.

(Our friend Tristan Stefan just alerted me that this album has been posted on Prog Not Frog this past June. I'd received this CD-R earlier in the year from HWMNBN, and didn't realize it had been posted since then. So you all can hear it as well, presuming the link is still active. Enjoy!)

Priority: none

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Garuda, Indonesia

Garuda - s/t. 1976 EMI (England)

So here's out third submission from He Who Must Not Be Named. Now, he alleges he got this LP directly from his "best bud" Suharto (you know you're an important dude when you only have one name. And you're even more important when you can't name that name...). When did HWMNBN get this album? When he supposedly was supporting the ambassador representing France in the late 1970s. You know, I'm calling bullsh*t right there. But... maybe?

So my first thought here is: Selamat datang di disko  

Oh go on, look it up. You know you want to know what it means.

Done?

Right?

He Who Must Not says this: "There's a great story behind my travels to Indonesia... Composer Tony Campo is from there, Bali in fact.  His bio is featured briefly on the back of the record.  I take it he became a session bassist in the UK and did quite a few library records, often in collaboration with others.  His style is jazz-funk, as befitting the music of Bali which is very dance-oriented.  It's obvious that this album, which is named after the semi-mythical eagle-winged deity that is Indonesia's national symbol, is his masterpiece, the second side is called Suite No. 2 and is his attempt at creating a kind of jazz-funk symphony, you'll see what I mean when you hear it.  Note that the famed Frank Ricotti plays vibes and percussion on this record." 

In fact, had their been no second side, then I would wonder why it was sent to me in the first place. I mean, I actually like disco instrumentals, but it's not exactly the purpose of the list. But Side 2, while never quite losing those fat beats, takes on a whole new dimension. There's truly a depth found here that is uncommon in both funk and even in pure jazz. If you want to begin your dig for this album, you better like tight horn charts. With long fuzz guitar solos. And echoed Fender and vibes. I just happen to embrace said concept, hence I rate this:

Priority: 3

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Amuthon, Germany

Amuthon - Wirklichkeit. 1982 private.

So here's the second entry from He Who Must Not Be Named. I had personal interest in this, as this showed up on ebay from a dealer with a bunch of rare Krautrock rarities last year. I won a couple of the auctions (on items I already knew), but there were quite a few I never heard of. Some clearly were out of my interest area. This one's description was somewhat appealing, but who knows right? And then HWMNBN shows up with this one in virtual hand. Cool. On this title, he also provides some insights:

"What a cover!!  some kind of unusually creepy everyman has a key that will unlock the mind... In terms of music, it's a very hard rock style with almost the polished british heavy metal sound from the late seventies (like granmax or americans legend from the fjords), not like the old rough krautrock sound from the early seventies. In fact at the start of track 1 I thought I heard influences from Led Zep's Song Remains the Same (the song that is, not the live album), although the minute the singer opens his voice the track does lose a lot of its allure. With titles like god, reality, you'd think this was a philosophical treatise exploring Kant, and maybe it is, I can't make out any of the lyrics. Oddly they switch between german and english.  A very impressive, albeit rough, outing totally uncharacteristic of German bands."

Well he certainly has a point about the vocalist, as he comes across as a Teutonic Arthur Brown. You can almost here the translation "Feuer!".... "Hölle Feuer!". Of course we must correct our presumably European friend (he mentioned something about watching over the Holy Grail in Provence. I mean, I'm calling bullsh*t right there. But you know... maybe?). Obviously Granmax is from the great Midwest (Missouri), rather than England. But let's not be pedantic, but get down to the meaning of what he's saying. Yes, good old fashioned American hard rock is a very astute observation.

Not only is the album half German and half English, but some of it is recorded live and some in the studio. Talk about "cobbling something together" for a release. There was quite a few of these private semi-progressive "Deutschrock" albums from the early 80s, and Amuthon fit squarely in the middle. A little Anyone's Daughter, 1980s era Grobschnitt and Novalis, Wintauge, Profil, Grim Reaper, and, oh, about 100 more obscurities few have heard and even fewer care about. It's certainly good, and non offensive German rock musik. Worth a spin, but no need for a CD reissue as far as I'm concerned.

Priority: none

Friday, September 20, 2013

Musikalische Gruppenimprovisation, Germany

Musikalische Gruppenimprovisation - s/t. 1974 private.

Names like Musikalische Gruppenimprovisation tend to be a magnet for the CDRWL. Especially bands with that name and coming from the Year 1974. And with a personnel pedigree that includes Broselmaschine, Kollektiv, and Annexus Quam. All favorites of the CDRWL. Oh the mind wanders... What kind of psychedelic treat is in store for me?

This album comes courtesy of the Lolly Pope, who was a regular contributor to the Roots and Traces Blog.  He is the same gentleman that turned the CDRWL onto the wonderful Cosmic Circus album awhile back (now reissued by Garden of Delights) and a few other choice items. Just a mere few days after making his personal recommendation to me, he left this mortal coil. I had no idea until recently. Like so many in the blogosphere, I did not know Werner personally, He was one of the many friendly, yet anonymous, faces that would offer their expertise to my blog, for which I'm eternally grateful. So I dedicate this post to Werner 'Allen' Voran. Here is the Lolly Pope's writeup:

"Another Kraut, not a Krautrock rarity. An experimental LP recorded in Germany 1971 to 1973, released 1974. Some say MUSICAL GROUP IMPROVISATION is the great lost third ANNEXUS QUAM album, but we also have members of KOLLEKTIV and BRÖSELMASCHINE here... ..among other very seriously improvising musicians from very different backgrounds. Together they demonstrate how it should be done. Jamming without illicit drugs! (In the daylight anyway...). Produced for the use at secondary schools and universities by The Study Group Musik North-Rhine Westphalia, on authority of The Ministry Of Work, Health And Social Affairs, Düsseldorf. A CD-reissue of this rare artefact is long overdue, but the mastertapes seem to be lost, and it took us half a lifetime to find a mint vinyl copy. 

01-Improvisation Nr.1
instrumente: synthesizer, sopransaxophon und querflöte mit elektronik, e-piano, e-gitarre, schlagzeug
freie improvisation
02-Improvisation Nr.2
instrumente: e-gitarre, synthesizer, orgel, sitar, sruitbox, stimme, piano, superstring, kongas
improvisation nach einer grafik
03-Improvisation Nr. 3
instrumente: stimmen und hände
improvisation nach einem projizierten dia eines surrealistischen bildes. das bild diente als stimmungsrahmen für die improvisation
04-Improvisation Nr. 4
instrumente: kunstoffschlauch,stimme, flasche, konzertgitarre, chimtas, tabla, marokkanische trommeln, pfeifen mit dem mund
improvisation nach einem projizierten landschaftsdia
05-Improvisation Nr.5
instrumente: bratsche, querflöte, konzertgitarre, aufblasbare tabla
freie improvisation
06-Improvisation Nr. 6
instrumente: posaune, konzertgitarre, bratsche, schlagzeug
freie improvisation
07-Improvisation Nr.7
instrumente: stimmen, cello, tabla, dickmilchbechergeige, spiralfedergong, schlitztrommel, flexaton, flöte
improvisation im freien mit hunde-hecheln und vogel-gezwitscher
08-Improvisation Nr.8
instrumente: konga, shanai, tabla, posaune, maultrommel, konzertgitarre, schellen, bratsche, präpariertes piano
freie improvisation
09-Improvisation Nr.9
instrumente: richak, sitar, bratsche, tabla, ektara
improvisation nach einem projizierten landschaftsdia
10-Improvisation Nr.10
instrumente: piano, stimmen
freie improvisation

(TITLE: MUSIKALISCHE GRUPPENIMPROVISATION - Katalog-Nr.: TST 78426, RESCO HT 30152 - No label name. Manufactured by Telefunken)

Musicians:

PETER and MARITA BURSCH (BRÖSELMASCHINE)
KLAUS DAPPER (KOLLEKTIV, BRÖSELMASCHINE,GLATTER WAHNSINN)
JÜRGEN HAVIX (KOLLEKTIV)
HARALD KLEMM, HANS KÄMPER, GABRIELE and PETER WERNER (ANNEXUS QUAM)
Plus:
KARL GODEJOHANN -WERNER SCHERMEIER - JOHANNES HOBBING - EDWIN STILLER - ANKE and GERHARD LISKEN - MARGRET BREUKELGEN - MARGRET CONZELMANN - BRIGITTE GÖBEL - MICHAEL GOEDECKE - ROLAND GRÄBE -JOHANNES HOBBING - EGON HUNEKE - GERLINDE PAULUS - WILHELM SCHULZ - UWE NIEPEL 

The sessions, or weekend workshops, were led and co-ordinated by Harald Klemm between 1971 and 1973. The improvisations were either totally free, or inspired by shown paintings and projected colour slides of landscapes. Nr.7 is an outdoor recording wiih panting dogs and chirping birds. An all instrumental album, except for some ethereal, non-verbal femal voices. A certain affinity to the second album of Annexus Quam is obvious, but there also are moments that remind of a less aggressive, more disciplined Limbus, a less classically trained Between, Popol Vuh without the religious ambitions and a lot more."

I think his reference to Limbus 3/4 is spot on. Though there is at least one direct reference to Soft Machine's "Third". Very much a product of its age. This is for those who truly love the avant garde. Nothing fake about this - the real deal in both atmosphere and sense of exploration. A bit "outside" for me, but an absolute must for fans of radical frei musik.

Priority: none