The AC sent this one to me about a month ago, but I needed to accelerate things along, as we recently learned that the excellent Canadian label Strawberry Rain will be reissuing this album sometime in the near future!
Let's check in with the AC to get his overview: "Peter Wale is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Cape Town, South Africa. He was the leader of a band called Wakeford Hart who were active in the local underground rock scene around 1970. After that band dissolved, he seems to have gathered a new group of musicians to help him perform under his own name. However, he quickly became disillusioned with the state of affairs (both musically and politically) in South Africa, and decided he was going to pack up and set off for South America as a crew member on a yacht. But before that, he decided to give one more concert with his group in early 1972, almost as a sort of protest event. Shortly afterwards, he selected a handful of tracks from the performance and privately pressed around 300 or 400 copies of this LP, to be sold around Cape Town on a fairly informal basis shortly before he left. Apparently he didn't make too much headway with this, and very few were sold or have survived to the present day. Fast forward to 2010, and Peter Wale, now married and living in the Seattle area, receives word from a gentleman back in South Africa that the original master tapes of the 1972 concert have been discovered. Astonished by this news (his own lone copy of LP hadn't even survived the trip overseas), he set about remastering the tapes, recently making them available for purchase as a handmade CD-R set. Unfortunately the set doesn't replicate the cool original LP cover (the back of which features a hilarious Monty Python-esque history of Wakeford Hart and its untimely demise), but it does include lyrics and liner-notes.
Now that we have that bit of (rather remarkable) backstory out of the way, let's talk about the music. The original LP was a selection of 4 songs (at around 40 minutes) from the concert tapes, but the entire show actually ran for about 90 minutes over the course of 14 individual tracks, so there's plenty to digest here. I'd tend to describe it as a mixture of psychedelic, progressive and folk rock. Song-oriented, but with plenty of room given for extended instrumental jamming. There's a kind of easy, natural flow to the whole set, and Peter Wale is a fine songwriter. Instrumentally, it's dominated by acoustic piano and fantastic liquid electric guitar work (with plenty of fuzz and wah-wah) over a solid rhythm section. And if you happen to like flute in a rock setting, you'll be in heaven here, as the band featured a dedicated flautist, fluttering and echoing all over the place in decidedly trippy fashion. The vocals (both male and female) are also very good. He did a great job with the remastering as well. The sound is crystal clear and is a marked improvement over the original LP. As mentioned, it's quite a lengthy set, and there are a couple of brief sing-songy tracks and some audience banter that could be edited out, but overall this material is remarkably strong. I'd even go as far as to say that this is amongst the very best that the classic early 70s South African psych/prog scene had to offer, which makes it all the more unfortunate that it's remained buried and undiscovered for so long. This would seem to be a no-brainer reissue project for one of the current crop of psych-oriented labels out there, especially since albums from "exotic" locals in Africa, Asia and South America seem to be all the rage with many of them.
And, as we now know, the AC's prediction turned out to be prophetic. As we often say here, it's truly amazing how much great progressive rock music still continues to be discovered from its original era. This is a very good album for all the reasons he states. Usually albums such as this bog down into a "message" political album, but these guys are really musicians at heart, and the folk side of it is downplayed for the most part. This would have been a Priority 2, had we not already received news of the reissue. Something new to look forward to - for what I presume - to be everyone. This is truly an unknown.