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Sunday, May 17, 2015

PBX, USA

PBX - Milktoast Repose/Gangplank. 1978 Collage Records

What we have today more or less equates to a 45 RPM single. But the music here, as The AC so perfectly articulates below, is brilliant. And it looks like there might be movement towards a full archival release! Let's hope so - because if all the music sounds as to what I heard, we are looking at the next Yezda Urfa, which was the band that leaped to my mind anyway!

"Bay Area (Los Gatos) prog band who's only release was sadly this obscure EP. Usually, I wouldn't submit an EP quite this short (around 11 minutes total) for inclusion here, as it would be tough to reissue without additional archival material, but in this case we already know that such material does indeed exist. And what wonderful news that is, as I can say without risking hyperbole that this release is amongst the strongest ever recorded by a progressive rock band in the United States. The usual ultra-complex Yes/Gentle Giant-isms of the US underground prog scene are here in full force, but the real difference is that this is more guitar-driven (no keyboards here at all, surprisingly) and ferocious than the usual suspects, with heavy elements of mid 70s Crimson and even some classic Mahavishnu stylings on display. The guitar absolutely rips through the solos (especially on side 2) and the drumming is flat-out world class, in the Billy Cobham/Furio Chirico mold. Vocals are surprisingly smooth and melodic for an underground US act, giving it an almost British touch at times. Just jaw-dropping stuff, really. It's nothing short of a tragedy that they never recorded a full studio album, but as I mentioned above, there is some good news to report. Guitarist/band leader Peter McKibben (who is still musically active) has been contacted and had this to say:

"PBX was a crazy band, trying to make a mark in the Bay Area (SF) music scene when punk and New Wave were starting to become popular. Probably wasn't the right time for a progressive jazz/rock outfit to try to get noticed, but we were having fun, so we didn't care. We actually played on some punk/wave shows, opening up for Pearl Harbor and the Explosions and the Dead Kennedy's (they hated us).

I just found an old cassette from 1978 of PBX playing outdoors in Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley. On the other side of this cassette, is a live recording of PBX playing at a weird dive called the "I Café"...I believe Pearl Harbor played after us on that occasion. Anyway, a longtime friend of the band knows an engineer who's been converting cassette recordings to cd. I don't know what kind of condition the tape is in, but he's going to try and make the transfer"


Let's hope it all works out and that a proper reissue/archival release can be arranged, because I can't imagine any prog fan would be disappointed with what I've heard so far."


Priority: 2  (Being conservative here given that we only have a small sample, and what remains is a live concert (no idea how professional it was recorded). Obviously if all the music is as above, this is an easy Priority 1!)

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