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The CD Reissue Wish List blog has been discontinued as of October 2015, as it had served its initial purpose.

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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: "



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

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunday, October 6, 2013

J&F Quintet, Switzerland

J&F Quintet - Contrast. 1976 private

moved to UMR

Priority: 2

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Synthesax, Germany

Synthesax - Grundlos. 1981 Leico

moved to UMR

Priority: 3

Friday, October 4, 2013

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

moved  to UMR

Priority: none

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nekropolis, Denmark

Nekropolis - Suite til Sommeren. 1976 Hookfarm

moved to UMR

Priority: none