Aorta “Aorta”

Aorta

Aorta was a highly talented rock band from Rockford, IL that released two albums throughout 1969 and 1970. The band was originally known as the Exceptions, a popular soul rock group that played around the Chicago area and released a handful of singles. It’s interesting to note that the Exceptions had at one time included future members of H.P. Lovecraft (another great Chicago psych band), the New Colony Six, Chicago, The Buckinghams, and Illinois Speed Press. The Exceptions eventually morphed into Aorta when band members felt a more progressive direction was needed.

In 1969 Columbia released this startling record which was a mix of psychedelia, soul, jazz, folk, and rock. The album was housed in a beautiful, graphic sleeve that has always overshadowed the great music from within. Musically speaking, Aorta’s sound comes close to Boston band Listening or even the more psychedelic aspects of early Blood, Sweat and Tears during its Al Kooper phase. There seems to be some kind of concept that reoccurs under the Mein Vein theme. Aorta is solid throughout though, featuring strong musicianship, inventive studio wizardry, superb songs with a healthy dose of fuzz guitar and wonderful string and horn arrangements.

Some songs like Heart Attack and Ode To Missy Mxyzosptlk have lots of organ and are very early stabs at what would later be coined progressive rock. Ode to Missy has some intense guitar solos and a great studio psych out ending that will put your stereo speakers on overdrive. A personal favorite is the more restrained Sprinkle Road to Cork Street, which is a dramatic folk-rock track with horns and a beautiful medieval-like intro. Trippier tracks like the spooky Catalyptic with its ethereal, acid church organ work extremely well too and make it clear that these guys could play any style of music well. What’s In My Mind’s Eye is a great lost piece of psychedelic pop that has really cool disembodied vocals and a prominent horn arrangement.

Aorta may seem grandiose and even downright indulgent at times but make no mistake this really is a great lost record. Vinyl originals are easy to come by and sell relatively cheap on Ebay as Aorta was a very popular local band. Both albums have even been reissued on CD a few years back and more recently as a digital download. Conclusion: definitely pick this great album up if you’re looking for some far out, wild psychedelia with a hint of early progressive rock.

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“What’s In My Minds Eye”

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29 Comments.

  • Chris Wall

    I’m a 24 year-old college student and I just bought this album at a local record store here in Decatur, IL. I put it on and fell in love with it immediately. The sweet fuzz of the guitars is like nectar coming out of my speakers, and the builds are intense and focused. Don’t pass this one up!

  • Gary

    Hi, I am Gary and back in the late 60′s I roadied for Aorta, because they were my friends that lived up the street. I lost their music in a flood years ago, I have looked and looked, somebody help please….Suggestions???

  • Anonymous

    Hi Gary,

    Ebay is the best place to find either a cd copy or vinyl record. I have seen copies of Aorta’s debut on both cd and vinyl for less than $20 – as we speak there are copies selling on ebay.

  • ive been introduced to tons of records by my father over the years. him being a musician and me following in his foot steps, I respect ever record he decides to give me. this by far is my fav record to date. i cant say enough. if anyone knows of any live music out there from aorta, pls let me know!! buy the damn record!!!

  • Great album, I live in Michigan and the first album was recorded in a small studio in Sparta, Michigan a small farming community north of Grand Rapids…we always got a kick out that, from sleepy lil Sparta, THIS!!???

    Great Site, I’m loving all this stuff, inside and out…and I agree with you about one or two tunes, let’s be good to the musicians wherever they are, and let them decide what and when to share, if they can! (we all know the business part of music usually left the musicians out of the equation!)

    Ogie

  • Grant Cole

    Aorta took me on great mental journeys back in ’68. Wonderful sound ! Download from Amazon if nothing else! Recorded in Sparta ??? Wow!
    Peace, Skip, Tulsa

  • Dennis

    Yep, this brings back real memories of the late ’60s! My friends always thought it was a little too gimicky, but I always thought it was the pinnacle of acid rock. Clever and just great, glad to see there are some others out there who remember and appreciate it or have discovered it!

  • Shua

    I am 49. I was turned on to this Album when I was 20 by a friend. I have loved it ever since. I have always been big Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead fan. I went off Vinal many years ago. Last I found the CD and ordered it on line. I am so glad I did. Great music for the ages.

  • bob

    back in 68 or 69 i bought this album, among so many great albums, but i never forgot this one, quite cardiovascular and strange…..

  • PJ Fitz

    I bought this album around the time I bought the first PinkFloyd album, both of which were featured on “Scorpio’s” 3 hour progressive rock radio show on WOPA (The rest of the day it was Polish music and news). He played stuff like this between commercials for the House of Louis (where you could buy Nehru jackets), and the Mole Hole (where you could buy psychedelic geegaws). This record was so grandiosely over the top it set the gold standard beside which even Styx was a pale imitation. Church organ, guitar put through three fuzz tones, cross-channel echo, those vibrato Chicago-style vocals that sounded like the singer was on a vibrating bed, and lyrics that were grand poetic nonsense to rival Yes… I mean, to have a “concept” album whose main theme (“It’s your main vein”), given the name of the band, was completely obviously wrong to even someone with only a high school biology background, takes some chutzpah. By the way, “Sleep Tight” was my first introduction to Lowell George and is still a kick-ass rock song… completely different than Lowell’s quirky version and actually more impressive the way they turned it into a quasi-symphonic piece that kind of foreshadowed later pompous rock efforts like “Tommy.” I remember seeing a scathing review of this record by Rex Reed in “Hi-Fi Stereo Review,” which shows how perfect it was. Even though they were Rockford kids (and it was apparently recorded in Michigan, according to the comment above), this was as pure Chicago as Bozo’s Grand Prize Game and the sliced people in the stairwells of the Museum of Science and Industry.

  • NoSox

    I wore out my 8 track & vinyl I played them so much , being involved with a band we use to play this & C.T.A. while setting up . Funny , the wife always liked Rotary Connection , we use to fight who got to play what , read the Bio’s and surprise most of them played with Rotary . The Guitar sound still gets the blood pumping , outstanding Artists , arranging & producing , what ever to the guys ?

  • RMK

    Sprinkle Road to Cork Street is the route from I94 to the Gibson guitar factory in Kalamazoo, MI.

  • Curtis

    Happy 40th Aorta! You were my,and I’m sure many others, soundtrack for the summer of 1969. I have carried every note of that album inside my given head ever since. I’m from Richmond,Va. Back in the 70′s, I was playing at a club in Kalamazoo called ”Stan&Ollie’s”. I was stunned to come upon the intersection of Sprinkle Rd. and Cork St. I pulled over,got out and starred at this uninspiring site as though it were Abbey Rd. As the final line of the song came swirling around me,(” then a sign appears,hangin’ from a leaf, letters formed from flowers reading…” ) another shiver ran through me when I saw ,across the street, Maple Leaf Cemetery! The sign for the cemetery was circled with, I think, maple leaves. Anything to do with the song? Who do they know that’s buried there? ( Aorta fans and Michigan folks are letting out a collective ho-hum right about now.) The mysteries of Stonehenge be damned. Thanks again for the creative music,and the creative thought it inspires!

  • Bruce Lemoine

    DENVER POP FESTIVAL 1969
    Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado
    June 27th ~ June 29th

    Saw Aorta there, was a great sound. The Denver Pop Festival was held a couple of months before Woodstock. Ticket prices were $6 per day, or $15 for all three days and the attendance was estimated at 50,000.

    Check out this link for the Denver Pop Festival info:
    www philbrodieband com/muso-denver.htm

  • don

    i actually owned an original copy of the aorta lp when i was about 12. i never “GOT” it and eventually traded it in (30-odd years ago..). i sure wish i had it now, i think i’d like it more……

  • Ron Latimer

    I have had this album since it was released and still love it. My biggest thought about the group was that they were very much ahead of their time. Using studio techniques that wouldn’t become popular until after they had disappeared. Would love to know where the members are today and (like the earlier comment) if there are any live recordings available.

  • sydney stone

    Anyone remember them playing at an East Lansing club called, I think, Grandmother’s? Way ahead of their time and a shame they didn’t roar to the top.

  • Rockin' Roger Chicago

    My older brother came home with this album from one of their local gigs back in 1963. I was, ohhh, 8 years old. I LOVED IT! Listened to it thousands of times. Played it for people and they were WOWED by the “concept album” part of it all. Many thought that Nektar pioneered the “concept” concept prior to Genesis. Not true! AORTA was the FIRST concept album. Glad to know the history now. These guys were ahead of their time. I feel like all of you who like it are now my new friends! How exciting!

    Gotta go now, my identity crisis is showing.

  • NickG

    “Aorta” was and STILL is one of my ALL time fave albums. 1969 was just a magical year for rock music hands downs!!!!!!

  • john k

    Man….40 years far outman……yes by far a recording ahead of its time….performed & mastered
    peace of art……The cds are available at alota music stores….like chicago digital in oak park,
    tower on line,ebay……….& other on line music stores………..?? do they still make chocolate
    rolling papers???

  • rick kalb

    the thing about aorta is that as good as their first album was – it was not nearly as powerful as the group was live…i caught them every night at grandmother’s in east lansing whenever they played at that venue…and also in chicago many times as our band, the plain brown wrapper, was playing in chicago at mother’s often during the time aorta, the flock, etc. were also playing nearby…a great time to be playing and listening to other groups…i, of course, i still have my aorta lp…one of my favorite rock groups of the era

  • mykepsych

    AORTA was one of my first LP’s – aged about 11 . This was in UK – there was also a French pressing around too. I still love it over 35 years later – I think I wanna start an AORTA fan club!! Check my review on RATE YOUR MUSIC – a great Website . Email me for more Psych ravings ! Seton.michael@yahoo.com

  • Anonymous

    wow i remember this album from many yrs ago, glad younger ppl can still hear it

  • Mickey Schoen

    I first saw the Aorta at what was called Valley View in Frankfort ,Illinois. This was a very casual atmosphere and there was no back stage. You could have intelligent conversations with the musicians and the price was very low to attend. These guys were very cool and friendly they left a lasting impression in my life. Michael F. Schoen not a former Hippie (but a survivor and Believer) Peace To You All

  • Aorta was an amazing band.Members of this group have morphed into other groups,that led to The Buckinghams,New Colony Six,Chicago,to name but a few. This band was way ahead of their time,which makes this album more of a musical treasure then ever before. I am pleased to have met some of the existing original members,and if you get the chance to hear these tracks,you can hear why they remain timeless. Take care
    Michael Pileggi
    CEO & FOUNDER
    Mapco Records/Entertainment
    The Mapco Recording Group
    & their business partners.
    Links: http://www.myspace.com/themapcogroup
    http://www.myspace.com/michaelpileggi
    http://www.facebook.com/michael.pileggi
    http://www.mapcorecords.com (under re-construction)
    Follow us on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mapcorecords

  • tangopeter

    Nice to find this place, and even nicer to find such enthusiastic Aorta afficionados!

    I copied the vinyl to tape in 1969, but the tape deteriorated to transparency through the years (Realistic ‘sellotape’) and I feared not to be able to play their music anymore. But then I re-found the vinyl in a public music library in Rotterdam, in The Netherlands. This time I recorded it on cd, and made a security copy of it on hard disk…

    I will always love this sweet little gem. Fine music and, ah, sweet memories!

    Peter Tango

  • James Tag

    I saw AORTA open for Janis Joplin on July 4, 1969 .. Vets’ Auditorium, Des Moines, Iowa .. blew me away .. always wondered what happened to them, as I went to Viet Nam the next week ..
    James – Phoenix

  • swannie

    just picked this lp up from a boot sale today for £1! have not listened to it yet, but by these reviews, i can,t wait until tomorrow when i get to work and put the needle on the record!

  • John

    Still on of my all time favorite albums.

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