Archive for the ‘ Prog ’ Category

The Move “Shazam”

Shazam

The Move are more of a household name in the UK, unlike in the US where most folks have never even heard of the Move or Roy Wood. Shazam is a prog rock/power pop tour de force that skyrockets to 11 from the opening lick and teeters at (and nearly over) the top throughout; you can hear a theatricality in Shazam that would hint at the band The Move would become, ELO.

This record comes off as a blueprint for heavy metal, glam rock, hair rock and all its derivatives (I can picture Jack Black singing these tunes), and as it was released in 1970, it most likely was used as such, though the album is definably progressive rock. The magic is in the album’s transitory sound: it’s probably one of the heaviest albums that still retains the glimmer and style of the 60s.

Hello Susie busts it open like a Yes climax, right off the bat, and lead vocalist Carl Wayne sets the tone with his gnarly shout. Beautiful Daughter is probably my favorite track from this set, with it’s clever phrasing and chamber orchestra. Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited is the real eye opener, it always catches my attention when this album plays. If you can’t make it past the first few minutes (this album is NOT for everyone) just wait until the middle where there’s an excellent prog reworking of Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring and other classical melodies (can’t quite peg them, anybody know?). The 2nd side of the album consists of three cover songs, with The Last Thing On My Mind sounding surprisingly byrdsian.

Shazam was considered a snapshot of the eccentric Move’s live act. You can allow yourself to judge this one by the cover.

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“Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited”

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Manfred Mann Chapter Three “Volume 1”

Volume 1

Manfred Mann’s Chapter 3 was this band’s third lineup formed around late 1968/early 1969. Mann had taken in bassist Steve York from the legendary progressive psychedelic band East of Eden. It was the start of something new and fresh, a total departure from the blues-rock and psych pop lineups of the mid to late 60’s.

Each Manfred Mann lineup has at least one classic record on offer but Volume 1 is unique even within these ranks. Volume 1 was something that Mike Hugg and Mann had wanted to do for sometime but feared the possibility of a commercial failure. Hugg handles most of the lead vocals on a record that I’ve heard described by some as a darker version of Traffic circa 1969. The sound is very progressive, peppered with jazzy horns, keyboards/organ, a slow stoned ambience, creative arrangements and Hugg’s quite original although bizarre vocals. Mister You’re A Better Man Than I, the original version, finally makes an appearance, in a slow jazzy build up that’s a definite highlight. Totally different than the Yardbirds’ masterpiece of the mid 60’s, it’s still superb and worth your time.

Other songs like the brilliant Devil Woman fall in between the exotic and avant-garde with strange percussion, a demented Mike Hugg, sound effects, and soaring female backup vocals. Sometimes and One Way Glass are the most pop oriented of the bunch but are dreamy jazz inflected gems. I would have to give this album one of the highest possible ratings for early progressive rock (1969) because of the musicianship, originality, and overall downer mood. Chapter 3 released one other solid record in 1970 and supposedly have a shelved 3rd album awaiting release (it’s supposedly their best from what I have read)!

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“Sometimes”

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Tamam Shud “Goolutionites and the Real People”

Goolutionites and the Real People

Australia has had a vibrant music scene for many years. The 60’s produced many great Aussie bands like the Wild Cherries, the Twilights, the Easybeats, the Loved Ones, Tully, and the Masters’ Apprentices, among others. Tamam Shud came out of the ashes of The Sunsets, who released several decent garage rock singles before their transformation.

The band’s name was taken from a Persian phrase meaning “the very end” which founder Lindsay Bjerre took from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Tamam Shud began playing popular festivals and clubs in or around 1967/1968 and were one of Australia’s first genuine acid rock bands (although it’s important to note that Australia’s surf culture played an important influence). Their first album, Evolution, was released in 1969 and was hailed as Australia’s first original album.

Goolutionites and the Real People was a concept album which came the following year, 1970. At this point, they had added teenager Tim Gaze to their lineup. Gaze was much younger than his other bandmates but his contributions were astonishing. Instrumentally, Tamam Shud was the equal to any band in England or the United States. Goolutionites is highlighted by Gaze’s intense guitar playing with lightning fast leads and jazzy licks. It’s a heavy hard rock psych prog album that will appeal to listeners interested in guitar solos and atmospheric vocals. Fans of early Ash Ra Temple, the Flower Travellin’ Band or even Live Dead 1970 will really dig cosmic rockers I Love You All and Heaven Is Closed. Heaven Is Closed begins with thumping drums and ragging guitar riffs, then mellows out to deliver the band’s lyrical apocalyptic visions. A Plague is also really good with great psychedelic riffs that form a tapestry, weaving in and out during the song’s two and a half minutes. The album closing Goolutionites Theme is awesome, a great space rock song with some incredible guitar solos.

At the time of it’s release Goolutionites was considered a major breakthru, an Oz classic and one of Australia’s finest contributions to rock music. When Tamam Shud disbanded a few of its members went on to form Khavas Jute, who released another great acid rock album in 1971.

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“Take A Walk On A Foggy Morn”

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The Pink Fairies “Never Never Land”

Never Never Land

The Pink Fairies were from the same trashy underbelly of English underground rock as the Edgar Broughton Band, the Deviants, Hawkwind, Arthur Brown, and Gong. Twink, one of the band’s founders, had been in the beat era Fairies, The In-Crowd, Tomorrow, the Pretty Things, and he even managed to released a great solo album in 1970, prior to this.

The Pink Fairies were special, a truly dynamic band that was England’s very own MC5. They released 3 albums during the early 70’s, and while their true swan song, Kings Of Oblivion, is usually cited as their masterpiece, Never Never Land is nothing less than stellar. It kicks off with the misleading Do It. The album version of this tune begins with an acoustic intro than blasts into a hard punk rocker that should really be a classic radio anthem. War Girl engages in some cosmic blues rock soul with some fantastic wah-wah and a great spacey atmosphere. Say You Love Me and Teenage Rebel are more proto-punk/power pop highlights that show off the bands impressive instrumental chops which were honed at countless outside festivals. Surprisingly, Heavenly Man recalls early 70’s Pink Floyd, with slow profound drumming, dazed vocals and David Gilmour style guitar flourishes.

The band’s sound was a combination of the burgeoning progressive rock scene, the earlier psychedelic revolution, proto-punk/garage rock roots, a small hint of politics, and good ole fashioned rock n roll. All these elements make the 10 minutes of Uncle Harry’s Last Freakout a joy to listen to. This is an undeniably great album from an unsung band. Never Never Land shows a vital band fighting for its life, creating some of the hardest outdoor festival music of the time. Anyone into the early Flamin’ Groovies, the Stooges, MC5, the Coloured Balls, or the Amboy Dukes should do themselves a favor and pick this album up.

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“Do It (Single Edit)”

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The Can “Monster Movie”

Monster Movie

Few bands have had such an influence on modern underground and electronic music as krautrock heroes The Can, subsequently named just Can.

The Can today is most revered with their album Tago Mago, which perfectly showcases their hypnotizing, improvised (then edited) garage rock jams. Before japanese vocalist Damo Suzuki joined the group, however, The Can released their debut record featuring Malcolm Mooney as lead singer, and it’s a beast!

The first three songs on this album echo the psychedelic and garage scene that The Can came from. Unlike subsequent albums, you can hear a bit of a pop song format squeaking through on these excellent psych gems. The real heart of this album, though, is the epic track, Yoo Doo Right, apparently edited down from six hours of studio tape. It’s a beauty, with a laid-back and driving rhythm section, catchy bass, nutty drums, eery organ, and swirling guitar backing Mooney’s scream-tarnished voice. This song, more than the others, would foreshadow the Can to come.

If you haven’t heard The Can yet, you are in for a ride. Listen to this LOUD when you are in a panic! Their sound holds up remarkably well today, noobs will think this was recorded in 2005!

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“Outside My Door”

Available as Hybrid SACD and Remastered