Jimmy, Yoko and Shin - Sei Shonagon. 1978 Japan

Even though Jimmy, Yoko and Shin are on the cult underground Japanese jazz label Three Blind Mice, their sole album is square-on progressive rock. There are 3 long tracks that are as much informed by ELP as they are by the Japanese freaky underground of Rock Joint Biwa and George Hirota. The latter groups are more evident in the indigenous vocal led sections. And occasionally they catch a toe-tapping groove with organ and piano jamming on top. To be truthful, there really is no other album like it, and as such it's truly a rare gem. It's a grower for sure.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Think! / Three Blind Mice

A very obscure album that I never even heard of until about 3 years ago. Disc Union's Think!, the same label behind the Genshi Kyodotai reissue, has come to the rescue again. I believe Three Blind Mice is under the Sony brand now and this is a co-release. Absolutely fantastic sound and it really opened up the album for me. The CD comes in the now standard paper/cardboard miniature LP sleeve. Also features the original booklet insert. A fantastic reissue.

Flight - Incredible Journey. 1976 USA

Florida based Flight's second album is a super tight and intense fusion like Return to Forever.... mixed with AOR Midwest styled 1970s FM pomp like Styx or Starcastle. Just the most bizarre blend of contrasting styles one can imagine. As if the band were made fun of for being musical wizards, so in order to be cool they put out crowd pleasing rock music. WTH? I like it in any case. One of a kind that's for sure.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Eastworld

Incredible Journey is a relatively common major label single sleeve release. As such, I was very surprised to see this title receive a CD reissue. Eastworld is an old school reissue label, similar to Wounded Bird. Straightforward late 80s styled jewel case reissues, with no bonus tracks or info beyond what was on the original LP - and in this case it includes the lyrics. But it's better than nothing. Definitely an album worth owning!

Orange Peel - s/t. 1970 Germany

Orange Peel's sole album comprises of long tracks filled with improvisational Hammond organ and loud electric guitar solos. Similar to Eiliff and Inside era Eloy, though given the 1970 date: 1) Orange Peel were certainly groundbreaking for the burgeoning Krautrock movement and 2) they were more heavily influenced by the blues and American psychedelic than the two aforementioned groups. No doubt the UK bands such as Deep Purple weighed in heavily with Orange Peel as well. An extraordinary example of early Krautrock in the truest sense of the word. Long Hair LP release adds their rare 45 single, which displays their heavy blues rock disposition.

Personal collection
LP: 1970 Bellaphon
CD: 2003 CityStudio Music Productions
LP: 2011 Long Hair

Always a very rare album since I've been collecting from the 1980s, Orange Peel's one album was strictly fodder for bootleggers for many years. In fact, my introduction to the band was one of those pirate CDs in the mid 90s. When the CMP versions came out, there was quite a bit of doubt on the legitimacy of them. There wasn't a website, they were related to the dubious Green Tree, and the CDs came out in digi-pak's with not a lot of information, similar to the bootlegs of the day. I then inquired with a reliable music industry source in Germany, and sure enough, they are legit! They bought the rights to the Bellaphon catalog and released a few albums in 2003/2004 - and then disappeared (this is a different CMP to the label behind artists such as David Torn and Mark Nauseef). So I own that CD, and it remains the only legit CD released, which is kind of sad for such an important album. A couple of years after that, I lucked into an original LP on ebay for relatively cheap, and I will of course keep that for the duration. And finally, I did decide to go for the Long Hair LP reissue, mainly to hear the two bonus tracks, and to have the historical liner notes. And they did a fine job on both accounts. Now there is one small problem for purists, and I mentioned this on the Virus Thoughts review, and that is the colors are way too dark. The original - and the photo above is a good rendition of that - has some distinct colors to it. Otherwise they did faithfully reproduce the gatefold cover. It's just strange that the artwork is so dull on the reissues.

Virus - Thoughts. 1971 Germany

For their second album, Virus changed radically, in both band members and music direction. Gone are the psychedelic workouts found on Revelation and instead the group focused on a more direct hard rock approach. They also switched to the Pilz label, and were representative of the label’s heavy rock groups, similar to McChurch Soundroom and Dies Irae. However, it can be argued that Virus were far superior to both in terms of instrumental dexterity and a stronger compositional base. In fact Thoughts stacks up with the best of the German heavyweights like Bellaphon’s Orange Peel or United Artist’s Twenty Sixty Six and Then. Hammond organ and guitar are the solo instruments of choice, and most of the tracks rock relentlessly hard. The vocals take a bit getting used to, as they are fairly rough and gravelly, but fits the music appropriately. There is a striking similarity to all the songs, that if not paying close attention, can begin to run together. What separates Virus from others, is a strong melodic sense, and a contrasting light touch concerning the rhythms. The organ is sometimes played with an almost jazzy like beat. Tracks like ‘Mankind, Where Do You Go To?’ and ‘My Strand-Eyed Girl’ are good examples of this song style. Rest assured, each track is chock full of blazing guitar and organ solos, while the rhythms section goes berserk trying to match the intensity. In this way, they resemble their peers in the UK like Warhorse or Atomic Rooster. Even a little Canterbury quirkiness can be spotted i.e. Egg. A great album and a must for the collector of early 70s heavy German rock.

Personal collection
CD: 1991 Bernhard Mikulski
LP: 2013 Long Hair

One of the more sought after of the original Pilz albums. Like all on the label, it was adorned with a fine gatefold cover. Definitely one of the more obscure Pop Import reissues. I never knew it came out via that imprint, even though Pop Import albums were readily available to me at the local Dallas import stores throughout the 1980s. In fact, most of the hard rocking Pilz albums didn't get a Pop Import release - only the folk and cosmic albums did. As such, my first encounter with Thoughts was in 1991 with the original CD on Bernhard Mikulski, which is in effect the Pop Import of CD releases. Like all on the label, it's a straight reissue with no extras or anything. Perhaps unbelievably, this is still the CD I have in my collection for the album. As for reissue LP's beyond the 1982 press, I did once own the Think Progressive - but it was just a straight reissue but it did faithfully duplicate the gatefold. I sold it eventually. And that gets us to the Long Hair LP, which I just picked up. Once again, it faithfully produces the gatefold and, as a major plus, features a full booklet insert filled with unique liner notes and photos, and includes two bonus tracks - both taken from the 1971 Heavy Christmas Pilz concept album. And Virus had two of the best cuts from that album, though they total less than 5 minutes together. Nice to have them though. On the downside, the cover image is too dark, and isn't a perfect representation of the original. An odd oversight I think, but it isn't the first time they've done this. And I will discuss that in my next post too. At some point, I'd like to have an original LP too. It's a great album worthy of multiple copies.

Charlies - Buttocks. 1970 Finland

Had you told me this was from 1970 England or 1971 Germany, I would have believed you. Fantastic loud acid guitar, amplified sax, soft acoustic guitar and flute, tribal percussion and deep vocals. It's the blues-rock-jazz sound that was so popular during this era, and one of my personal favorite styles. If you like groups from Germany such as Nosferatu, Ardo Dombec, and Alcatraz or the UK bands like Diabolus and Raw Material, then this one is for you. Very energetic release.

Personal collection
LP: 2013 Shadoks (Germany)

The only legit reissue of this album is via an LP that came out only this year. Shadoks has stated they will not be doing the CD, so that would seem to indicate someone else will. Maybe Rocket Records, or Love themselves (who miraculously are still around, but through different owners as the original label went bankrupt in 1979). For over 20 years I just had a crappy bootleg LP of this (which I sold immediately), so I willingly paid the "Shadoks Premium" and bought the new reissue, and I was rewarded with copious liner notes and an overall fantastic job, as is their custom. Originals are almost non existent and very expensive - we're talking $1K or more here for one in quality shape. I'm sure I'll never own one, and to be honest the cover... leaves something to be desired. For such a great album, this one deserves a CD as well - and I will most certainly supplement the Shadoks LP with a legit CD if one surfaces.

Kvartetten Som Sprangde - Kattvals. 1973 Sweden

Sustain fuzz guitar, thick/wedgy Hammond B3, and Latin percussion. You are correct, Kvartetten Som Sprangde caught the Santana bug, and we're all the better for it. Of course I mean the Caravanserai era, so it's not like KSS had to change their evil ways... baby. Though I've seen some people vehemently disagree with me regarding Santana. Yea? Go have a listen to 'Andesamba' and tell me that's not an outtake from a Lotus era concert. C'mon... Of course they weren't content to just play the style of music of Carlos and company, but also ported that same instrumentation while adding in more traditional Scandinavian folk scales similar to how Kebnekaise employed the exact same technique. There's definitely an undercurrent of the early 70s Nordic jazz culture as well, clearly informed by the Swedish headliners of the day like Bjorn J:Son Lindh and Sabu Martinez. Fans of instrumental progressive jazz rock will not want to miss this one.

Personal collection
LP: 1973 Gump
LP: 2013 Subliminal Sounds

Similar to the Resan album we covered earlier this year, Subliminal Sounds has gone forward with an exact LP reissue but not a CD to date. I bought this version because a) I enjoy Reine Fiske's outstanding and thorough liner notes and b) My original vinyl isn't in the best of shape. But if a CD came forth, I would buy it as well and own all 3 copies. I hope they consider doing just that (along with Resan!). A pirate CD exists, so beware of that.

Gunter Schickert – Kinder in der Wildnis. 1983 Germany



Gunter Schickert's Kinder in der Wildnis was itself an archival release compiled between 1981 and 1983 and released on the obscure York House Tapes due to a recommendation from the Freeman Brothers (Ultima Thule / Audion). As such, the music has a variety of styles, but all based on the patented cosmic sound-on-sound guitar style that Schickert had been performing since his Samtvogel album. There's a bit more of a rock element here, with nods to the NDW sound that was dominating the German underground at the time. The rockier sound also points to his days with the GAM ensemble he had formed in the mid 70s. As usual, there are all kinds of echoed vocals, from various sources. These augment the non-stop psychedelic guitar patterns, for a truly hypnotic experience. One of Germany's most innovative artists - quite a compliment considering the fertile scene from which he came from

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Bureau B

Originally released as a cassette on York House Tapes (first scan), it was followed by a cassette second press on Auricle (second scan), and later a CD-R from the same label (third scan). Finally the album has landed on a durable format courtesy of Bureau B (last scan). The CD comes with newly written historical notes and two very good and relevant bonus tracks. The sound is fantastic all things considered, much better than the cassette dub I had. An excellent package overall.

Capsicum Red - Appunti per un'Idea Fissa. 1972 Italy

Capsicum Red are yet another Italian beat/pop group who attempted a jump on the Italian progressive rock bandwagon. In the same league as J.E.T., but no one killer cut like Fede, Speranza, Carita. Still a fine effort if you can look past the production.

Personal collection
LP: 1972 Bla Bla
CD: 2011 Belle Antique

For yesterday's entry regarding Alain Eckert Quartet, I stated that if there ever was an album where buying the CD was more preferable than the original, then that was the one. Today, I will say the opposite: If there ever was an album to buy the original LP rather than a reissue, Capsicum Red is the one. Like most people, I discovered this album via the Vinyl Magic CD. It sounds horrible. I'd always been told the original vinyl was a mess, and that the masters were gone. I was fortunate to buy an original this year for a decent price (photo above is that album), and it changed my perspective on the album. Like all originals of this title, the sound has quite a bit of background noise (the original inner sleeve has a rough inside, which causes serious scuffing) - but much of the album rocks hard enough to obfuscate the noise. The CD's of this sound terrible in comparison. As I suspected (privately), the production wasn't the problem (though let's not get carried away, it's not incredible by any stretch). There's really no reason for this - as even a straight needle drop would sound better than what it's in the market. For me, it adds a solid half star (RYM) to my rating. I also do own the Japanese mini-LP for the packaging, but it's sourced/licensed/re-engineered from the Italian CD.

Alain Eckert Quartet - s/t. 1981 France

When I think of terms like "avant progressive", the music of the Alain Eckert Quartet is exactly what I expect. Like an earlier version of Forgas Band Phenomena, or a more playful and less serious Univers Zero. Compositionally strong, with a penchant for jazz, though a bit academic, without a strong sense of a groove. A good one for the brain, but perhaps lacking a bit in excitement.

The 31 minutes of live material as only found on the Soleil Zeuhl CD absolutely DESTROY the studio material. Here The Alain Eckert Quartet is ON FIRE, in the same zone as you might find Magma on their Live album - with killer Zeuhl bass, wild fuzz guitar soloing, insane drumming, and staccato piano. Stunning really.

Personal Collection
CD: 2013 Soleil Zeuhl

The original vinyl is housed in a typical early 80s austere single sleeve cover. My first exposure to the album was buying a copy off of ebay in the mid 2000s. If there was ever an album to get the reissue CD of rather than the original LP, it's this one. Not only do you get the usual Soleil Zeuhl high quality production with great sound, liner notes, and photos - but you also get two critical bonus tracks that are not to be missed. Read above. This album was on our CDRWL as a Priority 3 for many years. Had I known about the bonus material, most assuredly it would have been Priority 1. 2017 update: I decided to part with the LP. The CD is all I need here.

Les Goths - Reve de Silence. 1968 France (archival)

Here we have an insane psychedelic blues archival album from France, not a country normally known for such things - at least not in the late 60s. There's not a whole lot in the way of song craft here, but who cares really when you have this kind of insane fuzz guitar coupled with the frenetic drumming. Not to mention the spaced out vocals in English, French, and Mitterrand's personal burden: Franglais. Had Chico Magnetic Band released their album in 1968 rather than 1971, then this would have been a reasonable facsimile of such a fantasy. Quite an incredible find from the good folks at Shadoks. Highly recommended.

Personal collection
CD: 2011 Shadoks (Germany)

This fine archival package was released on both vinyl and CD by Shadoks. Features full liner notes regarding the history, and plenty of photos.

Polyphony - Without Introduction. 1972 USA

Polyphony are a complex and intense American progressive rock band from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Without Introduction brings forth an enormous amount of energy. Loud guitar, shredding organ, two hyperactive percussionists, and hazy psychedelic vocals is what you'll find here. ELP's Tarkus suite seems to be the main influence here, with a bit more of that American rough and tough edge, not to mentioned the heavy guitar presence. 'Juggernaut' is the pick of the litter, but the entire 37 minutes is well spent. I've always found it a bit surprising this album isn't more revered, as I find it among America's finest progressive rock albums from the early 1970s along with Metaphysical Animation and Ram's Where In Conclusion.

Personal collection
LP: 1972 Eleventh Hour
CD: 2011 Belle Antique

For years this album had more boots than a shoe store. I ultimately plunked down some serious coin for an original LP, which is certainly worth it when you consider the artwork of the cover. Plus it sounds great! The Gear Fab CD finally gave the album a legitimate release. It's obviously taken from vinyl (masters are long gone) that inexplicably skips the first 10 second or so, and the overall package is typical of Gear Fab: Single tray card with liners... and that's it. But at least those notes cleared up the date issue, stating it was from 1972 rather than the assumed 1971. My guess is they were printed up before they received Glenn Howard's liners. Mike Diana's story corroborates the 1972 date. But it's legit and we'll take what we can.

2016 update: I've also since picked up the Belle Antique CD version. The good news is that even though Belle Antique licensed it from Gear Fab, they did remaster the contents, and fixed the screw-ups that Gear Fab produced. And with the beautiful cover reproduced precisely, I would recommend this as the CD route to go.

After All - s/t. 1969 USA

Put me in the contingent that claims After All's sole album to be unheralded. I also have to agree with those that say this sounds more like what was coming out of England during this time, rather than the capital of Florida. A superb example of psychedelic rock within a jazzy framework. Fantastic Hammond and guitar leads. Side 1 is particularly excellent, and the opener 'Intangible She' has to rank amongst the best tracks I've heard in the genre. Side 2 drops off a bit, but there's some fine songwriting throughout.

Personal collection
CD: 2000 Gear Fab

This is an album that I somehow missed entirely until a couple of months ago, so I just picked up the Gear Fab CD, which is pretty scarce nowadays. The CD is typical barebones Gear Fab fodder, with a single tray card. But at least they utilize that one slip with unique liner notes. And it's legit, and sounds great.

Major Surgery - The First Cut. 1977 England

From my point of view, there is a big difference between fusion and jazz rock. Fusion, as typified by bands like Return to Forever or Weather Report, is instrumental rock music played by jazz guys. It would almost seem the perfect marriage of the two genres: Virtuoso players tackling the meatier rock angst and sounds. But like any genre, there are some albums with depth and others that are pretty transparent. Jazz rock, on the other hand, is usually a jazz album with rock instrumentation sprinkled throughout. Fusion was more of a mid to late 1970s thing. Jazz rock was more typical at the turn of the 1970 decade, when the creativity of rock was capturing the imagination of jazzers tiring of the same ole, same ole. Major Surgery is a great example of jazz rock, and very much a sound out of vogue for 1977.

The AC sums up: "Jazz-rock rarity from this largely unknown unit, led by saxophonist Don Weller. He and drummer Tony Marsh would go on to become fairly well-known figures in the UK jazz scene, but of perhaps greater interest to prog fans is that the guitar here is handled by Jimmy Roche, who once played with the great East of Eden. His playing here is in a sort of jumpy, Larry Coryell-esque style that I find highly appealing. This stuff is definitely coming from the jazzier end of the jazz-rock spectrum, and being sax-fronted and lacking any sort of keyboard presence..."

Personal collection
LP: 1977 Next
CD: 2013 Proper

In look, sound, and feel, Major Surgery's album appears older than 1977. It seems like a 1971 release. This was an AC discovery from early last year, and I subsequently bought the LP not long after, not expecting a CD reissue anytime soon. So indeed the CD came as a real surprise. Proper is a label with many titles, but this is the first time they've intersected with the UMR. The reissue is excellent. Comes in a fine digi-pak, with a separate booklet containing archival photos. A short bio and one bonus track round out this fine package.

Gringo - s/t. 1971 England

Gringo on their sole album present a very intriguing mix of UK styled proto progressive with female vocals, and American harmonized pop-psych. With the progressive opener 'Cry the Beloved Country', Gringo can easily be placed with contemporaries like Room or Goliath for example. But Gringo also look back in time to fellow countrymen The Animals and their edgy psychedelic work. And then there's the pop psych angle, and the female lead harmony work recall The Mamas & The Papas, as well as The Association at times. Gringo is worth seeking out for serious progressive rock archivists.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Gonzo

I love the Art Deco styled painting that adorns the cover. The Audio Archives CD was always hard to find, and there seemed to be (at the time) authenticity questions surrounding it. Soon after, an outright bootleg appeared on the scene. So it is much welcome to see the new Gonzo release, which features unique liner notes written from each member of the band + many photos. Also features 2 short bonus tracks.

Cosmic Circus Music - Wiesbaden 1973. Germany (archival)

Cosmic Circus Music is a fantastic find. It possesses that unique cosmic Krautrock blend that recalls luminaries such as Agitation Free, The Cosmic Jokers, Dom, and Yatha Sidhra. Cosmic Circus Music is essentially a jam band, but is absolutely dripping with atmosphere that was typical of early 70s Germany. If you're a fan of this style, then you won't want to miss this CD.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Garden of Delights (as Wiesbaden 1973)

It's hard to discern if the cassette was ever available for purchase. I had been lead to believe you could obtain it via mailorder back in the 70s. The GoD liner notes mention the cassette, but mainly as the private property of the one who recorded it (see the bottom of this section for more explanation). Apparently the tape is filled with 90 minutes of music, and they had to shorten it for the CD to 82 minutes. (As as aside, I learned that they now have CDs that can go as long as 90 minutes, but not many of the players can replay that much back. I'm not familiar enough with the technology to understand that aspect). As well, we learned the concert was longer than 90 minutes, and some of the missing time was between "Side 1" and "Side 2" when they had to flip the cassette over. Ah, the good old days...  Anyway, the CD is fantastic, filled with informative liner notes and photos. And most certainly the best sound possible, though it will never be perfect. It wasn't meant for release in the first place.

UMR's friend Achim from Germany further clarifies the situation above: "I just picked up the Cosmic Circus CD. As I understand from the German booklet notes, there are (or were) two tapes. Or, that is the most logical explanation of the text. One was recorded at "some festival" in 1972 (featuring a 45 minute version of Sternenmaskerade) was supposed to be released as tape by Andromeda Press (and mentioned in the article by German magazine Sounds). This got never officially released, but apparently some copies exist, maybe privately distributed by the band members. Another one was recorded in July 1973 by Muck Krieger and was not meant to be released back then. This was rediscovered some time ago, now shortened to 80 minutes and released  by Gardens of Delights." Then it must have been the "Andromeda Press" album that I believe I first heard. Which explains the difference between the 1972 and 1973 dates. And would seem to indicate they are different albums! I will leave everything here in any case. I don't think I have the energy to update RYM and Gnosis :-)

Phase - Midnight Madness. 1979 USA

Phase is smoking fusion first, instrumental progressive rock second. A great mix of instrumental dexterity, with complex compositions and ferocious playing. RTF meets Kenso; or Iceberg meets Transit Express for a more obscure reference.

So let's get Ken's quick summary of the background first: "Phase was keyboardist's Regan Ryzuk's band and they were based out of Montville, NJ. Two years later Regan released it under the Fusion Quartet "Comprovisations" title. It's a very good album that I think will floor a lot of people and it deserves to be more widely known."

Now let's get some impressions of the music. Midwest Mike says: "Instrumental progressive jazz rock of the highest caliber. From the very start this album explodes out and doesn't leave you with much room to catch your breath! Top notch musicianship with fiery solos of bass, piano, Moog and electric guitar. Odd and complicated time meters with killer trade-offs as well as incredible unison sections. This sometimes reminds me of Iceberg, a bit of Return to Forever and the Italian band Nova (at their peak). As mesmerizing at it is amazing! I believe once this gets known it will become a future rarity. Highly recommended to jazz rock, fusion and progressive rock fans."


The AC was brought into the action as well. He picked one up immediately and had this response: "Killer album! Really complex and edgy for a private fusion LP of this sort, almost getting avant-progish at times. I think the fact that the keys player uses a regular piano rather than a Rhodes also lends to this impression. Guitar gets quite ferocious at times, too. Love the ultra-technical music geek notes on the back of the sleeve! Wonder whatever happened to these guys? They really were top-notch players."

Personal collection
LP: 1979 Red Mark
CD: 2013 Modulus


Phase's one album pretty much escaped everyone's radar until Midwest Mike discovered it a couple of years ago. His discovery lead directly to the CD reissue, as well as our entry into the CDRWL. The 1981 second press has a different cover, band name and title (Fusion Quartet - Comprovisations). Ken reissued the CD with the preferable original cover, in exact detail similar to how the Japanese do it. The booklet contains unique liner notes from the participants from the original recording, plus the ultra-technical music geek notes from the LP (as the AC so appropriately put it). A superb reissue, that all fans of progressive fusion should look into.

Yuji Imamura & Air - s/t. 1977 Japan

Two side long tracks clearly influenced by the deep funk groove of mid 70s Miles Davis albums like Dark Magus, Agharta, and Pangaea. No trumpet, but the saxophone is instead treated to sound similar. Much more flute and spaced out than classic Miles, but still plenty of wah wah guitar and dual percussion to get down with. A few jazzers from Japan were highly influenced by Miles Davis, and percussionist Imamura is one of the finest emulators I've heard to date. Good album.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Sony / Three Blind Mice

The 2001 CD had become nigh impossible to find (believe me here, I was looking for it for about 4 years). So I was quite enthused to see a repress, this time in the mini-LP format. The cover is a standard single sleeve, so no real need for the upgrade if you already have the original CD.

Takeshi Inomata & Sound Limited - Sounds of Sound L.T.D. 1970 Japan

Nice bit of psych exploitation from Japanese jazz group. Beautiful flute/Hammond driven soundtrack styled pieces ('Theme-Mustache', 'Monster', 'Lullaby for Yuh' (haha, yea that's the spelling), 'Theme') are offset unexpectedly by the one 7 minute freakout on here: 'Scotland Scene', with its massive fuzz bass and psychotic electric guitar leads. Not near as insane (or frankly as sublime) as the 1971 followup "Innocent Canon", but this album is a heck of a lot of fun. Pick it up if you see it.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 P-Vine

CD comes in a fine mini-LP sleeve.

Embryo - Opal. 1970 Germany

Opal is very different from the later works by this excellent long running band. Indeed it is an embryonic version of the group. It's mostly psych rock with jazz elements and is fairly straightforward and harmless overall. Two distinguishing songs take it higher: 'Revolution' is a fun instrumental and danceable jazz rock track, that you actually see more in the TV/films of the day (with "wild dancing teenagers" and hair flailing about) than what you would hear on album. 'People From Out the Space' is definitely the highlight - brilliant in fact - not only foreshadowing the sublime Embryo's Rache album, but it also fully captures the zeitgeist of the early Krautrock movement. On the other hand 'Glockenspiel' is an annoying attempt at the era's free jazz movement, and is completely at odds with the musical approach of Opal.

While I wouldn't want a reissue without the two bonus tracks, I don't personally consider them enhancements to the overall package. 'Lauft' is a loose 26 minute sax, bass, and drums jam with no peak moments. Excellent archival material that tells the whole story, but not necessarily good music. 

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

Embryo's debut was one of the original 5 Ohr albums, each featuring a unique gatefold cover of painted body parts. In the middle of the front cover, there was a slit that contained a balloon (like the auction photo above). For those with the balloon fully intact, the prices can soar. On the CD reissue front, it's surprising to see that no indigenous label has taken this on, especially given its historical importance from one of Germany's most uncompromising and famous underground bands (there is one German LP reissue). Surprisingly, the Italian label Materli Sonori has managed to exclusively hold onto the rights of the first two Embryo albums. I believe the reason is that Embryo had moved to that Italian label for their new material in the 1980s, and they bought out the rights at that time. Not until 2013 did we finally see a Japanese mini, and given the cool cover, this is the copy I now own. The Belle Antique version, like all Japanese mini's, is true to the original and includes a balloon in a plastic package. None of the reissues sound great and are slightly muddy, as I'm sure the source doesn't either. But I've never owned an original to confirm that. However, all the CDs feature the 26 minute bonus track, which I discuss above. My introduction to this album was the 1990 LP reissue on Materli Sonori.

Blim - Zero + No Frills. 1992-1993 England


Outstanding festival psychedelic space rock band. Blim were an offshoot of Omnia Opera and were originally intended to be a more progressive variation of the already excellent parent band. And they achieved just that. If you ever wanted to hear Ozric Tentacles take things to a more complex level, Blim is your chance to hear it! Also reminds me some of Mandragora's earlier works, when they were  experimenting with various styles and structures. These are two of the best albums I've heard from the entire festival scene. Brilliant guitar work throughout. I would say that No Frills is the more complex, aggressive, and less spacey of the two. It also features a more professional sound, and I think it's the better of the two albums. Having said that, both albums feature a much better production than many of the cassette releases of the day.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 private

The originals were cassette only. I remember seeing both of these in the early 90s through the old Freak Emporium catalogs (back when they were still paper!), but never ventured to try them. Only within the last 6 years or so, did I finally hear them. They were instant hits with me, and were promptly labeled Priority 2 for my CDRWL. And now we have a wonderful 2 CD set (last photo), with additional bonus tracks on each album. Almost 2.5 hours of quality music here! About the only thing missing are historical liner notes, though as long as their website is up, you can read about Blim there.

Poobah - Steamroller. 1979 USA

Not deterred after not being signed to a major label for "US Rock" (1976), Gustafson reformed the band again, and released one of the best hard rock albums for the entire 1970s in Steamroller. Not prog or psych or metal, just plain old hard rock. Power trio hard rock the way a band from Youngstown, Ohio oughta be. These guys just kick ass on the album from the beginning to the end. If you at all have interest in the US Midwest private hard rock scene, this is the album to get.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Monster

Given the high quality of the album, as I describe above, it's no surprise to me that the resuscitated Monster via the Rockadrome brand, started with Poobah's superb 3rd album. Worth noting that Monster altered the track order, much to its benefit I think. The second cover is the Monster CD. My first exposure to this album was via a crappily made bootleg in the early 90s.

Survivor - All Your Pretty Moves. 1979 USA

Not the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ bunch, but a much better than average early heavy metal group from Shreveport, Louisiana, saved from complete obscurity by the good folks at Monster Records. The vocalist is a slightly less forceful Rob Halford sound-alike, and the songwriting is up to the Sad Wings of Destiny standard of sophisticated hard rock. Even has a killer long track called ‘Deceive Me’. Hmmm.. wonder where that idea came from? Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin are other groups the band list as references and certainly the former makes plenty of appearances throughout.

Personal collection
CD: 2003 Monster

Amulet - s/t. 1980 USA

If you’re looking for the real deal when talking the late 70s American underground hard rock guitar scene, then Indiana's Amulet is for you. You can’t fake this. There’s nothing flashy, slick, pretentious, or commercial about this release. Just a bunch of guys who gave you an honest dollar’s performance, because they knew their audience didn’t have much scratch to spare. Straight from the mines to the dimly lit tavern for some Falstaff and an evening of rockin' with Amulet. And if the groupie girls were there... well... then... the night was to be remembered forever.

Personal collection
CD: 2000 Monster

Space Circus - Fantastic Arrival. 1979 Japan

Whereas Space Circus' debut Funky Caravan traded in on the cliches of the late 70s era - fat funky bass lines, and overall danceable jazz rock - Fantastic Circus reaches further back into the fusion canon and emulated no less a luminary than Mahavishnu Orchestra. As the album cover demonstrates, this is one fiery affair certain to light you up. By far the better of their two albums.

Personal collection
LP: 1979 RCA
CD: 2008 BMG

The original LP comes in a single sleeve cover with a really cool astronauts on fire cover. Like almost all Japanese reissues, there are no liners in English available.The first CD reissue was always a bear to find. After many years of being absent from the shelves, the mini-LP from BMG filled the gap.

Ptarmigan - s/t. 1974 Canada

Ptarmigan's sole album starts with the impression that this will be a typical acoustic guitar / vocal fronted folk album. But all bets are off starting with 'The Island', an extraordinary composition with haunting recorders (alto, tenor, and bass), thrashing acoustic guitars, otherworldly percussion, scattered drums, spastic acoustic/electric bass, and some mystical dual harmonic male vocals. At once you hear the serenity of Popol Vuh, the weirdness of Might of Coincidence, combined with something perhaps completely unknown. As the album delves deeper into the recesses of its own world, it becomes clear we are hearing something of the brilliant. Each composition is distinct, but uniquely Ptarmigan. Perhaps it's because of the isolated locale of the band as they resided on Vancouver Island (a remote wilderness area across the channel from the city).

I don't think Columbia wanted any part of this, but the influence of one Paul Horn managed to get the recording released on the major imprint a full year after being mixed in 1973. And it sold all of about 12 copies, hence its rarity today. OK, maybe 25...

Do not miss this gem if you get a chance. Truly one of a kind, though within the context of the familiar.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Lion Productions

Original is a single sleeve with a black border, and is definitely not common. My introduction to the album came in the early 1990s via a bootleg LP which doesn't have the border (and I've since sold). The first CD on the scene was actually a CD-R release by the band under the name Nordstrom/Dias. It came with a very informative booklet on computer paper. Six years later, Lion reproduced this as a CD with a more professional looking booklet, and even added more information to it.

Broselmaschine - s/t. 1971 Germany

One of the three legendary Pilz folk albums from the early 1970s German scene. Of these, Bröselmaschine were certainly the most folky. The five-piece lineup included primarily male and female vocals with acoustic guitar. And as accents to various songs, the band added electric guitar, bass, hand percussion, flute, sitar, zither, and mellotron.

The five minute opener 'Gedanken' is a pleasant enough folk track with heavily accented dual male and female English vocals, flutes, and some nice electric guitar. 'Lassie' follows and is just the sort of song that my Dad would have enjoyed. One gets the impression that Bröselmaschine would feel comfortable opening for comedian Bob Newhart at a place like the Hungry I in San Francisco circa 1966. Ceramic plates and silverware clanking in the background - and after the song completes - an uproarious crowd claps maniacally while cigarettes dangle from their lips. The two minute acoustic guitar interlude with wordless female vocals 'Gitarrenstuck' is where the proceedings begin to get interesting. 'The Old Man's Song' starts with a repetitive and trance-like acoustic guitar. Hand percussion and wah-wah guitar enter while some delicate flute sets the tone for the peaceful female singing. The nine minute 'Schmetterling' is the album's highlight and recalls "Hoelderlin's Traum" with its Eastern motif (sitar, tablas, flute) and female narration in German. Later in the song there's a wonderful driving bass guitar that gives the song a sense of contrasting urgency not found elsewhere. The album closes with 'Nossa Bova' a nice stroll in the park kind of song with emphasis on acoustic guitar, flute, wordless voice, and hand percussion.

Overall, Bröselmaschine is the type of album to sooth ones nerves after a hard days' work. Not particularly experimental or groundbreaking, but for fans of early Hoelderlin, Emtidi, or other such cosmic folk bands, Bröselmaschine is a must pick up.

Personal collection
LP: 1971 Pilz
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

And speaking of 1971 Pilz, here's another one that features a very fine gatefold cover. Unlike Ardo Dombec, this one did receive a Pop Import reissue. And it's that version I owned for many years, and was my introduction to the album. Eventually I bought the Spalax reissue that came in a nice digi-pak. And I just now supplanted that with the excellent mini-LP packaging from Belle Antique. 2015 update: I received the original LP as a gift from a dear friend for my birthday last year. So now I'm a proud owner of the original too!

Ardo Dombec - s/t. 1971 Germany

I think the most surprising aspect of the Ardo Dombec album is just how ordinary it is. Terms like "ordinary" and "1971 album on Pilz" just do not go together. The album starts off promisingly enough with 'Spectaculum', with its driving sax melodies and fast rhythms - perhaps indicating this could be like the awesome Nosferatu album. But alas it was not to be. Subsequent tracks show no progression, and they leave behind no memorable melodies either. By Side 2, the band have completely lost their way - the Louisiana back porch harmonica taking it to new lows. Final track 'Unchangeable Things' brings it back to a respectable level. The 4 bonus tracks on the GoD CD are in a similar vein. There's nothing egregious here, more like a flat line. This is a borderline Gnosis 9 / 3 stars effort, but I'm such a fan of the genre, I hear enough to keep it at the Gnosis 10 / 3.5 level. Not a riveting recommendation, I realize.

Personal collection
CD: 2002 Garden of Delights

Like almost all Pilz albums, Ardo Dombec's sole effort features a wonderful gatefold cover, this time showing a vanilla ice cream cone covering a cactus. This was one of the few Pilz albums not later reissued by the Pop Import label in the early 1980s. The Garden of Delights CD is of their usual high standard, with full liner notes, photos, and 4 relevant bonus tracks.

Spring - s/t. 1971 England

If there was ever an album that confused me on what the term "progressive rock" meant, it had to be Spring's sole effort (sans later bootlegs of course). What do I mean by that? Ah yes, quick context setting for those reading this. In the 1980s, as a young lad hungry to hear everything that was labeled with the almighty "progressive" tag, I can assure you that Spring was very much at the top of every catalog writers' best-of lists. THREE MELLOTRONS!! TRIPLE FOLD OUT COVER! LONG TRACKS! My imagination went wild. Then I got hold of some crappy bootleg LP that I no doubt paid way too much for (even then, originals were way beyond my pauper budget). You won't see that boot LP listed in too many places (good!) but it came out in the late 80s. Dull single sleeve. Dull vinyl. Dull music. Well... that's how I heard it anyway. Bootlegs are never a good way to learn about an album (lesson learned for a young Tommy), but this one even went beyond the sloppy sonics. As in - exactly what is "progressive" about this? My cynical nature was coming to the fore - more like 3 people who play the mellotron - not 3 mellotrons (which is probably a true observation actually). Big deal! Not a time signature change in sight. Whoopdee-doo. Had RYM/Gnosis existed in 1988 - this would've got a 2 star / 7 rating.

So what changed? Me, of course. Years of spending time with the original late 60s / early 70's progressive movement has provided me with the right context for which this album had originally come from. Now I hear something that was considered progressive in 1971, but maybe not what the term meant to me by 1988. Spring features some fine songwriting, and wonderful textures (mellotron of course, but even the fuzz guitar and organ too). Even Pat Moran's infamous nasal vocals sound good to me now! If you're a fan of the Dawn / Neon / Transatlantic / Deram branch of early 70s English progressive rock, then no doubt Spring will be a welcome addition.

Personal collection
LP: 2002 Akarma (Italy)
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

Well, they don't come any more collectible than this: An incredible triple fold out cover that exists in very small quantities. I talk some about this in the above notes, but this album was always beyond my budget. I started in the 80s with a (gasp) bootleg LP and didn't like the music - at all. I tried again with the Laser's Edge CD in 1992. Bought and sold quickly. Then about 15 years ago or so, I wised up. I eventually bought the triple FOC version on Akarma - but buying non-Italian albums on that imprint makes you feel a little dirty. But I'll keep it until I can get an original (ho ho ho, keep wishing there sonny). For years and years, I kept hoping this title would come out as a Japanese mini-LP. And it finally did this year! It's a wonderful package to behold.

Clear Blue Sky - s/t. 1970 England

One of a handful of highly creative, psychedelic influenced, progressive guitar power trio albums coming from England circa 1970. Can easily be compared with Stray's debut and The Human Beast. Perhaps it's the runt of that litter, but it's such a gorgeous family, that just being in the same house is prestigious enough. Love those higher pitched British psych-era vocals. 'The Rocket Ride' and 'You Mystify' are both exceptional, though there's not a single weak track here.

Personal collection
CD: 2001 Universal (Japan)

Another rarity, though compared with The Human Beast, this is dime store stuff. I started with the Repertoire CD and traded up for the Japanese mini, which is my only current copy. It's a beautiful package, and I have no issues with the sound - but purists usually hate that some equalization has been applied. From my perspective, it just saves me the trouble of doing it myself. LOL. As far as I know, no specialist label has reissued this fine album with unique liner notes, bonus tracks, etc...

The Human Beast - Volume 1. 1970 Scotland

On the surface, it would seem The Human Beast's sole album to be typical of the era, given the guitar-bass-drums trio format. But these guys aren’t Cream plagiarists, nor did they go the Led Zeppelin, Ashkan, Elias Hulk psychedelic power variation of the blues. No, we’re moving towards the freaky, to the astral zone of Clear Blue Sky, but even beyond. The lyrical concept and overall acid feel gives the feeling that Vangelis may have stumbled onto the album before launching into 666 for his Aphrodite’s Child group. And yes, I’m sure Human Beast digested plenty of Saucerful of Secrets and Ummagumma before heading into the studio. One of the most creative of the UK power trios, no doubt.

Personal collection
CD: 2007 Universal (Japan)
LP: 2008 Sunbeam

A mint UK original can set you back 4 figures (one sold recently for over $2,000), so that's a tough option for most unless wealthy. Up until the Sunbeam reissues, The Human Beast lived in the gutters of the pirate market. The first Japanese CD was extinct from Day 1. I did, however, jump on the mini-LP in 2007, as it's an exact replica of the original. It's a single sleeve, but with those cool pasted back flaps like the original. And of course the album cover is incredible. This CD is the first copy of the album I ever owned. With a cover like that, I had to supplement the CD with the LP. Interestingly, Sunbeam pressed the LP as a gatefold, and put a black border around it. I know purists will scoff, but I have no problems with reissue labels taking a little personal creative license with the packaging - as long as it's tasteful, or an upgrade. The inside of the gatefold contains newly written liner notes. I would love an original, but I don't see that happening.

Taste of Blues - Schizofrenia. 1969 Sweden

One side is a cool free rock jam, like the best of the Krautrock and Swedish artists like International Harvester. No doubt this track was influenced by Paul Butterfield Blues Band's 'East West' suite from 1966. The other side is more traditional electric blues, so the album is indeed schizophrenic. But electric blues in 1969 is hardly the same thing as traditional blues, and there's plenty of psychedelic fuzz guitar and organ in the best tradition of the underground bands of the era.

Personal collection
CD: 2010 Transubstans

I first heard this album via the Garageland LP reissue not long after it was released (1992). Over time, I decided this is a title I didn't need, and sold it. Finally a CD reissue emerged in 2010 from the always excellent Transubstans label. The side long track alone is worthy of ownership - and now we have an excellent CD filled with informative liners.

Horrific Child - L'étrange Monsieur Whinster. 1976 France

Where would the music world be without Jean-Pierre Massiera? It certainly would be a more dull place without him, that's for sure. Everything he was involved with can only be described as obscure. And now he's the undisputed king of the 1970's Euro oddball rarities chase. And of all the albums he was involved with, Horrific Child remains his most sought after, and arguably most eccentric release ever. The musical realization of a Psychotronic B-Movie classic. If this were a movie, it would be on at 3:00 in the morning, on your cities' last remaining UHF local station. In short, L'Etrange Mr. Whinster defines J.P. Massiera's niche in life.

Personal collection
LP: 2010 Finders Keepers (UK)

This is one of those albums I had this album on my CD Reissue Wish List for as long as the list existed. Finally in 2010, the excellent Finders Keepers label (who also reissued the very fine Jean-Claude Vannier album) came through with both an LP and CD. With a cover like that, I went straight for the LP reissue - which is housed in a nice rough paper cover. Comes with complete liner notes as well.

Sangiuliano - Take Off. 1978 Italy

A very unusual electronic rock album, especially for Italy, Sangiuliano has an arsenal of keyboards at his disposal to help create his unique musical vision. He relies heavily on the mellotron (especially the “choral” tapes), as well as his ARP 2600, to achieve the brassy sounds he seems to espouse. Real drums add a rock flair, and in this way, recall Wolfgang Bock’s Cycles or even some of Vangelis’ mid 70s work. There’s more majesty found here in the compositions than your typical Berlin School sequencer fests, and some of Rusticelli and Bordini’s instrumental work was brought to mind as well. An excellent album.

Personal collection
CD: 1993 Si-Wan (Korea)

The original is a single sleeve issue that features our main protagonist on the cover, with his - as my old friend Zary Smith / Record Vault used to say - really long hair (that was a selling point for him). I started with the Japanese LP and moved it out not long after the Si-Wan CD came out in 1993.

Patrick Vian - Bruits et Temps Analogues.1976 France

Bruits et Temps Analogues is pretty much an eclectic brew, in the French tradition, with Berlin School sequencer based electronic ostensibly being the album's main premise. No doubt Richard Pinhas (Heldon) was an influence here, with the mix of Moog synthesizers and electric guitars. But Bruits et Temps Analogues is more upbeat, and perhaps even more world music influenced. Vian previously headed up the much more polarizing, and politically charged, Red Noise from a few years before. And there's very little of that angst and radicalism present here. Overall a pretty harmless affair, and a nice album to hear every once in awhile. But nothing groundbreaking or striking.

Personal collection
LP: 1976 Egg
CD: 2013 Staubgold

Originals were once fairly easy to find here in the US, as Egg had good distribution here throughout the 1970s. This is an album one could still find brand new as late as the mid 1980s from a well stocked import store, and I did just that. It seemed Vian's album was going to miss the CD era, but the once German - now French - label Staubgold has come to the rescue. It's a straight reissue, and it sounds like it comes from a (nice) vinyl copy. But it does feature a cool gatefold digi-pak, and it's 100% authorized, so those are pluses.

Wurtemberg - Rock Fantasia Opus 9. 1980 France

Piano and flute dominate this fine instrumental progressive rock work from Wurtemberg, despite the fact that main composer Alain Carbonare was at the time (and maybe still) a craftsman for custom stringed instruments, that were also featured on the album, though primarily in the background. No doubt it's his handiwork that's featured on the front cover (left to right): Dulcimer, Lyre, and Psaltery. The introspective nature of the music recalls early Mike Oldfield, and when Wurtemberg rocks out, Snow Goose era Camel comes to mind. There's even a couple of places one can hear the prototype for the future Medieval French progressive rock act Minimum Vital. A remarkably consistent album, where the closing 7 minute track 'Rockopus1' would have to be considered the highlight.

Personal collection
LP: 1980 Sterne
CD: 2008 Rock Symphony (Brazil)

In an almost precisely opposite situation to the Trilogy album yesterday, I first bought an original LP of Wurtemberg in 1993, and only got around to buying the CD this year. I thought I was buying the Musea version, but there was a later exact repress/co-production from the excellent Brazilian label Rock Symphony - which maintains all of the liners of the Musea version, and the Musea logo is all over this. There are two short bonus tracks, but they are from 1986, and not really relevant. The original features a wonderful gatefold cover.

Trilogy - Here It Is. 1980 Germany


Of course when you name your band Trilogy, and keyboards are the main focus, then you are more than likely to draw comparisons to ELP. And if you're German: Triumvirat. And those obvious references aren't entirely off the mark. But they only tell half the story. First off, Trilogy are a 5 piece band with two keyboardists and a guitarist. Now the trick is - can they keep the album interesting as an entirely instrumental album? The answer is a resounding YES. Trilogy moves though various themes, colors, tones, moods, and textures with ease. All the while the rhythms are constantly changing to keep one guessing throughout the session. The solos carry melodic lines within them, creating a remarkably memorable album. At times I'm reminded of the instrumental side of Epidaurus. Here It Is is a striking example of a band, against all odds, that were able to create a superior progressive rock album that has stood the test of time. One that to this day remains undiscovered despite a fine CD reissue from Musea. Had the band arrived in 2013, they would be hailed as a "retro prog" classic.

Personal collection
LP: 1980 Cain
CD: 1994 Musea (France)

I was introduced to the album via Musea's excellent CD way back in 1994. It's always been a favorite album here at the UMR, so I also recently went forward with an original LP purchase. The CD features one fine and relevant bonus track. As you can see, the CD (bottom) features an entirely different cover. Call me weird, but I tend to like goofy covers such as the original LP. The Musea CD looks 1990s Photoshop to me - and most of their contemporary acts of the day had similar type covers.

Flyte - Dawn Dancer. 1979 Netherlands-Belgium

Flyte are originally from Breda, a Dutch town that borders the Flemish regions of Belgium. As such, they are a mixture of both countries. But musically, they might as well be from Cincinnati, and would have been a perfect addition to my Midwest USA list. All the tracks are between 4 and 6 minutes, with that unique combination of commercial aspiration and complex progressive composition. The heavily accented English vocals won't push Flyte to stardom, but one can't help but admire the effort. So while fellow countrymen Lady Lake knew to keep their mouth shut for the most part, Flyte went for broke. So in the end you get progressive AOR music with badly accented vocals - and a lot of mellotron. Ehhh - why not?

Personal collection
LP: 1979 Don Quixote

The original album is stored in a single sleeve cover with a nice painting. With obtaining the original, I decided to move out the Korean reissue, even though Si-Wan did a nice job making it into a gatefold.

Casa das Maquinas - Lar de Maravilhas. 1975 Brazil

Starting with the album cover, Lar de Maravilhas possesses a strong resemblance to early Premiata Forneria Marconi. Somewhat mellow, song-oriented, but with a clear progressive approach. Advanced arrangements for acoustic/electric guitar, organ, Moog, and complex rhythms. Not that this album is anywhere on par with Per un Amico, but there are a few similarities. This is the middle of their 3 albums. Apparently the other 2 are more straightforward rock. I get the impression Casa das Máquinas are like those Italian pop bands, such as I Dik Dik or Equipe 84, who decided to dabble in progressive rock for a short time.

Personal collection
CD: 1994 Cast

I should look into getting an original, as the cover art appeals to me greatly.

Kundalini Shakti Devi - s/t. 1974 Italy (archival)

Somewhat like a proto-St. Tropez. An odd album given the time and place and it's easy to see why no major was taking a chance back then. Not a perfect recording either, but somehow the end product is satisfying. Don't start your Italian progressive rock collection here, but if you've heard everything else, then this 1974 recording will enthrall at a certain level. Three long tracks of lyrical lite progressive jazz rock with plenty of flute, guitar, and sax solos - always pleasant and never grating. I liked it.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 BTF

The CD is housed in a fine mini-LP styled cover.

Era di Acquario - Antologia. 1973 Italy

Don't listen to Era di Acquario's sole album with the expectation that it's an unknown 1973 classic Italian progressive rock album. However, if you enjoy pastoral acoustic guitar, flute, and hand percussion instrumentals, then Era di Acquario will most certainly satisfy on that level. Opener 'Campagne Siciliane' is stunningly beautiful. There are also a trio of decent harder rocking electric/acoustic guitar lead pieces with vocals, two good electric instrumentals ('Fuori al sole', 'Statale 113') and, yes, one singer-songwriter dud to endure ('Idda' - track 3 on the 1995 BMG CD). Overall, this is a sweet album. Just don't expect Museo Rosenbach or Semiramis.

Personal collection
CD: 1995 BMG

Definitely a rare album in original form, and features a very thin rough cardboard single sleeve cover that fades easily. The parent companies of RCA maintained the rights all these years, and the CD remains in print. This is the type of album that is more popular in its home country than abroad.

I Santoni - Noi. 1972 Italy

Noi is primarily dominated by traditional Italian singer-songwriter and pop psychedelic elements, but it only tells part of the story. There are also some complex instrumental charts played by sax, flute, and Hammond organ that gives it a strong whiff of the progressive rock movement that was just about to sweep Italy for the next 5 years. If you love the Dolce Acqua album by Delirium, and would like to hear a theoretical precursor album to it - then I Santoni's Noi is likely to satisfy at a high level. Those coming here looking for the next early 70s Italian progressive rock monster will need to move on to the next one on your list.

Personal collection
CD: 1996 Mellow

SRC - Traveler's Tale. 1970 USA


After the somewhat middling Milestones, SRC finish their career on a high note. The opening trio of songs recall their splendid debut, though with more compositional acumen than before. 'Never Before Now' is the kind of pop slop they tried on "Milestones" with no success here either. 'By Way of You' brings the band back to credibility, before embarking on two bonafide monster tracks: 'Diana' is a brilliant heavy psych tune dedicated to some mega babe, and I would love to see a modern video interpretation of the song myself. This is followed by the excellent 7 minute 'Across the Land of Light', a rare instrumental that comes dangerously close to all-in progressive rock, and perhaps a peek through the window of what SRC could have become. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Album finishes disappointingly with the overlong 'The Offering'. SRC's debut is one of America's greatest major label psych albums. And 'Traveler's Tale' is about as good a late era psych album as you will find from anywhere.

Personal collection
LP: 1970 Capitol
CD: 1993 One Way

Nothing new here in regards to collecting, so I'll cut and paste what I said on the debut: "My introduction to SRC was via the One Way CD that I picked up about a year after release, and is still my keeper copy. Typical straight reissue from One Way with no other details. In doing research for this title, I found that BGO (Beat Goes On) has just released (this month!) all 3 SRC albums on a 2 disc set. This would most assuredly be the definitive set to own. Since I have all 3 individually on One Way, I probably won't switch out. But if you don't have these, definitely consider getting it."

March 2017 update: I recently secured an original. Nice copy too, though the cover has ring wear.

Joe O'Donnell - Gaodhal's Vision. 1977 Ireland

Joe O'Donnell's debut is a much unheralded album, but it's quite good. All instrumental fusion driven by O'Donnell's e...