Radiomobel - Gudang Garam. 1978 Sweden

Radiomobel - Gudang Garam. 1978 Chockskivor

CD reissue: 2005 Transubstans

Release details: Original LPs are stored in a single sleeve and are very obscure. I picked one up in my heavy trading days of the early 1990s, and never considered letting it go. The only reissue to market is the Transubstans CD, that I also picked up on arrival. Transubstans is Record Heaven version 2.0, and this was their first reissue under the new moniker. The CD features superb liner notes, though it's clearly taken from vinyl (though still sounds very good - it's pretty lo-fi to begin with). There are no bonus tracks.

Notes: Not sure how to explain it, but I really like albums such as Gudang Garam (named for an Indonesian cigarette brand). There's a Nordic charm about them as if I'm in a dark wood paneled tavern enjoying an out of world experience (fueled no doubt by a fine Swedish Imperial Stout). Radiomobel represent a combination of symphonic progressive and high flying space rock. The highlight track being 'E-matt' which comes from the latter style and borrows from Kebnekaise's penchant for indigenous melodies. Their symphonic side is best represented by the tracks featuring high pitched female soprano vocals in Swedish, which brings to mind Autumn Breeze (not to mention a host of German symphonic rock bands from this era). On the down side, Gudang Garam is very much an amateur recording, with tinny late 1970s era synthesizers in tow. The CD contains great liner notes that explains Radiomobel means Radio Furniture, which the band used as their first amplifier - and subsequently this same amp blew a fuse, causing quite the explosion at - get ready for this - Mom's house. LOL. I think it's safe to say we're not talking Abbey Road here...

Akira Ishikawa & The Count Buffalos - African Rock. 1971 Japan

Akira Ishikawa & The Count Buffalos - African Rock. 1971 Dan/Tokuma

CD reissue: 2015 Clinck

Release details: Originals are stored in a single sleeve jacket and are pretty much extinct. This album is still just being discovered for the first time by worldwide collectors. In what has to be considered record time, the CDRWL alerted the world of the album in April, and by July we had a 100% legit reissue coming out of Japan! Coincidence? Maybe, though The AC informs us (he is fluent in Japanese) that there were hints of influence from us there. That's enough to keep us going anyway! I bought the CD from an ebay dealer based in Japan, and it isn't cheap (figure $30 including postage). I've seen the album for sale on and I fully expected Dusty Groove to bring this one in, as the music is right in their wheelhouse. But so far, it appears they are unaware of the title. As you can see below, I lived up to my word of being a first day buyer!

Notes: This is not my first run in with Akira Ishikawa & His Count Buffalos, as Shadoks reissued their (next?) album Uganda (1972) on LP and Tiliqua followed up with a CD reissue a couple of years after that (mentioned in the AC's notes as well). I found the album a disappointment, as it was primarily African percussion with a few cool Mizutani freakouts, but honestly it sounded as a late addition, and didn't fit the album as a whole. I'm about 10 minutes in here, and I have to say they reissued the wrong album.

Time to check the archaeology dig notes from the AC to get his impressions: "Akira Ishikawa's travels to Africa and subsequent fixation on fusing African music with modern jazz and rock is well documented, but unfortunately several of his more interesting LPs that came out during this particular period are not. First there was the avant-garde free-jazz freakout "Impression of Africa - 'Uganda'" (unrelated to the later well-known "Uganda" album), a commercially unreleased 1970 live supersession arranged by Masahiko Sato and performed by the combined forces of Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalos, Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd, and the Terumasa Hino Quintet. Only a couple of test press copies of this are known to exist (Columbia seemingly deemed it "too extreme" and refused to release it), making it perhaps Japan's rarest and most valuable experimental jazz LP. Interestingly, if you read the liners of the original "Primitive Community" LP, it's actually mentioned there as a "shocking" introduction to the Africa-meets-jazz/rock concept in Japan. But more relevant to the album being reviewed here was "Power Rock With Drums - The Road to Kilimanjaro" (1971, Canyon), credited to Ishikawa, but aside from his drumming actually performed by the Freedom Unity and composed (partially) by Hiromasa Suzuki. This latter name is perhaps the key point here, as although the second side of "Power Rock..." consists of nothing but pop/jazz covers, the first side features two lengthy and more interesting Suzuki pieces fusing African music and progressive jazz-rock. This seems to have laid the groundwork for "African Rock", released later the same year, for although it's credited to and performed by Ishikawa and his Count Buffalos band, all but one of the pieces were actually written by Suzuki once again. 

So, now that we've set the scene, what about the music? Well, thankfully this one is a bulls-eye for what they were attempting. Eight all-original instrumentals (aside from a little "tribal chanting") are featured, and the style can perhaps best be described as a fusion of the better parts of the following year's "Uganda" (think of "Pigmy") with some hints of "Primitive Community", filtered through the psychedelic/progressive jazz-rock stylings that Suzuki would develop over the next two years on his "Rock Joint" albums. The highlight of the album for me is the one-two punch that leads off the second side, "The Earth" featuring some of Mizutani's wildest fuzz soloing ever, followed up by "Love", a darkly mysterious flute and tribal percussion led piece that really nails that "lost in the deep jungle" vibe. An excellent album overall, and hopefully one that will be reissued someday. Confusingly, there was another identically titled "African Rock" LP released in 1972 (this one featuring a close-up of Ishikawa's face on the sleeve), but it consists of nothing but cover tunes and is of much less interest."

If the phrase "Mizutani's wildest fuzz ever" doesn't get your heart started, you may want to consult your doctor. Or your coroner. This album is everything you want in a funk psych jazz rock album - except you almost never do get what you want. It's the perfect blend of sweet grooves, wild psych, and deep funk. Horn charts, flute, tribal drums, and Mizutani psych guitar. What more can you ask for? A really splendid album, that the always deep diving Japanese record companies seem to come through on. It's a matter of patience at this point. But given all the wonderful Japanese reissues we've seen in the last 5 years or so, we can only hope this one will achieve top priority.  I'd be a first day buyer for sure. As for original LP's, well they're predictably expensive - more than I would want to pay for this type of album. I did find a couple of copies out there, if you are so inclined and financially secure.

Verdaguer - Humahuaca. 1994 Brazil

Verdaguer - Humahuaca. 1994 Record Runner (CD)

CD reissue: 2005 Record Runner

Bassist Willy Verdaguer, born and raised in Argentina, took off for Brazil in the late 1960s to become part of the exciting music scene that had captured the imagination of many South Americans. His most notable contribution was with the respected early 70s underground band Secos & Molhados. After years of production work, Verdaguer reemerged without fanfare and released Humahuaca, an album that was under the radar even in its own day. The title comes from the band name Verdaguer lead in the 1970s and 80s. Flute plays a major role in Verdaguer's sound, and thus comparisons to an instrumental Camel are inevitable, and are reasonable. The pastoral sounds of Casa das Maquinas mixed with Solaris would be another observation. And the pervasive "world music" theme gives off a strong scent of Jade Warrior. If any of this sounds appealing, then most assuredly Verdaguer will satisfy. The big drawback here is the production (ironically given Verdaguer's background), which is muddy, dull, and flat. The tones, especially on the keyboards, are all digital and lack any kind of edge. It's sadly the typical sound of the late 80s and early 90s. The saving grace is the flute, adding a much needed warmth to the proceedings. There's also some fine guitar solos as well. And listen for Billy Bond as a guest vocalist. Highlights include the head raising opener 'Danca dos Dedos', the grooving 'Charara', and the 11 minute prog rock epic 'Pulomelo'. Beyond the production, there is little to find wrong with Humahuaca, and comes as an easy recommendation. While I'm not usually a fan of re-recordings, I would love to hear this album done again with all analog gear, and a crisp production. Because the music quality is there.

Apparently the 2005 repress includes 5 bonus tracks. I've only heard the original CD.

Acintya - La Cité des Dieux Oubliés. 1978 France

Acintya - La Cité des Dieux Oubliés. 1978 SRC

CD reissue: 2012 Musea

LP reissue: 1989 Musea

Release details: Originals come in a single sleeve cover. Not an expensive album, but hardly common either. Your best bet is to scan European sites if in the market for one, as it was never imported to the States. And I think I will be looking for one in short order, as noted below. My first and only copy is the Musea LP reissue that I picked up not long after release. The Freeman's of Ultima Thule say this about the reissue: "The Musea LP reissue of this 1970's French prog gem would seem to be an LP transcription (or from damaged/stretched tapes) with a slight wow/slurring evident on the sustained keyboard tones. This is not so on the original SRC LP pressing. This flaw probably explains why Musea never reissued it on CD." Shortly after they published this, Musea did indeed come forth with a CD reissue. But according to readers of my CDRWL, the sound quality wasn't improved upon. So I've decided to hold off for now, and stick with the LP. I'll be most curious if the sound quality of the original is that much better.

Notes: Acintya's sole album is square-on instrumental progressive rock, that recalls the symphonic debut album from Carpe Diem mixed with the mysterious Wapassou. String synthesizer along with violin play a major role in Acintya's sound. The production though, is muddy and dull, and takes away all the necessary edges this album needs to be successful. Apparently the original LP on SRC maintains these dynamics, but I only have the Musea LP reissue, so perhaps that's the issue at hand. Therefore I'll seek an original out, as this wouldn't be the first time the reissue was botched to the point of ruin (see Capsicum Red). Because from a composition perspective, the music is quite compelling. None crest the Gnosis 10 / RYM 3.5 mark, but with the right production, half a point could be appended without much thought.

Pierrot Lunaire - s/t. 1974 Italy

Pierrot Lunaire - s/t. 1974 It/RCA

CD reissues: 1989 It/RCA; 1994 Si-Wan (Korea); 1997 MP (mini-LP); 2003 It/RCA (mini-LP); 2011 MP; 2014 Sony

LP reissues: 1987 RCA (Japan); 1989 It/RCA; 1994 Si-Wan (Korea); 1999 Akarma; 2011 Akarma

Like most fans of my generation, my first exposure to Pierrot Lunaire was from their avant-garde masterpiece Gudrun. With that backdrop, Pierrot Lunaire's debut is a bit of a shock to the system. The album is a low-key, pastoral, folk influenced progressive rock. Flute, keyboards, vocals, and acoustic guitars are the primary set of sounds. There isn't much here to latch onto, with a low set of dynamics, and yet it's a peaceful 45 minutes of listening. If looking for comparisons, Pierrot Lunaire is more subtle than Saint Just's La Casa del Lago, and less compelling than Errata Corrige, but both are in the same ballpark. Side 2 contains the album's highlights, with the keyboard heavy symphonic piece 'Il re di Raipure' and the hauntingly beautiful 'Arlecchinata' with wordless female vocals. Pierrot Lunaire's debut is very consistent and fortunately there are no low moments to endure. A solid record that comes recommended, though it doesn't predict the brilliance of their sophomore release.

As for reissues, the album is basically "in production" as they say. None are particularly noteworthy, that I'm aware of. One of the few Italian progressive rock albums without a Japanese CD reissue.

Jean Cohen-Solal - Flutes Libres + Captain Tarthopom. 1971-1973 France

Jean Cohen-Solal - Flutes Libres 1971 Daphy/Sonopresse. Also released in Canada on Barclay
Jean Cohen-Solal - Captain Tarthopom. 1973 Connection/Sonopresse

CD reissue: 2003 Mio (Israel). Both albums on one CD

Release details. Flutes Libres comes in a fine heavy duty gatefold sleeve, whereas Captain Tarthopom is stored in a single jacket. Both were originally released on sub-labels of Sonopresse. The only reissue is from the excellent Israeli label Mio, and contains both albums on one CD. The sound is very good (though I hear distant vinyl noise, so I'm guessing the masters were lost) and also features unique liner notes, and a good 2003 era bonus track. This was my introduction to both albums, and comes highly recommended. Best I can tell, the CD is still widely available. A couple of years ago, I picked up the debut on LP from a European dealer for about $40. The photo above is, in fact, that copy (found it on Popsike by pure luck). The current going rate isn't much more than that, and so this is an excellent pickup for collectors of original LPs. Captain Tarthopom, on the other hand, is about double that price (or more), and I have yet to source one for the collection.

Notes: On the surface, it would appear Flutes Libres would be yet another flute jazz album that was all the rage back then. With Jean Cohen-Solal appearing in his Yankee Doodle outfit, it couldn't be more than a cash-in album of that era's greatest hits. Right? Way wrong. Flutes Libres is a dense work, bordering on the Kosmische with droning organs, and classical level flute played on top. While there are some rocked out rhythms and trendy moves looking East, in general, this is an album that will appeal to those into both experimental rock and serious avant garde music. The album is remarkably consistent, without any notable highs or lows.

It appears Cohen-Solal was conscious of the seriousness of the debut, and tried to lighten the mood with the somewhat silly opening title track on his second album Captain Tarthopom. This is followed by the sublime 'Ludions', meshing his trademark flute work with the sound of Soft Machine's Third, and is the highlight of both albums. Next track 'Ab hoc et ab hac' indicates more of the same, but then ventures back into more experimental territory, where it never leaves again. While the tracks on Captain Tarthopom are relatively compact compared to the debut, the level of experimentation remains high.

Fans of atmospheric, and perhaps even difficult, avant-garde rock will find much pleasure in both of Cohen-Solal's albums. These are not easy listens, and certainly not the kind of music that result in pleasing a crowd. But for private listening in dark rooms, the rewards are great.

Jordi Sabates - Ocells del Mes Enlla. 1975 Spain

Jordi Sabates - Ocells Del Més Enllà. 1975 Edigsa/Zeleste

CD reissues: 2000 PDI; 2009 Picap

LP reissue: 2003 Guerssen/PDI

Ocells Del Més Enllà is a Flamenco fusion style of progressive rock, with namesake Jordi Sabates on keyboards (Rhodes, Moog, organ, and piano) and Toti Soler on acoustic guitar (often playing in the traditional Flamenco way). The 7 piece band is fleshed out with electric guitar, bass, vocals, hand percussion, and drums. Some of the music reminds me of the slower/mellower tracks from the early Mahavishnu Orchestra albums but with a distinctive Spanish flavor (including the familiar hand claps). Wonderful female wordless voices augment this fine recording. Highly recommended.

Originals are stored in a single sleeve cover and not particularly expensive, though it is elusive. The first CD is from PDI, and is straight up with no extras. I presume the Picap version is similar and should be easy to find. The LP reissue is a gatefold, so there's a bonus there it appears.

Asoka - s/t. 1971 Sweden

Asoka - s/t. 1971 Sonet

UMR feature of Taste of Blues

CD reissue: 2005 Mellotronen (includes "Take Off" archival release)

LP reissue: 2005 Mellotronen

LP release of "Take Off": 2005 Mellotronen (archival recordings from 1968 to 1973)

Release details: Originals are stored in a single sleeve cover and are very rare and expensive. My first exposure to the album was via a bootleg CD edition that I picked up from a large collection buy in the late 90s. It wasn't until 2005, that legit reissues finally surfaced. The CD comes in a fine tri-fold digipak with a history of the band, and as a bonus, a full album's worth of archival material. On LP, this archival album was issued separately as "Take Off". The original album was issued on LP as well. 10 years later, and it appears the pirates are back in the Asoka business, as these reissues are becoming more and more difficult to source.

Notes: Asoka were formed from the ashes of Taste of Blues (see link above). Two-fifths of that group reformed into a new band called Take Off (more on that below), and then later merged with the rhythm section of another Malmo outfit called (appropriately enough) Rhythm and Blues, Inc. The Asoka album opens in blistering fashion, with fuzz bass blasting in your face while loud guitars pile on top. 'Ataraxia' continues in similar form, with an excellent organ solo. From here, it's a smorgasbord of early Swedish proto-prog, with the usual strong accent on blues rock overriding a jazzy undercurrent. As is often the case, the tracks sung in Swedish flow more natural than those in English. Highlights, beyond the two opening tracks, include '1975', the violin driven 'If You Feel', the very Swedish 'Tvivlaren', and the Uriah Heep like 'I'm Trying (To Find a Way to Paradise)'. Overall, Asoka is more progressive than say November or Midsommar, and the album prepared local listeners to one day be prepared for the awesome heavy progressive rock outfit Trettioariga Kriget. After a few incarnations, Asoka evolved into the also much recommended Lotus.

Notes for "Take Off": As mentioned above, Take Off was the interim group between Taste of Blues and Asoka. This archival compilation includes tracks from Asoka Mk. 2 and Mk. 3 (both recorded after the LP proper), Taste of Blues, and one extended piece from Take Off. The liner notes and ordering of the tracks are an historian's nightmare, however. The album starts with the best recorded track, the superb 'The Seeker', which clearly demonstrates that Asoka Mk. 3 sounded like Lotus at this point. Lotus, of course, being the next incarnation of Asoka. The liner notes make a reference that the band's twin guitar harmonies are "in the vein of Thin Lizzy 1977". Leading many to think this was recorded in 1977. No - it's just referencing Thin Lizzy circa 1977. The track was likely recorded in 1973 at the very end of Asoka's career. And in similar fashion, 'At El-Yago 9-3', the liner notes state it's an early version of a Lotus track released in 1974 (which is when the first Lotus album came out). Meaning, this was probably recorded in 1973 as well. Then there are three tracks, including two cover tunes, where the only cross reference is the writing credits on the one self-penned number go to the members of Asoka Mk. 2, which places the date around '71 or '72 . Though it's anyone's guess if the two cover tracks are from the same session. These songs are all interesting, very much in the same vein as the original LP. Though the sound quality is noticeably inferior. Tracks 6 and 7 are live recordings from Taste of Blues that (finally) have been appended a date, and these are both from 1968. Again, the sound quality is a bit iffy, but for the time and place, these are a couple of nice psychedelic blues rock nuggets. And the last track has to be considered the gem of the set (along with 'The Seeker'). This is the only known recording from Take Off (1970), and it's a fine period-piece psychedelic jam, sounding more like Flasket Brinner or International Harvester at this point. Would have loved to hear more from this bunch. Overall a worthy set for an archival album, though I'd recommend the CD since the album is included as bonus tracks - which, in essence, is really what they are.

Egg - The Polite Force. 1970 England

Egg - The Polite Force. 1970 Deram. Also released in Germany, Canada, and the USA

CD reissues: 1991 Deram (Japan); 2004 Eclectic; 2005 Deram/Universal (Japan mini-LP); 2008 Esoteric; 2016 Deram (Japan SHM)

LP reissues: 1976 Deram (Japan); 2014 Deram/Universal

The album opens with the 8+ minute 'A Visit to Newport Hospital', which is a quintessential Canterbury like number. The opening chords will remind one of Black Sabbath, except as played on the organ! From there, the track unwinds into a marvelous jazzy progressive piece, with those trademark fuzz organ solos, and whimsical melodic British vocals. It is, in fact, darn near perfect. If only the whole album was like this! The 4+ minute 'Contrasong' continues in the same manner, perhaps a bit more towards the jazz spectrum. And then.... Egg completely lost their minds. 'Boilk' is 9+ minutes of painful improvisational noise. One begins to question if there are indeed Homo Sapiens in the room at all. I often wonder why bands of immense talent like Egg feel it necessary to demonstrate that they too can play like a 3rd grader on their first music lesson. What a waste of time really. This leads to the side long track appropriately titled 'Long Piece No. 3'. It's an encapsulation of everything Egg was about up until this time. Wonderful progressions, and memorable melodies, offset by tuneless improvisation. Fortunately Egg cut the excess on the latter, and the composition as a whole is thoroughly enjoyable. A fine album, stripped of masterpiece status due to a near 10 minute nasty stain. Tragedy that.

Apparently the album wasn't released until 1971, though the copyright date is clearly 1970. Despite Egg being a high profile band, CDs were strictly the fodder of pirates  for years, since the only digital version was the obscure and expensive 1991 Japanese press. The Japanese mini from 2005 is exactly what you would expect in terms of quality packaging, and I'm guessing they used the same masters as provided back in 1976. At some point I wouldn't mind picking up the UK version for the liner notes if nothing else.

Last update: July 10, 2016

Jerusalem - s/t. 1972 England

Jerusalem - s/t. 1972 Deram. Also released in Germany and Japan

CD reissues: 2005 Deram/Universal (Japan mini-LP); 2009 Rockadrome (USA)

LP reissue: 2011 Lion/Rockadrome (USA)

Release details: Album is stored in a fine gatefold cover and can get quite pricey if you're interested in securing one. Like the Strange Days album, this is an album I completely missed in the 80s and 90s. Though at least I'd heard of Strange Days, but Jerusalem was an entirely new name for me in 2005. When the Japanese CD came out, I figured it was just some rock album outside of my interest area. But no, it read well, so I popped for the deluxe version immediately, which was the first legit reissue on the market after numerous bootlegs. But as we know, the expensive Japanese CDs won't keep the pirates at bay, and it wasn't until the Rockadrome CD hit the shelves, that Jerusalem was finally available to the majority of fans. Apparently this CD comes with 5 bonus tracks (one unreleased and 4 alternate takes), plus a 20 page booklet with liner notes from band member Paul Dean and producer Ian Gillan (yes, the Deep Purple Ian Gillan). At some point, I hope to secure this CD as well, as I'm sure it's the definitive version. The Japanese CD of course looks great, and in this case is a straight master tape transfer, so even the most fussy audiophile will likely be pleased with the sound. As for LP's, Rockadrome partnered with Lion, for the one and only legit reissue in that format. I wouldn't mind owning that as well!

Notes: "Alex, I'll take Obscure Hard Rock Bands from the 70s for $1000". "The clue is.... "1972 England"". "Who is Jerusalem?" YES!  Jerusalem's sole album is so ridiculously square on in the hard rock zone, there can be no other answer. Gritty, no nonsense, twin guitar rockin' madness with gruff and slightly psychotic vocals. Every track is a winner. The compositions aren't brainless either, and especially on Side 2, a fair amount of complexity and extra heaviness enters into the picture. Highlights include the dense 'Midnight Steamer', the heavy fuzz overload of 'Primitive Man', and the Eastern progressive rock laced 'Beyond the Grave'. And when I see the name Jerusalem, and its cover theme portrays The Crusades, I'm in.


It's worth noting that the lead singer adopted the Jerusalem name starting in 2009, against the other members' wishes. I have not heard these two latter albums (including one from 2014).

Snowdonia - Pallas. 1995 Spain

Snowdonia - Pallas. 1999 Mellow (Italy CD)

Well, now, isn't this a little gem hiding deep in my collection? Snowdonia is a band named after a national park region in Northern Wales. So, of course, they were formed in Madrid, Spain and the album was released in Italy. Snowdonia were part of the retro late 1960s boom that was all the rage in the middle 90s. And thus sounds like a mid 1990's band doing late 60's psychedelic progressive - especially to these 2015 ears (as I write this). Keeping up here? We're talking the type of band that Freak Emporium and Crohinga Well were pushing hard back in the day. The album was recorded in 1994/95, but not released until 1999 by Mellow.

A strong folk element is apparent with the female (some male) vocals (mostly Spanish with a smattering of English), though this squarely comes from the proto-prog cookbook of 1970. The keyboard ingredients include (typing from liners): Mini-Moog, Arp (sic), Leslie Hammond (sic again), Fender Rhodes, Mellotron, and Solina. Well, I hear no Mellotron, and the Solina is an ARP synth, one would hope they knew that (hmmm). Honestly I'm hearing a lot of simulated sounds, and they are cheating here a bit. Soooo '90s of them to do that (sigh, miss those days). And really, authenticity aside, who cares? The music is great, perhaps a bit sloppy - with little purpose other than to create interesting progressive psychedelic music, that is entirely their own, despite obvious past influences. And I haven't even hit the highlight yet: The wonderful psychedelic guitar playing of band leader Daniel Galera. The album improves as it goes, and with guest flute on the latter tracks, the music elevates to an entirely new level. Pallas peaks on the final track, the instrumental 'A Demon That's Dreaming', with wordless female voice, haunting keyboards, changing meters, and screaming fuzz guitar.

Talk about under the radar. To illustrate this point, I am the first to register the CD on Discogs. Pallas is an album that is sadly long forgotten. The good news is that the CD is still readily available if any of this captures your imagination. I'm not selling mine that's for sure.

Spyros adds: "I agree that it is a sadly underrated album. Female vocals aside, the music in parts reminds me of a more laid-back early Camel. Great instrumental flight, but I don't like the vocals, unfortunately."

Strange Days - 9 Parts to the Wind. 1975 England

Strange Days - 9 Parts to the Wind. 1975 Retreat/EMI

CD reissue: 2007 Strange Days/Universal (Japan mini-LP)

Release details: Single sleeve cover, and surprisingly inexpensive if in the market for one. I'm not sure how I missed this album in my initial accumulation of LPs, but it just never came across my desk. I will probably make the effort to pick this one up in the next buying season. The CD that arrived many years later, was my introduction to the album. It's a fine reissue, that is most certainly more rare and expensive than the original LP today. Since Strange Days was originally released on a major label, the Japan market has a full license and total access. Not sure why it's never been reissued by a progressive rock specialist label. This most assuredly has Esoteric's name all over it, and it would be a worthy pursuit. As such, pirate editions are floating about as I write this.

Notes: Strange Days comes from the last throes of UK progressive rock in 1975. Similar to other bands of its ilk, namely Druid, Kestrel, Time, and Fruupp - Strange Days went boldly forward with a combination of complex progressive rock, with a lucid dose of commercial material just in case a high powered record executive might tune in. They didn't, and off to the obscurity grave went Strange Days. But for deep divers of arcane progressive rock, don't miss this gem. The last two tracks in particular demonstrate that Strange Days were a group to be reckoned with, and include many complex progressions. Oddly, the lengthiest tune with the overtly proggy moniker 'The Journey' is mostly a tedious Broadway play styled production, and is the weakest link to an otherwise super album.

Dedalus - s/t. 1973 Italy

Dedalus - s/t. 1973 Trident

CD reissues: 1989 Vinyl Magic; 2002 Arcangelo (Japan mini-LP); 2009 Vinyl Magic

LP reissue: 2012 Vinyl Magic/BTF

Release details: Wonderful gatefold cover with men in stylish overcoats, and each with cheap watch heads (Timex, Seiko). Simple but very effective. Originals will typically set you back anywhere from $250 to $400 depending. My first copy of the album was the initial CD that I bought upon release. It's basic like all of those early Vinyl Magic CDs, and I still own it. I never did secure the Japanese mini, and it's now one of the hardest to find if you're a collector of those. I've been expecting a repress, but we haven't seen it yet. The 2009 press keeps the album in print. As for LP's, I was fortunate to buy two original copies in the 1990s, including a new one from a record store back stock in Cheyenne, Wyoming (!!). I traded the latter back then, but the one I kept is mint as well. And I proudly display it on one of my LP walls in an album frame. It remains one of my all-time faves from a cover perspective.

Notes: Dedalus' debut, despite being the first album released from one of Italy's premiere independent progressive rock labels, is actually a pure jazz rock play. The rhythm section is fast, energetic, and super tight. The soloists - namely saxophone, guitar, and cello - are loose and improvised. Odd combination that at times is highly successful, and at others quite tedious. Very much an album worth owning, but not top tier in my estimation.

To Be - s/t. 1977 Germany

To Be - s/t. 1977 Brain

No reissues

Release details: Single sleeve cover. One of the more sought after "orange" Brain releases, but you can usually find one for $40 or under if you look hard enough. The name of the band makes it nigh impossible to search for, and there are no reissues to date, so it remains a Priority 3 on our CDWRL blog. I bought mine years ago, and fortunately held onto it (though the cover is not near as nice as the above photo) after being initially disappointed (see notes below).

Notes: When I first heard this album, I hated it. Of course, I fully expected it to be a Krautrock album filled with heavy organ and acid guitar solos. It's on Brain for crying out loud! Yea, well, that was back in 1988 when I found it at a local record show. So YouTube boy, don't get all high and mighty on me that I should have known better.

Many years later, I caught the "Kraut Fusion" bug (PC Police note - that's what they call it in Germany). And To Be is a bulls eye for that style. Latin tinged fusion, in particular, was all the rage in late 70s Germany. So what we have here is an instrumental mid 70s Santana mixed with Return to Forever. Some fine guitar solos, extra percussion, and complex unison runs are what you'll hear. All packaged up nicely to go with your Pina Colada. I like it.

Guru Guru - Dance of the Flames. 1974 Germany

Guru Guru - Dance of the Flames. 1974 Atlantic. Also released in the UK.

Other Guru Guru albums on UMR

CD reissue: 2006 Revisited/SPV

Release details: Single sleeve cover and relatively easy to find. The challenge is finding one in mint condition. I bought my first copy in the late 80s and it looked a lot like the cover from the auction above, with copious amounts of shelf wear. It's only been in the last few years I finally secured a mint one at a reasonable price. The only reissue to market is the Revisited CD, that came along later in the game, as this was one of my Priority 1's for many years. The CD is excellent, and is housed in a thick tri-fold digipak cover. The liner notes include a full history of Guru Guru and a separate one for the album itself. Nice photos and an excellent 7+ minute live track round it out. It does sound to my ears that this was mastered from vinyl however. Have to guess the masters are lost or in poor condition.

Notes: This is the odd album out in the Guru Guru canon. Former Eiliff guitarist Houshang Nejadepour took over the reins from Ax Genrich, and it's obvious he took over the musical direction of Guru Guru at this point too. And they needed it, after releasing the halfway stupid (and halfway great) self-titled 4th, and the ridiculous Don't Call Us We Call You albums. Heavily influenced by the McLaughlin/Santana opus Love Devotion and Surrender, Nejadepour gives us an intense guitar centric blast of emotional instrumental rock. Neumeier gets a rare chance to shows his formative jazz percussion chops while special mention should go to jazz bassist Hans Hartmann (AR & Machines, ID Company) who turns in a monster performance. Still, you can just hear Mani in the studio "oh please, please, let me do one goofy thing, pleeeassssssse." And so he gets his fun on the first track with a Donald Duck impersonation and bad vocals throughout (though the music is excellent). "Very nice Mani... now go back to your drum kit and shut up". 'The Girl From Hirschhorn' is a truly remarkable track, an extremely intense emotional and melodic workout, and the song that states this album was going to be a great departure from whatever came before it. 'The Day of Timestop', and 'God's Endless Love for Men' could have been lifted from Mahavishnu Orchestra's "The Inner Mounting Flame" sessions. 'Rallulli' sounds more like acoustic Embryo than Guru Guru.

After one album of spiritual enlightenment, Mani obviously wanted no part of that, and the group went back to being the goofball vehicle it had become, and never again was Guru Guru to release anything of that much interest IMO. Houshang was gone. Neumeier himself, however, did immerse in interesting projects, even today with the UFO styled Neumeier – Genrich - Schmidt and Gurumaniax projects. But Guru Guru as a band never again reached the heights of Dance of the Flames. Whatever happened to Nejadepour? What a talent!

Trikolon - Cluster. 1969 Germany

Trikolon - Cluster. 1969 Ruampool Acoustic

CD reissue: 2003 Garden of Delights

LP reissue: 2004 Amber Soundroom

That Trikolon's sole album exists at all is the result of a sheer force of will. This live concert was privately released in a tiny run of 150 copies, so that an original album today is nothing short of a small fortune. This kind of musical entrepreneurship just wasn't done in 1969 Germany.

I bring this up, because it would be easy to criticize the album in retrospect. Rocked out versions of classical music are yawn-inducing today, but I would imagine it was quite enlightening to the audience that had gathered for this show. And keyboardist Hendrik Schaper puts on quite the performance for those who did attend on this fortuitous night.

Opening track, Brian Auger's 'In Search of the Sun' (from Streetnoise), is extended beyond recognition here. This track features the only vocals on the album, and it surprisingly sounds like Eric Burdon and The Animals. Schaper actually declares the lyrics rather than singing them, just like Burdon would. On 'Trumpet for Example' the ever talented Schaper blows a few notes on his horn, and then gets back to banging on the organ until silly. ''Hendrik's Easy Groove' is indeed a piano recital, and while I'm sure it was quite fun for the audience this one night, it proves to be quite a dull listen for everyone else. Perhaps his mother would have been proud however. Too bad it wasn't "Hendrix's Easy Groove" with an accompanying 11 minute wah wah guitar solo, while the stringed instrument is burning an inferno in front. Ah well. From here on out, it's Rockin' the Classics, where Schaper goes ballistic on his poor organ of older vintage, beating the living crap out of it. 22 minute bonus track 'Fuge' continues in a similar manner, where all of the trikolon get in on the frenetic action.

So imagine Soft Machine circa "III" playing the music of The Nice, and you'd have an idea where Trikolon land. Historically a phenomenon, though modern audiences may get bored. A good one for the collection, though it won't get played often.

The album is a single sleeve private release, at a time when no one did such a thing in Germany. With a small pressing of only 150 copies, this album is through the roof in terms of price. I only found one original documented on Popsike (above photo). And I can barely recall ever seeing another copy. Of course, the Garden of Delights CD is the way to go here (which I dutifully picked up upon release), with a complete history, photos, good sound (from a mint vinyl copy provided by the band), and a 22 minute bonus track.  The Amber Soundroom LP will likely be from the same mastering, but misses the bonus song which is significant.

Last update: July 27, 2016

The Word of Life - Dust. 1995 Sweden

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