Sunday, December 4, 2016

Czar - 1970 - Czar


01. Tread Softly On My Dreams(6:37)
02. Cecelia (8:12)
03. Follow Me (3:19)
04. Dawning Of A New Day (6:11)
05. Beyond The Moon (3:44)
06. Today (3:23)
07. A Day In September (7:56)

Bonus tracks: CD counterfeit: Fingerprint (1995)
08. Oh Lord I'm Getting Heavy
09. Why Don't We Be A Rock 'N Roll Band

- Del Gough / drums
- Bob Hodges / keyboards, vocals
- Paul Kendrick / bass, vocals
- Mick Ware / guitar, vocals

Czar's sole album is one that is usually targeted for the dreaded "overrated" term I so despise. And I can see where some folks may be turned off by this album (I'll admit I wasn't too keen on it for about a decade myself), especially when compared to the competition of early 70s England. But if one REALLY analyzes it, most of this album was recorded in 1969 (it was released at the beginning of 1970) and should be considered a pioneering work. The most obvious comparison is CothCK King Crimson, and that's no surprise as we learn that Czar in fact did play with the Crimson King back in those days. Czar were one of the early bands to drench their album in mellotron, and when combined with organ, they were able to present quite a powerful statement. There is some definite holdover from their psych days as a band known as Tuesday's Children, and on some of the poppier tracks, The Moody Blues come to mind here as well.

How do I know so much about Czar? Because the album has finally been reissued legit on Sunbeam Records. Features outstanding sound, awesome liner notes from former band members, photos, the whole works. We learn things like the album should have come out on Vertigo, but for reasons still not understood, Philips put them on their Fontana imprint. We also learn that the last track was unfinished and wasn't meant to be on the album, but rather another long jam session with a classical mid-section was intended (and is included as the only worthy bonus track). And through these bonus tracks, we can hear that Czar was absolutely going in the WRONG direction as a hard blues rock act, which is not surprising given that keyboardist Bob Hodges had packed his gear and left.

Let's have look in great detail .

"Tread Softly on My Dreams" opens the album with an intro part that is 99.99% similar (or I can say it "the same") with Procol Harum's "Homburg". Well, it's unclear to me which came first as I learned from my discussion with progheads that actually Procol Harum did not also make the melody by their own and this "Homburg" was heavily influenced (or probably "adopted") from a classical music. I do not know about it yet as I'm not an explorer of true classical music. But it only happens at the intro part and some repetition in the middle of this track. Overall this is a good track.

"Cecelia" flows in the vein of psychedelic with heavy use of organ throughout the tune. This organ has mainly characterized this song - or even all CZAR music is heavily characterized by the sound of organ. The music flows relatively flat and simple with some accentuation of nice and very seventies organ style. The stricture is simple, using duet voice line with some variations or harpsicord sound. The drummer Del Gough has made good contribution. The guitar solo is simple but really stunning especially combined with the rhythm section of this track. It's truly the "seventies music" man!! For those who like psychedelic, you might love this track. It's an excellent track. This track passes the test on duration of any prog tune that by rule of thumbs were defined as 7-8 minute. It's probably a wrong number but that's what happened in the seventies.

"Follow Me" (3:19) is an outfit that very close with the style of Pink Floyd "The Piper ." album. It's completely a psychedelic venture. You can smell an influence of The Beatles and Procol Harum here. This time guitar takes the lead in the rhythm section as well as short melody / solo in transitions or in the middle of the track. Organ is used lightly with soft sound at background or accentuation during transition pieces.

"Dawning of a New Day" starts off with simple guitar fills with organ at background. It's a ballad song with nice acoustic and electric guitars. Melody is relatively nice and it flows with the voice line, accentuated by the electric guitar work. When organ solo enters the scene it really reminds me to the seventies where the sound of Procol Harum was very popular. Solo guitar performed is very simple but it's enjoyable especially when it is combined with a mellotron sound at the background.

"Beyond the Moon" is another simple structure psychedelic tune in the vein of PF "The Piper .". It seems like I'm now enjoying Syd Barrett creation through this track. If you enjoy "The Piper" you will love this track!

"Today" is a mellow track that in a way reminds me to "A Whiter Shades of Pale" at its intro part. The vocal line sings in high register notes and reminds me to Babe Ruth or Pavlov's Dog singers. It's a nice track with guitar plays as rhythm combined with organ.

"A Day in September" is relatively a long track with more prog venture. It starts off with a combination of bassline and organ followed with guitar fills. The music turns into faster tempo with organ sound in crescendo followed by duet vocal line. The track really turns into prog when it enters approx min 3:40 where the organ brings the music into an interlude that demonstrates guitar solo. I really enjoy this interlude. Sometimes, I can smell the sound of The Doors in this track as well.

"Oh Lord I'm Getting Heavy" is a blues based pop tune with some brass section involved. Organ still plays important role as main rhythm section. "Why Don't We Be a Rock 'n Roll Band" is probably representing the band's yell to be a successful rock band. It's composed in a pop rock vein. It has a good interlude with great guitar solo. The repetition of title lyrics in this tune has made me feel boring. The sonic quality of these two bonus tracks are not good.

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