Thursday, July 19, 2018

Phantom - 1990 - Phantom's Divine Comedy, Part 2 - The Lost Album

Phantom's Divine Comedy, Part 2 - The Lost Album

01. Your Life; "Tales From The Wizard"
02. Queen Of Air
03. Lone Wolf
04. Storms
05. The Music Rolls On
06. Release Me
07. Sailing Away

Bass – Dennis Craner
Drums – John Bdanjeck
Guitar – Gary Meisner
Keyboards – Mike DeMartino
Vocals, Guitar – Tom Carson

Recorded in Los Angeles in the early '70s.

Originally known as Walpurgis, just think The Doors with a much heavier sound and a more polished singer and you have their first album "Phantom's Divine Comedy Part 1".

Walpurgis was the official name of the band for years and they came from Detroit. They played all over Michigan, Ohio, and Canada. They were recording their first LP in New York in 1974 under that name before the big hiatus happened, leaving no choice but let Capitol Records redo the LP, take control, and change the name to Phantom's Divine Comedy. The members of the band were John Bdanjeck, Tom Carson, Dennis Craner,Mike DeMartino, and Gary Meisner .

"The Lost Album" is supposed to have been recorded in Los Angeles and predates the official Phantom's Divine Comedy release

I find this somewhat implausible to believe that this is supposed to pre-date the classic Phantom's album, it being far too glossy and commercial. It is, of course, entirely possible that the commerciality came first and they ditched it for the psychedelic colossus that was issued in 1974 but I just can't see it. The voice is nowhere as polished as on the better known album, sounding quite rough at times. The lead guitar work has the stamp of the other album but the arrangements are very different. Being billed as a demo made me expect some half-assed, poorly realised or unfinished recordings, such as is often the case with unreleased material. Nothing could be further from the truth, this is all well recorded, slick and polished and sounds more like an unreleased second album to me. There's no doubt in my mind that all these songs are the finished article. That's the trouble, when a band existed in a cloud of doubt and rumour, it's almost impossible to get a true picture of what actually happened, who was involved and when it all took place. (nb see footnote with link)

The guitarist certainly sounds the same as before; he has a great tone and I wish he had recorded more, assuming of course that he hasn't and how the hell would we know if he had? Even though the voice has some rasping that wasn't previously present it's still a great instrument. It might be more mainstream in nature but it's by no means a middle-of-the-road sell-out, nor is it a soft rock venture that pales in comparison to it's elder brother. It stands up pretty well as a companion piece, it's simply going in a different direction.

After listening to this a few more times there are various features that I believe could point towards a later date; the melodic and forward bass presence in the mix, the sound of the synthesizer used, the more mature and refined arrangements, the slick production, the laid back style. It's not a fait accompli and honestly doesn't matter a jot. The only important question is "Do I like it or not is?" and the answer is a resounding YES.

A great addition to my collection and a welcome find, especially as I think the "other" album is one of THE greatest rock albums of all time.

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