Sunday, February 8, 2015

Morning Dew - 1971 - Second Album

Morning Dew
Second Album

01. Someday 4:24
02. Flying Above Myself 4:21
03. My Kind of Music 4:08
04. Lion>Away from It All 9:26
05. 1849 4:58
06. Satan Gotta Hold on Thee 4:18
07. Money Honey Blues 2:56
08. Then Came the Light [Alternate Stereo Version] 3:55
09. Something You Say 3:33
10. Our Last Song 1:16

 This represents a big change in our sound as we feature Ferdy Baumgart  playing the Hammond. I’m now using a Gibson Les Paul with my Mosrite fuzz occasionally, but not as much.  We had also added Dave Howell on keyboards and guitar. Eventually, Bill Stahlin from St.Joe, Missouri  replaced Blair Honeyman on bass….Bill was a friend of Steve Walsh, lead singer for “Kansas”. We were in a more experimental phase of our music.)

1-Someday: An ecology message. Ferdy was a “power” player on the Hammond. And , it shows on several of these tunes. I do like the Les Paul fuzz lead at the end of the song.

2-Flying Above Myself: I think this is my favorite song of the session. Great, high energy Hammond lead in the middle of the song with some great percussion back up by Don. It sounds like something Santana might do with his keyboard player…..of course there is no guitar lead in this song. Now the lyrics in this song are totally about being stoned….pure and simple. However, we never performed under the influence. We could derive inspiration from being under the influence, but we always put the songs out sober.

3-My Kind of Music: This is a break from the Hammond sound in the other songs. Ferdy plays guitar lead on a Gibson ES335. Country music has always been very popular in Kansas and this is a song written about those fans or audiences.

4-Lion/Away From It All: This was to be our second “Epic” for the second album, again putting two songs together. “Lion” is the representation of the cruel world out there and “Away From It All” is about getting with the love of your life, forgetting your troubles, and getting away from all your troubles. The music centers around  Ferdy’s Hammond and my guitar parts playing off one another.

5-1849: Again, nice break from the “front and center” Hammond sound. Dave Howell is on Hammond with Ferdy on one lead guitar and me on the other. We saw a documentary about the California gold rush in the late 1840’s and that inspired the song.

6-Satin’s Gotta Hold On Thee: I like the body of the song and the lyric, but it just doesn’t seem to reach its potential as a song. I think we may have taken off in too many different directions on this one. It is interesting though. It is about people in general not being satisfied, being hypocritical, and pretty much losing their way. Maybe this is why the music drifts in different directions.

7-Money Honey Blues: This was actually recorded in our Fairyland Sessions as a filler song. We pretty much wrote and arranged it in the studio….it is the early Dew sound. Lou Rennau plays the piano on this.  It so happened that Cicadelic/Collectables put this on the Second Album release as a filler to the other ones.

8-Then Came the Light: This is the version done at Fairyland Recording Studio. Later, re-recorded on the Roulette album in New York.

9-Something you Say: Again, this is the Fairyland Recording Studio version. Later, re-recorded on the Roulette album in New York.

10-Our Last Song: Again, this was done at Fairyland Recording Studio only. 
Some of the Fairyland recordings were put on the “Second ‘Album” by Cicadelic/Collectables as filler to the songs we recorded at Audio House for Roulette to consider for a second album on their label.

Morning Dew - 1970 - Morning Dew

Morning Dew
Morning Dew

01. Crusader's Smile (3:42)
02. Upon Leaving (2:12)
03. Young Man (2:32)
04. Then Came The Light (4:15)
05. Cherry Street (4:09)
06. Gypsy (5:48)
07. Something You Say (4:29)
08. Country Boy Blue (2:39)
09. Save Me (3:40)
10. Epic: (4:33)
a. The Mann
b. Death Is A Dream

Mal Robinson (guitar),
Blair Honeyman (bass, vocals),
Don Anderson (organ, keyboards, ?-1970),
Don Sligar (drums),
Dave Howell (organ, keyboards, 1970-?),
Fredy Baumgart (guitar, 1971-?)

Morning Dew's 1967 self-titled LP has a distinct sound; it was the beginning of the psychedelic phase of rock music. And that is firmly in place on the record. According to the back cover of the LP it was released in 1971 on Big Seven Music. There are moments of a heavier metal sound, but very few. The peace, flowers, and summer of love influence abounds throughout most of this record. Check out the cover, this couple looks as though like they are frolicking in the fields of Woodstock. It's all very good rock music; in fact, this is a solid album without one throw-away on the entire recording. The musical style remains consistent throughout with the exception of one surprise, the closing track "Epic: The Mann/Death Is A Dream," which starts off with a Spanish flamenco guitar and then launches into one of their rockers, it's a step away from the norm and a nice change showing how the band was talented enough to go into an entirely different direction. For the most part the folk, rock, and psychedelic sounds are what dominate this record, and a nice balance is managed with male and female vocals taking turns. It's a great album!!! (review by Keith Hannaleck from
Aug.1969 Bob Gallo’s Talentmaster Recording Studio- New York City, New York
With a line up of Mal Robinson-lead guitar and lead vocals; Don Sligar-Drums; Don Anderson-rhythm guitar and keyboards; and Blair Honeyman-bass guitar and vocals the band entered the studio in New York to record the Roulette album. The recording consisted of  ten songs and the tracks were completed in about 30 hours with many songs using one take.  Lee DeCarlo was the recording engineer(who’s claim to fame was the engineer on the U.S. mix for Jumpin Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones) and Fred Munao was the Producer. This represented Munao’s first major project with Roulette, having previously worked with The Left Banke for another label. Songs included in the session were: “Something You Say”, “Then Came the Light”, “Cherry Street”, and “Young Man” previously recorded at Fairyland Studio and new additions to their sound “Crusader’s Smile”, “Upon Leaving”, “The Gypsy”, “Country Boy Blue”, “Save Me”, and “The Mann”/”Death is a Dream”.  All songs were written by Mal Robinson with the exception of “Save Me” which was co-written with Kerry Livgren of the band Kansas. Don Sligar and Mal Robinson had known Livgren playing in local bands and attending the local university. At the time the song was written, Livgren and Sligar were good friends and living together with several other musicians in Topeka.  Although the album’s main focus is the psychedelic rock sound, several easier listening songs are included.  Interestingly, Roulette leaned to wanting to use the easier listening sounds of “Country Boy Blue” and “Something You Say” for potential singles with the label. No singles were ever released and for some unknown reason the album did not get released until one year later in August, 1970.

Phafner - 1971 - Overdrive


01. Plea From The Soul - 5:30
02. Uncle Jerry - 4:32
03. Wiskey Took My Woman - 5:38
04. Rock and Roll Man - 2:59
05. Red Thumb - 4:22
06. Overdrive - 2:50

*Tommy Shultz - Bass
*Steve "Gus" Gustafson - Drums
*Dale Shultz - Guitar, Vocals
*Steve "Spider" Smith - Lead Guitar
*Greg "Smitty" Smith - Vocals, Harmonica

In 1969 Phafner was born. The group released this record in 1971. The only problem was that they produced only fifty copies of the album. Recently this LP sold for $3000.00.

This group was an advanced psychedelic-rock unit. Their sound was not given its due on this recording however. The sound is in fact, below average. The music is allowed to drown out the vocals, and by and large it sounds like it was recorded in a tin can. With a little loving care, and another good mix down, this album would sound incredible.

I must give full credit to the group…musically they were absolutely excellent. I think with another shot in the studio to remaster this recording, Phafner could be appreciated as a legend of psychedelic rock as they so justly deserve.

Methuselah - 1969 - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

01. Matthew - 4:40
02. Mark - 3:03
03. Luke - 3:00
04. John - 4:15
05. High in the Tower of Coombe - 3:15
06. Methuselah - 4:26
07. My Poor Mary - 3:17
08. Fireball Woman - 3:38
09. Fairy Tale - 3:01
10.Frere Jacques - 6:08

*Craig Austin - Bass, Vocals
*Mick Bradley - Drums
*John Gladwin - Vocals, Vibes
*Les Nicol - Guitar, Vocals
*Terry Wincott - Guitar, Vocals

 This late 60s group made two albums for Elektra but only the one above, which inevitably is now quite rare and sought-after, was released. The band evolved out of The Dimples/Gospel Garden, with a new drummer Mick Bradley (ex-The Sorrows) and whiz kid guitar player Les Nicol (ex-ABC). The band inherited Gospel Garden's management deal with Steve Roland at Double-R management and scored a three-album deal with Elektra.

Label boss Jac Holzman drafted in songwriter Kenny Young (of “Under The Boardwalk” fame) to produce the first album of Gladwin originals. Inexplicably it was never released in the UK, and when nothing happened in the States, the band recorded the (unreleased) double album. However, by this time "proverbial" musical differences had split the band and the second album was cancelled. The various factions went their separate ways with Mick Bradley joining Steamhammer, Gladwin and Wincott signing with Island Records as Amazing Blondel and Craig Austin and Les Nicol together with (ex-Junior's Eyes drummer Steve Chapman) forming psychedelic trio Distant Jim and later Coast Road Drive.

Methuselah's released album has folk, R&B gospel and even pop influences in its melodies and vocals. The best tracks are ‘John’, with astonishing guitar leads from Les Nicol; the folky ‘High In The Tower Of Coombe’; the gospel-influenced ‘My Poor Image’ and ‘Fireball Woman’. The French children’s song ‘Frere Jaques’ is sung in French at the start and finish of the album, the second time with church choir-like vocals and some jazzy instrumentation in the middle segment. Les Nicol also played with other British musicians on the second Pavlov's Dog album.

Los Yorks - 1967 - Los Yorks' 67

Los Yorks
Los Yorks' 67

01. Pronto Un Doctor
02. Vete Al Infierno
03. Rogaras
04. La Carta
05. Esperando
06. Enamorada De Un Amigo Mio
07. Abrasame
08. No Puedo Amar
09. Cielo (Sunny)
10. Muy Facil
11. Hunki Panky
12. Pensando Estoy

A Peruvian garage psych quartet. Their albums are now very rare. Justo A Mi Gusto is a rewrite of Paul Revere and The Raiders' Just Like Me. It can also be heard on Sons Of YMA compilation, along with Solo Estoy, one of their single tracks. Both are well worth hearing - they were among Peru's finest bands.
The Los Yorks' 68 album cover bears a striking resemblance to that of Love's Forever Changes album.
Other compilation coverage has included Mi Mente En Ti on Seeds Turn To Flowers Turn To Dust (CD) and Vallery on Los Demonios Del Rock, which has some pleasing guitar moments in places.


Lincoln Street Exit - 1970 - Drive It

Lincoln Street Exit
Drive It

01. Man Machine - 4:02
02. Dirty Mother Blues - 6:55
03. Got You Babe - 3:06
04. Teacher Teacher - 2:45
05. Soulful Drifter - 2:00
06. Time Has Come Gonna Die - 4:06
07. Going Back Home - 3:03
08. Straight Shootin' Man - 3:00
09. Phantom Child - 3:14
10.The Bummer - 2:22
11.Sunny Sunday Dream - 2:58

Lincoln St. Exit
*Michael Martin - Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
*Mac Suazo - Heavy Bass Guitar
*Lee Herres - Drums And Percussion
*R. C. Gariss - Second Lead Guitar

Make no mistake about this album, it is loud, heavy, alive and ready. Lincoln St. Exit was formed in June of 1964. Since then they lost one of their musicians, Paul Chapman(who died). The three original members, Michael Martin, Mac Suazo and Lee Herres, still remain with the group. Their music is influenced greatly by the American Indian culture of New Mexico.

This is evident in the hard-driving beat and hypnotic rhythm pattern that is maintained throughout the album. Their own personal feelings and the many hard times they have encountered along the way all come through in their music. As co-writer on some of the material, our view of the war is expressed in the two compositions "Man Machine" arid "Time Has Come Gonna Die".

We move from such gospel-orientated tunes as "Going Back Home" and "Soulful Drifter" to the down home sound of "Teacher Teacher" and "Dirty Mother Blues", the latter being so heavy it shakes all of your \ital organs Our snnga also deal with modern sexual mores, as in "Straight Shootin1 Man", "Got You Babe" and "Phantom Child". Lincoln St. Exit have been together for over six years, and they're going to make it.
God Bless The Exit.

Jesse Harper - 1969 - Guitar Absolution in the Shade of a Midnight Sun

Jesse Harper
Guitar Absolution in the Shade of a Midnight Sun

01. Jug-A-Jug Song    
02. Blues News    
03. Other Side Of Time    
04. Circles    
05. Keep Cool    
06. Midnight Sun    
07. Hole In His Hand    
08. Fall Down    
09. Ashes And Matches    
10. Love Song    

Drums – Unknown Artist
Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar, Vocals – Jesse Harper

"During the mid sixties in New Zealand, the leading bands all included strong lead guitarists. Human Instinct had Billy TK, Ticket had Eddie Hansen, the Underdogs had Harvey Mann and the Brew had Doug Jerebine.

Harvey Mann had learned much of his technique and style from Doug Jerebine. The Underdogs and Human Instinct were good competition for each other, both fighting for the ultimate cult following. When the Brew folded, Doug went to England and began writing and recording under the name Jessie Harper. When the Human Instinct made a brief visit to England, they met up with Jessie and he provided them with a number of his songs. In fact seven of the songs on the Human Instinct's first two albums were written by Jessie Harper.

While in England Jessie Harper recorded an album full of original material, and this music was finally released in 1992 by Kissing Spell. The album was called "Guitar Absolution In The Shadow Of The Midnight Sun". The cover image is "The Agony In The Garden, Studio Of El Greco, 16th Century".

When Jerebine tired of the rock'n'roll lifestyle, he shaved his head and went to India to join the Krishna faith.

Hopney - 1977 - Cosmic Rockout

Cosmic Rockout

01. Long Ago Far Away    
02. Another Goudy Night    
03. Down For The Count    
04. I Must Get Thru    
05. Don't Say No    
06. Hey Girl    
07. Love Trop    
08. No Particular Home    
09. Is There A Doctor In The House    
10. I Can't Stop Now

 Cosmic Rockout CD. Rare 1977 US guitar psych album from Florida that was produced by Mike Pinera of Blues Image and Iron Butterly fame. Featuring some cool fuzz guitar work with melodic vocals this is reminiscent of Jeff Liberman with plenty of free flowing Hendrixy guitar work and a cool '70's funky vibe. Originals on the Illusion label are scarce and expensive

Hammer - 1970 - Hammer


01 Something Easy
02 Hot and Cold
03 Tuane
04 You May Never Wake up (Apologies to Auden & Frost)
05 Hangover Horns
06 Charity Taylor
07 Sad Song, Happy Song
08 Sweet Sunday Morning
09 Pains and Tears
10 Death to a King

 John De Roberts - vocal
Jack O'Brien - guitar
Norman Landsberg - keyboards
Ritchie McBride - bass
John Guerin - drums
Ken Janick - drums on track 6

Bay Area groove-rock combo Hammer comprised singer John DeRoberts, guitarist Jack O'Brien, bassist Richie McBride, keyboardist Norman Landsberg, and drummer John Guerin. Formed in 1969, the group was quickly signed by legendary promoter Bill Graham to his fledgling San Francisco Records label -- their self-titled debut LP appeared in 1970, supported by a series of high-profile opening dates at Graham's Fillmore venues. Despite strong critical notices, Hammer failed to earn much commercial attention, and although a second album was recorded, it was never released and the band dissolved. While Landsberg later collaborated with the Pointer Sisters, Guerin went on to co-found the pioneering fusion unit L.A. Express -- a prolific session drummer, he also played on Joni Mitchell's seminal Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns sessions.

Freeborne - 1968 - Peak Impressions

Peak Impressions

01. Images 3:38
02. Land of Diana 2:56
03. Visions of My Own 4:10
04. Sadly Acknowledged 1:27
05. Peak Impressions & Thoughts 6:45
06. Yellow Sky 2:19
07. Hurtin' Kind of Woman 4:18
08. Inside People 2:46
09. A New Song for Orestes 3:32
10. But I Must Return to Frenzy 8:55

Nick Carstoiu - Vocal, Guitar, Recorder, Cello, Piano
Dave Codd - Vocal, Recorder, Harpsichord, Percussion, Bass
Mike Spiros - Organ, Piano, Chimes, Belltree, Trumpet, Percussion
Bob Margolin - Lead Guitar
Lew Lipson - Drums, Percussion

The Freeborne were a youthful Boston-based psych outfit whose five members, despite their tender years, all had considerable experience of playing a wide range of styles in earlier combos. Adapting their name from the movie "Born Free"  and discovering the freewheeling creative delights of LSD, they signed to Monitor in early ’67 and release their sole album "Peak Impressions".
The Freeborne's sole album is, in common with the mildly better-known '60s Boston psychedelic bands who comprised the Bosstown Sound, something of a goulash of then-trendy underground rock crosscurrents.
It's embroidered by novel use of recorder, cello, harpsichord, and trumpet from time to time, though electric organ in the mood of the Doors or Country Joe & the Fish is more prominent, as is California psychedelia-influenced guitar.  

East - 1972 - East


01. Beautiful Morning
02. Me
03. Geese On The Road
04. She
05. Lumberer Moses
06. Deaf Eyed Julie
07. Black Hearted Woman 
08. Call Back The Wind
09. Jar
10. Everywhere
11. Shin-Sorllan

Easily one of the coolest acts Capitol Records signed in the 1970s (and one of the least known), East was a five piece Japanese rock band.

Featuring the talents of :
* Fumio Adachi - drummer,
* Noboru Asahi - bass player,
* Gen Morita - multi-instrumentalist,
* Ruese Seto - singer/guitarist, and
* Ted Yoshikawa - multi-instrumental,

you've got to wonder how the group ended up signed by Capitol. Judging by their terrific 1972 self-titled debut you also have to wonder how Capitol missed the opportunity to turn these guys into international stars.
With Seto handling most of the writing chores (Morita and Yoshikawa each contributed one song), this wasn't a Japanese rock album, rather it was an American rock album with occasional Japanese influences. Those influences ranged from early-1960s folk ('Lumberer Moses') to late-1960s West Coast psych ('Beautiful Morning'). The distinction was more than simple semantics since these guys had clearly absorbed more than their share of US culture. I've played this one for dozens of friends; all of them amazed to discover the band's nationality. As lead vocalist Seto was quite impressive. Not only was his English flawless (the liner notes indicated he learned it traveling in India), but he had a voice that was dynamic and instantly likeable. The rest of the band were equally talented, effortlessly shifting gears between traditional Japanese instrumentation and straight ahead rock. Drummer Adachi and bassist Asahi were especially good.
- 'Beautiful Morning' opened the album with a mesmerizing slice of folk-rock (emphasis on the rock component). Complete with lots of strummed acoustic 12 string guitars and an occasional touch of Japanese instrumentation for color, imagine the Kingston Trio had they ever decided to record a slice of psych-rock and you'll get a feel for this one. Easily one of the album highlights. rating: ***** stars
- 'Me' was an interesting attempt to merge West Coast psych moves with Japanese instrumentation. The result was a surprisingly trippy mid-tempo ballad that also served to showcase the band's nice harmony vocals. rating: **** stars
- Penned by Morita, 'Geese On the Road' found the band showcasing their ability to churn out a country-flavored number. Normally you probably wouldn't have paid much attention to a track like this one, but the fact they performed it with such authenticity (check out the country twang in Seto's voice), definitely captured your attention. rating: *** stars
- Yoshikawa's loan contribution, 'She' was a pretty, slightly discordant acoustic ballad that recalled something David Crosby might have penned for an CS&N outing. My only complaint with this one was that it was too brief. rating: *** stars
- I've always assumed 'Lumberer Moses' got a little jumbled in the Japanese-American translation. Another folk-rock number, this one was a little too Kingston Trio for my taste, though their harmony vocals were stellar and the mandolin was quite nice. rating: *** stars
- Opening up with a mix of discordant rock instrumentation and some traditional Japanese notes, 'Deaf Eyed Julie' quickly morphed into a nice lysergic-tinged ballad. rating: **** stars
- There wasn't a great deal to the lyric (not that I'd be turning in award winning Japanese lyrics), but 'Black Hearted Woman' offered up a nice blue-collar rock song that got much better when the guitars (including some fuzz) kicked in during the last section of the song. Drummer Adachi deserved notice for keeping the band in step and direction on this one. rating: *** stars
- Complete with flute, 'Call Back the Wind' started out as a big, hyper-sensitive ballad and then took a jazzy turn from which it never really recovered. rating: ** stars
- The first couple of times I heard 'Jar' it didn't do much for me - too old-timey cutesy for my tastes. It still isn't my favorite performance, but the...
- 'Everywhere' offered up a surprisingly impressive mixture of traditional instrumentation and song structure with English lyrics. At least to my ears the results were mesmerizing with a distinctive psych edge. rating: **** stars
- The lone performance in Japanese, 'Shin Sorllan' was supposedly a traditional Japanese tune, but sounded like a bunch of drunken Japanese businessmen taking a stab at a country song. Complete with furious acoustic guitars and what sounds like balalaikas, I smile every time I hear it. rating: ** stars
Unfortunately, releasing an album with minimal sales effectively ended their abbreviated American career. Shame.

Flying Island - 1976 - Another Kind Of Space

Flying Island 
Another Kind Of Space

01. Star Dance
02. Dandelion Wine
03. Huh!
04. The Whole Family Would Like This
05. Radiant Point
06. Isolation
07. Through the Four Doors
08. The Vision and the Voice

Drums, Percussion – Bill Bacon
Electric Bass – Thom Preli
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Clavinet, Trumpet, Organ, Synthesizer [Arp 2600] – Jeff Bova
Engineer – Jeff Zaraya
Guitar – Ray Smith
Violin [Electric] – Faith Fraioli

When I think of Flying Island, I tend to categorize them as a fusion band. But this listen to both albums proved to me that's not really the case. Even though there's a little funky business (especially on the debut), I would say that Flying Island are more of an instrumental progressive rock band. The lead instruments are violin, guitar and organ, and this is definitely no chops fest. Compositions are first and foremost, while instrumental dexterity backs up the highly melodic, but complex music charts. The violin in particular will remind the listener of Curved Air and Darryl Way's Wolf. Instantly recognizable cover art, another fine trademark of the Vanguard label. I miss the days when a label could be identified in this way.

Flying Island - 1975 - Flying Island

Flying Island 
Flying Island

01. Funky Duck
02. Even the Birds Wear Gas-Masks
03. Priestess of Fantasy
04. Aerial Jester
05. Eddie
06. Cry to the Moon
07. Time Bound Wizard
08. The Flying Island
09. The Aquilon Wave
10. I Love to Dance

Bass – Thom Preli
Drums, Percussion – Bill Bacon
Guitar – Ray Smith
Keyboards – Jeff Bova
Violin, Flute – Faith Fraioli

Criminally overlooked US band with a very rich and elaborated sound and it's really a question,why this band's works remained and still remain in the shadows for so many years.They released two studio albums to my knowledge,a self-titled in 1975 and the follower ''Another kind of space'' one year later.FLYING ISLAND were led by violinist Fred Fraioli,featuring also well-known keyboardist Jeff Bova and later drummer Bill Bacon would also join the band.FLYING ISLAND were lucky enough to sign a 5-year contract with Vanguard Label and in 1975 they released a self-titled LP.

Offering some really adventurous musicianship,the album presents an all instrumental effort of 10 short tracks,based on Fraioli's excellent violin work, which ranges from leading up-tempo parts to weird complicated passages.Bova delivers some trully great keyboard work both on Hammond organ and electric piano,this time starting from a supporting role to end up in obscure soundscapes,doubled by Fraioli's violin.The tight playing of Thom Preli on bass and the confident drumming of Bacon gives the band another extra point.Finally,guitarist Ray Smith prooves to be a hidden ace for FLYING ISLAND's sound with a personal style consisting of good breaks and gear-ups.

I honestly tell you,this work should be spread all over the world for the different moods and professional arrangements it offers.Especially fans of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA,BRAND X or DIXIE DREGS will love it to death.Absolutely essential for your collection!

Flight - 1980 - Excursion Beyond

Excursion Beyond

01. Excursions Beyond (4:28)
02. Music Razzmatazz (2:55)
03. A Thing For Julie (3:25)
04. Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) (3:11)
05. The Rumble (4:48)
06. Face To Face (3:55)
07. Jett Lagg (3:15)
08. Inca Innuendo (4:05)

- Ted Karczewski / vocals, bass, guitars
- John DeNicola / bass, vocals
- Steve Shebar / drums, vibraphone, vocals
- Jim Yaeger / keyboards, vocals
- Pat Vidas / vocals, trumpet

The best moments call to mind some of Frank Zappa's late 70s instrumental work, especially the cleanly produced stuff with the Fowler brothers and George Duke. Think Over-Nite Sensation, One Size Fits All & Studio Tan with way, way less vocals.

Flight - 1976 - Incredible Journey

Incredible Journey

01. Music Is (6:50)
02. 1929 (5:45)
03. First Impression (3:40)
04. Mystery Man (3:25)
05. 2003 (5:50)
06. Visions Of A Dream (3:50)
07. The Sands Of Time (4:30)
08. Rock 'N' Roll Star (3:52)

- John Ray / bass
- Ted Karczewski / guitar
- Russell A. Dawber, Jr. / drums, percussion
- Jim Michael "Fizzwah" Yaeger / keyboards
- Pat Vidas / vocals, trumpet

This obscure album cut straight to the chase with "Music Is", a hyperactive jazz-rock/ sympho-rock hybrid, buzzing around at formidable speed. "1929" didn't ease off, practically remaining a jazz-sympho rock paroxysm. Ditto for "First Impression", that felt as if hopping along an amphetamine-fueled Chicago and Boston in a a roller-coaster ride of dizzying speed, and later starring in a jarring music-hall in "Mystery Man". The density was such, that it reminded of Miles Davis' On The Corner, or of a steroid-driven version of Curved Air's "Over & Above" and Clearlight's rock-operas. Side-two eased the tension a bit, resorting more to multi-layering of symphonic pomp ("2003"), jazz doodling ("Visions Of A Dream"), and even a bit of dreamy lounge ("The Sands Of Time"). But side one was a joy to behold.

Flight - 1975 - Flight


01. In Flight (4:48)
02. Make A Miracle (3:45)
03. Let's Fly Away (3:53)
04. Latin Dippy Doo (9:20)
05. Rhapsody To You (7:50)
06. Falling In Love (3:38)
07. Ease Of Confusion (3:08)
08. Theme To The Stratosphere (9:01)

- John Ray / bass
- Ted Karczewski / guitar
- Russell A. Dawber, Jr. / drums, percussion
- Jim Michael "Fizzwah" Yaeger / keyboards
- Pat Vidas / vocals, trumpet

FLIGHT was an eclectic jazz rock band from Florida led by American musician Pat VIDAS in the late 70's. They released three albums where the first two are an exceptional mixture of jazz rock with some symphonic influences. VIDAS was the very prominent and playful lead vocalist who also played brass instruments, which made FLIGHT sound not like a regular fusion band, but more like brass rock of CHICAGO inspired by EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER or even GENTLE GIANT, so their albums can be recommended to all who love very technical but at the same time accessible music.

 Magnificent US prog band,recording and performing between mid-70's and early 80's.They recorded three albums as far as I am concerned:''Flight'' (1975),''Incredible journey'' (1976) and ''Excursion beyond'' (1980).The first two are considered as one of the best examples of artistic progressive jazz rock,the latest is said to be in a much more commercial vein.The one I can talk about is their self-titled debut,featuring Pat Vidas on trumpets/vocals,Jim Michael Yaeger on keyboards,John Ray on acoustic & electric basses,Russell Dawber on drums and Ted Karczewski on electric and acoustic guitars.

This one is progressive jazz rock at its best for sure.Compositions are really fast,complex and intricate,offering tons of adventuruous interplays and a very rich sound.However,FLIGHT are not your average band,delivering long improvisated parts or jam sections.The compositions are mainly short with a great developing structure and also featuring often humurous vocals of somekind of late-60's pop style.Pat Vidas present a wide variety of catchy trumpet parts,supported by great electric piano,moog synths and a touch of mellotron and even some fantrastic solos by guitarist Ted Karczewski.The funky bass lines of John Ray try to create a more relaxed atmosphere...but instrumental parts are trully mind-blowing,reminding me of GENTLE GIANT and actually if you can imagine a cross between GG and NUCLEUS you are very close to FLIGHT's unique sound.Energetic brass rock in battle with complicated jazzy prog with also some hints of classic progressive rock.

This band deserves a lot more than this limited fame they earned.A must-have for ages, certainly highly recommended.

Epsilon - 1974 - Epsilon Off

Epsilon Off

01. I've Been Moving (4:16)
02. A New Day (3:35)
03. On the Road (5:55)
04. Ode to John (3:55)
05. Behind the Boarder (1:14)
06. Logo-Motive (5:57)
07. Let's Sit Down (3:45)
08. Open Your Eyes (3:06)
09. Sadness (3:46)
10. I Know How (3:12)

- Johan Daansen / guitar, vocals, piano, percussion
- Heinrich Mohn / bass
- Hartmut Pfannmüller / drums, bongos, percussion
- Michael Winzkowski / vocals, guitar, percussion

Very good third album by this band. But, with the exception of the first song and one other song, don't expect progressive-oriented Krautrock here. By the time of this album, they had changed their sound to a much more Anglo-styled hard rock with some slight funky elements, maybe a bit similar to Atlantis. No organ here either, basically very good guitar, and some piano. I still like this one though, as it is probably their best as far as playing and arranging goes.

Epsilon - 1972 - Move On

Move On

01. Walkin' My Way (3:20)
02. She Belongs To Me (5:32)
03. Feelings (3:52)
04. What About The Future (2:38)
05. Move On (2:25)
06. Reichelsheim (4:10)
07. Hear Me Cryin' (5:10)
08. Waiting (4:20)
09. Don't Know Why (4:31)

- Michael Winzkowski / vocals, guitars, percussion
- Michael Ertl / bass
- Hartmut Pfannmüller / drums, percussion
- Walter Ortel / organ, pianos, vocals, percussion
+ Curt Cress / drums
- Rainer Marz / backing vocals, guitar
- Pete Bender / backing vocals
- Christian Felke / flute

 Second album of German heavy prog rock band Epsilon isn't as good as their self-titled debut. "Move On" includes couple of rather less ambitious songs with more elaborated hard edged guitars and simpler riffing. Compared to previous LP we can find that band is sometimes trying to gain mainstream attention here. However we can't say that it's complete crap, in fact I'd definitely disagree to call it a waste of time. We can find enough clear prog-rock elements like inspired organ passages, classical music parts, some more complicated soloing or beautiful acoustic guitars fragments to call it enjoyable heavy prog/art rock recording. I can even say that few tracks on "Move On" are absolutely essential for prog rock fans.

So let's look into the songs more closely:

1. "Walkin' On My Way" - album begins with very simple rocker full of simplistic guitar chords and almost inaudible background organ lines. Vocal sounds very bluesy and refrain becomes tiresome after too many repetitions but it's still bearable track. But definitely no prog here!

2. "She Belongs To Me" - second song is a much better effort! According to sources it's Bob Dylan's song however I've never heard that original version so I can compare it only with another cover played by The Nice (first band of Keith Emerson). And I must say that in this comparison Epsilon's version doesn't look less compelling at all. In contradiction to The Nice's cover, these Krauts' version is much tighter and less experimental. Ortel's Hammond is shining throughout the song but Winzkowski's guitar also has its moments. However my favorite is the second part of this track when we can listen to fantastic organ-driven rock versions of classical & film music pieces. You can clearly hear The Nice/ELP influences here.

3. "Feelings" - pleasant folk-like song with acoustic guitar, flute (played by guest Christian Felke) and "ethnic" percussion. Seems to be very Jethro Tull inspired but vocal has nothing to to with Ian Anderson's voice at all. Good song but not so memorable.

4. "What About the Future" - short but extremely enjoyable prog'n'roll song full of fuzzed guitars and loud organ chops. Psychedelic Hammond solo included! Really nice.

5. "Move On" - straightforward hard rock song with rather generic electric guitar riffs/solos and complete lack of keyboard instruments. Not horrible but it's not a composition I'd expect to find in heavy prog LP.

6. "Reichelsheim" - along with "She Belongs To Me" & "What About the Future" it's my fave of "Move On" disk. Rather slow paced but entertaining piece of music driven by decent Hammond floods, acoustic & electric guitars and surprisingly classical inspired, sparkling piano. Soft organ solo in the middle sets perfect mood for the whole song. Winzkowski's slightly harsh vocal sounds truly emotional here too.

7. "Hear Me Cryin'" - another atmospheric composition with passionate and entertaining vocals. Whole song is based upon Winzkowski's fine vocals and melancholic/mysterious organ passages played by Ortel. However it's not a completely original track 'cause the whole melody is directly stolen from "Season of the Witch" written by Donovan (however I've never heard the original I know 3 other versions of that song recorded respectively by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity, Vanilla Fudge & Pesky Gee! so I know this melody very well). Plagiarism!!

8. "Waiting" - dark and rather heavy but slow-moving song with psychedelic atmosphere created with omnipresent, repetitive apocalyptic organ flooding. I love middle part with fast gallop of thundering guitar & organ interludes. Whole song is very similar to another German band's material - Night Sun.

9. "Don't Know Why" - it's a very interesting song which includes 2 theoretically disjointed and unsuitable fragments. Basically it's just pop/hard rock song with generic refrain but during soloing we can listen to fantastic duels of keyboards (distorted organ & strange, up-beat piano chops) and acoustic guitar. This middle part saves the whole song from being pop garbage.

To sum up the whole "Move On" experience, I have to say that I enjoyed it much more than I though I will after reading few quite bad reviews. Second Epsilon's album is no masterpiece but in contrary to what some people say it's not a simple hard/pop rock LP. It's a mix-bag of straightforward tunes, prog-rock compositions full of typical 70s organ/guitar battles and atmospheric compositions with passionate, slightly bluesy vocals. Not a bad pick, but at first check their debut recording which is nearly early prog hidden gem.

BTW if you like heavy prog genre, debut and "Move On" are the only albums you need to check out. Their last LP called "Epsilon Off" is completely unrelated to preceding output. It's just generic poppy rock disk with almost no keyboards at all (except few piano moments played by second guitarist who was hired after Walter Ortel left the band).

Epsilon - 1971 - Epsilon


01. Two-2-II (8:15)
02. 2-Four-4 (7:30)
03. Every Day's Pain (2:54)
04. Before (3:15)
05. Between Midnight (2:41)
06. Paint It Black or White (6:14)
07. Hurry Up (2:46)

- Michael Winzkowski / vocals, guitars, percussion
- Michael Ertl / bass
- Hartmut Pfannmüller / drums, percussion
- Walter Ortel / organ, pianos, vocals, percussion

The original of Epsilon's debut LP came out on the short-lived Bacillus black & white label, before Bacillus were taken on by Bellaphon. Subsequent LP pressings were on the more well-known coloured label. At least two official Bacillus CD editions exist.

Formed by members of Orange Peel and Nosferatu (the vocalist / guitarist Michael Winzkowski), the band Epsilon published three LPs between 1971 and 1974. Their self title can be considered as their best, a nicely varied and achieved combination between heavy blues rockin' sections and coherent progressive skills. Their second "Move on" (1971) represents a more mainstream rock album with a few enjoyable moments. With the album "Epsilon off" (1975) the band turn to a straight heavy rockin' trip in a typical 70s style.

First, self-titled album of German prog-rock band "Epsilon" is definitely their best one. It's a classic example of organ-oriented monster from 70s clearly influenced by British late 60' and early 70' prog/psych movement. All songs are sang in English language and overall "feeling" of this production has nothing to do with (over)experimental Krautrock scene. This album can be easily compared with such underground, organ-oriented bands from UK as "Atomic Rooster", "Cressida", "Beggar's Opera", "Fantasy", "Still Life", "Argent", "Bodkin" and even "The Nice" (in fact musicians from "Epsilon" played The Nice's covers under "Karthago" moniker before!).

1. "Two-2-II" - the longest (more than 8 minutes) song on the album is a really good piece of music. "Two-2-II" has a very untypical for prog-rock, "bouncy" rhythm and melody which sounds almost danceable. But don't worry it's a truly fantastic art rock track with ripping organ riffs, bridges and amazing solos (often Ken Hensley inspired). Winzkowski (BTW, seems to have some Polish "roots" :-) also delivers some good guitar licks from time to time, but Hammond still dominates. Take note this hilarious clavinet solos followed by short fragment taken from rock'n'roll classic "Keep A-Knockin'", these guys knew how to have fun!

2. "2-Four-4" - another long track begin with army march-like melody played on clavinet & organ and I have to say that this fragment builds really fine, almost symphonic atmosphere. After a while organ kicks in again with powerful chords. But few moments later tempo changes again and guys start to play juicy blues-rock a la "Led Zeppelin" with suitable for this type of music vocals. We can also listen to jazzy piano solo here. In the end "Epsilon" reprises melody from the beginning. Really enjoyable track with many different tempos and signatures.

3. "Everyday's Pain" - fast hard rocker based on fat organ chops. In the middle smokin' B-3 solo which shows that Walter Ortel surely could play Keith Emerson's material in the past. Great song.

4. "Before" - it's a really fantastic instrumental with Santana-influenced, bossa-nova-like rhythm & melody. However instead of electric guitar we can listen to ear pleasing organ, acoustic guitar & piano solos. Almost my favorite track here.

5. "Between Midnight" - surprisingly it's a romantic ballad with piano-oriented melody and very good acoustic guitar lines. Very catchy and relaxing. Nice interlude between all of these hard&prog compositions. Sounds like "Procol Harum" a bit.

6. "Paint It Black Or White" - stunning cover of "Rolling Stones'" classic hit "Paint It Black"! In fact it's almost completely different than the original, more psych oriented, just like "Beatles" covers of early "Deep Purple" and "Vanilla Fudge". This version really gives completely new dimension for the song. Main riff played on organ sounds amazing and this psychedelic solo in the middle... Love it!

7. "Hurry Up" - Oh my..., why they had to close this great album with such horrible turkey. Piano-oriented woogie-boogie is not what I expected from these guys. Thanks God it's short. "ELP" and "Argent" also liked to include such duds on their albums, so I won't blame "Epsilon" so much...

Overall it's a highly enjoyable effort which should please fans of organ-driven heavy prog and classic rock. Their next album "Move On" is more guitar-oriented and it's focused on more simplistic arrangements and song structures. However it's not bad (in fact it's quite good hard rock album with some nice prog/art rock elements), you should better start from this debut record. Besides, their 3rd and last release called "Epsilon Off" is a mainstream rock album with very generic, keyboards-free songs with no interests for more ambitious listeners.

Anyway if you like Epsilon's debut, you should also check other early 70s, Hammond oriented German prog bands: "Tyburn Tall", "Twogether", "Trikolon"/"Tetragon", "Murphy Blend", "Sixty-Nine", "Amos Key", "Twenty Sixty Six and Then", "Odin", "Frame", "Pell Mell", "Virus", "Magma" and "Frumpy", along with more famous ones, like: "Jane", "Birth Control" and (early) "Eloy".

Dragon - 1977 - Kalahen


01. Children Are Playing Game
02. Ballad
03. America
04. Les Hommes Bleus
05. Red Light
06. Kalahen

07. Psychedelic Brotherman   
08. Blues Ashes
09. Two Drops of Rain
10. Burning Light
11. Fanny (part 1-4)
12. J.V.'s Private Works]


- Bernard Callaert / rhythm & bass guitars, backing vocals
- Christian Duponcheel / keyboards, Mellotron, claviolin, flute, sax
- Georges Venaise / drums, vibes, flute
- Jean Venaise / guitars, string machine, lead vocals

This intriguing album was released posthumously from tracks recorded at the practicing room. So the record appears more like a good demo released on vinyl than a fully produced album. I still think it's a quite interesting piece of work, the recording method revealing the raw realities of the music creation instead of polished sonic contructions. I think the music is not very accessible though, due strange moods, contrasting changes and striking fuzziness. But there are great musical passages to be found from the songs, if one has the mood to listen the album through. There are lots of mellotrons, flutes and saxes on the instrumental basis, and some incoherent solutions create an interesting sense of surrealism, deepened by crayon colored fantasy sleeves. The B-side of the LP felt more interesting to me than the first one, being a home for two longer songs. "Red Light" starts the side with a beautiful, calm and lyrical piano movement, which transforms to a chaotic verse with heavily distorted guitars and screaming vocals. These two elements are tied together with mellotron and trumpet dominated parts, and they form a personal, weird and really menacing track. "Kalahen" runs for eighteen minutes, but is quite unbalanced for an epic symphonic piece. Still there are some really great musical moments on it, and the mixture felt to me like a psychedelic symphonic expressionism. The chaos seems to rise from strong, uncompromising notes of long duration, and the sounds to which they have been dressed on, not from quickly shifting directions on rhythmic levels like I felt occurring on Van Der Graaf Generator's "Pawn Hearts". If you are interested in rarer continental euro-prog, musical adventures are at your goal, or you should collect underground albums, then I would recommend this LP to you warmly.

Dragon (Belgian version)'s first album is one of those 'out of time' sort of records, where you'd swear it was from a different age, which, oddly enough, it has in common with their New Zealand namesakes. Dragon could quite easily pass for one of those 1970/71 LPs from the likes of Cressida or Spring, with no immediately apparent sign that the band are Belgian. Organ-heavy, with that post-'60s 'jamming' feel about it, the material is actually very good, despite its dated feel. It isn't the most Mellotron-heavy album ever, but Gone In The Wind (OK, I take the Belgian comment back) has some excellent string parts from Christian Duponcheel, and there's a bit of choir on Crystal Ball, but the other two tracks I've noted aren't even definite; a few notes of a string sound that may or may not actually be 'Tron.

Their second album, Kalahen, appears to be no more than a bunch of demos stuck together, although this was in 1977, when such things were almost unheard of (it was issued on CD in 1992 as Kalahen Plus, adding another six tracks). Stylistically, it doesn't seem that the band had moved on much from their debut, with the extra added non-benefit of fairly poor sound quality, including extraneous noise that wouldn't have made the final version. To be honest, the album's a bit of a mess; several tracks are no better than raw jams, and of the original six, the title track's the only one that makes the grade at all, and then only because it's so odd.

It's also the only one to feature any 'Tron, although two other tracks have what sounds like string synth. A side-long piece, Kalahen itself opens with 'Tron pipe organ, before great slabs of choir are dropped onto it from a great height; undoubtedly the album's Mellotronic highlight and probably its musical one too, despite its incoherence. There's more choirs on the first bonus track, Psychedelic Brotherman, but that would appear to be it. In fact, apart from that track, the rest of the bonus material actually lowers the quality of the overall release, especially J.V.'s Private Works (guitarist Jean Vanaise), which is a messy collage of musical snippets, none of which were really worth saving, to be honest.

So; Dragon's a good album in a very early '70s style, with a smattering of 'Tron.

Dragon - 1976 - Dragon


01. Introduction (Insects)
02. Lucifer
03. Leave Me With Tears
04. Gone In The Wind
05. In The Blue
06. Crystal Ball

- Bernard Callaert / guitar, backing vocals
- Christian Duponcheel / keyboards, synthesizers, Mellotron, strings
- Jean-Pierre Houx / bass, piano, synthesizers, trombone, backing vocals
- Georges Venaise / drums, vibes, flutes
- Jean Venaise / lead vocals, lead guitar, strings

Dragon are much more consistent and interesting than the most expensive Belgian rarity Waterloo, but they fall into the category of psychedelic rock with progressive leanings and an overall crude sound. This works to their benefit actually, and all members of the group show an ability to contribute something unusual and interesting to the 6 tracks on the LP. Late 60s pop influences come in on "Gone In The Wind" and "Leave Me With Tears" whereas "Lucifer" and "Crystal Ball" are more ominous sounding with some fractured sounding instrumental and vocal parts. The sound Dragon come up with is rich in fuzz guitar, atmospheric keyboards, and driving rhythms. Their psychedelic heavy progressive sound draws from US bands and early Pink Floyd (particularly Saucerful Of Secrets). This is a really good album, and much more satisfying than good but not great records like Holland's Group 1850 and England's Arzachel who they share similarities with. Definitely Dragon are the most interesting Belgian group I've heard, and as you can tell from their names they come from near the French-Belgian border. They are creative, interesting, and a little bit off-beat. I particularly like the swirling organ sound and the vocals have a druggy acid drenched vibe to them that makes for an all round very good listening experience. The one thing you have to ignore here are the hysterically bad lyrics to much of the songs which sound like somebody in the group's idea of a clandestine-to-the-listener joke. Dragon overall are a band who offer much to the progressive and the psychedelic listener. The quantity that were around years ago have vanished, so the record should be bought when you see a copy. You will be much more rewarded with this than with the aforementioned Waterloo or the horrendous Machiavel. Definitely an intriguing and talented band.

Dice - 1993 - Live Dice

Live Dice

01. Greed
02. Disease
03. The Drum Thing
04. Life, Where Have You Been All My Life
05. Follies
06. Alea Iacta Est
07. Merchandise
08. Springtime
09. Drowned In Time
10. An Urgent Request

- Per Andersson / drums, percussion, chorus
- Robert Holmin / lead vocals, saxes, chorus
- Leif Larsson / keyboards, Mellotron, chorus
- Örjan Strandberg / acoustic & electric guitars, chorus
- Fredrik Vildö / bass guitar, chorus

The live heritage of DICE is this compilation of live recordings between March 78 and Spring 79 in Denmark and Stockholm. On the whole, the musical result could be best described as a mix between ELP and GENTLE GIANT but, unfortunately, it doesn´t really represent how a live performance was.

The first two pieces are, by far, the more interesting section of the whole record. "Greed" and "Disease", from their very first record, are great examples of their musical talent, and are part of the superb symphonic rock of the late 70s, full of changes and great dialogues between guitar and organ, including some dark and mysterious passages.

"The Drum Thing" is a percussion set performed by the four members of the band. It has an explosive start, but it later turns into fairy and circus music, not really interesting at the end, and you have the sensation that all the high expectations won´t be satisfied. Something similar happens with "Life, Where Have You Been All My Life", a ballad by guitarist Örjan Strandberg, with great vocal chorus, but the overall result isn´t excellent at all.

"Follies", the longest piece of the record with 14 minutes, is the next disappointment. It has an impressive start, with frenzy guitar and great vocal arrangements very close to GENTLE GIANT, turning later into keyboard oriented music (FOCUS comes to my mind); lots of tempo changes, including an interlude with mellotron and guitar, very interesting and with that typical scnadinavian flavour, dark and melancholic. But by the secondnd half, the sound becomes more in the traditional symphonic school, less original, despite a tremendous finale. The overall impression is that the song is not really a cohessive work, because there are too many ideas, but not well connected.

"Alea Iacta Est", the last part of the live section, includes Robert Holmin, lead singer on the second record. It is a very ELP oriented song and, despite the great quality of the music, it lacks originality.

The bonus tracks are very representative of what happened to many bands on the late 70s, placed between the glorious days and what was yet to come, so there isn´t a clear stylistic direction. "Merchandise" is like a parody of musical trends, quite funky oriented. The band describes it as an experimentation, but for me, it lacks inventiveness. "Spring Time" and "Drowned in Time" are simple tunes that, despite the vocal arrangements and incredible keboard playng by Leif Larson, don´t offer anything special. The last song of the record, "An Urgent Request", is nothing but a short and delicate effort to conclude the recording and, in the artists´words, it could fit well "at the end of a great Broadway musical".

Dice - 1978 - Dice


01. Alea lacta est (6:13)
02. Annika (3:47)
03. The utopian suntan (5:51)
04. The Venetian bargain (7:49)
05. Follies: (22:03)
  a) Esther
  b) Labyrinth
  c) At the gate of Entrudivore
  d) I'm Entrudivorian
  e) You are?
  f) You are.....

- Per Andersson / drums, percussion, chorus
- Robert Holmin / lead vocals, saxes, chorus
- Leif Larsson / keyboards, Mellotron, chorus
- Örjan Strandberg / guitars, chorus
- Fredrik Vildö / bass, chorus

Other than being a wonderful set of music, it is the "unfinished" quality of Dice's first that makes it so good and so unlike much of the over-groomed product that was coming from the Scandinavian prog scene. In fact it reminds me more of the raw excitement in the tiny but edgy U.S. scene around the same time; think Yezda Urfa, Cartoon, et al. Sure Robert Holmin's vocals are subpar and they're playing with the urgency of a band on a very tight studio schedule and small budget, but that doesn't mean this ain't prog rock of the utmost ambition and sincerity. The compositions are developed beyond the call of duty, the group dynamics are solid, and the fun but serious attitude is just right. For a debut, the quintet did a marvelous job.

A roll of the bones crackles open 'Alea lacta Est' crammed full of sudden but perfect changes as the band keeps us guessing, finally settling on a narrative about war, peace and politics. But the music, not the message, is the centerpiece, sloppy mistakes and all. Bass player Fredrik Vildo is extraordinary and Leif Larsson's keys provide gorgeous layers of texture and emotion as on 'Annika', with Orjan Strandberg's muti-tracked guitars filling in space with volume swells and chiming harmonies, even funny 'The Utopian Suntan' has room for great elaboration. And I suspect 'The Venetian Bargain', though resembling Yes, in turn had an impact on the very band it was emulating. Listen to this cut with Yes' Drama in mind ~ an album that came out two years later ~ and you'll hear what I mean. It is a beautiful track and the disc finishes with twenty-two minute operetta 'Follies', a baroque-rock epic lush with synths and the inspiration of a great, great musical unit.

If you ever see this one at a good price, nab it. Someday you'll be glad you did. At least I hope so.

Dice - 1977 - The Four Riders Of The Apocalypse

The Four Riders Of The Apocalypse

01. War (11:00)
  a) Ouverture (1:23)
  b) Fronts (6:17)
  c) Battle (2:37)
  d) Deserted Battlegrounds (0:43)
02. Disease (8:07)
03. Greed (7:47)
04. Death (11:53)
   a) Requiem (2:10)
   b) Dance Of Devils (4:24)
   c) Transition (1:08)
   d) Heaven (4:11)

- Per Andersson / drums, percussion
- Leif Larsson / keyboards, Mellotron
- Örjan Strandberg / guitars
- Fredrik Vildö / basses, acoustic guitar

DICE released only one studio album back in the late seventies, and this isn't it. This was a demo they recorded but never released at the time, instead they released their self titled debut the year after they recorded this one. "The Four Riders Of The Apocalypse" was finally released as an album in 1992 ! I must admit i've been scratching my head wondering why this wasn't released back in 1977. This is a concept album and also an all instrumental record, except for the bonus track. I was reminded of YES and GENESIS quite a bit, and the star of the show is Leif Larsson who plays some amazing mellotron, synths, piano and organ. I have to say that the bass(Rickenbacker) stands out nicely as well. Two complaints though. First of all the sound quality could be a lot better and second this sounds too familiar much of the time.

We get started with "War (1st Impression)" beginning with "Ouverture" a short piece that really reminds me of ELP, in particular Mr.Emerson. "Fronts" features mellotron as marching style drumming and organ lead the way. It calms right down before rebuilding before 2 minutes back to the organ/drum melody. Whistling is heard as you can imagine the soldiers marching off to war. Another calm as the mellotron flows before 3 1/2 minutes. Guitar becomes prominant after 4 minutes and it reminds me of Howe. Check out the Wakeman-like keyboard work to follow. We are in YES territory folks. "Battle" features a flood of mellotron after a minute. Nice.The pulsating keys recall Banks. So much going on at this point(the battle). Very heavy drums end it. "Deserted Battlegrounds" is a reflective 43 second piece that ends the first impression. "Disease (2nd Impression)" opens with pulsating keys, then the chunky bass arrives, followed by the keys that recall Wakeman again. A calm comes in and this contrast continues. I really like the uptempo section 5 minutes in with mellotron. This is a cool YES flavoured tune.

"Greed (3rd Impression)" opens with organ as guitar, drums and fat bass join in. This track has a lot of energy on it. Some solo piano melodies before 5 minutes before we get back to the collage of intricate sounds. "Death (4th Impression)" like the War impression is divided into 4 parts. It starts with "Requiem" as what sounds like church organ comes powerfully in(hey it's death what did you expect). After some drums and bombast a calm arrives, the mellotron waves the rest of the way are incredible. "Dance Of The Devils" might be the best sounding song on here. It opens with drums, organ and mellotron before it all picks up speed as bass and guitar come in. A change then occurs after 1 1/2 minutes as it settles down even employing a short "In The Mood" interlude for fun. The levity continues until 3 1/2 minutes in when the uptempo melody from earlier comes back to end it. "Transition" is a one minute organ piece that is quite mellow. "Heaven" is the final piece of the concept. It features mellotron and organ that becomes dramatic 1 1/2 minutes in as drums and a fuller sound arrives. The sound calms back down before becoming massive again.

Désirée - 1977 - Tapes


01. Free Again
02. Rock Live on Stage
03. Take My heart
04. Song of a Bird
05. On His way
06. God of Hell
07. Kingdom of Dreams
08. Baby Love Me Onemoretime

- Volker Cramer (acc-guitar, lead-guitar, vocals)
- Wolfgang Frauberg (acc-guitar, lead-guitar, vocals)
- Lother Muhleis (Vocal)
- Hugo Steger (drums, piano, vocals)
- Dirk Wulf (bass, vocals)

The vocals were never a strong point, though they are less grating and more tuneful here, which ironically detracts from their character a little. There's no denying the band were great musicians who could write memorable songs, and they still have a NWOBHM feel on some of this one, just as on Make It With a Smile. This set is a little more polished and less manic, but still a good listen.

Désirée - 1976 - Make It With A Smile

Make It With A Smile

01 Listen To The Radio
02 Death of a Little Boy
03 I Am Waiting
04 Darling's Lost Me
05 Sister Of Sea
06 Have You Seen The Rainbow
07 Woman

- Volker Cramer (acc-guitar, lead-guitar, vocals)
- Wolfgang Frauberg (acc-guitar, lead-guitar, vocals)
- Lother Muhleis (Vocal)
- Hugo Steger (drums, piano, vocals)
- Dirk Wulf (bass, vocals)

German group who released this very American sounding hard rock album with inventive song structures, tricky meters and high pitched underground vocals. Could have easily been from Michigan, Ohio or Indiana and you'd never know. For mainstream references, early Rush or "Give Us a Wink" era Sweet wouldn't take you too far astray. Exceptional guitar work here. Good record

Demon Thor - 1973 - Written In The Sky

Demon Thor
Written In The Sky

01. Written In The Sky    
02. Pink Mary    
03. For One Little Moment    
04. Good Morning    
05. Sweet Caroline    

Drums – Claude Thoman
Electric Piano – Veit Marvos
Narrator – Gita Walter
Organ – Stefan Nuesch
Synthesizer – Veit Marvos
Vocals – Geff Harrison, Tommy Fortman
Vocals – Oliver Freytag, Peter Bischof

Recorded at Studio Dierks, Stommeln.
Originally released in 1973 on United Artists Records

Demon Thor are often listed as being German (Munich, specifically), though I believe I'm correct in saying the band were actually an Anglo-Swiss effort, with two British members in Tommy Fortman and Geoff Harrison. Written in the Sky (which appeared in 1973), is one of the most weirdly schizophrenic records I've heard in a while, viz side one's side-long title track, which is a full-on heavy prog effort, smothered in Mellotron, while most of side two is workaday boogie, aside from one vaguely folky track in Good Morning.

Stephen Nuesch plays most of the keys, with the exception of piano, handled by Tommy Fortman. You'll be unsurprised to hear that the only Mellotron to be heard is on Written In The Sky itself, but it's a bit of a monster, loaded with strings, brass, cellos and choir - oh, and flutes later on. This is serious stuff, making it all the worse that it's let down so badly by the rest of the album.

Demon Thor - 1972 - Anno 1972

Demon Thor
Anno 1972

01. Story Demon Thor    
02. East And West
03. Isreal    
04. Ant Hill    
05. Good Old Oak    
06. Simple Song    
07. Groovy    
08. The Army

Bass – Ricardo Aebi
Drums, Bongos, Percussion – Claude Thoman
Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar – Madeleine Bach
Organ, Piano, Mellotron, Synthesizer, Spinet, Electric Guitar, Twelve-String Guitar – Stephen Nuesch
Piano, Zither, Lead Vocals – Tommy Fortman
Trombone – Karl Gsteiger
Violin, Vocals – Liselotte Frey
Vocals – Corinne Fortman

Despite its short existence, Demon Thor was one of the most sensational, continental rock groups in the 70's. It was the very first German band performing on the legendary TV-Show 'Musikladen', the very first performance act in the ‘Circus Kronebau’ in the city of Munich, Germany; the band won music awards in France and England, and both of their albums were published world wide by United Artists. The band was a Swiss rock-scene fusion between Tommy Fortmann and Krokodil, as well as singer Gef Harrison, Peter Bischof, and Oliver Freytag.

Decennium - 1974 - Song of the Sad Times

Song of the Sad Times

01. Oriental Weeping Woman    
02. Hard Road    
03. Look Down    
04. On The Road For Days    
05. Don't Let It Go Down    
06. Song For The Sad Times    
07. A Morning Minded Thought In The Blue Carrier Of An Everyday Musician    

Bass, Vocals – Koos Koster
Drums – Ger Brands
Guitar, Piano, Vocals – Pieter Koster
Guitar, Vocals – Jack Kessels
Organ, Vocals – Frits van Uden

Dutch rare prog band. Cool sounds, strong heavy guitar outbursts, out there lyrics, some
longer (8 minutes) some shorter (3 minutes) tunes, organ bits, all originals. Band line-up is
guitar, organ, guitar, bass and drums. LP was released on the private Pandora-records label.