Saturday, February 21, 2015

Charlie & Esdor - 1970 - Charlie & Esdor

Charlie & Esdor 
Charlie & Esdor

01. Dagen Är Över
02. Då Klagar Mina Grannar
03. It's All Over Now
04. Fuck The Cops
05. Grönt Är Skönt
06. Två Mans Bridge Blues
07. Kan Du Hitta En Väg
08. Idag Sticker Jag Bort
09. How Does It Feel To Be Without Friends
10. Dagen Är Över

- Esdor Jensen: guitar, bass, vocals
- Charlie Franzén: sitar, drums
- Lasse Summanen: Guitars
- Roger "The Chauffeur" Westin: Backing Vocals

Track 1: Recorded September 1970 at MNW. Previously released as B-side on MNW 29s in December 1970.
Track 2: Recorded September 1970 at MNW. Previously released as A-side on MNW 29s in December 1970.
Track 3: Recorded November 1970 at MNW. Previously unreleased outtake.
Track 4: Recorded November 1970 at MNW. Previously released by Scorpion as "Wolf's Mouth Song" as B-side on MNW 37s in the spring of 1971.
Track 5: Recorded 16th of May 1971 at MNW. Previously released on "Grönt Är Skönt" MNW mini-LP1m in the summer of 1972.
Track 6: Recorded November 1970, 22nd-24th of January, 19th-21st of February and 21st of March 1971 at MNW. Previously released on "Grönt Är Skönt" MNW mini-LP1m in the summer of 1972.
Track 7: Recorded November 1970, 22nd-24th of January, 19th-21st of February and 19th-21st of March 1971 at MNW. Previously released on "Grönt Är Skönt" MNW mini-LP1m in the summer of 1972.
Track 8: Recorded November 1970, 22nd-24th of January, 19th-21st of February and 19th-21st of March 1971 at MNW. Previously released on "Grönt Är Skönt" MNW mini-LP1m in the summer of 1972.
Track 9: Recorded 18th of August 1970 at Moderna Museeet, Stockholm. Previously unreleased.
Track 10: Recorded 28th of June 1970 in Katrineholm. Previously unreleased.

Remastered in March 2004 at CRP Recording.

Really hard to find CD... the few times I've seen it on ebay its always pretty expensive

The group CHARLIE & ESDOR was formed in 1970 at Katrineholm, Sweden by Edmund "Charlie" Franzén (sitar, drums) and Norwegian Esdor Jensen (guitar, bass, vocals).

Musically they could be described as a fusion of styles resembling THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND's sitar driven acid folk tunes and more straight forward psychedelic rock in style of THE JIMI HENRDIX EXPERIENCE and THE CREAM. The sung in both Swedish and English, and performed mostly their own material, and the lyrics are about both everyday life and more philosophical contemplations.

They performed at the legendary Gärdet Festival in June 1970, which was organized by TRÄD, GRÄS OCH STENAR and Atlantic Ocean, and which was preserved on a LP album "Festen pü Gärdet". There was also a film with same name shot from the event by Rainer Hartlebs, and Charlie's sitar playing can be seen on it. The group continued giving out concerts and were signed to an independent MNW record label, which released their singles and "Grönt är Skönt" EP, which was their only official group release in the 1970's. The attempts to make a LP with Swedish and English sung sides did not succeed, and this EP was released instead. There were also some radio performances done, but there are not known recordings of these surviving in the public markets. Some of their performances had also quest musicians involved.

The group broke up in 1972, but in year 2005 their unreleased material from 1970-1972 were released by the Mellotronen label on the CD "Charile & Esdor". The band's music is warmly recommeneded to the fans of psychedelic progressive music, sitar driven ragarock and anybody interested of Swedish rock history!

Charlie and Esdor had started as a hippie psych duo on sitar and guitar, drums and bass, soon became a quartet (with an extra lead and rhythm guitarist, Tobben and Esdor). This version must have been powerful, playing a one hour version of “Tomorrow Never Comes” (Beatles) and some Hendrix tracks on their first and only gig, which left a tremendous influence on the duo, but the two other members preferred to go their own way as another duo. Later on a festival they played as a trio (intended as a quartet) just once more. The label contact of still fresh progressive label MNW, Bo Anders Larsson, gave the duo several chances for recording sessions. Their first single, which are the first two tracks of this compilation are powerful heavy ragarock tracks (with all instruments played by the duo), and shows for me a great side of the group. While recording an LP, intended as one side in Swedish and one in English, they also recorded two single-tracks as a re-establishment of Bo’s former project, Scorpion, with a B-side, called “fuck the cops” (whose title was changed by the label management, because they preferred not to be too controversial). These are the two following tracks on the compilation. The style is very different from the previous single, with the B-side at its most raw and heavy, is bluesy rock. At this time, Swedish progressive rock was on the rise, and to maintain their own identity in the scene English seemed no longer to be accepted, so the duo had to rewrite the whole b-side of the upcoming album into Swedish, which they did. Still they couldn’t find the inner “message” of the group or label it so properly and decided after a long year of waiting only to release a mini-LP, with 3 tracks from the LP and a live version (as a trio), which are the following tracks on the compilation. The style especially on the first two tracks of this session has some loose guitar jamming and sounds as if it has a somewhat improvised energy (“Green is beautiful”,). The sitar is very much mixed to the far background and all focus is on the freaky electric guitar and hippie-psych rhythm on “Bridge for two blues”. “Idag Sticker jag Bort” I think I like best from this session. It becomes really freaky and somewhat experimental near the end, with some psychedelic effect. Because the original intended LP was not going to be released they went to the studio to get the tapes, but they seemed to have been lost. The saved tracks might only have given a slight idea of the intended album. We miss now for instance an 11 minute track of “How does it feel to be without friends”, a track which the group still had from a 1970 performance (played as a duo on guitar, sitar only). The two radio performances the group once did for national radio were not kept by the radio and the only left over tape from the second session was stolen in a car burglary. More attempts were done by the group the following years but they were not all successful because of more sad circumstances, until they parted to go their own, different ways. The compilation gives some idea of the range of interests from the group, from disciplined arrangements of sitarrock (first two tracks), to raw rock (the Scorpion tracks) to somewhat loose jams with an improvised feeling and possibility, with bluesy hard rock guitars, and with a psychedelic effect, which could eventually lead to inventive and unique moments

Swegas - 1971 - Live At Gunzburg 1971

Live At Gunzburg 1971

01. What You Gonna Do
02. Said But Never Heard
03. Cold Unfriendly Way
04. 1776 Fantasia
05. Into The Ox
06. Bavarian Waltz
07. Psalm 19
08. Photographs / Child Of LIght
09. Magic Pipe
10. Beautiful Scarlet
11. Planetarium
12. Beautiful Scarlet

John Macnicol (trumpet), Nick Ronai (trombone)
John Legg (alto sax/bari sax/flute), Ron Shillingford (tenor sax/sop sax/flute)
Keith Strachan (keyboards/vocals), Stewart Wilkinson (guitar/vocals)
Roy Truman (bass guitar), Billy Hogan (drums)

Recorded live in Gunzburg on July 21, 1971

In retrospect SWEGAS's concert in Gunzburg was perhaps their finest hour. They had played a number of open air concerts, notably at Lake Constance and Reutlingen and the Bavarian audience had warmed to their somewhat avante garde approach. (At around ths time Kraftwerk were supporting SWEGAS which tells us something)

In Gunzburg SWEGAS played to a loyal audience of about 8,000 and that audience truly had a great time. It is of good fortune that someone took a bootleg recording of the event. The guy in question, Heinz Strobel, kindly sent a copy of the recording to Bernd Cronemeyer the roadie of the band and all of SWEGAS have had a copy thereafter. It was only recorded on cassette so the sound quality is far from perfect but we are nevertheless fortunate that this concert was recorded because it demonstrates just how far SWEGAS have come since recording the studio albums. The results are now safely digitilised and will soon be available to all. Despite the poor sound quality this live recording features SWEGAS at its finest.

Swegas - 1971 - Child of Light

Child of Light

01. Beautiful Scarlet
02. Planetarium   
03. Magic Pipe   
04. Photographs   
05. Child Of Light   

Keith Strachan - organ, percussion, vocals
Stewart Wilkinson - guitar, percussion, vocals
Roy Truman - bass, percussion
Maurice McElroy - drums, percussion
Chris Dawe - trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion
Nick Ronai - trombone, percussion, arranger
Ron Shillingford - tenor & soprano saxophones, percussion
John Legg - alto & baritone saxophones, percussion

The first Swegas album released by the Barry Class Record Company (Trend) was Child Of Light. Recorded early 1970 in Tangerine Studios, Kingsland Road, Dalston, N8, this was the only album released in the UK. It demonstrated that Nick Ronai as the principal arranger of the band had a unique voice. As he said later "I didn't know how to do jazz voicing back then  my experience was more classical". And thank God because, above all else, it was Nick's musicality and his arranging style that gave Swegas it's sound. In retrospect it's hardly a perfect performance or recording but this album does go somewhere to show what SWEGAS might have achieved had they the time and funding to hone this quality to perfection. The material was certainly some of their best, and with the exception of the Rare Bird song Beautiful Scarlet, it is all original.

Swegas - 1970 - Beyond the Ox

Beyond the Ox

01 Into The Ox   
02 Said But Never Heard   
03 Polution   
04 1776 Fantasia   
05 Cold Unfriendly Way   
06 Gravedigger   
07 Beyond The Ox   
08 Oxtail   

John Macnicol (trumpet)
Nick Ronai (trombone)
John Legg (alto sax/bari sax/flute)
Ron Shillingford (tenor sax/sop sax/flute)
Keith Strachan (keyboards/vocals)
Stewart Wilkinson (guitar/vocals)
Roy Truman (bass guitar)
Billy Hogan (drums)

SWEGAS were a British 'progressive' brass-rock band that existed between 1969 and 1971. They played all the major venues in the UK and made several tours of Italy and Germany where they were extremely popular. The name of the band is derived from an Anglo Saxon word for music.

Swegas began life as a rehearsal band in 1969. They were put together by Brian (Joe) Spibey and Nick Ronai who had been members of the Fulson Stilwell Band before joining the soul band, Cat Road Show. The original Swegas band consisted of Joe Spibey (trumpet), Nick Ronai (trombone), Alan Smith (Tenor Sax), Jonny Toogood (guitar) plus a few pick up players. Mid 1969 they advertised for an Organist and Bass Guitarist and Keith Strachan and Roy Truman applied and got the gig. They had been playing together in various bands since being at college together and were looking for something a bit more adventurous. They found it in this band which were beginning to fuse Rock and Jazz in the manner of Blood Sweat and Tears and The Chicago Transit Authority who were in their early stages of development. They rehearsed originally above a pub in Acton (The Kings Head?) but later in a basement of a cafe in Fulham Palace Road (about no. 201)

They secured a deal with B&C Records in October 1969 and recorded an untitled album at Advision Studios, Regent St. The line up was Chris Dawe (trumpet), Brian (Joe) Spibey (trumpet/vocals), Nick Ronai (trombone), Alan Smith (alto sax and piano), Nick Thomas (tnr sax), John Legg (bari sax), Keith Strachan (organ/vocals), Jonny Toogood (guitar), Roy Truman (bass guitar), Chrys Chrysostomou (drums). The album was not destined for release and Joe Spibey, Alan Smith and Jonny Toogood left the group shortly thereafter followed shortly by Chrys Chrysostomou.

Undeterred, Keith, Roy, Nick and John recruited Stewart Wilkinson (guitar), Ron Shillingford (tenor sax) and Maurice McElroy (drums) and managed to get a deal with First Class Management. Barry Class bought the group a tour bus (at their suggestion) but the insurance and hgv licence issues not to mention the parking problems in Soho soon put paid to that idea and the bus was exchanged for a Ford Transit minibus and a Transit van.

With their new line-up the band rehearsed endlessly on new material in a room at the London Ambulance Service  in Waterloo Road. They signed record and management deals with the Barry Class Organisation in March 1970 and during this Spring period of 1970 they had a regular spot Upstairs at Ronnie Scotts - Swegas one night - Genesis the next! They then embarked on a three month tour of Europe starting in Oslo on May 20th.

They travelled to Gothenburg from Felixstowe by ship on 17th or 18th May. They were in Oslo till the first week in June then travelled to Zurich for one week. They then left Zurich for Munich on Mon 15th June and ended up in Hamburg in July. The blue mini bus was breaking down continually and through lack of money spent a number of nights sleeping under the vans. They ended up in the famous Top Ten club sharing the bill with the Boston Show Band (featuring the then unknown Gary Glitter). They liked their drummer Billy Hogan so when Maurice left shortly after Billy was offered the job.

When they arrived back from Germany in July they went into the salubrious Tangerine Studios in Dalston to record the Child Of Light album. Maurice was still playing drums at this point.

More gigs followed around the UK then in September 1970 the group returned to Europe for a few weeks to play in Turin & Rome (The Titan Club). Chris left shortly after and was eventually replaced by Lennie who joined the band in December. Swegas returned to Italy again in Jan 1971 and played a few open air concerts in Bavaria.

The second album Beyond The Ox followed in early 1971 and was recorded at Command Studios in Piccadilly.

Things started to go wrong in mid 1971. The band bus (a blue transit) suffered a collision in Hamburg and it was a virtual write-off. The writing was on the wall and Barry Class and First Class Management pulled the plug when the band returned from Germany.

Swegas - 1969 - First Unreleased Album

First Unreleased Album

01. Planetarium
02. There's Nothing In It
03. What Yer Gonna Do
04. Old Flames
05. Over The Points
06. The Summer Of My Days
07. The Naz
08. Keep Out Of Sight
09. Grey Lust

Alan Smith (Alto Sax/Piano)
Nick Thomas ? (Tenor Sax)
John Legg (Baritone Sax)
Joe Spibey (Trumpet/Vocals)
Chris Dawe (Trumpet)
Nick Ronai (Trombone/composer)
Keith Strachan (Organ/Vocals),
Jonny Toogood (Guitar)
Roy Truman (Bass Guitar)
Chrys Chrysostomou (Drums)

The first (unreleased) SWEGAS album was recorded late 1969 or early 1970.  The handwritten list on the tape box lists the recorded tracks.
(The surviving recordings are of mixed quality but interesting. The other cover tracks recorded on the sleeve box seem to have disappeared)

Living Life - 1981 - Mysterious Dream

Living Life
Mysterious Dream

01. Welcome People
02. Mysterious Dream
03. Oldeurope
04. Living with the Music
05. Sliding Through The Clouds Of Cusco

Roberto "Johnny” Betti (drums, keyboards, vocals)
Daniele Pintaldi (guitar)
Flavio Capello (flute)
Aldo Valente (synth, piano)
Roberto Savarro (bass, vocals)
Gianni Cinti (oboe)

+ Gianni Bianco (synth)
Piercarlo Bettini (Swami Zekuta) (keyboards)

Living Life - 1975 - Let: From Experience To Experience

Living Life 
Let: From Experience To Experience

01. Studio In La Minore
02. Let
03. Time
04. From Marocco
05. Ciopi Ciopi
06. Straight Down

Marcello Quartarone (guitar, vocals)
Walter Negri (sax, flute)
Piercarlo Bettini (keyboards)
Roberto Savarro (bass, vocals)
Roberto "Johnny" Betti (drums, keyboards, vocals)
Sandro Gianotti (percussion)

Widely unknown jazz rock band from Turin,formed in mid-70's by ex-Circus 2000 drummer Roberto "Johnny" Betti.Another former member of Circus 2000, guitarist Marcello ''Spooky'' Quartarone participated also in the original line-up.Their first album was released in 1975 on Betti's newly established Shirak Label with no names of the band's members,except the main composer Nijo Tibet,who has to be Betti under a fake pseudonym. Fortunately the album was re-released by Mellow Records on CD in 1995.
''Let: from experience to experience'' is mostly an instrumental album of soft and progressive jazz rock with some ethnic overtones here and there.Unlike many bands dealing with this path,LIVING LIFE choose to balance the album between free impovisational forms and well-arranged compositions,always filled with massive flutes, perscussions and saxes.For example the first two tracks are beautifully composed progressive/jazz tracks with a fair amount of melody and a slight Canterbury feeling (mainly the first).However the two followers, ''Time'' and ''From Marocco'' are an obscure blending of free improvisation and ethnic tunes created by saxes,while those tracks include heavy use of percussions as well.''Ciopi ciopi'' is a relaxing instrumental entirely based on Piercarlo Bettini' piano,while the closer ''Straight down'' is the more balanced composition,where Bettini's piano meets Quartarone smooth solos meets Walter Negri's improvisational saxes and Savarro's fantastic bass lines.A combination of KRAAN, WEATHER REPORT, RETURN TO FOREVER with some AREA's softer music would be a good description.

All in all the album is really satisfying with some trully good moments and a hidden energy on the background. Generally recommended,but not to be missed by fans of progressive rock,who want heavy doses of jazz in their music

Kristyl - 1975 - Kristyl


01. Together   
02. Deceptions Of The Mind
03. Like A Bird So Free
04. The Valley Of Life
05. Woman
06. Blue Bird Blu's
07. Morning Glory

Bob Terrell (vocals, rhythm guitar)
Sonny De Vore (lead guitar)
David Atherton (bass)
Bruce Whiteside (drums, percussion)

With a line up consisting of bassist David Atherton, lead guitarist Sonny De Vore, singer/rhythm guitarist Bob Terrell and drummer Bruce Whiteside, these guys were apparently from Louisville, Kentucky..  

First let me tell you that these guys were a Christian band and in spite of what you may have read elsewhere, their religious beliefs and themes were actually quite obvious (note the serpent covering the earth cover, let alone the majority of the seven song titles).  'Christian rock' certainly isn't something to be ashamed of, but I'd suggest "Kristyl" has succeeded in finding a non-secular audience due to the fact it largely avoids the annoying in-your-face proselytizing that plagues so much of the genre.  (As noted by Patrick "The Lama" Lundborg, it's kind of funny to note that the back panel features a picture of drummer Whiteside wearing a t-shirt with a cannabis image.)  Musically the collection gets high marks from most critics but I'll readily admit it took awhile for the album to reveal it's charms to me.  Featuring all original material penned by Terrell and De Vore, the seven tracks were all pretty strong from an instrumental perspective, though they tended to run into one another without a lot of distinction.  Tracks like 'Deceptions of the Mind' and 'Blue Bird Blues' showcased lots of tasty fuzz and wah-wah lead guitar from De Vore (I'm guessing much of it was double tracked since Terrell's credited with rhythm guitar).  At the other end of the spectrum Terrell's slightly flat voice and the band's equally flat harmony vocals take a bit of time to get accustomed to (check out 'Woman' to get an earful of their off-kilter harmonizing).  The one area where I'll agree with most other reviewers is the album sports a late-1960s sound and the performances showcase a sense of youthful optimism and energy.  I'll also warn you that what some folks find charming may simply prove irritating to others. Not for everyone, but will definitely appeal to some of you.  For what it's worth, reportedly only 200 copies were originally pressed.  Extremely thin vinyl was used for the pressings so most copies have a slight bowl warp that doesn't effect play.

Ethos - 2000 - Relics


01. Nightingale
02. Elephant Man
03. Placebo
04. Identity
05. Experimental War
06. Troilus And Cressida
07. Intrepid Traveler
08. Doing Your Duty
09. Perceptions
10. Pimp City Dream

- Wil Sharpe / acoutic & electric guitars, voice
- Michael Ponczek / mini-moog, poly-moog, hammand organ, chamberlin, rhodes piano
- Mark Richards / percussions, moog drum, micro moog, voice
- Brad Stephenson / bass, string bass, moog bass pedals, voice
- Steve Marra / vocals, bass, flute

Tracks 1,2,3,5,6,7 and 8 recorded at Thiele Road home studio in 1974
Tracks 4 and 11 recorded live at Electric Flag Concert in 1974
Tracks 9 and 10 recorded on home equipment in 1973
Hidden track 11 is called "Dream"

The debut album "Ardour" (1975) from USA progrock band Ethos sold worldwide more than 50.000 copies (many in the UK, Japan and Germany). They shared the bill with King Crimson and Gentle Giand and if you're lucky to own one of the wonderful Genesis books by Armando Gallo, you will notice that Peter Gabriel is wearing an Ethos t-shirt during their 1975 USA tour. So there's some magic around this band and their great first record! This CD (running time 62 minutes) is a compilation of four studio - and six live tracks, recorded between '73 and '75. The demo-studio tracks contain strong instrumental pieces (wonderful Mellotron eruptions, fiery electric guitar, harpsichord/electric guitar duel) with hints from Yes but the compositions sound more like a jam and at some moments a bit freaky/fragmentic. The live songs are more in the vein of Genesis featuring more variety (acoustic guitar, strings) and many Mellotron floods. The highlight is "Pimp city dream" (almost 18 minutes): a first part with a compelling bombastic climate, evoked by intricate interplay between a fiery electric guitar and moving Mellotron (a bit similar to Anekdoten), accompanied by cynical vocals. Halfway it's complete silence, followed by a Glenn Miller like piece, guitar-organ interplay and a heavy organ solo. The final part includes a fluent rythm delivering R&R guitar and bombastic organ runs. THIS IS ONE OF THE BETTER USA PROGROCK BANDS!

Ethos - 1977 - Open Up

Open Up

01. Pimp City
02. Start Anew
03. U.V. Melody
04. Memories
05. The Players (Of The Game)
06. Marathon II
07. Sedona
08. Close Your Eyes

- Michael Ponczek / keyboards
- Mark Richards / percussion
- Will Sharpe / guitars, voice
- Brad Stephenson / bass, voice

Recorded October and November 1976 at Sound City, Los Angeles.

Ethos play in a style with touches from a range of prog groups of the era - there's some very Chris Squire bass from Brad Stephenson and Robert Fripp guitar from Will Sharpe, for instance - with an overall sound reminiscent of a looser and more ragged around the edges take on classic Yes, with an injection of mercurial unpredictability which serves their ends well. And what Yesalike would be complete without a little hippy-dippy New Agery - in this case, coming in the form of the Utopian vision of Sedona. In short, a very interesting little package which would surely have received more attention had it come out four years or so earlier.

 Indiana's contribution to popular music, I would venture to guess that if you took a nationwide street poll asking for the name of three prominent musicians from the Hoosier State the reply would be Michael Jackson (Gary), John Cougar Mellencamp (Seymour) ... followed by a long reflective pause and a shrug of the shoulders.

Oh sure, you might dredge up a nostalgic 80 year old senior citizen who fondly remembers the Golden Age of Radio and songwriter Cole Porter (Peru) or singer Hoagy Carmichael (Bloomington); but it will take a proud Mid-western Hoosier to rattle off the names Axel Rose and Izzy Stradlin of Guns N' Roses (Lafayette), David Lee Roth (Bloomington), Mick Mars of Motley Crue (Terra Haute), and jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery (Indianapolis) without hesitation.

And if during your travels you stumble upon the rarest of species in the animal kingdom - a Hoosier with a passion for progressive rock - then you can expect to hear the names Umphrey's McGee (South Bend), and two classic American prog/rock groups from the 70s' - Yezda Urfa (Portage) and Ethos (Fort Wayne).

Ethos were but one of the many fantastic pioneering American progressive rock groups that languished in anonymity in the mid to late 70s' along with: Babylon, Cathedral, Atlantis Philharmonic, Quill, Fireballet, Easter Island, Hands, Pentwater, Mirthrandir, Lift, Happy The Man, and the fore mentioned Yezda Urfa.

Kansas and Styx are the only surviving US genre groups to attain an international fan base beyond the intimate confines of the progressive community; both blessed with the staying power to amass an impressive decades long discography of studio albums: Styx (15 albums) Kansas (14).

For their 1976 debut album "Ardour", released on the prestigious Capitol Records, Ethos proved themselves the equal of their British progressive counterparts. The band combined the tried and true blueprints for success pioneered by Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Genesis with their own unique Anglo-American slant. When Ethos released "Adour" the band was a five piece ensemble boasting two flashy keyboardists in Duncan Hammond (organ, synthesizer, piano, ellophonium, voices, Mellotron) and Michael Ponczek (organ, synthesizer, Chamberlain).

But for their 1977 follow-up - "Open Up" - the band paired down to four: Wil Sharpe (guitars, mandolin, vocals), Brad Stephenson (bass and bass pedals, vocals), Mark Richards (drums, percussion, effects), and Michael Ponczek assumed sole responsibility for keyboards.

Ethos possessed the uncanny ability to mesh the pastoral textures, sonic dynamics, and the sophisticated syncopation and complex time signatures of early Yes, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant without succumbing to the outright mimicry of a band like Starcastle, who were tagged with the unflattering 'YES-light' label early in their career. Ethos were undeniably a symphonic progressive rock band, yet established their own distinctive harder edged style thanks in no small part to lead vocalist and primary songwriter Will Sharpe, who did not try to parrot the vocal styling of either Jon Anderson, Greg Lake, or Peter Gabriel to favor grace with fans of British progressive rock.

The interplay between Sharpe's guitar and Michael Ponczak's moody Chamberlain (an electro-mechanical keyboard instrument similar to the Mellotron) converged as a haunting reminder of the early Crimson classics "In The Court Of The Crimson King" and "In The Wake Of Poseidon". So comparisons to early Crimson are not without merit.

In fact when asked why Ethos ultimately broke up Will Sharpe writes in the linear notes of the CD "Relics": "We desperately wanted to become the American response to King Crimson, but America didn't want a response."

Echoes of Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Pictures Of A City" are ever present throughout the the first track "Pimp City".

"Memories" employes the moody ethereal Chamberlain washes, in much the same way as Ian McDonald manipulates his Mellotron on the Crimson ballad "I Talk To The Wind", then the tune abruptly soars into the cosmos with a sequence of otherworldly beeps and blips from Ponzek's Mini and Polly-Moog.

"Player Of The Game" begins with extraneous studio noodling and chatter before ripping into some creative syncopated instrumental interplay and complex tempo changes courtesy of drummer extraordinaire Mark Richards and bassist Brad Stephenson. I'm reminded of Pink Floyd's "Money".

"Start Anew" brings back memories of the first time I experienced "The YES Album" with Chris Squire's ferocious Rickenbacker 4001 bass licks and Steve Howes blistering guitar work. Will Sharpe and Brad Stephenson share that same symbiotic relationship as Squire and Howe. The tune picks up even more kinetic energy as it progresses channeling elements of Frank Zappa and Happy The Man during the instrumental interlude.

"U.V. Melody" is a 32 second snippet performed with Chamberlain flutes, evoking images of the Renaissance Age and a band of traveling troubadours. Comparable to Gryphon, Focus, and Gentle Giant.

"Marathon II" borrows heavily from their earlier tune "Everyman" from the "Adour" album, dominated by Michael Ponzek's regal Chamberlain and Will Sharpe vocals. "Sedona" is a hypnotic dreamlike ballad you might expect to hear on Pete Sinfield's soothing debut album "Still". We are whisked away courtesy of Sharpe's classical nylon guitar and Ponzek's soaring synths and orchestral Chamberlain arrangement. Quite easy to imagine yourself sitting on a deserted beach, bare toes in the sand, sipping coconut milk while a brisk tropic breeze blows gently on your face, without a care in the world.

The album saves the best for last - "Close Your Eyes", a killer powerhouse track drenched with eerie Fripp-style guitar distortion, creative tempo shifts, awash with symphonic Chamberlain sweeps, and some of the flashiest portamento Moog solos this side of Kit Watkins or Patrick Moraz.

This is amazing music that deserves to be experienced by all fans of the genre. Unfortunately the album remains securely locked in the vaults of Capitol Records, and quite doubtful that it will ever be re-issued. Although it was released on CD for a short time in Japan so you might be fortunate enough to secure a copy on Ebay, Amazon, or specialty shops like Greg Walker's Syn-Phonic Music (Japanese Tachika Mini LP Sleeve).

Based on the sheer number of groups dabbling in prog/rock during the mid to late 70s' it was indeed a most productive time for the genre. But by the time the American artists dipped their toe in the progressive waters the popularity was on the wane. Even YES and Genesis were streamlining their approach to become more commercially accessible as the 80s' approached.

The groundswell support for the disco revolution - spurred on by the blockbuster film "Saturday Night Fever" - as well as the burgeoning underground punk scene sounded the death knell for the upstart American progressive groups at the close of the decade. And as a result brilliant bands like Ethos are reduced to little more than a footnote in the history of the genre - or worse yet - completely forgotten.

Don't allow the memory or music of Ethos to dissolve into oblivion. Seek out the three Ethos albums: "Adour", "Open Up" or "Relics" and add them to your collection. You won't be disappointed.

Ethos - 1976 - Ardour


01. Intrepid Traveller (6:20)
02. Space Brothers (6:14)
03. Everyman (5:00)
04. Atlanteans (7:11)
05. The Spirit Of Music (3:54)
06. Long Dancer (5:21)
07. The Dimension Man (7:58)
08. E'Mocean (4:35)

- Duncan Hammond / organ, synthesizer, piano, ellophonium, voices, Mellotron
- Michael Ponczek / organ, synthesizer, Chamberlain
- Wils Sharpe / guitar, mandolin, voices
- Brad Stephenson / bass, voices
- Mark Richards / percussion

With an original album on a major label such as Capitol, some may find it strange that the only way to obtain Ethos' classic debut "Ardour" on CD is via a Japanese press. But perhaps not so strange given the pathetic stance of the money hogging pop culture of the music business in America. 1976 was a different time and place for both American culture and business in general. So an album like Ethos could squeak in on a major label, make a decent profit, and everyone would go home happy. Today, I'm sure Ethos is held up at corporate meetings as a prime example of "Mistakes from the Past - How to Avoid them, a Seminar".

Ft. Wayne's Ethos were like many bands of the Midwest whose obsession with Yes, Genesis and Gentle Giant are well documented. These English progressive bands would enjoy regular airplay on the local underground, and very popular, FM stations played throughout the region. Concerts were met with great enthusiasm, and any kid that possessed a great talent for musicianship along with a hyperactive imagination, were quickly assembling together a band and making a go of it for themselves. Most ended up nowhere. Some procured a private release handed out at sparsely attended concerts by local union workers who were more interested in the booze and broads than the music itself. And then a few made the "big time". In this scenario, Ethos were one that MADE IT. Today, they're the kind of band that late middle aged guys whisper quietly about in a game of I-know-more-about-music-than-you-do. As in "I own an album I bet you haven't heard, that's way cool - a band called Ethos. Bet you haven't heard of them!". So basically popular enough to still be called out by over-aged dorks, yet too obscure for anyone at Corporate America to give a rat's ass about. Pretty much sums up the American progressive rock scene of the 1970s doesn't it?

Ethos was a little known American prog rock band that came from an unlikely place: Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kinda strange to see a prog band coming from an area of the country that tends to be conservative. But they were lucky and got signed to Capitol Records, and went to New York and got busy recording this album. The band seemed to be lead by guitarist/vocalist Wil Sharpe, the rest of the band consisted of keyboardist Michael Ponczek, drummer Mark Richards, bassist Brad Stephenson, and keyboardist L. Duncan Hammond. This album isn't exactly what I call essential, this is an American band trying to be European, but still sounding American (at least Kansas had the sense of sounding American). The vocals still sound quite American, but there band had the benefit of two keyboardists, in which Moog and Mellotron are the most dominant. The lyrics all have that cosmic sci-fi theme that seemed to be a common theme to many prog bands in 1976. The cover to the LP has an Atlantean theme. The music can be a bit on the clichéd side, lyrics included, like the opening "Intrepid Travellers". "Atlanteans", as you might guess, is the song describing the cover. The lyrics seeme to more speak of Atlantis in the present tense, rather than the famous rise and destruction (like what Earth & Fire did three years before with their Atlantis album or Eloy did one year later with Ocean). "Spirit of Music" has some rather dumb lyrics lamenting about how the rock scene isn't the same in 1976 as it was in 1964, which is really odd, given they were playing prog rock, which is hardly supposed to sound like anything bands were doing in '64! And like the rest of the album, "Spirit of Music" is prog rock.

Albatross - 1976 - Albatross


01. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
02. Mr. Natural
03. Devil's Strumpet
04. Cannot Be Found
05. Humpback Whales

Mark Dahlgren (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals)
Joe Guarino (bass, vocals)
Mike Novak (vocals)
Paul Roe (guitar)
Dana Williams (percussion)

Here's another item that I occasionally see popping up on psych lists.  It's usually shown with a mind numbing price tag (reflecting it's relative scarcity) and surrounded by the type of hype that sets my 'consumer beware' alarm blaring.  That said, I stumbled across a cheap copy and decided to give it a shot.

If you're in a hurry, I'll save you a couple of minutes via the rest of this review by just saying 'Yes wannabes ...'     

As you've probably figured out already, 1976's "Albatross" has about as much psych going for it as your local Foot Locker store.  Formed in Illinois the lineup consisted of keyboardist Mark Dahlgren, bassist Joe Guarino, singer  Mike Novak, lead guitarist Paul Roe and drummer Dana Williams.  Produced by Guarino, extended numbers such as 'Cannot be Found' and 'Humpback Whales' make it pretty clear these guys worshipped at the altar of Yes.  As the owner of more than my share of Yes albums, I'll admit that isn't necessarily a bad thing, but then its probably not the smartest concept to base a musical career on.  Okay, enough of the negativity.  All five of the tracks, including the 14 minutes plus epic 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' are worth hearing.  Novak's voice will be an acquired taste for some folks, but his delivery fits the material well.  Lead guitarist Roe is quite impressive, but most of the spotlight is on keyboardist Dahlgren who effortlessly manages to span the gauntlet from tasteful synthesizer passages ('Devil's Strumpet'), to Keith Emmerson-styled wall of organ overload.  Certainly better than other Yes-wannabees like the dreaded Starcastle, but not quite as good as Cathedral ...

Edwards Hand - 1970 - Stranded

Edwards Hand 

01. US Flag   
02. Sheriff Myras Lincoln   
03. Revolution's Death Man!   
04. Encounter   
05. Hello America   
06. Stranded   
07. Winter   
08. Death Of A Man-Die When You Must Die   
09. Death Of A Man-The Strife Is O'er The Battle Done   
10. Death Of A Man-He Is Gone   
11. Death Of A Man-This May Sound Strange   
12. Death Of A Man-The Sentence Is Life   

Rod Edwards (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Roger Hand (guitar, vocals)

James Litherland (guitar)
John Wetton (bass)
Clem Cattini (drums)

Having worked with George Martin on their self titled debut, Edward's Hand began recording at Morgan Studios in 1970, attempting to create a harder and more progressive sound than before. There where no nervous second album vibes here! The album is comprised of evocative and intelligent progressive pop songs immaculately produced featuring Edward's and Hand's distinctive harmonies to the fore.

The second half of the album is effectively a concept of alienation and isolation, covered in the seven minute title track and the twelve minute epic Death Of A Man. which includes an incredible "orchestra duelling-with-moogs" mid section followed by a beautifully majestic and Beatles like coda. Stranded marks its reissue here on CD with the inclusion of the original artwork by Revolver cover artist and long term Beatle friend Klaus Voorman.

The line drawing of a Southern Sheriff, ties in with the lyrics of Sheriff Myras Lincoln - a song about an American racist policeman - and was subsequently banned and replaced with different artwork by RCA in the US. Clearly more confident and adventurous lyrically on this album, Edward's Hand also had more time with George Martin during the pre-production stages. This preparation time, an intelligent lyric writing team and Georges complex yet concise orchestral arrangements give their second LP a much worldlier and unique feel.

Edwards Hand were the first group that George Martin arranged and produced after The Beatles. This is the band's second album and was originally released in 1970. It features some stunning string arrangements by George Martin from the first sessions to be mixed at his then new Air Studios.

The cover art is a controversial caricature of a US Sheriff by "Revolver" Beatles artist / friend Klaus Voorman. This artwork was banned by the US label and was subsequently replaced with different artwork on the original US pressing of the album. It is re-instated on this release. Edwards Hand were formally the short-lived Picadilly Line who released the ultra rare album The Huge World of Emily Small, whilst Rod Edwards was also a key member of legendary UK folk band Jade.

Stranded features John Wetton's first guest appearance on an album, just before he joined Family and Jimmy Litherland of Colosseum. The band is virtually the same grouping that backed Marianne Segal and Dave Waite on the legendary Fly On Strange Wings album by Jade.

This preparation time, an intelligent lyric writing team and George's complex yet concise orchestral arrangements give their second LP a much worldlier and unique feel.

Edwards Hand - 1969 - Edwards Hand

Edwards Hand
Edwards Hand

01. Banjo Pier - 2:46
02. Friday Hill - 2:37
03. Episodes, Being The First Part - 3:54
04. Close My Eyes - 3:15
05. House Of Cards - 2:13
06. If I thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind (by John Cameron) - 2:39
07. Characters Number One - 3:54
08. Orange Peel - 2:51
09. Sing Along With The Singer - 2:11
10.Magic Car - 3:15
11.Days Of Our Life - 5:37
12.Outta My Mind - 2:34
13.Last Night's Girl - 2:48
14.Loves A Game For One - 2:53
15.Goodbye Girl - 2:31

Bonus tracks 12-15 recorded as The Handed Down in 1968, direct to acetate.

Edward Hand
*Rod Edwards - Vocals, Keyboards
*Roger Hand - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Guest Musicians
*Barry Morgan, Ronnie Verrall, Clem Cattini - Drums
*Danny Thompson V - String Bass
*Herbie Flowers, Mo Foster, Brian Hodges - Bass
*Vic Flick, Big Jim Sullivan, Colin Green, Alan Parker - Guitars
*Nicky Hopkins, Roger Coulam, Alan Hawkshaw, Mike Moran - Keyboards
*Harry Stoneham - Organ

Musical Direction by George Martin
Produced by George Martin

In 1968 CBS abandoned the idea of a follow up album for the Picadilly Line and looked instead g for commercial success through singles. When the singles also failed to hit the charts CBS started to lose interest in the band and in the process they lost their direction, innocence and artistic drive.

Adding a girl singer had confused things further and Roger Hand left the band in despair.  Rod Edwards soldiered on and the group went to Switzerland for an extended period to work and to get their act together. Unfortunately the hoped for new enthusiasm that was to be generated by the excursion did not materialise and a demoralised Picadilly Line returned to England before falling apart.

Sometimes, when all is lost, fate just steps in. The band's manager and friend Jon Miller had been working for Spencer Davis Management and on meeting American manager Lennie Poncher had given him a copy of the Picadilly Line album.  Rod and Roger were out of contract with CBS and since Lennie was looking for English acts he was immediately drawn to the band.

Lennie not only offered them a US management deal but also immediately secured a record contract with CRT records, a new operation set up by the tape manufacturing conglomerate. Lennie was not typical of American managers. He was honest! He was also well respected in the business - with offices in both Los Angeles and New York .  He was a musician, he cared for music and had worked with a wide range of artists, including the US garage psych-pop legends The Electric Prunes and hip arranger David Axel rod (most notably on the infamous and highly ambitious Mass in F Minor and Release of an Oath albums).

However he had also represented Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdink, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Donovan. Immaculately dressed, witty and gregarious whilst just oozing credibility, he was the man with connections that Rod and Roger needed. Rod recalls a particularly hilarious time with Lennie in London "Lennie took us out to lunch at the Londonderry Hotel on Park Lane to discuss our future.

After fifteen minutes when the waiter still hadn't appeared to take our order, Lennie took hold of the edge of the table cloth and with one swift action pulled it from the table so that cutlery, glass and plates went flying everywhere. Immediately a waiter came rushing over to see what the problem was and when he arrived at our table Lennie just calmly pointed at the menu and ordered the meal!"

Lennie was only interested in the best and through the force of his personality secured the services of George Martin to produce Rod and Roger's new album. This was a unique scenario as they were to be the first group produced by George after the Beatles.  George must have been impressed by the songs as he immediately made the commitment to produce the band whilst he was still involved with recording the Beatles' White Album.

To their utter amazement, Rod and Roger found themselves scheduled at EMI studios in Abbey Road, St. Johns Wood under their new name Edwards Hand, a simple combination of their surnames.  As stated on the sleeve of their eponymous album 'musical direction1 was supplied by George Martin and as musical director George worked closely with the duo planning, pruning, orchestrating, recording and mixing the material.

Rod Edwards described George Martin's involvement as crucial to the recordings "The album was very much a transition from the softer Picadilly Line material to a bigger orchestral George Martin sound.  At the time he was working on The Beatles' White Album - a lengthy sporadic process - and although he was very discreet he did play a rough mix from a work in progress tape of 'Dear Prudence". In addition to George Martin's involvement Edwards Hand were also fortunate to have the services of legendary engineer Geoff Emerick whose name was synonymous with all the Beatles' recordings.

Rod described him as a consummate engineer "Recording the Beatles was just part of his repertoire. He had done everything, been everywhere and moreover had come from that peculiarly British school of excellent technical sound balance engineers.  He knew about sound and how to achieve it. You have to remember at that time you didn't just press a button and out comes the New York Philharmonic!

The album was recorded on a four track machine which really focuses your mind!" Like The Picadilly Line album Edwards Hand's first vinyl output featured a dazzling array of musicians.  Not only had the duo managed to secure the most famous producer and arranger in the world they also attracted the cream of the UK session musicians.

A veritable who's who of hip sidemen included Barry Morgan and Ronnie Verrall on drums, Danny Thompson on string bass, Vic Flick, Big Jim Sullivan, Colin Green and Alan Parker on guitars, Nicky Hopkins, Roger Coulam, Alan Hawkshaw and Mike Moran on Keyboards and Harry Stoneham on Organ.

Such a wealth of talent under the direction of George Martin promised at the very least an album of the highest quality and unsurprisingly both Rod and Roger were overawed at the prospect of such an array of top class musical ability performing their compositions.

The album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in the summer of 1969 and was released shortly afterwards on the fledging GRT label in the USA, Despite the ificfedible team behind it and the seeming commercial invincibility of the project the choice of label proved to be its Achilles heel.  The reviews were excellent and a buzz was in the air but GRT had moved too soon too fast and they lacked the depth of experience of a major label.

They did not have the promotion, the organisation or quite simply the men hitting the radio stations. Edwards Hand was an album truly deserving of exposure to a wider audience. In today's ipod world 'baroque pop' might well be the closest label of categorization for the duo's debut putting it on play lists alongside albums such as Kaleidoscope's Faintly Blowing, Fairfield Parlour's From Home To Home The Strawbs Dragonfly or Nirvana's All Of Us , Whilst not sharing any creative ideas with those contemporaries what it does share is an English cosy warmth and familiarity that breathes the fresh air of an earlier,  innocent and more carefree musical age.

Sweeping pastoral string arrangements perfectly counterbalance a pop sensibility adding a certain air of mystery and romanticism.  At times the blend of pop orchestration and melancholy harmony gives the record a Franco-continental feel most evident on the opening 'Banjo Pier' - with its keyboard flourishes and swelling strings -and the haunting elegiac 'Days of Our Life'. At other moments, for example in 'Magic Car1, a harder edge struggles to break through the dense harmonies.

Whilst the roots of the duo's music can be followed back to the twee beginnings of The Picadilly Line - most evident on 'Characters No. 1',  an infuriatingly catchy piece of swinging mockney - Rod and Roger's music seems to have evolved into a creation totally of it's time whilst also remaining I enchantingly timeless. 'If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind' is the only non-original composition on the record and is a beautiful song,  written and arranged by John Cameron, who had previously produced The Picadilly Line.

The song has proven to be a particularly poignant footnote to Edward Hand's musical history.  Once again produced by George Martin it was to be a huge hit for Cilia Black in 1969 (and an even bigger one many years later for Agnetha Faltskog of Abba) yet tie irony is that Cilia's label EMI had an option to release the Edwards Hand alburn and the single but failed to do so, giving Cilia a clear run with her version.

Despite the fact that lyrically it works better from the male perspective, EMI could see that Cilia had the advantage of previous hits and a well known UK TV show to propel her recording into the public ear. In retrospect it is evident that the Edwards Hand version is by far superior.  Who knows what might have happened had it gained wider exposure? Unfortunately although Edwards Hand's album garnered critical acclaim in the USA, the GRT label folded almost immediately after release of the alburn taking the band's first steps at a career with it.  Edwards Hand missed their moment and the duos debut failed to even secure a European release.

Picadilly Line - 1967 - The Huge World Of Emily Small

Picadilly Line 
The Huge World Of Emily Small

01. Emily Small (The Huge World Thereof)
02. Silver Paper Dress
03. At The Third Stroke
04. Can You See Me?
05. Your Dog Won't Bark
06. How Could You Say You're Leaving Me?
07. Gone, Gone, Gone
08. Twiggs
09. Tumble Down World
10.Visions Of Johanna
11.Come And Sing A Song
12.Her Name Is Easy
13.Rosemary's Bluebell Day
14.Gunny Sunside
15.Country Girl
16.No One Else Can See
17.Yellow Rainbow
18.I Know, She Believes
19.Evenings With Corinna
20.My Best Friend
21.Memories Fade
22.I Can Tell You Everything

The Picadilly Line
*Roger Hand - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Rod Edwards - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Guest Musicians
*Norrie McLean - Bass Guitar   (tracks: 17 to 20)
*Herbie Flowers - Bass (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Mo Foster - Bass (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Danny Thompson - Double Bass [String] (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Barry Morgan - Drums  (tracks: 1 to 16) ,
*Dougie Wright - Drums  (tracks: 1 to 16) ,
*Keith Hodge - Drums  (tracks: 17 to 20)
*Tony Carr - Drums, Percussion  (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Harold McNair - Flute (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Alan Parker - Guitar  (tracks: 1 to 16) ,
*Colin Green - Guitar  (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Alan Hawkshaw - Keyboards (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Roger Coulam- Keyboards (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Harry Stoneham - Organ (tracks: 1 to 16)
*Jan Barber - Vocals  (tracks: 17 to 20)

Tracks 1 to 12: Recorded at: De Lane Lee Studios, Kingsway in the Summer of 1967
Tracks 13 to 16: Recorded Autumn 1967 at CBS Studios, Bond Street for a projected second album; unreleased
Tracks 17 & 18: Recorded Autumn 1967 at CBS Studios, Bond Street; released July 1968
Tracks 19 & 20: Recorded Autumn 1967 at CBS Studios, Bond Street; released October 1968
Tracks 21 & 22. Demos recorded in the autumn of 1967

The Picadilly Line's The Huge World Of Emily Small is one of those albums that just seems to have slipped under the radar of most UK pop psych collectors. As such, it has never been re-issued in any form! The band (essentially a duo led by Rod Edwards and Roger Hand, who would later record as Edwards Hand) flourished briefly in the late '60s releasing this one album.

With them is the cream of UK session men including Danny Thompson (bass), Alan Hawkshaw (keys), Herbie Flowers (bass) and Harold McNair (flute). The Picadilly Line even managed an appearance at The Middle Earth club in London, the then hallowed centre of the UK psychedelic scene. The album is breezy post-Sgt. Pepper psychedelic pop with plenty of swinging London vibes, orchestration and evocative whimsical lyrics.

Reference points are a psychedelic Hollies, Chad and Jeremy (circa Of Cabbages and Kings) Nirvana, Kaleidoscope (UK), World Of Oz, Donovan and The Bee Gees. Filled with beautiful dreamy vocal harmonies and elaborate electric and acoustic arrangements, this is a real trip back to the height of UK Flower Power.

All material is original except for a great version of Dylan's 'Visions of Johanna' and The Everly Brothers' 'Gone, Gone Gone.' Features ten unreleased bonus tracks exclusive to this CD, including their non-album singles 'Yellow Rainbow'/'Evenings with Corinna' and 'Evening with Corinna'/'My Best Friend,' both from 1968. Digitally re-mastered from the original master tapes and re-released with full consent of the producer and band. Booklet includes unseen photos from the period and band biography and the CD features ten bonus tracks.

Atlantic Ocean - 1970 - Tranquility Bay

Atlantic Ocean 
Tranquility Bay

01. What Is The Time
02. Take A Look Around You
03. The Critics
04. Soft Björn (inc. I Was Born)
05. Able Baker Charlie Dog
06. Can't You Hear Them Shooting
07. Very Special Dream
08. Relapse (inc. United Fruit)
09. Weather inc. Snow, Wind, Sun

Björn J:son Lindh Flute, Saxophon, Viloin
Greg Fitzpatrick Bass, Guitar, Piano
Göran Ahlin Guitar
Jan Bandel Drums
Johnny Mowinckel Electric Piano
Staffan Stenström Vocals Bass, Guitar
Sten Bergman Organ, Piano

A Swedish progressive rock band lead by Gregory Allan Fitzpatrick (b. 1945 in USA). The band was first called The Quints but they changed their name to Atlantic Ocean in 1968. Atlantic Ocean started to record their first album in 1969 and it was planned to be released on CBS, but the material was too experimental for CBS and Finnish label

Atlantic Ocean was formed by the ashes of the pop group Quints. That was the embryo to many popular swedish groups like Fläsket Brinner, Jason Fleece, Baltik, Handgjort. I think you know some of the members of the group they were Sten Bergman, Björn J:son Lindh, Jan Bandel, Johnny Mowinckel, Staffan Stenström, Göran Ahlin(Greg Fitzpatrick). When Greg first camed to Sweden he was asked to play with Hannson&Karlsson but he said no thanks and joined Quints. They later changed name to Atlantic Ocean in1967 and signed a contract with CBS in England. But CBS thougt they were to muddled and would not release their album. But the real explanation can be that the inner sleeve is decorate with pictures from the Vietnam war. So Greg takes the master tapes to Finland and relase the record on the Love label. The band disbanned when Greg went to Asia and one half become Fläsket Brinner and the other Jasons Fleece. When Greg then later returned he forms the hippie band Handgjort. Well this is a very peace love and understanding type of record. And the best track have to be the 19 min long track on the B-side. I can also recomend Sten Bergmans solo album very good folk and singer songwriter styled album.

Levande Livet - 1973 - Strommens Parla

Levande Livet
Strommens Parla

01. Mänskolivet 4:34
02. Samma Samba 4:50
03. Fri Idioti 4:19
04. Out Of This Mess 4:39
05. Bellman 6:57
06. Hr. Drever & Hr. Ströver 3:44
07. Strömmens Pärla 8:11

Line Up:
Bass – Lars Bergström
Congas – Hassan Bah
Drums – Anders Spets
Guitar – Tommy Broman
Percussion – Ann-Marie Karlsson, Einar Heckscher, Ingegerd Sköldin
Piano – Johnny Mowinckel
Saxophone – Hans Berggren
Vocals – Ann-Marie Karlsson, Einar Heckscher, Ingegerd Sköldin, Jenny Karlsson, Tommy Broman

Sometimes regarded as a continuation of Telefon Paisa (or if you prefer, Sogmusobil). Truth is that only two of the members had previously been in Telefon Paisa: Johnny Mowinckel, and the ever so illustrious character Einar Heckscher. There are also only a few musical similarities between the two bands, with Levande Livet being far more skilled than Telefon Paisa and their pathologically untogether, albeit strangely attractive, freak jams.

”Strömmens pärla” is all over the place, stylistically. They move from the scruffy blues of ”Bellman” and album opener ”Mänskolivet”, through some sort of jazz in ”Samma samba”, to a kind of singer/songwriter rock not entirely unlike John Holm in ”Out of This Mess” and the slightly psychy ”Fri idrott”. The high points of the album however are the two final tracks, ”Hr. Drever & hr. Ströver” and ”Strömmens pärla”. The first one is the album's shortest track, but long enough to get into a stoned groove. (No wonder, since the band was excessively into a variety of stimulants...) The title track on the other hand is the longest piece, a loud, gritty workout with a prominent horn section including jazz trumpeter Maffy Falay – later of Sevda fame – blows it out, and some loudmouthed wah wah guitar.

It's a pity that the vocals are too low in the mix. Well, some might appreciate that they're are barely audible at times, as Einar Heckscher admittedly isn't the greatest singer in the world. He has a gruff, gravelly voice that sometimes hit the notes and sometimes not. I for one actually like his ”who gives a shit anyway” style of singing, but I know that some people find it brutally off-putting.

”Strömmens pärla” is by no means a masterpiece, but I'm quite fond of their dirty sound. Fans of Gudibrallan and Love Explosion will likely groove hard to it if you can find a copy. It's among the rarest LP's on the Silence label.

Those who want more Levande Livet in their lives ought to check out the recently released 40 CD (!!!) box set ”Progglådan” which features a live recording, also from 1973 and made for Swedish Radio broadcasting corporation. Slightly heavier and noisier, that recording is a fine complement to their lone studio album.

Almost all of the members went on to other glories after Levande Livet disbanded. Gunnar Bergsten later brought his saxophone to Bo Hansson, Mikael Ramel and Xtra sessions. He had previously been in avant jazzers G.L. Unit, as well as in Fläsket Brinner and, along with Maffy Falay, in the aforementioned Sevda. Hans Berggren turned up many years later in an obscure band called Happy Boys Band who managed to release one single only in 1980. Bass player Lars Bergström and guitar slinger Tommy Broman eventually teamed up with the infamous Tom Zacharias on the latter's equally infamous ”Belinda” albums. Broman also recorded one solo album for the YTF label in 1976. Peter Smoliansky is the son of renowned jazz singer Nannie Porres, and founded garage rhythm & blues band Rost in the late 70's before joining highly successful rock act Eldkvarn for several years in the 80's and early 90's. He plays darbouka on ”Strömmens pärla”, as he prior to that also did with Anita Livstrand. Einar Heckscher became a noted translator of predominantly American underground literature, and he's also the brother of Social Democrat Sten Heckscher who during several years was head Police Commissioner in Sweden.

Sogmusobil - 1973 - Telefon Paisa

Telefon Paisa

01. Arabic in the morning (4:11)
02. Öberg (0:28)
03. Lost identity (3:17)
04. Evinrude (3:22)
05. Speedy (3:06)
06. Chocolate nurse (4:07)
07. Betongbarn (3:48)
08. Stålprinsessan (3:17)
09. Olle (4:46)
10. Tjackvalsen (3:58)
11. Vi ses på Sergels torg (4:57)

Einar Heckscher (vocals, percussion)
Johnny Mowinckel (keyboards, guitar, percussion, vocals)
Dick Nettelbrandt (drums, vocals)

Great underground freak rock with a totally wasted vibe. With organs and guitars all over the place, music going in every direction possible . Highly recommeded. Some of the guys later appeared in the slightly more bluesy Levande Livet. Released on Pugh's Gump label this is Rare.

Ok Guys, prepare for this: a totally wacky psych artifact, an unbeliavable album indeed! full of manipulated instruments (like the piano) studio trickery and hippies declamating in a loud and hysterical way!.

If you want to make an idea think in Damo Suzuki, Frank Zappa, Holger Czukay, Captain Beefheart and Bob Dylan planning to record all together their version of Their Satanic Majesties Request.

The lyrics are both in english and swedish, and believe me, are funny as hell, hilarious in a hippie relaxed irreverent mood.

Really guys, this is THE CLASSIC SWEDISH PSYCHEDELIC ALBUM , ¡a pretty insane and wacky trip!

By the way, Mowinckel, one of its members were previously on Flasket Brinner (prior to their first album) and Atlantic Ocean, and before sogmusobil on Levande Live

Johnny Mowinckel previously played with the Atlantic Ocean as well as in Fläsket Brinner (but left the group before their first album). Sogmusobil is said to sound like a mixture of Träd Gräs & Stenar, Bob Dylan, Can, Lea Riders Group and The Rolling Stones psych album "Their Satanic Majesties Request". The lyrics, some in Swedish and in English, are said to be very touchy and funny.

Michel Zacha - 1977 - Inutile

Michel Zacha

01. Viens Dans mon Esprit (4:20)
02. Goutte de Pluie (1:30)
03. Pourquoi ne pas Prendre le Temps (6:25)
04. Saison (à Leslie) (2:20)
05. Inutilebingalo (Le Massacre du Printemps) (3:10)
06. Grain de Sable (5:00)
07. Le Pêcheurs de Malange (etude Pléonasmique Dédiée à ma Maman) (3:45)
08. Comment te Dire (She's Not a Girl) (4:55)
09. Loin de Tous les Livres (5:20)

Line-up / Musicians
- Michel Ripoche / violin
- Danièle Chadelaud / vocals
- Marc Bertaux / bass
- Gerges Rodi / piano, arp, synthesizer
- Michel Zacha / guitars, keyboards, vocals

- François Auger / drums
- André Céccarelli / drums
- Claude Engel / guitars
- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitars
- Marc Chantereau / percussion
- Bernard Lubat / percussion
- Keith Caisey / percussions
- Philippe Dalecky / guitars
- Michel Delaporte / cueca
- Georges Rabol / keyboards
- Rachid Bahri / vocals
- Paul-Jean Borowsky / vocals

Last Zacha's album is more or less in chanson style, and I wouldn't recommend it to start exploring this artist. This pop sensibility was present in the earlier works but at those times it had great rock in the mix to carry out the melodies. With that said, this is still pretty unconventional pop music because of complicated and strange compositions, but overall it would still fall under the umbrella of pop and folk ballads. Also I don't understand french so people that do will maybe appreciate it more for the lyrics if they are good, but the music itself couldn't hold my attention too long.

Michel Zacha - 1974 - Promesses D'atlantides Vol.2 Le Vol D'Icare

Michel Zacha
Promesses D'atlantides Vol.2 Le Vol D'Icare

01. Esquisse D'Icare
02. Be Here and Mow
03. L'Enfant et la Mer
04. Zit
05. Vivez vos Rêves
06. Prière Labyrinthe
07. Le Vol D'Icare
08. La Terre

- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitars
- Gerges Rodi / piano, Mellotron, arp
- Olivier Bloch-Lainé / bass, vocals
- Georges Rabol / piano
- Frédéric Ronald Dodd / flte, sax
- Marc Chantereau / percussions
- Maria Popkiewicz / vocals
- Michel Zacha / guitars, vocals, piano

Michel Zacha - 1972 - Promesses D'atlantides Vol.1 La Nuit Des Cigales

Michel Zacha
Promesses D'atlantides Vol.1 La Nuit Des Cigales

01. Accident (3:30)
02. Mary Anna (2:40)
03. La Dame Nue (4:40)
04. Shanghi Wo (3:30)
05. Temps De Pluie (4:20)
06. Promesses D'Atlantides (2:50)
07. End of Beginning (3:20)
08. Les Cigales (2:50)

- Alan Jones / bass
- Thomas Guthrie / drums
- Ric Dodd / flute, sax
- Marc Chantereau / percussion
- Wild Bill Hargraves / percussion
- Georges Rabol / piano
- Maria Popkiewicz / vocals
- Jean-Pierre Alarcen / guitars
- Michel Zacha / vocals, various instruments

French artist MICHEL ZACHA was a colourful addition to the roster of French artists that was active in the 1970's, his output incorporating elements from a vast number of different stylistic expressions from both sides of the dividing line between mainstream rock and art rock. His creative highlight was the years 1972 - 1977, when he released the concept album trilogy Promesses d'Atlantides, consisting of La Nuit des Cigales (1972), Le Vol D'Icare (1974) and Inutile (1977). Little else is known about this composer and musician today.

A French singer/songwriter, who's actual surname was Zaccharopoloulos, propably of Greek or Cypriot origin.After a brief career with small groups he signed with the Pathe label, on which he released a trilogy of albums.The first was issued in 1972, its title was ''Vol 1: La nuit des cigales'', featuring among others English bassist Alan Jones, pianist Georges Rabol, percussionist Marc Chantereau and guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen.

The presence of such an important supporting group does not necessarilly secure an ambitious and challenging record, as Zacha's debut contains strong influences from the typical French singer/songwriter style, like plenty of vocals, delivered either in warm or more expressive singing lines, constant acoustic passages, possibly played by Zacha himself, and accesible song structures with limited adventurous textures.There are also a lot of dual acoustic/electric moments with an evident psychedelic vibe and a bit of dramatic color in these particular moments.The light use of flutes next to the more ethereal vocals and the discreet, orchestral keyboard parts (like in the opening ''Accident'' or the long ''Promesses D'Atlantides'') recall the atmosphere created by legendary acts such as ANGE or maybe TROCARN.As a whole though the album is dominated by a heavy ballad/songwriter atmosphere, which receives variations from the smooth instrumental performances of the guest musicians.

Trust - 1970 - Le Mutant

Le Mutant

01. Les Blés   
02. Joue, Joue   
03. Cité Renoir   
04. Plus Rien Ne Bouge   
05. Le Pensionnaire   
06. Hip Hip Hip   
07. Le Mammouth   
08. Easy Rider   
09. Le Mutant   

Alain Markusfeld
Jean Schultheis
Jacky Chalard

"Le Mutant" is basically a French pop rock album, with a distinct British proto-prog feel where The Beatles have to be considered an obvious influence here, despite it all being sung in French. Similar to countrymen Iris and M.O.T.U.S. in that same way. Not as adventurous as the first two albums from Alain Markusfeld, for example. Speaking of which, it is rumored that both Markusfeld (guitar) and Jacky Chalard (bass) play on this (though uncredited). Non-essential fluff for the most part, but a good one to hear for specialists. This Trust is not related to the French hard rock group of the same name that later supplied Iron Maiden with its drummers.