Chico Magnetic Band - s/t. 1970 France


There are a couple of items here that make this album special. One is the heavy handed use of studio trickery (phasing, radical dynamic shifts, backwards tape, etc…), a common trait found amongst early 70s French and German albums. Cynics say it’s to mask the incompetence of the players, but I prefer to believe that a high amount of creativity was applied, and maybe even expected, for the era. Even more important, though, is Chico himself. Chico is the vocalist, and it’s his ranting, raving, screeching, drooling, mumbling that makes this album so REAL. The listener witnesses a man on the edge – a true freakout captured on tape for all time.

There are other albums where this can be found, and they’re all favorites of mine: Dawn on Brainticket’s Cottonwood Hill, John L. on Ash Ra Tempel’s Schwingungen, and Catherine Ribeiro on No. 2 (really any of her early 70s works). The psychedelics that are applied both externally (music) and internally (individual) allow the artist to apply his or her most creative mind gymnastics. Sure, it’s pure madness, but it sends a chill down my spine especially when paired with raging wah wah guitar solos and a cacophony of tribal percussion.

It’s funny today to watch bands try to recreate this same sound. When it’s just the music, they do a good, sometimes great job, but when they try the “I’m crazy, here me rant” - they’re faking it. It was a one time “of the era” event. Everything else is just a simulation, a make-believe-let’s-pretend-we’re-freaked-out-and-nuts. And it sounds artificial. Get the real deal and check out Chico Magnetic Band.

Personal collection
CD: 2008 Nosmoke (Portugal)

So let's talk about this CD shall we? Imagine my surprise when I saw the back liner notes... which were written by.... ME! (what did they use for the liner notes you ask? What you see above). Guess we can safely assume this is a bootleg as well, since I certainly wasn't contacted prior! It's a pretty decent boot actually, with extra tracks taken from 45s and Ep's, also from the bootleggers collection no doubt. There's also a full history of the band, up through 2003, probably pulled from the internet as well.

Gli Alluminogeni - Scolopendra. 1972 Italy


Review originally published in Gnosis on April 4, 2001. Recently edited for UMR.

A fun one-off from the classic era of Italian progressive music. There really seems to be no point to this, other than to allow lead vocalist and keyboard extraordinaire Patrizio Alluminio to lend his name to the band and noodle around on his organ, mellotron, piano, electric piano and harmonium. But then there is an unrelenting charm about Scolopendra. The songs are more suited for the late 1960's psychedelic scene than the 1972 Italian progressive rock movement. The keyboards are way out of place here. Patrizio plays with a distinctive jazzy style that hints there might be a talented player trapped in the wrong field of music. Best of all, some of the songs will change completely midstream without any reason at all. Sure the Italians are famous for this, and the abrupt transition usually makes sense in retrospect. Here, it doesn't. Not at all. And it's a beautiful thing to behold. Check the break on 'La Natura e L'Universo'. Pure brilliance. Or incompetence. I'm going with the latter and will condescendingly call it 'quaint'. 'Thrilling' is another example of Gli Alluminiogeni's random songwriting ability.

For drop on the floor belly laughs, one must scan the back cover for the threads these dudes are wearing. Two of the band members cut the shag carpet out of Mom's living room and decided to construct evening wear out of it. And the proof is there for the ages. No, Gli Alluminogeni are not going to win a game of Jeopardy against Museo Rosenbach or Semiramis or even the Partridge Family for that matter. Ah, what the hey, I still like this album. Cannot rationalize my feelings, just there is no other album that sounds quite like it. And a good listen for organ freaks like myself. There are even a few good guitar riffs. Psychedelic organ music from Italy is a rare breed indeed.

Personal collection
CD: 2004 Strange Days

Sabicas - Rock Encounter. 1970 USA/Spain


58 year old Sabicas was a legendary flamenco guitar player from Spain who was living in New York in the 1960s. He somehow was bamboozled by his agent into participating in an instrumental rock album with some of New York’s finest young jazz players at the time (including Joe Beck and Tony Levin). His distinctive flamenco guitar and much respected name was much desired I'm sure.

Maybe it's best we reflect on this situation before going further. Today it's not uncommon for the older generation of musicians to intermingle with the young bucks. I'm sure they remember the resistance they received in their youth and were determined they would be different when they reached gentrification. But in 1970 it simply WAS NOT DONE. To lower one's standards to play simplistic rock music (even if that's not the case, especially here) was an insult to many. And sure enough years later, maybe not surprisingly, Sabicas himself admitted he didn’t like the album.

This is really Joe Beck’s show, and the whole album is so far ahead of its time, it deserves a doctoral study. Though to be fair this was an extension of Beck’s sessions with John Berberian on Middle Eastern Rock - also a landmark work. This extraordinary release predates the Spanish flamenco rock movement (as spearheaded by Triana amongst many others) by at least 5 years, if not more. An essential pioneering world-jazz-rock-fusion work.

Personal Collection
CD: 2006 Long Hair (Germany)

Metallica - Ride the Lightning. 1984 USA


To truly appreciate Metallica, I think it's important to understand the history. When Metallica debuted with Kill 'Em All, they had rewritten the rules of metal as we knew it. There just simply wasn't any band playing that heavy, that fast, and that clear in those days. Sure it was a bit simple minded, and the lyrics were a little on the bonehead side, but still the album had most young males heart racing faster than Secretariat at the Derby. It was an exciting beginning, and Metallica could've stayed with this style and been heralded as a pioneer much in the same way we view Motorhead and Iron Maiden.

Then came Ride the Lightning. Metallica still hadn't ironed out all of their contractual deals with Elektra, and I happened to be in London at the time of its initial release. Their UK deal was with the relatively minor underground label Music For Nations, and I just couldn't wait and bought the album at HMV. And dragged it with me for another 2 weeks. It's a decision I never regretted (and still have my well worn LP copy, that will stay with me until the end).

The album opens with 'Fight Fire With Fire', and that track still gets my adrenaline up. James Hetfield's vocals, as Xavier Russell hilariously noted in Kerrangg at the time, was more like "Fight Vodka with Bourbon". It's been almost 25 years since Ride the Lightning came out, and tens of thousands of metal albums have copied every note of this album, with better production techniques and STILL I'm blown away by this cut. Consider that there was a time when I would hear this song almost every day! This is followed by the title track, an awesomely mid paced super heavy song, that is as melodic as it is pulverizing. And so it goes through the remainder of the album. One big jaw dropping event. Especially for 1984. The band had improved exponentially on an already impressive debut. The song-writing has an almost progressive rock quality to it. And the band made a conscious decision to take an intellectual Iron Maiden approach to the lyrics. So instead of metal armies, banging that head that doesn't bang and other testosterone fueled brainlessness, Metallica opted to sing about the ethics of capital punishment, cryogenics, the anguish of contemplating suicide, the Egyptians perspective of Passover, and musical interpretations of Ernest Hemingway and H.P. Lovecraft. WHAT? How could any one band just rewrite the rules so fast?

In effect, Ride the Lightning was so far ahead of the curve it would take years for anyone to catch up. One can argue that Master of Puppets is a stronger album, as it took the Ride the Lightning concept and improved on it. But it seemed a little more clinical and less of the moment. By ...And Justice For All, Metallica were reaching for even more creative ideas. But it wasn't right. Their heart wasn't what would later be called a progressive metal group. It was a bit too wooden for their own good, though still a fine album. And their playing of 'One' at the Grammy's was a watershed moment for heavy metal overall. From here they lost their way to the hardcore original fans... and for many others they were just about to be introduced to a more radio friendly Metallica. But back to 1984, Ride the Lightning has to be considered one of the most revolutionary albums ever made.

Personal collection
LP: 1984 Music For Nations (UK)
CD: 2010 Vertigo (Japan)

Jean Claude Vannier - L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches. 1972 France


As if we needed further proof that the early 1970s was the apex of creativity for the modern era, we have Jean Claude Vannier’s sole album to offer up as evidence to the court. To the average Parisian walking the street, Vannier is most known as the producer and arranger for that most famous French crooner: Serge Gainsbourg.

However, given an opportunity for a solo album, Vannier put his vast resources to work in an all-encompassing rock extravaganza, mixing psych, jazz, world, carnival, musique concrete, and whatever else the hell he felt like doing. This is no "3 days of booze and pills and let’s get it out type" album. This is the kind of big budget affair all artists wish they had at their disposal. Who needs a mellotron when you have full choirs and orchestras under your direction? (We tend to forget in these modern times that the mellotron was a cheap alternative to funding a cast of thousands). So move over, rover, cause Jean-Claude is takin’ over.

Vannier’s album is one more corner of the French triumvirate of “establishment” types (William Sheller and Alain Goraguer being the others) who felt the need to get hip and basically blow away the kids with their vision of psychedelic music. Daddy-O is here to teach a lesson sonny, so pay attention! There’s been a couple of recent legit CD reissues of this, and none is better than the latest from Finders Keepers, who managed to throw in a cool 1971 Yves-St. Laurent fashion video, complete with psyched out Vannier music. Groovy Baby – Austin Powers never had it so good.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Finders Keepers (UK)

Friends - s/t. 1973 USA


Underground America comes through once again. With Europe, especially in places like France and Germany, it's relatively easy to spot the pigeon. For every pop album, there was an experimental avant-garde release not far behind. But not the US of A. The land of the quick buck. No, you have to dig deep and far. And in all genres. Because you never know where the next great album lies. Friends. Yea, good luck in finding info with a name like that. But one name jumps out once you've been exposed to this treasure: John Abercrombie. What on Earth? That's TWO discoveries for me recently that features this well known ECM guitarist. The other being Stark Reality.

And since we spoke of Germany earlier, that's exactly where I'd guess this album had come from had I not known any better. Let's first discuss the lineup of instruments: Guitar, sax, bass and drums. Big deal right? We'll start with Abercrombie, since he's the marquee name thrown around. He was clearly in his Mahavishnu John era, and has no problem playing jazz guitar like Jimi Hendrix on steroids. So we already have an edge. Most of the bass work is stand-up, like I'VE NEVER HEARD ANYONE before. Louisiana born Clint Houston is all over his instrument, like a pissed off Jimmy Garrison. Love Supreme my ass - Hate Supreme and get out of my way homeboy. Drummer Jeff Williams puts in the most ordinary performance, and he's still nothing short of excellent. And then there's Marc Cohen. He MUST HAVE KNOWN Tim Belbe. Any jazzer reading this page is going who is Tim Belbe? But the Krautrock heads know - were talking Xhol Caravan here. Wah-wah, fuzz, phased, echo-plexed and just flat out tortured. What Mike Ratledge did to the Lowrey Organ is what Tim Belbe did to the saxophone. And Marc Cohen FREAKS OUT even more than Belbe did - at least on vinyl. Elton Dean might as well be Charlie Parker when we're in this game. So basically we have four long, very freaked out instrumental tracks of jazz rock underground avant insane madness. And it rocks like nobody's business.

This album is just ridiculous. Awesome.

Personal collection
LP: 1973 Oblivion

Eloy - Inside. 1973 Germany


Inside is Eloy’s second album and their first foray into progressive rock. This was one of my very first Continental European albums to own, and would have to consider it a strong influence on my personal preferences, especially upon initial discovery in the mid 1980s.

More overtly complex than most albums from Germany, and not really Krautrock in the traditional sense of the word (i.e. Brain, Ohr, Pilz, Bellaphon labels). Blindfolded, and not knowing any better, I’d say Eloy on Inside anyway, sounds more like an early 70s group from England. While vocal/guitarist Frank Bornemann is the clear leader of the band, the musical focus on Inside is squarely on the shoulders of organist Manfred Wieczorke. He carries most of the solos, as well as many of the melody lines. In fact, the organ virtuosity displayed here is some of the finest to ever be committed to a rock album (and that’s quite a statement!). In some ways, it almost seems they’re hiding Bornemann’s guitar playing. Without question he’s competent, especially during the composed melody runs, but does seem uneasy in the improvisational solo sections. Bornemann’s vocal style heavily resembles Ian Anderson, which I think leads to the frequent Jethro Tull comparisons Eloy gets tagged with (during this stage of their career at least). Also of note is the rhythm section of Fritz Randow and Wolfgang Stöcker, which is strikingly crisp and fiercely driving.

Side long opener ‘Land of No Body’ contains Manfred’s jaw dropping organ performance (both the atmospheric sections and in the ripping solos). Following this, the title track demonstrates the group’s complex compositional side. ‘Future City’ is Eloy at their most creative, with the musical emulation of a wind-up toy gone mad. ‘Up and Down’ is more in line with what other Germanic groups were doing at the time, recalling the haunting work of Paternoster or the more inward looking songs by Twenty Sixty Six and Then, My Solid Ground or Murphy Blend. Interesting to note that Wieczorke took on the vocal duties here, and his heavy German accent gives it a completely different feel than Bornemann’s more refined English. Without a doubt, this is a Hall of Fame album, and one of the finest German symphonic rock albums ever made.

Personal collection
LP: 1973 Electrola
CD: 1985 Electrola

We've recently discovered that the true original press is a uni-pak, with the inside of the gatefold as the entry point for the LP. This is the version I own, having picked up my copy in the mid 1980's at the Record Exchange in Houston. There is also a slightly later press that is a traditional gatefold.

Chango - s/t. 1975 USA

Originally published in Gnosis on August 15, 2002. I did a bit of upgrading to the review, but the foundation is still intact as it were.

Imagine yourself walking the barrios in Queens, New York circa 1975. Bums, pushers, hookers, street musicians, and the smell of tortas vendors. You see a small club, it has a name like Enrique's Hell Hole. You venture in cautiously. Torches are lit high, as you tiptoe over the junkies, and tactfully avoid the needles scattered about the floor. You watch as on stage there are six seriously fried dudes. Each cranking out some of the most intense music to have ever been performed on these Atlantic Yankee shores. Two percussionists and a drummer drive the speedy pulse, whilst organ, bass, and guitar all roar, slash, and sing. This is all Chango's first album and for anyone who likes the early Santana vibe, then you are in for a treat, because Chango tread a new path right at the point where Santana went fusion. This is the ultimate culmination of all the best Carlos could muster. A high water mark for heavy Latin groove rock. The album has it all: The screaming Santana guitar sustain fuzz chops; The swirling Hammond organ; The speed-freak-machismo lead singer that all the messed up chicks were somehow swooning for. And, of course, those dance-able rhythms that even this uptight white guy might make note of. The lyrics are exactly what you want from this kind of album: Sex, life-in-the-ghetto, grade-school mysticism - and well....... sex.

Right off the bat, you are pulverized with 'Fire Over Water' followed by the eight minute 'Walk on Hell'. Really, do I need to describe these tracks? Put the environment, instrumentation, song titles, and influences together and you've got an aural vision. Many of the songs are catchy too - you'll be humming them for days. 'Caminando', 'Solid Karma', and especially 'Mira Pa Ca' just have killer melodies. But where Chango excels most is with the instrumentals like the pounding 'Bollo' and 'Bembe', plus the beautiful 'Sacapa'. But the best is possibly saved for last. The nine minute title track combines relentless energy, tuneful melodies, and fiery instrumental playing. It's all very awe-inspiring. Careful though, as you may find yourself in a big heap afterward.

How this album missed the big time is somewhat of a mystery to me. Being that it was released in 1975, perhaps it was too late for the early Santana sound. I'm also guessing that ABC records, not known for their music marketing muscle, had no idea how to promote it. There are very few albums that contain this kind of energy and instrumental virtuosity. And then combines that with a strong melodic sense. A true masterpiece and one of underground America's most proud moments.

Personal collection
LP: 1975 ABC
LP: 2000 Akarma (Italy)
CD: 2000 Akarma (Italy)

The original comes in a fine gatefold, that unfortunately lends itself easily to ringwear (typical of US presses). The only reissues are the dubious Akarma's CD and LP,  that have been declared as unofficial by band leader Pepe Gomez. All the same, I do own these reissues (both formats), and the packaging is well done, as is typical of the label. But it would be nice for a specialist label to do it right, from the master tapes, with liner notes and participation of the band. I do hope that happens at some point!

The Early Years of Alio Die (Mike review)


Alio Die - Sit Terra Tibi Levis/Introspective
Alio Die - Under an Holy Ritual
Alio Die - The Flight of Real Image (EP)
Alio Die / Ora - The Door of Possibilities
Alio Die - Suspended Feathers
Alio Die / Yannick Dauby - Descendre Cinq Lacs Au Travers D'Une Voilé
Alio Die - Password for Entheogenic Experience
Alio Die - The Hidden Spring

I've been in a more musical mood of late after a good year or two where it was relegated to a minor interest, mostly to refresh myself and forget the negativities of the music scene, but now that I'm researching and catching up, one of the things you realize is that when it comes to ambient music, a few years off means you've missed about a dozen albums. When it comes to the music of Alio Die I realized I was maybe 16 albums behind dating back to about 2005. So I looked at my Gnosis ratings and reviews and realized that, as with Steve Roach and Robert Rich, my ratings were starting to taper off around this point, which could mean a number of things, that I was tired of reviewing this music (as an Expose writer I found myself becoming "the ambient guy" around this point) or that the music just wasn't as good or that I was just overdosing on the whole thing. So part of my catching up has been to try and get new perspectives on where I was at, by taking each artist and going through them one by one.

So this post covers the early years of Alio Die save a few rarer pieces: a) Only the Alio Die side of the Sit Terra Tibi Levis album is covered per the CD, b) Fragment 5, c) For Krono and d) From the Depth. For all I know these show up as bonus material elsewhere.

For those new to Alio Die, it's the pseudonym of Italian electronic musician Stefano Musso who creates a very unearthly, energetically charged ambient music created via electronics and acoustic instruments of all sorts processed into new sounds. There's an edge to his sound reminscent of the old Ariel Kalma/Richard Tinti set Osmose that's hard to place as if the textures immanentize into something organic, with a life of their own. Like Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana and Robert Rich's early music, Alio Die's own first few cassette and CD releases have an almost Eno-like ambient simplicity to them that contains the influences of earlier musicians yet also like these musicians an originality of their own is developed early on and it's a progression you can see develop over time.

The Sit Terra Tibi Levis/Introspective CD is basically a compilation of the Alio Die half of the former title and the entire second title with a compilation track added. It was out of print until a couple of years ago but as been reprinted as a digipack with a much nicer presentation. Unlike most later Alio Die, both titles have much shorter tracks and are certainly reminiscent of early Vidna Obama in the way they're all soft, impressionist ambient pieces that are still relatively immature and not sure where to go. However even this early, the music sings with a latent energy that makes them fairly attractive works even if it took a third release for Alio Die's signature early style to come to the surface.

Under an Holy Ritual made a rather huge impact early on, not only released on Alio Die's home label Hic Sunt Leones, but getting a reissue on America's Projekt label which had a much wider market. It's been since reissued on LP and further CD releases which likely makes it a fairly brisk selling and in demand ambient title. Like the previous CD the titles are shorter, but the soft Eno-ish and introspective (well-titled) word gives way to a sound buzzing with an almost occult intensity. It's as if what was inverted is now extroverted, almost like reverb started to kick in and the sound is rife with an electricity that occasionally spills over into noises and hallucinations generally not found in ambient music, occasionally shocking in their intensity. But for all its popularity among ambient listeners it still strikes me as fairly nascent in development with both the engineering and imagination improving on later releases.

The Flight of Real Image was an early EP that has wound its way through the Alio Die catalog. At approximately 2o minutes, it's 3 tracks have found their was to albums such as The Hidden Spring and Leaves Net, both unadulterated and revisited and also now has an extended full CD release with a number of additional collaborations filling in between the three original pieces. As such it becomes difficult to remember this EP in its original format, but it falls somewhere between the first CD's insularity and the second's more overt and electric sound. Like all Alio Die's shorter releases there's a power and timelessness about the Flight of Real Image that renders it easier to remember on a subconscious level.

Alio Die's first full-length collaboration, The Door of Possibilities, was almost a split album in a way, with tracks taken solo by each musician and only one 22 minute piece as an actual collaboration. The Door of Possibilities was an improvement on all accounts, even while the earlier recording technology hadn't quite opened up the sound yet. At this point what is largely a textural music is getting more detailed and the development to a sound where electronics, acoustic intruments and vocals all become part of one sound swirl is manifesting even more intently. Parts of this even rise above the usual ambient volume, adding edge and upsetting the equilibrium, with screams in the later moments of the album rising above the waves to really arrest the attention. However it's perhaps this album where the true strength of Alio Die music really starts to come to the fore, the way the music tends to be almost simultaneous with the environment, almost involuntarily bringing the listener into a meditative state, although this happens only in snatches. It's perhaps a tribute to the collaboration itself that it becomes difficult at times to tell the two collaboratives apart as this is essentially one vision.

Suspended Feathers may be the first "true" Alio Die album in that all of the pieces manifesting themselves in developmental time truly come to the fore. Like in Door of Possibilities what were largely short songs now share time with longer form pieces, in fact if it weren't for the length this could almost be a 70s albums with its four shorter tracks and one longer piece. There is some Vidna Obmana collaboration on this one, fitting given the two players' early styles are so close at first while diverging in unusual ways, however, the overall agenda is Alio Die's. The title is perfectly evocative with a softly falling ambient sound that rarely cuts above the sound pool and the meditative focus is so strong that one's activities and consciousness flow in and out of the musical environment. I liken it to the affect of maintaining one's activity while listening, only to realize that for the last 10 minutes you'd been pulled in to a timeless state where only one static Om-like mantra has been droning. While this hadn't quite been perfected yet here, by this point it was largely developed and the effects are quite amazing. It's fortunate this album has had a reissue, given the original Amplexus/Aqua label release sold out long ago.

Musso's short one-piece collaboration with Yannick Dauby, also part of the Amplexus umbrella of labels, seems to follow Suspended Feathers as if it should have been there, it's a near masterpiece of meditative breathing, spiralling up from silence with an astounding spiritual grace. I've always had a hard time even describing this album given its 21 minutes seems to go in a shot, it's definitely not really music for conscious listening, oozing its way through the cracks in one's attention and often causing me to for the start button. Like all great ambient music it has a medicinal quality that's stress relieving and gentle, but also like floating over a gigantic, unknowable abyss.

But it's really on Password for Entheogenic Experience that Musso puts all the development together into one 65 minute masterpiece of total perfection. Like all good floating ambient music this is basically the rise and fall of am Om drone, a piece that is basically one meditative tone but manages to exist over slow time as a slowly shifting wave of timbres that fluidly shows the man's prowess in manipulating sound and electronics into one vision. At times it's like one meditative voice while at others it sounds like a collection of tones and sounds trying to create unity. Vocal choirs float in and out of electronics and the sounds of acoustic instruments are so totally sublimated to the mantra that it's difficult to talk about the pieces when the whole is so perfect. It more than anything reminds me of the vision of the early Carlos Castaneda novels where huge shifts in entheogenic-influenced perspective causes major shifts in one's perspective. It's a perfect swell and fall and well suited for the repeat button. The word shamanic is horribly abused where electronic music is concerned, but this is a vision that corresponds as close as possible to such a mind altering milieu.

The Hidden Spring seems almost like an afterthought, an album that consists largely of a mosaic that ties together pieces from anthology albums and other Alio Die mini excursions into a whole that less reflects a music in development than the experience of the guiding hand at this point and demonstrates rather perfectly a musician coming into an assured maturity, if not at his peak than certainly at his first peak. It almost seems like a best of album and even pieces I know from other albums (such as the track from Promises of Silence) seem different in this new light. So it almost seems like a perfect place to stop, even though this seems like the end of the beginning, where further collaborations would less show further development than a divergence of means to an end.

Overall there's really no poor effort in this group, even the early albums, nascent as they are, show great promise perhaps more so for Alio Die than they did for his many contemporaries at the same point in their development. To create that yin/yang where the conscious elements seem so simple while the unconscious and subconscious elements seem rife with movement takes a talented hand, one that perhaps sees a unity in a world dispersed into a number of elements. Because no matter what is used, once it's been through the studio of Stefano Musso it becomes a world of creation with all the infinite subtleties, textures, grain and whorl, the microsopic as part of the macroverse. In fact over many of his albums, you're likely to be treated to a dizzying array of true organic plants, seeds and husks, arranged within the physical clear jewel boxes, all of which in this context seem like mosaic works, not only a greater art form as a whole, but one made of lesser art forms reflecting the guiding hand of universal evolution or particularly the question over what hand is on that tiller moving it forward.

Campo di Marte - s/t. 1973 Italy


Originally published in Gnosis on October 6, 2006

Campo di Marte (named for a piazza in their native Florence) are representative of the top-tier of one-shot Italian progressive rock wonders of the early 1970s, and weighs in strongly against Museo Rosenbach, De De Lind, Alusa Fallax, Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno and others. Amongst the usual instrumentation of guitar, keyboards (mellotron, organ, piano), bass and drums, Campo di Marte add flute and French Horn, the latter being particularly original for the scene. Strong dynamic shifts occur frequently, with pleasant flute and acoustic guitar sections frequently contrasted by psychedelic guitar runs atop some bombastic organ. Vocals are kept to a minimum, and are usually filtered to add to the alienation of the music. The melodies are memorable, and the band has a good sense of the groove during jam sessions, pointing to a stronger than usual jazz background. This latter quality is not always a given when talking classic Italian progressive rock. Like most in the genre, Attention Deficiency Disorder apparently runs rampant throughout the crew – especially when it comes to keeping time.

With BTF’s latest mini-LP reissue, the story becomes clearer: The original United Artists release not only has the wrong titles, but in complete reverse order from what was intended. The label wanted the “heavy stuff up front” to grab the listener. So could it be that record executives had worse ADD than the musicians? At the last minute, bandleader Enrico Rosa was forced to do a quick name change, and simply titled each ‘I Tempo’ through ‘VII Tempo’. So the reissue not only provides the best sounding version to date (though it appears the master tapes are lost), but also reorders and re-titles the songs appropriately, making for a smoother listen. The album now flows accordingly: ‘Prologo’ parts 1 to 3, ‘Riflessione’ parts 4 to 5 and ‘Epilogo’ parts 1 and 2 (‘Tempo’ 5 to 7 and 1 to 4 respectively. Put down your drink and you’ll get it). Campo di Marte’s one showing to the world is an extraordinary tour-de-force, and represents one of the finest Italy has to offer. And that’s saying something given the competition.

Personal collection
LP: 1973 United Artists
CD: 2006 BTF

Alusa Fallax - Intorno alla Mia Cattiva Educazione. 1974 Italy


Originally published in Gnosis on October 6, 2006

Opening with lively flute, drums and hand percussion, followed by staccato piano, fuzzy electric guitar and the unmistakable sounds of the Moog, it’s clear Alusa Fallax are yet another serious contender in the Italian prog sweepstakes. One of the more obscure albums in an already obscure scene, pressed in limited quantities on the Fonit label, Intorno alla Mia Cattiva Educazione (translating more or less to Getting Around To My Poor Education) is many a fan’s dark horse pick for “name the best Italian prog band nobody’s heard of”. Augusto Cirla possesses that wonderfully unique Italian gruff voice, also shared by Alvaro Fella (Jumbo) and Roberto Zola (Odissea) – which has that slow burn growth similar to a great hot sauce. With 13 tracks, an approximate 50/50 split of instrumental and vocal, the listener can expect the usual challenging listen, with a gazillion tempo breaks, that most Italian progressive rock albums are known for. In fact, Alusa Fallax takes a bit longer to adjust to, given the slightly more mellow texture, avant-garde leanings of the middle section and rough vocal component. The wait makes it all that much more powerful when it finally clicks, that moment when it eventually all makes sense. Some of the transitions from vocal to instrumental are sublime, the driving rhythm rising out of the melancholic and dramatic melody sections. No question this is in Italy’s Top 20, quite an accomplishment given that it’s from possibly the most fertile scene ever. Masterpiece.

Personal collection
LP: 1984 Nexus (Japan)
CD: 2005 BTF

Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho - Paêbirú. 1975 Brazil


Originally published in Gnosis February 10, 2001. Recently edited for UMR. Shadoks used parts of my review from Gnosis to promote the album, which is fine with me (though perhaps it would have been nice had they asked permission, which I would have granted. Or at least give me credit for it).

There was a time when Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho was a completely unknown name. Original copies supposedly disappeared in a great fire, producing an album that has to be considered one of the rarest of them all. While there are many bands who released albums in very small quantities and are now much sought after, many were only intended to be demos or for fans of the group. I bring this up because the Cortes album was very clearly made for a larger audience and serves as a metaphoric victim. This is not just another low budget obscurity, but a highly produced and brilliant effort. It wasn't until the Shadoks CD and LP reissues (in 2003) that most folks had a chance to hear this great rarity.

I had always imagined that Brazil in the early 1970s would produce a kind of uninhibited tribal psychedelic rock band that would rival the experimental wonders in Germany like Guru Guru or Amon Duul II. So after hearing plenty of rock and psych music from Brazil, I had given up on my dream until a cassette tape of the double LP Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho literally showed up on my doorstep. Now I wonder how many others existed in Brazil but without a proper recording perhaps?

As for the music, imagine a direct cross of Swedish cosmic psychedelic pioneers Algarnas Tradgard and the progressive folk of Los Jaivas from Chile. Take the traditional instruments of the Mayans, Incans, and early Spanish settlers, and combine with unearthly chanting and singing, then mesh with jazzy elements like flute and sax. Now add a dash of classical with piano and zither. Shake three times and add a huge scoop of completely freaked out, free-from-boundaries electric fuzz guitar, organ, and psychedelic jamming. The result is the musical realization of a mescaline dance party. One has absolutely no idea what the music will do next, but rest assured it will be well-played, intense, imaginative, and emotional. How exciting it must've been to do music like this; each composition could be improvised in a number of ways every night. The combinations are endless. Music of this nature, like the original album itself, is completely extinct.

Personal collection
LP: 2003 Shadoks (Germany)
CD: 2003 Shadoks (Germany)

One of the rarest albums on the planet as an original. My first copy was a cassette from a friend, which inspired the review above. Shadoks put the album back into circulation, and I promptly bought both the double LP and the CD. The reissues themselves are straight up, with no additional information or bonus tracks. The packaging of the LP, of course, is lavish as is typical of Shadoks.

Semiramis - Dedicato a Frazz. 1973 Italy

Originally published in Gnosis on February 24, 2001. Updated for UMR.

So it's an established fact that in Italy during the period between 1971-1974, a music movement existed where bands would challenge each other to see who could be the most imaginative, who could create the album for the ages. They were all painters and sculptors just as in Renaissance Italy. Dedicato A Frazz is Michaelangelo's 'David'.

At one point in time, utter genius struck five young men and the masterpiece has been laid down for future generations to discover.

Organ, synthesizer, vibes, electric/acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and a vocalist. And with that Semiramis was able to create an album unlike any other before or since. Combining elements of Italian folk, circus, hard rock, Baroque church music, jazz, classical, and a good dose of insanity, Dedicato A Frazz pounds every sense, challenges every synapse in a flurry of ideas. After literally hundreds of listens, I still hear a different album each time. There is no weak link, no attempt at copying others works, no tries at banal commercialism. Just uninhibited reckless abandon of the imagination combined with musical expertise and each member is a master of his instrument. Most tracks have a few hundred ideas and change moods faster than a bipolar woman left in the cold. Acoustic moments are quickly offset by heavy electric ones. Quiet moments of solitude are blasted away by militaristic might. It's never enough to have one striking contrast. No, Semiramis pile it on from every angle. Synths go awry, voices scream, guitars go a hundred miles a second, drums jettison you across the room. How could a group compose so many ideas? There are literally 15 albums on this!

It's hard to pick one song, but 'Distro una Porta di Carta' has to be the clincher. Starting unobtrusively with a nice Moog sequence and guitar melody, the vocals are impassioned but not extraordinarily so. Then the music stops. A little acoustic strumming, voices, and a more violent return to the opening movement. But it's faster this go 'round. Then an insane break - guitars, drums, and bass in step but at a very odd meter, keyboards rotating overhead. Then another wild break with layered keys and the previous guitar trio performing metronomic acrobatics. From here the guitar solos on top with chromatic scales at a blistering rate. Then the organ plays an odd sequence with heavy guitars following along. All this leads to the climax: Swishing acoustic guitar going speaker to speaker and swirling organ that leads to a dramatic and melancholic ending. That's one track. Imagine seven like this. For the dedicated listener the rewards are endless.

One of the greatest albums ever and the pure embodiment of everything that made the Italian prog movement so special.

Personal collection
LP: 1973 Trident
CD: 2002 Arcangelo (Japan)

My first copy was the straightforward Vinyl Magic CD that I picked up upon release - as Semiramis was one of the big names in Italian progressive rock even back then. And shortly thereafter, I picked up one of those 1980s counterfeit LPs (knowingly), which are frighteningly similar to the original. Be sure to take a look at Italianprog.com on how to differentiate between the two. Around the 2000 time frame, I was able to secure my first original LP. And even had two more come through here over the years (including a new copy which I kept for myself!).

Brave New World - Impressions on Reading Aldous Huxley. 1972 Germany

There are certain albums that are distinctly European. They are about mood and texture, rather than complexity, technique and structure. Brave New World's Impressions On Reading Aldous Huxley is one such album that defines this type of European existentialism.

Tackling Huxley's Brave New World in musical form would require a rule breaking mindset. An ironic satire focused squarely on the Utopian work of H.G Wells, Huxley created a "science fiction futuristic" novel that is probably more realistic today than it was when published 75 years ago. And so appropriately enough, the Irish German combo that named themselves after the novel is, in effect, a bizarre journey into another world. But not a world that is unrecognizable, not one that requires leaps of faith in terms of technology. But one that is extracted from an existing philosophy and epistemology that we possess already.

The philosophical background is important in understanding this strangely compelling record. Because the music just happens. Like a slowly evolving soundtrack, with a strong knowledge of jazz and psychedelic rock. Flute and amplified lead guitar are at the forefront of the instrument parade, but there's many other instruments to provide a full palette of sounds and senses. Acoustic guitar, saxophone, exotic percussion, narration, cello, tribal drums, choirs, metronomes, organ, synthesizers, and on and on...

There really is no other album that sounds like Impressions On Reading Aldous Huxley. It's not intense or gloomy Krautrock. They're not jazzers experimenting with rock like Wolfgang Dauner, Sunbirds or Roland Kovac. From Germany, maybe Dom's Edge of Time provides a guidepost, but only in the overall zeitgeist, rather than in the actual execution. Perhaps we look to the French and albums such as Laurence Vanay's splendid Galaxies or even the later, but more underdeveloped, album by Flamen Dialis is the closest the radar will recognize. Unique albums like this - that are captivating, memorable, inventive, and still manage to exist within the rock aesthetic - these are exactly the kind of albums that I consider the greatest ever. The pure definition of a progressive rock record. Even the gatefold cover on Vertigo (released in Germany only) is world class.

Personal collection
LP: 1972 Vertigo

Yes - Fragile (Mike review)


I've been pulling out a lot of old classics of late and while I'm stretching the definition of classic by labelling Yes's fourth album with it, in the annals of rock history it probably could be considered one. Anyone who grew up listening to rock radio might remember the yearly song battles where they'd pair classics up tournament style only for nearly every year for the final two songs to be Yes - Roundabout vs Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven, with Roundabout losing perrenially to the Zep 4 mainstay. Fragile also contains what is a prog rock canon piece, the timeless Heart of the Sunrise, which is so strong it almost drags the rest of the album along with it, it's a demonstration in itself that perfect symphonic rock also has a cosmic or ethereal element to it. Also quite wonderful but far less known, the side 1 closer South Side of the Sky which probably ranks with Siberian Khatru and the two long pieces on side 2 of Relayer as Yes's secondary great canon, those songs perhaps not the peak material that they'd always play live or which would make Classic Yes, but enough to make you partially forget that Yes were probably, taken as a career, more responsible for bad music than good music. Also making Classic Yes, undoubtedly due to Chris Squire's insistence, the tedious bass feature The Fish, which was one of five short pieces all contributed by the musicians and probably the main reason why Fragile doesn't quite hold together as an album despite how strong some of the collective material is. Wakeman and Howe's pieces are basically tedious classical guff that make me run for the skip button, while Anderson's We Have Heaven is, surprisingly, the best of the five, a clever vocal montage that ends about when it should. And Bruford's Five Percent of Nothing is such a short skiffle that it's barely worth noting. In fact it's almost worth just reprogramming this to play Roundabout (assuming you aren't tired of it, to me this is a track like Don't Fear the Reaper or Carry on Wayward Son that are practically timeless in my book) South Side of the Sky, Heart of the Sunrise and, if you have the newest remaster, the America bonus track. Perhaps in a way this album perfectly demonstrates both the highs and lows of the central progressive rock movement, before they'd go on to put it all together with the near-perfect Close to the Edge and nearly permanently burn themselves out.

Mythos - s/t. 1971 Germany


I recently spoke in reverent tones about Germany's Ohr label in the Annexus Quam Osmose review. We continue our Captain Trip Japanese mini-LP tour with Mythos' debut, yet another classic from the Ohr creative freak factory. The cover's cartoon art is quite telling: We have some sort of winged eyeball ruler sitting on a treestump (or is a rockpile?) with legs crossed, wearing a nifty pair of what looks like PF Flyers. What he's thinking about or what's he's doing there is anybody's guess, but there's a better than good chance his brain flew away after digesting the contents of the album. The back cover may be even better: Four eyeballs wearing viking helmets stand ready to do battle with knives and... carrots ... and ... ice cream cones. Honestly they look like Marvin the Martian hit a tab of acid after taking in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. All in day-glo yellow and pink. You don't even need to hear a note and already know it's a classic.

We begin with the 3 minute 'Mythoett', where band leader Stefan Kaske shows off his somewhat Tull-ian flute demonstration. A classically motivated piece, the bass and drums drive the piece forward for a pleasant, if not overly creative opener. Acoustic strumming with an Eastern motif introduces the appropriately named 'Oriental Journey'. Kaske's voice enters and is heavily processed. In later albums, his voice was not processed. Let's just say - be grateful it's affected. Sitar is added as well, giving it the right amount of exoticism. After a couple of minutes, we hit our first "Ohr moment", as spacey flute and bass guitar are put through the mixer in a completely zoned out cosmic way. Cymbals bash, and hand percussion thumps. It's Krautrockian. It's Ohrrockian. It's the work of the Cosmic Joker meister himself: Dieter Dierks. Scorpions be damned. To this point, however, the album is relatively "normal". Then comes 'Hero's Death', and it's time to get all freaky. And downright heavy metal, with a diabolus in musica guitar riff. Disembodied voice enters in while Kaske goes Edgar Froese on us. Which means play the guitar as loud as hell and we'll worry about notes later. You will drown in the strings mellotron against flute mid-section. The heavy metal returns. Fierce, driving and floating. The album cover art is starting to make sense. Bum-bum-bum-bum-badum badum goes the bass. Bum-bum-bum-bum-badum-badum. Epic.

And we're only now getting to the side long track: 'Encyclopedia Terrae'. We're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy, but in the land of the mutated Marvin the Martian. The planet Ohrian. The death march snare drum. The matching bass. The harmonious guitar. Loud, acid guitar thank you. Not Number 9! Bring me K-9! Then Mythos sounds the air-raid alarm. It's serious and it's for real. Synthesizers emulate war sounds while snare drums snap in the background. Bombs are everywhere - no place is safe. The viking eyeballs are winning! In the aftermath we hear church bells and chirping birds as we walk amongst the ruins - synthesizer and bass mournfully play along to the beat. Where better to insert a mellotron blast?

Echoed electric guitar strums as Kaske narrates in heavily accented English: A long time ago there was a man who didn't want to live in this world of killing and fighting anymore. Fully convinced that mankind would improve and become more peaceful during its evolution, and being a man of genius, he built a machine which would enable him to sleep as in death. A hundred years later the machine was supposed to wake him at which time he hoped to find a better world, one that would be worth living in. One hundred years passed.... The machine woke the man, but although nearly everything had changed, mankind hadn't. So the man turned his machine and kept returning to it until the 32nd time, when he awoke to find that there was no more life on Earth. (music stops except one sparsely played synth) There was no bird in the sky, no fish in the sea, no tree and no flower. Man had killed all the plants, all the animals (guitar strums again) and at last even himself leaving the Earth a dead bowl in the universe. Seeing this, the man sat down on the bleak ground and tears ran down his cheeks. His lungs inhaled the deadly air and darkness closed in about him as he followed all the others to a place of no fighting and no killing, no grief, no envy and no sorrow. Would you like to know the name of this place? It's called Eternity and the only gate you must path (sic) through to enter it is the one which separates life and death.

Word.

Personal collection
LP: 1971 Ohr
CD: 2008 Captain Trip

Guru Guru - UFO. 1970 Germany


I knew it was the best album in the stack. It was only a matter of time to when I could get home and hear it. Home to the United States that is. It was London, May of 1987, and I had picked up a pile of records from the Virgin Megastore, plus many others from our swing through Continental Europe. But I knew UFO was going to be the big winner. It was the Pop Import release of course, but even those were extinct in the record stores back home in Dallas. The day-glo gatefold cover of an orange flying saucer against the textured yellow background. The Ohr/ear symbol at the top (perfectly simulated with the new Captain Trip Japanese mini-LP release - right down the exact slickness of the cover). The giant ear on Uli Trepte's profile. Even the birthdates were telling. 1940, 1941 and 1945. To say, at the time of recording, roughly 25, 29 and 30 years old - pointing to the value of experience over youthful naivete. The track names 'Stone In', 'Girl Call', 'Next Time See You at the Dalai Lhama', 'UFO', and 'Der LSD-Marsch'. The liner notes in English: Soon the UFOs will land and mankind will meet much stronger brains and habits. Lets get ready for that. - P. Hinten. There were German notes as well, and they looked cool too. It had to be everything I imagined an unhinged German psychedelic record to be. I had read about it, and now I had it my hands. I could barely wait to fly home. Jet-lag be damned, it was on the home stereo the moment I walked in the door. It was an experience I would never forget.

Blam, blam goes Ax Genrich's massive fuzz guitar. BASH goes Mani Neumeier's gong/cymbals/percussion. Uli Trepte adds a bass line, and we're already in MID JAM form 15 seconds into the recording! And it gets only more intense from there. Brain frying acid guitar as the pace picks up and moaning wordless chants cascade over the mayhem. This isn't a mindless jam ala the Acid Mother's Temple. Everything is coherent, with a purpose, the work of 3 experienced jazz trained road warriors. They were already masters of their trade, but applied to a new kind of instrumental psychedelic free rock. 'Stone In' is 5:42 of perfection. Maybe the greatest opening sequence in psychedelic history. 'Girl Call' follows and is no less powerful, allowing us a viewpoint in what might have been the first minute of 'Stone In', before launching into another insane jam. The transition from the heightened tensions of 'Girl Call' to the fast paced Eastern oriented jam of 'Next Time See You at the Dalai Lhama' still sends shivers down my spine. By the end of Side 1, I can say with some conviction: It is perfect.

We theoretically flip the record over and visit the lengthy title track. Here Guru Guru shows their abstract side. An exercise in psychedelic decomposition. Rhythmnless. Intense to the point of painful. Out of the abyss rises 'Der LSD-Marsch', and the acid guitar trio is back in form, igniting your stereo in flames. If it went another hour, it would only be better. I can think of less than 10 albums I'd say that about.

21 years after that first encounter, I hear UFO better than ever. A true all-time classic that has transcended time.

Personal collection
LP: 1970 Ohr
CD: 2008 Captain Trip (Japan)

My copy is the original 56 catalog version.

Annexus Quam - Osmose. 1970 Germany

The Ohr label. No other name evokes the musical experimental wanderlust such as the almighty Ohr. No mistaking its distinctive pink ear and green letter design, and catch phrase "Macht das Ohr Auf!" (Roughly translated "The Ears Open"). And Super Stereo Sound! Bands with names like Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Guru Guru, Embryo, Mythos and.... Annexus Quam. As if that wasn't enough, speaking of Annexus Quam, how about a crazy gimmix cover that opens on all 4 sides so as to make a 3D pyramid? These eye and ear catching displays of creativity had to be beyond exciting for those clued into the German underground in 1970. How many were is anybody's guess, but 20 some years later, anyone who had an inkling of rock's experimental history, were clamoring to unearth any of these treasures of the past. And 20 years past that, most of the 30+ some albums from the label are enshrined into the conscientiousness of anyone who claims hipster status. And we're still in the discovery phase here, as far as overall awareness is concerned.

So it's time to focus on the music, which isn't something Annexus Quam were always keen to do. This was especially apparent on their ill advised followup album on Ohr, Beziehungen, a free-jazz noise fest that was at once unbearable and frighteningly tedious. Fortunately for all concerned, their debut would have none of it, and Osmose stands as a testament to the original forebearers of creativity, an era that has yet to be revived much less surpassed. This despite the multitude of experimental individual recordings that are dumped each week at our feet only to find they are made by talentless hacks sitting at their laptops and strumming a $6 pawn shop loaner and crooning out of tune lefty ballads for the sick and tired and poor. That is to say, tunes about themselves.

Not so Annexus Quam though. They're in a ramshackled flat, rigged up as a day camp studio, dragging in every instrument they can find or invent. If they can play the instrument - great. If they can't, even better. These 7 dudes were experienced jazzers on the circuit, in with the now-sound and out with the old. Flip on the recorders man, we're ready to play! So much was the intense deep planning for this set, that they even named the songs ahead of the recording. "Let's go with '1.A' '1.B' '1.C' and, oh I've exhausted my brain now, so let's just go with '2'". Play.

Trombone, sax, flute, fuzz guitar, percussion, drums, organ all at once, obviously anxious to get started from the dense pre-planning sessions on song titles. Ritualistic and tribal. Grandiose. Majestic. Each of the sounds are panned from speaker to speaker, as Ohr producer Julius Schittenhelm is having the time of his life twiddling every knob he can find. And then some. It's a religious experience that can go for hours, and perhaps did in real time, though unfortunately '1.A' is cut short at a mere 4 minutes.

For '1.B', Annexus Quam finds the early groove and jams, while disembodied voices hum, no, haunt, over the proceedings. Organ, sax and percussion are in the drivers seat. I repeat, it's a religious experience that can go for hours, and perhaps did in real time, though unfortunately '1.B' is cut short at a mere 3 minutes.

'1.C' introduces a somber melancholy, as trombone and a fuzzed out sax (or is it a clarinet?) carry the lyrical lines, and a guitar mournfully plays somewhat unplugged in the background. There's that organ again WAAAA-AA-AAA. WAAAA-AA-AA. Hard to phonetically grasp the effect, but it's so very Krautrockian in its execution. Then the disembodied voice returns. The overall effect evokes a dreamed out trance of epic proportions. It's at once vivid and lucid, but ultimately blurry. Or "brurry" in its current state. The perfect blend of ingredients for the Ohr styled Krautrock recipe. The band settles on the floor and begins the raga trance, with an Indian like scale played on the electric guitar, while percussion and what sounds like an amplified violin soars on top. The intensity builds as the flute adds an urgency that wasn't there. Where are we going anyway? Annexus Quam will take us there, wherever it is. I repeat, it's a religious experience that can go for hours, and perhaps did in real time, though fortunately '1.C' is 10 and a half minutes of bliss and happiness.

Now we get to Side 2, flip the record (hypothetically speaking of course), and begin the long journey of the verbosely named '2'. It starts in almost academic waters, with a solo piano motif. Before too long the bass and percussion join in and it's time to begin another jam session as the trombone and guitar begin to wreak some havoc. Will we get the phased organ and disembodied voice? Yes! But instead of closing off the session as on Seite 1, they let this one dally on. To loiter about. Perhaps they're sprinters and not marathoners? Hard to say, but it does get a mite slow going for some of the last 10 minutes or so. It was a foretelling of the future of Annexus Quam. The endless jam. Not a religious experience. The potential to be a Top 50 album of all, only to let the sand slip through the fingers of time.

In the end, Annexus Quam are an understated bunch, never really reaching the insane climaxes of their brothers in undergroundia like Tangerine Dream, Guru Guru or Ash Ra Tempel. Instead they have given us another aural glimpse into a point of time. A crystal clear snapshot of an urban flat, Germany, 1970. And we were all there to witness it. Through a 3D pyramid.

Personal collection
LP: 1970 Ohr
CD: 2008 Captain Trip (Japan)

The original Ohr LP features an amazing colorful gimmix cover that can be opened up to make a pyramid. I paid top dollar for a mint copy on ebay a few years back, and it's one of the best purchases I've ever made. Captain Trip is a faithful reproduction of the original, and is beautiful - and sounds great too.

What is a UMR anyway?

Unencumbered Music Reviews (UMR) is dedicated to celebrating the great progressive and psychedelic rock albums of the past and present. The postings on this blog include write-ups on original LPs and CDs as well as reissued and archival albums. Basically UMR has become my sole repository for my reviews and notes. It's my forum for documenting my collection as I go. It will take years to complete.

As a reminder, this blog is NOT a download site. The postings here are to educate buyers about the myriad of underground albums that have wallowed in obscurity for far too long. UMR heavily encourages all of you to actually BUY product (CDs, LPs, heck even downloads if you must), as the bands/labels/operators need fresh currency to continue to go forward. There is no need to freeload in this day and age when many bands and labels share a good portion (if not all) of their albums to sample beforehand.

Stone Circus - s/t. 1969 USA-Canada

Here's another Mainstream label gem, and possibly my favorite album on the label. These Montreal based musicians (save one), decided t...