Agitation Free - Last. 1971-1974; 1976 Germany

While I was originally disappointed with 2nd, I found Last more to my liking, at least originally. Stylistically it ties closer to Malesch due to the experimentation though minus the ethnic influences, sadly enough.

Though not released until 1976, Last is in reality an archival release, more similar to the type of albums that we are seeing coming to light for the first time today. The first two tracks are from a live concert circa March, 1973, while 'Looping IV' is a studio recording from Feb, 1974. The bonus track 'Schwingspule' is a live recording from December of 1971.

'Soundpool' is yet another version of 'Rücksturz' from Malesch, this time hidden behind a raft full of electronics. As if to prove that Agitation Free's two best melodies were 'Rücksturz' and 'Laila' (from 2nd", both make their appearance here and 'Laila II' has the most extended version of the classic piece. And it's brilliant with plenty of references to Malesch blended into the psychedelic jamming. At 17 minutes, there's a little bit of aimless experimentation to endure, but overall still a great variation of the classic tune. 'Looping IV' is yet another new chapter in the Agitation Free book. Just as 2nd finished with two distinct tracks of innovation, thus so does the 1974 version of the band. For those who would like to hear another possible variation on the 1971 Tangerine Dream Alpha Centauri sound, then 'Looping IV' is for you. This track goes way out there, with plenty of echoed organ, bass, drums, electronics, voices, guitars - all, naturally enough, looped over and over for a mesmerizing psychedelic experience. One can only hope there is far more Agitation Free sitting in the vaults (not counting the already excellent At the Cliffs of River Rhine and Fragments archival albums). An Ohr or Kosmische classic that never was released. 'Schwingspule' is a great find and my favorite of the bonus tracks that SPV originally pressed across the three original albums. A fitting followup to the experimental 'Looping IV' but with a closing psychedelic guitar jam that recalls Malesch especially on its bonus track. If only high quality tape versions of this era of the band existed!

Personal collection
LP: 1976 Barclay (France)
CD: 2010 Belle Antique (Japan)
LP: 2013 Made in Germany

When I first started collecting progressive rock in earnest around 1985 or so, Last was considered one of the holy grails. In those days, even rare albums cost about $40 or $50 - and Last was a whopping $75! Way beyond my budget (budget = number of skipped meals). Perhaps because it was an afterthought release, not even available in their home country, that the album was thought to be so rare (not to mention original sales were probably weak). The single sleeve original was only released in France, and is now by far the cheapest of the three as an original, but still hardly cheap. Unlike the first two albums, there was no second LP press on IRI nor did Amber Soundroom bother to reissue it. In 2013, Made in Germany finally repressed this one on vinyl. I was able to source one cheap, but it's a straight reissue (with nice liner notes though  - and utilizes the SPV cover. I bought the Spalax CD the minute it came out (1992), and had been satisfied with it. However, a good friend of this site told me that the SPV version is far superior in sound and I had planned to upgrade to that version. However, just like the other two Agitation Free albums, the Belle Antique mini-LP is taken from the SPV remaster, and so I splurged for that instead and sold off the Spalax CD. Only misstep from Marquee (Belle Antique) is the missing of English liner notes as is the case with most of their reissues (which makes sense since they are supposed to be for sale in Japan only).

Updated: 12/31/2014

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