Pre - s/t. 1973 USA

Pre - s/t. 1992 ZNR. 1973 archival recording.

Packaging details: Pre was an extraordinary discovery from Steve Roberts at ZNR. Since he was based in Kentucky (and an original member of French TV), he was responsible for the reissue of The Bluegrass State's most famous progressive rock group: Easter Island. Through that connection, ZNR was hooked up to a band that had a fully realized album in the can - one that had remained unreleased for near 20 years. A group with the simple name of Pre. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Pre's sole album is the single greatest American progressive rock archival find from the first part of the 1970s (remember that other excellent archival finds such as Pentwater and Yezda Urfa were from the latter half of the decade).

The CD today is pretty much extinct, but most of my running set bought one immediately upon release. It's been a good 15 years since I last heard it, and it was peacefully resting deep in the collection. After hearing it again recently, the album still satisfies on so many levels.

One collector note: The cover you see above is actually a two piece kit. The gold border and "Pre" lettering is actually a thin plastic film that is inserted into the jewel case and provides a frame around the cover art. An interesting idea, and practical - if you break the jewel case, the film can be transported to another one.


Review: The album starts off in a dubious manner with a soft acoustic instrumental followed by a spurned love ballad, that's rather annoying. Not exactly orthodox opening moves from the progressive rock handbook. But things get very interesting quickly with 'Water Meeting' and it becomes very clear why we're listening to this album in the first place. It never lets up from there. It's also very clear just exactly who is the influence behind the band. The simple 3 letters of Pre matches their idols. It is the music of classic Yes especially "The Yes Album"and "Fragile". But a little more compact and urgent, common traits of a restless American society. What's most extraordinary about the music of Pre is the recording date of 1973. The American landscape is littered with bands that copied the almighty Yes, but most of them surfaced in 1975 or later. Pre was clearly ahead of the pack. For the first half of the 1970's, perhaps only Polyphony could be considered more "progressive" from the States. All the trademarks are here: Heavy organ, loud woody bass, great guitar leads, complex rhythms, passionate vocals. Best tracks are, not surprisingly, the longest: 'Ascetic Eros' and 'Ballet for a Blind Man'.

What's also great about Pre's album is the quality of the recording. It sounds like it was recorded in a major label studio with a large budget. This is not the typical low budget, 3rd generation drop-out quality we've come to expect.

It was 20 years between the time of this recording and its first release. And that was 20 years ago. Wow. Don't miss this title if you see it.

2 comments:

  1. Great review. Have only heard three tracks from the album and EL&P also spring to mind. Would dearly love to hear the whole album.

    ReplyDelete

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