Earth and Fire - Atlantis. 1973 Netherlands

Earth and Fire - Atlantis. 1973 Polydor

CD reissues: 1987 Polydor (with Song of the Marching Children); 1991 Polydor (Japan); 2004 Universal (Japan mini-LP); 2009 Esoteric (England); 2010 Universal

Packaging details: Earth and Fire wisely adopted the style of the inner gatefold of "Song of the Marching Children" to make arguably their most appealing album cover of the band's entire catalog. The second cover shown above is the dreadful original UK release that I cannot imagine anyone wanting to own in light of the original. There's also a German press, similar to the Dutch original, except it splatters the name of their hit 'Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight' to ensure they added unnecessary graffiti to a beautiful painting. I own the Dutch original myself, and if you're in the market for one, you'll most likely find copies at a reasonable price. Don't wait forever though - as I've seen plenty of albums that used to go for $20 even five years ago, now go for multiple times that.

--- On the CD front, it's pretty much the same situation as its predecessor, with readily available copies at every turn. Once again I started with the 1987 2-fer-1 and graduated to the Japanese mini-LP - the perfect format for such a beautiful cover. Unlike the last two albums, "Atlantis" is usually bereft of bonus tracks on any CD issue. And, as far as I know, no one has attempted an LP reissue. But as I said on the "Song of the Marching Children" blurb, I'm not sure one is necessary given that originals aren't terribly expensive.

Notes: Continuing on from "Song of the Marching Children", Earth and Fire doubles down on the progressive quotient and throws in yet another high minded concept side long composition. Of course, we all know by now that Earth and Fire is a pop band in progressive dressing, and thus these are individual songs that segue into one another with seemingly no connection beyond the lyrical theme. Side 2 sees the band unmasked for what they really are, with the stunningly simple 'Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight' - the kind of song that most aspiring Top 40 bands would sell their soul for. This track would propel Earth & Fire to pop stardom, something they were trying to achieve from the beginning, but went about it in an awkward, perhaps academically, self-conscious way. While it may seem I'm looking down my nose at this band, that could not be further from the truth. I love a good melody weaved into a more mysterious compositional style, so in some ways, Earth and Fire are my ideal type of band. Top that with competent musicianship and superb period instrumentation (mellotron, organ, flute, loud psych guitar, sweet feminine vocals), and you have yet another home run from one of the Dutch progressive rock Masters.

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