After some research, I was amazed to actually find this album on RateYourMusic. It was somewhat mislabeled, but unless you can read Japanese, it would be near impossible to know what the title was, so I certainly understand. Here's the entry.
As usual, the AC provides a full review with insights. What a treasure of information this gentleman is!
"Nippon Columbia: NCB-7023 (Adventure In Sound series), 1973, Japan
Toshiyuki Miyama - Conductor
Yasuhiro Koyama - Composer
Kozaburo Yamaki - Electric Guitar, Composer
Masaaki Itoh - Electric Bass
Isao Yomoda - Drums
Kiyoshi Takano - Piano, Electric Piano
Kazumi Takeda - Trumpet
Shin Kazuhara - Trumpet
Yoshikazu Kishi - Trumpet
Shuji Atsuta - Trumpet
Teruhiko Kataoka - Trombone
Masamichi Uetaka - Trombone
Tokura Seiichi - Trombone
Takehide Uchida - Trombone
Kazumi Oguro - Alto Sax, Soprano Sax
Eiji Toki - Alto Sax
Mamoru Mori - Tenor Sax
Seiji Inoue - Tenor Sax
Shigeru Hirano - Baritone Sax
1 - Youkai Kappa Konnichi Izuko Sumi Ya
- Kappa Torai No Tsuchi
- Mokuhi No Yotabi
- Bourei No Numa
- Neneko No Nakibushi
- Senshouiwaiutae Shinkokka
1 - Kurozuka
Band leader Toshiyuki Miyama and his New herd orchestra were a ubiquitous presence in the 70s Japanese music scene, churning out album after album of mainly straight big band jazz, along with some typical pop-covers/exploitation fare. However, during the heady days of the early 70s "New Rock" boom, they did find themselves experimenting on a few interesting LPs. There was the relatively well-known "Yamataifu", a collaboration with famous pianist Masahiko Satoh, as well as the more obscure "Eternity?/Epos", working once again with Satoh along with drummer Masahiko Togashi and a percussion ensemble. They were soon to abandon this adventurous direction (along with most of the many seasoned jazzmen, studio musicians, and bewildered major label executives who had been temporarily sucked into the psychedelic vortex of New Rock Japan), but not before leaving behind one more dark jewel in the rubble. "Tsuchi No Ne - Nippon Densetsu No Naka No Shijou", roughly translates to "Sound of the Earth - The Poetry in Japanese Legends", and like a number of other classics of the era, it attempted to draw on the essence of ancient Japanese folklore and mythology as inspiration for a new and radical kind of music. But "Tsuchi No Ne" is somewhat different from its musical peers, choosing to dwell on the dark, sinister side of these myths and legends. This is quite evident in both the striking cover art and the track titles themselves, referencing ghosts, grotesque monsters (the Kappa, a hideous river-dwelling creature thought to drag unsuspecting victims to a watery grave) and a macabre Noh drama about a vile man-eating ogress. Most importantly, this theme infuses the music, a fascinating mixture of electric big band jazz-rock and what can only be called avant-prog, despite the seeming incongruity of applying that term to an early 70s Japanese jazz album. Two mammoth side-long pieces are on offer here, the first a suite divided into six smaller sections, composed by regular New Herd guitarist Kozaburo Yamaki, the second a monolithic opus penned by film and television soundtrack composer Yasuhiro Koyama. Certain comparisons can be drawn to the more rigorous side of early British jazz-rock (Soft Machine circa 5/6 and the best of Ian Carr's Nucleus) and perhaps also to the most complex horn rock works of the era, due to the heavy brass presence of the big band. But interestingly, what I'm reminded of most is classic French avant-prog/jazz-rock of a slightly later vintage. In particular, I'm thinking of Vortex's shadowy masterpiece "Les Cycles de Thanatos", as well as some of Yochk'o Seffer's great works with Zao and Neffesh Music. The strange, dark tension and compositional complexities are very similar, and quite unmistakable to my ears. However, these comparisons can only go so far. Distinctly Japanese atmospheres are palpable, and Yamaki's wicked fuzz/wah guitar-work will not let you forget what era we are truly in here. This is a special album, in my opinion, and certainly deserving of a much wider audience. Unfortunately, as is often the case with these things, it's by far Miyama's rarest LP, until now only known and cherished by the small group of Japanese collectors aware of its quality. Miyama's back-catalogue has not seen much action in the CD reissue market, so I'm afraid this album might be doomed to spend eternity trapped in its own dusky realm. Here's to hoping that I'm wrong."
And would you believe? He was wrong! And I'm sure he's happy about it too!
CD: 2012 Columbia
Here's an album that you would have no chance of finding originally, unless you could read kanji or knew what the cover looked like. There are these records from Japan that are so obscure and buried, that even hardcore collectors living in Tokyo do not know about. But they're beginning to surface ever so slowly. There were a lot of surprise CD reissues in 2012, but perhaps none blindsided me as much as this one. I suspect original LPs are of this can be found for 50 cents or $2,000 depending on where you're looking. Of course I bought the CD as soon as possible. I would suggest you all do the same, as these type of Japanese CDs (indigenous Japan, not worldwide rock) go out of print and stay out of print.
LP: 1971 CBS
CD: 2008 Esoteric
As shown above, Heaven's sole album features quite an amazing multi-foldout cover. I found a copy at a local record show in the 1980s, and still possess that same double LP. It took many years before a legit CD was released (courtesy of Esoteric), so the album languished in the bootleg market for way too long. The Esoteric CD is fantastic as usual, and offers plenty of history, photos, and the clever idea to design the booklet as multi-foldout poster, just like the original LP. No bonus tracks this time around however.
CD: 2009 Esoteric
It took many years for both of the Galliard albums to be reissued legitimately. Because of this condition, beware of pirate editions, which proliferated due to this delay. The Esoteric CD is brilliant as usual, with plenty of unique insights and history. It also features two bonus tracks from a rare 45 single.
CD: 2012 Ad Vitam
Contrary to some online discographies, there is no 1969 release. It was strictly a demo shipped to labels for possible release. Perhaps unbelievably, Bearsville was thinking of releasing this one in 1973. One can only imagine this being a common US press. Actually, I wouldn't believe it.
69 is an exquisite archival release from Ad Vitam, a classical-oriented music label owned by Baba Scholae founder Jean-Yves Labat! More info here from our CD Reissue Wish List.
CD: 2008 Esoteric (UK)
While original LPs have always been relatively easy to find, this album surprisingly was absent from the CD market until Esoteric's reissue a few years back. And fortunate for all of us that the first reissue is a high quality one from a respected label. Plenty of liner notes to provide some context around the album. No bonus tracks in this case though.
CD: 2007 Subliminal Sounds
Having found Top 40 success with 'Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight', it would seem Earth & Fire would continue down that path, perhaps full bore. To the World of the Future offers up a stay of execution. In some ways, this is their most ambitious album - both from a progressive standpoint, and a commercial one. On the pop side, the most overt pop track is 'Love of Life', which was not surprisingly their first choice for a single. Personally I think this is a great example of the pre-disco era - superb wah-wah rhythm guitar, charming female vocals, synthesizers galore. The other single from this album is 'Only Time Will Tell', which is a less obvious choice, and actually harkens back to their "Atlantis" days with organ, psych guitar, mellotron and powerful vocals from Jerney. On the other side of this coin is the 3 highly ambitious progressive meets fusion tracks: 'The Last Seagull', 'Voice from Yonder' and 'Circus', which are unlike anything the band did before or after (though I suppose 'Circus' could have fit comfortably on "Song of the Marching Children"). This gets us to the title track which is the perfect blend of everything the band is trying to do here. On the one hand there's the funky pop bits, with a chorus that I swear - I mean really swear - sounds like "ahhhhhhh FREAK OUT!" from, yes, that famed New York City disco band Chic ('Le Freak'). One had to think they may have run into this Earth & Fire album prior. Meanwhile, just when you think it's time to bust a move, out come the mellotrons, psychedelic guitar, symphonic dynamics, and complex meters to remind everyone that Earth & Fire are first and foremost still a progressive rock band.
Be sure to get a CD reissue with some of the singles from this era. Most enlightening are the B-Sides to 'Love of Life' and 'Only Time Will Tell' - respectively 'Tuffy the Cat' and 'Fun'. Both tracks are progressively oriented instrumental funk tracks (with loads of mellotron, organ and Fender Rhodes), and are entirely unique for Earth & Fire - and just about anyone really. The 1975 and 1976 singles 'Thanks For the Love' and 'What Difference Does it Make' demonstrate that Earth & Fire no longer hold progressive rock intentions - and have completely sold out to the Euro disco machine. I actually think they're quite good at the style, and I'm sure gave groups like ABBA good competition - but in the end, that's not what Earth & Fire were about, and having lost their way - they ultimately collapsed under their own weight by the early 80s. A tragic, but all too typical tale.
LP: 1975 Polydor
CD: 2011 Esoteric (UK)
LP: 1973 Polydor
CD: 2004 Universal (Japan)
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.
LP: 1971 Polydor
CD: 2004 Universal (Japan)
The original LP features embossed lettering and I've also included the inside of the gatefold, because as you can plainly see, it is quite stunning.
Earth and Fire are one of the pillar bands of my Post Psychedelic, Proto Progressive with Female Vocals list.
CD: 2004 Universal (Japan)
As you can plainly see, there were many releases of Earth and Fire's debut. Each label apparently had license to alter the cover to their tastes. The top one is the Dutch original. Next is the UK version on Nepentha, in all its die-cut gatefold Roger Dean glory, and is BY FAR the most desirable (& expensive) original LP copy to own. The third photo is the German release on CBS. 4th is the original Japanese press. And finally we show the Rotation CD that displays only the matches, which is on one of the releases I didn't put up (the Red Bullet LP I believe). 20 years ago, I found the Nepentha LP in a store, but traded it for an album that was my top want at the time - and is arguably worth even more than the Nepentha release today. It was a win-win trade, as I'm certain the gentleman who has my Nepentha LP still treasures it as well. As for reissues, the 1991 press from Japan was the first to market, and I owned that version until the Japanese mini-LP came out. Generally the Japanese stick to the original release when it comes to packaging, but I'm glad they made the exception here and went with the fabulous UK copy.
Cargo is one of my all-time favorite albums. Certainly in my Top 150 ever.
CD: 1993 Pseudonym
LP: 1999 Pseudonym
This was one of the very first albums I learned of stratospheric prices for my (then) newly chosen hobby. Even in the late 1980s this album was a multi-hundred dollar rarity in the catalogs of the day. As such, I never had a chance to hear it until the Pseudonym CD came along a few years later. Pseudonym is a great label, and they do an excellent job with discography details and bonus tracks (no liner notes on this version though). Most of the bonus tracks were from an earlier incarnation when they were known as September. Later in the decade, I dutifully picked up the LP reissue (an exact replica with the Pseudonym logo replacing Harvest), because I had an irrational desire to own it on vinyl ever since I knew of the exorbitant price of the original. Cargo has recently resurfaced on the market again via the Pseudonym imprint. The CD version adds demo versions of the original Cargo album plus many of the same bonus tracks as found on the '93 issue - as well as extensive liner notes this time around. I doubt it's worth upgrading for - though if you don't have it - I must say the album is essential to own! Vinyl hounds will be happy to know that another LP is on the market as well - with some demos added for the second LP of the set.
CD: 2005 Thors Hammer / Garden of Delights
LP: 2010 Thors Hammer / Garden of Delights
I thought of Thors Hammer the other day, right after publishing The Old Man & The Sea album. Both have similar tales, and are extremely rare in original LP form. And like The Old Man & The Sea, Thors Hammer's sole album flourished in the bootleg market for years. Finally Garden of Delights of Germany came to the rescue with a CD, complete with a full history and great sound (no bonus tracks this time though). They love this album so much, they launched an entire new label for all of their non-German releases to, you got it, Thors Hammer.
CD: 2007 Rockadrome
The CD has a chock full of liner notes and a few bonus tracks.
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