Gorizont - Summer in Town. 1985 Russia

Gorizont is a classic example of a Soviet era band that was sponsored by an industrial collective. That's correct, Gorizont was a tractor plant band (technically funded by the Cheboksarian Plant of Industrial Tractors - I couldn't make that name up if I tried). As an aside, I personally think the downfall of the Soviet Union was that half of their economy was still based on tractors - in the 1980s... Anyway, I can tell you this: No John Deere plant that I know of was producing these kind of musicians! A truly wonderful find, Gorizont are one of the most innovative progressive bands from any country - much less the mid 1980s of the old USSR. Three long and involved instrumental tracks adorn this fine work. There's a certain Camel like bounciness to the main melodies that add an air of optimism to the proceedings. However, just at the point where you relax into a comfortable Snowgoose groove, the Moogs go wild, the bass blasts out a grinding a Magma styled riff, and the guitar blisters forward with a violent Heldon-styled nightmare. All in different meters, you understand. Just as the rollicking roller coaster has you about to heave over the side, the music suddenly shifts back to a pleasurable symphonic mode - only to throw you back into the dark hole from whence you came. A true yo-yo album that remains exciting listen after listen.

Personal collection
LP: 1985 Melodiya
CD: 2000 Boheme Music

Like all Soviet era releases, Gorizont's two albums were on the state label Melodiya. Cheap single sleeves and muddy sounding vinyl is what you can expect. Still, this album was such a revelation, that I started distributing the album here in the States via contacts in England and Finland. I probably sold or traded at least 30 copies throughout the early to mid 90s. The CD is the only way to go if you want a quality product. Boheme was a fantastic label from Moscow, that reissued almost all of the classic Melodiya progressive rock albums from the 1980s. Summer in Town comes with lengthy, and insightful, liner notes in English (and Russian). As you can see on the cover (which is the CD press, LP is all in Cyrillic), Horizont is the more accurate translation. But back in the day we all knew this record as Gorizont - so I'm sticking with it, ignorant as that may sound. :-) At one time I had a pretty decent sized LP collection on Melodiya. Summer in Town is the only one I kept, to little regret. Though perhaps I should have held onto Gunesh Ensemble as well (after getting the CD). Oh well.

The Search Party - Montgomery Chapel. 1969 USA

I've heard about The Search Party ever since the 1980s when I first started receiving progressive and psych rarities catalogs. Even then, this album was off the charts rare and expensive. I never did bother to seek it out, figuring it was another over-hyped Christian psych album (you won't see me use the term over-hype very much, but with Christian psych, it truly does apply). So finally last week I heard the album. Oh wow, this really is good. No wonder everyone made a fuss years ago. My kind of atmospheric, doomy psych with Voxx organ, acoustic guitars, haunting male/female vocals and occasional fuzz guitar outbursts. About the only comparison I could think of is the brilliant Music Emporium album, on their more cosmic tripped out tracks.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Lion Productions (as "The News is You: The Sacred & Secular Music of Nick Freund")

One of the most sought after psychedelic records, originals of The Search Party have been super expensive since the day I started collecting rarities in the 1980s. Somewhat surprising to find out, then, that the Century label is not some boiler room operation, but rather a mainstream Christian music label from Los Angeles! Void was the first to market with a legit reissue on LP. Two years ago I was amazed to discover that Montgomery Chapel had yet to be pressed on CD (legit that is - plenty of pirate editions). Lion finally came through - and in a big way. The CD includes the full album by St. Pius X Seminary Choir - Each One Heard in his Own Language About the Marvels of God from one year prior. Full historical liner notes and photos round out this splendid release. Without a doubt, Lion's CD is the definitive edition.

Skywhale - The World at Mind's End. 1977 England

Skywhale's sole album is one of the rare non-Canterbury UK fusion albums that sound more in line with what was happening over the Chan...