Embryo - Opal. 1970 Germany

Opal is very different from the later works by this excellent long running band. Indeed it is an embryonic version of the group. It's mostly psych rock with jazz elements and is fairly straightforward and harmless overall. Two distinguishing songs take it higher: 'Revolution' is a fun instrumental and danceable jazz rock track, that you actually see more in the TV/films of the day (with "wild dancing teenagers" and hair flailing about) than what you would hear on album. 'People From Out the Space' is definitely the highlight - brilliant in fact - not only foreshadowing the sublime Embryo's Rache album, but it also fully captures the zeitgeist of the early Krautrock movement. On the other hand 'Glockenspiel' is an annoying attempt at the era's free jazz movement, and is completely at odds with the musical approach of Opal.

While I wouldn't want a reissue without the two bonus tracks, I don't personally consider them enhancements to the overall package. 'Lauft' is a loose 26 minute sax, bass, and drums jam with no peak moments. Excellent archival material that tells the whole story, but not necessarily good music. 

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

Embryo's debut was one of the original 5 Ohr albums, each featuring a unique gatefold cover of painted body parts. In the middle of the front cover, there was a slit that contained a balloon (like the auction photo above). For those with the balloon fully intact, the prices can soar. On the CD reissue front, it's surprising to see that no indigenous label has taken this on, especially given its historical importance from one of Germany's most uncompromising and famous underground bands (there is one German LP reissue). Surprisingly, the Italian label Materli Sonori has managed to exclusively hold onto the rights of the first two Embryo albums. I believe the reason is that Embryo had moved to that Italian label for their new material in the 1980s, and they bought out the rights at that time. Not until 2013 did we finally see a Japanese mini, and given the cool cover, this is the copy I now own. The Belle Antique version, like all Japanese mini's, is true to the original and includes a balloon in a plastic package. None of the reissues sound great and are slightly muddy, as I'm sure the source doesn't either. But I've never owned an original to confirm that. However, all the CDs feature the 26 minute bonus track, which I discuss above. My introduction to this album was the 1990 LP reissue on Materli Sonori.

Blim - Zero + No Frills. 1992-1993 England


Outstanding festival psychedelic space rock band. Blim were an offshoot of Omnia Opera and were originally intended to be a more progressive variation of the already excellent parent band. And they achieved just that. If you ever wanted to hear Ozric Tentacles take things to a more complex level, Blim is your chance to hear it! Also reminds me some of Mandragora's earlier works, when they were  experimenting with various styles and structures. These are two of the best albums I've heard from the entire festival scene. Brilliant guitar work throughout. I would say that No Frills is the more complex, aggressive, and less spacey of the two. It also features a more professional sound, and I think it's the better of the two albums. Having said that, both albums feature a much better production than many of the cassette releases of the day.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 private

The originals were cassette only. I remember seeing both of these in the early 90s through the old Freak Emporium catalogs (back when they were still paper!), but never ventured to try them. Only within the last 6 years or so, did I finally hear them. They were instant hits with me, and were promptly labeled Priority 2 for my CDRWL. And now we have a wonderful 2 CD set (last photo), with additional bonus tracks on each album. Almost 2.5 hours of quality music here! About the only thing missing are historical liner notes, though as long as their website is up, you can read about Blim there.

Poobah - Steamroller. 1979 USA

Not deterred after not being signed to a major label for "US Rock" (1976), Gustafson reformed the band again, and released one of the best hard rock albums for the entire 1970s in Steamroller. Not prog or psych or metal, just plain old hard rock. Power trio hard rock the way a band from Youngstown, Ohio oughta be. These guys just kick ass on the album from the beginning to the end. If you at all have interest in the US Midwest private hard rock scene, this is the album to get.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Monster

Given the high quality of the album, as I describe above, it's no surprise to me that the resuscitated Monster via the Rockadrome brand, started with Poobah's superb 3rd album. Worth noting that Monster altered the track order, much to its benefit I think. The second cover is the Monster CD. My first exposure to this album was via a crappily made bootleg in the early 90s.

Survivor - All Your Pretty Moves. 1979 USA

Not the ‘Eye of the Tiger’ bunch, but a much better than average early heavy metal group from Shreveport, Louisiana, saved from complete obscurity by the good folks at Monster Records. The vocalist is a slightly less forceful Rob Halford sound-alike, and the songwriting is up to the Sad Wings of Destiny standard of sophisticated hard rock. Even has a killer long track called ‘Deceive Me’. Hmmm.. wonder where that idea came from? Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin are other groups the band list as references and certainly the former makes plenty of appearances throughout.

Personal collection
CD: 2003 Monster

Amulet - s/t. 1980 USA

If you’re looking for the real deal when talking the late 70s American underground hard rock guitar scene, then Indiana's Amulet is for you. You can’t fake this. There’s nothing flashy, slick, pretentious, or commercial about this release. Just a bunch of guys who gave you an honest dollar’s performance, because they knew their audience didn’t have much scratch to spare. Straight from the mines to the dimly lit tavern for some Falstaff and an evening of rockin' with Amulet. And if the groupie girls were there... well... then... the night was to be remembered forever.

Personal collection
CD: 2000 Monster

Space Circus - Fantastic Arrival. 1979 Japan

Whereas Space Circus' debut Funky Caravan traded in on the cliches of the late 70s era - fat funky bass lines, and overall danceable jazz rock - Fantastic Circus reaches further back into the fusion canon and emulated no less a luminary than Mahavishnu Orchestra. As the album cover demonstrates, this is one fiery affair certain to light you up. By far the better of their two albums.

Personal collection
LP: 1979 RCA
CD: 2008 BMG

The original LP comes in a single sleeve cover with a really cool astronauts on fire cover. Like almost all Japanese reissues, there are no liners in English available.The first CD reissue was always a bear to find. After many years of being absent from the shelves, the mini-LP from BMG filled the gap.

Ptarmigan - s/t. 1974 Canada

Ptarmigan's sole album starts with the impression that this will be a typical acoustic guitar / vocal fronted folk album. But all bets are off starting with 'The Island', an extraordinary composition with haunting recorders (alto, tenor, and bass), thrashing acoustic guitars, otherworldly percussion, scattered drums, spastic acoustic/electric bass, and some mystical dual harmonic male vocals. At once you hear the serenity of Popol Vuh, the weirdness of Might of Coincidence, combined with something perhaps completely unknown. As the album delves deeper into the recesses of its own world, it becomes clear we are hearing something of the brilliant. Each composition is distinct, but uniquely Ptarmigan. Perhaps it's because of the isolated locale of the band as they resided on Vancouver Island (a remote wilderness area across the channel from the city).

I don't think Columbia wanted any part of this, but the influence of one Paul Horn managed to get the recording released on the major imprint a full year after being mixed in 1973. And it sold all of about 12 copies, hence its rarity today. OK, maybe 25...

Do not miss this gem if you get a chance. Truly one of a kind, though within the context of the familiar.

Personal collection
CD: 2005 Lion Productions

Original is a single sleeve with a black border, and is definitely not common. My introduction to the album came in the early 1990s via a bootleg LP which doesn't have the border (and I've since sold). The first CD on the scene was actually a CD-R release by the band under the name Nordstrom/Dias. It came with a very informative booklet on computer paper. Six years later, Lion reproduced this as a CD with a more professional looking booklet, and even added more information to it.

Broselmaschine - s/t. 1971 Germany

One of the three legendary Pilz folk albums from the early 1970s German scene. Of these, Bröselmaschine were certainly the most folky. The five-piece lineup included primarily male and female vocals with acoustic guitar. And as accents to various songs, the band added electric guitar, bass, hand percussion, flute, sitar, zither, and mellotron.

The five minute opener 'Gedanken' is a pleasant enough folk track with heavily accented dual male and female English vocals, flutes, and some nice electric guitar. 'Lassie' follows and is just the sort of song that my Dad would have enjoyed. One gets the impression that Bröselmaschine would feel comfortable opening for comedian Bob Newhart at a place like the Hungry I in San Francisco circa 1966. Ceramic plates and silverware clanking in the background - and after the song completes - an uproarious crowd claps maniacally while cigarettes dangle from their lips. The two minute acoustic guitar interlude with wordless female vocals 'Gitarrenstuck' is where the proceedings begin to get interesting. 'The Old Man's Song' starts with a repetitive and trance-like acoustic guitar. Hand percussion and wah-wah guitar enter while some delicate flute sets the tone for the peaceful female singing. The nine minute 'Schmetterling' is the album's highlight and recalls "Hoelderlin's Traum" with its Eastern motif (sitar, tablas, flute) and female narration in German. Later in the song there's a wonderful driving bass guitar that gives the song a sense of contrasting urgency not found elsewhere. The album closes with 'Nossa Bova' a nice stroll in the park kind of song with emphasis on acoustic guitar, flute, wordless voice, and hand percussion.

Overall, Bröselmaschine is the type of album to sooth ones nerves after a hard days' work. Not particularly experimental or groundbreaking, but for fans of early Hoelderlin, Emtidi, or other such cosmic folk bands, Bröselmaschine is a must pick up.

Personal collection
LP: 1971 Pilz
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

And speaking of 1971 Pilz, here's another one that features a very fine gatefold cover. Unlike Ardo Dombec, this one did receive a Pop Import reissue. And it's that version I owned for many years, and was my introduction to the album. Eventually I bought the Spalax reissue that came in a nice digi-pak. And I just now supplanted that with the excellent mini-LP packaging from Belle Antique. 2015 update: I received the original LP as a gift from a dear friend for my birthday last year. So now I'm a proud owner of the original too!

Ardo Dombec - s/t. 1971 Germany

I think the most surprising aspect of the Ardo Dombec album is just how ordinary it is. Terms like "ordinary" and "1971 album on Pilz" just do not go together. The album starts off promisingly enough with 'Spectaculum', with its driving sax melodies and fast rhythms - perhaps indicating this could be like the awesome Nosferatu album. But alas it was not to be. Subsequent tracks show no progression, and they leave behind no memorable melodies either. By Side 2, the band have completely lost their way - the Louisiana back porch harmonica taking it to new lows. Final track 'Unchangeable Things' brings it back to a respectable level. The 4 bonus tracks on the GoD CD are in a similar vein. There's nothing egregious here, more like a flat line. This is a borderline Gnosis 9 / 3 stars effort, but I'm such a fan of the genre, I hear enough to keep it at the Gnosis 10 / 3.5 level. Not a riveting recommendation, I realize.

Personal collection
CD: 2002 Garden of Delights

Like almost all Pilz albums, Ardo Dombec's sole effort features a wonderful gatefold cover, this time showing a vanilla ice cream cone covering a cactus. This was one of the few Pilz albums not later reissued by the Pop Import label in the early 1980s. The Garden of Delights CD is of their usual high standard, with full liner notes, photos, and 4 relevant bonus tracks.

Spring - s/t. 1971 England

If there was ever an album that confused me on what the term "progressive rock" meant, it had to be Spring's sole effort (sans later bootlegs of course). What do I mean by that? Ah yes, quick context setting for those reading this. In the 1980s, as a young lad hungry to hear everything that was labeled with the almighty "progressive" tag, I can assure you that Spring was very much at the top of every catalog writers' best-of lists. THREE MELLOTRONS!! TRIPLE FOLD OUT COVER! LONG TRACKS! My imagination went wild. Then I got hold of some crappy bootleg LP that I no doubt paid way too much for (even then, originals were way beyond my pauper budget). You won't see that boot LP listed in too many places (good!) but it came out in the late 80s. Dull single sleeve. Dull vinyl. Dull music. Well... that's how I heard it anyway. Bootlegs are never a good way to learn about an album (lesson learned for a young Tommy), but this one even went beyond the sloppy sonics. As in - exactly what is "progressive" about this? My cynical nature was coming to the fore - more like 3 people who play the mellotron - not 3 mellotrons (which is probably a true observation actually). Big deal! Not a time signature change in sight. Whoopdee-doo. Had RYM/Gnosis existed in 1988 - this would've got a 2 star / 7 rating.

So what changed? Me, of course. Years of spending time with the original late 60s / early 70's progressive movement has provided me with the right context for which this album had originally come from. Now I hear something that was considered progressive in 1971, but maybe not what the term meant to me by 1988. Spring features some fine songwriting, and wonderful textures (mellotron of course, but even the fuzz guitar and organ too). Even Pat Moran's infamous nasal vocals sound good to me now! If you're a fan of the Dawn / Neon / Transatlantic / Deram branch of early 70s English progressive rock, then no doubt Spring will be a welcome addition.

Personal collection
LP: 2002 Akarma (Italy)
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

Well, they don't come any more collectible than this: An incredible triple fold out cover that exists in very small quantities. I talk some about this in the above notes, but this album was always beyond my budget. I started in the 80s with a (gasp) bootleg LP and didn't like the music - at all. I tried again with the Laser's Edge CD in 1992. Bought and sold quickly. Then about 15 years ago or so, I wised up. I eventually bought the triple FOC version on Akarma - but buying non-Italian albums on that imprint makes you feel a little dirty. But I'll keep it until I can get an original (ho ho ho, keep wishing there sonny). For years and years, I kept hoping this title would come out as a Japanese mini-LP. And it finally did this year! It's a wonderful package to behold.

Clear Blue Sky - s/t. 1970 England

One of a handful of highly creative, psychedelic influenced, progressive guitar power trio albums coming from England circa 1970. Can easily be compared with Stray's debut and The Human Beast. Perhaps it's the runt of that litter, but it's such a gorgeous family, that just being in the same house is prestigious enough. Love those higher pitched British psych-era vocals. 'The Rocket Ride' and 'You Mystify' are both exceptional, though there's not a single weak track here.

Personal collection
CD: 2001 Universal (Japan)

Another rarity, though compared with The Human Beast, this is dime store stuff. I started with the Repertoire CD and traded up for the Japanese mini, which is my only current copy. It's a beautiful package, and I have no issues with the sound - but purists usually hate that some equalization has been applied. From my perspective, it just saves me the trouble of doing it myself. LOL. As far as I know, no specialist label has reissued this fine album with unique liner notes, bonus tracks, etc...

The Human Beast - Volume 1. 1970 Scotland

On the surface, it would seem The Human Beast's sole album to be typical of the era, given the guitar-bass-drums trio format. But these guys aren’t Cream plagiarists, nor did they go the Led Zeppelin, Ashkan, Elias Hulk psychedelic power variation of the blues. No, we’re moving towards the freaky, to the astral zone of Clear Blue Sky, but even beyond. The lyrical concept and overall acid feel gives the feeling that Vangelis may have stumbled onto the album before launching into 666 for his Aphrodite’s Child group. And yes, I’m sure Human Beast digested plenty of Saucerful of Secrets and Ummagumma before heading into the studio. One of the most creative of the UK power trios, no doubt.

Personal collection
CD: 2007 Universal (Japan)
LP: 2008 Sunbeam

A mint UK original can set you back 4 figures (one sold recently for over $2,000), so that's a tough option for most unless wealthy. Up until the Sunbeam reissues, The Human Beast lived in the gutters of the pirate market. The first Japanese CD was extinct from Day 1. I did, however, jump on the mini-LP in 2007, as it's an exact replica of the original. It's a single sleeve, but with those cool pasted back flaps like the original. And of course the album cover is incredible. This CD is the first copy of the album I ever owned. With a cover like that, I had to supplement the CD with the LP. Interestingly, Sunbeam pressed the LP as a gatefold, and put a black border around it. I know purists will scoff, but I have no problems with reissue labels taking a little personal creative license with the packaging - as long as it's tasteful, or an upgrade. The inside of the gatefold contains newly written liner notes. I would love an original, but I don't see that happening.

Taste of Blues - Schizofrenia. 1969 Sweden

One side is a cool free rock jam, like the best of the Krautrock and Swedish artists like International Harvester. No doubt this track was influenced by Paul Butterfield Blues Band's 'East West' suite from 1966. The other side is more traditional electric blues, so the album is indeed schizophrenic. But electric blues in 1969 is hardly the same thing as traditional blues, and there's plenty of psychedelic fuzz guitar and organ in the best tradition of the underground bands of the era.

Personal collection
CD: 2010 Transubstans

I first heard this album via the Garageland LP reissue not long after it was released (1992). Over time, I decided this is a title I didn't need, and sold it. Finally a CD reissue emerged in 2010 from the always excellent Transubstans label. The side long track alone is worthy of ownership - and now we have an excellent CD filled with informative liners.

Horrific Child - L'étrange Monsieur Whinster. 1976 France

Where would the music world be without Jean-Pierre Massiera? It certainly would be a more dull place without him, that's for sure. Everything he was involved with can only be described as obscure. And now he's the undisputed king of the 1970's Euro oddball rarities chase. And of all the albums he was involved with, Horrific Child remains his most sought after, and arguably most eccentric release ever. The musical realization of a Psychotronic B-Movie classic. If this were a movie, it would be on at 3:00 in the morning, on your cities' last remaining UHF local station. In short, L'Etrange Mr. Whinster defines J.P. Massiera's niche in life.

Personal collection
LP: 2010 Finders Keepers (UK)

This is one of those albums I had this album on my CD Reissue Wish List for as long as the list existed. Finally in 2010, the excellent Finders Keepers label (who also reissued the very fine Jean-Claude Vannier album) came through with both an LP and CD. With a cover like that, I went straight for the LP reissue - which is housed in a nice rough paper cover. Comes with complete liner notes as well.

Sangiuliano - Take Off. 1978 Italy

A very unusual electronic rock album, especially for Italy, Sangiuliano has an arsenal of keyboards at his disposal to help create his unique musical vision. He relies heavily on the mellotron (especially the “choral” tapes), as well as his ARP 2600, to achieve the brassy sounds he seems to espouse. Real drums add a rock flair, and in this way, recall Wolfgang Bock’s Cycles or even some of Vangelis’ mid 70s work. There’s more majesty found here in the compositions than your typical Berlin School sequencer fests, and some of Rusticelli and Bordini’s instrumental work was brought to mind as well. An excellent album.

Personal collection
CD: 1993 Si-Wan (Korea)

The original is a single sleeve issue that features our main protagonist on the cover, with his - as my old friend Zary Smith / Record Vault used to say - really long hair (that was a selling point for him). I started with the Japanese LP and moved it out not long after the Si-Wan CD came out in 1993.

Patrick Vian - Bruits et Temps Analogues.1976 France

Bruits et Temps Analogues is pretty much an eclectic brew, in the French tradition, with Berlin School sequencer based electronic ostensibly being the album's main premise. No doubt Richard Pinhas (Heldon) was an influence here, with the mix of Moog synthesizers and electric guitars. But Bruits et Temps Analogues is more upbeat, and perhaps even more world music influenced. Vian previously headed up the much more polarizing, and politically charged, Red Noise from a few years before. And there's very little of that angst and radicalism present here. Overall a pretty harmless affair, and a nice album to hear every once in awhile. But nothing groundbreaking or striking.

Personal collection
LP: 1976 Egg
CD: 2013 Staubgold

Originals were once fairly easy to find here in the US, as Egg had good distribution here throughout the 1970s. This is an album one could still find brand new as late as the mid 1980s from a well stocked import store, and I did just that. It seemed Vian's album was going to miss the CD era, but the once German - now French - label Staubgold has come to the rescue. It's a straight reissue, and it sounds like it comes from a (nice) vinyl copy. But it does feature a cool gatefold digi-pak, and it's 100% authorized, so those are pluses.

Wurtemberg - Rock Fantasia Opus 9. 1980 France

Piano and flute dominate this fine instrumental progressive rock work from Wurtemberg, despite the fact that main composer Alain Carbonare was at the time (and maybe still) a craftsman for custom stringed instruments, that were also featured on the album, though primarily in the background. No doubt it's his handiwork that's featured on the front cover (left to right): Dulcimer, Lyre, and Psaltery. The introspective nature of the music recalls early Mike Oldfield, and when Wurtemberg rocks out, Snow Goose era Camel comes to mind. There's even a couple of places one can hear the prototype for the future Medieval French progressive rock act Minimum Vital. A remarkably consistent album, where the closing 7 minute track 'Rockopus1' would have to be considered the highlight.

Personal collection
LP: 1980 Sterne
CD: 2008 Rock Symphony (Brazil)

In an almost precisely opposite situation to the Trilogy album yesterday, I first bought an original LP of Wurtemberg in 1993, and only got around to buying the CD this year. I thought I was buying the Musea version, but there was a later exact repress/co-production from the excellent Brazilian label Rock Symphony - which maintains all of the liners of the Musea version, and the Musea logo is all over this. There are two short bonus tracks, but they are from 1986, and not really relevant. The original features a wonderful gatefold cover.

Trilogy - Here It Is. 1980 Germany


Of course when you name your band Trilogy, and keyboards are the main focus, then you are more than likely to draw comparisons to ELP. And if you're German: Triumvirat. And those obvious references aren't entirely off the mark. But they only tell half the story. First off, Trilogy are a 5 piece band with two keyboardists and a guitarist. Now the trick is - can they keep the album interesting as an entirely instrumental album? The answer is a resounding YES. Trilogy moves though various themes, colors, tones, moods, and textures with ease. All the while the rhythms are constantly changing to keep one guessing throughout the session. The solos carry melodic lines within them, creating a remarkably memorable album. At times I'm reminded of the instrumental side of Epidaurus. Here It Is is a striking example of a band, against all odds, that were able to create a superior progressive rock album that has stood the test of time. One that to this day remains undiscovered despite a fine CD reissue from Musea. Had the band arrived in 2013, they would be hailed as a "retro prog" classic.

Personal collection
LP: 1980 Cain
CD: 1994 Musea (France)

I was introduced to the album via Musea's excellent CD way back in 1994. It's always been a favorite album here at the UMR, so I also recently went forward with an original LP purchase. The CD features one fine and relevant bonus track. As you can see, the CD (bottom) features an entirely different cover. Call me weird, but I tend to like goofy covers such as the original LP. The Musea CD looks 1990s Photoshop to me - and most of their contemporary acts of the day had similar type covers.

Flyte - Dawn Dancer. 1979 Netherlands-Belgium

Flyte are originally from Breda, a Dutch town that borders the Flemish regions of Belgium. As such, they are a mixture of both countries. But musically, they might as well be from Cincinnati, and would have been a perfect addition to my Midwest USA list. All the tracks are between 4 and 6 minutes, with that unique combination of commercial aspiration and complex progressive composition. The heavily accented English vocals won't push Flyte to stardom, but one can't help but admire the effort. So while fellow countrymen Lady Lake knew to keep their mouth shut for the most part, Flyte went for broke. So in the end you get progressive AOR music with badly accented vocals - and a lot of mellotron. Ehhh - why not?

Personal collection
LP: 1979 Don Quixote

The original album is stored in a single sleeve cover with a nice painting. With obtaining the original, I decided to move out the Korean reissue, even though Si-Wan did a nice job making it into a gatefold.

Casa das Maquinas - Lar de Maravilhas. 1975 Brazil

Starting with the album cover, Lar de Maravilhas possesses a strong resemblance to early Premiata Forneria Marconi. Somewhat mellow, song-oriented, but with a clear progressive approach. Advanced arrangements for acoustic/electric guitar, organ, Moog, and complex rhythms. Not that this album is anywhere on par with Per un Amico, but there are a few similarities. This is the middle of their 3 albums. Apparently the other 2 are more straightforward rock. I get the impression Casa das Máquinas are like those Italian pop bands, such as I Dik Dik or Equipe 84, who decided to dabble in progressive rock for a short time.

Personal collection
CD: 1994 Cast

I should look into getting an original, as the cover art appeals to me greatly.

Kundalini Shakti Devi - s/t. 1974 Italy (archival)

Somewhat like a proto-St. Tropez. An odd album given the time and place and it's easy to see why no major was taking a chance back then. Not a perfect recording either, but somehow the end product is satisfying. Don't start your Italian progressive rock collection here, but if you've heard everything else, then this 1974 recording will enthrall at a certain level. Three long tracks of lyrical lite progressive jazz rock with plenty of flute, guitar, and sax solos - always pleasant and never grating. I liked it.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 BTF

The CD is housed in a fine mini-LP styled cover.

Era di Acquario - Antologia. 1973 Italy

Don't listen to Era di Acquario's sole album with the expectation that it's an unknown 1973 classic Italian progressive rock album. However, if you enjoy pastoral acoustic guitar, flute, and hand percussion instrumentals, then Era di Acquario will most certainly satisfy on that level. Opener 'Campagne Siciliane' is stunningly beautiful. There are also a trio of decent harder rocking electric/acoustic guitar lead pieces with vocals, two good electric instrumentals ('Fuori al sole', 'Statale 113') and, yes, one singer-songwriter dud to endure ('Idda' - track 3 on the 1995 BMG CD). Overall, this is a sweet album. Just don't expect Museo Rosenbach or Semiramis.

Personal collection
CD: 1995 BMG

Definitely a rare album in original form, and features a very thin rough cardboard single sleeve cover that fades easily. The parent companies of RCA maintained the rights all these years, and the CD remains in print. This is the type of album that is more popular in its home country than abroad.

I Santoni - Noi. 1972 Italy

Noi is primarily dominated by traditional Italian singer-songwriter and pop psychedelic elements, but it only tells part of the story. There are also some complex instrumental charts played by sax, flute, and Hammond organ that gives it a strong whiff of the progressive rock movement that was just about to sweep Italy for the next 5 years. If you love the Dolce Acqua album by Delirium, and would like to hear a theoretical precursor album to it - then I Santoni's Noi is likely to satisfy at a high level. Those coming here looking for the next early 70s Italian progressive rock monster will need to move on to the next one on your list.

Personal collection
CD: 1996 Mellow

SRC - Traveler's Tale. 1970 USA


After the somewhat middling Milestones, SRC finish their career on a high note. The opening trio of songs recall their splendid debut, though with more compositional acumen than before. 'Never Before Now' is the kind of pop slop they tried on "Milestones" with no success here either. 'By Way of You' brings the band back to credibility, before embarking on two bonafide monster tracks: 'Diana' is a brilliant heavy psych tune dedicated to some mega babe, and I would love to see a modern video interpretation of the song myself. This is followed by the excellent 7 minute 'Across the Land of Light', a rare instrumental that comes dangerously close to all-in progressive rock, and perhaps a peek through the window of what SRC could have become. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Album finishes disappointingly with the overlong 'The Offering'. SRC's debut is one of America's greatest major label psych albums. And 'Traveler's Tale' is about as good a late era psych album as you will find from anywhere.

Personal collection
LP: 1970 Capitol
CD: 1993 One Way

Nothing new here in regards to collecting, so I'll cut and paste what I said on the debut: "My introduction to SRC was via the One Way CD that I picked up about a year after release, and is still my keeper copy. Typical straight reissue from One Way with no other details. In doing research for this title, I found that BGO (Beat Goes On) has just released (this month!) all 3 SRC albums on a 2 disc set. This would most assuredly be the definitive set to own. Since I have all 3 individually on One Way, I probably won't switch out. But if you don't have these, definitely consider getting it."

March 2017 update: I recently secured an original. Nice copy too, though the cover has ring wear.

Music Emporium - s/t. 1969 USA

Of all the private psychedelic pressings to come from America in the late 1960's, none were better than Music Emporium. Featuring two guys and two gals playing organ, guitar, bass, and drums, Music Emporium were able to combine both high energy rock with a dreamy/trippy psychedelic vibe. All the members were music majors at universities in and around Los Angeles and were inspired by jazz, classical, avant-garde, and rock. Their brand of psychedelic was far more sophisticated than the average garage band of the day despite the fact that the majority of the tracks were under the four minute mark. In fact, only the two minute 'Times Like This' could be considered a "normal" song. 'Nam Myo Renge Kyo', 'Prelude', and 'Sun Never Shines' are barnstormers with some fantastic Farfisa organ by bandleader Casey Cosby and some incredible drumming from Dora Wahl. Music Emporium are at their best when they go for the psychedelic dream sequence soundtrack styled song. These are characterized by dual male/female vocals, tranced out organ chords, and jagged rhythms. 'Velvet Sunsets', 'Catatonic Variations', 'Gentle Thursday', and 'Winds Have Changed' are examples of this style. The longest track is 'Cage' which is, not surprisingly, the most complex and angst ridden song on the album. The closer, 'Day of Wrath', is a quasi-religious apocalyptic ending with Farfisa providing what would normally be the church pipe-organ. Overall Music Emporium were a solid two to three years ahead of the pack when it came to creative musicianship. The fact this was done on a private budget makes the album even more extraordinary. Certainly one of the top five psychedelic releases ever!

Personal collection
CD: 2001 Sundazed
LP: 2001 Sundazed

Always one of the most sought after psychedelic albums, Music Emporium's sole effort was getting multiple thousands of dollars in the catalog market until a box of sealed ones showed up from a band members' ex-wife (I'm thinking this happened in 1994 if memory serves me right). I can remember having the opportunity to buy one for $800 - still way beyond my budget back then. Probably even now too LOL. I dunno, that would be tempting as it's gone back up... Anyway, like the Morgen yesterday, this one lived in the gutters of the pirate market forever. Especially egregious was the Psycho LP reissue, which only had ONE CHANNEL. I know at least one knowledgeable collector who told me he hated this record. When I asked what version he had - he said it was the Psycho one. Well no wonder, dude! So if you've only heard that version - or downloaded it from some crappy website, then double check the source. The Sundazed CD and LP are the way to go here. Both are superb - the LP featuring a wonderful die-cut gatefold. The CD filled with excellent liners (as is the LP). I bought both of these immediately when they came out. I would guess they too are now hard to find, and wouldn't be surprised to see this back in the pirate controlled waters. Trust me - get the Sundazed version(s) at all cost.

Morgen - s/t. 1969 USA

When I first started collecting psych music in the late 1980s (which admittedly came after progressive rock and heavy metal), I expected all the albums to sound something like Morgen. Great bumble bee fuzz guitar, good melodies, somewhat spaced out vocals. But alas, it wasn't to be the case. But Morgen is in the big leagues, and it's no surprise to me that it is one of the most sought after of the major label psych pieces, despite there being a relatively large supply in circulation. It's just that good - and for what seemed like forever, no legal reissue existed to offset demand (until 2013). To me, this one is the real deal and I file it right next to The Plastic Cloud. Nice late 1800's artwork of The Scream by Edvard Munch.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Sunbeam (UK)

Always a much sought after and rare album as an original, that thrived in the pirate market for close to 25 years, due to a lack of a legit reissue. Finally the excellent Sunbeam label of England comes through, filled with liner notes with participation from Steve Morgen himself. The bonus tracks are more interesting than relevant. This new CD allows me to kick the Eva boot immediately out the door.

Purple Peak Records First Day Sale is this Sunday!

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