Even though Jimmy, Yoko and Shin are on the cult underground Japanese jazz label Three Blind Mice, their sole album is square-on progressive rock. There are 3 long tracks that are as much informed by ELP as they are by the Japanese freaky underground of Rock Joint Biwa and George Hirota. The latter groups are more evident in the indigenous vocal led sections. And occasionally they catch a toe-tapping groove with organ and piano jamming on top. To be truthful, there really is no other album like it, and as such it's truly a rare gem. It's a grower for sure.
CD: 2013 Think! / Three Blind Mice
A very obscure album that I never even heard of until about 3 years ago. Disc Union's Think!, the same label behind the Genshi Kyodotai reissue, has come to the rescue again. I believe Three Blind Mice is under the Sony brand now and this is a co-release. Absolutely fantastic sound and it really opened up the album for me. The CD comes in the now standard paper/cardboard miniature LP sleeve. Also features the original booklet insert. A fantastic reissue.
CD: 2013 Eastworld
Incredible Journey is a relatively common major label single sleeve release. As such, I was very surprised to see this title receive a CD reissue. Eastworld is an old school reissue label, similar to Wounded Bird. Straightforward late 80s styled jewel case reissues, with no bonus tracks or info beyond what was on the original LP - and in this case it includes the lyrics. But it's better than nothing. Definitely an album worth owning!
LP: 1970 Bellaphon
CD: 2003 CityStudio Music Productions
LP: 2011 Long Hair
Always a very rare album since I've been collecting from the 1980s, Orange Peel's one album was strictly fodder for bootleggers for many years. In fact, my introduction to the band was one of those pirate CDs in the mid 90s. When the CMP versions came out, there was quite a bit of doubt on the legitimacy of them. There wasn't a website, they were related to the dubious Green Tree, and the CDs came out in digi-pak's with not a lot of information, similar to the bootlegs of the day. I then inquired with a reliable music industry source in Germany, and sure enough, they are legit! They bought the rights to the Bellaphon catalog and released a few albums in 2003/2004 - and then disappeared (this is a different CMP to the label behind artists such as David Torn and Mark Nauseef). So I own that CD, and it remains the only legit CD released, which is kind of sad for such an important album. A couple of years after that, I lucked into an original LP on ebay for relatively cheap, and I will of course keep that for the duration. And finally, I did decide to go for the Long Hair LP reissue, mainly to hear the two bonus tracks, and to have the historical liner notes. And they did a fine job on both accounts. Now there is one small problem for purists, and I mentioned this on the Virus Thoughts review, and that is the colors are way too dark. The original - and the photo above is a good rendition of that - has some distinct colors to it. Otherwise they did faithfully reproduce the gatefold cover. It's just strange that the artwork is so dull on the reissues.
CD: 1991 Bernhard Mikulski
LP: 2013 Long Hair
One of the more sought after of the original Pilz albums. Like all on the label, it was adorned with a fine gatefold cover. Definitely one of the more obscure Pop Import reissues. I never knew it came out via that imprint, even though Pop Import albums were readily available to me at the local Dallas import stores throughout the 1980s. In fact, most of the hard rocking Pilz albums didn't get a Pop Import release - only the folk and cosmic albums did. As such, my first encounter with Thoughts was in 1991 with the original CD on Bernhard Mikulski, which is in effect the Pop Import of CD releases. Like all on the label, it's a straight reissue with no extras or anything. Perhaps unbelievably, this is still the CD I have in my collection for the album. As for reissue LP's beyond the 1982 press, I did once own the Think Progressive - but it was just a straight reissue but it did faithfully duplicate the gatefold. I sold it eventually. And that gets us to the Long Hair LP, which I just picked up. Once again, it faithfully produces the gatefold and, as a major plus, features a full booklet insert filled with unique liner notes and photos, and includes two bonus tracks - both taken from the 1971 Heavy Christmas Pilz concept album. And Virus had two of the best cuts from that album, though they total less than 5 minutes together. Nice to have them though. On the downside, the cover image is too dark, and isn't a perfect representation of the original. An odd oversight I think, but it isn't the first time they've done this. And I will discuss that in my next post too. At some point, I'd like to have an original LP too. It's a great album worthy of multiple copies.
LP: 2013 Shadoks (Germany)
The only legit reissue of this album is via an LP that came out only this year. Shadoks has stated they will not be doing the CD, so that would seem to indicate someone else will. Maybe Rocket Records, or Love themselves (who miraculously are still around, but through different owners as the original label went bankrupt in 1979). For over 20 years I just had a crappy bootleg LP of this (which I sold immediately), so I willingly paid the "Shadoks Premium" and bought the new reissue, and I was rewarded with copious liner notes and an overall fantastic job, as is their custom. Originals are almost non existent and very expensive - we're talking $1K or more here for one in quality shape. I'm sure I'll never own one, and to be honest the cover... leaves something to be desired. For such a great album, this one deserves a CD as well - and I will most certainly supplement the Shadoks LP with a legit CD if one surfaces.
LP: 1973 Gump
LP: 2013 Subliminal Sounds
Similar to the Resan album we covered earlier this year, Subliminal Sounds has gone forward with an exact LP reissue but not a CD to date. I bought this version because a) I enjoy Reine Fiske's outstanding and thorough liner notes and b) My original vinyl isn't in the best of shape. But if a CD came forth, I would buy it as well and own all 3 copies. I hope they consider doing just that (along with Resan!). A pirate CD exists, so beware of that.
CD: 2013 Bureau B
Originally released as a cassette on York House Tapes (first scan), it was followed by a cassette second press on Auricle (second scan), and later a CD-R from the same label (third scan). Finally the album has landed on a durable format courtesy of Bureau B (last scan). The CD comes with newly written historical notes and two very good and relevant bonus tracks. The sound is fantastic all things considered, much better than the cassette dub I had. An excellent package overall.
LP: 1972 Bla Bla
CD: 2011 Belle Antique
For yesterday's entry regarding Alain Eckert Quartet, I stated that if there ever was an album where buying the CD was more preferable than the original, then that was the one. Today, I will say the opposite: If there ever was an album to buy the original LP rather than a reissue, Capsicum Red is the one. Like most people, I discovered this album via the Vinyl Magic CD. It sounds horrible. I'd always been told the original vinyl was a mess, and that the masters were gone. I was fortunate to buy an original this year for a decent price (photo above is that album), and it changed my perspective on the album. Like all originals of this title, the sound has quite a bit of background noise (the original inner sleeve has a rough inside, which causes serious scuffing) - but much of the album rocks hard enough to obfuscate the noise. The CD's of this sound terrible in comparison. As I suspected (privately), the production wasn't the problem (though let's not get carried away, it's not incredible by any stretch). There's really no reason for this - as even a straight needle drop would sound better than what it's in the market. For me, it adds a solid half star (RYM) to my rating. I also do own the Japanese mini-LP for the packaging, but it's sourced/licensed/re-engineered from the Italian CD.
The 31 minutes of live material as only found on the Soleil Zeuhl CD absolutely DESTROY the studio material. Here The Alain Eckert Quartet is ON FIRE, in the same zone as you might find Magma on their Live album - with killer Zeuhl bass, wild fuzz guitar soloing, insane drumming, and staccato piano. Stunning really.
CD: 2013 Soleil Zeuhl
The original vinyl is housed in a typical early 80s austere single sleeve cover. My first exposure to the album was buying a copy off of ebay in the mid 2000s. If there was ever an album to get the reissue CD of rather than the original LP, it's this one. Not only do you get the usual Soleil Zeuhl high quality production with great sound, liner notes, and photos - but you also get two critical bonus tracks that are not to be missed. Read above. This album was on our CDRWL as a Priority 3 for many years. Had I known about the bonus material, most assuredly it would have been Priority 1. 2017 update: I decided to part with the LP. The CD is all I need here.
CD: 2011 Shadoks (Germany)
This fine archival package was released on both vinyl and CD by Shadoks. Features full liner notes regarding the history, and plenty of photos.
LP: 1972 Eleventh Hour
CD: 2011 Belle Antique
For years this album had more boots than a shoe store. I ultimately plunked down some serious coin for an original LP, which is certainly worth it when you consider the artwork of the cover. Plus it sounds great! The Gear Fab CD finally gave the album a legitimate release. It's obviously taken from vinyl (masters are long gone) that inexplicably skips the first 10 second or so, and the overall package is typical of Gear Fab: Single tray card with liners... and that's it. But at least those notes cleared up the date issue, stating it was from 1972 rather than the assumed 1971. My guess is they were printed up before they received Glenn Howard's liners. Mike Diana's story corroborates the 1972 date. But it's legit and we'll take what we can.
2016 update: I've also since picked up the Belle Antique CD version. The good news is that even though Belle Antique licensed it from Gear Fab, they did remaster the contents, and fixed the screw-ups that Gear Fab produced. And with the beautiful cover reproduced precisely, I would recommend this as the CD route to go.
CD: 2000 Gear Fab
This is an album that I somehow missed entirely until a couple of months ago, so I just picked up the Gear Fab CD, which is pretty scarce nowadays. The CD is typical barebones Gear Fab fodder, with a single tray card. But at least they utilize that one slip with unique liner notes. And it's legit, and sounds great.
The AC sums up: "Jazz-rock rarity from this largely unknown unit, led by saxophonist Don Weller. He and drummer Tony Marsh would go on to become fairly well-known figures in the UK jazz scene, but of perhaps greater interest to prog fans is that the guitar here is handled by Jimmy Roche, who once played with the great East of Eden. His playing here is in a sort of jumpy, Larry Coryell-esque style that I find highly appealing. This stuff is definitely coming from the jazzier end of the jazz-rock spectrum, and being sax-fronted and lacking any sort of keyboard presence..."
LP: 1977 Next
CD: 2013 Proper
In look, sound, and feel, Major Surgery's album appears older than 1977. It seems like a 1971 release. This was an AC discovery from early last year, and I subsequently bought the LP not long after, not expecting a CD reissue anytime soon. So indeed the CD came as a real surprise. Proper is a label with many titles, but this is the first time they've intersected with the UMR. The reissue is excellent. Comes in a fine digi-pak, with a separate booklet containing archival photos. A short bio and one bonus track round out this fine package.
CD: 2013 Gonzo
I love the Art Deco styled painting that adorns the cover. The Audio Archives CD was always hard to find, and there seemed to be (at the time) authenticity questions surrounding it. Soon after, an outright bootleg appeared on the scene. So it is much welcome to see the new Gonzo release, which features unique liner notes written from each member of the band + many photos. Also features 2 short bonus tracks.
CD: 2013 Garden of Delights (as Wiesbaden 1973)
It's hard to discern if the cassette was ever available for purchase. I had been lead to believe you could obtain it via mailorder back in the 70s. The GoD liner notes mention the cassette, but mainly as the private property of the one who recorded it (see the bottom of this section for more explanation). Apparently the tape is filled with 90 minutes of music, and they had to shorten it for the CD to 82 minutes. (As as aside, I learned that they now have CDs that can go as long as 90 minutes, but not many of the players can replay that much back. I'm not familiar enough with the technology to understand that aspect). As well, we learned the concert was longer than 90 minutes, and some of the missing time was between "Side 1" and "Side 2" when they had to flip the cassette over. Ah, the good old days... Anyway, the CD is fantastic, filled with informative liner notes and photos. And most certainly the best sound possible, though it will never be perfect. It wasn't meant for release in the first place.
UMR's friend Achim from Germany further clarifies the situation above: "I just picked up the Cosmic Circus CD. As I understand from the German booklet notes, there are (or were) two tapes. Or, that is the most logical explanation of the text. One was recorded at "some festival" in 1972 (featuring a 45 minute version of Sternenmaskerade) was supposed to be released as tape by Andromeda Press (and mentioned in the article by German magazine Sounds). This got never officially released, but apparently some copies exist, maybe privately distributed by the band members. Another one was recorded in July 1973 by Muck Krieger and was not meant to be released back then. This was rediscovered some time ago, now shortened to 80 minutes and released by Gardens of Delights." Then it must have been the "Andromeda Press" album that I believe I first heard. Which explains the difference between the 1972 and 1973 dates. And would seem to indicate they are different albums! I will leave everything here in any case. I don't think I have the energy to update RYM and Gnosis :-)
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