Lagger Blues Machine - s/t. 1972 Belgium

Lagger Blues Machine - s/t. 1972 CBS

CD reissues: 1994 Mellow (known as The Complete Works and includes Tanit Live) (Italy); 2012 Veals & Geeks (also with Tanit Live)

LP reissues: 2006 Amber Soundroom (Germany); 2012 Veals & Geeks (as Tanit)

Packaging: My introduction to this album came via the Mellow CD that I bought immediately upon release. I'd actually heard the Tanit Live (1970) posthumous album when it first came out in 1992, and it's a miserable sounding album, so it's nice that Mellow made those as bonus tracks here. The sound of the album proper is a bit muffled. About 10 years ago, I lucked into buying an original LP very cheap, for roughly 20% of its current value. It's hardly mint, but we were able to clean the vinyl and it sounds pretty good. The cover has some flaws, but it's still very nice. Expect to pay around $500+ for a mint one (which are extremely scarce in that condition). And finally I went forward with the Veals & Geeks LP to see what they did with it. I like the use of rough paper for the cover. But that's where my appreciation ends. The cover art is blown up too big, and it's out of focus.  The vinyl is one of those bricks with very poor sound, and the mastering is worse than the Mellow CD. And there was no history accompanying it. The CD apparently has an 8 page booklet detailing the history of the band. Why this wasn't also included in the LP is anyone's guess. Overall, it seems more like a cheap bootleg, then the authentic reissue that it is. Fortunately I didn't pay much for it, or I would have been sorely disappointed. I cannot recommend the V&G issues (I presume the sound of the CD to be poor as well). I have not seen or heard the Amber Soundroom version. One more comment on the sound for those of you who have only heard the reissues: They are all muffled and sound pretty horrid. The original LP (even in the VG condition that I own) is considerably clearer than any of the reissues. Like Soft Machine's "Third", it isn't a great sounding album to begin with, but the original vinyl absolutely destroys the Mellow CD, or even worse, the Veals & Geeks LP. I continue to own all 3, but will move the V&G LP at some point. The Mellow release continues to be the best CD out there.

Notes: Lagger Blues Machine's sole studio album is right in my wheelhouse for European instrumental progressive rock (there are some sporadic voices here and there, but hardly a vocal album). There's a jazzy base to the rhythms, with constant twists and turns, along with plenty of colors provided by the variety of keyboard, sax, and guitar tones. Nothing sits still too long, and all of the sections focus on composition and melody rather than on lengthy, or worse atonal, soloing. This is a must have if you enjoy the Canterbury bands like Soft Machine and Moving Gelatine Plates, along with Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats" and all its followers (which were usually Continental European). One of Belgium's best albums for certain.

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