Lagger Blues Machine - s/t. 1972 Belgium

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.

Personal collection
LP: 1972 CBS
CD: 1994 Mellow (as The Complete Works)

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. It's hardly mint, but we were able to clean the vinyl and it sounds pretty good. I also 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. Their CD version 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. 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. The Mellow release continues to be the best CD out there. 2016 update: Veals and Geeks LP has been sold.

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