Iron Claw - s/t. 1970-1974 Scotland (archival)

Where to even start? So the deal with Iron Claw is they have four different historical Marks similar to Deep Purple in that way. The first Mark (1970) demonstrates Iron Claw emulating Black Sabbath's early style of crushing heavy blues rock, and this is the sound most associated with the band. The material - and sound - is very raw and distorted. It's good stuff, but not devastating. The first 5 tracks on the CD are from this era. The second Mark (1971) contains only one song and is very similar in sound and scope to Mark I. I found that the real revelation on this CD is Mark III (1971-72), which begins to add in more sophistication and introduces a broad palette of tones including woodwinds. The sound quality is excellent on these tracks, differentiating it greatly from the prior material. Fortunately this stage of the band has a strong presence on the disc - and no less than 8 tracks are presented here. Mark IV (1973-74) sees Iron Claw going full throttle towards complex progressive rock territory. Unfortunately there's only two tracks from this period and the sound isn't ideal, but the music is quite brilliant and demonstrates a band that is really starting to fire on all cylinders. It's a pity they never were able to release a proper studio album. So all in all, an excellent archival collection. It's worth noting that the music is presented chronologically, so this isn't a title that works well in "random play" mode.

Personal collection
CD: 2009 Rockadrome (USA)

The first authorized release of Iron Claw is the Rockadrome CD (first photo). It's an excellent reissue, as is typical of Rockadrome, filled with informative historical notes and photos. The second photo is the newly released Lion LP version. I haven't seen this one personally, but the label says: "This collection of sixteen original studio tracks documents Iron Claw's existence from 1970 thru 1974 and includes extensive liner notes, lyrics and photos inside the gatefold and on a 12" insert; also includes an 11x17 poster." Sounds like a nice package to me (and includes all of the CD material), and I'm sure it's yet another fine release from the high quality Lion. The last photo is from the first CD release of Iron Claw - entitled Dismorphophobia (1996 Audio Archives) - which has been tagged as "unauthorized" by RYM. I had a copy of this on CD-R, and it's a different set of music, only focusing on their 1970 material. And it's of very poor sound. I would stick with the Rockadrome or Lion versions for this one and avoid the latter.

Brain Police - s/t. 1968 USA

Tremendous late 60s psychedelic album from San Diego, with some bona fide monster tracks in 'I'd Rather See You Dead' (my personal fave on the album), 'Getting Too Much Higher', 'Gypsy Fast Woman', and 'I'll Find Love'. Heavy fuzz guitar, organ, snotty vocals, snakey bass, and snappy drums define the music. The CD bonus tracks of pre-Brain Police outfits such as the Man-Dells (1964-65) and Other Four (1965-1966) demonstrate a strong Beach Boys influence. This extended experience with vocal harmony shows up throughout the album, adding that extra dimension that makes it special. Listen to tracks such as 'Find Me a Moment', 'Ride My Train of Love', and 'I'll Find Love' to hear this dimension of the band, and I think this is where the Strawberry Alarm Clock references come in (and I agree).

Personal collection
CD: 2000 Shadoks

As you can see, there are numerous covers and releases for this album. The top is the original demo, which didn't come with a sleeve, and is ridiculously rare and expensive. I first heard this album via the Rockadelic LP reissue (2nd picture), which I bought as soon as it was released, and has all kinds of goodies included, but ultimately sold off, to my regret. Later I picked up the Shadoks CD which is a fine reissue with full historical liner notes, concert poster replications, newspaper articles, and 10 bonus tracks going back to the mid 60s! The last photo is from the Guerssen LP reissue, which I haven't seen or heard.

Eloiteron - s/t. 1981 Switzerland

Much better than average early 80s symphonic album. There were many of these type of private progressive rock albums released in Germany and Switzerland during this period and Eloiteron are one of the best. Trumpet adds a nice touch, and recalls the Austrian group Klockwerk Orange in a similar setting. Plenty of excellent organ, mellotron, guitar, piano, synthesizers, and flute as well. I appreciate the strong attention to melodic detail. It's primarily instrumental, though there's some sparse unobtrusive vocals that are decent. Recommended album, for certain, and holds up well after many listens. The kind of album Musea Records of France would have reissued, had they gotten to it during their prime.

Personal collection
LP: 1981 private
CD: 2013 Belle Antique (Japan)

The photo above shows an old ebay auction that best captures the entire original package. The "skull" photo was actually a single poster sheet that lays on top of the sunrise album cover. Only the earliest presses had this sheet, and many copies were released without it. This was a feature on our CDRWL for many years, and it came as a major surprise that Belle Antique of Japan is the first and only CD reissue. Apparently the band got in touch with Marquee, and sent them a digital copy for reissue purposes. As is typical for the label, Belle Antique reissues whatever is provided to them. Sometimes it can be a fantastic remaster (like Old Man & The Sea or the Speed Limit albums), and sometimes it can be cheap digital copy (like Aquarelle). This is unfortunately of the latter quality. It's too "digitized" for my tastes. I think it could use a better remaster from a sound perspective. However, the quality of the packaging is awesome as usual, and it contains all of what the original LP would have - including the skull outlay. It's nice that there is a legit CD, but I wish a specialist label from Europe would tackle it with a newly remastered sound, and with full historical notes in English. I personally own the LP, but without the skull (but with the insert as shown above) and this Japanese CD.

Raven - Who Do You See... 1976 USA (archival)

Classic progressive rock from Midwest America. This time from Terre Haute, Indiana, and features none other than the same drummer from the monster psych rock band Micah (1971) - who had relocated to upstate New York from Terre Haute a few years prior. So it takes a Portuguese vinyl only label to release this wonderful archival LP - OK, works for me. Global economy indeed.

This album (recorded 1976) has all the trademarks of a band from the era and region: Straightforward radio friendly tracks are offset by highly complex compositions and serious musical chops. And loads of that wonderful Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer! Perhaps not the greatest sounding recording, but certainly excellent given the circumstances. Other Indiana bands like Yezda Urfa, Ethos, and even Vindication will point the way if needing comparisons.

Overall a great find!

And, as it turns out, drummer Robert Wolff is still going - participating in none other than a progressive rock band from Finland called Corvus Stone, who have a new album coming soon! So we have a drummer from Indiana, who lived in New York, who's first album (Micah) was reissued by a German company (Shadoks), whose next band was released for the first time by a label from Portugal, and who is now a virtual member of a band from Finland. Got that? Wow.........

Personal collection
LP: 2013 Golden Pavilion (Portugal)

Single sleeve cover with biographical data "obi". This issue surprisingly lacks historical detail, though you can find more on the internet. The vinyl itself sounds very fine - especially for something that wasn't intended to be issued in the first place. Give it a few years, and I'll probably be adding this to the CDRWL...

Blops - s/t (Locomotora). 1974 Chile

Blops' third self-titled album, later titled "Locomotora" (and with a different cover), is primarily an instrumental rock album with flute, piano, organ, and fuzz guitar providing the lead work. Not particularly complex, but also not as kitschy as some of the Italian instrumental psychedelic albums like Blue Phantom or Underground Set. There are some wordless voices peppered throughout that add an exotic vibe. Perhaps this is South America's equivalent to the French band Catharsis, though Blops appear to have more of a jazz background that they apply to their improvisations. Highly recommended if you enjoy the rougher analog tones of the early 70s, and for fans of flute driven rock. You can put me down as such for those categories.

Personal collection
LP: 2011 Acme (UK)

The top cover (single sleeve) is the original, while the second one came along later - some say it was originally a pirate edition, others say it was a legit reissue. Details are sketchy, but for certain it's not the original. Shadoks went forward with the latter cover (and secondary title of Locomotora) for its LP and CD box sets. The Acme LP reissue replicates the original cover. It's a brick, with no other information, and muddy sound. Not the best reissue, but it's the only version of the album I own at this time.

Friendsound - s/t. 1969 USA

Great experimental psych weirdness from a group that evolved out of Paul Revere and The Raiders. Truly cutting edge for the late 1960s. The kind of album that I'm sure record executives today hold out as an example of Huge Mistakes from the Past. First 10 minutes are an awesome display of psychedelic rock, and the last 25 minutes go waaay the hell out there into druggy la-la land. I'm not sure who was more stoned: The band or the label? File alongside other late 1960s pioneers like Fifty Foot Hose and Silver Apples. Excellent.

Personal collection
LP: 1969 RCA
CD: 2014 Real Gone w/Brotherhood (1968) and Brotherhood Brotherhood (1969)

The original is a typical US single sleeve press, and as was still custom in 1969, features liner notes on the back. I first heard about this album via Audion magazine circa 1989/90 and then bought a mint one immediately for all of about $10. And I continue to own that copy. As for reissues, Joyride languished in the pirate markets until the high quality Real Gone label came to the rescue. I think the main purpose of this reissue is for the two post-Paul Revere & The Raiders Brotherhood psych albums, and they threw in Friend Sound as a bonus. Works for me! The first Brotherhood album is decent psych, and the second is more commercial. I wouldn't buy them on their own, but they make a nice supplement. Regarding the band name, here's what I said in the CDRWL: "And if we look carefully at the label description, we'll notice the band is known as Friend Sound - two words. The original LP gives us a mixed message on that front. The spine is two words, but everywhere else (label, back liner notes, track titles) indicate it is one word. So it appears there will need to be some discography adjustments applied on the various sites out there." As you can see, I left the old name as the post header, since that's how most people will look for it. This is a fantastic reissue, BTW. Great liner notes with participation of the band, photos, and great sound. Don't miss this one.

Cybotron - Implosion. 1980 Australia

By this time, Cybotron were clearly more of an instrumental electronic rock band, similar to groups such as France's Space Art, rather than a strictly sequencer based Klaus Schulze clone (though fortunately there's still some of that here). The saxophone is retained from Colossus as well, and is put to good use. Other than the last track, which is a smooth jazz clunker (and fortunately short), fans of the band's earlier albums won't want to miss this title either. The band admits in the CD liner notes that they were seeking a more commercial based style, but they didn't want to let go of their progressive past either. Perhaps the least satisfying of the 3, but still quite good. Those who like real drums in their electronic music will be pleased here.

Personal Collection
CD: 2005 Aztec

The original LP on Cleopatra comes in a nice gatefold sleeve. As for the CD, it's hard to beat Aztec's multi-fold out digipak covers, not to mention the extensive liner notes - and great sound. In addition, the CD features 6 fine bonus tracks. I have both the CD and the LP for this title, but definitely the CD is the way to go here. 2017 Update: My opinion hasn't changed here, and thus I let the LP go for sale.

Planes (Gregor Cürten & Anselm Rogmans) - s/t. 1974 Germany

Planes features two long brooding electronic pieces that remind me of the two Kluster (yea, with a K) albums. Droning voices add some uniqueness on Side 1, whereas Side 2 has some nice touch guitar amongst the usual dark electronic moods.

Personal collection
CD: 2012 Entr'acte (UK)

This album was first introduced to me in the early 90s as Planes - I'll Remember the Landscape On Your Face. I had this title on the CDRWL for close to 20 years, and was surprised to learn of a legit CD reissued a full two years back. As for this CD reissue and its packaging, here's what I wrote on the CDRWL: "The Gregor Cürten / Anselm Rogmans "Planes" album has been reissued by a UK label called Entr'acte, who do not normally reissue albums. It took me a bit to obtain this CD, but after finally receiving it, I'm kind of glad they aren't in the reissue market. Their CDs come in a silver foil bag, with perfunctory information printed on the front regarding the release. I think the idea is to then go to their website and print out the front and back covers, and other relevant artwork. Hence the label name (interact - get it?). Yea, no thanks on that approach. You guys can stop reissuing albums at any time. It might be fine for new CDs, but that's not the way to do reissues. On the plus side, the sound is great and it is absolutely legit. So bravo to them for that at least." After writing that, a couple of my loyal readers said they had no issues with Entr'acte's approach. So there you have it.

Mad Curry - s/t. 1971 Belgium

A superb early jazz infused progressive rock album with organ, electric saxophone, and witchy female vocals that is distinctly European, and of that era. Earth and Fire, Sandrose, Julian's Treatment, Fusion Orchestra, and Circus 2000 are all good reference points here. Fellow Belgian band Shampoo as well, more so with the jazzy disposition. 'Music, The Reason of Our Happiness' is just flat out one of the all-time great progressive jazz rock tracks.

Personal collection
LP: 1971 Pirate's
LP: 2013 Wah Wah (Spain)

As you can see, originals are housed in an extraordinary poster cover. I obtained my original back in the 1990s via a trade with a Belgian dealer, and will probably stay with me to the end of days. As such, it's been on my CDRWL for close to 20 years. And sadly, it remains there. As an aside, perhaps "Pirate" isn't the best name for a record label? For vinyl collectors, the reissue on Wah Wah solves the problem of a legit reissue in at least one format anyway. My original is hardly in mint shape, so I went forward with this reissue as a backup copy. The reissue packaging is wonderful and replicates the original in every way except the cover texture. The original has a soft vinyl finish, whereas Wah-Wah's is common stock. As a special bonus, they also pressed the original 45 single with picture sleeve. I hadn't heard this single prior, and the music is of the same quality as the album proper. The LP also comes with fine liners, though I believe they come from the band's own website. I wasn't overly pleased with the sound, however, as it seemed too bass heavy. I'm hoping any legit CD that comes around will consider a new edit. And finally, this release confirms the 1971 release date, which was also considered the norm in collector circles (many of the current websites append a 1970 date). The original LP, however, does not have a date listed anywhere.

Quicksand - Home is Where I Belong. 1974 Wales

Quicksand are a Welsh progressive rock band that recalls other interesting UK groups - that aren’t necessarily progressive in the classic sense of the term - but are musically interesting all the same. Originally released on Dawn, and consistent with the label’s musical outlook. One can hear Fantasy, Jonesy, Spring, Cressida, and early Fruupp. Plenty of organ and guitar jams to satisfy even the most discerning 1970’s progressive rock heads. And, of course yea, there's even a little mellotron. There’s also a distinct Quicksilver Messenger Service 1960’s “West Coast” sound that permeates – which was also a huge influence on fellow countrymen Man. There are two tracks here that clear the 8 minute mark, that are truly overt progressive rock pieces and are brilliant. You don’t hear many folks talk about this album, but it’s a really, really good one… definitely a hidden classic from the almost infinite and fertile British 70’s scene.

Personal collection
CD: 2011 Esoteric

Originals on the collectible Dawn label come in a fine gatefold, and are pretty scarce. My first exposure to the album came via the first Japanese mini on Victor, and as always, replicates the original cover to perfection (sold June 2018, since it had a notch cut). In addition, I recently picked up the Esoteric CD as a supplement, as I wanted to check out their mastering and liner notes. As an aside, most of the websites attribute a 1973 date to the original, though according to the Esoteric CD, the album was released in February of 1974.

Laurence Vanay - Evening Colours. 1975 France

After the stunning Galaxies, Ms. Thibault comes back with Evening Colours, which can only be categorized as a triumph of will. The same beauty she brought forth on her debut, is also present here, perhaps with a bit more instrumental oomph. However, there are no song based tracks with lyrics (though plenty of wordless voices). Despite finding its way onto the Italian CAM label, Evening Colours is no film library album. These are fully realized compositions with wonderful analog keyboards, fuzz guitar, bass, and drums. As we learn via the excellent Lion CD (2013), Jacqueline originally was presented as the artist "Gateway", so as to not reduce sales, since the norm of the day was that only male artists were to be treated with respect in the marketplace. This album, intended to be issued on the Galloway label, ended up as a very small press and is extremely rare nowadays. The more common aforementioned CAM issue happened via a friend and ensured everyone was compensated for their efforts.

Hearing this album once again reaffirms my position that females are far too unrepresented in progressive rock circles. Their inherent knack for melody and subtlety is much needed in this most testosterone fueled genre, where technical show-off chops are often placed in favor of thoughtful composition and form. Unfortunately even today, females continue to be stage singers, directed behind the curtain by those looking to profit from their talent (of course I mean in general, not progressive rock. Nobody makes money in progressive rock...). Hear the defiant and fiercely independent Jacqueline Thibault - compare - and judge for yourself. Brilliant and beautiful.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 Lion Productions (USA)
LP: 2014 Lion Productions (USA)

The original on Galloway, with the profile of the easy-on-the-eyes Ms Thibault, is nearly extinct, as very few copies were pressed. The library label CAM is actually the hero in this case (see above for story), and is far more common. Unfortunately, it features one of their generic covers. As with Galaxies, this album has been screaming for a reissue for many years. Lion stepped up and provided a wonderful Japanese styled mini-LP, as well as a full blown LP that replicates the single sleeve original (fortunately utilizing the original Galloway cover). Both feature (the same) copious liner notes. The CD also contains a multitude of bonus tracks. Essential pickups for both LP and CD collectors! More detail here in regards to my personal history with these albums.

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...