Survival - Simmer Down. 1977 Nigeria

As is common with Sub Saharan African rock bands, the guitars contain heavy use of the fuzzbox, and the organs are from antiquity. The music is straight up harmonic rock, with a funk base - and psychedelic undertones. Well placed flute decorates the recording and adds an exotic edge.  Simmer Down is similar to an album you might hear from the 1970 era Detroit scene. I find music like this timeless, and very enjoyable.

Personal collection
CD: 2014 Strawberry Rain (Canada)

The one copy that's been found in the wilds, at least as published on the internet, is shown in the picture above. Of course, the reissues look much cleaner without all the writing, cover wear, and stickers, but the artwork is the same. African records are super rare and expensive for a variety of reasons including the climate and often severe weather situations, economic conditions, and political turmoil. I've previously called Strawberry Rain the Canadian Shadoks due to their ability to find rock albums from the most exotic locales around the world. And it appears Africa and Indonesia are their primary sources, especially if you can consider the vast amount of Zambian records they have on tap to reissue. As usual, Strawberry Rain has done a fine job on the reissue, with excellent historical liner notes, photos and good sound. On the latter, I suspect the masters were lost and they needed to no-noise a vinyl copy - but I think they did an excellent job (you can still hear some of the vinyl - which is fine with me). The CD comes in a fine digi-pak.

Chameleon - Rising. 1973-1978 USA (archival)

Had Houston's Chameleon hailed from two states farther north, they could have easily qualified for my 1970s / early 80s Midwest Progressive Rock list on RateYourMusic. Their musical approach is smack dab in the middle of the movement, with thoughtful radio friendly numbers juxtaposed against much more complex chart structures, and intricate songwriting. The majority of the album comes from two sessions, one from 1976 and the other 1978. There are also a couple of songs from 1973 and '74 when they were still known as Lorien. The latter track (nearly 10 minutes) opens the CD, and is one of the more overt progressive tracks found on the anthology, with some strong Hammond work in particular. I'm reminded slightly of Polyphony here but with the addition of piano. From there, the material alternates between the 1976 and 1978 recordings, before closing with the sole 1973 representative, which is a folky number and crudely recorded. Despite what might be a natural inclination, the '76 & '78 material is very similar - both are well written and the latter is no more commercial than the former. Synthesizer is now more predominant than the organ, as was the norm of the era. The band knew how to pen a composition, and it really is too bad they weren't able to secure a major label recording contract. By 1981 the band decided to call it a day, without ever releasing a proper album. Don't miss this gem if you like the American style of progressive rock mixed with hard rock and AOR material.

Personal collection
CD: 2013 ShroomAngel

This fine archival release is housed in a nice tri-fold digipak that contains detailed recording info, history, and photos. Excellent sound quality as well. It's great to see Houston's Shroom back in action, and I hope they unearth more archival releases such as this. They were the leaders in the 90s with discoveries like Intra, Arabesque, Aurora, Heyoka, and Hands.

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...