Spontaneous Combustion - s/t + Triad. 1972 England



Spontaneous Combustion - s/t. 1972 Harvest; 1972 Capitol (USA)
Spontaneous Combustion - Triad. 1972 Harvest; 1972 Capitol (USA)

CD reissues for each: 1997 See For Miles (both albums on 1 CD); 2008 EMI (Japan mini-LP) (released separately); 2012 Esoteric (released separately)

Release details: These two albums are inextricably linked to each other it appears. The debut features a fine gatefold cover and cool cartoon artwork. Of course the US version had to be altered to look worse (second photo), not to mention the easy-to-get-ringwear type cardboard cover. "Triad" fortunately maintained the original artwork in the US, though once again with cheaper materials. Prices are all over the lot for UK originals.  I've seen them as low as $50 and all the way up to $400 or so. "Triad" appears to be the rarer of the two in original form. There does appear to be ample supply, so be patient if in the market for one. The first CD to hit the shelves was the two for one See For Miles reissue, which I'm sure is excellent per label standard, and all that would be needed. This was followed a decade later by the Japanese mini's. For whatever reason, Spontaneous Combustion fell under my personal radar, and I only discovered these albums within the last 7 years or so. Since then I purchased the Esoteric CDs and they are great as usual, with detailed liner notes, and bonus tracks for each (more on Triad than the debut).

Notes: Spontaneous Combustion's debut sounds more like an album from 1969/70, and still has clear psychedelic overtones, especially considering the hazy vocal approach, and melodic disposition. The album is a mixture of styles that includes hard rock, pop, progressive, folk, and ballads. The last two long form tracks demonstrates that Spontaneous Combustion are an experimental bunch at heart, and the album becomes more unpredictable, progressive, and interesting. It's clear this guitar trio are very talented, and could really pack many ideas into a small window when they wanted to. A fine debut, but patchy. "Triad", released later in 1972, picks up where "Spontaneous Combustion" leaves off, and is more in line with that era's music. There is still some psychedelia left in the recipe, but "Triad" is geared more towards hard rock, as well as showcasing their progressive compositional acumen. It would seem that Spontaneous Combustion's Achilles' heel was their inability to focus on what they did best, and their albums can be confusing to listeners. Perhaps that's what they hoped to achieve, but history tells us they failed to gain an audience - and only were later discovered by curious collectors of early 70s UK underground rock. Many consider "Triad" the better of the two albums, and I'm inclined to agree, though they grade out roughly the same regardless. Three years later, the band reformed into the group Time, and it was there the group showed their true colors of being an all-out progressive rock outfit. Though it too never caught an audience (and given its current lack of a legit reissue, as noted on the CDRWL, it still sadly remains unknown).

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