Cressida - s/t + Asylum. 1970-1971 England





Cressida - s/t. 1970 Vertigo. released in many countries
Cressida - Asylum. 1971 Vertigo. also released in Germany and France

Cressida are another group who's two original albums are naturally coupled together.

CD reissues for Cressida: 1992 Repertoire (Germany); 1999 Kitty (Japan mini-LP); 2007 Universal (Japan mini-LP); 2010 Repertoire (Germany); 2014 Repertoire (Germany)

CD reissues for Asylum: 1990 Repertoire (Germany); 1990 Phonogram (Japan); 2001 Universal (Japan mini-LP); 2010 Repertoire (Germany); 2014 Repertoire (Germany)

CD reissues for both: 2004 Gott; 2009 BGO; 2012 Esoteric (as The Vertigo Years Anthology 1969-1971). All 2 CD sets

LP reissue for Cressida: 2014 Repertoire (Germany)

LP reissues for Asylum: 2005 Si-Wan (Korea); 2014 Repertoire (Germany)

Release details: There are few more collectable items on the venerated Vertigo label than the two Cressida albums. UK gatefold originals are frequent top bid items on ebay. Obviously you will save tons of money if you spot a non UK version. Though the first album is very rare as an original, Asylum is off the charts. The latter was an archival release even in its day, and suffered from no promotion and little sales. There is certainly some supply for both, but demand is very high for these titles as originals. You'll need a loan to get either. The first CDs were the always reliable Repertoire. Over time they fell out of print, and some iffy issues started to surface. There were of course the expensive Japanese mini's for collectors like myself, but not ideal for general consumption. Gott Discs (3rd photo) put the issue to bed with the first of the 2 CD sets that would reissue the band in full and tell their story. It would appear the Esoteric version would be the best to own as there are demo and live tracks in addition to the full two albums. I picked up the BGO set (4th photo) since I was able to source one recently for less than the price of a Diet Coke, and it's a superb reissue. This allows me to showcase the Japanese mini's without opening. My first copy of Asylum was the cheapest of bootleg LPs (bought along with Spring circa 1988, that I have detailed earlier), and because of the poor transfer, it had turned me off of the album altogether at the time. Remember - never buy boots for that reason alone (not to mention the ethics of it all). LP reissues have been somewhat of an afterthought with Cressida. I haven't seen the new Repertoire issues, and I'm not familiar with their LP product in general. Si-Wan's were always well done from a packaging standpoint, but perhaps a bit cheap considering the vinyl quality. They only did Asylum that I'm aware of (and honestly I don't even remember that - but saw on one of the discography sites).

Notes: The main thing to consider when listening to the debut by Cressida, is that they were all about the song. In essence, it's short form sophisticated pop music. But given the era's wonderful analog instrumentation, and the underlying culture of psychedelia, the band were able to pack a lot of ideas into the confined structure. All the while displaying some incredible tonality (the guitar sound is divine). Certainly a band like The Moody Blues played a role in their development. As did early King Crimson. One could compare Cressida to Czar, and not be too far off the mark. Asylum, naturally enough, took things to the next level. I think for folks looking for more traditional progressive rock that would be in their listening comfort zone, Asylum is the more naturally likeable album. Here, Cressida seem to be consciously aware that they are a progressive rock band and have provided longer and more dense compositions. The good news is they never lost sight of the song.  And blessed with a dynamic singer, Cressida by all rights should have been one of the big names from the English scene. It wasn't meant to be, and for many years were only known to the LP collector world. But they have been discovered again, and have now rightly been considered one of the great bands of their era.

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