Secret Oyster - s/t. 1973 Denmark

Secret Oyster were one of the more well known European fusion groups back in the day, as their albums sold quite well back home, as well as benefiting from good distribution around the world, especially in the US. In fact they were one of the first European fusion groups I’d heard, having stumbled upon Furtive Pearl (the US release on Peters International) as far back as the mid 1980's. Founded by members from Burnin' Red Ivanhoe, Secret Oyster subsequently added psychedelic guitarist Claus Bohling from Hurdy Gurdy and jazz pianist Kenneth Knudsen from Coronarias Dans to form one very hot quintet. Their 4 albums, released between 1973 to 1976, are all remarkably similar, but never repetitive or lacking inspiration. The debut mixed in more avant-garde jazz styled noodling, and this is where the Coronarias Dans influence comes in. But the album also features some of their more unhinged rock moments, as Bohling really lets loose on the electric guitar (witness his literally stinging solos on 'Fire & Water' and 'Public Oyster'). The only minor gripe I have with the band, is that Karsten Vogel's primary wind of choice was the soprano saxophone, a variety of the instrument I don't personally enjoy as much as the tenor or alto. All the same, a superb debut by a band clearly on the rise.

Personal collection
CD: 2007 Laser's Edge (USA)

Originals come in a single sleeve and feature a rendition of an historical postcard of the fishing port of Nibe, in Jutland where the band recorded the album. Furtive Pearl is the US release, and maintains the 100% American standard that the cover must be worse than the original. Naturally this was my introduction to the album, having found a copy at a record swap in the mid 80s. Secret Oyster became almost legendary in "reissue circles" (does such a circle exist? you ask...) as the progressive rock act that was most neglected. In fact, when label owner Ken polled a chat board in 2006/7 on which band he was going to reissue that had "multiple albums", I guessed immediately Secret Oyster. As expected, it's an excellent reissue with liner notes from band leader Karsten Vogel, and includes two excellent live tracks.

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