Capricorn College - Orfeo 2000. 1972 Italy

Capricorn College - Orfeo 2000. 1972 Kansas

CD reissue: 1994 Mellow

Release details: Single sleeve cover that will require a second mortgage if in the market for an original. The only reissue is the Mellow CD, which comes with a single tray card, and is taken from vinyl, indicating the masters are long gone. At least it's legit, so it will have to do. Though good luck in finding one these days.

Notes: Capricorn College's debut is very similar to two other obscure Italian bands: I Santoni and Era di Acquario that we've featured here on the UMR already. While nowhere near the classic Italian progressive sound, they all feature similar ingredients including varied instrumentation and complex compositions. Like those other groups, Capricorn College could not let go of their Italian singer songwriter past, and still seemed to be yearning, or pushed, for a hit. But when the producer wasn't looking, in came a jazzy progressive rock sequence that excels at all levels. While the album is entirely inconsistent, the highs go really high here, and makes it all worthwhile.

Tarot - The Warrior's Spell. 2015 Australia

Tarot - The Warrior's Spell. 2015 Heavy Chains (CD)

LP issue: 2015 Van (Germany 2LP)

Tarot's first full album actually compiles 3 cassette EP's from 2014 onto one album, and adds two new tracks in the middle for good measure. The songwriting is epic metal similar to Mark of the Beast era Manilla Road (1981) as played by 1971 Uriah Heep (mellotron, Hammond organ, hard guitar). So this is what is now known as "heavy rock" but with the spirit of a metal band. I wish the vocals to be more dynamic, and they tend to be a bit monotone (at least he sings and doesn't growl or grunt!). A small quibble really. I'm not sure I can hear enough bands who sound like this. I want more. Lots more.

Last update: December 29, 2016

Highway - s/t. 1975 USA

Highway - s/t. 1975 private

CD reissue: 1990 private

This one came up via the CD-R revisit project that is normally attributed to the CDRWL blog. When I came across the title, I was all set to add it to that blog when I saw there was a CD reissue, but details were scant. I figured it might be some old bootleg. But I kept digging until I found the band has a website. I wrote the e-mail address listed, and received a quick response. Yes, sure enough the band produced a CD some 25 years ago (or at least that's the copyright date - it's unclear when it was actually released). And best of all, it is a real factory pressed CD, not a homemade CD-R! It's not cheap ($20 + $3 for postage), but certainly worth it if you're into this type of music, as originals are quite pricey. You can order one via this link.

Release details: Originals come in a single sleeve, with a brilliant period cover of the American US and State highway experience (not Interstate). The CD is an exact replica, with some additional photos. No history, but there are 4 excellent live bonus tracks that are not on the album.

Notes: Highway are from Fairmont, in far south central Minnesota, near the Iowa border. The music is guitar fronted hard rock, with traces of radio friendly vocal lines, and the odd progressive meter. Not too far in sound from Iowa's Truth and Janey actually (same time period and region), though Highway aren't quite as testosterone fueled. It's a prototypical mid 70s Midwest American private press from the rural fruited plain known locally as "fly over country". Great melodies, killer guitar, frantic rhythms, and a hope for a better tomorrow.

Nadavati - Le Vent de l'Esprit Souffle où il Veut. 1978 France

Nadavati - Le Vent de l'Esprit Souffle où il Veut. 1978 IPG

CD reissue: 2015 Soleil Mutant

Release details: An obscure, though not terribly expensive, late 70s release. Soleil Mutant is Soleil Zeuhl's label for all albums not related to Zeuhl. And is the clear way to go here. Wonderful sound, full liner notes in French/English, and one very relevant and lengthy (19 minutes!) live bonus track.

Notes: Interesting jazz rock album, that opens incongruously with a Chicago styled horn charts (think album #1 of Chicago VII or the obscure Quebecois band Syncope). There's a definite Mahavishnu Orchestra streak that prevails, especially considering the violin and guitar parts. Some nice flute jazz too. They seem to favor unison runs to overlong solos, and that scores points in my book. Nadavati do not offer anything that hadn't already been done countless times prior during this era, but for what they do, it's quite excellent.

The Word of Life - Dust. 1995 Sweden

The Word of Life return with their sophomore, and ultimately last effort, Dust which is somewhat different from the predecessor. There'...