Cos - Postaeolian Train Robbery. 1974 Belgium
LP reissues: 1975 IBC/International Bestseller Company; 2014 Wah Wah (Spain)
CD reissues: 1990 Musea (France); 2010 Belle Antique (Japan mini-LP)
Cos' debut from 1974 comes after many years of performing and writing, and as such, is a very mature opening move. The group's background, and home base as it were, is definitely from the jazz school, though they had recently broken into rock forms - influenced by the French groups Magma and Zao, and fellow countrymen Arkham. It is Zao where you find the closest comparison, though Cos are not Zeuhl in the slightest, and Canterbury is an easy backup reference, though not entirely accurate either. Truth is, Cos were their own thing, always a trait worth admiring. Pascale Son's (wife of bandleader Daniel Schell) strictly sings in the scat style, where enunciation, intonation, and pitch are key to the composition. The tracks are all well composed, and thoroughly thought out, and played to perfection. And it rocks out especially towards the end of the disc. Not a weak moment to be found, though it does lack the extreme highs a masterpiece calls for (though the UMR has one friend who states this is the greatest album ever, so file that away for reference). All the same, an exquisite work for fans of progressive jazz rock.
The predecessor group to Cos was Classroom, who contribute 4 tracks to the Musea CD. These compositions are clearly more indebted to jazz, but are certainly the same type of band in a non rock setting.
A few interesting items of note about this album's release. The original Plus album (first photo) comes in a fine gatefold cover and apparently sold out in 2 weeks, just as the label was going bankrupt (a day late and a dollar short apparently?). Shortly thereafter the better funded IBC came along with a single sleeve second press, and this is the more common one you will see (though hardly any supply in original form). The Musea CD reissue liner notes confirms that the Plus edition from 1974, with the red and yellow stripes, is indeed the original LP issue. Despite this fact, they went ahead with the IBC photo cover. Furthering the confusion, the Musea CD omits 'Karbok', apparently a more commercial effort, because of bandleader Daniel Schell's objection to it. However, as a bonus, the CD adds 4 tracks from Classroom (discussed below in the Notes). The Belle Antique CD uses the original Plus cover, but the Musea CD as the source (incl. Classroom), making that an entirely frustrating release (while no doubt leaving off Musea's excellent liner notes). It appears, finally, that the Wah Wah release gets the original LP correct (but no Classroom tracks), also with the permission of Schell, who now apparently has gotten over his objections to 'Karbok'. Surprisingly I could not find this one track online, so technically I haven't heard the original album in full! I didn't realize that until researching/reviewing this entry - 25 years after first purchasing the CD. Crazy stuff.