Sunday, March 5, 2017
Out of Focus - Not Too Late. 1974 Germany
LP issues: 1999 Tripkick; 2010 Sireena
CD issue: 2000 Cosmic Egg (UK)
Out of Focus' Four Letter Monday Afternoon was a tour de force, a double album packed to the gills with invention and energy. So much so, it knocked the band themselves completely on their arse. They were spent. Or so it seemed. As we eventually found out, Out of Focus retreated to the countryside to record more material (stoned out of their mind most of the time apparently...), and played at various festivals and small gigs in obscurity. They were even spotted at one of the Umsonst & Draussen festivals in 1978, an era of the band that remains uncaptured as I write this. By 1974, one can hear Out of Focus following in the footsteps of Missus Beastly. Some of the melodies here are beautiful, and the instrumentation is fantastic. Had they spent more time arranging these compositions for proper release, I'm sure this would be a 5 star masterpiece just as Missus Beastly's Nova label album is. And that's really the only critique, is that the album meanders in jam mode for long stretches. And depending on my mood, that can be a plus too. As an archival release, it's brilliant, and captures the band at a certain time and place as they were, without editing. And the sound quality is fantastic, sounding better than many new albums did at the time. For fans of the band, an easy recommendation. Otherwise, not the place to start, as it doesn't provide the proper context.
Not Too Late is a fantastic job from Ultima Thule's then fledgling label Cosmic Egg. In 2000 (when the CD came out), this album had a lot of well deserved buzz, and I bought mine immediately upon release. It's a shame UT didn't continue in this manner. Not long after, they went back to releasing homemade CD-R's in runs of 25, or reissuing their cassette back catalog on CD-R, rather than proper CDs. As a businessman, I understand the economic issue completely. As a customer, it's not where I place my money. Anyway, Not Too Late is a fantastic job all around, with encyclopedic liner notes and great sound. Get this one! Not sure if the original LP issue on Tripkick has all the info. I never did get a hold of one.