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Hawkwind > Hawkwind

August, 1970
United States
Liberty
4.5
In 1969, guitarist Dave Brock, guitarist Mick Slattery and drummer Terry Ollis gathered saxophonist Nik Turner and synthesist Michael "Dik Mik" Davies; and after a few name and personnel changes, they launched the ultimate underground band, Hawkwind. The band came to the attention of Doug Smith of Clearwater Productions (via DJ John Peel) after opening (as "Group X") for High Tide at a gig Smith organized at All Saints Hall in Notting Hill. Demos were then recorded at EMI Studios (as Hawkwind Zoo), and Huw Lloyd-Langton then replaced Slattery. Signed to United Artists, their debut album was produced in April of 1970 by the recent ex-Pretty Thing Dick Taylor. The bulk of the album, a big live jam known as "Sunshine Special," was separated into tracks for the record. It's total psychedelic improvisation, akin to Pink Floyd's early sonic excursions. But the key to its uniqueness is Hawkwind's relative lack of musical proficiency; they managed to use this handicap as a gateway to originality, though maybe the drugs also helped. Though perhaps initially at odds with other progressive groups, Hawkwind would experience a musical "progression" over the next several albums. The record is bookended by two tracks, the perennial favorite "Hurry on Sundown," an upbeat folksy number, and its cousin "Mirror of Illusion," both forged from Brock's days as a busker. Like all their albums for United Artists, it saw release in both the UK and US. Bassist John Harrison left the band shortly before the album's release, the first of a myriad of personnel changes for the band.

Brian Davison's Every Which Way > Brian Davison's Every Which Way

September, 1970
UK
Charisma
5
Following the breakup of The Nice earlier in the year, drummer Brian Davison assembled a band under the moniker Every Which Way and recorded an eponymous album for Charisma. A key member of the group was Graham Bell, previously the singer for English psych act Skip Bifferty. Not only did Bell contribute vocals, guitar and keyboards, but he also wrote most of of the material for the album. The opening track, “All in Time,” credited to Maria Niforos (Davison’s then-wife), cops a Traffic-esque vibe; like Lee Jackson’s contemporaneous work, Every Which Way is also a mellow affair. “What You Like” features the rhythm of Davison and bassist Alan Cartwright; although the group’s namesake, Davison’s role as drummer is strictly providing the music’s solid foundation. The epic “The Light” rides a slow burning stoner groove, with excellent solo guitar from John Headley and reeds from Geoffrey Peach. The second side’s “Bed Ain’t What It Used to Be” is a simple tune, accented by Bell’s soulful voice. “Castle Sand” adds flute and invokes a King Crimson feeling, while the effervescent “Go Placidly” was the album’s single. Despite such a strong showing by all, the album sank without a trace, and that was it for Every Which Way. Headley was next in the Newcastle-based Last Exit (with Sting) while Cartwright would end up in Procol Harum. Bell was off to Bell + Arc and a solo album for Charisma, and later would participate in the orchestral version of Tommy. Davison’s next stint was reuniting with Jackson in Refugee. After working with Gong and Roy Harper in the mid-70s, he eventually became a drum instructor at Bideford College in Devon.

If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'D Do It All Over You > Caravan

September, 1970
United States
London Records
4.714285
By mid-1969, Caravan enlisted the services of manager Terry King, who in turn secured the band a long-term recording contract with Decca Records. First out was the Soft Machine-esque single "If I Could Do It All over Again, I'd Do It All over You" b/w "Hello Hello." It had some success, which resulted in a Top of the Pops appearance for the band, perhaps also raising the bar for their second effort, to which the band responded with the incredulously titled If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You. The humor was ever-present, of course, with song titles (e.g. "And I Wish I Were Stoned") emblematic of what would become typical Canterbury humor. Each side of the record opens with a side of the 45 single; however, the album plays straight through, in another of the so-called Canterbury tradition: continuous play. "As I Feel I Die" starts off meekly, but picks up at a brisk pace as it unfolds. "With an Ear to the Ground / You Can Make It / Martinian / Only Cox / Reprise," the first in a Caravan tradition of multi-section suites, contains some particularly delicate moments, thanks in part to Jimmy Hastings's flute work. But their greatest strength here is excellent songwriting, both highly original and with a slightly psychedelic bent. Caravan's groove was neither funky nor bluesy, yet it had an undeniable swing. Sweeping melodies dominate, flowing in between with riff and groove-most notably on the epic (and appreciably hard-rocking) segment of "For Richard."

King's Progress > Jackson Heights

September, 1970
US
Mercury
0
Following the breakup of The Nice in March 1970, bassist and vocalist Lee Jackson turned to Tony Stratton-Smith and Charisma for his next project, Jackson Heights. A debut album was recorded with a few friends, but a band never materialised and despite touring with Charisma labelmates, he was eventually dropped by the label. It’s a shame because Kings Progress is a good album, full of gentle acoustic songs sung by Jackson. The lively “Mr. Screw” kicks off, but the longer “Since I Last Saw You” evokes a darker mood, more representative of the album. Jackson’s and Charlie Harcourt’s guitars are prominent, a far different texture than The Nice ever offered. “Sunshine Freak” invokes a 60s vibe, while the title track, complete with orchestration, is more formal. The album ends with a laid-back re-recording of The Nice’s “Cry of Eugene.” Recruiting keyboardists Brian Chatton (ex-Flaming Youth) and John McBurnie, Jackson’s fortunes turned when the band was signed by Vertigo. The band however toured without a drummer, with Michael Giles only contributing to their studio recordings. Two albums were quickly released in 1972, Fifth Avenue Bus and Ragamuffins Fool (the latter titled Jackson Heights in the US). Both signal a change in direction: Jackson’s unique and distinct voice takes a backseat to McBurnie’s vocals and Chatton’s piano. They’re both venerable albums and not without their moments (“Autumn Brigade” and “Catch a Thief,” respectively), but ultimately they offered more straight-forward and less interesting music. A third album was released in 1973, the lasciviously titled (and covered) Bump N Grind. Jackson then approached Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz for touring, which ultimately led to the demise of Jackson Heights and the rise of his next project, Refugee.

As Your Mind Flies By > Rare Bird

September, 1970
United States
ABC Records
4.6
Rare Bird were part of Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma Records stable of artists. Formed in 1969, the original lineup was built around two keyboardists, Graham Field (born Stansfield) and Dave Kaffinetti, who added Steve Gould on bass and vocals and Mark Ashton on drums. Their self-titled first album was released in late 1969 and featured classically-inspired organ rock, best demonstrated with the track "God of War." Yet it was the "Sympathy" b/w "Devils High Concern" that rose to No. 27 on the UK charts and sold a million copies worldwide. Rare Bird's next album, the wonderfully titled As Your Mind Flies By, is generally regarded as a prog rock classic. Continuing the direction of their previous album, "What You Want to Know" opens and one thing is instantly clear: Gould's soul-tinged voice is powerful and untamed; to wit, the short "Down on the Floor" aches with overwrought emotion. "Hammerhead" offers a model similar to labelmates Van der Graaf Generator or Genesis-the band performs perfunctory prog rock; driven by Field's organ and the excellent rhythm section of Gould and Ashton, Kaffinetti's piano adds a distinct color. "I'm Thinking" furthers it, offering an even more detailed arrangement. The second side is encompassed by the album's side-long track "Flight." It's quintessential music that stands up to the band's contemporaries: driving rhythm, plenty of organ, slightly chaotic digression and a gloriously ostentatious finale-though why the vocals on "Central Park" sound like a tortured Greg Lake is anyone's guess. Prior to their third (and largely underrated) 1972 album Epic Forest, Field and Ashton would depart, the former releasing one eponymous album of heavy organ rock-Fields-with ex-King Crimson Andrew McCulloch, and guitarist/bassist Alan Barry.

Trespass > Genesis

October, 1970
United States
ABC Records
3.875
Having graduated from Charterhouse, Genesis-vocalist Peter Gabriel, guitarists Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips and keyboardist Tony Banks-decided to become professional musicians; and in the summer of 1969, set off to do so. Replacing John Silver, drummer John Mayhew was found via a Melody Maker advert. They settled into old classmate (and road manager) Richard MacPhail's parents' cottage and began writing and rehearsing. It was in these idyllic surroundings and under the influence of King Crimson's debut album that the band's early compositions and live set congealed. Meanwhile, they began gigging, anywhere anyone would book them. It was during a brief residency at Ronnie Scott's (Upstairs) that Tony Stratton-Smith first went to hear them (on producer John Anthony's recommendation), and in a leap of faith, signed them to his Charisma label. They entered Trident Studios to record their second album in June. Trespass is gentle, immature and one hundred percent Genesis. Most everything the band would be known for can be found within, albeit in nascent form: the 12-string guitars, the lyricism and drama, and above all, the originality. You had to hand it to Stratton-Smith: Leaving bands to their own devices, he allowed each group to evolve into their own particular and sometimes peculiar style. Genesis was no exception. "Looking for Someone" is delicate, but full of dynamics. Other standouts include the elegant "Stagnation," with one of Banks's most sensitive organ solos, and their raucous and electric set-closer, "The Knife." Shortly after the recording, Anthony Phillips decided to leave the band. With the departure of one of their primary songwriters, Genesis' future was left uncertain.

Gentle Giant > Gentle Giant

October, 1970
United Kingdom
Vertigo
3.90909
Gentle Giant rose from the remains of the Shulman brothers' pop group, Simon Dupree & the Big Sound. That band had some minor chart success when the single "Kites" b/w "Like the Sun, Like the Fire" broke into the UK Top 10 in late 1967. More surprisingly were the legions of teenage girls that the band attracted, as documented in the British television show Man Alive. But at the turn of the decade, the three Shulman brothers-Derek, Ray and Phil-were ready to make the switch over to a more serious, progressive sound and show the world their considerable musical talents. They teamed up with Royal Academy of Music graduate Kerry Minnear on keyboards and drafted Gary Green to play guitar, while Martin Smith would be the band's first drummer. Their first album was released on the Vertigo label, one of the new labels catering to the burgeoning progressive sound. An auspicious debut, Gentle Giant would become one of the more celebrated and cerebral bands of the progressive era, with their complex arrangements, shifting time signatures and expansive artillery of instruments all trademarks of the band. Some of that is here in their debut; particularly on "Giant," with its excellent keyboard break, and "Alucard" ("Dracula" backwards), with its huge Minimoog bass line. Composition would also remain Gentle Giant's strong suit. Take "Nothing at All"-gentle folk number? Not really. It breaks down into a cacophony of phased drums and piano. The bluesy digression of "Why Not" offers some of the same, but also reveals another Giant tradition-the ability to rock out-something the band (but not the genre) would never forget. Charting, however, would always be a problem, especially in their native England.

Shooting At The Moon > Ayers, Kevin

October, 1970
United Kingdom
Harvest
0
For his second release, Shooting At The Moon, Ayers left his Soft Machine cohorts behind and assembled his first band, the Whole World. Composer/keyboardist David Bedford carried over, but new on deck were busker-extraordinaire/saxophonist Lol Coxhill and a young Mike Oldfield on bass. Various drummers would round out the lineup, including Robert Wyatt and Dave Dufort; but Mick Fincher filled in for this album. And what a weird album it is! "May I?" opens, an archetypical Ayers ballad. Bluesy, sexy and oh-so decadent, it showcases his keen songwriting talent. From there the album bounces from Softs-esque psychedelia to pure Dada nonsense and back, before recovering with the playful "Clarence In Wonderland" and its wonderful chorus. It's a tune he would perform during his brief 1971 stint with Gong. The album closes with "Shooting at the Moon," a song that Soft Machine performed as "Jet-Propelled Photograph" during Ayers tenure with the band. He would record another two albums for Harvest, Whatevershebringswesing and Bananamour. Released in 1972 and 1973 respectively, the former featured the Whole World and Didier Malherbe, while the latter saw bassist Archie Legget and drummer Eddie Sparrow on deck. Both are full of onomatopoeia, Dada, would-be hits, off-kilter arrangements and brilliant songwriting, always attracting critical acclaim but never earning commercial success. Even the should-have-been-a-hit single "Caribbean Moon" b/w "Take Me to Tahiti," released in 1973, somehow failed (be sure to watch the promotional film). Harvest would later release a compilation album from this period of singles and sundry tracks, appropriately titled Odd Ditties, in 1976.

Thousands On A Raft > Brown, Pete & Piblokto

October, 1970
UK
Harvest, EMI
0
Poet Pete Brown first set his words to jazz music in the early 60s, as a member of the New Departures. His The First Real Poetry Band featured John McLaughlin and Laurie Allan, but mostly made an impression on Cream, which led to his longstanding writing collaboration with Jack Bruce. In 1968, Brown formed the jazzy Pete Brown And His Battered Ornaments, recording two albums the following year; but he was fired from his own band before The Stones In The Park festival in July. Undaunted, Brown then formed Pete Brown & Piblokto! (an Inuit word for “arctic hysteria”) with guitarist Jim Mullen, drummer Laurie Allan, bassist Roger Bunn and organist Dave Thompson. With Rob Tait replacing Allan, their debut album, Things May Come And Things May Go But The Art School Dance Goes On Forever, appeared on Harvest in April 1970. Still influenced by jazz, the album is obscured by Brown’s gruff vocals. In October, with Steve Glover now on bass, Piblokto! released Thousands On A Raft; the title is a play on the dish baked beans on toast. While Brown’s vocals improved (“Station Song Platform Two”), it’s Mullen’s co-writing that helps foster a more musical album. The instrumental “Highland Song” is a tour-de-force for the band, while the snappy “If They Could Only See Me Now” smokes and swings. Following the album’s release, membership started to shuffle: Mullen was off to Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and replacements came mostly from Eyes Of Blue; but without a record deal, the toll of endless touring ground the band to a halt. Brown worked with Graham Bond in late 1971 and also provided lyrics to the first side of Dick Heckstall-Smith’s A Story Ended album in 1972. However, his collaborations with Jack Bruce and Phil Ryan would continue for decades.

Atom Heart Mother > Pink Floyd

October, 1970
United States
Harvest
4.1
Pink Floyd's fifth album, Atom Heart Mother, appeared a full year after the disappointing studio half of Ummagumma. Originally titled "The Amazing Pudding," the album's side-long title suite was an amalgam of work the Floyd had been kicking around at the time. Of course, 1970 turned out to be the year for adding orchestras to rock music, something to which even the Floyd would succumb. Composer Ron Geesin was called in to score the already-recorded backing track. He and Roger Waters had first collaborated almost two years prior (though the soundtrack, The Body, would see release in November). Yet the piece's wavering tempo and the so-called "professional" musicians' attitudes nearly proved his undoing. "Father's Shout" rises to David Gilmour's cinematic main theme, while "Breast Milky" continues the (more or less) symphonic nature of the track. The choir takes over on "Mother Fore" until Gilmour's bluesy licks open "Funky Dung." From there, the main theme reprises itself between blasts of Mellotron and shouts of choir, before the final section, "Remergence," offers one last big finale. For the most part, the effort fails, as the concept is more interesting than the execution. But what an experiment it was! A clutch of songs from the individual band members fill the second side. "If" proves to be a Waters archetype, while Rick Wright's Beach Boy-esque "Summer ‘68" remains one of his finest offerings. The last track, the group composition "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast," is somewhat of a sleeper; though full of gauzy melodies, psychedelic it certainly is not. In fact, it's probably the most un-Floyd-like song the band would write. The album cover offered no name or title: only the picture of a cow, the magnificent Lullubelle III. Despite the lack of critical zeal for the record, it turned out to be Pink Floyd's first No. 1 album in the UK. Although EMI would release an essential compilation of singles, Relics, the following May, little would be heard from the Floyd over the next year.

Present From Nancy > Supersister

October, 1970
Netherlands
Polydor
3.8
Formed in 1968 in the The Hague, Supersister was comprised of Robert Jan Stips (vocals and keyboard), Sacha van Geest (flute), Marco Vrolijk (drums) and the non-bespectacled Ron van Eck (bass). Extensive play from pirate ship Radio Veronica brought the band's first single, "She Was Naked" b/w "Spiral Staircase" to No. 11 on the Dutch charts in May 1970, and helped land a contract with Polydor Records. Their debut album Present From Nancy appeared in the fall. Between the Mike Ratledge-inspired tones of Stips's keyboards, the musical quirkiness-quick shifting meters and jazz-inspired rhythms-Supersister draws a parallel to the music of Soft Machine. After the introductory "Introductions," a quick blast of fuzz bass opens "Present from Nancy;" Stips's piano teems with life, bouncing effortlessly across the tune. He switches to organ on "Memories Are New" before the track descends into chaos, while the following "11/8" turns again to fuzz. "Dreaming Wheelwhile" slows the pace, a welcome respite to the album's first side. After the brief "Corporation Combo Boys," side two's "Mexico" builds slowly before erupting into "Metamorphosis." The closing "Dona Nobis Pacem" ("Grant us Peace") does just that; but, true to Supersister's form, gets silly at the end. Again, much like Soft Machine's early work, the album pinch's that stream-of-consciousness that would help define the so-called Canterbury style. To the Highest Bidder arrived in the summer of 1971, offering four tracks that display the band's jazzier side. Nominated for a prestigious Edison music award in the Netherlands, the album also saw release in England on John Peel's Dandelion label.

i Spider > Samurai

October, 1970
United Kingdom
Polydor
5
Web released two albums of late-60s pop for Deram, both produced by Mike Vernon. When their American singer John Watson left to go solo, Dave Lawson, previously in a lineup of Episode Six, joined as keyboard player, singer and main composer. He brought a huge stylistic shift for the band, leaving behind northern soul for something far more jazzy and progressive. Lawson had finished a five-year stint with the Royal Air Force; but prior to that, had studied under British jazz pioneer Stan Tracey. Web was rounded out by two percussionists, Lennie Wright and Kenny Beveridge, as well as Tony Edwards on guitar, John Eaton on bass and Tom Harris on horns. I Spider blasts opens with "Concerto for Bedsprings." Powerful one moment, light and jazzy the next, it's an original mix of progressive music-recalling the fury of VdGG or Colosseum-and foreshadows Lawson's future work. The title track creeps up over a swirling organ, building slowly to great effect. Guitarist Edwards has his moments on "Love You," while the percussion and keyboards are upfront on the instrumental "Ymphasomniac." "Always I Wait" highlights Lawson's vocal meter as his musical signature; he wields it like an instrument. At the same time, the combination of vibes and horns are unique and rare for the era. After Polydor Records released the album, Web were off touring the breadth of England, and even performed dates in Scandinavia. But success was elusive, and the band folded abruptly, only to reappear as Samurai a few months later.

Airconditioning > Curved Air

November, 1970
United States
Warner Bros. Records
4
Named after Terry Riley’s A Rainbow In Curved Air, Curved Air was another novel group of the progressive era; and the band had no shortage of talent, either. Violinist Darryl Way was a Royal College of Music graduate, while multi-instrumentalist Francis Monkman came from the competing Royal Academy of Music. Seeking to meld their knowledge of classical music and rock, the two joined forces as Sisyphus in 1969, adding drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and bassist Robert Martin. They morphed into Curved Air when they added one of the most unlikely of progressive devices-the female voice! They found a more than capable singer in Sonja Kristina (Linwood), recently released from the London production of Hair. She had her start in London’s folk scene, including the Troubadour Club. The group’s debut album Air Conditioning was issued by Warner Bros Records. As the opening track (and single) “It Happened Today” demonstrates, the band’s music was ripe with West Coast influence. The second half of the album ascends into more classically-inspired territory; but overall, the album’s highbrow orchestral embellishments are on a par with the average songwriting, with one big exception: Way’s majestic crescendos on “Screw.” That’s not to say that the album isn’t without some redemption. Monkman’s echoed guitar work on “Propositions” is unique, as is his Mellotron on Way’s “Situations.” But even Way’s violin tour de force “Vivaldi” ends up a screechy mess. Their debut album has the distinction of being the first picture disc, which no doubt helped propel it into the UK Top 10.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer > Emerson, Lake & Palmer

November, 1970
United States
Cotillion
4.75
In the tradition of Cream and Humble Pie before them, Emerson, Lake & Palmer stand as the first supergroup of the progressive era, combining the talents of The Nice's keyboard player Keith Emerson, King Crimson vocalist and bassist Greg Lake and Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer. Emerson and Lake first pitched the supergroup idea to each other in late 1969 at the Fillmore in San Francisco-the latter ostensibly interested because it would offer an outlet for his guitar-playing (something he'd never manage to pull off with Robert Fripp in King Crimson), and Palmer finally succumbed to his cajoling. The group's high-profile performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in August 1970 led to a signing with Atlantic Records. Thus situated, the band, with Lake producing and Eddie Offord engineering, got down to the business of being super. Much like The Nice, their brand of prog rock was based on virtuosity and appropriation. They lifted themes from composers such as Bartók and Janá?ek, in particular the opening "The Barbarian" and the second side's "Three Fates." Of course, Emerson's command of the Hammond organ is nothing short of superb; just listen to how he draws out the incredible tones on the menacing "Knife-Edge." "Tank" serves as a showcase for Palmer's considerable drum talents, with the track growing to mammoth proportions when performed live. Lake's "Take a Pebble" demonstrates his contribution to the Crimson puzzle and the gentler side of ELP. His "Lucky Man" was aptly named; the single charted in the US, reaching No. 48, despite Emerson's whooping Moog solo, one of the first (and most incredulous) in a rock context. Despite the blatant showing-off, success seemed to be in the band's cards from the start. The album rose to No. 4 in the UK, while reaching No. 18 in the US.

McDonald And Giles > McDonald and Giles

November, 1970
United States
Cotillion
4.4
Sometime during King Crimson's first American tour in late 1969, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald and drummer Michael Giles decided to part ways with their cohorts (they hated touring). Returning to England, they recorded this eponymous album, enlisting the help of Peter Giles on bass. Steve Winwood, who happened to be in the same studio recording his Mad Shadows project, also graces one track, "Turnham Green." As much as Robert Fripp would become synonymous with King Crimson, it's evident from these recordings that both McDonald and Giles were also important variables in the initial equation of the band. The opening track, "Suite in C," confirms that the Giles brothers made one powerful rhythm section; and although Michael's songwriting is limited to the wonderful "Tomorrow's People - The Children Of Today," it's the best track on the album. The "Flight of The Ibis" contains the original music to "Cadence and Cascade," an early Crim number, as the album also represents the differences between the duo and King Crimson proper. Lyrically, McDonald is more narrative than poetic, and his arrangements remain light, if not lighthearted. In particular, check out the lush arrangement of the second side's "Birdman," co-written with Pete Sinfield; it's a wild and varied affair, with the writing (for the most part) dating to 1968. The album offers a slightly psychedelic posture, but one replete with musical invention, and remains a minor classic from the era; however, it would be the only record from the duo. McDonald, who served five years in the 60s as a bandsman in the British Army, went into production, yet ended up in the hugely successful band Foreigner. Giles would switch exclusively to sessions, working with Jackson Heights, John G. Perry, Anthony Phillips and many others.

Patto > Patto

November, 1970
US
Vertigo
4
Hailing from Southport, Merseyside, Timebox was an excellent northern soul band that released a few singles during the mid-to-late 60s to no particular acclaim, other than being one of the few bands of the era to feature a vibraphone. The band did feature two gifted members, vocalist Mike "Patto" McGrath and guitarist Ollie Halsall, and was rounded out with Chris Holmes on keyboards, John Halsey on drums and Clive Griffiths on bass. In 1968, they scored a minor hit with the Four Season's "Beggin'" b/w "A Woman That's Waiting" for Decca Records, rising to No. 38 on the UK charts. However, an album provisionally titled Moose On The Loose remained uncompleted; and by the end of the decade, Holmes had split. Rechristened as Patto, the remaining quartet signed with Vertigo Records, enlisted the talents of producer Muff Winwood and made the switch from psychedelic to progressive. "The Man" kicks off and reveals the band's unique mix of blues and jazz, punctuated by Halsall's sexy vibraphone midway through. "Time to Die" slows the pace, with Mike Patto's coarse but earthy voice pushed to the fore. "San Antone" paces through some chord and time changes before dropping back into a fine swing, propelled by Halsey's hard-hitting drums. "Government Man" contains more of the fine hooks of the Patto/Halsall writing team, but the monster track is "Money Bag." Free jazz without keyboards, the song features Halsall's blistering guitar, contrasted with Griffiths's bass, while Halsey's drumming thrills. Mike Patto eventually chimes in, his fine prose accentuated by the music's dramatic rests. Though the album did not chart, the band's live reputation kept them in play for another record.

Cruel Sister > Pentangle

November, 1970
US
Reprise Records
0
Along with Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, Pentangle form the trinity of the British folk rock revival, a very important movement in the late 60s and one that helped bring rise to progressive folk in the 70s. At the front of the band were two guitarists, John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, a Londoner and a Scot, respectively. Renbourn studied classical guitar in his youth, but also had an interest in R&B. Jansch made his way to London by the early 60s, recording his first self-titled album for Transatlantic in 1965. The two furthered their so-called “folk baroque” style of duet guitar, evidenced on their album Bert And John, in 1966. Singer Jacqui McShee began playing with Renbourn at Les Cousins club; and adding drummer Terry Cox and bassist Danny Thompson (both from Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated), they formed Pentangle with Jansch. A debut performance at the Royal Albert Hall was a sellout, and their first three albums for Transatlantic were well-received, with Basket Of Light reaching the UK No. 5. Released in November 1970, Cruel Sister didn’t fare as well, but it did contain the epic album-side cover of “Jack Orion” (which originally appeared on Jansch’s 1966 album of the same name). Jansch and McShee relate the traditional Child ballad of Glasgerion. The band’s performance is phenomenal throughout the song’s 18 minutes, shifting tempo with mood, and adding a positively sublime instrumental section highlighted by a striking dulcitone solo from Cox. Pentangle would continue for a couple more years before breaking up; but their mark is firmly on British music, folk, progressive or otherwise, and all enjoyed prolific careers thereafter.

Sagan Om Ringen (Lord Of The Rings) > Hansson, Bo

December, 1970
Sweden
Silence Records
5
Bo Hansson spent the early 60s as a member of The Merrymen in his native Sweden. The band, which also included harmonica player Bill Öhrström, opened for one of The Rolling Stones' Scandinavian tours and recorded one album with US singer Boz Scaggs. Switching to the organ, Hansson formed a relatively well-known duo with drummer Rune Karlsson, eventually releasing three albums in Sweden as Hansson-Karlsson. They were even friendly with Jimi Hendrix, having jammed with him when they opened for the Experience in 1966. But by 1969, Hansson, locked away in his recording studio with Karlsson and engineer Anders Lind, began recording his musical interpretation of the Tolkien fantasy trilogy; or rather, Music Inspired by at the Tolkien estate's request. Lind's Silence Records released the album, Sagan Om Ringen ("Lord Of The Rings"), in November 1970 to relative commercial success in Sweden—so much so that Charisma picked up the album some two years later in the UK, where it would enter the Top 40. It's relevant to note that the album is one of the first in the multi-instrumentalist tradition. Hansson's work, though, is often misinterpreted; his quiet yet sinister organ tones are more like Pink Floyd than anything fairy tale-esque or electronic, and his guitar tone is just as exceptional. At any rate, interpreting Tolkien's trilogy, which was undergoing a huge renaissance in the early 70s (as were most things sci-fi/fantasy), turned out to be a shrewd decision. Aided with session musicians and approaching a band format, Hansson would record several other similar albums over the next few years, but would never again achieve this level of success—at least commercially. [UK release date]

Holy Magick > Bond, Graham

December, 1970
US
Mercury
0
Along with John Mayall, Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies, Graham Bond established his place in musical history as one of the founding fathers of British R&B. Bond also was a pioneer of the Hammond organ, one of the hallmark instruments of the progressive era. His Graham Bond Organisation was the precursor to both Colosseum and Cream; John McLaughlin, Jon Hiseman, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce all played in the group. But by the late 60s, Bond had split to America with The Fool; and upon returning, spent his time with both Initiation and Ginger Baker's Airforce, playing sax. The former outfit, a fluid amalgamation of musicians that included Bond's Jamaican wife Diane Stewart, drummer Keith Bailey and pianist Victor Brox, was reincarnated here as Magick, reflecting Bond's fascination with the occult. Their debut album Holy Magick was released in late 1970 on Vertigo Records. While Bond's music never really strayed from his R&B roots, the album's first side, encompassed by the sprawling, 14-part improvisatory vamp title suite is progressive enough. Riding a fierce 23-minute groove, it's similar in concept to what Daevid Allen would conjure up for Gong; though comparatively speaking, Bond and Stewart's voices are often at odds with the music. A second album for Vertigo, We Put Our Magick on You, was released in mid-1971. Terry Poole and John Weathers anchored the album, but the band broke up upon its release. Bond teamed with lyricist Pete Brown for one final record in 1972, Two Heads Are Better Than One. But his demons-financial, chemical and otherwise-continued to plague him; and in 1974, he died under the wheels of a Piccadilly line train in Finsbury Park. Poole and Stewart would briefly join Gong in the mid-70s.

Lizard > King Crimson

December, 1970
United States
Atlantic
4.30769
King Crimson's third album found Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield back in the studio just months after the release of their previous album, In The Wake Of Poseidon. Andrew McCulloch, post-Manfred Mann, came in on drums, joining the returning Mel Collins and Gordon Haskell (who also provided bass guitar). "Cirkus" opens the album and quickly descends into a typically foreboding Mellotron line; but there is a difference this time around: on Lizard, the Crim sound is exclusively constructed in the studio as this would be the only King Crimson lineup that did not play live. Just as Sinfield embellished his lyrics with evocative imagery, Fripp painted the album's music with skillful, jazz-influenced arrangements; along with piano, trombone, acoustic guitar and Haskell's idiosyncratic voice. "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" follow the same jazzy tempos as "Cat Food" and "Groon" to great effect. As King Crimson's entry into the album-side-long composition category, "Lizard" comprises the record's second side. Guest Jon Anderson of Yes lends his voice for the opening movement, and it's almost as if the part was written for him. From there, the composition covers a lot of ground, ascending into some fairly jazzy terrain before descending into a more familiar Mellotron soundscape. Fripp and Sinfield make good use of their soloists, in particular Keith Tippett on acoustic piano. Mark Charig and Nick Evans, on loan from Soft Machine, are also effective. The side winds up with some of Fripp's trademark sustained guitar before a tape-loop reprise. This was King Crimson's most elaborate and refined album, and absolutely none the worse for it. Interestingly, the recently separated Beatles are portrayed on the album jacket's tarot-like paintings. The album slipped on the UK charts, peaking at No. 30. Fripp, with Collins assisting, then sought to form another Crim lineup to take on the road.