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It Is And It Isn't > Haskell, Gordon

June, 1971
US
ATCO Records
4
Born in Bournemouth, Dorset, Gordon Haskell was a childhood friend of Robert Fripp. The pair formed their first band, League of Gentlemen, while at grammar school, with Haskell on bass and vocals. When Fripp went off to college, Haskell joined the Southampton-based psychedelic band Les Fleur de Lys. Working as a house band for the Atlantic/Stax label, the band recorded a couple of classic singles, including “Gong with the Luminous Nose” b/w “Hammer Head.” By the late 60s, however, Haskell was writing his own songs and took a paying gig with The Flowerpotmen. His first, somewhat obscure album offered his songwriting to the world; others would hit the charts in South Africa and Australia with his songs. Haskell then teamed with Fripp on a track for In The Wake Of Poseidon, “Cadence and Cascade,” which, after some cajoling, led to Haskell’s further participation on King Crimson’s third album, Lizard. However, the relationship between Haskell and Fripp turned toxic, and his time with the band was short-lived. Haskell then signed with Ahmet Ertegun’s Atco Records and recorded a second solo album, with producer Arif Mardin and guests Dave Kaffinetti from Rare Bird, Alan Barry from Fields, and John Wetton and Bill Aktinson (Harrison) from Mogul Thrash. It Is And It Isn’t highlights the gentler side of the progressive, with poignant songwriting and affecting lyrics. Certainly, the aforementioned “Cadence and Cascade” provides a blueprint; whether it’s the hooks of “Could Be,” “Sitting by the Fire” and “Spider,” or the introspection of “Upside Down” and “Just a Lovely Day,” Haskell’s songwriting is top-notch. His voice, distinct and pleasant, and the musicians offer an excellent backdrop to Mardin’s string arrangements. Unfortunately, the album was released to little acclaim, despite some high-profile gigs backing Stackridge and Wishbone Ash; the former would cover his excellent “Worms” on their 1975 Extravaganza album. With his solo career on hold, Haskell reverted to bass playing, spending the rest of the decade as a journeyman.

Jade Warrior > Jade Warrior

June, 1971
United States
Vertigo
4.2
Immediately recognizable by their Orient-inspired album covers, Jade Warrior formed around the duo of guitarist Tony Duhig and percussionist Jon Field. During the mid-to-late 60s, the two drifted through a series of bands, eventually forming July with Tom Newman. Adopting the name Jade Warrior, the pair then recruited Glyn Havard on vocals and bass and secured a contract with Vertigo, reportedly because they shared the same management as Afro-rock band Assagai (also courted by Vertigo). Though the Jethro Tull comparisons are inevitable, their music occupies a much different space. Foremost, Field is a percussionist; and suitably, their songs are not anchored by drumming, which allows for a more expansive sound. Havard is a good vocalist and his bass adds substance; but the rest of the magic is dynamics, ranging from the mildness of Field’s flute to the heavy of Duhig’s overdriven guitar. Their compositions range from the bluesy “A Prenormal Day at Brighton” at one end of the spectrum, to the African-influenced “Masai Morning” at the other end. But the gentleness of “Windweaver” and “Dragonfly Day” is the Warrior’s strong suit. The second side opts for more bluesy numbers, while the acoustic “Sundial Song” bestows a glimpse into their future. The following year, the band delivered two albums: Released, its highlight being the lengthy jam “Barazinbar” with drummer Allan Price and saxophonist Dave Conners; and Last Autumn’s Dream, which offered the closest the band would come to mainstream songs. The band then toured the US in support of Dave Mason, adding Duhig’s brother David on guitar. Two subsequent albums were recorded in 1973, but without a label, neither would see release for decades.

Message From The Country > Move, The

June, 1971
UK
Harvest, Harvest
2
Hailing from Birmingham, The Move featured some of the city’s best musicians: Bev Bevan, Trevor Burton, Chris “Ace” Kefford, Roy Wood and Carl Wayne. In 1966, they secured management and headed down to London. Publicity stunts aside, they released several Top 10 singles, including psych classic “Flowers In The Rain” b/w “(Here We Go Round) the Lemon Tree” and poppier “Blackberry Way” b/w “Something;” the former was the first chart song played on the BBC’s Radio 1, while the latter was produced by Traffic’s Jimmy Miller and rose to No. 1 in the UK. The band took part in the successful package tour of late 1967 with Pink Floyd, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Nice and others. However, by 1970 Kefford, Burton and Wayne had left The Move and another Brum, Jeff Lynne, fresh from The Idle Race, had joined. Their next single, the heavy rocking “Brontosaurus” b/w “Lightning Never Strikes Twice,” rose to the UK No. 7, and a final album for Harvest, Message From The Country, arrived in June 1971. Like other albums from the band, it was split-both musically and compositionally-between Wood and Lynne. And therein lies the tale of two bands: Sharing only that signature big bass sound, Lynne’s Beatlesque pop of the title track, “No Time” or “The Minister” is sharply contrasted by the earthy rock ‘n’ roll of Wood-witness the punchy “Ella James” or eclectic “It Wasn’t My Idea to Dance.” Never mind, the band had run its course and the trio was already off to explore a fusion of classical string instruments and rock music by morphing into Electric Light Orchestra. In fact, the track “10538 Overture” from their debut album was recorded by The Move in 1970. Wood left during the recording of the second ELO album to form Wizzard, taking his 50s-inspired glam rock with him. Lynne would then turn ELO into one of the 70s great pop bands.

Caronte > Trip, The

June, 1971
Italy
RCA Italiana
4.5
The Trip were an Anglo-Italian group that had origins in London. Enrico “Riki” Maiocchi, of the pop group I Camaleonti, recruited a young Ritchie Blackmore, Billy Gray and Avrid Andersen, among others, and moved to Turin, Italy. Blackmore bowed out early, and was replaced by organist Joe Vescovi; but by the time the band recorded their first album in 1970 for RCA Italiana, Maiocchi was out too. Their debut finds The Trip mixing blues rock with heavy organ and rich harmonies, and some classical influences. However, their second album, Caronte, based on the mythological character Charon, finds their music moving toward the realm of British prog rock. Vescovi, with his self-proclaimed influence of Keith Emerson, is up to task; so while the influence is obvious, there’s still originality in The Trip’s take on the progressive. Yet they never lose their heavy blues-rock roots, as the opener “Caronte I” attests. “Two Brothers” follows suit, opting for vocals this time, à la Atomic Rooster or Lucifer’s Friend. “Little Janie,” an ode to Janis Joplin, eschews the prog for something lighter, while the similar “L’ultima ora e Ode a J. Hendrix” is a little more run-of-the-mill, offering only a few plaintive guitar lines over the prolonged final section. Gray and drummer Pino Sinnone then left, the latter replaced by Furio Chirico, and the new three piece recorded 1972’s Alantide. Venturing deeper into the style of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, it features the furious drumming of Chirico. One final album, the even more playful Time For A Change, was released on Trident Records in 1974. But it was time for a change, indeed. The band split, with Chirico co-founding Arti e Mestieri and Vescovi briefly joining Aqua Fragile and then I Dik Dik.

Banana Moon > Allen, Daevid

July, 1971
France
BYG Records
4
For his second album for BYG, Daevid Allen returned to London, as Jean Karakos wanted some Soft Machine star power on board. His visa issues resolved, Allen could legally enter the UK; and after a gig supporting Soft Machine at the Roundhouse, BYG booked Marquee Studios and the ensuing Banana Moon album was recorded over a period of “bacchanalia-filled” days. Gongster Christian Tritsch’s guitar and bass ignite the opening “It’s the Time of Your Life,” which also features Delivery’s Pip Pyle on drums. The wistful “Memories,” penned by Hugh Hopper and a staple from early The Wilde Flowers days, features Robert Wyatt on vocals, thus fulfilling Karakos’s wish. Wyatt and bassist Archie Legget provide the rhythm section for most of the album. “Fred The Fish and the Chip On His Shoulder” has a sing-along feel, obviously reflecting the pub-like mood of the recording session. “White Neck Blooze” features Allen performing an uncanny and dead-on Kevin Ayers impersonation, complete with backing vocals from Barry St. John and Legget’s cohorts, Maggie Bell and Gary Wright. The second side features Allen’s “Stoned Innocent Frankenstein”-a lovely and melodic number that descends into the darker space of “And His Adventures in the Land of Flip.” The latter track is a full-on monster of spontaneous jamming, featuring Wyatt, Legget and violinist Gerry Field. The side closes with “I Am a Bowl,” another instant composition graced with Soft Machine guest Nick Evans’s trombone. The album saw release in July on the French BYG label and was reissued by Caroline Records in 1975.

Fool's Mate > Hammill, Peter

July, 1971
United States
Charisma
4.333335
Having already spent most of the year on tour with VdGG, Peter Hammill’s first solo album was recorded in what must have been an exceptionally busy year for him. As a solo artist, Hammill was a slightly different creature. It wouldn’t be incorrect (at this stage) to call the singer-songwriter acoustic; but in true progressive tradition, his song-form certainly was original. The album, as Hammill states on the liner notes, is “an album of songs rather than a musical extravaganza” (that of course, he was saving for the next VdGG album). Most of the songs were years old by the time the album was recorded, many first being cataloged in the early days of VdGG. Adding to the overall color of the album, Fool’s Mate features a host of colleagues, including all of VdGG and Robert Fripp, plus Ray Jackson and Rod Clements from Lindisfarne. Both sides of the album open with uncharacteristically rollicking numbers. “Imperial Zeppelin” is one of two songs co-written with former VdGG member Chris Judge Smith (the other being the excellent “Viking”). Some of the album shows the zest of The Aerosol Grey Machine-in particular, the lumbering “Candle” and the brisk “Re-awakening.” But the portraits of “Solitude” and “Child,” both simultaneously bleak and beautiful, point in the direction that Hammill’s solo career would follow (for now, anyway). Two other tracks, “Vision” and “The Birds,” would both crop up a decade later in re-recordings, again reaffirming their timelessness. Hammill would become one of the most prolific solo artists of the genre, but all of that would have to wait; there was still much unfinished business in VdGG to attend to.

In Hearing Of > Atomic Rooster

August, 1971
United States
Elektra
4.2
Judging by the success of their last album and single, this was indeed the year of the Rooster (though technically, it was the Year of the Boar). Another single, this time penned by John Du Cann, was released in July. “Devil’s Answer” b/w “The Rock” was a hit, reaching No. 4 on the UK charts. However, the creative differences between Du Cann and Vincent Crane had come to a head. Crane recruited vocalist Pete French, formerly in Leafhound, to re-record Du Cann’s vocals on the nearly completed album. In retrospect, it was a good addition; French is a more accomplished vocalist and the album, In Hearing Of, rates as Atomic Rooster’s finest. “Breakthrough” and the instrumental “A Spoonful of Bromide Helps the Pulse Rate Go Down” are fierce rockers. But again, the quieter tracks best demonstrate Crane’s significant talent. He switches to piano for the bittersweet “Decision/Indecision” while the sublime “Black Snake” proves Crane’s expert command of the Hammond organ (and offers a rare vocal from him as well). Drummers also take note: Paul Hammond is superb throughout. The album’s strength, though, is its songwriting, giving it a continuity that the band’s previous efforts lacked. Of some minor note to prog rock punters, the album cover and gatefold sport one of Roger Dean’s most un-cosmic creations. The album reached No. 18 in the UK charts. Yet both Hammond and Du Cann would depart the band-forming the hard-rocking Hard Stuff with John Gustafson. Crane, with French, recruited guitarist Steve Bolton and drummer Ric Parnell for the subsequent tour, which included a supporting slot for The Who at George Harrison’s UK Concert for Bangladesh.

Frumpy 2 > Frumpy

August, 1971
Germany
Philips
5
Founded by Irishman John O’Brien-Docker, Hamburg’s The City Preachers was folk-rock band that featured (among others) vocalists Inga Rumpf and Dagmar Krause, as well as drummer Udo Lindenberg. They split in 1968, with Rumpf, Krause and Lindenberg teaming up with French keyboardist Jean-Jacques Kravetz and bassist Karl-Heinz Schott. By 1970, however, Krause left to eventually join Slapp Happy (but not before recording the split-album I.D. Company with Rumpf), while Lindenberg went off to Klaus Doldinger’s Passport. Carsten Bohn was brought in on drums; and reconstituted as Frumpy (a play on Inga’s name), the band switched their musical direction to the newly awakening progressive. Signed to Philips, their debut album All Will Be Changed was recorded in August 1970, and they promptly hit the road with a 50-date German tour supporting Spooky Tooth. The blueprint was there: They had bluesy rock with classical digressions, even separated out as individual tracks; and though songs like “Floating” and “Indian Rope Man” showcase the band’s talents, nothing, absolutely nothing, could prepare the world for the sonic onslaught that was Frumpy 2. “Good Winds” opens like a punch in the face; Kravetz’s roaring organ tone just perfect, Inga’s voice belting out a growl unparalleled by any woman in rock. “How the Gipsy Was Born” (sic) and “Take Care of Illusion” continue the pace, with the rhythm section of Bohn and Schott pounding furiously and with aplomb. The addition of guitarist Rainer Baumann enriches the overall sound, but his role is mainly playing leads. It’s a magical record: one of the heaviest and most relentless of the era. But the intensity wouldn’t last; after a third album, By The Way, released in early 1972, Frumpy split. Rumpf, Kravetz and Schott recruited new members-drummer Curt Cress (ex-Orange Peel) and guitarist Frank Diez (ex-Emergency)-and formed the more commercially-orientated Atlantis.

Acquiring The Taste > Gentle Giant

August, 1971
United States
Vertigo
4
The title of Gentle Giant’s second album, Acquiring The Taste, was of course a reference to their musical oeuvre. The liner notes insist, “It has taken every shred of our combined musical and technical knowledge… to expand the frontiers of contemporary popular music.” And there you have it: the progressive ethos! The band plays what seems to be an orchestra of instruments over the course of the album. From the baroque recorders on “Wreck” to the alto and tenor saxophones of “The Moon Is Down,” Giant extend the range of their music in a genuinely eclectic way. Remember, this was 1971: If you wanted new sounds, you had to come up with them on your own; there were no magic buttons to press. The string quartet on “Black Cat” is highly effective, lending warmth to the feline interpretation. And dig the Walter Carlos-esque Moog synthesizer of the title track. Throughout the album, the Giant’s performance is, of course, consummate, as is Tony Visconti’s impeccable production. Both “Plain Truth” and “The House, the Street, the Room” carry a familiar heaviness the band would often revisit. Lyrically, the album also stretches out, referencing the literary works of 16th century humanist François Rabelais in “Pantagruel’s Nativity.” The liner notes further describe and predict the album’s conclusion: “to give you something far more substantial… at the risk of being very unpopular.” For the most part, Gentle Giant succeed on both counts: Their technical ability was enormous, and their albums did not sell very well. The album was their first to see release in the US, yet it failed again to chart. Gentle Giant would, however, record another two albums for Vertigo.

The Inner Mounting Flame > Mahavishnu Orchestra

August, 1971
United States
Columbia
5
Though fusion could be described as the combination of jazz and rock, it may be more accurate to acknowledge its rise as “when jazz got electric.” Mahavishnu Orchestra was definitely electric, perhaps even manic at times. Guitarist John McLaughlin had just left The Tony Williams Lifetime, where things had continued, according to the guitarist, “getting louder and louder.” Of course, the Yorkshire-born McLaughlin had been at it for more than a decade; he played with everyone from Graham Bond to Brian Auger to Jack Bruce, and culminated the trip on Miles Davis’s legendary fusion works, In A Silent Way and Bitches’ Brew. But while Davis was out to explore improvisation and groove, McLaughlin wanted a team to perform his compositions. He handpicked the international cast and, as the title suggests, lit a fire under them. Drummer Billy Cobham and bassist Rick Laird supply the fierce rhythm section, and soaring—almost always in unison—are the soloists: Violinist Jerry Goodman had spent time in The Flock, while Czech-born Jan Hammer had recently immigrated to the US. Yet McLaughlin’s guitar steals the show; his fluid arpeggios generate fury and speed; just check out “Dawn” or “The Noonward Race.” It’s no wonder this massively influential album became a legend in both jazz and progressive circles—virtuosity never sounded this good. Marketed to a rock audience, it sold well too, reaching No. 89 in the US; the image of McLaughlin and his double-neck guitar certainly helped, as did their concerts, which were primarily offered to rock audiences. Their follow-up, Birds of Fire, managed to reach the Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet by 1974, the constant touring took its toll and the band broke up. McLaughlin would recruit a new lineup (featuring Jean-Luc Ponty, Gayle Moran and Narada Michael Walden) for two albums in the mid-70s, which focused more on construction than execution. Still, The Inner Mounting Flame remains a significant and bold musical step in the history of rock and jazz music alike.

Concerto Grosso Per I New Trolls > New Trolls

August, 1971
United States
Fonit Cetra
3.666665
Hailing from Genoa, the New Trolls were one of the first Italian rock bands. Story has it the band was “created” by a music critic choosing an ideal lineup: guitarist Vittorio De Scalzi, vocalist (and guitarist) Nico Di Palo, drummer Gianni Belleno, keyboardist Mauro Chiarugi and bassist Giorgio D’Adamo were all fortunate enough to land a supporting spot on The Rolling Stones’ 1967 tour of Italy. After several successful singles (and two albums compiling them), the band collaborated with Argentinean composer Luis Enríquez Bacalov for Concerto Grosso per i New Trolls. Based on Baroque music, the piece opens with “Allegro,” with the hard blues of the era alternating between brisk waves of strings. The syrupy “Adagio (Shadows)” follows, a rather unspectacular vocal number; while “Cadenza - Andante Con Moto” features solo violin. Only the closing “Shadows (Per Jimi Hendrix)” goes electric, courtesy of Di Palo’s Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar. Encompassing the second side is an in-studio improvisation from the band. After a protracted organ intro, the band rocks out, ranging from flute-driven rock to jazzy Santana-esque grooves and ends in one long drum solo. But according to Paolo Barotto in his The Return of Italian Pop, the record sold a phenomenal 800,000 copies in Italy and is generally regarded as the foundation of Italian progressive rock. Bacalov, who spent the 60s composing soundtracks for spaghetti westerns, would render the same services for Osanna the following year and Il Rovescio della Medaglia in 1973, though the former was undoubtedly his crowning musical achievement. In 1972, the New Trolls issued two albums: The half-live, half-studio Searching For A Land included a switch to English-language vocals, while UT was generally better received-in fact, one of the band’s finest records. The band then split; De Scalzi formed the New Trolls Atomic System (to avoid legal hassles) and issued a self-titled album of progressive rock in 1973, while Di Palo formed Ibis with most of the other members of the New Trolls. In 1976 the factions made up and reformed the New Trolls, uniting De Scalzi, Di Palo and Belleno with new members. Their first recording was Concerto Grosso No. 2; but unfortunately, it did little to further their legacy.

Die Grüne Reise - The Green Journey > A.R. & Machines

September, 1971
Germany
Polydor
4
One of Germany’s rock pioneers, Achim Reichel founded beat-era The Rattles, the country’s equivalent to The Beatles, with Herbert Hildebrandt and Dicky Tarrach in 1960. The band toured the UK with The Rolling Stones, supported The Beatles in 1966 and had an international hit, “The Witch” b/w “Geraldine” in 1970. Military service drew Reichel from the band in 1966 but upon discharge, he continued his musical career with the pop group Wonderland. At the start of the 70s, however, his interests in Eastern philosophies coincided with the burgeoning progressive trend. Teaming with lyricist (and ex-Rattle) Frank Dostal, he launched the just plain weird Wonderland Band. In 1971, Die Grüne Reise (“The Green Journey”) was the first album under Reichel’s new moniker, A.R. & Machines. Billed as a “soundtrack to the intended motion picture,” the album is certainly a trip. Reichel recorded the album by himself, adding vocals, percussion and electronic effects; Dostal wrote the lyrics. “Machines” refers to the tape recorder, an Akia X-330D, that made up Reichel’s signature “echo-guitar.” In layering multiple guitar lines to hypnotic effect, he predates just about everyone that would follow (Robert Fripp, Manuel Göttsching, Günter Schickert, etc.). “Beautiful Babylon,” for example, is resplendent and offers a completely different take on the “kosmische.” There’s also a hippie vibe all through the record that could be seen as a strength (“I’ll Be Your Singer”), or not (“Come On, People”). Yet the album-twangy, metric and definitely psychedelic-is Reichel’s own progressive twist on rock ‘n’ roll, culminating in the whacked-out “Truth and Probability” with Reichel now layering his voice through the tape machines! The album saw release on Polydor.

Second Album > Curved Air

September, 1971
United States
Warner Bros. Records
4.11111
Infinitely more rewarding than their debut was Curved Air’s aptly titled Second Album. Bassist Ian Eyre replaced Robert Martin, the first in what would become an all-too-frequent occurrence for the band. The considerable musical talents of the classically-trained violinist Darryl Way and keyboardist Francis Monkman finally gel here, even though their compositions split the album’s sides. Way’s “Young Mother” (with lyrics from Sonja Kristina Linwood) opens and features some excellent synthesizer work from Monkman. The funky “Back Street Luv” b/w “Everdance” was a hit for the band the previous summer, reaching No. 5 in the UK. Kristina’s voice is unique for rock, let alone progressive rock: It’s rather formal and always up in the mix, something Renaissance would replicate a few years later. Both “Jumbo” and “Puppets” shift mood to understated and melancholic; the former in classical fashion, its melody accompanied by strings and piano, and the latter with Mellotron and a curiously metronomic beat. Monkman’s “Everdance” is a refreshing change, with Way’s violin well-integrated into the song, while “Piece of Mind” finally delivers the fusion of rock and classics the band initially promised: It’s a veritable epic combining both the experimental and instrumental flair of Curved Air across its near thirteen-minutes. The album was well-received in the UK, perhaps this time (without picture disc) more genuinely so, reaching No. 11 on the charts. On the album’s promotional tour, Barry De Souza subbed for drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa (who had taken ill), including the televised Beat Club session from Radio Bremen in Germany.

2 (Eulenspygel) > Eulenspygel

September, 1971
Germany
Spiegelei
4
Founded in 1965, the Royal Servants was a beat-era band from Reichenbach, Swabia, in the southwest of Germany. Like most groups of the era, their music matured from beat to psychedelic to something a little more progressive. We, the group's first album, was recorded in 1970 for the Swiss Elite Special label. A curious mix of organ, driving rhythm and English-language lyrics, it was a competent work of the era. But after sharing a bill with the German-language rock pioneers Ihre Kinder, a band from Nuremberg that shared similar beat-era roots (as Jonah & The Whales), the Royal Servants rebranded themselves as Eulenspygel-after Till Eulenspiegel, a figure in medieval folklore (literally "owl glass")-and began singing in their native tongue. Featuring original Servant and guitarist Matthias James "Till" Thurow with later Servants Ronald "Ronnie" Libal on bass, Günter Klinger on drums and Detlev Nottrodt on guitar, the band included Rainier "Mulo" Maulbetsch on vocals, Karlheinz Großhans on organ and Cornelius Hauptmann on flute. Signing to the Intercord imprint Spiegelei (literally "mirror egg," but German for "sunny-side up" which may explain the album's cover), their "second" album was released in Autumn 1971. The bluesy riff of "Till" rips open the album, revealing the baritone voice of Maulbetsch. "Son My" breaks down to a driving kosmische groove, with the dual guitars of Thurow and Nottrodt trading licks over Hauptmann's flute and Großhans's organ. "Konsumgewäsche" ("Consumption") cops a mean break, but the lyric's political message-as with many German bands of the era-is lost to the non-native speaker. "Staub Auf Deinem Haar" ("Dust on Your Hair") again features a jazzy groove, but the opening of "Das Lied Vom Ende" ("Song of the End") begins with classical ambitions, before descending into the band's shifting and rhythmic meters, here with Thurow adding violin. The band had significant support from their record label, and toured extensively in support of the album. Highlighted by the epic track "Abfall," Eulenspygel recorded a second album, Ausschuß ("Committee"), at The Beatles' Apple Studios in 1972, but further recordings failed to materialize, and by 1973 the band had called it a day.

Galactic Zoo Dossier > Kingdom Come

October, 1971
United Kingdom
Polydor
4.2
Success may have proved too much for Arthur Brown, as his attempts to keep the Crazy World together failed. Along with Drachen Theaker, Brown assembled a new band, provisionally called Puddletown Express, in late 1969. The lineup included saxophonist George Khan, organist Jonah Mitchell, bassist Dennis Taylor and guitarist Andy Rickell, aka “Android Funnel.” A follow-up to the Crazy World was recorded, but ultimately abandoned. (It did see release decades later as Strange Lands, as did the Brown-less Rustic Hinge recordings). Brown then formed Kingdom Come in 1970 with yet another revolving cast, this time involving Dave Ambrose, Rob Tait, Andrew McCulloch, Andy Dalby and Michael “Goodge” Harris. Initial rehearsals from this nascent group were also released decades later. The band-now with Dalby, Harris, Martin “Slim” Steer on drums and Desmond Fisher on bass-held together long enough to record their debut at London’s Olympic and Monmouth’s Rockfield studios. Galactic Zoo Dossier is a highly crafted prog rock classic; and without a doubt, one of the most bizarre albums of the era. The record plays continuously, which should be no surprise; a self-proclaimed “multi-media experience,” the concert stage-with face painting, costumes, props and all-was Kingdom Come’s forte. And the album plays out: “Space Plucks,” co-written with Vincent Crane, contains one of his classic organ hooks, while “Gypsy Escape” illustrates the exceptional musicality of the band. The unmistakable voice of Brown and his R&B influences lend a soulful slant to the proceedings, something rare for English music from this period. Just check out his passionate delivery on “Sunrise.” The album saw release on Polydor in the UK, but despite extensive touring, failed to chart.

Septober Energy > Centipede

October, 1971
US
RCA Victor
0
Much like the arthropod it’s named after, Centipede featured dozens of musicians, including then-members of Soft Machine, Nucleus, King Crimson, Blossom Toes and students of the London School of Music. Put together by music director, pianist and composer Keith Tippett, the group first performed a series of concerts in London and Bordeaux in November 1970, and again in June 1971 for the Rotterdam Arts Council. That month, they gathered at Wessex Studios in London with Robert Fripp in the producer’s chair. Septober Energy takes its name from Tippett’s composition, with his wife Julie Driscoll contributing the lyrics. Side one kicks off slowly, a gently rising cacophony of strings, horns, guitars, etc. that finds a theme around the ten-minute mark. From there, over the course of three more album-sides, the album shifts from modern classical, British jazz fusion, (more or less) horn rock, more cacophony, and some soloing from some of Britain’s best, including Elton Dean, Mark Charig, et al. At its best, it is reminiscent of King Crimson’s Islands album, as on the third side’s third track, featuring the complete orchestra (plus quintet). Vocalists include Driscoll, Zoot Money, Mike Patto, Boz Burrell and Maggie Nicole, who make their voices heard throughout, but shine halfway through the fourth side’s “Unite for Every Nation.” Of course, it’s a big band with a big jazz-rock sound; probably the English equivalent of early Magma. As a band leader and session man, Tippett was one of Britain’s foremost pianists, and his career would intertwine with many progressive artists. With a reduced cast, Centipede performed a couple more concerts in late 1971, first at the Royal Albert Hall in October and then at the Rainbow Theatre in December. The double-album saw release in the UK on the Neon label in October, and-incredibly-again in 1974, on the RCA label in the US. Wah-Hay, indeed!

Song Of The Marching Children > Earth and Fire

October, 1971
United States
Polydor
4.75
In the 1970s, the Netherlands spawned groups ranging from the better-known Golden Earring, Focus and Kayak to the lesser-known Supersister and Alquin. On the latter end of the spectrum, Earth and Fire combined the talents of the brothers Koerts-Chris on guitar and Gerard on keyboards-with Hans Ziech on bass and female vocalist Jerney Kaagman. Their initial success was as a singles band; from the early-to-mid 70s, they consistently littered the Dutch record charts with their English-language hits. Their self-titled debut was typical of the era: psychedelic rock with some good arrangements, but not without the West Coast influence of Jefferson Airplane. Ton van der Kleij then replaced original drummer Cees Kalis; and after purchasing a Mellotron, the band moved in a musically progressive direction, releasing Song Of The Marching Children in 1971. “Carnaval of the Animals” (sic) is circus music, while “Ebbtide” has pop overtones. Gerard’s classically-inspired organ leads “Storm and Thunder,” yet “In the Mountains” tracks the same ground as Focus. It’s all good music, but nowhere near essential. The highlight, though, is the album’s side-long title track. The protracted introduction sweeps into the large symphonic refrain of “Opening the Seal;” the themes of “Childhood” and “Affliction” are sweetly melancholic, while the story-one of those biblical life-to-death tales-is dark. An acoustic guitar works the transition from “Damnation” to the long, dirge-like fade of “The March.” Kaagman’s voice doesn’t have the range of her progressive contemporaries, but she’s got a powerful delivery that’s well-suited for the music. Throughout the piece, each section is integrated into the next, and the track features a trove of Mellotron, synthesizers and other keyboards. It’s a unique twist on prog rock, but one that’s also symphonic and superbly executed by the band. Jaap Eggermont, of Golden Earring fame, produced the album, as well as the rest of Earth and Fire’s discography. The band’s next album-Atlantis, released in 1973-continued in the same progressive direction; though their later releases would take less risks as the band moved on to more commercial terrain.

Moving Waves > Focus

October, 1971
United States
Sire
4.7
There’s a seeming tradition in the Netherlands, beginning with the original Dutch export Ekseption, of souping-up classical music themes into a rock format. Focus ventured onto this path, but borrowed more from the Baroque and Renaissance eras; and more importantly, used those influences to create something of their own. Keyboardist and flautist Thijs van Leer formed the group in 1969 as the pit band for the Dutch production of Hair. At the end of the year, guitarist Jan Akkerman was recruited from another Dutch rock band, Brainbox. Their debut album, In And Out Of Focus, was a substantial hit across Europe, owing much to the Jethro Tull-clone single “House of The King” b/w “Black Beauty” (oddly omitted from the US release). The remainder of the album is just as solid: Akkerman’s guitar is fierce, even when the surrounding compositions seem lightweight. But then Focus broke up. Subsequently Akkerman teamed up with countrymen Cyril Havermans and former Brainbox drummer Pierre van der Linden, before inviting Van Leer and the name Focus back. Thus reconstituted, they recorded Moving Waves in London, with Mike Vernon producing. The wild guitar playing of Jan Akkerman and the are-you-serious yodeling of van Leer open the album on the gimmick track “Hocus Pocus.” It would yield them a Top 10 single in the UK and in the US, albeit some 18 months later (pundits, check out the “fast version” on the flip side). The jazzier pace of “Focus II” and the elegance of “Janis” sound more familiar. But the second side’s “Eruption” represents the step in the progressive direction and also validates the album as classic. On the completely instrumental track which spans the album’s side, the different movements showcase the band’s musical faculty, though Akkerman’s blistering guitar on “Tommy” is the standout. While the album failed to chart upon release, it would eventually earn gold status on both sides of the Atlantic.

Camembert Electrique > Gong

October, 1971
France
BYG Records
4
Gong had now solidified from a loose amalgamation of Paris fringe musicians to a relatively stable touring unit. Daevid Allen, accompanied by partner Gilli Smyth and saxophonist Didier Malherbe, added Pip Pyle on drums and Christian Tritsch on bass; and the band completed their first return to England with a performance at the Glastonbury Festival in June 1971. Kevin Ayers also served a six-month tour duty around this time, leaving a John Peel Session as his recorded legacy with the band. Gong recorded three albums in 1971. Dashiell Hedayat’s Obsolete for the Shandar label was a very loose recording, while the soundtrack for the Jérôme Laperrousaz film Continental Circus was a gem, best evidenced in the motorik-like beat of “Blues for Findlay.” But the third album, Camembert Electrique, is the real introduction to what Allen had in store for the band. Gong’s music is truly unique, combining vocal lunacy with musical anarchy into what could be described as the first rock cabaret. Yet the band consistently supported a strong rhythm section for soloists Allen and Malherbe to accentuate. The album contains some classic Gong repertoire: The raging riff of “You Can’t Kill Me” is Allen’s testimony to the events in Paris during the May 1968 student uprisings, and the merger of Smyth’s space whisper and unique feminism are introduced on “Dynamite: I Am your Animal.” “Fohat Digs Holes in Space,” though, is key. The track first showcases the quintessential Gong groove, complete with Syd Barrett-inspired glissando guitar. But behind the bizarre aliases and musical anarchy, as Allen explained, Gong is “about things much too serious to be serious about.” It may not say much about a person if they do like Gong, but it certainly says more about them if they do not. The album was re-released on Caroline Records in 1974, selling for the price of a single-play record (49p).

X In Search Of Space > Hawkwind

October, 1971
United States
United Artists Records
4.75
Hawkwind quickly earned a reputation as “the people’s band” from playing free concerts in and around London, and from the counter-culture (Friends magazine, drugs) associated with those events. One of Hawkwind’s most notable free gigs was in late August 1970, at Canvas City, an inflatable “bubble” tent outside the gates of the Isle of Wight Festival. With Thomas Crimble on bass, the band played for hours, but the experience proved too much for Huw Lloyd-Langton, who suffered an unsuspected spike of acid. Dick Taylor briefly subbed on guitar for the band, while Del Dettmar joined the band on electronics. Their inauspicious debut album behind them, In Search Of Space got down to serious business. Bassist Dave Anderson was recruited fresh from the über-German Amon Düül II, providing another sonic clue to the Hawk’s music: It had as much to do with the psychedelia of krautrock as it did with that of London’s underground rock. The album’s first side motors through “You Shouldn’t Do That” before crash-landing on the tripped-out psychedelia of Dave Brock’s “You Know You’re Only Dreaming.” Side two begins with Hawkwind’s first classic, “Master of the Universe,” which centers on a main riff that wouldn’t be out of place in a Black Sabbath song. The balance of the side treads more tentative ground, however, with a couple of acoustic numbers and the excellent “Adjust Me.” The album jacket itself is a lavish affair, complete with a die-cut cover and elaborate comic The Hawkwind Log from Robert “Bob” Calvert and Barney Bubbles, marking their first contributions to the group. The album sold well in the UK, breaking into the Top 20 at No. 18.