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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Charisma Keyboards CD (album) cover

CHARISMA KEYBOARDS

Various Artists (Label Samplers)

 

Various Genres

3.97 | 4 ratings

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Dean
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin and Amateur Layabout
4 stars A Label Sampler album does what is says on the tin - it is a foretaste of albums released by that label sold cheaply to encourage you to buy the full-length albums, and this one promotes Keyboards as the prime directive. And boy, did it do it well.

I purchased this LP when it came out and looking back 30+ years all of the tracks presented now seem so familiar, yet at the time they were a revelation. Of the six featured artists, I already had two of them for a few years before this sampler was released: VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR and THE NICE - 'White Hammer' will always be one of my favourite VDGG songs, heavy, doom- ridden and dark (though not a particular highlight from 'The Least We Can Do.'). And Keith EMERSON's demented version of 'America' from 'Elergy' was pitched perfectly to this young playground-anarchists heart.

I rushed out and bought two more albums on the strength of hearing the tracks on this LP ('Nursery Cryme' by GENESIS and 'Lord of the Rings' by Bo HANSSON). The GENESIS track 'The Fountain of Salmacis' was my first introduction to Peter GABRIEL's voice and to the wondrous interplay between keyboards and understated guitar that instantly sealed their exalted place in my music collection. Bo HANSSON's 'Flight To The Ford' is a pleasant enough instrumental that happily rips along but now does not quite deliver the foreboding sense of peril and drama that the passsage of the book required, still, I was reading the LOTR at the time and enjoyed the music for what it was.

Back in 1974 the two remaining tracks, from RARE BIRD and Robert John GODFREY, left me cold simply because I didn't care for the vocals that much. Now it is a different story. RARE BIRD's 'As Your Mind Flies By' musically isn't too far removed from GENESIS and the instrumentation is spot on, but it just failed to jell with me until I rediscovered them a couple of years ago and now I kick myself for not latching on to them earlier. Don't make my mistake - you may not be able to find this sampler, but you can give Rare Bird a listen from their other albums (including a pretty good best of collection).

Robert John GODFREY is a different kettle of fish all together. To be fair, the singing on 'Mountains' by Christopher LEWIS is an acquired taste and not one I was ready for. It was only a year later that I discovered The ENID, and returned to this sampler the give RJG a second chance, this time succeeding in hearing past the vocal to the excellent music. But by then it was too late and 'The Fall Of Hyperion' from which this track was lifted was as hard to come by as Hen's Teeth.

By today's standards, this is not a collection of the finest keyboard driven tunes that Charisma had to offer, but when it was released it was an outstanding collection for the money. Obviously this is not an album that will see the light of day on CD, nor does it contain any rare finds that make it a collectors item on vinyl. Yet as a reflection of the importance of The Famous Charisma Label in promoting Keyboard driven Prog Rock it is priceless. On that strength alone this is a 4-star album.

Dean | 4/5 |

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