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Egg - The Polite Force CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.16 | 412 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars This is quite an early and important album and has the well-deserved reputation of being a minor classic. This is more focused than Soft Machine and, as far as I'm concerned, more balanced and tastefully humourous than any Caravan album.

"Newport Hospital" showcases everything that's good about the band: their flexible approach to instrumentation shows up in the filtered and layered keyboard lines - memorably including the sludgy, downbeat introduction with -that- Sabbath-stylee chord change - a tasteful approach to writing that incorporates non-standard time signatures without flaunting their presence (count along to the transition parts and you might be surprised, if that's your thing) interesting and often anecdotal wordsmanship with a touch of offhand humour and, last but not least, an aptitude at writing the sort of hook that keeps your average jazzy-prog fan's attention strictly on the music at hand.

Plenty of good things have been written about "Contrasong" on this page, but I think it's a misstep and a little too "muso" - it has that trademark progressively awkward frantic-ness happening over a silly time signature which may please some ears; personally I wish they had blended the song's framework a little more delicately because as it is, you can see its bones! Of course, the song is still worth listening to, especially if you don't have my sort of hangups. "Boilk" follows and, again, is one that will decisively split audiences, being mostly a sound collage dipping into noise, concrete and all those avant-garde things that don't necessarily merge well with rock music. This reviewer finds that the church organ weaving in and out of the piece keeps things pseudo-coherent, resulting in a soundscape that should be pleasing to anyone willing to live without a groove for nine minutes.

Side B's epic has to be heard to be believed. It starts a little like "Contrasong" but realises its potential in a much more entertaining way. I have to say that at my first take, I mentally compared the opening sequence to nice little art bands like Ange, Crucis and Shylock, finding it similar in style to their MO. ELP may occur to the symph heads (but if so, you'd have to imagine them physically restraining Keith Emerson and taking away his boxing gloves) as here, more than anywhere else, is where the lack of guitar hits home hardest. I won't go on to describe the full epic because it's so multipartite and enjoyable that I'm sure I'd do it a disservice.

Buy. Especially buy if you like later Canterbury albums by bands such as National Health or Picchio dal Pozzo. Also buy if you've exhausted all the popular symphonic bands and are still dying for more keyboard-oriented rock. If not, perhaps you should buy "The Polite Force" anyway because it's magical, and might just turn you onto a new type of music despite your tastes.

laplace | 4/5 |


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