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Eela Craig - Virgin Oiland CD (album) cover

VIRGIN OILAND

Eela Craig

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.17 | 9 ratings

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Progfan97402
3 stars This was Eela Craig's followup to Missa Universalis, in which Hubert Bognermayr and drummer Frank Hueber had left the group. Frank Hueber apparently had some sort of ear infection. Strangely vocalist Wil Orthofer took over the drum stool, which I didn't know he was fully capable of drums until I heard this album. I knew he played some sax on their 1971 self-entitled debut, but other than that he stuck strictly to vocal duties on Hats of Glass and Missa Universalis (he was not on One Niter).

To me, I found Virgin Oiland a confusing album. At least the overly-religious lyrics of Missa Universalis has thankfully been dumped, in favor of a concept album of a metaphorical horse racetrack as a symbol of life from birth to death, but the preferred racer was "hate", meaning even through you live and die, too many people prefer to to be hateful, greedy, and selfish. Or at least that's how I perceive the concept. Perhaps I'm looking a bit too much into it. Don't know. Regardless the band was really confused whether they should stick to the progressive rock they did so well in the late '70s or go a more commercial direction. "Beecher's Brook" definitely shows the band wanting to go back to the funky styles of One Niter, similar funky jam with clavinet, but as the album goes on, you could tell it's one half the band wanting to follow their own direction, and the other record company pressure (this was 1980, after all, and finding true prog rock albums were a bit skimpy, even Steve Hackett's Defector had a couple of pop songs on it). "How It Started" and the cheesy ballad "Carry On" definitely shows a more commercial leaning, the latter being in that late '70s soft-rock vein. "Love to Hate You Baby" is a misguided venture into disco, with vocoderized vocals, and small snippets of "We Shall Overcome" and "All You Need is Love" with a DJ voice telling everyone was the 1960s what everyone was told it was supposed to be (this was 1980, and the 1960s nostalgia of the 1980s didn't really take off until around the mid 1980s, I should know, as I witnessed that '60s nostalgia of the '80s which lasted from about 1983 or '84 until about 1990). "Still..." and "Lions Covering the Beaches" aren't too bad, reminding me of the more calm moments of Missa Universalis, thankfully without the religious lyrics.

Really, Virgin Oiland is an album I don't recommend as a starter for anything not familiar with Eela Craig. I'd suggest One Niter and Hats of Glass. Go for their self-entitled 1971 debut for a more jazzy/psychedelic side of the band, and approach Missa Universalis with caution (as the religious lyrics are difficult for me to take in). Virgin Oiland has its moments, and has some good material as well as some questionable material. So this one too approach with caution.

Progfan97402 | 3/5 |

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