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Czar - Czar CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.35 | 72 ratings

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3 stars Many bands had a moment in the sun, a period, album, popular song or even just a few passages notable to fans. Some of these innovations may even have been imitated by other, greater musicians in their rise to the top. Flattering but of little consolation to the struggling group, ignored by the very people in charge of promoting them, a band destined to be forgotten until decades later when their painfully rare LP is proclaimed to be 'collectible'. All of these things are true of Czar, a perfectly innocent and capable heavy art band that released this one and only seven-cut record in 1970. That is not to say they would have flourished otherwise. The band was very good, but not great. The fact is that with organ-grinder Bob Hodges liberal use of mellotron, Derrick Gough's tough drumming, Mick Ware's soulful and slightly off guitar and the iron-heavy bass of Paul Kendrick, what you got was an excellent try at progressive rock during a free-minded but difficult time to be a professional musician. Consequently it is a perfect if ignorable slice of what was happening during that exciting period in English underground rock.

Things start promisingly with a neat 'tron phrase from Hodges for 'Tread Softly On My Dreams' and a decent vocal arrangement from the band though the song begins to lose air quickly. Things brighten for the Eastern flavored 'Cecilia' with more mellotron, organ and harpsichord. Slight tells of King Crimson but really more of a Who-minded energy here, with a weakness for the skirl of a Hammond and ragged acid blues. 'Follow Me' maintains the energy, though just as they seem perched to explode with something great they pull back, tack-on something formulaic and add flat vocals to what could have been quite nice, and the sleepy 'Dawning of a New Day' doesn't help. What must have been fairly modern-sounding 'Beyond the Moon' is an interesting bit, the eerily John Lennon-like 'Today' turns into one of the best cuts on the record and had hit potential, and they saved the best for last on 'A Day in September' with faint Nice-isms and a fun arrangement.

Quite interesting, and of historical merit. The 2007 reissue has eight bonus tracks of variable interest [two cuts from the single and six demos] and a good booklet with photos.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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