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Earth And Fire - Song Of The Marching Children CD (album) cover


Earth And Fire


Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 186 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Take "In the Court" era King Crimson, mix with post Jefferson Airplane phrasings and some early Barclay James Harvest lead guitar, sprinkle in some Annie Haslam vocals (even though this came before Annie's Renaissance) and you have an approximation of the sound of Earth and Fire on this 1971 release. Not to imply that they were copycats; they had their own distinct style revolving around the voice of Jenny Kaagman and keyboards, especially the organ, of Gerard Koerts.

The albums roars to life with a progressive children's song, one of the few I can think of. Borne by the psychedelic era, "Carnival of the Animals" is innocent enough to be played for children while their parents can sit back and enjoy the early progressive feast. It utilizes circus-like rhythms effectively and is the right length at 2:44 - no need to meander or expound upon the silly premise. "Storm and Thunder" begins with a lengthy and enjoyable organ segment before it settles down and sounds for all the world like early Haslam Renaissance, even before such a beast existed. But then more buildup and organ resume. Definitely the second most progressive song here. "In the Mountains" is a short but sparkling melodic instrumental where the soaring leads are evocative of John Lees, who was really just starting to ply his trade at the time.

The highlight both quantitatively and qualitatively is the masterful title cut, 18 minutes of bliss that surely would never have existed if not for early King Crimson, but Earth and Fire manages to place their own stamp on it, thanks again to the organs. After the opening ambient section, we are thrust into the main theme, a simply stunning mellotron led melody. A variety of other instrumental and vocal sections alternate fluidly from here, with things really picking up in the last couple, as the main theme returns briefly, including a gentle buildup on acoustic guitar, to which gentle vocals are added, followed by martial drums blended with ethereal mellotrons. One of the bonus tracks is a shortened version of this epic which captures the key points, in case you want a fix but don't have 18 minutes, but the other two bonuses are without consequence.

An excellent album, somewhat dated due to the organs and the dramatic early 1970s feel and psychedelia, but highly recommended to those who want to connect with their inner marching flower child.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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