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Hapshash and the Coloured Coat - Featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids CD (album) cover


Hapshash and the Coloured Coat



2.75 | 13 ratings

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4 stars Spooky

Possibly the earliest use of the term Heavy Metal in reference to rock music, predating Steppenwolf by a good year, this album contains little that resembles Metal music - although it does contain musicians who went on to form Spooky Tooth, one of the earliest Heavy bands, and a notable influence on bands such as Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest - so there is a link.

Musically, the most interesting thing about this album, apart from the name, the so-called band (who were (in)famous poster designers by trade that corrobrated with one of the best heavy underground bands of the time, namely Art) and the Heavy Metal reference is the somewhat naive and enticing vibe they manage to create.

The opening track, H.O.P.P.Why seems to predict the more minimal Kosmiche acts - Can spring to mind immediately, and it's not just because this is a simple jam around one chord, as there are lost of little bits floating around in here above the solid, growly bass.

A Mind Blown is a Mind Shown seems to predict Amon Duul in its many incarnations - it may be a jam, but it's organised chaos with a distincly lysergic overtone or three.

This really builds the picture for the rest of the album - a cosmic freakout session that's actually more cohesive than some of the more meandering Kosmiche releases available, and also has a friendly Englishness all of its own - most of this, presumably, due to the distinctive musicianship of the band Art, who more than keep control of the proceedings.

The New Messiah Coming 1985 features enthusiastic shouts of Higher!!!, as bongos are beaten and various other deep percussion instruments make for a quite heavy freakout session with plenty of banged gongs, chiming xylophones and general chaos threatening to overtake and crumble the whole edifice - but never quite managing it. An enjoyable sonic soundscape, even if it doesn't quite warrant the full 7 minutes.

Aoum was the buzzword of many of the hippy communities getting into transcendental meditation - and it's probably Alan Watts fault, among others. This, again, is not the complete chaos it could have been, and puts me in mind of some Gong moments - while, of course, predating that illustrious band. This is a really fun and sensual track.

To round things off, we have the 16-minute superjam, Empires of the Sun, which begins a bit of a rocker (with gongs and soft chanting, naturally!). A wonderful groove emerges before a minute is even up - but due to the freeform nature of the album, this soon gives way to meandering and general acidic silliness - as you would hope, really. Maybe 16 minutes is pushing it a bit - depends on your state of mind, I guess...

As a stepping stone from the underground scene to truly progressive music, this is an intriguing document that proves that not all hippy music is boring meandering nonsense - this is actually very enjoyable (and silly) meandering nonsense, and all good because of it.

Unlike many of the obscure albums from this time (and some of the less obscure albums in following years), this one really is a true gem - when taken for what it is.

Because of the time of its release and the vital link it provides, I'm going to say that this is an Excellent addition to any Prog Music collection - not quite essential, as it'll hardly have you excercising the intellectual muscles - but it does predate and form the foundation of an entire Teutonic genre of Progressive Rock, and you'd be well advised to follow up a listen of this by checking out Supernatural Fairytales by Art, and Spooky Tooth's first 4 or 5 LPs to see how this all ties into heavy metal music.

Hence 3.5 stars, erring on 4.

Certif1ed | 4/5 |


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