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Aardvark - Aardvark CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.38 | 87 ratings

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3 stars The opening riff on “Copper Sunset” had me expecting Ozzy to start belting out the lyrics to “Sweet Leaf” or something. The difference here of course is that vocalist Dave Skillin doesn’t have anywhere near the chops of Mr. Osbourne, and the instrument here isn’t Tony Iommi’s guitar but rather former Black Cat Bones keyboardist Steve Milliner on a Hammond organ laying down a heavy dirge.

This track is a bit misleading though, as most of the rest of the album consists of marginally progressive psych and heavy rock tunes that are very much rooted in the late sixties. There’s no guitar anywhere on this album and although I’m sure that was a bit of a novelty back in the day, it does get a bit tedious at times.

The sounds are similar to lots of other heavier acts of the same period, from the Nice (“Very Nice of You to Call”), to a Mountain-like thudding rock number with “Greencap”, to a sort of poor-man’s Doors bluesy tune with “I Can't Stop”.

The longest tune on the album is the nine-minute “Outing” that combines incessant Hammond with Canterbury-like harmonizing vocals and a rising bass line that eventually turns into a solo and later combines with the Hammond for a freak-out instrumental passage that is more ambitious than it is good. Props to them for trying though.

The quality of songs is uneven though, and “Outing” is followed by the weakest number in “Once upon a Hill” where Milliner substitutes his keyboard for a recorder and minstrel-like cheesy vocals right up until the final moments when he rips out a few bars of hardcore organ bleats that lead into a killer closer with a totally improvised jam session simply titled “Put That in your Pipe”. Yes, indeed! Every stoner within earshot of the studio must have been clutched in an orgasmic rapture while they listened to that one.

And speaking of studios, as near as I can tell that’s pretty much where most of the music these guys made got played, as they really didn’t tour and disbanded shortly after recording this.

Not the kind of record I’d go out of my way to hunt down, but kind of fun to listen to nearly forty years later and appreciate the artistic freedom of a time when four guys could slap together a band that didn’t even have a guitar player and still get away with calling themselves a rock group. Good for them! Three stars just because it’s fun to listen to, and I have a soft spot for old Hammond organ music. Recommended for heavy rock and nostalgic psych fans.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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