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Circus - Circus CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.20 | 26 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars The self-titled one and only album release from the English band Circus (1969) is a rare treasure and one of the earliest and finest examples of a genre that would later come to be defined as Jazz-Rock. The album features two wonderful cover versions of well-known songs by The Beatles and The Mama & the Papas.

The album opens with a terrific cover version of The Beatles "Norwegian Wood" which, dare I say it, is even better than the original. It's a perfect 7-minute-long introduction to the album and represents the best song on the album as a whole. There's a marvellously long instrumental build-up with some skilful fuzzy guitar riffs twinned with pleasantly understated and laid-back drumming. The music is overlaid with the sound of a saxophone, which is where the Jazz-Rock element comes into it. The real highlight of the song comes in the instrumental break in the middle section with repeated heavy guitar riffs and a powerful rhythm section which gathers in intensity and speed towards the conclusion. Track 2 "Pleasures of a Lifetime" is the longest song on the album at over 8 minutes in duration. It's a beautifully sweet-sounding song featuring warm and tender vocals and a gentle guitar, leaving one feeling in a pleasantly mellow mood. The mid-section features a Jazz break with some versatile saxophone playing and up-tempo drumming before returning to a more sedate and low-key pace for the song's finale. Track 3 "St. Thomas" is an uplifting and fast-paced instrumental Jazz number featuring some excellent work from the flautist, very reminiscent of Ian Anderson in Jethro Tull. Track 4 "Goodnight John Morgan" is another Jazz instrumental which continues at a more relaxed pace and features a very pleasant piano twinned with saxophone and gentle drumming which is easy on the ears. Track 5 "Father of My Daughter" is another soft and gentle song with pleasant-sounding vocals in similar vein to Track 2 and this very agreeable and laid-back number compliments the album nicely. The unusually titled "II B.S." is the next tune on the album, opening with strange sound effects, before launching into a fast-paced, 6-minute-long Jazz instrumental jam session, where the skilled musicians are giving free-rein to demonstrate their musical dexterity to the fullest extent. Track 7 features the second cover version on the album, "Monday Monday" by The Mamas & the Papas. Again, this very talented group of musicians demonstrate their prowess with the long and Jazzy instrumental introduction. The vocals kick-in about halfway through the song and it stands as a very worthy cover version of a great song. The final song "Don't Make Promises" rounds off the album beautifully with another nice gentle song featuring a masterly instrumental Jazz break midway through the song.

A superb album overall and highly recommended for fans of early Jazz-Rock. It's a must-have addition to any Jazz-Rock lover's album collection.

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |


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