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Khan - Space Shanty CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.27 | 637 ratings

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5 stars Have I been waiting to review this incredible testament to very early 70s prog and admitedly one of its crown jewels! It remains one of the highest rated prog albums ever, peculiar only in that this band had only one album and what a recording it was! Khan captures two immense talents at the burgeoning of their erudite careers in Steve Hillage (part of the great "Steve from the UK" bloc along with Hackett and Howe) and the irascible organist Dave Stewart, back in 1972 when the grass was very green and some girls embarked on their path towards becoming future porn-queens. The title track "Space Shanty" has both gents ripping through their instruments in their so very original style, Steve letting his axe fly into the darkest depths of space, echoing manically with Stewart's whimsically fuzzy organ runs. Bassist Mick Greenwood keeps the pot boiling (no pun intended!) and the drums shuffle intensely along for the cosmic ride. This is the nascent birth of space-prog along with Gong and Hawkwind, a testimonial to the future yearning of creative musical geniuses that sprouted everywhere. There is an obvious Canterbury connection in the spirited jazzy excursions (especially when vocals are called to perform) and the breezy organ fills that litter the recording. The gentler, more ambient "Stranded" intervenes with Stewart's rolling organ sweeping masterfully and aided by some sparkling piano, giving Hillage a platform to sing in his usual über-hippy style. The piece includes the humorously sub-titled inclusion "Effervescent Psycho Novelty No.5" (something I wish I wrote!) , a guitar flexout where Stevie lets fly on both stereo channels, always at odds with the crystalline piano sprinklings. Psychedelic music at it's definitely most pristine. The bluesy guitar rant on "Mixed Up Man?" is as intense and fiery as Hillage can be, a cosmic blizzard that starts off nice and soft, suddenly exploding like a supernova when the main lead riff enters the space, in complete agreement with Mick Greenwood taking over the mike. The mid-part scat voice/guitar duet is grand, the organ raging comfortably intricate and sparked by some cool bass runs. The sheer depth and power of the outro/finale is spellbinding! A great track! "Driving to Amsterdam" seems to be a fan favorite (if one judges by a recent PA poll), purely typical Canterbury escapade, a ripping opportunity to create incredible soundscapes where both slippery electric guitar and whomping keys duel intensely. Not even the slightest discredit to Alan Holdsworth or Phil Miller, but Soft Machine and/or National Health with Hillage's scintillating guitar would have been sooooo kick-ass! Here his series of two-channel solos is a true classic, hard , brief and deadly each time. Once again Stewart keeps hard on the fretboard magician's heels, splashing intrinsically glorious passages with shimmering ivory runs. "Stargazers" is a highly hippy affair where love, peace and space vie for attention, all liberally flavored with tongue in cheek humor, the super-cool guitar illuminating the prog fire (Steve was blisteringly fast, incredible fluid and a complete sonic star trekker) with a plethora of dizzying notes. Yes, it's quite dated in terms of sound but the creativity, the bold ambition and the sublime musicianship combine to make this a thoroughly exhilarating audio exercise. The closer "Hollow Stone" includes the "Escape of the Space Pilots" (perhaps inspiring Robert Calvert of Hawkwind fame), bids farewell forever with an outrageous intergalactic voyage that hypnotizes in silken mists, a long organ tirade that is a true classic and explains the universal high esteem Stewart is held on this site and many others, as a consummate (Hall of Fame) keyboardist. The somber guitar riffing weaves through cordons of electro effects, searching, grasping, enraged and outré, a collapsing sea of sounds kills this one off brilliantly. Shape of things to come. Very good things! 5 Mongols
tszirmay | 5/5 |


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