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Salamander - Ten Commandments CD (album) cover

TEN COMMANDMENTS

Salamander

 

Proto-Prog

3.27 | 36 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars SALAMANDER were a British Proto-Prog quartet who had a brief but bright shining moment in the prog spotlight before slipping away like eels into the swirling mists of time. They came, they saw, but failed to conquer the progosphere with their one and only album "The Ten Commandments" in 1971, which virtually disappeared without trace, until now. Inevitably, it was a concept album, when the proggy concept album was king, with each of the ten songs loosely based on The Ten Commandments, so no surprise there then. You don't HAVE to be of a religious persuasion to enjoy this pompous prog album, because it's not meant to be taken seriously, but it's been ordained by the Prog Gods on high that we need to listen to this album, so let's check it out now, before we incur the wrath of the Prog Gods with a thunderbolt from the blue. Let us pray now, and give thanks to the Prog Gods for blessing us with this awesome album from on high:- "Our Father, Who art in Prog heaven, Give us this album, and forgive us our Genesis "Trespass" album, For thine is the Kingdom of Prog, and the Power and the Glory of Prog, For ever and ever, Amen."

Holy Moses! It's time now to have a listen to the first of the solid Prog-Rock tablets of stone handed down to Moses from the biblical Holy Mount of legend. We're in suitably reverential mood for "Prelude / He Is My God", which opens to the sound of a hauntingly-atmospheric church organ at the grand altar of Progressive Rock. This tremendous cathedral-esque opening number steadily builds up into the most wonderful crypt-kicking crescendo of overblown and pompous prog in all of its grandiose majesty and holy splendour. The religiously-inspired music sounds holier than the stained glass windows in Canterbury Cathedral with a grandness that's as awe-inspiring as the gleaming white marble of the Acropolis of Athens, or an ancient Roman Amphitheatre. You really have to hear this album to believe it, because the music is so powerfully inspirational that it's enough to turn a lifelong atheist into the most devout of religious believers, but that's the power and the glory of almighty Prog-Rock. After such a grand auspicious opening, How on God's Holy Earth do you follow that!?? You follow it with "Images", a dynamic Stormbringer of thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening Heavy Prog that hits you straight between the eyes with the unrelenting pounding and percussive energy of a steamhammer. When you're sufficiently recovered from that sonic attack, you can relax and bask in the warm glow of "People", an altogether gentler refrain that's simply beautiful. It's the kind of gloriously uplifting tune that makes you want to run out into the street and sing "Oh Happy Day" at the top of your voice, despite the strange bemused looks from passers-by. In fact, the entire album has a delightful celebratory air to it that makes you feel glad to be alive and full of the joys of spring, even in the bleak midwinter, in a snowstorm at midnight. Feel free to join in too and sing along with "God's Day", a song that's as bright and radiant as a brilliant ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds, and sounding like a religious hybrid of early Blood, Sweat & Tears, on steroids. This fine upstanding album is like musical Viagra to the ears. It's positively bursting at the seams with joy and love and passion. Side One draws gently to a close now with "Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother", a sweet message of love and devotion that leaves you feeling all warm and cuddly inside. Altogether now, "Ahh!"

Opening Side Two in dramatic style, we arrive now at the Sixth Commandment/Song in the Decalogue: "(Thou Shalt Not) Kill", a tremendously rousing and anthemic display of pompous prog in all of its magnificent glory, featuring theatrical spoken word passages (with shades of the Moody Blues), adding a solemn and sombre air to the high drama of the occasion. After all, this is a song about a heinous murder, followed by the dastardly villain being sentenced to death by hanging, so it's literally a matter of life or death, or just a matter of death, as there's no leniency to be shown or expected for the accused here. After that dark depressing tale, it's time to lighten the mood now with the wistfully nostalgic sound of "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery", a gorgeous Folk-Pop refrain, bringing back fond memories of The Seekers in their heyday. Salamander are Bringing on Back the Good Times again here, so it's time to put on those tie-dyed cheesecloth shirts, bright flared trousers and gold platform boots and celebrate the golden era of the early 1970's, when everything was fab and groovy. This uplifting song is positively awash with golden scintillating strings, bathing the listener in a warm radiance of brilliant Sunshine Pop. The music's so bright, you gotta wear shades, and break open a bottle of suntan lotion at the same time. Onto the Eighth Commandment/Song now with "(Thou Shalt Not) Steal", a sonorous non-stop artillery barrage of heavy Heavy Prog, with the dynamic fired-up organ player attacking his keyboards with all of the passionate fury and gusto of a whirling dervish in a sandstorm. No one's going to Steal his thunder here! And so dear friends, we come to Commandment/Song No. 9: "False Witness", a lively and energetic Jazz-Rock number with a bold and brassy attitude - very much in the style of Ginger Baker's Air Force - with the powerful singer imbuing the music with all of the emotional intensity his vocal chords can muster. He was probably in need of a throat lozenge, a stiff drink and a good lie down after that impressive performance. The Tenth Commandment decrees that thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's "Possessions", but you can certainly "covet" this sensational storming Rocker, which rounds off the album in furiously fine style.

Salamander have seared a blazing trail of God Almighty Symphonic Prog with the magnificent majesty of their marvellous ultra-rare one-off masterpiece. The Eleventh Commandment of Prog, ordained by the Prog Gods on high, should be that every self-respecting prog fan owns a copy of Salamander's "Ten Commandments". This superb album is as welcome an addition to your prog collection as being given the welcome news that you're to be employed as a stage hand by Fleetwood Mac for one night only, where your job will be to adjust Stevie Nicks' knicker gusset when she's on stage. If, on the other hand, you're lucky enough to already own a rare vinyl copy of this fine album, then that's as lucky as walking into an antiques shop to buy some trinkets and curios, and discovering the Ark of the Covenant for sale at a bargain price. Well, maybe not quite THAT lucky.

The Ten Commandments of Prog:-

1. The Prog Gods are the Lords of Prog and Thou shalt have no other Prog Gods before thee

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image of a classic Prog-Rock album cover

3. Thou shalt not take the names of the Lords of Prog in vain

4. Remember the Black Sabbath day, for the seventh day is for the Holy worship of Prog-Rock

5. Honour thy father and thy mother's Prog-Rock collection

6. Thou shalt not murder a classic Prog-Rock anthem

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery with a fellow Prog-Rock fan's husband or wife

8. Thou shalt not steal a Prog-Rock album

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against a fellow Prog-Rock fan

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's Prog-Rock collection

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |

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