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Khan - Space Shanty CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.27 | 635 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Simply My Favorite Canterbury Album

The Canterbury scene was famous for the various mixing and matching that happened between top artists. Keyboard / organist Dave Stewart and Guitarist / Vocalist Steve Hillage were among those rolling stones with major roles in several of the main bands of the genre. In fact, they played together in several different groups, and their comfort with each other was instrumental in several great records. But the peak of their interaction, to my ear, is Khan's Space Shanty. Both musicians had achieved master-level skills but were still developing their artistry. Clearly still excited and hungry, they were far from the rawness of their early work in Arzachel / Uriel. Space Shanty really is a nearly equal balance between the two, where several of their other works are dominated by one or the other.

While the album first comes off as a very good bluesy space jam, closer listening reveals just how intricately composed many of the pieces are. Intertwining lines, call and response, multiple time signatures, all appear in a deceptively complex music. Many of the instrumental passages remind me of the Allman Brothers in tonality, with the organ / lead guitar combo often in unison or complimentary lines. Yet there is so much more going on here. Some sections are classic symphonic prog, some space jam (some of the best ever, I might add), a little blues rock. Despite spanning across the entire prog genre, the sound is remarkably focused and consistent.

Steve Hillage's vocals aren't beautiful, but they are as good as many hard rock singers, and the vocal interactions with bassist Nick Greenwood are sometimes heavenly. His guitar work is simultaneously free and precise, exploratory and skilled. From bluesy psychedelia to crazy space noises, Hillage's sound changed quite a bit over the course of his career. But on Space Shanty all of these elements are present in tasty helpings. Virtually nothing is over the top here. For an artist whose later signature was wild exploration, this is the album where his superb musicianship (which brought Daevid Allen a little nearer to earth in Gong) really gets to shine.

Dave Stewart's effected organ was a staple on many Canterbury records, and his work here is beautiful. Fans of Hatfield and National Health will certainly recognize the tones he uses. But never has he had such a perfect foil. The organ sounds blend so well with the guitar. Stewart's moves from background layering to lead solos are so seamless. His skills are quite strong, but his musicianship is so far ahead of some of the other prog showoffs both historical and current. His ability to compliment a song brings this music from good to phenomenal.

If you like Deep Purple, Allman Brothers, this album is going to appeal to you even if you've never listened to a prog album in your life. If you love Gentle Giant, RPI, or Jazz Fusion, you're going to find plenty to admire here too. I liked this album the first time I heard it, but it just keeps getting better on multiple listens. It combines so many things so well?.

If you can get this album, buy it, you won't regret having this in your collection. While not all will rate it masterpiece as I do, I think any rock fan, prog or not, can enjoy many many listens with this great album.

Negoba | 5/5 |


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