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Mandrill - Mandrill CD (album) cover

MANDRILL

Mandrill

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.05 | 13 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Progressive Rock with an African flavor. I can remember the first time I saw Mandrill on TV back in the early 70s; I was totally captured, not only by the music, but by the colorful appearance of this ensemble and the incredible number of instruments they could play. Early Mandrill was always an extended exotic fantasy of sprawling progressive arrangements featuring horns, percussion, screaming guitar solos, quiet mysterious flute passages, virtuoso keyboards and massive vocal choirs. This being Mandrill's first record, it is probably their most progressive and ambitious, but it is also the one that belongs the most with the time period from which it came.

Side two is probably the side of most interest to the prog-rock crowd with it's side long five movement 'Peace and Love'. This is late 60s/early 70s grandiose musical vision at it's most excessive as the Mandrill crew takes on almost any musical style imaginable from dark and gothic mystery to bright optimistic world jazz. The lyrics don't hold back either as Mandrill unfolds a tale of Biblical proportions that deals with love, peace, the future of mankind and other unfathomable mysteries. This side sounded incredible back in the day, but I'm not sure if it has aged well into the new century. If you take this music as a reflection of the time period in which it was created, then there is much to enjoy here.

If dated hippie pretensions undermine the lofty ambitions of the 'proggy' side two, side one is still one hundred percent right on with it's more streetwise mix of funk, jazz, soul, rock and world beat. Signature tune 'Mandrill' kicks things off with some energetic Afro-Latin rock that may remind some of Santana. Another highlight of this side, 'Symphonic Revolution', is the perfect Sunday afternoon jam with it's mellow mix of jazz, soul, strings and soaring vocal harmonies. It sounds like early Earth Wind & Fire might have gotten some inspiration from this one.

Once a landmark album, the ravages of time have made parts of this album seem a bit kitschy and excessive, yet if you like late 60s/early 70s culture and progressive African hippie music, it does not get any better than this.

js (Easy Money) | 4/5 |

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