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The Masters Apprentices - Choice Cuts CD (album) cover

CHOICE CUTS

The Masters Apprentices

 

Proto-Prog

3.77 | 16 ratings

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T.Rox
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Choice Cuts a progressive and psychedelic sound begins to surface for The Masters.

A note: There may be some confusion about this album with European readers. Choice Cuts was released in Europe as 'The Masters Apprentices', sometimes with a heavily cropped version of the Hipgnosis designed cover. It is a totally different album to the Astor release under the name 'The Masters Apprentices' from 1967.

Choice Cuts represents a number of firsts for the Masters Apprentices: the first album the group has recorded where the intention was to go into a studio and record a complete album (the others being collections of work over a few years amalgamated into albums); the first of two albums recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios; and the first to feature the Masters line-up that would be considered the 'classic line-up' - Jim Keays, Doug Ford, Glenn Wheatley & Colin Burgess.

With the new line-up and the production guidance of Jeff Jarratt (an engineer on a number of The Beatles recordings and Pink Floyd's 'Piper At The Gates Of Dawn') the Masters recorded an album that was influenced by much of the new music they were exposed to while in the UK. These influences included King Crimson, Hendrix and Free from the heavier end of the music spectrum, and Donovan and Van Morrison from the acoustic end.

Choice Cuts is by no means a true progressive album, however it does step away from the beat sound of the past and migrate into progressive areas. "Michael" and "Easy To Lie" are a couple of tracks with a progressive edge. Both make use of some smouldering guitar from Doug Ford that reminds me of Uriah Heep's guitar sound. These are supplemented by the somewhat psychedelic "Our Friend Owsley Stanley III" (a direct reference to the LSD culture of the period), the tribute to the slain Martin Luther King with "Death Of A King", and "Song For A Lost Gypsy".

The hits from the Choice Cuts album are the ballad "Because I Love You" and the Latin- influenced "Rio De Camero". "Because I Love You" features Jeff Jarratt playing piano of the legendary white grand piano belonging to Paul McCartney, and has become an Australian classic over the years. "Rio De Camero" was written at the last minute to give the album another few of minutes playing time, however it did not become a hit until 1974 when it was released as a single to support the Masters "Best Of" album 'Now That It's Over'.

Overall Choice Cuts presents this incarnation of the Masters Apprentices as a competent and cohesive playing unit. It is an important album that showed that Australian artists could venture overseas, learn from their experiences, and translate that into music with a fair level of success.

While not rating high as a progressive album, the Dinosaur is giving Choice Cuts four stars. Why? Because of the influence Choice Cuts had on those artists that followed by giving belief that great albums could be made by Australian artists. This included the next Masters album, an outright progressive album in the form of 'A Toast To Panama Red'.

T.Rox | 4/5 |

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