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Haze - Cellar Replayed CD (album) cover





3.37 | 13 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars The best of the three 80's studio albums

Originally released in 1985 and re-mastered for CD in the year 2000, Cellar Replayed was Haze's second full-length release. There is however very little indicating the time of its release as it does not have a typical 80's sound at all. Apart from maybe some of the keyboard styles, there is very little that connects Haze with the British Neo-Prog scene of that decade. This sounds more like coming out of an earlier era. There are touches of Nektar, Strawbs, Genesis, Barclay James Harvest, Camel, and even Black Sabbath. The sound of this album is occasionally heavy, occasionally psychedelic, occasionally folky, occasionally symphonic, and often all these things at once. The recording is admittedly a bit rough around the edges, but the music is consistently good. Though, while hardly a work of sonic perfection, I find its relative roughness quite charming. Underneath the somewhat raw surface, a set of compelling songs can be found.

I actually knew most of these songs before from the excellent 30th Anniversary Shows double live album recorded and released in 2008. The songs featured on that live album that originally appeared here are Turn Around, Portrait, A Firkin Of Mead, Unto The Dawn, In The Light, and Seven Stones. The latter is a superb Genesis-like song. A Firkin Of Mead is a wonderful folky instrumental piece featuring flute and acoustic guitar. With the exception of Turn Around which is a rather average rocker, all of the mentioned songs are very good ones. But I must stress that the recent live versions are even better than these original studio recordings. The two McMahon brothers, Chris and Paul, are very good songwriters and here they present a consistent set of songs. There is an appealing mix between rockers and ballads and between songs and instrumentals. The keyboard-driven instrumental Dig Them Mushrooms has a Tony Banks/Clive Nolan feel. I Fear That I'll... is really just a mood-setter for Survive and the two Aardvarks pieces are short bluesy instrumentals that add little value to the album. But they also do not distract too much from the nice flow of the album.

In contrast with the other two Haze albums from the 80's (all of which have now been reissued on CD), Cellar Replayed mostly avoids the straightforward Blues Rock, Pop Rock, and Funk Rock numbers and concentrates strongly on the progressive side of the band. As such, it is clearly the best of the band's three 80's releases. Sadly, despite all their talents, Haze have remained an underground act to the present day. In my opinion, they certainly deserve much more attention from the Prog Rock community.

The CD version also contains some bonus live tracks. The aforementioned Seven Stones and The Exiles Song are both excellent but the sound quality on these live tracks is sadly not very good. The eight minute plus The Exiles Song starts with an emotional vocal over acoustic guitars and flutes and develops into a full blown Rock affair. I very much hope that this superb song will be re-recorded by the band in the studio, it really deserves it!

This album has very obvious merits, and despite some imperfections I think it deserves a higher rating. However, beginners should probably start with the aforementioned 30th Anniversary Shows live album which features improved versions of many of these songs and is certainly an even better release overall.

A very good album by an unfairly overlooked band!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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