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The Masters Apprentices - Choice Cuts [Aka: Master's Apprentices] CD (album) cover


The Masters Apprentices



3.83 | 39 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars Australia's THE MASTERS APPRENTICES won a free boat trip in late 1969 to England and spent a few months free from touring duties and any pressures of releasing the second album as all the material was recorded and ready for release. This gave the band the opportunity to refresh their creative mojo and given that London was ground central for the burgeoning prog and hard rock scenes back around 1970, these Aussies became smitten with the wealth of musical expressions that London offered and spent their time in the UK advancing their art form beyond the cheesy playing catch up garage rock / pop of their first two albums. The results amounted to a massive leap in creativity which finally found the band latching onto its own style and place in the greater music scene.

Totally impressed with the superior recording studios and music scene in general, the band ended up staying in London and soaked in the sounds of everyone from King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix and Small Faces to the psychedelic folk sounds of Donovan and Free. With an arsenal of fresh tracks to work with, the band landed in Abbey Road studios and recorded, mixed and mastered the newest album in only a month and then CHOICE CUTS (released simply as "Masters Apprentices" in the UK) came out in 1971, just a year after the anachronistic predecessor "Masterpiece." Sounding primarily like a 70s boogie rock style of hard rock, the band still retained a whiff of their earlier psychedelic leanings as well as a mix of folk based songs such as the single "Because I Love You," which made use of the acoustic guitar in the style of Led Zeppelin. While the band was aiming to strike it big in the UK, the single only charted in its native Australia.

The album opens with the Latin flavored shuffle groove of "Rio de Camero" and then followed by the acoustic ballad "Michael" which showcases THE MASTERS APPRENTICES' continuation of a variety of styles that range from heavy to soft however this time around the tracks flow together smoothly and the album as a whole feels cohesive. "Easy To Lie" and "Catty" showcase the band's boogie shuffle abilities with heavy rockin' guitar riffs and nice leads. Jim Keays vocal style had improved remarkably since the last album and on this album sounded something like a mix of Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Free's Paul Rodgers. Likewise some of the grooves were right out of the Free playbook as well. In fact the band had crafted an interesting sum of influences that went into a style of their own making. Overall the tracks came out extremely melodic with the instrumental interplay lights years beyond the album of a mere year prior.

"Death Of A King" is a tribute to the great Martin Luther King Jr. and the track sounds like an usual mix of the Groundhogs and Zeppelin's acoustic side with perhaps a touch of Van Morrison. "Song For A Lost Gypsy" goes for a heavy blues rock and funk style with a contrasting falsetto vocal performance. "I'm Your Satisfier" is a fun little boogie number that rock the jew's harp and all! "Song For Joey - Part II," wait! Where was part one?!! It's nothing more than an acoustic outro that ends the album. Despite all the rave reviews from the critics the band really didn't make much of a splash with CHOICE CUTS most likely due to the glut of fresh prog and harder rock clogging the record stores in 1971 London. Whatever the case the album remained an obscurity until collectors rediscovered it in the 1980s and it became an underground favorite.

It's really hard to believe that this is the same band that released the outdated "Masterpiece" just one years prior. CHOICE CUTS may not have been the most original sounding album on the scene during 1971 but it did stand out in a few ways. First of all the percussion was more dynamic and varied than most hard rock album as it utilized Latin rhythm styles and likewise the diversity of guitar licks and leads made this a more varied album than the typical blues based hard rock band of the early 70s. While not exactly prog, the influences did creep in with tones and textures and the desire to make the chord progressions a bit more spiced up than usual. Basically a folk-tinged heavy psych album, CHOICE CUTS delivered the goods where previous endeavors had failed. Against all odds, THE MASTERS APPRENTICES had come of age but unfortunately that wasn't good enough for any kind of breakthrough success. The band would push on for one more album and then call it quits. This is probably their crowning achievement.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |


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