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TOUCH

Touch

 

Proto-Prog

4.03 | 67 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars I grew up with progressive rock from its earliest days when I worked weekends in a local record shop and had ample opportunity to hear all sorts of music. The seismic change of progressive rock brought a revolution to my popular musicexperience, and came upon the heels of the British variant of the summer of love and then the British blues boom. And then the definition of "progressive rock" was simply music pushing the frontiers of rock into other musical territories, initially hybridised with folk, jazz, classics, blues, Indian music, etc.. The somewhat quirky and novel approach to arrangements made by American groups such as the Electric Prunes (e.g. "Mass" album) and Vanilla Fudge (e.g. "You Keep Me Hanging On", the UK single) would have given some British musicians ideas for change and innovation. Away from the pop charts, rock music progressed beyond the basic tune structure of verse/chorus/verse/chorus etc.. The unison of The Moody Blues with the Decca Records house orchestra, resulted "Days Of Future Past" , long said to be one of the earlier examples of progressive rock - musically something more ground-breakingl than derived, how ever unsatisfactory much of record was to many of us at the time.

However, an American recording slipped in the UK and really got me - it still holds on 37 years later. This was Touch's first and only album. And this was 1969. Friends whocould afford to regularly weekend in the London underground clubs, quickly picked up on Touch, buying the import. These clubs were where Hendrix and many of the rock celebs went after hours, where the DJs had to be on the ball with new music. I willing to gamble that members of Yes, Genesis and many other bands, then still to make the break into the big time, were listening to this stuff and were influenced. Some months after the USA release "Touch" was finally released in the UK by Decca on their Deram speciality label. At the time this release was rumouredto be in exchange for a Pentangle album being released in the USA!! (In passing, the difference between the US and UK releases: both were gatefolded, the US version folding out to a full 18 by 12, while the UK less clever but folding out to 24 by 12 and also included a poster -I still have it).

Touch's record readily meets my criteria for progressive rock: music that progressed rock music to new boundaries - and in 1967 to 68 when this was recorded, there was little risk of overlap with other bands' music. I don't deny that with the sun in west, the wind behind you and on a downhill run, you may hear their garage and psychedelic antecedents but.... But I point you to the ideas expressed in the lyrics on several of their tunes, that predate similar ideas touted better known prog bands, (e.g. the anti-school thing of Waters/Floyd in "The Wall", shown in "Miss Teach"). Compared to many prog recordings of the 70's, instrumentation here may sound primitive but the major developments in musical technology exploited by prog bands, occurred from 1970 onwards. Even so the playing is good, and the arrangement by Gallucci outstanding: it is evident innovative studio techniques were being used to produce new sonic effects. With the particular examples of the two tracks (particular long term favourites, played over and over again) "Alesha & Others" and "75" - particularly when run in sequence for a 13 minute plus prog gem - these have many forms of arrangement heard later in British prog releases, e.g. the rondoing used by Tony Banks.

Shift forward 20 years and the 90's. I couldn't understand why virtually every American acquaintance, who professes a long term love of prog rock, has never heard of Touch - remember I'm a Brit. Surely somebody recalls this classic album across the Atlantic? Edward Macan makes no reference to Touch in his book "Rocking the Classics" - although mention of Touch would throw one of Macan's central theses about the origins of prog, off kilter. Checking US web sites of prog artists you won't found reference to Touch until recently. Jerry Lucky's entry on Touch (Progressive Rock Files) is very brief. In deed a forgotten gem but a record which is seminal in the development of UK and USA progressive rock.

A fuller Touch discography: Touch (Colisseum/London Records,USA LP, 1969)· Touch (Deram DML 1033 [mono] SML1033[stereo] UK LP, 1969) · Touch (Remastered/remixed, inc. outtakes) (Renaissance CD cat no RCD1001, 1992) · Buried Treasures (outtakes plus tracks by Stray Dog and Gracious, Renaissance CD, cat no. RCD 1006, 1992) · Touch (for North American market: remastered/remixed, inc. all outtakes, Wild Places Records CD, 2003 - currentlyavailable directly from the label) Touch (for European market: remastered/remixed, inc. all outtakes on CD issued 2003, Eclectic Records , ECLCD 1005)

Dick Heath | 4/5 |

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