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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Wowie Zowie! The World Of Progressive Music CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

3.67 | 4 ratings

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4 stars A masterly collection

From the opening notes of Touch's "Down At Circe's Place" you just know you're in good territory, with the driving piano riff providing an ELP level of aggression and bombast. This evolves via a maelstrom of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, contracts into reversed vocals and a wonderful guitar dive-bomb, which then settles into a whirlpool of manic psychedelia that goes somewhere into deep Amon Duul II territory. Watch out for the surprise re-entry!

Next up, the maestro of Blues, John Mayall is showcased in a fine example from his "Bare Wires" album - surely a proto-prog album in itself. Delicate bluesey guitar, violin and sax combine beautifully with Mayall's classic blues vocals into a dreamy drifting texture that goes way beyond mere "blues", yet manages to stay very close to it's roots.

Staying in blues territory, the superb Savoy Brown's "Train To Nowhere" is another great example of the masterful work of the bluesmen in the late 1960s. This track is a fairly surprising inclusion, however, as there is not much about it that suggests prog rock - there are far batter examples in Savoy Brown's catalogue, especially the wonderful "Raw Sienna" album. It is a wonderfully nostalgic piece of blues, however, and Chris Youlden is always a joy to listen to, as is the inventive guitar work of Kim Simmonds.

Johnny Almond's "Voodoo Forest" is much more firmly in prog territory, however - a haunting multi-timbral piece of floating ecstasy replete with vibraphones and saxophone creating a truly unique sound that would definitely appeal to fans of Gong or the more "out there" fusion. Johnny Almond, for those who don't know, was a widely respected session musician in the 1960s - and this track is a superb example of why. The track appears on the album "Music Machine" if you want to track down some more of the same!

East Of Eden round off side 1 of the vinyl verynicelyindeedthankyouverymuch with a pummelling drum propelling a manic bass/violin texture, over which the song is delivered in a style very reminiscent of Arthur Lee/Love. A fine example of how a standard pop/rock song can be made progressive - check out the wicked flute/violin duet in the instrumental coda.

Side 2 Kicks off with what is probably the best - at least, the only dark flavoured track on "From Genesis To Revelation". If you're curious to find out what Genesis sounded like before Trespass, this is actually not a good example, as the rest of "FGTR" is much lighter. However, as part of this collection, this is a superb track, with Gabriel showing his dramatic potential, and the band enjoying a good workout with some great "moments" including the dark keyboard intro and the all too brief bass and piano solos.

"Nights In White Satin" is well covered elsewhere - surely you already know this. Treat as a moment of familiarity in the middle of a world of the unknown and it's like a ray of sunlight through the dense forest.

William R Strickland is very hard to find information on - he released an album entitled "William R. Strickland Is Only The Name", on Deram, and the title track appears here. A somewhat edgy beginning with electronic noises kicks off a peculiar folk song along the lines of The Incredible String Band. You kind of wish that the guitar was in tune, but Strickland's society/technology and computer bashing vocals are engaging enough.

The John Cameron Quartet entry is a bit of an oddity, having a kind of "lounge-jazz" feeling overall, and a very obvious base on the Ray Noble classic "Love Is The Sweetest Thing" - but it's inclusion is very welcome and underlines the variety of influences in the Prog Rock genre.

Finally, the Keef Hartley Band give a rousing blues/psych fusion closer - nothing startlingly progressive, but a nice ending to an excellent collection of proto-prog, providing a superb base on which to branch out and explore the world of Progressive Rock in the 1970s and beyond.

The rating says it all: An excellent addition to any prog collection.

Certif1ed | 4/5 |


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