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Egg - Egg CD (album) cover

EGG

Egg

 

Canterbury Scene

3.69 | 166 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cracking?

I first came across Egg's debut album around the time of its release when a friend bought it on spec. Having heard it a few times in the early 70's, and with positive memories of it, I picked up the recently released remaster to see whether my recollections were accurate.

Egg were very much a part of the Canterbury scene, citing Soft Machine as one of their major influences. The band was led by virtuoso keyboard player Dave Stewart, later of Hatfield and the North and latterly his long running musical partnership with his wife Barbara Gaskin. Stewart had previously been a member of a band called Uriel with legendary guitarist Steve Hillage, so it is interesting that Egg chose to become a very one dimensional unit, lead guitar being completely absent and organ becoming the sole dominant sound of the band. While Stewart is clearly the band "leader, the compositions are generally credited to most if not all of the group members collectively.

"Egg" was one of the most successful releases on Decca's short lived Nova label, which was dedicated to prog and other serious music. That is not to say the album sold in great numbers, but rather reflects the disastrously poor results returned by the label's other signings.

As for the music itself, the album moves from a deceptively pop like start, through predominantly jazz influenced colours to at times unstructured improvisation. Side one of the original LP consists of four separate tracks, plus three brief interludes. The interludes (the briefest of which, "bulb" is 9 seconds long) can be dispensed with without further comment. "While growing my hair" has distinct echoes of jazz pop band The Peddlars, being a jaunty 60's sounding piece. It was one of the last tracks recorded for the album, and the only one engineered by future Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker. It is immediately succeeded by the similar sounding "I will be absorbed", a Rare Bird/Beggar's Opera like organ based number with distinctive vocals.

"Fugue in D Minor" is a straightforward adoption of Bach's "Toccata & Fugue in D Minor" played on organ.

The second side of the album consists entirely of "Symphony No.2" in four Movements plus a brief interlude ("Blane"). Strangely, despite the fact that the entire piece is made up of improvisations on classical themes (Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" is immediately noticeable in "First movement"), the third movement was omitted from the original LP due to concerns over the references to the work of Stravinsky. It is however restored to its rightful place on the remastered CD version. "Second movement" has distinct echoes of a theme from ELP's "Tarkus".

The suite is almost exclusively dominated by organ, and a single tone organ at that. While enjoyable, it does become somewhat tedious as the track progresses, especially in the jazzier improvisations of movement four.

The expanded re-master also includes the A and B side of a single released by the group prior to the album. "Seven is a jolly good time" takes its name from the time signature of the chorus. It's a light, bouncy song along the lines of Caravan's more frivolous numbers.

In all, an album of historical significance which still sounds good today. Some of the music displays a charming naivety, while other parts border on the indulgent.

If only they had recruited a guitarist.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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