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The Flock - Dinosaur Swamps CD (album) cover

DINOSAUR SWAMPS

The Flock

 

Eclectic Prog

3.09 | 24 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The Flock made a rather remarkable transformation on their second album. The lineup is the same including violin impresario Jerry Goodman, but rather than the big brass and jazzy sound that dominated the first record, this one features copious amounts of multi- tracked vocals, an almost country-rock mood and violin work that sometimes borders on what can only be described as 'fiddling'. All in all I have to say I like this album very much, especially since the production quality is noticeably improved over their debut. Still, the significant shift in sound is quite surprising and must have been a bit of a shock to whatever fans they had in the early seventies. Rather than sounding like Chicago or BS&T, comparisons to the Grateful Dead are quite a bit more apropos this time around.

The opening "Green Slice" sounds like Steve Howe setting in on a session with Jerry Garcia, while "Big Bird" retains that country-fried rock sound but adds in the discordant brass that distinguished the middle part of their first album.

"Hornschmeyer's Island" would qualify these guys as a progressive band even if none of their other music had. The shifting tempos and moods along with a blast of vocals followed by a series of contrasting saxophones and trumpet make for a complex and engaging song all by themselves, but the shift midway to a torrid bass rhythm and dissonant violin solo is simply too cool for 1971, and something that impresses even today. Only a real turd of a filler track would have taken away from this, and fortunately the band managed to avoid including such a track which ultimately saves the record as a whole.

I think the oddest tune in the band's entire discography comes next on this record, a bluesy and driving version of James Taylor's laconic "Lighthouse" that apparently only salvages a few of the original lyrics and a heavily amped-up version of Taylor's guitar chord progression. Otherwise this is a heavy rock number that bears almost no resemblance to the original, but does trot out the same sort of harmonized vocals their debut album features, but that sound much better this time around thanks to the improved engineering.

"Crabfoot" is mostly an instrumental track with plenty of trumpet and saxophone (three of them if I hear correctly), a blazing number that shows the band members had managed to gel as a unit after a couple years of touring and studio work together. The scat-like vocals toward the end are unnecessary but don't take much away from the groove.

I'm not sure what the group was trying to accomplish with "Mermaid", a sort of British folk- sounding minstrelly thing that I probably would have appreciated more had it come out on a Dulcimer or Incredible String Album rather than a Flock record. Still, I like the song and give the group some credit for being willing to experiment.

Finally "Uranian Sircus" starts off sounding like something Principal Edward's Magic Theatre would have done, but morphs into a funky and almost psych number with a hippy version of white rap and a frenetic guitar riff that is as annoying as it is intriguing. A truly weird tune that could have only been recorded in 1971 or by Ozric Tentacles, and probably nowhere in between. Very cool.

I actually like this album better than the band's debut, although in the end I can't give it anymore than the three stars I gave that one simply because it is good but not outstanding. Three stars in a five star rating system is just too broad a range I guess. Anyway if you are curious at all about the band I would recommend this one first, followed by their debut record if you're still interested. And there's a CD reissue that combines both of them if you're feeling frisky and want to check them both out.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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