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Spectrum - Spectrum Part One CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.21 | 20 ratings

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4 stars Spectrum were one of the most original bands to come out of Australia in the early 1970s - they simply do not sound like anyone else I can think of. In a genre that generally prizes virtuosity they are an anomaly, original drummer Mark Kennedy being the only real virtuoso in the band - but they were masters at creating atmospheric music that keeps the listener enthralled, particularly when Lee Neale cranks up the Hammond.

On this first album, Mike Rudd hasn't really developed the strong song-writing skills he would eventually become famous for. The songs are generally little one-verse affairs that then become the launching pad for extended instrumental passages. Nevertheless, Rudd already displays a strong gift for melody on tracks such as "Superbody", "Drifting" and "Mumbles I Wonder Why", while the comparatively low-key vocal melody of "Fiddling Fool" is lifted by a memorable organ riff. The most memorable tune is Ross Wilson's "Make Your Stash", borrowed from Wilson's 'special occasion' band Sons of the Vegetal Mother, with whom Rudd occasionally played - Wilson's more hyperactive version was eventually recorded by Daddy Cool - Spectrum play it their own way, using it as a lauching pad for a dissonant (in a good way) guitar/organ workout. The instrumental passages in "Fiddling Fool" and "Superbody" rely on atmosphere more than musical invention (particularly Rudd's use of recorder on the latter). The arranging skills step up more on the last two tracks - "Drifting" features some great organ/bass interplay and a good excuse for Kennedy to shift the beat around. "Mumbles I Wonder Why" starts in a similar vein, before finishing with a recorder/organ duet that I consider to be one of the most beautiful moments in all Australian prog.

The Aztec re-release contains no fewer than three versions of Spectrum's contemporaneous smash hit "I'll Be Gone" (including a demo bereft of the famous harmonica riff, but with a more fiery organ part), two versions of it's b-side "Launching Place part II" as well as the considerably rarer part I, and a demo of the unreleased "You Just Can't Win" which is reminiscent of Traffic.

sl75 | 4/5 |


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