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Dr. Z - Three Parts To My Soul CD (album) cover

THREE PARTS TO MY SOUL

Dr. Z

 

Heavy Prog

4.01 | 43 ratings

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mystic fred
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars SPIRITUS, MANES ET UMBRA! Very unusual, one of the most unusual LP's i have ever heard actuallly! and that's saying something after 40 years proggin'!

"Three Parts To My Soul" is an album of mainly harpsichord based music, fresh, full of colour, no guitars apart from bass, (sounding very much like a psyche album from 1967 ), which may have contributed to its failure to sell more than 80 copies in the hammond/guitar-orientated musical landscape of 1971. This is one of many "lost" albums from this period recently reissued by companies such as Akarma in its original vinyl gatefold splendour, this particularly attractive triple-fold sleeve was designed by Barney Bubbles, who worked with Hawkwind and designed their "In Search of Space" album cover, which sold many more copies than "Three Parts To My Soul". I had heard stories about this legendary album over the years, including an article on the Vertigo label in "Record Collector" magazine at some time. I was intrigued by the MP3 sample on PA, "Evil Woman's Manly Child" , and I eventually managed to get hold of an Akarma vinyl reissue (not a very long 'honeymoon' period i know!) and wasn't at all disappointed, the sound quality is very very good and the three musicians, Professor Keith Keyes, Bob Watkins and Rob Watson play enthusiastically, with conviction, and very well considering this was basically supposed to be an ad hoc group, i don't know if they did much live work, i can't seem to find much history about Dr.Z at all .

But to the music, the description from the album sleeve is as follows - "The basis of the record is the concept of the division of the soul into three - the Spiritus, which represents the inherent good side of Man, the side of beauty, gentleness and goodness; the Manes or the part of the soul which inhabits the underworld, more benevolent than malevolent but mixing with the damned; and lastly the Umbra, the shade of the soul which refuses to leave the earth, and stays to haunt the world." ...and so on...sounds like a "damned " good hammer horror story to me!! The first track "Evil Woman's Manly Child" is an upbeat song with a great santana-style rhythm, grisly vocals (would sound great on a modern heavy metal album) and is one of my favourite tracks on the album. This is followed by a heartbeat intro to "Spiritus, Manes et Umbra", nearly 12 minutes, a very 60's sounding chorus chanting the song title, plenty of echoed atmosphere here, very spooky, then the song shifts into a fairly basic but good drum solo introduced by interplay with small tom toms then the full kit, very enjoyable for lovers of drum solos but not groundbreaking, though it has some exciting cozy powell style beats! The next track "Summer for the Rose" is not the best on the album but essential to the 'story'...." This song expresses man's (the singer's) knowledge, whilst alive, of the beautiful things on earth (the rose), his love for his Maker, and especially his love for his fellow men. Yet he is always aware too of his potential for evil and his need for redemption (Kyrie eleison - Lord have pity on me)." This song is followed by the sound of a gong and an almost genesis-sounding flute intro to "Burn in Anger", a slow, beautiful atmospheric song despite its title, then the middle section livens the song up. The flute drifts in at the end of the song, very short which is a shame i feel they could have done more with this.

Side 2 kicks off with a dramatic "harpsi-chord" introduction to "Too Well Satisfied", shows the singer, "now in the world of the damned, becoming increasingly disillusioned with his former life as he lived on earth" ( i think we all feel like that sometimes!), sounds a bit like some punk rock songs i've heard. This song ends with a rather stagey (nuclear?) bomb sound, leading into the 'last' track "In a Token of Despair", a rather gloomy atmospheric song which represents "Umbra", "the shade that must haunt the earth, with only dissatisfaction and the fear of judgement that pervades the singer's soul "- tell me about it, mate, we've all been there! Distant lonely voice on this one, and mostly piano, with a harpsichord solo. At ten minutes long, includes some nice backing vocals, great "Arthur Brown" style lead vocal and piano/bass/drums interplay.

The bonus tracks included on this copy are two short tracks not included on the original album "Lady Ladybird" and "People in the Street", which are more traditional early sixties style songs with honky tonk tinkling piano, rather poppy, and not near the standard of the main album. Perhaps they should have left these off, they do nothing for the main album at all, which i found very unusual, entertaining and highly underrated. Some may find it rather strange, but the music is fantastic, there are some some brilliant and original ideas, rhythms and melodies. although it may appear simple on first hearing, repeat listenings reveal many amazing facets of this unique album. in my opinion i would say based on the aforementioned qualities and its originality and uniqueness, possibly years ahead of its time,"Three Parts To My Soul" is a very enjoyable listen, i would happily call this an essential masterpiece of art rock!

mystic fred | 5/5 |

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