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Quicksand - Home Is Where I Belong CD (album) cover



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5 stars Quicksand were a melodic psychedelic/progressive rock band from South Wales. I am part Welsh myself, and on my first of two visits to Cardiff 5 years ago I found this album. I had heard it before and it had gone over my head, but since hearing it back then with "fresh ears" this has come to be one of my very favourite albums. I would even go as far as to say this is the best album the interesting Dawn label put out, then go even further to say they are the most unheralded treasure Wales ever produced. So what made them so intriguing? For starters, the guitar is soaring, snakey, and brilliant throughout the album and dominates the instrumental sound. The keyboards are tastefully used including some synthesizer, but mainly piano and a bit of mellotron. The music does lean heavily towards the guitar, though, both acoustic rhythm and electric lead/rhythm. Add to the guitars a professional sound and great harmony work from all four members and you have already a great album. What really pushes Quicksand into the upper echelon are 3 things: (A) Fantastic songwriting (B) Strong, yet warm lead vocals (C) Well written introspective lyrics. Each song tries something a little different, but there isn't a problem of the record being over-eclectic. For the most part, this is very melodic and could be described as a cross between The Parlour Band and Help Yourself, the latter are a Welsh band, no surprise. "Hideaway My Song" and "Sunlight Brings Shadows" begin the album on an impressive note with subtle progressive moves in a melodic psych context. Both are driving and cosmic. The rest of the album includes two medleys that go into intergalactic overdrive, and there is a lot of "space rock" on this album without any trace of that genre's penchant for self indulgence. This is a song oriented album, not a solo oriented album. Despite the late recording date it sounds much earlier and is more likely to appeal to fans of harmony rich melodic psych than full blown progressive. Like The Parlour Band, Fantasy, and Help Yourself the songs are the main focus here, but unlike Fantasy virtuoso guitar work dominates the music rather than keyboards. That makes this one a bit different. The heavily phased sections and inclinations towards drugged out late night folky progressive rock also are different. This is a favourite album of mine, and for anyone with an open mind and love for the best music of the late 60s to early 70s this is thoroughly reccommended. Also, they look way stoned on the cover!
Report this review (#84648)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is an interesting album from a band that isn’t well known. Quicksand were a Welsh group that appear to have started out as something of a cover band if you read between the lines of the liner notes for this album. Despite this the band’s bio on the back cover of the record states that they “were determined to give fans their brand of music rather than a pale imitation of others”.

Well, the tracks here are all original compositions as near as I can tell, but I wouldn’t say they are without some hints of imitation. “Empty Street, Empty Heart” for example features a guitar riff that sounds suspiciously similar to the one from the Allman Brothers’ “Sweet Melissa”, and the title track uses a bass line that I’m pretty sure these guys first heard on “Beginnings” while spinning their copy of The Chicago Transit Authority, an album that was a bigger hit for Chicago in the UK than it was at home. It seems unlikely the band members were not familiar with both of these records.

But beyond that the tracks here are both indicative of the style of blues-and-psych bands of that day, and show some decent attempts at innovation (mostly on guitar). The keyboards are mostly mellotron and piano, but neither Robert Collins nor the Davies brothers (no, not those Davies brothers) are particularly accomplished on keyboards. The acoustic and electric guitar work is better though, and these dominate most of the album along with some very pleasant harmonized vocals in places (“Empty Street, Empty Heart” and “Seasons” in particular). The bass on this album is all over the place, sometimes even out of synch with the rest of the music, but props to the guy for trying anyway.

The various solo vocal parts seem to be shared by at least a couple of the band members depending on the song, and since they credits don’t make it very clear who is singing what I can’t tell which one of them is out of tune on “Sunlight Brings Shadows”, but that is the one track that probably should have been an instrumental since the keyboards and drums are the best part of it.

The closing “Hiding it All” is an archetypical seventies soft-rock number from both a rhythm and vocals standpoint, and although the slow acoustic and electric rhythm guitar parts are nice ear-candy, they aren’t exactly pioneering.

I’m not sure these guys are really progressive folk, or really that they are even folk, but this is a fun album to listen to despite its shortcomings. I give it a mild recommendation to fans of music like Ambrosia, Argent and any number of pop-tinged artsy soft rock bands of the seventies. This is a low-end three star effort, with the one additional comment that the CD version does not appear to have been created from master tapes and so suffers at times from muddled bass and sounds a bit flat. If you run across it at a reasonable price, you could do worse.


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Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Very very good album. My latest favourite. Another brick of progressive songs' album in my prog collection's wall :) It is very good in: a) arrangements b) melody c) vocal d) 70-th atmosphere I really don't understand those who can give this album less than 5 stars :P I also can say that after several listens I didn't give this album more than 3 starts. But all's changed - 5 stars and no less! Seek and... not destroy but listen at that more than 5 or even 10 times (as for me :) )
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Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Quicksand is one of those obscure bands from mid '70's who release only one album in summer of 1974 named very suggestive Home is where I belong and then disappered. This band was and is quite unknow to larger public in contrast with the music which is very good. They are more a heavy prog band rather then a folk one, taken influencesfrom bands like Warhorse, Allman Brothers, Spring and even some Beatles and Uriah Heep mood, specialy on some vocal parts. Also they have a psychedelic feel , the atmosphere, the arrangements remind me more of the early '70's, 1970-1971. The album is well constructed alternating from pure heavy prog pieces like Sunlight Brings Shadows, Seasons - Alpha Omega, Overcome The Pattern, or the title track Home is where I belong, with similariry with Uriah Heep ( Demons and wizards era) and some mellowere ones , it may be some folk influences on these one but only here and there like Empty Street Empty Heart , the beggining is absolutly a Beatles atmosphere. A quite intristing and adventurous in places album, specialy on longer pieces, with nice vocal parts and good keyboards, mostly mellotron but aswell some piano are used to give to the album a proper atmosphere. The guitar is very good alternating from acustic to a more rougher moments typical for heavy prog sound but in same vein with the keyboards arrangements. A worthy album, quite unnoticed but must be heared at least couple of times. 3 stars, a good album to me, not realy something never heared before, and possibly at same level with other very well known albums from that period or little earlier like Red sea (Warhorse), Spring or Cressida. 3-3.5 , a pleasent album for sure with good musicianship.
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Posted Saturday, October 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars QUICKSAND were an obscure and short-lived Prog-Folk quartet from South Wales. They disappeared down the pit with their picks and shovels beneath the Welsh mining valleys just as quickly as they'd emerged. The band were in existence just long enough to mine one album of precious ore, "Home is Where I Belong" (1973), during their brief shining moment at the coalface. We've now unearthed that rare commodity for review here. The original album featured eight songs, with two more bonus tracks added for the later CD re-issue. It's time to take a deep breath and plunge head first into the Quicksand now to check out the album.

"Yaki Da Boyo!" Although Quicksand might be as Welsh as a bunch of Welsh miners emerging from the pithead with blackened faces, the first track "Hideaway My Song" sounds like it could have been recorded by a bunch of blonde-haired surfer dudes riding the breakers at Big Sur in sunny California. Quicksand have truly captured the west coast California sound of the seventies here. They sound as blueberry-pie American as Billy Bob Thornton and Billy Jo Spears wearing stetson hats at a rodeo, with a McDonalds Quarterpounder and a bottle of Budweiser in each hand. "Yee-hah! Ride 'em cowboy!". We're still out in the sunshine for "Sunlight Brings Shadows", a storming artillery barrage of Heavy Prog which targets the listener with all of the deadly stealth and accuracy of a nuclear-powered hunter killer submarine. It's an unrelenting percussive wave of sound from beginning to end with some fast and furious Kentucky Fried guitar riffing that's finger-lickin' good. Telling these guys to turn the volume down would be like telling fighter pilots to be less aggressive. It's just not gonna happen! There's a complete change of pace now for "Empty Street, Empty Heart", a gentle Folk-Rock tune that's as pleasantly surprising as finding there's still a restaurant open during the coronavirus lockdown. Again, this warm and sunny song with its mellow guitar groove captures the spirit of California perfectly, despite the clear British accent of the singer. This exuberant and uplifting music has enough feel-good flower-power sunshine to brighten up the dullest of winter days. Closing out Side One now, we have the two-part song and highlight of the album so far, "Overcome The Pattern / Flying". This is incredible! You can almost smell the Incense and Peppermint in this tripped-out Californian west coast Psychedelic Rock extravaganza, that's actually coming to you from the mining valleys of South Wales. The first part "Overcome the Pattern" takes you to Prog-Rock heaven and back again with the manic guitarist going absolutely ape-crazy in a dazzling psychedelic display of frantic fretting. There's a crazy freak-out interlude around about the halfway point, sounding like some nightmarish psychedelic acid trip from Hell. Don't expect a return to sanity and normality any time soon though, because the second part "Flying" is flying as high as a kite in a smoking purple haze of spaced out Looney Tunes wackiness. Quicksand have completely thrown the prog "rulebook" away (not that there ever was a prog rulebook!) and taken off on a fantastic voyage in a free flight of fancy. This is wonderfully liberating music! It's like throwing the Monopoly rulebook away and then going around the board in whichever direction pleases you and then responding with a faraway stare into space if anyone challenges you.

This stunning album really makes you feel good to be alive and what better way to celebrate the joys of life than with Song No. 5: "Time to Live". Although Quicksand are billed as a Prog-Folk band on ProgArchives, this joyously optimistic song has much more of a groovy Jazz-Rock feel to it. Just lay back and bask in the warm glow of this song. The music is as warm and sunny as Bondi Beach in mid-summer, in a heatwave, which makes it even harder to believe that this sunny tune comes from the dull rain-drenched valleys of South Wales. This energetic sunburst of bright shining joy should come with a beach umbrella and a free bottle of suntan lotion. We arrive back home for the title track now: "Home is Where I Belong", another gloriously uplifting summer song that makes you want to throw caution to the wind and jump for joy with gay abandon (in the old-fashioned sense) and dance like a whirling dervish in a green sunlit meadow filled with daisies, dandelions and daffodils. It's time for the second of the long two-part epics on the album now with "Seasons / Alpha Omega". This is another classic magnum opus (presumably the opposite of magnum 'opeless) in a stunning display of prog wizardry and virtuosity, where you feel you can almost reach up into the stratosphere and touch the face of the Prog Gods in all of their infinite musical wisdom and greatness. There are swirling synths, pounding machine-gun percussion and glittering guitar glissandos galore here in abundance, which will amaze and delight even the most hardened of prog aficionados. This is triumphal and pompous prog that will blow you away and take you above and beyond Cloud 9 and lift you right up to prog heaven in all of its glorious majestic splendour. Sadly, it's time to come down to Earth with a bump now for the closing song: "Hiding It All", a suitably anthemic and uplifting piece of powerful prog to close out the album in magnificently fine style. This magnificent music is guaranteed to lift you up and carry you along on a pleasure-wave of heart-warming emotion, leaving one feeling full of the joys of life, love and happiness. If music be the food of love, then play this sensational album and celebrate the power of music to set the heart and soul on fire with love and passion.

Every self-respecting prog fan will feel right at home with Quicksand's stunning one-off album: "Home is Where I Belong". If prog was a religion, then this marvellous masterpiece would be deserving of a place on the highest altar in the most magnificent cathedral in the land. It's time to say "Hallelujah" and worship the Prog Gods for blessing us with this praiseworthy offering of manna from prog heaven.

Report this review (#2376026)
Posted Friday, May 1, 2020 | Review Permalink

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