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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Prog Is Not A Four Letter Word CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)

Various Genres

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Oh, joy. Don't tell me all genre collections suck, or your words might come back and kick you square in the gonads after you hear this little beauty put together by Andy Votel and released by Cherry Red/Delay 68. The best part of the deal, after the terrific tunes, is that some of this material is simply not available, or perhaps even desired. But it's Prog through and through, and that's what counts. And Mr. Votel, a musician, true fan and visceral writer, conducts these ceremonies with passion and a deep understanding of this particular universe.

Picchio Dal Pozzo shoves things off strumming the acoustics of 'Merta', soon imbued with a wormy synth and bright vocalizations, a nice minimal piece taken over by France's Visitors and some killer classic stuff, complex, weird, masterful and with just the right hints of avant classical, Brubeck-style prog jazz, a screamin' violin and downright hot rock power. Illes from Hungary picks the baton right up with gargling wonders of blotter acid bliss, stiff and nerdy psycho-pop and a steady cowbell, and Korea's San Ui Lim's scattered (even bad) dance psych continues the creep. The ethnic wonders of this comp begin to steadily come out with Turkish representative Baris Manco's blood-pumping bellydances of prog, this beauty spinning ever faster with finger cymbals and an appreciative crowd. Breakout (Poland) follow, Bran with a similarly toned elegy, some OK garage space-jazz from Phillipe Besombes, a nice ditty from Embryo, and Czechs Martin Kratochivl & Jazz Q finish things with the marvelous, brooding and subtle fusioner 'Toledo'.

Not every single thing here is great or even very good, but the value a collection like this has - both musical and historic - trumps most of the clunky sounds and cringe-worthy performances. Votel writes; "The discerning cosmic music enthusiast of the early 1970s would witness an unwaining influx of mind-bending subgenres flood through the record racks on a daily basis as rock mutated beyond palatable recognition overnight, providing new challenges and breaking boundaries at every turn. So what of the truly progressive international rock musicians who started their own hybrid hurricanes outside the rectangular iris of Prog's media storm?". That question is answered on this CD. More than the sum of its parts, and of a weight greater than the three stars given.

Report this review (#169762)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was surprised to find only one review of this fine little sampler, which opens up a small window onto the great diversity of prog outside the English symphonic tradition. The Delay 68 label and Finders Keepers Productions, and Andy Votel in particular, has released a number of cool little collections that show off the hard work of digging through cut-out bins and rummage and boot sales and coming up with some remarkable, obscure gems. So, unlike compilations that aim to give you the best of the best, the Votel collections unearth rarities we may never otherwise get to hear.

The range here is truly international, with acts coming from Italy, France, Hungary, Korea, England, Turkey, Poland, Wales, Germany, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Obviously, some of these acts are not as obscure as others, especially for readers of this website (I'm thinking especially of Egg and Embryo). Still it's a fairly sure thing that there's some stuff here you never knew about before.

Aside from the international range, there's a wide span here of musical shapes and sizes, wide enough to test many definitions of prog. For me some of the outstanding tracks are "Toledo" by the Czech Martin Kratochvil & Jazz Q, "Lambaya Puf De" by the Turkish Baris Manco, "Merta" by the Italian Pozzo Del Pichio and "Le Roi des Mouches" by the French Jean Claude Vannier. I also have to send out a gleeful smile out into the universe for the inclusion of "Breuddwyd" by Bran. As a fan of Roc Cymraeg (Welsh rock), I'm so happy to find Bran on here. Their music is not easy to find and it should definitely be made more available.

Andy Votel has also released two discs called "Folk is Not a Four Letter Word," that are well worth checking out, as are the two discs of rare Welsh folk and rock,"Welsh Rare Beat."

While some of the tracks found here aren't going to be the best thing you'll ever hear, I have to say that I just love this disc and have let it ride in the CD carousel for many days straight.

Let's call it a 3.5.

Report this review (#223998)
Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Review Permalink


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