Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Second Hand - Chillum (*) CD (album) cover


Second Hand

Psychedelic/Space Rock

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
2 stars Have owned an LP copy of this one for sometime. On the first few listens, I was impressed by the musicianship - which to be fair is very good. Sadly the album suffers from a complete lack of structure. It's basically a rehearsal/demo LP with very little thought behind it. The longest track - Brain Strain, is a totally improvised piece that does what it says on the tin. Shame really as this band were SECONDHAND under a different name, and the 2 LP's that preceded this one are great. If you can get this on the cheap, it may be worth checking out, as some of you may find this an interesting listen, but I'm afraid not much more.
Report this review (#123186)
Posted Wednesday, May 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Chillum aka Second Hand: Like Second Hand's "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" this equally bizarre album is also a psychedelic stoner freak out. Yet aside from sharing this general profile and the fact that both Ken Elliott and Kieran O'Connor from Second Hand are here, this record bears little resemblance to "Death May be Your Santa Claus."

If someone played this for me and said it was another late 60s album by Arzachel with guitarist Steve Hillage and keyboardist Dave Stewart from Egg, I wouldn't doubt it for a moment because that's exactly what it sounds like: total stoner jamming. Now that it has been revealed that Death May Be Your Santa Claus was actually a film soundtrack (which explains its contained madness and cinematic structure), it can be reasonably assumed that O'Connor and Elliott must have been under obligation to Mushroom Records to produce another record.

This, combined with the direct drug reference of the band's name (a "chillum" is a pipe used for smoking dope) and the fact that that these two figureheads of Second Hand had a big falling out with each other around this time, would suggest that this may have been one of those "lets just jam and record it" albums to satisfy contractual demands since it has all of the hallmarks of such a record. Not that it's bad because it isn't.... if you like psychedelic jam band excursions played by guys who are obviously tripping.

There's lots of good mind-bending keyboard work, especially Dave Stewart-esque organ from Ken Elliott. It really is hard to listen to this and not believe its Dave Stewart with the pre-Egg Arzachel from the late 60s. It's a strange follow-up to the ambitious and unpredictable Death May be Your Santa Claus album, and begs the question of exactly what Elliott and O'Connor were really all about.

There's virtually so structure here, just blowing. If you know the freak-out extravaganza "Metempsychosis" from the Arzachel album you get the idea, except that Ken Elliott plays more and better organ than Dave Stewart did at that time, with the same edgy tone that Stewart used.

Just don't expect Second Hand or Seventh Wave.

Report this review (#158219)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I don't have the heart to give this album 1 star, and maybe it is better than that anyway. I have the Chillum ...... plus version, which is much better. It has more songs, but no matter what, this album doesn't have any great songs on it. The track 'brain strain' is a big instrumental jam, but it is just that, a 'jam', not a structured song with any ideas. It is not a bad song, and whoever was playing was obviously very good, and one of the better songs here, but nevertheless a song that lacks any real meaning. I believe 'yes we have no Pyjamas!' is ten minutes more of the same jam. 'The land of a thousand dreams' is an interesting track, it features some 'snoring' I believe, and some pretty good keyboards and other sounds as well. That's about all you can say about this album.... one bonus track, celebration, was reworked into 'Dance of the Eloi' on the 'Things to come' album, but that is a better version than the one here. The rest is just jamming, silly songs like 'Introduction by Brain Surgeons from the Royal Free Hospital' and a total lack of inspiration.
Report this review (#280681)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Featuring enough aimless psychedelic jamming to fill several albums twice over, this self-titled release from early-seventies rockers Chillum manages to delight and frustrate in equal measure. Originally called Second Hand, but reverting to the name Chillum after the relative failure of their 1971 'Second Hand' album, this ambitious and eclectic four-piece seemed to suffer from a complete inability to settle down into one dominant style or genre. 'Chillum' features some bravura moments of musicianship, but it's an uneven, at times rather crude mess of an album, featuring a plethora of different moods and textures that juxtapose badly. From the percussion-heavy assault of 'Land Of A Thousand Dreams' to the epic, freaked-out noodling of the 21-minute long 'Brain Strain', the album is a sonic shanty-town of conflicting ideas that fails to create a coherent whole. One suspects that maybe the band were under the influence of certain, mind-enhancing substances, which is no bad thing, but just like listening to someone drone on about their drug experiences 'Chillum' proves to be a rather dull listen. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#293728)
Posted Saturday, August 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is a condemnation, not a celebration of prog.

Clearly 'Chillum' is an improvised jam displaying no structure or finesse whatsoever. Ugly, tuneless guitars, random drums, and a bass guitar that's played by someone who's obviously wearing a pair of boxing gloves, displays all of what's worst from the early 70's.

These guys play their instruments like they've never been in possession of a pair of hands.

This is an directionless, poorly recorded album and I find it very hard to believe that these same guys went on to produce one of the best, most bonkers prog albums the following year with the fantastic 'Death May Be Your Santa Claus'.

Listening to this prequel however, is the equivalent of rubbing vinegar into the eyes of kittens. As soon as I turn it on I can't wait for it to finish. Totally unstructured, where you can clearly hear the hesitancy between breaks as the band try and work out where to go next.

While writing the above review I worried that I'd get so annoyed I'd give myself an aneurysm.

If truth be told this may well be the poorest recording I've assessed in the Archives in over 200 reviews. Only 'Hairy Chapter's - Eyes'. comes close. At its conclusion I'm left with nothing but a cloud of depression like a nuclear winter hanging over my shoulders.

At last...It's Over...I can go to sleep now...

Report this review (#808774)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Like an insane instrumental Canterbury band soundtracking the end of the world, `Chillum' is a difficult but hugely fascinating album that will easily divide listeners. Some will relish it's noisy tuneless chaos, thinking it was way ahead of it's time, others a total useless mess of bad ideas that will make them flee in terror for a safer listen! I fall somewhere right in the middle - one listen I'll find it an endlessly intriguing psychedelic knockout, the next time it'll drive me up the wall and I'll remove the album in disgust. Try not to be listening to the album too loud if you start to react negatively to it, as it may cause quite a violent reaction in you!

After a fairly rubbish comical introduction, the band charges head-first into the aptly titled `Brain Strain', a 21 minute side-long piece which may be the breaking point to a first time listener. A noisy and seemingly directionless freak-out, filled with a million musical ideas that occasionally work brilliantly, and other times fall a little flat, it does showcase some interesting and talented musicians. The endless extended fuzzy and scuzzy organ by Ken Elliot reminds me of a more unhinged and deranged version of Canterbury band Egg, and that sound dominates much of this track. Tony McGill's guitar work is frequently tuneless, bendy and shrill, but also quite imaginative. He comes across like a more deranged and sloppy Syd Barrett on the improv workouts on Pink Floyd's debut or the `Tonite Let's All Make Love In London' LP. George Hart's bass playing has a hypnotic and dreamy quality, frequently plodding and monotonous but also very fluid and loose. It's a bit of a stretch to say it helps the music really groove in places, because moments like that only last a few seconds before the next aimless direction kicks in. I feel Kieran O'Connor's drum-work and percussion really steals this piece. Frantic, fiery and lively, with the musician quickly adapting back and forth to the different directions and musical paths the album treads down. He really helps hold the piece together - as much as possible, anyway.

Side Two's all too brief `Land Of A Thousand Dreams' is a brief musical lullaby with restful Mellotron and pretty piano. It then segues into a very repetitive and mostly mundane percussion piece called `Too Many Bananas' that barely changes for it's four minute running time. The ten minute `Yes! We Have No Pajamas' is a very loose but oddly coherent workout. There's a real energetic groove to this one, with lots of knockout Hammond and pounding drum-work. Some very laid-back, almost bluesy guitar plays over some lively and melodic bass. Actually quite an upbeat piece, in a few brief moments it reminds me of a messier version of Focus. Probably for wary listeners, this track may be the best place to start with this album, but in some way it doesn't prepare you for the mind-breaking noise of the first side. `Promenade Des Anglaises' is a simple but lovely acoustic ditty with gentle percussion, some slight tasteful keys and Mellotron washes. A nice comedown to wrap the album on.

I really appreciate that the `Chillum' album is totally instrumental, as I found the previous band Second Hand's work was somewhat let down by comical vocals that were obviously hugely amusing to the band members themselves, but sabotaged their potentially interesting ideas to listeners. I do find that, for all it's chaos, noise and seemingly random arrangements, there's a very interesting and frequently exciting album here. The band seems to relish playing in such an unhinged and random fashion on the first side, while the second half shows their music is not completely devoid of a good tune or melody.

Three and a half stars!

Report this review (#822835)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2012 | Review Permalink

SECOND HAND Chillum (*) ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of SECOND HAND Chillum (*)

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.