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Various Artists (Label Samplers)

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Whole lotta great music

Released in 1970 on Atlantic records "The age of Atlantic" was one of the earliest samplers of "progressive" or "underground" music. At the time, the term progressive had a rather different connotation than it does today, and some of the artists on this album are not listed on this site. Notwithstanding that, this album represents a significant milestone in the history of prog, and contains some fine songs too.

YES contribute the superb "Survival". This would have been many people's introduction to the band, as "The age of Atlantic" substantially outsold the band's first two albums. While "Survival" may not have been that representative of Yes' eponymous first album, it was wonderfully ahead of its time and an excellent pointer to the path they would follow. The structure of the track is far more progressive than may initially be apparent.

Heavy proggers VANILLA FUDGE contribute the paranoid "Need love", a track which represents their pioneering sound well. Unusually, it is a band composition, not one of their unique covers. IRON BUTTERFLY's epic "In-a-gadda-da-vidda" album contributes its most commercial track "Termination". The song may now sound very sixties, but the heavy nature of the music was still new and exciting in 1970.

Since the tracks on this compilation are taken from the late 60's and early 70's, LED ZEPPELIN are afforded space for tracks from each of their first two albums. While "Communication breakdown" was a great rock and roll song from the first album, "Whole lotta love" from their second is a far better representation of their innovation and prowess (and also perhaps their ability to borrow from someone else's song while conveniently forgetting the credit!).

One of the most progressive tracks here is from the PRE-CSNY outfit BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD. "Broken arrow" is a captivating piece which seems to stop and start while retaining a distinguished continuity.

Other notable tracks include DADA's amazing romp through the ROLLING STONES song "The last time". If you've heard the WHO's terrific version of this classic, prepare to be gob-smacked by this wonderfully adventurous interpretation. GRATEFUL DEAD related COLD BLOOD offer a soulful, JANIS JOPLIN like "I'm a good woman", while MC5 and the ALLMAN BROTHERS songs represent those bands well, but are more prosaic in the context of this album. Likewise, DELANEY AND BONNIE's collaboration with ERIC CLAPTON on "Coming home", a surprise minor hit single, is a fine representation of their work.

Only DR.JOHN's mildly amusing but largely forgettable "Wash mama wash" seems superfluous, but even then, the track is engaging enough to be pleasantly diverting. For those of us who in 1970 were but slowly discovering the mystical world of music there was beyond the singles charts, albums such as "The age of Atlantic" offered an adrenaline rush such as we had never experienced before. Bands such as Yes and Led Zeppelin must have benefited immensely from the interest generated by this specific album and those such as "The new age of Atlantic" which followed.

The striking sleeve with plasticine artwork bears the notation "Ninely-nine", representing the price of the album in British pence, a substantial discount on the standard price of an LP at the time.

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Posted Thursday, December 14, 2006 | Review Permalink

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