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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Suck It And See! CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Includes a track from a forthcoming album. released 25 years later!

Vertigo records came about in 1969, as Phonogram's progressive music label in the UK. Prior to "Suck it and see", released in 1973, samplers from the label tended to be low key affairs. With this album though, they decided to catch up with the competition and offer a double LP for less than the normal price of a single one, packed with top acts. This collection therefore contains music from 1970 through to 1973. The sleeve and title borrow more than a little from CBS records "Fill your head with rock", with a giant image of a stick of rock on the front. By the time of this album, the famous swirl logo had been relegated to a supporting roll, with Roger Dean's spaceships image being the dominant feature.

The album contains a diverse range of artists, a significant number of whom are listed on this site. Such artists included Gentle Giant ("Boys in the band" from "Octopus"), Beggar's Opera (the title track from the very disappointing "Get your dog off me"), and Kraftwerk ("Ruckzuck" from their self titled album). Those unfamiliar with the work of the latter must have been somewhat taken aback by the avant-garde nature of what they heard.

Aphrodite's Child's "666" album contributes "The four horsemen" featuring the distinctive voice of Demis Rousos. Given that there are 17 tracks, some are afforded a generous amount of space, the longest track being "Living at the end of time" by Atlantis, which clocks in at over 9 minutes.

The most interesting track, and perhaps the main reason to seek out this album, is the 8½minute "Mwenga sketch" by Jade Warrior (also listed on ProgArchives) from "their forthcoming album". The band had an eventful history with Vertigo, who signed them as part of a deal to sign Assagai. The deal was also help along by the fact that Patrick Campbell-Lyons (Nirvana - UK) who occupied a senior position in Vertigo used to be in Jade Warrior. All this led to a great deal of apathy at Vertigo when it came to looking after the band, and the Forthcoming album by now titled "Eclipse" was not released at the time. The track included on "Suck it and see" is therefore something of a rarity. "Eclipse" finally saw the light of day in 1998.

The second of the two LPs focuses on the labels diverse range of pop and rock orientated artists, including Status Quo, Rod Stewart, Jim Croce, Alex Harvey and Spencer Davis Group. There is however space for several further items of interest.

"Bump and grind" is the title track from the final Jackson Heights album, the band founded by Lee Jackson after the break up of the Nice. "Bump and grind" was an ambitious concept album, which featured a small orchestra, and came packaged in a lavish sleeve. Success continued to elude Jackson though, and when Patrick Moraz declined to join the band for a tour, Jackson and Moraz teamed up with Jackson's former band-mate in The Nice, Brian Davidson, and formed Refugee. Incidentally, John McBurnie of Jackson Heights went on to work with Moraz on the latter's solo albums.

Magna Carta's "Time for the leaving" is described as being taken from "Magna Carta in Concert" but is in fact the version from their "Songs from Wasties orchard" album. Manfred Mann's Earth Band's "Buddah" from the "Messin'" album closes the album in fine prog style featuring some superb guitar and keyboards interplay.

"Suck it and see" was yet another in the long line of excellent value samplers released by the major record labels in the early 1970's. The wealth on talent on show here alone gives an indication of how thoroughly spoilt we were back then.

Report this review (#118108)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I can't believe this album only got reviewed in April this year. I've been searching for it for years and couldn't find it (lost my original vinyl copy years ago). It's a real mixed bag and when I bought it back in 1973 it was for one reason - good value experimentation. And what an album it turned out to be. Side 2 is just awesome. It starts out techno/quirky (by a band I had no idea about back then), then gets seriously rhythmic and powerful with Jade, and then sublimely cool with Four Horsemen which culiminates with one of the greatest guitar solos (IMHO) ever (has major 'feel good' sound to it). It's the sort of music you put on in the morning after a major party and you're trying to remember what happened: 22 and a half minutes of musical diversity and excellence.

Beggars Opera Dog off me is also really fun music with some cool licks here and there. Can't add much more to Easy Livin's review which is comprehensive but his comment "The wealth of talent on show here alone gives an indication of how thoroughly spoilt we were back then" is absolutely spot on. We were so spoilt for choice and the standard of music was so, so high. It's not a "must have" album but make sure you get to hear the tracks and follow up what you like the sound of - I did for years.

Report this review (#123439)
Posted Saturday, May 26, 2007 | Review Permalink

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