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4 stars Spectrum were one of the most original bands to come out of Australia in the early 1970s - they simply do not sound like anyone else I can think of. In a genre that generally prizes virtuosity they are an anomaly, original drummer Mark Kennedy being the only real virtuoso in the band - but they were masters at creating atmospheric music that keeps the listener enthralled, particularly when Lee Neale cranks up the Hammond.

On this first album, Mike Rudd hasn't really developed the strong song-writing skills he would eventually become famous for. The songs are generally little one-verse affairs that then become the launching pad for extended instrumental passages. Nevertheless, Rudd already displays a strong gift for melody on tracks such as "Superbody", "Drifting" and "Mumbles I Wonder Why", while the comparatively low-key vocal melody of "Fiddling Fool" is lifted by a memorable organ riff. The most memorable tune is Ross Wilson's "Make Your Stash", borrowed from Wilson's 'special occasion' band Sons of the Vegetal Mother, with whom Rudd occasionally played - Wilson's more hyperactive version was eventually recorded by Daddy Cool - Spectrum play it their own way, using it as a lauching pad for a dissonant (in a good way) guitar/organ workout. The instrumental passages in "Fiddling Fool" and "Superbody" rely on atmosphere more than musical invention (particularly Rudd's use of recorder on the latter). The arranging skills step up more on the last two tracks - "Drifting" features some great organ/bass interplay and a good excuse for Kennedy to shift the beat around. "Mumbles I Wonder Why" starts in a similar vein, before finishing with a recorder/organ duet that I consider to be one of the most beautiful moments in all Australian prog.

The Aztec re-release contains no fewer than three versions of Spectrum's contemporaneous smash hit "I'll Be Gone" (including a demo bereft of the famous harmonica riff, but with a more fiery organ part), two versions of it's b-side "Launching Place part II" as well as the considerably rarer part I, and a demo of the unreleased "You Just Can't Win" which is reminiscent of Traffic.

Report this review (#722299)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars The band hails from my adopted country, Australia, where Prog was never "abundant". I may have heard this LP a long time ago. If so, then it didn't leave a lasting impression on me - for I can't recall. Recently, I was given the chance to hear it (again?)

Firstly, I feel terribly sorry for these well-meaning musos attempting to deliver some rather original material. Their difficult task in creating what resembles prehistoric Psychedelic material wasn't assisted by the recording process. Apart from that the material sounds like just a collection of demos, the mix is just horrible - and that's before we get to the artwork.

I was a bit taken aback by the vocals that don't sound anything I could compare with. Original would be the least I could say. More like indulgently experimental that compromises the entire works. A stroke of genius, or substance abuse - I couldn't possibly say, but it fails to impress.

The sound of the Hammond brightens things a bit, but apart from a few little runs on it, it's the actual rich sound of the organ that pleases - in place of the keys played. The bass player is definitely trying his best, but is left excessively loud in the mix thus, the somewhat amateurish delivery is further exposed.

The whole "album" tends to be devoid of any bulk, just repeatedly falling apart, due to indulgent gaps and a serious lack of arrangements. With some professional editing and mix this could be a 3 star work, but as it is I couldn't possibly call it good.

Report this review (#1020634)
Posted Monday, August 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog Team
3 stars From way down under comes this amazing (at times) bunch. Their second album "Milesago" is a terrific piece of hammond drenched hard rock prog, spiced just a tad with psychedelia. This their first album is very much a prototype to that album. Heavy on the organ, british in some mellow kind of way but sprinkled a bit more with the psychedelic spices.

The opening "Make your stash" is quite a good track, as is "Fiddling fool". The first opens in an eerie way, before heading into a mellow piece. The same could be said for "Fiddling fool", though this piece is decidedly more psych.

"Super boy" is a great track. Yet again mellow, with beautiful organ. "Drifting" heads into some jazzy rock territory. Quite good. "Mumbles I wonder why" is my favorite track. It sounds naive in an endearing way and offers fantastic organ playing. The next one "Launching place part 2" is really alright aswell. They end it all with the Manfred Mann's Earth Band track "I'll be gone". The original track may be better but this one really is interesting.

Overall it is quite an arlight album. Well played, organic and endearing. I really like Spectrum and the sound they make. They hold a tone of their own, quite Australian in that je ne sais quoi kind of way. It is good but when push comes to a shove it is no more than that. I would recommend "Milesago" over this but still, it has loads of charm an ideas.

Report this review (#1314646)
Posted Monday, November 24, 2014 | Review Permalink

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