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Julian's Treatment - A Time Before This CD (album) cover


Julian's Treatment

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4 stars Julian Jay Savarin was a British author who wrote his share of music. In the early '70s, he also involved himself in music, by applying his sci-fi know-how to lyrics and playing organ. He assembled a band called JULIAN'S TREATMENT, with him on organ, Australian-born Cathy Pruden on vocals, and a couple other guys handling the usual (guitar, bass, drums, flute). "A Time Before This" originally released in 1970 on the Youngblood label, is an interesting combination of prog and late '60s psychedelia, with spacy organ, and of course, sci-fi oriented lyrics. I've heard this band compared with everything from EARTH & FIRE to SANDROSE to The United States of America (the late '60s psychedelic electronic rock act with Joe Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz).

"The Coming of the Mule" is an instrumental piece with guitar that sounds like it came off a FOCUS album, as well as classically-influenced organ. "Phantom City" has more of that late '60s psychedelic vibe, complete with phasing (like you hear from the Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park" or the BEATLES' "I Am the Walrus"). "The Black Tower" is a bit more laid back, showing that Cathy Pruden was truly the lady for this album. "Alda, Dark Lady of the Outer Worlds" has Pruden singing like an evil lady. "Altarra, Princess of the Blue Women" is another mellow piece, with that cosmic atmosphere. "Fourth From the Sun" has a somewhat more jazzy-bent, especially from the drum department.

Anyways, original LPs of "A Time Before This" don't exactly grow on trees, but recently, Akarma had reissued this on CD with the original artwork, in a wonderful digipak (that is, featuring miniaturized LP-type packaging), but unfortunately they forgot to give us information on who was in the band, or the lyrics to the songs. Also they wrongly give the album a 1972 copyright (perhaps 1972 was the year of the album's American release, which was released here on Decca, with a totally different cover - 1970 was the original British release on Youngblood). Anyway, this is truly a wonderful, forgotten prog/psych gem worth looking for.

Report this review (#27090)
Posted Sunday, May 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A perfect masterpiece i listen/ed to many many times. The intelligent texts and story, combined with the gripping voice of the lady singer Cathy Pruden make it an utterly rememberable experience. First heard at a German progressive rock radio programme, i was searching for it widely for quite a long time. In 1972 i was able to order the double album from Foto-Radi Kaiser from Heidelberg. I guess it was one of my happiest moments when the package arrived...
Report this review (#138245)
Posted Friday, September 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Julian's Treatment absorbs all the juiciness, art heaviness, kind craziness and inspirational pleasantness out of the late 60s/early 70s period, to create an album that's stunning as a complex and eurhythmic progressive rock fundamental spice, as a psychedelic (the archaic, bluesy, kaleidoscopic or hard-taunting kinds, it doesn't matter; maybe a bit neurotic as well, though you grow rather reluctant to that impression) adventure, as a hard fantasy and as a gulping powerful, dominating, yet also expressive and passioned music moment. I can't even name it a debut, not only because Julian's Treatment released only two storming and (en)chanting - without being a...(en)chant(ment) - the second being credited as Savarin's, but because it sounds just like taken from the oven, in a hot and strong taste: music with drops of dazzle, rock with hard work and special feelings smoking out of it, plus a sort of eclectic taste that can't stay like that without being called, at least, artistic. Perilously and mystifyingly, that is.

With the above euphoric paragraph concluded, I think we can put a reminder on the fact that this album, as well as Julian's Treatment itself, can't be called an easy thing up in the treasures of progressive rock, but it sure is lovely to discover, out of the depths of the genre. It's considerably far from classic prog rock, though it, complexly, belongs to that authentic time and development. In rest, it doesn't defy in styles, it only focuses on them with a compelling lush. A Time Before This is most likely the best of the two that you can adore, notable being its "Plus Version" re-release in 1990, marking how well, clairvoyant, apart from their time and taste, but also obscure and hard to prefer these guys were - mostly thanks to this epic music-gram.

A Time Before This struggles a bit, being full-bounded and complicated, with its styles and shapes, but pulls in the end a victorious mount. The most living ideas are that J'sT plays psychedelic with spae airs, without fragility and never with absurd spots, plus that it plays an untypical kind of hard prog rock, keen on caramelizing its strong roots rather than jamming with thirst. Despite these already good reflection, there is a crave for many other flavors, the most kicking one being symphonic - in fact, the first "chapter" can be called psych, but the next ones fade in favor of art rock or symphonic fantasy. Was earlier mentioning that the psych can also contour some dark blues, one that's not impressive, but neither wrong. Folk happens to break into more than the "musical story", lovely flutes arousing like jasmine contrasts, a dance occasionally breathing out melancholic emotions. A main thought will also becomes that of A Time Before This being a concept of mystic, fantastic themes, still music turns out greater. Reading that the band is using sci-fi ideas, I like to believe character like "Adia", the "Oracles" or "the Mule" are good for a story-tale or for a mythical expression. Lastly, the musicians of Julian's Treatment are ones you couldn't write enough about - very talented. Savarin seems the prog genius, but for sure Cathy Pruden is a vocalist I truly love.

With all this, A Time Before This sounds of an impeccable creativity. And, given the influences, they're one step close to having originality as well. I guess Earth & Fire, Sandrose or Rare Bird are good/fit analogies, though I've yet to find out how they sound. Pink Floyd and Omega touch some psych spots, but they're absolutely the wrong prog idols to talk about (same with the small folk being Tull-ish, this folk is beyond popular taste). As a strange thought, I hear some ELP twisted fuses and jams - instead, two pieces are convincingly close to Aphrodite's Child and 666's own rock tale, thanks to powerful narration. Ending on the same loose note, I haven't heard such dark-flavored, candle-burning moments of fantasy and improvised poetry (incantations-like) since Os Mundi, which was a long time ago. All the twelve chapters are generous and have craft, they flow intensely, they charm you possessively. It can be a fascinating world, musically adapted, if you like your prog deeper, more reaming, and close to breathless.

Highly recommended.

Report this review (#143031)
Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars Julian J Savarin, musician and author - I don't know much about him, but JULIAN'S TREATMENT is a name I recall seeing from my first Prog-Rock resource, the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Prog Rock - now it's all P.A. - where those in the know offer reliable information about these long-lost underground gems, and with that I can say that 'A Time Before This' is a beauty. Conceptually, the album is a "fantasy story set in part of our galaxy, about people whom we believe live in this galaxy.... " Savarin has assembled a solid band here, a proficient rhythm section keeping the soloists on their toes with hyperactive grooves, a lass by the name of Cathy Pruden on vocals (whose singing style and voice vaguely recalls Jerney Kaagman, from Dutch proggers EARTH & FIRE), an able Guitarist with a biting attack to his playing who also knows subtlety when he switches to Flute, and Savarin himself, who knows his way around the Hammond organ, and shows off his considerable talent on the instrument. A thought came to my mind whilst listening to this - think of CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN but without the craziness. This is an extremely memorable dose of Psy-Fi oriented Prog and an excellent addition to your collection. 4/5
Report this review (#162272)
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Followers of Robert Heinlein, Arthur Clarke, Philip Dick and Robert Sheckley, this could be for you!

Julian Savarin, musician and writer of science fiction, is the author of one of the the most striking albums of the early '70s. "A Time Before This" is an interesting "sci-fi opera" with characters such as Alma, Dark Lady of the Outer Worlds, and Altarra, blue-skinned alien princess. Musically, the entire album is based on the organ played by Savarin, while other instruments like flute and guitars do not have the same relevance. The warm and bluesy female vocals of Cathy Pruden is perfectly in tune with the band's psychedelic approach; without doubt the interpretation of the singer makes an important, perhaps crucial added value to the album.

Not always the music is extraordinary, but much of the album is extremely enjoyable. Although the length of the record, the listening is pleasant and surely not too challenging, often based on rather catchy organ riffs.

All songs are played in psychedelic/jazz-rock style, with the omnipresent Hammond organ. The best moments are in my opinion The Coming Of The Mule, Phantom City, The Dark Tower, The Terran, Fourth From The Sun, Alkon, Planet Of Centauri, and Strange Things; the two prophecies of the oracle help to create a wonderful sci-fi atmosphere. Not always, howewer, the quality of the music is excellent, for example in the closing title track and in Alda, Lady Of The Outer Worlds.

Surely not a masterpiece of progressive, but an album of good quality, accessible to all lovers of classic rock, funny and original. Final rating: 6 / 10.

Best song: Strange Things

Report this review (#466714)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ready for more obscure music and SCI-FI? So here is another overlooked british treasure from 1970. The Julian's Treatment one-shot is called A Time Before, and was lead by Julian Savarin, an organ player and sci-fi writer. He's the one who wrote all the lyrics / concept and music. Symphonic, atmospheric and psychedelic. Savarin planned two following albums to continue A Time Before concept. He couldn't release the following sequences, but his solo album, Waiters on The Dance, is a sequel to this work. The plot line of the album is: The earth is destroyed. A male earthian comes to the planet Alkon and meets the female-creature Altarra. It's a space opera. The songs aren't lenghty. You know, the album is divided into 12 chapters/tracks. But the songs even short has many variations and time changes to keep you busy. And there's something special about this album: the female hypnotic vocals. Cathy Pruden was a good singer, I really don't know about her, but his job here is very well done. The music is leaded by Savarin organ, and it's awesome. Some good flute fills too. As a space- opera, it have some spacey passages like Altarra, Princess of the Blue Women, and the right progression of these times prove the musician hability to describe the feeling of the represented story. It requires some story-telling skills. And the music together with Cathy vocals provides the best. The album of course has guitar, bass and drums. Fine, but not the highlight. This is a great entertainment for any oldschool progressive rock fan.
Report this review (#1024812)
Posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Second Life Syndrome
3 stars Wow, what a mind trip! I can't think of any other summary for this album, really. This is one of the strangest albums I've heard in a while, either musically or thematically. On top of that, the artwork is phenomenal!

Musically, "A Time Before This" is a mix of 70s prog and psychedelic rock. Everything sounds very spacey and or mysterious. The organ and flute solos are done quite well, and they are very mystical and fantastical in their presentation. The guitars have almost a hard Hendrix feel to them, though less technical. They certainly aren't the dominant instrument, as everything works really well together. The band plays really well off of each other. Also, some really strange song structures, such as on "The Coming of the Mule", complement the music seriously. Lastly, Cathy's vocals are female to the core: very powerful with a slightly hardened edge to them, but also somewhat faint in the mix. Much of the album is instrumental, but we are blessed with her interesting vocal style often enough.

The theme here is really weird. Just strange. We get to hear all about Altarra, the blue-skinned goddess/princess and the fantasy world in which she lives and rules. Now, I don't know about you, but I like fantasy and sci-fi. But this album seems more like an acid trip talking than a serious musician or author writing lyrics. The keyboardist, Julian Savarin, was a sci-fi author, and so he wrote this compelling work of fiction from his strange imagination. The funny thing is that they work. No matter how strange this album is, it works pretty well. I wouldn't call this a masterpiece. Maybe not even excellent. But I would call it a very strong 3 star album that is worth listening to soon.

Report this review (#1036602)
Posted Monday, September 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Julian Jay Savarin was born on the exotic island of Dominica, being of British origin, and moved to London in 1962.There he found the appropriate enviroment to reveal his talents as an organist and composer.He was in love with sci-fi stories and wrote some sort of a Rock Opera, based on an Atlantis-like lost civilization.He formed his personal band Julian's Treatment in 1970, which also comprised of drummer Jack Drummond, female singer Cathy Pruden (she was of Australian origin), bassist John Dover and Del Watkins on guitar and flute.The album ''A time before this'' came out the same year in both single- and double-vinyl issues, on Young Blood for the Euro market and on Decca for the US one.

''A time before this'' is a charming British Proto-Prog/Psychedelic Rock gem, where Savarin's mood for cosmic, jamming and atmospheric music eventually surfaces via the emerging progressive scenery, as the album is dominated by his work on Hammond organ and his tendency towards sinister MARSUPILAMI-like psych manifests and THE NICE-inspired semi-Classical piano and organ smashing.Cathy Pruden's beautiful voice adds some sort of CURVED AIR/RENAISSANCE touch to the music, although the Classical influences are rather limited and the organ-driven jams appear to be a regular commodity beween Savarin's ideas.So, what you'll get here are some long, instrumental organ-based pounds, which still contain a nice intellectual depth, lots of dreamy female voices, which sometimes turn into dramatic and crying performances, and some fantastic flute drives by Del Watkins, the man oddly will become more known for his impressive flute improvisations throughout the album than his reduced guitar chops.Concept helps the album pass through different climates, from discreet Classical preludes to powerful organ waves and from narcotic psychedelic deliveries to some harder parts with a more pronounced electric guitar.Breaks and tempo variations are strong components of Savarin's story as well as the storytelling lyrics with the 9-min. title-track summing up what this band was all about, an extended psychedelic jam on guitar, flute and Hammond organ with scratching parts and vocal-centered themes.

Very much a product of its age, which still owns a respectable place among the early-70's British Proto-Prog albums.Loads of Hammond organ, fiery grooves and some great, driving flute soloing.Recommended.

Report this review (#1364498)
Posted Sunday, February 8, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars JULIAN's TREATMENT were a British band led by Julian Jay Savarin, a West Indian sci-fi writer and keyboard player born on the small island of Dominica. He moved to London in the early 1960's and formed a band, and the group recorded their first album "A Time Before This" in 1970. The twelve songs on the album were listed as chapters in the form of a sci-fi novel. The second album, "Waiters on the Dance" (1971) was credited to Julian Jay Savarin alone. Both albums were science fiction concept albums and the original LP albums have since become rare collectors items that are said to fetch incredibly high prices. Let's travel back in time now to the sound of "A Time Before This".

The "First Chapter: First Prophecy - First Oracle" opens forbiddingly to the haunting ethereal sound of Savarin's solo organ. The music has a very dark and doom-laden atmosphere with vocalist Cathy Pruden announcing ominously:- "Out of the cinnamon sky a face appears, Out of the tamarind byre, come darkest fears and the first prophecies." ..... The portentous doom and gloom ambience sounds very foreboding and it's enough to send a shiver up the spine and give you a touch of the heebie-jeebies, a bit like a well-known Bee Gees tribute band. The "Second Chapter: The Coming Of The Mule" is magnificent. Watch out though, because this is an angry mule with attitude! It's a vibrant keyboard piece featuring some outstandingly powerful guitar outbursts which kick like a recalcitrant mule. This incredible music picks up in pace midway through and thunders along to the finish-line like a runaway express train. The "Third Chapter: Phantom City" does indeed sound like a train rumbling along down the tracks at full-speed ahead. The pulsating music barrels along relentlessly with the wailing vocals of Cathy Pruden sounding like she's on some weird psychedelic acid trip. This express locomotive song is loaded with so much speed and incredible energy, you feel as if the "train" might be derailed at any moment. The "Fourth Chapter: The Black Tower" slows down the pace slightly, but there's still enough latent power and energy contained within this awesome music to illuminate a lighthouse with one million candle power. The powerful combination of Julian Jay Savarin's tremendous keyboards and Cathy Pruden's incredible vocal range are what really lifts this music into higher out-of-this-world realms. After all, this IS a science fiction themed album where the music sounds just as fantastic as the fantasy sci-fi storyline. The "Fifth Chapter: Alda, Dark Lady Of The Outer Worlds" is a magical mixed bag of tricks, featuring quiet and introspective keyboard pieces combined with wild dynamic outbursts of raw energy and power with Cathy Pruden's incredible vocals soaring right up into the stratosphere and beyond. In the words of Hawkwind, this stunning album debut represents "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music! There's a complete change of pace for "The "Sixth Chapter: Altarra, Princess Of The Blue Women", a beautifully laid-back Jazzy number with some charming honey-coated vocals from Cathy. The haunting other-worldly music sounds like it could have come straight out of a 1960's sci-fi movie. This gorgeous music is simply sublime!

Side Two opens with the "Seventh Chapter: Second Prophecy - Second Oracle", a haunting piano and organ prelude with a dark foreboding atmosphere where Cathy Pruden ominously warns us again:- "Out of the cinnamon sky a face appears, Out of the tamarind byre, come no more fears." ..... Spooky! The "Eighth Chapter" is divided into two 3-minute parts:- "Part One: Twin Suns Of Centauri" and "Part Two: Alkon, Planet Of Centauri". Part One is a heavenly celestial organ piece with occasional dynamic outbursts of reverberating guitar. Part Two represents a complete contrast though, where the music suddenly bursts into life with latent energy and vigour and where Cathy's incredible vocals take us on a wild psychedelic acid trip across the universe. The "Ninth Chapter: The Terran" is a storming Jazz-Rock keyboard instrumental that thunders along at lightning speed. This is the kind of barrelling powerhouse Rock music that might inspire you to skip the light fandango, and turn cartwheels across the floor, although try not to do yourself an injury. The "Tenth Chapter: Fourth From The Sun" is obviously a reference to the planet Mars. It's another boisterous and rollickingly good Jazz-Rock number, but We all know by now there are no such things as Martians, but Cathy is convinced she's "The daughter of the fourth from the Sun" and who are we to argue? After all, this was 1970, long before probes landed on the surface of Mars and proved beyond reasonable doubt that we weren't going to have a War of the Worlds-style Martian invasion any time soon. The "Eleventh Chapter: Strange Things" takes us on a magical journey across time and space into another musical dimension. We're on a TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) ride back in time to 1970 for an explosive rabble-rousing burst of high-energy Rock & Roll. Set the controls for the heart of the Sun, because we're coming to the end of our wild intergalactic ride across the universe now with the final "Twelfth Chapter: Epilogue - A Time Before This". This nine-minute-long stellar masterpiece is an ecstatic galactic, psychedelic pleasure trip back in time of truly epic proportions. This incredible album of Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music has gone into orbit and achieved instant five-star status with this fantastic out-of-this-world conclusion.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, came an album of such awesome brilliance, it shone like an exploding supernova. "A Time Before This" IS that album!

Report this review (#2309251)
Posted Saturday, January 25, 2020 | Review Permalink

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