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SAMURAI

Samurai

Crossover Prog


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loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Brilliantly original progressive rock masterpiece from England. SAMURAI blend heavy classical elements with a strong progressive rock 70's landscpae. SAMURAI was an offshoot of the band WEB led by Dave Lawson (GREENSLADE). SAMURAI blend the classical brass ensemble of MAXOPHONE (a variety of Saxes and flutes) with the musical depth of GENESIS and VAN DER GRAFF. SAMURAI is a very original band which I would classify somewhere in the Classical, Jazz, Psychedelic progressive region of music. SAMURAI delivers highly involved, complex prog which will surely keep your ears tuned into the speakers. Considering the age of this recording (1971) the CD transfer is absolutly stunning and much of the CD sounds so full and rich that it out-performs some of the severely overpriced 90's re-mastered versions. A couple of unreleased live tracks have been added at the end and they offers a great perspective on the eally live years of the band making this a highly collectible piece of prog history. I heartly endorse this album...

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#28859)
Posted Monday, March 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars I prefer calling this album The Web's fourth rather than Samurai's fist, since the group is exactly that of the Web (minus the departing wind-blower Harris), but changing names to find a new recording deal. As they did find one, they didn't last much longer than their sole album's release, whatever few concerts they played without brass players and disbanding fairly quickly. Graced with an impressive Japanese-type artwork to fit the band's new name, the album was produced by Tony Reeves (Mayall, Colosseum, Day Of The Phoenix's producer and future Greenslade) and it has a very distinctive less-muscular sound.

If the I Spider general musical direction is maintained, there are a few changes, the first and most evident being the guitar not nearly flexing its muscle as before and an overall softer jazzier feel. Harris' departure was compensated by no less than two wind-playing guests, which give Samurai a brassier (I didn't dare write hornier) than on I Spider. Lawson's vocals are also softer (the songs are in general softer here) and thus the Crimson influence is not as evident, but still present in a subtler way. More Rain even goes on the soft Oblivion Express side, while the most intriguing and the Crimsonian closing track is As I Dried The Tears Away with its unusual instrumental interplay about 2/3 of the way into the track: Lawson dubs himself as there two KB answering each other. Good stuff.

Hearing through Tony Reeves that Dave Greenslade intended to start a new band using two keyboards, Lawson would jump ship before Samurai would grind down to a complete halt, thus terminating it. Surprisingly, no bonus tracks on this reissue, despite a previous reissue sporting a bunch of them. The next Lawson chapter is Greenslade, but it's definitely another musical spectrum. Personally I find Samurai a lesser album than I Spider, but both are generally highly regarded. But I wouldn't go as far as saying that either are essential, but it's good owning them for the occasional spin.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#28860)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is Dave Lawsons second outfit (The Web,being the first) and Samurai, really have something going fore them!! One can really hear the seeds of Greenslade growing.... and indeed the relaxed...slow....arrangements of the songs are....well..wonderfull.. lovely tunes ..blended with laidback vocals....this is very very fantastic music.... ...i feel quite relaxed..when listening to this music!! Now i realise that this is not for everyone. But if your heart are in sync with Greenslade and the like. Then your in for a treat!! As this is.....piano/keyboard ....weird vocal arrangements ( a la Gentle Giant/Greenslade) themes slowly building up to the narrow vocal interactive!! This is quite a master piece in its own right!! In short, this is one to get!! To get into your prog collection!!! No one in its right mind...prog mind that is...would be caught dead without this GEM!! Yeah i know.....young readers skip this (on the other hand ..why not?) What am i talking about? Get this fANTASTIC record!!!!

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Send comments to Tonny Larz (BETA) | Report this review (#28861)
Posted Wednesday, April 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is def. a lost gem in the world of prog. I still think the previous three web albums are prog but this is def. canterbury/fusion prog for sure! The live tracks detract from the cd as they don't sound as impressive. plus I have never like seeing the same song on an album more than once, to repetitive for me. Anyways this has a lounge/chill kind of feel to it..something you'd find in an obscure underground pub populated by poets, beatniks, ect. but again, this is very good music headlined by the sax - or at least thats what stood out for me. The lyrics are down to earth and sometimes have the humor of many of the canterbury bands. Check this (4.25 star) album out!

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Send comments to Carl floyd fan (BETA) | Report this review (#48180)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Quite odd enough for me that this vintage band I never heard before when it was released in the seventies. The music recorded here is in its raw version and it's probably due to the limitations of analog technology when it was released. The music offered is somewhat varied in styles as well as mood. Through the opening track "Saving It Up For So Long" I thought that the music is predominantly performed with rhythm section relying more on bass guitar and drums. But other tracks that follow are dominated by percussion and the music tends to sound like a flat arrangement. There is basically not much ups and downs on its notes and chords and it has brought me to the feeling of getting bored with the music. Remembering the time, I can relate this music is somewhat like a band named themselves as El Chicano combined with Santana even though it's less aggressive.

On composition, I don't think this album is not bad at all. If you are exploring the roots of 70s music, you should also try this one. It has some jazz as well as latin rock component. Because of the less-aggressive musical arrangements, the overall style of the music is flat and less dynamic. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#135829)
Posted Sunday, September 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Formed from the ashes of the little-known group 'The Web', UK jazz-proggers Samurai completed just the one eponymously-titled debut LP before breaking up, the members eventually gravitating towards different bands to commence their musical careers.

And it's a shame, as this is an excellent piece of early 1970's and very eclectic-sounding prog, featuring a wide assortment of instruments and styles amongst it's jazz-grooves and latin tinges.

Caught somewhere between the 1-album careers of MAINHORSE and BADGER, Samurai's vibe was an eclectic mixture of disparate elements, expertly-woven together across 7 tracks without ever managing to sound quite like anyone else at the time. A multitude of sonic textures present themselves throughout the running time, starting off with the rocky jazz-pomp of 'Saving It Up For So Long' and continuing with the beautiful and breezy flute-led sounds of 'No Rain', a smoky, jazzy track that stands up as probably the best individual piece on a uniquely-individual album.

For many, however, it's the trippy, stop-start mish-mash of the records longest and last track, the swooning 8-minute-plus mini-epic 'As I Dried The Tears Away' that proves to be the most indelible of all the songs on offer, it's stretched-out sections of intertwining horns, flute and guitar combining richy throughout the tricky time-signatures and at-times furious shifts in tempo.

The combination of Winwood-esque vocals, twinkling-keys and world-weary influences really does create a genuinely original sound, and this, augmented with the more prog-orientated rock of the albums mid-section - the riff-tastic 'Give A Little Love', the fluid, funky 'Face In The Mirror' - only goes to emphasise what a tightly-knit and inventive unit this British band were.

Samurai provides the listener with a rich tapestry of musical delights, each song tweaked to fit into the jazz-funk formula, and, crucially, like a lot of jazz-orientated albums, the album doesn't neglect the important guitar-parts which are expertly provided by Tony Edwards.

Dave Lawson, the man behiind the keys, would eventually go on to join Greenslade and thus find a degree of success in a band more suited to his drenching keyboard-style, but the fruits of his early labour have never been as beautifully crafted as they were on this, an album full of fresh-sounding, exciting and eclectic prog, with it's maverick, one-off status only going to enhance the originality on offer.

STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2008

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#177195)
Posted Friday, July 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Samurai's first and only album under that name is (previous known as The Web) blends the jazzy and brass sounds with pure progressive rock elements but keeping more to the rock side. The jazzy brass instruments provide the unique melodies and the themes to the songs and numerous solos over very structures songs.Dave Lawson's voice may sound a little bit peculiar but this is not the love-or-hate type of voice. I Personally love it! Another thing that i find incredible is the sounds of the keyboards Lawson chose. In ''Saving it Up For So Long'' he sounds like playing a vibraphone.The song is riffy with the guitar playing the main riff and the wind instruments adding the melodies. ''More Rain is somewhat different, layed back with percussion and the use of flute. I just love the ending with the mellotron.''Maudie James'' is more jazzier with the saxes overwhelming though the hole time and having two AMAZING solos.Again the percussion add a great deal to the groove.''Holy Padlock'' beggins with a jazz intro and Lawson from then on Lawson takes on with some great chords and the walking bass-like bassline with the sax is perfect! ''Give A Little Love'' more rock oriented than any other track on the album. Really heavy with the fuzzy guitar.After a while Lawson kicks in with a keyboard solo.The song reminds those early 70's organ trios.''Face in The Mirror'' has some very funny high vocals and is more jazz-rock.''As i Dried The Tears Away'' is the album's ''big one'' full of rhythmic changes keyboard solos and a very interesting part somewhere on 3:45, with the constant rhythm changes and the two solos like two keyboard players answering to one another.

Overall this album is simply AMAZING! Every sound song unique in it's own way but having an overall feeling of coherence of the same band. I would put it 5 stars but i went with 4 instead (5 being the very top of my list) although i have to say i just LOVE this album.Definitely go for it.

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Send comments to camelspotter (BETA) | Report this review (#258917)
Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars So, if this band is essentially a continuation of Dave Lawson-era The Web (which recorded the excellent "I Spider" album) with minimal line-up changes and an additional sax/flute player, then we can pretty well figure out what this band is all about: solid, energetic proto- prog with heavily inflicted jazz and R'n'B undertones, moderately related to the Canterbury patterns and an extra psychedelic sensibility. The Web and Samurai were part of this family of art-ridden underground rockers of which The Nice, Procol Harum and Colosseum were also part at the time, reigning supreme on stage while playing to crowds of flower-power hippies who longed for their rock starst to challenge their ears and minds with music that was beyond the definition of pop. Before describing any song from "Samurai", let me start that this is a very solid gem from a year in which prog rock was becoming a mature rock trend and leaving behind the proto approach, but again, keep in mind that Samurai was still comfortable in that grey area where jazz-rock, symphonic prog and psychedelia were equal sources of musical energy. 'Saving It Up For So Long' is quite an extroverted opener, making a nexciting impression of a hybrid of "Daughter Of Time"-era Colosseum and later Cream: the marriage of teh dual saxes and the vibraphone is crucial for the song's general scheme. 'More Rain' moves to a clamer realm, focused on latin-friendly tones that make the band lean somewhat closer to Traffic. 'Maudie James' also bears the Traffic influence in a moderate dose, but thsi time we enjoy a more joyful mood - once again, the dual saxes fill the limelight for most of the time. 'Holy Padlock' ends the album's first half with an appealing swing that may sound similar to early Caravan. This piece also includes an organ solo that makes Lawson related to Tony Kaye (when he really made an effort to shine within the early Yes' framework). 'Give A Little Love' is a mid-tempo rocker designed to enhance the Colosseum connection (not too long before Dave Greenslade and Lawson became the Greenslade founders), while 'Face In The Mirror' shines in its prog-jazz splendor from a contemplative aura. Even if it is slower thatn the preceding song, it is not languid but powerful, with an unusual room for guitarist Tony Edwards to make himself noticed in cooperation with the organ's harmonic developments or alternating positions with the flute flourishes. His Trower-like leads are really great, he should have been given more solos in the Samurai repertoire. The album's last 8+ minutes are occupied by 'As I Dried The Tears Away', a song that completes the band`'s introspective side in a magnificent way. Reiterating the combination of psychedelia, jazz-rock and progressive expansions, all musicians interact in a clever delivery of motifs and nuances. This last half makes the best of this album. And if you get the CD edition, you will be treated with a number of live songs (without the wind players), including two from the "I Spider" album - all performances are tight, which only makes it seem sadder that it already is that Samurai had to be ignored by the industry. Well, it shouldn't be ignored by true prog collectors, since it would make an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#259919)
Posted Friday, January 08, 2010 | Review Permalink

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