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Aardvark - Aardvark CD (album) cover



Crossover Prog

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Guitar-less proto-prog from the UK (although their group name suggested that they might be Dutch ) , this reminds me somehow of a Greenslade album. This , of course , is impossible as Aardvark predates that group by more than two years. I call this proto-prog a little like I say that Gracious! is but this is no full-blown prog such as the giants were maling at the times . This album is relatively calm and non-aggressive but also quickly forgotten after a spin. To be discovered at the end of your early 70's prog quest.
Report this review (#31644)
Posted Monday, June 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This record was really fun artefact to encounter. It holds a strong sympathetic feeling, which is also present in its album covers. The first song starts with a strong keyboard riff, and is a better example of their straightforward bluesy songs. Two following songs continue with same style, "Very nice to call..." has a neat piano on it, but I found the next song quite irritating, as there's a oppressing verse which is repeated monotonic through the entire song. "Greencap" has fuzzed vocals a lá "21st Century Schizoid Man", and the psychedelic jamming on it resemble remotely Syd Barrett's "Lanky". The last song on the LP side A is really hilarious, which somehow resembles early Uriah Heep, maybe due to its rhythmic solutions and humoristic twists.

The B-side of the album is yet much better, and any psych fan getting into this record might start spinning the disc from this side. It holds a continuing non-stop music from beginning to the end, starting with hilarious "We're going away..." song. The early phase of this composition is quite normal organ-driven humor-rock, but suddenly the psychedelics begin to take over, and the unwary listener is sunk to a sea of tonal chaos. The performers truly went away, as they were promising. I found this is very beautiful, being like a homage to "Interstellar Overdrive". Later it finds a resolution from quiet and beautiful folky sequence, which eventually transmutes again to aggressive psychedelic jam. I would recommend this album for those, who enjoy records of Greenslade, Fuzzy Duck, Black Widow and Pink Floyd.

Report this review (#48137)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The difference between this LP and a lot of other progressive albums is that it has a good mix of rockin' tunes along side some good strong psychedelic freak outs. I originally checked out the cd reissue because someone recommended it to me because I am a big fan of the Canterbury scene especially Egg. A great album for anyone that loves crazy Hammond organ freak outs! Superb.
Report this review (#50956)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Aardvark were one of those groups like Locomotive and the later period Nice who used no guitar and relied completely on the organ as a lead instrument. Steve Milliner, the organist, would go on to play in Caravan for the Waterloo Lily album and David Skillin, here as a vocalist, wrote the lyrics for Home's The Alchemist some years later. This is either a record you are going to love or hate, mainly because of the deadpan almost mocking vocals and the relentless pounding yammering organ freak outs. The group are capable musicians and nearly every track works perfectly, so I'd be in the former category. I once owned an original of this 11 years ago, and I still regret the fact that I didn't keep it. Now all I have is a boot I've had for 7 years, but at least I can listen to it when I feel like it. This record has some real high points like the berserk slice of psychedelic progressive mayhem "The Greencap" with distorted vocals and vicious organ. This is a Heavy album, a lot like Deep Purple without the guitar, yet Skillin's voice is as far from the early metal genre as you can get, sounding more like Justin Hayward, David Bowie, and a relaxed Jim Morrison(!). The Doors influence is there in the organ too. All of side one is brilliant, from the clever opening track "Copper Sunset" to the wild last tune "I Can't Stop." Side Two is where Aardvark show no mercy, going for an organ destroying and smashing binge for two long tracks. In fact, the closing "Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It" is nothing but loud organ feedback and noise. My ears find this a bit hard to listen to a lot of the time. When form and structure are cast aside for sheer noise and brutality then I lose interest. However, there's something fun about this album that makes it impossible not to enjoy most of it. Aardvark have a sense of humour as exhibited on "The Outing- Yes!" which is very entertaining, and they also have some great melodies. "Once Upon A Hill" is a really nice Moody Blues like song in the middle of the storm of Side Two, but it's Side One that showcases the group at their best. The tracks are shorter, but also more inventive. "Many Things To Do" has some neat phased drums, vocals like Locomotive's Norman Haines, and a wild organ solo. While I would like to hear a guitar on this album, maybe it just wouldn't have fit in with the band. If the majority of hard rock bands use all guitar and no keyboards, then why not try it with all keyboards and no guitars? Here it works, and this is a unique and really good album. There is nothing pretentious about Aardvark, and while they may take a bit of time to get into, you will be rewarded. However, if full blown prog is your thing than this album sounds earlier than that, more a product of 60s experimentation than 70s symphonic prog. If you like the proto-prog sound of late 60s bands who used mainly gutiar such as UK Kaliedoscope then you may find this intriguing, and a bit weird too with the all organ no guitar set up. The lyrics, music, and songs are all really fun and very British, so this is a thoroughly enjoyable album if not a total masterpiece.
Report this review (#59957)
Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The opening riff on “Copper Sunset” had me expecting Ozzy to start belting out the lyrics to “Sweet Leaf” or something. The difference here of course is that vocalist Dave Skillin doesn’t have anywhere near the chops of Mr. Osbourne, and the instrument here isn’t Tony Iommi’s guitar but rather former Black Cat Bones keyboardist Steve Milliner on a Hammond organ laying down a heavy dirge.

This track is a bit misleading though, as most of the rest of the album consists of marginally progressive psych and heavy rock tunes that are very much rooted in the late sixties. There’s no guitar anywhere on this album and although I’m sure that was a bit of a novelty back in the day, it does get a bit tedious at times.

The sounds are similar to lots of other heavier acts of the same period, from the Nice (“Very Nice of You to Call”), to a Mountain-like thudding rock number with “Greencap”, to a sort of poor-man’s Doors bluesy tune with “I Can't Stop”.

The longest tune on the album is the nine-minute “Outing” that combines incessant Hammond with Canterbury-like harmonizing vocals and a rising bass line that eventually turns into a solo and later combines with the Hammond for a freak-out instrumental passage that is more ambitious than it is good. Props to them for trying though.

The quality of songs is uneven though, and “Outing” is followed by the weakest number in “Once upon a Hill” where Milliner substitutes his keyboard for a recorder and minstrel-like cheesy vocals right up until the final moments when he rips out a few bars of hardcore organ bleats that lead into a killer closer with a totally improvised jam session simply titled “Put That in your Pipe”. Yes, indeed! Every stoner within earshot of the studio must have been clutched in an orgasmic rapture while they listened to that one.

And speaking of studios, as near as I can tell that’s pretty much where most of the music these guys made got played, as they really didn’t tour and disbanded shortly after recording this.

Not the kind of record I’d go out of my way to hunt down, but kind of fun to listen to nearly forty years later and appreciate the artistic freedom of a time when four guys could slap together a band that didn’t even have a guitar player and still get away with calling themselves a rock group. Good for them! Three stars just because it’s fun to listen to, and I have a soft spot for old Hammond organ music. Recommended for heavy rock and nostalgic psych fans.


Report this review (#180818)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Errors & Omissions Team
3 stars 01. Copper Sunset The best beginning, this initial keyboard, Steve Milliner knew a bit of the thing, heavier which great guitar 'rockeira' thereabouts. I think which straight inheritance of the doideras of Keith Emerson (And, L*P) what always investigated these things. The melody after that is well 60's with a few keyboards more 'calminhos' low one more the touched one for sensational Stan Aldous. The vocal of Dave Skillin and the battery of Frank Clark, they are not so virtuous, but they are good anyway. The final part reminded of me a little The Doors.

02. Very Nice Of You you it Call That one from here is totally psychedelic (not in the crazy sense of the thing), it reminded of me the Love and the Strawberry Alarm Clock, with very legal melodies and that thing what them 60's they had average 'cheerfully'. A beautiful ground of piano in the middle of the song, this refrain that sticks in the mind, and an end that, unfortunately, finishes in predestines in October. Great sound!

03. Many Things you it Of Face, this is Iron Butterfly in the last one, those riffs that should be touched by guitars, but what the keyboard operators do it and with pride. I find that sensational! Riff on top of riff the faces is building a belt with heavy and interesting climate.

04. Greencap I felt Keith's tip again in these keyboards, and the 'effect' is brilliant in the voice to sing the first verse, sensationally. In the second verse we have a more 'romantic thing. The grounds finish having a little bit of guitar in the sound incialmente, only then the fact is that we give real attention. After a totally instrumental part and let's say quite 'strange', they turn the vocal ones with effects of the beginning, they should have appeared more for the belt.

05. I Can't Stop The keyboard travel of the beginning hands over almost classic influences this way (since it was of waiting from any keyboard operator whom s value highly). Several brilliant keyboards this way. When the verse begins of truth the keyboards are party-going, full of riffs and onomatopoeic.

06. Outing After the counting be prepared for Rock and roll. Vocal comic and very legal many people. In fact that one is to more travel of the disc. Flood of noises, passages and great madness. Inclusive of all the wrapped musicians.

07. Once Upon A Hill Corrected in the madness of Outing, Once Upon A Hill is pretty, it reminded of me the Family. Calm and with vocal quite emotional the music follows in a style Lullaby (Lullaby). In the final organ of church to cheer up the day and .

08. Put That In Your Pipe To close bargain with the last belt of the disc, which it follows with the organ of quite organized way up to what. A riff of the infernos, quick and crazy counts seizure of the belt, with a gigantic distinction for the bear Stan Aldous, he is simply brilliant in the base that he created, totally insane! Meanwhile in another corner Steve Milliner goes flat like a madman in his keys full of sounds, they are his variable newspaper commentaries.Some duels of melodies are always very quite arrived, legal same is the bumbo without stopping of Frank Clark (what nomezinho eh!). That one binds that an instrumental one of the infernos is, and look, very well.

This band is totally unknown and go there, it is not well prog, but for the one who likes a sound bark 60's early 70's it can come without fear.

Report this review (#192594)
Posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Aardvark's debut sounds like the album Deep Purple could have made in 1970 if Rod Evans had not been replaced by Ian Gillan and if they kicked out Ritchie Blackmore instead. The sound is typical for 70's heavy rock, similar to Uriah H and D Purple and with some notable roots in the 60's rockabilly and acid rock. Especially vocalist Dave Skillin has that typical warm and full voice of early hard-rock singers such as Purple's Rod Evans and Iron Butterfly's Doug Ingle.

The songs are all nice heavy rock grooves with typical organ solos and sing-along tunes. However the songs are nowhere near as remarkable as those from Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, who both nailed down this type of proggy hard rock much more convincingly back in 1970. The most noteworthy of all would be that this band didn't have a guitar player and created their sweeping heavy rock with just drum bass, piano and Hammond organ.

It's nice album for fans of early 70's heavy rock - a section of the population I could count myself in as well - but there's much better stuff you should explore before seeking out this one. Like the band's name though, EarthPig in English, sounds cool.

Report this review (#305559)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is undoubtedly one of the most noble and dedicated efforts from the burgeoning prog scene of the early 1970s. Aadrvark is a band that I return to again and again, a staple of the progressive music that originally transformed me into a dedicated fan of prog. The soaring, endless organ lines compelled my infant ear, coaxing me to accept and understand what the word 'progressive' actually means. Given, Aadvark could be discarded as an early 70s 60's influenced group, but their self-titled debut is also is a terribly immediate and driving work. The band take organ work to a very impressive height (Aadrvark are the direct contributers to my own obsession with the Hammond organ), exploring boundaries that are quite dynamic for early 1970. I must give this band the full five stars out of my enduring love, my slavish devotion to their wonderful and perfect and lone EP, and my affection for their earnest musicianship.
Report this review (#363183)
Posted Saturday, December 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars A nice English band who unfortunate was drowned out by the success of other bands.

Aardvark originally consisted of Kirk and Kossoff before they formed Free. That means Aardvark is a rhythm'n'blues band, then........ ? Not quite. Their sound is based in rhythm'n'blues, yes. There is also strong elements of hard rock here. Early Deep Purple is a good reference and so is Captain Beyond and Uriah Heep. But there is also strong elements of The Nice and ELP here. Very strong elements. And the same goes for some strong elements of Pink Floyd. In short, the sound is a great vintage sound which really warms the hearts of those of us into this sound.

The quality of the tracks is good too. Not everything here is good, but songs like the opener Copper Sunset would make anyone happy. The first part of this album is generally great with a lot of ELP references. Unfortunate, the quality drops a bit at the end.

To cut a long review short; this is a good album from a band who time forgot.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#453387)
Posted Sunday, May 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A hard-edged yet surprisingly-inventive progressive outfit who, like Rare Bird and Van Der Graaf Generator, eschewed the use of lead guitars in favour of bruising mellotrons and brisk keyboards, Aardvark belong to that large band of exciting young bands who, for whatever reason, failed to make the commercial grade during prog-rock's early 1970s 'golden' period. Initially featuring Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke, who would, of course, abandon ship in order to join the soon-to-be fabulously-successful rock group Free, Aardvark released one album during 1970 which garnered little support from their record company and virtually no press from the various British music magazines of the era. Usually, the reason for an album being ignored like this is due to the lack of a suitable(from the record company's point of view) lead-off single, a rather strange analysis one might think as the opening track on this eponymously-titled affair features a very catchy, if somewhat heavy, mellotron riff that wouldn't sound out-of-place on an album by the likes of, say, Uriah Heep or even, at a stretch, The Nice. The track in question is the nicely-titled 'Copper Sunset', and it's a groovy start to an eclectic and highly-enjoyable set of hard-rockin' prog tunes that really did deserve better. 'Copper Sunset' soon segue's into the surprisingly deft and jazzy 'Very Nice Of You To Call' - an album highlight - which in turn gives way to the powerful psych-rock of 'Many Things To Do'. The album only really falls down on the slightly silly, and tediously repetitive, 'The Outing', which sounds like a bad football chant and almost breaks the ten-minute barrier. Thankfully though, this (slight) aberration is quickly forgotten thanks to the complex closer 'Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke it', which starts out with a Tangerine Dream-style organ before charging headlong into an impressive mash-up of Deep Purple-style riff-rock and ELP-esque jamming. Exhilarating is the word that comes closest to summing up 'Aardvark' after initial listens, and the effect is in no way dimmed by further explorations into the album. We'll probably never know why Aardvark failed to mount a serious challenge on the rock world, but, thanks to a sterling reissue job, the music by this sadly-ignored four-piece can finally be given the proper recognition it deserves it all it's remastered glory. Once you hear 'Copper Sunset', those with a fondness for the heavier side of prog should be instantly hooked. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
Report this review (#537592)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Aardvark' - Aardvark (61/100)

Even though 1970 was only a couple of years away from the height of progressive rock, the style was still relatively nascent. Many of the bands we now consider legendary were still on their bottom rungs, and many prog rock tropes hadn't yet been codified. Although Aardvark is probably best known as a footnote in rock history (they were a predecessor of the one-hit wonder Free, of "All Right Now" fame), their first (and last) LP is a fair indicator of where progressive rock was at that point. Revelling in the past decade's psychedelic traditions and British rhythm-and-blues fetishism, Aardvark's self titled feels heavily dated to modern ears, but it's a solid and fairly memorable album that probably deserved more attention than it's since received.

Even today, the notion of a rock or progressive act without guitars might be met with doubt; even if Van der Graaf Generator and Emerson Lake & Palmer have demonstrated a rock band's bread and butter can be the keyboards themselves, it's still pretty rare to see a band eschew use of the genre's flagship instrument. In this regard, Aardvark were onto something interesting here that separated them from many of the other heavy psych would-bes of the period. Steve Milliner's thick organ riffs easily fill whatever gap may have been left by the absence of guitars. The opening track, "Copper Sunset", is a perfect example of this; the organ idea is as rocking and heavy as any riff you're bound to find in hard rock. There's no doubt that the organ is the biggest reason to check out Aardvark; if you're among those who doubt the instrument's place in rock music, all the more reason for you to check out the album.

Though there's a fair amount of variety in the songwiritng here - ranging from catchy pop tunes to an "Interstellar Overdrive"-style psych jam on "Outing"- all of Aardvark's ideas have their roots in the bluesy rock and psychedelic zeitgeist of 1970; although the instrumental jam "Put That In Your Pipe" shows Aardvark trying their hand at a more expansive, performance-based style of composition, many of these tracks are the sort of thing you might expect to find on an obscure 60's British psych compilation. Though Aardvark are defined by the rich organ, many of the songs are built around vocal melodies, provided here by the capable (but ultimately derivative) Dave Skillin. The songwriting is generally memorable and each track carries a tune of its own, but of the smaller-scale pieces, the only one that stands out is "Very Nice of You to Call", a song I think may have had potential to become a hit, given the proper exposure at the time.

It's rather a shame that Aardvark only came out with one album, and there's no cause to speculate as to what may have become of them, had they stuck together. For the sake and weight of this album, the band and their self-titled debut are sentenced to a corner of prog rock obscurity. For some great use of the organ (particularly on "Put That In Your Pipe") and its release at a formative period for progressive rock, Aardvark can be recommended to fans of the genre, though more casual sorts might be better off sticking to the classics.

Report this review (#972886)
Posted Friday, June 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Aardvark was a short-lived proto-progressive group which managed to release only one self-titled album before breaking up. A name with two "a" letters in the beggining, which would always put them first on alphabetically-sorted lists turned out to be not enough to help them make a mark. What brought attention of many to this band is that two future members of Free, Paul Kossoff and Simon Kirke played with the band. However, the album was recorded after their departure. The line-up consists of drums, bass and two keyboards. Naturally, the band's sound is rich in organ sounds as well as some piano touches.

The quartet's music is typical of the period. Rooted in psychedelia, Aardvark explores new musical possibilities. The band makes proficient use of newly "invented" distorted organ sound as well as applying distortion on some vocal parts. Even some ambient/electronic parts are to be heard! All of these features, give this creation a fresh and exciting sound. Similarities to Van Der Graaf Generator, Emeson Lake & Palmer or Egg are detectable.

Aardvark is really a game of two song conventions. Some of the songs like "Many Things To Do", the main theme of "Outing" or "Copper Sunset" could be best described as a progressive rock extension of psychedelic pop tunes, while some present a truly progressive, jazz-influenced side of the band, strongly based on improvisation. After a rather dull and uninteresting theme, the previously mentioned "Outing" features a very interesting proto-ambient, dark and dissonant organ-driven part with a lot of delay and reverb on the instruments and a silent bass line in the background. It's connected with "Once Upon A Hill", which is connected with "Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It" creating an impression mini-epic. To me, that is the most interesting part of the album, showcasing the band's abilities in the best light.

All in all, I was sort of skeptical when I put on Aardvark's self-titled debut. I thought I had already heard all "good" one-and-gone acts. As it soon turned out, I was mistaken. Although flawed in places and not very consistent, this album is a really memorable listening experience with a very distinct and unique sound. This is a really interesting work and is recommended to proto-prog and early prog fans. Four stars!

Report this review (#1553633)
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2016 | Review Permalink

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