Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Raw Material - Time Is... CD (album) cover


Raw Material

Eclectic Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!

Raw Material's second album is definitely a more consistant and even album than their debut. The main improvement would be the addition of lead guitarist Cliff Harewood. Raw Material is one of those groups that could typify best the term Proto-prog as their early and short career produced two adventuresome albums both much worth investigating.

If the debut was very uneven (having one track meandering into beatnick poetry) , this album's strong point is that there are no weak tracks. However of the six tracks present (a little error in the above informations) , none are really highlights or stand out that much as to create a masterpiece either. The three side A tracks are all fine , interesting prog involving good flute and sax work. Only the vocals are rather perfectible and some guitar work is a bit repetitive. Miracle Worker and Religion are a bit in the same mold but are shorter as to make room for the more imposing Sun God tracks with many mood changes and Floyd-esque athmospheres, but somehow the track has all of the asstes on its side but does not manage to take off to nirvana.

Raw Material's two album can be considered a bit as lost 70s nuggets/gems but are not really THE hidden treasure you were waiting for. Certainly worth discovering and a few spins but nothing worth writing a telegram home about either.

Report this review (#34956)
Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Raw Material is often compared to Van Der Graaf Generator. This is not a bad comparison, since both bands made doomy progressive music with an important role for the saxophone. Differences are the more prominent guitar parts in the music in Raw Material and the songwriting of Raw material was not as outstanding as VDGG's.

The whole of the album consists of decent early, jazz influenced progressive music. Most notable for the VDDG reference in Raw Material's music is the opener Ice Queen. The basis of this track is the riff of the Van Der Graaf Generator track Killer. This could be the reason this is the most notable track of the album. The second track is a more easy flowing track. Insolent Lady is mainly an acoustic track. The two shorter tracks are straightforward rockers. The album ends with the long Sun God. It sounds very much like Pink Floyd and has a few good moments.

If only the vocals were a bit better this would be a four star album. Now it remains a good example of early seventies prog, but not outstanding.

Report this review (#75318)
Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Test Tube Baby + Time Served Glazier = Hour Glass Figure

(Two and a Half Stars Really)

Even a casual glance at the music blogs that proliferate on the web nowadays is more than sufficient cause for we nay-sayers to intuit the discovery of a very badly hidden Zirconium Mine of 'lost gems' lying discarded in piles along its many rusting conveyor belts. Such hitherto unheralded masterpieces of psyche/prog rock are invariably all the audible evidence anyone should ever need that controlled substances and recording equipment be stored in separate locations. This would also include PCs, as how else can we explain the incoherent babbling of hirsute plankton and the torture inflicted on unsuspecting K-Mart guitars described to us in breathless prose by those blogging tour guides for Gullibles Travels?

Time Is by Raw Material is often cited as just such an example of an overlooked and dumpy plain jane who grew into a beautiful swan with dimples to die for. (Do swans have dimples?) Regardless, let's get some healthy cynical perspective into play here and appraise this worthwhile but deeply flawed album.

Ice Queen - Not a paean to a gay Eskimo alas, but a very resilient construction of several thematic ideas skilfully arranged for sax, guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. The instrumental textures are quite intriguing and conjure up reference points from Atomic Rooster, 'riffy' Colosseum, Uriah Heep and given that the opening riff is but a semi detached quaver away from that of Killer, VDGG. However, there is no need for the writs to start flying as the song has sufficient originality to carry this cribbed inspiration and is easily the strongest offering here. I like how the bass of Phil Gunn cleverly contradicts the common garden 'rawk' chords and implies some darker and ambiguous hues to spice up heavy prog's habitual and limiting palette of primary colours. Colin Catt's vocals will probably polarize opinion about this band and I have to confess that I find his feisty sandpaper holler a tad wearying after a while.

Empty Houses - Redolent of Argus era Wishbone Ash if the latter had deployed a one man brass section and possibly Deke Leonard on guitar. The music throughout is very fine indeed but Catt's caterwaul pitched so far above his comfortable range is just a war crime against silence. However, in mitigation we are led to perhaps the only sure-fire 24 carat hook on the record:

You and me can have some fun Empty houses one by one

There is a very entertaining central instrumental section featuring Catt's huge organ chords over which Mike Fletcher weaves a wonderful strand of breathy sax which seems to imitate a snake charmer enticing a huge cobra from a basket. After several delightful minutes of this delicious anticipatory teasing, it is somewhat crushing to discover that the reptile in question turns out to be about as threatening as a muzzled gecko. Gunn's busy bass which I praised on the first track simply smothers much of the detail on the second and it is clear that our Phil had yet to learn when 'less is more'. He is clearly an excellent player but never seems to interact dynamically with Paul Young's drums which lends the rhythm section a disconnected and unfocused sound as a result. All things considered this ain't too shabby at all.

Insolent Lady - This employs that endearing conceit coined by early Crimson where short sections of tenuously related music are shoehorned together in the creation of a pseudo 'suite' e.g.

The Indivisibility of the Cosmos (Part One) including Dance of the Randomly Chosen Short Mythical Creatures etc

You get the idea. This starts with Bye the Way, a pleasant enough but rather twee medieval ballad in the style of a troubadour madrigal. In places the twittering fondant flutey Crimson critter can be easily coaxed out of hiding. Thereafter we encounter a rather incongruous and angular chromatic section played in unison which carries a feint echo of Do You Like It Here Now Are You Settling In? era Man. The climax is an effective and powerful strummed acoustic progression which does alas, outstay its welcome as Catt is once again guilty of simply repeating the one melodic idea ad infinitum.

Miracle Worker - A distinctly ordinary 'plodder' albeit with a good melody cut cruelly short for an interminable instrumental work out plagiarized from Dave Brubeck's Take Five. Mercifully we return to the song section briefly before the end but Raw Material must surely wish they had omitted the unconvincing noodle orgy in the middle.

Religion - A one chord jam with no redeeming features whatsoever. Perhaps a punning and unwitting critique of the subject alluded to in the title? Invite everyone you hate to your cremation and use this as your exiting soundtrack to the infernal region.

Sun King - Yet more nested sub-plots so beloved of prog with the token Awakening - Realisation - Worship artifice of conceptual rigour. The first section is genuinely moving as it contains a very memorable harmonic vehicle which Catt for once rewards with a haunting melody sung gently and plaintively from his lower register. Yep, a very impressive section boasting some beautiful and tasteful slide playing from the hitherto understated and mainly supportive guitar of Cliff Harewood. Even the inevitable crunchy conclusion is enjoyable here as the band seem at their most assured when nailing insistent riffs into their listener's heads and Catt's rasping snarl can be borderline infectious. We briefly return to the sublime opening thematic material before the lads send us on our way with a completely over the top finale replete with pious oohing and aaahing massed choir which always brings a smile to my lips (even though it's really Spinal Tap I'm thinking about)

So in summation, there is much to value here and even more to postpone that trip to Bargepoles 'R Us for the time being. I think the main flaws on Time Is are that Raw Material have clearly overreached themselves in the creation of song suites, and are much better suited to shorter riff based compositions. Phil Gunn spends way too much time above the 5th fret on his bass and the engine room pulse of the music suffers commensurately. Young's kit is rather buried under the four string avalanche, and his fills sound dangerously sloppy on occasion. Production wise, I suspect the engineer was a young 'un, as evidenced by the common beginner's mistake of adding too much reverb to the mix (Yes, it makes things in isolation sound hugely other-worldly, but in Toto, the dynamics and detail of the performance is drowned in a woolly and unfocused mush)

However, I like the attitude of this band and they do sound convincingly ballsy and sincere, so they get an extra half star for that alone.

PS Mrs L wishes me to apologise unreservedly for what she sees as a cheap gag at the expense of tundra dwelling homosexuals everywhere. No offence nose rubbers.

Report this review (#216190)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars VDGG clone with less talent.

A nice album that, despite some defects (first of all the uncertainties of the vocals) is a good addition to a record collection of progressive rock.

The opening track is Ice Queen. The sound of a wind storm introduces the song. The style of the band reminds immediately Van Der Graaf Generator. Highlights are the intense use of wind instruments and the central instrumental part in jazz style. Final crescendo with beautiful harmonies and a good flute solo. A piece of excellent quality. Rating 7 / 10.

A slow guitar riff opens Empty Houses, the second track on the album. The first vocal part is quite hard, and in some ways is reminiscent of bands like Uriah Heep, for example. Then an instrumental section with great use of winds and organ, however, soon brings the band back in the territories of VDGG. Rating 7 / 10.

Insolent Lady begins with delicate voice, acoustic guitar and flute. The pleasant melody continues at the end of the vocals, and with the use of other instruments (piano, bass guitar and synth), acquires more solemnity. In this part Cressida comes immediately to mind. After that, the song continues in a more aggressive way, with some tempo changes, until the final crescendo. This final section is masterfully played, with beautiful guitar, piano and winds, but shame about the vocals, too shouted for my taste and not in tune with the atmosphere of the song. Rating 7 / 10

Miracle Worker is an excellent piece in jazz style, where even the vocals are finally decent. Great use of wind as usual and great guitar riffs. An excellent change of pace leads to the instrumental section (which includes organ and guitar solos) with an exciting crescendo. Probably the best track on the album. Rating 8 / 10.

The beginning of Religion reminds me in some ways "Raid" (a song of a Charisma band called Audience). The song has a strange, dark atmosphere and is fully supported by the incessant sound of the sax. The ending could perhaps be further developed. Rating 6 / 10.

In the last song of the album Raw Material try to recreate Pink Floyd sound, without good results. Sun God opens with delicate synths and electric guitar, and it develops slowly, in a way so similar to what Floyd did for "Echoes", but without reaching the same results. The song is characterized by incoherent combination of different musical ideas, not entirely completely developed, and the result is frankly disappointing. The vocals are mediocre and also lack the extraordinary use of winds that characterized the previous songs. Rating 4 / 10.

Not essential, but surely good and recommended especially to fans of VDGG. Rating 6 / 10.

Best Song: Miracle Worker

Rewiew milestone #50 by DN.

Report this review (#469574)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars It was while trying to find some info on FLAMENGO's classic record that I read in a person's review that they reminded him of RAW MATERIAL. I had never heard of that band as far as I could remember so I investigated and found out they released two studio albums (1970 / 1971) and then disappeared. The Gnosis site that rates albums fairly hard had this second record rated much higher than the first but also at an avareage rating of 11 out of 16 making this one a must have according to the experts. I wasn't blown away by it that's for sure but it is a solid 4 stars in my world. I'm very pleased to own it and the sax really reminds me of Ian McDonald's work on KING CRIMSON's debut.

"Ice Queen" opens with the wind blowing then the music kicks in and takes over. This reminds me of early KING CRIMSON then the vocals follow. Love when it settles 1 1/2 minutes in and the wind returns. Contrasts continue. A jazzy interlude before 3 minutes with piano. The wind is back 4 minutes in then it kicks in again. Flute arrives after 5 minutes. "Empty Houses" opens with guitar and drums as the sax joins in. Passionate vocals a minute in. The sax replaces the vocals. Great sound after 4 1/2 minutes, quite powerful. The vocals are back after 6 minutes along with the organ. This is great right to the end. "Insolent Lady" features acoustic guitar and reserved vocals early on. Flute and bass help out too. Mellow stuff. The piano replaces the vocals then it kicks in with sax 2 1/2 minutes in. Vocals follow. A silent calm before 4 1/2 minutes then strummed guitar takes over followed by piano then organ as it builds. Drums and sax follow then vocals after 7 minutes.

"Miracle Worker" is just a pleasure to listen to instrumentally. The sax, keyboards and guitar especially. "Religion" is an uptempo vocal track with blasting sax and a catchy rhythm. "Sun God" is the over 11 minute closer. It's fairly laid back to start then reserved vocals come in before 1 1/2 minutes. A change before 4 minutes as it picks up and turns fuller. It settles again after 5 minutes. I like it ! Intricate guitar and a dreamy sound here then back to the opening soundscape after 7 1/2 minutes as themes are repeated.

Well worth checking out if your into KING CRIMSON or VDGG.

Report this review (#802861)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars British band Raw Material recorded two albums over the course of as many years between 1970-71, and the second album from the band, `Time Is...' is a strong collection of mostly Proto-prog styled pieces with light psych, jazz and folk elements. Due to the inclusion of saxophone/flute player Mike Fletcher, fans of the sax dominated early King Crimson albums and Van der Graaf Generator will find much to appeal here, with bands such as Beggars Opera, Pink Floyd and Novalis also other possible little reference points. It's not an album that instantly impresses, instead one that gradually reveals the consistently strong instrumental and compositional skills of the band on repeated plays.

On lead track `Ice Queen', the band were evidently quite influenced by Van der Graaf Generator, but although the sax lines throughout almost exactly recreate the VdGG classic `Killer', accusations of this band being an outright clone of them are completely false! A powerful and dramatic opener with howling winds, a dominating vocal from keyboard player Colin Catt, drifting flute and snarling lead guitar, with a nimble spiraling piano and thrashing drums driven jazz breakdown in the middle. Announcing intimidating sax opens `Empty House', a deranged Roger Water-esque vocal from Colin snarling `You and me can have some fun, empty houses one by one...'! Plodding heavy Uriah Heep-style guitars, treated droning sax over commanding acoustic guitars before heavy electric grooves twist the piece.

The first extended piece `Insolent Lady' incorporates soft dreamy Pink Floyd-like acoustic guitar passages, a warmer vocal, glistening electric piano, heavier sax, shimmering cymbal crashes, rising organs and gentle washes of synths that almost bring a rising and falling orchestral quality. `Miracle Worker' reminds instantly of Beggars Opera, a more upbeat melodic tune driven by addictive Hammond organ, Cliff Harewood's rapid fire mangled Byrds-like guitar licks and a catchy distorted electric piano solo in the middle over smashing drums.

There's a very slight psychedelic period Beatles sound on `Religion', mostly one chord played over and over behind dirty honking sax blasts, the imposing drumming building in urgency throughout to become quite hypnotic. The three part extended closer `Sun God' offers plentiful changing moods. The first section `Awakening' delivers an unhurried acoustic guitar and flute passage not unlike the drowsier Novalis moments, quickly shattered by the raucous `Realization' with wild vocals and clattering percussion, thick Hammond organ stabs and lusty guitar grooves before calming down into mellow jamming, the murmuring bass a highlight. After a brief reprise of the first section, `Worship' closes the album on a reflective ocean of fading-in placid synths before a final stirring sax fanfare.

There's no absolute classics to be found here, nor should the album ever be confused with being a lost classic, but `Time Is...' is still a strong and solid collection of early prog- influenced tunes, and it's a shame the band didn't get a chance to offer more works from here. It's definitely one to consider adding to the collection if you come across an LP or a CD reissue at a decent price, and it remains a very enjoyable album that deserves a bit more attention.

Three and a half stars.

Report this review (#1267334)
Posted Thursday, September 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars RAW MATERIAL were a two-album British Jazz-Rock band who got together in swinging London in 1969. They released their first eponymously-titled album in 1970 and followed it up with the "Time Is..." album in 1971. Raw Material's two albums are now pretty rare material as they've become real collectors items. Their music is said to be a veritable smorgasbord of musical styles, so they've inevitably found themselves in the Eclectic Prog section of Prog Archives. Let's have a listen now to the second album of Raw Material and find out if it's a magical musical melange or a dull and uninteresting blancmange.

"Ice Queen" opens the album to the atmospherically haunting sound of an icy blast of wind blowing across some vast polar ocean, so you better wrap up warm for this song, because it sounds pretty chilly out there. When you hear the first burst of the strident saxophone breaking through the ice, we're on familiar territory, because the music is very reminiscent of Van Der Graaf Generator's sparkly electric sound, only without Peter Hammill's extravagant vocals. The music is a pounding percussive powerhouse of sound with all the power of an unstoppable icebreaker making and breaking it's way through a vast icesheet. This song is like an unsinkable ship ploughing it's way relentlessly through the ice on full-power and there's even a Jethro Tull-style flautist up on deck too giving us all a flourish of his flamboyant flute alongside the sonorous saxophonist. We're back on dry land for "Empty Houses", which has a magnificent and majestic marching rhythm to it. There'd be no empty houses if this rousing and raucous music was played Live, because this is a Jazz-Rock spectacular. This powerful band have the Raw Material to deliver a thunderous blast of rollicking rock that's loud enough to raise the roof. Jazz NEVER sounded quite like this back in Louis Armstrong's or Duke Ellington's time. This is Jazz-Rock that's as hard and heavy as a solid block of granite. Along next, comes an "Insolent Lady", although I'm sure she's a charming, demure and delightful lady if this lush romantic melody is anything to go by. It's the first of two extended three-piece suites on the album, with a running time of nine minutes. The first part of the suite titled "Bye for Now" is a BIG romantic piano ballad, bathed in a sea of sensational strings. You could fall in love all over again to this gorgeous sumptuous ballad. The mid-section "Small Thief" is a proggy free- for-all, featuring a surging saxophone, dynamic power chords, stop/start staccato breaks, and a Duracel drummer passionately pounding away on the bongos as if his life depends on it. The music is bright and brassy with the lively horn section in full flow. The self-titled third and final part of the "Insolent Lady" suite is a booming and bombastic Prog-Rock anthem with all of the power and the glory and resplendent colour of a grand military tattoo on Horse Guards Parade.

Opening Side Two is "Miracle Worker", a jaunty Jazzy number which weaves its magical musical spell, sounding like Jethro Tull given an extra burst of adrenalin. The sonorous horn section and pounding percussionist are at their braggadocious best here, surging ahead like a ballroom blitz with all of the ass-kicking power of a bucking bronco. These guys ROCK! It's time to get spiritual now for "Religion", although this is no sombre midnight mass, this is a surging Jazz-Rock number that's quite literally as bold as brass. This stirring music is really more spirited than spiritual. Finally, to round off the album, the "Sun God" arrives like a bright ray of sunshine. It's the second of the long suites on the album, divided into "Awakening", "Realization and "Worship", with a total running time of just over 11 minutes. The music is a glorious combination of gentle acoustic guitar and flute passages, combined with sudden and strident bursts of power and passion from the dynamic drummer and always impressive horn section. This magnificent "Sun God" is like a radiant aurora bathed in all of the rich glowing colours of the musical spectrum. It's a rich ambrosia of music designed to "Awaken" the very soul with the "Realization" that "Worship" is not something that's only reserved for solemn church occasions. No, this is powerful resounding music to revere and respect and maybe even worship, just like a "Sun God".

Raw Material have really delivered the goods with this second album. The music hits the listener like a storming ballista laying siege to a medieval castle. In a bravura performance, this talented group of British musicians give a dazzling display of dynamic power and energy in a raucous riot of bright and brassy Jazz-Rock. This is mean and mighty, hard and heavy Jazz- Rock with a no-nonsense brass knuckles attitude.

Report this review (#2304817)
Posted Monday, January 6, 2020 | Review Permalink

RAW MATERIAL Time Is... ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of RAW MATERIAL Time Is...

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.