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High Tide - Sea Shanties CD (album) cover

SEA SHANTIES

High Tide

Heavy Prog


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5 stars When I first listened to this album I couldn't believe it was from 1969; it is way ahead of the time. Definitely the heaviest album of that aera. Its trademark is the constant battling between electric guitar and electric violin.

The album starts right away with a heavy electric guitar riff out of one of the boxes, a pumping bass and drums enter, the guitar riff is answered with heavy electric violin out of the other box, and then "Futilist's Lament" is on the way. The vocals of Tony Hill sound a bit like Jim Morrison; the lyrics throughout the whole album are rather pessimistic.

The second track, "Death Warmed Up", is an instrumental and probably the first prog metal piece ever. Guitar and violin together play a very complicated theme of about 3 minutes length, which is repeated once. Then it looks as if they go into another repetition, but what follows for the last 4 minutes is a wild battle between electric guitar and electric violin.

"Pushed, But Not Forgotten" starts quietly with some phased guitar and melancholic violin, over which Hill sings. But the silence is not for long, soon heavy guitar crashes again, and the violin counters maniacally. The song ends with sad viloin over quiet guitar chords.

"Walking Down Their Outlook" provides an interesting early example of violin and guitar actually playing two different voices, which is rare in rock music.

"Missing Out" has a slightly bluesy feeling, although a lot heavier than blues usually is.

"Nowhere" finally is what one could call a ballad, with lines like "On the stage there is no door, at your feet the moving floor decides to burn", yet again it is very heavy, as the whole album.

The mix is not the best, but who cares? The music is fantastic! I rarely deal out 5 stars, but this one deserves it. Be warned though: This album is not for the timid!

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Send comments to BaldJean (BETA) | Report this review (#35126)
Posted Thursday, June 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's most probably true that SEA SHANTIES was the very first Prog-Metal album. Actually before 1970 I can recall only bands like DEEP PURPLE, CREAM or BLUE CHEER, but none of them playing that heavy nor progressive in a way. MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" from the same year was probably the very first Metal album in general, but they didn't play progressive at all. Nevertheless just for that reason alone I'm hesitating to call it a masterpiece.

Futilist's Lament and Death Warmed Up are really a true devil's ride with extremely amped guitar and violin. At times HAWKWIND is coming to my mind. Quite heavy stuff, but for my ears and listening habits becoming a bit too monotonous and noisy after a while (the same problem I have with the heavy stuff of the mentioned band). A rather huge contrast when third track Pushed, But Not Forgotten is starting even very mellow, soon after amps are switched on again, but on this one the music is much different from before and of much bigger quality and versatility. Especially here and as well in Walkin Down Their Outlook in the more quiet sections Tony Hill's vocals remind very much to those of Jim Morrison. The violin is sounding in these and in the following tracks much better and less distorted than in the first two. Missing Out reminds a bit to CREAM at least in the beginning before violin comes in. The longest track of the album is a very heavy and very interesting versatile one as well. Nowhere is a bit less heavy featuring again nice vocals reminiscent of THE DOORS.

HIGH TIDE's debut is for sure one of the best Proto-Prog albums released. Maybe I wouldn't call it necessarily a masterpiece, since I'm usually careful with my 5- stars ratings, but anyway together with their second one

an excellent addition to any prog collection!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#35859)
Posted Thursday, June 09, 2005 | Review Permalink
Philrod
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars High Tide is completely ahead of its time. On their first album, Sea Chanties, they combine their fokish influences with a more harsh, aggressive sound. Sometimes souding jazzy, and really one of the first, if not the first prog-metal album.

The key here is the battle, the rivalry between the electric guitar of Tony Hill and the excellent playing of Simon House on his electric violin.

From the first second we feel something is ahead of its time. A huge guitar riff starts off the album, and the great rythm section soon come along. The violin adds up to the unique sound and forms a melodic mess.

Throughout the album, there are a lot of ecellent guitar moment and as many violin ones. Diverse, but always true to their roots, High Tide delivers. The only problem may be the vocals, wich do not fit with the intensity of the music.

Still, this is heavy stuf for the time and still today, it sounds like a ton of brick. Sensible ears stay away! A band to discover. 4.5/5

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Send comments to Philrod (BETA) | Report this review (#43599)
Posted Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars High Tide's debut album is one that oozes myths and mysteries , but I find it quite over- rated. We are dealing with a fairly progressive hard-rock Blue Cheer style, but it does lack a few qualities.

For one , the sound: nowadays , it would fit in a lo-fi category, but back then , the production was shoddy , poor and non-existant. It is also relatively hard to tell which is the guitar , which is the violin as the sound is simply muddy!

Two: the few songs that are over-loaded with riffs , not always very refined. Only on Death Warmed Up (instrumental as the singing on other tracks is relatively bland) and Pushed But Not Forgotten manage to stand out.

I do believe that this would've been a much better album had this the required proper production. Things will be corrected with their much better second album. Please note that the arwork sleeve is designed by Paul Whitehead og Genesis and VDGG fame.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#43878)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
Ian Woollan@n
5 stars This album is on a par with Amon Duul's Phalus Dei (also 1969), and shares much in common with it from the violin, but of course it is uniquely British, and knocks anything since that could be describes as Heavy Metal into the floor!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#62398)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
superonion@fs
4 stars this is a really interesting album. a chaotic, noisy, at times messy album which vaguely sounds to me like; 'jimi hendrix in a bad mood- meets- fairport convention'. i love the guitar playing, theres plenty great solos and double-lead solos with the fiddle. the only thing i'm not too keen on is the vocals, with hills jim morrison style yawn. its not quite a masterpiece but definitely recommended, and also sounds exellent for a debut album.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#66846)
Posted Thursday, January 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
fairlight.fm@
4 stars I bought this album back in 69/70 because I kept being drawn to the cover got it home and it blew me away. Shot round to my mates and put it on his dad's expensive hi fi celestion speakers no less at it blew us both away.

In truth, 2 tracks were the album 'Death warmed up', a phenomenal duel between guitar and Simon House on elec violin and what is in my top all time tracks ever 'Walking down their outlook', an amazing song with Jim Morrison type vocals.

I am still trying to work out what the lyrics are all about I think it is about vampires in some way, ie, we shall live and never die.

I lost the original vynil; it got nicked at a party somewhere. Managed to get hold of the cd on import about 8 yrs ago.

I saw them live at Maidsone College in 70/71; they did not play one track of either their two albums of the time but were total hypnotic to watch and listen to.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#70934)
Posted Thursday, March 02, 2006 | Review Permalink
Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Called by some a masterpiece of proto-prog-metal, "Sea Shanties" is somewhat rougher around the edges than its follow-up, "High Tide". Nevertheless, it is undeniably miles ahead of its time: a powerful, haunting wall of sound which is only let down by poor production values, all too revealing of the 37 years that have passed since the album's release. Strangely enough, though, the muddy sound quality adds to this record's almost sinister fascination - as well as the disturbing, distinctly gothic sleeve, possibly inspired by Coleridge's marvellous "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner".

The band's psychedelic roots are quite evident throughout the album, especially in Tony Hill's Morrison-influenced vocals and heavy, distorted riffing. What is really distinctive in High Tide's sound, though, is the presence of Simon House's electric violin, adding at times a touch of lyricism to the overall darkness of the compositions, at other times becoming as obsessively strident as its sparring partner, the guitar. As a matter of fact, the album's highlight features a 9-minute long duel between guitar and violin: the monumental "Death Warmed Up" is without any doubt one of the best instrumentals ever written, a driving, exhilarating tour de force which would be deserving of much greater fame.

This album is not for the faint-hearted, as its brooding atmosphere and fiercely distorted sounds can be heavy going for those who are more used to classic, symphonic prog. I also find the first part of the album better than the second, which tends to drag down a bit after a while - this is one of the things that prevented me from giving "Sea Shanties" five stars. In any case, "Death Warmed Up" is worth the price of the record alone. Enjoy the ride.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#72451)
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars High Tide were formed in 1969 as a vehicle for Tony Hill's psychedelic explorations. It is thus appropriate that his strong guitar playing is both the backbone and dominant voice on Sea Shanties, full of long passages of heavy riffing and impressive improvisational soloing overflowing with inventive ideas. By contrast, Simon House is a mere shadow of his later self. When he shines, his violin is as mellifluous as ever, but much of the time is spent attempting to emulate Hill's guitar instead of playing to his own strengths, especially on the first pair of tracks.

It is distortion, applied as a deliberate artistic ploy to guitar and violin, that initially grabs the listener's attention. Vast fistfuls of it! Which exacerbates a poor definition of bass and drums, though strangely enhancing some instrumental passages to create a more spacey/trippy feel unaided by keyboards. Another overriding initial impression is of weight - as in heavy, particularly on the first two tracks. These stand out as rough and raw precursors to metal or grunge.

Overall, the material here is an amalgam of songs, improvised soloing and heavy riffing, seemlessly combined in a satisfyingly organic manner. Unlike their second album, the musical elements flow naturally to form homogeneous compositions whose weakest link is the core songs. Generally, they are not the most memorable melodies and Hill's unintelligible vocals fail to carry them over the dominant instruments.

Futilist's Lament sets out their stall, loud and heavy with some lovely guitar work from Hill amidst swathes of distortion, but only an average song. Death Warmed Up is more of the same but without any vocals - just loud-'n'-proud riffing for nine minutes and some manic wah-wah guitar. Excellent interplay between House and Hill on this one.

Pushed But Not Forgotten finally brings some relief from the onslaught. Beginning as a quiet and delicate late '60s psychedelic lounge song for a minute or so before the inevitable distorted guitar bursts forth, it alternates soft and gentle vocal passages with louder aggressive instrumental sections. House begins to find his voice here, reaching a peak on Walking Down Their Outlook where his violin leads the way with sympathetic support from Hill. This is easily the best track on the album - despite a (short) drum solo - a spritely song with a tricksy tune that Hill doesn't quite nail.

Another change of tack for the final two tracks, introducing a slightly bluesy element to the mix [and, curiously, the guitar and violin swap channels for these two songs]. The uninspired Missing Out becomes boring by half distance, its cause not aided by Hill's disjointed improvising during the second half. Despite a nice little violin riff around the 4:30 mark, Nowhere is an unmemorable song, poorly sung and with an unsympathetic overpowering arrangement. Sadly, a weak ending to an otherwise good album.

Sea Shanties is an interesting document of an altogether simpler age when an overloaded amp, a wah-wah peddle and lots of imagination was all you needed. I cannot be sure, but I suspect it was recorded live-in-the-studio with overdubs limited to vocals. Clearly Hill's top-drawer guitar work is its main attraction, but overall there are too many weaknesses to give it a strong recommendation.

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Send comments to Joolz (BETA) | Report this review (#81922)
Posted Sunday, June 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars High Tide's debut is considered by many one of the first metal albums ever released, and rightly so. For an array of reasons, this album outlines the path Black Sabbath, ealry- Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple would refine and, in doing so, master in the following decade. perhaps, Sea Shanties is an anachronism of its time yet this musical anomoly was profoundly influential on the relatively unkown course of metal in 1969. If you consider similar sounding albums this year, Zep I manifested vintage blues rock, Purple was closing an era of intriguing psychadelic, hard rock, which I thoroughly enjoy, and Sabbath were playing R&B at local clubs in Birmingham.

The amalgamation of Tony Hill's baritone, reminiscent of Jim Morrison, and the heavy riffs of Balck Sabbath, would appeal to fans who are familiar and appreciate Sabbath's music as well as Jim Morrison's haunting yet eloquent vocals. Moreover, the violin/guitar matchup would possibly interest Mahavishnu fans, particularly fans of their first two albums.

This album is an intergral part of any classic metal collection and would appeal to progggers who have enjoyed works such T2's It'll All Work Out in Boomland and KC's Red.

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Send comments to Asyte2c00 (BETA) | Report this review (#88868)
Posted Sunday, September 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here comes one of my favourite of all times. When I bought and first listened to it, I got struck by the intensity of every single track on this album. It's incredible how they turned psychedelia (if I can remember properly, Tony Hill was American) into something completely different. You can really face the open ocean on board of the apochaliptic "Death warmed up", with extremely violent riffs both by guitar and violin, as well as epic duets between the two instruments. "Futilist's Lament" is astounding, its ever changing, complex riffs, Hill's baritone voice and anarchic solos really drive you into another dimension. "Pushed but not forgotten" is among the best stuff you can find in underground rock, beginning like a calm ballad, then evolving into furious riffs and a violin driven refrain. Among the highlights of this album, "Missing Out" is a very fine piece: it gives you the impression to embark with pirates to the open sea, then it pushes you into open outer space, with a central improvisation worth the best Hawkwind. A real masterpiece from 1969, which, with the right promotion, would have faced even KC's debut "Into the Court of the Crimson King".

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Send comments to paolo.beenees (BETA) | Report this review (#99781)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars High Tide's debut album, Sea Shanties, seriously is an underrated/unknown gem. This album is a great meld of early metal and psychedelic rock. Tony Hill wrote, sang and played guitar on every track here, and he is the reason why Sea Shanties is my personal favorite guitar album of all-time. This guy absolutely shreds on most of the tracks here. The opening track, "Futilist's Lament", starts things off in a blaze of glory, but the next track, "Death Warmed Up", is not only the album's crowning achievement, but possibly the group's as well. It features Hill's full-fledged guitar assault take on the violin of a very talented Simon House. This song is a choatic, freaked out masterpiece. Things settle down with the atmospheric "Pushed, But Not Forgotten", and the awesome "Walking Down Their Outlook". The next track,"Missing Out" has some rather weak vocals from Tony Hill, but the jamming he and House does on this song more than makes up for it. The album closes with "Nowhere", which is a dramatic and fine way to end this terrific album. The interplay with Hill's guitar and House's violin is heard all throughout the ablum, and is one of Sea Shanties awesome qualities. The rhythm section consisting of drummer Roger Hadden and bassist Peter Pavli is solid, as these guys are better than your average drummer and bassist in my opinion. Sea Shanties, along with the group who made the album, should not be overlooked.

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Send comments to Kyle (BETA) | Report this review (#102672)
Posted Monday, December 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Spewing lush but roughly-rendered heavy psychedelics and tons of personality, High Tide rocked the paisley scene in 1969 with low-fi sludge and macho abandon, producing this small but rich and flavorful LP. A screaming breech-birth of a record, this debut won't impress everyone at first. Maybe because it sounds like a lumbering band of drunken criminals looking for trouble, led by the sardonic Tony Hill on guitar and vocals with a Jim Morrison baritone and world-weary swagger. But there is more going on here than evident at first glance including moments of folk, neo-classical, and a bit of rustic bread hidden under the hard crust. Some think this is the earliest form of heavy progressive rock, and I think they might be right. Whether or not High Tide made a big impact on prog as we know it is not important here. The music, however, is.

The killer fuzz riff of 'Futilist's Lament' starts things strong with Hill's creamy metal foam and Simon House's haunted keys. House's fiddle highlights the second cut, the melodic and weird 'Death Warmed Up', sounding much like its title and clocking in at over nine minutes. Here is where the progressive part of this band begins to show, with interesting lines and harmonics between the dirt and electric kool-aid, peeking out before being thrown back in the mix. The troubled and introspective 'Pushed, But Not Forgotten' starts and stops with cold fingernails on your back, while 'Walking Down Their Outlook' features surprising precision and clever arranging. The most progressive and emotionally complex track, 'Missing Out', is a brazen attempt at intricacy and the raw fusing of musics never meant to meet, let alone marry in a country barn with a bunch of crazed heavy bluesmen out to rock hard and party harder. 'Nowhere' finishes the show with great cowbell clang, concluding what appears to be the early cries of a new music. Additionally, some fascinating extras include 'The Great Universal Protection Racket', an 11- minute epic of full-blown prog/psych inexplicably left off the original LP that features aggressive metallic guitar harmonies and shifting rhythms, followed by the off-kilter 'Dilemma'. In 2006 Eclectic Discs offered a remaster of this vital slice of hard-hitting proto prog, and it is well worh it.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#126031)
Posted Saturday, June 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I am amazed that this was released in 1969, I mean there's a lot of Metal on this record. It's that relentless attack of guitar and violin (often distorted) that drew me in immediately but the poor production and sound quality quickly took away my enthusiasm. It got to the point where the guitar and violin seemed to clash, and just became noise instead of music to my ears.I have to say the vocals were a real treat though, he sounds so much like Jim Morrison, but the vocals are one of the highlights for me.

"Futilist's Lament" features heavy guitar right off the bat as vocals come in. Violin before 5 minutes from Simon House who deserves special mention as he would go on to play for HAWKWIND for many years. "Death Warmed Up" is an instrumental and the guitar / violin interplay is fantastic ! Scorching guitar and violin melodies continue as the drums pound away. They really seem like they are just jamming here.

"Pushed But Not Forgotten" is the only song that has some lighter sounds along with reserved vocals. Although outbreaks of guitar follow and this contrast continues. "Walkin Down Their Outlook" has more of those great vocals as guitar and violin follow. I wish the sound quality was better although the soundscape 4 minutes in is terrific. "Missing Out" opens with a vocal line that is answered by the guitar. Violin comes in later this time. "Nowhere" is where i've tired from the guitar and violin clashes and prefer the vocals that start before 2 minutes.The "noise" is just taking away from the vocals for me at this point.

This is still a really good album that deserves 3 stars. Worth checking out for historical reasons as well.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#137035)
Posted Friday, September 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Metalised psychedelic rock, the music impacts like nuclear force and settles within you. Led Zep, Deep P, Black Sabbath and assorted bands where supposed to be heavy, but this stands alone (we are talking about 1969) as the predominant ultimate heavy metal attack. Even compared with regular (80's) Heavy Metal (Metallica, Iron Maiden) High Tide has been there, seen it and done it already. Rougher, louder and better at it, if I may add.

Entrenched deep within the psychedelic scene High Tide explores the field in a new direction, forcefull guitar riffing, high paced rhythms (and some slow paced passages thrown in for good measure) makes High Tide stand with one foot in late 60's psychedelica and the other in 80's heavy metal, everything passes by, from The Doors (Walking Down Their Outlook) Iron Maiden (Death Warmed Up), till Led Zeppelin combined with Arthur Brown (Futilist's Lament).

This is one of those albums all must hear, certainly if you enjoy psychedelics and heavy metal, and like in my case preferably combined, Black Sabbath is great, this is better.

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Send comments to tuxon (BETA) | Report this review (#162468)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This was a band so far ahead of their time that except for the tepid sixties studio production this album doesn’t really seem all that dated even today. Not your typical proto-prog band, but undoubtedly there are a couple of generations of heavy metal and psych rockers these guys managed to have an influence on nonetheless.

This has got to be the heaviest album I’ve ever heard that was recorded before about 1971. Not only that, this is one of the earliest albums I know of that prominently featured electric violin, and in a leading role no less. As heavy as MC5 but with the creative musical sensibilities of the best psychedelic bands of their day (The United States of America comes immediately to mind), High Tide just flat-out rock on this, their debut release.

The influence of Jim Morrison is apparent in Tony Hill’s vocals, or maybe that’s just what all acid-soused heavy rock singers sounded like back then. And clearly these guys were partaking of copious amounts of recreational stimulants judging from the out-of-control guitar improvisation and almost surly violin wailing that dominate the first couple of tracks. Drummer Roger Hadden seems completely unrestrained and drives at mach speed between rock and jazz rhythms effortlessly.

By the third track “Pushed, but not Forgotten” the band slows up just ever so slightly, but only for the first minute or so before launching into a series of thrashing bleats followed by mellow violin and more mumbling ala the Lizard King. This is the one track that easily confirms the band was attempting to piece together more than simply fuzz and poppies with this album.

“Walking Down their Outlook” is similar, but here Hill tries some weird shouting to offset the catatonic vocal dirges he has offered up to this point. The violin here manages to take on a bit of a folkish tone although it doesn’t give an inch in intensity. More of the same on “Missing Out” except that this one jams on for nearly ten minutes which is largely filled with pure improvisational jamming by Tony Hill and bassist Peter Pavli.

The closing “Nowhere” almost sounds like a proto-Cure tune once the opening blast of guitar fuzz fades a bit. Well, the Cure on acid that is.

The band would fold a year after this release and following their second studio album. Drummer Roger Hadden became a Syd Barrett-like casualty of a fragile psyche and too much acid and has spent the past thirty-seven years in a mental institution, while the rest of the band went on to other endeavors including stints with label-mates Hawkwind, Deep Fix and Third Ear Band. Violinist Simon House would also play on several David Bowie, Thomas Dolby and Mike Oldfield albums (among others), and House and Hill both managed to release albums under their own names as well. The two of them would reform the band as a duo in the late eighties and release another (much more mellow) album with digital drums tracks, but for the most part the spirit of High Tide died shortly after this and their second album released.

A true original that paved a new path in heavy metal of the progressive kind, way before most other metalheads had figured this stuff out. Four stars and recommended as a history lesson for all metal fans who’ve come along since.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#165512)
Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Sea Shanties is the debut album from High Tide. It was released in 1969 and it´s a very heavy album considering it was released back then. Many people have stated that High Tide is heavier than Black Sabbath but this is not true IMO.

The music is influenced by some of the heavier late sixties groups like Iron Butterfly, Cream and Hendrix. There is a general dark atmosphere to Sea Shanties which is really great and not something you heard very often back then. High Tide´s Sea Shanties reminds me of another album from that time which was also pretty raw and that´s T2´s It'll All Work Out In Boomland. There is also a clear The Doors influence here. Especially in the mood of the vocals.

The first song Futilist's Lament has clear Cream influences in the heavy guitar while the long instrumental second song Death Warmed Up starts with a clear Zappa influence ( Hot Rats, Chunga´s Revenge) but turns more into a Hendrix like guitar jam, with lots of wah wah and heavy abuse of distortion. It´s a great song. The third song Pushed, But Not Forgotten alternates between subtle vocal parts with violin, wah wah guitar parts without distortion and sudden outburst of noisy distorted guitar. The singing is great in this song.

Walkin Down Their Outlook is maybe the most progressive track here. Lots of dark violin and fast guitar runs. It´s generally a very heavy song. The vocals are good in this song. Missing Out is one long psychadelic jamming song with some distorted stoned vocals and simultanious guitar and violin soloing. This is great and never gets boring. Nowhere is the last song on the original LP and it´s a great song. The intro has again excellent guitar and violin runs while the vocal parts has a very The Doors like quality.

There are a couple of bonus tracks on the CD release but I haven´t heard them so they will not be reflected in my rating. I must get the CD release when I get the chance so I can hear those extra tracks someday.

The musicianship is great. It´s one of those albums where you can hear that everyone is enjoying his part. They are simply on fire.

The sound quality is really great. Very heavy and dark yet everything is clear in the mix. A really excellent achivement.

I have been pleasently surprised by Sea Shanties. I thought I was going to listen to yet another psychadelic late sixties band but got so much more. This album is dark and intriguing and much more progressive than any of the aforementioned bands. If you like dark and heavy late sixties psychadelic rock this is definiely your thing. I think this is a sure 4 star album. It falls just short of a masterpiece IMO, but it´s not far from a 5 star rating in my book.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#174365)
Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Whistler
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars High Tide has often been cited as being "Iron Butterfly with Jim Morrison as the frontman," or, "proto-mid seventies King Crimson." Both these descriptions are interesting for sure, and are guaranteed to spark some images of what the band's sound is like. But neither could possibly hint at what High Tide is actually about...

Okay, actually, they do hint very nicely. High Tide as basically the masterful combination of guitar and violin (in this case, Tony Hill and Simon House respectively), played with as much heaviness and gloom as poor lil' 1969 could muster. In fact, taking into account when it was recorded, Sea Shanties might actually be THE heaviest album ever recorded. Fancy that! And even if you don't agree, you'll have to agree with the various learned men with tall foreheads and too much time on their hands that Shanties is some kind of an out of place mutant hybrid, a bastard father to progressive metal, Goth rock and Larks Tongues in Aspic all in one package.

Case in point: we open the album with "Futilist's Lament." The lyrics pretty much sum up what the title says: we're all screwed, and we're gonna die, sung in a fantastic Morrison style deadpan by Hill. But it ain't the lyrics; it's the riffage that counts. There's a huge, HUGE riff, smashing through your speakers, and it's only augmented by something that was PROBABLY a violin at some point, but now just sounds EVEN HEAVIER THAN THE GUITAR! AWESOME! But don't think that House's instrument is a blundering club; the interplay between Hill and House in the midsection proves otherwise.

But my bet for best track is the unstoppable nine minute instrumental "Death Warmed Up," a sprawling, swarming, riff and solo fest for Hill. House won't let him have all the fun though, and the best parts of the instrumental occur when the two musicians match each other note for note, with the guitar and violin swapping spots in your speaker until you honestly CAN'T tell the difference between the two. The rhythm is tight, the riffs are ever changing, and it's only at the end that it gets monotonous. But you know what? I don't care!

Nothing on the album is ever quite that heavy (hell, nothing in their career was), but sit tight, the fun isn't over yet. "Pushed, But Not Forgotten" introduces us to a slightly softer side of High Tide, with a pleasant violin and vocal led melody that's reminiscent of early King Crimson...until it takes a turn for the violent mid way through. "Walking Down Their Outlook" is another "heavy ballad," much more Doorsy than Crimsonian, with some excellent classical riffage at the center (an excellent spot for House), and a nicely eerie ending.

"Missing Out" is another nine minute monster, although nowhere near "Death's" entertainment value. Still, it IS an interesting track; it seems to be one of those blues epics I like to talk about so much. Hill drops the Morrison deadpan in favor of a bizarre cross between Roger Waters and Peter Hammill. Additionally, it's probably the only track that actually gets to me timewise. I mean, it ain't BAD; there's ample blues riffage and improv, but there's a drum solo in it fer goshsakes! Yes, a small one, but it's there.

In the end, "Missing" slides flawlessly into closer "Nowhere," another nicely played Goth rocker, with excellent riffage. The lyrics are slightly more interesting this time around, and there's more interesting guitar/violin interplay. A good ending that sums up the album pretty nicely.

High Tide is more than an original curio, or a cute entertainment. It's a good album! Anyone who counts himself as a fan of the mid-seventies Crimso lineup will do himself a favor by checking them out. In fact, I'd go as far as to wager that Hill and House are a better pairing than Fripp and Cross. Okay, so maybe they don't have QUITE as many tricks in their respective books, and certainly Crimso had four virtuosos rather than High Tide's two, but Hill and House are much, much better at playing off each other's strengths and weaknesses.

So we're set from a musical point of view (the mix is a little crumby, if you care, but this ain't a Motorhead bootleg or anything). The lyrics are...not terribly impressive. Hill can't be accused of real poetry, but on the other hand, he can't be accused to lame imagery. The lyrics aren't hard hitting, but they're very far from pedestrian "evil" lyrics, I'm happy to say. The delivery may be similar, but High Tide won't suck you in with a Morrisonian lyrical approach. However, if you let the swirling, bleak, watery atmosphere surround you, you just might be hooked.

I must warn you: nothing you hear will prepare you for High Tide. It is certainly heavier and darker than Iron Butterfly, the Doors and King Crimson would dare to probe at this point. It's also pretty darn monotonous. Heavy, dark jams are the word(s) of the day, and if you aren't prepared for that...well then, you're just going to hate this band's guts. But that's really not a very wise thing to do.

High Tide are not the world's most underrated band, but they have a special place in my heart at least. Largely because they're loud. And depressing. And that's pretty darn cool in my book.

(HEY! Sea Shanties comes with BONUS TRACKS!!! Now, before you run off screaming in the night questioning God why, I suggest that you take a listen to these things. “The Great Universal Protection Racket” is an epic instrumental that managed to evolve into something else pointless every couple of months (I think it ended up becoming “Saneonymous,” believe it or not). But, for the moment, it’s an epic alright, and not just because of the length; “Protection Racket” spans the stylistic gamut from the standard heavy Goth, jazz freakouts, and calm-before-the-storm-folk you’d expect from the band, but also verges into proto-metal with an Asian twist (!) and, get this, pop songs (!!!). None of this would matter, of course, except that some of the riffs are pretty choice (the ominous opener and that Asian riff, for instance). Repetitive? Sure, but is High Tide we’re talking about. “Dilemma” is a gloomy rocker that alternates between furious, heavy riffage and gentle, almost pleasant, vocal melody. May not be the best thing the band ever produced, but it’s sure as hell interesting. Best bonus. The early version of “Death Warmed Up” is not as long or as heavy or as internally propped up as the album version, but it IS faster. So fast, in fact, that the rhythm section struggles to keep up sometimes (especially the drummer). Pity that. “Pushed, But Not Forgotten” follows suit, but perhaps more obvious; a little more rushed sounding, and probably a studio run through, given the overall quality. Oh, and, Tony Hill’s vocals are more pronounced this time. Maybe not the best thing in the world. “Time Gauges” is another heavy-instrumental-alternating-with-gentle-folksy-stuff, this one sounding much more like it would become something on the later album (High Tide). A tad messy. Still, if you liked the band’s sound on the first album, and want more Goth meets heavy blues meets Crimsonian priggish-ness, only this time with some extra pop and other weird stuff tossed in, plus get to hear Tony’s voice sound higher and whinier, then this is your set of bonus tracks! Otherwise, this ain’t makin’ no converts. No rating change.)

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Send comments to The Whistler (BETA) | Report this review (#184239)
Posted Wednesday, October 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Sometimes first is not best.

There are those who suggest that 'Sea Shanties' is the very first prog-metal record. If that's so, we've come a very long way, for there's precious little prog here at all, and virtually no metal. Instead, the album is a heavy psych/blues record a la BLUE CHEER filled with great riffs and extended guitar/violin jams, akin to much similar material released at about the same time. What marks it out is TONY HILL's excellent guitar work and the dreadful vocals of - er - TONY HILL (listen to how he murders the album's third track). The nett effect of the combination of raucous, grinding guitar and insipid, LATIMER-like vocals is like listening to the bastard child of CAMEL and early BLACK SABBATH, with JIMI HENDRIX as midwife. Though it's often hard to tell, so poor is the sound quality.

As for the choicest cuts, the first two tracks tell you everything you need to know. 'Futilist's Lament' is hard and heavy, and 'Death Warmed Up' is a protracted jam. That's it: apart from a softer track (Pushed but Not Forgotten) you've heard everything this band has to offer after two tracks. As for the myth of this album being the 'heaviest' around, it's laughable. The guitar is distorted, yes. But 'heavy' music is far more than a distorted guitar. It's about a spirit of aggression, and this has none. I've got a copy of THE HUMAN INSTINCT's second album, 'Stoned Guitar', an average album from an obscure New Zealand band, and it sounds much like this - as do many, many albums of the era. And just like 'Stoned Guitar', 'Sea Shanties' has not dated well.

Not the best, and not really even the first. For the best in heavy prog, shop elsewhere.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#184375)
Posted Thursday, October 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars When you consider that this album was released almost forty years ago, you have to admit that it was rather a special recording back then. Still, it was almost unnoticed as well.

This is heavy rock for sure, but not as gloomy and heavy that the first Sabbath album (as Umur has already mentioned). There is one very special element which conveys a great feeling overall: the use of the violin which is quite astonishing for a band that plays so loud a music.

Therefore, there is a definite prog touch which was completely alien to Sabbath debut for instance. The fantastic Futilist's Lament is a great example: it is not only hard/heavy. The duet guitar/violin works excessively well.

Production is very poor and this can be noticed during the long instrumental Death Warmed Up. It sounds a bit too much as a cacophony to be honest. But not all songs are like this one.

Walking Down Their Outlook has a definite Doors sound (especially vocals), but what is really making the difference is the brilliant violin work from Simon House. He is a trademark on his own to be honest.

Heavy bluesy psychedelia is available as well with Missing Out. These guys have definitely listened to Cream and let's remember that by then, Led Zep had already broken the charts. The longest song from Sea Shanties is a plea for heavy music: the drumming is awesome and what to say about the incredible guitar work which is present almost during these ten minutes of great rock music.

It is quite close of the great guitar parts of Alvin Lee (Ten Years After). Since I'm found of this band, I can only applaud to such a performance. It is my favourite song of this album.

The closing number also has this vocal link with The Doors. It is another bluesy influenced track which turns out into a pure and very good rock song. Little by little, the guitar has taken the lead role and the violin is almost non existing by now.

This album has been remastered in 2006 and might well be worth since it is also extended with several bonus tracks.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#186193)
Posted Friday, October 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars At risk of sounding juvenile, this album and HIGH TIDE's second, self titled, album bring non stop awesomenessisity. Not a word, I know, but I find it hard to express how much a love this two HGH TIDE master works. Explosions of sound at once gripping and maddening (in this case an exceptionally good thing), especially considering the time in which they were released. With Tony Hill's calm, confident singing style at the helm this is a can't miss heavy prog album at the top of the genre. While I'd give a slight edge to the second album in my humble opinion both are full 5 star essentials.

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Send comments to manofmystery (BETA) | Report this review (#186941)
Posted Saturday, October 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars And you know what, when listening this, description "metal", heavy metal probably appeared in my mind too. It simply seems, sounds exactly as these proto, "pre" bands that helped to create it, keeping people warm and ready for this style.

And this is something that I imagine when talking about late 60's and their rock music. Rush of a blood to the head indeed, this is ecstasy of sound and furiosity. Never ending party, head-bang here and there, just rock and literally like a rolling stone, only in harder and much heavier style.

Whew, it's simply perfect in many ways of this word. I can see one, so far only one disadvantage - guitars here are sometimes too drastic, tyrannous to my ears. But hell, I can deal with it easily, I already did, this feeling is mostly (mostly) something from past listens. So even this can little bit remind their later album "...Gates", this performance done with guitars (wild solos and riffs) is better for me. It's incorporating much more elements. And you know, simply it's interesting and also promising album.

4(+), great late 60's almost prog album.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#250266)
Posted Thursday, November 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a definitive classic, and unfortunately criminally underrated, then and now.

The opening track, Futilist's Lament, is right up there with 21st Century Schizoid Man, as far as heavy and scary prog-rock tracks are concerned. Hill gets in a fantasticly distorted and dirty riff before getting in some jaw-dropping interplay with House's violin. And of course Hill doing his Jim Morrison impersonation vocally very well. A true classic!

The rest of the album is not nearly close to the opening masterpiece. But still there are some great songs here. Death Warmed Up is a 9 minute instrumental jam that just keeps the intensity up for nearly the entire track duration. And Hill's guitar-playing just gets more and more demonic as we go along...

Two shorter tracks also make the grades. Pushed But Not Forgotten is the closest thing to a ballad here, with very medieval and gentle sounding verses before picking up steam. Walking Down Their Outlook is generally more uptempo throughout, and contains possibly the best vocal lines on the album.

Unfortunately, High Tide didn't manage to keep it up all the way in. The two last songs (Missing Out and Nowhere) have their moments, but are on the whole a bit non-descript and without direction. Unfortunate, but understandable.

I have the remastered version with 5 bonus tracks. The Great Universal Protection Racket (Version 1, version 2 is on the S/T remaster) is a cool jam, but a bit overlong at 11 mins. It sounds like a bunch of cool ideas and riffs thrown together at random. Dilemma is a great track which should've substituted Missing Out or Nowhere on the original album. Not so much Morrison-inspired vocals on this one. Nice demo versions of Death Warmed Up and Pushed But Not Forgotten, slightly faster than the originals. And the finishing Time Gauges is another instrumental jam with abysmal sound quality. But still some great ideas there, too.

4 stars from me, because the two last tracks of the original album just makes it impossible for me to give a 5. Groundbreaking album for 1969.

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Send comments to tired_feet (BETA) | Report this review (#292934)
Posted Sunday, August 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A crushingly-heavy debut, High Tide's 'Sea Shanties' was the first of two albums from this most uncompromising of British heavy progressive rock groups. Released in 1969, 'Sea Shanties' was a primal blast of underground proto-metal adorned with future-Hawkwind member Simon House's distinctive violins and a large helping of progressive instrumentality. A second, self- titled album followed a couple of years later, but it failed to emulate it's predecessor(though commercially at least, it did) and High Tide called it a day until a surprise comeback album in 1989 called 'Interesting Times'. However, despite their failure to break the big-time, High Tide will always be remembered for the excellent 'Sea Shanties', an album so powerful it sounds like it could turn buildings into rubble if you played it too loud. Stand out tracks include the grimy opener 'Futilist's Lament', the epic, foundation-shaking 'Death Warmed Up' and the equally- abrasive 'Missing Out'. Fans of metal old-and-new will find much to admire. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#295504)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars I guess this is a crazy debut album for the year 1969. Leaded and blasted by the battles between Tony Hill's guitar attack and Simon House's violin trepidant approach, though it was awfullt produced, I love it for its rawness and truthfullness.

Here we have brilliant and monstrous jamming between guitar and violin, but there are also calmer passages were the electricity is a warm landscape for the sung parts (sometimes Tony Hill reminds me of Jim Morrison!). The songwriting in these latter songs is better and gives a good balance to the extended jamming of other sections.

Some say that this is a seminal work in terms of guitar sounding and riffing and its psychedelic and progressive interplay with the violin. I guess that it's true, because though there were other bands playing such loudy guitars (for example Blue Cheer), the progressive approach here is certain and real.

I think this is an great album every prog head should listen, it's so good to discover some roots and this music has aged quite well, though the production is really horrible.

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Send comments to migue091 (BETA) | Report this review (#329386)
Posted Monday, November 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Noisy, even heavy, but not really that special.

High Tide are one of those unjustly overlooked groups that rode the tidal wave (pun intended) of fuzzy psychedelia, along with bands like Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, Cream, Human Instinct, Sleepy John et al, with the curious addition of a violin player with a distinctive (at times manic) sound, called Simon House, whose creative use of the instrument provides a wide palette of sounds, ranging from regular violin melodies to distorted power chords on par with (sometimes even upstaging) the guitarist/singer Tony Hill, making his fiddle sound more like a distorted guitar or a Hammond organ. Musically, this is Blue Cheer with a violin and some more interesting minor key changes, but not much more than that. "Greasy" would probably be the best word to describe the music on this album, but in its most praising context. The production, however, is horrible, but to attempt to make it superior would be like taking some of the "magic" away.

Overall, an album (and band) not so much for the usual "progressive rock purist" than for fans of late 60s psychedelic/progressive rock (or even Krautrock). A strong three-stars.

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Send comments to Ludjak (BETA) | Report this review (#596973)
Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Light years ahead of their time, High Tide present the birth of prog metal.

The first sound that emanates from this colossal album is a grungy sludge guitar riff, very distorted and fuzzy. It almost sounds grunge and this is back in 1969! It begins with the lo-fi crunching psychedelic metal of 'Futilist's Lament'. The band announce that this is going to be a heavy psych prog experience. High Tide are Roger Hadden on drums, Tony Hill on guitar, vocals, Simon House on violin, piano, and Peter Pavli on bass. They are one of the loudest, heaviest bands of the late 60s and must have been a major influence to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and reminds me of Blue Cheer meets Hawkwind. The metal riffs are almost like Black Sabbath in places and the wah wah guitar reminds us we are in the psychedelic 60s. This is a sensational track that must be heard over and over with the amps on 11.

'Death Warmed Up' is a 9 minute hard rocking instrumental with blazing guitars and a manic violin that assassinates the grunge vibe to make way for a progressive heavy sound. The twin guitar lead break is spacey and locks in on a repetitive riff. It is rather lengthy for a loud, proud, and endowed band, but it works in a hypnotic sense, similar to the sonic jamming attack of Hawkwind.

'Pushed, But Not Forgotten' is a slow ballad with quiet violin and guitar and a gentle vocal. But only or about a minute. It breaks out into a loud guitar solo and a heavier beat with some excellent guitar riffs. Then it settles back to a serene atmosphere with restrained music lulling you off to sleep. But now we are on edge wondering when it will break out again. Sure enough the amps get turned up again and the distorted guitar cracks the peace in half with admirable ferocity.

'Walking Down Their Outlook' begins immediately with moderate vocals and steady beat. Then there is a wonderful guitar lick using scaled notes up the frets. The spacey section follows and ascends until another screaming guitar passage. The way the song breaks and changes constantly is quite an original approach given the date this was released. The section that begins at 2:40 is one of the great instrumental breaks, howling guitars, folk violins and keyboard augmentations. The cadence escalates into a hypno-groove with folk metal motorvating along on a strong beat. Then a minimalist violin takes over to finish the track. Wonderful heavy prog.

'Missing Out' is another lengthy 9 minute track, with very complex fugue motifs emblazoned over intricate guitar notes constantly played. The violin is always present slicing back and forth and the estranged vocals of Tony Hill. What a sensational sound High Tide are able to create with these instruments, almost like a metal version of Comus. At 3:50 there is a fantastic violin and lead guitar solo with instruments trading off to the wild percussion. The lyrics are hard to decipher but a lot of it sounds improvised such as "Oh, my soul is going down, and I'm ready." This finishes with an attacking drum solo and an extended outro.

'Nowhere' closes the album with a terrific violin and guitar solo at the start. The violin and guitar battle it out for supremacy for a while, neither winning the contest, and then the lead guitar takes over with prog time changes and is joined by a descending flurry of violin notes. It slows in tempo and Hill's low vocals return; "marking time and shutting out each warming smile, what shall be the go between they laugh and cry, effigies of souls are seen to come and go, moving through the mists of fear , they come to know." The dark lyrics fit in perfectly with the moody atmospheric music.

The conclusion is that this album is one of those rare treasures unearthed from the tomb of obscurity, hardly making an impact until now, and the listener will be enthralled that "Sea Shanties" finally has seen the light of day.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#603957)
Posted Friday, January 06, 2012 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Imagine mixng early Sabbath with a less complex version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and add a strong late sixties psych vibe. Mix it all together and you end up with High Tide, one of the lesser known bands (but highly respected amongst a small group of followers for being ahead of their time) of the late sixties and early seventies UK underground rock scene.

Whilst Sea Shanties is clearly of its time it stands up pretty well, being regarded as a proto- metal album due to Tony Hill's dense and heavy riffing. Whilst it doesn't really sound like the Mahavishnu Orchestra I was reminded of them due to the unusual, for the time at least, inclusion of violin in the line-up played by Simon House, which shares equal footing with Hill's heavy guitar work. Though less complex it's played with similar gusto as Jerry Goodman's playing (Mahavishnu Orchestra) and there are some truly exhilarating moments on display here, notably the long instrumental workout on Death Warmed Up. This is when the band is at their best with the nine minute Missing Out being another highlight.

Though the production is dated due to the strength and originality of much of the material it clears this hurdle easily. There's the occasional lapse into mediocrity such as album closer Nowhere which makes it less than essential. Nevertheless, High Tide deserves credit for an innovative release and should be at least heard by anyone with even the slightest interest in late 60's UK rock music. 3 ˝ stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#808758)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Sea Shanties ROCKS !! Take the distortion even if not the wah-wah of Jimi Hendrix, melodies which have probably influenced the Gentle Giant to come, a distorted violin in the standard lineup as would be later used by Curved Air and a very hard rock, harder than anything on the first Uriah Heep or Deep Purple albums. It's acid but far from psychedelia, light years out of the west coast acid bands of the period. In one word: seminal.

Many people speaks of this band as proto prog-metal, but both prog and metal were actually words with no sense in music as Sea Shanties was released in 1969, the year of Woodstock, about two years before In The Court Of Crimson King which is by most considered the first progressive album of the history.

I think that this album is seminal not only for progressive metal. Yes, it's very hard, but there are unusual signatures: listen to Death Warmed Up and tell me how many different signatures it has. There are acid dissonances but with nothing in common with things like blues revival or British psych. When it becomes repetitive it can be thought as a precursor of Krautrock, too.

And the amazing thing is that this band doesn't go too out of the actual boundaries. People used to the epoch's rock would surely classify the High Tide as one of the bands of these times. It's only today that we can spot how many ideas in the music, the songwriting, the solos and the sound have been reused by more lucky and famous bands.

It's dated, of course. The production is surely everything but excellent and the high guitar distortion doesn't help, but this adds to this album a sort of "live" taste. And what about a song like "Pushed But Not Forgotten?" The slow intro is between King Crimson and Gentle Giant while the rock explosive following it, has the feeling of the early Wishbone Ash mixed up with the darkness of bands like Black Widow and the unusual chord passages of the early Family.

In common with the prog to come there are reminds to classical music (mainly Bach) and the tasteful guitar jamming. There's no mellotron (or is it one on the third track?, but there's a true violin which performs an excellent riff on "Missing Out" and works sometimes like the Wishbone Ash's second guitar, sometimes like a keyboard (and effectively the violinist was also a keyboardist).

The closing track, "Nowhere", crosses many subgenres and what matters more, is the one more in advance on its time.

An excellent album which is also a very important document about the origins of prog.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#828716)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
GruvanDahlman
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I honestly do not know. Is this really, really good or is it simply interesting as a document from 1969? I do not know. What I do know is that it is an extremely heavy and noisy affair, predating Sabbath and even, in some respects, out-weighs them in some respects. This is heavier and noisier than Sabbath ever was but it lacks something more important: quality.

The album is good. It's a heavy, jam-oriented record and I guess unmatched in 1969. Who were these guys? It's demented, deranged and utterly heavy stuff. A hellish concoction of noise and volume. Still, I do not think it's all that good. Classic? In some ways, maybe. Worth having? Maybe, if you want your collection of hard rock/metal to br complete. Why not? Personally I find it interesting and quite amusing but that's it. Hats off, though, to you guys, for producing one of the heaviest albums ever made.

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Send comments to GruvanDahlman (BETA) | Report this review (#912842)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Into Deliciously Dirty Waters

If only every band's first album were as good as this. Coming off of a short stint playing with David Bowie and Bowie's gal Hermione in the avant-garde "cabaret" act / folk band Turquoise (later Feathers), guitarist and singer Tony Hill started High Tide, a very heavy UK band that created two great LPs over a short few years together, Sea Shanties being their first. Hill was previously of the highly-regarded Misunderstood from 1963 to 1968, a band who set a new standard for the light show in rock shows in the UK. He recruited Peter Pavli on bass guitar, Roger Hadden on drums, and Simon House on violin. The band was among the early practitioners of the violin-in-a-rock-band novelty, It's A Beautiful Day doing it in the Bay Area in the US around the same time. For High Tide though it fits in quite perfectly and doesn't feel forced. They were most likely quite inspired by The Velvet Underground's electric viola, and Eric Burden's electric violin in his 1967-era band as there are some sonic similarities.

Hill's guitar is deliciously dirty and powerfully messy, and is the absolute highlight of the record. He has a grand sense of timing, interpolating wah-wah guitar fills and repeated melody lines played in unison with House's violin in between huge amp-melting power chords. In some sections the electric violin sounds like Jimmy Page's bowed, distorted guitar in "Dazed and Confused" issued the same year. High Tide shares Led Zeppelin's and Uriah Heep's heaviness, but is not blues-rooted. Instead they forge ahead in a raw garage rock fashion where prog-like lines of melody exist with just enough intricacy to show you they can play their instruments well, and just enough dirtiness to make sure you know they aren't taking that proficiency too seriously.

In some passages one thinks of them as a slightly heavier incarnation of genius LA rockers Spirit. The entire first side is packed with a heavy punch, with "Futilist's Lament" and "Death Warmed Up" being standouts. "Missing Out" on the second side gets a bit monotonous in its pounding, but that's being picky. Violinist House, aged 20 at the time he joined the band, described it as "?quite complicated structures but there was a lot of jamming going on." The album's artwork is by Paul Whitehead, the noted British artist who worked with Charisma Records and Genesis among others. The appropriately deviant mass of creatures on the outer sleeve's mostly black and white design leads into a colorful gatefold where a sailing ship labeled "Peace" rides a wave into orbit.

Although not too much has been written about the band, it has been referred to as very Doors-like, as Hill's vocals do sound quite a bit like Morrison, deep and murky with a meloncholic appeal (Listen to Peel's favorite "Walking Down Their Outlook" and also "Pushed, But Not Forgotten"). The surreal and dark lyrics will appeal to Doors fans as well. However, the record never becomes a mere sound-alike and High Tide establishes itself quite convincingly as their own unique noisy selves on this LP. The title may at first seem to be off putting, but you'll find this music has little to do with actual sea shanties, or folk music (In fact the AllMusic.com description of the LP is dead wrong in labeling it as "pop-rock-folk"). They emerged just shortly before Black Sabbath, and contribute a good deal to the establishment of heavy metal to come, and the stoner rock later of Dead Meadow and Comets On Fire.

A second record was issued in 1970, but as a third was being created drummer Hadden's mental state among other things precipitated the end for them. "Basically, it was money. A bit of untogetherness getting gigs and the record company wasn't too helpful", as House described it in a 1974 Melody Maker interview, "Plus there were some very strange people in the band. It was?a very strange scene. They were all brilliant musicians, but a bit unstable." House went on to play with The Third Ear Band, and then space-rock masters Hawkwind. Tony Hill founded power trio Fiction in the oughts, continuing the sonic legacy.

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Send comments to SpecialKindOfHell (BETA) | Report this review (#1043467)
Posted Tuesday, September 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first progressive metal band? I was looking for early prog metal of the 80's when High Tide's name was mentioned with such a bold reference. Well, certainly it's credible that a form of prog metal issued from 1969 as both prog and metal were coalescing in their respective forms out of the nebulous cloud of experimental music of the psychedelic years. I was interested and after a quick sampling on YouTube I ordered "Sea Shanties" from Amazon.

I was walking to the train station when the first chords of "Futilist's Lament" stormed into ears. Really gritty grungy distorted guitar, then the rhythm section, then a monstrously heavy second guitar? No, it was the violin! Yes, High Tide employed two lead instruments: the 'ber-fuzzed guitar and a violin that was going to surprise me in the range of sounds it had contributed to this album. Right from the start there was this bombastic heavy guitar sound that quickly switched to Jimmy Page's violin bow on guitar to a more traditional albeit electric violin sound.

The vocals immediately left me wondering whether I would find that they work or that they were better off elsewhere. For the most part they sound like Jim Morison but at times the vocalist abruptly reaches for higher notes, which he can hit, but the transition comes off as a less than impressive karaoke performance. Nevertheless, the song thunders along with the violin making an impressive companion to the guitar. This is not King Crimson violin here but a different beast.

I rather like the guitar soloing which seems to combine and bridge leftover techniques from the late 60's with forthcoming approaches of the 70's. The solo repeats itself in places but just when you wonder if this is going to be a recycling loop of ideas, the main riff returns and the intro is repeated. After one more round of verse chorus the song comes to an abrupt close.

"Death Warmed Up" is a 9-minute plus instrumental, and you'd probably figure that with that much time there should be room to create different moods and changes of tempo. But no. This is nine minutes of heavy rock guitar and gritty violin soloing. Of course there's structure. Resembling early Deep Purple instrumentals, there's a main theme, solo section, repeat of the main theme, more soloing and a return to the main theme again. After that the number charges on with the same pounding pace and the guitar takes over mostly alternating between bursts of high notes and explosions of distortion. Though at times it's easy for my mind to wander, I come back to the music amazed that these guys just careen along like an overloaded steam train for over nine minutes without slowing down or resting.

We finally take a break from the wash of distortion with "Pushed, but not Forgotten," which sounds very Doorsy until the guitar distortion comes back on. The song's basic structure is soft-hard-soft-hard-soft. At this point I am better accepting the vocals. It's also worthy of mention the violin again as it adds some interesting sounds including what sounds like wah-wah guitar and some eerily pretty high notes.

"Walking Down Their Outlook" begins with most 60's-sounding performance of the album until the guitar and violin contribute a touch of Baroque. There are some heavy bombastic moments too but just when it seems this song is going to morph into another explosion of distortion it takes on yet another form, and then switches back to the 60's sound. The violin is given more solo room here in this song too. By the fourth listen I found myself liking this song more.

"Missing Out" sounds like a fuzzy Doors' blues number at first with violin. The vocals are more expressive here but sound like a tortured Jim Morison. With 9:41 of time you can guess there will be some significant song space devoted to soloing. But the vocal segments keep returning, so there's no super lengthy jam here although some of the soloing goes on a bit. Just before 8 minutes it looks like there's going to be a drum solo but the band only tease and wisely steer clear and instead add more noisome guitar and some violin that at times seems a bit at a loss for what to play.

"Nowhere" opens with an instrumental section. By now there's there's not much new here. The sound of the album has long been established. I do like some of the melody lines played played by the violin. These stand out for me. It gives the song a country feel which I normally wouldn't like but it works here.

The extended CD includes three additional tracks that were recorded for the album but wouldn't fit on and were thus culled, and two demos which are not remarkable. "The Great Universal Racket" might be exactly that to some. It is a long instrumental that jumps from style to style, including heavy doomy guitar, friendly rock guitar with wah-wah effects courtesy of the violin, heavy country rock, more Baroque mixed in heavy rock, an acid rock traditional Chinese segment, and several others. It reminds of Norwegian prog rockers, Wobbler's instrumental that only just establish a groove or riff and the move on. This plays like a medley, constantly changing tempo and rhythm. Many parts repeat, so whether you think this is genius or someone's taking the mickey is up to you. I still can't decide if it's brilliant or just sonic clutter.

"Dilemma" also goes through some changes including an almost Sabbath-esque metal section with some Blue Cheer mixed in, and some pseudo prog work. The vocal parts are slower and thankfully there's more energy put into the higher register singing adding variety. Then the vocals change to southern rock and Jim Morison is all but gone. It becomes another gritty rocker for guitar and violin. Good on its own but very much like the rest of the album.

The demos are next with a slightly shorter version of "Death Warmed Up" and also "Pushed, but not Forgotten". I find the album versions are better and I usually skip these.

"Time Gauge" is the last number and again more of what we've already heard: raunchy gritty guitar, violin, paces changes, steady supporting rhythm section, doses of distortion, mixed styles, classical suggestions, and so on. As a constantly changing instrumental, this is similar to "The Great Universal Racket" but a little sloppy here and there, or so I feel. Good in places but not a highlight.

I can't say the album will be a long-time favourite but there will be songs I'll come back to. To sum the album up neatly, I quote the Allmusic review from the Wikipedia page for "Sea Shanties":

"High Tide had the muscularity of a no-nonsense proto-metal band, but they also ventured into prog territory with changing time signatures and tempos, soft-hard dynamics, multi-part arrangements, and even some ornate faux-Baroque interludes."

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Send comments to FragileKings (BETA) | Report this review (#1060143)
Posted Tuesday, October 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I listened to this album two years ago and i fell in love, in this album there are dark and hard sonorities in a particular and aggressive style but there are sweet moments supported with the House's violin. 6 tracks of extreme tension instrumental thanks to the Hill's guitar that keeps you on the ball throughout the disc expetially in Death Warmed Up and Futilist's Lament. An other big moment in the album is Missing Out that is most studied compared to the other but is very spontaneous. I think that this album is a masterpiece and the second (High Tide) too, I still listen to it often with pleasure. Recommended

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Send comments to GabboProg (BETA) | Report this review (#1152368)
Posted Saturday, March 22, 2014 | Review Permalink

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