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Golden Avatar

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Golden Avatar A Change Of Heart album cover
3.27 | 22 ratings | 6 reviews | 5% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. World Beyond the Sky (3:25)
2. Questions Questions (3:45)
3. Bhagavad-Gita (5:30)
4. Seers of the Truth (5:35)
5. You're not that Body (3:40)
6. A Change of Heart (3:00)
7. Swetadip (8:15)
8. Oh Govinda (4:42)
9. Time For Going Home (6:30)

Total Time: 44:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Cassidy / lead vocals, guitar, composer

- John Goux / guitar (3)
- Cal Bezemer / piano
- David Stout / piano, trombone, flute, arranger
- Barry Goldsman / organ, synthesizer
- Marilyn Berger / harp
- Gina Kronstadt, Steven Lance, Pam Thompkins, Lisa Adams, Joan Murakiani, Ulysses Roseman Jr., Tom Tally, Donna Paul & Kihae Kim / strings
- Jerry Peterson / soprano saxophone
- Garry Abbott / flute
- Hush Preston / flute
- Jerry Petterson / flute
- Harry Kim / trumpet
- David Grover / trumpet
- Kurt Sletten / trumpet
- Bill Reichenbach / trombone
- Carl Lange / bass, producer
- Steve Pinkston / bass (2)
- Drew Lawrence / drums, percussion
- Rod Rozelle / vibes
- Bob Conti / congas
- Madonna Slavin / backing vocals
- Kevin Yee / backing vocals
- Barry Goldsman / backing vocals
- Micelle Pearlman / backing vocals
- Alvin Marsden / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Jaya Ram Dan

LP Sudarshan Disc ‎- BBT 108 (1976, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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GOLDEN AVATAR A Change Of Heart ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (23%)
Poor. Only for completionists (14%)

GOLDEN AVATAR A Change Of Heart reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars I simply bought this as a used vinyl for 50 cents in a second hand store only because I liked the album cover and it looked interesting. The album features quite an amazing lineup of instruments and musicians and prog archives lists it as jazz fusion, so that worked in it's favor after I got it home and looked up information on the album.

The album is full of Hindu inspired lyrics. Okay I can work with that. The vocalist had a very 70s soft rock timbre which quickly got on my nerves. This makes the entire album sound dated, but the fact that the vocals are way too clean just make the music sound cheesy. It's just too perfect. The vocals need some grit or something and the vocalist sounds nothing like Cat Stevens but more like David Gates or Bobby Goldsboro or Glen Campbell. The voice to me is too unbelievable and annoying because of it's plainness.

The instrumentals are actually very good and some of the instrumental breaks are very inspired. But unfortunately, they are not long enough and seem to be kept at bay way too much to make room for the vocals and lyrics. I guess that's the type of album they were trying to make. If things were reversed so that the instruments were allowed to take the spotlight more often, then it's possible this could have squeaked out a 4 star rating. I was hoping that the track entitled "Swetadwip" was going to at least allow more space for instrumental development, but the vocalist won't shut up long enough for that to happen.

So I can't give this a very good rating because the weaknesses are allowed way too much focus and not enough instrumental freedom definitely disqualifies this album as any kind of Jazz Fusion. This is more like Prog-Folk if anything, but it's hard for me to even consider it Prog-Folk because that would be an insult to good Prog-Folk bands like Blondel's earliest works. In actuality, it is more like Soft Rock with a few great yet frustratingly short instrumental breaks to keep things interesting, but not interesting enough. I'm certainly glad I didn't spend a lot on this and that I never came across this album back when it was released because I might have fallen for the album artwork, which has happened before, but usually with much better results. Don't bother with this one unless you like hindu-inspired soft rock, because that is all this is. 2 stars only. If it weren't for the few interesting instrumental breaks (and I mean very few) this would have only got 1 star.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars This 1976 album is sure common as dirt. I guess in the late '70s a ton of copies were sold at airports and on the streets where the Hare Krishnas would attempt to sell this, as well as the Bhagavad Gita As It Is. This album was said to have gone gold in Canada, so I'm guessing regular record stores also stocked this.

Golden Avatar seemed to be an enterprise of the Los Angeles-branch of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The recording studio in LA was named Golden Avatar, and so was this music project by Michael Cassidy, a Hare Krisha devotee. He hired a ton of musicians helping out, no one I know, I guess you'd probably only know these people if you were associated with the L.A. Hare Krishna scene of the 1970s. I do, strangely recognize Madonna Slavin, one of the backing vocalist, as she was featured on a 1978 movie documentary hosted by Donovan called Aliens From Spaceship Earth. It's a documentary on Hindu and Hare Krishna spirituality. The film mentions Madonna Slavin's parents disapproved of her Hare Krishna lifestyle and had her kidnapped and "deprogrammed". This happened in 1976, and aside from a small article in the LA Times in 1976, only that article and this film ever mentioned Madonna Slavin's kidnapping.

As a non-Hare Krishna, I look at this album as an outsider, as I would view Eela Craig's Missa Universalis from a non-Christian point of view, as well as Black Widow's Sacrifice from a non-Satanic point of view. The Black Widow LP I simply laugh at the over-the-top Satanic lyrics ("Come, come, come, come to the Sabbat, come to the Sabbat, Satan's there!"), I get a little annoyed at the over-the-top Christian lyrics of Eela Craig's Missa Universalis (it almost sounds like a prog version of Contemporary Christian Music, although this is a prog rock Catholic Mass), and of course Golden Avatar's A Change of Heart, which I laugh at the "everything is so bliss" lyrics.

Of course, that's the whole point about Michael Cassidy, he's obviously expressing his Hare Krishna point of view on life through lyrics. At times this music sounds like typical West Coast singer/songwriter fare, even Cassidy himself has that typical voice. But if you get past that voice, I've found the album surprisingly creative and full of nice songs. It's definitely not psychedelic like the Quintessence albums (who explored Hare Krishna spirituality through psychedelic rock combined with rock and Eastern instrumentation and the occasional Hare Krishna chant). More like occasional flirtation with jazz rock (not really fusion, so don't expect Mahavishnu Orchestra here) and prog rock. "World Beyond the Sky" is pretty much straight-up folk-rock, but the albums gets more interesting with "Questions Questions", the nice catchy "Bhagavad Gita", and the wonderful "Seers of the Truth". I like that call-and-response approach they do here, which is quite a bit different from the typical R&B approach. The title track is kinda cheesy, lyrics talking about how the caterpillar turned into a butterfly as a metaphor of how his "old self had to die" (basically a spiritual awakening of Krishna Consciousness). "Swetadip" has a David Crosby vibe, if David Crosby was a Hare Krishna, he'd come up with something like this! Even Michael Cassidy does a great job imitating his vocal style and musical approach. "Oh Govinda" is OK, nothing special. "Time For Going Home" is a great closing piece, I particularly dig the synth solo (very imaginative there) and the Hare Krishna chant towards the end.

Unlike Quintessence, you won't find much in the way of Eastern instruments or even sound. I figure that Michael Cassidy decided on a more L.A.-type singer/songwriter sound with prog and jazz leanings, probably doing something too Eastern-sounding would alienate many West Coast listeners of the late '70s, which this album obviously aimed for. Many in the prog community won't find this too exciting. Maybe if Michael Cassidy had a more appealing voice, perhaps avoid the West Coast singer/songwriter folk/rock that frequently dominates this album, it would get a better rating. Plus for many people it seems nothing more than a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) album with lyrics praising Krishna, rather than Jesus. For me, I actually enjoy the album, so I give it a four star rating.

Review by Matti
4 stars Last week I reviewed a late 70's album by an obscure band ANANTA, and this one's a similar case, a vinyl I have very cheaply bought second-hand, charmed by the cover art. Surprisingly here are already five reviews for this Los Angeles based one-time act Golden Avatar. Another reviewer reveals that "a ton of copies" were sold at airports and streets -- by Hare Krishnas! So, we're dealing with a religious album.

The singer-songwriter behind the music is a guy called Michael Cassidy, who seems to have released religious music under his own name too. I'm not a religious person myself, but unless the lyrics are soaked with praising of Lord, I can simply ignore it and just listen to the music. Admittedly the Hare Krishna stuff comes through very openly on some tracks...

Musically this is somewhere between JACKSON BROWNE or JAMES TAYLOR (Cassidy's clean voice can be compared to them) and Steely Dan/ Stevie Wonder - like fusiony jazz rock with a wide cast of both rock and orchestral (ie. strings, reeds, brass) instruments and background vocals, and a large dose of happy, stage musical reminding spirit.

One of the most inspired and catchiest songs is 'Bhagavad-Gita', not so far from the orchestral tones of Renaissance of the time. 'Seers of the Truth' is a calm piece and quite beautiful as such. The 3-minute title track starts nicely in a modest way but grows into Hare Krishna choir singing. Mellow 'Swetadwip' is the longest at 8:15. I really like this one and I sympathize the David Crosby association of the earlier review.

Actually Michael Cassidy seems to be a very good songwriter (IMHO better than slightly boring Jackson Browne), as well as a truly pleasant vocalist. A bit less of the religious overtones -- the choir parts especially -- and this album would be a near gem (NOT in a progressive rock sense, mind you). 3,5 stars rounded up for nice front and back cover art.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Here on PA Golden Avatar is listed under Jazz-Rock/Fusion category; Discogs sages pronounced it Prog Folk. Both definitions are true and do not contradict each other in the slightest. In fact, A Change Of Heart is an excellent example of peaceful coexistence of a good half-dozen styles. Dependin ... (read more)

Report this review (#1326619) | Posted by Argonaught | Saturday, December 20, 2014 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I fail to see what's Prog on this release. It got some jazzier moments but otherwise sounds more like some Hindu version of Gospel. It's not entirely that either, so I guess it's something unique and, thus, Prog? A few good songs but no one that lives up to it's full potential, due to a weak prod ... (read more)

Report this review (#162149) | Posted by Frasse | Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Golden Avatar is basiaclly a band built around the vision of Hindu Michael Cassidy. Cassidy writes all the music and lyrics. The band has feet in several genre's, and they are generally quite a versatile band. You probably could brand them symphonic folk/prog/pop but they seem just at home tac ... (read more)

Report this review (#78805) | Posted by Brendan | Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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