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McLuhan Anomaly album cover
4.21 | 54 ratings | 7 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Monster Bride (10:36)
2. Spiders (In Neals Basement) (5:57)
3. Witches Theme And Dance (9:47)
4. A Brief Message From Your Local Media (9:59) :
- a)The Garden
- b) The Assembly Line
- c) Electric Man
- d) Question

Total time 36:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Dennis Stoney Philips / guitar, vocals
- Tom Laney / organ, piano
- David Wright / trumpet, vocals
- Paul Cohn / flute, clarinet, tenor sax
- Neal Rosner / bass, vocals
- John Mahoney / drums, vocals

- Bobby Christian / timpani (1), xylophone (1,3), chimes (3)
- Michael Linn / drums (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Al D'Agostino

LP Brunswick ‎- BL-754177 (1972, US)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MCLUHAN Anomaly ratings distribution

(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(56%)
Good, but non-essential (11%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

MCLUHAN Anomaly reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The sole album of jazz-fusion from this Chicago band is an interesting eclectic mix of various unorthodox instruments which include not only the standard instrumentation but also a trumpet, tenor sax, slide whistle, a xylophone, timpani, chimes and something called a Maestro Woodwind Device. Some sources say this came out in 1971 and others 1972.

Lots of changing around on this one from slow and tender passages to full on jazz-fusion but rarely of the chaotic kind. It's always melodic and nicely done. The guitars are rather subdued and the rich brass rock reminds of early Chicago only more eccentric. The slower parts remind me of King Crimson's in their mellower moods. There's even the occasional ragtime segments.

Only four long tracks give this a proggy feel to the whole thing. Too bad they didn't stick it out because I really like this and it would have been interesting to hear how their sound would have evolved. Definately of interest for fans of Zappa, Canterbury or just anyone who loves complex and rich eclectic yet melodic jazz-fusion with occasional bombastic organs.

Review by Guldbamsen
5 stars Proper McCoy Material

McLuhan was more than your basic run-of-the-mill band playing experimental rock music. Perhaps the best way of describing them is to call them a multi media art group that just so happened to play music. The idea behind came swooping through head honcho David Wright's head one particularly inspired day, and it was to interweave the music performance with movie segments, weird noises like a toddler crying, frenetic whistles, a spoken anecdote about Henry Ford, machinery tinkering and all kinds of experimental sounds that must come from somewhere, but where that exactly is, is beyond this already rather loopy listener. This McLuhan vision of Wright's, while somewhat sketchy and let's face it: seen before, still managed to crystallize at the University of Illinois Chicago, where friend and fellow student Paul Cohn (sax, flute, clarinet) and his former band mates joined the group.

Focusing strictly on the music and you get this warm seductive jazz rock that flirts around with a distinct early European psychedelic sound - either that or that of the more swampy and immeasurable acts from the late 60s San Franciscan scene. Anyway, the music is anything but what you'd call "jazzy" - the jazz note comes strictly from the reeds and the, at times, ch-chii-ch drumming. There's so much more to the music, and what you find in stead of a typical fusion album, is a wild concoction of wobbly frenzied psych-drenched jams, soulful yearning blues moments of burning guitar and bleeding vocals and something akin to kosmische musik brought straight over from the German heartland.

Then you get to the ever oscillating beauty of the organs and piano - oh my word and what about the mystic touches of timpani and chimes that give to the pieces that little bit of the delirious and dreamy. Something that blurs your view in gelatinous mass and treats your surroundings and the music you listen to with a glistening sheen. Makes it shine.

The final touches to an otherwise extremely tasty dish, are the brass booms - the Chicago whiff - the thing that makes you go "SLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDE ON BABY!!" while you rhythmically jive on down the street walk with a cat like bounce in your step. This is the shizzle right here! Just remember to include a little xylophone in your shake and everything'll be right as rain...OH they did did they? Why sure, of course you get a little xylophone in the mix. Why wouldn't you?

Fact of the matter is, that you don't need all the fancy trickery surrounding this release. It stands proudly on it's own. The feel and warmth of the jam is just so damn intense and contagious, that you forget everything about it needing some cinematic backdrop. The cinematic backdrop IS there though - that's how good these guys are!

Get this baby for it's seductive charm - get it while it's hot - get it because you love music and you love to dance like you did back when you snuck in at The Doors gigs and had a weird belt in your hair - get it while you can - get it because I said so, and most importantly: because it makes a certain time and place real, if only for a short while. This is the real McCoy.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Between the cover art and the overall musical style, McLuhan is highly reminiscent of early underground British progressive rock bands - in particular, echoes of Warm Dust's style can be heard in the use of spoken word and brass instruments to craft a decidedly different texture from the rest of the pack. In fact, they were a US group, offering an intriguing style of progressive rock with fusion-derived flourishes which so far as I can make out never made much of a splash in its time. Possibly they'd have had better success in the UK or Europe, though equally this style of early progressive rock was already passing out of fashion in 1972, so it's only thanks to recent rediscovery on the Internet that they're beginning to get the appreciation they deserve.
Review by Dobermensch
2 stars The superb cover art is the most memorable thing about 'McLuhan'. It's such a pity that the music within is so dated and of it's time.

Maybe some electronics would have helped. 'Anomaly' is played on all the conventional instruments you'd expect to hear from an album released in 1970. It's very 'horn rock' orientated and has some pretty whacked out lyrics to boot which is a plus point. At times it almost enters the territory of Big Band Jazz.

Despite being from Chicago, there's an air of underground Britishness about the whole feel of this recording. I think there's actually twelve musicians that make up 'McLuhan'. I've seen photos of them with their shoulder length hair over their faces like half drawn curtains. In fact I've not seen as much collective facial hair since I was last in the Monkey House in Edinburgh zoo.

David Wright's vocals are pleasant enough but have very little originality, but his spoken parts are pretty good, though infrequent.

All the instruments are played competently enough on this brassy proto-prog album but I always feel disconnected and remote from proceedings. It sounds nothing like the way the cover art looks. I can't give points for artwork so it doesn't look too promising for 'Anomaly' scoring high marks from me.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars MCLUHAN were a short lived band based out of Chicago who put out this one incredible album brimming with adventurous ideas and humour. It's clear these young College students were very intelligent and talented but I'm most impressed with the "out of the box" thinking when it came to their music and live shows. David Wright the trumpet player was the leader of this group and we also get sax, flute, clarinet, prominent bass, synths, organ and piano besides the usual instruments. We also get some guest tympani and xylophone. Man this is such a refreshing album to listen to and to think it was released in 1971. The music at times recalls KING CROMSON's debut and early ANEKDOTEN but also Frank Zappa and early CAMEL. The blasting horns do bring CHICAGO to mind at times. For me this is more of an Eclectic release although I do get that this has a Jazz flavour.

"The Monster Bride" is as David Wright mentions in the liner notes "A series of effects more like a film score than a song, it mixes elements of terror, comedy and beauty. Science marches on." It opens with floating organ as piano, bass and a melancholic horn joins in. It changes after a minute with piano, drums and a horn leading the way before kicking into gear before 2 minutes as the horns blast. It turns Zappa- like with xylophone before another change arrives with dissonant horns and a driving rhythm. Organ too before it turns surprisingly haunting with multi-vocal melodies before it kicks back in. A calm before 5 minutes with flute, a beautiful section. Reserved vocals a minute later reminding me of early KING CRIMSON and ANEKDOTEN. Love this stuff. The vocals stop and it starts to build around 7 1/2 minutes with horns, bass and drums standing out. Nice. Silence before 9 minutes as we get a funny monlogue with sound affects. Priceless! It kicks back in before 10 minutes with plenty of horns.

"Spiders(In Neals Basement)" gets it's title from a neighbour's basement that they used to rehearse in. Again David Wright's thoughts. "This piece combines a bizarre Latin feel with American Dixieland." Man this has such a groovy sound to it early on as the vocals and horns join in. Catchy stuff. Nice bass before 1 1/2 minutes as we get an instrumental section. The guitar starts to solo over top then the organ and horns take over. A calm follows then that American Dixieland vibe kicks in. Piano only 3 1/2 minutes in then it kicks back in with vocals and that Dixie flavour. That groovy sound from the start is back before 5 minutes with vocals. So good!

"Witches Theme" is led by horns and drums early on before it settles as reserved vocals join in. This reminds me of early CAMEL. Some spacey synths along with organ arrive before it kicks back in as themes are repeated. The guitar starts to solo over top 3 minutes in then synths replace the guitar before it kicks back in. Organ to the fore to 6 minutes in then it settles with flute leading the way, nice bass too. The vocals and that laid back sound return at 8 1/2 minutes before it kicks back in to end it. "A Brief Message From Your Local Media" opens sounding like the start of a movie before relaxed vocals, a beat, bass and floating organ take over. It's very KING CRIMSON and ANEKDOTEN-like. Then after 4 1/2 minute the music stops as we get a monologue about Henry Ford and the assembly line. A shuffling beat, bass and flute take over then horns as it builds. Vocals and plenty of horns before 7 1/2 minutes before a brief circus-like melody ends it.

This is such a charming recording that recalls the early days of Prog but with Jazz elements. And those intelligent lyrics and ideas show that this young band were wise beyond their years.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars Of all the horn rock bands that appeared in the US and UK at the end of the '60s/beginning of the '70s, this is by far the finest act I have ever heard! McLuhan hailed from Chicago, just like the famous band that bore the name of said city. Unlike Chicago (the band), McLuhan clearly didn't have a pop-oriented approach, nor did they sound like they were interested in scoring pop hits. They have a genuine prog approach which is something you couldn't say of most of those other bands. There's a clear UK feel to the music, although the vocals do have an American accent. Lots of amazing horn passages that leave Chicago in the dust, tons of great jazzy and proggy passages, frequently with an ominous feel. The organ playing seems straight out of the early UK prog book (none of the organ playing is flashy like Emerson did). While Chicago is always brought up with bands that use a brass section in a rock setting, McLuhan clearly didn't sound like those guys. There's elements of King Crimson in the music, but of that band's more mellow material (such as Lizard and Islands) and a bit of Zappa's big band jazz albums (Waka Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo). "The Monster Bride" is a wonderful opening piece, I especially like the ominous organ intro. Here you get to see what the band is made of. Plenty of horn passages, they even quote the famous MGM horn fanfare theme song. There's also a nice flute passage that later gets repeated as a horn passage. Also there's some disturbing spoken dialog as well. "Spiders (In Neals Basement)" again shows how American horn rock and British prog can go together. "Witches Theme and Dance" features some really interesting use of slide whistle and synthesizer. "A Brief Message from Your Local Media" includes some quotes from Leonard Bernstein's "America", spoken narration about Henry Ford and how the assembly line helped produce mass-produced automobiles and make them available to the general public. There's more plenty of great proggy passages and that "Elecric Man" bit has a bit of a Beatles feel to it. To me this album just totally blew me away. It's really the best of both worlds: the kind of brass rock as pioneered by Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears (and British equivalents like IF, The Greatest Show on Earth, Manfred Mann Chapter III, etc.), and of prog rock, which will keep fans of both happy.

Latest members reviews

5 stars McLuhan is an american band that released just one album in 1971. Very unusual characteristics for a prog rock/jazz fusion band. Maybe that's why it's mostly unknown. These guys were ahead of their time. A lot. It's surprising how an american band recorded this taking into account that as they ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054257) | Posted by morfano | Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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