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Brian Auger

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Brian Auger A Better Land (as Oblivion Express) album cover
2.55 | 35 ratings | 4 reviews | 3% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dawn of Another Day (4:18)
2. Marai's Wedding (4:22)
3. Trouble (3:12)
4. Women of the Seasons (5:00)
5. Fill Your Head with Laughter (3:49)
6. On Thinking It Over (5:23)
7. Tomorrow City (3:30)
8. All the Time There Is (3:29)
9. A Better Land (5:30)

Total Time 38:33

10. Marai's Wedding (live in Germany, 1972 / CD bonus track)

Line-up / Musicians

- Brian Auger/ keyboards
- Jim Mullen / guitar
- Barry Dean / bass
- Robbie McIntosh / drums

Releases information

LP RCA (1971)
CD Sanctuary (2004)

Thanks to alucard for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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BRIAN AUGER A Better Land (as Oblivion Express) ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(3%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (51%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

BRIAN AUGER A Better Land (as Oblivion Express) reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars If you are looking for Brian Auger at his best I would stay far away from this album. I'm not sure what went wrong here, but what we have on this album is a collection of terribly bland and unmemorable laid back 70s Southern California soft rock swill. All I can guess is some greedy record company leech tried to shape the band into some kind of gravy train that could support his "lifestyle".

Each song is full of weak attempts at CSN&Y harmonies that don't work because these guys voices fall flat over and over again. Most of the solos are handled by Jim Mullen, whose guitar playing is mediocre at best, and often as out of tune as the vocals. Brian gets in a couple of solos, but he never really takes off because I am sure the supposed record company leech told him to "keep it mellow". Brian Auger has put out some great jazz/rock albums, but this isn't one of them.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Usually regarded by specialists (and rightly so) as Oblivion Express' weaker album, A Better Land is not really as bad as one could think of, but it suffers from its predecessor and follow-up album's proximity. Certainly after their astounding debut album, nobody expected such a calm and bland album as a confirmation (it would come with the aptly-titled Second Wind). A band afraid to sound like they are unable to progress, maybe, but certainly unable to avoid the second album jinx. I'm not sure why they changed their winning formula, but one thing is sure. they reverted to it after this fiasco. I'll try to be more positive, because this album is really not as bad as all the negativity would have you believe: it's just different, very different!! Obviously aimed at west coast soft rock, this album might have even scored big time sales-wise had a real obvious hit come out of it. Another reason why this album sounds so different is that Mullen is from far the most active songwriter, dealing with outsider Mackie and Garrie. ABL is not one of Eddie Offord's better prog production, to say the least.

One thing that strikes as the needle soothes itself into the groove, is how much calmer this album is as Dawn Of Another Day starts gently building up with Mullen's nice acoustic guitar and Mc Intosh's percussive percussion, with our favourite ogre calmly toying away on his Fender Rhodes. The Mullen- arranged Murai's Wedding and the following Trouble (obviously Murai's divorce ;o)) could easily be on any C, S, N, CS, SN, CN or even CSN album. Returning to better waters (or lands if you so wish), Women Of The Seasons still holds that West Coast sound, but Auger's keys (Fender Rhodes and others) make it closer to Steely Dan realm, The rather dated Fill Your Head with laughter sounds like an early Traffic (Mr Fantasy era), but sticks out for this album. The following Thinking It Over sounds like a "carambolage" (look it up >> it's a great French word) between Oblivion express, America, Steely Dan, with some space for interplay. Tomorrow City offers some good moments, but has no means to stand out from the rest of the album, even though it's the only Auger-only composition. After the insipid All The Time There Is, the album ends on the title track which, although it lacks Brian's usual energy to allow Mullen's guitar to front the band, is maybe the album's best moment.

Graced with a gorgeous drawn pastoral artwork (yes, it is railway related if you take time to look enough) ABL would not be a disgrace in Steely Dan's discography, or even if it was a CSN album, and it would be called America's masterpiece had it been theirs. I suppose I could sum it up by saying that ABL is a Mullen album, not a Auger album. So with the usual "mise en garde", I'll round up to the upper star unit, thus giving a "good but hardly essential (at all)" rating, partly I'll admit it, to save it from a too low (and unfair) average that it's bound to gather.

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars I am not familiar with anything else by Mr Auger...his name has always been a bit below the radar for me. In fact, I think I picked up this LP because I associated him with Mike Oldfield at some level, although I think I got his name confused with Kevin Ayers! They both begin with an A after all. Anyways, I dug it out a while back and was generally buoyed by its ultra hip laid-backedness. While that approach doesn't suit every mood, there is enough here to return to on occasion.

The style is somewhat similar to Steely Dan but more focused on the groove than on the playing. It also has that perennially tasteful way of the British about it, and greater variety than the average Dan album, while not having suffered any degree of overexposure. The highlights are the smooth "Dawn of Another Day", the clever adaptation of the trad Irish song "Marie's Wedding", the hippy credo "Trouble", and especially the soft jazzy "On thinking it Over" where every instrumentalist shines and the pace varies pleasantly. The album's only real misstep is the raucous "Fill Your Head with Laughter" which is OK if taken out of context but does not fit with the rest of the material. Even if some of the songs are somewhat dullish, like "All the Time There is", at least they don't disrupt the induced meditative state so much.

For the most part, "A Better Land" is a good if not particularly grounded effort that sets a mood to counteract the hustle bustle world, which from at least that perspective makes it more relevant today than ever.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars In 1971 Auger helped with the production and appeared in the sole release of Mogul Thrash, while at the same time he entered again the Advision Studios with his supporting group to record Oblivion Express' second album ''A better land''.The same year the sophomore release of the group saw the light on RCA.

What a huge dissapointment to see this great band after a nice debut turning the sound into more Pop, Psych Rock and R'n'B sounds.Generally ''A better land'' can be considered as a melodic Psychedelic/Pop Rock album with no connections to the early Jazz/Fusion style of Oblivion Express.Full of delicate vocals, smooth piano lines, melodic guitar work with jazzy touches and a laid-back drum/bass support, the album is an easy-going travel with tendency towards more emotional songwriting and no signs of technical or virtuosic passages.The music is very mellow, the tracks are simplistic and the atmosphere remains soft all the way.Auger's monster organ sounds are totally absent except for a couple notable solos, his Hammond now plays the secondary role of filling the sound in most of the tracks and the lack of his energetic runs are more than evident.

Unimpressive jazzy melodic Psych Rock.Questions about this sudden turn in sound remain until today.Only for archivists, collectors and die-hard fans of Psychedelic/Jazz Rock.

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