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Egg The Polite Force album cover
4.12 | 487 ratings | 47 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Visit to Newport Hospital (8:26)
2. Contrasong (4:25)
3. Boilk (9:21)
4. Long Piece No. 3 (20:40)
- a. Part 1 (5:08)
- b. Part 2 (7:38)
- c. Part 3 (5:02)
- d. Part 4 (2:52)

Total Time 42:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Stewart / organ, piano, tone generator (4.c)
- Mont Campbell / bass, vocals, organ & piano (4.a), French horn (4.b), brass arrangement (2)
- Clive Brooks / drums

- Henry Lowther / trumpet (2)
- Mike Davis / trumpet (2)
- Bob Downes / tenor sax (2)
- Tony Roberts / tenor sax (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Terry Yetton

LP Deram Records - SML 1074 (1971, UK)

CD Deram - POCD 1844 (1991, Japan)
CD Eclectic - ECLCD 1015 (2004, UK) Remastered by Paschal Byrne

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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EGG The Polite Force ratings distribution

(487 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

EGG The Polite Force reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
4 stars Great disc to hear how the Canterbury syle developed! The first two tracks are my favorites, all the essential ingredients are there, the odd-timings, dynamic shifts (even if a bit stiff at first) and of course the biting humor and whimsy. Great stuff!
Review by loserboy
4 stars "The Polite Force" was EGG's second album and represents IMHO one of the pinnacle and most influential Canterbury prog albums. "The Polite Force" is stylistically similar to the early work of SOFT MACHINE featuring Dave Stewart's surging keyboard work with a solid supporting duo of Hugo Martin Montgomery Campbell (bass, vocals, organ, piano and French horn) and Clive Brooks (drums). Songs vary in compositional aspect and range from very complex to pure experimental maintaining a high degree of originality and professionalism. EGG score with their mixture of ARZACHEL / SOFT MACHINE influenced instrumental extensions, highly developed Stravinsky influenced compositions, impeccable performances and their careful attention to timbre and organ dynamics of Dave Stewart. Would strongly recommend you pick up the Mason Records re-mastered version of this classic album which has been very well reproduced.
Review by lor68
4 stars EGG's second release, for sure was better structured musically, in comparison to their debut. This stuff will be anyway carried out, within the following "The Civil Surface". Its blend of classical arrangements along with unusual time signatures, were the basis for everything inside the school of Canterbury (including either "HATFIELD AND THE NORTH" in the seventies, or ISILDURS BANE nowadays)... one of the bravest bands, able to emerge from the Canterbury scene, prior to the proselytes of ELP, JETHRO TULL, and so on...
Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Polite Force was Egg's second album and represents a considerable advance on their debut, both in terms of composition and performance. Overall there's a greater sense of focus, coupled with an attention to detail and a more solid structure both in the individual pieces and across the album as a whole. The result is splendid example of Canterbury style prog that is the equal of slightly later albums by Matching Mole and Hatfield and the North, with which it shares a similar spirit of adventure and fun.

As on their debut, side 1 consists of shorter pieces, though this time there are only three. A Visit To Newport Hospital has autobiographical lyrics about the band's early days as Uriel and shows Mont Campbell's flair for writing accessible, melodic songs in daunting time signatures. Contrasong, the shortest piece on the album, is a an extremely tight piece which alternates between 5/8 and 9/8 (so it says in the liner notes) and features a punchy horn arrangement by Campbell (who went on to study French Horn at the Royal College of Music). Campbell's ability to sing with such insouciance while playing finger breaking bass lines in such unusual rhythms is staggering, while the ability of the trio as a whole to make such complex music swing speaks volumes about the amount of musical talent they had. Boilk is a lengthy piece which veers in to the RIO/Avant prog territory that they had explored on parts of their first album. The incorporation of a theme by Bach is a neat touch, but at 9 minutes it rather outstays its welcome, and despite its strengths it would have benefited from some judicious editing. The second half of the album is taken up with the imaginatively titled Long Piece No.3, a side long Canterbury adventure that ranks alongside 9 Feet Underground, Slightly All The Time and Mumps as a classic of the genre. The four sections of the piece flow naturally into each other and each member of the trio gets a chance to shine without taking a flashy solo. As a whole it's a finely nuanced piece of ensemble playing, writing and arranging which has great charm and sophistication. There's nothing extraneous on this piece, and the trio play with a maturity and restraint that was sometimes lacking in their less talented (albeit more commercially successful) contemporaries.

This is an essential album for anybody interested in the Canterbury scene, and indeed for anybody interested in exploring some of the lesser known gems of early prog. If you're only going to get one Egg album, this is the one to buy. Highly recommended.

Review by Fishy
4 stars Even in the prog world Egg stayed an obscure band. They may be one of the pioneers of the Canterbury scene, Egg never reached the same amount of attention that the English prog greats received. Even though "The polite force" is one of the highlights of the relative short career of Egg, it is more a kind of a hidden jewel. On this album the band showcases the same musical inspiration skill of ELP, VDGG or Pink Floyd but without ever going over the bombastic top. Only the first two tracks includes vocals. The emphasis is on the instrumental parts. The vocals serve well in the second role but would definitely fail if they would be on the fore. It's well sung but there's a lack of personality in the voice of Mont Campbell. The vocals are similar to other Canterbury bands ; sounding timid and polite (!) The domination of the organ chords make a comparison with the sound of VDGG inevitable but on the sidelong epic, the sound of Elp comes damn close. Like on many other Canterbury releases the sound of the album is calm and smooth. Throughout the record there's an organ driven jazzy atmosphere which results in a laid back feel on most of the album. The first two tracks are more or less conventional when compared to the other tracks. "The visit to a Newport hospital" has a menacing beginning and ending part which consist of layers of guitar chords, somewhat reminiscent to those opening tones of KC's "shizoid man". The middle part has a smooth atmosphere which is typical for Canterbury bands. I keep playing this awesome track again and again. Thanks to the blazer section, the haunting "Contrasong" has a more diverse sound which sound timeless listening to it now ; here the vocals sound a little more selfassure. On the rest of the album Egg takes you on a daring , experimental journey. "Boilk" starts of with something like a tubular bell followed by a spooky mellotron sound and some very strange sounding picking on the guitar. Then there's some premature electronic effects and the ending part is showing the pastoral organ of Dave Stewart once again. The experimental nature of this music must have been way ahead of its time in 1971. Even now it still is worth a spin. It seems this band was able to accomplish in 1971 what KC would do several years later on "Larks tongues in aspic" or Pink Floyd in "On the run". It wouldn't surprise me if the aforementioned bands used this as a source of inspiration for their own music. On the sidelong track "Long piece no 3" the organ and piano parts of Stewart take the lead again and it becomes clear that in essence, the rest of the music is built around it. Nevertheless it is one hell of a fascinating journey. There's lots of strange excerpts, different moods, odd time signatures and great musicianship to enjoy. This is instrumental pièce de résistance wouldn't be misplaced on an album of ELP although they would have played it with a bigger and more impressive sound. Egg is more subtle but the melodies and sounds are quite similar to ELP.

In short : This album is some kind of a lost classic for every prog fan to enjoy. I've been listening to this record in a state of fascination although it's more than 30 years of age and no moogs or synthesizers are used.

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is not just an example of the Canterbury sound at its very best, it is a superior record of British Progressive Rock at the zenith of invention, energy and musicianship. Dave Stewart leads drummer Clive Brooks who kicks out the polyrhythms with passion, Mont Campbell's pumping bass, and a team of horn players in a session that rivals albums such as National Health's Of Queues and Cures (also with Stewart) and ELP's Tarkus. The first two cuts present the organ-based, Bach-infused material in digestible, melodic portions. Track 3, 'Boilk', begins as a blend of atmosphere, sound effects and psychedelic flip-outs that leads to a serious display of prime prog rock inspiration and facility. The closing cut is the 'Long Piece No. 3', a definitive statement of the era and a quintessential look at where rock music was going, or at least *capable* of going.

Not just for Canterbury fans but for all who love prog in its youth, Egg's 'The Polite Force' is an indispensable document and a true masterpiece of its kind.

Review by NJprogfan
3 stars Most fans of this band will tell you that this, their second album, is the best of the lot. Compared to their first album, it's a tad better but not by much. It does start off with their best song, "A Visit To Newport Hospital". The song begins with a sludgie durge beat ala Black Sabbath, (Stewart is a master keyboard player!) for about a minute, then it grooves with that familiar Canterbury sound we all love so much. Campbell's deep throaty voice chimes in with some wonderfully Canterbury lyrics and it's groove time until the end when it returns to the sludgie durge from the beginning. Excellent! What follows is what for me brings this album down a peg. Now, I'm not against having horns in prog, but in this band it just doesn't feel right. "Contrasong" is mainly vocal with some time changes here and there, but the horns don't work for me, sorry, and Campbell's weak voice is exposed. Then what follows, "Boilk" is exactly what the tiltle suggests...HUH? If you're into noise for noises sake, then you'll be alright with this 9 minute excuse for a song. Me, it's trash and a waste of time. Sure, back in 1971 this might have sounded like something new and exciting. But now it's just trash. The last song which is broken up into four parts, "Long Piece No.3" is said by some as the best side long Canterbury song, better then 'Mumps" or "Nine Feet Underground". Sorry, but it doesn't come close. It starts well but by midpoint in part 1 it gets boring. Not until the end of part 1 does it pick up. Part 2 has a theme that pops up during part 3 and it's the best melody during the whole song. If you're a fan of early keyboard bands like ELP and The Nice, then this song is up your alley. I miss having a guitar to color things. In fact, my whole problem with Egg is the lack of guitar to take some of the dull off the edge. Things trudge along for the most part and it gets monotonous. Heck, I love Stewart's keyboards and Brooks drumming, but when you color things monochromatically, well.....yawn.....
Review by laplace
4 stars This is quite an early and important album and has the well-deserved reputation of being a minor classic. This is more focused than Soft Machine and, as far as I'm concerned, more balanced and tastefully humourous than any Caravan album.

"Newport Hospital" showcases everything that's good about the band: their flexible approach to instrumentation shows up in the filtered and layered keyboard lines - memorably including the sludgy, downbeat introduction with -that- Sabbath-stylee chord change - a tasteful approach to writing that incorporates non-standard time signatures without flaunting their presence (count along to the transition parts and you might be surprised, if that's your thing) interesting and often anecdotal wordsmanship with a touch of offhand humour and, last but not least, an aptitude at writing the sort of hook that keeps your average jazzy-prog fan's attention strictly on the music at hand.

Plenty of good things have been written about "Contrasong" on this page, but I think it's a misstep and a little too "muso" - it has that trademark progressively awkward frantic-ness happening over a silly time signature which may please some ears; personally I wish they had blended the song's framework a little more delicately because as it is, you can see its bones! Of course, the song is still worth listening to, especially if you don't have my sort of hangups. "Boilk" follows and, again, is one that will decisively split audiences, being mostly a sound collage dipping into noise, concrete and all those avant-garde things that don't necessarily merge well with rock music. This reviewer finds that the church organ weaving in and out of the piece keeps things pseudo-coherent, resulting in a soundscape that should be pleasing to anyone willing to live without a groove for nine minutes.

Side B's epic has to be heard to be believed. It starts a little like "Contrasong" but realises its potential in a much more entertaining way. I have to say that at my first take, I mentally compared the opening sequence to nice little art bands like Ange, Crucis and Shylock, finding it similar in style to their MO. ELP may occur to the symph heads (but if so, you'd have to imagine them physically restraining Keith Emerson and taking away his boxing gloves) as here, more than anywhere else, is where the lack of guitar hits home hardest. I won't go on to describe the full epic because it's so multipartite and enjoyable that I'm sure I'd do it a disservice.

Buy. Especially buy if you like later Canterbury albums by bands such as National Health or Picchio dal Pozzo. Also buy if you've exhausted all the popular symphonic bands and are still dying for more keyboard-oriented rock. If not, perhaps you should buy "The Polite Force" anyway because it's magical, and might just turn you onto a new type of music despite your tastes.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars "The Polite Force" was EGG's second album and represents one of the pinnacle and most influential Canterbury prog albums, and one of my fav from this genre. This is quite an early and important album and has the well-deserved reputation of being a classic of prog music in general. Songs are in compositional aspect and range from very complex to pure experimental maintaining a high degree of originality and professionalism. From the first note on A visit to Newport hospital you may say is Black Sabbath, but after few moments you find something else, Canterbury syle to the strange Bolik and the stunning 4 parts of Long piece, Egg's music is well played and above all quite intresting and original. Nothing left to me just to give them 4 stars, an important album from the'70. 4 stars without hesitation.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars EGG were made up of Dave Stewart, Mont Campell and Clive Brooks. The three had been part of another band previous to this called ARZACHEL along with Steve Hillage. That band was very psychedelic and that sort of explains where the song "Boilik" came from, as it seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the album. Stewart would hook up again with Hillage in a band called KHAN after this release. He would also play again with Mont Campbell in the band NATIONAL HEALTH.

This album starts off with "A Visit To Newport Hospital" a wondrous track that contrasts Stewart's heavy organ (at the start, and at the end of the song) with the main section that is bright and catchy with reserved vocals from Campbell. Great tune ! "Contrasong" features a guest four piece horn section of sax and trumpet. The bass is prominant 2 minutes in along with horns and organ. Vocals are back after 3 minutes. "Boilik" is the experimental and psychedelic track. There is the sound of water being poured down a drain? Anyway we get different strange sounds coming and going, with some mellotron early and lots of electronics. We finally get a melody 8 minutes in as Stewart plays some organ. A very psychedelic tune.

"Long Piece No.3." is made up of 4 parts. Part one is lead by the organ and drums. Part two is a highlight for me along with the first song. It has a catchy sound of organ and drums before it stops and some spacey sounds arrive. The original melody slowly comes back in this one. Part three has lots of tempo changes and some fuzz organ before 2 minutes. There is a heavier sound before 4 minutes.The final part is an uptempo passage.

I laughed when I read where someone called the Canterbury genre an inbred genre. It does seem like most of the bands are connected somehow. I find that kind of cool actually, trying to connect the dots. This is a must-have for Canterbury fans.

Review by Kazuhiro
5 stars If the fact album says by the flow of original Egg because a lot of tunes for Wind Quartets by which Bass player's Mont Campbell had started it were collected to the album, it might be a concluded album though Egg announced "The Civil Surface" in the shape reorganized in 1974. The tune that Campbell had composed in "The Civil Surface" was a tune with the taste like the chamber orchestra it differed from the flow till then. Campbell takes charge of this album and French Horn besides Bass.

Egg that had debuted in 1970 was a band from which they had been formed by the companion by the keyboard player in the band with the form of Trio that put Clive Brooks in Mont Campbell and the drum player in Dave Stewart and the Bass player at student's time. A classical element is excluded a little and included ..sound of a variegated keyboard.. further.. has finished in this album though had taken a little classical element as their debuts Album are the overall. They always take the humour to music and digest a peculiar element of Canterbury at the same time. The work of Stewart is always good. As for his sense, it is demonstrated since Egg in various bands.

As for the entire impression of this album, the performance evolves from First Album further and the sense of Stewart twines round a complex rhythm well. Hoop Stewart to which Steve Hillage will not be on the register by the companion of the same student is accomplished in the band from which competing with Hillage is called Khan again after this album is announced before they debut.

It has a very sensual flow by the sensibility of the melody of Stewart in "A Visit To Newport Hospital" and the progress of the code though it is a complex rhythm. The work of Stewart in Egg is really sentimental and sensual though sometimes overflows in the whole of the band the humour. The sense of incompatibility doesn't exist even if a doubtful melody is introduced into an opening part and the part of Coda because the element exists. The idea has succeeded. It is very a famous piece of music.

"Contrasong" is being performed by the guest inviting the wind instrument player of four person organization. It is a tune with which the humour that Egg has overflows indeed. The rhythm basically has the pattern of 5/8 and 9/8. The fact to which Egg advances more technically can be found.

"Boilk" progresses by the melody with non-daily element and gives the listener an uneasy impression. The flow that the collage is done progresses with a very experimental element.

"Long Piece No.3" is a tune with the flow of the suite as well as First Album. The processing of the space of the melody and the sound of the distorted organ progresses indeed splendidly in Part1. Such an arrangement might include a little classical element. However, Egg catches music at the angle besides the sound like The Nice. It rushes into the part of "Quietness" from the progress of the melody that gives the relief in Part2. The sense of Egg that produces such a flow is really wonderful. The tune moves to the part of "Movement" and performs the progress of a sensual code of Stewart again. much..busy..stripes..cork..announce..sense..preeminent.It is unusual existence. Part2 shifts to Part3 with the taste kept. They are doing the session for broadcasting of BBC at this time and the feeling of live has gone out of this suite indeed. Complex progress of the rhythm and the way of making the sound are the performances made only Egg though Part3 has the taste of the march. The tune chaotically moves to Part4. As for Part4, the rhythm of seven and the rhythm of five are used. And, the shine of the sound exists also in a complex rhythm. The distorted sound faces the end of the album dashing.

The influence that the band had is very large though Egg dissolves back and was remarkable work about Stewart including United States Rascal Reporters. The music of Canterbury made us discover music that contained very various elements. And, the world also gradually influences it by the music of Canterbury.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Two things appear clearly when listening to this album. First: This is not only Canterbury. In particular, Contrasong could have been written by Magma. It contains a mixture of Zehul, Symphonic other than Canterbury. I think they have been defined as Canterbury because of the Sinclair-like voice of Campbell. Boilk is very experimental, like some Ron Geesin's works. They are in one word: ECLECTIC. The 3 artist were previously members of Arzachel. The difference is that they have abandoned the bluesy psychedelia of the late 60s to walk into a more mature path. Only the organ at the end of Boilk recalls Azatoth from the Arzachel period.

The second clear thing is that it's impossible to describe this album track by track because of the complexity. It would be too technical (and boring).

It's an excellent album but not for all the tastes. If you look at classical Canterbury like Caravan or Curved Air, this is not your pot. If you are more in Hatfield and the North or early Soft Machine it can fit more with your tastes.

An excellent album under all the possible perspectives except for the commercial one.

Review by Gerinski
4 stars Some 5 stars music diluted by some weaker when not totally dispensable stuff, leaving the total package around 3 to 3.5 stars worth.

The Polite Force is one of those classics "from level 2", somehow obscure compared to the big albums of the early 70's but still a cult album when we talk about the pioneers of prog. Although released in 1971 it was actually recorded in 1970 (one track Boilk in 1969) but put on hold by the record company as Dave Stewart emotionally explained in an interview:

"After recording The Polite Force Decca told us they didn't want to release it. Why the - had they let us record it? Because someone in the Sales/Marketing department had failed to tell someone in the Contracts department, presumably; but attempt to understand the workings of record companies' employees' minds and you'll end up as mad as they are. This is the worst thing you can do to a band, though - let them sweat blood over recording an album they're proud of, with all its false starts, nerves, anxiety, eventual triumphant completion of good backing tracks, hours of overdubbing, problems with headphones, more nerves, the occasional brilliant bit of playing, arguing about the mix, persuading the drummer the snare's loud enough, getting through the mix without [%*!#]ing up, making sure all the mixes are the right level, sorting out the running order - and then say, "Oh, by the way - we're not putting it out."

The album starts wonderfully with the two 5-star tracks "A Visit to Newport Hospital" and "Contrasong", both highly complex, original and inspired, displaying all what we love in vintage prog. Even if tagged as Canterbury, this music will delight all fans of classic prog such as ELP, Gentle Giant, King Crimson or VDGG. Amazing how Dave Stewart could make his organ scream like a guitar.

Unfortunately the best stops here. "Boilk" is just 9 minutes of noise experimentation which the last minute of soft Bachian organ can not save. Not for me, sorry, this is one of those times when CD players are so handy with their "next track" button.

The 20 min "Long Piece No.3" starts very well and has some amazing sections but it's inconsistent. Frequently it focusses too much on the rythmic aspect neglecting the melodical or chromatic, resulting in lack of enough musicality, it's more like a collage of technical fragments rather than a satisfying flowing piece of music.

Being a trio album with Stewart's keyboards being the only non-rythmic instrument, the whole album also suffers a bit from insufficient variation in timbres, too much of the same organ sound everywhere (even if we have some winds in "Contrasong" and the occasional guitar-like sounds of the keyboards).

Due to the wonderful first 2 tracks and to its historical significance I still round the 3.5 stars to 4.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Egg is in fact Arzachel without Steve Hillage's guitar. Excellent Canterbury scene keyboardist Dave Stuart's guitarless trio. Their second album The Polite Force is more complex, better played than the debut, but in fact contains similar kind of music - keyboards led slightly psychedelic progressive jazz rock with strong symphonic influence.

Stuart is one of greatest Canterbury keyboardist ever, so almost everything he plays is really good music. The year is 1971, and it's a great time for such music. If you like keyboard-led great melodic prog with some fusion complexity, just go for this album! I am not sure if guitarless compositions are enough finished for my year (or possibly I just searching for some spices in that music), but listening it with pleasure, I sometimes just wanted more accents, more dynamics, more ... something. What doesn't mean this album isn't good. Possibly not great, but really good.

And I really like winds quartet on " Contrasong" as well as great Mont Campbell vocals there.

My rating is 3+, rounded to 4.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One of the best organ/bass/drums combos ever. Egg was a lot more classical sounding than almost any other Canterbury group. At times they sound like a darker and stranger version of The Nice. Dave Stewart is one of the best keyboardists in prog. Sometimes he has a sound that I like to call "heavy metal organ". Seriously, these guys can be as heavy as Sabbath...but without a guitar player!

"A Visit To Newport Hospital" may be the best song Egg ever did. It starts off with an almost metal type riff which comes back later. Some of the lyrics are about Uriel, which was this trio plus Steve Hillage who recorded an album under the name Arzachel. "Contrasong" is the only other song with vocals. It's a very upbeat jazzy rock'n'roll song. There are some horns, piano and a little bit of organ in addition to the vocals/bass/drums. "Boilk" is about as far as you could possibly get from "Contrasong". Very avant-garde piece. There is a much shorter song with the same name on the band's debut album. It begins with running water. Later there is what sounds like a classical music record that is varispeeded. There is backwards this and that all over the place. It ends with some church-like organ.

Egg had some of the craziest time signatures for a rock trio. Nowhere is this more noticeable than on "Long Piece No. 3"(especially Part 4). Part 2 is the most interesting of the four parts. Even though the whole 'piece' is one, it's individual sections are clearly separated. The sounds Stewart comes up with on his organ are unreal. Specifically his use of tone generator. He uses other effects on the organ too. In addition to bass, Mont Campbell plays French horn as well.

This is the best Egg album. The debut comes close. The 'reunion' album Civil Surface is good too, but not as good as the first two. Oddly enough, this would probably appeal more to Nice/ELP fans than it would to people who love Caravan. The only Canterbury that really comes close to sounding like this is early Soft Machine and the two Hatfield & The North albums. Only "Boilk" is what keeps me from giving this 5 stars. So 4 stars it is.

Review by Negoba
4 stars Complex, Uneven Feast of Canterbury Prog

I have a love-hate relationship with Canterbury scene music. The melodic and atmospheric side of jazz-fusion has always appealed to me, and Canterbury is based on that sound. However, Canterbury is also characterized by whimsy/silliness (which only occasionally works for me), avant-garde lite ventures (yuk), and usually weak vocals. As a result, my favorite bands in the genre skirt the edges of the typical sound. Egg is one of these. One of the most complex bands ever, the band pulls off some of the best odd-time signature grooves ever. Dave Stewart is perhaps my favorite keyboard player in all of prog (quite a feat) and his use of distortion matches any fuzz guitar for intensity. Egg was basically the continuation of the band Uriel after the departure of Steve Hillage. However, Uriel (and their album Arzachel)'s work didn't forshadow the complexity that would come later, and only with the phenomenal Khan album is the Hillage / Stewart combo able to blossom into a true masterpiece.

My love of the Khan album and Stewart's work is what led me further into Stewart's catalog, and THE POLITE FORCE is probably my favorite among some very impressive work that includes the Canterbury core bands National Health and Hatfield of the North. The album is a little uneven, with some blazing high moments and one long off-putting side distraction. It's worth a track-by-track.

1. A Visit to Newport Hospital - This song is the most typically Canterbury, but features a massive distorted riff that other reviewers have compared to Black Sabbath. I wouldn't go that far, but it opens the album in intense fashion before giving the listener a break with a lightly sung memoir of the band's early days. This is a solid song but what really appeals to me about this album comes later.

2. Contrasong - this piece gets mixed reviews as it is trying so hard to be complex. I think all agree that it's amazing how well the band pulls this off. It matches anything Gentle Giant ever composed in ambition. I for one love complexity for complexity's sake and so this song works for me. The vocals function as another instrument, and horns also weave in an out of the mix. Great complex prog.

3. Boilk - Canterbury avant-garde, though not quite so "lite" as some other bands. My tolerance for this kind of music is limited and frankly I rarely finish this "song." Listening a bit more carefully for this review, there are some interesting parts. But nine minutes of free form, often noisy, exploration just isn't my cup of tea. Without this piece (which is a large proportion of the album) I might have been tempted to give this disc 5 stars.

4. Long Piece # 3 - the payoff. This instrumental composition starts with Stewart's distorted organ playing odd-time lines, creating an off-kilter, dark mood. The parts are composed enough to remind one of Univers Zero styled chamber rock in places. The piece is divided in 4 parts, with the second being the most prototypically Canterbury in sound. There are some more avant elements, but they are kept in short bites, and seem relevant to the overall ebb and flow of the song. While the drumming and bass playing are dextrous and navigate the odd times with ease, it is Stewart who gets to shine most brilliantly. His varying sounds are combined brilliantly and his note choice is always simulataneously tasty and challenging. Part #3 is perhaps the best piece of composition on the album, a serpiginous romp at higher tempo. Part #4 is more of a groove / psychedelic jam, though still in odd time.

Bottom Line: Mainly instrumental, dark and complex organ driven Canterbury prog. Very good but too uneven to reach masterpiece level.

Review by irrelevant
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Math jazz!........

Not only one of my favourite Canterbury albums (of the ones I know). It's one of my favourite albums full stop. With interesting composition as their main priority, Dave Stewart (keyboards),Mont Campbell (bass,vocals) and Clive Brooks (drums) take you through passages of dissonance and Canterbury melancholy (sometimes switching between the two within a single chord change) and executing their carefully planned patterns with excellent precision. Plenty to soak up if you are into the more challenging stuff.

'A Visit to Newport Hospital' starts off with a slow drony dirge with the keyboards sounding so mean, one could almost think there was a guitarist accompanying the group. The first passage soon gets cut off abruptly and goes into the main section of the song, filled with beautiful chord changes that flow so well together. At around three minutes the vocals come in. The song ends with the same passage it began with (only this time a little faster). Definetly one of the best Egg pieces.

'Contrasong' is next, a jumpy uptempo horn dominated song, what's the catch? It's in a wierd time signature that bounces around all over the place. It's interesting that aside from the first and last part of A visit to Newport hospital there is very little or almost no 4/4 sections to be heard in this entire album. For the most part it's odd numbers galore and quite impressive that they can play them so well.

'Boilk' is next and is certainly the low part of the album. A 9 minute sound collage that sounds like something that could have been on Pink Floyd's Ummagumma studio album. It's not horrible but compared to the other tracks it ruins what would otherwise be a 5 star album. Anyway after the 9 minutes of not much, it moves on to the sidelong.......

'Long Piece no3' Part 1: all I have to say is, imagine trying to memorise this, I mean all those abrupt pauses, notes skipping and adding beats everywhere. DAMN! sounds good though. Part 2: great melodies to be found throughout, each pattern works really well. More melodic than the previous part and serves as a good segue from the frantic randomness of part 1 Part 3: much like the previous part, great psychedelic freak out tone generator jam at the end. Part 4:or the frantic finish as it could alternatively be called. A good finish to the album.

Overall an interesting and enjoyable album that should be up there with the major Canterbury albums.

Review by Dobermensch
5 stars Egg's best effort is a wonderful album of really tricky time signatures, great keyboards by Dave Stewart and wild experimentalism in the form of the universally reviled 9 minute 'Boilk'.

The opener, 'A visit to Newport Hospital' is a great tune reminiscent of Soft Machine - but is far better and more adventurous than the murky production and waywardness of the aforementioned band. 'The Polite Force' is where Egg came of age, delivering something unique and exciting.

'Contrasong' is a weird and wacky number with strangely off kilter brass instruments and drumming which, I defy anyone to drum along to in time, with its alternating 5/8 and 9/8 time signatures.

I can see why people might choose Caravan over Egg, being that they're a far easier listen, but if you want a more challenging propostion then Egg could be the fellows for you.

And then we have 'Boilk'. Poor old damned to hell 'Boilk'. Certainly not easy on the ear, but I love this kind of stuff. Structureless, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in to create a mayhem of sound which borders on Musique Concrete. Personally I love it.

The Egg forerunners 'Arzachel' were certainly a breeding ground for this type of music. An album which I'd recommend to fans of this recording.

'Long Piece No.3' takes up the whole of side two. What I want to know is what happened to Long Piece No. 1 & 2. Anyway, Dave Stewart reigns supreme again in this rather odd 21 minute opus. I don't know why I like him so much, as I usually hate the organ sound, but he just hits all the right notes for me sounding like a more dramatic and important Rick Wright from 'Atom Heart'.

Some serious showing off by Clive Brooks on drums again makes this quite possibly one of the most difficult percussive albums I've heard - and that's coming from a drummer! Brilliant

Review by Warthur
4 stars The best Egg album of the lot; they still sometimes sound like a jazzed-up Canterbury version of ELP, but the songwriting is tighter and the musical range and experimentation broader and more satisfying. The basic Egg sound is spruced up by Mont Campbell switching to keyboards on Long Piece No. 3 to trade organ and piano lines with Dave Stewart, whilst a brass section appears on Contrasong and make a good contribution to its frenetic, fast-paced tone. A Visit To Newport Hospital is another standout track, lurching dizzily between heavy fuzzed-out organ attack and more lighthearted fare, with lyrics recounting the history of Egg and Uriel. Boilk ventures into King Crimsonish noodling and manages to provide just as much tension as Fripp's own group.

I wouldn't say Egg were ever a top-tier Canterbury band - Dave Stewart in particular would achieve greater heights in Hatfield and the North and National Health - but it's certainly important to the careers of its three core members, and of their three albums this is easily the best; the debut was not quite so well-realised, whilst The Civil Surface was a grab-bag of rerecorded versions of songs that didn't make the cut on the first two albums filled out with Mont Campbell wind quartets. Four stars.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Egg. It can be a word utilized to describe: a nurturing shell that grooms creatures and provides nourishment before their eventual initiation onto the outside world, a symbolic representation of creation, rebirth, fertility and resurrection throughout numerous religions, and breakfast. In the world of progressive rock, it is also the name of one of the earlier outright progressive rock bands on the scene, and The Polite Force would remain their grandest statement.

Egg is another of those groups formed with a determined purpose that guitars are not an essential ingredient for creating rock influenced music. By means of occasionally unleashing some of the meanest sounding distorted keyboard passages, I do find myself enthralled by the busy-ness and sometimes sheer volume of the band to not feel as if a guitarist would've necessarily improved things. For a band with this much precision and technical ability, it could have been rather difficult to find a guitar player suitable for their skill level without being a complete egomaniac anyhow.

The opening track starts things off on an extremely high note with a foreboding dark keyboard passage that wouldn't have felt out of place on a doom metal album. Being as they are, the song soon twists into a more upbeat passage combining an unusually soothing sounding Hammond with, shall I say, exotic time signatures. The bass playing is exquisitely intricate and the drummer hones in these jazzy passages with tight rock flair to keep things from sounding too much like a fusion band. The vocals are pleasant enough and the lyrics are actually fun (a sort of life on the road deal) and add charm by being neither deep nor goofy. I swore I thought I was hearing a wa-wa guitar solo during an instrumental break the first time I played this beast, but yup, it was a keyboard doing an impressive guitar impersonation.

"Contrasong" keeps the entertainment factor way up there by almost sounding like a Blood Sweat & Tears from another dimension where the term "straightforward" doesn't exist. The trickiness of this track is mind-boggling at times and even trying to sing over this tune must've required considerable rhythmic skill.

Then we have "Boilk". It's basically an avant-garde piece that at times sounds suitably creepy and even gorgeous, but at other times it sounds too experimental for its own good and results in being a drag in places. From my own experience, these collages are usually much more fun to make than actually listen to, especially if it involves listening to someone else's weird creation.

The second side is a monstrous musical journey through all kinds of cool ideas, fantastic melodies, bizarre shifts in mood and structure alike, and just general zaniness at times. Some sections are a little more lasting in my head than others (at one point the epic does veer into borderline annoying atonal weirdness during Part 2) yet I never get a sense of unrest since so much is going on throughout the whole damn thing.

This is another of those albums that perfectly captures "the year 1970" sound I'm always looking for. It's influenced somewhat by the past decade while always looking ahead to the future decade, and there's a fair hint of unease and moments of darkness sprinkled within. Check it out.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, especially those looking to dip a toe or two in the Canterbury scene, could do no better than experiencing Egg's The Polite Force. I quite admire Dave Stewart's approach to the organ; while it's less flashy than the likes of Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman, it has a glossy and charming element. On this record there are some bizarre tonal experimentations to be found, most of which I do not care for, but others may. Overall, this is a marvelous album and an absolute must for the organ lover.

"A Visit to Newport Hospital" The Polite Force begins with a menacing, plodding tone that suddenly morphs into smooth organ-led symphonic music. The dynamic bass playing complements the downy organ passages perfectly. There's some sparse, inoffensive vocals and occasional blasts of fuzzy distortion. The layers of sound congeal into psychedelic excellence. The main theme is one of the most amazing passages in progressive rock.

"Contrasong" With odd rhythms and brass, this is something like "Bitches Crystal" if early King Crimson performed it.

"Boilk" "Boilk" is the most glaring flaw on this diamond of an album. It is an experimental thing that opens with the sound of water. The piece proper starts off enchantingly enough, with low organ and distant church bells. Unfortunately, it adopts fluttering noises with a Mellotron tone that's pitch is manipulated in painful ways. Further directionless noises follow. Those who appreciate the stranger side of avant-prog will not view this as a failing, but for me, the album is worse for it- a real pity. "Long Piece No. 3, Part 1" The first part of this suite has a jarring and disorienting character. Like ELP's "Tank," it is both melodic and full of discord, but highlights the drumming.

"Long Piece No. 3, Part 2" The second part returns to the more palatable music found in "A Visit to Newport Hospital." There are, however, plenty of adventurous melodic twists throughout the opus. The main motif in this is fantastic, almost rivaling that of the first track.

"Long Piece No. 3, Part 3" If forced to draw a comparison, I would consider this the predecessor of "Karn Evil 9, Third Impression" by ELP; this third part has a refreshing fusion of harmonic intensity and drive while remaining compositionally sound.

"Long Piece No. 3, Part 4" The final moments of the album are a symphonic Canterbury treat, with pulsating rhythms and organ.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars I fell in love with this album from the very first time I heard the album's opening notes. (1. "A Visit to Newport Hospital" [8:28].) And then, joy of joys, the second and third sections of this song introduce some of my all-time favorite sounds and melodies! This is what I love so much about progressive rock music--and the Canterbury Scene! That organ sound and the chord play before the beautiful singing (which is also wonderful as it gives a "history" of the band and of the times in which they lived) is sublime! It feeds my soul big-time! One of my favorite Canterbury songs! (11/10)

2. "Contrasong" (4:25) is an uptempo, odd-timed piano-based, horn accompanied song over which Mont Campbell tries to sing. The voice, unfortunately, gets kind of lost in the cacophony of the rest of the music. Obviously an experimental jazzy song that the trio (bassist Campbell, keyboard whiz Dave Stewart and drummer Clive Brooks) wanted to try. (8/10)

3. "Boilk" (9:23) is a song that turns a lot of listeners away but which I love! It opens with the sound of running water (like a faucet filling a sink) before yielding to an organ chord and some tubular bell and glockenspiel play. In the third minute reversed tapes of percussion and organ play take over in a "Waiting Room" way. (This song preceded Genesis' ascendence to prog rock heights much less their experimental play on 1974's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.) In the eighth minute the soundscape turns much more into keyboard sound experimentation much in the way that Electronica bands would be doing soon. The final two minutes are "filled" by a distant-sounding church-like organ solo. I really love musical experimentation like this! I listen to "Boilk" often and with equal interest and enjoyment each time. (9/10)

4. "The Long Piece No. 3. Part 1" (5:08) is another of EGG's ventures into musical structures and forms from classical music while using jazz/rock instruments (drums, bass and a variety of organ/keyboards). The fast piano arpeggios that take over at the three minute mark usher in a different time signature and a different exercise--this one even more classical in its sound and orientation. Awesome! (9/10)

5. "The Long Piece No. 3. Part 2" (7:38) opens with another display of those amazingly memorable melodic organ chord sequences as we had in "A Visit to Newport Hospital." At 1:42 everything shifts into a more dreamy, ethereal, even disturbing sound. It's like listening to the soundtrack of a nightmare. Then, at 3:45, we shift back into a simplistic piano, crazy synthesizer in the background, with organ accompaniment for about 40 seconds before a gorgeous organ chord sequence becomes the dominant sound up front. Playing back and forth between beauty and discord is the prevailing theme for the remainder of the song. So interesting! And amazing: Two of these guys (Stewart and main composer Campbell) were not yet 20 years old when they made their first two albums! Truly astonishing!! (9/10)

6. "The Long Piece No. 3. Part 3" (5:04) opens a bit like a VINCE GURALDI jazz piece before a KEITH EMERSON-like organ and ELP "Tarkus"-like section takes over. (Though, again, this album was released well before Tarkus.) At 1:40 another section starts with that buzz-saw-sounding organ that Stewart, Mike RATLEDGE and Steve WINWOOD liked to use so much. Though the ensuing sections are very much in classical music structures, the instrument sounds used are not at all what classical music is used to using. (8/10)

7. "The Long Piece No. 3. Part 4" (2:51) ends the opus with some amazing keyboard work over some really nice bass play, and steady drumming. This song really puts the prowess of each of the band members on full display. Teenagers! (9/10)

I cannot express vociferously enough what an amazing album of crazy-complex songs this is--and yet they remain able to create truly enjoyable and often melodic themes throughout! What an album! A DEFINITE masterpiece of progressive rock music if ever there was one! Mega kudos to these three "boys"!

Review by FragileKings
3 stars My progressive rock education has finally brought me around to the Canterbury scene this year. It began with hearing Dave Stewart on Bill Bruford's "One of a Kind" album and then led to the purchase of Hatfield and the North's "The Rotter's Club", also featuring Dave Stewart. And now I have come to Egg. Also featuring Dave Stewart. It was a tough choice deciding which of the three Egg albums to buy. Reviews here are favourable to all three, and listening to a few samples on YouTube had me thinking pretty much any album would be good. However, upon hearing the intro to "A Visit to Newport Hospital" I felt there would surely be something here for me to dig. That slow heavy music with a fuzz-toned organ is just too much like proto-doom metal for me to resist.

I feel the music on this album can be divided into three categories. One category is the lighter jazz feel that can be heard in the main song sequence of "A Visit to Newport Hospital" or "Long Piece No. 3 - Part 2". This music is very accessible with easy-on-the-ears sounds and smooth, light music. Expect some pretty organ and lovely piano.

The second category would be the more aggressive sounds of the intro to "A Visit to Newport Hospital" with the fuzz-toned organ or the intentional dissonance of "Long Piece No. 3" Parts 1, 3, and 4. The drums are more intense with deliberate enforcement of odd meters, and the bass rolls and grooves behind an array of keyboard sounds. This is where I feel the music deserves its progressive moniker. It's bold and gutsy, adventurous. It stays on the track while leaning far over. It's fun without being too crazy.

The third category must then be the experimental one. This is mostly to be found in "Boilk". My running commentary on this piece is:

"Running water for 39 seconds before a solitary organ note fades in and the water fades out. Some tubular bells. Very mellow like a cold winter evening on a desolate street when the snow is just starting to fall. Backwards cymbals? Starts getting weird like Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma". Our winter street is all misshapen and turning into a psychotic vision from the Outer Limits. Not my thing. Too avant guard. No proper song. Backwards music and voices. Just studio experimentation. Well, good for them. Now let's get back to something easier that sounds more like music. Wow! A stream of distortion static. Someone's playing with the oscillator. Ah, saved by a cheerless church organ."

"Long Piece No. 3" Parts 1 and 2 also include some of this stranger music. From my notes: "Now an intentionally mind-numbing performance on piano, organ and drums. Sounds mechanical, like a machine at work on the drums. I picture a bunch of black suited-musos with short cropped hair and thick, black-framed glasses stroking their goatees and subtlety nodding their approval." That's Part 1. Part 2 also includes some playing with oscillator knobs but that is situated between more enjoyable music.

A nod must go to the limited lyrics, which appear only in the first two tracks. The singing style is very Canterbury: English accent, not so talented vocals, and lyrics containing dry humour. From "Newport Hospital", a song about their early days as a four-piece in a band called Uriel: "We spent our time avoiding skinheads and the law / It was a freedom that we'd never felt before / And now we're doing this instead". "Contrasong", a fun song based on an interesting time signature and featuring trumpet and sax, includes a remark about pictures of horrible atrocities which were published in order to increase the paper's circulation.

I personally do not take to the weird experimentation parts but the rest of the album I rather like. I doubt I will be buying any more Egg albums. This one is enough for me. Glad I bought it, though. "A Visit to Newport Hospital" is my favourite track. Not an album to be enjoyed by all but a good example of a trio that were mixing jazz with rock and who were trying to branch out into new territory. The spirit of progressive music indeed. Almost four stars, but rounded down.

Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars The Canterbury scene is one of prog's most fascinating sub-genres. It holds within it everything that makes progressive rock so great. The very nature of prog is to experiment, challenge and discover. Sometimes it is even a test of the listener's patience. The heart of Canterbury flows with a quirky seriousness that makes me as a listener to smile. It is a brave and bold take on rock music that simultanously is both endearing and challenging. All in a days work, one might say. As ever, Canterbury is also a genre of great warmth. The fairytale dreaminess of, say, King Crimson's early work is one reference but I feel that it does not hit the mark. It has a tone of it's own, one that is Canterbury's own. And yet this warmth is encircled by the most spiky and challenging, difficult creations ever made. I know that alot of subgenres might fit into this description but Canterbury is to me the optimum of them all. If I wa sto pick out any subgenre that fully embodies prog I'd say "Canterbury". I would. I swear.

Egg is one of the groups engaged in the Canterbury scene. The organ of Dave Stewart is as ever present and recognisable, not only by sound but very much in execution. The man is brilliant. The sound of Egg on this album (as I am reviewing it) is not easily defined. It all kicks off with the heaviest organ riff ever (sort of) but leads into this jazzy, laidback groove which manages to draw strength from an oozing power source. This source of power and might comes, obviously, from the musicians themselves. There is a restrained demonstration of power I find hard to describe. Anyway, the song is amazing and the best of the lot, I feel. It is the track I listen to more than the others, if that accounts for anything.

"Contrasong" is another very good track, built around chords and beats that sound hectic and askew. But all in a good way. "Boilk" is an experimental piece that is interesting and certainly very well performed. It is however very experimental and not one I retur nto with the same urgency as the first two tracks mentioned.

The B-side of the old vinyl, I suppose, is made up of "Long piece", a suite consisting of four pieces. It is also very experimental and complex but very enjoyable. They stretch out and showcases a musical vision that is really somethig to behear. (Is there such a word? I suppose not.) The parts are different, obviously, but when listened to in one long sitting the result is baffling. One might accuse them of noodling but I feel they never enter that empire of Boredom. I am intrigued throughout.

So, when all is said and done I have to say that this album is an essential listen, if you at all is interested in the development of progressive music. If you're simply into good, challenging and diverse prog I'd say this is for you aswell. The impeccable musicianship and vision of the possibilities if musis is baffling, enjoyable and very much endearing. It has stood the test of time very well and offers a great listening experience.

Review by ALotOfBottle
5 stars Egg's second album, [i]The Polite Force[/i] is easily my favorite album of all time, but more on that in the conclusion. Shortly after their outstanding debut, which still showed the band dipping their toes in the sound of their own, alternating between complex, clasically-informed organ-driven composition and post-psychedelic jazzy proto-prog a la Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Egg set off to record [i]The Polite Force[/i], which elaborated many of the elements we heard on their debut, adding more new qualities to the cocktail along the line, as well as improving the overall formula (one hell of a sentence, isn't it?).

"A Visit To Newport Hospital" is a number somewhat reminiscent of the [i]Volume Two[/i]-era Soft Machine, though much more refined and tasteful that what the Softs were doing on the aforementioned album. It starts out with a heavy Black Sabbath-like opening, which turns into a very smooth, beautiful, nostalgic piece telling about the times back when Egg played with Steve Hillage in the late sixties, under the name Uriel. Lyrics are very poetic and mature. The track is kept in a rather jazzy mood, but with a sense of musical structure more classically-influenced, going through numerous passages and alterations of the theme. "Contrasong" presents Egg's well-trained avant-garde jazz feel in alternating time signatures. As opposed to most tracks, it only features organ in a solo part, most of it is dominated by a piano and a jazzy guest horn section. Mont Campbell's songrwiting also deserves attention for its surrealistic and evocative character. The 8-minute "Boilk" is an extended version of a track from Egg's first album. This experimental cut is the band's experiment with musique concrète and what a good one it is. When one could think this album couldn't get any more confusing and strange, "Boilk" is probably the most "out-there" track the band has ever produced. It features recordings of flushing water, sweet and fruity vibraphone, and ominous mellotron. At times it's atonal and frightening, at times atonal and frightening. The track is ended with Dave Stewart's interpretation of J. S. Bach's "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt," sounding as if played through a thick sonic fog.

"Long Piece No. 3" is an instrumental, four-part suite, which is opened by heavy, buldozer-like fuzz organ based on what is highly likely most most sophisticated time signature. Every band member plays in different alternating time signatures. Just to give you an example, Dave Stewart plays 7/8, 11/8, 15/8, 19/8 and 23/8 repeatedly. Crazy isn't it? On the contrary, Part 2 is full of pleasant melodies, while the rhythm section gets to rest... A bit. The further two movements of the suite present strong influence of 20th-century classical and avant-garde jazz. All of the members of Egg get a chance to present their virtuosic abilities in a truly entertaining and not-self-indulgent manner. Something to be heard, not exactly described. It could make a thin book!

[i]The Polite Force[/i] is, for me, an ideal, perfect album. No other work in the world of music keeps equal balance between technical awareness, dense atmosphere and originality. Every note seems to carry a meaning and not a single one of them would I take away, change or add. Essential progressive rock album.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars While the trio of Dave Stewart (organ, piano, keyboards, synthesizer), Mont Campbell (bass, vocals) and Clive Brooks (drums) began their musical aspirations with guitarist Steve Hillage in the psychedelic rock band Uriel turned Archazel, Hillage jumped ship to finish his studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, while the other three guys had a great chemistry and decided to continue on but changed the name to the rather bizarre EGG which found them adopting a much more sophisticated progressive rock approach to the music. While Uriel was more pop based, EGG's debut displayed a parallel with the classically infused rock symphonic approach of The Nice which inevitably found their self-titled debut release being compared to the debut album of Emerson, Lake & Palmer since both bands emerged in 1970. However keyboard antics aside, EGG was quite a different beast than ELP.

Firstly EGG adopted the sounds of early Canterbury Scene pioneers such as Soft Machine and Caravan but also retained some of the psychedelic pop sensibilities of the Uriel days. The debut album found all these sounds coalescing all these disparate styles into a style that was all of EGG's own making with Dave Stewart's classically trained keyboard maestrohood leading the pack. For the trio's next act, the second album THE POLITE FORCE was released the very next year in 1971 and while the debut found too many comparisons to ELP's keyboardist Keith Emerson, this second time around EGG fine-tuned the compositions into even more extreme idiosyncratic territories. Lauded as the band's best effort and credited as one of the essential pioneers of the early Canterbury Scene section at the prog rock supermarket, EGG indeed crafted an audacious amalgamation of familiar sounds laced with the farthest reaches of avant-garde oddities.

THE POLITE FORCE was clearly a more distinguished album than the debut and although it contained all the yummy prog attributes such as compositional complexity, vintage organ workouts, Canterbury jazz fueled whimsey laced with time signatures run amok, EGG expanded its sound beyond the Mont Campbell vocal led psychedelic pop styles and opted for a mostly instrumental album that fleshed out the band's trajectory on steroids. The album's original pressing contained only 4 tracks but newer releases on CD break down the final 20-minute magnum opus 'Long Piece No. 3' into its respective four parts. Most notable on THE POLITE FORCE is a more balanced band approach where Stewart eschews the limelight and allows the others to integrate into his technical majesty rather than bringing things down to a generic level. With Campbell and Brooks up to the task, THE POLITE FORCE is a veritable slice of early prog paradise!

'A Visit To Newport Hospital' starts the album and is the only track that really connects EGG's sound to the previous album. While starting out with some organ thrusts (oooo baby!), the comp soon reverts back to the stylistic approach of the debut with a 60s psych pop melodic development brought about by Stewart's keys and the only track that displays any sort of vocal arrangements. While the vocals are still the weakest link of EGG's classic sound, these recount the tale of the band's ascent to the progressive days with references to the Uriel years and all the trials and tribulations of surviving in the realms of the music underground. The Canterbury flavors are strongest on this track and plants the seeds of the proto-Hatfield & The North styles to come. Starting with the second track 'Contrasong,' the band really jumps into the prog-o-sphere. The track immediately flaunts a series of jittery time signature frenzies and although also a vocal track seems to integrate Campbell's vox box much more successfully than the previous. The track adds not one two two trumpets and not one but two trombonists from guest musicians. This is where the album really takes off into prog bliss.

The third track 'Boilk' not only takes the title from the short snippet on the debut album but stylistically exudes the same avant- garde detachment only this time around weaves its sonic tapestry into a near ten minute mind expanding exploration of tones, timbres, time signatures and dynamics. Unlike the first two tracks, 'Boilk' is an exploration of atmospheres and ambient mood enhancers with studio tricks like backmasking and other psychedelic accoutrements to develop into utterly bizarre avant-garde sonicscapes that sound much more like an lysergic counterpart to the Third String Band than anything out of the Canterbury jazz playbook. Part progressive electronic and part John Cage, the track meanders with freaky industrial soundscapes, muddled vocalizations emerging from the din and probably was inspired by John Lennon's experimental creations in the form of 'Revolution No. 9' from The Beatles' 'White Album.' The track ends by allowing the Baroque melodies of Bach to bring the listener back to Earth with a little 'Durch Adams Fall Ist Ganz Verderbt.'

The grand finale comes with the 20-minute 'Long Piece No. 3' which is segmented into four 'Parts.' Stylistically they are completely contradictory and contrast greatly so it makes sense that newer reissues just consider them separate tracks. 'Part 1' jumps into a jittery high tempo dance of the bombastic drumming and organ freneticism. Yeah, the bass is in there somewhere. It's like the whole band has become Keith Emerson this time around! After the caffeinated moment subsides then the instruments take turns being hyperactive freaks. A melody and rhythmic groove anchor the madness. A few avant-garde piano tinklings add some spice before the original rhythmic bombast returns like a jackhammer at Chopin's house. 'Part 2' returns a sense of calmness with a reprise to the psych pop structures of the first track. Slow percussive drive, placid organ melodies and no hurry at all. It then completely changes into a formless butterfly shuffle through the breeze on the organs while the bass gently cusps the framework. Then it just gets friggin weird. Basically 'Part 3' and 'Part 4' alternate through more accessible passages and highly experiment formless efforts. It all ends with an energy that could almost be considered early heavy metal if only there was a Tony Iommi guitar stomp leading the pack.

While it's true that the dynamic trio laid their golden EGG with THE POLITE FORCE (if you think of the three albums as representing one letter of the band name then this is the 2nd 'G'), there are a few inconsistencies about this that bug me a bit. Firstly, the opening track is stylistically too similar to the debut album and doesn't sit well as leader of this more sophisticated progressive rock pack and while Mont's vocal style is perfectly integrated into the following 'Contrasong,' the opener just doesn't work for me in relation to the rest of the album which makes it all seem unbalanced no matter how great the album becomes. Secondly, the album could've been much more interesting if the sax and trumpets were on ALL the tracks instead of just the second. The jazzy vibes of 'Contrasong' should've been relegated to sally forth into the great unknown thus adding even more brass fueled textures to the avant-garde mix and thirdly, Stewart relied too much on the sonic organ textures of the 60s instead of expanding the possibilities into the more inventive styles that were at hand. Oh well, a critic some five decades into the future am i, but do not let me dissuade anyone from experiencing this absolute delight of Canterbury infused prog period piece from 1971. While not perfect according to me, it is nonetheless an excellent slice of music freak fineness and for that i am eternally grateful.

Review by friso
3 stars Egg is a Canterbury group that is basically a trio (bass, drums, keyboards) that was left when Steve Hillage moved on after their sole Arzachel album - which some consider to be an early Canterbury and space rock classic. Keyboardist Dave Stewart would also play with Steve Hillage on Kahn's 'Space Shanty' album (a favorite of mine) and is one of the better keyboardist of the genre. On this album we get to hear two great psychedelic and jazzy Canterbury songs that are instantly enjoyable and recognizable as top notch genre classics. Mont Campbell's vocals (who also plays bass) don't stand out, but its clearly enough to cast that dopey English vocal jazz sound that fits the music so well. 'A Visit To Newport Hospital' is a jazzy hardrock song with distorted organs and some strong instrumental sections. 'Contrasong' with its amazing rhythms and wind-sections is another bright and energetic high-light. After that Egg goes fully avant-prog on the listener with the plain boring soundscape 'Boilk' and the formless summation of ideas called 'Long Piece No. 3' (which fills the second side). Perhaps without the nine useless minutes of 'Boilk' this would have still been a worthy addition to most prog collections, but as it is; this record sounds way too unfinished and random to be considered that worthwhile. I actually wanted to like this much more than I do because of the fantastic recording sound and the love I hold for 'Space Shanty'. Do add the first two songs to your digital playlist though!

Latest members reviews

4 stars The second album by EGG is a more serious effort, no short pop-influenced melodies and playing is more refined. "A visit to Newport hospital" is partly heavy dramatic partly floating in the Canterbury style. Well composed, bringing Hammond with the fuzzed organ a la Soft Machine. I like the doomy ... (read more)

Report this review (#2900169) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, March 17, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I like it. It's good music quite eclectic (great track variety) yet very listenable. I've been listening to it more and more lately as an album and I enjoy it best this way, it makes for a magical experience where the lines between songs erode and all that's left is beautiful music. In th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2486302) | Posted by Beautiful Scarlet | Sunday, December 20, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my favorite album is a masterpiece. It holds my favorite song in the entire progressive genre (Newport Hospital). I contacted Stewart and Campbell about this, and exchanged emails back and forth with Campbell for a while. They really deserve all the praise they can get. A Visit To New ... (read more)

Report this review (#2245387) | Posted by hugo1995 | Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A distorted cover to a distorted music played by distorted minds: 9/10 EGG's debut had indications of the band's leaning to progressive rock, although their music was at best some sort of daringly uncommon psychedelic rock. It wasn't until THE POLICE FORCE that they decided to exploit the bou ... (read more)

Report this review (#1779696) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Tuesday, September 5, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Canterbury...a little city in the South East of England. A mysterious place that lives since before of Romans with one of the most famous cathedral in the world. The place where an astonishing musical wave suddenly flooded the basic rock concepts, bringing a storm of elegance destined to rema ... (read more)

Report this review (#1131884) | Posted by Utnapishtim | Saturday, February 15, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second record of the Canterbury band "EGG" is called "The Polite Force" and it was released 1971 even if it was recorded the year before. The cover is mystical and intriguing even if I have hard to see what it is. My guess is that is is a plastic bottle in which the light reflects. The mus ... (read more)

Report this review (#1104915) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Wednesday, January 1, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It is a mix of frustration and joy to review an Egg album. The reason is that I am lost for words because their music is almost impossible to describe. This album is no exception from this rule. The opening track A visit to Newport Hospital is an excellent quirky Canterbury scene song with ... (read more)

Report this review (#249963) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, November 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Egg's second effort shows the band retreating from the more blues-inspired Arzachel. It is (slightly) less psychedelic and helped define the band's unique, identifiable sound. The album opens with a diminished fuzz organ riff that eventually leads into a light jazzy organ lead bit in 7/8. Mont Cambe ... (read more)

Report this review (#243422) | Posted by Tengent | Wednesday, October 7, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars To me, EGG has always been in the middle of the Canterbury scene. By this I mean, there are the ones that have had great success, like Caravan, Soft Machine etc, and then there are the ones that are known only but real hobbyists. EGG is in the thin line that divides these two. In my book the are ver ... (read more)

Report this review (#178236) | Posted by Passionist | Saturday, July 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Egg's next album, The Polite Force was one of the strangest and essential canterybury Prog Rock albums to ever came out in the DERAM label in 1971. Admired by punk-prog lover Captain Sensible, They were different than the gigantic and bombastic version of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. They were mor ... (read more)

Report this review (#175369) | Posted by Nathanson | Thursday, June 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another strong organ driven album from Egg. This one is a little more consistent than the first. It comes across darker and more brooding. Like the symphony from the previous album. There are a few points where this album heads in avant direction as well to make things interesting. This is def ... (read more)

Report this review (#172086) | Posted by digdug | Saturday, May 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a great album. It is too bad this band did not release more albums. I just cant stop listening to this. Vocally Monte Campbell sounds a bit like Jim Morrison at times. However there is not much singing on this album. Which for me is usually a plus. Dave Stewart's organ sound resembl ... (read more)

Report this review (#168326) | Posted by DHarris | Monday, April 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The early Canterbury outfit Egg are best described as a jazzier and wittier version of Emerson, Lake, and that other guy. Both are an unusual power-trio: where the expected guitarist is in fact a keyboardist! And both have three letter band names. The key difference between the two is the timbre ... (read more)

Report this review (#163476) | Posted by Shakespeare | Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wooooow! what a Canterbury gem, this album have been a favorite of mine for some time now. Its an amazing mix of Jazz, Avant garde and symphonic prog. And it got Dave Stewart one of my favorite fuzzed up Hammond organ player. The album kicks off with the amazing A visit to Newport Hospital that ... (read more)

Report this review (#162111) | Posted by Zargus | Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The Polite Force remains one of the landmark first generation progressive albums. Adventurous beyond anything else at the time it was released, it remains a record with unique and timeless charms. The lengthy opener "A Visit to Newport Hospital" never fails to conjure its singularly bewitching m ... (read more)

Report this review (#157623) | Posted by jonsilence | Friday, January 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars About a Year ago, a prog buddie introuduced me to this hidden gem. This is the second disc from the short tenured prog elite band, "Egg". I was totally amazed. Dave Stewart's work on the moog rivals Keith Emerson. I have been a proud prog - head since 1994. Egg was a band I never knew existed. ... (read more)

Report this review (#100481) | Posted by proggy | Sunday, November 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is an inconsistent album. Fortunately, we're talking inconsistent where the range is 3-5 star songs, rather than something like 1-3. A Visit to Newport Hospital is worth four, it's a strong album opener. Contrasong is an easy five and I wish it was longer. The second Boilk (as opposed to one ... (read more)

Report this review (#77357) | Posted by dagrush | Saturday, May 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An obscure but fascinating little gem from the 70s. Egg may not have reached the (relative) fame of their Canterbury comrades (whom they didn't really have much in common with at that point), but the band were no less innovative - perhaps even more so. The band's music was largely based around Stew ... (read more)

Report this review (#68273) | Posted by Pafnutij | Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of those albums that transcends its genre while simultaneously being a prime example of it. It is stiff and formal in places but almost to the extent that you wonder if there's an element of self parody (if there isn't well - that's ok too !). "Longpiece" mostly avoids cod- classicism and " ... (read more)

Report this review (#55265) | Posted by | Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The second work of announcement in November, 1970 "The Polite Force". Great players of the British jazz field become complete in the guest. It is the same keyboard rock as the first work. Especially, it can enjoy the opening number and the last suite. The sound of this album influences HATFIEL ... (read more)

Report this review (#43508) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, August 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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