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Egg Civil Surface album cover
3.76 | 167 ratings | 20 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. Germ Patrol (8:31)
2. Wind Quartet 1 (2:20)
3. Enneagram (9:07)

Side 2
4. Prelude (4:17)
5. Wring Out The Ground (Loosely Now) (8:11)
6. Nearch (3:22)
7. Wind Quartet 2 (4:48)

Total Time: 41:36


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Stewart / organ, piano; bass (6)
- Clive Brooks / drums
- Mont Campbell / bass, voice, French horn and piano

- Jeremy Baines / Germophone & Bowle
- Lindsay Cooper / oboe, basson (1-6)
- Tim Hodgkinson / clarinet (1-6)
With Help of:
- Amanda Parsons / singing (4)
- Ann Rosenthal / singing (4)
- Barbara Gaskin / singing (4)
- Steve Hillage / guitar (5)

Wind Quartet performed By:
- Mont Campbell / French horn
- Maurice Cambridge / clarinet
- Stephen Solloway / flute
- Chris Palmer / basson

Releases information

LP Virgin/Caroline Records C 1510 (UK)
CD Virgin Records CA 1510 (1990)

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Buy EGG Civil Surface Music

Civil SurfaceCivil Surface
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2007
Audio CD$10.40
$15.21 (used)
Civil Surface by EggCivil Surface by Egg
Audio CD$112.33
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CD the civil surface
~ USD $15.04
CD the polite force
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CD the polite force
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LP the polite force
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EGG Civil Surface ratings distribution

(167 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

EGG Civil Surface reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Carl floyd fan
3 stars This is a pretty good cd but nothing to get excited about. Although I might need to listen to this a few more times (I have to many new cds) because I get the feel that this is the type of cd that grows on you. It diffenetly appears that there is a lot to discover in each in every track.


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Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Dave Stewart as leader of the band you might have expected that this album would have a strong influence of Canterbury music. The combination of his organ style, energetic drumming by Clive Brooks, bass guitar and French Horn (oboe, bassoon, clarinet) delivers a really good music harmony with its unique sound. As Dave Stewart also helped Steve Hillage's band KHAN who produced only one album "Space Shanty", the music has no major difference between the two. It's probably the vocal part that's different because Khan "Space Shanty" was a song-oriented album while EGG's "Civil Surface" is a full music-oriented album. The other bands that similar to EGG are: National Health, Hatfield & The North, Steve Hillage.

Song like "Enneagram" flows beautifully with variations of chords produced from organ accentuated with drum work and insertion of oboe, clarinet and bassoon. The music varies between simple and complex arrangements with excellent composition, overall and it moves from slow to relatively medium/fast tempo music with jazz/ fusion influence in addition to Canterbury. "Germ Patrol" continues the tradition of organ-oriented music with great drumming and bass lines. Piano and French horn improvisation have also enriched the textures of the music. For me it's rewarding experience whenever I play this album especially with nice flow of the music combining unique sounds of individual instruments and the melody. In some parts I can sense an exploration to avant-garde and repetition of certain segments but with different textures. "Prelude" explores Dave Stewart's organ solo in multi-layered sounds followed excellently with a stream of music resulting from bass, drum, organ and some choral section. "Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now" features Mont Campbell on vocal Organ work characterizes this track and it has variety of styles - being a Canterbury and avant-garde. I like the solo organ continued with unique arrangements of the accompanying music that features organ as lead melody.

Provided that you are familiar with Canterbury, this album is an excellent addition to your prog collection. The music is original. The composition is neat and great. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW


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Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A bit of an omelette

I have fond recollections of Egg's eponymous debut album, which at the time was innovative and different. It was with high hopes that I therefore acquired "The civil surface". Falling within the genre or sound defined as Canterbury, Egg never managed to move beyond a sort of cult status, with a small but faithful following. The years have been relatively kind to the band though, and they are now regarded with affection and with the recognition which passed them by at the time.

"The civil surface" was recorded in 1974, after the band had reformed. The highly regarded Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics one), has spent some time in Hatfield and the North before getting back together with his fellow Egg members, to record one further album.

While my review of the first Egg album was by and large favourable, I did feel that it was rather one dimensional, with an over emphasis on the organ playing of Stewart. "The Civil surface" is certainly more diverse, but the greater diversity does not I'm afraid make for a better album.

The compositions here are generally more fusion based, straying at times towards Krautrock. Many of the compositions are effectively leftovers from the band's earlier albums. "Wring out the ground" for example, the feature track on side 2, has all these features, plus some more conventional Canterbury influences. The track also features Steve Hillage making a guest appearance on guitar.

In terms of sound, in addition to the keyboards of Dave Stewart here we have a wind quartet, various wind instrumental virtuosos, and a female vocal trio. The overall impact of this is to give the album a modern classical feel, with many pleasant sounds.

It is though the compositions which generally fall short. Gone are the traditional classical interpretations and improvisations, to be replaced by avant-garde compositions. There are at times strong hints of the wonderful work of early 70's multi- instrumentalist Yoel Schwarcz and his work with Continuum, but unlike the music of that band the tracks are not developed to their full potential.

The overall impression here is of a band trying desperately to work out why they got back together. There is a lack of a clear direction which points to a little too much democracy, and a shortage of useable material. The latter is borne out by the two "Wind quartets" which are used to bring the album up to a decent length. This album is simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating.


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Review by Warthur
3 stars Egg's reunion album, originally issued through Virgin records and recently rereleased under licence by Esoteric Recordings, is a bit of an odd bird. As detailed in the Esoteric version's liner notes, which provide a decent history of the band's career, there was never any question of Mont Campbell, Dave Stewart and Clive Brooks resurrecting Egg full time: this album was simply an attempt to record some unreleased Egg songs for posterity before the members returned to their various full-time projects, with a couple of tasteful Mont Campbell-composed wind quartets to pad things out a little.

Although the title is based on a similar pun to that of their previous album (The Civil Surface instead of The Civil Service, like The Polite Force instead of The Police Force), the sound is very different - much more laid-back and relaxed, perhaps reflecting the tone of the recording sessions. Dave Stewart brings along some influences from his day job in Hatfield & the North - there's even a guest appearance from the Northettes, Hatfield's backing singers - and indeed if you didn't know this was an Egg album you might be tempted to guess that this is a collection of long-lost Hatfield demo tapes.

I say demo tapes because there are a few problems with the production. In particular, whilst Clive Brooks' drum work is excellent and a key component of the music, it is mixed far, far too loudly much of the time; Dave Stewart has gone on the record as saying that this was an issue. The problem was especially bad on the Virgin CD reissue, and in fact I didn't like the album when I first encountered it precisely because of that. To my ears, the Esoteric Recordings remaster goes a long way towards correcting the problem, bringing out the true joys of the album for the first time. Many of the songs focus on the interplay between Brooks' drums and Dave Stewart's organ, with Mont Campbell's bass work and other contributions providing a subtle touch. Ex-Uriel bandmate Steve Hillage guests on Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now), Lindsay Cooper and Tim Hodgkinson of Henry Cow lend a hand on many tracks, and all in all there's an impression of various Canterbury scene luminaries having a good time giving Egg a suitable send-off. Part of me wonders what the songs would have sounded like if Egg had recorded them in 1972; would they really have had this dreamy, Hatfield-like air, or would they have had a bit more of the dark intensity of the Polite Force? We'll never know, although anyone lucky enough to have attended an Egg concert back during the band's lifetime probably have some idea.

While Canterbury fans will doubtless want to get their hands on the album, it's neither the best the scene has to offer, nor a complete waste of time (despite the issues with the mix): it's good, and pleasant, but nothing more than that. Three stars.


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Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars The member was doing indeed variegated work from the announcement of Egg of the second album in 1971 to the reorganization of the band with this album. It is guessed to them that some position for Canterbury Scene had already been established though the session for BBC also had gone. It might have the element like their a few humours and projects etc. of Canterbury though this album is recognized as the last album of fact Egg that Bass player's Mont Campbell has interest in French Horn and makes a variegated guest participate. Lindsay Cooper and Tim Hodgekinson of Henry Cow including The Northettes. And, the guest such as old friend's Steve Hillage is indeed gorgeous. The credit of the tune are all names of the band and the tune of Quartets that seems that Campbell composed it also gives the change and the surprise to the flow of the album. Because such an element is included, the overall impression might be a little loose. However, the route of Egg is always kept by the sense of Stewart. The impression of Rock of "Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now" raises this album-quality. It puts on a little abstract lyrics and the humour and the sense of Egg flow. They pull this album and the act is pulled to the history of the band at the end. The sense and the humour of Egg were one of the products to which Canterbury had given birth though the history was a short life.


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Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars EGG had actually broken up before this album with Dave Stewart moving on to form HATFIELD AND THE NORTH and Mont Campbell off to get his music degree. There was some unfinished business though as the band felt some of the material they had composed and played live needed to be put on an album, so they reformed for this record only. They brought in some guests to help out in Steve Hillage, Tim Hodgkinson, Lindsay Coooper, THE NORTHETTES (Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons & Ann Rosenthal) among others. After this Clive Brooks the drummer would go on to play in a Rock / Blues band while Stewart and Campbell would form NATIONAL HEALTH. That early incarntion of NATIONAL HEALTH composed lots of music and played live many times but never put out an album because no record label would sign them. Check out their "Missing Pieces" album to hear these previously unrealesed tracks.That first incarnation had among other Bill Bruford, Pip Plye, Steve Hillage, Phil Miller, Phil Lee, Alan Gowen and more.

"Germ Patrol" opens with faint percussion as other sounds eventually come and go. The drums take the lead then keys come in. Some fuzzed out organ after 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. "Wind Quartet 1" and the part 2 were added to really pad the album says Dave Stewart. He also says they're not really EGG material but something Mont was working on. "Enneagram" is the highlight for me and a song they used to open their shows with. Just a solid sound to open with those crisp drums. The sound quality is excellent. It settles 4 minutes in and this sounds amazing too. It's bulding then it settles again around 6 1/2 minutes before kicking in one more time. Incredible !

"Prelude" opens with keyboards and bass before the drums join in. Female vocal melodies (THE NORTHETTES) come and go.The organ dominates around 3 minutes. "Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now" kicks in right away with vocals, drums and keyboards standing out. Great sound. It turns spacey after 2 minutes. Drums and a melody around 3 minutes, fuzz organ follows and some nice bass. Vocals and that opening soundscape are back after 6 minutes. What a song ! "Nearch" opens with drums and wind instruments. I'm thinking HENRY COW before a minute.

A very solid album that all Canterbury fans should check out.


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Review by lor68
3 stars Here it is!! Another controversial album from the Canterburian Scene, the prosecution of the ideas developed within "The Polite Force" and- as for this latter- a further uneven concept album...well, by going from the track "Germ Patrol" (not far away from the best hits by National Health and- above all- Hatfield and The North) to the short "Nearch" of side 2, there's no continuity. They start by means of a planned and structured music project (like inside "The Polite.."), but then They are not strictly according to logic anymore (of a clever music structure I mean..), cause the band is always in search of a certain "progressiveness"- regarding their improvisational passages (a difficult aim in itself) which often loose the direction!! In fact, often in the middle between jazz and a psychedelic prog a-la Soft Machine, sometimes their music is not satisfying at all and it could disturb me after a repetitive listening to it!!

Nevertheless I recognize Dave Stewart (here playing the organ, the piano and even a bass guitar!) as a true "master mind" of this project- as well as of the whole Canterburian scene along with Steve Hilage and Robert Wyatt- (despite a few defects which portray all these characters when They try to create an innovative composition...) and for me it could be enough to judge the present effort as an interesting product after all...even though it's not coherent and almost totally unhomogeneous, perhaps making me erase one star from the final score!!

So make your own choice at the end, cause an objective evaluation is difficult here!


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Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars Mont CAMPBELL, Dave STEWART, and Clive BROOKS' final EGG album was released over a year after the the band had broken up and the trio had gone separate ways. It was the incessant insistence of a small but vocal fan base that got the band to finally record some of the as-yet unrecorded material--which had been fan favorites from their live performances--that Dave gathered Clive and Mont back into the studio with a bunch of his current band members from Hatfield and the North, as well as a few other friends with whom he had recently worked--like Steve Hillage (on "Wring Out the Ground") from their KHAN collaboration.

1. "Germ Patrol" (8:32) opens with a cute Alice and Wonderland feel to it--even as the calliope-like organ, walking bass line and beating of the toms play along in a kind of circus way. I think, from it's title, that it's supposed to sound millitaristic but it's too fun and quirky to do so. Definitely in the "tongue-in-cheek" realm of musical renderings. Even the 'conversation' of multiple keyboards in the sixth minute seem comical. The ensuing "buzz bass" solo is the song's most serious moment but it is bookended by Dave's circus-like organ and piano play. I like the horns around 6:50 and the French horn solo to fade. A very memorable if not awfully melodic song suite. (10/10)

2. "Wind Quartet 1" (2:20) is, truly, a wind quartet, complete with flute, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn (though I swear I hear an oboe, too). Nice piece with a nice, very British, more classical than jazz, arrangement. (9/10)

3. "Enneagram" (4:13) has Dave Stewart using an organ sound that is much familiar to us for its bombastic use by Keith Emerson around the same time in his early ELP concerts and recordings. A rather exciting uptempo song with wide dynamic variation. (9/10)

4. "Prelude" (4:18) has some of that classical church organ sound dating back to EGG's first album. Dave's cerebral experimentation is matched by Mont's bass play with no drum or percussion play until the 1:15 mark. The surprise entry of the odd choral section as presented by the future "Northettes" is a bit discordant and disruptive, but no weirder than the solo organ play to the song's end. I guess it all works in the scheme of the whole "prelude" thing. (8/10)

5. "Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now)" (8:11) is a cool song that opens with some very odd lyrics being sung out by Mont and then a section of experimental sound/noises before the actual song foundations are allowed to be established--over which some nice keyboard soloing occurs before everything slows down again at the 5:50 mark for Mont's vocal to continue. This is a very strong section of the song--very solid and confident sounding. (9/10)

6. "Nearch" (3:12) is another neochamber piece with Mont's French horn, Clive's precision drum accompaniment, Lindsay Cooper's bassoon and Tom Hodgkinson's clarinet, with Dave Stewart playing bass! Interesting exercise/ Útude. (8/10)

7. "Wind Quartet 2" (4:48) finds us returning to the flute-dominated winds of the third song. Some nice medieval- like melodies and moods evoked here. (9/10)

My only problem with The Civil Surface is that it feels so cerebral--as if Mont and Dave were working out very complex mathematical formulae together through their musical collaboration. This just makes the music a little colder, a little less accessible to me, the listener. No wonder Clive wanted his drums to be loud and forward in the mix! This concludes the band's last album. Egg were a short-lived Canterbury band that definitely displayed the more classical side of the Canterbury jazz experimentation--and this while the members were only in their late teens and early, early 20s! They just happened to produce, however, some of the most interesting and some of my favorite music from the Canterbury Scene.


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Latest members reviews

5 stars After breaking up in 1972, Egg had plenty of leftover material and felt the still had something to say. So, they reunited in 1974 to record Civil Surface (again with a pun in the title like on Polite Force). The trio managed to get a record deal with Caroline records. They invited their friends from ... (read more)

Report this review (#1529946) | Posted by ALotOfBottle | Wednesday, February 17, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Usually reunions happen a decade or more later, by which point their new material just never stacks up to the old and is forgotten. For example, Cream reuniting in 2005, but the old bad blood resurfaced (Ginger Baker has serious issues on how to get along with people and he still continued showin ... (read more)

Report this review (#1504617) | Posted by Progfan97402 | Monday, December 28, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was one of my sweetest experiences of prog in a long time. Egg's third record is also, in my opinion, their best, and I mourn their exit from the prog scene with this record. I am not at all in line with other reviewers who say that the second is best and the first is worst. I would say t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1105501) | Posted by Dr÷mmarenAdrian | Thursday, January 02, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars's interesting how we can differ on the subject of music, as at this point (6/24/2010) this only has 3 stars. I find this to be By Far the best Egg release, and amongst the finest releases of the genre. To these old/young at heart ears, I just love this stuff. The singing is a perfect ... (read more)

Report this review (#288018) | Posted by tmay102436 | Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Gorgeous morning English music. I'm unsure how this is the lowest rated studio Egg album. It includes admirable about Egg before (psychedelic textures, odd rhythmic stuff, pure talent), and gets rid of what sucked about Egg before (no long mellotron/percussion experimenting tracks, variety of timbre ... (read more)

Report this review (#287739) | Posted by Tengent | Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album was my introduction to the compositional genius of Dave Stewart and Mont Campbell--how they managed to create works that managed to be both avant-garde and accessible--tossing around wacky meters and dense, gnarly chords with apparently utter nonchalance, bridging the old psychedelic w ... (read more)

Report this review (#226793) | Posted by ods94065 | Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Scrambled eggs anyone ? I have invested heavy into Egg by buying their albums at Ebay. Not cheap by any standards. They have so far gathered dust because I have problems understanding this much hyped band. As a symphonic prog fan, I like my music structured and melodic. I therefore find this ... (read more)

Report this review (#200904) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5 stars really. This sounds like Egg Lite to me. The first two albums were darker and more interesting. This one I find pleasant but nothing excellent. The organ is not as dominant here as it is in the first two albums either. The first two albums remind you of ELP while this one sounds more ... (read more)

Report this review (#172141) | Posted by digdug | Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Egg's third and final studio album fits more into the "interesting" ,rather than "excellent" camp, although it was certainly a good thing that it was released (the band had already taken the effort to break-up following their 1972 sophomore opus "The Polite Force"). While not as co ... (read more)

Report this review (#68357) | Posted by Pafnutij | Sunday, February 05, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The third work of EGG released in 1974 "Civil Surface". The content is music with strong forward color that unites the pop sense with a classical accent and the contemporary music. It is an ensemble that carefully calculated a musical effect of a variegated rhythm. A cynical peculiar humour se ... (read more)

Report this review (#54458) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, November 02, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Why is this a 'Masterpiece'? Because it is totally unique in all the progressive rock spectrum...and because it is damm good! By this album Dave Stewart was about to break up the band but got himself a deal with Caroline (Virgin records sub) and composed some of the most amazing music ever. It i ... (read more)

Report this review (#35869) | Posted by | Thursday, June 09, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars So good to get this on CD again; I bought it on vinyl in 1974. For me, the best track is 'Wring Out...' - utterly wonderful stuff. Such a shame they didn't do anything else after this. the best of their three albums. Essential, if you liked the Hatfields and National Health. And where's Dave Stew ... (read more)

Report this review (#23191) | Posted by | Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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