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Arcadium Breathe Awhile album cover
3.76 | 78 ratings | 15 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I'm on my way (11:51)
2. Poor lady (3:59)
3. Walk on the bad side (7:35)
4. Woman of a thousand years (3:39)
5. Change me (4:47)
6. It takes a woman (3:53)
7. Birth, life and death (10:19)

Bonus tracks on 2012 & 2019 reissues:
8. Sing my song (4:18)
9. Riding alone (2:48)

Total Time: 51:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Miguel Sergides / lead vocals, 12-string guitar, composer
- Robert Ellwood / lead guitar, vocals
- Allan Ellwood / organ, vocals
- Graham Best / bass, vocals
- John Albert Parker / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Mike McInnerney

LP Middle Earth - MDLS 302 (1969, UK)
LP Ethelion ‎- ET 1001 (2019, Europe) With 2 bonus tracks from 1969 single

CD SPM Records ‎- CD 012 (1992, Germany)
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REP 4855 (2012, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks from 1969 single

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ARCADIUM Breathe Awhile ratings distribution

(78 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ARCADIUM Breathe Awhile reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Proghead
5 stars In my never ending pursuit for those obscure gems of prog and psychedelia, I just discovered another act, this time by a British five piece act calling themselves ARCADIUM. The band performed at London's Middle Earth Club, and had their one and only album "Breathe Awhile" released on the Middle Earth label. Three other artists had recorded for that label in the 1969-70 period, that is Wooden O, WRITING ON THE WALL, and Tam White (the final album on the label was a compilation called Earthed). None of the albums released on the Middle Earth label are easy to come by if you're to seek out the original LPs, luckily Repertoire in Germany made "Breathe Awhile" (as well as WRITING ON THE WALL's "The Power of the Picts") available as a CD reissue (with two bonus cuts from a single the band put out the same time).

ARCADIUM consisted of: - Graham Best: bass, vocals - Allan Ellwood: organ, vocals - John Albert Parker: drums - Robert Ellwood: lead guitar, vocals - Miguel Sergides: 12-string guitar, vocals

"Breathe Awhile" is nothing short of an amazing prog/psych album. Remember this is 1969, meaning that of course, they hadn't left their psychedelic roots behind. The performance is all real solid, although the vocals are a bit sloppy, nothing that really bothers me. "Walk on the Bad Side" is a song that starts off not on a great note, it actually sucked at the beginning (a little too pop-like), but I just loved how this song just got better and better as it progresses! "Woman of a Thousand Years" is not to be confused with the Danny Kirwan-penned FLEETWOOD MAC song by the same name (besides, Future Games didn't come out until 1971, two years later), this is a totally different song. The closing song, "Birth, Life and Death" just absolutely blew me away! This, and the other lenghty epic, the opening "I'm On My Way" just shows what was great in the late '60s/early '70s prog/psych scene. Only two cuts, in my book, don't quite work: "Change Me" which seems to be a bit repetitive, and "It Takes a Woman".

Of course, given the era this was in, don't expect polished and sophisticated symphonic prog in the YES and ELP vein. But for those who enjoy early prog/psych, I can highly recommend this album.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Amother of those forgotten gem from the Psych/proto-prog era well worth investigating but make sure that you put an ear to the disc before buying this . The music is interesting enough , but the production job and the sound could somewhat deter you at first or even put you off (slugish , borderline sloppy ). Nevertheless, I have listened to this album roughly twenty time before returning it to my friend without making a copy (always knowing I could borrow it again), so I guess that sums up my three star rating , but this record will certainly please the majority of the readers that are into this proto-prog with psych roots into it.The longer number are truly interesting and often the sound is reminiscent of Vanilla Fudge with the voice and the organ always as excellent as on any VF album. The two bonus tracls are excellent additions and make this album fairly long especially for the year of release. However , if you are into delicate neo layers of sounds , listen to it befdore buying.
Review by Muzikman
3 stars Originally released in 1969, "Breathe Awhile", the only album from "Arcadium", was once a very rare item on many a collector's list. This LP is the most recent of many reissues over the years. The appeal is that it comes in a vinyl LP format with original artwork and two bonus tracks.

This was a band on the cusp of bigger and better things; unfortunately, you wait for that to happen from start to finish on this LP. They certainly had talent, but on their first and final outing, they get into a musical rut. They never break out of sameness in sound on the entire album. "I'm On My Way" (11:50) and "Birth, Life and Death" (10:18) serve as their pre-prog rock magnum opuses. "Birth, Life and Death" is the best track on the album. It has a distinctive psychedelic-hippy-San Francisco sound that holds steady throughout. It gave the band's listeners a lot of promise and hope that more of the same could be possible on their next album. Regrettably, it never happened.

I find this music very interesting to listen to because of its meaning in reference to what we listen to now. That can apply with anything in life but it is never more prevalent than in music. You will not wear this album out on your turntable but I am sure you would be able to find a place for it in your collection. Its historical significance cannot be understated and the album artwork is a real keeper, plus the fact that it was this band's only recording and it was a sought after collector's item should be enough ammunition for you to open your wallet and snag up this platter.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a true gem of late 1960's acid rock, presenting a very depressed and sincere vision holding both composed and improvised themes. Miguel Sergides is truly the heart of this band. His skillful songwriting talents shine in the constructed parts of this record, passionate voice being strong and creating powerful emotional load. Other dominant elements of the music are strong organ keyboards and guitars weaving beautiful webs of harmonies over it, and also releasing fiery distorted solos. Vanilla Fudge's "Renaissance" album is stylistically a close comparison with this record. Though Arcadium's music is celestial and very trippy, the band found inspiration for their lyrics from themes of the secular world, the quest of being a good human being, a man, a lover.

The album starts mysteriously with mantra like webs building up nearly twelve minutes long opener "I'm on My Way". The surrealistic haze reminds of very early Hawkwind recordings, especially the calm part with descending voices, slowly gaining power. After six minutes the vocals are introduced in a dreamy and calm space. The descending voice part returns as a chorus, and strong force pulses more powerfully within the surface. Tasty ocean soundscapes opens "the way" where the singer heads, and a fabulous bluesy psych rock jamming begins. Here the vocal lines turn to more aggressive, and the raw and archaic sounds underline the power of this music. "Poor Lady" presents the band's skills in short and powerful psych rock songs with both catchy minor melodies and strong feeling of surreal, partly created by ghastly backing chants. "Walk on The Bad Side" is another longer song, beginning carefully with very beautiful organ and vocal melodies. Lyrics are very touching sad wonderings of the world, probably founding sympathy from fans of Peter Hammill. The verse is more Major key blues run with space for wonderful psychedelic solos. Among the free chaos the band still plays wonderfully to same direction, and there are many nice arrangements and controlled changes of both rhythms and sections to be found from the music, features often missing from psychedelic recordings. "Woman of A Thousand Years" is another shorter aggressive rocker fading in peculiar way, being quite OK but not as great as the other songs of the album. "Change me" has a dramatic drive resembling Vanilla Fudge very much, holding great feeling of desperation in it. "It Takes A Woman" starts with fast jamming and interesting repetitive guitar solo. The verse brings dramatic twist to this composition. The song ends to a quiet part, which sadly fades out.

The last over ten minute long song of the original album has a humble title covering "Birth, Life and Death". Some warning sirens give start to tasty jamming having playing space for all instruments. Again there is a strong sense of collective control of the band present here, and some surely predefined parts work as a guiding line through the track. The descending organs begin the melancholic sung part. The verse brings few Major key contrast to the overall depression, which is very, very strong, reaching ultimate climax in the end's "good bye world" sequence. Listening to this during depression isn't maybe a good idea. There are two bonus tracks on CD re-release. "Sing My Song" begins in a delicate manner, but the verse brings forth the power lingering beneath the calmness like in other songs of the album tracks. The melodies are very tasty and classic sounding. "Riding Alone" opens with some acoustic licks, and the tune is driven forward by the guitar instead of the keyboards.

The only negative sides I found from this album are the few fadeout endings and a bit duller short fourth song. But the pure greatness of the vision of this record bears this flaw in my opinion, and thus I recommend it warmly for those with taste of raw melancholic vintage psychedelia.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Sometimes you are listening new album and you aren't thinking. You just feel that it deserves best mark, because you feel it that way. OK, but that argument is not good enough to support your rating. But you know that in its category (psychedelic prog in this case), this album stands so still and so unknown, hidden in depths of progressiveness, that it can easily be shaded gem. But try to wipe out dust that surrounds it and instantly (after first song) you just Know. After many listens, you are decided.

As everything in this kind of psychedelic music, it uses similar pattern. Organ as underlay, sometimes two of them (one underlay, second takes soloing part), with it repeating guitar riff and hypnotic drums. Well, not only drums, everything here is very, well, psychedelic (that's the name). I wonder how it would be if I was high (best suited is maybe LSD), but that's something I will never know. OK, but feelings of normal, sober mundane earthling can be enough as well. Yeah there are two types here - slow and fast songs (as it looks like)

"I'm On My Way" is great intro. I always though that psych. music is (don't beat me) little bit monotone, weak and that Pink Floyd are not so classic psych and because of it I like them. But this album kicked me on a way of psychedelic lover with hope that there will be more records like this one. I must confess that (YES) I'm doing this thing with head (circling it around slowly to the rhythm) on some parts, slowly head banging on others. This music is simply experience. Jumping right into it could be good way to witness it all. Another fact is that this song starts with slow rhythm and (also) slowly coming to psych climax, which we can see in last few minutes. Sort of ironic name, he's on his way, I'm walking on this way now also.

and so on, no need to continue. Another reason is that it can turn skeptic and unbeliever like me into maybe-fan of this genre. Maybe after some time spend on listening this kind of music I'll reconsider my rating, but by far I don't know better psych prog album. I think the thing I like the most is this guitar solo through entire songs, dueling organ and guitar also.

EDIT: Year (and 10 days) later.

Not so strong impression after all these years, it now sounds rather plain and noisy, not clever and strong as it was before. Well

3(+) is more suitable I suppose. Not that variable music, because they simply play the same thing over and over again. However, my previously stated words are still true.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars ARCADIUM are an obscure band from the UK who were released on even a more obscure label called "Middle Earth Records". Their lone release "Breathe Awhile" was released in 1969. I don't like the album cover or the pictures in the liner notes, heck I don't like the liner notes either. Anyway I do like the first two tracks a lot, but I felt the rest was below average except for the final song.

"I'm On My Way" opens with relaxed guitar as bass joins in. It gets heavier after 2 1/2 minutes then settles again. Electric guitar after 4 minutes as it builds.Vocals and a calm 6 minutes in. The tempo picks up 9 minutes in with organ.This is catchy stuff.The guitar lights it up before 11 minutes. Good song. "Poor Lady" is another catchy track with harmonies. Love the chorus.The guitar cries out on the verse.

"Walk On The Bad Side" features reserved vocals, organ and bass before a minute. I like when the vocals stop and guitar and organ take the lead. Vocals return as themes are repeated. Not a fan of a "Woman Of A Thousand Years", the vocals and lyrics do little for me. Guitar and organ stand out on "Change Me", vocals a minute in. "It Takes A Woman" kicks in quickly guitar leading the way as bass, drums and organ try to keep up. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. An uptempo tune. "Birth, Life And Death" has this spacey intro then it kicks in with organ and drums. It then settles with a relaxing beat. Raw guitar before 2 minutes. Lots of organ and vocals arrive before 6 minutes.

I can understand why some people adore this record, sadly i'm not one of them.

Review by stefro
4 stars Another excellent reissue from Repertoire Records, Arcadium's 'Breathe Awhile' is one of the few albums that truly deserves the 'lost classic' tag bestowed upon so many underachieving progressive-and-psychedelic rock releases from the 1960's and 1970's. Now a highly-prized collectors item - both on CD and even more so on vinyl - 'Breathe Awhile' is a genuinely innovative mixture of lysergic psych-rock, skilful prog and intricate, bluesy Vanilla Fudge-style hard rock that resonates with a wonderfully tripped-out intensity that reminds one of the scarred cerebral landscapes of a particularly memorable bad-trip. Led by the enigmatic multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Miguel Sergides, Arcadium unleashed 'Breathe Awhile' upon an unsuspecting world in 1969. Evidently, the music-buying public weren't quite ready for Sergide's brand of uncompromising acid-rock, even in the era of LSD and Timothy Leary, and the album proved a commercial failure that consigned the group to the decade-straddling netherworld of rock obscurity. And it's a real shame. 'Breathe Awhile' is a bravura creation, a highly-conceptual collection of songs exploring pathos, shame and adultery with utter conviction, displaying Sergide's penchant for darkly-wrought lyrical poetry and an intense, almost hallucinatory musical style quite unlike any other group of the time. Most of the tracks on offer feature a fast, bruising pace with screeching guitars, wailing lyrics, quicksilver drumming and discordant keyboards, creating a hysterical yet utterly-controlled brew of scorched epics. 'Woman Of A Thousand Years', 'Change Me' and 'It Takes A Woman' are particularly impressive, though the rest of the album is also highly recommended. Trying to find a comparison is difficult, as Arcadium sport a highly-refined sound that is completely their own, but elements of Iron Butterfly, Rare Bird, 21st century San Francisco psych-rockers Wooden Shjips and King Crimson are apparent. Thoroughly exhilarating, 'Breath Awhile' is a a brutal tour-de-force of an album that should please those in love with the freakier side of psychedelic madness. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Arcadium was a relatively unknown band that released one album in 1969. For fans of psychedelic proto-prog, this is worth investigating. The bad production is actually a part of the album's charm, as it offers a distant, eerie tone, a grainy effect that enhances the anguished vocals, and a hazy, smoky feel throughout. Even so, this makes parts of the album almost unbearable. Also, the acoustic guitars sound cheap and often out of tune. The two bonus tracks are decent, but do not add much to the overall value of the album.

"I'm on My Way" Over low-quality acoustic guitar is an organ bit that begins this opening piece delightfully enough, but for some inexplicable reason, the band decides to ruin what could be a fresh piece of music with extremely loud noises, like the section of the guitar strings between the nut and the tuners. Other racket ensues on top of all this, making for a terrible listening experience. Fortunately, these go away, bringing in a single guitar and some haunting voices. As keyboard takes over the vocal bit, a gritty guitar solo ensues. Actual singing doesn't occur until halfway through, and it consists of a good melody enhanced by an excellent bass line. For the jam at the end, there's a large organ solo over an unbridled rhythm, additional vocals, and a final guitar solo, all of which is practically ruined by the poor sound quality.

"Poor Lady" Dissonant organ washes and a driving beat begin this one. The song proper involves heavy psychedelic music with verses bolstered by those distant, creepy vocal harmonies. A tinny lead guitar plays over and in between all this. Incidentally, I could hear this song covered effectively by a current pop artist.

"Walk on the Bad Side" The parts of this song are jumbled together, not even attempting to flow one into the next. It opens with a pleasant guitar bit with a rising percussion, and then jumps right into the organ-led verse, which itself sounds like a weak Three Dog Night. The next sudden section is a wild ride of grainy guitars, wailing, shouting, and a speedy rhythm.

"Woman of a Thousand Years" Comfortably in the category of early psychedelic rock, this song juxtaposes poorly-structured heavy verses (that organ doesn't even fit!) with an a cappella refrain drenched in reverb.

"Change Me" The boisterous vocals, prominent organ, and tormented sound make this one sound similar to "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals. At the same time, it sounds like what I think Radiohead would have sounded like if they'd played in the late 1960s.

"It Takes a Woman" After the somber twelve-string introduction, music in the vein of The Allman Brothers Band comes in, which is to say, a driving, organ-filled bluesy rhythm with excellent drumming and walking bass, topped off with exceptional guitar work- easily the best performance on this album, as even the coarse vocals work here. The gentle conclusion to the song is abrupt and pleasant, but does not fit- it is just unceremoniously tacked on.

"Birth, Life and Death" A siren heralds the beginning of the end for this album. Finally, there is some real progressive coherence, as the musical introduction shows. After a short bass solo, that lovely guitar and organ come back in working around each other in a brilliant way. It rather loses focus midway through, however, but the sound is richer and the music still strong- fans of Uriah Heep may find enjoyment in this.

Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars Arcadium were one of those underdogs, who never managed to dive out of the London underground. Playing alongside acts such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Egg, Gun, Spooky Tooth or The Writing On The Wall never brought them the true recognition they deserved. However, to their luck, they did not find it exceptionally hard to sign a record contract. With a little help from the acclaimed Middle Earth club, they signed a contract with Pye label. To enable them to polish their material, the club rented a manor in Cambridge, where they could rehearse. After a week, the band moved to the recording studios on Chandos Street. That's where "Breathe Awhile", Arcadium's only album was recorded. The album art was designed by Mike McInnerney, who had just finnished working on The Who's "Tommy" cover.

"Breathe Awhile" is a testimony for ending psychedelic trends in music. Psychedelia was still very much present, but lacked the creativity, mysticism and freshness it once was full of. Without knowing what it was at the time, Arcadium picked the "progressive" path. The main attraction of this work are incredibly passionate jams based strongly on modal improvisation. On sung parts, the band exposes their electric folk aspirations. Arcadium's music is characterised by poweful pastoral organ playing, fuzzy guitar, feminine 12-string guitar passages and very decent vocals.

The two longest tracks "Birth, Life and Death" and "I'm On My Way" are in my opinion the strongest on the album. Other tracks are not bad by any means, but feel a bit unfulfilling. However, that is saved by the passion, vigour and sensitivity resounding on this work. And this I consider a very valuable aspect of "Breathe Awhile".

Overall, Arcadium's only album is a strong effort, musically very typical of obscure bands at the turn of psychedelia and progressive rock. It features some excellent moments and will be a pleasing experience to those fascinated with proto-prog or psychedelic rock. 8/10, Recommended!

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars Out of the very depths of progressive rock comes this slightly interesting and rather nice album. Released 50 years ago it made little impact and I suppose that for the majority of prog lovers this album is quite obscure and to a large extent unknown. I can see why but at the same time it's a pity. It's not a groundbreaking album and the music itself is rather typical for the period and the genre. It is a record steeped in the psychedelic mould but it stretches out into new territory aswell, trying to expand upon the musical form. The development of rock music is obviously something that had been going on for quite some time by 1969. Every new artist and band added something new to the very basics of the music that was to become rock, hard rock and progressive music. Arcadium did their bit and although they never became as influential as King Crimson or Yes (or any other giant) has simply to do with opportunity, luck (as always) and, to be frank, the quality of the music.

This album starts off with "I'm on my way". It's a "builder", starting off in a mellow and very psychedelic fashion before heading into a great hammond driven beast of a song. It's quite good, especially the last organ driven part of the song. I think it may be a bit too uneventful at first but I have grown accustomed to it and now I like it alot. In many respects it is quite sypmtomatic of the album as a whole. Harsh, organ driven, sombre (or even depressing sounding), bleak and loud. If they had continued as a band releasing more albums I think they would have ventured either into the territory of full blown hardrock or carved out a nice piece of progressive land.

The next five songs are good and steeped in the same mould, more or less. What you get is powerful and well played proto- prog, as I would like to call it. "Change me" is a ballad-y song, which is good, and breaks the formula a bit. "It takes a woman" is a hardrock knock-out with extremely loud guitar. I like it alot. I think that all of the first six songs are good or great but I like the ending "epic" of "Birth, life and death" the most. It's not what I would call an epic, really. Sure, there are movements in there but I find it's more in the prolonged jamming quarters. Nothing wrong with that.

At first listen I wasn't that amused but after a few listens I got hooked. In many ways it's one of those obscure, loud, organ driven hardrock albums that nods to the future of prog and keeps one foot in the psychedelic pool but it is also a charming time piece that grooves along and offers a heartfelt dose of sincere music. You've probably heard the sound before, if you like me are into early progressive music, but sometimes that is just what you need. The sole album of Arcadium is not a fantastic album, possibly not even great but it's a decent and good album. If you want to explore the beginnings of prog you might want to start elsewhere but when you've come a bit on the way it might be interesting enough. It holds a place in my heart, mostly because of the massive organ, which sounds a bit dirty but there you go.

Latest members reviews

4 stars "Breathe Awhile" (1969) is another re-discovered rare album treasure from the archives. The British band Arcadium released this one amazing album before going their separate ways and disappearing without trace, in common with many other one- album bands of the late 1960's psychedelic era. The al ... (read more)

Report this review (#2272738) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Wednesday, October 23, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a real dream come true for collectors of rare late 60s albums. I would very strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a masterpiece in the psych prog sub-genre. Apart of that it is a very moving album which has had a strong sentimetal impact on me, and on many other people as I can see. In ... (read more)

Report this review (#1225976) | Posted by psychprog1 | Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars THESE ARE ARCADIUM! i love this band, alle the songs, all beautiful from the start with I'm on my wayyyy until the end with goodbyeee goodbyeee my worldddd goodbyeee goodbyeeee... the best dark prog album ever IMHO all the people existing in this world must have it! the 2 bonus trax too ... (read more)

Report this review (#159499) | Posted by MasteR ProggeR | Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Arcadium came to me this Christmas as an LP reissue by Akarma, noted for both good and bad jobs in terms of sound quality. Thankfully, the Breathe Awhile record is much improved upon in terms of sound for a record that had notoriously bad sound as an original. You also get two bonus tracks on an ... (read more)

Report this review (#62404) | Posted by | Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my top 5 albums ever! (within almost 40 years of listening/collecting). I had borrowed a copy from a friend when it first came out. He had bought it in London. It was not available in Switzerland at that time. Many years later, when record fairs occured I found one. And I fou ... (read more)

Report this review (#30260) | Posted by Irene | Friday, November 12, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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