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GYPSY

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Gypsy biography
Formed in 1964, this quintet began as a Minneapolis-based pop band called The UNDERBEATS. They eventually relocated to Los Angeles and, changing their name to GYPSY, began pursuing a heavier, more complex sound, blending SANTANA-like guitar and organ riffs with vocals and arrangements reminiscent of early CHICAGO. They released two excellent albums on a small label in the early 70's then switched to RCA who (it is said) pushed the band in a more commercial direction. Consequently, they lost their progressive edge and the subsequent two releases are no more than a collection of average, mid-70's radio-friendly pop.

Their eponymous first album (70) was a double LP made up of jazz, prog rock and pop elements, featuring fantastic harmonies with vocalist/keyboardist James Walsh in the lead. The more polished "In the Garden", released a year later, is in the same vein with Walsh really cooking at the keyboards. With the release of "Antithesis" (72) and "Unlock the Gates" (73), however, the band took a downslide into bubble-gum pop. Sole member of the original line-up, Walsh gathered some musicians in 1996 and tried to revive the GYPSY sound with an album called "20 Years Ago Today"; an average-to-good album mostly made up of new compositions plus a couple of nicely reworked classics.

Fans of SANTANA, CHICAGO, PABLO CRUISE, SPIRIT or SUGAR LOAF should definitely check out the first two albums.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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GypsyGypsy
AJK 1979
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GYPSY discography


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GYPSY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 29 ratings
Gypsy
1970
3.07 | 18 ratings
In the Garden
1971
2.59 | 7 ratings
Antithesis
1972
3.09 | 7 ratings
Unlock The Gates
1973
3.00 | 1 ratings
20 Years Ago Today
1996

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GYPSY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gypsy by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 29 ratings

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Gypsy
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by raul_siberian

3 stars This is the only Gypsy album I own

"Gypsy Queen Part I & II" (3.75 out of 5.00) Since the first time I heard this opening track it attracted my attention completely. I was amazed. I have found what could have been a hit in the early 70s from a little known band, and certainly it was. The song is catchy with the vocal harmonies and a great percussive work. In the second part the track becomes a bit down and slightly changed but still enjoyable.

"Man of Reason" (4.00 out of 5.00) I don`t know why this track makes me think of The Beatles. Probably because of the jokingly performance, I like it much despite its shortness and simplicity.

"Dream If You Can" (2.75 out of 5.00) This song brings back what could it be a sequel from "Gypsy Queen", the vocal harmonies are back but this time its a bit slower.

"Late December" (3.50 out of 5.00) Another track I like, so intense and one that sticks.

From now on until "The Vision" the album becomes a bit boring

"The Third Eye" (2.50 out of 5.00) This is a dramatic song. nothing really worthwile but tolerable and moderately enjoyable.

"Decisions" (2.75 out of 5.00) Seems as if were the second part from the previous "The Third Eye". I like the second half more than the first.

"I Was So Young" (1.75 out of 5.00) This is my least favorite, a refiller that has nothing really outstanding.

"Here In My Loneliness" (2.75 out of 5.00) A festive jazzy song, good and enjoyable.

"More Time" (2.50 out of 5.00) Another refiller, not bad.

"The Vision" (2.50 out of 5.00) Just like "Decisions", I like the second half where it turns fast but then it fades again.

"Dead and Gone" (4.25 out of 5.00) From my point of view this is the best track of the whole album despite being positioned before the ending track (refiller?), here it`s where all members, mainly singers and lead guitarrist, show off. It is the most eclectic song of the album, ranging from folk rock, psych, prog, pop, etc... An unforgettable performance, Highly enjoyable Truly worth.

"Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard" (3.00 out of 5.00) It`s the definitive track from the album, where have been mixed the most outstanding aspects of the band. A powerful performance but not as good as "Dead and Gone".

So I will give 3 stars, because that's what I think this album deserves.

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 Gypsy by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 29 ratings

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Gypsy
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by Sagichim
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars This could have been much better!!

I never heard of this band until i saw a review here some years ago and i was intrigued to say the least , of a 1970 release from an eclectic band called gypsy !? after i managed to get a copy i listened to this a few times and first impressions were very good , some of the melodies really moved me , guitar was nice with some rocky parts , and i sensed that i would like it more the next couple of times i would hear it , since it is a long double album. but you know what... it never happened!! the more i listened to it , the songs seemed very simple and pretty much dated , like ordinary 70's rock songs. what a bummer i wanted to like this. actually there are no bad songs but there are no amazing spectacular ones either , every song contain something that i like , if it's the melody or a riff or a nice piano or a break , but it's not being utilized like it should , something is missing. they should have shaped things a little bit more.

Another thing is that it's not progressive at all , definitely not eclectic , i heard prog related albums that were much more progressive than this , songs doesn't really take off but stay in the same level , and that's really a shame because they are talented . production is also simple and sound dated , which does not help the overall mix , especialy the backing vocals. the longer tracks contain some development but not professionaly done . 'decisions' and 'the vision' are the only tracks where everything did click , they are the progiest and are worthy of mention , 'decisions' contain good atmosphere , good guitar and good keys .'the vision' contain great singing , beautiful piano and orchestra and has a good break using the orchestra and piano.

I hate to slay this one up , since this might appeal to some who like 70's melodic rock. So what do i like?? melodies are good some are really good , the drums when they are not just there to serve the song they are really good and can drive the song somewhere , i wish they would focus on that more , guitar is pretty simple nothing to expect on that department. there are some good jazzy latin parts , and some good orchestrated songs too , and of course the songs i've mentioned before.

There are so many better releases i could think of so don't rush and look for it. i thought maybe the next albums would improve but according to the ratings here it didn't happen. as i said all the right ingredients are here , keys , piano , good drumer , good melodies and vocals but when you mix them together it's certainly edible but not very tasty.

a classic 3 stars album

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 Unlock The Gates by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.09 | 7 ratings

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Unlock The Gates
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars This was really the last Gypsy album, although band co-founder James Walsh would keep plugging away as the James Walsh Gypsy Band for several years. That group was pretty far removed from the original Latin & funk-inspired Gypsy sound. After an amazing double- album debut the band steadily retreated from that sound in favor of a decidedly Midwestern American jam band sound, with this being not only the last studio release but the least progressive as well.

Besides Walsh the band still featured guitarist and sometimes percussionist Enrico Rosenbaum who in reality was most responsible for any progressive leanings the group may have had in their earlier days. Sadly Rosenbaum was already suffering from substance abuse problems that would eventually contribute to his demise at a relatively young age, and his contributions here are pretty weak compared to the band's first couple of records.

Besides moving away from an almost Santana-like sound of their early music, Gypsy also put out shorter and shorter songs and albums as the seventies wore on, with this being both their shortest album and the one with the fewest fully developed compositions. Many of the tracks here are little more than a guitar riff or two fluffed up with horns and repetitive, shallow lyrics (check out the banal "Make Peace with Jesus" for a prototypical example). Other tracks like "Toin It" and "Smooth Operator" come off more like smooth West Coast- sounding pop rock in the vein of Pablo Cruise, Firefall and the like.

Rosenbaum and James Johnson are both competent and occasionally very good guitarists, and Randy Cates who joined the band for their prior record is a decent but unexceptional bassist. Everyone but drummer Bill Lordan delivers vocals at one time or another, and some of the harmonies are quite good for a band that by this point was more of a self-professed jam band than one with high vocal ambitions. And Walsh is a good keyboardist but this album is not one that takes as much advantage of his talents as any of the prior ones do.

In the end this is a mellow, decent record but a rather sad ending for a band that burst upon the progressive music scene in the wake of Woodstock with a San Francisco-inspired spicy sound that should have made them a much bigger thing than they turned out to be. Such is the fickleness of contemporary music; the band suffered as much from poor promotion as they did their own lack of musical innovation, and in the end have been relegated to b-list status in the annals of progressive American rock. Two stars for fans but not really recommended for anyone else.

peace

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 Antithesis by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.59 | 7 ratings

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Antithesis
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars With Gypsy’s third studio album the band finally had the benefit of a major label backing them, having left the ailing Metromedia label for RCA. But unfortunately the band seemed to have fallen into a trend at the time toward southern boogie music, and much of the highly percussive Latin and strong vocal harmonies are gone on their debut for the new label. Gone also was bassist Willie Weeks; the band fielded their third bass player in as many albums with the competent but unremarkable Randy Cates, who at least brought the added advantage of being able to supply backing vocals on a few tracks. Weeks would go on to a long career as a studio and tour journeyman, and showed up a couple years later on David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ album among other places.

This record is notable in its remarkable un-remarkableness if nothing else. Guitarist Enrico Rosenbaum’s brief foray into psych has given way to pedestrian blues-centered rhythm, and the percussion here is limited primarily to snare drums and cymbals. Gone also are the long, elaborated arrangements of their earlier albums, replaced by bite-sized, radio-friendly mini-tunes that probably could have garnered the band a few hit singles, although as far as I know none of them were ever released as such.

The band manages to squeeze in a few vocals harmonies, most notably on “So Many Promises” and the title track. Elsewhere they seem to be resorted to uninspired jam sessions, such as on the brief and incomplete-sounding “Travelin' Minnesota Blues” and the rambling “Money”, which also suffers from a rather muddy mix.

The first couple of songs on this album remind me quite a bit of the early, less grandiose Steely Dan albums on many ways. “Day After Day” in particular wouldn’t have been out-of-place on “Cant’ Buy a Thrill” or “Pretzel Logic”. The quality of the compositions and arrangements seems to wane as the album progresses though, and the last couple of tracks lack any distinguishing charactertistics.

The CD reissue doesn’t offer anything new from the original vinyl release, and as with their second album I’m struck by the fact that this band debuted with a double studio album, and followed it up with two consecutive albums less than forty minutes and clearly including some filler (“Young Gypsy” and the lackluster piano ballad “Facing Time” in the case of this album).

I’ll always rank Gypsy’s debut among my favorite American prog rock albums of the early seventies; the ambitious, lengthy and elaborated production and layers of sounds are rather remarkable for such an unknown act on such a minor label. But like Wishbone Ash (to whom they can be reasonably compared on many levels), the band seems to have lost focus and drive as their career progressed, and by the end there just wasn’t much left to get excited about. Maybe just a tiny hair better than collectors-only, so I’m going to plant three stars on this one, but only by the narrowest of margins.

peace

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 In the Garden by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.07 | 18 ratings

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In the Garden
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars By the time Gypsy entered the studio to record their second album (and the final one for Metromedia Records), their entire rhythm section had been replaced. Bongo player Preston Epps was gone, and former Blues Image percussionist Joe Lala sat in his place along with future Doobie Brother Willie Weeks on bass and soon-to-be Robin Trower drummer Bill Lordan. The core of the band in the form of guitarists Jim Johnson and Enrico Rosenbaum and keyboardist Walsh remained, but much of the group’s signature inflected percussion and almost world music sound had been replaced by a more straightforward heavy rock vibe. Rosenbaum seems to have decided to explore a more psych guitar sound, and Walsh’s keyboards are much less innovative and pronounced than on the band’s debut. The album barely slid into the bottom of the charts briefly before sinking, this one even more quickly than the last.

The music on this record is much less adventurous than the debut, and in a productivity reversal the band went from a double-album first album to a sophomore release that was barely thirty-seven minutes long and featured only seven tracks. Nearly a third of the record is consumed by the lengthy “As Far as you can See”, a sluggish and unambitious arrangement filled mostly with heavy organ fills and slightly fuzzed guitar. The gorgeous vocal harmonies from the first album are mostly gone here as well, although on this and “Here in the Garden” (I & II) the band attempts to revive those, but without much success.

There’s even a blues-rock number with “Blind Man”, another of many Gypsy songs that sounds a bit like an understated Chicago number without any of the spacious brass that band was so known for.

The album closes with another piano-laden song titled “Time Will Make it Better”. But unfortunately such would not be the case for the band, and despite the switch to a major label with RCA their next two albums drifted even further away from the creative sounds that made their first and best record so memorable.

This is an album by a band that still possesses a great deal of talent, but seems to have lacked the spark to reach for anything new or ambitious. They would drift apart shortly after releasing a fourth album in 1973, the victims of changing times and waning commitment. While I’d like to give ‘In the Garden’ at least three stars, it really doesn’t rate that and is most likely something only old fans of the group will find much to be interested in. Gypsy were a briefly interesting band who may have done better had they started their career on a major label with better support instead of the terminally money-strapped Metromedia. But these things happen, and as a result this goes down in history as a two-star effort. Only recommended for fans and the mildly curious.

peace

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 Gypsy by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 29 ratings

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Gypsy
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

4 stars The early seventies were generally seen as the heyday of British progressive rock, and they pretty much were, although in America groups like Captain Beefheart, Spirit, Santana, Providence and Utopia staked out some prog territory of their own on the east and west coasts.

But across the heartland there was some decent American progressive music being created as well: bands like Kansas, Happy the Man, Cathedral, Arabesque, Starcastle and even Styx were quietly cranking out their own brand of progressive rock in places like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas and elsewhere. Much of their music would be dismissed as derivative, but no more so than the Beatles, who owed some of their sound to Buddy Holly and Elvis, or Eric Clapton who owed much of his to Robert Johnson and Bo Diddley.

Anyway, one of those Midwestern bands who toiled in relative obscurity was this one. Gypsy hailed from Minneapolis Minnesota, future home of Prince. They scored a major coup after relocating to Los Angeles in 1969 with a gig as house band at Whiskey-a-Go-Go, but followed that up with a major faux pas by declining a contract with Atlantic Records in favor of one with the fledgling Metromedia Productions. Metromedia may have been the company that spawned Soul Train, but their expertise in the record business seems to have been mostly limited to teen idol Bobby Sherman’s catalog and various novelty records. To their credit, the label did due diligence to the production of Gypsy’s first album, springing for an expensive double-disk gatefold vinyl recording sporting the Czech artist Alfons Mucha’s painting ‘Zodiaque’. But they apparently didn’t know much about promotion, and despite having a minor hit single with the opening track, the album faded rather quickly.

Too bad, because this is one of those little gems that has resurfaced numerous times over the decades, having been reissued several times and developed something of a fabled reputation. And for good reason, as the sound is an outstanding blend of the West Coast sound, Latin grooves, a little jazz and some great vocal harmonies. Comparisons to Santana are valid, but there’s a little bit of Spirit and some of the big instrumental sound of Chicago woven in as well.

The late Enrico Rosenbaum, who wrote virtually all the lyrics for the album, was not the virtuoso on guitar that Carlos Santana was (and is), but he had a smooth and easy style that combines jazz, soft psych and a little funk that gives each track a very American sound. James Walsh has a heavy presence on keyboards throughout, mostly with his Hammond B3 organ. In one of their few great moves the label brought in opera vocal consultant Julio Aiello to arrange the band’s superb vocal harmonies, something they would unfortunately largely abandon in their later albums. In fact, the vocals make the biggest difference between this and their sophomore record ‘In the Garden’.

The first disc is full of vibrant, solid music with plenty of percussion courtesy of bongo player Preston Epps, who would be replaced by future Robin Trower drummer Bill Lordan by the time the band reentered the studio.

I’m not sure why the band felt the need to stretch this into a double-album, and there do seem to be some filler tracks on the second disk. “Here in my Loneliness” has the feel of a Chicago b-side single, and “The Vision” is a string-driven orchestral number that goes on for seven minutes or so and turns into an improvisational piano/bass jam toward the end. The nearly eleven-minute “Dead & Gone” is similar, and even the vocal harmonies fail to capture the ear after the first three or four minutes.

But “Gypsy Queen” (I and II), “The Third Eye”, “Man of Reason”, “Decisions” and “I Was so Young” on the first disk are all solid and energetic with plenty of soul and toe-tapping rhythms; and “Dream if you Can” is a quintessential early seventies West Coast soft psych number that should have been a single.

The band would be gone by 1974, and a resurrected Gypsy a quarter-century later would include only James Walsh form the original lineup, and frankly was nothing much more than an oldies nostalgia act.

That doesn’t take away from this album though, which is without a doubt a solid four star effort despite some of the filler on the second disk. That stuff isn’t bad either, its just that after the first two sides there isn’t much new or innovative that the last two sides offer. No matter, this is an album that most prog fans would do well to have in their collection. Fans of the funk, percussion and rhythms of Santana, Osibisa and many Latin and Caribbean bands will appreciate this music as much as those who get off on the Anglo soul of Chicago or Average White Band. Highly recommended if you haven’t heard it.

peace

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 Gypsy by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 29 ratings

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Gypsy
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by wjlb

5 stars Some things in life are worthy of keeping. Gypsy, is one of the things musical that blossoms new , year after year. It is a paradox that a group, long gone as a concept,yes I know that some members are still active,keeps oozing tons of lyricism,and way too small surprises,every time that gets playing time(oops two times "time" in five words"

I will not take any time to say my opinion about the technicalities involved in that recording sessions.These things are known and accepted(sixties,seventies sound, blah,blah, blah...),but I like to think,that Rosenbaum lets a faint smile ,to form on his face ,at the time that ,the "warning,warning....." cry,denotes the beginning of another,a new one session of his composing genious that was.

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 Antithesis by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1972
2.59 | 7 ratings

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Antithesis
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Gypsy's third album couldn't offer anymore that much interesting music for me and I guess for most Prog fans. Obviously the band was trying here to get more into a straight forward mold with some possible commercial success in mind. Overall the pleasant vocal harmonies from their two previous releases are still present and at times as well some pretty good Hammond sound. But unfortunately there are only two outstanding tracks here, where these two features really come to their own that are "Young Gypsy" and "Money" both being great rocking ones and revealing brilliant play on guitar, drums and organ. "Lean On Me" and the title track are nice organ-dominated ballads but not that special either. "Don't Bother Me Rosenbaum" and "So Many Promises" absolutely hit the rock bottom of this album here whereas the remaining six tracks aren't bad ones in any way but don't go beyond a funky harder-edged blues rock quite typical for early seventies. As a summary though being quite a solid rock album this one can be rather considered a collector's item for fans of this band or 70's funk rock in general but in the context of this wonderful site here I can't give more than 2 stars!

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 In the Garden by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.07 | 18 ratings

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In the Garden
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Gypsy's second output "In The Garden" had been similar to their debut still in a very interesting and highly appealing (at least to me) proto Prog mold, maybe even with more organ sound and more rocking. Not that much had changed in their style, only the string arrangements from their fisrt one had disappeared though. Outstanding track is here of course the 12-min piece "As Far As You Can See" sounding highly versatile with several mood and tempo shifts and not lengthy at all as it was the case with "Dead And Gone". Second side of the original vinyl starts in a more mellow and acoustic vein with part one of "Here (In The Garden)" which is completed with a fantastic drum/percussion solo leading over to part two returning to a more up-tempo and rocking pace. This two-parted track is certainly the highlight of side two and the remaining two ones pale a bit besides it I've to say without being true failures. Overall this one might still be a worthy purchase for any collector of proto Prog and I'd rather give it a rating of 3 stars. Not really essential though and only about 70 percent of its almost 37 minutes running time are actually great!

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 Gypsy by GYPSY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 29 ratings

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Gypsy
Gypsy Eclectic Prog

Review by hdfisch
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This had been another one of those ancient bands I've grown up with and actually still highly enjoy listening to nowadays every now and then. Gypsy never had been a band in the genuine Prog sense, not like ELP, Genesis, Yes or Crimson. Their music also hadn't been that much keyboard-dominated as the one by The Nice, Procol or early Rare Bird. If you imagine CSNY's vocal harmonies and guitar sound (just more rocking) combined with some ELO-type tasteful string arrangements, some nice Hammond sound and some gentle percussive rhythms (not that much the latin Santana-type ones) added then you might get a rough idea how they sounded like (at least on their first two releases). Their music had been usually highly harmonic, melodic with nice hook lines but not without having a certain degree of complexity thus it hardly becomes really boring even after repeated listens. Their first three albums have been reissued on CD whereas their fourth one is only available on vinyl but I doubt that the latter one is really worth hunting for, at least for Prog fans since "Antithesis" revealed already a more funky straight forward rock vein.

Their debut here in review, a double vinyl in its original release though should be rather interesting and enjoyable for collectors of early proto Prog. It contains a mixture of shorter (but not necessarily worse) and longer tracks of which "Dead and Gone" had received quite a lot of airplay in US stations despite its length of 11 min as I'm reading in some other review. That one doesn't appear to me being the strongest track actually and rather a bit lengthy but on the other hand we could be very happy if radio stations nowadays would play such songs, hard to imagine in our commercial times. Anyway there are enough other highlights here on this album like "Gypsy Queen Pt.1", "Dream If You can", "Late December", "Decisions", "More Time", "The Vision" or "Tomorrow Is The Last To Be Heard" to make up for worthy purchase. The rest of the tracks are good as well and in fact the only downer is the poor sound quality but keep in mind we're in 1970 and this record hadn't been produced under professional conditions.

As a summary I wouldn't consider this usually overlooked band an essential addition to a Prog collection in general but nonetheless their debut in particular might be interesting for any lover of early Prog records. Sound fetischists and Prog purists would be rather disappointed I guess. For me this one deserves a 4-stars rating though (but keep in mind this might be due to more personal and nostalgic reasons)!!

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Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to easy livin for the last updates

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