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RAW MATERIAL

Eclectic Prog • United Kingdom


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Raw Material biography
RAW MATERIAL is a British band that released two albums in the ealy 70's that are now highly collectible. The group consist of your standard prog quartet plus frontman Mike Fletcher on wind instruments. They developped a slighly jazz-tinged progressive rock so typical of that era and their debut album had some great moments (the longer tracks on side1) but was also partially flawed but ends in a bizarre poem recitation to string arrangements. Most progheads will prefer the much more even Time Is.. Rare album that appeared on the RCA prog label called Neon records. This album (with the line-up augmented by a second guitarist Harewood) was much more 70's-sounding and left loads of space for instrument interplay and hold many fine moments that every proghead looking for rare late proto-prog should investigate.

Both albums have gotten a few Cd re-issues but beware of some approximate versions as some are giving strange info. The debut even came out with a spanish pop cover.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Time IsTime Is
Import
Repertoire 2011
Audio CD$8.77
$15.29 (used)
Raw MaterialRaw Material
Relics 2010
Audio CD$15.00
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3.69 | 29 ratings
Raw Material
1970
3.22 | 38 ratings
Time Is...
1971

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RAW MATERIAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

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Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars British band Raw Material recorded two albums over the course of as many years between 1970-71, and the second album from the band, `Time Is...' is a strong collection of mostly Proto-prog styled pieces with light psych, jazz and folk elements. Due to the inclusion of saxophone/flute player Mike Fletcher, fans of the sax dominated early King Crimson albums and Van der Graaf Generator will find much to appeal here, with bands such as Beggars Opera, Pink Floyd and Novalis also other possible little reference points. It's not an album that instantly impresses, instead one that gradually reveals the consistently strong instrumental and compositional skills of the band on repeated plays.

On lead track `Ice Queen', the band were evidently quite influenced by Van der Graaf Generator, but although the sax lines throughout almost exactly recreate the VdGG classic `Killer', accusations of this band being an outright clone of them are completely false! A powerful and dramatic opener with howling winds, a dominating vocal from keyboard player Colin Catt, drifting flute and snarling lead guitar, with a nimble spiraling piano and thrashing drums driven jazz breakdown in the middle. Announcing intimidating sax opens `Empty House', a deranged Roger Water-esque vocal from Colin snarling `You and me can have some fun, empty houses one by one...'! Plodding heavy Uriah Heep-style guitars, treated droning sax over commanding acoustic guitars before heavy electric grooves twist the piece.

The first extended piece `Insolent Lady' incorporates soft dreamy Pink Floyd-like acoustic guitar passages, a warmer vocal, glistening electric piano, heavier sax, shimmering cymbal crashes, rising organs and gentle washes of synths that almost bring a rising and falling orchestral quality. `Miracle Worker' reminds instantly of Beggars Opera, a more upbeat melodic tune driven by addictive Hammond organ, Cliff Harewood's rapid fire mangled Byrds-like guitar licks and a catchy distorted electric piano solo in the middle over smashing drums.

There's a very slight psychedelic period Beatles sound on `Religion', mostly one chord played over and over behind dirty honking sax blasts, the imposing drumming building in urgency throughout to become quite hypnotic. The three part extended closer `Sun God' offers plentiful changing moods. The first section `Awakening' delivers an unhurried acoustic guitar and flute passage not unlike the drowsier Novalis moments, quickly shattered by the raucous `Realization' with wild vocals and clattering percussion, thick Hammond organ stabs and lusty guitar grooves before calming down into mellow jamming, the murmuring bass a highlight. After a brief reprise of the first section, `Worship' closes the album on a reflective ocean of fading-in placid synths before a final stirring sax fanfare.

There's no absolute classics to be found here, nor should the album ever be confused with being a lost classic, but `Time Is...' is still a strong and solid collection of early prog- influenced tunes, and it's a shame the band didn't get a chance to offer more works from here. It's definitely one to consider adding to the collection if you come across an LP or a CD reissue at a decent price, and it remains a very enjoyable album that deserves a bit more attention.

Three and a half stars.

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 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

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Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was while trying to find some info on FLAMENGO's classic record that I read in a person's review that they reminded him of RAW MATERIAL. I had never heard of that band as far as I could remember so I investigated and found out they released two studio albums (1970 / 1971) and then disappeared. The Gnosis site that rates albums fairly hard had this second record rated much higher than the first but also at an avareage rating of 11 out of 16 making this one a must have according to the experts. I wasn't blown away by it that's for sure but it is a solid 4 stars in my world. I'm very pleased to own it and the sax really reminds me of Ian McDonald's work on KING CRIMSON's debut.

"Ice Queen" opens with the wind blowing then the music kicks in and takes over. This reminds me of early KING CRIMSON then the vocals follow. Love when it settles 1 1/2 minutes in and the wind returns. Contrasts continue. A jazzy interlude before 3 minutes with piano. The wind is back 4 minutes in then it kicks in again. Flute arrives after 5 minutes. "Empty Houses" opens with guitar and drums as the sax joins in. Passionate vocals a minute in. The sax replaces the vocals. Great sound after 4 1/2 minutes, quite powerful. The vocals are back after 6 minutes along with the organ. This is great right to the end. "Insolent Lady" features acoustic guitar and reserved vocals early on. Flute and bass help out too. Mellow stuff. The piano replaces the vocals then it kicks in with sax 2 1/2 minutes in. Vocals follow. A silent calm before 4 1/2 minutes then strummed guitar takes over followed by piano then organ as it builds. Drums and sax follow then vocals after 7 minutes.

"Miracle Worker" is just a pleasure to listen to instrumentally. The sax, keyboards and guitar especially. "Religion" is an uptempo vocal track with blasting sax and a catchy rhythm. "Sun God" is the over 11 minute closer. It's fairly laid back to start then reserved vocals come in before 1 1/2 minutes. A change before 4 minutes as it picks up and turns fuller. It settles again after 5 minutes. I like it ! Intricate guitar and a dreamy sound here then back to the opening soundscape after 7 1/2 minutes as themes are repeated.

Well worth checking out if your into KING CRIMSON or VDGG.

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 Raw Material by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 29 ratings

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Raw Material
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Highly obscure and criminally underrated, British outfit Raw Material may not have exactly set the world alight with the two albums they released at the beginning of the 1970s, yet both do fully deserve their place in the gilded pantheon of 'lost classics'. A self-titled effort, the first Raw Material release (barely) saw the light of day in 1970, pretty early in progressive rock's development, but thanks to a chicken-livered label and complete-and- utter apathy from the days music press this was an album cruelly doomed to fail right from the start. However, whilst 'Raw Material' may have sunk without trace when first released, the same cannot be said for the album's 21st century CD reissue, which has happily re-ignited interest in the forgotten group(so much so that the Relics imprint have re-released the album on limited-edition vinyl!). And boy do they deserve it. Blending elements of psychedelia, organ-baked blues, jazz-tinged rock, folksy meanderings and lysergic- dipped pop, 'Raw Material' is indeed a fascinating set, featuring an eclectic brew of styles that somehow manage to hang convincingly together. The album also has a strange, atmospheric tone that lends a seriously cosmic ambience to proceedings, especially on the mystic opener 'Time & Illusion' which brings to mind both 'Meddle'-era Pink Floyd and King Crimson during their more aggressive moments. Add the pacey, blues- inflected raunch of 'Fighting Cock', the sparse, dreamy acid-pop of 'Future Recollections' and 'Traveller Man's flute-doused fusion and you have a genuinely exciting album that constantly surprises with it's stylistic invention and gutsy playing. Nowadays, of course, original vinyl copies fetch a small fortune on the collector's circuit, and for once the reputation of the record is matched by the music it contains. They may have been summarily ignored in their own time, but life has a funny way of turning the tables on almost everyone and everything, and thankfully the raw deal dealt to 'Raw Material ' has finally come full circle. An excellent slice of jazzy, cosmic prog, this comes very highly recommended indeed.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 Raw Material by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 29 ratings

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Raw Material
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

3 stars Arriving a tad late to the party...

I´ve read a fair amount of Van Der Graaf Generator references regarding this band, and if I´m perfectly honest - I don´t hear anything other than both bands feature a saxophone player and maybe the odd falsetto vocals. Kindly sponsored by Colin Catt, these vary from mellow and sweet singing - to the more distressed and theatrical falsettos that he veers into, when the music gets stomping and rocking. Still a long way from Peter Hammill though... If anything Raw Material proved that you could play rock without having the focus strictly placed on the guitars, just as VDGG did, but saying the two sound alike is like saying that bananas and strawberries look the same. You know with the yellow peel and all...

Consisting of 5 blokes with a leg and a half stuck in the late 60s, this debut revolves largely around blues rock a la The Yardbirds with alternating tempers and moods, disguising the distinctive heritage of what some folks here 4 decades later on have decided to nail down as proto-prog. Ok I´ll bite. The guitars in play here have that clean and bluesy sound, which I really love, and are often used as an additional rhythm instrument. Along with the rhythm section, that sounds like something out of the US psychedelic West Coast scene, the feel of Raw Material is much more of a 60s band trying to convert their sound to the wild and adventurous new decade. That doesn´t mean this album isn´t good though, because it is, but if you´re looking to find the next Van Damme Generator, then you´re setting yourself up for disappointment - big time(I know I did...).

My favourite thing about this release is the way the organs sound. Especially when they are accompanied by some dreamy vibraphone work. You´ll pick this up on the opening cut as well as on Future Recollections, which incidentally also are my top picks. Both tracks ravel in a hazy sort of mystique, that only magnifies itself with these sweet lullaby dreamings cooked up by the interplay of these 2 instruments. If the band had pursued this fantastic spacey asset of theirs, and stuck with a more mellow approach, I honestly think they would have broken through the magical barrier that separates the Crimsons and Floyds from the Springs and Happy the Men. Raw Material are at their very best, when they work within the moody atmospheric, and what these conjure up are slow, meditative and pensive psych sections that just takes me away. Pitted against the rockabilly tendencies of the album, i.e. Pear on an Apple Tree - with screaming stuttering rock n´ roll piano and Chuck Berry like guitars - I certainly know which side of Dr. Jekyll I prefer...

The flute and sax playing on this album is wonderfully cheerful, and whilst being several nautical miles from the great Jackson both in terms of progressive gasoline and overall dexterity, I genuinely like these small windy touches - that brings with them that warm and humane feel to the mix. They are always melodic and not far away from the Sunday sermons you´ll get from the neighbour´s house held parakeet. Phh - phhheiw - phheewwiii!!!

If you like the sound of the late 60s - a big boots n´ reefer rockabilly boy rooster teaming up with windows to dreamy horizons of delicate and soft psych cockadoodledoos, then you could do worse than tracking this small gem down. It isn´t fancy, but it´s like your old worn jeans: Comfy, - ready for all occasions and maybe hiding a tiny bag of wizard´s tobacco.

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 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

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Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by Dark Nazgul

3 stars VDGG clone with less talent.

A nice album that, despite some defects (first of all the uncertainties of the vocals) is a good addition to a record collection of progressive rock.

The opening track is Ice Queen. The sound of a wind storm introduces the song. The style of the band reminds immediately Van Der Graaf Generator. Highlights are the intense use of wind instruments and the central instrumental part in jazz style. Final crescendo with beautiful harmonies and a good flute solo. A piece of excellent quality. Rating 7 / 10.

A slow guitar riff opens Empty Houses, the second track on the album. The first vocal part is quite hard, and in some ways is reminiscent of bands like Uriah Heep, for example. Then an instrumental section with great use of winds and organ, however, soon brings the band back in the territories of VDGG. Rating 7 / 10.

Insolent Lady begins with delicate voice, acoustic guitar and flute. The pleasant melody continues at the end of the vocals, and with the use of other instruments (piano, bass guitar and synth), acquires more solemnity. In this part Cressida comes immediately to mind. After that, the song continues in a more aggressive way, with some tempo changes, until the final crescendo. This final section is masterfully played, with beautiful guitar, piano and winds, but shame about the vocals, too shouted for my taste and not in tune with the atmosphere of the song. Rating 7 / 10

Miracle Worker is an excellent piece in jazz style, where even the vocals are finally decent. Great use of wind as usual and great guitar riffs. An excellent change of pace leads to the instrumental section (which includes organ and guitar solos) with an exciting crescendo. Probably the best track on the album. Rating 8 / 10.

The beginning of Religion reminds me in some ways "Raid" (a song of a Charisma band called Audience). The song has a strange, dark atmosphere and is fully supported by the incessant sound of the sax. The ending could perhaps be further developed. Rating 6 / 10.

In the last song of the album Raw Material try to recreate Pink Floyd sound, without good results. Sun God opens with delicate synths and electric guitar, and it develops slowly, in a way so similar to what Floyd did for "Echoes", but without reaching the same results. The song is characterized by incoherent combination of different musical ideas, not entirely completely developed, and the result is frankly disappointing. The vocals are mediocre and also lack the extraordinary use of winds that characterized the previous songs. Rating 4 / 10.

Not essential, but surely good and recommended especially to fans of VDGG. Rating 6 / 10.

Best Song: Miracle Worker

Rewiew milestone #50 by DN.

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 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

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Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by ExittheLemming
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Test Tube Baby + Time Served Glazier = Hour Glass Figure

(Two and a Half Stars Really)

Even a casual glance at the music blogs that proliferate on the web nowadays is more than sufficient cause for we nay-sayers to intuit the discovery of a very badly hidden Zirconium Mine of 'lost gems' lying discarded in piles along its many rusting conveyor belts. Such hitherto unheralded masterpieces of psyche/prog rock are invariably all the audible evidence anyone should ever need that controlled substances and recording equipment be stored in separate locations. This would also include PCs, as how else can we explain the incoherent babbling of hirsute plankton and the torture inflicted on unsuspecting K-Mart guitars described to us in breathless prose by those blogging tour guides for Gullibles Travels?

Time Is by Raw Material is often cited as just such an example of an overlooked and dumpy plain jane who grew into a beautiful swan with dimples to die for. (Do swans have dimples?) Regardless, let's get some healthy cynical perspective into play here and appraise this worthwhile but deeply flawed album.

Ice Queen - Not a paean to a gay Eskimo alas, but a very resilient construction of several thematic ideas skilfully arranged for sax, guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. The instrumental textures are quite intriguing and conjure up reference points from Atomic Rooster, 'riffy' Colosseum, Uriah Heep and given that the opening riff is but a semi detached quaver away from that of Killer, VDGG. However, there is no need for the writs to start flying as the song has sufficient originality to carry this cribbed inspiration and is easily the strongest offering here. I like how the bass of Phil Gunn cleverly contradicts the common garden 'rawk' chords and implies some darker and ambiguous hues to spice up heavy prog's habitual and limiting palette of primary colours. Colin Catt's vocals will probably polarize opinion about this band and I have to confess that I find his feisty sandpaper holler a tad wearying after a while.

Empty Houses - Redolent of Argus era Wishbone Ash if the latter had deployed a one man brass section and possibly Deke Leonard on guitar. The music throughout is very fine indeed but Catt's caterwaul pitched so far above his comfortable range is just a war crime against silence. However, in mitigation we are led to perhaps the only sure-fire 24 carat hook on the record:

You and me can have some fun Empty houses one by one

There is a very entertaining central instrumental section featuring Catt's huge organ chords over which Mike Fletcher weaves a wonderful strand of breathy sax which seems to imitate a snake charmer enticing a huge cobra from a basket. After several delightful minutes of this delicious anticipatory teasing, it is somewhat crushing to discover that the reptile in question turns out to be about as threatening as a muzzled gecko. Gunn's busy bass which I praised on the first track simply smothers much of the detail on the second and it is clear that our Phil had yet to learn when 'less is more'. He is clearly an excellent player but never seems to interact dynamically with Paul Young's drums which lends the rhythm section a disconnected and unfocused sound as a result. All things considered this ain't too shabby at all.

Insolent Lady - This employs that endearing conceit coined by early Crimson where short sections of tenuously related music are shoehorned together in the creation of a pseudo 'suite' e.g.

The Indivisibility of the Cosmos (Part One) including Dance of the Randomly Chosen Short Mythical Creatures etc

You get the idea. This starts with Bye the Way, a pleasant enough but rather twee medieval ballad in the style of a troubadour madrigal. In places the twittering fondant flutey Crimson critter can be easily coaxed out of hiding. Thereafter we encounter a rather incongruous and angular chromatic section played in unison which carries a feint echo of Do You Like It Here Now Are You Settling In? era Man. The climax is an effective and powerful strummed acoustic progression which does alas, outstay its welcome as Catt is once again guilty of simply repeating the one melodic idea ad infinitum.

Miracle Worker - A distinctly ordinary 'plodder' albeit with a good melody cut cruelly short for an interminable instrumental work out plagiarized from Dave Brubeck's Take Five. Mercifully we return to the song section briefly before the end but Raw Material must surely wish they had omitted the unconvincing noodle orgy in the middle.

Religion - A one chord jam with no redeeming features whatsoever. Perhaps a punning and unwitting critique of the subject alluded to in the title? Invite everyone you hate to your cremation and use this as your exiting soundtrack to the infernal region.

Sun King - Yet more nested sub-plots so beloved of prog with the token Awakening - Realisation - Worship artifice of conceptual rigour. The first section is genuinely moving as it contains a very memorable harmonic vehicle which Catt for once rewards with a haunting melody sung gently and plaintively from his lower register. Yep, a very impressive section boasting some beautiful and tasteful slide playing from the hitherto understated and mainly supportive guitar of Cliff Harewood. Even the inevitable crunchy conclusion is enjoyable here as the band seem at their most assured when nailing insistent riffs into their listener's heads and Catt's rasping snarl can be borderline infectious. We briefly return to the sublime opening thematic material before the lads send us on our way with a completely over the top finale replete with pious oohing and aaahing massed choir which always brings a smile to my lips (even though it's really Spinal Tap I'm thinking about)

So in summation, there is much to value here and even more to postpone that trip to Bargepoles 'R Us for the time being. I think the main flaws on Time Is are that Raw Material have clearly overreached themselves in the creation of song suites, and are much better suited to shorter riff based compositions. Phil Gunn spends way too much time above the 5th fret on his bass and the engine room pulse of the music suffers commensurately. Young's kit is rather buried under the four string avalanche, and his fills sound dangerously sloppy on occasion. Production wise, I suspect the engineer was a young 'un, as evidenced by the common beginner's mistake of adding too much reverb to the mix (Yes, it makes things in isolation sound hugely other-worldly, but in Toto, the dynamics and detail of the performance is drowned in a woolly and unfocused mush)

However, I like the attitude of this band and they do sound convincingly ballsy and sincere, so they get an extra half star for that alone.

PS Mrs L wishes me to apologise unreservedly for what she sees as a cheap gag at the expense of tundra dwelling homosexuals everywhere. No offence nose rubbers.

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 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

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Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by Agemo

3 stars Raw Material is often compared to Van Der Graaf Generator. This is not a bad comparison, since both bands made doomy progressive music with an important role for the saxophone. Differences are the more prominent guitar parts in the music in Raw Material and the songwriting of Raw material was not as outstanding as VDGG's.

The whole of the album consists of decent early, jazz influenced progressive music. Most notable for the VDDG reference in Raw Material's music is the opener Ice Queen. The basis of this track is the riff of the Van Der Graaf Generator track Killer. This could be the reason this is the most notable track of the album. The second track is a more easy flowing track. Insolent Lady is mainly an acoustic track. The two shorter tracks are straightforward rockers. The album ends with the long Sun God. It sounds very much like Pink Floyd and has a few good moments.

If only the vocals were a bit better this would be a four star album. Now it remains a good example of early seventies prog, but not outstanding.

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 Raw Material by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 29 ratings

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Raw Material
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by prabbit

4 stars A good, if overlooked progressive rock effort and one that really does rock, despite the relative lack of electric guitar. The leadoff track "Time And Illusion" seems to be very much influenced by "The Least We Can Do..." era Van der Graaf Generator with it's intense vocal and gothic keyboard sound.

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 Time Is... by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.22 | 38 ratings

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Time Is...
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3,5 stars really!!

Raw Material's second album is definitely a more consistant and even album than their debut. The main improvement would be the addition of lead guitarist Cliff Harewood. Raw Material is one of those groups that could typify best the term Proto-prog as their early and short career produced two adventuresome albums both much worth investigating.

If the debut was very uneven (having one track meandering into beatnick poetry) , this album's strong point is that there are no weak tracks. However of the six tracks present (a little error in the above informations) , none are really highlights or stand out that much as to create a masterpiece either. The three side A tracks are all fine , interesting prog involving good flute and sax work. Only the vocals are rather perfectible and some guitar work is a bit repetitive. Miracle Worker and Religion are a bit in the same mold but are shorter as to make room for the more imposing Sun God tracks with many mood changes and Floyd-esque athmospheres, but somehow the track has all of the asstes on its side but does not manage to take off to nirvana.

Raw Material's two album can be considered a bit as lost 70s nuggets/gems but are not really THE hidden treasure you were waiting for. Certainly worth discovering and a few spins but nothing worth writing a telegram home about either.

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 Raw Material by RAW MATERIAL album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.69 | 29 ratings

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Raw Material
Raw Material Eclectic Prog

Review by anth

4 stars This album is recomended for every progressive rock lovers. It has it all. Long guitar sequences and fine musical medodies with a lot of new ideas that must have inspirated other bands from the same district! The opening cut is absouletly fantastic. Enjoy this record!

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