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FIRST+AID

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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First+Aid biography
FIRST AID is an oddball. In the age of punk, this English band decided to do full blown, '70s style (pretentious?) prog.

With a studio orchestra, sound bites of WW II luminaries, and songs about Nostradamus and Catherine de Medici, it seems a bit out of place (which is probably why there is only one album). The reviews are not generally favorable. Words like cheesy and pompous have been bandied about. There is even a reference to Spinal Tap.

"Nostradamus" was recorded in 1977, with Alan Wormwald (guitar, vocals), Norrie Tennant (bass), Keith Parkinson (keyboards), and Dave Freeman (drums). Freeman had previously played with Alan Holdsworth in Igginbottom's Wrench. Little is known about the rest of the members.

H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

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FIRST+AID discography


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3.16 | 22 ratings
Nostradamus
1977

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FIRST+AID Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Nostradamus by FIRST+AID album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.16 | 22 ratings

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Nostradamus
First+Aid Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It is obvious, from any standpoint, that First Aid was out of touch with what was fashionable in 1977. Had they recorded this album, say, five years prior perhaps things would have turned out differently for them. You see, their brand of pompous progressive rock was simply not in fashion anymore. I do not think that punk music should be seen as the sole reason for the decline in prog popularity but Sex Pistols and their comrades are generally seen as the conquerors of the musical landscape in the last few years of the 70's. Anyway, this review will not take any definite stand regarding that issue. Tally ho!

Pompousness. Just let that word sink in for a moment. What does it mean? In general the word is used in it's negative form, describing someone or something as totally distanced from reality, wound up in themselves and thus being anything but likeable. I guess that's a fair assessment. However, when it comes to prog the mere word sends shivers down my spine. Not shivers of dislike but rather of excitement. A part of prog is and must be pompous, larger than life, ambitious and visionary. And that is the meaning of the word, for me, regarding prog music. Yes, First Aid were pompous and gloripusly so. Taking inspiration from the old Nostradamus, the fortune teller or viewer of the future, what they created was a minor masterpiece of majestic progressive rock.

Starting with a spoken introduction, along with the winds and howls of time passing, one instantly gets the idea. This is not an album to take lightly. The concept and visions within are seriously meant. The title track with the chanting of dark voices and heavy musical approach is quite stunning. The vocals are very pleasant and the combination of dense keyboards and heavy guitar which then transforms into lighter textures before going back to heaviness is really brilliant. "The awful truth" is a piano led short piece of quite impressive complexity, preceding "By royal appointment", a sort of announcement piece. "Catherine" is a gentle, string laden thing which is a real beauty. Lush and jazz-folky, if you can imagine. "Two brothers" is yet again a quite dense and heavy piece with thick keyboards. Then comes the ending "The shape of things to come". This is really the big winner. Starting with a narrative voice and foreboding instrumentation, proclaiming doom and disaster, it turns into a majestic and powerful piece of progressive rock. Really heavy in a jazz-rock kind of way. It ends with Hitler serving us some nonsense before Churchill has a word or two aswell. Really effectful.

It's a pity they were out a bit too late, really. This is high quality progressive rock with ambition, vision and pompousness. A really satisfying slice of keyboard driven prog, heavy on the orchestration and rough touches, though highly accomplished and tightly performed. I really appreciate this album and think it is a great listen for anyone into older progressive rock from the glorious 70's.

 Nostradamus by FIRST+AID album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.16 | 22 ratings

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Nostradamus
First+Aid Symphonic Prog

Review by bhikkhu
Special Collaborator Symphonic Prog Team

3 stars I don't know if it was planned, or if it is just a coincidence, but "Nostradamus" has the appearance of being a big farewell to grandiose '70s prog. Being that it was released in 1977 (the golden age of punk), and it is First+Aid's only release, leads me to believe this. The classic prog bands were already adjusting their sounds by this time. However, this one album band decided to record a pompous, ultra-pretentious, symphonic, concept album. I think it was their way of giving one last bombastic blast.

As you may have already guessed, the concept is based on Nostradamus, and his prophecies. In the middle, it shifts to a bit about Catherine de Medici. Sometimes it works quite well, at other times it is downright cheesy. The lyrics in the title track are especially trite. The compositions, however, are very strong. The instrumentation is also worked out very well with a blend of straight rock, and a studio orchestra. The vocalist also has a strong voice, but I wonder if this might have worked better as a strictly instrumental affair. With the absence of the lyrics, it might have been a very powerful musical interpretation.

There is keyboard straight out of the Keith Emerson playbook, guitar grooves, and lush strings. Oh, and the pomposity, I can't forget the pomposity. It would be easy to immediately write this one off as a result of listening to "Tales from Topographic Oceans," and "Brain Salad Surgery" one too many times, if it weren't for the fact that it is good music. Forget the concept, and listen. There is much to enjoy here. It's a about a 3.33 star album, so I have to round down.

H.T. Riekels

 Nostradamus by FIRST+AID album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.16 | 22 ratings

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Nostradamus
First+Aid Symphonic Prog

Review by Progbear
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Oh, waiter! I'll have an order of Well-Past-Its-Sell-By-Date English Progressive Rock. And could you garnish that with a side order of extra cheese?

Of the small handful of "new" British prog bands that released albums [i]after[/i] punk exploded, First Aid were easily the lamest. When you're responsible for the sort of portentous narrative recitations that even The Moody Blues had abandoned five years earlier, lyrics like "Nostradamus was his name/Seeing the future was his game" and orchestrated seven-minute suites that seem to repeat the same nine notes over and over like a litany, you [i]know[/i] you're in Prog Hell!

High point, keysman Keith Parkinson, who kind of overdoes it on the synth effects at times but who's really talented. Low point, the aforementioned "Two Brothers", which seems pretty obviously thrown together to fill out the album side. (With an orchestra, no less! How profligate!) The thirteen minute "The Shape Of Things To Come" that closes the album is actually fairly strong. Now if only they didn't muck it up with still [i]more[/i] of that tacky narration, plus a clichéd montage of speeches by Winston Churchill, FDR and Hitler just to add insult to injury. Thank God England came along a year later with their classic [i]Garden Shed[/i] album, allowing the progressive rock genre to save face a little.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Ivan_Melgar_M for the last updates

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