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MATCHING MOLE

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Matching Mole biography
Upon leaving SOFT MACHINE in 1971 after their "Fourth" album, Robert Wyatt decided to form a new band which he named MATCHING MOLE (from the French translation of SOFT MACHINE). He recruited Dave Sinclair of CARAVAN to play keybaords along with guitarist Phil Miller (ex-DELIVERY) and QUIET SUN bassist Bill MacCormick. They made two albums both released in 1972, a self-titled and "Little Red Record", the latter featuring Dave MacRae on keys in place of Sinclair. Phil Miller soon left to join HATFIELD AND THE NORTH, and Wyatt was planning on recording a third album in 1973, but due to his unfortunate accident this never came to pass, leaving the band permanently disbanded. The two records, however, are outstanding examples of what was great about much of the Canterbury scene of the time - superb, challenging musicianship coupled with a quirky sense of humor - and in the case of Matching Mole's second record, a bit of political commentary as well. Highly recommeneded obviously for fans of SOFT MACHINE and Wyatt's solo work, as well as other Canterbury scene artists.

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Matching MoleMatching Mole
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$14.14
$19.92 (used)
On the RadioOn the Radio
Import
Hux Records 2007
Audio CD$11.98
$12.44 (used)
BBC Radio 1 in ConcertBBC Radio 1 in Concert
BBC Windsong 1994
Audio CD$286.84
$13.01 (used)
Little Red RecordLittle Red Record
Remastered · Import
Esoteric 2012
Audio CD$14.14
$23.77 (used)
MarchMarch
Cuneiform 2002
Audio CD$12.60
$9.47 (used)
live at the bbc 1972 LPlive at the bbc 1972 LP
BB
Vinyl$30.00 (used)
Smoke SignalsSmoke Signals
Cuneiform 2001
Audio CD$12.78
$6.00 (used)
Matching MoleMatching Mole
Import
Sony/Columbia 2004
Audio CD$29.99
$8.95 (used)
Matching MoleMatching Mole
Import
Msi 2000
Audio CD$24.89
$9.99 (used)
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MATCHING MOLE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.63 | 165 ratings
Matching Mole
1971
3.89 | 131 ratings
Little Red Record
1972

MATCHING MOLE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.45 | 14 ratings
BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert
1995
3.97 | 14 ratings
March
2000
3.04 | 15 ratings
Smoke Signals
2001
3.51 | 9 ratings
On The Radio
2007

MATCHING MOLE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MATCHING MOLE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

MATCHING MOLE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MATCHING MOLE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Matching Mole  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.63 | 165 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by BORA

5 stars Short of repeating what's already been said, I consider this album as a benchmark in Canterbury - and perhaps the best by "Matching Mole". One could see it as a continuation of early "Soft Machine", or rather what they would have been under Wyatt.

Indeed, it's probably my fave amongst all of Wyatt's works and somewhat reminiscent of "Moon In June" from Soft Machine - Third. The other musicians are leading Canterbury artists with impeccable credentials and the end result is a masterpiece.

Wyatt's gentle singing soon gives way to a somewhat dark, largely improvised group effort with unmistakable jazzy elements. Beautiful layers of soundscapes created with due complexity - akin to fine, well-matured wine.

A fine blend of Psychedelic and Jazz creates an atmosphere that's bordering on tripping without using any substance. Best enjoyed after dark with the lights off. Indeed, the experience could be likened to journey after which with head still spinning one slowly returns to the mundane realities. Excellent work - and probably one of a kind achievement by all involved. A true gem!

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 Matching Mole  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.63 | 165 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars The "Machine Molle" debut is quite a strange album. It starts with a song like "O Caroline" that seems taken from a Caravan album, not only because the keyboardist is Dave Sinclair. It's melodic, radio-friendly and very distant from SOFT MACHINE's usual output and even from "The End Of An Ear" that was the first solo album released by Robert Wyatt.

Well, even a musical researcher Robert Wyatt can fall in love and write a sweet song (sweet, not cheesy) for his girlfriend, specially if it's a so good song. It's similar to CARAVAN, not to brit-glam-pop.

This song fades into "Instant Pussy"....what a title! Three minutes of soft drums, hypnotic bass and high pitched vocal expertiments reminding of GONG even if Wyatt has never played with the radio gnomes apart of Daevid Allen. The poppy mood of the first track is already gone.

No track separation. "Signed Curtain" is again very melodic, like a reprise of the first track, but Wyatt sings more in line with Instant Pussy. It's the kind of singing that will later permeate a masterpiece album like Rock Bottom.

Let's do something really Canterbury now. The about ten minutes of "Part Of The Dance" are one of the topic moments of the album and a track that could be used to define the Canterbury subgenre. In particular I like the bass line and how it interacts with the drums. Keys and guitar enhance the jazzy mood while bass and drums drive the track. In some moment, with a bit of attention we can hear the influence of Syd Barrett on Wyatt's music. I think mainly the guitar parts at around minute 5 which sound sometimes like Interstellar Overdrire, of course with more jazz than psychedelia. However, even with its complexity this track is still more approachable than most of the Soft Machine's output.

After the Instant Pussy, maybe to say that there are no sexual meanings, there's another "experimental" track entitled "Instant Kitten". Tape played reversed, maybe from Instant Pussy, I haven't tried to reverse it back, with Wyatt's vocals for a minute before the other instruments join to create a rocking act with hints of Caravan's style (or even Wilde Flowers').

"Dedicated To Hugh, But You Weren't Listening" is, I suppose, dedicated to Hugh Hopper. This is probably where Ron Geesin has got the idea for his "To Roger Waters, Wherever You Are". The start is electronic and dissonant, then the dissonances are mitigated by the clear bass line and the drumming that's on this track more rock than jazz. Track by track the album keeps the distance from the lovely and melodic "O Caroline". Guitar and bass play the most important roles on this.

"Beer As In Braindeer" proceeds from where the previous track ends. Initially it looks like a rocking coda, but quite soon it turns into a pot of apparently disconnected sounds, loosing every possible contact point with the previous one. It proceeds chaotically and the only thing that makes you realize that it's not just noisy improvisation is counting the beats as the drums even improvising act as a metronome.

Another joke with the worlds gives the title to the closing track: "Immediate Curtain", that's a mixture of the two "instant" things and the signed "Curtain". This is the most experimental track of the album, totally antipodal to the starter. The strings make it sound like contemporary classic but also on this track I can hear echoes of Interstellar Overdrive. On this track Sinclair plays very similar to Rick Wright even if his touch is more classical oriented respect to the Arabic scales that Wright was used to put in. The only defect of this track is the length. I would have liked a longer version respect to the 5 minutes and half that it occupies on the album. A spacey end to a journey which starts very Earthly.

Excellent, in one word.

.

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 Matching Mole  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.63 | 165 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by beebfader

4 stars ESOTERIC 2012 EXPANDED EDITION

When Robert Wyatt was unceremoniously dumped from Soft Machine in 1971 he took much of their humanity and humour with him. Matching Mole was the first project following his departure, although he had already recorded the somewhat wayward `End Of An Ear' towards the end of his time as a Soft. Gathering together a pre-Hatfields Phil Miller (Guitar), Bill MacCormick (Bass) and Dave Sinclair (Organ), they hot footed it to the CBS studios, where under trying circumstances they recorded this flawed masterpiece.

It is somewhat eclectic as an album, beginning with 3 lead vocal orientated pieces, the classic Wyatt break up song `O Caroline', the `mouth as instrument' stylings of `Instant Pussy' and the absurdist `Signed Curtain' during which Wyatt effectively questions the whole idea of bothering to write a song in the first place. Wonderful stuff.

The rest of the album is instrumental, and the band really show what they can do on Phil Miller's `Part Of The Dance'. Wyatt's walloping drums really kicking things along with new found enthusiasm, as Miller's sinewy guitar lines weave in and around. The closing four pieces feature further group improvisation over loose structures, interspersed with studies for Mellotron played by Wyatt ("As my Dad used to tell me, if a thing's worth doing, it's worth overdoing").

This edition of the album comes as manna from heaven to those who have lived with and loved it over the years, as not only is the sound quality a significant improvement over previous issues, the wealth of bonus material (some 50 pristine minutes of never before heard studio material) is to be treasured. There is a wonderful, exploratory jam on `Part Of The Dance' lasting over 20 minutes, a completely different approach to `Signed Curtain' and an 11 minute exploration of the old Softs song `Memories' rendered Matching Mole style. There's the unreleased and never heard again `Horse', and a further 30 minutes of BBC Session material (although this has been issued before).

Beautifully slipcased and with sleevenotes by the erudite Sid Smith, this is yet another fine example of how reissues should be done. As an album it sounds quite unlike any other, and the humanity shines through. The humour would surface on `Little Red Record: Expanded Edition' the swiftly recorded follow up, also reissued by Esoteric as a companion volume to this.

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 Little Red Record  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.89 | 131 ratings

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Little Red Record
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by beebfader

4 stars ESOTERIC 2012 Expanded Edition

Matching Mole lasted barely a year as a group before Robert Wyatt decided he'd had enough of band leadership, but during this time, they managed to make two albums of which this is the second. While the first was very much Wyatt's own baby, this was more of a democratic affair, and it has to be said it sounds a lot more relaxed and at times humourous.

"Like so many of you, I've got my doubts about how much to contribute to the already rich" sings Wyatt over guest star Eno's synth tones on `Gloria Gloom'. The more things change the more they stay the same. The album despite its title is not a series of politically motivated songs, but with the exception of the wonderful `God Song' ("Next time you send your boy down here, give him a wife and a sexy daughter") is a largely instrumental excursion.

With Dave McCrae's Fender Rhodes more to the fore, the sound is a somewhat denser one than the first album, and in various places there is some experimentation with voices and humour (Monty Python was all the rage), but nothing which detracts from the seriousness of the matter at hand, some fine ensemble playing.

This new edition from Esoteric once again includes some very worthwhile bonus material, as well as a previously issued BBC concert (in best ever quality it has to be said) there are some fascinating out-takes including a wonderful `straight' vocal performance of the album's opener `Starting In The Middle Of The Day...' and some extended takes of `Smoke Signal' and `Flora Fidget', and for those already very familiar with the album, the moment "it's the Mole!" came into being ! Marvellous stuff.

Anything by this sadly short lived band is to be treasured and this wonderful reissue only adds to that legacy.

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 March by MATCHING MOLE album cover Live, 2000
3.97 | 14 ratings

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March
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This was recorded during MATCHING MOLE's tour of Europe in March of 1972. It's the same lineup as that from the second album "Little Red Record" with Dave MacRae on keys instead of Dave Sinclair from the debut and the electric piano is all over this. As many know Robert Wyatt formed this band in 1971 after leaving SOFT MACHINE and i've never really felt that MATCHING MOLE's two studio albums bore any resemblance to SOFT MACHINE, but I can sure feel that SOFT MACHINE vibe on this live album. First of all every track blends into the next just the way SOFT MACHINE used to do it live, where they'd put their heads down sort of speak and play non-stop from one track to the next.The other thing that reminds me of Wyatt's former band is how experimental this sounds.This isn't that melodic and we get plenty of fuzz too. So yes this is an interesting album to own, one that reveals another side of this band that I hadn't heard before.

"March" opens with Wyatt on drums before the wicked fuzz comes in before a minute. Nasty ! Bass and keys too in this laid back and atmospheric number. Phil Miller offers up some cool guitar expressions. Such a cool track.

"Instant Pussy" is again laid back but check out Wyatt's vocal melodies and expressions. Some really out there stuff here (haha). As I mentioned earlier each track blends into the next and on "Smoke Signals" the guitar comes to the fore before 2 minutes.

"Part Of The Dance" is where the tempo picks up before a minute but it does shift often on this one. Lots of fuzz too. Angular guitar after 2 1/2 minutes and it goes on and on. Nice. Vocal expressions 6 1/2 minutes to 9 minutes then back to that earlier theme. Fantastic song !

"No "alf" Measures" has this beat with electric piano and more.Vocal expressions join in. An outburst before 5 minutes. I like the rhythm section on "Lything And Gracing" with the guitar. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar is raw as it leads for a while. Fuzz 4 minutes in.

"Waterloo Lily" is of course a cover of that CARAVAN track. Raw guitar leads and I like the bass and drum work here too.The guitar rips it up late with dissonant keys. Big applause when it ends.

This may not appeal to fans of melodic music, but the adventeous will be turned on. I'm surprised at how much this sounds like a Jazz / Fusion record, much more than a Canterbury album to my ears. Regardless this is absolutely incredible !

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 Little Red Record  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.89 | 131 ratings

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Little Red Record
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Matching Mole's first album was Robert Wyatt's chance to finally get on record musical concepts developed during his tenure in Soft Machine which, for whatever reason, had been vetoed by the rest of that band. For the second album, the group took a more democratic approach to songwriting, resulting in a more diverse album that isn't quite so dominated by Wyatt's songs - Wyatt perhaps wanting to avoid repeating in his new band the same mistakes that drove him out of his old band.

As a consequence, the album is a bit of a patchy affair, with the band as a whole casting about and trying to decide what sort of music it wants to perform. Opening track Gloria Gloom (on the CD version - Wyatt decided for CD releases to swap around side A and side B from the vinyl since he thought that yielded a better running order) begins with ambient noises - perhaps courtesy of guest synth wizard Brian Eno - that sound like a decades-displaced-in-time Aphex Twin before launching into avant-Canterbury strangeness, whilst other tracks start pointing the way to Phil Miller's later work in Hatfield and the North. (An instrumental version of Nan True's Hole, for example, would be performed live at Hatfield concerts under the anagrammatic title of Oh! Len's Nature.)

Still, as a whole the album lacks focus, and sounds more like experiments towards a band identity rather than the group manifesto the album title suggests. Perhaps a third Matching Mole album would have been more cohesive; unfortunately, that was not to be. Wyatt, worse for wear at a party, would take a startling fall from a balcony a short time after this album was released, paralysing him for life - and whilst Wyatt did thankfully escape an untimely death, the change in his circumstances meant that Matching Mole was not so lucky. Fans of Wyatt's Rock Bottom album or Miller's work with the Hatfields will be interested in the context this album provides for those works, but otherwise this is not an especially essential Canterbury release, and certainly not as gripping as Matching Mole's debut.

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 Matching Mole  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.63 | 165 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Robert Wyatt's first album as a band leader, following his exit from Soft Machine, shows the broad range of his musical interests - almost all of which were being ignored by his former band at this point, with their fourth and fifth albums being devoted to fairly strait-laced jazz fusion. Not that there's no jazz influence here - far from it - but the album is infused with Wyatt's hitherto-stifled personality, from the touching love song O Caroline that opens the album (the simplest track) to the more challenging, free jazz-influenced material that follows.

At times, the album sounds like a more approachable, tighter, and interesting version of Wyatt's An End of an Ear, his voice-as-instrument solo album; at other points, it sounds like rough sketches for Hatfield and the North. The latter part isn't so surprising, since after the demise of the Mole guitarist Phil Miller became a founder of Hatfield and the North, and the most Hatfield-sounding song on the album, Part of the Dance, is actually a Miller composition.

The second Matching Mole album was a bit more diverse in its songwriting - the majority of the material here is by Wyatt, but that's really no surprise considering that by the time of his exit from Soft Machine he must have had quite a stash of juicy musical ideas which had been glossed over by his former band. I think it's a vitally important album both to Wyatt's discography and to the development of the Canterbury scene as a whole.

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 Little Red Record  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.89 | 131 ratings

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Little Red Record
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by JackFloyd

3 stars A good record, but IMHO the new structures took a bit of the fun away, and with the exit of the "master of Canterbury organ" Dave Sinclair, and few Wyatt-penned pieces, not much was left to hang onto. But what was left is still worth on it's own.

Legend has it that Miller couldn't play properly during the sessions because of producer Robert Fripp, whom Phil considered to be his favourite guitarist, leading to a decline of his input, and yet, he is the true star of Little Red Record, playing intensely in songs like "Righteous Rhumba" and "Marchides" and penning songs like "Nan True's Hole".

To replace Sinclair, Dave McRae was brought in. He doesn't play any organ and his shimmering electric piano sound isn't worthy in a studio environment (it is a true monster live, though: just check March!), this creates a certain emptiness in the once rich atmosphere of the first album.

Finally, Wyatt's lyrics are a bit lacklustre if put side by side with the ones from Matching Mole, using only socialist jokes such as the one from the cover, making up for a narrow perspective. That said, some, such as the lyrics to "Gloria Gloom", are worth a laugh every now and then.

But apart from the minor quibbles, Little Red Record is a strong jazz-fusion release full of very good extended improvs and different moods, and the socialist theme is not to be taken seriously (even though Wyatt liked it's ideas).

Somehow harder to get into, less charming, and featuring a thinner production, but not less inventive than it's predecessor, Little Red Record still has a lot to give. And don't let the cover deceive or scary you, there's way less danger here than it does look like.

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 Matching Mole  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.63 | 165 ratings

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Matching Mole
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by JackFloyd

5 stars This is the record that introduced me to all things Canterbury...

When I first heard Matching Mole I thought it was the best record I ever heard, and while I don't quite have the same vision, it still stands as one of my favourite albums.

The first song, "O Caroline" opens the record with the nice and pleasant sound of the piano and mellotron flute knit together in a seamless way: a sweet, if a bit clumsy, pop ballad, made all the more interesting by Wyatt's frail voice. As beautiful the song is, the first signs of the madness to be found later already appear as the soft mellotron takes over the atmosphere just to abrutly cut as "Instant Pussy" begins.

"Instant Pussy" is a good example of the well-known Kentish humour: a tune based on a relatively simple riff played by Bill MacCormick, wordless but still meaningful. As for the meaning, just look at the title and listen to Wyatt's impersonation of a woman to find out...

"Signed Curtain" is just a song about a song, but what a song it is, so beautiful that I can't help but wonder what other set of lyrics could be put to it, even though the actual lyrics are part of the charm. Robert's voice on this one can only be described as heartbreaking.

From now on, the record changes perspective, gone are the pretty Canterbury pop tunes, now the madness is fully unleashed, and the true nature of the next pieces has to be listened to be believed: "Part Of The Dance" is a loose jazz-rock improv written by guitarist Phil Miller, it is based on a twisted and funny riff, but the my favourite part is the ending, where Dave Sinclair plays a short and sweet fuzz organ solo that finally relieves the piece's tension; "Instant Kitten" begins with a Krautrock-like introduction with backwards piano and vocals, but later turns into a Caravan-inspired jam; "Dedicated To Hugh, But You Weren't Listening" is as good as it's title's joke, coincidentally or not, this the most Soft Machine-sounding number of the lot.

The next two songs may not be up to the standards of the rest of the record, some may argue, but to me they just add to it's diversity. "Beer As In Braindeer" is a collage of weird, and in some occasions scary, avant-garde noises that slowly descend and morph into "Immediate Curtain", my favourite song on the record, which is a simple, but haunting and ever-increasing mellotron-violin improvisation that ends with a screechy, fading, 4-tracked loop.

All pieces, except "Part Of The Dance", were written by Robert Wyatt, but all members have a chance to shine more than once.

Matching Mole, while not on par with Soft Machine, Hatfield And The North and Caravan, was a talented band that could make fun and unpredictable music just as well as the others, and their debut definitely proves it.

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 Little Red Record  by MATCHING MOLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.89 | 131 ratings

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Little Red Record
Matching Mole Canterbury Scene

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Second (and final studio) Matching Mole's album is quite different from its predecessor.Psychedelic naive and beautiful pop/rock songs has gone, and the band stepped to complex experimental jazz fusion area. Being predominantly instrumental, this release contains not much of Wyatt's vocals, but demonstrates one of the best his drumming ever.

Organist David Sinclair, collaborated on band's debut,left the band, and Dave McRae started to use synthesizer. Electronic music guru Brian Eno,being on the peak of his experimental activities at that period, participated in album's recordings as guest musician,he didn't played much physically there, but his electronic sound using ideas did influence album's sound for sure.

Compositions on this album are mostly complex interplay between all musicians,with great drumming,bass structures and plenty of experimental keyboards sounds. Very soon use of synthesizers and electronic effects will become the real nightmare,destroying many musical genres for decades, but there on this album (as on some more Eno's albums of early 70-s) one can hear how interesting and tasteful electronic sounds could be.

Few vocal-oriented songs are presented here,with obvious influence of early Soft Machine's aesthetics, but even them are transformed according to more modern and experimental band's direction. Some compositions sound very close to Soft Machine's Third (just slightly more relaxed) - it's really difficult to avoid comparing Matching Mole with Soft Machine!Better organised than their debut,with structure and direction,this release sounds more mature (even if some naive but so attractive late 60-s spirit has gone). In all - strong experimental jazz fusion album with successful use of early electronic and plenty of artistic ideas on it. In many senses,this album is more attractive than Soft Machine's releases from post-classic period.

Speaking about this album,it's difficult to avoid one more theme - radical leftist Wyatt's ideology. Album's name and cover both refer to Chairman Mao's Little Red Book and Wyatt is openly influenced by Cultural Revolution idea. I can hardly imagine someone attracted by Chinese Cultural Revolution or Stalin's Gulags nowadays, but under all these naive but organic Wyatt's political craziness I see more infantile pose than serious point of view. I spent my childhood and young years in the world Wyatt possibly dreamed about in early 70- s (the world with empty shop shelves,grey clothes and grey faces,the world, where people saw no future and were afraid of any man in uniform, and with small children, dreaming about few mandarins or banana as best New Year's gift (not Christmas gift - Christmas was banned)),and I am sure that leftist heaven from Wyatt would look as real heaven for millions of those, living in Socialist reality. And Wyatt himself with his artistic personality would finish in Siberian concentration camp for sure. So - really attracted by music, I don't care much about ideology of this release: Wyatt just doesn't understand what he is speaking about here, don't hate him for that!

This album became last band's studio release,Wyatt started his real solo career after, and Phil Miller went on to two other Canterbury scene bands, Hatfield & the North and National Health.

My rating is 3,5,rounded to 4.

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