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MASHMAKHAN

Prog Folk • Canada


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Mashmakhan biography
Named after the biggest drug dealer of the city, Mashmakhan was a Montreal quartet that rose to national attention before cross-town rivals of XXX and Morse Code Transmission: they even had an international hit (third biggest ever in Japan) with As The Years Go By on their first album. Lead by the multi-talented Pierre SÚnÚcal, the group had started out as Triangle, a back-up band to Trevor Payne, but by the end of the decade, he was history and Mashmakhan was happening with some wild psych rock. On stage, the group's presence consisted of drummer Mercer's impressive bearded looks and drumming, while bassist Edwards sang and SÚnÚcal's keyboards and wind instruments provided more visual focus.

They got signed to major label Columbia (Epic in the US) and released their first self-titled album in 1970 and the extracted single As Years Go By shot through charts around the world. The music developed is a tidy psych rock, sometimes looking at early Floyd (as the album's sleeve artwork points to Piper), sometimes to more open musical

The group would release their second album, The Family, the next year and extracted three singles from it, but none would equal As The Years Go By, although they were still successful in Canada. This second album is rather different with longer tracks, more instrumental interplay, but definitely not as tight as their debut.

After the second album?s release, the group would release a few more singles on a different label, but each one was having less success than its predecessor, so logically SÚnecal left the group to ?. Silence for certain amount of years. The group went on until late 73 with a slew of member changes

SÚnÚcal would go on to multiple projects including two solo albums about a decade later, while drummer Mercer would join APRIL WINE when the Halifax group relocated to Montreal by the mid-70's and the other members Blake and Edwards would form RIVERSON, that would record just one album. The group Mashmakhan went on to reform a few times for short reunions in the late 70?s with Mercer bringing in APRIL WINE members, but nothing evolved out of it. One of Canada's first progressive groups to achieve international Rock fame along with THE GUESS WHO (remember American Woman), MASHMAKHAN is sadly a bit forgotten nowadays, but still deserves your attention if you?re into early prog

::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium :::

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Mashmakhan / FamilyMashmakhan / Family
Collectables 1999
Audio CD$182.14
$32.00 (used)
MashmakhanMashmakhan
Epic
Vinyl$63.00 (used)
Days When We Are Free/As The Years Go By (VG 45 rpm)Days When We Are Free/As The Years Go By (VG 45 rpm)
EPIC
Vinyl$2.78 (used)
As The Years Go By/Days When We Are FreeAs The Years Go By/Days When We Are Free
Columbia
Vinyl$3.98 (used)
the family LPthe family LP
EPIC
Vinyl$35.00 (used)
mashmakhan LPmashmakhan LP
EPIC
Vinyl$30.00 (used)
as the years go by 45 rpm singleas the years go by 45 rpm single
EPIC
Vinyl$8.00 (used)
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MASHMAKHAN discography


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

3.09 | 8 ratings
Mashmakhan
1970
2.52 | 6 ratings
The Family
1971

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MASHMAKHAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mashmakhan by MASHMAKHAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.09 | 8 ratings

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Mashmakhan
Mashmakhan Prog Folk

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars An unknown band for most of us, but Neil Peart gave them a good write up in his Travelling Music book and I picked up their 2 for 1 CD for a couple of pennies of sheer curiosity. Neil Peart wrote about them because one of his first gigs with Rush was on the same bill as Mashmakhan. Rush were warming up for them as Mashmakhan were a hit single band with As The Years Go By. A very big hit for this band.

This is the debut album from Mashmakhan. A band who back then were playing psychedelic/space rock stained rock/pop like most bands from that time were playing. It was the hit sound at that time. The hammond organ sound is strong and they are also dabbling with some sax, flute and guitars too. The vocals are superb too.

The sound and music is by all means dated and the hit song here As The Years Go By sounds very dated. This music has not by any means aged as well as Beatles timeless music. But this is still a very charming album and the music is good. The best song is As The Years Go By and the rest of the album also ticks over nicely. This is by no means a great album. But it is recommended to fans of this sound and this period of time. This album is by all means frozen in time.

3 stars

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 The Family by MASHMAKHAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.52 | 6 ratings

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The Family
Mashmakhan Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

2 stars The second and final Mashmakhan album was clearly an attempt at something more commercial than their first outing. The result was a more balanced and even collection of songs, but unfortunately for progressive music fans it’s also an album that lacks any real musical innovation or panache.

The two most noticeable differences from the band’s self-titled debut are the vocals and lyrics. In the case of the vocals there are fewer instances here of harmonized background singing and more emphasis on bassist Brian Edwards’ voice, and for the most part both of these were poorly thought-out decisions by the band as far as results are concerned. Edwards isn’t really much of a singer and he is challenged by range several times on the record, failing to meet that challenge in nearly every case. He isn’t much of a bass player either, and in all I’m not sure his presence on the album adds to it a whole lot. He also seems to affect a sort of faux strained-rock-star-singer thing in a few places which doesn’t fit with either the music or the lyrics. Sorry Brian – I’m sure you’re a nice guy.

The other slight annoyance is with the lyrics on just about every track, but especially with “Come Again” and the title track. Back around the time this album was released there seemed to be a prevailing attitude by musicians and even many fans that the music was more important than the lyrics (many would argue the same today). As a result those who were very interested in what the band actually had to say were frequently disappointed. Add to that the a predilection for recreational stimulants that was also prevalent at the time (and the band is named for a drug after all), and the words you’re left with often sound today like the mildly poetic ramblings of a hopped-up guitarist trying to channel everything he learned in high-school literature class into the next ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Which is probably an accurate description of what’s going on here.

The overall mood of the songs on this album (considering the tempos, lyrics and timbre of most of the tracks) is Wishbone Ash’s ‘Argus’. The problem of course is that there’s only one guitar here, weak bass and not much of the confident swagger that album exudes.

There aren’t really any songs worth calling out, none of them are all that memorable. Unfortunately the best song on the album (“The Trees”) is missing from the CD reissue, which is about the only release of this record you’re likely to find anywhere. I assume that track was left off the CD since the reissue combines the band’s first two albums and this is a ten-minute song that would have put the overall length at more than 80 minutes. I suspect the track was filler on the original album, since the band really seemed to be reaching for material at the time and this is a closing track that stretches out the solos and mixes in haphazard tempo changes and transitions that tend to add grooves to a record’s surface but not much to its substance. The slow, organ-heavy opening whets the prog- music fan’s appetite in anticipation of something really grandiloquent; unfortunately the band doesn’t deliver, but the lengthy instrumental passages (pretty much all guitar and organ) are better than anything else on the record. Were in not for the ever-annoying fadeout ending I’d almost add another star just for this song.

In the end this is a collector’s piece and not much more. The band was riding a brief one- hit wonder wave of popularity at the time this released, especially in Canada and Japan. But this album failed to move the needle for them commercially, nor did the lengthy supporting tour, and the group would disband less than two years later. I can’t give this more than two stars or a recommendation, but if you are even slightly interested in the band you can hear this record anyway by picking up the CD reissue; if you do, check out their debut on the same CD since that one is a fair bit better. As far as “The Trees” I’ve found numerous places on-line where you can stream the song from a podcast or music review site. Two stars.

peace

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 Mashmakhan by MASHMAKHAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.09 | 8 ratings

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Mashmakhan
Mashmakhan Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Mashmakhan is a decent album from a decent band that represents fairly well a sound that was en vogue as the sixties waned, but that hasn’t aged particularly well in the ensuing years. The band of the same name would go on to release another record and several singles, but in terms of both commercial and artistic achievement this is probably as good as things would get for Mashmakhan.

The thing that interests most about these guys is how long they managed to stay together. The band dates to 1960 in Montreal as the Phantoms, presumably a pop group about whom little information survives today. The same lineup would finally ink a deal with Columbia nearly a decade later, and would record two studio albums and numerous singles before drummer Jerry Mercer drifted off to join April Wine and the band broke up altogether shortly thereafter.

The music is a mixed bag although there is a clear psych vibe, particularly with Rayburn Blake’s guitar and (to a lesser extent) Pierre SÚnÚcal’s stilting organ work. SÚnÚcal also wrote all the songs on the album, plays guitar, and is credited with various woodwinds (although mostly flute as near as I can tell). Speaking of which, the flute was still a fairly novel instrument for rock bands in 1970 so the group deserves some acknowledgement for that fresh (at the time) approach.

The one hit on the album, and really for the band as a whole was “As the Years Go By”, a three minute driving number spiced up with bouncy organ and harmonizing choral vocals but really not much more than a sentimental, radio-friendly pop tune. That single sold gold in the U.S., and apparently struck a real chord in Japan where it went platinum and made the band (briefly) one of the biggest acts in that country.

From a progressive music perspective the pickings are lean, but there are some noteworthy tracks. The opening “Days When We Are Free” is a full-fledged soft psych number complete with wailing and slightly-fuzzed guitar, brooding organ and a lazy pace recalling much of the late sixties West Coast scene. I believe this was also released as a single but didn’t chart although it probably should have, and I’m sure it was a crowd- pleaser in concert. And the closing “Letter From Zambia” combines layers of earthy ethnic percussion with what sounds like both electric and acoustic piano for an instrumental that takes a bit of time to pick up steam, but which finally morphs into a wailing guitar passage before slowly winding down amidst a bevy of hand-drums and then a mellow flute fadeout. If nothing else I have to say this is likely the only song I’ve ever heard with a fadeout ending featuring a flute, so props to the band for thinking that up.

“Afraid of Loving You” includes a pretty decent guitar solo that sounds like it was probably improvised in the studio, and “Gladwin” (another failed single) has the most prominent use of flute on the album but is otherwise unremarkable. “If I Tried” is basically a jam session with somewhat awkward story-telling vocals, and “Happy You Should Be” runs the risk of wandering into lounge-act territory for what has to be considered the weakest track on the album, although “Nature’s Love Song” isn’t much different or better.

You won’t likely find a copy of the original album, which was never reissued as far as I know. But there is a compilation CD containing both their studio albums on the Collectables label that is available.

This isn’t really a very memorable album, but the first time I heard it I mentally placed it in the same general range as the first Gypsy album. Not sure why because the two bands have little in common, but the mental connection persists as I write this so there must be something to it. I rated that album with four stars, but it was a two-disk set while this one isn’t so I’ll go with three stars for Mashmakhan and a solid recommendation for fans of late- sixties pop psych with nominal folk influences.

peace

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 The Family by MASHMAKHAN album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.52 | 6 ratings

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The Family
Mashmakhan Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Mashmakhan's The Family is a fairly different album than its predecessor, but it remains typically Mashmakhan-like in terms of sound, despite longer tracks. With a superb winter landscape as artwork, this second album confirms the group's talent (unchanged line-up) would also be their last album, despite a few posterior singles and many line-up changes and eventually folding by the end of 73.

Starting with the excellent Children Of The Sun (not a cover), where SÚnÚcal's organ and flute are the dominating instruments, the album features the group's instrumental chops The Family and The Prince are two unusual tracks, the former sounding like Neill Young crashing into CS&N, while the latter starts out a bit goofy, but has a stunning instrumental mid- section, before returning to its chorus-verse canvas. Come Again is a sax-driven track and it' is too bad it ends in a fade-out, because I think their extended version held some more cool chops on the sax. A cool Children Laughing follows. After a short Couldn't Find The Sun, the album ends on Start All Over, which ended up in the singles chart as their second-betst hit.

A much "proggier" album than its debut, The Family fais to confirm the high hopes that we had for them after the first effort, and unfortunately it also spelled as the debut of the end, an end that would lasts over two years with further singles attempts and line-up changes. Again, close nut no cigar.

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 Mashmakhan by MASHMAKHAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.09 | 8 ratings

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Mashmakhan
Mashmakhan Prog Folk

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Just a normal psych-prog rock album of the times, Mashmakhan's debut had the chance to have one of that year's better hit single in its track list. But the problem of a 45 RPM is that it doesn't allow much to know an artist and in some ways, it's too bad that the group didn't sell as many albums as they did singles. This self-titled psych-prog debut album is aiming at Floyd's early days, especially in the front artwork's weird (un-)focused picture, but the musical content showed a certain amount of progressive moods through the album. The organ-driven group may have you think of Morse Code Transmission's and sometimes bears the same kind of "faute de gout" (over-arranged) and sounds very 60's-ish and sometimes pop.

But there is more to this album than As The Years Go By: there are plenty of excellent other tracks including the opening Days When We Are Free and its follow-up I know I've Been Wrong, where Blake's guitar pull some great histrionics and you will find more in Afraid Of Losing You. Musically we are between Morse Code Transmission debut album and the great SRC debut album, some Floyd-Beatles touches. The flute-driven Gladwin is certainly the first side's highlight, as in the chorus SÚnÚcal dubs a sax, but the flute shines like thousand suns.

The flipside opens on the early Colosseum-like If I Tried, but the following soul-inspired Happy is again over-produced. But there are a few stinkers on this album, such as the string over-loaded Shades Of Loneliness (they sound as cheesy and corny as BS&T) or to a lesser extent Nature's Love Song (still has moments, notably a cool flute solo), but aren't we glad the closing Letter From Zambia shows much promise for their next album. Indeed there is a slight African theme and a percussion break, just the length you needed it.

While I wouldn't call their debut essential in regards to the site's overall scope, if you're into Canadian psych-prog, then Mashmakhan's debut does have its historical importance, and this writer is always a bit partial to groundbreakers, so it gets a "close but no cigar" rating

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Thanks to sean trane for the artist addition. and to ClemofNazareth for the last updates

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