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JACKAL

Heavy Prog • Canada


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Jackal biography
In the late 1960s, Chris and James KELLESIS formed a hard progressive-psych band called JACKAL in Toronto. Organist Chris KELLESIS and brother James wrote the material and were joined by singer Charlie SHANNON and guitarist Dave BERNARD for their only LP 'Awake', released on obscure Canadian label Periwinkle in 1973 [reissued by Radioactive in 2004].

Reminiscent of TEMPEST, WARHORSE, and early LORD & BLACKMORE, JACKAL did perfectly ratty and ragged heavy prog and even evoke brethren RUSH at moments. Absolutely authentic prog/psych, 'Awake' is among the definitive LPs of the post-underground Canadian rock scene.

- Atavachron (David) -

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Vague VisionsVague Visions
Import
Risin 1994
Audio CD$37.42
$19.99 (used)
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JACKAL discography


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3.41 | 18 ratings
Awake
1973

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JACKAL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Awake by JACKAL album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.41 | 18 ratings

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Awake
Jackal Heavy Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Jackal's one and only album was recorded early in 1973 and released later in the middle of the year without any singles. A heavy organ and guitar band, Jackal might first be compared to Deep Purple, but very little of their music actually resembles the mighty Purple. That credit could go more toward Jackal's fellow Torontonians War Pig, whose song Rock Star seems to have inspired a Deep Purple tune or two. No, Jackal are closer to bands like Warhorse and Bodkin, with less emphasis on the heavy electric guitar and more on the organ and vocals.

Yes, the highlights of the album must be Charlie Shannon's powerful vocals and Chris Kellesis' organ play. Though I wouldn't call it unique music, it is certainly music well played, especially in some parts when the band are in full throttle and the energy really gets flowing. There are of course slower, mellower parts which are neccessary to off set the more thunderous moments. Some songs like "At the Station" and "Lost in this World" are conceived and written for the harder and heavier side of the band while longer tracks like "A New Day Has Arisen" and "Awake" give the band more room to stretch out and add more contrast within a single track. I find that parts of these longer songs, however, add some repetitiveness as if done intentionally to add time rather than effect. Nevertheless, the album still is a good bit of organ rock with a progressive edge as well as a heavy one.

If I have any one thing that nags me a bit, it's the sound quality of the recording. Obviously not a big name band getting the full luxery studio treatment, the sound is a bit sub par. Not scratchy or lo-fi. Just not as sharp or as bright. It's a bit like looking at beautiful scenery through a window that could use a wipe to get the dust off.

Reissued on CD not long ago, it was easy to get through Amazon.ca. You can find most if not all of the music on YouTube in case you are interested in checking out Jackal more. Certainly some good material here for fans of heavy organ / heavy guitar rock bands of the early seventies.

 Awake by JACKAL album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.41 | 18 ratings

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Awake
Jackal Heavy Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Jackal is a very little known Canadian band which started its career in late 60' but wasn't able to record an album until 1973. Their 1st (and only effort) called "Awake" is a mix of heavy psych, hard rock & early progressive rock typical for late 60s and early 70s. I can also hear quite many southern rock and slightly pop-rock influences typical of American music from those days. Anyway I think that this album seemed to be a bit dated back than in 1973 (however some sources point that in fact it was recorded in 1971, and just released in 1973), when most of prog-band preferred long suites, classical-sounding approach and usage of new types of keyboards (like Moog or ARP). But to be honest I don't care at all because I have to admit that I simply dig this sort of "heavy prog" style very much. And every- time when I'm tired of my usual full-blown, highly technical and self-indulgent organ-driven symphonic prog, I like to play such more simple, almost radio-friendly but still pretty heavy and (of course!) organ-driven music as presented on Jackal's debut.

And now review of all 8 songs from "Awake":

1. "At The Station" - album begins with one of my favorite tunes in the album. "At The Station" is truly memorable heavy psych meets southern-style hard rock (a la Bloodrock) song which more-or-less sets an atmosphere and style for the whole album. I simply love the combination of heavy punching Hammond organ layers and ultimately catchy clavinet melodies. What a pity that those 2 instruments aren't usually mixed together in prog-rock music, they are just created for themselves! Another highlight of the song are Charlie Shannon's vocals which are stunningly passionate and fits this track perfectly. And let's don't forget about middle part of the compositions where we can listen to some brief but enjoyable organ/guitar interludes.

2. "For You" - this one is some kind of false-ballad with nice organ background, simple but reasonable guitar lines and some piano touches. Nothing stunning but Shannon's vocal is as usual superb, full of emotions I would say.

3. "Sunny Side of The Day" - just like previous song this one is also towarded rather to mainstream audience. More like adult-rock/pop than heavy prog. Nothing special but also not bad at all. Anyway it's a short song (less than 3 minutes) so even if you don't like it, it will pass by fast.

4. "New Day Has Arisen" - the longest track on "Awake" comes back to heavy-prog style from "At The Station". Truly amazing piece full of always perfect vocal delivery and extremely busy & hard punching Hammond chops. Also Dave Bernard's guitar has more to do here 'cause except usual rhythmic function it also plays some great riffs in unisono with Kellesis's organ. I'd say: half-way between Bloodrock and Deep Purple/Uriah Heep but with their own, special flavor.

5. "How Time Has Flown" - another superb performance where Chris comes back to organ+clavinet idea. First 2 and half minute of the song is a high-tension, almost symphonic style intro full of gritty guitar riffs and fast organ runs. After that vocal section kicks in and...it's still beautiful of course! I love the organ/guitar interludes which brings Beggar's Opera staff to mind. Simply put: another winner!

6. "Lost in The World" - the shortest song of the record is surprisingly straight-forward and guitar-oriented rock'n'roller (of the harder-edge of rock'n'roll side). Average staff, nothing offensive but also nothing great. Relatively long guitar solo & very short organ one included.

7. "In The Heavens" - superb track with throughout enjoyable, swirling organ work of Chris Kellesis and highly-emotional vocals. I love its steady, tank-heavy and unstoppable rhythm. James Kellesis seems to be very competent drummer after all.

8. "Awake" - Oh man! Another winner! At first I thought that it will be instrumental because of very long, technical, symphonic-meets-heavy-prog-sounding intro where we can enjoy to some of the best organ/guitar interludes on the album. However about 3rd minute Charlie comes back with decent singing parts. Maybe after that "Awake" is losing its impetus a little but it still remains a classic.

Conclusion: Jackal's sole album is a very entertaining release filled with proto-prog/hard rock/heavy psych music influenced as much by southern rock scene (Bloodrock) as British heavy-prog one (Uriah Heep, Deep Purple). Besides those bands I just mentioned, I can also compare their music to German groups like Birth Control, 2066 & Then or Frumpy. If you like this album you should also check another Canadian band called Amish, which also recorded only one album. Those albums sound like twin-brothers IMHO!

Anyway in the end of this review I'd like to ask only one question: what the hell happened with those 4 musicians from Jackal? Did they ever played in any other band after this group split? I'm especially interested in career of organist and vocalist 'cos they did really exceptional work on "Awake"!

Fully deserved 4 stars for this solid staff from ozzy_tom

 Awake by JACKAL album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.41 | 18 ratings

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Awake
Jackal Heavy Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Surprisingly good entry from brothers Chris and James Kellesis [organ & drums] with backup from guitarist Dave Bernard and singer Charlie Shannon doing hard & bluesy but sensitive progressive psych. In hindsight, this is one of the better representative albums from Canada's golden age of psych/prog and shows a band as good as any of their bill-sharing contemporaries. Jackal are often compared to Lord&Blackmore though 1973's Awake recalls as much Warhorse, Traffic or Badger with a warm, soulful sound that permeates the heavy organ/guitar interplay. Negligible is 'At the Station' but 'For You' is pretty balladry, and flowery 'Sunny Side of the Day' has familiar period trips. But it's 8&1/2-minute 'A New Day Has Arisen' that will perk-up the ears of any vintage Prog buff as it sweeps between majestic guitar/organ lines and softer beachcombing. 'Lost in the World' is rough as sandpaper, 'In the Heavens' is great hard acid, and the title cut is a worthy namesake.

Though not for everyone, Toronto's Jackal was the real deal and delivered convincing heavy prog when many peers were stumbling over their amps.

Thanks to atavachron for the artist addition.

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