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Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom

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One of the first bands from the Canterbury School (SOFT MACHINE or HATFIELD AND THE NORTH), EGG was a trio consisting of... Dave STEWART on organ, piano and tone generator, Mont CAMPBELL on bass and vocals (also organ, piano and French Horn), and Clive BROOKS on drums. The music is very structured and composed, with classical pieces (BACH) and some light jazzy influences. The band explored a variety of time signatures and key relationships, sometimes explored classical ideals, and even composed their own symphony.

Canterbury band that released three organ-prominent albums. "The Polite Force" was EGG's second release, and was better developed musically from their debut, a style that was carried on to the subsequent "The Civil Surface". If you like that, go on and get the other two eventually. (if you don't like it, then don't bother). Fans of organ-driven progressive rock with a perfect 70's atmosphere will eat it up. Although EGG is an essential part of any progressive collection. An historical band...!

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Civil SurfaceCivil Surface
Import · Remastered
Esoteric 2007
Audio CD$8.50
$8.55 (used)
Esoteric 2007
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$12.99 (used)
The Polite ForceThe Polite Force
Audio CD$9.30
$49.99 (used)
Something to DoSomething to Do
Audio CD$6.96
$52.32 (used)
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EGG discography

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

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

3.77 | 226 ratings
4.14 | 342 ratings
The Polite Force
3.80 | 175 ratings
Civil Surface

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

EGG Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

3.00 | 4 ratings
Seven Is a Jolly Good Time
3.77 | 20 ratings
The Metronomical Society

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

3.20 | 5 ratings
Seven is a Jolly Good Time

EGG Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Metronomical Society by EGG album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.77 | 20 ratings

The Metronomical Society
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Previously unreleased gold!

"The Metronomical Society" is a compilation of Egg's previously unreleased radio and live recordings. This, ladies and gentlemen is the top shelf of progressive rock. Very difficult music, however still stays qualified as progressive rock rather than RIO or Avant-Rock.

Here, you can find the tunes we all know and love like "Wring Out The Ground", "Ennagram" or "While Growing My Hair" as well as rather unknown titles like "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside" or "There's No Business Like Showbusiness". The pieces are so satysfying, that you can forgive the poor quality recording.

I am very glad this album came out, being even more of a proof for Egg's eggscelent know-how, musicianship and musical intelligence. This is a must have for all Egg and Canterbury Scene fans.

 Civil Surface by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.80 | 175 ratings

Civil Surface
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars After breaking up in 1972, Egg had plenty of leftover material and felt the still had something to say. So, they reunited in 1974 to record Civil Surface (again with a pun in the title like on Polite Force). The trio managed to get a record deal with Caroline records. They invited their friends from Henry Cow (Lindsey Cooper, Tim Hodgkinson, Jeremy Baines) to guest on the album.

This is a mature effort of a band that gives impression of having little concern for fame or fortune. As always, most of the pieces are composed by Mont Campbell, although Dave Stewart brings in his own instrumental parts (some of which he played on Hatfield And The North's debut a year before). Civil Surface shifts towards a more typical Canterbury sound compared to Egg's previous work, although not entirely. The band's classical influences of Hindemith, Stravinsky, Bartok or Schoenberg, as presented on previous releases, still play a crucial role in Egg's sound. Dave Stewart's organ playing is out of this world. Now it has a wider plethora of sounds, as he added a Hohner clavinet to his rig, which gave him a bright percussive sound. Bass playing of Mont Campbell is very unique and goes from funky grooves through classical upright bass-like to experimental fuzz bass passages. Clive Brooks' drumming is precise and accurate. The drummer handles odd time signatures with unbelievable ease. All in all, the musicianship on this Egg release does not disappoint compared to their previous albums. It features all of the characteristic elements of the band.

The album consists of seven pieces. The album opener, "Germ Patrol" starts out with funny high-pitched "ant"-like sounds achieved by Jeremy Baines' work on a gramophone (sort of what he did on Henry Cow's debut one year before). The piece uses a metronome with a bit of reverb to imitate sounds of a mine. The tempo it gives, remains more or less unchanged throughout the rest of the piece. Only a few minutes in, "Germ Patrol" already succesfully sets the mood for the rest of Civil Surface, with its fuzz bass parts, odd time signatures, sophisticated harmonies and arrangements, and smooth, lush Hammond organ sounds. "Wind Quartet 1" is one of the pieces that Campbell worked on after his departure from Egg in 1972 while studying French Horn at the Royal Academy of Music. It only features a chamber horn section consisting of a flute, a clarinet, a bassoon and a French horn. The overall sound reminds a bit of romantic-era anthem of 19th-century hunters, in the vein of Carl Maria Van Weber with a Paul Hindemith-like avant-garde chamber twist. "Ennagram", often hailed the highlight of the album, starts out with a heavy, rapid, complex intro on Stewart's clavinet, bringing the opening of "Long Piece No. 3" from Egg's previous album to mind. The piece loses its agressive quality, but the opening theme still reverbrates in between those extremely varied, dynamic, intricate passages, however in different musical contextx. "Prelude" is probably the most unique track on the album. It has a very pastoral, liturgical character with gentle church-like organ, delicate bass fuzz, which plays a crucial role in the "Prelude's" darkness, and creepy, haunting choir work from The Northettes, which even might bring some of Magma's moments to mind. Drums appear at one point, but play a minor role. Despite its very spiritual or religious character, influences of composers such as Messiaen or Stravinsky are evident throughout through its incredibly elaborate harmonic solutions. "Wring Out The Ground Loosely" starts with a theme that would not be out of place in a heavy prog band, however Egg had to introduce something that saves it from being too easy or uncomplicated. After being repeated a few times, it turns into a jam over a motiff, which Dave Stewart also used on the piece "Gigantic Land Crabs in Earth Takeover Bid" on Hatfield and the North's debut album. "Nearch" is another piece written for the wind section, but with help of Mont Campbell's piano and Clive Brooks' heavy drumming. "Wind Quartet 2", which closes Civil Surface, is a sort of a reprise of the first part. Stylistically, fairly simillar to it, however a bit mellower and more dreamy.

Civil Surface is an outstanding album that is a masterpiece of progressive rock music. Lying on the crossroads of Canterbury scene, avant-prog, and eclectic prog, this album is probably not an essential progressive rock work, but an extremely original, well-composed, and well-played release.

After Civil Surface, Egg broke up to never be seen again. Mont Campbell briefly played in National Health and Gilgamesh. Not for very long, however, as he eventually abandoned music completely, before releasing two Eastern-influenced world-music albums, utilizing only ethnic instruments, starting with Music from a Round Tower in 1996. Clive Brooks went onto a legendary British blues rock act under the leadership of Tony McPhee - The Groundhogs. He still remains a highly sought-after session drummer today. Dave Stewart remained a prominent figure in the Canterbury scene participating in musical projects such as Bruford or National Health to name a few, but also creating carefully-crafted techno-pop with Barbara Gaskin in the eighties. All in all, Egg blessed us with three unique albums, all of which are different, but are time-worthy masterpieces of progressive rock fusing different influences to create a distinctive, unrepeatable sound.

Highly recommended, five stars without hesitation.

 Egg by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.77 | 226 ratings

Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Egg are often labled as a Canterbury scene band. The band's main composer and bassist Mont Campbell admitted he had not even known that until long after Egg broke up. Put lables aside, Egg's self-titled debut album ticks every box of what I'm looking for in progressive rock. At the beggining of 1970, this was way ahead of its time. Leaving the tired psychedelic cliches, Egg were looking for a classical and jazz-inspired sound that would later be heard from acts such as Emerson Lake & Palmer and many, many more. It has it all - musical experimentation, unique arangements, long epics, odd time signatures, strange titles, mystic lyrics, jazz and classical influences. I usually don't do so and do not like to, but I feel it is an absolute necessity for me to review every track seperately. Another fanboy review? Probably.

"Bulb" is a slowed down 8-second recording of a shattered lightbulb with mutliple delay. An odd album opener, giving us the taste of what's to come."While Growing My Hair" starts with a dreamy organ passage, than turning into a jazzy, rolling 3/4 rhythm. The main theme sounds a bit like The Doors at times with Mont Campbell's low vocals. "I Will Be Absorbed" is a lush and mellow, yet complex piece in 7/4, showcasing band's jazzier sensibilities with lush organ by Dave Stewart. Mont Campbell's singing again, does not disappoint."Fugue in D Minor" is a rendition of Bach's fugue of the same title in a very grooving, funky rhythm, letting Dave Stewart show-off his incredibly mature baroque organ skills. The track was allegedly recorded as an album filler. I'm sure glad it was, it's a Egg legendary piece."They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano" is a one-minute track, which only features Dave Stewart's Chopin-inspired piano playing. The beautiful romantic melody is haunted by a dissonant tone generator, which sounds like a... like a weeping robot of some sort. "The Song of McGillicudie the Pusillanimous (Or Don't Worry James, Your Socks Are Hanging in the Coal Cellar with Thomas)" is a very avant-garde organ-driven song, which sounds a bit like a progressive rock "extension" of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's early work. Based on a rapid rhythm in 10/8, it sounds incredibly smooth and moody. Lyrically, it's a perfect reflection of the sound. "Where should I go what should I do. Now that I know can't get away from you. Everyone has something to hide from themselves and now it's too late to go back go right on." This is it. A very interesting track."Boilk" is the most experimental of all. Without any rhythm, this features samples of Mellotron tapes played backwards, forming a sort of heavenly sound collage.

"Symphony No. 2" is one of the first real progressive rock suites. An outstanding work of art."First Movement" is opened by a very, very catchy, avant-garde sounding passage of notes played in 10/8. Next intervals are gradually being added to the main theme creating a unique passage, that is very typical of this album. It resolves into a part of Edvard Grieg's "In Hall Of The Mountain King" than turning into a laidback, hardbop-esque lane with a smooth jazzy jam. "Second Movement" is more classical inspired with dark organ passages. The main theme is borrowed from Igor Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring". "Blane" honestly sounds like a homage to the electro-acoustic composers, who spent the 60's playing around with tone generators and computers in studios. There are loads of atonal sounds, saturation, "ugly" mechanical effects here, but also some charming, celestial chords. "Fourth movement" is Egg's classic sound! Filled with fuzz-organ, this is the most rock-oriented of the tracks without sacrificing any of its avant-garde integrity. This is the closing of a great multimovement suite. Sort of a let-down, I would expect fireworks and champagne, but I guess we will have to make do without those.

In conclusion, I will never have enough good to say about Egg's debut album. It's that good! Although I'm in the minority, I consider this one of the legendary albums of progressive rock's second league. However, this album is not for everybody. Newcommers shall not be pleased with what they hear. But this album is a must for prog nuts. Not only does it hold a strong historical value as one of the pioneering albums of the genre, but also it is just plain joy to listen to. This will be a very pleasing experience to fans of organ-driven prog and proto-avant-rock nuts alike. Highly recommended, 10/10!

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 342 ratings

The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Egg's sophomore effort is in my opinion their best work and my personal favorite out of all the Canterbury Scene albums. Shortly after their outstanding debut album, which still showed the band looking for their own style, alternating between complex organ-driven composition and post-psychedelic proto-prog a la Arthur Brown, Egg set off to record The Polite Force, which really elaborated the sophisticated elements of their debut.

"A Visit To Newport Hospital" is a fantastic opening to the album. Starting out with a Black Sabbath-esque intro on heavily overdriven organ. That turns into a very smooth, beautiful, nostalgic piece telling about the times back when Egg played with Steve Hillage in the late sixties, under the name Uriel. A true sign of lyrical and musical genius from the trio. The track is kept in a rather jazzy mood, but with a classical sense of musical structure going through numerous passages and alterations of the theme. "Contrasong" presents Egg's well-trained avant-garde jazz feel in an odd time signature. It only features organ in a solo part, most of it is dominated by a piano. This piece features a horn section, which gives even more of a unique, jazzy flavor. Mont Campbell's songrwiting also deserves a attention, as not many of his progressive rock contemporaries were courageous and talented enough to write lyrics made to fit in uneven time signatures (in this case changing between 5/4 and 9/4). Speaking of lyrics, these are very good... Again! "Boilk" is a title that sounds familiar... Oh, didn't it appear on their debut? This is an extended version of the piece. It's one of Egg's more avant-garde compositions. it starts out with various sound effects like recordings of water. Than comes the beautiful dreamy ambient soundscape with tubular bells and vibraphone. The song quickly turns into a "mess" of backwards Mellotron recordings, the snare sounds played backwards. The track is ended with Dave Stewart's interpretation of J. S. Bach's "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt".

"Long Piece No. 3" is an instrumental, four-part suite, which is opened by heavy, buldozer-like fuzz organ based on what is highly likely progressive rock's most sophisticated time signature. Every band member plays in different alternating time signatures. Just to give you an example, Dave Stewart plays 7/8, 11/8, 15/8, 19/8 and 23/8 repeatedly. Crazy isn't it? On the contrary, Part 2 is full of pleasant melodies and sophisticated, rhythm-based composition alike. The further movements of the suite present strong influence of composers such as Stravinsky, Hindenith, Bartok or Schoenberg being very melodic without the sacrifice of complexity. All of the members of Egg get a chance to present their virtuosic abilities in a truly entertaining and ear-pleasing manner.

The Polite Force is one of these one-in-a-million-years albums. It presents a whole different facet, mindset of the Canterbury sound (and progressive rock and rock music for that matter) - far more technical than anything created before, putting great emphasis on intricate composition and clever details. I consider this one of the finest albums of the progressive rock genre and, although this is not an essential album, it is one of the most polished and perfect ones, in my opinion. I can't recommend it enough!

 Civil Surface by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.80 | 175 ratings

Civil Surface
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by Progfan97402

5 stars Usually reunions happen a decade or more later, by which point their new material just never stacks up to the old and is forgotten. For example, Cream reuniting in 2005, but the old bad blood resurfaced (Ginger Baker has serious issues on how to get along with people and he still continued showing his contempt for Jack Bruce). At least they didn't try to embarrass us with new material that will be very substandard and never comparing to their classic material. Crosby, Stills & Nash (with Young sometimes) had frequently reunited through the years and gave us mediocre album after mediocre album. Egg, on the other hand, reunited in 1974, not too long after they broke up in the first place, so obviously not too much time has passed and was able to create another wonderful album worthy of your collection. Dave Stewart was busy with Hatfield & the North, but he felt there was enough Egg material that hasn't been recorded to be recorded and The Civil Surface is the results. While the Canterbury scene was becoming more fusion-oriented (witness the Soft Machine albums from the same time period, and of course Hatfield & the North, and later on National Health), Egg retained it's early '70s sound, it could have easily passed as a 1971 followup to The Polite Force. There are a couple of pieces dominated by wind instruments (Henry Cow members Lindsay Cooper, Tim Hodgkinson and Jeremy Baines appear here) but the rest is classic Egg. Themes from Hatfield & the North's debut show up, probably to let everyone know Dave Stewart's presence, or the fact Hatfield & the North hasn't broken up (and they hadn't, once The Civil Surface was released, Hatfield & the North released their final album The Rotter's Club). I didn't exactly know what to expect from Egg in 1974. The music by this time seemed behind the times, more fitting for 1971, but in the case of Egg, this works on their behalf. I was expecting a more full-on fusion brand of Canterbury more in tune with the likes of Hatfield but instead get more of the great early '70s Egg sound. I can only say that if you have their first two albums, you need this one as well!
 Civil Surface by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.80 | 175 ratings

Civil Surface
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Mont CAMPBELL, Dave STEWART, and Clive BROOKS' final EGG album was released over a year after the the band had broken up and the trio had gone separate ways. It was the incessant insistence of a small but vocal fan base that got the band to finally record some of the as-yet unrecorded material--which had been fan favorites from their live performances--that Dave gathered Clive and Mont back into the studio with a bunch of his current band members from Hatfield and the North, as well as a few other friends with whom he had recently worked--like Steve Hillage (on "Wring Out the Ground") from their KHAN collaboration.

1. "Germ Patrol" (8:32) opens with a cute Alice and Wonderland feel to it--even as the calliope-like organ, walking bass line and beating of the toms play along in a kind of circus way. I think, from it's title, that it's supposed to sound millitaristic but it's too fun and quirky to do so. Definitely in the "tongue-in-cheek" realm of musical renderings. Even the 'conversation' of multiple keyboards in the sixth minute seem comical. The ensuing "buzz bass" solo is the song's most serious moment but it is bookended by Dave's circus-like organ and piano play. I like the horns around 6:50 and the French horn solo to fade. A very memorable if not awfully melodic song suite. (10/10)

2. "Wind Quartet 1" (2:20) is, truly, a wind quartet, complete with flute, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn (though I swear I hear an oboe, too). Nice piece with a nice, very British, more classical than jazz, arrangement. (9/10)

3. "Enneagram" (4:13) has Dave Stewart using an organ sound that is much familiar to us for its bombastic use by Keith Emerson around the same time in his early ELP concerts and recordings. A rather exciting uptempo song with wide dynamic variation. (9/10)

4. "Prelude" (4:18) has some of that classical church organ sound dating back to EGG's first album. Dave's cerebral experimentation is matched by Mont's bass play with no drum or percussion play until the 1:15 mark. The surprise entry of the odd choral section as presented by the future "Northettes" is a bit discordant and disruptive, but no weirder than the solo organ play to the song's end. I guess it all works in the scheme of the whole "prelude" thing. (8/10)

5. "Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now)" (8:11) is a cool song that opens with some very odd lyrics being sung out by Mont and then a section of experimental sound/noises before the actual song foundations are allowed to be established--over which some nice keyboard soloing occurs before everything slows down again at the 5:50 mark for Mont's vocal to continue. This is a very strong section of the song--very solid and confident sounding. (9/10)

6. "Nearch" (3:12) is another neochamber piece with Mont's French horn, Clive's precision drum accompaniment, Lindsay Cooper's bassoon and Tom Hodgkinson's clarinet, with Dave Stewart playing bass! Interesting exercise/ étude. (8/10)

7. "Wind Quartet 2" (4:48) finds us returning to the flute-dominated winds of the third song. Some nice medieval- like melodies and moods evoked here. (9/10)

My only problem with The Civil Surface is that it feels so cerebral--as if Mont and Dave were working out very complex mathematical formulae together through their musical collaboration. This just makes the music a little colder, a little less accessible to me, the listener. No wonder Clive wanted his drums to be loud and forward in the mix! This concludes the band's last album. Egg were a short-lived Canterbury band that definitely displayed the more classical side of the Canterbury jazz experimentation--and this while the members were only in their late teens and early, early 20s! They just happened to produce, however, some of the most interesting and some of my favorite music from the Canterbury Scene.

 Egg by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.77 | 226 ratings

Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars I came into knowing Egg with the followup to this one, The Polite Force, which is one of my favorite Canterbury albums. So, the self-titled debut had a bit of a hill to climb to please me. But it does! I love hearing some of the sounds and rhythms that will later come into make the amazing music of The Polite Force! "I Will Be Absorbed" (5:12) (9/10) is an incredible song: great melodies, great singing, pretty tight musicianship. Definitely a favorite! The Bach "Fugue in D minor" (2:45) (9/10) and their own Stravinsky-influenced "Concerto" (20:41) (8/10) are both quite enjoyable--even the trippy, experimental parts of "Blane" are interesting. But the highlight for me is the piano/organ experimental piece, "They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano" (1:21) Perhaps a little autobiographical? The two other vocal pieces, "While Growing My Hair" (4:03) (8/10) and "The Song of McGullicudie the Pusillanimous" (5:10) (8/10) sound a bit dated but, again, this is amazing stuff for 19 year olds! This album is especially noteworthy in that within the next nine months you have the release of the much more 'mature' The Polite Force! Amazing! Also, I like Mont Campbell's voice! 3.5 stars rated up for astonishment factor. (Dave Stewart was Uriel's original guitarist?!!!)
 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 342 ratings

The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The Canterbury scene is one of prog's most fascinating sub-genres. It holds within it everything that makes progressive rock so great. The very nature of prog is to experiment, challenge and discover. Sometimes it is even a test of the listener's patience. The heart of Canterbury flows with a quirky seriousness that makes me as a listener to smile. It is a brave and bold take on rock music that simultanously is both endearing and challenging. All in a days work, one might say. As ever, Canterbury is also a genre of great warmth. The fairytale dreaminess of, say, King Crimson's early work is one reference but I feel that it does not hit the mark. It has a tone of it's own, one that is Canterbury's own. And yet this warmth is encircled by the most spiky and challenging, difficult creations ever made. I know that alot of subgenres might fit into this description but Canterbury is to me the optimum of them all. If I wa sto pick out any subgenre that fully embodies prog I'd say "Canterbury". I would. I swear.

Egg is one of the groups engaged in the Canterbury scene. The organ of Dave Stewart is as ever present and recognisable, not only by sound but very much in execution. The man is brilliant. The sound of Egg on this album (as I am reviewing it) is not easily defined. It all kicks off with the heaviest organ riff ever (sort of) but leads into this jazzy, laidback groove which manages to draw strength from an oozing power source. This source of power and might comes, obviously, from the musicians themselves. There is a restrained demonstration of power I find hard to describe. Anyway, the song is amazing and the best of the lot, I feel. It is the track I listen to more than the others, if that accounts for anything.

"Contrasong" is another very good track, built around chords and beats that sound hectic and askew. But all in a good way. "Boilk" is an experimental piece that is interesting and certainly very well performed. It is however very experimental and not one I retur nto with the same urgency as the first two tracks mentioned.

The B-side of the old vinyl, I suppose, is made up of "Long piece", a suite consisting of four pieces. It is also very experimental and complex but very enjoyable. They stretch out and showcases a musical vision that is really somethig to behear. (Is there such a word? I suppose not.) The parts are different, obviously, but when listened to in one long sitting the result is baffling. One might accuse them of noodling but I feel they never enter that empire of Boredom. I am intrigued throughout.

So, when all is said and done I have to say that this album is an essential listen, if you at all is interested in the development of progressive music. If you're simply into good, challenging and diverse prog I'd say this is for you aswell. The impeccable musicianship and vision of the possibilities if musis is baffling, enjoyable and very much endearing. It has stood the test of time very well and offers a great listening experience.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 342 ratings

The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars My progressive rock education has finally brought me around to the Canterbury scene this year. It began with hearing Dave Stewart on Bill Bruford's "One of a Kind" album and then led to the purchase of Hatfield and the North's "The Rotter's Club", also featuring Dave Stewart. And now I have come to Egg. Also featuring Dave Stewart. It was a tough choice deciding which of the three Egg albums to buy. Reviews here are favourable to all three, and listening to a few samples on YouTube had me thinking pretty much any album would be good. However, upon hearing the intro to "A Visit to Newport Hospital" I felt there would surely be something here for me to dig. That slow heavy music with a fuzz-toned organ is just too much like proto-doom metal for me to resist.

I feel the music on this album can be divided into three categories. One category is the lighter jazz feel that can be heard in the main song sequence of "A Visit to Newport Hospital" or "Long Piece No. 3 - Part 2". This music is very accessible with easy-on-the-ears sounds and smooth, light music. Expect some pretty organ and lovely piano.

The second category would be the more aggressive sounds of the intro to "A Visit to Newport Hospital" with the fuzz-toned organ or the intentional dissonance of "Long Piece No. 3" Parts 1, 3, and 4. The drums are more intense with deliberate enforcement of odd meters, and the bass rolls and grooves behind an array of keyboard sounds. This is where I feel the music deserves its progressive moniker. It's bold and gutsy, adventurous. It stays on the track while leaning far over. It's fun without being too crazy.

The third category must then be the experimental one. This is mostly to be found in "Boilk". My running commentary on this piece is:

"Running water for 39 seconds before a solitary organ note fades in and the water fades out. Some tubular bells. Very mellow like a cold winter evening on a desolate street when the snow is just starting to fall. Backwards cymbals? Starts getting weird like Pink Floyd's "Ummagumma". Our winter street is all misshapen and turning into a psychotic vision from the Outer Limits. Not my thing. Too avant guard. No proper song. Backwards music and voices. Just studio experimentation. Well, good for them. Now let's get back to something easier that sounds more like music. Wow! A stream of distortion static. Someone's playing with the oscillator. Ah, saved by a cheerless church organ."

"Long Piece No. 3" Parts 1 and 2 also include some of this stranger music. From my notes: "Now an intentionally mind-numbing performance on piano, organ and drums. Sounds mechanical, like a machine at work on the drums. I picture a bunch of black suited-musos with short cropped hair and thick, black-framed glasses stroking their goatees and subtlety nodding their approval." That's Part 1. Part 2 also includes some playing with oscillator knobs but that is situated between more enjoyable music.

A nod must go to the limited lyrics, which appear only in the first two tracks. The singing style is very Canterbury: English accent, not so talented vocals, and lyrics containing dry humour. From "Newport Hospital", a song about their early days as a four-piece in a band called Uriel: "We spent our time avoiding skinheads and the law / It was a freedom that we'd never felt before / And now we're doing this instead". "Contrasong", a fun song based on an interesting time signature and featuring trumpet and sax, includes a remark about pictures of horrible atrocities which were published in order to increase the paper's circulation.

I personally do not take to the weird experimentation parts but the rest of the album I rather like. I doubt I will be buying any more Egg albums. This one is enough for me. Glad I bought it, though. "A Visit to Newport Hospital" is my favourite track. Not an album to be enjoyed by all but a good example of a trio that were mixing jazz with rock and who were trying to branch out into new territory. The spirit of progressive music indeed. Almost four stars, but rounded down.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 342 ratings

The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by Utnapishtim

5 stars Canterbury...a little city in the South East of England. A mysterious place that lives since before of Romans with one of the most famous cathedral in the world. The place where an astonishing musical wave suddenly flooded the basic rock concepts, bringing a storm of elegance destined to remain a mark unique forever.

"The Polite Force" represents a milestone of Rock, an example of pure experimentation mixed to a musical knowledge really impressive. Certainly this is not an uncommon skill into the existence of Prog, but I think here is so significant as to be never boring. This is a manifestation of oneness of the Canterbury Scene and its group identity to a really social phenomenon hard to reproduce. After intertwine of bands, departures, new forming bands and important first approaches between fundamental musicians (I recommend to deepen their biography!) In '68 was born "Egg" trio with Dave Stewart on organ and piano, Mont Campbell on bass and vocals and Clive Brooks on drums and vocals. This three guys are so inspired and integrated in Canterbury Scene context that quickly abandon the interpretation of other musician's song to present their real soul. In fact in 1970 they release both the debut album (same name) and the masterpiece "The Polite Force". The musical style unripe of the debut (however interesting) fades soon, growing up with its own structure in second album, where the personalities of musicians finally can express themselves. In this album the Classical influence is less marked than the first album. The sound became decisively Progressive Rock, based on organ composition and unpredictable add times masterfully followed by drums, without ever losing touch that characterized the genre. There is only one song with vocal parts very pleasant.

"There used to be a time when we lived in the van, We used to loon about with Janice, Liz and Ann Now looking back it seemed to be a happy time, And so we kid ourselves we didn't really mind The hang-ups and the lack of bread".

These words open the song "Visit to Newport Hospital". Memories of a recent past these, soaked of a sort of nostalgia and that only now that I have read them better, discover to be really in line with the atmospheres. With this I mean that the importance to understand texts is a constant that should never miss to appreciate a Prog Rock album. The song, with a renewing maturity starts with a strict organ riff that precedes a soft ride, where a pleasant bass underlines the organ melodies. Every time I listen to this song I have the impression that all my present and future thoughts, my dreams gather to dance confusedly in my head, and then quickly return to their positions with the final reprising of the main riff. It's a happening always the same where I lose myself, "short-changed" by its psychedelic atmospheres expertly arranged and Campbell's voice so calm.

These dreamy notes are abandoned to let free to explode the creativity in "Contrasong". Odd times and dissonant melodies pop like whipping behind the ears, by an insistent piano and the voice also here able to follow the rhythm. To embellish it there are two trumpets and two tenor sax. The addition of this instrument is really impressive, able to change completely the sound of the band. A real pleasant choice. Sometimes I try to imagine what would have happened if the trumpets and saxophones was inserted in all pieces? The A side ends with a musical experimentation born and bred into meanders of creativity (sometimes remember me Atom Heart Mother's Pink Floyd style) with the song "Bolik" which includes Bach excerpts. It's a soundscape of an old Krautrock painting soaked by psychedelic echoes and flashes of lucid insanity.

The B side is entirely occupied by the suite "Long Piece N°3" divided in 4 movements (Part 1-4), where mastery in composition and execution alternates to jazz experiments. With this long piece is possible to appreciate how Dave Stewart inspires his style to that of Nice's Keith Emerson, in fact the band is often considered like the ELP of Canterbury, a definition that personally I dislike. But is obligatory admit that there is a certain affinity between two keyboardist's style and similarities for two bands; naturally in two different styles. The result of the suite is an accurate research of avant-garde sonorities (which anticipates many future Prog works) with sudden changes of time in a dissonant way that alternates organ parts sometimes sweet and intimate, sometimes adventurous and galloping.

A memorable forty-four album able to be always current, new at every listening. A mix of musical skills in composition and execution, creativity, insanity, intimacy, psychedelia where all is perfectly structured to become a milestone of Progressive Rock. An intelligent way to express the creativity especially with this album forerunner and representative of Canterbury Scene and of an unbelievable Era where music was pure Art.

5 Stars - How cannot love it...

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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