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EELA CRAIG

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Austria


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Eela Craig biography
This often overlooked Austrian band epitomizes the whole Austrian progressive movement. The prime mover is Hubert Bognermayr (keyboards and vocals) who later became known because of his pioneering with the Fairlight computer and his 'electronic hunter's lodge' (blessed by international musicians and the famous Bob Moog). The other members were Hubert Schnauer (keyboards and flute), Harald Zuschader (keyboards, flute and guitar), Fritz Riedelberger (guitar, piano and vocals), Gerhard Englisch (bas and percussion) and Frank Hueber (drums and percussion). They released the eponymous first album ('71), "One Niter" ('76), "Hats of Glass" ('77), "Missa Universalis" ('78), "Virgin Oiland" ('80), "Hit or Miss" ('88) and "Symphonic Rock" (from '95 containing the 2nd and 3rd LP on 1 CD). I'm only familiar with the LP's "One Niter" and "Hats of Glass". The music on these albums is 24-carat symphonic rock but hard to compare, maybe some hints from RICK WAKEMAN solo, ELOY, PINK FLOYD and CAMEL can be traced.

My collection contains the great compilation-CD "Symphonic Rock" including the songs from the albums "One Niter" and "Hats of Glass", considered as their best ones (I prefer the more compelling "One Niter"). The melodic and harmonic music from EELA CRAIG is build upon beautiful interplay between four members with their keyboards (ranging from soaring strings and bombastic choir-Mellotron to the typical sound of the Fender Rhodes electric piano, sensational Moog flights, swinging clavinet and powerful Hammond organ runs) and sensitive and howling electric guitarplay. The moving compositions sound warm and are coloured with lots of instruments, from the aforementioned keyboards to flute, acoustic guitar and assorted percussion. Wonderful symphonic rock that takes you to cloud number nine!

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One NiterOne Niter
Import
ESOTERIC 2010
Audio CD$9.69
$10.95 (used)
Missa UniversalisMissa Universalis
Import
Hart
Audio CD$16.75
$58.00 (used)
One Niter by Eela Craig (2010-08-03)One Niter by Eela Craig (2010-08-03)
ESOTERIC
Audio CD$67.26
Missa Universalis by Eela CraigMissa Universalis by Eela Craig
Erdenklang Musikverlag
Audio CD$95.15
Eela Craig ?- Hats Of Glass Japan Pressing with OBI BT 8115Eela Craig ?- Hats Of Glass Japan Pressing with OBI BT 8115
Vertigo
Vinyl$68.99 (used)
Eela Craig By Eela Craig (2002-11-21)Eela Craig By Eela Craig (2002-11-21)
Garden of Delight
Audio CD$51.98
$158.00 (used)
Hats of GlassHats of Glass
VERTIGO
Vinyl$292.00 (used)
Missa UniversalisMissa Universalis
Audio CD$62.80
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EELA CRAIG discography


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

3.79 | 51 ratings
Eela Craig
1971
3.95 | 57 ratings
One Niter
1976
3.43 | 32 ratings
Hats of Glass
1978
3.14 | 25 ratings
Missa Universalis
1978
3.17 | 9 ratings
Virgin Oiland
1980
3.20 | 6 ratings
Hit or Miss
1988
3.41 | 13 ratings
Symphonic Rock
1995

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

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EELA CRAIG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Eela Craig by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 51 ratings

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Eela Craig
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Igor91

4 stars Eela Craig's self-titled debut is probably the one album that most Eela Craig fans don't have. Why? First, few original vinyl copies were pressed (1500, I believe). Second, no other version was available until Garden of Delights reissued it on CD in 1997. Thirdly, the album sounds nothing like the music the band would later produce and become known for, namely, symphonic prog. Eela Craig circa 1971 was more of a heavy prog band with psychedelic leanings. The opening song, "New Born Child," starts off kind of like a gloomy Krautrock excursion, before settling into more of a heavy prog track with interesting horn sections. The song ends with the most awful editing job I have ever heard on an official release. That is the low point of the album, with the rest of the original album tracks flowing very nicely. The recording and production is sub-par, but that may be due to the fact that the original master tapes were lost, and the CD version used a previously unplayed vinyl copy as a master. The LP has a bit of a "hippie-dippy" feel to it, but is countered by some dark vibes here and there. Overall, a very enjoyable album worth a listen for those who enjoy early 70's heavy prog from Europe.

The CD version has 4 bonus tracks, which represent the band transitioning from what you hear on the debut to the more symphonic sound that they would become famous for. The first two bonus tracks, "Irminsul" and "Yggdrasil," are instrumental and feature a revamped lineup. They are OK, but nothing special or worth listening to very often. The last two bonus tracks, "Stories" and "Cheese," again with a different lineup, show their new, symphonic direction, and are quite dreadful in this reviewer's opinion. I never cared much for their later albums, but these tracks are of an even lesser quality .

To wrap things up, I would say Eela Craig's 1971 debut album is an enjoyable slab of early 70's heavy prog. While not entirely original, it is nonetheless, above average compared to many of its peers. Just hit the "stop" button after you finish track 4 ("Indra Elegy") and you'll be pleasantly surprised. 4 stars.

 Virgin Oiland by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.17 | 9 ratings

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Virgin Oiland
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars This was Eela Craig's followup to Missa Universalis, in which Hubert Bognermayr and drummer Frank Hueber had left the group. Frank Hueber apparently had some sort of ear infection. Strangely vocalist Wil Orthofer took over the drum stool, which I didn't know he was fully capable of drums until I heard this album. I knew he played some sax on their 1971 self-entitled debut, but other than that he stuck strictly to vocal duties on Hats of Glass and Missa Universalis (he was not on One Niter).

To me, I found Virgin Oiland a confusing album. At least the overly-religious lyrics of Missa Universalis has thankfully been dumped, in favor of a concept album of a metaphorical horse racetrack as a symbol of life from birth to death, but the preferred racer was "hate", meaning even through you live and die, too many people prefer to to be hateful, greedy, and selfish. Or at least that's how I perceive the concept. Perhaps I'm looking a bit too much into it. Don't know. Regardless the band was really confused whether they should stick to the progressive rock they did so well in the late '70s or go a more commercial direction. "Beecher's Brook" definitely shows the band wanting to go back to the funky styles of One Niter, similar funky jam with clavinet, but as the album goes on, you could tell it's one half the band wanting to follow their own direction, and the other record company pressure (this was 1980, after all, and finding true prog rock albums were a bit skimpy, even Steve Hackett's Defector had a couple of pop songs on it). "How It Started" and the cheesy ballad "Carry On" definitely shows a more commercial leaning, the latter being in that late '70s soft-rock vein. "Love to Hate You Baby" is a misguided venture into disco, with vocoderized vocals, and small snippets of "We Shall Overcome" and "All You Need is Love" with a DJ voice telling everyone was the 1960s what everyone was told it was supposed to be (this was 1980, and the 1960s nostalgia of the 1980s didn't really take off until around the mid 1980s, I should know, as I witnessed that '60s nostalgia of the '80s which lasted from about 1983 or '84 until about 1990). "Still..." and "Lions Covering the Beaches" aren't too bad, reminding me of the more calm moments of Missa Universalis, thankfully without the religious lyrics.

Really, Virgin Oiland is an album I don't recommend as a starter for anything not familiar with Eela Craig. I'd suggest One Niter and Hats of Glass. Go for their self-entitled 1971 debut for a more jazzy/psychedelic side of the band, and approach Missa Universalis with caution (as the religious lyrics are difficult for me to take in). Virgin Oiland has its moments, and has some good material as well as some questionable material. So this one too approach with caution.

 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.95 | 57 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Suedevanshoe

4 stars Keyboards dominate this 1976 release from Austrian prog rockers Eela Craig. Dynamic to the core, this is full throttle progged out rock and roll.

To me, this is the perfect 4 star record - it's good, some may think borderline great, some may think borderline ok. This record is a marvel of function - to the fan, it is engrossing with incredible variety. To the novice, this can be the album that turns you on to prog. It is accessible with no frills.

Worth a few spins if you can find it cheap somewhere - so are the next few Eela Craig albums, Hats of Glass and Missa Universalis. They are a bit more restrained, like the most subdued Camel or Ummagumma

 Hats of Glass by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.43 | 32 ratings

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Hats of Glass
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars From an artistic point of view ''One niter'' was a milestone for Eela Craig and heading to a third album they decided to add a lead singer in the core, who would be Will Orthofer.Rest of the crew and new singer started the sessions in August 77' and the album was ready by November, titled ''Hats of glass'', highlighted by its futuristic front cover and released on Vertigo.Co-producer Ulli Ruetzel was the man, who established the Erdenklang label, with which Hubert Bognermayr & Harald Zuschrader collaborated a few years later, while the second co-producer Chris Evans appears to be the same person involved in the Chris Evans & David Hanselmann duo.

There is no doubt about the direction the band was choosing at the time, when the opening cut is Chris De Burgh's ''A spaceman came travelling'' from ''Spanish train and other stories'', definitely a nice cover of lyrical and dreamy Symphonic Pop.But the rest of the album would follow the same vein, albeit with a more Teutonic, spacious edge due to the heavy use of synthesizers.Gone are the discreet Fusion edges of the previous album and with ''Hats of glass'' Eela Craig would stick with a 100% symphonic, laid-back sound.The soft lyrical parts remind me of very early KING CRIMSON, combined with the smooth symphonic plays of BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST.All vocals are in English lyrics and, despite the presence of three keyboardists, the music is always gentle, performed in elaborate orchestrations with sensitive vocals and Classical colors, based mainly on light synthesizers and electric piano.There is still some PINK FLOYD influence in certain tracks (''Chances are) with a slight psychedelic touch, but the arrangements are always full of grandiose synth-drenched soundscapes with mellow electric guitars supporting.''Holstenwall fair'' would offer the most organ-flavored composition of the album with the rhythmic tunes and the more pronounced electric guitars reminding of the links to the Kraut/Symphonic genre.On the other hand the dynamics of a trully succesful album are rather absent and the multi-vocal parts sound quite cheesy at moments.

The band had fully transformed from the Kraut/PsychJazz Rock act it was back in early-70's to an orchestral Symphonic Pop/Rock ensemble.Soft Symphonic Rock is what you get with ''Hats of glass''.Good album for fans of the genre, a bit too sweet for fans of the more complicated and intricate prog releases.Recommended.

 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.95 | 57 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Heading to a second album, Eela Craig's leading figures Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader were determined to push the group into a more Classical-oriented sound.This fact led to several departures and new entries in the line-up and the fresh direction of Eela Craig could be heard in the 74' single ''Stories / Cheese''.From the original line-up only bassist Gerhard Englisch remained within the formation.The new Eela Craig included another keyboardist, Hubert Schnauer, drummer Frank Hueber and guitarist/pianist Fritz Riedelberger, while Zuschrader performed also on keyboards.The second album of the group ''One niter'' was finally released in 1976 on Vertigo.

There is indeed a dramatic turn in Eela Craig's sound in this release, leaving all Psychedelic and Jazz influences in the past and offering a grandiose Symphonic Rock with some spacey and Fusion touches, quite old-fashioned for the time.The group delivers some nice musicianship in four long tracks, opening with the 14-min. ''Circles'', split in four parts.Echoes of ELOY, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, PINK FLOYD and MANDALABAND are evident in this track, which combines a decent Orchestral Rock with spacey and keyboard-driven textures, led by synths, harsichord, piano and clavinets.The atmosphere of the track is pretty grandiose with an exceptional last part, led by Riedelberger's powerful guitar moves.The 9-min. ''Loner's Rhyme'' is another story.A very THE ENID-like Classical-oriented symphonic section opens and closes this composition, which however has a long and frenetic instrumental middle-part in a Fusion style with obvious funky vibes, characterized by strong clavinet and organ exercises, not far from GENTLE GIANT's sound.With the 11-min. ''One niter'' Eela Craig return to the opening MANDALABAND/THE ENID style with romantic, instrumental Classical textures, based mostly on mellotron, flutes, piano and harsichord, creating a delightful atmosphere.Again some funky moves are evident in the third part of this epic.The short ''Venezuela'' is a beautiful instrumental cut with acoustic guitars and flutes driving the music into more medieval ages, while the 7-min. closing ''Way Down'' follows a style between instrumental Fusion and synth-drenched Symphonic/Space Rock, featuring some nice changing climates.

''One niter'' contains some pretty fascinating music throughout, the mix of Symphonic Rock and Fusion stylings is not always succesful, cohesive or conveincing, but the tremendous instrumental work is sure to reward the listener.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.95 | 57 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is an impressive recording. Certainly the keyboards dominate and these guys had lots of them. Three of the band members played keyboards along with other instruments. Mellotron is very prominant but what is significant is the abundance of mellotron brass. I've never heard it so often on one record. Now I admit it's not my favourite mellotron sound by a long shot but it makes for an interesting listen.This album is quite spacey and symphonic as well.

Two long suites make up the bulk of this record. First up is he 14 minute "Circles" suite which is divided into five parts. It begins with "The Almighty" where we get those mellotron brass outbursts before it settles then it kicks in with the mellotron again. A calm takes over with flute then it kicks back in late with drums and mellotron to end it. "The Nude" is kind of funky with clavinet and it's uptempo. Mellotron sweeps across the soundscape. An explosion ends it. "The Curse" opens with piano and flute.Vocals for the first time after a minute. Drums, bass and organ eventually join in as it becomes more passionate. Check out the Gilmour-like guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. "The Blessed" sounds excellent as the tempo picks up with guitar still leading. Mellotron brass ends it. That ends the "Circles" suite.

"Loner's Rhyme" opens with keys, flute and a light beat as reserved vocals join in.The guitar replaces the vocals before 2 minutes. It's more dynamic after 2 1/2 minutes. Some impressive keyboard work follows.Vocals are back just before 8 minutes. Next up is the five part "One Niter Medley" suite. "Benedictus" opens with what sounds like harpischord then these spacey sounds come in including mellotron. Is that theremin? "Fuge" is classical sounding. "V.A.T." is eventually led by the guitar and a funky groove. Nice bass too. "Morning" is where they slow it down some but the sound is actually richer. "One Niter" ends the suite with guitar, mellotron, drums and piano all standing out in a positive way. "Venezuela" is a relaxed tune with acoustic guitar. "Way Down" is spacey to start as flute comes in then random drum patterns.Very cool sound here. It kicks in at 2 minutes and again it's funky with guitar playing over top. It settles as vocals come in after 5 minutes.

A low 4 stars for me only because my enjoyment level isn't that high for this one. I actually get more of a kick out of the followup "Hats Of Glass". It's more dynamic and easier to digest I suppose, but above all I connect with it emotionally.

 Hats of Glass by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.43 | 32 ratings

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Hats of Glass
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I wasn't expecting a lot from this one given the ratings i've seen for it but this was a pleasant surprise. EELA CRAIG were a seventies band from Austria who used a variety of keyboards including mellotron to great affect. While they are listed as Jazz / Fusion here believe me this album has absolutely nothing to do with that.This is spacey, mellow Symphonic music with some aggressive outburts here and there. PINK FLOYD came to mind the most which isn't too surprising given they were one one of EELA CRAIG's favourite bands.

"A Spaceman Came Travelling" has this spacey intro as reserved vocals join in. I like the vocal melodies before 2 minutes.Themes are repeated in this mellow tune. "Hats Of Glass" is also laid back with reserved vocals. I like the prolonged instrumental section part way through that is guitar / drum led. Lots of mellotron too. It turns dark and haunting before 6 minutes. "Grover's Mill" has these light vocals and drums that standout. I really like this one. "Chances Are" opens sounding a lot like "Funeral For A Friend" then it kicks in with a fuller sound including vocals. A spacey calm 2 minutes in then it retruns to that fuller sound.

"Heaven Sales" is much more dynamic sounding with keyboards and drums leading the way. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes as the vocals arrive. It then picks back up. "Holstonwall Fair" is mellow with vocals, a beat and mellotron. A change before 2 minutes and the birds are singing in this pastoral section. It's building 3 1/2 minutes in then the tempo picks up a minute later. Guitar then kicks in. Nice. Check out the majestic mellotron before 7 1/2 minutes then the vocals return. "Remove Another Hat Of Glass..." is a catchy and energetic number with guitar outfront early. Synths take a turn as they continue to trade off.

This is a low 4 stars but it's one I look forward to playing again in the future.This is a great example of seventies Prog.

 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.95 | 57 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A wonderfully inventive slice of Austrian symphonic prog, 'One Niter' is in fact the second full- length studio album from the oddly-monikered Eela Craig. Released in 1976, a full five years after their self-titled debut, 'One Niter' is a step-up in class over it's predecessor in just about every way possible, showcasing a talented group who obviously have a penchant for 1970's Pink Floyd, 'Wind & Wuthering'-era Genesis and German symphonic rockers Grobschnitt. The album is mainly instrumental, featuring several lengthy tracks that are helpfully split into several concisely-labelled and easily-identifiable sections, with polished keyboards, soaring guitars, shrill flutes and glossy synthesizers coating 'One Niter' in a slick melodic glaze. What vocals there are fit nicely, with singer Hubert Bognermeyr(who also doubles on keyboards) singing in a high-tempo, Jon Anderson-ish pitch, but in reality it is the wonderfully-layered, lushly-realised sound the group achieve that makes 'One Niter' so enjoyable. The influences may be obvious, but Eela Craigs' fulsome sound is not, and nor is it derivative, instead fusing carefully-selected prog ingredients with tasteful aplomb and instrumental verve. To pick a favourite track is, for this reviewer at least, a very difficult task. 'One Niter' is one of those rare beasts that can be listened to all the way through without the need to skip various tracks, with each piece segueing delicately - and, at times, brilliantly - into the next carefully constructed section. Austria may not be known for it's progressive rock, but in Eela Craig at least, they have yet another example of the pure originality and beauty to be found in the European end of the genre. A highly impressive symphonic album. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
 One Niter by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.95 | 57 ratings

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One Niter
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by beebfader

4 stars Esoteric's Reactive label continues to unearth forgotten European gems at a steady and welcome rate, and while Germany is usually regarded as the hotbed of creativity there was much activity elsewhere on the mainland. Eela Craig were an Austrian outfit formed in 1970 from the ashes of various Linz based groups.

After some initial activity `One Niter' was the result of a contract with Vertigo records, and is generally regarded as their definitive work. It is an extremely strong album from the opening Mellotron blasts which herald a colourful, varied and rich series of mainly instrumental movements. As was obligatory in 1976 the pieces are extended and made up of linked sections which move through a series of moods, tempos and textures. There are light and airy flute and synthesiser sections, muscular guitar solos backed with clavinet and driving drums, and some classic Hammond organ work. It is all brightly played, melodic and lively without being show-offy, and on show is a cornucopia of vintage keyboards played by no less than three players (count 'em!).

There is a wonderful photograph on the back cover of the band outdoors with all their equipment which recalls `Ummagumma' and would surely have acted as enticement to the discerning buyer holding the sleeve. It really is all about the instrumental work, the vocals are something of an afterthought, but work well enough in an unobtrusive way. The keyboards are intertwined with some excellent flute work and some equally fine guitar soloing. Nothing sounds forced, and the pieces are well composed and flow together very well.

As an album it works as a whole piece to become a very satisfying 45 minutes of prime european symphonic progressive music along the lines of Camel, Greenslade, Refugee and Trace. It certainly deserves to be heard alongside such names and is in many ways the equal to them.

We await with interest to see what else Reactive have up their sleeves if it is of this standard.

 Symphonic Rock  by EELA CRAIG album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.41 | 13 ratings

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Symphonic Rock
Eela Craig Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

2 stars One of only a handful of Austrian progressive bands, EELA CRAIG, at least on this CD release of their 2nd and 3rd albums (less one track each) straddles the lines between symphonic, fusion and Canterbury, which promises a hearty musical mulligan. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the right volume at which to appreciate EELA CRAIG. If it's down low I turn it up thinking that I am missing something, but soon enough I consider whether lower was better after all.

This just isn't very captivating very often, Caravan-era CAMEL did a better, albeit not stellar, job of blending these styles, and also struck a better balance between vocal and instrumental. Of course there are Teutonic references at work as well, thinking of JANE and GROBSCHNITT in their mellow moments. At times the music does awaken from its stupor, usually in the form of an overly shrill and extended lead guitar solo which hovers about the same few notes. This dichotomy diminishes even the best of the lengthier pieces, like the NEKTAR influenced "Loner's Rhyme", in which the sparkling flute and vocal melodies, and an even better guitar solo, are derailed by incompatibly harsh themes. In "Way Down" is even less "together", and it is supposed to be the epic. Both "Hats of Glass" and "Holstenwall Fair", originally from the later album, are even weaker. The less said about the disco-ey guitars of "The Nude" and "V.A.T", the better.

Still, if you like mellotron and aren't picky about contextual issues, you may enjoy this, especially the ambient opener "The Mighty", but its main tune is too close to the old Soviet anthem for me. "Morning" and "Benedictus" are intriguing short mellow-tronic instrumentals, the latter sporting a rather sophisticated classical influence that should have been better developed. One of the strongest vocal cuts is "Grover's Mill", a traditional prog ballad, again swamped in mellotron. "Heaven Sales" is a more energetic song with an almost poppy Canterbury feel - OK it reminds me of someone else whom I can't recall. It works because of the skilled instrumentation and contrast to the rest of the CD.

While on paper this might get rounded up to 3 stars, I can't be quite so generous because there really isn't a lot to draw me back to E.C. Competent and worth a listen especially for fans of the genres, it really has all the staying power of a one nighter for me.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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