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The Greatest Show On Earth - Horizons CD (album) cover

HORIZONS

The Greatest Show On Earth

 

Eclectic Prog

4.10 | 86 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars On one hand any band that has the stones to name themselves “The Greatest Show on Earth” is bound to be a disappointment unless they can jump motorcycles over flaming trenches and skydive into shark- infested waters unharmed in addition to playing music. That would be a great show by the way, but I’m guessing these guys never featured anything like that in their live acts.

But on the flip side a group of eight young but talented musicians with roots in sixties psychedelia getting together on the fledgling Harvest label could hardly have helped but to create a memorable and eclectic sound. And that they did on this, their debut album.

Other reviews of this album have made references to Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears and these are valid considering the three prominent horn players and earthy, communal lyrical themes. This is not the sort of heavy prog that band founder Garth Watt-Roy would go on to produce with Fuzzy Duck, although future Juicy Lucy keyboardist Mike Deacon lays down some pretty heavy organ tracks on most of the songs on this album. Like Chicago and BST though, this is a band that is infused with more of a soul sound than psych or blues, and that in itself makes them stand out just a bit from some of their contemporaries.

On a few tracks like “Angelina” and “Day of the Lady” though the band takes on a little bit of the west- coast California psych sound of the latter sixties, music they undoubtedly grew up on and were influenced by.

Other than a slightly gratuitous drum solo on “I Fought for Love” this is a pretty solid album, with none of the tracks standing out especially but all of them full of plenty of rich sounds thanks to the various horns, congas, flute and funky bass, and Deacon’s hard organ providing a strong foundation (you just can’t add adjectives to the word ‘organ’ without unfortunate results).

The title track surely became the band’s “Freebird” at whatever live shows they managed to book during their brief existence, or if it not it should have been. The fourteen minute organ, saxophone and flute heavy dirge is unlike anything you’ve likely ever heard before. The music here isn’t original by any means, but the blend of instruments the band employs is rather innovative. This is another one of those highly unusual and unique bands that would never have gotten a recording contract after about 1974 thanks to the more cookie-cutter commercial marketing music approach most labels were taking by then.

This isn’t “The Greatest Show on Earth” (despite their name), but it is a pretty decent album. Four stars because I find the sound ear-pleasing and because it reminds me of a sound that is long gone yet doesn’t resort to sounding particularly dated (except for that closing track). The members of the band that stayed in the music business would go on to other projects that reflected more of the heavy organ parts of this music than the soul stuff, but that in part was probably more a product of the seventies musical tastes and record industry than it was the individual member’s actual musical preferences. Recommended to eclectic and heavy prog fans alike.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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