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Aunt Mary - Aunt Mary CD (album) cover

AUNT MARY

Aunt Mary

 

Eclectic Prog

3.17 | 47 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars I was surprised to find this to be the most approachable, and probably the closest to actual progressive music, of all the Aunt Mary albums. There isn’t as much emphasis on keyboards as there would be on the next three records (although there is a bit more piano than on ‘Loaded’ or ‘Janus’), and the presence of flute, Jew’s harp and harmonica is more noticeable.

The band reminds me a lot of a stripped-down Blood, Sweat & Tears on their more free-form songs such as “Did You Notice?”, “Come In” and “47 Steps”. Guitarist/vocalist Bjoern Christiansen has this sort of Joe Cocker thing working for him that would become even more pronounced later, but here against the horns and piano he sounds more like that almost jazzy sound that BST and even Chicago had in their early days.

But this is a band in transition from the sixties to the seventies, and that is quite evident on tracks like “Rome Wasn't Built in one Day” where the guitar shows some mild psych tendencies, the bass is heavier than most seventies bands, and the band shows a preference for layered, harmonizing vocals in the vein of CSNY or the Byrds.

Like their other albums the songs here are mostly short, and none of them is complex to any degree. Some, such as “Why Don't you try Yourself?” sound to me as if there was a fair amount of improvisation going on in the studio since the organist and guitarist seem to go off for a couple minutes and then everything just stops. A decent display of keyboarding on that track, but as a cohesive song it comes off as rather disjointed and incomplete.

“The Ball” is similar, but here the band sounds like they’re trying to pull of some sort of Ekseption-like Bach-on-organ interpretation that turns into a free-form mini-jam session with vocals not quite matching the music. In reality this kind of irreverent and totally non-commercial music is one of the reasons we prog fans seek this stuff out though; the rough edges and experimentation are what make it fun to listen to. Toward the end of this one I start to wonder if these guys maybe took some influences from Arthur Brown even.

The album ends with the short, heavy organ “Yes, By Now I've Reached the End” that sounds, if you can imagine this, like a Norwegian Jim Morrison trying to sound apocalyptic and somber. He doesn’t really pull it off, but nice effort, and the organ presence here signals the band’s direction for their two albums.

This record has never been properly reissued on CD to the best of my knowledge, and actually I think it’s the only Aunt Mary album that hasn’t. Too bad, because this is actually the best of their four studio records in my opinion, and while none of them are masterpieces this one is a very decent representation of the early seventies transitional sound from psych and blues to a more structured progressive sound. You can pick up the record in pretty much its original form as part of a 2-for-1 CD issue along with ‘Janus’ though, and while I’ve only rated ‘Janus’ as a three star album I’m going to give this one four, so between the two of them that’s a fairly strong endorsement for the CD combo. Worth picking up.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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