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The Underground Set - War In The Night Before CD (album) cover


The Underground Set


Heavy Prog

3.18 | 9 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Calling Scooby-Doo and mystery lovers! There's been some cases in the past of Italian prog-related acts that released works under aliases or with anonymous credits, with `groups' such as Planetarium, Flea, Blue Phantom and the Braen's Machine being a few of them. The Underground Set is another fine example, a predominantly instrumental group that played a mix of heavy Hammond organ-drenched hard rock, acid-jazz and psychedelic pop, sounding not too far removed from groups such as Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and so on (take your pick up any of what are often referred to as the `Proto-Prog' bands these days), with a touch of the earliest albums from Italian acts like Osanna and the New Trolls, and it's only fairly recently been revealed that they were none other than members of Nuova Idea!

Future Italian prog legends Nuova Idea would deliver a widely regarded RPI classic with their third album `Clowns' in 1973, but the two Underground Set albums ' the 1970 self-titled debut and this second work `War in the Night Before' a year later - both predate that proper group's `In the Beginning' and `Mr E Jones' LP's from both 1971 and '72.

Looking at some of the highlights, title-track `War in the Night Before' instantly blasts the listener with rattling drums, scuzzy n' sludgy guitar riffing over murky Hammond organ stabs and wailing voices for an opener that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Deep Purple's `In Rock' from the year before. `Top Invocation' has a lovely yet softly melancholic piano theme before some tasty fiery guitar soloing (the piece almost sounds like a cross between Goblin and early Osanna), and the seriously cool `Cronic Illness' is a raunchy dirty psych plodder with buzzsaw-like guitar spasms and lazily drifting flute. `Cool Paradise' is a slightly mournful theme, and `Car Driving' is a Led Zeppelin-like lusty bluesy guitar tantrum (but dig that scratchy Mellotron flute buried in there too!).

`Hard to Go Up' offers pounding piano and manic electric guitar soloing duelling back and forth over a Hammond-thick grooving bluesy saunter and bashing drums, but even more special is the Mellotron-flecked `Oblivion', a simply sublime mellow psychedelic come-down. `Libutum' is a sparkling up-tempo hip-shaking groover with plenty of runaway piano, the Osanna-like `Hot Paradise' is a dramatic theme with strident Black Sabbath-ish lead guitar work, a sighing vocal and thrashing drum spurts. `Useless Obsession' could be one of those killer instrumental tracks loaded with infernal Hammond slinging that popped up on all the classic Atomic Rooster discs, and infectiously groovy closer `Hopeless Train' adds some nice acoustic guitar strums for a change.

(Curious future listeners, make sure to get the latest Cinedelic Records reissue on CD, LP and/or downloads that add plenty of bonus single tracks)

Dated, yes, perhaps a little repetitive and not holding much real depth, sure. But `War in the Night Before' is so easy to listen to if you dig that late 60's/early 70's acid rock sound, and it's simply addictive and melodic fuzzy ear candy. It's hardly essential, but those looking for related obscurities to add to their RPI collection, anyone with an interest in the formative years of the emerging Italian prog sound and maybe even fans of Nuova Idea may find much of value here.

Three stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |


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