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The Flock - Dinosaur Swamps CD (album) cover


The Flock


Eclectic Prog

3.24 | 38 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 283

The Flock was an American progressive rock band based in Chicago. Like many other prog acts from Chicago, The Flock was a prog/jazz/blues rock band from the late 60's and early 70's. However, they didn't achieve the commercial success of some other jazz/rock groups of that era such as Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears, but were recognized for featuring a violin prominently on their recordings. The Flock claims to fame because were they that launched the violinist Jerry Goodman. Goodman went on to later fame when he becomes a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Later, he was also a member of the Dixie Dregs between 1992 and 2017, before starting a new career as a solo artist.

The Flock was founded in 1964. They released a few singles untill 1969, the year they released their debut studio album. So, between 1969 and 1971, The Flock released two studio albums, their eponymous debut 'The Flock' in 1969 and the second one 'Dinosaur Swamps' in 1971. Both albums have the presence of Jerry Goodman. They began working on a third studio album but with the recruiting of Goodman for the Mahavishnu Orchestra's project, The Flock fell apart. So, it was only in 1975, when The Flock reunited only briefly, that the band released their third studio album 'Inside Out'.

However, in 2004 a new album was released of a 1973 live concert called 'Live In Europe', which features Michael Zydowsky on violin in place of Goodman and includes the original members Fred Glickstein, Jerry Smith, and Ron Karpman. Finally, a fourth studio album was released in 2014, 'Heaven Bound ' The Lost Album'. As it name indicates, the album has 70's lost recordings from the band recently discovered. These recordings were never released before.

So, 'Dinosaur Swamps' is the second studio album of The Flock and was released in 1971. The line up on the album is Jerry Goodman (vocals, violin and guitar), Fred Glickstein (lead vocals, guitars and Hammond organ), Jerry Smith (vocals and bass guitar), Rick Canoff (vocals and tenor saxophone), Frank Posa (trumpet), John Gerber (vocals, alto and tenor saxophones, flute and banjo) and Ron Karpman (drums).

'Dinosaur Swamps' has an intricate gatefold artwork, which is a reproduction of a mural of pterosaurs, flying reptiles, at the American Museum of the Natural History, painted by Constantine Astori and A. Brown in 1942. It shows a host of pterosaurs flying and clinging to cliffs above an ancient beach. Into this iconic piece of paleoart, the band's members of The Flock have been inserted in the painting and they are looking to those flying reptiles with different expressions.

'Dinosaur Swamps' shows the band more at home with their prog and jazz sensibilities, than its predecessor debut. It's perhaps even more progressive, and completely bewildering. This is a very dense sounding album. Usually, Glickstein using both guitar and keyboards and Goodman playing at the same time, frequently the horns as well, both get a larger role effect into the album. The songs are in general very good. Still, the band seems to have too many musical ideas.

'Dinosaur Swamps' has seven tracks. The first track 'Green Slice' is a brooding instrumental. It has some melodic sax accompanied by swirling organ, and seques into the bluegrass feel of 'Big Bird'. It's interesting to hear the combination of country fiddle and a full horn section, and comes across like the early Dixie Dregs if they jammed with Chicago. The strong country feel on 'Big Bird' is pretty evident. The third track 'Hornschmeyer's Island' is a more straightforward pop tune with a very psychedelic feel, very indicative of the late 60's San Francisco hippy sound, which makes that it sounds a bit dated by today's standards. The fourth track 'Lighthouse' is heavier than the predecessor tracks. Overall this is a heavy rock number with throbbing bass lines from Jerry Smith, Glickstein's power chords, and a raging horn section. The fifth track 'Crabfoot' is mostly an instrumental track with plenty of trumpet and saxophone. It's a symphonic blues jazz number with percussion solos, backwards noises and a strange horn noise section. The sixth track 'Mermaid' is a sort of a romantic British folk sounding minstrelly ballad with a complex little ditty featuring violins, trumpet, and medieval sounding vocals. Perhaps the band pre-dates Gentle Giant on the song 'Mermaid'. The seventh track 'Uranian Sircus' closes the album with a jangly of guitar rock. This is a very cool way to finish the album.

Conclusion: I must confess that I like very much of 'Dinosaur Swamps'. It was a real good surprise for me. It's better than I thought after my first listening of it. This is an album very fun despite it sounds too much to the 60's. I'm not really a great fan of the 60's, in general. By the other hand, it also has too much influences of country music, of which I'm not a great fan either. Still, the album is full of playful music. I'm sure these guys seemed to have fun doing what they do, which is a great thing. I think 'Dinosaur Swamps' ranges several styles of music, probably too much on the same album. And maybe it even sounds too much dated too. However, despite all I said before, I think the final result is a very good album, a great collection of great songwriting and performance. So, after some hesitation I give to it 4 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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