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Third Ear Band - Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox CD (album) cover


Third Ear Band


Indo-Prog/Raga Rock

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
3 stars A bizarre compilation whose history is perhaps more engrossing than its content, "Songs from the Hydrogen Jukebox" is NOT the THIRD EAR BAND (TEB) precursor from the late 1960s with the same name, but more of an offshoot led by percussionist Glen Sweeney which recorded an 8 track album in 1972. In typical TEB fashion, it was shelved until emerging in 1991 as "Prophecies". That release seems rare enough, but 6 of the tracks were merged with 3 numbers from early 1990s TEB albums "Brain Waves" and "Magic Music". That of course leaves 2 orphans from the original album but I'm going to guess they weren't that different from the chosen 6, since they all sound pretty much the same. While bearing a resemblance to the TEB "Magus" album from the same period, which didn't see release until well into the 21st century, they unfortunately co-opt the dirge of that lost classic without the pre punk urgency that offset it so well.. It sounds more like the vocalist (credits not readily available) is reciting a form of existential poetry merely to give the bubbling jazzy rhythms under which to bubble. According to some, it bears resemblance to GONG's work should you find that a drawing card.

Luckily the remaining 3 tracks are more captivating. "Behind the Pyramids" belies influences of 1980s rock, boasts colorful wind instruments over an unwavering infectious guitar riff and sounds better with each of its passing 7 minutes. It definitely entices me to seek out the "Magic Music" recording as I'm curious how this instrumental managed to slip onto a vocal oriented collection by essentially a different band. "Dances with Dolphins" is similar but attenuated. "Water into Wine" finally closes the loop with a similar musical arsenal, a bit heavier on the percussion and with vocals that are entirely complementary this time, thanks to Lyn Dobson. It recalls earlier JADE WARRIOR or DAVID SYLVIAN, that is to say I'm quite delighted with it. So add "Brain Waves" to the list of TEB entries to sample. I guess this compilation has served its purpose!

In somewhat of a role reversal for lovers of early prog, the 1972 tracks are simply outclassed by the 3 from the 1990s. How often can one say that around here?

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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