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Egg - The Polite Force CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 491 ratings

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4 stars Even in the prog world Egg stayed an obscure band. They may be one of the pioneers of the Canterbury scene, Egg never reached the same amount of attention that the English prog greats received. Even though "The polite force" is one of the highlights of the relative short career of Egg, it is more a kind of a hidden jewel. On this album the band showcases the same musical inspiration skill of ELP, VDGG or Pink Floyd but without ever going over the bombastic top. Only the first two tracks includes vocals. The emphasis is on the instrumental parts. The vocals serve well in the second role but would definitely fail if they would be on the fore. It's well sung but there's a lack of personality in the voice of Mont Campbell. The vocals are similar to other Canterbury bands ; sounding timid and polite (!) The domination of the organ chords make a comparison with the sound of VDGG inevitable but on the sidelong epic, the sound of Elp comes damn close. Like on many other Canterbury releases the sound of the album is calm and smooth. Throughout the record there's an organ driven jazzy atmosphere which results in a laid back feel on most of the album. The first two tracks are more or less conventional when compared to the other tracks. "The visit to a Newport hospital" has a menacing beginning and ending part which consist of layers of guitar chords, somewhat reminiscent to those opening tones of KC's "shizoid man". The middle part has a smooth atmosphere which is typical for Canterbury bands. I keep playing this awesome track again and again. Thanks to the blazer section, the haunting "Contrasong" has a more diverse sound which sound timeless listening to it now ; here the vocals sound a little more selfassure. On the rest of the album Egg takes you on a daring , experimental journey. "Boilk" starts of with something like a tubular bell followed by a spooky mellotron sound and some very strange sounding picking on the guitar. Then there's some premature electronic effects and the ending part is showing the pastoral organ of Dave Stewart once again. The experimental nature of this music must have been way ahead of its time in 1971. Even now it still is worth a spin. It seems this band was able to accomplish in 1971 what KC would do several years later on "Larks tongues in aspic" or Pink Floyd in "On the run". It wouldn't surprise me if the aforementioned bands used this as a source of inspiration for their own music. On the sidelong track "Long piece no 3" the organ and piano parts of Stewart take the lead again and it becomes clear that in essence, the rest of the music is built around it. Nevertheless it is one hell of a fascinating journey. There's lots of strange excerpts, different moods, odd time signatures and great musicianship to enjoy. This is instrumental pièce de résistance wouldn't be misplaced on an album of ELP although they would have played it with a bigger and more impressive sound. Egg is more subtle but the melodies and sounds are quite similar to ELP.

In short : This album is some kind of a lost classic for every prog fan to enjoy. I've been listening to this record in a state of fascination although it's more than 30 years of age and no moogs or synthesizers are used.

Fishy | 4/5 |


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