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The Syn - Original Syn 1965-2004 CD (album) cover

ORIGINAL SYN 1965-2004

The Syn


Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.29 | 9 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Sycophants (i.e. Yes men) pay their dues

The Syn, and their related bands who are also featured on this album, came and went in the 1960s making little impression along the way. They made decent but unremarkable pop, perhaps even at times proto-prog in the way attributed to bands such as The Beatles, Clouds and Kaleidoscope. They did however include in their line up a couple of youngsters who would go on to form one of prog's core bands, none other than Yes. Both Chris Squire and Pete Banks paid their dues in The Syn from 1965 onwards.

Even then, the Syn would only ever have been but a footnote in the history of Yes, had it not been for the fact that the band unbelievably reformed, Squire, Banks et al, in 2003. This resulted in a tour and a brand new album. With the world-wide appetite for anything Yes related still very much in situ, fans of that band eagerly lapped up this new Squire and co. output. There was of course the inevitable trawl of the archives for anything by the original Syn, resulting in this compilation released to coincide with the new album. While nominally a Syn album, this is in fact a compilation of songs by various 60's bands featuring members of the Syn, and especially Squire.

The earliest recordings are thus by The Selfs, a local covers band, their versions of "I can't explain" and "Love you" being included. These are highly anonymous performances by a band who could have been any one of thousands doing the same thing.

A merger with another band resulted in the combined outfit being renamed the Syn, and the recording of some original material. The first of these "Merry-go-round" would have sounded heavy, indeed underground, at the time but now simply sounds dated. Banks was not involved in these first recordings, joining slightly later to replace John Painter. A first single soon followed entitled "Created by Clive". This is something of a novelty song, a kind of cross between the Bonzos and the Kinks. The B-side "Grounded" is more representative of the direction the band were following. The Syn continued to work on their own material, while playing cover versions in clubs. A five minute track here "The gangster's opera" demonstrates the ambitious nature of the songs they worked on. The fact that the recording comes from a rehearsal in a Scout Hall, recorded on one mike to a reel to reel tape recorder, indicates the barrel scraping side of this compilation.

The second single "Flowerman" is included twice here. It reflects the hippie nature of the period, but in truth sounds like a Herman's Hermits outtake.

Two of the tracks are demos from 2004 under the banner of Narsquijack, a combination of the performers surnames. These are dull and of little interest.

The short second disc of this set contains recordings from 2004 by the reformed band. It is fair to say that any resemblance between these and the 1960's recordings is co- incidental. Despite that fact that Squire does not actually contribute to the composition of any of the songs, the Squire/Yes influence is strong. "Illusion" is a 14+ minute three part progressively influenced workout. The song has similarities with Nektar ("Recycled"), the slightly retro vocals contrasting well with the 21st century instrumentation. The closing section resembles the jousting between Wakeman and Howe on "South side of the sky" on recent Yes tours.

The reworking of "Grounded" sees the song transformed and extended, but it is at best a pretty mediocre song. The final track is an interpretation of Yes' "Time and a word", with a Syn composition "A tide in the affairs of man" incorporated as a middle section. The opening vocals of this slowed down version are similar to Graeme Edge's contributions to the Moody Blues albums, but without his atmospherically dulcet tones. The centre section is clearly composed to complement the Yes composition, and thus has distinct Yes overtones.

It is hard to recommend this collection to all but the most avid Yes collector. The first CD is of purely historical value. The short second CD does however offer a good excuse to investigate further should the opportunity present itself.

Pete Banks left the reformed band before they could tour, and Chris Squire has now indicated that his time on the project is over. It would appear that The Syn will quickly drift back into the obscurity from whence they came.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |


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