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Egg - The Civil Surface CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

3.92 | 258 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A bit of an omelette

I have fond recollections of Egg's eponymous debut album, which at the time was innovative and different. It was with high hopes that I therefore acquired "The civil surface". Falling within the genre or sound defined as Canterbury, Egg never managed to move beyond a sort of cult status, with a small but faithful following. The years have been relatively kind to the band though, and they are now regarded with affection and with the recognition which passed them by at the time.

"The civil surface" was recorded in 1974, after the band had reformed. The highly regarded Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics one), has spent some time in Hatfield and the North before getting back together with his fellow Egg members, to record one further album.

While my review of the first Egg album was by and large favourable, I did feel that it was rather one dimensional, with an over emphasis on the organ playing of Stewart. "The Civil surface" is certainly more diverse, but the greater diversity does not I'm afraid make for a better album.

The compositions here are generally more fusion based, straying at times towards Krautrock. Many of the compositions are effectively leftovers from the band's earlier albums. "Wring out the ground" for example, the feature track on side 2, has all these features, plus some more conventional Canterbury influences. The track also features Steve Hillage making a guest appearance on guitar.

In terms of sound, in addition to the keyboards of Dave Stewart here we have a wind quartet, various wind instrumental virtuosos, and a female vocal trio. The overall impact of this is to give the album a modern classical feel, with many pleasant sounds.

It is though the compositions which generally fall short. Gone are the traditional classical interpretations and improvisations, to be replaced by avant-garde compositions. There are at times strong hints of the wonderful work of early 70's multi- instrumentalist Yoel Schwarcz and his work with Continuum, but unlike the music of that band the tracks are not developed to their full potential.

The overall impression here is of a band trying desperately to work out why they got back together. There is a lack of a clear direction which points to a little too much democracy, and a shortage of useable material. The latter is borne out by the two "Wind quartets" which are used to bring the album up to a decent length. This album is simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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