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Jackal - Awake CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.42 | 24 ratings

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4 stars Jackal is a very little known Canadian band which started its career in late 60' but wasn't able to record an album until 1973. Their 1st (and only effort) called "Awake" is a mix of heavy psych, hard rock & early progressive rock typical for late 60s and early 70s. I can also hear quite many southern rock and slightly pop-rock influences typical of American music from those days. Anyway I think that this album seemed to be a bit dated back than in 1973 (however some sources point that in fact it was recorded in 1971, and just released in 1973), when most of prog-band preferred long suites, classical-sounding approach and usage of new types of keyboards (like Moog or ARP). But to be honest I don't care at all because I have to admit that I simply dig this sort of "heavy prog" style very much. And every- time when I'm tired of my usual full-blown, highly technical and self-indulgent organ-driven symphonic prog, I like to play such more simple, almost radio-friendly but still pretty heavy and (of course!) organ-driven music as presented on Jackal's debut.

And now review of all 8 songs from "Awake":

1. "At The Station" - album begins with one of my favorite tunes in the album. "At The Station" is truly memorable heavy psych meets southern-style hard rock (a la Bloodrock) song which more-or-less sets an atmosphere and style for the whole album. I simply love the combination of heavy punching Hammond organ layers and ultimately catchy clavinet melodies. What a pity that those 2 instruments aren't usually mixed together in prog-rock music, they are just created for themselves! Another highlight of the song are Charlie Shannon's vocals which are stunningly passionate and fits this track perfectly. And let's don't forget about middle part of the compositions where we can listen to some brief but enjoyable organ/guitar interludes.

2. "For You" - this one is some kind of false-ballad with nice organ background, simple but reasonable guitar lines and some piano touches. Nothing stunning but Shannon's vocal is as usual superb, full of emotions I would say.

3. "Sunny Side of The Day" - just like previous song this one is also towarded rather to mainstream audience. More like adult-rock/pop than heavy prog. Nothing special but also not bad at all. Anyway it's a short song (less than 3 minutes) so even if you don't like it, it will pass by fast.

4. "New Day Has Arisen" - the longest track on "Awake" comes back to heavy-prog style from "At The Station". Truly amazing piece full of always perfect vocal delivery and extremely busy & hard punching Hammond chops. Also Dave Bernard's guitar has more to do here 'cause except usual rhythmic function it also plays some great riffs in unisono with Kellesis's organ. I'd say: half-way between Bloodrock and Deep Purple/Uriah Heep but with their own, special flavor.

5. "How Time Has Flown" - another superb performance where Chris comes back to organ+clavinet idea. First 2 and half minute of the song is a high-tension, almost symphonic style intro full of gritty guitar riffs and fast organ runs. After that vocal section kicks in's still beautiful of course! I love the organ/guitar interludes which brings Beggar's Opera staff to mind. Simply put: another winner!

6. "Lost in The World" - the shortest song of the record is surprisingly straight-forward and guitar-oriented rock'n'roller (of the harder-edge of rock'n'roll side). Average staff, nothing offensive but also nothing great. Relatively long guitar solo & very short organ one included.

7. "In The Heavens" - superb track with throughout enjoyable, swirling organ work of Chris Kellesis and highly-emotional vocals. I love its steady, tank-heavy and unstoppable rhythm. James Kellesis seems to be very competent drummer after all.

8. "Awake" - Oh man! Another winner! At first I thought that it will be instrumental because of very long, technical, symphonic-meets-heavy-prog-sounding intro where we can enjoy to some of the best organ/guitar interludes on the album. However about 3rd minute Charlie comes back with decent singing parts. Maybe after that "Awake" is losing its impetus a little but it still remains a classic.

Conclusion: Jackal's sole album is a very entertaining release filled with proto-prog/hard rock/heavy psych music influenced as much by southern rock scene (Bloodrock) as British heavy-prog one (Uriah Heep, Deep Purple). Besides those bands I just mentioned, I can also compare their music to German groups like Birth Control, 2066 & Then or Frumpy. If you like this album you should also check another Canadian band called Amish, which also recorded only one album. Those albums sound like twin-brothers IMHO!

Anyway in the end of this review I'd like to ask only one question: what the hell happened with those 4 musicians from Jackal? Did they ever played in any other band after this group split? I'm especially interested in career of organist and vocalist 'cos they did really exceptional work on "Awake"!

Fully deserved 4 stars for this solid staff from ozzy_tom

ozzy_tom | 4/5 |


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