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Egg - The Polite Force CD (album) cover




Canterbury Scene

4.12 | 493 ratings

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4 stars An obscure but fascinating little gem from the 70s. Egg may not have reached the (relative) fame of their Canterbury comrades (whom they didn't really have much in common with at that point), but the band were no less innovative - perhaps even more so. The band's music was largely based around Stewart's heavy organ and energetic piano work, although , according to Stewart, 95% of the material was penned by band-mate Mont Campbell (who would later study at the Royal College of Music). And his compositions are mighty impressive, influenced by jazz as well as avant-garde classical composers, perhaps Stravinsky. In some ways, the creative, dissonant writing style exhibited by this band can be seen as related and possibly influential to the RIO bands. And while the production on "The Polite Force" could've been a bit sharper, it does not decrease the raw intensity of this outstanding record.

Among the highlights here is the opener, "A Visit to Newport Hospital". Despite beginning with a tritone-based organ riff, it's perhaps the most laidback cut, with soothing vocals from Mont Campbell and rather relaxed, jazzy keyboard work. There are ,of course, lots of tricky meters and creative playing throughout.

In sharp contrast is the propulsive "Contrasong", which features snarling, dissonant piano, prominent brass arrangements and more time sig madness. Despite it's obvious progressive tendencies, the extremely catchy and energetic nature of this song could've actually made it a radio hit (seriously).

The big disappointment here is "Boilk" , which is little more than a puddle of weird sound effects with some Bach poured into it at the end. The fact that it's 9 minutes long makes it quite agonizing, and a perfect way to disrupt an otherwise solid album.

And then we have the 20-minute "Long Piece No. 3", which isn't an epic but merely unites four separate instrumentals under one name. Part 1 is mostly quite frantic and filled with dissonant harmonies; Part 2 begins considerably calmer, but intensifies as it progresses, peaking with a superb, dischordant organ riff introduced around the 5-minute mark; more intricate dissonance follows in Part 3, which also features an excellent classically-influenced interlude, one of my favourite segments on the entire album; the fourth and last part (which revisits some themes from Pt 1) is shorter and less spectacular than the previous three , but serves as a suitable way to conclude "Long Piece", and the album itself.

Although flawed, "The Polite Force" is nevertheless a very interesting entity in the early 70s prog scene, and recommended to anyone who appreciates creative and ambitious prog music.

Pafnutij | 4/5 |


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