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Various Artists (Label Samplers) - Charisma Disturbance CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Label Samplers)


Various Genres

4.00 | 2 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Contains Spam

Charisma have never really received the recognition they undoubtedly deserve for their contribution to the development of progressive rock, and indeed to good music as a whole. The label was founded and run by Tony Stratton-Smith (who died far too young in 1987). The man was quite frankly, a genius. Richard Branson may have discovered Mike Oldfield, but Branson's real talent was in building up the empire which started with "Tubular Bells". His entrepreneurial and financial acumen allowed him to create the world dominating multi-national we now know as Virgin. Stratton-Smith was not in the same league when it came to empire building. He was though light years ahead when it came to spotting, nurturing, and developing bands.

It seems astonishing now, but when he took on Genesis, they had released one album produced by Jonathan King, which sank without trace. The first two albums they recorded with Charisma ("Trespass" and "Nursery Cryme") sold less quantities than the North Pole Daily News. These days, with such a track record, they would have been dropped by their label quicker than a surprise handful of doggie-doo. Stratton-Smith had complete faith in the band though, and the rest is history. (Ironically, they would become a Virgin act once they had achieved the success they so clearly deserved.)

The real point is though, that Genesis were far from being an isolated case.Time and time again, Charisma signed up bands who have gone on to become household names, not least of whom were the aforementioned Genesis, Rare Bird, Audience, The Nice, String Driven thing, Van Der Graaf Generator, Lindisfarne, etc.

This sampler from 1973 offers a superb summary of the artists who were signed to the label at the time. The sleeve sums up Charisma's, and especially Stratton-Smith's attitude superbly. "What Charisma has required of its artists is performance, and the ability to "get it on" with an audience. Artists have required of Charisma a situation in which they could "happen". We should avoid the truancy of words such as taste and intuition, faith and hard work would be better".

The tracks included here give a good indication of the diversity of the artists signed to Charisma, while simultaneously highlighting how well served prog was by the label. Included on this sampler are The Nice's "Karelia Suite", including Emerson's assault on his organ(!), Genesis "Return of the giant hogweed" from "Nursery Cryme", Bo Hansson's "Flight to the ford", Peter Hammill's "German", and Van Der Graaf Generator's wonderfully dark "Killer".

In addition, we have Audience's fine single "I had a dream" and Rare Bird's classic "Sympathy". It is though the tracks which complement these prog classics which make the compilation so appealing. Alan Hull (another tragic early retirement) of Lindisfarne recorded a sublime solo album entitled "Pipedream", from which "Money Game" is taken. I cannot recommend this prog related classic album enough. Lindisfarne's "Fog on the Tyne" undoubtedly falls into the "forgettable" category (but their "Lady Eleanor" which precedes it is superb, and rather progressive), and Clifford T Ward's "Home thoughts" is the most syrupy selection they could have made from his similarly titled, and otherwise pleasing album.

Things pick up again with the vastly under-appreciated String Driven Thing's "Regent Street Incident", and Monty Python's "Spam song" still raises a smile plus the irresistible temptation to join in. "I'll have your Spam dear, I love it".

The album comes packaged in an envelope style sleeve, with details of the artists on the inner sleeves. Wonderful.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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