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Egg The Civil Surface album cover
3.92 | 258 ratings | 22 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Germ Patrol (8:31)
2. Wind Quartet 1 (2:20)
3. Enneagram (9:07)
4. Prelude (4:17)
5. Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now) (8:11)
6. Nearch (3:22)
7. Wind Quartet 2 (4:48)

Total Time 40:36

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Stewart / organ, piano, bass (6)
- Mont Campbell / bass, vocals, piano, French horn (2,7)
- Clive Brooks / drums

- Steve Hillage / guitar (5)
- Jeremy Baines / flute (1)
- Lindsay Cooper / oboe, bassoon (1,6)
- Tim Hodgkinson / clarinet (1,6)
- Maurice Cambridge / clarinet (2,7)
- Stephen Solloway / flute (2,7)
- Chris Palmer / bassoon (2,7)
- Amanda Parsons / vocals (4)
- Ann Rosenthal / vocals (4)
- Barbara Gaskin / vocals (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Trevor Key

LP Caroline Records - C 1510 (1974, UK)

CD Virgin Records - CACD 1510 (1990, UK)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2003 (2007, UK) 24-bit remaster by Paschal Byrne

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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EGG The Civil Surface ratings distribution

(258 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (26%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

EGG The Civil Surface reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Carl floyd fan
3 stars This is a pretty good cd but nothing to get excited about. Although I might need to listen to this a few more times (I have to many new cds) because I get the feel that this is the type of cd that grows on you. It diffenetly appears that there is a lot to discover in each in every track.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With Dave Stewart as leader of the band you might have expected that this album would have a strong influence of Canterbury music. The combination of his organ style, energetic drumming by Clive Brooks, bass guitar and French Horn (oboe, bassoon, clarinet) delivers a really good music harmony with its unique sound. As Dave Stewart also helped Steve Hillage's band KHAN who produced only one album "Space Shanty", the music has no major difference between the two. It's probably the vocal part that's different because Khan "Space Shanty" was a song-oriented album while EGG's "Civil Surface" is a full music-oriented album. The other bands that similar to EGG are: National Health, Hatfield & The North, Steve Hillage.

Song like "Enneagram" flows beautifully with variations of chords produced from organ accentuated with drum work and insertion of oboe, clarinet and bassoon. The music varies between simple and complex arrangements with excellent composition, overall and it moves from slow to relatively medium/fast tempo music with jazz/ fusion influence in addition to Canterbury. "Germ Patrol" continues the tradition of organ-oriented music with great drumming and bass lines. Piano and French horn improvisation have also enriched the textures of the music. For me it's rewarding experience whenever I play this album especially with nice flow of the music combining unique sounds of individual instruments and the melody. In some parts I can sense an exploration to avant-garde and repetition of certain segments but with different textures. "Prelude" explores Dave Stewart's organ solo in multi-layered sounds followed excellently with a stream of music resulting from bass, drum, organ and some choral section. "Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now" features Mont Campbell on vocal Organ work characterizes this track and it has variety of styles - being a Canterbury and avant-garde. I like the solo organ continued with unique arrangements of the accompanying music that features organ as lead melody.

Provided that you are familiar with Canterbury, this album is an excellent addition to your prog collection. The music is original. The composition is neat and great. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Review by 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.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Egg's reunion album, originally issued through Virgin records and recently rereleased under licence by Esoteric Recordings, is a bit of an odd bird. As detailed in the Esoteric version's liner notes, which provide a decent history of the band's career, there was never any question of Mont Campbell, Dave Stewart and Clive Brooks resurrecting Egg full time: this album was simply an attempt to record some unreleased Egg songs for posterity before the members returned to their various full-time projects, with a couple of tasteful Mont Campbell-composed wind quartets to pad things out a little.

Although the title is based on a similar pun to that of their previous album (The Civil Surface instead of The Civil Service, like The Polite Force instead of The Police Force), the sound is very different - much more laid-back and relaxed, perhaps reflecting the tone of the recording sessions. Dave Stewart brings along some influences from his day job in Hatfield & the North - there's even a guest appearance from the Northettes, Hatfield's backing singers - and indeed if you didn't know this was an Egg album you might be tempted to guess that this is a collection of long-lost Hatfield demo tapes.

I say demo tapes because there are a few problems with the production. In particular, whilst Clive Brooks' drum work is excellent and a key component of the music, it is mixed far, far too loudly much of the time; Dave Stewart has gone on the record as saying that this was an issue. The problem was especially bad on the Virgin CD reissue, and in fact I didn't like the album when I first encountered it precisely because of that. To my ears, the Esoteric Recordings remaster goes a long way towards correcting the problem, bringing out the true joys of the album for the first time. Many of the songs focus on the interplay between Brooks' drums and Dave Stewart's organ, with Mont Campbell's bass work and other contributions providing a subtle touch. Ex-Uriel bandmate Steve Hillage guests on Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now), Lindsay Cooper and Tim Hodgkinson of Henry Cow lend a hand on many tracks, and all in all there's an impression of various Canterbury scene luminaries having a good time giving Egg a suitable send-off. Part of me wonders what the songs would have sounded like if Egg had recorded them in 1972; would they really have had this dreamy, Hatfield-like air, or would they have had a bit more of the dark intensity of the Polite Force? We'll never know, although anyone lucky enough to have attended an Egg concert back during the band's lifetime probably have some idea.

While Canterbury fans will doubtless want to get their hands on the album, it's neither the best the scene has to offer, nor a complete waste of time (despite the issues with the mix): it's good, and pleasant, but nothing more than that. Three stars.

Review by Kazuhiro
3 stars The member was doing indeed variegated work from the announcement of Egg of the second album in 1971 to the reorganization of the band with this album. It is guessed to them that some position for Canterbury Scene had already been established though the session for BBC also had gone. It might have the element like their a few humours and projects etc. of Canterbury though this album is recognized as the last album of fact Egg that Bass player's Mont Campbell has interest in French Horn and makes a variegated guest participate. Lindsay Cooper and Tim Hodgekinson of Henry Cow including The Northettes. And, the guest such as old friend's Steve Hillage is indeed gorgeous. The credit of the tune are all names of the band and the tune of Quartets that seems that Campbell composed it also gives the change and the surprise to the flow of the album. Because such an element is included, the overall impression might be a little loose. However, the route of Egg is always kept by the sense of Stewart. The impression of Rock of "Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now" raises this album-quality. It puts on a little abstract lyrics and the humour and the sense of Egg flow. They pull this album and the act is pulled to the history of the band at the end. The sense and the humour of Egg were one of the products to which Canterbury had given birth though the history was a short life.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars EGG had actually broken up before this album with Dave Stewart moving on to form HATFIELD AND THE NORTH and Mont Campbell off to get his music degree. There was some unfinished business though as the band felt some of the material they had composed and played live needed to be put on an album, so they reformed for this record only. They brought in some guests to help out in Steve Hillage, Tim Hodgkinson, Lindsay Coooper, THE NORTHETTES (Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons & Ann Rosenthal) among others. After this Clive Brooks the drummer would go on to play in a Rock / Blues band while Stewart and Campbell would form NATIONAL HEALTH. That early incarntion of NATIONAL HEALTH composed lots of music and played live many times but never put out an album because no record label would sign them. Check out their "Missing Pieces" album to hear these previously unrealesed tracks.That first incarnation had among other Bill Bruford, Pip Plye, Steve Hillage, Phil Miller, Phil Lee, Alan Gowen and more.

"Germ Patrol" opens with faint percussion as other sounds eventually come and go. The drums take the lead then keys come in. Some fuzzed out organ after 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. "Wind Quartet 1" and the part 2 were added to really pad the album says Dave Stewart. He also says they're not really EGG material but something Mont was working on. "Enneagram" is the highlight for me and a song they used to open their shows with. Just a solid sound to open with those crisp drums. The sound quality is excellent. It settles 4 minutes in and this sounds amazing too. It's bulding then it settles again around 6 1/2 minutes before kicking in one more time. Incredible !

"Prelude" opens with keyboards and bass before the drums join in. Female vocal melodies (THE NORTHETTES) come and go.The organ dominates around 3 minutes. "Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now" kicks in right away with vocals, drums and keyboards standing out. Great sound. It turns spacey after 2 minutes. Drums and a melody around 3 minutes, fuzz organ follows and some nice bass. Vocals and that opening soundscape are back after 6 minutes. What a song ! "Nearch" opens with drums and wind instruments. I'm thinking HENRY COW before a minute.

A very solid album that all Canterbury fans should check out.

Review by lor68
3 stars Here it is!! Another controversial album from the Canterburian Scene, the prosecution of the ideas developed within "The Polite Force" and- as for this latter- a further uneven concept album...well, by going from the track "Germ Patrol" (not far away from the best hits by National Health and- above all- Hatfield and The North) to the short "Nearch" of side 2, there's no continuity. They start by means of a planned and structured music project (like inside "The Polite.."), but then They are not strictly according to logic anymore (of a clever music structure I mean..), cause the band is always in search of a certain "progressiveness"- regarding their improvisational passages (a difficult aim in itself) which often loose the direction!! In fact, often in the middle between jazz and a psychedelic prog a-la Soft Machine, sometimes their music is not satisfying at all and it could disturb me after a repetitive listening to it!!

Nevertheless I recognize Dave Stewart (here playing the organ, the piano and even a bass guitar!) as a true "master mind" of this project- as well as of the whole Canterburian scene along with Steve Hilage and Robert Wyatt- (despite a few defects which portray all these characters when They try to create an innovative composition...) and for me it could be enough to judge the present effort as an interesting product after all...even though it's not coherent and almost totally unhomogeneous, perhaps making me erase one star from the final score!!

So make your own choice at the end, cause an objective evaluation is difficult here!

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Mont CAMPBELL, Dave STEWART, and Clive BROOKS' final EGG album was released over a year after the the band had broken up and the trio had gone separate ways. It was the incessant insistence of a small but vocal fan base that got the band to finally record some of the as-yet unrecorded material--which had been fan favorites from their live performances--that Dave gathered Clive and Mont back into the studio with a bunch of his current band members from Hatfield and the North, as well as a few other friends with whom he had recently worked--like Steve Hillage (on "Wring Out the Ground") from their KHAN collaboration.

1. "Germ Patrol" (8:32) opens with a cute Alice and Wonderland feel to it--even as the calliope-like organ, walking bass line and beating of the toms play along in a kind of circus way. I think, from it's title, that it's supposed to sound millitaristic but it's too fun and quirky to do so. Definitely in the "tongue-in-cheek" realm of musical renderings. Even the 'conversation' of multiple keyboards in the sixth minute seem comical. The ensuing "buzz bass" solo is the song's most serious moment but it is bookended by Dave's circus-like organ and piano play. I like the horns around 6:50 and the French horn solo to fade. A very memorable if not awfully melodic song suite. (10/10)

2. "Wind Quartet 1" (2:20) is, truly, a wind quartet, complete with flute, clarinet, bassoon, and French horn (though I swear I hear an oboe, too). Nice piece with a nice, very British, more classical than jazz, arrangement. (9/10)

3. "Enneagram" (4:13) has Dave Stewart using an organ sound that is much familiar to us for its bombastic use by Keith Emerson around the same time in his early ELP concerts and recordings. A rather exciting uptempo song with wide dynamic variation. (9/10)

4. "Prelude" (4:18) has some of that classical church organ sound dating back to EGG's first album. Dave's cerebral experimentation is matched by Mont's bass play with no drum or percussion play until the 1:15 mark. The surprise entry of the odd choral section as presented by the future "Northettes" is a bit discordant and disruptive, but no weirder than the solo organ play to the song's end. I guess it all works in the scheme of the whole "prelude" thing. (8/10)

5. "Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now)" (8:11) is a cool song that opens with some very odd lyrics being sung out by Mont and then a section of experimental sound/noises before the actual song foundations are allowed to be established--over which some nice keyboard soloing occurs before everything slows down again at the 5:50 mark for Mont's vocal to continue. This is a very strong section of the song--very solid and confident sounding. (9/10)

6. "Nearch" (3:12) is another neochamber piece with Mont's French horn, Clive's precision drum accompaniment, Lindsay Cooper's bassoon and Tom Hodgkinson's clarinet, with Dave Stewart playing bass! Interesting exercise/ Útude. (8/10)

7. "Wind Quartet 2" (4:48) finds us returning to the flute-dominated winds of the third song. Some nice medieval- like melodies and moods evoked here. (9/10)

My only problem with The Civil Surface is that it feels so cerebral--as if Mont and Dave were working out very complex mathematical formulae together through their musical collaboration. This just makes the music a little colder, a little less accessible to me, the listener. No wonder Clive wanted his drums to be loud and forward in the mix! This concludes the band's last album. Egg were a short-lived Canterbury band that definitely displayed the more classical side of the Canterbury jazz experimentation--and this while the members were only in their late teens and early, early 20s! They just happened to produce, however, some of the most interesting and some of my favorite music from the Canterbury Scene.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars Usually reunions happen a decade or more later, by which point their new material just never stacks up to the old and is forgotten. For example, Cream reuniting in 2005, but the old bad blood resurfaced (Ginger Baker has serious issues on how to get along with people and he still continued showing his contempt for Jack Bruce). At least they didn't try to embarrass us with new material that will be very substandard and never comparing to their classic material. Crosby, Stills & Nash (with Young sometimes) had frequently reunited through the years and gave us mediocre album after mediocre album. Egg, on the other hand, reunited in 1974, not too long after they broke up in the first place, so obviously not too much time has passed and was able to create another wonderful album worthy of your collection. Dave Stewart was busy with Hatfield & the North, but he felt there was enough Egg material that hasn't been recorded to be recorded and The Civil Surface is the results. While the Canterbury scene was becoming more fusion-oriented (witness the Soft Machine albums from the same time period, and of course Hatfield & the North, and later on National Health), Egg retained it's early '70s sound, it could have easily passed as a 1971 followup to The Polite Force. There are a couple of pieces dominated by wind instruments (Henry Cow members Lindsay Cooper, Tim Hodgkinson and Jeremy Baines appear here) but the rest is classic Egg. Themes from Hatfield & the North's debut show up, probably to let everyone know Dave Stewart's presence, or the fact Hatfield & the North hasn't broken up (and they hadn't, once The Civil Surface was released, Hatfield & the North released their final album The Rotter's Club). I didn't exactly know what to expect from Egg in 1974. The music by this time seemed behind the times, more fitting for 1971, but in the case of Egg, this works on their behalf. I was expecting a more full-on fusion brand of Canterbury more in tune with the likes of Hatfield but instead get more of the great early '70s Egg sound. I can only say that if you have their first two albums, you need this one as well!
Review by ALotOfBottle
5 stars After breaking up in 1972, Egg had plenty of leftover material and felt the still had something to say. So, they reunited in 1974 to record Civil Surface (again with a pun in the title like on Polite Force). The trio managed to get a record deal with Caroline records. They invited their friends from Henry Cow (Lindsey Cooper, Tim Hodgkinson, Jeremy Baines) to guest on the album.

This is a mature effort of a band that gives impression of having little concern for fame or fortune. As always, most of the pieces are composed by Mont Campbell, although Dave Stewart brings in his own instrumental parts (some of which he played on Hatfield And The North's debut a year before). Civil Surface shifts towards a more typical Canterbury sound compared to Egg's previous work, although not entirely. The band's classical influences of Hindemith, Stravinsky, Bartok or Schoenberg, as presented on previous releases, still play a crucial role in Egg's sound. Dave Stewart's organ playing is out of this world. Now it has a wider plethora of sounds, as he added a Hohner clavinet to his rig, which gave him a bright percussive sound. Bass playing of Mont Campbell is very unique and goes from funky grooves through classical upright bass-like to experimental fuzz bass passages. Clive Brooks' drumming is precise and accurate. The drummer handles odd time signatures with unbelievable ease. All in all, the musicianship on this Egg release does not disappoint compared to their previous albums. It features all of the characteristic elements of the band.

The album consists of seven pieces. The album opener, "Germ Patrol" starts out with funny high-pitched "ant"-like sounds achieved by Jeremy Baines' work on a gramophone (sort of what he did on Henry Cow's debut one year before). The piece uses a metronome with a bit of reverb to imitate sounds of a mine. The tempo it gives, remains more or less unchanged throughout the rest of the piece. Only a few minutes in, "Germ Patrol" already succesfully sets the mood for the rest of Civil Surface, with its fuzz bass parts, odd time signatures, sophisticated harmonies and arrangements, and smooth, lush Hammond organ sounds. "Wind Quartet 1" is one of the pieces that Campbell worked on after his departure from Egg in 1972 while studying French Horn at the Royal Academy of Music. It only features a chamber horn section consisting of a flute, a clarinet, a bassoon and a French horn. The overall sound reminds a bit of romantic-era anthem of 19th-century hunters, in the vein of Carl Maria Van Weber with a Paul Hindemith-like avant-garde chamber twist. "Ennagram", often hailed the highlight of the album, starts out with a heavy, rapid, complex intro on Stewart's clavinet, bringing the opening of "Long Piece No. 3" from Egg's previous album to mind. The piece loses its agressive quality, but the opening theme still reverbrates in between those extremely varied, dynamic, intricate passages, however in different musical contextx. "Prelude" is probably the most unique track on the album. It has a very pastoral, liturgical character with gentle church-like organ, delicate bass fuzz, which plays a crucial role in the "Prelude's" darkness, and creepy, haunting choir work from The Northettes, which even might bring some of Magma's moments to mind. Drums appear at one point, but play a minor role. Despite its very spiritual or religious character, influences of composers such as Messiaen or Stravinsky are evident throughout through its incredibly elaborate harmonic solutions. "Wring Out The Ground Loosely" starts with a theme that would not be out of place in a heavy prog band, however Egg had to introduce something that saves it from being too easy or uncomplicated. After being repeated a few times, it turns into a jam over a motiff, which Dave Stewart also used on the piece "Gigantic Land Crabs in Earth Takeover Bid" on Hatfield and the North's debut album. "Nearch" is another piece written for the wind section, but with help of Mont Campbell's piano and Clive Brooks' heavy drumming. "Wind Quartet 2", which closes Civil Surface, is a sort of a reprise of the first part. Stylistically, fairly simillar to it, however a bit mellower and more dreamy.

Civil Surface is an outstanding album that is a masterpiece of progressive rock music. Lying on the crossroads of Canterbury scene, avant-prog, and eclectic prog, this album is probably not an essential progressive rock work, but an extremely original, well-composed, and well-played release.

After Civil Surface, Egg broke up again to never be seen again. Mont Campbell briefly played in National Health and Gilgamesh. Not for very long, however, as he eventually abandoned music completely, before releasing two Eastern-influenced world-music albums, utilizing only ethnic instruments, starting with Music from a Round Tower in 1996. Clive Brooks went onto a legendary British blues rock act under the leadership of Tony McPhee - The Groundhogs. He still remains a highly sought-after session drummer today. Dave Stewart remained a prominent figure in the Canterbury scene participating in musical projects such as Bruford or National Health to name a few, but also creating carefully-crafted techno-pop with Barbara Gaskin in the eighties. All in all, Egg blessed us with three unique albums, all of which are different, but are time-worthy masterpieces of progressive rock fusing different influences to create a distinctive, unrepeatable sound.

Highly recommended, five stars without hesitation.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars EGG's short career was riddled with problems and almost none of the trio of Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell and Clive Brooks' making. It had plenty to do with the Decca label which signed a whole list of artists and failed to promote any which meant EGG was just one of a long list of rather strange sound makers that didn't fit in with the mainstream. Add to that the band failed to score many live gigs and remained rather obscure during the band's original four year stint that lasted from 1968-72 no matter how critically lauded these musical maestros had become and no matter how cutting edge their musical style was in many ways. No, it would take several decades for a new progressive rock renaissance to reignite any interest in the music this trio so cleverly crafted.

With no solutions presented to rectify the hurdles placed in front of the band, the three members decided to call it quits in 1972. Stewart would rejoin forces with Steve Hillage of Uriel and join on as keyboardist for his new project Khan, whereas Clive Brooks joined Groundhogs. Campbell on the other hand was content to play as a session musician with a fledgling Henry Cow. These guys were getting their feet wet in new projects but EGG was highly prolific and produced more material than they were allowed to record. After a couple of years Dave Stewart had the itch to revive the EGG project so they could record and release some of the material that was supposed to have been included on a third album that never was.

The old gang returned to their respective roles and brought along a lot of new talent as guest musicians. THE CIVIL SURFACE was the answer to those forgotten compositions that lay dormant for three years and appeared in December 1974. Along for the ride were cameos from Steve Hillage on guitar, Lindsay Cooper on baboon and oboe, Tim Hodgkinson on clarinet, Jeremy Blaines on flute and the future Hatfield Northettes Amanda Parsons, Ann Rosenthal and Barbara Gaskin providing a sneak peak of the sounds that would evolve into the Hatfield & The North project. In addition to the EGG sounds of yore, THE CIVIL SURFACE also contained lots of wind performances with extra help from Maurice Cambridge on clarinet, Stephen Solloway on flute, Christ Palmer on bassoon and Mont Campbell expanding his talents beyond vocals and bass and contributing some French horn.

Given the circumstances and the other projects that took place in between EGG albums, it's no surprise that THE CIVIL SURFACE is a bit more eclectic than the band's first two releases. One of the most noticeable differences is the absence of vocals with only "Wring Out the Ground (Loosely Now)" having any lead vocals at all and that is the 5th of 7 tracks. The track also provides a sneak peak into the sounds that would be further explored on Hatfield & The North albums that would emerge the following years. Both vocally and compositionally this track is a virtual rough draft for the super group that followed. Another clear difference is that the band had moved beyond its dominate 60s organ shtick and embraces a much wider display of progressive musical compositional flow. Of all the tracks only "Germ Patrol" and "Enneagram" evoke a sense of the past with the organ dominated rhythmic flow, jazzy drum rolls and angular time signature rich Canterbury fueled melodies.

New to the band's sounds are two tracks entirely dedicated to wind instruments. Logically titled "Wind Quartet 1" and "Wind Quartet 2," the tracks sound more like something off of the first Gryphon album only with more of a Henry Cow take on avant-garde angularity. Only the crumhorn is missing. Another clear reference to the Hatfield years to come is on the rather detached "Prelude" which wends its way down angular alley only to break into the heavenly choir which would become known as The Northettes on the Hatfield albums. Despite these nascent origins, these girls already have their divine diva harmonies down pat and add an extra dimension to the album, one that should've been included on other tracks.

Overall, EGG delivered an excellent batch of loose fodder that would've forever been locked up in the archives for decades only to find a release some time in the 90s however due to the band's commitment to the project and the sublime material they crafted, the album found an actual release in the 70s. As expected THE CIVIL SURFACE hardly brought the band into the world of superstardom as it remained in the niche world of the avant-garde. While it has taken many decades to find a true audience, EGG has held up well over the decades with three distinctly different albums, each expanding the band's sound into a new paradigm. While i do think THE CIVIL SURFACE is a slight step down from what came before, it is also a step up as it jettisoned the mediocre vocals of Campbell for the most part and expanded the band's musical game into the modern world. The extra talent on board gave the album a much richer spectrum of influences and despite the tracks sounding a little disjointed still manages to deliver a strong set of musical compositions. Not a bad way to end the EGG brand with but also pales in comparison to the Hatfield & The North albums that Dave Stewart would be instrumental in creating.

3.5 but too good to round down

Latest members reviews

5 stars Best Egg album. An even affair. Germ patrol and Wind Quartet are very pleasant exercises that provide welcome respite's in-between the albums "meat". While prelude, eneagram, nearch and wring out the ground are wonderful Egg compositions. Honestly though what gives this album an edge ov ... (read more)

Report this review (#2506351) | Posted by Beautiful Scarlet | Tuesday, February 16, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was one of my sweetest experiences of prog in a long time. Egg's third record is also, in my opinion, their best, and I mourn their exit from the prog scene with this record. I am not at all in line with other reviewers who say that the second is best and the first is worst. I would say t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1105501) | Posted by Dr÷mmarenAdrian | Thursday, January 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars's interesting how we can differ on the subject of music, as at this point (6/24/2010) this only has 3 stars. I find this to be By Far the best Egg release, and amongst the finest releases of the genre. To these old/young at heart ears, I just love this stuff. The singing is a perfect ... (read more)

Report this review (#288018) | Posted by tmay102436 | Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Gorgeous morning English music. I'm unsure how this is the lowest rated studio Egg album. It includes admirable about Egg before (psychedelic textures, odd rhythmic stuff, pure talent), and gets rid of what sucked about Egg before (no long mellotron/percussion experimenting tracks, variety of timbre ... (read more)

Report this review (#287739) | Posted by Tengent | Monday, June 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album was my introduction to the compositional genius of Dave Stewart and Mont Campbell--how they managed to create works that managed to be both avant-garde and accessible--tossing around wacky meters and dense, gnarly chords with apparently utter nonchalance, bridging the old psychedelic w ... (read more)

Report this review (#226793) | Posted by ods94065 | Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Scrambled eggs anyone ? I have invested heavy into Egg by buying their albums at Ebay. Not cheap by any standards. They have so far gathered dust because I have problems understanding this much hyped band. As a symphonic prog fan, I like my music structured and melodic. I therefore find this ... (read more)

Report this review (#200904) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3.5 stars really. This sounds like Egg Lite to me. The first two albums were darker and more interesting. This one I find pleasant but nothing excellent. The organ is not as dominant here as it is in the first two albums either. The first two albums remind you of ELP while this one sounds more ... (read more)

Report this review (#172141) | Posted by digdug | Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Egg's third and final studio album fits more into the "interesting" ,rather than "excellent" camp, although it was certainly a good thing that it was released (the band had already taken the effort to break-up following their 1972 sophomore opus "The Polite Force"). While not as co ... (read more)

Report this review (#68357) | Posted by Pafnutij | Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The third work of EGG released in 1974 "Civil Surface". The content is music with strong forward color that unites the pop sense with a classical accent and the contemporary music. It is an ensemble that carefully calculated a musical effect of a variegated rhythm. A cynical peculiar humour se ... (read more)

Report this review (#54458) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, November 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Why is this a 'Masterpiece'? Because it is totally unique in all the progressive rock spectrum...and because it is damm good! By this album Dave Stewart was about to break up the band but got himself a deal with Caroline (Virgin records sub) and composed some of the most amazing music ever. It i ... (read more)

Report this review (#35869) | Posted by | Thursday, June 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars So good to get this on CD again; I bought it on vinyl in 1974. For me, the best track is 'Wring Out...' - utterly wonderful stuff. Such a shame they didn't do anything else after this. the best of their three albums. Essential, if you liked the Hatfields and National Health. And where's Dave Stew ... (read more)

Report this review (#23191) | Posted by | Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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