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EGG

Canterbury Scene • United Kingdom


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Egg picture
Egg biography
Formed in 1969 in London, UK (as Uriel) - Disbanded in 1972 - Reformed in 1974 only for recording sessions

One of the first bands from the Canterbury School (SOFT MACHINE or HATFIELD AND THE NORTH), EGG was a trio consisting of... Dave STEWART on organ, piano and tone generator, Mont CAMPBELL on bass and vocals (also organ, piano and French Horn), and Clive BROOKS on drums. The music is very structured and composed, with classical pieces (BACH) and some light jazzy influences. The band explored a variety of time signatures and key relationships, sometimes explored classical ideals, and even composed their own symphony.

Canterbury band that released three organ-prominent albums. "The Polite Force" was EGG's second release, and was better developed musically from their debut, a style that was carried on to the subsequent "The Civil Surface". If you like that, go on and get the other two eventually. (if you don't like it, then don't bother). Fans of organ-driven progressive rock with a perfect 70's atmosphere will eat it up. Although EGG is an essential part of any progressive collection. An historical band...!

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EGG discography


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EGG top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 287 ratings
Egg
1970
4.14 | 418 ratings
The Polite Force
1971
3.88 | 211 ratings
The Civil Surface
1974

EGG Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

EGG Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

EGG Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 7 ratings
Seven Is a Jolly Good Time
1985
3.73 | 22 ratings
The Metronomical Society
2007

EGG Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.62 | 15 ratings
Seven is a Jolly Good Time
1969

EGG Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 418 ratings

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The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Egg is a Canterbury group that is basically a trio (bass, drums, keyboards) that was left when Steve Hillage moved on after their sole Arzachel album - which some consider to be an early Canterbury and space rock classic. Keyboardist Dave Stewart would also play with Steve Hillage on Kahn's 'Space Shanty' album (a favorite of mine) and is one of the better keyboardist of the genre. On this album we get to hear two great psychedelic and jazzy Canterbury songs that are instantly enjoyable and recognizable as top notch genre classics. Mont Campbell's vocals (who also plays bass) don't stand out, but its clearly enough to cast that dopey English vocal jazz sound that fits the music so well. 'A Visit To Newport Hospital' is a jazzy hardrock song with distorted organs and some strong instrumental sections. 'Contrasong' with its amazing rhythms and wind-sections is another bright and energetic high-light. After that Egg goes fully avant-prog on the listener with the plain boring soundscape 'Boilk' and the formless summation of ideas called 'Long Piece No. 3' (which fills the second side). Perhaps without the nine useless minutes of 'Boilk' this would have still been a worthy addition to most prog collections, but as it is; this record sounds way too unfinished and random to be considered that worthwhile. I actually wanted to like this much more than I do because of the fantastic recording sound and the love I hold for 'Space Shanty'. Do add the first two songs to your digital playlist though!
 The Civil Surface by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 211 ratings

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The Civil Surface
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

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

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 418 ratings

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The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars While the trio of Dave Stewart (organ, piano, keyboards, synthesizer), Mont Campbell (bass, vocals) and Clive Brooks (drums) began their musical aspirations with guitarist Steve Hillage in the psychedelic rock band Uriel turned Archazel, Hillage jumped ship to finish his studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, while the other three guys had a great chemistry and decided to continue on but changed the name to the rather bizarre EGG which found them adopting a much more sophisticated progressive rock approach to the music. While Uriel was more pop based, EGG's debut displayed a parallel with the classically infused rock symphonic approach of The Nice which inevitably found their self-titled debut release being compared to the debut album of Emerson, Lake & Palmer since both bands emerged in 1970. However keyboard antics aside, EGG was quite a different beast than ELP.

Firstly EGG adopted the sounds of early Canterbury Scene pioneers such as Soft Machine and Caravan but also retained some of the psychedelic pop sensibilities of the Uriel days. The debut album found all these sounds coalescing all these disparate styles into a style that was all of EGG's own making with Dave Stewart's classically trained keyboard maestrohood leading the pack. For the trio's next act, the second album THE POLITE FORCE was released the very next year in 1971 and while the debut found too many comparisons to ELP's keyboardist Keith Emerson, this second time around EGG fine-tuned the compositions into even more extreme idiosyncratic territories. Lauded as the band's best effort and credited as one of the essential pioneers of the early Canterbury Scene section at the prog rock supermarket, EGG indeed crafted an audacious amalgamation of familiar sounds laced with the farthest reaches of avant-garde oddities.

THE POLITE FORCE was clearly a more distinguished album than the debut and although it contained all the yummy prog attributes such as compositional complexity, vintage organ workouts, Canterbury jazz fueled whimsey laced with time signatures run amok, EGG expanded its sound beyond the Mont Campbell vocal led psychedelic pop styles and opted for a mostly instrumental album that fleshed out the band's trajectory on steroids. The album's original pressing contained only 4 tracks but newer releases on CD break down the final 20-minute magnum opus 'Long Piece No. 3' into its respective four parts. Most notable on THE POLITE FORCE is a more balanced band approach where Stewart eschews the limelight and allows the others to integrate into his technical majesty rather than bringing things down to a generic level. With Campbell and Brooks up to the task, THE POLITE FORCE is a veritable slice of early prog paradise!

'A Visit To Newport Hospital' starts the album and is the only track that really connects EGG's sound to the previous album. While starting out with some organ thrusts (oooo baby!), the comp soon reverts back to the stylistic approach of the debut with a 60s psych pop melodic development brought about by Stewart's keys and the only track that displays any sort of vocal arrangements. While the vocals are still the weakest link of EGG's classic sound, these recount the tale of the band's ascent to the progressive days with references to the Uriel years and all the trials and tribulations of surviving in the realms of the music underground. The Canterbury flavors are strongest on this track and plants the seeds of the proto-Hatfield & The North styles to come. Starting with the second track 'Contrasong,' the band really jumps into the prog-o-sphere. The track immediately flaunts a series of jittery time signature frenzies and although also a vocal track seems to integrate Campbell's vox box much more successfully than the previous. The track adds not one two two trumpets and not one but two trombonists from guest musicians. This is where the album really takes off into prog bliss.

The third track 'Boilk' not only takes the title from the short snippet on the debut album but stylistically exudes the same avant- garde detachment only this time around weaves its sonic tapestry into a near ten minute mind expanding exploration of tones, timbres, time signatures and dynamics. Unlike the first two tracks, 'Boilk' is an exploration of atmospheres and ambient mood enhancers with studio tricks like backmasking and other psychedelic accoutrements to develop into utterly bizarre avant-garde sonicscapes that sound much more like an lysergic counterpart to the Third String Band than anything out of the Canterbury jazz playbook. Part progressive electronic and part John Cage, the track meanders with freaky industrial soundscapes, muddled vocalizations emerging from the din and probably was inspired by John Lennon's experimental creations in the form of 'Revolution No. 9' from The Beatles' 'White Album.' The track ends by allowing the Baroque melodies of Bach to bring the listener back to Earth with a little 'Durch Adams Fall Ist Ganz Verderbt.'

The grand finale comes with the 20-minute 'Long Piece No. 3' which is segmented into four 'Parts.' Stylistically they are completely contradictory and contrast greatly so it makes sense that newer reissues just consider them separate tracks. 'Part 1' jumps into a jittery high tempo dance of the bombastic drumming and organ freneticism. Yeah, the bass is in there somewhere. It's like the whole band has become Keith Emerson this time around! After the caffeinated moment subsides then the instruments take turns being hyperactive freaks. A melody and rhythmic groove anchor the madness. A few avant-garde piano tinklings add some spice before the original rhythmic bombast returns like a jackhammer at Chopin's house. 'Part 2' returns a sense of calmness with a reprise to the psych pop structures of the first track. Slow percussive drive, placid organ melodies and no hurry at all. It then completely changes into a formless butterfly shuffle through the breeze on the organs while the bass gently cusps the framework. Then it just gets friggin weird. Basically 'Part 3' and 'Part 4' alternate through more accessible passages and highly experiment formless efforts. It all ends with an energy that could almost be considered early heavy metal if only there was a Tony Iommi guitar stomp leading the pack.

While it's true that the dynamic trio laid their golden EGG with THE POLITE FORCE (if you think of the three albums as representing one letter of the band name then this is the 2nd 'G'), there are a few inconsistencies about this that bug me a bit. Firstly, the opening track is stylistically too similar to the debut album and doesn't sit well as leader of this more sophisticated progressive rock pack and while Mont's vocal style is perfectly integrated into the following 'Contrasong,' the opener just doesn't work for me in relation to the rest of the album which makes it all seem unbalanced no matter how great the album becomes. Secondly, the album could've been much more interesting if the sax and trumpets were on ALL the tracks instead of just the second. The jazzy vibes of 'Contrasong' should've been relegated to sally forth into the great unknown thus adding even more brass fueled textures to the avant-garde mix and thirdly, Stewart relied too much on the sonic organ textures of the 60s instead of expanding the possibilities into the more inventive styles that were at hand. Oh well, a critic some five decades into the future am i, but do not let me dissuade anyone from experiencing this absolute delight of Canterbury infused prog period piece from 1971. While not perfect according to me, it is nonetheless an excellent slice of music freak fineness and for that i am eternally grateful.

 Egg by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.82 | 287 ratings

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Egg
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars The oddly named prog band EGG actually started out as the other oddly named psychedelic rock band Uriel which was founded in 1967 by guitarist Steve Hillage, organist Dave Stewart, bassist / vocalist Mont Campbell and drummer Clive Brooks. It gets even stranger that Uriel released their only album under the Arzachel moniker in 1969 but after that album's release, Hillage left the band in order to focus on his new project Khan. The other three members of Arzachel decided to continue together but instead of keeping the name Arzachel or even Uriel which was often confused with "urinal," the band hatched up to the monosyllabic EGG and carried on as a trio. Already having a history in the music biz and playing the club circuits, the trio went into the studio and caught the bug of the current progressive rock scene that was taking England by storm in 1969 and by early 1970 released this first eponymously titled album on the Dream label.

EGG was one of the early pioneers of complex music in a rock paradigm. While bands like The Nice, The Moody Blues and Deep Purple were creating new exciting sounds by mixing 60s psychedelic rock with symphonic classical music, EGG took those early aspirations into a much more demanding field and into the arenas of the big boy's club with early bands like King Crimson, East of Eden and Marsupilami. EGG's debut was built around Baroque classical chops inspired by J.S. Bach as well as the overarching prowess of Igor Stravinsky but accompanied those classical workouts with a heavy groovy bass and a sophisticated jazzy drumming style that took EGG into its own world from the very start. The band's quirky whimsy as evidenced by the hilarious track titles such as "The Song Of McGuillicudie The Pusillanimous (or Don't Worry James, Your Socks Are Hanging In The Coal Cellar With Thomas)" along with a healthy love of avant-jazz interpolations earned them a coveted seat in the Canterbury Scene due to Hillage's connection but this debut album at least comes off more as some fo the earliest symphonic prog.

With a trippy series of noises leading the way, the album then kicks off with Stewart's distinct organ talents as he riffs a rather accessible and hook filled run while Campbell adds a groovy bass line and lower register vocal style. The first two tracks set the groove of the organ led rock sounds (no guitar here whatsoever) but tracks like "Fugue In D Minor" and the sprawling 22 minute plus "Symphony No. 2" showcase Stewart's mastery of the classical musical universe however while dominate in those two still lingers beneath the surface throughout the album. Also adding some bizarre variations to the album are short little filler numbers such as the piano dominated "They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano," "Boilk" and the opening "Bulb" which offer some of the earliest industrial sounds that i've heard. While these short avant-garde snippets may have been added for an interesting contrast, it seems likely that many of the later Nurse With Wound type projects were possibly influenced by them. For the most part the album is based on organ fueled melodies with an accompanying lyrical vocal delivery. At least until "Symphony No. 2" where the big guns are drawn.

After the freaky industrial bleakness of "Boilk," which implements a concentrated delivery of avant-garde progressiveness, the final "Symphony No. 2" sprawls out for over 22 minutes with five individual suites that in reality are all separate tracks but are connected thematically. While "Movement 1" is a continuation of the Western classical interpretations with parts of Grieg's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" and in all honesty wouldn't have sound out of place on one of The Nice's albums with the Emerson styled keyboards, by the books rock backing in the vocal free zone, "Movement 2" lets the experimentation begin. While Stewart focuses on classical organ runs to keep the melodic drive going, Clive Brooks delivers some stellar drumming styles that take jazzy rolls and rock standards and juxtaposes them into a mishmash of wizardry. The track works its way into a very strange atmospheric frenzy which paves the way for the next track "Blane" which deviates completely from the classical rock formula.

Unlike anything else on the album, "Blane" delves into the bizarre freaky world of electronic manipulation and bizarre experimentation. The track babbles and bloops and bleeps on for over 5 minutes and yet provides enough moments of melody to keep the listener grounded despite the intense industrial bleakness that ends it. "Movement 3" was removed from the original album released in 1970 most likely due to time limitations but is back in its original intended spot on the new remastered CD versions fo the album. Rightfully nixed due to the fact that borrowed too heavily from the Stravinsky classic (and had legal issues because of it) but still provides a decent series of organ runs, a stomping decent drum and bass delivery and sounds like something right out of Gustav Holst's playbook from his orchestral suites in "The Planets." "Movement 4" continues with a more rock based mix of drum and bass with the organs punctuated to add a bit of melodic delivery from time to time but this is the spot where Brooks shows off his drumming skills and he rock the house! The newer CDs have two bonus tracks "Seven Is A Jolly Good Time" and "You Are All Princes" which are well worth the inclusion as they include a wealth of off-kilter time signatures and fit into the original album's flow perfectly.

EGG is a phenomenal album considering all three of its members were only in their teens. Despite the youthful energy on board, this debut is surprisingly mature as if it was created by a band of seasoned professionals. The album finds the perfect balance between symphonic prog bombast, traditional classical interpretations, 60s psychedelic rock vibes and touches of otherworldly avant-garde mind freakery. While excellently performed the album does sound like a product of its time with those instantly identifiable sounds of the organ, mellotron and tone generators that pinpoint it to the 1970 timeline. If there is any weakness in EGG's debut, it would have to be the vocals. Mont Campbell gets the job done and in all fairness allows the lyrics to be focused upon that may not be so easily done had he been an operatically trained singer but nevertheless the dynamics of the music far exceeds those in the vocal department but in the end is quite ignorable due to the most phenomenal parts of the album being swallowed up by the instrumental technical workouts led by Stewart's amazing keyboard prowess. Despite EGG's debut being overshadowed by the admittedly better sophomore release "The Polite Force," this first chapter is by no means one to be missed. This is quite an interesting slab of early prog that offers lots of exciting twists and turns. One of 1970's finest moments for sure.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 418 ratings

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The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by hugo1995

5 stars This is my favorite album is a masterpiece. It holds my favorite song in the entire progressive genre (Newport Hospital). I contacted Stewart and Campbell about this, and exchanged emails back and forth with Campbell for a while. They really deserve all the praise they can get.

A Visit To Newport Hospital starts with a basic chord progression with a hammond organ through fuzz to give it one of the earliest examples of 'progressive metal' (just because it's slow doesn't mean it can't be metal). I would even consider it Doom Metal due to the usage of extremely heavy and low minor chords. After this it turns into the greatest track ever. A jazzy introduction to the main song itself. When the song actually begins about 2 minutes in, it's got some of the best chords repeated possible. Absolutely hypnotic and Dave Stewart is a master of dissonance. After the verse we have an absolute EPIC organ solo, with a really interesting compositional structure. Stewart basically plays fuzz wah through the left and right channel (two different solos, one in each ear) against the standard chord progression of the track. Absolute genius. It's rare to hear a solo that's actually 2 solo's at once that fuse absolutely perfectly together. The notes struck are perfect from beginning to end, and they invoke a nostalgia in me that I can't explain, and that very few songs can achieve for me.

I never really enjoyed Boilk until I listened to it extremely loud, and that's how it is meant to be played. It's purely psychedelic when played loud enough to cause crustal deformation (and really piss off the neighbors who probably grew up listening to punk). This goes for Boilk 1 and 2 (from the first album).

Long Piece no. 3 is yet again a genius track, this time on the compositional side. I've practiced drumming to this song for a long time and the intro was pretty hard to nail (I got 4/4, 5/4, 7/4, 9/4, repeat, alternating toms and snare). Meanwhile Stewarts organ is playing a different time signature that introduces interesting poly rhythm that persists for most of the song.

Overall, this is hands down a masterpiece and all 3 band members are legends and amongst the most musically talented of the era.

 Seven is a Jolly Good Time by EGG album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1969
4.62 | 15 ratings

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Seven is a Jolly Good Time
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

5 stars A 7-inch Canterbury gem! A 60's single containing prog! Something one don't run into too often.

EGG, one of the earliest Canterbury acts, or prog bands altogether, were a trio of organist-pianist Dave Stewart (later a member in Hatfield and the North, and National Health), bassist-vocalist Mont Campbell and drummer Clive Brooks. Originally there was also the to-be-famous guitarist Steve Hillage around; at the time the group was called URIEL. That quartet of very young musicians played at youth clubs in 1968, with The Nice and Pink Floyd as their most notable influences. When Hillage went to study history and philosophy at Kent University - located in Canterbury - , the remaining trio changed their name to Egg. In the spring of '69 they recorded this debut single, just before teaming up again with Hillage on his summer holiday, to make an album under the name of ARZACHEL. Yeah, pure Canterbury spirit in that sense too.

'Seven Is a Jolly Good Time' is a happy and musically complex, organ-centred song, and a fine example of Canterbury prog at that. I think of the early SOFT MACHINE as their kindred spirit. Mont Campbell is a pretty good vocalist, and already that alone makes Egg sound nicer (!) than their better-known contemporaries The Nice. The lyrics tell of a boy who starts "writing songs in all the rhythms I could find". The brief song toys with odd time signatures while the structure featuring a suitable amount of chorus repetition keeps it relatively accessible in its quirkiness. The monomanic "really doesn't matter - squeek! - really doesn't matter - squeek! - really doesn't matter - squeek! - really doesn't matter" section is rather similar to certain moments, a decade or more later, by bands such as Talking Heads, 10cc or the 80's King Crimson... The sound quality is very good for the sixties, it doesn't suffer from the echoey psych vibe like the Caravan debut album.

'You Are All Princes' is a bit longer song at 3:45. Not quite as quirky, but no less interesting or good-sounding [proto-] prog song with a psychedelic edge. Organ sounds terrific, and later a harpsichord joins in merrily, at first bringing Floyd's 'See Emily Play' in mind. Melodically both of the songs in this seminal single are charming. And what's increasing their value even further, they didn't appear on any of the three albums of Egg. They are to be found on a cd edition of the eponymous debut (1970). One could hardly expect more of a 7" single from 1969. Five out of ten ratings (without reviews) here have given five stars, and I'm glad to agree.

 The Polite Force by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.14 | 418 ratings

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The Polite Force
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by Luqueasaur

5 stars A distorted cover to a distorted music played by distorted minds: 9/10

EGG's debut had indications of the band's leaning to progressive rock, although their music was at best some sort of daringly uncommon psychedelic rock. It wasn't until THE POLICE FORCE that they decided to exploit the boundaries of their imagination and create dazzlingly complex pieces merged with strange, avant-garde experiences (such as the vile outro of Long Piece No. 3 Pt. Three), focusing mostly on a rehearsed instrumental madness. Their psychedelic tendencies were still present, blatantly visible in the distorted album cover, the track Boilk, and songs' lyrics, sometimes mundane and anecdotal, sometimes mysteriously symbolic.

While in many times this tendency is materialistically translated in distorted synthesizers and guitars, their exploratory - and therefore not exclusively psychedelic - pretensions are dominant. Sure, the tracks sound objectively "Canterbury Scene" (actually, the Moog reminds me of Tarkus' on many occasions) with its typical mixture of experimentation, jazz and psychedelic rock, but EGG makes sure to live up to its title of progressive rock, attempting at every moment to craft creative and unforeseen blends of instruments and synthesizer tunes. Be aware that 90% of the instrumental section is occupied by a variety of keyboards and Moog moods, more often than not accompanied by wicked guitars or, exceptionally at Contrasong, frenetic brass instruments.

The first track, Visit to Newport Hospital, features a haunting proto-metal Moog intro that abruptly transitions to a much smoother and jazzier performance, presenting Mont Campbell's disappointed vocals and a terrific multilayered midsection. The melancholic atmosphere of the track is a reflection of its saddened nature:

Now looking back it seemed to be a happy time [...]

It was a freedom that we'd never felt before

And now we're doing this instead

Shortly after it ends, the very first notes of Contrasong indicate a rise in dynamism, but it isn't until the intricate vocals kick in that the complexity increases exponentially. The experimental tendencies are demonstrated through the oddly played 9/8 main verse with its confusing arrangement of overlapped brasses, piano, guitar and drums; the latter's rhythm pattern is particularly perplexing but also really catchy. If Visit to Newport Hospital is calm, Contrasong is deranged. Even Campbell's voice transitions from its previous moroseness to conformism, as it contemplates Contrasong's lunatic environment with an unnatural calmness, perhaps of a sedated maniac. Its highly cryptic lyrics crystallize the song's enigmatic nature:

Gazing quite vacantly into space one day

sitting up in my bed surrounded by

a few Sunday papers and their colour supplements

all of them superficially interesting

happily unaware that somewhere somebody was aware

that somewhere somebody was awake and well

undisturbed

living on

If you didn't capture EGG's disorderly nature heretofore, they strike it like a brick to your head on Boilk, a strange track strangely reprised from their strange last album. An experimental track featuring a wiiiide array of really, really crazy electronic noises. Moonchild is but a baby compared to this.

Lastly, Long Piece No. 3 is an entirely instrumental song with stratospheric ambitions and a solid performance. Sometimes sweet, sometimes vicious; sometimes distorted, sometimes straightforward; sometimes jazzy, sometimes psychedelic; always unruly, unpredictable, challenging.

THE POLITE FORCE takes the pretension of experimentalism on prog rock to its utmost extremes (at least for 1971) without in any moment losing approachability. A spectacular Canterbury Scene release and an imperative listen to anyone willing to check avant-prog before prog was even a thing.

 The Metronomical Society by EGG album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
3.73 | 22 ratings

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The Metronomical Society
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Previously unreleased gold!

"The Metronomical Society" is a compilation of Egg's previously unreleased radio and live recordings. This, ladies and gentlemen is the top shelf of progressive rock. Very difficult music, however still stays qualified as progressive rock rather than RIO or Avant-Rock.

Here, you can find the tunes we all know and love like "Wring Out The Ground", "Ennagram" or "While Growing My Hair" as well as rather unknown titles like "I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside" or "There's No Business Like Showbusiness". The pieces are so satysfying, that you can forgive the poor quality recording.

I am very glad this album came out, being even more of a proof for Egg's eggscelent know-how, musicianship and musical intelligence. This is a must have for all Egg and Canterbury Scene fans.

 The Civil Surface by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.88 | 211 ratings

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The Civil Surface
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Egg by EGG album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.82 | 287 ratings

BUY
Egg
Egg Canterbury Scene

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Egg are often labled as a Canterbury scene band. The band's main composer and bassist Mont Campbell admitted he had not even known that until long after Egg broke up. Put lables aside, Egg's self-titled debut album ticks every box of what I'm looking for in progressive rock. At the beggining of 1970, this was way ahead of its time. Leaving the tired psychedelic cliches, Egg were looking for a classical and jazz-inspired sound that would later be heard from acts such as Emerson Lake & Palmer and many, many more. It has it all - musical experimentation, unique arangements, long epics, odd time signatures, strange titles, mystic lyrics, jazz and classical influences. I usually don't do so and do not like to, but I feel it is an absolute necessity for me to review every track seperately. Another fanboy review? Probably.

"Bulb" is a slowed down 8-second recording of a shattered lightbulb with mutliple delay. An odd album opener, giving us the taste of what's to come."While Growing My Hair" starts with a dreamy organ passage, than turning into a jazzy, rolling 3/4 rhythm. The main theme sounds a bit like The Doors at times with Mont Campbell's low vocals. "I Will Be Absorbed" is a lush and mellow, yet complex piece in 7/4, showcasing band's jazzier sensibilities with lush organ by Dave Stewart. Mont Campbell's singing again, does not disappoint."Fugue in D Minor" is a rendition of Bach's fugue of the same title in a very grooving, funky rhythm, letting Dave Stewart show-off his incredibly mature baroque organ skills. The track was allegedly recorded as an album filler. I'm sure glad it was, it's a Egg legendary piece."They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano" is a one-minute track, which only features Dave Stewart's Chopin-inspired piano playing. The beautiful romantic melody is haunted by a dissonant tone generator, which sounds like a... like a weeping robot of some sort. "The Song of McGillicudie the Pusillanimous (Or Don't Worry James, Your Socks Are Hanging in the Coal Cellar with Thomas)" is a very avant-garde organ-driven song, which sounds a bit like a progressive rock "extension" of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown's early work. Based on a rapid rhythm in 10/8, it sounds incredibly smooth and moody. Lyrically, it's a perfect reflection of the sound. "Where should I go what should I do. Now that I know can't get away from you. Everyone has something to hide from themselves and now it's too late to go back go right on." This is it. A very interesting track."Boilk" is the most experimental of all. Without any rhythm, this features samples of Mellotron tapes played backwards, forming a sort of heavenly sound collage.

"Symphony No. 2" is one of the first real progressive rock suites. An outstanding work of art."First Movement" is opened by a very, very catchy, avant-garde sounding passage of notes played in 10/8. Next intervals are gradually being added to the main theme creating a unique passage, that is very typical of this album. It resolves into a part of Edvard Grieg's "In Hall Of The Mountain King" than turning into a laidback, hardbop-esque lane with a smooth jazzy jam. "Second Movement" is more classical inspired with dark organ passages. The main theme is borrowed from Igor Stravinsky's "Rite Of Spring". "Blane" honestly sounds like a homage to the electro-acoustic composers, who spent the 60's playing around with tone generators and computers in studios. There are loads of atonal sounds, saturation, "ugly" mechanical effects here, but also some charming, celestial chords. "Fourth movement" is Egg's classic sound! Filled with fuzz-organ, this is the most rock-oriented of the tracks without sacrificing any of its avant-garde integrity. This is the closing of a great multimovement suite. Sort of a let-down, I would expect fireworks and champagne, but I guess we will have to make do without those.

In conclusion, I will never have enough good to say about Egg's debut album. It's that good! Although I'm in the minority, I consider this one of the legendary albums of progressive rock's second league. However, this album is not for everybody. Newcommers shall not be pleased with what they hear. But this album is a must for prog nuts. Not only does it hold a strong historical value as one of the pioneering albums of the genre, but also it is just plain joy to listen to. This will be a very pleasing experience to fans of organ-driven prog and proto-avant-rock nuts alike. Highly recommended, 10/10!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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