Saturday, July 20, 2013

Space Opera - st

Space Opera - st

Columbia ES 90116, Canada, 1972

With a name like Space Opera you'd be forgiven for expecting some tripped out cosmic space rock somewhere between Pink Floyd and Hawkwind, but that, of course, would be far too obvious. What Space Opera play is a high quality country rock full of jangly 12-string, vocal harmonies and excellent twin lead guitar. Progressive movements elevate the music, as does some accomplished fuzz guitar, buzzing like a swarm of angry bees on "Holy River", feverish and frantic on the 7 and a half minute instrumental "Guitar Suite". Elsewhere the band utilise flute, harmonica, cello and harpsichord to good effect. The album sits well alongside Grateful Dead, CSN and the like and it is too bad they didn't get wider recognition which may have led to further albums. Both tracks on their sole single (Epic 10971) are taken from the album.

Many collectors believe that Space Opera were a Canadian band (as did I), but they actually formed in Texas in 1969. They later moved to Canada in the early 70s, recording the album at Manta Sound in Toronto. The American pressing was released on Epic (32117).

Side 1 - 1. Country Max (3:20) 2. Holy River (5:26) 3. Outlines (4:10) 4. Guitar Suite (7:36)
Side 2 - 1. My Telephone Artist (3:46) 2. Riddle (3:05) 3. Prelude #4 (3:52) 4. Lookout (2:46)
5. Blue Ridge Mountains (2:11) 6. Over And Over (5:56)

Brett Wilson-drums/percussion;
Philip White-bass/guitar/keyboards/vocals;
Scott Fraser-guitar/keyboards/vocals;
David Bullock-guitar/flute/harmonica/vocals.

Recorded at Manta Sound, Toronto.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Terence - An Eye For An Ear

Terence - An Eye For An Ear

Decca DL 75137, USA, 1969

The Terence of this album is Canadian 60s pop icon Terry Black from British Columbia. Black had his first hit in 1965, at the age of 15, with his second A-side "Unless You Care" (Arc 1074) which charted at #2 in Canada and #99 in the USA. This was quickly followed by several other charting singles and a "Best Male Vocalist" award in the same year. A brief move to the US followed where this album was conceived, though recorded in both New York and Toronto. An Eye For An Ear generally does not appear in Terry Black discographies and it is believed that this album is a "studio project" rather than an outright release by the artist.

While certainly not bad, this is also not a great album to my ears. Too much pop balladry, orchestration and blasts of brass. Black's deep, soulful vocals remind me of other late 60s psych-crooners like Damon and Beauregarde and quite frankly lack the depth or nuance to keep me inspired. That said, this is still an album of its time with decent fuzz guitar licks and hip organ flourishes to be heard throughout. The standout track for fans of psych is the side two opener "Fool Amid The Traffic" featuring a hypnotic organ and drum backing to a healthy spread of wah-wahed and fuzzy guitar. This track would be a great addition to any psych compilation. For fans of the weird and experimental the non-song "The Emperor" offers sound effects, wordless female vocals and Terry Black's spoken retelling of the emperor's new clothes tale.

I don't believe there was a Canadian pressing, this American issue covering both markets. There was, however, a 1969 German pressing on MCA (MAPS 1884) with different cover art. The Museum of Canadian Music website values originals at $45.00, though I consider this to be high. Indeed, friends in England have told me that over the last decade or so An Eye For An Ear has been a common charity shop find at a few quid (this may refer to the German press).

German issue.

Side 1 - 1. An Eye For An Ear 2. Rap 3. Second City Song 4. Power 5. Exiles
Side 2 - 1. Fool Amid The Traffic 2. Priscilla 3. Lighting Frederick's Fire 4. The Emperor 5. Does It Feel Better Now?