Organ / piano, bass guitar, and drums. Add occasional vocals and tone generator and that's it! Obviously not much rocking expected from that ensemble - for goodness sake, just three people and no guitars?
Well like so many of their Cantebury compats, these guys didn't read the memo and they created some ground breaking stuff. In fact the notes on the original LP read: The music on this LP is not dancing music, but basically music for listening to. It is harmonically and rhythmically complex, designed to be as original as possible within the confines of the instrumental lineup; so it's pretty demanding on the listener's attention.
Originally released in 1970, Egg took influences from such diverse genres as jazz, psychedelia, rock and fusion, but probably most important, from classical music - and Brahms, Stravinsky and Grieg are directly and indirectly represented here. And Egg in turn gave their own influences to a number of other Cantebury acts of the early '70s. Egg was Dave Stewart on keys and tones, Mont Campbell on bass and understated but very competent vocals, and Clive Brooks on drums. They were hatched from Uriel in 1969, after they'd lost their guitar player, Steve Hillage to his university studies.
Later, Stewart and Hillage would form Khan, and Stewart would move into the realms of Hatfield and Ayers and Campbell would join him in National Health. The family tree of the Cantebury scene is a complex web, and we won't try to unravel it here. Suffice it to say that this was one of the more influential if underrated acts of prog's golden age.
The music generated by this small lineup was heavily dependent on Stewart's organ and Campbell's bass - both of which were applied with flair and imagination - but all three artists were credited with various compositions. There's a lot of avant garde generation of weird and spacey tones, but the rest is an entertaining example of several budding progressive genres taking their first baby-steps.
The English sense of humor is present in many songs, although the lyrics tend toward the spaced out rather than the poetic. "The Song Of McGillicudie The Pusillanimous (or Don't Worry James, Your Socks Are Hanging In The Coal Cellar With Thomas)" could almost have come off an album by The Doors. And yes, that's the song's name! "I Will Be Absorbed" comes the closest to a prog 'song' in the traditional sense of the word. Symphony No. 2 is a 5-part 22-minute early-day-avant-garde attempt at a modern-era classic, in a similar vein to many of the Keith Emerson pieces that would come later.
Honors for the all-round favorite, however, go to "Seven Is A Jolly Good Time" which is a bonus track here and wasn't on the original record. By 'good time' they're taking a stab at the fixation with odd time signatures.
by Duncan Glenday
1. Bulb (Peter Gallen) - 0:09
2. While Growing My Hair - 4:02
3. I Will Be Absorbed - 5:11
4. Fugue In D Minor (Bach) - 2:49
5. They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano… - 1:21
6. The Song Of McGillicudie The Pusillanimous - 1:04
7. Symphony No. 2 - 23:58
8. Movement 1
9. Movement 2
13.Seven Is A Jolly Good Time - 2:47
14.You Are All Princes - 3:45
All songs by Clive Brooks, Mont Campbell, Dave Stewart except where indicated
*Dave Stewart - Organ, Piano, Tone Generator, Mellotron
*Mont Campbell - Bass, Vocals
*Clive Brooks - Drums
1971 Egg - The Polite Force (2008 Esoteric remaster)