Thursday, November 1, 2012

Valhalla - Valhalla (1969 us, terrific heavy psych with blues and prog flashes)

Valhalla a symphonic rock band who recorded one record for United Artists. The album's cover is a sinking burning Viking ship. The drawing is pretty good. The name Valhalla is the 'paradise' of all the Vikings who died fighting honorably.

American "acid" hard rock - the concept is not typical, but it provides the most complete picture of music VALHALLA, team late 60s. Their only album, which appeared in the 1969, was crowded with "violent" organ and soulful melodies. The last general should be attributed to the apparent advantages of the group as well as things like the Ladies in waiting or Conceit could easily be a hit, they get the proper promotion. Best of what was needed - a memorable tune and expressive performance - was over. After all, if childish innocence in ballads and "militants" to give a very special charm, here the picture spoiled thorough. In any case, their album - a good example of the late 60s, which failed to fully realize their potential, but deserves a better fate than the total obliteration.

"Hard Times", the opener, is a fusion of strong guitar riffs and keyboards. If you dont like this song you wont like the album, because the followers are pretty much all in the same style. the guitar and keys are the basis of the sound. "Conceit", again this song is full of guitar solos while Hulling is singing, but when its only the guitar playing the solo turns into a monochordic dead sound, the chorus is quite good though. 

The strenght of the previous songs disappear in "Ladies In Waiting", im not saying its bad, it is actually one of the best songs in the album, a Keyboard/Drums only song. "I'm Not Askin" has alot of Blues influences. It also features a 4-minute guitar solo and Hulling's yelling vocals. "Heads Are Free" is almost Doors-like, the vocals, the keyboard, the rhythm, its almost like hearing them. "UBT" is even calmer than "Ladies in Waiting" using the same instruments. It's to long in my opinion, 5 minutes are too long for a song like this. The first time we can listen to the Bass clearly is on this song. The screams ar the end of "Overseas Symphony" are really delicious, to song could have some of its minutes cut-off. Enjoy it!
by Adamus67
1. Hard Times - 4:24
2. Conceit (Don Krantz, Mark Mangold) - 4:38
3. Ladies In Waiting - 3:57
4. I'm Not Askin' (Rick Ambrose, Don Krantz, Mark Mangold) - 6:10
5. Deacon - 4:16
6. Heads Are Free (Rick Ambrose) - 3:45
7. Rooftop Man - 4:04
8. JBT (Rick Ambrose, Mark Mangold) - 5:33
9. Conversation - 3:21
10. Overseas Symphony - 6:14
All tracks by Mark Mangold except where indicated.

*Rick Ambrose - Bass, Vocals
*Bob Huling - Percussion, Vocals
*Don Krantz - Guitar
*Eddie Livingston - Drums
*Mark Mangold - Keyboards, Vocals

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Arcadium - Breathe Awhile (1969 uk, excellent progressive rock, Repertoire digi pack issue)

Arcadium was another list of obscure British psychedelic bands. They had their start playing at such clubs as The Middle Earth (where every act you can imagine from well known, like Pink Floyd, to little known acts like Writing on the Wall, Wooden O, and Tam White were seen performing there). A small label called Middle Earth, who released only five albums, (one being a compilation called Earthed, another by Writing on the Wall called The Power of the Picts which I have reviewed here) released Breathe Awhile their one and only LP.

The band consisted of (presumably) brothers Allan Ellwood (organ, vocals) and Robert Ellwood (lead guitar, vocals), as well as John Albert Parker (drums), Graham Best (bass, vocals), and Miguel Sergides (12-string guitar, vocals). The music is late '60s British psychedelia with some early prog leanings, where guitar and Hammond organ dominates.

The vocals are a bit sloppy, but nothing that I find particularly bothersome. The album opens up with the 11:50 minute "I'm On My Way". Starts off slowly, with some psychedelic vocals, eventually the band starts jamming and it gets more intense as it goes on.

"Poor Lady" is a short piece, but it's such a cool piece, very catchy piece as well. The 7:34 "Walk on the Bad Side" starts off more in the psychedelic pop side, but don't let that deceive you, as the music keeps getting better and better and more intense, and the pop style was pretty much thrown out the window after a couple minutes!

 "Woman of a Thousand Years", not to be confused with the Fleetwood Mac song found off their album Future Games (1971), it's a totally different song. This piece bears passing resemblance to Van der Graaf Generator (although the only album VdGG had released at the time was The Aerosol Grey Machine), especially in the organ and almost Peter Hammill-like vocals. But of course, the music is nowhere as complex as VdGG is known for.

 The next two cuts, "Change Me" and "It Takes a Woman" might not be as catchy as say, "Poor Lady", but they're still excellent cuts. The album closes with the 10:17 epic, "Birth, Life and Death" where the bands gets in to more killer jams, with some more great psychedelic vocal passages.

While the original LP is very hard to come by, Repertoire Records in Germany had reissed this on CD with two bonus cuts, "Sing My Song" and "Riding Alone", both originally appearing on a single the band put out the same time as Breathe Awhile, which compliments the album very nicely (as the music pretty much in the same vein). Another totally obscure gem worth looking in to! 
by Ben Miler
1. I'm On My Way - 11:51
2. Poor Lady - 3:59
3. Walk On The Bad Side - 7:35
4. Woman Of A Thousand Years - 3:39
5. Change Me - 4:47
6. It Takes A Woman - 3:53
7. Birth, Life And Death - 10:19
8. Sing My Song - 4:18
9. Riding Alone - 2:48
All compositions by Miguel Sergides

*Graham Best - Bass, Vocals
*Allan Ellwood - Organ, Vocals
*John Albert Parker - Drums
*Robert Ellwood - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Miguel Sergides - 12-String Guitar, Vocals

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