Thursday, May 8, 2014

Egg - The Metronomical Society (1969-72 uk, experimental prog rock)

The Metronomical Society by Egg, a collection of live and studio recordings made by the Stewart / Campbell / Brooks trio between 1969 and 1972. The CD features archive recordings unheard for nearly 40 years, including a sizeable segment of Egg's last Roundhouse concert. Also included are superior versions of selections from the band's radio sessions, material previously only available on poor-quality bootlegs. The Metronomical Society's foreword is written by the irrepressible Captain Sensible.

In Dave's words: "There have been a few Egg bootlegs over the years, all terrible sound quality with inaccurate or non-existent documentation. I felt we should try to remedy this, and was delighted when music fan David Carruthers told us he had over an hour of archive Egg material on tape, recordings he'd stored carefully for 35 years and never copied - hats off to him. That discovery made the idea of an Egg archive CD feasible. Some of the music was recorded at our last-ever London gig at the Roundhouse in July 1972; those tapes reflect exactly how the band sounded to me on stage, with a bite, attack and visceral power that our '70s albums failed to capture." 
1. While Growing My Hair (Campbell) - 3:46
2. Seven Is A Jolly Good Time (Stewart, Campbell) - 3:09
3. Germ Patrol (Stewart, Campbell) - 5:34
4. Enneagram (Campbell) - 8:51
5. Long Piece No. 3, Part 2 (Campbell) - 9:02
6. Long Piece No. 3, Part 4 (Campbell) - 3:12
7. There's No Business Like Show Business (Berlin) - 3:16
8. Blane Over Camden (Stewart) - 4:26
9. Long Piece No. 3, Part 3 (Campbell) - 6:48
10.Wring Out The Ground (Loosely Now) (Campbell) - 8:02
11.McGillicuddie The Pusillanimous (Campbell) - 5:00
12.I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside (Glover, Kind) - 0:42

*Dave Stewart - Keyboards, Tone Generator
*Mont Campbell - Bass, Vocals
*Clive Brooks - Drums

1971  Egg - The Polite Force (2008 Esoteric remaster)
1969-70  Egg (2008 Esoteric remaster)

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Egg - Egg (1969-70 uk, impressive canterbury prog fusion rock, 2008 Esoteric remaster)

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
11.Movement 3
12.Movement 4
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)

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