Hello my mates, nymphs, fairies, foxes, record hounds, and other funny creatures and welcome to my blog! I love music- all kinds, but especially the vintage stuff- 60s through 80s. Before the grunge perversion and record company manhandling of the 90s we had a lot of really special sounds and so welcome to Vinyl Antiquity where you can find out about what is really kicking in the world of obscure old rock.
1972- a year when much happened and incidentally my favourite year for music in the 1970s which saw some of the best psychedelic, hard rock, folk rock, progressive rock, and pop.
For some reason, of which I can only speculate, it all came together in '72.
There was much diversity and since I aim mainly for England and Europe I should point out that you could find the most exciting music in the world there and also for a change in America.
Asgaerd and Jigsaw's Aurora Borealis (Jigsaw were a prolific group who would later have an international smash with "Sky High" and a consistent level of high quality) immediately spring to mind for capturing the unrest and chaos that was going on in Britain then.
Both Asgaerd's IN THE REALM OF ASGARD and AURORA BOREALIS have striking covers which when I have a digital camera I can upload. Asgaerd (Or to simplify things their more common name of Asgard) released IN THE REALM OF... after completing a staggering back catalogue of quality including Stonehouse's excellent Stonehouse Creek which featured James Smith (vocals) among their personnel and the beginning of the band was really the brilliant Bulldog Breed who featured Asgard's writer and guitarist Rod Harrison- a master.
The music on the album that was released by Moody Blues' label Threshold in 1972 and is among the rarest albums in the world created an eerie, unsettling, trippy and melodically heavy sound and atmosphere ranging from the time travelling "Town Crier" to the futuristic Armageddon of "Starquest" both of which took disparate Brit Pop and Psych influences into a hard hitting yet trance-like ambiance. The whole album, like Jigsaw, seemed to stem from the unrest in Northern Ireland and the ever present question on every British soldier and Englishman's mind "Are we losing our power and are we losing our empire?"If you're easily upset by violent imagery do not go here- if you can take a bit of savagery open the door to a brilliant experience. The vocals are strong and melodic throughout, often richly phased and harmonized. Rodney Harrison's guitar is cutting and edgy whilst creating unusual effects in the rhythms and melodic solos. If you love Uriah Heep (I do) but wish the production had been less dodgy on those classic Demons And Wizards or if you love the later British psych sound of the 1969 to 1973 period (Fantasy, Black Widow, and Octopus spring to mind) look no further BUT I should add Asgard are wholly unique. Find this album no matter how far you have to travel to get one. AVOID the Progressive Line label CD which is awful. You will find no album more intense or gripping and distinctly very English than this one.
Jigsaw on as brief a note as I can and I hate to do it to this album, but I've just done a long rave on Asgard:
Aurora Borealis will not be easy to track down and will cost you a pretty penny, but you will find it so worth it I can't even express how much fun you'll have!
Clearly both these albums came out of the explosion of Bloody Sunday where the Paras (that's The Parachute Regiment) were in the right and as always the Irish were in the wrong, but the violence that took place made everyone in the United Kingdom aware of The Troubles and very nervous as to what could happen. While Asgard are very serious Jigsaw seem to have taken a few pages out of Monty Python's and the Bonzo Dog Band's book about current issues! Sometimes this album is so funny that I nearly get sick, and always so clever that I smile wide. You'll find a bit of everything here- all done with a wonderful amount of fun. There's McCartney and Beatles styled melodic balladry in "Come With Me" and "What's My Name" and there's the screaming till the tonsils fall out mania of "Freud Fish" which is the most outrageous track laid down on the UK Phillips label. Jigsaw were the brainchild of songwriters Clive Scott (keyboards) and Des Dyer (nearly all vocals and drums) who were prolific and stocked this album full of on-the-edge screaming vocals, shockingly different arrangements, and warped English humour. As with Asgard this is a sought after rarity but it will be a joy for you to listen to and own in your collection. Saying Cheerio for now, but feel free to ask me for albums to review and to send positive comments. I'd like to guide you on a rewarding journey where all you have to do is keep an open mind. Much more is to come, just bear with me and take a ride into Vinyl Antiquities with me.
BEN BLAKE MITCHNER