22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2005
Aside from my obsession with Soft Machine, I'm usually more of a symph-prog fan than a Canterbury fan. Egg came out of the Canterbury scene and had the typical jazz overtones and humorous, self-referential lyrics. But this band had plenty of symph-prog about them as well. Egg had the same line-up as ELP, led by Hammond master Dave Stewart who was at least the equal of, if not better than Keith Emerson. And while Mont Campbell had a deeper voice than Greg Lake's, he too had that choirboy quality that made a line like "why don't you all go to hell" sound like he was inviting you to tea.
This band had the prog-rock pretention down in spades too, having the cheek to title a sidelong epic "Symphony #2" on this their FIRST album!
This CD features some absolutely phenomenal playing, and hardcore prog fans should give it a try. Keyboards fanatics should absolutely pick it up. Vocals are sparse and the long, inventive instrumental sections really suck you in and get you caught up in the classic prog jamming. For such "deep" prog, Egg manages to come up with tons of catchy riffs that are as addictive as pop music. Stewart was really a master of coming up with riffs that were both artistically pleasing and catchy and entertaining. The truly amazing thing about this 1970 debut is that the band members were all only about 20 years old at the time and had this amount of talent!
This CD features a segment of the "Symphony" that did not appear on the old vinyl album due to copyright issues with the estate of Stravinsky, who's music is quoted in the third movement. This CD also includes both the A and B sides of the band's one and only single, and for once I'm happy to report bonus tracks that are actually bonuses! "7 Is A Jolly Good Time" in particular is a classic, with cleverly constructed lyrics about the joys of playing music in offbeat time signatures that makes it a song that any prog fan with a sense of humor should hear at least once.
Recommended for hard core prog fans, keyboard maniacs, Soft Machine and Canterbury fans.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Released in 1970, this debut album by British band Egg is extremely complex progressive rock that is dominated by some incredible Hammond organ work. I guess that it is worth noting that although this keyboard-led trio is considered part of the "Canterbury' scene, the music sounds nothing like Caravan or Hatfield and the North (although the Canterbury sense of humor is present). Rather, the music of Egg combines a significant proportion of avant-garde tendencies with classical and some dissonant passages. In general though, over-the-top technical excess is the order of the day and I absolutely love it.
The musicians on this album include keyboardist extraordinaire Dave Stewart (Hammond organ, acoustic piano, mellotron, and tone generator - it's a crude synthesizer); Mont Campbell (vocals, bass guitar); and Clive Brooks (drums). All of these guys are simply phenomenal musicians and the individual and ensemble playing is simply out of this world. With respect to the bass player, Mont Campbell does not simply follow the left hand piano part but is thoroughly contrapuntal, which makes an Egg composition very interesting. Although Mont's vocal abilities are not great and sound a tiny bit dated at times, the vocals are not a big part of the Egg sound and do not detract from anything at all.
The tracks on the album range in length from the 0'09" experimental track Bulb to the excellent 25+ minute multi-movement Symphony No. 2. In general, the music on the album mixes experimental passages with some very nice adaptations of classical pieces (J.S. Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor along with Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King), incredible jamming, and quirky proggy tracks with vocals (While Growing my Hair, I will be Absorbed, and The Song of McGillicudie the Pusillanimous). In large part though, the tracks are mostly instrumental and are dominated by Dave's incredible Hammond organ playing. Although this album is simply amazing and very enjoyable, there are moments when the avant-garde tendencies can get mildly irritating, but do little to affect the overall listening experience. This becomes apparent on "They laughed when I sat down at the Piano", which features a very nice classical piano piece that is countered with some abrasive noises on the tone generator - it's actually kind of funny really. There is also the tone generator "freak-out" on Symphony No. 2 during the Blane movement that gets a little nerve-wracking. Odd time signatures abound and meters such as 5/8, 7/4, 9/4, 9/8, and 13/8 are used along with frequent meter shifts. Chord structures are also pretty exotic and there are some very unusual root movements.
This remastered version by Eclectic discs is very good and features a ton of liner notes along with restored cover art and pictures of the band. Sound quality is also excellent. One of the features of this version of the album that is pretty cool is the addition of a previously unreleased fourth movement of Symphony No. 2. The additional tracks include Seven is a Jolly Good Time, which celebrates the jolly delights (or horrors, depending on your perspective) of playing in 7/4, along with "You are all Princes" (which ends abruptly). Both tracks were released as singles in 1969 and are pretty good. There are tiny bits of psychedelic influences on the two tracks.
All in all, this is excellent stuff that is highly recommended along with the superb follow up album Polite Force (1971).
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2005
"The music on this LP(cd) 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 line-up; so it's pretty demanding on the listener's attention" begins the liner notes to this superb example of canterbury progressive album. Egg were a keyboard, bass, and drum outfit who were all excellant musicians especially keyboardist Dave Stewart who understood the concept of melody and improvisation inside the wonderful tone of his various keyboards. This is their intelligent and critically regarded debut which some have described as a cross between canterbury and rio which may be interpreted to mean melodically sophisticated to abstract progressive rock performed with great wit and artistic dedication. This is a great cd. also check out their even better follow up 'The Polite Force'
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 1999
Buy this CD! One of the all time best albums in the world.Do not but this if you want something to dance to.The off-beat rythums and melodies of Dave Stewart(later to form Hatfield & the North and National Health along with so many other projects!)on various keyboards, of course,Hugo-Montgomery Cambell on bass and vocal and Clive Brooks(later to join the Groundhogs)on drums, it's a progrock essential! BUY THIS CD!! I can't stress it enough!:)
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2002
Just 3 guys--producing more music together with a limited amount of musical equipment than most music bands of their time (early 70's) do, or anytime before or after. Drums, bass, RAUNCH organ (ironically, Billy Joel produced the same type of sound later on, coupling a keyboard to an amplifier, on a little-known side project), tone generator (YEEEEEEHAAAAH!!!), a little piano, and vocals. Suffice to say it SUFFICES...The vocal songs, "Growing My Hair", "Absorbed", "McGillicuddy", cross between hard rock, soft jazz, soft rock, and hard jazz...Egg makes that possible. The melodies are forever in your head, the beats are addictive. The version of the Bach piece gives it...LIFE. The whole experience, including the liner notes (on my LP sleeve) is an unpretentious lesson in music theory as it was meant to be.
But, the REAL highlight is the 4-section 20-minute Egg Symphony which comes next. The first section, a 5-minute workout in organ, bass, & cymbals, which interpolates Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King" along the way, causes the listener to suppose "If I could PLAY like that!" The second, slower, longer movement could be something out of the "Blair Witch Project" & "Night of the Living Dead" SIMULTANEOUSLY, & features riffs from the Spring Round Dinosaur Walk from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The 3rd section...well, I'm reminded that I'm glad to be alive. A 5 1/2-minute ASSAULLLLTTT on the tone generator (yes, a planet-earth device CAN produce all those different sounds) bridged by an organ-ic hymn accompanied in the background by a bass-loop rumbling like thunder. The final section returns to a jazz structure with an irreverent melody punctuated by drum/bass features.
Deram knew its stuff back in the day. This album needs to be blended, over easy...
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2000
If you are into organ or if you want a peice of interesting history buy this album. One might find the vocals the downside of this project. Not on the top of the list of Canturbury albums but note worthy for it's historical value and having Dave Stewart on Keyboards. The most Progressive track being "Symphony No. 2", which clocks in at 22:40. Dave's use of the "Tone Generator" is spectacular. Note: there are only Drums, Bass, Organ, Tone Generator and Vocals on this album.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2014
First of all I just stepped inside after getting the mail and apparently stepped in the worlds biggest spider web, so while I'm sitting here trying to enjoy the music I'm picking web particles off every part of my body. I still feel it tickling my shoulder as I type this but I can't get to it since it's too close to my back. Normally I prefer being alone but I wish someone was here to pick the rest of it off my shoulders! Also I'm trying to hurry up and submit this review before a thunderstorm approaching from the distance arrives. Nothing like going from -10 in the winter with broken pipes to 90 and humid, huh!
Alright let's begin. "Symphony Number 2" is divided into 4 different movements, each one quite unique. The first movement definitely reminds me of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's keyboard workouts quite a bit (especially the work from their Tarkus and Trilogy albums) but of course, this Egg album came out before Tarkus so we have to keep this in mind. Hmmm, it appears this also came out before ELP's debut assuring any comparisons to ELP be kept to a minimum for yours truly! However keeping the theme of the Canterbury scene, the jam during the first 3 or 4 minutes feels more like something you'd hear from the Soft Machine but with keyboards and organs. The first part is basically a really enjoyable onslaught of keyboards jamming away Soft Machine-style, baby! This particular piece is highly enjoyable and melodic.
After this, around the 4:30 mark, the pace slows down and this might be my favorite part from the piece. It's really cool. This band plays keyboards and drums together in a remarkably/highly professional kind of way just like a good Emerson, Lake & Palmer album. Er... sorry, I said above that I'd keep my comparisons to ELP short and sweet. But hey, logically it makes perfect sense to compare this stuff to ELP! I'm not really sure when the next movement occurs but it gets REALLY creepy with the keyboards and drums around the 6:25 mark.
After this it switches to a really good piano part that's WAY too short. Come on that part was good! Keep it going! Luckily the eerie drum marching part from earlier returns and now it's apparent this particular movement's intention is to alternate between the piano and eerie drum sections for a few minutes. This is actually a really unique jam so far. Feels like the kind of music you'd hear when you're in a jungle and you stumble upon a tribe that doesn't exactly welcome you with open arms! For the next several minutes the jam sort of gets messy and jumbled relying mostly on ambience that sounds really dated nowadays but still presents us with an abundance of fearful eeriness.
Then everything becomes calm as the birth of a baby is born... er, the keyboards turn somewhat playful. Then suddenly a LOUD guitar explosion of rocket launching proportions (that's probably not a guitar is it?) changes the mood in a hurry. Talk about pouring a bucket of yellow paint down the front of the Statue of Liberty. This stuff sort of reminds me of the Soft Machine's "Facelift" but without all the cool organ or fuzz guitar parts (or flutes- the flute solo WAS my favorite part of "Facelift!"). As for Egg's "Symphony Number 2", I LOVE the groovy bass guitar jam at the end with the chugging drums as the melodic keyboard riff makes a much welcomed return before the electric guitar comes in. Wait... that IS an electric guitar right? Or is it another in the long list of confusing Canterbury surprises in being unable to figure out exactly what instrument you're hearing? Either way this part's awesome! Well honestly this isn't one of the more compact Canterbury jams I've ever heard but the first 10 minutes are spectacular, and so is the final 3 or 4 minutes. Some of the stuff in the middle is just too weird for me.
"I Will Be Absorbed" is a soothing/adventurous example of Canterbury excellence. This song just feels totally right to me. The vocals sound a bit jazzy or lounge-y (at least, jazzier than something you'd hear from Caravan or the Soft Machine) but highly enjoyable all the same. Oh! I recognize "Fugue in D Minor" from somewhere else (probably Scooby Doo or any number of age appropriate Halloween films). Wavy spooky organs played professionally and VERY awesomely. Probably wasn't originally intended as a spooky song when it was first created but yeah, it is now! "They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano" (wait, what? Who'd laugh at these guys, the foolish fools!) is next up. It's only a minute long and reminds me of a War of the Worlds setting with people-vaporizing robots just outside the window of a ballet piano recital in the living room of a silky-curtained house due to the gentleness and sophistication of the piano playing but with eerie sound effects occurring in the background.
Next is, well part of the song title reads: "The Song of McGillicudie the Pusillanimous" and then more involving socks hanging in a coal cellar. What the heck? lol. I can't even add something funny about this title because it speaks for itself! A frantic-paced (both vocally and in the organs or keyboards) SUPER annoying, forgettable song without any kind of memorable melody in town, haha. Sorry I don't care much for this song. I guess in the early 70's this probably sounded edgy but now? No way! Actually when the quiet keyboard solo arrives, this song could almost pass for a weak man's "Speed King" (Deep Purple classic) and I almost think this little outrageous attempt is Egg's imitation of such a song. "Boilk" is more paranoid/frantic datedness that's definitely cool but way too short. We need more than a minute of this! "Bulb" is just silly (and by the time I wrote this line the song already reached its conclusion, heh) and "While Growing My Hair" is AWESOME! Playful awesomeness sung in a sincere kind of way with amazing keyboard swirls in the background. I like the kind of humor but the great thing is that the professional style of Egg's music isn't sacrificed or anything just because they wanted to write a fun little song.
Overall well to be honest I mostly like Egg's debut for the 20-minute "Symphony Number 2" suite which is 75% incredible. Side one has its share of excellent moments as well... except for that song about hanging socks in a coal cellar. Why Egg why. :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2012
Egg started off as Uriel with Dave Stewart (not of the Eurythmics), Clive Brooks, and Mont Campbell, with a 16 year sold Steve Hillage. Hillage left, and the band became Egg. Hillage rejoined briefly, in time to record an album, but since Egg already had a contract with Deram, the version with Hillage was recording as Arzachel under made-up names. Egg themselves released a rare single called "Seven is a Jolly Good Time"/"You Are All Princes", released in August 1969, then they got to work on their debut album, released in 1970, in the UK under the Nova subsidiary, and just Deram in the States. As good as that single was, the band was more suited for the album format than the single, but even here you can still tell its Egg, with the organ playing from Stewart, and the voice of Mont Campbell. I've often seen Egg described as a Canterbury ELP, but the music is less bombastic and plenty of their own style. Dave Stewart's organ playing would never be mistook for Emerson's. "While Growing My Hair" and "I Will Be Absorbed" is pretty typical for Egg, but are excellent. They take on Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", sounding like, as you expect, a prog rock band taking on a classical piece. With song titles like "They Laughed when I Sat Down at the Piano" and "The Song of McGillicudie the Pusillanimous (or Don't Worry James, Your Socks are Hanging in the Coal Cellar with Thomas)" proves the band don't always take themselves so seriously. That latter song reminds me a lot of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. I can almost see Mr. Brown and his Crazy World taking on this song with Vincent Crane taking on organ duties. Then you have the short version of "Boilk" which sounds like messing about on a Mellotron, some standard tron strings, and apparent messing with the tron rhythms on the left keyboard of the Mark II model. This cut was greatly expanded on their next album, The Polite Force (which many listeners felt was a big mistake on an otherwise great album). "Symphony No. 2" is an instrumental piece showcasing Dave Stewart's talents on organ, although there's a passage where he's using a sound generator creating electronically generated noise. "Movement 1" also includes an excerpt from Edvard Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King", showing that, just like ELP, the classical influence. There was supposed to be a "Movement 3", and if you own the original LP, you'll notice a blank space on the tracklisting where "Movement 3" is supposed to be. This was removed upon release, apparently they were accused of plagiarizing Igor Stravinsky (who was still alive in late 1969 when this album was recorded). Apparently a test pressing exists with this missing movement, and if you happen to own a copy, consider yourself lucky.
To me, I really think this is a classic of Canterbury, and your Canterbury collection isn't complete without it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2007
Egg was one of the earliest bands of what was to become "the Canterbury sound" with their neo-classical keyboards, abstruse time signatures, powerhouse drumming and virtuoso bass guitar. Egg began as a quartet called Uriel (including Steve Hillage on guitar) but when he left for university the remaining trio of Dave Stewart (organ), Mont Campbell (bass) and Clive Brooks (drums) took a new name and soldiered on. Mont's twisty song-writing took the band into areas requiring extreme virtuosity and intense rehearsals -- all of which, coupled with the lack of commercial success, led the band to break apart after a mere 3 years.
Listeners are blessed with the three albums they left us, of which this is the first and arguably most revolutionary.
Featuring two long classically-inspired pieces (Symphony No.2 and Fugue in D Minor) as well as ostensible "pop" songs with singing, Egg did more to legitimize rock music as a serious artform than did other cross-over ensembles like Ekseption, the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble or The Nice. In Mont's hands these long pieces became more than pastiches, more than classically-trained musicians showing off their chops. Egg's music was complex enough, well-constructed enough to stand on its own as serious music for rock trio. That had rarely -- if ever -- been pulled off before.
The second and third records have their own innate charms as well, but it's hard to forget the immense impact this first one had in 1970.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2010
Had this for quite a while. Never explored the second side much. But the Bach Fugue is excellent as is the second cut (I Shall Be Absorbed). However the first tune is a really early prog classic. Why? The lyrics that take the idea of juxaposition to the max. Each verse and the chorus are complete clashes of opposites. Thus it is a piece of beautiful, intelligent tension. It is a great piece of satire, contrasting and exploiting the many opposing ideals in contemporary society --- and still relevant today. The main melody has a very propulsive and repetitive rhythmic figure
that is quite catchy and buoyant. I love it.
"Blow your thing, Do your mind, Come on in, Water's fine. Freak and shout, Laugh about, Make sure you're not left out. That's what you have to do, If you want, to be one of the few".
And the beautiful first verse:
"While growing my hair, I heard a strange aire, played on a French Horn, all shaven and shorn". Do you catch the contradictions in ideas here and in the chorus above?
The release is somewhat limited by the instrumental make up of the band (keyboards, bass, drums) but there are several points where that limitation is transcended and the music really shines.