Proto-Metal

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The combination of blues-rock with psychedelic rock formed much of the original basis for heavy metal.One of the most influential bands in forging the merger of genres was the British power trio Cream, who derived a massive, heavy sound from unison riffing between guitarist Eric Clapton and bassist Jack Bruce, as well as Ginger Baker's double bass drumming. Their first two LPs, Fresh Cream (1966) and Disraeli Gears (1967), are regarded as essential prototypes for the future style. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut album, Are You Experienced (1967), was also highly influential. Hendrix's virtuosic technique would be emulated by many metal guitarists and the album's most successful single, "Purple Haze," is identified by some as the first heavy metal hit. Vanilla Fudge, whose first album also came out in 1967, have been called "one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto_metal#Antecedents:_mid-1960s

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proto-metal top albums

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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced? Album Cover Are You Experienced?
JIMI HENDRIX
4.62 | 26 ratings
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QUEEN Queen II Album Cover Queen II
QUEEN
4.44 | 54 ratings
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WISHBONE ASH Argus Album Cover Argus
WISHBONE ASH
4.58 | 19 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Axis: Bold As Love Album Cover Axis: Bold As Love
JIMI HENDRIX
4.51 | 21 ratings
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THE WHO Who's Next Album Cover Who's Next
THE WHO
4.48 | 21 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.30 | 69 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
KING CRIMSON
4.22 | 76 ratings
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QUEEN A Night At The Opera Album Cover A Night At The Opera
QUEEN
4.20 | 54 ratings
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KING CRIMSON In The Court Of The Crimson King Album Cover In The Court Of The Crimson King
KING CRIMSON
4.16 | 71 ratings
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QUEEN Sheer Heart Attack Album Cover Sheer Heart Attack
QUEEN
4.09 | 43 ratings
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THE STOOGES Fun House Album Cover Fun House
THE STOOGES
4.23 | 9 ratings
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QUEEN Queen Album Cover Queen
QUEEN
3.96 | 40 ratings
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SUBJECT ESQ Subject Esq

Album · 1972 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Starting out as one of the many 60s beat music groups that looked towards England rather than their homegrown German underground scene, SUBJECT ESQ started out humbly in 1966 as The Subjects but would change their name in 1968 to SUBJECT ESQ. The band would release this sole album under this moniker in 1972 before switching gears one more time and changing their band name to Sahara under which they would release two additional albums. Based in Munich, The Subjects turned SUBJECT ESQ were more interested in creating a hard rock tinged melodic guitar driven sound that utilized English lyrics and incorporated touches of more progressive elements such as jazz-rock and some psychedelic features.

The band spent many years on the local scene honing their skills before they got around to recording and releasing this eponymously titled SUBJECT ESQ release and therefore this debut album sound like it was delivered from a well-seasoned band that had successfully honed their Beatles melodies, their Who inspired heavy chops and incorporated a more local flavor with Embryo styled jazz-rock that offered interesting extended progressive workouts that spread out beyond the strongly melodic songwriting process. The band at this stage consisted of Michael Hofmann (flute, alto sax, vocals), Peter Stadler (keyboards), Stephan Wissnet (bass, vocals), Alex Pittwohn (mouth harp, 12-string acoustic guitar, vocals) and Harry Rosenkind (drums) but the band would add even more musicians as they continued to tour.

SUBJECT ESQ is a very strong example of completely unknown music by today’s standards was ridiculously good and leaves me wondering why these guys haven’t been relegated to a higher level of historical standing. The melodic hooks are solidly addictive as they immediately reel you in before the arrangements are allowed to develop into more intriguing complexities. While not exactly jazz-fusion, the jazz elements are wickedly strong as they accompany the hard rock guitar parts but are just as integral to the band’s overall sound as are the guitar and bass. The vocal performances are outstanding. Vocals in German bands of the era can be less than optimal for the musical style but several vocalists exhibit very strong harmonies as well as instrumental command that ranges from technically adept to ridiculously playful.

SUBJECT ESQ was one of the underground prog legends of the Munich area in the day but never really broke beyond the German market unfortunately. With an eclectic sound that sounded part English rock including a Jethro Tullish flute performance, a jazzy rock dominance and a strong American folk element that reminds a bit of Crosby, Still and Nash, it’s no wonder the band were quite popular in their region for their day as all members maintained a strong command of the instrumentation and musical delivery. This is one of those albums you can drift into decades later and the melodic hooks are so strong that it will instantly drag you in and leave you wondering why you haven’t heard of them before and even worse make you wonder how many other excellent bands of similar ilk have also been lost to the bulk of product in the historical bins. This was a surprise but a pleasant one. A super strong album that deserves rediscovery.

QUEEN A Night At The Opera

Album · 1975 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
By the time their third album “Sheer Heart Attack” had been released and run its course, QUEEN found themselves perched on a rather peculiar precipice. Not only had that album launched them onto the world’s stage with two huge hit singles, a Billboard top 20 album charting and a successful debut headlining tour that took them across the world on a 77 show live circuit that lasted several months but due to the rather unscrupulous shadiness of their business manager Norman Sheffield, the band was left in a state of unthinkable poverty despite the new found success, a state of affairs so utterly dismal that drummer Roger Taylor was even advised not to drum too hard because they couldn’t even afford to replace the drum sticks if they happened to break.

This left QUEEN in a very strange position where they would either soon become irrelevant and fade into history as a mere footnote of obscure 70s flashes in the pan or on the contrary go back into the studio and create one of the best albums of all time. After acquiring the management skills of John Reid who had helped Elton John become one of the top stars of the 70s, the band went into many studios and cranked out their fourth album A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, which took the name of the famous Marx Brothers film and it should go without saying created their most successful and revered album of their entire career. Fate was truly on QUEEN’s side as EMI Records not only welcomed the band’s return to the studio but had enough faith to grace it with a lavish production job which would make A NIGHT AT THE OPERA the most expensive album ever recorded at the time.

With this do or die situation at hand, the 70s version of the Fab Four: Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Deacon and Roger Taylor spent months in various studios crafting their most ambitious album yet and in many ways, the album that the previous three had been hinting at all along. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA took QUEEN’s eclectic styles of genre skipping with a lush complex production that implemented unthinkable layers of overdubs and multitrack recording techniques. All the efforts proved successful of course with A NIGHT AT THE OPERA going platinum on both sides of the Atlantic and spawning the band’s most successful single of their career “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a multi-segmented song so magnanimous in nature that it single-handedly made QUEEN one of the most popular rock bands in history.

Like the albums prior, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA continued QUEEN’s signature mix of catchy pop hooks, classically infused piano riffs, heavy rock bombast and progressive rock nuances. This fourth album puts all those attributes on steroids and finds Freddie Mercury’s operatic flamboyancy reaching its apex. In addition to the expected styles, QUEEN added even more disparate genres such as skiffle, Victorian music hall and even Dixieland jazz which gives A NIGHT AT THE OPERA the ping pong ball effect where one track cedes into another seemingly unrelated one that often gives the impression that tracks were recorded by completely different bands however careful listening will reveal a few underlying themes. The tracks segue together in the same key, May’s ubiquitous harmonic guitar overdubs and an extreme appetite for pomp and awe where no limitations are considered.

The state of affairs that found QUEEN starving while the bigwigs running the show got rich off their efforts found Freddie Mercury in a less than happy mood where he lashed out in the form of the album’s opener “Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To….)” which once the story is understood about the bloodsucking management makes perfect sense as the name Norman Sheffield can easily be inserted in the missing credit. The track opens with Mercury’s infamous piano style which quickly finds May’s equally eccentric guitar parts joining in. The track is a vituperatory heavy rock format with a catchy melodic development. While no names were mentioned, the thematic delivery ruffled feathers and found a lawsuit for defamation that was settled out of court.

Starting with the second track “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon”, the album begins to alternate between heavy rock tracks and more piano driven music hall styles which are rather short little ditties that offer the spirit of the variation experienced in the music hall era of English musical halls that remained popular from the 1830s well into the 1960s. QUEEN joined bands like The Beatles and The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in implanting this traditional form of music into their format. After track two’s short stint, it is quickly followed by the outstanding Roger Taylor penned “I’m In Love With My Car” which not only remains one of QUEEN’s most recognizable tracks with its heavily produced series of guitar sounds and unmistakable hooks but adds the humorous touch that fits in with the album titles Marx Brothers theme. While Taylor wasn’t a main songwriter, he was sort of the George Harrison of the band meaning when he was allowed to contribute he only delivered top quality.

Next up is “You’re My Best Friend,” a tender ballad that allowed bassist John Deacon to shine where he not only wrote the song but played the Wurlitzer piano as well as his usual bass. This would prove to be another huge hit for QUEEN which hit the top 10 and has remained one of the band’s most popular having appeared on every sort of Greatest Hits compilation conjured up over the years. Like Taylor, Deacon proved to be a vital ingredient to the band’s overall chemistry even if his contributions to songwriting were overshadowed by the dualistic prowess of the formidable Mercury and May team.

The next two tracks were all written by May with the self-described sci-fi skiffle track “39” being written and sung by Brian May. This acoustic guitar tale of a group of space explorers who engage in a time defying journey finds Deacon playing a double bass and Mercury and Taylor relegated to only serving as backup vocalists. Contrast ensues when the next heavily distorted and heavy rocker “Sweet Lady,” also a May construct, zigzags in waltz timing but finds a more 4/4 rich timing in various segments giving the true rocker of the album a rather progressive feel with one of May’s heaviest off-the-leash guitar solos on the entire album.

After the honky tonk jangle piano flashback of the Mercury piano driven “Seaside Rendezvous” which found a wealth of wind instruments such as clarinet, tuba, trumpets and kazoo and even a thimble induced tap dance section, the second side of the album finds May’s outstanding “The Prophet’s Song” adding some progressive rock touches, which is one of the album’s most ambitious tracks as well as longest as it extends past the eight minute mark. Graced with a toy Japanese koto, a strong guitar driven melody, passionately delivered lyrics and an unusual vocal canon that is bathed in psychedelic production techniques, this track displays a wild display of ever-changing dynamic shifts as it refers to the Book of Genesis with the famous line “return like the white dove” in reference to the tale of Noah’s Ark. It also showcases some of the band’s most outstanding vocal harmonies on overdrive. Probably one of my all time favorite tracks by QUEEN.

While the Mercury piano ballad “Love Of My Life” and the May banjo / ukulele Dixieland score “Good Company” are more of brief intermissions than actual serious compositions, they prove to be more like mood generating fluffers for the larger than life “Bohemian Rhapsody” which has remained QUEEN’s most recognizable contribution to the music scene in all of history. This idiosyncratic behemoth was developed as Mercury’s classic piano runs which dictate the other instrumentation but the score runs the gamut from tender piano ballad music to the famous ending opera segment that exhorts operatic themes in true Wagnerian pomp with references to Scaramouche, Galileo, Figaro, Beelzebub, Bismillah and of courses the fandango. The famous heavy metal ending and reprise to the piano melody have made this standout track immortal and entire books could be written about it. The track hit the top 10 once again in the 90s when it appeared on the film “Wayne’s World” proving that the track had multi-generational appeal.

As the album ends with the short reworked cover version of “God Save The Queen,” the British national anthem, it signifies that a new royalty had arrived with the release of A NIGHT AT THE OPERA and with a new royal seal appearing on the album cover, it was clear that indeed a strange updated musical act had usurped the rock and roll crown and delivered one of the most ambitious, most expensive and most outlandish albums to have emerged in the 70s. While i find this album to the masterpiece that most deem it to be, it doesn’t necessarily start out that way. While some tracks are clearly stronger than other, a masterpiece isn’t about every track existing on an equal playing field but rather how they are juxtaposed next to each other and what their purpose is. A NIGHT AT THE OPERA has instantly lovable tracks but once the instant flash wears off, allows repeated listens to unleash new magic. That’s exactly what A NIGHT AT THE OPERA offers. An ever changing series of reactions that allows this to remain a classic in modern times just as it must’ve been when it was released. The only downside to this album is that the band was never able to replicate its grandiose heights again but nevertheless it made QUEEN a household name for the rest of time and continues to have new periods of interest.

QUEEN Sheer Heart Attack

Album · 1974 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Sometimes an artist’s trajectory is forged more by sheer luck rather than clever navigation and such is the case for one of rock history’s most celebrated and popular bands, namely QUEEN who having arrived rather late in the game in both the hard rock and prog scenes still managed to find themselves at the top of the world by decade’s end. After the power quartet of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon formed in 1970 after the disbanding of May’s previous band Smile, the Fab Four of the 70s would continue together uninterrupted until Mercury’s untimely passing in 1991. The debut QUEEN I showcased a unique mix of hard rock and glam imagery all dressed up with slightly progressive touches whereas QUEEN II took those attributes even further and projected an image of going yet further down the prog pike as the fantasy themes became more enriched as did the pomp and awe of musical flamboyancy.

But that’s exactly where fate stepped in. After QUEEN II was released in March 1974, the band embarked on a promotional tour with Mott The Hoople and even had a minor hit with their single “Seven Seas Of Rhye.” As luck would have it, Brian May was stricken with a case of hepatitis in the middle of the tour and the band was forced to cancel their remaining gigs. So as not to waste the time away, the other three members sallied forth minus May and began the process of crafting the next album. Without May’s input, the balance suddenly shifted to Mercury’s more pop infused piano led dynamics that offered more catchy melodies and crazy deviations from the norm of the 70s rock paradigm. While May was down, he wasn’t complete out as the rest of the band instead delved into the vaults and rescued forgotten May penned songs that dated back to the first album.

The result was the second album of 1974, SHEER HEART ATTACK which emerged in November and offered a completely different style than projected on the first two albums, a style that would dictate the classic QUEEN sound and would catapult them into superstar status. SHEER HEART ATTACK was an awkward album that provided the bridge between the overdub rich guitar attacks of the first two albums and the streamlined production heavy and more commercial sounding albums that follow. While tracks like the opening “Brighton Rock” exemplified May’s love of the delay pedal and rich tapestry of guitar overdubs, other tracks like “Killer Queen” and “Lily Of The Valley” were pure unadulterated Mercury crafted pop songs enriched with his unique crafty style that found his piano playing and vocal range shoot through the roof.

As a result of their Led Zeppelin meets Jimi Hendrix style of rock adding more slick elements of the more pop oriented hard rock bands such as The Sweet, QUEEN experienced instant success as “Killer Queen” sailed up the charts as a pop single and the album followed with sales going through the roof. The crown had been placed and QUEEN found its way into the royal rock hall of fame in no time. Despite SHEER HEART ATTACK sounding like a rather disjointed collection of unrelated tracks, QUEEN pulled it all off with gusto and proved that they had what it took to boldly delve into disparate genres of music without a second thought, a feat that hadn’t been attempted in popular rock music since The Beatles dominated the decade prior and a testament to the explorative power and ambition that set QUEEN apart from the plethora of “stuck in the blues” rock bands that cluttered the music scene.

It doesn’t take long to discover as “Brighton Rock” cedes into the following “Killer Queen,” a sultry swinging piano based pop hit about a high class prostitute, that SHEER HEART ATTACK was an album that hops, skips and jumps all over the musical spectrum looking for the next good time and perpetual party to crash. The lyrics had been brought back down to Earth and infused with both more serious and more lighthearted subject matter. Next up was the Roger Taylor penned “Tenement Funster” that tackled youth and rebellion and he even sang lead vocals before the tracks once again cede into a double whammy of Mercury’s melodic charm on “Flick Of The Wrist” and “Lily Of The Valley,” a triumvirate of tracks that created a larger medley.

Despite a more pop appeal, QUEEN still dished out the machismo with the ball busting guitar riffing frenzy of “Stone Cold Crazy,” a clattering track of distortion and bombast that presaged both speed and thrash metal by nearly a decade however the biggest surprise of the album comes from Mercury’s interest in vaudeville kitsch in the form of the piano driven blast from the past “Bring Back That Leroy Brown,” which showcased a ukulele and banjo section as well as Deacon tackling the double bass. While May was down and out for much of the album’s development, he returned in time to tack on the superb “She Makes Me (Stormtrooper In Stilettos) where he wrote and sung the lyrics and provides a wealth of not only the expected overdubs but field samplings from busy New York City gloom and doom. “In The Lap Of The Gods” provided a two part theme revised bringing the QUEEN II era of just a few months prior to mind.

While there is no denying that QUEEN was a formidable talent, there was no guarantee as to how they would direct this talent much less become one of the biggest bands of all time. SHEER HEART ATTACK displayed how both talent, audacity and sheer luck melded together to create a more tangible and unifying style that would attract an infinitely larger listening audience. While not as stylistically slick or as unifying brilliant as QUEEN II and not nearly as accomplished as the followup “A Night At The Opera,” one can easily hear the nascent birth pangs of many of the ideas that would continue to evolve and dish them out in small rations. SHEER HEART ATTACK despite its rather awkward nature is nevertheless utterly infectious with a staggering amalgamation of groovy rhythms and ever changing dynamics with instantly likable melodies and just enough avant-garde pomp and awe to rival the most outrageous bands of the day. A transition album perhaps, but a really good one.

QUEEN Queen II

Album · 1974 · Proto-Metal
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siLLy puPPy
While QUEEN has become one of the most respected and loved rock bands of all time, the first two albums don’t seem to receive nearly as much admiration as the blockbuster mega-hits of “Night At The Opera” and “Sheer Heart Attack,” however despite the debut not being quite as popular in more esoteric circles, QUEEN II definitely hits a high note in both the hard rock and prog crowds for its clever advanced musical developments from QUEEN I. Despite no catchy hit like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” QUEEN II is nevertheless a primo album experience that found the band riding the momentum from their first album tour and finding a new musical mojo with producers Roy Baker and Robin Cable adding all the art rock sensibilities to QUEEN’s already flamboyant take on hard glam rock of the early 70s.

While often thought of as a concept album of sort, QUEEN II is more of a collection of tracks that flow nicely together with “Side White” mostly composed by guitarist Brian May and “Side Black” constructed by Freddie Mercury with his larger than life fantasy worlds coming to full life and decorated by his signature piano playing style. QUEEN II offered a leap in production techniques which found catchy multi-layered overdubs that would become the band’s trademark as well as the more varied and textured vocal harmonies that were progressively strewn together with musical styles that amplify the energetic hard rock performances. This all finds the band performing not only one of their most heavy of albums but also their most majestic with intricate melodies slinking around and stitching together loose themes and heavy beats that is all graced with the famous album cover that band would use for their entire career in videos and advertising purposes.

The album begins with “Procession” which is a short funeral march displaying May’s famous multi-guitar track techniques but quickly morphs into “Father To Son” which finds Freddie Mercury upping his game with the more sophisticated piano tinkling that revolves around May’s heavy guitar bombast that he magically creates through his famous series of different amps and gear. Drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon are not only on top of their game instrumentally but the whole team is smoking hot with their some of their most intricately designed vocal harmonies that the quartet has ever pulled off. In addition to the standard rock instruments there are tons of acoustic guitar parts, harpsichord, bells, marimba and various percussive instruments. When all is said and done, QUEEN II finds the bombast of early heavy metal trading off with classically inspired piano riffs and Medieval folk sounding segments that are all teased out in a rich tapestry of progressive time signatures and art rock sensibilities.

While “Side White” showcases May’s contributions, “Side Black” finds Freddie Mercury letting loose like he never did on QUEEN I. One of his earliest songs that dated to 1971, “Ogre Battle” found Mercury expanding his vocal talents as well with dramatic screams, passionate heart-felt lyrical deliveries and a knack for his flawless high pitched vocals segueing into falsetto and back. While every track is stellar, the album’s absolute pinnacle of creativity and peak performance surely belongs to “The March Of The Black Queen,” which displays an early similarity to Mercury’s most outrageous track “Bohemian Rhapsody” as it shares not only a similar piano run but also the progressive complexities that include dueling polyrhythms in 8/8 and 12/8 time signatures with all the dramatic flair that would make QUEEN one of the most successful bands of the entire 70s.

While QUEEN II may lack the instantly sugary sweet addicting qualities of future albums, for those who have more refined tastes and crave a more subtle mix of savory, acrid and salty with their sucrose, QUEEN II is the absolute pinnacle of the band’s career with a sophistication of a progressive rock band without sacrificing the melodic driven developments that flashy virtuosic playing tended to sacrifice during the prog era. Luckily the decades that have passed have allowed future fans to learn to appreciate this second album by the legendary band whose goal was not only to rock your world but to take you on an unexpected journey along the way. While i’m a fan of pretty much all the 70s albums that QUEEN released before they stagnated into a world of mediocrity, QUEEN II remains at the top of my list for most cleverly designed and compositionally perfect albums of their entire canon. This was the album that opened the magic gates to the new kingdom where they would wear the crown for the rest of the decade.

KILLING FLOOR Out of Uranus

Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal
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voila_la_scorie
The title track of this album caught my ear a few years back and I always meant to get back to this band. Finally I did!

Killing Floor were a late comer to the British blues scene of the late sixties and cut one album and then sat back to watch their career... go nowhere. After some soul-searching and some in-band disagreements, a second album came together and was released in 1971. This album catches the band still clinging to their blues roots but also reaching for more powerful guitar rock.

The album's namesake opens the album and is a pretty decent rocker that the album notes compare to The Who and The Yardbirds. As a sample of the band's abilities, it's a pretty cool track. The title of the album is made apparent here as the band criticizes religion's hypocrisy of permitting killing in the name of God and then asking for forgiveness of sins: "It's from out of their ass!"

"Soon There Will Be Everything" is more of a doomy heavy psyche number with some very mellow and melancholy parts punctuated by faster, harder parts. "Acid Bean" is an almost punk-tinged hard rocker; "Where Nobody Ever Goes" is a harmonica-lead, hard blues number; and "Sun Keeps Shining" is based on classic rock and roll.

I guess we're on side two with "Call for the Politicians" which sounds like it could have been written by the same band that originally did "I Fought the Law". There appears to be a bit of a punk edge turning up in places. "Fido Castrol", a humorous title I think, is again on the hard rocking side of things but again not your typical blues-based track. Lots of thumps and pounds that almost gets a little weary when it carries on. Not a bad track when it gets good. "Lost Alone" is a combination of psychedelic rock with harmonica but book-ended with an "I'm a Man" type of blues rock. And then there's "Son of Wet" which is a bit of a heavy rock, stoner track that clutches a drum solo. Yes, another drum solo! What would bands of the early seventies do without their drum solo tracks?!

"Milkman" is a funny country rock track about a milkman making the guy's wife while he's away from home. The song gets more rocking after the first minute and has some decent lead guitar work though it's quite typical for the day. Oh, the song is alright and in a small way it reminds me of "Ice Cream Man" by Van Halen, although I wouldn't put the two of them in a boxing ring together.

This album has some pretty decent rocking tracks and manages to let go of the band's blues roots enough to let them pound and stomp with some hard hitting drums and guitar. The vocals could use some more excitement. Not a killer album but some pretty solid, heavy guitar rock.

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BLIND FAITH London Hyde Park 1969

Movie · 2006 · Proto-Metal
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stefanbedna
Blind Faith -London Hyde Park 1969 dvd. An excellent concert.Quite simple concert.A beautiful day and a hundred thousand people in London´s central Hyde Park listens Blind Faith in their first big gig.Absolutely wonderful.For me the historic value of this concert.Rating 4,0 stars for me.Concert will be held 07/06/1969.Performers lineup eric clapton lead guitar,steve winwood phenomenal vocal and keyboards, rick grech on bass and of course phenomenal ginger baker on drums.This is an example of the unique combination of two large groups of Cream and Traffic rights in the Great introducetd in London´s Hyde Park.Really very interesting concert series watch it again on dvd.I highly recommend.

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