The Snow Goose
Janus 7016 (USA)
UK prog outfit’s third album, an instrumental set based on a children’s book. It sounded like an awful idea (and of course it’s only for fans of head-rock), but it ended up being Camel’s best album, and other than Bo Hannson’s take on Lord of the Rings, this is probably the most successful example of a progressive-rock outfit taking on a piece of literature. In fact, this set might have been inspired by Hannson’s work as the two offerings have some things in common.
This Camel album and Bo’s Lord of the Rings are both all instrumental, and both sets effectively capture the elements of a story with low-key instrumentation rather than going over the top for the sake of showing off. Also, both are clearly English, focusing on a classical/rock sound, and it’s always nice to hear English outfits take a break from playing American R&B, West Indies music or Eastern-flavored junk, and focus on sounds closer to home. It often comes across sounding less forced and more natural.
At times, the Pink Floyd influence becomes quite clear, specifically Floyd’s more reflective moments of the early 70s (Meddle & Atom Heart Mother). At one point, they even lift part of “the Albatross,” but ultimately, this is its own bird, essential listening for fans of head rock.
Released April 1979, reached #79 (#71 in UK)
While this clearly has elements of King Crimson’s version of progressive rock, it also shows influences from the mid-70s arty underground of NYC where Fripp had relocated in 1977–the same time he started working on elements of this 1979 release.
If you’re looking from mainstream straight-forward rock and roll, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for something different that doesn’t push into noisy avant garde, this set is at least worth a listen. When progressive rock was focused on synthesized pomp, Fripp delivered something a bit more interesting and enjoyable.
Darryl Way’s Wolf
1974 (Recorded 1973)
This USA release collects cuts from the first two albums, Canis Lupus and Saturation Point, both from 1973. Somewhat similar to Way’s work with Curved Air, these recordings continue to showcase Way’s obsession with Vivaldi and other classical composers, guitarist John Etheridge helping bring out jazz influences.
This is a varied set, but fans of progressive rock will likely find enough to justify the time under the headphones.
Volume II: Les Chevrons
Festival FLD 651
Second set by this French progressive-rock outfit, coming out of the early works of Floyd, Purple, and the Nice, horror-movie soundtracks and classical music, Black Sabbath’s more moody material, all instrumental except chants and yelps and such, the heavy focus on the organ (rather than guitars) giving it the feeling of a mass or a soundtrack for a seance, the rock rhythms running through the dimly lit corridors, the bass slightly understated, the percussion quite pronounced, the music rising out of the sludge for a more airy sound, the instrumentations an integral part of the compositions rather than a reason to show off.
Recommended set for fans of progressive rock.