maandag 25 oktober 2010

Aardvark - 1970 - Aardvark


01. Copper Sunset (3:17)
02. Very Nice Of You To Call (3:39)
03. Many Things To Do (4:22)
04. Greencap (6:04)
05. I Can't Stop (5:28)
06. Outing (9:50)
07. Once Upon A Hill (3:03)
08. Put That In Your Pipe (7:13)

- Stan Aldous / bass
- Frank Clark / drums
- Steve Milliner / keyboards, recorder, vibraphone
- Dave Skillin / vocals 

A prog act without a guitar player? That's exactly what this early 70's British foursome is. Originally, they became known mainly because Paul Kossof and Simon Kirke played in the band before leaving to form legendary band FREE. From then on, AARDVARK were mostly a studio act and by the time they recorded their only album, the line-up consisted of Stan Aldous (bass), Frank Clark (drums), Steve Milliner (keyboards, recorder, vibraphone) and Dave Skillin (vocals). Comparisons are not easy but one could probably say their music has the power of EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL mixed in with a little R&B à la PROCOL HARUM and early MOODY BLUES. Shades of GRYPHON, GREENSLADE and PINK FLOYD are also present.

As is to be expected, AARDVARK's material is highly keyboard oriented, the brunt of the music being carried by the fuzzed-up Hammond organ which more or less simulates the job of a distorted guitar. The soaring vocals by Skillin are pleasant and the music, although not highly original and somewhat lacking in variety, is quite melodic - nice 60's sounding melodies. The album contains some ear-friendly piano/keyboard interplay as well as some good R&B guitar riffs and harmonic choruses. The low points: following the fashion of the early 70's, many tracks drag on far too long. Also, possibly because the dominant Hammond did not stand the test of time, the album unfortunately sounds quite outdated. Finally, the cuts that work best tend to be the less progressive ones. Overall, AARDVARK is an honest musical effort for the times, an interesting early art rock experiment with a slight progressive edge.

Recommended strictly for collectors of early 70's, heavy organ-dominated prog. Fans of SPRING, CRESSIDA or FIELDS should also give them a try.

Aardvark is very typical late sixties/early seventies hard rock/psychedelic band with some progressive leanings and although the progressive part is not much evident, the band is very good and consequently their only album is interesting to prog/hard rock fans. The band had no guitarist and just a bass guitar, but you will probably not miss it very much, apart of the lack of guitar solos for those who think guitar is essential. The band is famous for having Paul Kosoff and Simon Kirke (Free) in one line-up, but they don't play in the album, because they had already left.
The first song is Cooper Sunset, typical hard-rock, with a very hard distorted bass guitar riff, loud drums and a subdued organ that flourishes better during the chorus and the end of the song, which is a kind of waltz (3/4 signature).
Very Nice of You to Call is a nicer song, less hard rock, with interesting bass and piano. The riff has more variations in the chorus and a very good piano solo that stands out.
Many Things to Do is a psychedelic proggish song, with good piano and organ work during the song. The vocal melody is better than in the predecessors and the drums are very proeminent. The solos are very good, being the best thing of the album up to the third song. The song has more breaks in the structure than the previous and a stronger riff, being one of the best of the album.
Greencap is another song more influenced by psychedelic rock, although the bass guitar riff is typical from hard rock songs. There is an extended instrumental passage in the beginning, with good percussion and organ interplay.
I Can't Stop has many different influences. It has one interesting intro, with superb classical influenced organ, but the song more or less changes and it is more a bluesy-boogie song apart from the organ, with boogie piano and bass, including a short solo. The organ solo in the end of the song is a completely freak-out psychedelia, over a insane bass guitar riff.
Outing is the longest song and it has a somewhat strange start, mainly the singing and the rhythm section, which maybe was intended to be a sort of psychedelic humorous song. Then the song goes to pure psychedelia with floating organs a la early Pink Floyd and noises that make a further association with them, mainly when the bass lower its volume. The resemblance with early Pink Floyd long instrumental passages is great and it is clearly an influence.
Once Upon a Hill is an organ-driven song, with an organ backing and a vocal melody. The song is the "ballad" of the album and has a good organ, bass and vocal work, plus a beautiful recorder solo. The song is linked in the last song, Put That in Your Pipe, that starts with very distorted organ notes and then goes to a very fast bass and drum riff over organ soloing. The soloing goes all over the song and it is a very nice organ solo, with the riffs changing through all the song.
Overall is a pretty good album if you are fan of psychedelic and hard prog or organ-driven progressive rock. The album is not so consistent and it contains moments of brilliance and regular moments, but the great moments surpass the regular moments.

1 opmerking: