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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Samurai

Samurai

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new edition of a lost album from 1971. I had heard of this band before, but never heard them. I have to say that they were very interesting. The studio album portion (there are three live tracks as bonus numbers) creates a great progressive rock mix of jazz and psychedelic elements. It's very effective and impressive. The live songs are done without the horns that feature on the studio set, and land more in pure prog rock zones. All in all, I'm very pleased to have this release. It's a particularly strong set.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
Saving It up for so Long

This comes in feeling just a bit like "Radar Love" by Golden Earring. The cut works out from there into a psychedelic rock meets jazz arrangement that is so cool. The number has some intriguing shifts and turns. It's drenched in psychedelic weirdness. It touches on things like Frank Zappaisms, Rock in Opposition and early King Crimson references.

More Rain
A mellower piece, there is a dreamy, trippy quality to this. The general mix of sounds here is largely unchanged in that this seems to have both psychedelic and jazz reference points.
Maudie James
This is a dramatic and powerful tune that gets a bit heavier than anything else we've heard. Still, it has a lot of jazz. The horn solo section later is so classy. The whole cut cooks with the same psychedelic jazz elements we've heard on the previous tunes. It just seems to take everything up a notch.
Holy Padlock
A horn based jazz arrangement brings this into being. That holds the introduction. The cut shifts to a killer rocking jam from there. There is a killer organ based movement later that has such a great early 70s groove to it. The cut is dynamic and so powerful. In fact, I'd consider this one of the highlights of the set.
Give a Little Love
There's an almost rubbery groove to this number. It leans a bit more on the rock side, but the jazz is represented, too. Comparisons to Frank Zappa would be warranted on this number.
Face in the Mirror
Another that has a powerful rock angle to it, this again has some minor references to Zappa built in. That's at least true of the extended introduction. The cut works to a jazz meets progressive rock vibe from there. The vocals come in over the top of that part of the piece. A psychedelic jam, completely with backwards tracked guitar emerges further down the road. The cut revisits and expands on earlier themes from there, with the Zappa-like jam at the end being particularly potent.
As I Dried the Tears Away
After a powered up and jazz-infused introduction this drops to a mellower movement that definite feels like early King Crimson. At almost eight-and-a-half minutes of music, this is the epic of the set. They use all that space to take it through all kinds of shifts and changes. It's a powerful journey through killer jazz rock zones. It's gets pretty tastefully bizarre at times. This definitely leans toward the RIO end of things at times. It's a great number from start to finish.
Bonus Tracks
            
Give a Little Love

The first of three live tracks included as bonuses here, this is a powerhouse rocker in this format. It is much more pure rock in this arrangement. I think I prefer this to the studio take. It definitely has a lot of energy, and the vibe seems to work better.

Holy Padlock
Another live cut, I love the organ presence on this thing. Again, the focus is more on the psychedelic prog here than the jazz side of the equation. There is some cool jamming built into this.
More Rain
This is much more of a straight-forward psychedelic rock tune here. It has some prog in the mix, though. I think I prefer the studio take on this one, but it's still cool in this arrangement and performance.
 
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