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Three Man Army

Third of a Lifetime

Review by Gary Hill
This is a new digitally remastered edition of a 1971 album. This band might be one that got lost in the mists of time, but that's a shame. It's definitely time to dust these guys off. They were a three piece band made up of Adrian Curtis, his brother Paul and Mike Kelly. Well, that's how the album was credited on release (with the exception of a guest appearance I'll address shortly). The fact is, though, the Curtis brothers were actually the Gurvitz brothers, just working under a different last name. This was recorded after their time with Gun but before they connected with Ginger Baker to become the Baker Gurvitz Army. I also mentioned a special guest. Buddy Miles plays drums on the opening track and provides organ on one tune and bass on another. This album has a lot in common with things like Cream, but also with bands like Wishbone Ash. Perhaps it's not progressive rock, but it's definitely proto-prog. The two bonus tracks are the A and B sides of a single.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Butter Queen

A drum solo leads this out of the gate. They fire out into some killer jamming from there. There is almost a Cream vibe to this as the vocals join. It's clearly got a lot of psychedelic rock built into it. Honestly, this is decidedly early prog rock. Comparisons to Captain Beyond would be well deserved here, particularly on the extended jam segments.

Daze
This tune comes in with a mellower section. It works out from there to harder edged stuff. This is exceptionally proggy with its shifts and changes. It continues evolving by setting up a pattern of the contrasting mellower verses alternated with hard rocking jams. There is some killer jamming in the mid-track jam. At times this makes me think of Wishbone Ash quite a bit.
Another Day
There is a lot of hard rocking stuff on this. In some ways it's much more of a mainstream rocker than the last tune. That said, there is definitely some psychedelia built into it. Comparisons to Wishbone Ash are one more appropriate. There is a killer drop back jam segment that serves as an extended outro that brings prog and psychedelic jamming to the forefront.
A Third of a Lifetime
This comes in mellow and builds slowly. This instrumental is decidedly prog rock oriented. Perhaps you could say that it falls into the folk prog sub-category. Strings are used for nice effect, but the main driving factor are the intertwined lines of acoustic guitar playing. This is a nice change from some of the unbridled jamming of the album.
Nice One
Here we get another instrumental. This is more of a rocking one. It is, in fact, a "nice one." It has some psychedelic rock merged with proto prog and more. It feels a bit dated for sure, but it's also a killer cut.
Three Man Army
There is a great mix of 70s melodic rock, prog and psychedelia here. The tune is dynamic and also cohesive. It's one of the most instantly accessible things on the disc, too.
Agent Man
This has so much 60s psychedelia and some definite Americana in its mix. That said, it's still tied to proto-prog. It's a cut with a good balance between the more melodic verses and the rocking choruses.
See What I Took
More of a fast paced cut, this has some killer guitar jamming. Yet, it's alternated with mellower verses. This is another that reminds me of Wishbone Ash.
Midnight
This instrumental is very much a jazz kind of thing. In fact, it's almost a psychedelic fusion with jazz. It's a classy tune that has some great jamming and retro sounds. There are some sections that work to more rock based territory, too.
Together

Coming in with a mellower rock style, the extended introduction is particularly sedate. It works from there to more of a psychedelic ballad approach. I love the jam band kind of vibe on the powered up segment later.

Bonus Tracks
              

What's Your Name?

This fires in with some seriously hard rocking stuff. In fact, the opening part makes me think of Hendrix in a lot of ways. The verses are mellower and more decidedly proggy. The powered up jams return as the contrast to that. This is really a pretty awesome tune.

Travellin'
This cut reminds me a lot of Cream, really. It moves out into some powerful and inspired jamming that makes up a big chunk of the piece, and ultimately takes it to the end.
 
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