This review is for the CD containing the first two albums. I give it 4 stars for prog-loving fans of H. P. Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle stories, the rating would be lower if you were expecting something else!
When I first encountered the band, I was already a long-time fan of the author H. P. Lovecraft. I think i was lucky that I was already my early-30s when I discovered the band. I knew not to get my hopes up! So, going in cautiously, I was able to learn to love these two albums and this band. As mentioned in another review, don’t expect the Cthulhu Mythos-aspect – the main song from the first album with a direct Lovecraft connection is “The White Ship” which is from his “Dream Cycle,” a different set of stories that are more fantasy than horror oriented. Don’t despair though, it’s a great song, and the stories are great too.
The organ sound dates the recordings somewhat – these albums are definitely from 1967-1968! Overall the sound is folk rock meets psychedelia. The vocal sound reminds me of Jefferson Airplane – some of the vocals seem melodramatic at first, but stick with it, realizing that vocalist Dave Michaels had a classical background, and the combination of Michaels and George Edwards is actually pretty magical. There are definitely a nice range of songs, from uptempo stuff like The Drifter and The Bag I’m In to ballads like That’s How Much I Love You (More or Less), along with weirder stuff like Mobius Trip and Keeper of the Keys.
The song High Flying Bird is interesting – it’s got a nice medium tempo groove. Is the bird of the title a reference to the bird of fate in the story “The White Ship?” I guess I’ll have to listen to the lyrics more! But that’s part of the fun of this band – chasing down the references in my Lovecraft collection! I have read and re-read all of his stories ever since I discovered him at the age of 12. Thirty-five years later I find myself going back to HPL less and less, so it was nice to dig in to these albums again which led me to dig in to the stories again. For me this collection is worth it because you get The White Ship (best song on the first album) and At The Mountains Of Madness from the second – everything else is icing on the cake, and delicious icing it is!
This review was also published at Prog Archives