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There are many times within music when an album has been released to no acclaim, only for it to become beloved of music aficionados and collectors in later years and then become highly prized. I’ve found in my experience that it is not unusual for those albums to not be worth what people ask for, as they are now more of a scarce commodity as opposed to having real musical value. Still, there are times when an album is reissued when the listener cannot help but wonder why it was not far more successful back in the day, and when I played this my initial reaction was this album fell into this category. Imagine my shock when I realised that what we have here is the first time this has ever been made available even though it was recorded all the way back in 1976! High school student Tom Salvatori teamed up with older brother Michael, Michael’s wife Gail, and Tom’s classmate Scott Magnesen to record this 5-song 38-minute demo which then laid dusty until this year where it is now being released on vinyl. It is no surprise to realise that Tom and Michael have both followed a career in music, both recording solo albums and running their own label while Michael has also been involved in commercials and video games (including HALO) while also working with Paul McCartney. Even back in 1976 this album would have sounded a few years out, particularly with the keyboard/organ sounds being provided by Gail (who also plays violin at times, which gives the music a very different feel indeed). Scott is a very good drummer, not afraid to play around the kit, but while the musicianship is very much of the highest order, it is the songs which really makes this. The vocals are not always the most confident, but these were demo recordings remember, so would not have been expected to have made the final cut. That is has been made available on vinyl (and Bandcamp, naturally) is incredibly fitting as this is an album very much of its time. There is a naive innocence within it, which perhaps is not surprising given that Tom was still at high school when it was recorded. It is never too bombastic, but has a simple complexity that is endearing, which really reels the listener in. In many ways it is frustrating to understand this was recorded 46 years ago, as it means there will never be another, and I would have loved to have heard what this would have sounded like when recorded for full release. As it is, this is an incredibly enjoyable album which certainly would have done well if it had seen the light of day and been given the right promotion back in the day. Any fan of “traditional” prog would do very well indeed to seek this out.
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