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London Underground - 2019 - "Space Edition"

(87:26; Fruits de Mer Records)


TRACK LIST: 1. Billy Silver 6:22 2. Three Men Job 5:23 3. At Home 7:26 4. The Comete 4:33 5. What I Say 7:42 6. Ray Ban 3:33 7. Tropic of Capricorn 6:20 8. Jam 7:23 9. Fanfare 2:41 10. Squadron Leader 2:45 11. Mass Baptizer 4:01 12. Can't Find the Reason 3:45 13. Ellis Island 3:10 14. Everything Is Coming to an End 3:13 15. Honey Drops 6:22 16. Dharma for One 2:59 17. Queen St. Gang 4:16 18. Faster and Faster 5:32 LINE UP : Gianluca Gerlini - piano, Mellotron, keyboards, synthesizers with: Daniele Caputo - vocals, drums, percussion, effects Marco Piaggesi - bass, banjo, vocals Claudio Bianchini - guitars Stefano Cudia - guitars Gianni Corongiu - guitars Sergio Taglioni - Mellotron, Keyboards, synthesizers, arrangements Gianni Vergelli - guitars Stefano Gabbani - bass Stefano Negri - flute, saxophone Beatrice Tinagli - vocals Fabio Baini - bass Alessandro Gimignani - drums, steel drum Riccardo Cavalieri - guitars, viola

Prolusion. Italian band London Underground was formed back towards the end of the 1990's, and have been releasing new material every few years following their initial album "London Underground" which appeared back in the year 2000, with four studio albums to their name at the time of writing. Following their fourth album "Four" in 2018, the band got together with UK label Fruits de Mer Records, and the result of their conversations was an exclusive, limited edition vinyl version of the aforementioned album, released as a double compilation where the second part of the album is a best of compilation with material from the band's earlier three albums. This compilation was released in 2019 through Fruits de Mer Records under the name "Space Edition".

Analysis. While one might expect this to be an album with a bit of an emphasis on cosmic escapades due to the name of the compilation, that isn't actually the case at all. We do have songs here with a little bit of a cosmic touch to them, but excursions into psychedelic and symphonic progressive rock landscapes are rather more prominent here. Among many other orientations explored. The organ, the Mellotron and various types of vintage keyboards and synthesizer dominate the landscapes explored here, with the piano also chiming in and with some fine guitar moments added to the arrangements from time to time. The steady drummer and often driving and vital bass guitar will often be more important to the proceedings then the electric guitar, but most of all this production is a keyboard lovers delight. Funky and playful journeys through jazzrock driven landscapes with and without a Latin touch are recurring elements, but also escapades that sound like a pop/rock band following the melodic and harmonic cues of The Beatles but with Jon Lord popping in for some dominant organ work in place of the guitarist. In a similar vein we also have tracks with more of a garage rock foundation but with a Deep Purple or Uriah Heep type of organ presence replacing the often more brooding garage rock textures, and in some cases with a more light toned and naive or romantic feel closer to the likes of Procol Harum added to this foundation. That we get some compositions exploring a sound and orientation closer to the latter band merits a mention too. Tight and vibrant creations with a sound and style blending elements from Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Kansas into enjoyable romps is a thing here too, and on one occasion I do believe we got a nod in the direction of Genesis too. We also get one track with a sound and style fairly similar to Inside-era Eloy, as well as a more majestic and richly layered symphonic compositions of the kind that should feel quite rewarding to those who regard Eloy's album "Ocean" as a masterpiece. As those who read through that rather lengthy paragraph understand, this is a production that comes with a great deal of variety, and London Underground is a band that knows how to work their way through all of these different styles in a dedicated and compelling manner. Their love and affection for matters of a psychedelic and progressive nature ranging from the middle of the 1960's until the middle of the 1970's appears to be strong and tangible, and especially if they are given free rein to use as many keyboards and synthesizers as they want to. This is a high quality production on all levels, and the 300 or so people that have managed to secure a copy of this release will presumably hold on tight to their copies. Conclusion. If you love 60's and 70's psychedelic and progressive rock, you find the occasional inclusion of jazz and jazzrock elements in those landscapes to be refreshing and you have a strong affection for most types of vintage keyboards and synthesizers, this compilation album by London Underground is well worth acquiring - if you can find a copy. If not, I presume the four studio albums that the material on this compilation has been pulled from should still be available, and for those who treasure material of this type these are albums to note down on your future purchases list.

Progmessor: February 2023
The Rating Room

Related Links:

London Underground

Fruits de Mer Records


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