THIRD EAR BAND Alchemy/Elements (Gott GOTTCD010)
This double CD release by Gott Discs is a nicely remastered release of Third Ear Band’s first two albums from 1969 and 1970.
For those not familiar with Third Ear Band, they were an experimental band – an eclectic mix of hand drums, violin, viola, oboe, recorder, cello and slide pipes. And as the sleeve notes say, this is ‘strange’ music. This was music to experiment with drugs to as the flower power generation of the sixties discovered acid and rock was in its infancy.
To the untrained ear, it’s nothing more than experimental improvisation. But bear in mind these guys shared the same stage at the Hyde Park free concert in 1969 with the Stones, Blind Faith, Family and King Crimson. And in amongst the hypnotic meanderings you can pick out early reference points for some of the more ‘prog’ output by the likes of King Crimson (although the addition melodies, riffs and vocals raised their works to an entirely different level).
So this is a real curio, and a throwback to the birth of rock. Perhaps even a distant forerunner of New Age. There’s even one track which features the late lamented John Peel on jew’s harp. It’s very nicely produced and packaged, but not recommended for those not under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.
Review by Pete Whalley