Organ / piano, bass guitar, and drums. Add occasional
vocals and tone generator and that's it! Obviously not much rocking expected
from that ensemble - for goodness sake, just three people and no guitars?
Well like so many of their Cantebury compats, these guys
didn't read the memo and they created some ground breaking stuff. In fact the
notes on the original LP read: The music on this LP is not dancing music, but
basically music for listening to. It is harmonically and rhythmically complex,
designed to be as original as possible within the confines of the instrumental
lineup; so it's pretty demanding on the listener's attention.
Originally released in 1970, Egg took influences
from such diverse genres as jazz,
and fusion, but probably most important, from classical music - and Brahms,
Stravinsky and Grieg are directly and indirectly represented here. And
Egg in turn
gave their own influences to a number of other Cantebury acts of the
early '70s. Egg was Dave Stewart on keys and tones, Mont Campbell on bass and
understated but very competent vocals, and Clive Brooks on drums. They were
hatched from Uriel in 1969, after they'd lost their guitar player, Steve Hillage
to his university studies. Later, Stewart and Hillage would form Khan, and Stewart
would move into the realms of Hatfield and Ayers and Campbell would join him in
National Health. The family tree of the Cantebury scene is a complex web, and we
won't try to unravel it here. Suffice it to say that this was one of the more
influential if underrated acts of prog's golden age.
The music generated by this small lineup was heavily
dependent on Stewart's organ and Campbell's bass - both of which were applied
with flair and imagination - but all three artists were credited with various
compositions. There's a lot of avant garde generation of weird and spacey tones,
but the rest is an entertaining example of several budding progressive genres
taking their first baby-steps. The English sense of humor is present in many
songs, although the lyrics tend toward the spaced out rather than the poetic.
"The Song Of McGillicudie The Pusillanimous (or Don't Worry James, Your Socks
Are Hanging In The Coal Cellar With Thomas)" could
almost have come off an album by The Doors. And yes, that's the song's name! "I Will Be Absorbed" comes the
closest to a prog 'song' in the traditional sense of the word. Symphony No. 2 is
a 5-part 22-minute early-day-avant-garde attempt at a modern-era classic, in a
similar vein to many of the Keith Emerson pieces that would come later.
for the all-round favorite, however, go to "Seven Is A Jolly Good Time" which is a bonus
track here and wasn't on the original record. By 'good time' they're taking a
stab at the fixation with odd time signatures. These excerpts from lyrics tell
I used to play in four time when I was very small...
...I started writing songs in all the rhythms I could find - Like five...
...Seven is a jolly good time, seven is a jolly good time...
...I found it hard to follow, my foot became confused...
...I gathered all the notes up and jumped 'em through a hoop - As in eleven
And of course, the song's actual time signatures follow the
suggestions in the lyrics - 7/4, 11/4, etc.
The CD reviewed here was wonderfully remastered from the original
tapes, and the Eclectic Discs reissue includes three bonus tracks, including
both sides of the band's only single and "Third Movement" has at last been restored
in its rightful place as an integral part of the now fully extended "Symphony
So - the confines of the instrumental lineup of
bass, drums and keys really didn't do much to stifle Egg's creativity. Come to
think of it, the same lineup was used effectively by The Nice and ELP. Who knows, that
restricted lineup may have been the very challenge that spurred them to produce
the influential music that would become one of the foundation stones of
1. Bulb (0:09)
2. While Growing my Hair (3:53)
3. I will be Absorbed (5:10)
4. Fugue in D Minor (2:46)
5. They laughed when I sat down at the Piano... (1:17)
6. The song of McGuillicudie the Pusillanimous (or don't worry James, your socks
are hanging in the coal cellar with Thomas) (5:07)
7. Boilk (1:00)
8. Symphony No 2 (22:26)
a) Movement 1 (5:47)
b) Movement 2 (6:20)
c) Blane (5:28)
d) Movement 4 (4:51)