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Comus: Song to Comus-The Complete Collection

First of all, big kudos to Castle Music/Sanctuary for reissuing these two rarities, or shall we say "oddities", for mass public consumption. Longtime progressive rock fans will no doubt be aware of the only two releases from Comus, 1971's First Utterance, and 1974's To Keep From Crying, but the more casual fan are probably saying right now "who the hell is Comus?". Song to Comus-The Complete Collection brings together both albums in one volume, as well as a few bonus tracks which were originally released on their EP for the Dawn label. This band were an eclectic progressive-folk rock group, whose name came from a John Milton poem about a pagan sorceror called King Comus. The band's music is pretty hard to describe, mainly acoustic, at times mystical sounding, at other instances almost frightening, but never boring or commercial. References can me made to King Crimson, The Strawbs, Renaissance, Family, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, and Fairport Convention, but in reality they had a sound all their own. The main instruments used were acoustic guitars, violin, bongos, electric bass, flute, oboe, percussion, and the occasional electric & slide guitar. Add in a myriad of odd male and female vocal styles, and you have, especially in the case of First Utterance, a rather unique listening experience. Just listen to one of the two epics from the debut, "Drip Drip", a manic and almost disturbing journey into violent pagan counterculture, featuring Roger Wootton's maddening vocals, plenty of frantic, almost psychedelic violin and acoustic guitar passages, reeds, and outbursts of frenzied percussion. As dissonant and disjointed as the music seems upon first listen, there's something almost telepathic that seems to be going on between the musicians after numerous listens. Check out the wild interplay between bongos, flute, violin, and guitar during "Song to Comus", with the lead vocals almost playing the solo instrument. Needless to say, this is folk music like you have never heard before.

To Keep From Crying, released a few years later after the band had split up and regrouped again, is a much more refined affair, as the band by this time had lost most of the dangerous edge from their debut and resembled a more traditional folk band. Not nearly as exciting however, but this album does have some merit, as it contains some nice melodies, inspired female vocals, and more lush instrumentation (including the use of keyboards and synthesizers), as opposed to the frantic nature of the arrangements on First Utterance.

This reissue sports improved sound, a great booklet filled with complete history of the band and photos. Honestly, it's worth picking this up for First Utterance alone, as this album is a must have for fans of avant-garde, folky-progressive rock.

Track Listing
1. Diana
2. Herald
3. Drip Drip
4. Song To Comus
5. Bite
6. Bitten
7. Prisoner
8. Diana
9. In The Lost Queen's Eyes
10. Winter Is A Coloured Bird
11. Down (Like A Movie Star)
12. Touch Down
13. Waves & Caves
14. Figure In Your Dreams
15. Children Of The Universe
16. So Long Supernova
17. Perpetual Motion
18. Panophany
19. Get Yourself A Man
20. To Keep From Crying
21. After The Dream

Added: December 21st 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Sanctuary Records
Hits: 2489
Language: english

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