on 1 September 2011
This is a stunning album, primarily because of the sinuous live side which shows the band absolutely hitting the spot on all levels. Allan Mostert was one of the most gifted guitarists of his generation, and by the time the gig was recorded at Exeter University (late 71) he had evolved a far sweeter lyrical style than his wah-wah infused earlier work, helped by new equipment. The Band had by this time become a well-oiled machine, no one aspect necessarily dominating, and the resulting live tracks captured here are some of the most wonderful music that the English hippie era ever produced.
But the studio tracks are no slouches either. Far from a diminution of powers, check out the fantastic "Hallelujad", the guitar break on "Vishnu Narayan", and the irrepressable "Cosmic Surfer".
we now have the 1971 QE Hall concert and 1970 St Pancras Gig out on CD,which both show a band on good but not fantastic nights. The live tracks on this album are where it was at. By the time the album had come out, the band had imploded and the magic was lost.
I wonder what could have happened to them. Would they have evolved? Would they have conquered the US? Santana in one distant sense took over the mantle of fiery spiritual music, as well as the Mahavishnu Orchestra... but the UK the first western country to move away from this area. What Quintessence needed to have done was move across the Atlantic. Alas....in terms of shooting itself in the foot, this band achieved a spectacular collective suicide.
on 3 October 2008
This was the fourth album from Quintessence and the first for a passing RCA imprint Neon which failed to replicate the success of the founder with his Vertigo label.
Self continues where Dive Deep left off in terms of diminished songwriting, both in terms of quality as well as quantity. The studio side of the vinyl album displayed shorter, tighter songs but without the vitality of previous albums. Cosmic Surfer suggests more but never really lived up to it's potential.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the band's live performances were almost legendary, marked by the same improvisational displays of their individual musical backgrounds all motivated by their spiritual devotions. The songs took on new and different aspects while being played in concert. This live band is represented here on three tracks, the excellent Freedom, Water Goddess with it's almost Dark Star passages and the B-side of the single that was issued, You Never Stay the Same.
The price of this disc is worth it for the live performances alone although the editing on You'll Never Stay the Same leaves a lot to be desired to say the least. Finally the album closes with Sweet jesus which is a bit odd.
Not the best album by any means but that twenty minutes of live recording and the six minutes of B-side show what could have been. It just amazes me that there are no tapes out there of other live performances which have yet to see the light of day.