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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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This wonderful budget-priced c.d from the late 1990's collects the first two albums from cult-act Silver Apples, taking in their eponymous debut from 1968 and follow-up 'Contact' from the following year. I never really heard of Silver Apples until I read about them in an interview in the booklet of a reissue of Suicide's first LP. They have also been namechecked by people such as Spacemen 3, Stereolab & Sonic Youth...
Silver Apples were absolute pioneers- the band itself was reduced to just two members, so had to drop the conventional element to their band and think of something new. The something new was an experimental use of oscillators and proto-sampling that puts Silver Apples at the forefront of avant-garde and proto-electronica. It's true that without the oscillators etc, Silver Apples have a vocal-style not unlike many bands of the era (e.g. Love, Chocolate Watch Band, Moby Grape), the lyrics are mostly written by a poet or two (making them very much of their time) & part of their sound does feel dated...(part of their sound could be related to any band on 'Nuggets'- some of it may even remind you of Jim Morrison's poetic musings. 'Dust' may even remind you of 'Little Britain' !).
As part of their sound still sounds like a future waiting to happen - Taylor (who has recently died, sadly) offering rythms around the array of oscillating-sounds offered up by the Simeon. The songs as such rely more on being drones and rhythms with added vocals- musically it predicts not only the aforementioned Suicide, but also Spacemen 3, Radiohead (The National Anthem), Led Zeppelin (there is a song called Misty Mountain, go figure!), die motorik of Neu!,and Eno/Byrne's 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' - 'Program' samples a radio as a dial is turned and so feels like a major precursor of that classic 1981-album! Heck, the more interesting side of drum'n'bass (Omni Trio, LTJ Bukem) and later-electronica (Cabaret Voltaire, Autechre, Squarepusher) could be traced back here...
It's great these significant, pioneering works are available again- releases that no-one with adventerous musical taste should be without. There are plenty of classics here, despite some of my misgivings above - A Pox on You, single Oscillations, Velvet Cave, Water, I Have Known Love...and so on. Absolute stone cold cult classics then and a snap at their current price!
Silver Apples were:
Simeon - the simeon, vocals
Dan Taylor - percussion, vocals
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on 13 August 2001
Bearing in mind when this (these - there are two albums on this disc) was made you could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the first thing that the silver apples did was borrow a time machine. They blend the essence of detroit techno with psychadelic pop/rock into tunes (reminiscent of Looper) that trully shock and amaze at times, the end result feels fragile, as it the whole thing might explode, implode or just come off the rails. The high standard that the initial tracks set is more or less maintained throughout and you will not be dissapointed at the delightful noise that this experimental duo are capable of exploiting. After a listen to this you could be forgiven for thinking that Music has been going backwards ever since. Buy it and enjoy!
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Silver Apples were the first synth-pop band by a considerable distance - about 6 years in fact until Kraftwerk had a hit with Autobahn. However, comparisons with Kraftwerk probably stop there. For starters, despite being the world's first synth-pop band and years ahead of their time, Silver Apples were also OF their time, and that time was the late 1960s. So instead of deadpan, ironic Germanic motorik, you get lyrics that have a strong whiff of 60s hippie. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but you need to know that because it's a major part of what this duo are about, so if you're checking this out because it's the very beginning of all things synth-pop and you can't stand anything vaguely hippy-ish, you won't like this.

Now, this being 1968, there was no such thing as a drum machine, so one half of Silver Apples was a drummer, and a very good one at that. The other half, and the half that made them one of the most unique acts in popular music history, was the surname-free Simeon and his "instrument", named after himself. The Simeon (the instrument, that is) consisted of a whole bunch of tone generators set to different notes and triggered by various parts of Simeon's anatomy (his hands and feet mostly, the latter triggering the bass notes). This made it a very primitive polyphonic synthesizer (a decade before such a thing was commercially available), with not much variation of timbre being possible.

Now all this innovation would be worthless without some talent, and Simeon had clearly put the hours in learning how to make good music out of this strange contraption. The result, on the best tracks (especially the opening Oscillations), is a unique pulsating, propulsive sound combined with lyrics and vocals that would have sounded quite at home with any number of the psychedelic rock bands of the time. These, as suggested above, are a matter of taste, but Simeon is a perfectly decent singer and there have certainly been far worse hippie lyricists. Oscillations is really quite wonderful (you can dance to it, among other things) and Program, starting with a collage of voices and music, is a very fine piece of electro-psychedelia. Several other tracks on the first half of this CD (i.e. their untitled debut album) are also pretty good; the second half of the CD features their 2nd album, "Contact", which I've never been particularly impressed by - it sounds to me like they'd bored of their own novelty, though it's fair to say that "Contact" does have its devotees who think it's the better album. But this CD is absolutely worth getting for the best tracks on their debut if you are either interested in the more exploratory music of the late 60s or the history of synth-pop - they're not just unique, they're very good music.
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on 26 November 2014
Thank you Noel Fielding for recommending Silver Apples on Planet Rock. I'd never heard of them before; an obscure duo from the 1960s. Noel played one track and I thought the CD would be worth a listen. It was and I've been playing it ever since. Some of the tracks are quite hypnotic and there's a vulnerability about the singer's voice that works well with the music. It won't be to everyone's taste but I love it.
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on 29 March 2015
So far ahead of their time, nobody got it. Electro songs back in '67'? yeah, before Kraftwerk or Can and the like. Not only that but the songs are excellent in their own right. Buy this it is enjoyable and will fill a gaping hole in most people's music education.
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on 8 October 2005
Just to add to the other reviews here - I'd like to say that each track is worth a listen, as they are all good, if a little samey as a whole. Are these guys aliens from the future (they sound like it - or their music does - on Velvet Cave etc.!), or DID they possess a time machine? from This collection of their 2 albums includes my personal favourite - Program; a truly trippy dreamy experience I encourage anyone to take a journey with. With washed out, almost anaemic, somehow peacefully blissful vocals, classical music samples, radio excerpts/samples, this is among my top ten lysergic tracks of all time!!!!! And Seagreen Serenades - a beautiful track, almost a lament, with hauntingly wonderful recorder sounds over electronic reverbed underlay and beat. Well, it is all gr8 as i say, so go give your ears, mind, and soul a refreshing audiological treat!!!!
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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2005
This CD contains two Silver Apples albums-the self titled debut and the second album Contact.It is remarkable to hear them now,as they were incredibly ahead of their time in their use of oscillators and they deserve to be given a similar amount of credit as Joe Meek,Stockhausen,Suicide,and whoever else you care to mention as electronica pioneers.
It is also worth mentioning that songs like Oscillations,Water and A Pox On You are truly great pop songs.This is essential and very cheap at the moment.
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This is a piece of electronic music history. In fact it's electric rather than electronic, but it is a milestone. Though not all milestones are necessarily good albums...

In the 1960s down at the BBC the Radiophonic Workshop crew were creating the most amazing noises from scratch, not just for television but also for album projects like the band 'White Noise', who if you're checking this out for the sake of music history you should listen to before this.

Over in the US, this was being put together. It's certainly deeply rooted in the late 60s psychadelia, and lyrically it can veer into stoned nonsense. Musically it is both interesting, for the sounds being generated, and not- most of the instrumentation is one-chord-only so be prepared for music that is very plaintive and relentless. That's what makes this album fascinating from a chin-stroking point of view, but you're not likely to be singing along to it.

This is both the "Silver Apples" and "Contact" albums compiled onto one 18-track CD, which for Amazon's current price is a bargain.
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on 3 October 2006
Firstly, if you're scratching your head thinking 'Hmmm. . .I quite fancy getting a Silver Apples CD. . .' get this one as it has BOTH albums back to back, their debut and sequel 'Contact'. Don't bother getting the seperate Contact album, the mad artwork and all the songs are here.

This is very individual music -if you know your electronic music then you should be familiar with 'Suicide' who were very similar to this band but more 'punk'. This is an incrediblly raw, exciting and dangerous recording that has that rare quality lost in a lot of electronic music -how to be weird/visceral AND have great pop songs? The beat is great, skittering, pumping, cracking and smashing while the SIMEON machine throbs and pulses, producing squirts of electronic noise and fragmented bleeps. Enjoy.
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on 2 October 2012
This is an excellent budget compilation of Silver Apples first two albums, and what albums they are! Early electronic sounds and drums are the primary sounds of this album. Silver Apples sound is quite psychedelia oriented and the lyrics to the songs tend to add to the psychedelic/spiritual feel of the whole package. The sound of the electronics is a little flaky around the edges, but this is to be expected with music made with a bunch of oscillators wired together with a bunch of telephone switchboard switches (or whatever they are). The occasional flakiness of the sound does not detract from the fact that Silver Apples are/were and excellent experimental psychedlic band. If You haven't heard them and you like the 60's psychedelic sound I would recommend this compilation as a good value introduction to the sound of Silver Apples.
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