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Release Info: BYZANTIUM - Byzantium (1972)
Robin Lamble (ex-Shot in the Dark) - vocal, bass
Chas Jankel - vocal, guitar, keyboards
Nico Ramsden (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=80211245) - vocal, guitar
Stephen Corduner (ex-Nasty Pop, Twist) - drums
Jamie Rubinstein - guitar (track 03) /Alan Skidmore - tenor saxophone (track 07)/Frank Riccotti - timpani (track 08)
01 What Is Happening?
02 I Am A Stranger To My Life
03 Come Fair One
04 Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me
05 Trade Wind
06 Into The Country
07 Lady friend
08 Why Or Maybe It's Because
Extremely rare Japanese CD pressing of Byzantium's debut album from 1972. Tracks: What Is Happening?, I Am a Stranger to My Life, Come Fair One, Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me, Trade Wind, Into the Country, Lady Friend, Why or Maybe It's Because.
"These Byzantium albums are so hard to find today, and have never been issued on CD that I know of. If someone knows how to get any of them (especially the first) on CD please post to ProgArchives.com as I’m sure there are some progheads who would be glad to get their hands on them. This one isn’t quite as rare as the first since it was released on A&M, but their first is just impossible to find.These guys are more of a heavy rock band with some progressive tendencies, not really a full-fledged prog band. Think Uriah Heep with a little Wishbone Ash sprinkled on the top and you get the idea. They started out as an acoustic band and there’s plenty of acoustic guitar on this release, but also electric guitar, keyboards and brass (mostly saxophone). The tracks range from fairly heavy to nearly ballad-like, with pretty much all of the songs heavy with three-part harmony vocals from bassist Robin Lamble, guitarist/keyboardist Chaz Jankel, and guitarist Nico Ramsden.A few songs stand out. “Trade Wind” is very Wishbone Ash-sounding with great vocal harmonies and those early seventies partly mystic/partly hippy lyrics. “Into the Country” is one of those early seventies ‘let’s all frolic in the meadow’ kind of songs with a bit of a dark edge to it. “Lady Friend” has a pleasant rolling rhythm wrapped in a love song with romantic saxophone, a nice tune but out of character with the rest of the album.But the marquee track is the sometimes experimental and tempo-shifting eleven minute mini-epic “Why or maybe it's Because”, full of synthesized strings, staccato piano, and more ‘For my Lady’ type lyrics. This is the kind of tune that would have played very well live back then (and probably today for the right audience), although the repetitive and extended closing riff does get a bit tedious after several minutes.The members of the band all seem to have been journeymen, with most of them going on to fruitful music careers. Following the band’s breakup a year later Jankel would begin a long relationship with Ian Drury’s various lineups, and earned himself a nice nest egg by penning “Ai No Corrida” in 1979, which became a major R&B hit for Quincy Jones on his 1980 ‘The Dude’ release. One of my favorite Quincy Jones tunes and his best album, by the way. Lamble returned to Al Stewart’s camp for several albums; and Nico Ramsden would appear on Mike Oldfield’s ‘Platinum’ release as well as appear with Gong and Rick Wakeman in the latter seventies. In all this is a solid album, but certainly not essential. Three stars is an accurate rating, but it would be interesting to hear this album with a decent remastering treatment and CD reissue.
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