Posts Tagged ‘Esoteric Recordings’

Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the release of a newly re-mastered and expanded 50th anniversary edition of the first solo album by the legendary Peter Green.

Peter’s work with Fleetwood Mac needs no introduction. His acclaimed guitar playing and writing graced several albums and a succession of hit singles before he departed the group in 1970. He embarked on the recording of his first solo album only a month after leaving Fleetwood Mac,

The End of the Game would be an entirely instrumental affair, quite different in feel from Green’s work with Fleetwood Mac. Released to very little fanfare, unjustly so as it was an imaginative work with Green’s instantly recog-nisable guitar playing. “The End Of The Game” and it was as much a departure from “The Green Manalishi” as that same track had been from the rest of Fleetwood Mac’s entire output. Through three tracks per side, Green pursued a far looser strand of improvisational rock comprised of wholly instrumental outings that were entirely un-bluesy, extemporaneous free rock borne on the wings of Green’s guitar with its expansive tone evoking the loosest of feels, often drenched with emotional wah-wah pedal use of hair triggered sensitivity. The rhythm section of Bluesbreaker and ex-Anysley Dunbar Retaliation bassist Alex Dmochowski and Geoffrey Maclean on percussion allow Green all the room to explore through distended lines of fragile but strongly poetic counterpoint as the addition of twin keyboardists Zoot Money (grand piano) and future Hot Tuna keyboardist Nick Buck (organ, electric piano) sporadically appear only to colour in a clutch of fine points which Green has left wide open as he is in a constant state of unhurried transit and always onto the next subtly-turned phrase.

The album rises up to a slow fade and into the raucous nine minute wah-wah led jam of “Bottoms Up.” As the title suggests, it’s carried along by a heavy bass line that sallies forth unswervingly to provide Green with a woody and thriving backdrop to begin the odyssey of successive circular wah-wah guitar configurations. Electric piano lines twinkle and fall like stars once Green lets up to recollect before another sweet and extensive wah-wah outpouring and the band is solidly back to stabilise Green’s ever-migrating wah-wah guitar textures. “Timeless Time” passes by silently like a gentle current under the land bridge that links the two jamming continents of side one together. The elongated “Descending Scale” opens with jumpy off-beats of piano clusters and busy though sensitively played drums like a send up of a jazzbo warm up until Green throws the whole discordant array into a high pitched wah-wah crescendo that reverberates into another unresolved conclusion that soon all but quietly slips away but for the accompanying half-erased instrumentation.

Side two begins with “Burnt Foot” and Dmochowski’s over-recorded, punctuation bass pummeling over the taking care of bizniz jazz drums that cascade all around Green’s riffing quietly traipsing in the background until it breaks down into a drum solo of sizzling cymbals with no drum skin spared from a multitude of lightning quick flourishes. Dmochowski’s bass returns to erratically shift gear into a gritty jam with Green’s churning wah-wah fanning out into a 359 degree arc of groove before its premature breakdown and subsequent fade. “Hidden Depth” opens with strategically played and watery-echoed wah-wah, with the returning piano and organ choppy in the intro and then straightening out with interplaying tones as emotions and riffs that suggest the breaking of a new dawn. Nick Buck’s organ colourations take on the same role of melancholy as Rick Wright’s from “Mudmen” or Tom Constanten’s emerging springtime renewal in “Quadlibet For Tenderfeet” off side one of “Anthem Of The Sun.” And all the while, Green’s restrained guitar of reversed pick-ups rings out truly unheard of tones with a natural delight for spaciousness and innuendo. All is peaceful until broken by a quick cut into the screeching wah-wah opening of the title track, ”The End Of The Game” which closes the album aggressively hectic and free form — loosely strung together not by rhythms but phrasing and a requited, unspoken understanding between the players.

The following year saw the release of a single ‘Heavy Heart’ b/w ‘No Way Out’, which received some airplay and saw Green perform ‘Heavy Heart’ on Top of the Pops. A collaboration with Nigel Watson followed early in 1972 for Green’s final single for Reprise Records, ‘Beasts of Burden’ b/w ‘Uganda Woman’.

This new and expanded Esoteric Recordings edition has been newly remastered from the original Reprise master tapes, features four bonus tracks (drawn from the two non-album singles) which appear on CD for the first time. It also features a booklet with new essay and an exclusive interview with Zoot Money on the making of the album.

Spirit were a highly regarded rock band that achieved modest commercial success, charting 11 albums in the U.S. between 1968 and 1977. Founded in Los Angeles in 1967 by musicians who had a mixture of rock, pop, folk, blues, classical, and jazz backgrounds, and who ranged in age from 16 to 44, the group had an eclectic musical style in keeping with the early days of progressive rock; they were as likely to play a folk ballad featuring finger picked acoustic guitar, a jazz instrumental full of imaginative improvisation, or a driving rhythm tune dominated by acid rock electric guitar playing.

Most people got to know the band Spirit because of their belated and ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit alleging that Led Zeppelin plagiarized part of “Stairway to Heaven” from their tune “Taurus”. That’s a very sad legacy for a quirky crew of visionaries whose guitarist was mentored by Jimi Hendrix and who created an original sound that embraced everything from psychedelia to jazz rock. They deserve to be remembered as more than a legal anecdote.
Spirit is almost certainly the only band of the psychedelic era whose story actually starts in the 1930s. That’s when their oldest member, drummer Ed Cassidy (born 1923), began his musical career. By the mid ’60s, he had played everything from big-band music to country, and had backed up jazz giants like Gerry Mulligan, Roland Kirk, and Cannonball Adderley. After playing with a young Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal in pioneering L.A. blues-rock band The Rising Sons, Cassidy looked closer to home for musical mates. It turned out that his girlfriend Bernice Pearl (whom he would marry in 1965) had a teenage son who was something of a guitar prodigy.

Randy Wolfe was just 13 when he started playing with his future stepfather in The Red Roosters. Pearl’s brother Ed was the owner of the Ash Grove, the legendary Los Angeles club where some of the greatest folk and blues figures appeared on a regular basis, so Wolfe had gotten guitar tips from the likes of Sleepy John Estes and Mance Lipscomb early days. Two other founding members of Spirit were from the Red Roosters too: singer Jay Ferguson and bassist Mark Andes. But the band abruptly ended when Cassidy, Pearl, and Wolfe moved across the country to Queens, New York in 1966.

Wolfe, then just 15 but already showing signs of greatness, ended up performing with Jimmy James & The Blue Flames, led by an unknown but wildly gifted guitarist making a name for himself on the Greenwich Village scene. The man the world would soon come to know as Jimi Hendrix took Wolfe under his wing, teaching him some tricks of the trade and even giving him his stage name: Randy California, to distinguish him from another Randy in the band.

It was pretty heady stuff for a kid California’s age. And when he wasn’t playing in the Village, he was giving guitar lessons to his neighbor Walter Becker, who would go on to form Steely Dan. But the egocentric behavior that would come to plague California in years to come is said to have started in his days as a Blue Flame. Depending on which story you believe, California stayed behind when Hendrix made the trip to England that would eventually lead to stardom One night at the Café Au Go Go, California starts playing slide using the neck of a sawn-off 7-Up bottle while James/Hendrix guns down a fat riff. Suddenly the kid reaches across to his boss’s guitar and spins the volume control down to zero. Hendrix throws a fit, flings his Stratocaster across the room and walks out on to the street. A tentative invitation from Jimi for Randy to join him on his maiden visit to London is withdrawn.

In either case, Cassidy, his wife, and his stepson moved back to L.A. in 1967, where the Red Roosters regrouped as Spirits Rebellious, bringing jazz keyboardist John Locke into the fold as well. Shortening that name to Spirit, they delineated their new, ambitious agenda to forge a free-flowing sound that could incorporate jazz, rock, folk, and anything else they cared to explore. Southern California in 1967 was about as hospitable an environment for such ambitions as one could want.

Like a lot of bands in those days, Spirit lived communally, sharing a house in Topanga Canyon. One of their housemates happened to be a young record collector named Barry Hansen, who would find fame in the ’70s as radio personality Dr. Demento. But at the time, his deep musical knowledge made him a guiding light for the band, and he oversaw the demo that got them signed to Ode Records, the imprint of producer Lou Adler.

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Spirit (1968)

Adler, who had recently become a key architect of the era’s West coast sound through his work with The Mamas & The Papas, produced Spirit’s self-titled 1968 debut album, Though the band was unhappy with the orchestral arrangements Adler gave some of the tunes, the record would eventually come to be regarded as one of the great sonic statements of its day. From the very first track, the album exploded with eclecticism and offbeat inspiration.

The lead-off track to Spirit’s 1968 debut album comes out of nowhere and sounds like nothing else out there at the time. The closest relatives to the style of the song would probably be Love or the Doors, but with a touch of Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention thrown in. Even that doesn’t quite tell the story of the sound here.

It’s psychedelic to be sure, Fresh Garbage is a quirky, almost comedic variant on the ecological themes of the time, and it shifts organically from Latinate rhythms to distorted rock riffs to straight-ahead jazz and back again, with California’s liquid but larger-than-life guitar lines leading the way. From the moody, orchestrated art-rock landscape of Mechanical World to the hooky psych pop of Uncle Jack  ‘Spirit’ is pretty much a perfect debut, with Ferguson and California seamlessly sharing lead vocal duties and the band establishing a singular sonic fingerprint. Though no real hits emerged from the record, it did manage to make its way to No. 31 on the U.S. album chart.

‘Girl in Your Eye’ Very much of its era, lets loose with a flood of sitar-laced sounds. The song, however, is strong enough to hold its own and conquer any ‘period piece’ daggers you want to throw at it. A beautiful melody carries this one along while the sitar gives way to a biting guitar solo from unsung six-stringer Randy California who drives this deeper into lysergic territory. Come along for the ride, the weather’s fine.

The Family That Plays Together (1968)

The second album, The Family That Plays Together, followed in December 1968.

One of the album’s deeper cuts, the shimmering instrumental “Taurus,” would make headlines more than four decades later. On December 26th, 1968, an unknown Led Zeppelin, preparing for the release of their own debut album, played their first American show, opening up for Spirit. In 1971, Zeppelin, who had been known to insert the riff from “Fresh Garbage” into their early shows and would eventually become notorious for appropriating other artists’ material without credit or compensation, released a little tune called “Stairway to Heaven” bearing an acoustic guitar intro uncannily similar to “Taurus.” But the copyright infringement suit that was finally filed in 2014 failed.

Spirit’s innovations continued apace on The Family That Plays Together released at the end of ’68. Besides encompassing everything from Jewish —California’s nod to his background based on a Hebrew hymn—to the delicate chamber pop of Drunkard the album contained the band’s only real brush with mainstream fame. I Got a Line on You is probably the most straightforward rocker in the Spirit catalog, and undeniably among the most infectious, with its surging momentum and stinging guitar. It became the band’s only Top 40 single and helped the album make it to No. 22, a career peak.

Unlike the vocal-free atmospherics of “Taurus,” “I Got a Line on You” featured harmony galore, straddling the line between the soulful hard rock that was on the rise at the end of the Sixties and the lingering traces of peace-and-love trippiness that still informed California’s supple guitar work. California’s voice is gutsy and melodic, helping to propel the single to success.

‘Dream Within a Dream’ from the second album is one of the few that retains the more psychedelic overtones from their debut disc. showcasing the incredible guitar work of Randy California. Perfectly produced by the legendary Lou Adler, this Jay Ferguson composition has it all — a great arrangement, stellar instrumental interplay and beautiful lyrics. The harmonies have an almost Association-like feel to them, but California’s piercing guitar running throughout makes it unique.

Clear Spirit (1969)

In 1969, the band made its foray into the film world, scoring Model Shop for French New Wave director Jacques Demy of Umbrellas of Cherbourg fame. Spirit made an appearance in the movie as well, and Ferguson was even given a few lines. But the film was a flop and the soundtrack album didn’t see the light of day until 2005.The work Spirit did on the score wasn’t a total loss at the time, though; a number of tracks were re-purposed for the band’s third album, “Clear” which consequently ended up being the most intriguingly atmospheric of their releases. In retrospect it also paved the way for Spirit’s true tour de force.

Spirit flaunted California’s parallel love of sci-fi. The song was named after George Orwell’s dystopian classic, and in its own way, the music is just as chilling. “1984/Knocking on your door,” California intones at the start of the track before it segues into an angular, almost mechanical bass line that sounds totally New Wave – more than a decade ahead of its time, as if the year 1984 really were knocking at Spirit’s door.

Not included on the band’s third album, ‘Clear,’ ‘1984’ was released as a single in late-1969 and tried to warn us of a future that may have seemed distant then, but was obviously not too far off. Another killer Randy California guitar solo makes this one a home run and its catchy-as-can-be chorus should have made this a hit. It didn’t and it wasn’t, but it’s still one of the band’s finest moments

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Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)

The band hired David Briggs, who had worked on Neil Young’s albums, to produce its fourth LP. Sessions for that album commenced in April 1970, but they were interrupted when California suffered a fractured skull due to a fall from a horse and spent a month in the hospital. A single, Ferguson’s “Animal Zoo,” emerged in July and grazed the bottom of the charts, Another great track from the band’s fourth LP, a pretty straight ahead pop-rock and roll, at times coming off like a cross between the Kinks and Paul Revere and the Raiders, of all things. That’s a compliment by the way! This gem from the pen of Jay Ferguson has an ultra-catchy chorus that should have made this a big hit, but it ultimately took six months to complete the LP, released as Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus in November.

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus can justifiably be considered Spirit’s Neil Young’s producer David Briggs, the band really strutted its stuff, tapping more fully than ever into California’s six-string bag of tricks, his and Ferguson’s complementary songwriting gifts, and the whole ensemble’s empathetic interplay.

The case for California’s as a guitar-hero status requires no more substantiation than his work on ‘Sardonicus’. Harnessing feedback, overdrive, slide, and sustain with the precision of a master jeweler while investing it all with his left-field psychedelic shaman vibe, California creates a guitar language that’s informed by the innovations of his old mentor Hendrix but exists in a self-created space all its own. And on tunes like the folkish environmental lament “Nature’s Way” and horn-punctuated, (named for Cassidy’s clean-shaved cranium), California and Ferguson were pushing their compositional powers to their peak. Toss in forward-looking excursions like John Locke’s cosmic electro-jazz journey Space Child and it all adds up to the brightest moment in Spirit’s career, not to mention hippie-era rock in general.

The year, the band released its magnum opus, “Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus”. Ambitious, multi-layered and sprawling – at the time, Rolling Stone raved that the album “lay languidly upon the very steps to Parnassus” – it produced the single “Nature’s Way,” which became a Spirit staple. It’s not hard to see why. Over a driving acoustic guitar, California pleads, “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong” – sounding favorably like fellow Angeleno Arthur Lee of Love, one of Spirit’s closest contemporaries. The coughing at the end of the song is reminiscent of the coughing at the start of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf,” released a year later,

Mr. Skin – which became the title of the b-side of “Nature’s Way.” Starting with a staccato organ-and-guitar salvo, the song eases into a brass-punctuated, cowbell-happy jam that mythologizes Cassidy’s alter ego. The song proved to be so popular among fans,

In between the recording and release of ‘Sardonicus’, Randy California fall from a horse, fracturing his skull. He was down for the count for a while, and during that time, he started snorting epic amounts of cocaine and going a bit crazy (or crazier) to boot. Mark Andes has stated that California was forever changed by this period, and not for the better. There had already been friction between the guitarist and his bandmates before, but after the accident things worsened drastically, almost coming to the point of an onstage punch-up before Andes and Ferguson finally quit to start the much more conventional-sounding (and briefly successful) Jo Jo Gunne.

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Feedback (1972)

California found his way into a rehab program. Cassidy and Locke, suddenly finding themselves without a band, hooked up with singer/bassist Al Staehely and his guitar-playing brother Chris in a band that released 1972’s extremely mediocre “Feedback” as a Spirit album but resembled that band in name only. When California was match fit once more, he set to work on his first solo album, the weirdly wonderful Kapt. Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds  which reunited him with his stepfather.

“Spirit of ’76” (1975)

After the dissolution of that unit, Cassidy traveled to Hawaii and got back in touch with California. Joined by Mark Andes, who had left Jo Jo Gunne, they began playing dates by September 1974; Locke also performed with them at the start of 1975, but neither he nor Andes stayed permanently. Instead, California and Cassidy hired another bass player, Barry Keene, and carried on. They recorded an album that they shopped, signing to Mercury Records, which released the double-LP “Spirit of ’76” in May 1975. It made the lower reaches of the charts.

When the stepdad/stepson team returned for the 1975 album Spirit of ’76, and like The Grateful Dead, Spirit decided to snub the trends of the decade and stick with what it knew best: psychedelia. While “Lady of the Lakes,” a single and standout track from Spirit of ’76, didn’t help Spirit become psychedelic standard-bearers like the Dead, the song’s easygoing vibe and swirling Americana weren’t that far from the concurrent work of Garcia and company.

They quickly followed in October with Son of Spirit, another modest seller. For Farther Along, released in June 1976,

Son Of Spirit (1976)

The following year, California and Cassidy toured Europe with ‘Kapt. Kopter’ bassist Larry “Fuzzy” Knight as Spirit, but California’s behavior was still disturbingly erratic and his drug problems seemed undiminished. He ended up in rehab again, and didn’t play music for two years. He dropped out of sight, seeking sanctuary in Hawaii, but Cassidy managed to reconnect with him eventually. With a new bassist in Barry Keane, they reemerged as Spirit in 1975.
The mid-’70s version of Spirit released two odd but excellent albums, ‘Spirit of ’76’ and ‘Son of Spirit’. It was a distinctly different band from the ’60s iteration, bearing a casual, stoner approach more in line with California’s solo album, but unlike the ‘Feedback’-era band, this was a lineup fully worthy of operating under the Spirit moniker.

Son of Spirit and Farther Along (1976)

All the original members of Spirit mended their fences and reunited for the 1976 album ‘Farther Along’, adding Andes‘ guitarist brother Matt to the roster for good measure. Unfortunately, the magic was missing. The production was too ’70s-slick, and the songs seemed to be courting commercial success more than answering the call of the muse as Spirit had done in the past. The public rightly turned a deaf ear, and the reunion didn’t last past the one album.

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Future Games (1977)

Randy righted the ship somewhat with 1977’s ‘Future Games’, a trippy, homemade sounding album that was really more of a solo session than a Spirit record, despite the name on the album cover. Spirit released Future Games, it was a safe bet the album was going to be weird. And it was. His interest in science fiction took an obsessive turn, with several of the songs even having pronounced Star Trek themes, including “Gorn Attack,” “The Romulan Experience” and, even more blatantly, “Star Trek Dreaming.”

Future Games (A Magical Kahauna Dream), the fourth Spirit album on Mercury, released in January 1977, found California standing alone and bare-chested on the front and back covers, and he played all the instruments on the record.

Potatoland (1981)

Randy California and his stepfather, Ed Cassidy, became the touring Spirit who kept the tradition alive until California’s untimely passing in 1997. The strengths and the weaknesses of creative freedom are evident on “Potatoland: Adventures of Kaptain Kopter & Commander Cassidy in Potato Land”, a concept album with a theme that is far removed from the intuitive cool that was The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. The material by California and drummer Cassidy is somewhat tremendous – “Open Up Your Heart” has wonderful Beach Boys/Beatles harmonies, there is some elegant playing, and a trippy melody. The production is also first-rate.

The music, however, is for the most part exemplary: at times a terrific listening experience resplendent in Randy California’s trademark guitar-oriented pop. Spirit needed a bit of discipline and direction at this juncture; but the zany nature of California’s Kaptain Kopter and potato obsessions inhibiting this stellar music from reaching a wider audience.

Other Albums

But another ill-advised reunion occurred on 1984’s ‘The 13th Dream’, on which all the original members convened one last time to desecrate the memory of the classic tunes they’d crafted together years before. The record consisted mostly of generic-sounding AOR-style versions of early Spirit material. The fact that members of The Doobie Brothers contributed to the tracks should offer some idea of the overall vibe. 1989’s ‘Rapture in the Chambers’, featuring everybody but Ferguson, suffered from similar problems, and lacked worthwhile material to boot.

California and the ageless, ever-faithful Cassidy kept Spirit going through the ’90s with a variety of bandmates, touring extensively and releasing a couple more unexceptional albums. But the Spirit story came crashing to an abrupt end on January 2nd, 1997. California, then 45, was swimming in the ocean with his 12-year-old son near their Hawaii home, when a tidal wave took them by surprise. Guitar hero California died a real-life hero, pushing his son to safety before being overtaken by the ocean. His body was never recovered, but in a strange way that’s probably fitting for a man who spent much of his life pushing the boundaries of his world to see what lay on the other side.

Cassidy died of cancer in 2012

Compilations, It Shall Be: The Ode & Epic Recordings 1968-1972; and Time Circle

Spirit’s catalog was regularly reissued in various editions over the first decade of the 21st century, but it wasn’t until 2018 that they received a proper box set treatment. In March, Esoteric Recordings released It Shall Be: The Ode & Epic Recordings 1968-1972; The five-disc set gathered their first five albums (including both mono and stereo mixes of their self-titled debut), and the soundtrack to the 1968 film The Model Shop. Each disc was packed with outtakes, demos, and alternative mixes from 1991’s Time Circle compilation. It also included a booklet with a critical and historical essay by Malcolm Dome, as well as archival interviews with California and Cassidy.

Mike McCartney (a.k.a. Mike McGear)’s 1974 album McGear was produced by his brother Paul McCartney who also wrote or co-wrote the majority of the tracks.  Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, and Denny Seiwell also appear on McGear, which has been dubbed by some fans as a “lost Wings album.”  Now, McGear has now been newly remastered from the original master tapes in a compact but lavish box set and expanded with 21 bonus tracks, including 13 that have never been released, plus rare single edits that make their CD debut here.

The album featured a selection of tremendous songs such as ‘Rainbow Lady’, ‘Simply Love You’, ‘Givin’ Grease a Ride’ and ‘The Man Who Found God on the Moon’. McGear also featured an inspired cover of the Roxy Music song ‘Sea Breezes’, the evocative ‘The Casket’ and the hit single ‘Leave It’. Among those is the non-album single “Dance the Do” featuring the Bonzo’s Vivian Stanshall. The set also includes a DVD featuring interviews with Mike McCartney recorded at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre and the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, as well as the 1974 promotional film for “Leave It.”  A 32-page booklet and foldout poster are also included.  The LP reissue is just the original album.

Esoteric Recordings is pleased to announce the release of a newly re-mastered and expanded 3 disc clamshell box set edition of the album, “McGear” by MIKE McGEAR, featuring 2CDs and a DVD. Originally released in 1974, McGear was the second solo album by Mike McGear (McCartney) and was a more “serious” record than his work with the Liverpool satirical trio Scaffold, or his work with Roger McGough on the “McGough & McGear” album.

“McGear” was charming, eccentric and unique in equal measure and was one of the great unsung albums of its time. Now acclaimed, but unavailable on CD for over twenty years, this long awaited expanded three disc edition reissue of “McGear” has been compiled with the full involvement of Mike (McGear) McCartney.

Available today in the U.K. and next Friday in North America.

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One of the pioneers of Progressive Music – or Prog Rock as it’s more widely known – is a UK band from the early years of Rock’s infancy. Their name is Van der Graaf Generator. This band still works together with their last album, Do Not Disturb, released back in 2016. Overall, this influential band released thirteen albums from 1968 through 2016 (thus far).  Their first album, “The Aerosol Grey Machine”, welcomed the band to the public.

The album was originally intended as a solo album by the band’s lead singer and main songwriter, Peter Hammill. When the band signed with Charisma Records, a deal was worked out whereby The Aerosol Grey Machine would be released under the Van der Graaf Generator name, in return for Mercury Records releasing Hammill from his earlier contract with it.

The Aerosol Grey Machine. Originally issued in 1969, The Aerosol Grey Machine adequately sets the stage for the great Van der Graaf Generator classics to follow. This 50th Anniversary Edition of this debut will feature new remastering and the addition of rare and previously unreleased bonus tracks to round out the  planned 2CD reissue.

For this reissue, eight extra tracks that include two previously unreleased 1967 demos, two single issues, and four BBC Sessions live performance tracks from a November 1968 session. A booklet with photos, notes, credits, an essay, and a new Pete Hammill interview.  Also included will be a replica Pete Hammill-designed poster from 1968.

A 180g-weight vinyl LP is also planned for reissue that will include the new remaster of the classic debut. It will come with a packed in 7″ vinyl single of the rare and withdrawn “People You Were Going To” with a B-side of “Firebrand”. The LP will be presented in a classic gateway sleeve with the UK artwork that was unissued.

Esoteric Recordings proudly announcing the release of a new re-mastered 50th Anniversary Limited Edition boxed set of the classic debut album ‘Aerosol Grey Machine’ – available for order now, and to be released April 26th via Esoteric Recordings.
Features the re-mastered album, an additional CD of rare & previously unreleased tracks, demos & BBC sessions, a facsimile 180g vinyl LP of ‘The Aerosol Grey Machine’ (cut at Abbey Road Studios), housed in the impossibly rare unreleased British gatefold sleeve design, a 7-inch single of the very rare withdrawn release ‘People You Were Going To’ b/w ‘Firebrand’, a lavish book with an essay by Sid Smith & exclusive interview with Peter Hammill, and a replica 1968 poster designed by Peter Hammill.

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As promised, Esoteric Recordings have announced the release of a new re-mastered four disc deluxe expanded boxed set limited edition (comprising 3 CDs and a DVD) of the legendary 1975 album ‘FUTURAMA’!
Features the original album remastered from the original studio tapes, and an additional 36 bonus tracks drawn from a stunning new 5.1 surround sound & stereo mixes by award winning engineer Stephen W Tayler, out-takes, BBC Radio In Concert & John Peel Sessions, rare promo videos, a lavishly illustrated 68-page book with an essay of recollections by Bill Nelson, a facsimile Record Store poster for FUTURAMA, replica track sheets, and postcards.

Also available as a 2CD Edition. Released April 26th!

This November, Esoteric Recordings will reissue a four-disc box set edition of English prog rock group Be-Bop Deluxe‘s 1976 album Sunburst Finish

3CD+DVD box set • Remastered • Unreleased tracks • 5.1 mix
It was the band’s third album and featured the line-up of Bill Nelson (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Charlie Tumahai (bass, vocals), Andy Clark (keyboards) and Simon Fox (drums).

The first CD in this four-disc box delivers a newly remastered version of the original stereo mix, along with a bonus cut of the seven-inch version of  ‘Ships in the Night’, which was the band’s one and only top 30 hit in the UK. The second disc offers a brand new 2018 stereo remix of the album along with six previously unreleased bonus cuts, while the third and final CD brings together BBC Radio One radio sessions – ‘In Concert’ and John Peel (both from early 1976).

The DVD (region free, NTSC) includes a new 5. 1 surround sound mix by engineer Stephen W. Tayler and offers the new stereo mix and remastered original mix in hi-res. Some video content closes this disc: an appearance on BBC TV’s The Old Grey Whistle Test and a previously unreleased 1976 Harvest Records promotional video for ‘Ships in the Night’.

As can be seen by the image above, the presentation looks good; the set includes a 68-page book with unseen photos and an essay of recollections by Bill Nelson. You also get a replica tour programme, postcards and poster.

The Sunburst Finish box set is released on 16th November 2018. A 2CD edition features the first two CDs from the four-disc box set.

Sunburst Finish, the 1976 album from art rock quartet Be-Bop Deluxe, falls into this valley set between the major musical movements in the band’s native England. Prog rock and proto-metal were on the wane with the rising signs of punk and post-punk about to dominate the cultural conversation. Like the lyric of the album’s hit single “Ships In The Night,” it felt like a square peg stuck in a cultural landscape of round holes. Heard today, it feels like the perfect record for that time period. Singer/guitarist Bill Nelson adhered to a musical complexity that resulted in multi-tiered tunes like “Sleep That Burns,” which moves from ambling rock to cocktail jazz to full on bombast in a mere five minutes, and the searing rock of “Blazing Apostles” and the ether-drunk psychedelia of “Crying To The Sky.” this album has been fresh on the mind of longtime fans of Be-Bop Deluxe and new listeners thanks to a recent deluxe reissue of the album released by Cherry Red Records that marries a re-mastered version of the original recording with a new stereo mix, a batch of bonus tracks and radio sessions from the time. It’s a lovely package that does justice to an oft-overlooked album (at least here in the U.S.).

Here’s our unboxing video demonstration of the stunning new deluxe reissues of Sunburst Finish, in both the 3CD/1DVD limited edition and the 2CD formats!, couldn’t agree more with Bill, who says it looks “absolutely top notch” and is “a really fantastic package that does the album proud”.

Esoteric Recordings and Cherry Red Records are proud to announce the release of an official limited edition deluxe boxed set of Yes founder Chris Squire’s legendary 1975 solo album “FISH OUT OF WATER” on 27th April 2018.

Recorded in the late Spring and Summer of 1975 whilst Yes was on hiatus as members recorded their respective solo albums, Fish Out Of Water was a breath-taking work, and equal in standard to any Yes album in terms of sheer invention and creativity. The album sessions were a collaboration between Chris Squire and his friend Andrew Pryce Jackman, a gifted arranger who had been a member of The Syn, Squire’s pre-Yes group. The sessions saw contributions from former Yes drummer Bill Bruford, Yes keyboard player Patrick Moraz and noted King Crimson musician Mel Collins and Jimmy Hastings. Released in November 1975, Fish Out Of Water was a Top 30 chart hit in the UK and made the US Billboard Top 75 album chart, going on to sell nearly 500,000 copies worldwide.

The highlight of this limited edition deluxe boxed set is a stunning new 5.1 Surround Sound mix (exclusive to this set on an NTSC / Region Free DVD), along with a new stereo mix, from the original multi-track master tapes by Jakko Jakszyk and a new re-master of the original 1975 mix by Paschal Byrne.  Fish Out Of Water also includes four bonus tracks of the single edits of ‘Lucky Seven’ and ‘Silently Falling’, along with both sides of the 1981 single by CHRIS SQUIRE and ALAN WHITE; ‘Run With the Fox’ and Return of the Fox (appearing on CD for the first time).

The boxed set also includes a replica 180 gram gatefold LP with poster of Fish Out Of Water (mastered and cut from the original tapes at Abbey Road studios), along with two seven inch singles of ‘Lucky Seven’ b/w ‘Silently Falling’ and ‘Run With the Fox’ b/w ‘Return of the Fox’, both in picture sleeves. To complete the content is a visual DVD (NTSC / Region Free) featuring the 1975 Fish Out Of Water promotional film featuring the songs Hold Out Your Hand and ‘You By My Side’, along with a 2006 interview with Chris Squire conducted by Jon Kirkman and a 2006 audio commentary by Chris Squire. Finally, the set also contains a 36-page book with an essay by Sid Smith featuring exclusive interviews with Bill Bruford, Patrick Moraz, Gregg Jackman and Jakko Jakszyk.

Always justly proud of his first solo album, it was Chris Squire’s long held wish that a 5.1 Surround mix would be undertaken of the work someday. This Esoteric Recordings edition finally brings this to fruition and is a fitting tribute to the artistry of Chris and his collaborator on the recordings, Andrew Pryce Jackman.

Alongside this deluxe edition, there will also be a new 2 CD edition of Fish Out Of Water which features the new Stereo mix, the new re-mastered original stereo mix and four bonus tracks.

The boxed set and 2 CD edition can be pre-ordered directly from Cherry Red Records website store:


Esoteric Recordings are pleased to be kick starting the new year with brand new reissues of two classic CURVED AIR  albums: Air Conditioning and Air Cut. Beautifully packaged, both classic albums have been given the Esoteric Recordings reissue treatment: AIR CONDITIONING has been newly remastered from the original tapes, and expanded with 11 bonus tracks drawn from previously unreleased studio out-takes and BBC sessions, while the new definitive CD edition of AIR CUT has been remastered from the original tapes for the first time ever! Both boast illustrated booklets with new essays & interviews.

Up first is a new expanded and re-mastered 2 CD edition of Curved Air’s classic 1970 album “Air Conditioning”. This new edition of “Air Conditioning” also includes an illustrated booklet with a new essay by Malcolm Dome featuring an exclusive interviews with band members.

And secondly we have a new official re-mastered edition of Curved Air’s classic album “Air Cut”. Originally released on the Warner Bros. label. This new edition of “Air Cut” has been re-mastered from the recently located original master tapes for the very first time (with previous CD editions being taken from vinyl transfers).

Curved Air



Esoteric Recordings is pleased to announce the latest release in the Todd Rundgren Archive series, “ALL SIDES OF THE ROXY 1978”. In May 1978 Todd Rundgren performed a series of concerts at The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, California with a band comprising members of The Hello People (Bobby Sedita, Larry Tasse, Greg Geddes & Norman Smart) along with keyboard player Moogy Klingman, bassist John Seigler and drummer John “Willie” Wilcox.

The highlight of this residency was a concert on the 23rd May 1978 which was the largest concert simulcast on American FM radio at that time with an estimated audience of over ten million listeners. Hosted by the legendary DJ Wolfman Jack (himself the inspiration for a song on Rundgren’s “Something Anything” album), Todd tore through a wonderful set that included material from both his solo albums (including the recently released “Hermit of Mink Hollow”) and his work with Utopia. He was joined on stage by such illustrious company as Daryl Hall & John Oates, Stevie Nicks, Spencer Davis, Rick Derringer and Kasim Sulton (of Utopia).

This three disc clamshell boxed set includes the entire set from the 23rd May concert over two discs, along with a third disc comprising other soundboard recordings made by Todd during his residence of shows at The Roxy. This release also features an illustrated booklet and is a welcome addition to Esoteric Recordings’ Todd Rundgren Archive series.

Newly re-mastered, this anthology features all of Spirit’s recordings for the Ode and Epic labels between 1968 and 1972 and notably includes the entire mono mix of the band’s self-titled debut album (appearing on CD for the first time), the complete soundtrack to the film The Model Shop, along with original 1968 stereo mix of The Family That Plays Together, associated out-takes, singles and alternate mixes undertaken in 1991 for the Time Circle compilation. It Shall Be also includes an illustrated booklet with essay by Malcolm Dome featuring archive interviews with Randy California and Ed Cassidy.

Esoteric Recordings are pleased to announce the release of a new 5CD remastered clamshell box set by the legendary American band SPIRIT. Formed in Los Angeles in 1967 from the remnants of The Red Roosters, SPIRIT was one of the great bands to emerge on the US West Coast in the Psychedelic era. Featuring the talents of 16 year old guitarist Randy California (who had played guitar with Jimi Hendrix in New York the previous year), his step-father drummer Ed Cassidy along with Jay Ferguson (vocals, percussion), John Locke (keyboards) and Mark Andes (bass), Spirit signed to producer Lou Adler’s newly established Ode Records label in late 1967. Their self-titled debut album appeared some months later and demonstrated the breadth and diversity of the band covering psychedelic, rock and jazz influences and featuring such legendary cuts as Fresh Garbage, Uncle Jack, Topanga Windows, Mechanical World , Elijah and Taurus (the subject of a court case decades later when it was alleged Led Zeppelin had taken the musical structure of the piece as a basis for Stairway to Heaven). The band’s follow-up album, The Family That Plays Together, spawned the hit single I’ve Got a Line on You and was one of their finest works thanks to material such as It Shall Be, Aren’t You Glad, Silky Sam and Darlin’ If. Leading up to the recording of 1969’s Clear album Spirit recorded the soundtrack to Jaques Demy’s film The Model Shop. In 1970 Spirit recorded the classic The Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus for Epic Records, from which the single Animal Zoo was taken and included excellent material such as Nature’s Way, Mr Skin, Space Child, Morning Will Come and Soldier. Sadly the original line- up of Spirit fell apart some months later leaving just Ed Cassidy and John Locke to assemble a new incarnation of Spirit for 1972’s Feedback, which saw brothers Al and John Staehely join the band on bass and drums respectively. Spirit went on hiatus soon after, although California and Cassidy would continue to tour and record as Spirit on and off until California’s untimely death in 1997.