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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Raw Material - Selftitled (Progressive Hardrock UK 1970)


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Bitrate: 320
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Ripped by ChrisGoesRock
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Source: SHM CD Remaster

Super rare UK progressive from the late '60s. Leaning in a psych direction with Doors like keyboards, 'Tull like flute, long tracks, quality vocals, varied instrumentation etc.This was Raw Material's self-titled maiden voyage in the studio, they would release one more album in 1971 titled Time Is. The sound created on this album was not as intense or complex as their second outing but it is a glimpse at what they would become. 


This music was progressive but will most likely be looked upon as pre-progressive (i.e. Yes, Pink Floyd) by most fans and critics. Colin Catt, the vocalist and keyboard player, set the tone for the band with his trilling vocal style and Jon Lord/Deep Purple influenced keyboard playing. 

Although this album has some of the fusion and jazz elements present, it is not a prevalent as their second album. Rock seems to be the foundation that everything else stems from on their freshman outing. It remains as a fine example of early prog-rock with the use of the flute, sax and harp. Although this may not be the best album that you have heard from that period of time it is good and worth checking out.

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Raw Material is a British band that released two albums in the ealy 70's that are now highly collectible. The group consist of your standard prog quartet plus frontman Mike Fletcher on wind instruments. They developped a slighly jazz-tinged progressive rock so typical of that era and their debut album had some great moments (the longer tracks on side1) but was also partially flawed but ends in a bizarre poem recitation to string arrangements. 

Most progheads will prefer the much more even Time Is.. Rare album that appeared on the RCA prog label called Neon records. This album (with the line-up augmented by a second guitarist Harewood) was much more 70's-sounding and left loads of space for instrument interplay and hold many fine moments that every proghead looking for rare late proto-prog should investigate.

Highly obscure and criminally underrated, British outfit Raw Material may not have exactly set the world alight with the two albums they released at the beginning of the 1970s, yet both do fully deserve their place in the gilded pantheon of 'lost classics'. A self-titled effort, the first Raw Material release (barely) saw the light of day in 1970, pretty early in progressive rock's development, but thanks to a chicken-livered label and complete-and- utter apathy from the days music press this was an album cruelly doomed to fail right from the start. 


However, whilst 'Raw Material' may have sunk without trace when first released, the same cannot be said for the album's 21st century CD reissue, which has happily re-ignited interest in the forgotten group(so much so that the Relics imprint have re-released the album on limited-edition vinyl!). And boy do they deserve it. Blending elements of psychedelia, organ-baked blues, jazz-tinged rock, folksy meanderings and lysergic- dipped pop, 'Raw Material' is indeed a fascinating set, featuring an eclectic brew of styles that somehow manage to hang convincingly together. 

The album also has a strange, atmospheric tone that lends a seriously cosmic ambience to proceedings, especially on the mystic opener 'Time & Illusion' which brings to mind both 'Meddle'-era Pink Floyd and King Crimson during their more aggressive moments. Add the pacey, blues- inflected raunch of 'Fighting Cock', the sparse, dreamy acid-pop of 'Future Recollections' and 'Traveller Man's flute-doused fusion and you have a genuinely exciting album that constantly surprises with it's stylistic invention and gutsy playing. 

Nowadays, of course, original vinyl copies fetch a small fortune on the collector's circuit, and for once the reputation of the record is matched by the music it contains. 

They may have been summarily ignored in their own time, but life has a funny way of turning the tables on almost everyone and everything, and thankfully the raw deal dealt to 'Raw Material ' has finally come full circle. An excellent slice of jazzy, cosmic prog, this comes very highly recommended indeed.

- Colin Catt - lead vocals, keyboards
- Mike Fletcher - saxophone, flute, vocals
- Dave Green - guitar 
- Phil Gunn - bass, guitar 
- Paul Young - drums, percussion

01. Time And Illusion (7:30)
02. I'd Be Delighted (5:06)
03. Fighting Cock (3:48)
04. Pear On An Apple Tree (2:58)
05. Future Recollections (3:54)
06. Traveller Man (6:13)
07. Destruction Of America (2:20)

Bonus tracks: 
08. Bobo's Party (3:12)
09. Hi There Halleluja (2:45)
10. Days Of Fighting Cock (3:07)

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