finch - beyond expression

Finch: Beyond Expression (1976)

Are you supposed to grow out of your prog phase? I’m not sure, and I’m sorry to say that my need for keyboard wankery and ever-shifting tempos, time signatures, and 20-minute long songs continues unabated. Finch was another band I discovered listening to episodes of Sea of Tranquility, but resorted to YouTubes clips to hear then since they’re not available on streaming platforms. A Dutch instrumental prog band that briefly existed from about 1974-1978, their second album Beyond Expression cater to everything that was popular in prog at the time: long, symphonic structured songs, a heavy emphasis on keyboards and changing tonal shifts within the songs. Your mileage may vary, there’s a lot here I found that really works, both as great background music and when you dig in deeper for that classic prog headphone experience.

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uriah heep - look at yourself

Uriah Heep: Look at Yourself (1971)

It’s another late night. We’ve switched from scotch to red wine, but we’re ready to continue down the track by track path of the monster that is 70s hard rock. Uriah Heep may have solidified their classic lineup and earned their biggest hit to date with “Easy Living'” on 1972’s Demons and Wizards, but the real hard rock punch came a year earlier with the mesmerizing Look at Yourself. The progressive side hasn’t yet fully come into its own; instead we get pounding guitars and organs and an overall more metal release. I was thrilled to find a great copy – a first US pressing at my local shop Needle + Groove for a song. A few listens convinced me of its merit, and for a while I was happy to say it was my favorite of their releases I had heard to date. Now that I had a serious dive into the followup, let tear this sucker up track by track and still if my assessment still holds true.

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uriah heep - demons and wizards

Uriah Heep: Demons and Wizards (1972)

Okay ladies and gentlemen…I have had more than a few drinks, the stereo is turned up loud, and I’m ready to continue down the path of classic 1970s hard rock, as initiated all the way back in July of this year when I waxed poetic about the Sea of Tranquility YouTube channel. Let’s keep the train rolling with some of the vinyl I picked up over the last few months, starting with a band I knew by name but was woefully ignorant of musically…the mighty Uriah Heep and their dynamic fourth album Demons and Wizards. I think at this points I’m enough sheets into the wind to do more of a reaction review, even though I’ve heard the record a number of times already. Flare your pant bottoms and grab your wicker basket of wine…it’s time to do this.

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groundhogs - thank christ for the bomb

Groundhogs: Thank Christ For The Bomb (1970)

I had no idea who the Groundhogs were when I first heard about them. It came, like so many of the albums I eventually fell for, from a list. Specifically from Decibel Magazine’s Stoner Rock special all the way back in 2007.Their Top 20 Stoner Rock Albums of All Time list was okay, if a bit,well…underwhelming. But tucked away was also an article by Scott Seward dubbed The Filthy 50, where he lists out as it states in the article “50 forgotten late 60s/early 70s thud-rock masterpieces.” And number one of that list was Thank Christ For the Bomb. When I started collecting vinyl it became the #1 must-have on my wishlist, and the good news (besides the fact you can read his article for free here) is that the album holds up superbly as a killer early hard rock record. It’s filthy, it’s thunderous, and those guitars are just sublime.

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scorpions - virgin killer

Scorpions: Virgin Killer (1976)

Coming back to the Scorpions after the fun of discovering their weird psychedelic side with Fly to the Rainbow I skipped ahead a bit to see what fourth album Virgin Killer had in store. By this time they had already started to hone their songwriting into the tighter, more streamlined commercial approach that would rocket them to stardom in a few short years. Having started their path with with third album In Trance (sadly one I don’t own…yet) I was eager to check out if Roth’s guitar was still as frenetic and alight as my first exposure. So let’s dive into Round 2 of Chris reacts to a virgin listen of Virgin Killer and see what hits, what misses, and where I’m left standing with the Scorpions’ 70s output.

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scorpions - fly to the rainbow

Scorpions: Fly to the Rainbow (1974)

Back from a week of vacation where weirdly enough I spent most of my time listening to a lot of metal. Usually it’s a ton of funk and more sunny music to complement the beach weather, but there you go. Anyway, right before I left picked up Fly to the Rainbow, the second album from Scorpions: I’m familiar with what I would call the “classic” period from Lovedrive to Love at First Sting, but beyond some excursions into the late 70s my early knowledge is severely limited. I know the real early stuff is supposed to be significantly different, so as an experiment I’m going to review this real-time as I listen to it for the first time. I guess it’s a reaction post – is that a thing? I don’t know. Let’s dive in.

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