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Asylum Review

by Bruce Eder

More highly melodic progressive rock, this time built around longer songs and extended instrumental passages -- among the latter, "Munich," which was alternately titled "Munich 1938: Appeasement Was the Cry; Munich 1970: Mine to Do or Die," was surprisingly accessible at nine minutes and change, built on Peter Jennings' extended organ cadenzas embellished with John Culley's crisp electric guitar flourishes, all wrapped around a pleasing array of melodies that easily carry the song's length. The three extended numbers that comprised the original LP's side two also make for fascinating listening, Angus Cullen's McCartneyesque vocals calling to mind the Moody Blues in their prime, while the band's hard, at times slightly jazzy, instrumental attack evokes echoes of Caravan with, perhaps, a touch of the most energetic of Deep Purple's Jon Lord-spawned classical experiments. The group's downfall may have been their reliance on virtuosity, as opposed to raw wattage and brute force in their attack -- with Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Keith Emerson was bringing crowds of 20,000 teenagers at a time to their feet by abusing his organ, while as part of Cressida, Peter Jennings on "Let Them Come When They Will" plays the kind of break that would have wowed them in a club in front of maybe 200 people (while Cullen's singing takes on a resemblance to Jim Morrison in the middle of the track). It's all sort of the difference between relating to one's music and audience on a retail basis, as opposed to wholesale -- Cressida never got past the former, and it makes Asylum a very pleasing album but also a very demanding one.

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