Andromeda

Beginnings 1967-68

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Good grief! Is this really the prog rock power trio once set to rival the heavy headiness of Cream? Well, the song titles on Beginnings 1967-68 certainly suggest so, but in this form they're barely recognizable, much like the band's sound. OK, let's back up. Singer/guitarist John Du Cann formed Andromeda around 1967. The group released one album (well two, if you count the Five Day Week Straw People set released under an alias) before folding upon Du Cann's defection to Atomic Rooster. Angel Air has already reissued the band's eponymous set, following it with Originals, the set as envisioned by Du Cann. And continuing to work backwards, the label now gives listeners Beginnings, Andromeda's earliest recordings. Recorded (poorly) on two-track tape by the bandmembers themselves, the 16 numbers within capture the flamboyant musical experiments of the group's earliest lineup (drummer Jack Collins was eventually replaced by Ian McLane). At the time, Du Cann was still a member of the Attack, and their exuberant pop sensibilities continued to infect Du Cann's songwriting. That's instantly obvious on "Let's All Watch the Sky Fall Down" and "Too Old," while the guitarist's love of the Yardbirds feeds through "Garden of Happiness" and "Turns to Dust," and his adoration of the Birds shines through on "You." "Land of a Dream" nods to the American psychedelic scene, and the languorous "And Now the Sun Shines" to California dreaming. Yet there are plenty of hints of things to come, clearly found on the heaving "Sleep"; the foreboding prog rock-flecked "Return to Sanity"; the jammy, experimental "When to Stop"; and even the acoustic "A Means to an End." The Andromeda to come was still a galaxy far, far away, but even in its nascent form, it was a star. The sound may be subpar and the songs barely representative of their future selves, yet fans won't want to miss a minute of this fascinating bedroom set.

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