Leviathan

Leviathan

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Growing out of the similarly obscure Mike Stuart Span, Leviathan -- a late-'60s British psychedelic group, not to be confused with numerous unrelated subsequent rock bands also called Leviathan -- put out three singles on Elektra, though they didn't manage to release an LP before breaking up. This unauthorized album collects 12 tracks from singles, unreleased acetates, and a BBC session that the group did when it was still known as the Mike Stuart Span. Based on the evidence of these, Leviathan were talented, but not great, purveyors of British psychedelia that bridged the gap between 1967-style freakbeat and the heavier hard rock sounds of the end of the decade. They were good at writing material with a moody drive, employing more harmonies and more propulsive drumming than was the norm for most of their peers struggling up the late-'60s hard rock psychedelia ladder. But the songs aren't too varied, and are just OK, not special, though pleasing for those who like power pop turning into hard rock crunch combined with wiggly psychedelic guitar. In fact, they never did come up with anything as brilliant as the Mike Stuart Span single "Children of Tomorrow," here represented not by the original 45, but by a similar version recorded for John Peel's radio show. Occasionally they did move into somewhat different styles, like the tense, dark extended blues-rock rave-up "Evil Woman," the Jimi Hendrix-influenced "Blue Day," the melancholy folk-rock of "Time," and the grinding, almost martial menace of "The War Machine," in which the turmoil of the times really spills into the music. It should also be said that Leviathan, even if their appeal is primarily to psychedelic collectors, deserve a better anthology than this unauthorized release, which includes some but not all of the tracks from their Elektra singles, and suffers from dodgy sound quality.

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