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Revolution is a four-CD boxed set issued with typical loving care and fanatical attention to detail by Akarma from the original albums released by the Cramps label in the 1970s. All individual covers are reproduced as gatefolds, and all have replicas of the original geegaws included with them, from handbills to posters to stickers. The sleeves themselves are made of heavyweight cardboard at least as thick as what was originally issued. The real treat is in the sound reproduction, though. Akarma's team has remastered each title -- including the semi-atrociously recorded live album Are(A)zione -- with painstaking attention to dynamic, frequency curve, and warmth. As a result, each of the titles here -- Arbeit Macht Frei, Caution Radiation Area, Crac! -- doesn't come across as dated like much of the progressive rock of the era does. Area was a singular band in that it could play virtually any music it wished to and combined them all regularly -- hard acid rock, traditional Italian folk melodies, free jazz, experimental techniques, classical music, and the rhythmic shifts and harmonic invention of bands like King Crimson and Soft Machine, oftentimes in the same song. This was a band driven by the need to break down boundaries and espouse a particularly leftist philosophy without being overtly Communist. In vocalist Demetrio Stratos they had the most original and extreme frontman in rock & roll history form a purely musical standpoint. His voice was truly an instrument that combined the soulful African warbling of Leon Thomas, the growling, snarling fierceness of Rob Halford, the emotional depth and texture of Van Morrison, and the range of Marvin Gaye. As a set, Revolution is an indispensable aural history; as music it is a series of ghost albums that tell more about the nearly secret history of 1970s music -- at least to those in the United States -- than listeners would have ever considered possible let alone discovered. As with all Akarma issues, this is reasonably priced for such a fetishized production and handsome package.

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