Tales Untold

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In many ways, Tales Untold contains a fairly typical mid-'70s amalgam of hard and prog rock, but it would be a mistake to suggest it is a mark against the album's merit or a detriment to its enjoyment. In fact, while typical of many of the genre's conventions during the period -- heavily keyboard dominant, weaving guitar lines, an over-the-top rock holler -- it is also a fairly interesting example of said formula, full of nifty band interplay and mostly fine (or at least fine enough) songwriting. From an instrumental standpoint, there is a lot to appreciate about Kopperfield. They were excellent players, especially drummer Tom Curtis and the dual keyboards of Paul Decker and Keith Robinson, which occasionally investigate creepy Ray Manzarek-like territory. The guitar playing, too, is consistently pretty hot. And there are fits and flashes of true songwriting talent. The Gear Fab reissue nearly doubles the length of the original album. The first 11 tracks of the reissue offer the Tales Untold album in its entirety. It ranges from lean, bluesy rock that recalls Free to the lovely anomaly of the title track, which combines folky acoustic textures and harmony leads with psychedelically inclined and classical keyboard motifs. Songs like "Anatomy" and "Nothing Left to Give" also show the blistering influence of Detroit hard rock, although it is far closer in most respects to Grand Funk Railroad than it is to MC5. In addition there are six tracks from the band's 1972 "basement tapes," and they are, indeed, more roughhewn and unpolished, but in many ways as intriguing as the official ones, at times sounding something like a more psychedelic Santana. The final three tracks, including the live "Katie Love," were tentatively slated for the band's unfinished but promising second album, and are very different from anything in Kopperfield's previous set list. "Naked Tears," particularly, is futuristically funkier, almost like Earth, Wind & Fire. Tales Untold is not an essential reissue by any means, even by progressive rock standards, and at nearly 80 minutes it's difficult to take in one sitting. But it certainly has enough strong music to satisfy the average prog fan, and perhaps any '70s rock fan in general.

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