UPDATE: today (8/10/2011) I uploaded the track above - 'See The Earth From Space' - which is the opener from the lost second album Universal Man, by the great band , The Earth Disciples. Followers of my blog will know that I fervently hope for (and am working towards, albeit slowly) a day when the complete Earth Disciples will see the light of day as a de-luxe 'special-interest' re-release.
Wowzers! I'm writing this in a state of high excitement, having just received from the U.S. a CD, thanks to Reggie Austin and Reggie Harris (bassist and drummer respectively) containing recordings taken from an acetate (discovered by Skip Taylor, famous as manager of Canned Heat, amongst others, whose name you can just make out on the publicity photo shown here*) of the Earth Disciples lost 2nd album Universal Man.
Currently playing in my headphones is the opening track, a sprawling 6/8 odyssey called 'See The Earth In Space', the most overtly jazzy tune I've heard by the Disciples so far. A glance over the titles reveals a slightly more overt political consciousness at work: the first album, with titles like 'Serenade Of A Summer Butterfly', 'Spirit Of The Bells', 'La Bahemia', 'Earth Island Ferry' and 'Native Planet', evoked a kind of cosmic eco-consciousness, and a psychedelized summer warmth, where the titles on Universal Man seem to hint at more beneath the skin, 'Coronation Of The Sphinx' contrasting with 'Iberian Peasant', and 'Revolutionary Soldier' sitting right next to 'Lullaby For Little Ones'.
Another title with a political charge to it, and a martial military snare beat as an intro, is 'Portrait Of America', which segues into a jazz waltz after the slightly unusual musical departure of the intro. What this clearly shows is that the band weren't resting on their laurels, but pushing further in their sonic explorations. Rudy Reid (can anyone help us locate Rudy, or find out what's become of him?) plays lovely shimmering jazzy acoustic piano for the first time on this track, having up 'til now chosen to play electronic keys. The music continues to be a very strong alloy of different sources. 'Coronation Of The Sphinx' returns to a more blues rock influenced groove akin to material from the first album, but the production sounds crisper and fatter, and this helps bring out Reggie Harris' beautifully crisp drumming, his deftly articulated rolls around the snare, hats and tightly tuned toms on this tune being a real delight. I really hope they can locate master tapes for this stuff, as it's superb. The psychedelic guitar solo by Jimmy Holloway is awesome, but sadly mixed a little too low for full fat enjoyment.
'Universal Man' enters on a super tight super crisp deep-fried chicken scratch guitar figure, with Austin's drums entering with big beautifully tuned low tom action, and then an ebullient Hammond groove starts driving down your cerebral cortex, with Holloway's cosmic axe once again tickling your synapses beautifully... man, this is some seriously good music! What kind of world do we live in where this gets passed over? Not as immediately homogenous as their first album, I think Universal Man perhaps has more depth and variety, as the band dig in and stretch out. What a shame they didn't get the support they deserved, who knows where they might have gone?
After a long extended intro, in the second (or is it third?) part of 'Revolutionary Soldier', which approaches the density of prog rock or classical music in the scope of the arrangement, comprising many varied sections, the band come as close to a reprise of material from Getaway Train as they get, and are none the worse for it, as their debut is a great lost classic of instrumental psychedelic soul. Five minutes into this number, the magnum opus of the album, the groove goes up several gears, showcasing another fantastic solo from Holloway, but now over a furious 2/4 beat. The enegry is palpably visceral and exciting, the dynamics truly spectacular. Then they come down and out of this sonic epiphany, reprising an earlier section, dominated by melodious guitar and hammond organ, before finally building towards a climactic ending.
After the intensity of 'Soldier' comes the gentle closer, which lives up to the title 'Lullaby For The Little Ones'. Very much a band aware of the nuances of light and shade, with a great dynamic rapport, despite the overall softness of this last number, sadly their last ever tune waxed, they nonetheless wring a deep emotional intensity from their performance. I wonder what the vibe in the band was at this time? Having had one album out already, and undoubtedly aware that it wasn't being pushed as they might wish, did they have any idea this might be their last outing in the studio? It doesn't sound like it, as the music is strong, joyful, and overwhelmingly positive.
I'll be updating this post as more info comes in: the search for the masters of both albums goes on, as the big idea is a 'Complete Earth Disciples' release at some point, with a comprehensive remastering of their whole ouevre. If you have any pertinent info, pics, memories of the band in concert etc, please get in touch.
I won't share this music here without the consent of the band, or proper legal clearance, esp. as the aim is to see all the material re-released. But here's some basic info to whet your appetite for the planned re-release:
See The Earth In Space (6:00)
Iberian Peasant (7:12)
Portrait of America (3:34)
Coronation Of The Sphinx (4:35)
Universal Man (6:03)
Revolutionary Soldier (8:07)
Lullaby For Little Ones (2:36)
Personnel (as far as I know, the same as the 1st album):
Reggie Austin - Bass guitar
Reggie Harris - Drums
Jimmy Holloway - Guitar (poss also keys and bass)
Rudy Reid - Keyboards and piano
Any info from any quarter about the dates, location, producer/engineers etc would be greatly appreciated.
* Many thanks to both Reginalds, Austin and Harris, for sending me some wonderful archival pictures (which I hope will see the light of day in an article on the band's history some time soon), of which this is one, sent to me by Reggie Austin in this instance.