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Tracklist: 1. My Clown 3:23 2. Dandelion Seeds 4:30 3. Jolly Mary 2:20 4. Hallo To Me 2:59 5. You Missed It All 2:51 6. The Way 3:24 7. To Be Free 2:49 8. Move On Sweet Flower 3:25 9. Crying Is For Writers 2:37 10. I See 2:40 11. Friendly Man 3:10 12. A Bird Lived 2:39 13. The Way-2 3:48 14. Hello Who's There 3:11 All music & lyrics: written by Newman, except 9: by Jackson. All arrangements: by July. Line-up: Tom Newman - lead vocals; rhythm guitar & sitar Chris Jackson - drums; piano & organ Allen James - bass guitar Tony Duhig - lead guitar; organ; vibraphones Jon Field - vocals; tabla & conga percussion
Prologue. Only a few dozens of LPs of July's eponymous album were originally released (in 1969). As a result, the band split the same year. In some ways however, the break-up of July can be regarded as the beginning of history of the mighty Jade Warrior. Tony Duhig and Jon Field formed that unique band soon after the end of July (not to confuse with the month of the year :-).
The Album. Overall, the music of July represents Proto-Art-Rock, which was a rather typical phenomenon for the early period of English Progressive Rock movement. However, precisely half of the songs of this album are marked with the obvious signs of Progressive. These are Dandelion Seeds, The Way, Move On Sweet Flower, Crying Is For Writers, I See, Friendly Man, and The Way-2 (tracks 2, 6, 8 to 11, & 13). Three of them: The Way, I See, and The Way-2 (6, 10, & 13) are especially impressive. Apart from the other arrangements, each of these songs features the magic sounds of Sitar and solos of tabla and congas. On the first two of them, the motifs of music of the East are successfully interwoven with the Rock structures, so diverse and tasteful interplay between solos of Sitar and electric guitar are there simply amazing. Varied interplay between solos of Sitar and guitar are present on The Way-2 as well. This composition, however, is filled with the exotic flavors of East from the first to the last note. Unlike The Way-1, there are just a few vocal parts on The Way-2 (in the beginning of it, to be precise), while an excellent 'Eastern' jam flow throughout it. All four of the remaining best tracks of the album contain at least a couple of instrumental parts, the arrangements of which feature not that little of the progressive ingredients, including the frequent changes of tempo and mood, odd meters, etc. Furthermore, the instrumental arrangements that are featured on all seven of the said songs are rather eclectic and flow nonstop regardless whether there are the vocals. Which is a major 'progressive trump'. Each of the remaining seven songs on the album contains the strong instrumental arrangements as well. However, the vocals that are present on these songs are most often based on quite a simple instrumental background. Finally, it must be said that Hello Who's There (14) was performed by July along with a guest brass band, which is not mentioned in the CD booklet. The Sitar solos are heard here and there on this track as well.
Summary. Certainly, "July" is not as strong as such masterworks of early British Progressive as the first and second albums by Pink Floyd, King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King", Colosseum's "Valentine Suite', Clear Blue Sky's "Out of the Blue", etc. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to get more or less a clear idea of the early English Symphonic Progressive without hearing such an obscure yet notable album as the hero of this review, in particular. Be sure: "July" is by no means a boring musical journey into the past of Symphonic Art-Rock.
VM. June 13, 2002
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