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Ozric Tentacles - 1991 - "Strangeitudes" (47 min, UK)
Ed Wynne - guitars Joie Hinton - keyboards Merv Pepler - drums John Egan - flute, voice Zia - bass
I've listened to almost all Ozrics' albums, including CD-reissues of their early tapes like "Erpsongs" and "There is Nothing" (there are six of them in all, recorded before the first official release). Regarding Ozrics, I especially start with "Strangeitudes", because it is their "average statistical" album, although some words about it will be told just nearer to the end of this "Key" detailed review (in its true meaning consisting not only of enumerations of the songs with short descriptions of them). As well as in Nektar's case, I do not agree with the opinions of those critics, who compare Ozric Tentacles to such great bands as Pink Floyd, Djam Karet, Porcupine Tree, Gong, Jethro Tull, and Hawkwind, mixing things and thereby putting them all on the same plane in order to describe Ozric Tentacles, What a company for them! Well, we are all alike to a certain degree: two legs, two ears, one nose... yet so worlds apart! All of these Big Bands are different, too, each having its own originality, and originality is the main trump of the true artist of any kind of art. Influences are not opposed to Originality: God only knows where are the roots of music, and of all things. However, influence is not equivalent to cloning, don't you think so? What is more, the term "clone" used by reviewers in respect of almost all bands-"doubles" does not correspond to reality. "Marillion-clones" are beyond comparison with others on the margins of all prog-pages, where all of them have their own comfortable niches, and they're likely proud of such significant comparisons. And almost all of these "doubles", that are pseudo-doubles more correctly, are just poor unexciting copies of their idols, they are imitators of those, whose glory gives them no peace, though, strangely enough, more or less decent open imitation of their famous style gives them... a phenomenal success and, accordingly, lots of money (read of Grey Lady Down!).
I think, the terms like "imitators" (though, "Clowns" will be most right word here) and "poor copy" are quite suitable to describe that sort of bands, but not clone, because clone, all in all, is equivalent to the original. Alas, here and nowhere there is no place to discuss that, and please, don't look into scientific works, why? Just remember British sheep... And as to "almost all of the doubles": in "X" section read about the album "Somewhere but Yesterday" (Xitizen Cain, 1994).
Back to comparisons (which are so symbolic, on the whole) I'll say some phrases, the first part of which is a universally recognized axiom. Yes, the presence of comparisons is undoubtedly necessary on all music pages dedicated to performers or their works. The complex of comparisons, such as a navigator for readers, is a key for helping them make a good choice: whether to buy a band unfamiliar for them or not (of course it's a simlified example). Now "part two". All the comparisons must be qualitative, because only through our own comparisons it will be easier for a music lover to make his own choice. And he believes us (whereas he must be sure!) as long as a product advised to him meets his expectations.
Well, it's time to go back to Ozrics and comparisons, now not so flattering for them. I know that Ozrics plays live proficiently, though "Under Slunky" and "Afterswish" both consist mostly of the songs from their best, and the only really good double "Erpland". As to Ozrics' "average statistical" album "Strangeitudes" (as well as "Jurassic Shift" of 1993, whereas their latest works, especially "A Curious Corn" of 1997, are very simple, and sometimes open poppy), it shows that the band really has its own originality, but the level of quality of another most important ingredients such as composition and arrangements is far from the similar ingredients of the giants, that are compared everywhere with Ozrics, here (and in any "Story of Ozric Tentacles") is no place for Progressive's Leaders in respect of comparisons. There are no even stylistical similarities, especially with Jethro Tull (an absolute nonsense!): then equal me with the great Shakespeare, because I have one head too?! (In the context of Jethro Tull, Ozrics was compared to them, because the heroes of these lines have a flute in their instrumentation, too.
Summary. Putting "Strangeitudes" into the CD-player I hear an excellent job of the rhythm-sections, some guitar solos, little of flute (though, I've retained from the flutist his primitive howling), but over the whole album I can also hear how ably their keyboard player works with various prepared samples (lots of these musical themes-"rings" are contained in the memory of any more or less decent key-mputers), which create the "progressive" atmosphere. And that is all. So, the bands really related to Ozrics you can find on (British) "Delerium" lable, where only Porcupine Tree is a true progressive band, unlike the others, who are just semi-prog acts.
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