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Pax (Peru) - 1970 - "Pax"
(35+ min, "Hi-Note")


****+

Tracklist:

1. A Storyless Junkie 5-35 (Aguirre, Aguilar) 

2. Rock And Ball 4-38 (Aguilar)

3. Green Paper (Toilet) 4-06 (Flores, Aguirre)

4. Sitting On My Head 4-41(Aguirre, Aguilar)

5. Deep Death 5-37 (Aguirre, Flores)

6. For Cecilia 4-59 (Aguilar)

7. Pig Pen Boogie 4-27 (Aguirre, Aguilar)

8. Shake Your Ass 1-10 (Aguilar)



Line-up: 

Mark Aguilar - lead vocals, bass guitar, piano 

Ego Aguirre - lead, rhythm & acoustic guitars,

              organ, backing vocals

Miguel Flores - drums & percussion, backing vocals

Jaime Moreno - lead & backing vocals



String arrangements by Enrique Lynch.

Produced by Pax.

Recorded by Manuel Bellido

at "Radio Studio 1", Lima, Peru.

Prologue. According to the CD booklet notes, Pax's only self-titled album was originally released on the Peruvian "MAG" label in the middle of 1970.

The Album. First of all I'd like to say you that Mark Aguilar (who is Peruvian) more than thirty years ago sung in English better that a lot of contemporary non-English language vocalists, while his voice reminds me Dan McCafferty's of Nazareth. Secondly, it is more than hard to believe it, but Pax's only self-titled album, composed and performed in the first half of 1970, musically can't be compared to any of the bands that, at the time, were also performing Progressive Hard Rock (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Clear Blue Sky, etc). And you may not believe me (until you check Pax's CD out and listen to it), but musically, structurally, stylistically (by all means!), the "Pax" album sounds like a forerunner (the older first cousin from South America?) of both the most commercially successful (not only, though) albums of Nazareth ("Rampant", 1974) and Sweet ("Fanny Adams", 1974). Especially interesting is that the debut albums of both of these UK bands were released in 1971! Also, as well as in the case(s) of "Rampant" and "Fanny Adams" albums, about half of the songs of "Pax" sound squarely in the vein of traditional Hard Rock of the 1970 (i.e. with heavy, strong, quite diverse and, vigorously, very power riffs with a few of guitar solos between vocal parts), and another half of them are, compositionally, fully corresponding to the term of Progressive Hard Rock (where there are a lot of changes of vocal and instrumental themes, tempos, and rich instrumental arrangements as well). These are songs from the "Pax" album that have all the essential compositional ingredients so as to be named the works of a true Progressive Hard Rock: A Storyless Junkie, Sitting On My Head, Deep Death, For Cecilia, and Pig Pen Boogie (tracks 1, 4, 5, 6, & 7 respectively). Personally, I am especially impressed with Deep Death, Sitting On My Head, and For Cecilia, going one after another. The first of them contains, apart from others, a couple of quite long and, what's the main, extremely unique (I have never heard anything like this before) dark episodes with slow yet very tense guitar riffs and gloomy mid-tempo organ solos. Sitting On My Head is, in my view, the most diverse composition on the album. In each of the said five songs there are also original and virtuosic (just wonderful) interplay either between two soloing guitars and bass or between guitar, bass, and piano solos, going to the accompaniment of the (always) excellent and diverse drumming. The first part of the song For Cecilia (track 6) is one of the most wonderful Proto-Prog ballads I have ever heard. Performed without bass guitar and drums, but still remaining lush and tastefully orchestrated, it is full of sincere beauty (especially the vocal sounds). Of course, I was sure that For Cecilia is a (charming) ballad from the beginning to end (all we are more than used to hearing on albums of Hard Rock or Hard 'n' Heavy such ballads that sound mellow as a whole, aren't we?). So I was really amazed when in the middle of the song I heard the wall of heavy sound with the excellent fast guitar solo on quite a slow, doom-y background instead of the continuation of the mellowness. Green Paper (track 3) is also quite rich in interesting arrangements, and although there are also a few of changes of themes and tempos in this song, it has mixed (electric and acoustic) structures as a basis. Another track with a mixed stylistics is Rock 'n' Ball (track 2). In full accordance with the title, there are all refrains sound on the background of Rock 'n' Roll, while the main themes and instrumental parts are based on heavy riffs. Each of Green Paper and Rock 'n' Ball contains also a couple of the fast, incredibly tasteful guitar solos. Finally, Shake Your Ass is just a short humorous song with a loud laughter in the end.

Summary. Wow! Well, once Mr. Columbus has discovered the American continent. Is it now really my turn to explore the (hidden, at least very obscure) roots of South-American Progressive Rock movement (and I have five CDs more on this point)? Then I have to admit that there was practically the same situation with Rock music at the Dawn of its (international) movement on that so distant and exotic mainland. Back to the hero of this review, if the albums of the five 'heavy' UK bands, that I mention above, really surpass the Peruvian Pax only album released the same year of 1970, then "Pax", IMHO, easily surpasses any of the early Grand Funk (1969 - 1972) and Nazareth albums (1972 - 1973, maybe with the exception of their debut self-titled album of 1971), as well as both the debut albums of the same Sweet (1971) and Wishbone Ash (1970). So, "Pax" is highly recommended to all those into an old 'n' gold Progressive Hard Rock (too, as I myself), at least.

VM. October 26, 2001


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