Sunday, 2 August 2015

"Snafu" by EAST OF EDEN (2008 Esoteric Recordings Expanded CD - Paschal Byrne Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Whack It Up..."

With hippy-dip titles like "Uno Transito Clapori" and "Nymphenburger" – England’s East Of Eden weren’t exactly aiming for Top Of The Pops or Radio 1's playlist with their second Progressive Rock album release "Snafu" in February 1970. Yet that’s exactly where they ended up more than a year and two months later (via a circuitous route).

To draw attention to the LP - East of Eden and Deram popped out the non-album 7” single "Jig-A-Jig" in May 1970 and by way of slow radio play and build up - they eventually entered the UK charts in April 1971. It wasn’t long before they were giving it a bit of Rock-Fiddle instrumental on Top Of The Pops while Pan’s People danced about in scantily clad outfits to its cod-Irish rhythms (lovely). More importantly the single got them noticed. Taking a clever edit of "Marcus Junior" (the 2nd part of the 2nd track on the album) as its B-side – this most weird and Prog of British bands suddenly found they had a hit on their hands – a little like Thin Lizzy would do in 1973 with the Traditional Irish air of "Whisky In The Jar". And that’s where this 2008 CD remaster comes in. Armed with a generous seven bonus tracks (five of which are Previously Unreleased) and a near eighty-minute playing time – here are the jiggy details

UK released March 2008 – "Snafu" by EAST OF EDEN is a CD remaster on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2034 (Barcode 5013929713420) and breaks down as follows (78:04 minutes).

1. Have To Whack It Up
2. (a) Leaping Beauties For Rudy (b) Marcus Junior
3. (a) Xhorkom (b) Ramadhan (c) In The Snow For A Blow (Medley) Part I (d) Better Git It In Your Soul (e) In The Snow For A Blow (Medley) Part III
4. Uno Transito Clapori
5. (a) Gum Arabic (b) Confucius [Side 2]
6. Nymphenburger
7. (a) Habibi Baby (b) Beast Of Sweden (c) Boehm Constrictor
8. Traditional: Arranged By East of Eden
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd album “Snafu” – released February 1970 in the UK on Deram DML 1050 (Mono) and SML 1050 (Stereo) and in the USA on Decca DES 18043 (Stereo only)

9. Jig-A-Jig (May 1970 UK 7” single on Deram DM 297, A – charted April 1971)
10. Petite Fille – Previously Unreleased
11. Biffin Bridge – Previously Unreleased
12. Blue Boar Blues – Previously Unreleased
13. Nymphenburger – First Take
14. Marcus Junior (Single Edit) – B-side of “Jig-A-Jig”
15. Jig-A-Jig (Take Nine) – Previously Unreleased

Co-ordinated and Produced by MARK POWELL - the 12-page booklet features trade adverts and reviews for UK and French Music Magazines, three rare foreign pictures sleeves, colour live shots of the band on the centre pages, track-by-track musician credits and the album’s original liner notes. There aren’t liner notes per say – but all that pales into naught when you clap your ears on the PASCHAL BYRNE remaster from original tapes (done at Audio Archiving in the UK). This CD sounds amazing - making the dense flute, electric violin and saxophone playing seem somehow more open (same crew did the debut album from 1969 “Mercator Projected” – also on Esoteric Recordings).

In truth - the album “Snafu” couldn’t be more different from the crowd pleaser of “Jig-A-Jig”.  What you get here is Flute and Saxophone Prog Rock with the Fiddle Playing of Dave Arbus taking centre stage. Four of its long tracks come in parts – often going off into Free Jazz passages. Stuff like “Uno Transito Clapori” with its near 3-minutes of backward tape-effects are unlistenable nonsense now – but far better is the Jethro Tull Flute-Rock of “Gum Arabic/Confucius” which boogies along impressively for eight minutes or so with some hippy talking pieces inbetween. “Nymphenburger” has Arbus playing six violins while Geoff Nicholson plays four guitars and its awkward rhythms are a bit laboured. It ends on the 1:35 minutes of Piano and Voice on “Traditional” which is “Xhorkom” played the right way around.

The bonus tracks are going to please especially the surprisingly soft “Petite Fille” which is almost madrigal in its simplicity. “Biffin Bridge” is closest to the album’s Prog Rock – a slow intro arrives at a great Fiddle and Guitar workout – while “Blue Boar Blues” sounds like Mick Abraham's Blodwyn Pig circa "Ahead Rings Out".

Fans who remember the band with affection should jump at this reissue – especially given those excellent extras and that great audio upgrade...

PS: Esoteric Recordings have also reissued their 1969 debut album "Mercator Projected"

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