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Egg: The Polite Force

Schizoid great/’difficult’ 70s prog classic gets laid again.

After a rather directionless and less-than-engaging debut album, with follow-up The Polite Force Egg recorded a 70s-prog semi-classic that was part good-as-it-gets Canterbury scene, part hard-to-handle, difficult-to-define noodle-noise.

Slam-dunking the good stuff first, opener Visit To Newport Hospital has a fuzzed-Hammond intro section so dark and doomy-heavy that it wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a particularly good early Sabbath track, before it changes suddenly to a gentle melody married to lyrics that are seriously toe-curling. The track really is worth the price of admission alone.

The rollicking-along Contrasong could be a Gentle Giant piece, with its time-signature trickery (“a basic 58 98 pattern developed”, the sleeve notes inform. “Basic”?), and instrumentally is like something that could soundtrack a villains-on-the-run scene in a 60s film.

That is perhaps as far into this record the faint-hearted or unadventurous should travel. For much of the rest of the album (Boilk and Long Piece No.3 Parts 1 to 4), song structures are cracked and fractured, traditional instrumentation is joined by electronic sounds, white noise, and a battery of ‘random’ sounds, plus the ‘kitchen contents being chucked down a flight of stairs’ that was de rigueur for any 70s avant pro-jazz combo; melody makes only the odd cameo appearance.

Sometimes very groovy, sometimes challenging, sometimes difficult, but an album that adventurous spirits should at least give a listen./o:p