This is a strange album to listen to from start to finish, but I really got a kick out of it. During the beginning of 1970 as Progressive Rock was on its heavy magic carpet ride in that time period, this little unknown album was released under the Fontana label simply called, Czar. Formed out of the ashes of Tuesday’s Children, Guitarist Mick Ware, Bassist Paul Kendrick, Keyboardist Bob Hodges, and drummer John Parker changed their name because they felt they were becoming more of a pop band more than a heavy rock band they wanted to be as they moved into a different territory. It was; dark, hard and very proto-prog metal at the same time rather than becoming the Bee Gees. The result of their only debut album shows some striking force. And it goes to show you, how fucking beautiful it really is. The mellotron is fusing beautifully while the guitars are doing a fuzztone sneer along with the Hammond Organ to create a darker masterpiece as tight as the magic gives, not to mention the weird cover which I’ll not go over, but again it’s very interesting to look at from either the band member’s point of view or what the hell they were thinking.
The album is an outstanding craftsman’s musical achievement, the dooming mellotron brass and string of the 6-minute post-apocalyptic, Tread Softly on my Dreams introduces some mind-boggling psychedelic grooves from Bob Hodges. Then, the music becomes more middle earth homage with an aggressive background with guitar, organ, drums, and vocals such as the love song turned classical symphonic hard nugget, Cecilia and the energetic explosion of the catchy number, Follow Me which could have been a part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and a reminiscent of King Crimson and Procol Harum. Then we get into Dawning of a new Day. To me, it sounds like a something out of the Italian Spaghetti Western classic, The Great Silence starring Klaus Kinski in 1968. The song has a balladry melody while the electric guitar and organ fit the atmosphere and it’s very simple as the mellotron combines the combination of the two by giving a whirlpool of magnetism. Beyond the Moon, where the mellotron underpins the solar system ala dance groove but has a Cressida-like influence that could have been used on their first two albums, but it is very Beatlesque meets Procol Harum’s In Held ‘Twas In I while Today is almost a sequel to A Whiter Shade of Pale in a psychedelic love ballad again that fits the mood and the times that were changing the music scene of the 1970’s. The 8-minute closing, A Day in September, is actually the band’s adventure into prog territory. Beginning with a middle-eastern raga from the organ and the bass doing a heavenly chugging with guitar fretwork, the music then all of a sudden, the music goes to a running tempo with the organ growing an increasing maximum volume along with the other instruments. The guitar then does an Indian guitar solo while the organ follows along with the beats to give it that freshness which no other musicians can do one way or the other. This is a great solo I really fucking enjoy. I can defintely hear the sounds of Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era of Pink Floyd ala Interstellar Overdrive.
After the band went on tour only once, the band was in limbo with problems with the management, no one wanting to promote Czar’s debut album. The band worked their asses off and found out that it was a big disappointment to them. Still it’s something to worth listening to. It’s a shame it was never promoted, but you get to hear why it remains a lost classic.