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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

My tribute to Esoteric Recordings

Since launching ten years ago on the Cherry Red Records group imprint, Esoteric Recordings has been home of finding rare and obscure gems in the history of Psychedelic, Progressive, Experimental, and Jazz Rock in the 1970s. Mark Powell who got his start as a freelance music consultant by working with Universal, Sony, and EMI by artists from Caravan, Camel, Hawkwind, and Soft Machine to name a few. He also wrote notes on the 3-CD compilations paying tribute to the labels of the late ‘60s and 1970s from; Island, Vertigo, Charisma, and Polydor. And he also wrote a book six years ago entitled Prophets and Sages: An Illustrated Guide to Psychedelic and Progressive Rock.

I first became aware of Esoteric Recordings nine years ago when I went ahead and bought a few of their reissues from sites including Doug Larson Imports, Kinesis, and The Laser's Edge including Rare Bird’s first two albums, Egg, Marsupilami, Web, Man, and Julian’s Treatment. To me this was more than just Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd. Mark is always searching to find more hidden treasures to see what the labels signed and why they were forgotten and never got the recognition they deserve.

They’ve also released box sets from the late Jack Bruce, Bill Nelson, and the Private Parts and Pieces I-V and V-VII 5-CD sets including Anthony Phillips reissues which the 2016 Progressive Music Awards for the Storm Thorgerson Grand Design Award. There is no stop sign for Esoteric. And with reissues from the realms of Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Beggars Opera, Cressida, Gilgamesh, Supersister, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Procol Harum’s first four albums, the Polydor-era of Barclay James Harvest, and The Move, they always surprise me of what to expect next.

It was also announced five years ago that they would sign up-and-coming acts with a label entitled Esoteric Antenna. Which released the new collaboration between Steve Hackett and the late great Chris Squire entitled Squackett’s A Life Within a Day. And signed to bands/artists such as The Reasoning, Matt Stevens, Sanguine Hum, Son of Man, and of course my favorite, Panic Room.

This year, the label are reissuing gems from Blonde on Blonde’s last two albums, Gandalf’s debut album, Little Free Rock, Unicorn, and Gong and Hawkwind’s Tim Blake’s solo work. They are very, very busy when it comes to reissues and new artists when they lend a helping hand. And they make my wish list even bigger when it comes to the reissues and new artists.

As Fela Kuti said, “Music is a weapon of the Future.

Here's my top 20 albums from the Esoteric label:

1. The Move - Reissues
2. Procol Harum - Reissues
3. Rare Bird - As Your Mind Flies By
4. Henry Lowther Band - Child Song
5. Supersister - Present Your Nancy
6. Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come - Galactic Zoo Dossier
7. Matt Stevens - Lucid
8. Sanguine Hum - Now We Have Light
9. Aphrodite's Child - End of the World
10. Web - I Spider
11. Barclay James Harvest - Everyone is Everybody Else
12. Tom Newman - Faerie Symphony
13. Kayak - Kayak
14. Earth and Fire - Song of the Marching Children
15. String Driven Thing - The Machine That Cried
16. Hatfield and the North - Hatfield and the North
17. Premiata Forneria Marconi - Photos of Ghosts
18. Morgan - Nova Solis
19. Marsupilami - Arena
20. Julian's Treatment - A Time Before This

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