Baker Gurvitz Army: Elysian Encounter (1975)

Kronomyth 2.0: Close Encounters of the Tired Kind. You knew that Adrian Gurvitz had a brother, Paul, but who knew he had a clone? How else to explain the release of two Baker Gurvitz Army albums in one year and two Adrian Gurvitz albums (Elysian Encounter, Kick Your Muddy Boots Off) in one month? For their second album, Baker Gurvitz Army recruited a keyboard player (Peter Lemer) and a new lead vocalist (Steve Parsons, a.k.a. Mr. Snips), although the results weren’t appreciably richer than their first. In fact, I’m less enamored of their followup, as the prog label has clearly worn off and what remains is a ‘70s hard rock act with slight sci-fi/fantasy undertones and a great drummer. Prog fans will enjoy “The Artist,” which sounds like it could have stepped right from Steve Howe’s Beginnings, but the scent of prog is otherwise undetectable on here. Also, while I’m whining, I prefer Adrian’s voice to Mr. Snips. I’m not sure what the band felt they gained with the change, although maybe they were trying to lighten the load on the overburdened Adrian. Lemer is a good addition, but underused; a few more solos like the one featured on “Remember” would have been welcome. Elysian Encounter does showcase the drumming of Ginger Baker and the guitar playing of Adrian Gurvitz which, at this stage, are the band’s main draws. The material is good enough, but the answer to life’s mysteries do not await on “The Gambler,” “The Hustler” or “The Key.” Too bad, since their debut was promising and this album comes charging out of the gates, but it’s unrealistic to expect anyone, even Adrian Gurvitz, to have three great albums in them in one year. [The Esoteric reissue includes live versions of “People,” which gets an extended jam section in the middle that should appeal to proggers, and Jimi Hendrix’ “Freedom.”]

Original LP Version
A1. People (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz) (4:10)
A2. The Key (Ginger Baker/Paul Gurvitz) (6:25)
A3. Time (Adrian Gurvitz) (4:03)
A4. The Gambler (Adrian Gurvitz) (4:15)
B1. The Dreamer (Adrian Gurvitz) (3:38)
B2. Remember (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz) (5:23)
B3. The Artist (Adrian Gurvitz) (5:15)
B4. The Hustler (Ginger Baker/Paul Gurvitz/Adrian Gurvitz) (6:40)

All arrangements by Baker Gurvitz Army.

CD reissue bonus tracks
9. People (live) (Ginger Baker/Adrian Gurvitz)
10. Freedom (live) (Jimi Hendrix) (5:54)

The Players
Ginger Baker (drums, percussion, vocals), Adrian Gurvitz (guitars, lead vocals on A3/B2), Paul Gurvitz (bass guitar & vocals), Peter Lemer (keyboards), Mr. Snips (Steve Parsons) (lead vocals). Produced by Ginger Baker and Paul Gurvitz, assisted by Anton Matthews.

The Pictures
Cover painting and sleeve design by Joe Petagno.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in September 1975 in the UK (Mountain, TOPS 101), the US (Atco, SD 36-123) and Japan (Vertigo, RJ-7023). Re-issued on CD in September 1993 in Germany (Repertoire, REP 4888). Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2011 in the UK (Esoteric) with two bonus tracks.

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