Lenny White Presents The Adventures of Astral Pirates (1978)

Okay, so this one isn’t as good as it looks but, in its defense, it looks awesome. The record revolves around a science fiction story of space pirates who steal a powerful device to save a dying world (and make some money), only to be guided to a strange world where they battle a cyborg bent on world domination. In between is a message about the importance of music and universal love, plus your obligatory ambisexual orgy (they don’t call them astral pirates for nothing). The music is a mix of progressive fusion and funk, not markedly different from Venusian Summer but without the stellar lineup. It’s tempting to see the presence of Don Blackman as a kind of Clarke/Duke axis on which these adventures spin; their “Universal Love” plies the same sort of smart funk. There are also songs that recall the work of Al Di Meola (“The Great Pyramid”) and Chick Corea (“Mandarin Warlords”). If you’re comfortable in the universe of mid-70’s fusion, this is an adventure you’ll enjoy. Of course, concept albums are difficult to make, and the music doesn’t always follow the narrative, at least to my mind. Close your eyes and you may hear an intergalactic tale unfolding, but you won’t (for example) be thinking about an interspecies intergalactic orgy on “Stew, Cabbage And Galactic Beans” (which, in retrospect, I suppose I’m thankful for). What I end up doing is keeping the story in mind as I listen to the music, without going chapter by chapter. That way, I can appreciate the narrative (which is interesting) and the music (which is excellent) without worrying about which notes represent the cyborg on “Heavy Metal Monster” (none of them, apparently). There are a handful of RTF-related albums that offer better music, but as a last hurrah for progressive rock/fusion, Adventures is a tale that deserves at least one spin on your turntable.

Original LP Version
Side Pursuit
A1. Prelude: Theme For Astral Pirates (Lenny White) (1:20)
A2. Pursuit (Lenny White/Nick Moroch/Alex Blake/Don Blackman) (2:58)
A3. Mandarin Warlords (Lenny White/Don Blackman) (5:06)
A4. The Great Pyramid (Lenny White/Don Blackman) (2:30)
A5. Universal Love (Don Blackman/Lenny White) (3:30)
A6. Remembering (Lenny White) (0:34)
A7. Revelation (Astral Pirates) (Lenny White) (3:25)
Side Encounter
B1. Stew, Cabbage And Galactic Beans (Alex Blake) (3:51)
B2. Heavy Metal Monster (Nick Moroch) (4:39)
B3. Assault (Lenny White) (3:36)
B4. Climax: Theme For Astral Pirates (Lenny White) (7:42)

All music arranged by Lenny White, Don Blackman, Nick Moroch & Alex Blake. All string arrangements by Don Blackman.

The Players
Lenny White (drums, Syndrum, Eu synthesizer, all percussion), Don “Captain Keyboards” Blackman (organ, acoustic & electric piano, Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer, Eu synthesizer, all vocals), Alex Blake (bass), Nick Moroch (lead guitar), Jeff Sigman (rhythm guitar) with Patrick Gleeson (all synthesizer programming). Produced by Al Kooper and Lenny White; engineered by Bob Edwards; mixed by Bob Edwards and Lenny White.

The Pictures
Cover illustration by Michael Wm. Kaluta. Liner notes by Lenny White and Don Mizell.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in 1978 in the US (Elektra, 6E-121), the UK (Elektra, K52065) and Belgium (Elektra, ELK 52065) with gatefold cover.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Elektra, 6E-121) with gatefold cover [red Elektra label].
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc on September 25, 1998 in Japan (EastWest, AMCY-2859).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 2002 in the US (Wounded Bird, WOU 6121).
  4. Re-issued on 24-bit remastered compact disc on February 25, 2015 in Japan (Elektra, WPCR-28172).

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