Cleopatra [Release date 02.06.17]
Somewhat of a trans-Atlantic supergroup in their day, Captain Beyond formed in 1971 and originally featured guitarist Larry Rhino Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman (both of Iron Butterfly), original Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans (wanting to move Stateside one reason for his sacking by Purple) and former Johnny Winter drummer Bobby Caldwell. Pianist Lewie Gold left the band before any recordings.
The band signed to the Allman Brothers Band’s Capricorn records on the insistence of Duane Allman, after hearing a demo tape, and this compilation features several tracks in early form before recorded for any album. Then there’s Uranus Expressway, previously unreleased in any form.
Mixing hard rock with progressive and psychedelic leanings, the band made waves across the music industry and rightfully so, and here’s the evidence.
The aforementioned Uranus Expressway opens and nods to prog rock with that west coast abrasive twang. The hints to Purple are that of the late 60s, but equally the prog rock influence could be that of the likes of Uriah Heep. The music is at times bombastic, as on I Can’t Feel Nothing, while tracks like As The Moon Speaks highlight the trip-out rock (the guitar too upfront for the space rock of Hawkwind but it’s in that direction).
The 15 seconds of Astral Lady are incredibly heavy and typifies the harder side of things here.
There is some amazing (if rough and ready) work here, if the band hadn’t split, reformed and rotated line-ups quite so often they could and should have been huge, and the work in progress Is something to behold.
Rod Evans was an excellent vocalist and some of the tracks here, like the Mark 1 Deep Purple, really suit his style, much more than other directions (like Mark 2 Deep Purple) would have done. The harsh guitar mixed with the flower power and prog rock may seem at odds but it often worked very well.
Not an album as an intro, there are compilations of finished material that do that well enough, but there are some excellent moments and it’ll more than suffice if there’s nothing else. As interest to fans and collectors, it really does the job wonderfully. ****
Review by Joe Geesin
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