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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Morgan - The Sleeper Wakes (1973 uk, progressive rock with classical overtones, Angel Air issue)

Morgan was the band formed by keyboardist Morgan Fisher in 1971 from the ashes of Love Affair (who has had a #1 hit in 1968 with Everlasting Love). The intent was to explore new musical avenues, but it wasn't until they recruited Tim Staffell that the live-up was complete. Tim had previously been in a band called Smile, which featured Brian May and Roger Taylor. They, of course, would find world-wide fame with Queen, while Morgan would find fame with Mott The Hoople.

In the meantime, Tim ended up writing the lyrics while Morgan composed the music. Shunned in the UK, they ended up recording two albums for RCA in Italy and this is their second album, released on CD for the first time. This album was originally titled Brown Out - a technical term for a kind of power glitch.

Considering the success prog-rock bands such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd and yes enjoyed, I find it surprising Morgan were ignored in the UK, as the music is certainly in that mould. The tracks are lengthy, especially What Is - Is What, allowing the talents of each band member to be demonstrated. I'm tempted to say "Concept Album" (not a dirty word at the time), as tracks 2 and 3 are inspired by the Cyril M Kornbluth short story The Marching Morons, which tells of an apparently utopian society which, on closer examination, has made no progress at all

Musically, this album is far removed from both Mott and Queen - if you think Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans you'd be close. There are distinct similarities between Staffell's and Jon Anderson's styles, and between Fisher's and Rick Wakeman's. Musically complex (some would say 'inaccessible'), I find it strangely compelling. Yes, this is a CD I will be returing to when the mood suits.

Fisher's playing complements the songs very well without ever being intrusive. His use of the then-new VCS3 synthesiser is clever, showing his ability to utilise the latest technology to achieve the sound he wanted.

Angel Air CDs are always well-packaged, and this CD comes with a 12-page booklet, with lyrics, track notes and band history written by Morgan. There's a hilarious tale of the band's own interpretation of the title Brown Out which unwisely they saved for the album photo-shoot, eventually resulting in their untimely demise.

1. Fire In The Head - 5:01
2. The Sleeper Wakes - 6:07
3. The Right - 9:38
4. What Is - Is What - 19:56
Music by Morgan Fisher, lyrics by Tim Staffell.

*Morgan Fisher - Keyboards
*Tim Staffell - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
*Bob Sapsed - Fretless Bass
*Maurice Bacon - Drums, Percussion

1972  Morgan - Nova Solis (2009 remaster)

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