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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Argent - Encore Live in Concert (1974 uk, great prog rock, 2018 japan remaster)

This album, originally released as a double LP in early 1975, was supposed to buy a little time for Argent as the group worked two new members, John Verity and John Grimaldi, into its lineup in the wake of the departure of co-founder Russ Ballard. As a result, it showcased a band that had already evolved out of the sound represented here, which must have seemed a pity for the fans who bought it. 

The sound captured on this album combines equal measures of progressive rock and hard-driving pop/rock into a whole that never lost its sight on rock & roll, as on "Thunder and Lightning" and "Music of the Spheres," or the more traditional sound of "Keep on Rollin'." With Ballard's guitar and the rhythm section of Jim Rodford (bass) and Bob Henrit (drums), the band could only stray so far from rock, and they and keyboardist Rod Argent, pulling in those opposite directions, ended up creating a scintillating whole on much of this record. Even the extended jams are focused and always maintain some serious forward momentum, though the opener, "The Coming of Kohoutek," comes dangerously close to fatal digression -- one can only quote Berlioz so far before the piece it's in loses its purpose as rock & roll. 

The 11-minute jam of "Hold Your Head Up" seemed a little excessive at the time -- a reaction probably caused, in part, by the substandard pressings by which the vinyl version of this release was seemingly universally represented -- but it holds up well today. And the band encored with "Time of the Season," a selection with which no one could possibly take serious issue -- they dress it up in some heavily ornamented drumming and guitar, but it's the song everyone knows and loves, done about as well as anyone who was not Colin Blunstone could ever handle it. The Collectables CD reissue boasts about the best sound ever heard on this set, and there's some pretty good annotation by Mark Marymount. 
by Bruce Eder

1. The Coming Of Kohoutek (Chris White, Rod Argent) – 10:34
2. It's Only Money, Pt. 1 (Russ Ballard) – 3:51
3. It's Only Money, Pt. 2 (Russ Ballard) – 5:04
4. God Gave Rock And Roll To You (Russ Ballard) – 7:03
5. Thunder And Lightning (Russ Ballard) – 6:21
6. Music From The Spheres (Chris White, Rod Argent) – 9:15
7. I Don't Believe In Miracles (Russ Ballard) – 3:27
8. I Am The Dance Of Ages (Chris White, Rod Argent) – 9:28
9. Keep On Rollin' (Chris White, Rod Argent) – 5:19
10.Hold Your Head Up (Chris White, Rod Argent) – 11:16
11.Time Of The Season (Russ Argent) – 6:38

*Rod Argent - Keyboards, Vocals
*Russ Ballard - Guitar, Vocals
*Jim Rodford - Bass
*Robert Henrit - Drums

1970  Argent - Argent (Japan remaster)
1971  Argent - Ring Of Hands (Japan remaster)
1972  Argent - All Together Now (Japan remaster)
1973  Argent - In Deep (Japan remaster)

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