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Pentagram - First Daze Here Too

    Ian Jane

  • Pentagram - First Daze Here Too

    Pentagram - First Daze Here Too
    Released by: Relapse Records
    Released on: June 17th, 2016.
    Purchase From Amazon

    Following up on their reissue of Pentagram's First Daze Here collection is First Daze Here Too, another collection of early seventies material from the band - essentially all rough studio recordings and live rehearsals. At this point time the band was made up of Bobby Liebling on vocals, Vincent McAllister on guitar, Greg Mayne on bass and Geof O'Keefe behind the drum kit. There are various other players involved here - Randy Palmer and Marty Iverson for example - but the four main members did the bulk of the work. This compilation was originally released in 2006 but has been out of print for a long time. Relapse takes care of that for you, reissuing it in its entirety, though it has been remastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege in Portland, Oregon.

    Recorded between 1972 and 1976, this two disc set starts off with Wheel Of Fortune, a live studio track that starts things off nicely. It's fast, aggressive, it finds the right balance between seventies cock rock attitude and stonery, doomy tone. Liebling sounds great here, you can hear an early Alice Cooper influence here, maybe some Stooges too, but it's heavier than that. When The Screams Come, which was also recorded at that same session at the National Sound Warehouse in Springfield, VA and produced by the band themselves, doesn't quite follow suit. It's slower, definitely sludgier, following a more Sabbath-esque path and creating a distinctly ominous vibe right from the start. Tracks like this really solidify the band's reputation as one of the earliest doom bands to exist.

    But then they defy expectations again, covering the Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb (this was originally recorded for a promotional 45 release) and playing it completely straight the entire time. It doesn't sound like the same band that just played When The Scream Comes, Liebling does a mean Mick Jagger impersonation here without completely aping him. It's an interesting aside for the band. Heavier and more intense is Smokescreen from a recording session that took place in 1976. It's a bit of a boogie rock song, but there's nothing wrong with that and it's catchy as Hell. Teaser, Little Games (a cover of the Yardbirds track of the same name) and Much Too Young To Know are also included here, taken from that same recording session that went down at Underground Sound in Largo, Maryland. Throughout these tracks you can hear some Kiss and some Thin Lizzy - lots of catch hooks here, some really effectively catching drumming and nice, thick, plump bass lines. This'll get your ass shakin' and then some.

    Disc Two kicks off with Virgin Death. This track, like almost everything else included in the remainder of the collection, was recorded between 1972 and 1974 at the American Mailing Warehouse in Alexandra, Virginia. Geof O'Keefe handled the recording duties, which involved a reel-to-reel recorder and two mics! The track is a fuzzed out trip, heavy on groove and thick in tone. Yes I Do is one of the more psychedelic tracks in the collection, it too has some fuzz going on but also a bit of wah-wah guitar to give it a trippy, stonery vibe. Ask No More is all about the drums, it's intense and sinister, again reminding us why so many doom bands consider these guys to be so influential despite the fact that they never got the huge record deal or exposure that so many of their less interesting contemporaries did.

    Man has a little bit of a Hendrix vibe going in, it's kind of like Cross Town Traffic (subject matter notwithstanding - this is about scoring with a chick) except a little angrier, a little darker and a lot less polished. Be Forewarned starts off with a quiet, calm intro - some mellow guitar underneath Liebling's surprisingly restrained vocals. It builds from there and thirty seconds later it starts to get darker, heavier and more intense. This is a stand out track, very heavy but also very catchy and even melodic. Catwalk is in that same vein while Die In Your Sleep, the shortest track in this collection, is a bit punchier and faster putting aggression in front of atmosphere.

    Frustration bring things back to more familiar, fuzzy territory. The audio quality here takes a noticeable drop but the playing is tight and Liebling sounds really solid. Target is a longer track, well over seven minutes, and it's got some more experimental guitar playing on it which is kind of cool to here. A bit more noodling to go along with the riffing and some lengthy soloing too. Everything's Turning To Night is flat out crunchy! It starts off heavy and then mellows out slightly while Liebling croons a little bit until the chorus kicks in and things start to pound away again with some really shrill high end guitar work. Take Me Away is all about the power of the riff, anchoring the track from the opening strum, while Liebling's vocals take the song into increasingly more desperate sounding territory. Nightmare Gown works on the same level, but the drumming is a little more on the wild side, which gives the track a very unpredictable nature despite the fact that it's actually fairly repetitive. It's also heavier than a lot of the other material, this is fairly intense stuff.

    Closing out the album is Cartwheel, another doomy mix of riffs and weird stoned out vocals that starts off slow but builds nicely, the similar sounding Cat Mouse and, last but not least, Show'em How. This last track is over ten minutes in length and it sees the band experiment a lot. It borders on psych in spots, but also works in some garage elements along with more traditional elements of early proto-metal and yeah, some heavy doses of prog too.

    This two disc collection comes with extensive liner notes from O'Keefe that do a damn fine job of explaining the bands complicated and convoluted history. Well worth reading, as they set the record straight on a lot of the rumors that surround the band at this point in their career. There's also a lot of great info about the material included in this collection, what it was like working with the other band members around this time and more. The lyrics to each track are also included with some memories from O'Keefe annotating each track.
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