A R Z A C H E L
The psychodelic movement appeared back in the 60s. Needless to say, music was an important part of it. The idea of freedom, especially musical one,
escaping from reality (substances of various sorts helped here significantly) and even the basics of playing music eventually resulted in self destruction. Only
few of them survived until today. Among these, I will count this fabulous album.
It all began when Peter Wicker (then, the owner of Studio 19) met with the members of Egg. Also, some other group had an influence over Arzachel,
particularly, a one named Uriel. It was formed in 1967 by two people:
Steve Hillage (b. 1951, guitar, vocal) and Martin Montgomery-Campbell know as Mont Campbell (b. 1950, bass, guitar, piano)
Other members: Dave Stewart (b.1950, keyboard) and Clive Brooks (b.1949, drums) joined later.
The drummer was found thanks to an ad in Melody Maker.
The group's name is also a name of one of biblical angels. The group chose the name, inspired by Milton's 'Paradise Lost' (as Stewart remembers it). They
played the first show in a youth club in Sheen. That night, they played several covers of Hendrix and a group called Nice. Right after the show, they started
writing their own material. At that time, they recorded a demo (Egoman) which wasn't released until today **. In the summer of 1968, they played a few gigs
at Ryde Castle Hotel, on Island of Wight. Also, Hillage decided to quit the band and went to study on Kent University. The group survived, though, and they
played as a trio. Thanks to Bill Jelett (whom they met shortly before,) Uriel started playing at the famous The Middle Earth.
Dave Howson and Paul Walden at that time started to have a huge influence over the group. They suggested changing the name into EGG (January, 1969).
After some trouble, EGG signs an agreement with Decca and record the first album. At the same time, they frequented a café on Gerrard Street, where B.
Jalett s wife worked as a waitress. There, they met Peter Wicker, who had a small recording studio. He suggested that they recorded an album, with a
psychedelic twist to it. Wicker stated a condition, though. Namely, the expenditures should not exceed 250 pounds. There was also another problem. Egg
still had a contract with Decca Record. Both issues were resolved very simply. The whole material was recorded during one afternoon in Studio 19, on
London's Denmark Street. Steve Hillage participated in the recording. The whole group changed their names (just for the album's sake and created new
biographies.) Here we go:
Sam Lee ~Uff - David Stewart, it was the name of his Latin teacher
Basil Downing - C. Brooks, it was the name of his math teacher
Simeon Sasparella - S. Hillage (it was the best name, as Stewart nicely puts it, for testing new microphones)
Njerogi Gatetaka (or, properly Mont Campbell) was the fourth member. His biography was the most real one.
Indeed, he was born in Africa and, at the beginning of the 60s, he moved to England.
D. Stewart claims that the name was inspired by one of the craters of the Moon*. Musically, the material sounded like the early tapes of Uriel. The cover was
designed by D. Stewart. If you take a closer look, you ll surely notice 250 (this is the budget of the recording.) The album, released in 1969, has been
reissued a few times, both legally and illegally. Hence, the prices literally skyrocketed and the album itself became a sort of a rara avis among record
This was the only album by Arzachel as a group. The musicians members did not sit on their laurels, though.
S. Hillage played with Khan, Gong, and in the 70s he cooperated with various musicians as a producer (K. Ayers, Charlatan, T.Banks, Blink). Since the
beginning of the 90s, he is the member of System 7
M.Campbell after Egg disbanded in 1972, he joined Hatfield & The North, National Health, Mosaic and several own projects
C. Brooks for two years he played with Grounhogs and later with Liar.
D. Stewart - since 1972, he joined Ottawa Music Company, Khan, Gong, National Health, Bruford, Rapid Eye Movement, released a few solo albums,
and created a pop (!!!) duo: Stewart and Gaskin
Let's get back to our initial topic, which is Arzachel's album. It was originally released in 1969 by Evoultion recording company (UK), number: Z1003.
The characteristic features: 1. Grey picture on the cover, 2. No name of the band, 3. Blue label, without the spiral , 4. The third track, named Soul Thing .
At the same time, Roulette released the band's album in the States (the Red version - a red background on the cover, the group's name is on the cover, and
Soul Thing is there). In 1970, Evoulution reissues the record (the same number: Z1003 ) with a spiral on the cover.
There were also few other versions of the record: Vouge: blue cover, no name of the band, Bellaphon Roulette: the red version with the band's name,
Wah Wah: the blue cover, without band's name, Satori: blue cover, no name of the band, Akarma: the red version with the band's name.
The following tracks can be found on every edition of the album:
1. Garden of earthly delights (Arzachel)
2. Azathoth (Arzachel)
3. Soul thing - Queen St.Gang (Keith Mansfirld)
4. Leg (Arzachel)
5. Clean innocent fun (Arzachel)
6. Metempsychosis (Arzachel)
All the songs were written by group's members, in a mutual effort.
The album was produced by Peter Wicker, who was also the sound engineer.
As far as my knowledge goes, there were a few CD versions of the album:
TRC 021 (Germany, 1992, "red" with the band's name),
Drop Out DOCD 1983 (UK, 1994, "blue" with band's name)
Akarma AK 184 (Italy, 2002, "blue" with band's name).
Despite the fact that the album was recorded in such a short time span, it leaves positive impressions on the listener. It sounds very well-thought and mature
one. The first track is very short, but the following ones get longer and more sophisticated in every minute you listen to them!
The opus magnum: Metempsychosis, a quintessence of psychedelic rock. The most heart touching piece can be found in between the two aforementioned
songs. Take Azathoth, for instance. An ideal, cathedral sound, you will hardly hear anywhere else. Drifting through a limitless time and space in Queen St.
Gang. Another track: Leg inspired by Robert Johson s Rolling and Tumbling. In my humble opinion this is the most powerful version of the song ever
recorded. I dare say it s even better than Cream's interpretation, which group, by the way, inspired another track on the album, namely Clean, Innocent Fun.
I believe that the firm blues rock basis helped the album survive. It still sounds very fresh, despite the years that have passed. This is what the most stunning
albums are about!
*Arzachel - a Spanish astronaut, with Arabic roots. He lived in XI century, the real name Al Zarqali. D. Stewart came across the name in some
very interesting circumstances. To learn more about it, read the record's booklet .
SUPPLEMENTATION (April 2010)
The above text was written in 2002. Since that time, some other Arzachel-related materials were released. On 07.12.2007, Egg Archive, owned by
ex-members of Egg and Arzachel, released Arzachel Collectors Edition by Uriel (CD 69-7201). It includes the tracks from the LP and some Uriel's demo
tapes** from 1967: 7.Introducing The Bass Guitarist 8.Egoman 9.Swooping Bill 10.The Salesman Song 11.Saturn, The Bringer Of Old Age
The album was released in two versions: the limited and the normal one. The former had the autographs of the band's members. It contains a huge booklet
with the band's biography.
In 2008, an Estonian recording company, named Piper, released another CD version of the first album (No. 086, blue cover, with the band's name on it)
MAIN PAGE MENU
In Polish - IX, 2002
In English - IV, 2010