Until recently, it was widely believed that the original master tapes of the British proggers of Cressida were lost or destroyed. The simple truth is: tape is terribly expensive and countless bands have lost their original masters as the tapes themselves were recorded over. Fairly recently The Lost Tapes of Cressida's earliest mono recordings were unearthed, remastered, and excitedly reissued to an eager public. Along with these several select tracks, demos, live broadcasts, and the previously unreleased track called Situation were assembled on a single and a double CD reissue.
It has become almost fashionable to create such compilations and try and satisfy the collectors of the greatest genre of music. It's my sincerest hope that in many of these cases it will finally put some much deserved financial rewards in the hands of countless artists whose original recording and publishing contracts left them penniless and unappreciated. This seems particularly relevant to progressive rock as in artistic integrity was invariably the first concern of the musician rather than sales volumes. After all, it was pop music that dominated the charts, not prog. Record companies saw the opportunities early on of signing eager and idealistic musicians and in so many cases pocketed the profits. I sincerely hope that this trend is finally being corrected by these new issues of vintage works.
I have spent many months now listening to these albums from end to end with high hopes and expectations. After all, Cressida is from my preferred time period and genre of music. As much I wish it could be different, I have come to the understanding that Cressida's music simply isn't to my taste. I find the melodies predictable, the rhythmic approach ordinary at best, and there is nothing truly innovative to be found. The musicianship is certainly acceptable, though being from this time period the recordings themselves sound dated, more than many others.
After each listen I have come to understand though that my biggest issue are the vocals. To my ears, there was simply no chance for Cressida to have gone any further than they did in popularity. I hear no magic, no spark, and no reason to go back and listen again. That said, I'm keenly aware of their fans, and they do have fans. It is to those fans that these CDs become relevant; I would venture to say that to their fans these CDs are essential and represent a full-circle completion of sorts. Furthermore, there are countless collectors of progressive rock during its origins, and most certainly Cressida was an important part of the movement, so they too should include these works.
As for me, I will only be able to give two stars, and to say that these records are strictly for collectors and completists.
** Thomas Rhymer (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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