Morgan was a British four-piece band founded in 1971 consisting of Morgan Fisher (keyboards), Tim Staffel (vocals, six and twelve-string acoustic guitars), Robert Sapsed (electric fretless bass) and Mo Bacon (drums, percussion). Before Morgan signed a contract for their debut album at the Italian RCA-office, ex- King Crimson member Ian McDonald joined the band. Tim Staffel once played in Smile in which he was replaced by Freddy Mercury (!). The rest is history! In the wonderful 16-page booklet you can read the story of Morgan. Itís interesting and a bit weird, just like Morganís sound.
Morganís style of music is similar to bands from the early British progressive rock movement like Rare Bird, Beggarís Opera, Fruupp, Fantasy, Gracious and Spring. They were all inspired by the sound of legendary late sixties formations like The Moody Blues, Procol Harum and The Nice. The music delivers pleasant guitar play and vintage keyboards, especially the Hammond-organ and the Mellotron, but thereís an important role for the vocals and the melodic structure as well. The main differences between the aforementioned formations and Morgan are the variety and the avant-garde elements. Thatís the main reason that Morgan didnít succeed in getting a contract in the U.K. despite their series of concerts in the London music temple The Marquee. The first three tracks sound melodic and varied: fat synthesizer flights evoking ELP and Banco in Samarkhand The Golden. Second track Alone has a mellow atmosphere with twanging acoustic guitar, warm vocals and a slow rhythm with Hammond-organ and piano. The next track War Games is swinging, but also bombastic with a very tasteful keyboard colouring by piano, spinet, organ and synthesizer. The epic composition Nova Solis Ė A Suite, divided into nine parts, is an adventurous musical journey that brings us from 24-carat symphonic rock to avant-garde. Itís very interesting indeed, but you have to fancy this kind of music. On the one hand you hear fluent rhythms with swinging piano, a Keith Emerson -like organ or a synthesizer solo and acoustic guitar with vocals; on the other hand weird sounds predominate: a jazzy piano solo that culminates in rather experimental synthesizer work.
According to the liner notes, Morgan was ahead of its time. Iím glad this remastered album gives prog heads the chance to listen to this very interesting, genuine progressive rock band from the early seventies. Itís no coincidence that Morgan was asked to attend the Italian RCA-office. The band was successful in Italy as their sound matched perfectly with the more adventurous and varied Italian prog rock of the early seventies.
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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