Even back in 1968 great music was made which nowadays can still be much loved by those who are into progressive rock. A good example is for most people the unknown debut album made by Eclection. For me this band and their eponymous album didn't ring any bells, but as with many unknown releases before, we all have to thank Esoteric Recordings for bringing it back into the spotlight where it belongs! They released an expanded edition which has been newly re-mastered from the original Elektra master tapes, and features three bonus tracks originally released as singles in 1968. The release includes a lavish booklet with rare and previously unseen photographs and liner notes featuring exclusive interviews with two former band members.
Eclection were a British-based folk rock band, originally formed in 1967 in London by Norwegian-born Georg Kajanus (then known as Georg Hultgreen, vocals, guitars), Canadian Michael Rosen (vocals, guitars, trumpet), Australians Trevor Lucas (bass, vocals) and Kerrilee Male (vocals), and Briton Gerry Conway (drums, backing vocals). They released one album on Elektra Records before singer Kerrilee Male left to be replaced by Dorris Henderson, but the group broke up in December 1969.
The band's self-titled album, Eclection, was released in August 1968. Eight of the songs were written by Hultgreen, and the remaining three by Rosen. Hultgreen and Rosen also shared the lead vocals with Kerrilee Male. The band's style drew comparisons with The Seekers, Jefferson Airplane, Fairport Convention, The Mamas And The Papas and the early version of Renaissance. After the album was released, the band began to perform at festivals and in clubs around Britain. Their second single, a version of American band Kaleidoscope's song Please (Mark II), was released in October 1968. However, that month Kerrilee Male decided to leave the band, and returned to Australia. The band immediately replaced her with Dorris Henderson, an African-American singer who had moved to Britain. The single was re-recorded with Henderson's vocal replacing Male. More members left and new people came in the following period. Eventually this lead to the split towards the end of 1969.
The remastering from the original Elektra master tapes has sharpened up the sound a lot, which sounds cleaner and more open. Included on the new CD version are three extra tracks that were released as singles in 1968. One tune, Please, is heard twice as two individual releases. One with the vocals done by Male and one with the vocals done by Henderson.
After Eclection split up, Lucas and Conway formed Fotheringay with Lucas' girlfriend (and later wife) Sandy Denny, formerly of Fairport Convention. Lucas and Denny later both rejoined Fairport Convention for a period; Sandy Denny died in 1978, and Trevor Lucas in 1989. Gerry Conway continued a prolific career as a drummer, with Cat Stevens, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and others.
Georg Hultgreen was later known as Georg Kajanus, and had commercial success in the mid-1970s with the band Sailor and also writing musicals and soundtracks. Mike Rosen managed the progressive rock band Cressida, and was later a member of Mogul Thrash, before returning to live in Canada. Little is known publicly about Kerrilee Male after her return to Australia.
Dorris Henderson headed a new band, Dorris Henderson's Eclection, in the 1970s, with her son Eric Johns. She died in 2005.
Listening to this album forty eight years after it originally came out is certainly a bit weird. But I must confess that I really love it. It proves once more that there is a lot to discover music wise. Even if you have heard as many albums as I have.
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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