1973 was something of a banner year for progressive rock. That year, Pink Floyd released their billion selling ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; Genesis released a career best with ‘Selling England By The Pound’; a double whammy from Gong – ‘Flying Teapot’ and ‘Angels Egg’ – cemented their place in the psych-prog underground; both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer released albums that would go on to become fan favourites, and Mike Oldfield became an instant national treasure with his ‘Tubular Bells’, despite his Piltdown Man scaring the shite out of a generation of small children.
By the end of the 60s, jazz fusion band The Web had recorded and released two interesting but commercially unsuccessful albums. 1970 found the struggling musicians in a period of minor flux: a change in line-up saw frontman John L. Watson replaced by vocalist/keyboard player Dave Lawson (ex-Alan Bown) and a change of label took the newly christened Web [no longer the definitive; that was so last decade – just ask Pink Floyd] from Deram to Polydor. The new phase saw the release of their third and arguably best known LP, ‘I Spider’. ‘I Spider’ became their most famous work not through any increased exposure or notable sales, but by eventually becoming one of the era’s most sought after rarities.
By 1971, the final Web line-up changed their name to Samurai, switched record companies again and released one sole LP on the Greenwich Gramophone label. Like its predecessors, ‘Samurai’ failed to convince the record buying public and eventually faded into relative obscurity. Much like ‘I Spider’, the Samurai LP gained interest on the collectors’ market over the following quarter of a century, but never really got the mass re-appraisal it deserved. Despite the band showing lots of talents that should have found them mentioned in the same breath as Gentle Giant, King Crimson and early Soft Machine, the name Samurai is likely to be greeted with a shrug.
Following the recent reissue campaign which saw the band’s four studio albums released as double disc sets, Esoteric Recordings will issue a single disc Greenslade anthology in October.
Greenslade’s first three studio albums presented a band experiencing a period of rapid growth. In ‘Bedside Manners Are Extra’, released at the tail end of 1973, they released an album with a bigger focus on songs than their debut recording of just a few months earlier. Their third LP, ‘Spyglass Guest’ (released in the summer of ’74) found Dave and his eponymously named group delving further into jazz rock, unleashing something which sometimes came closer to Hatfield & The North than previous Greenslade recordings.
As part of Cherry Red’s “12 Days of Christmas” sale, Esoteric Recordings are offering a 20% discount on a selection of their finest titles over the next few days. It’s a great chance to plug a few holes in your collection, or perhaps treat yourselves to a Christmas present or three.