Retro Retrospective: Czar S/T

New material is coming, seriously.

To tide you over until that eventuality, I’ve got a juicy little dose of riffs from 1970’s Czar. A relativity obscure band (they don’t have a Wiki page), they first formed in 1967 as Tuesdays Children and were one of the many pop-rock bands that dominated the time period. Their record label was determined to keep them one the straight and narrow pop path, as that’s where the money was. However, in 1970 the band changed their name, released one self-titled album and then broke up.

According to the ProgArchives most of the album was recorded late at night after their day-job gigs and written then recorded on the same day. This is one of many albums from a smaller band during the early days of prog. While the heavy hitters like King Crimson were busy making headlines, many understated bands like Czar were putting out one-shot records into these previously uncharted waters.

The album’s openers, “Tread Softly On My Dreams” and “Cecelia”, are classic examples of early prog, with lots of nuanced guitar lines, weird vocal harmonies, meandering solos and plenty of organ/synth work. Since this is still “first wave” the songs don’t go completely insane, with longer but not epic run times and a fairly solid undercurrent of rock. In that sense you could almost consider this more art or post rock, but I don’t feel like postulating about genres.

Bonus points go to some pretty sick guitar noodling that kicks in at about the one minute mark on “Tread Softly On My Dreams”. The song feels raw to a certain extent but the rough edges and shitty production can be attributed to the fact it was the seventies and this was fairly experimental. It also adds a certain charm to the track, as you can tell there wasn’t a lot of money behind the song. It’s by far the best track on the record, to such an extent these guys are essentially one-hit wonders of prog.

Sadly, the strong opening is followed up with a pretty flat and forgettable mid-section. The songs aren’t bad per-say but they sure aren’t interesting or original by any stretch. The album’s closer, “A Day in September” manages to somewhat redeem things but still doesn’t get near the sound of the first two tracks.

This album is an interesting example of early prog development, from a band that never made it big but was necessary in expanding the fledgling genre. I’ve included the two opening tracks below and I’ll get some new new music up later today. Seriously.

“Cecelia”

“Tread Softly On My Dreams”

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4 thoughts on “Retro Retrospective: Czar S/T”

  1. interesting find. If it isn’t in Wikipedia, it doesn’t really exist.

    I felt like it was a really slow grove and at some points the groove just kinda stopped. I think it is something in the drum or bass that just wasn’t up to modern prog rock.

    I think it is really hard for guys like us who weren’t alive in 1970 to be able to understand how cutting edge this was (or was not). It is not like we can un-hear Rush and have Czar blow our minds.

    Tim

    1. I totally know what your saying. I’ve often thought about what it would be like to un-see or un-hear something and then watch it for the first time when I’m older.

      1. The other funny thing is when you hear and associate covers out of order.

        I remember getting a Sex Pistols CD in the mid nineties. Everyone said how influential and great and blah blah blah it was the definition of punk. I put it in and was so underwhelmed. There were bands that played just as fast but heavier (thrash) just as angry but better melodies (pop-punk), Just as angry but slower (grunge), and every permutation in between. But if you heard it in the 70s, it would have blown your fuckin mind.

        I just watched this vid of Rollins talking about his first Ramones concert – I doubt i can post links so it’s youtube id is v=lsEUBG5nwh4 – it is in the same line

        1. I can totally understand that although I have a slightly different view in some cases. I think that if music is that good, it transcends it’s time and place. Look at the blues for example, it inspired basically all rock ‘n’ roll, but still sounds fantastic today. Something like the Sex Pistols though doesn’t hold up. I think bands like the Sex Pistols started a catalyst for new music to be made, while stuff like the blues got watered down and reformed.

          /longwinded

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