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11 Jun 2017

Mark “A Rock Gospel” 1975 US Private Xian Psych

Mark “A Rock Gospel” 1975 US very rare Private Xian Psych

A two—album journey in song through the book of Mark, written by Robert/Bob Beck, performed by himself along with seven others. As the title suggests the style is rock, though not really the “rock opera” or “musical” sound, but more in the small electric male/female combo direction. Groovy swirling Bosstown organ is all over the place here along with jangling electric guitar, bringing a strong psych undercurrent to a good half-dozen tracks. ‘The Loaves’ and the lively wah—wah jamming ‘Seeds’ are exceptional, while the progressive instrumental ‘The Death Of The Baptist’ makes for a classic flashback to the best of 1968 psychedelia. A couple talk-sung numbers in ‘The Paralytic Walking Talking Blues’ and ‘Temple Talk’, the latter over nothing but a brisk rim/cymbal swing beat. Artsy jazz flourishes surface here and there courtesy of Beck’s piano. All you collectors of the more rad styles will want this one. Neat red and purple gate-fold cover. (The Archivist, 4th edition by Ken Scott)………

This early attempt to fuse the popular sounds of artists like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience with an evangelistic Christian message comes off as ham-fisted and naïve, but undeniably genuine. Agape doesn’t quite live up to the “hard rock” portion of their album’s title, filling most of the tracks on this debut with watery blues, lightweight guitar textures, and clumsy, half-spoken vocals. Still, they do find a few excuses to freak out on side two; “Freedom” contains some lengthy, double-tracked fuzz guitar solos and “Choose” features a thick, galloping Grand Funk Railroad-style approach during the instrumental sections. The album’s closer, “Rejoice,” begins as a disturbing reading from Revelations set to eerie psychedelia – all discordant strings scrape over a slinky, sinister vamp, eventually bursting into heavy riffing and a rousing chorus of “Read your Bible!” Singer/songwriter/guitarist Fred Caban was definitely preaching to the converted, delivering frankly simplistic testimony and borrowed Biblical passages stitched together with awkward sincerity. In the turbulent era that Gospel Hard Rock was recorded, it might have helped the group’s cause to directly address some of the spiritual crises that their youthful audience was facing rather than just parroting doctrine and language that hippies had already decided they couldn’t accept. Perhaps because of this veneer of innocence, original copies of Agape’s albums are highly sought after by record collectors, sometimes commanding up to 300 dollars apiece from entirely secular fans. ….. by Fred Beldin……………… 

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