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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Front Page Review “Mystic Soldiers” 1968 -1997 Big Beat Records- 2000 Akarma label US Psych Rock Boston Sound


Front Page Review “Mystic Soldiers” 1968 -1997 Big Beat Records- 2000 Akarma label  US Psych Rock Boston Sound 
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For many first-time listeners of The Front Page Review their one and only album, “Mystic Soldiers” will seem like just another footnote in the endless ranks of bands to have come out in the late sixties. Based out of Boston, many of their songs are keyboard dominated, and Steve Cataldo’s vocals will leave you with a feeling of having heard any one of their particular songs on any one of the countless oldies stations dominating the airwaves of your favorite city. You should listen a little closer, however, because there are some fine aural antics going on in the background of many of these songs. The opening number, “Prophecies/Morning Blue” is almost downright progressive with its theme of nuclear war, a building fuzz guitar, and a breathtaking tempo shift halfway through and then a Doors-like organ fueled coda. “Prism Fawn” sounds much like the Who’s “Relax” from the Sell Out album….but once again, the lyrics are fixated on doom, 
One of my favorite songs is “Feels Like Love”-it’s a wonderful time capsule to the sixties you could have easily found on the first two Nazz albums. The electric, harpsichord-like keyboards play nicely against the tinny rhythm guitar work. “Silver Children” follows, and yields another remarkable shift in tone; we go from happy love to the familiar Doors territory of The End with more of a mystical heaviness. “Valley Of Eyes”, with a decidedly more urgent tempo, goes from mystical to apocalyptic protest. “Without You” is more wistful and sad; a nice echo effect is induced onto Cataldo’s vocal. The last song to complete the album proper is “For The Best Offer”, plays like an extended psychedelic dream with its series of different fade-ins and fade-outs and the persistent image of `she’s the girl of a streetcorner tree’. Of the bonus tracks, “What Were You Looking For” features a fine fabulously distorted guitar-workout; “I’m Satisfied” is an upbeat bluesy number (if such a thing can be said to exist), which by being placed unfortunately after Looking For, ends up sounding more pedestrian than it had probably intended to. In all Front Page Review dish up the kind of psychedelic music you would expect from this time period, but they add a marvelous lyrical twist to many of their songs that sometimes is manifested in occasionally twisted music…by…. Robert Cossaboon…~


Front Page Review was a Boston band. Although they signed a contract with the MGM label, their only album was produced by Alan Lorber, the legendary inventor of “Bosstown Sound”, but for several reasons it never came to be released. Front Page Review made an interesting Psychedelic Rock, typical of the late 60’s, with influences from California groups like The Doors or Jefferson Airplane. 
Band formed in 1965, as the typical group of Boston area, making their living playing rock ‘n’ roll hits in local clubs, between 1965-1967. Their fate and direction will radically change in late 1967, with the arrival of the charismatic, guitar, singer and songwriter Steve Cataldo. 

Steve carried with him, deep, serious musical and social directions to the group, which were immediately added to the Front Page Review repertoire. His social explorations and his great musical vision led the group, to even higher levels of maturity and quality, much more than could be expected of a group of young people between 17 and 19 years. 

Their sole album, “Front Page Review” is a really delightful work, lasting only 29 minutes, but intense at times, full of intelligent and original ideas, changes of unexpected times and interesting melodies, with inspirational lyrics and original musical proposals. Alan Lorber did a spectacular job, taking advantage of this unique combination of musicality and social content, characteristic of the group, he managed to integrate the magnificent themes of the band into a new sound dimension, adding sound effects that raised dramatic intensity and realism of the excellent instrumental parts, obtaining a very cinematographic effect, when transporting the listener to an almost real scene, making him visualize moving images as if it were a movie. A clear example of this we have in the subject that opens the disc, “Prophecies / Morning Blue” , where the sound of children who play, confident and unprepared, are represented in a world of sudden nuclear devastation by a frenetic change of pace 5/4 Jazz as the nuclear cloud gets closer and closer to them. 

Steve Cataldo signed a new contract for the recording of a solo album with the label “ABC Records” and in 1969 under the name “Saint Steven” he released the excellent album “Over The Hills” “ . In the 1970s Cars group manager Freddie Lewis and group leader Ric Ocasek helped him get a contract with "Elektra Records” in Los Angeles, in which the first work of his new group was released the Nervous Eaters . Already in the 80 edited a second album with this same group in a small independent seal. Other contributions can be heard on the albums of Wille Alexandre , for which he recorded some magnificent acoustic guitars, in several of his classic songs, among them “Mass Ave” or “Keronac” . 

With their unique album, in their unusual format of musical fusion and poetic narrative , Front Page Review left an extraordinary and original contribution to the history of Rock from Boston and to what was dubbed the Boston Sound . Fortunately, the album “Front Page Review” , which remained for more than 30 years in complete oblivion and on some shelves filled with dust, was finally unearthed and edited in 1997 from the original Master Tapes. This is a little forgotten gem that deserves close attention….~


There’s all manner of archive scouring going on behind the scenes everyday with recent (well, last few years) finds by Thomas Edisun’s Electric Light Bulb Band and Pisces to attest that there is still gold to be found by those who know where to look. Here’s another not released at the time goodie dating back to 1968 in Boston, likely the peak year of the bosstown scene. Originally released on CD in the late nineties by Big Beat Records, “Mystic Soldiers” now sees an official vinyl release (following a dodgy Akarma bootleg)courtesy of fab Spanish label Guerssen, with several bonus tracks and a much more appropriate and eye catching sleeve. 
Produced under the watchful eye of Bosstown legend Alan Lorber (who also produced the Ultimate Spinach and Orpheus)and intended for release on MGM, “Mystic Soldiers” certainly has a lot going for it and apparently only remained unreleased at the time because of Stone’s commitments to those other bands taking over. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Bosstown sound in general (although there are standout albums to be found within the genre), but Front Page Review manage to take the Bosstown template and stretch it beyond its normal confines. The weedy organ sound associated with the genre is certainly present and accounted for, but rather than dominating, it plays a supporting role here. 
There’s a brooding, minor-key quality at play here which occasionally recalls the Doors at their most grandiose, with some particularly nice interplay between organ and super fuzzy guitars, combining with dark lyrical content to create a pretty heavy trip that never abandons melody to prove its point. And when the clouds part (as on the lovely “Silver Children”), they prove to be just as deft with a lighter West Coast touch. 

Had this been released in 1968 it would undoubtedly have a stronger reputation among collectors nd hopefully this release will go some way towards increasing awareness of what (on this evidence) could have been one of the better bands on the scene. As it stands this isn’t the end of the story; By 1969 lead singer / songwriter Steve Cataldo had rallied and released “Over The Hills” on ABC Probe as Saint Steven, a lauded album with a stellar reputation. The fact that “Mystic Soldiers” can be mentioned in the same breath as that album is an achievement in itself. The fact that in this listener’s opinion it towers ominously over “Over The Hills” is as great a recommendation as I can make. .. by Nathan Ford …..~



Definitive vinyl edition of this lost album from the Bosstown Sound scene. Front Page Review rubbed shoulders with bands like Eden’s Children, Beacon Street Union and Strawberry Alarm Clock. With legendary producer Alan Lorber behind the controls, they recorded in 1968 a whole album for MGM which was never released at the time. Mystic Soldiers is a prime example of late '60s U.S. psychedelic rock, featuring a young Steve Cataldo (Saint Steven, Nervous Eaters) on songwriting/vocals. All the right ingredients are featured here: wah-fuzz guitars, organ, phasing, effects. Features master-tape sound, two bonus tracks, and a new cover design. Also includes unseen band photos and an insert with detailed liner notes by Jeremy Cargill (Got Kinda Lost/Ugly Things…~


This band recorded their lone album in 1968 but it wasn’t released until the mid 1990’s. Front Page Review’s lone LP is a very nice example of the late 60’s Bosstown sound at it’s very finest. Mystic Soldiers includes ten songs with some killer organ and strong guitarwork. I find the songwriting to be very good here. Just the ballad “Without You” seems to be a bit out of place but it’s not a bad song either. “I’m Satisfied” is probably the second weakest song here. But the rest of the material is really good. “Valley of Eyes” could be my biggest favourite if I need to choose just one. 
I really enjoy this record. Although I’m not rating it with five stars it’s still definitely an album worth giving a try if you like the late 60’s US psych rock. I can understand why some people feel that this record is unbalanced but luckily most of the material is strong….by…CooperBolan ….~


Wow! I think for shear volume of great psych mat'l, I’d have to go with the San Francisco scene of the late 60’s. But for consistency, I think I’ve got to go with Boston. Here is yet another excellent psych album from Beantown, this one previously unreleased. It’s fantastic semi-commercial (read reasonably well produced) garage driven psych featuring Voxx organ, fuzz guitar, and the typical “Boston” psych sound. Includes a modest booklet with some background info. Recommended….by…tymeshifter…~


Middling late-'60s psychedelia with some California influences from the likes of the Doors and the Jefferson Airplane. Steve Cataldo had a pretty dark lyrical view, with lyrics that alluded to nuclear war and dead children, but no one was about to confuse him with Jim Morrison. There are some hints of interesting ideas in the periodic unexpected tempo/melodic changes, but this is a pretty meager effort that won’t find favor outside of certain hard-bitten psychedelic collectors….by Richie Unterberger…~


MGM producer Alan Lorber’s attempts to get his Bosstown Sound campaign off the ground at the end of the 60s famously never translated into sales; the criticism stands: his Boston groups had no distinct “sound”. Inevitably, though, time has begun to be kinder to the recorded legacy at the root of his hype and, of course, it’s some of the lesser-known acts that stand up better now. Front Page News are one of these, and Mystic Soldier is a worthwhile glimpse into Lorber’s vision for an East Coast echo of the San Francisco scene. 
Opener Prophecies/ Morning Blue, is a fuzzy swirl until it breaks into a richly patterned series of overlays, undercut with a driving beat, then back to pure organ again – it’s actually a delightful, messy way to begin. Rhythmically, Prism Fawn and One Eyed Minor are equally mesmerising, and there’s variety here too, courtesy of tempo changes and enjoyable instrumental interplay. 
If there is a defining feature of Bosstown, it’s the weedy organ drone, though Front Page News let it overshadow their varied proceedings, making this LP stand as another indication that Bosstown still can’t be pinned down….Record Collector….~



Front Page Review rubbed shoulders with bands like Eden’s Children, Beacon Street Union and Strawberry Alarm Clock. With legendary producer Alan Lorber behind the controls, they recorded in 1968 a whole album for MGM which was never released at the time. “Mystic Soldiers” is a prime example of late 60s US psychedelic rock, featuring a young Steve Cataldo (Saint Steven, Nervous Eaters) on songwriting / vocals. All the right ingredients are featured here: wah–fuzz guitars, organ, phasing, effects… 
Master tape sound, two bonus tracks, new cover design with unseen band photo, insert with detailed liner notes by Jeremy Cargill (Got Kinda Lost / Ugly Things) telling the story of the band for the first time…..~


This album was recorded in Mayfair Recording Studios, NYC in April and May 1968 on 1-inch 8-track stereo tape.


Credits 
Bass – Thomas Belliveau* 
Drums – David Weber 
Guitar – David Christiansen*, Richard Bartlett 
Piano, Organ – Joseph Santangelo 
Vocals, Guitar, Written-By – Steve Cataldo


Tracklist 
1 Prophecies / Morning Blue 3:54 
2 Prism Fawn 3:44 
3 One Eyed Minor 1:54 
4 Feels Like Love 2:32 
5 Silver Children 6:27 
6 Valley Of Eyes 2:16 
7 Without You 3:45 
8 For The Best Offer 3:35 

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