Tuesday, 16 August 2016

"A Third Of A Lifetime" by THREE MAN ARMY [feat Adrian and Paul Gurvitz and Buddy Miles] (2016 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded CD' Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Take Your Fun While You Can..." 

Sandwiched between late 60ts GUN on CBS Records, the early 70ts solo years of PARRISH and GURVITZ on Regal Zonophone and finally 1974's BAKER GURVITZ ARMY with GINGER BAKER on Vertigo is the completely but unfairly overlooked interim group THREE MAN ARMY featuring the musical link between them all – the dynamic brother-duo of ADRIAN and PAUL CURTIS (or GURVITZ as they became known).

Three Man Army's rather good little debut album "A Third Of A Lifetime" from 1971 on B&C's short-lived offshoot label Pegasus Records has built up a serious rep amongst collectors – so its 2016 CD reissue in real style by England's Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) is good news for fans and lovers of Classic Seventies Rock. Let's get to those gun-totting Wah Wah Pedals and Moody Mellotrons...

UK released Friday 29 July 2016 (August 2016 in the USA) - "A Third Of A Lifetime" by THREE MAN ARMY on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2558 (Barcode 5013929465848) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster of their 1971 debut LP with Two Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (59:41 minutes):

1. Butter Queen
2. Daze
3. Another Day
4. A Third Of A Lifetime
5. Nice One
6. Three Man Army [Side 2]
7. Agent Man
8. See What I Took
9. Midnight
10. Together
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut LP "A Third Of A Lifetime" - released October 1971 in the UK on Pegasus Records PEG 3. Produced by LOU REIZNER - It didn't chart.

BONUS TRACKS:
11. What's Your Name
12. Travellin'
Tracks 11 and 12 are the non-album A&B-sides of a November 1971 UK 7" single on Pegasus Records PGS 1

THREE MAN ARMY was:
ADRIAN CURTIS (GURVITZ) - Guitar, Organ, Mellotron and Vocals
PAUL CURTIS (GURVITZ) - Bass and Vocals
MIKE KELLY - Drums
BUDDY MILES - Drums on "Butter Queen", Bass on "Nice One" and Organ on "Midnight"

Arranged and compiled by MARK and VICKY POWELL - the 16-page booklet repro's the original gatefold artwork of the rare Pegasus vinyl LP across its front and rear (the three black and white photos of the boys playing live that were on the inner gatefold sleeve are also reproduced in the booklet) and features new liner notes of the band's history by noted writer MALCOLM DOME. There's discussion on the brothers beginnings as The Knack which morphed into Gun which went into the self-titled solo Parrish-Gurvitz album in 1971 (produced by George Martin) - through the Three Man Army years and eventually ending up to at The Baker Gurvitz Army where they shared much mayhem and music with Cream's legendary drummer - Ginger Baker. But the big news is a superlative new 24-bit CD Remaster by BEN WISEMAN at Broadlake Studios in Hertfordshire - very clear - full of power and presence without ever feeling over amped for the sake of it...

The 'gun and guitar' artwork of their first platter (care of Terry Pastor) clearly gave a nod back to those early CBS days of GUN – promising mucho Guitar pyrotechnics amidst the occasional Prog-like tune. And that's pretty much what you get here - the new band also benefitting greatly from BUDDY MILES guesting on Drums, Bass and Organ. It opens with a speaker-rattling "Butter Queen" where Curtis seems determined to show how fast he can play guitar whilst Mike Kelly tries to keep up. "Daze" calms things down for a few moments before going into Man-like guitar soloing while "Another Day" is excellent Seventies Rock - funkier than most but still keeping it melodic. The Instrumental Acoustic title track has gorgeous Audio (such a lovely tune) and sees both strings and Mellotron come floating in like they're auditioning for a Procol Harum 45 or the woodwind section of ELO. I also dig "Agent Man" - five minutes of Funky Acoustic Rock where Adrian's prowess isn’t without doubt - but his quest to play in a group is hampered by the so-called professionals he needs to get into a decent band...

My introduction to this album came via a search for Funky Soulful Rock Instrumentals and the fabulous slink of "Midnight" jumped off the album - a kind of Brian Auger meets Jeff Beck guitar work out with sexy Organ passages from Buddy Miles (normally plays the drums and was with Hendrix). The song "Midnight” is a winner but even that cool wonder is trumped by "Together" - a very melodic Prog finale. The six and half-minute tune eases in at first with gentle Acoustic Guitars and a floating Mellotron note - Adrian singing about longing to live on a ship with his lady to escape it all. Way more mellow Moody Blues than hard-hitting Cream - it's the guitar flourishes that kick in at about 3:35 (after a silent Genesis type passage) that impresses hugely - where I'm reminded of Barclay James Harvest in their early Harvest Records days.

Even now THREE MAN ARMY are an obscurity – they sold jack zip on release - their albums have always been hard to find - and of late increasingly pricey. It isn’t undiluted genius – but this Esoteric Recordings CD Reissue and Remaster is typical of their commitment to getting rarities out there is quality form. Both fans and the curious should dive in…

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