Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Egg - The Polite Force

The Polite Force

Released 1971 on Deram (now re-released on Eclectic Discs)
Reviewed by venus willendorf, 14/01/2005ce

Tangerine Pete, this is for you.

(Please note: this album is not to be confused with 90s techno outfit who share same nomenclature)


1.A Visit To Newport Hospital 8:25
2.Contrasong 4:21
3.Boilk 9:23
4.Long Piece No. 3 20:42

Ever get enticed by those intriguing looking albums from late 60s early-70s 2nd division prog-rock types that you secretly know are going to be first class tripe, but deep down you hanker for a listen cos it just MIGHT be that long lost classic that has curiously passed everybody by? They're to be found gathering provincial dust in the lonely halls of a record fair in a cosy cathedral town near you. Ideally the cover would be by Marcus Keef (great overlooked ‘rock’ photographer of the era, go to: http://kingcrimson.com.ne.kr/keef.html, and you’ll see what I mean - this man was truly a god of the lens), with de rigeur elaborate gatefold sleeve, which could only have been financed by maverick weekend-hippie corporate tearaways like Harvest, Deram or Vertigo.

Anyway there it is, lingering all mysteriously. Do you think: ‘fuck it I’m gonna shell out 30 quid, take the bugger home and let this baby transport me back to that lost 1971 space-rock Arcadia', OR (much more likely) do you perceive it to be an obvious pile of old ELPGENESISTYLE cat piss and turn smugly away knowing you have defeated some extremely dodgy urge.

Well this is probably the effect the EGG's The Polite Force might have upon any self-respecting seeker of quality abstruse vinyl if he/she were the victim of the above said scenario. Only you don’t have to wonder about it any longer cos I was daft enough to buy it!

But no I jest. This album (now reissued on cd) is well worth your time and investment, though I’ll have to whisperingly admit that, OK it does at times sound a teeny weeny bit like ELP, but only first album ELP, which to those truly in the know is actually quite good (look, I go where others fear to tread - it takes guts to investigate ELP, OK?). And yes there are times on the album when you think that that 7/4 time signature just might not have been really necessary, and I would also be the first to admit that calling your 20 minute opus track Long Piece No.3, parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 doesn’t indicate a band who are willing to take a chance on literary experimentation.

But, on the other hand, what this band does have is a keyboard player who sounds exactly like Soft Machine’s Mike Ratledge circa 1970 and who at times do Soft Machine… well just like Soft Machine (isn’t this enough?). They are also the only band to have recorded a truly psychedelic classical-rock hybrid (a bastardisation of Bach’s Durch Adams Fall - yeah me neither...) which is called Boilk, and is 9 minutes 23 seconds of warped genius.

The album cover’s great too.

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