Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Arcadium - Breathe Awhile

Arcadium
Breathe Awhile


Released 1969 on Middle Earth
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 31/03/2001ce


This is an impossibly rare and expensive album that sells for the $500 mark, I must admit I'm a bit skeptical about a lot of these monster psych albums, but a friend of mine taped this Arcadium album for me and you know what?, this album is fantastic from back to front. Pressed on poor quality vinyl on the tiny Middle Earth label you hear plenty of cracks and pops but that's okay because the music is faultless.
Arcadium were a five piece led by one Miguel Sergides who sings plays guitar and wrote all 7 tracks on the record he is joined by Robert Ellwood-gtr, Graham Best-bass, John Albert Parker on drums and Alan Ellwood on keyboards, his doomy organ playing is a real focal point in the band's sound.
Side One opens ominously with a slow burn bad trip number called "On My Way" which clocks in at over 9 minutes, this track has an early Doors quality to it and also reminds me of things on UFO's second album "Flying", the song keeps building and building into a full blown nightmare, Sergides' vocals sound like a man who has a lot of bad things on his mind, sure he's on his way, but to where?
"Poor Lady" is an exciting and convincing psych-rocker with great backup vocals and some wonderful guitar fills, this sounds like USA group Spirit circa 1968. "Walk On The Bad Side" is a Procol Harum meets Peter Hammill bummer ballad with some nice organ touches the song really ignites about midway through into another full on acid-rocker.
"Woman Of A Thousand Years" is not the Danny Kirwan penned Fleetwood Mac song but an absolutely eerie mid paced original, the highlight of the song are the haunting background vocals. "Change Me" begins in the group's usual doomy fashion with organ and what sounds like an electric sitar, the singer again sounds like he's fighting a losing with life and on the verge of collapse.
"It Takes A Woman" picks up the pace a bit, it opens with some energetic guitar/organ interplay and then really catches fire, the guitar chords sound like The Association's "Along Comes Mary" while the organ brings to mind the mood of the second Terry Reid album.
The album finishes with it's best song called "Birth, Life and Death" a 10 plus minute psychedelic tour de force that begins with air raid sirens then shifts dramatically into a blazing acid drenched guitar/organ workout, the piece slows down at about 5 minutes in and becomes a diseased Van Der Graaf Generator type thing in the "Pawn Hearts" frame of mind, the song's coda is a spooky death dirge that leaves you feeling quite unsettled, the singers are all chanting "Goodbye, Goodbye My World". This record is no day at the beach, in fact I think I'm going to sleep with a nightlight on tonight, but it is a really convincing blast of dark psychedelia that you may want to take in small doses. I think it has made it's way onto CD recently so you won't have to shell out tons of bread to hear it, but hear it by all means.


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