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Fate - Sgt. Death (1968)

Chciałbym podzielić się kolejnym odkryciem, które poczyniłem kilka lat temu, a teraz sobie o nim przypomniałem przetrząsając płytotekę - jedyny album amerykańskiej grupy Fate "Sgt. Death". Pozycja jest dla mnie jedną z bardziej wybitnych z kręgu psychodelii. O samym zespole wiem niewiele. Stylistycznie kojarzy się z The Doors - a to za przyczyną klawiszy i pasaży, które wygrywa. Nie jest to zwykłe naśladownictwo, ale świadomy zabieg artystyczny. Znakomite są gitarowe popisy. Tematyka utworów przesiąknięta jest treściami antywojennymi, a szczególnie protestem przeciw wojnie w Wietnamie. Jakość nagrań pozostawia wiele do życzenia, ale w tym momencie są jedyną na dzień dzisiejszy propozycją.

Steve Dore - guitar
Skip Smith - drums
Jay Sneider (Snyder) -keyboards, vocal
Art Webster - bass
Frank Youngblood - vocal

Jay Sneider's first band The Electrons came together in Saco, Maine in 1963. They soon changed their name to The Id and would release two 45s that have become highly prized by collector's, the second as Euphoria's Id to differentiate them from several other Ids around at that time. Around 1967 Sneider (now Snyder) and drummer Skip Smith formed Fate.

The album was recorded in 1968 under the guidance of Thomas Jefferson Kaye at Studio 3 in New York, where Billy Joel's Hassles would record their debut LP. Demos were sent out and the popular DJ Roscoe (also the voice on an album by John Berberian) started playing it. It would be picked up by a couple more NYC stations, yet the only record label to show any interest was Musicor. Still the band's production company (Elephant 5) chose to pass on the offer, nothing further happened and a disillusioned band went their separate ways.

Such a shame; this is an accomplished opus and so evocative of its time. The mood is reflective, often sombre, but also confrontational (as in the overtly anti-Vietnam title track). Stylistically it varies from baroque-rock with psychy flashes to hard melodic rock, and a strong hint of The Doors on the more introspective cuts. The latter comparison used to irritate Jay Snyder but the setting, key and timbre of Frank Youngblood's vocals makes this unavoidable. Sexual Fantasy #8 is an immediate stand-out; it has a pealing George Harrison-like guitar motif that'll haunt you for months. Elsewhere they take on the blues and Bo Diddley in a hard-rock setting with searing guitar.

Jay Snyder recounts his musical odyssey and the stories behind his songs in revealing detail on both CD and LP. A very welcome and recommended release. Incidentally, the opening track on the original demo album, Prelude, was omitted from the reissues as it was not recorded by Fate, instead being put together by their producer.

An article in Billboard magazine in October 1968 reported that "Fate's demonstration discs are being played on three radio stations in New York", but the only original copy so far to turn up has a mastering date of February 1969 etched in the vinyl trail-off. It could be that there were different demo discs in circulation at different times. (orexisofdeath.blogspot.com)

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