Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wizard: The Original Wizard (US 1971)

Wizard - The Original Wizard 

Peon – P 1069 ST (US) promotional issue

 

right now i call this one the jewel in the crown of my collection. i scored it one on ebay earlier this year and i was quite lucky, because although the sleeve looks a bit tatty (which to me doesnt matter at all taking its rarity into account) it looked far worse on the picture the seller had provided (see here), where it seemed all yellowish-brownish, almost like water-damaged. that way the eventual price was somewhat lower than it might have been if the cover looked alright on the pictures. yet, if you have a look at for how much this obscure gem sold just two or three years ago, it just makes one cry, as its often less than half of what i paid and for even ‘mintier’ copies. its a tough market, especially for late-borns like me.
 
 
Wizard - The Original Wizard 
 

there has been a nasty re-release some years ago using the same catalogue number as the original (how i hate this… it should be forbidden if you ask me), luckily they were friendly enough to use a different design for the labels (have a look here), so distinguishing the knockoff from the real deal is quite easy again. the label should be in a bright and soft baby-blue, just like the PYE labels of the late 60s (im not good at taking photos, the actual color is even lighter and goes less into turquoise):
 
 
Wizard - The Original Wizard 
 
Wizard - The Original Wizard 
 

the cover, however, has this rough and bumpy texture you often find in 45s sleeves of the 70s. ive never seen this in an LP cover from that time, and to be honest, i dont like it at all. it makes the sleeve look used and dirty sooner, and considering the minimalistic beauty of the cover art i think a plane and matt finish would have suited it better.
although my copy is a DJ copy, unfortunately it did not contain any promotional material as ive seen on popsike a couple of times – on the plus side, it still has the original inner sleeve, as you can partly see in the first picture.
the disc itself is very very close to near mint, you can only see that it has been taken out of its cover a couple of times, but it certainly has only been played a handful of times, a truely marvelous copy. it virtually has no visible marks and there are clicks or pops or what so ever. yet there is some distant background noise to be heard, but from the kind of noise you can tell it is not produced by scuffs or scratches, i rather think it is due to the pressing quality. first of all, this is a US-pressing and every collector will know that US-pressings sometimes have certain imperfections compared to UK- or european pressings in general. and second, its a private pressing, so it might be that quality control hadnt been as professional or meticulous as with major labels, who have the means for that.
however, me hearing this noise is also partly due to the fact that the wizard LP was the first candidate to be played on our new turntable (after using some rubbish ones to get it adjusted properly), which is a vintage Thorens TD 160B with an SME 3009 II improved tonearm. the turntable must be from around 1976, and the tonearm, which was added later, was produced from 1972 to 1980, so thats the most precise dating i can offer.

 

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(not my picture, taken by the seller. more pictures that are not mine). the turntable itself is less sophisticated than our old Thorens TD 125 MK II, but the tonearm is far more high-tech as its no original thorens one. SME tonearms were very expensive back then, and for a good reason obviously (even apart from the sound quality. it looks so fancy and nifty, doesnt it? and, cmon, it has a hydraulic lifting-and-lowering system, how damn awesome is that?! more awesome pictures i did not take myself). the sound is so clear and sharp compared to what any other turntable i had ever used could do, it really blew my mind.

that way i was able to enjoy this album in superior quality right away. most tracks are just awesome, maybe i would call ‘ride‘ a filler and ‘come and see the bride‘ is also not among my favourites, but there are several real killers on this record!

 

A1 Freedom 5:15
A2 Come and See the Bride 3:56
A3 What Do You Know About Mary 2:24
A4 Opus Ate 3:25
A5 Goin’ Away 2:48
     
B1 Killing Time 4:57
B2 Got to See My Way 2:37
B3 Ride 3:00
B4 Seance 3:46
B5 Talkin’ to God 2:32
B6 Evergreen 3:50

 

Wizard - The Original Wizard 
 

as you can see on the rear cover wizard was only a trio, and i am just amazed at what they achieved (sadly, this is their only album – i dont even know if there has ever been an ‘actual’ release or if all existing copies are promotional ones). the opening number ‘freedom‘ sure is one of the highlights from the tracklist, thus i put the respective youtube clip below. it is strong and solid late 60s / early 70s-style rock with a bluesy touch and certainly some psychedelic influences, but it is also kind of laid-back; in a sense that it doesnt burst out into some wild and chaotic psych jam with lots of all too well-intentioned special sound effects, as had been fashionable in the years before. it is not monotonous or boring though (mind you, there are some really great solos now and then), its all well composed and you just get the feeling that these guys were really knowing what they were doing.
 
 
Wizard - The Original Wizard 
 

but, well, theres also stuff like ‘opus ate‘ which has some really weird lyrics about eating really weird stuff. but that already is as experimental as this album gets, mostly it appears well thought-out and deliberate. it also has its quiet and delicate moments – i already mentioned ‘come and see the bride’, it has a lot of soft vocals and such, and then there is the closing number, ‘evergreen‘, which is kind of a hymn on humble but everlasting things. it is a nice and unobtrusive closing number to let the album gently fade away, but still my very favourite track from this record is ‘seance‘ which comes almost directly before ‘evergreen’. it is a lot more lively than the latter, has nice riffs and vocals, and it also plays with the religious and/or spiritual imagery common to the last three tracks of the album. i guess its the most psychedelic (and rocking) number on this record, and its just awesome. well, i wont bother you with talking about it anymore, just listen to it below!

 

 
‘freedom’:

 

 
‘seance’:

 

 
most likely you dont necessarily want to buy an original pressing like i did, they dont turn up very often and as i said before, prices are just skyrocketing. vinyl re-releases are also rather scarce, but luckily there has also been a CD release on gear fab records.

 
interesting links:
wizard on rateyourmusic
 
 

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