Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Alpha Centauri - Alpha Centauri (1977)

Alpha Centauri were hatched in Greely, Colorado in 1971. The trio consisted of Jess Redmon (guitar), Kurt Smith (drums) and Randy Thompson (vocals, keyboards) and for four years, the band labored the Colorado club circuit to great local success. In 1975, Garth Hannah (vocals, bass) was brought into the fold, fleshing out the band's sound. Shortly after expanding the lineup, the band packed up and moved to Canada in hopes of reaching a more diverse audience, which ultimately landed them a contract with Salt Records in 1976. Over the next few months, the band worked meticulously in the studio until their self-titled debut hit the streets in early 1977. Canadian audiences took notice of the quartet and soon the band were the subject of a CBC television special.

For the next two years, the band enjoyed success in their new home and anticipated their next album. Sadly, by 1979 things were changing in the music scene at large. Punk and New Wave were stirring things up and Alpha Centauri struggled to keep and expand their core audience. It wasn't until 1983 that the band finally concluded that their time had come and gone, prompting them to split that summer. Redmon went on to work with Chad Allen as well as working in production, eventually forming a band bearing his namesake. He continues performing with them in Greely to this day. Thompson and Smith also returned home, gigging with local band, Eyez. Hannah's post breakup activities are unknown.

Alpha Centauri have often been referred to as the 'World's Best Undiscovered Pomp Band', prompting collector's to doggedly serach for copies of this unsung gem. So is the claim accurate? Well, maybe not completely, but there's no denying the band's talent or the quality of their sole release. With a tip of the hat to Uriah Heep, the band plays with conviction throughout, but points must be docked for their somewhat derivative sound. Complete with Byronesque vocals and slide guitars that evoke Mick Box, it's impossible not to notice the Uriah Heep similarities. "Love Is a Curse" is perhaps the most obvious reference point, with riffing and rhythms that come straight from "Wonderworld" era Heep. In spite of the lack of originality, the album pulses with precision from start to finish and is worthy of review. Subsequent listens may only be optional to those who don't mind hearing something derivative.

Whatever your tastes, a legendary album like this deserves to be heard and since the reissue has long gone out of print, I'm posting it here for your approval. Listen and learn about this often discussed act from Colorado!


kissmar said...

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Anonymous said...

Great album!.
And a good sounding one too. ;)
I do hear some resembles to a band called Budgie, in the harder songs. The lead singer sounds a lot like Burke Shelley of Budgie.
This one's a keeper!.


(You have to pardon my English - I'm from Sweden)

micksguitar said...

great post. an amazing lp. with tons of good songs. thanx mick.

Anonymous said...

Uriah Heep is one of my favorite bands therefore I `m going to listem to this album right now!!!

pow.r.rock said...

this link is dead...too bad

Anonymous said...

Re up please. TY