Khan - Space Shanty

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Eclectic Discs
Catalog Number: ECLCD 1016
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:03:00

Listening to this album and looking at its sleeve brings back a lot of childhood memories for me. When I was a kid, the shops in my hometown would have huge sales during September. One shop in particular was of interest to me: Maison Bleu, a record store in the heart of Oostende. At a time when albums cost no less than 335 Belgian francs, mainly unknown recordings were offered for as little as 49 Belgian francs! What I didn?t know at the time was that all these silly priced albums were all on the Decca label or its subsidaries. In the end, I heard that Decca Records Belgium had double book-keeping. They would press up albums for the Decca Company who would then sell them on to Maison Bleu as kind of unsold stock. Sadly for me, this fraud was found out, resulting in all Maison Bleu shops to close down. However, it was during one of those sales that I came across an album by a band called Khan. I had never heard of the band let alone the album Space Shanty but its foldout cover intrigued me. The lady behind the counter (whom I had a slight crush on), let me listen to the music through a set of headphones and mainly the incredible keyboard parts by Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics guy, but the Egg, Hatfield and the North and National Health talent) sold it for me.

Only years later did I discover Steve Hillage, both where his solo work is concerned together with his many productions. Again I was in awe when I saw the name of Hillage appear on the Khan album as being the composer of all the tracks. So with a set of different ears I went on to re-discover Space Shanty. Meanwhile, I sold my vinyl copy to a Japanese collector (probably for way too little money) and am ever so grateful to re-discover this awesome music by means of this cleaned up digital version. Originally released on Deram in 1972, one of the highlights on this album has to be the duels between Hillage and Stewart, between guitar and organ, resulting in probably one of Britain?s finest moments in the world of prog. Just take a song like "Driving To Amsterdam" where guitar and organ blend as one before giving each of the musicians free reign to let his respective instrument fully shine. Meanwhile drums and bass are delivering the best jazz rock accompaniment one could ever wish for. "Stargazers" is another example of the genius of the band changing styles constantly and filling the song with breathtaking playing. Khan really delivers a gigantic amount of different atmospheres with the mellow ballad "Hollow Stone" maybe being the best example. Here the soft voice leaves your speakers weightless whilst once again Dave Stewart?s contribution such as the mysterious skyceleste adds another dimension to the psychedelic approach. In fact, more than thirty years on, the Khan music remains as interesting and intriguing as when it was first issued.

As if the clean sound on this CD is not enough, fans are given two bonus tracks as an extra incentive. Before the recordings of the actual album began, two compositions were recorded and pressed as an acetate. One of those songs, "Break The Chains," was omitted from the actual album as they simply forgot about it. During the planning for this re-issue, an acetate emerged, so after de-noising and de-clicking these recordings they feature on this CD for the very first time, turning this version into a definate must-have! Although at times Khan gets very close to the feel of Soft Machine, sadly Space Shanty is the band?s only offering. We know that Steve Hillage wrote more material for a possible second album but manager Terry King wasn?t too keen. I wonder whether these new songs were ever recorded and if tapes or acetates exist. Wouldn?t it be a dream come true if Eclectic released them? After all, Happy the Man saw some of their unreleased material released decades after they recorded it, resulting even in the rebirth of the band. Now wouldn?t it be fantastic to make it happen all over again?

Originally released by Deram (844 088) in 1972, reissued by Polygram (844 088-2) in 1993, and by Polygram International (9037) in 2001, timing for all three 46:44

Space Shanty (9:01) / Stranded - Effervescent Psychonovelty No.5 (6:35) / Mixed Up Man Of The Mountains (7:15) / Driving To Amsterdam (9:23) / Stargazers (5:32) / Hollow Stone- Escape Of The Space Pilots (8:18)

Bonus tracks (2004 re-issue): Break The Chains (3:31) / Mixed Up Man Of The Mountains (first version) (4:28)

Steve Hillage - guitar, vocals
Dave Stewart - organ, piano, celeste, keyboards, marimba
Nick Greenwood - bass, vocals
Eric Peachey - drums

Space Shanty (1972/1993/2001/2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Hits: 935
Language: english


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