Ea-El

 

Eaglebone Whistle (USA): Eaglebone Whistle (Fretless FR 152, 1981)
Folk
Jane Gillman (joint lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), Stephanie Beardsley (joint lead vocals, bass)
American folk is not one of my favourite styles, but this is a good album with some intricate playing. Nonetheless I do vastly prefer the (mostly Irish) instrumentals to the (mostly American) songs. GRADE: C+.

Earcandy (UK/USA): Space Is Just A Place (Poor Person Productions PPPR1, with poster, UK, 1993)
Psychedelic/Folk
Helen McCombie (occasional vocals, cello)
The first release on this fascinating Devon-based private label, set up by American expatriate Dave Tor, is very much a vehicle for singer, guitarist and percussionist Mike Curtis, joined here by Helen McCombie on cello and vocals and Tor on electronically treated vocals and effects. The end results – mixing electric guitar jamming and desolate folkish songs (peaking on the haunting ‘Listen’) – are odd and minimalist, but very effective and atmospheric. GRADE: B–.
Earcandy (UK/USA): Sound Is Just The Way You Ear It (Poor Person Productions PPPR5, with poster, UK, 1995)
Psychedelic/Folk
Mandie Tor (occasional vocals)
Earcandy’s third album (their second was by an all-male line-up) offers an unusual mix of amateurish instrumentals, haunting songs and Cheech & Chong-style stoned humour. It’s all very impressionistic, and tripped-out to the max, but despite including some fine moments, doesn’t quite hang together. The CD version (Lone Starfighter LSD005, USA, 1995) includes a lengthy bonus track. GRADE: C+.

Earcandy (UK/USA): Tasting 1, 2, 3 Tasting (Poor Person Productions PPPR8, with booklet and insert, UK, 1995)
Psychedelic 
Mandie Tor (occasional vocals)
A considerably stronger album than its predecessor, Tasting 1, 2, 3 Tasting centres around the 25-minute guitar-and-spoken word jam ‘Telescopic Voyager’. However, it also throws a bit of everything into the mix, including a snatch of Parisienne café-style music: all very trippy, all fairly low-key and lo-fi, and much of it with an unwelcome drum machine. Nonetheless, this is a likeable album, heightened by the amusing booklet, which compares the journey through the album to a restaurant meal. GRADE: C+.
EarCandy (UK/USA): Blossom (Poor Person Productions PPPR16, CDR, UK, 1998)
Rock/Psychedelic 
Vicky Rolfe (joint lead vocals)
This is a radical departure for EarCandy (and quite unusual for the label in general), being a fairly straight rock album with a few minor psychedelic edges. It’s nice enough stuff, with some mellow songs featuring decent hooks and a few pleasantly trippy moments. GRADE: C+.

See also Apotheosis, Bus Trip, Famous Unknowns, Mynd Muzic,Ozley’s Acid

Earth & Fire (Holland): Earth And Fire (Polydor 2441 011, 1970)
Pop/Rock/Psychedelic/Progressive
Jerney Kaagman (principal vocals)
Quite different to their later albums, this owes a heavy debt to their countrymen Shocking Blue and also to Jefferson Airplane (notably on ‘Seasons’ and the high octane opener ‘Wild And Exciting’). However, it also takes in what sounds like a progressive rock twist on Abba (‘Love Quiver’) and a bizarre but superb fusion of heavy metal and dreamlike elements (‘Vivid Shady Land’). The mix of styles won’t please every listener, but this is probably my favourite of their albums (although it’s not objectively their best), with some brilliant songwriting and an underlying naïveté that they never recovered. A couple of outtakes were used as B-sides, with ‘Mechanical Lover’ being particularly good. The Dutch LP had a novelty ‘matchbook’ cover, whilst the more expensive UK issue featured a die-cut Roger Dean gatefold. GRADE: B.
Earth & Fire (Holland): Song Of The Marching Children (Polydor 2925 003, 1971)
Progressive
Jerney Kaagman (lead vocals)
Unrecognisable from its predecessor released just thirteen months earlier, this is an attempt to make a serious symphonic progressive album, complete with a side-long suite. It’s hugely successful, too: ‘Song Of The Marching Children’ is one of the best prog suites imaginable, with a succession of gorgeous melodies, superb Mellotron textures and well-judged but never flashy shifts of mood and tempo. As a bonus, Jerney Kaagman’s odd, emotionless voice suits it perfectly. Over on side one, ‘Storm And Thunder’ is the most evocative thing they ever did: a marvellous prog triumph perfectly capturing the atmosphere of tranquil farmland rent by the power of nature. The other three cuts (two songs and an instrumental) aren’t at the same level, but all have the same sonic hallmarks and work well enough on their own terms. GRADE: A–.
Earth & Fire (Holland): Atlantis (Polydor 2925 013, with insert, 1973)
Progressive
Jerney Kaagman (lead vocals)
The side-long title suite isn’t as well structured as its predecessor – it’s basically a collection of discrete but sometimes repeated themes and songs – but contains some outstanding passages. On the second side, ‘Maybe Tomorrow, Maybe Tonight’ typifies their fascinatingly odd singles of the era, sounding, as nearly as one can describe it, like an Abba tune played by King Crimson. Meanwhile, ‘Interlude’ and the succeeding ‘Fanfare’ are truly breathtaking symphonic progressive, with the latter sporting a haunting and eerie melody and desolate lyrics, with everything swathed in layer upon layer of Mellotron. This is simply an astounding album. GRADE: A–.
Earth & Fire (Holland): To The World Of The Future (Polydor 2925 033, 1975)
Progressive/Pop/Rock
Jerney Kaagman (principal vocals)
Album number four sees the band moving in a more commercial direction and rapidly losing their flair for songwriting. The two 45s included are ‘Love Of Life’ (an early flirtation with disco, first issued the previous year) and the far inferior ‘Only Time Will Tell’ (easily their worst single to date). Elsewhere, the eleven-minute title cut is quite poorly structured and arranged but contains some impressive musical passages; ‘How Time Flies’ is a rather gothic ballad; the instrumental ‘The Last Seagull’ starts as lukewarm jazz/funk but develops into powerful symphonic rock; and ‘Voice From Yonder’ adds some experimentation by including a ghost’s voice allegedly recorded at a séance. Overall, the album resembles the proverbial curate’s egg – intermittently brilliant, but largely frustrating, disjointed and rather inept.

GRADE: C+.
Earth & Fire (Holland): Gate To Infinity (Poydor 2925 065, with insert, 1977)
Progressive/Pop
Jerney Kaagman (principal vocals)
Side one has the side-long title suite, but it’s far removed from ‘Song Of The Marching Children’ or ‘Atlantis’. The suite may formally recall prog, with songs and instrumentals stitched together, but it’s musically rather tepid, with languorous playing and a slight disco tinge. It’s a masterpiece compared to most of the second side, including two horribly overblown pop singles (‘78th Avenue’ and the revolting reggae-flavoured ‘Green Park Station’) and a remarkably faithful impersonation of Olivia Newton-John (‘Smile’). Only the two more progressive pieces ‘Dizzy Raptures’ and ‘Driftin’’ work well on this side, and even these aren’t brilliant thanks to a slightly portentous stage musical feel to the former and a rather mediocre song wedded to some excellent riffs on the latter. GRADE: C–.
Earth & Fire (Holland): Reality Fills Fantasy (Vertigo 6413 501, with insert, 1979)
Pop/Disco
Jerney Kaagman (lead vocals)
The good news is that the songs here are competently written – there are no formless messes as on the previous couple of albums. The bad news is that disco casts a long shadow over the LP; it’s a musical form for which they have zero talent, and the songs are little more than bland assemblages of late seventies pop clichés. The somnolent trio of ‘Can’t Live Without It Any More’, ‘Where Were You?’ and ‘Season Of The Falling Leaves’ in the middle of the album is virtually unlistenable, but the eleven-minute opener ‘People Come, People Go’ and token instrumental ‘Answer Me’ have lots of disco elements as well (a pity, as both would be halfway decent without them). That leaves only another reggae-flavoured piece ‘Weekend’ (their biggest-ever hit single, thanks to its annoying marimba riff) and the vaguely Jefferson Starship-like rocker ‘Fire Of Love’ – by far the album’s best cut. For sure, the disco era saw some strange creative decisions by white rock bands, but Reality Fills Fantasy is the oddest of them all. GRADE: E+.
Earth & Fire (Holland): Andromeda Girl (Vertigo 6399 271, 1981)
Pop/Rock
Jerney Kaagman (principal vocals)
The twelve-minute title track is excellent prog and the best thing they issued after 1973, with the first half having delicate baroque strings and the second a lively synthesiser-based rock arrangement. The rest of side one is pop/rock with proggy riffs and soios, slightly recalling their early seventies singles; this material would be quite good if not for the heavy-handed period production. Side two, however, is a washout, with the band once again trying their hand at disco (a style well past its commercial peak, presumably even in Holland) and jazz/funk. As on Reality Fills Fantasy, they prove they have no aptitude for these styles whatever, and the resulting material is simply embarrassing. Ultimately, one wonders what possessed them to make an album as schizophrenic as this: were they throwing in the prog stuff to placate their old fans or was that what they really wanted to do, with the disco material a desperate attempt to score hits and make money? GRADE: C–.
Earth & Fire (Holland): In A State Of Flux (Dureco Benelux 88.050, 1982)
Pop/Rock
Jerney Kaagman (principal vocals)
Their first album with no progressive influences – even the seven-minute ‘I Don’t Know Why’ and the instrumental title track offer no complexity whatever – is a sorry affair. The songs are packed with catchy hooklines but these mostly sound borrowed, and the whole thing is strangely amateurish, giving the impression that it was thrown together quickly without any love or care. Whilst most of Reality Fills Fantasy is notably worse, this is overall their least listenable album. GRADE: E+.
Earth & Fire (Holland): Phoenix (CNR CD/860019, CD, 1989)
Pop/Rock
Jerney Kaagman (lead vocals)
How far this should be regarded as a genuine Earth & Fire album is debatable, since the Koerts twins (the mainstays of the original band, and composers of most of its material) are not involved, instead concentrating on making high-tech instrumental prog as ‘Earth & Fire Orchestra’. Instead, Kayak’s Ton Scherpenzeel joins on keyboards and writes most of the songs with his long-term partner Irene Linders, as does bassist Bert Ruiter. These were the same composers as on Kaagman’s second solo album Run, so not surprisingly this mostly sounds like Run with fuller band arrangements. In fairness, it’s not a dreadful LP, and there are hints of the old Earth & Fire sound (some occasional symphonic edges, plus one slightly extended proggy cut ‘Streets Of Shame’) but mostly this is anonymous eighties pop and soft rock. GRADE: D+.
See also Jerney Kaagman

Earth Electric (Portugal/Norway): Vol. 1: Solar (Season Of Mist SOM 407D, CD, with digipak and poster booklet, France, 2017)
Metal/Progressive
Carmen Susana Simoes (lead vocals)
This progressive metal album from the principals of Ava Inferi isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but its pummelling riffs, lush keyboards and intricate song structures are pretty persuasive. They’re not afraid to experiment, either – the closing ‘Sweet Soul Gathering’ lives up to its name by drawing and soul and gospel music, and the whole thing makes me eagerly await Vol. 2. GRADE: B–.
See also Ava Inferi

Earthen Vessel (USA): Hard Rock – Everlasting Life (No label, 1971)
Blues/Rock/Psychedelic
Sharon Keel (joint lead vocals, keyboards, percussion)
Running for just over half an hour, this bluesy garage rock album has considerable heft and power, but despite almost constant wailing fuzz guitar has a dark, raw feel that’s far removed from the trippiness of psychedelia. Their sound is comparable to both Touch and to fellow Christians US Apple Corps, whose ‘Get High’ they cover to close the set. Whilst opinions vary significantly on the LP, I find it a great example of its genre if not especially distinctive. GRADE: B–.

Sally Eaton (USA): Farewell American Tour (Paramount PAS 5021, 1971)
Singer/Songwriter/Psychedelic
The odd cover, depicting Eaton with an antiquated hairstyle and wearing an ornate frilly blouse, has led this album to be lumped in with the ‘incredibly strange music’ crowd. That’s a pity, as Eaton was a capable songwriter with an appealing, if rather strange, voice (she sometimes sounds like a frail Janis Joplin, if such a thing can be imagined). The acid-drenched, tabla-driven ‘Flowers In The Air’ is the best-known track, largely owing to its inclusion on the notorious Hippie Goddesses compilation, but the LP is accomplished throughout, creating some good bluesy rock and psychedelic folk vibes. It’s also significant for being one of the relatively few singer/songwriter albums of the era to take its musical cues from the hippie and psychedelic movements. GRADE: C+.

Ebbanflo (USA): Spectre Of Paradise (Harmonic Tremor HT-801, 1980)
Folk/Rock
Susan Smith (joint lead vocals, guitar, bass, percussion)
Sounding several years earlier than its release date, this is a breezy album of hippie folk from a male and female duo plus guests. The music has jazzy edges and an occasional acid-folk feel, with instrumentation based around acoustic guitar and hand percussion, with good use of flute on some tracks. They’re also solid songwriters, making for an enjoyable set, but although Susan Smith is an excellent vocalist with a mellow style I’m not overly keen on the male singer’s voice. GRADE: C+.

Ebony Tower (UK): Dead Planets New Stars (RRed Chord RCR001, CD, 2009)
Metal
Rebecca Everitt (joint lead vocals), Sande (joint lead vocals), Skye Sheridan (violin)
Offering three slices of rather good symphonic metal and one even better hard rock number (somewhat recalling ZZ Top in particular and Southern Rock in general), this EP shows a fair amount of promise. It was supposed to be the trailer for a full album, but the band never released anything else. GRADE: C+.

(EC) Nudes (USA): Vanishing Point (RéR N1, CD, UK, 1994)
Progressive/Jazz/Avant-garde
Amy Denio (lead vocals, bass, accordion, saxophone)
A bit RIO, a bit Canterbury, a bit avant- garde and always unexpected, this is far too schizophrenic to delight everyone all the way through. However, it is consistently very accomplished. GRADE: B–.
See also Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet, Curlew, Danubians, Amy Denio, Fomoflo, Pale Nudes, Science Group, Tone Dogs

Eccentric Orbit (USA): Attack Of The Martians (Eccentric Orbit EOCD1, CDR, 2004)
Progressive
Madeleine Noland (keyboards, wind synthesiser)
No surprises for guessing from the band name, album title and cover depicting a clockwork alien that this all-instrumental album has strong space-rock influences. However, despite track titles like ‘Star Power’, ‘Sputnik’, ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ the music is far closer to symphonic progressive than Hawkwind. With the band fronted by two keyboardists, the music sometimes recalls ELP, but is far less bombastic and classically influenced, with lush layers of synthesiser and sampled Mellotron and a nicely trippy edge. Beautifully crafted and full of dynamics, this is as good an album of instrumental prog as anyone could wish for. GRADE: B–.
Eccentric Orbit (USA): Creation Of The Humanoids (Eccentric Orbit EOCD2, CD, with digipak, 2014)
Progressive
Madeleine Noland (keyboards, wind synthesiser)
Issued ten years after their first, their second album is in the same instrumental prog vein whilst sounding a lot more modern. Adding plenty of fuzz bass and violin and blending in influences from contemporary psychedelia, ethnic music and heavy rock, this is an excellent and very varied set that almost runs the gamut from Gong to Kong. GRADE: B–.

Echo Tattoo (Greece): Echo Tattoo (Studio II ST II 02, with insert, 1992)
Folk/Rock/Psychedelic
Evie Hasapidou-Watson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, tambourine), Youla Kavouri (organ)
This blends influences from various different kinds of music: principally folk and psychedelia, but also everything from blues to goth and new wave. The two constants are the trippy atmosphere and superb spacy guitar work; a couple of the songs are highly impressive too, but mostly the writing is less striking than the chops. The most interesting cut is ‘Hey I’m Singing You’, which appears twice: once as a beautiful, haunting folk/rocker and once in an early seventies hippie hard rock style. GRADE: C+.

Echofields (Germany): 817 (Days) (No label, CD, 2003)
Pop/Rock
Katja Hübner (joint lead vocals), Cerstin Gwen (joint lead vocals), Nerissa Schwartz (harp)
The band is appropriately named: their gentle brand of atmospheric rock sets echoing guitars and harp against drifting soundscapes that borrow from trip-hop, all topped with pop-influenced hooklines. It’s nice stuff, though so unobtrusive that it functions more as background music than anything to grab the attention. They subsequently mutated into the more prog-oriented Frequency Drift. GRADE: C+.
See also Coronal Rain, Frequency Drift, Still Silent

Echosilence (Estonia): Distorted Horizon (Nailboard Board 008, CD, 2005)
Metal/Progressive
Kadri Ratt (lead vocals)
This experimental album falls broadly under the banner of metal, but pummelling riffs are relatively rare here (although they do occur, and are very effective). There’s a definite jazz influence at play, although the music isn’t really jazzy, and they use a fair bit of studio trickery, with multiple layers of guitars dominating the arrangements. Add in a few postrock elements too and a definite Joy Division tinge, and you’re coming close to grasping the essence of Echosilence: that is, until Kadri Ratt’s gentle, plaintive vocals take centre stage. GRADE: B–.

Echostar (USA): Sola (Shadow SDW157-2, CD, with digipak, 2003)
Pop/Dance
Martha Schwendener
This solo project by Bowery Electric’s Martha Schwendener basically takes certain tendencies of the parent’s bands music to their logical conclusion. Gentle, trippy and atmospheric, it’s featherlight electronica with wispy vocals and a nicely atmospheric feel, though an almost complete lack of substance. GRADE: C+.
See also Bowery Electric

Alain Eckert Quartet (France): Alain Eckert Quartet (L’Amanite 011, 1981)
Jazz/Rock
Patricia Dallio (piano)
This one-off project was something of a supergroup, made up of members of Art Zoyd (guitarist Alain Eckert and pianist Patricia Dallio) and Strave (Eckert again, drummer Serge Bringolf and bassist Alain Lecointe). This is nowhere near as weird as Art Zoyd or as expansive as Strave, offering fairly straightforward jazz/rock with a slightly funky edge, but it’s very good. GRADE: C+.
See also Art Zoyd, Patricia Dallio

Eclection (UK/Australia/Canada/Norway): Eclection (Elektra EKS 4023, 1968)
Folk/Rock
Kerrilee Male (joint lead vocals)
This band’s line-up was eclectic indeed, including members from three different continents. Their sole album has an unusual style, blending complex Beach Boys-like harmonies with dreamy folk/rock backing and some fairly prominent trumpet work and orchestration; the results have a wonderfully quaint and trippy feel. Georg Hultgren later went on to considerable commercial success with Sailor, but Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway are likely to be far better-known to readers of this volume. Dorris Henderson was later a member, but after the album was recorded. GRADE: C+.

Eclipse (Canada): Eclipse (CBS FS 90340, with inner, 1976)
Progressive
Marie-France Paquin (principal vocals)
At its best (the gorgeous opener ‘Vision Intérieure’ and the slightly more experimental ‘Pleine Lune’) this is excellent synthesiser-led soft progressive. However, the LP is wide-ranging indeed, from funky jazz-fusion to mainstream guitar rock, so it’s not particularly cohesive although a high standard is maintained throughout. The band’s second and final album Night And Day should be avoided at all costs, being a male vocal disco affair of very low quality. GRADE: C+.

Eclipse (Brazil): Jumping From Springboards (Rock Symphony RSLN 085, CD, 2003)
Progressive
Patrícia Deschamps (lead vocals, guitar)
Elegant, spare and mildly jazzy, this sophisticated progressive album blends acoustic and electric instruments on well-crafted instrumentals, suites and songs. Occasionally it hints towards other South American bands like Bacamarte, though Eclipse have little of that band’s knack for writing truly memorable hooks. As such, this is a fine progressive album by any standard, but – with the possible exception of the more intense closer ‘Ritual’ – it doesn’t have the X-factor that would have made it a true classic. GRADE: B–..

Eclipse Sol-Air (Germany/France): The Dark Side Guide (No label, CD, Germany, 2005)
Progressive
Eva Fickert (joint lead vocals)
This German band’s debut isn’t the mellow sympho-prog I was expecting – it’s far more interesting than that. Their stripped-down brand of garage prog is unusual and distinctive, with vocals (including some quite unusual male singing) in four languages, hard rock-influenced guitars and almost martial drums; I can hear echoes of mid-seventies Amon Düül II, Tyll and others. The results aren’t always brilliant and are frequently amateurish, but it’s the home-made feel of the piece that helps to elevate it, and the band are certainly full of intriguing ideas and effective riffs. GRADE: B–.
Eclipse Sol-Air (Germany/France): Bartók’s Crisis (No label, CD, Germany, 2010)
Progressive
Mireille Vicogne (joint lead vocals, flute), Katharina Strobel (violin)
Recorded by leader Philippe Matic-Arnauld des Lions with an entirely new line-up, their second album is as eccentric and adventurous as their first whilst being far more professional. Mireille Vicogne’s violin adds a strong neoclassical edge, and this once again covers a huge range of territory, from lively rock passages to piano and drum solos. If it has a failing, it’s on the long side, but that’s a minor quibble as for the most part this is a masterclass in modern symphonic progressive – varied without being disjointed, experimental without being atonal, and ambitious without being bombastic. GRADE: B.

Eclipse Sol-Air (Germany/France): Schizophilia (Artist Station ASR 331214, CD, 2012)
Progressive
Mireille Vicogne (joint lead vocals, flute), Agatha Sörgel (violin)
Whilst this is a charming album – mellow, tuneful and delightfully executed, with Mireille Vicogne’s flute intertwining effectively with Agatha Sörgel’s violin – it’s also a good deal less adventurous and exploratory than their first two. In fact, this is entirely song-based, with nothing over ten minutes, and despite its great melodies and riffs is a significant step down for the band. GRADE: C+.
Eclipse Sol-Air (Germany/France/Italy): Live At Olympia Park Munich (No label, DVDR, Germany, 2016)
Progressive
Mireille Vicogne (occasional vocals, flute), Melina Mayer-Gallo (keyboards), Myriam Gessendorfer (violin, backing vocals)
This short live DVD clearly demonstrates Eclipse Sol-Air to be very much a rock band. They’ve got a great light show and plenty of energy, and they’re pretty theatrical too – frontman Philippe Matic-Arnauld des Lions performs one song in a straightjacket and another in goggles and gauntlets. I can hear hints of everyone from Amon Düül II to Jefferson Airplane here, and whilst this sees them focusing on the straighter end of their repertoire the performances are so good that it’s a wonderful complement to their studio sets. GRADE: B.

Ectomorph (UK): The Sleeper Awakes (Woronzow WOO 15, with insert, 1991)
Garage/Psychedelic
Bernadette Keefe (joint lead vocals, violin), Catherine O’ Sullivan (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This is enjoyable and accomplished early nineties psych, varying between fuzz-driven rockers and dreamier, trippier pieces, with snippets of spoken word recordings mixed in. According to the insert, they also issued a cassette of outtakes and non-LP tracks called A Splendid Dichotomy, but I’ve never encountered it. GRADE: C+.

Eden (West Germany): Erwartung (Lord 33.523, with inner, 1978)
Progressive
Anne Dierks (occasional vocals), Annette Schmalenbach (occasional vocals)
Most Christian progressive albums are rooted in folk/rock, with fairly simplistic singalong material spiced up by tempo changes and classical frills. This is anything but, being genuinely complex and adventurous symphonic progressive, with everything from lush keyboards and strings to electronically treated vocals and prepared piano. The material is well crafted, with some great hooks, and if the songs are occasionally a little disjointed the constant surprises more than make up for it. The band – which comprised eleven people and sounds like a full orchestra plus a choir – was the brainchild of composer and multi-instrumentalist Dirk Schmalenbach, who excels on guitar, keyboards, percussion, violin and sitar. GRADE: B–.
Eden (West Germany): Perelandra (Lord 33.528, with inner, 1980)
Progressive
Anne Dierks (joint lead vocals), Annette Schmalenbach (joint lead vocals)
Quite different from their first, this tones down the classical edges considerably and drastically reduces the level of complexity. The result is a pleasant sympho-prog album mixing relaxed songs based around hard rock guitars and synthesisers with a few folkier instrumentals. It’s a good deal better than much prog being released at the turn of the eighties, but also a touch disappointing after their impressive debut. In any case, the best number is probably the beautiful synthesiser and violin-led instrumental ‘Im Bragdon-Wald’. GRADE: C+.
Eden (West Germany): Heimkehr (Pila EM 20 002, with inner, 1981)
Progressive
Anne Dierks (occasional vocals), Annette Schmalenbach (occasional vocals), Irene Heidenreich (occasional vocals)
Their third and final album is different yet again, moving them closer to the folk/rock and soft rock style typical of Christian bands. Nonetheless, this is nice stuff, with rich symphonic keyboards and varied arrangements on songs of up to ten minutes. GRADE: C+.

Eden House (UK): Smoke And Mirrors (Jungle FREUDCD100, CD, with digipak, 2009)
Pop/Rock/Psychedelic
Julianne Regan (joint lead vocals), Evi Vine (joint lead vocals), Monica Richards (occasional vocals)
It’s no accident that Julianne Regan fronts three of these songs – Eden House’s music isn’t a million miles removed from later All About Eve, offering swirling psychedelic pop with epic arrangements. In fact, the sweeping strings sometimes bring James Bond themes to mind, and the whole thing has a widescreen mood that makes the album quite distinctive. GRADE: C+.

See also All About Eve, Mice

Edge (UK): Suction 8 (No label, cassette, 1986)
Progressive
Frances Hallard (lead vocals)
This is an odd album indeed, mainly characterised by contradictions: the sound often recalls neoprogressive, while the actual music is complex; the recording and performances are amateurish, but the musicianship is first-rate; and the varied tracks sound as though they were recorded over a long period, although the sleevenotes insist they date from just two sessions. Some cuts are jazzy and experimental, whilst others are more mainstream and symphonic, and there are some absolutely excellent moments, although much of the disc is merely solid. In any case, it’s certainly one of the better British progressive albums of the mid-eighties (against fairly limited competition, it must be said). GRADE: C+.
Edge (UK): Sarcastic Fringeheads (Ugum UGU 00391, CD, France, 1991)
Progressive
Frances Hallard (lead vocals)
Rather different from their first, this mixes slow, atmospheric songs with more ornate instrumentals and a couple of bluesier numbers. Whilst it’s never as exciting as the best moments from its predecessor, it’s a far more mature and consistent LP, with much improved recording quality. GRADE: C+.

Édition Spéciale (France): Allée Des Tilleuls (United Artists UAS 29965, 1976)
Pop/Rock/Funk/Progressive
Ann Ballester (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Their later albums are jazzy progressive rock, but this one is more song-based, blending influences from French pop and funk. It’s very Gallic in feel, with unusual melodic progressions and strangely insistent hooklines that strike when least expected. Most listeners will probably consider this their least significant album, but despite its rather cheesy mid-seventies feel I hold it in high regard. GRADE: B–.
Édition Spéciale (France): Aliquante (RCA PL 37.069, 1977)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Ann Ballester (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Their totally different second album features long, mainly instrumental, jazz/rock compositions with synthesiser-led arrangements and a highly technical feel. It’s very accomplished and enjoyable, but also slightly anonymous, whereas their first had a very distinctive and quirky sound. GRADE: B–.
Édition Spéciale (France): Horizon Digital (RCA PL 37215, 1978)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Ann Ballester (joint lead vocals, keyboards), Mireille Bauer (percussion)
Their final album is a logical step forward from Aliquante, whilst blending in some elements of Allée Des Tilleuls. With Mireille Bauer’s (ex-Gong) trademark vibraphone adding depth to their sound, this is their magnum opus: a great album of complex, virtuosic jazzy progressive. The CD reissue adds almost an album’s worth of demos from 1980, which show the band in a similar but slightly straighter vein. Following their break-up, Ann Ballester continued working with guitarist Mimi Lorenzini, whilst Bauer went on to Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes. GRADE: B.
See also Art Zoyd, Forgas Band Phenomena, Gong, Lorenzini Orchestra, Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes

Edwige (France): Energie, Lumière, L’Amour (Reprise 54.071, 1976)
Singer/Songwriter
Edwige Nisenboim (lead vocals)
This is typicall sensual French singer/songwriter fare, with rich electric backing, baroque strings, light rock edges (notably on the closing ‘Il Y A Quelque Chose Derrière Ce Mur’) and some mystical, psychedelic and progressive touches (especially on the lengthy two-part ‘Tout Est Dieu’). Anyone liking contemporary Catherine Lara and Véronique Sanson should enjoy this, although the material isn’t really in the same class. GRADE: C+.

Eider Stellaire (France): Eider Stellaire (No label K 001, 1981)
Progressive
Véronique Perrault (joint lead vocals), Marie-Anne Boda (joint lead vocals, flute)
Taking all its cues from Magma, this is a powerful album of high-energy zeuhl with dual female vocals and plenty of heavy guitar work. There’s nothing very original here, but in terms of Magma-influenced albums from the seventies and early eighties this is probably second only to Eskaton’s 4 Visions. The first pressing is very rare, as only 50 copies came with the original sleeve (a thin laminated affair depicting a dark blue star map). Later copies used the same disc tipped into the cover for their second album, with an explanatory insert added; even these copies are quite difficult to find. GRADE: B–.
Eider Stellaire (France): 3 (Muséa FGBG 2009, 1987)
Progressive
Isabelle Nuffer (piano)
Their third and final album (their second was recorded by an all-male line-up, with Marie-Anne Boda playing flute on one cut) is a wholly instrumental affair. With just three long tracks, this has lots of fiery instrumental work but also a rather slick jazz-fusion feel that takes it into dimensions beyond zeuhl. Overall it’s a fine and very virtuosic record, but not one with a great deal of experimentation or personality. GRADE: C+.
See also Altaïs

Eighteenth Day Of May (UK): The Eighteenth Day Of May (Hannibal HNCD 1496, CD, 2005)
Folk/Rock
Allison Brice (principal vocals, harmonium, flute, dulcimer), Alison Cotton (viola)
With a strong early seventies flavour, this is an excellent electric folk album with a subtle psychedelic edge. The band’s style falls somewhere between Fairport Convention and Pentangle, with hints of a more modern festival sensibility, and the bulk of the material is self-penned. Given the disc’s quality, it’s a great pity that the band never issued a follow-up. GRADE: B–.

Eighth Day (USA): On The Eighth Day (Kapp KS 3554, 1968)
Pop
Nancy, Melanie, Dee
This big production studio pop LP has lush harmonies and lots of horns, but whilst clearly inspired by the Mamas & The Papas (‘It Takes The Rain’ directly lifts the backing vocal arrangement from ‘Monday Monday’) it doesn’t exude the same class. Nonetheless, it’s a charming (if generic) period piece, peaking on the minor-key ‘Building With A Steeple’ and heavier ‘A Million Lights’; but most of the songs owe more to the Brill Building or the urban nightclub scene than the hippie era. GRADE: C.

Éishtlinn (Belgium/Ireland): Éist Linn (Kissing Spell SCD 925, CD, 2001)
Folk
Alison O’ Donnell (lead vocals, bodhrán)
Alison O’ Donnell’s first album in more than 20 years sees her returning to folk music: in this case, delicate acoustic folk recorded with Belgian collaborators. The results are beautiful, delicate and elegant, but perhaps a little academic and lacking in fire and passion. It’s also notable that by far the best number is a remake of the Flibbertigibbet song ‘An Súisín Bán’. GRADE: C+.

See also Flibbertigibbet, Mellow Candle, Alison O' Donnell, Owl Service, Plastik Mak, United Bible Studies

Lena Ekman, Jan Hammarlund & Turid (Sweden): Igår, Idag, Imorgon (Silence SRS 4638, 1976)
Folk
Turid Lundqvist (joint lead vocals, guitar, percussion, zither), Lena Ekman (joint lead vocals, accordion, percussion)
This collaboration with two other Swedish folk luminaries offers an accomplished set of traditional folk, with none of the material being self-penned. Several cuts are acapella, whilst others have backing from hand percussion or acoustic instrumentation. GRADE: C+.
Lena Ekman (Sweden): Hjulspår (Silence SRS 4641, with booklet, 1977)
Folk/Singer/Songwriter
Lena Ekman (lead vocals, guitar, harpsichord, concertina)
Ekman’s first solo album is about half self-penned, and features sparse but varied acoustic and electric backing. Dark, eerie and haunting, it achieves an almost psychedelic edge on the best material, and remains interesting and surprising throughout. GRADE: C+.
Lena Ekman (Sweden): Det Beror På Ögomen Som Ser (Mistlur MLR-11, with insert, 1980)
Folk
Lena Ekman (lead vocals, percussion, concertina)
Although not dissimilar to its predecessor, this is somewhat slicker, with the backing varying from acapella numbers through to full electric arrangements. It’s a rather patchy record, though mostly good, with ‘Mors Långa Cykeltur’ (unusually arranged for electric bass, congas and concertina) being the best number. Fellow Swedish folk luminaries Turid Lundquist and Marie Selander guest here and there, whilst four of the nine songs are covers of material by Danish singer/songwriter Trille. GRADE: C+.
See also Jan Hammarlund, Tillsamans, Tjejclown, Turid, Various ‘Sånger Och Music Från Kvinnokulturfestivalen’

Ekos (Mexico): Luz Interna (No label, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2012)
Progressive/Metal
Ana Camelo (occasional vocals, keyboards)
With tracks of up to 21 minutes, this Mexican album unites progressive metal structures and instrumentation (including some excellent soloing) with Pink Floyd spaciness and atmosphere. The songs have that typically understated modern Latin American prog style, making for an accomplished and unassuming LP. GRADE: C+.

Ekos (Mexico): Otra Dimensión (Intolerencia INT|186, CD, with digipak, poster booklet and plastic slipcase, 2017)
Progressive/Metal
Ana Camelo (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Ekos’s second album is beautifully packaged, with an unusual die-cut digipak, giant poster/lyric sheet and a clear plastic outer. Musically, it follows in the same vein as their first, though this time with exclusively short tracks often woven together into suites. Whilst elegant, spaced-out and beautifully crafted, the songs and instrumentals here are again so understated that they barely register, though they’re wonderfully atmospheric and delightfully free of artifice and pretension. GRADE: C+.

Coon Elder Band Featuring Brenda Patterson (USA): The Coon Elder Band Featuring Brenda Patterson (Mercury SRM-1-1140, 1977)
Country/Rock
Brenda Patterson (joint lead vocals)
From the band name and sleeve, I expected this to be crappy country-and-western, but it’s actually pretty good country/rock. Indeed, at its best this isn’t far behind my very favourites in the genre, such as Jimmy Carter & Dallas County Green. GRADE: C+.
See also Alabama State Troopers, Brenda Patterson

Elecampane (UK): When God’s On The Water (Dame Jane ODJ1, 1975)
Folk/Rock
Daphne Grant (occasional vocals, recorder)
The sleevenotes describe the album as a song cycle set against ‘the backdrop of a river flowing to the sea’ and it offers varied and accomplished electric folk, taking in everything from morris-influenced tunes to bluesy rock and roll, borderline hard rock, a few rather psychedelic bursts of fuzz guitar and even some poetry. Accordion and recorders are widely used throughout the LP, creating a sound not dissimilar to a more rustic early Steeleye Span. GRADE: B–.
Elecampane (UK): The Further Adventures Of Mr Punch (Dame Jane ODJ2, with booklet, 1978)
Folk/Rock/Progressive
Daphne Grant (occasional vocals, percussion, recorder), Katrina Grant (occasional vocals, guitar, concertina, recorder)
Presumably the soundtrack to a stage show or multi-media enterprise, the band’s bizarre second album is a concept piece channelling electrified folk, again with a strong morris influence, through a Gilbert & Sullivan prism. Along the way, the disc takes in lovely semi-acoustic folk songs, weird electronic voices, sound effects and occasional acid guitars; the only comparison I can find is the Austrian band Schmetterlinge, who specialised in this kind of thing. GRADE: C+.

Electric Wizard (UK/USA): We Live (Rise Above RISECD0075, CD, with digipak and booklet, UK, 2006)
Metal
Liz Buckingham (guitar)
They’re not about to win any awards for songwriting, and the tuneless singing is pretty average too, but this wins through on sheer heft and power, creating some amazingly intense sludgy doom vibes. GRADE: B–.
Electric Wizard (UK/USA): Witchcult Today (Rise Above RISECD100, black CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, UK, 2007)
Metal
Liz Buckingham (guitar, organ)
Slightly less sludgy and powerful than its predecessor, this again creates some strong grooves but is a little lacking in the songwriting department. Nonetheless, it’s a solid set, and the first run of CD and vinyl pressings were beautifully packaged. GRADE: C+.
Electric Wizard (UK/USA): Black Masses (Rise Above RISECD130, CD, with slipcase, UK, 2012)
Metal
Liz Buckingham (guitar, effects)
This is both grungier and punkier than its predecessor, and once again very fragmentary. Whilst it’s listenable enough, it ultimately confirms that Electric Wizard are really one-trick ponies, without the dynamics, poise or songwriting skills that mark out the best in the doom genre (such as Blood Ceremony or Windhand). GRADE: C+.

Electric Wizard (UK): Time To Die (Spinefarm SPINE788079, CD, 2014)
Metal
Liz Buckingham (guitar)
The long, sprawling songs here sound more like jams than structured compositions, and are impressively sludgy and uncompromising. However, as that description also suggests, they’re pretty formless, and there’s nothing in the way of memorable riffs or well-crafted tunes here. GRADE: C+.

Electric Wizard (UK): Wizard Bloody Wizard (Witchfinder W004, CD, EU, 2017)
Metal
Liz Buckingham (guitar)
‘Six hymns to death, drugs, sex and violence’ proclaims the hype sticker, rather unnecessarily announcing this as ‘heavy rock’ (what else could it be, given the album title, label name and cover?). The lyrical description isn’t wrong, but the endless boasts about drug-fuelled satanic torture orgies eventually wear a little thin; perhaps their sludgy, swampy brand of metal, enjoyable as it is, is crying out for some variety. Or maybe I simply can’t take such evil lyrics seriously when they’re intoned by someone called Justin. GRADE: C+.
See also Sourvein

Electrolite (UK): Come Home/Dance With Me/Take Me Now (Supertone STR04-V12, 12", 2014)

Pop
Suzi Starlight (lead vocals)
No prizes for guessing from the band name that this is electropop – I can hear echoes of all the usual eighties suspects here, including quite a bit of early Depêché Mode and Human League and maybe a touch of Eurythmics. It’s pleasant stuff, with just enough rock in the mix to prevent it from becoming too lightweight, and it’s a pity they never made a full album. GRADE: C+.

Electropathics (UK): (Batteries Not Included) (The Sticky Label GUM 001, 1987)
Folk/Rock
Jackie Rawlinson (violin, backing vocals)
The band name, album title and cover made me fear some kind of humorous novelty folk, but this is actually rather good electric folk/rock mixing original and traditional numbers, both songs and instrumentals. Featuring concertina, melodeon and horns, the LP displays strong morris and folk-dance influences, but the band are also capable of delicate acoustic and acapella numbers. In particular, their version of ‘Whitsun Dance’ is quite beautiful. GRADE: C+.
See also Token Woman

Elements (UK): Elementary (Look LKLP 6649, with insert, 1981)
Rock/New Wave/Progressive
Rosemary Robb (lead vocals), Christina Willett (drums, backing vocals)
With a genuinely unusual style, this obscure band offers prog-edged new wave and powerpop with space-rock edges, ranging from the very Hawkwind-like opener ‘Both Feet On The Ground’ to the gentle folk/rocker ‘If Looks Could Kill’. In some ways, their sound presages the mid-eighties psychedelic revival, whilst at various times they hint at everyone from Amon Düül II to the Doll and X-Ray Spex, fronted by a vocalist who resembles Mandy Morton. GRADE: C+.

Elements (UK): Beginnings 1980 To 1982 (Roach Daddy RDR 030/031, double CDR, with DVD case, 2006, recorded 1980-1982)
New Wave/Garage
Anne-Marie Hurst (joint lead vocals), Rosemary Robb (joint lead vocals), Jayne (joint lead vocals)
Compiling demos from 1980 to 1982 on the first disc and a nine-song rehearsal from 1981 on the second, this interesting compilation traces the band’s evolution through three vocalists (Jayne [no surname known] then Rosemary Robb, then Anne-Marie Hurst – and then they became Skeletal Family). The sleeve notes compare the music to Buzzcocks and X-Ray Spex, but the first disc starts out in a new wave direction with garage psych edges, mixes in a few mild Hawkwind and prog references, and unsurprisingly moves closer to Siouxsie & The Banshees and a dark gothic sound on the later, better recorded cuts. The latter sound is reflected on most of the second disc. GRADE: C+.

Elend (France/Austria): Leçons De Ténèbres (Holy 08 CD, CD, France, 1994)
Progressive/Metal
Eve Gabrielle Siskind (occasional vocals)
They list Monteverdi, Couperin, Bach, Händel, Dowland, Purcell, Vivaldi, Mozart, Dead Can Dance, My Dying Bride, At The Gates and Bathory as their influences, and that’s a sensible starting point; I’d add Jacula and Popol Vuh. This is odd through and through: quasi-classical singing and occasional death vocals and anguished screams deliver verses from ‘Paradise Lost’ against a backdrop of lush synthesisers with a quasi-classical mood. The whole thing is weird, minimalist and über-pretentious, and could just as easily be classified as progressive, neoclassical, gothic or ambient metal. GRADE: C+.
Elend (France/Austria): Les Ténèbres Du Dehors (Holy 17 CD, CD, France, with digipak and booklet, 1996)
Progressive/Classical/Metal
Eve Gabrielle Siskind (joint lead vocals), Nathalie Barbary (joint lead vocals)
The addition of a second female singer and real strings gives the band’s music the epic, wide-screen dimensions it always deserved, with stunning (and entirely appropriate) artwork completing the deal. This time round, their music reminds me of Therion (without any of the rock elements) or Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus, though they also reference the neoclassical stylings of Enya and the 4AD sound of bands like the Cocteau Twins. It’s all über-pretentious, and to cynical ears might sound somewhat silly, but this is undeniably beautiful, atmospheric music, though I don’t see what the intermittent screaming really adds. GRADE: B–.

Elend (France/Austria): Weeping Nights (Holy 26 CD, CD, France, with digipak and booklet, 1997)
Progressive/Classical/Metal
Nathalie Barbary (lead vocals)
They must have been listening to me – the screaming is gone, along with any remaining metal traces, resulting in a beautiful and tranquil neoclassical album hinting towards Enya. Only about half the LP is new: the remainder is remixes of material from Les Ténèbres Du Dehors with the screams (and presumably Eve Gabrielle Siskind’s vocals) removed. GRADE: B–.

Elend (France/Austria): The Umbersun (Music For Nations CDMFN 239, UK, 1998)
Progressive/Classical/Metal
Nathalie Barbary (joint lead vocals), Alison Eden (joint lead vocals)
This is the most metallic of their albums, despite a complete lack of rock instrumentation, and also the most varied – everything from haunting neoclassical minimalism to bombastic sections with death vocals and choirs, resembling a crazed Therion. At times it’s all a little too intense, but as with all their LPs there are some lovely moments. GRADE: C+.

Elend (France/Austria): Winds Devouring Men (Holy 82 CDX, with digipak and booklet, 2003)
Progressive/Classical/Metal
Nathalie Barbary (backing vocals), Esteri Rémond (backing vocals)
A huge step forward, Winds Devouring Men sees the group abandoning growls and screams in favour of melodic, mournful male vocals, with the female classical vocals restricted to backup. Musically, this is probably best compared to Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus without the folk edges: dark, slightly eerie symphonic music with occasional moments of industrial intensity. It’s impressive stuff, if as pretentious as ever, and its only failing is that the album is a touch long, emphasising their lack of variety. GRADE: B–.
Elend (France/Austria): Sunwar The Dead (Holy 95 CDX, with digipak and booklet, 2004)
Progressive/Classical/Industrial
Esteri Rémond (occasional vocals)
Even more epic than usual, Sunwar The Dead ranges from huge orchestrated and choral passages to more overtly industrial and ambient moments. Typically for Elend, it can all get a bit too much, but there is plenty of fine music here. GRADE: B–.

Elend (France/Austria): A World In Their Screams (Holy 114 CD, with digipak and booklet, 2007)
Progressive/Classical/Industrial/Avant-Garde
Esteri Rémond (occasional vocals)
The band’s final album is also their most remarkable: a unique melding of Ligeti-like choirs, epic orchestrations and industrial elements, with spoken French vocals contrasting with heavenly voices and tortured screams. In many ways, this could be seen as the dark yang to Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus’s elegiac yin, taking the band’s music far beyond any notion of rock towards pure avant-gardism and classical realms. GRADE: B.

Elephant Patch (USA): Elephant Patch (JTO 1025-79, 1979)
Rock
Ethel-Ann Powell (lead vocals, guitar)
This is a difficult album to describe or categorise: one could call it blues/rock or folk/rock (in the overall feel and the backing to several songs), country/rock (primilarly via Powell’s vocal style) or garage rock, but no label quite fits. Essentially, it’s guitar-led rock with a downbeat, loner style and powerful leads, with Powell’s quavery, on-the-edge singing adding a dramatic and rather desperate note. Occasionally the disc reminds me of Collective Tools, although it’s nowhere near as fractured or disturbing. The impassioned ‘Roll It Over’ in particular is superb, with quite an eerie feel, but this is a distinctive and interesting record throughout. GRADE: C+.

Eleri Janet Diane (UK): Eleri Janet Diane (Fanfare FR 2196, 1976?)
Folk/RockThese three attendees of Cardiff University privately issued a gentle album of Christian folk/rock some time in the mid-seventies. Their mournful solo and harmony vocals deliver a forlorn, hymnal mood, whilst the backing ranges from acapella settings through eerie, psychedelic settings with fuzz guitar and organ (‘Reflections’) to less successful uptempo folk/pop recalling fellow Welsh trio Diliau. GRADE: C+.

Elfonía (Mexico): Elfonía (No label, CD, with minisleeve, insert, photograph and box, 2003)
Progressive
Marcela Bovio (principal vocals, violin)
The most obvious comparison for Elfonía’s music would be the Gathering: Marcela Bovio sounds uncannily like Anneke van Giersbergen, whilst the backing – ranging from symphonic to folky to metal to near-ambient – is clearly modelled the lighter moments of their Dutch counterparts. This is a fine album throughout, catching fire in the final third, though most of it is too understated to be truly remarkable. In any case, the Eastern-tinged instrumental ‘Hatshepsut’ is superb, capturing an intensity largely missing elsewhere. GRADE: B–.
Elfonía (Mexico): This Sonic Landscape (The Note Garden TNG0001, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2005)
Progressive
Marcela Bovio (principal vocals, violin)
Album number two has the same elegant, understated style as their first, though the metal elements are more pronounced, there are a few jazzy edges and there are definite hints of modern progressive acts like Anekdoten. Once again, it’s stronger on atmosphere and mood than it is on memorable songs, and once again the disc improves as it goes on, with the finest moments towards the end. Most importantly, it’s once again a fine piece of work. GRADE: B–.
See also Ayreon, Gathering, Stream Of Passion, Beto Vázquez Infinity

Elim (France): On Croise Tous, Un Jour… (Jef 355.407, 1978)
Folk
Fatma Aberbache, Anita Aberbache, Chantal Lambin, Esther Ostre, Régine Pelissier, Murielle Pelissier, Marie-Madeleine Pira, Lydie Pira, Marie-Christine Van Hassel, Marie-François Van Hassel, Isabelle-Marie Van Hassel
This French Christian album sounds like a school project, with its delicate massed and solo vocals and simple acoustic guitar backing, though I suspect it was recorded by older teenagers or adults. In any case, it’s a good example of its style, with a haunting and sepulchral mood. GRADE: C+.

EliphasZ (Canada): Le Royaume Des Poussières (No label, CDR, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Progressive
Jacinthe Poulin (joint lead vocals)
Very much a game of two halves, this combines a nineteen-minute instrumental (very Mike Oldfield-like and very good, ebbing and flowing superbly, though it slightly outstays its welcome) with five shorter pieces (four songs and an excellent closing instrumental). The songs are mostly folky, though ‘Mythomane’ is close to hard rock and ‘Origines’ hints at trip-hop; these also work pretty well. Ultimately, this succeeds where other albums by the same kind of line-up (male singer/composer/multi-instrumentalist plus a female vocalist) fail for two reasons: the material is strong, and they used a real rhythm section rather than relying on programming. As a bonus, this is superbly produced, really bringing the music to life. GRADE: B–.

Elleven (Germany): Insight (42 60019 41027, CD, 2007)
Rock/Progressive
Julia Graff (lead vocals, guitar)
Mixing mainstream guitar rock and symphonic progressive, this German band’s album is sometimes very effective (the haunting and beautiful ‘Ride’ and ‘Remember’) but often unadventurous and mediocre. GRADE: C.

Elleven (Germany): Transfiction (Progressive Promotion PPRCD034, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015)
Progressive
Julia Graff (lead vocals, guitar)
I found Elleven’s first album distinctly underwhelming and their second, which contains longer and more progressive songs, strikes me as equally dull, though it’s hard to articulate why. Their blend of alternative rock and prog works effectively enough, they’re capable of composing competently and they create some dreamy, minor-key atmospheres, but like their debut the whole thing is so plodding, so uninvolving and so dreary that the effect is almost soporific. GRADE: C.

Cass Elliot (USA): Dream A Little Dream (Dunhill DS 50040, 1968)
Pop/Folk/MOR
Cass Elliot (lead vocals)
Mama Cass’s first solo album is varied indeed, from light rock to pop/folk, bluegrass and borderline showtunes, all stitched together with sound effects and trippy studio trickery – partly because she wanted to demonstrate her range away from her former band, and partly because she wasn’t a songwriter. Unsurprisingly, it’s not terribly consistent, but there’s some surprisingly good music here and she’s in fine voice throughout. The album was not a big seller, despite the title track reaching #12 in the American charts; its best cut by far, ‘California Earthquake’, also gave her a minor hit. GRADE: C+.
Cass Elliot (USA): Bubble Gum, Lemonade And… Something For Mama (Dunhill DS 50055, 1969)
Pop
Cass Elliot (lead vocals)
As the title suggests, the principal genre here is bubblegum pop, although a few other styles (including country and ragtime) are thrown into the mix. Overall this is closer to her former band than its predecessor, although less folky and not as classy as the Mamas & Papas at their best. The opening ‘It’s Getting Better’ is a sixties pop classic; the remainder isn’t enormously memorable, but this is certainly very tasty bubblegum. The album was reissued seven months later as Make Your Own Kind Of Music, with the single of the same name added.

GRADE: C+.
Dave Mason & Cass Elliot (UK/USA): Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (Blue Thumb BTS 8825, 1971)
Rock
Cass Elliot (occasional vocals)
This one-off collaboration is more Mason’s album than Cass’s: he writes the vast bulk of the material and takes the lion’s share of the lead vocals. Interestingly, it’s a very modern-sounding record – whereas the Mamas & The Papas’ oeuvre and the majority of Elliot’s solo recordings sounded dated within a couple of years of release, this could easily have been taped in the last decade. Musically it’s soft rock with a rural tinge and spacious acoustic and electric arrangements, and is of a high standard throughout. Two of the songs, ‘Here We Go Again’ and ‘Something To Make You Happy’, are among Elliot’s rare ventures into songwriting. GRADE: C+.
Cass Elliot (UK): Cass Elliot (RCA LSP 4619, 1972)
Pop/Rock/MOR
Cass Elliot (lead vocals)
The sleeve makes this appear to be a collection of jazz standards or suchlike. In fact it’s a gentle, classy collection of soft rock and ballads, with a more mature feel than her earlier work. It isn’t rocking and it isn’t original, but her singing is as stunning as always and the songs are perfectly chosen and arranged. GRADE: C+.
Cass Elliot (USA): The Road Is No Place For A Lady (RCA LSP 4753, 1972)
Pop/MOR
Cass Elliot (lead vocals)

This was recorded in London, using well-known session musicians, in an attempt to capture a different vibe, but whilst poppier and less heavily arranged it’s not very different from its predecessor. Anyone liking her style and voice (or simply high-quality early seventies soft rock) will thoroughly enjoy this; anyone expecting challenging music or a distinctive vision will be disappointed. GRADE: C+.
Cass Elliot (USA): Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore (RCA APL1-0303, 1973)
MOR
Cass Elliot (lead vocals)

Her pop career having stalled, Mama Cass goes cabaret; the results are more folly than Follies Bergère. GRADE: C–.
See also Big 3, Mamas & The Papas, Mugwumps

Derek & Dorothy Elliott & Nadine (UK): Yorkshire Relish (Tradition TSR 025, 1976)
Folk
Dorothy Elliott (joint lead vocals, guitar), Nadine Elliott (backing vocals)
Like a number of other releases on the aptly-named Tradition label, this is mostly acapella, with Derek Elliott’s nasal voice supported by the harmonies of wife Dorothy and daughter Nadine. Elsewhere Dorothy takes a few leads and contributes a little guitar, though there isn’t a great deal of variety across the 18 songs. Nonetheless it’s all very well done, though you’ll have to like your folk with its finger firmly in its ear to get much from this. GRADE: C+.

Elohim (France): À L’Aube Du Verseau (Philips 6325 207, 1975)
Pop/Psychedelic/Progressive
Gaëlle Usaï
This concept album about esotericism has a rather arch, theatrical feel that occasionally puts one in mind of a hippie musical. Cut by a husband-and-wife team plus uncredited backing musicians, the disc ranges from good-natured melodic pop to darker prog, with acid guitars, spacy flutes, sitars, tablas, complex time changes and all kinds of other influences. Although it resembles an exploitation album, there are some great melodies and this is thoroughly enjoyable, offering a constantly shifting array of styles. GRADE: B–.

Elora (France): Crash (Progressive Promotion PPRCD013, CD, with digipak, 2013)
Progressive/Metal
Anastasia Moussali (joint lead vocals)
Mixing symphonic progressive and metal, this album has a fairly simple song-based style and a few hints of French sensuality. It’s pleasant, mellifluous and well crafted, without differing significantly from countless other modern prog albums. On the plus side, the nine-minute title track closes the set with a nice Pink Floyd-like coda; it’s a pity they didn’t include more of this kind of stuff. GRADE: C+.

Elull Noomi (France): Uléella (Ex-Tension EX05, CD, 2007)
Jazz
Odile Fargère (joint lead vocals), Christelle Monchy (joint lead vocals)
Sooner or later somebody was bound to take the style of Magma circa Les Voix to its logical conclusion and release an album of acapella zeuhl. This is that album, operating at the gentlest end of the band’s repertoire, almost like Ad Vitam without backing instruments. The result is an interesting record, and an extremely creative one too, but there’s a limit to this style and over the course of a whole album this starts to become a little repetitious. GRADE: C+.

Elza (Japan): Half And Half (Trio 3A-2011, with booklet, poster and obi, 1975?)
Pop/Rock
This likable mainstream rock album covers quite a range of territory, from blues to borderline country/rock and from ballads to Suzi Quatro-style hard rock. It’s good and well done throughout, but the real standout is a rather psychedelic ballad in the middle of side one covered with heavy fuzz guitar. GRADE: C+.