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First Aid - Coelacanth Ale

Artist: First Aid
Title: Coelacanth Ale
Label: self produced
Length(s): 74 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2000
Month of review: [01/2002]

Line up

Scott Jacks - ??
Jamey Koch - ?? on 1, 4, 7, 13-15
Bruce Goertzen - ?? on 1, 4, 7, 13-15
Dave Coupland - ?? on 1-2, 4-8, 10-16
Gary Durban - vocals on 7
Derek Mason - ?? on 2, 5, 6, 8, 10-12, 16
Brent Borrowman - bass on 12
Tom Christiansen - vocals on 5 and 10, bass on 10
Sacha Fassaert - ?? on 3, 9

Tracks

1) Fraternizing With The Enemy 1.07
2) Dedrok 3.26
3) Stop Trying To Be Important 5.18
4) ??
5) The Clean Forest 6.45
6) City Lights 3.57 MP3 or RealAudio
7) Rut Of Information 3.13
8) Take It On The Amber 5.14
9) Unique New York 5.55
10) Who Killed Janet Smith? 2.19
11) Wasting Away 4.25
12) The S.S. Song 4.03
13) R.P.R.S.S. 5.22
14) ??
15) Because You Need Me 4.32
16) Ice Age 5.00
17) The Eight 3.30
18) Murray's Stolen Board 9.02

Summary

Including two mystery interludes, this is a compilation of the work of First Aid consisting of three different line-ups. At this point I only know about the line-ups, but now what people played.

The music

After a short and squeaky guitar intro we come to the loose and percussively opening Dedrok. Lots of meandering guitar and keyboards on this one. The music is certainly proggy, but harkens back to the eigthies with lots of repetition. The music also has a strong live feel (another way of saying that the production has not strongly influenced the music).

After a promising beginning, Stop Trying To Be Important develops into a jazzy Camel like track which stays rather subdued throughout. The Clean Forest reminds me of quite a few prog bands: there is something of Camel, Genesis and Finch in here. The drums sound a bit dry, but it is certainly a very nice track. Later on the music gets to be more experimental and reminds me of Djam Karet.

City Lights has a Nude feel over it. Not surprising maybe with this title. A rather commercial sounding tune with boring drums. Follow up Rut Of Information is a bit overly simple.

Take It On The Amber has rather mediocre drumming and reminds me a bit of The Police. Later it gets to be more introvert, but the rock returns at the endagain. A good song, but lacking in the execution.

Unique New York opens loosely with a bluesy feel, but turns for the psychedelic later on: slow lazy rock. Keyboards in the style of ELP and military drums dominate on Who Killed Janet Smith? while Wasting Away brings us a bit too little: we have low zooming bass tones, a piano tinkling away, and a rather commercial sounding intermezzo. The vocalist, although he sings a bit lower, sings a bit like Sting.

The S.S. Song (the title has nothing to do with fascism) is a melodious and somewhat folky one. The guitar sound is rather heavy. The sound of the song increases in fullness throughout.

After the question answer game between guitar and keyboards on R.P.R.S.S. we come to the meandering guitar of Because You Need Me. Productionally not strong, like most of the album, it comes close to later more commercial Finch sound. Lots of soloing on this one and the melodies are good.

Skipping from a dreamy opening to riff dominated rock, Ice Age has a bit of a King Crimson feel in the guitarwork. Again the sound the quite hollow and dull. After the Crimsonesque guitar loops of The Eight we come to the long closer Murray's Stolen Board on which we first get a long rhyme about well, Murray's Stolen Board, and afterwards we get a long atmospheric passage with Floydian guitar playing and later bass with only shards of guitar.

Conclusion

This album has a strong live feel on most tracks with sound quality that certainly leaves something to be desired. The music is for the average (and spoiled) progger not that interesting I think, notwithstanding the references. Also, the fact that this is a collection of tunes, adds to arbitrariness of the whole. In that sense all the songs stand alone as it were, and because most of the tracks have neither an identity of their own and the often dull recordings make this album that I can hardly recommend. This does not mean that the music is not worthwhile, but I would advise the band, if they are planning to get back into recording and such, to start rerecording preferably adapting themselves soundwise to the current standard. At that time also the culling of less interesting tracks can take place, but more importantly, the good parts of the music can be admired in a hopefully more pleasing context.


© Jurriaan Hage