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℗ 1969 Transatlantic Records TRA 207

℗ 1969 Metronome Records MLP 15 360

℗ 2000 Sanctuary Records ESMCD 926 / © Castle Communications

℗ 2008 barin.livejournal.com BR LLC 57192

℗ 2009 Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2136 / © Cherry Red Records / © Universal Music

Circus • 1969 • Circus

Circus produced a tightly woven jazz-rock sound, sometimes resembling Jethro Tull or Caravan, while comparisons to early King Crimson can also be assessed. Without the help of keyboards, Circus applied saxophone and flute to their impassioned but melodic brand of progressive music, with Chris Burrows' drum work coming to the forefront in nearly all of their tracks. The original Transatlantic recordings from 1969 were released in 2000 by the Castle label, combining to create Circus' debut album. With Mel Collins on sax, Circus' eight tracks are wonderfully inventive, merging the band's uplifting musical spirit with their innovative laid-back sound. Collins' sax gives their interpretation of "Norwegian Wood" a "juicy" sound, to say the least, with enough musical accessories to make it novel. "Pleasures" has Mel Collins' dad playing alto flute (which has a unique sound all its own) mixed in with some dreamy sax parts into rhythms that are both busy and delicate. Ian Jelfs' vocals aren't that becoming, proven on "Father of My Daughter" as he teams up with Collins for the singing duties, but it's Chris Burrows' Indian tabla that steals that show here. Burrows' best example of his percussive talents comes alive on "St. Thomas," partnering his drums perfectly with the woodwinds, while his conga's give "Don't Make Promises" its jazz-to-rock sway. Bass man Kirk Riddle is absolutely bewildering on Charles Mingus' "II B.S.," displaying the band's love for improvisation while putting the electric guitar to good experimental use. Circus made a few more albums following this one, but it's here that the well-traveled Collins truly shines, capturing this relatively unknown band in their freshest stage. — Mike DeGagne.

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