East Of Eden – Snafu (1970)

EastEden_Snafu4 out of 5 Stars!

From out of the U.K., East Of Eden’s sophomore album Snafu, like its predecessor, is a blending of Progressive Rock and some jazzy and wacky Avant-Prog, even Blues-based Psychedelic Rock, with guitars and bass diddling and twiddling, with flutes fluttering and saxes wailing and trumpets harping and violins screeching and percussion occasionally clanging and banging at the oddest of times.

Certainly, a few of the tunes here are fairly “normal,” where the band plays relatively “straight” full-out rock and roll, such as on the short opener “Have To Whack It Up” or the bonus tunes “Biffin Bridge,” or “Blue Boar Blues,” where the band comes off as almost an early Jethro Tull or Blodwyn Pig imitator. But then, sounds and styles quite similar to groups such as King Crimson and Gentle Giant seem to come into play on compositions like “Leaping Beauties for Rudy / Marcus Junior” and “Nymphenburger,” where East of Eden adds wild Avant-Prog or Jazz-Rock elements. Moreover, on “Xhorkom / Ramadhan / In the Snow for a Blow” and “Gum Arabic / Confucius,” Middle Eastern atmospheres and rhythms infiltrate a portion of the songs before the band heads back into more traditional Jazz-Rock territory, occasionally reminding me of Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats period. And then, there are other tracks, such as “Uno Transito Clapori” and portions of “Habibi Baby / Beast of Sweden / Boehm Constrictor,” that are just plain bizarre and experimental, sort of in the same relative musical sphere as Amon Düül II or Can.

By the way, if hunting for this album, it’s worth the effort to seek out the copy of the remastered version that includes numerous bonus tracks—a few additional songs that either didn’t make the actual release and some alternate versions of the tunes from the album-proper. These include the rocking and fiddling “Jig-a-Jig” (released as a single, if you can believe it), the rather catchy yet Symphonically Proggish “Petite Fille” (where the string orchestration reminds me of The Beatles’s “Eleanor Rigby”), as well as the aforementioned “Blue Boar Blues” (which is a definite highlight for me).

But like the music of Frank Zappa and the other bands mentioned throughout this review, the strangeness of Snafu as a whole, the experimental sounds, the extended free-form jamming passages mixed with solid Jazz-Fusion, just somehow seems to work, as if by magic. Therefore, Snafu—as well as East of Eden’s debut album Mercator Projected—is recommended for Prog-Rock fans who yearn for something a bit off-the-wall and adventurous.

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