Alquin - Mountain Queen CD (album) cover

This album suits my tastes to the nines. Blistering lead guitar, long Hammond passages, eclectic arrangements with sax, flute, piano, and electric violin thrown into the mix. There’s not a wasted note on this entire record, and the power these guys display from the jump is impressive. “The Dance” starts a bit slow but really starts to move the record around the three minute mark with blaring sax and organ fueling the soaring guitar. Vocals are substantial and fair – with an excellent vocalist and some finely tuned harmonies this could be a masterpiece. That’s the only flaw I can find thus far.

The album contains six tracks, two extend 14+ minutes, one more than eight and the others are short transitional pieces warming up the listener for the next steaming jam. Still, they are nice little songs that showcase the dexterity of the group – with blues, psych, and “Sugar Cane” Harris influenced tracks.

What a superb find “Mountain Queen” was for me. Powerful, eclectic, exciting rock with splashes of jazz-it’s like a half-brother to the best Caravan albums. This album heads my list of underrated progressive albums from the “golden age” of prog – along with This is Gracious!, To Pagham and Beyond, and Being.

One interesting note – the second half of the first lengthy jam, “The Dance”, literally sounds to me like it was lifted from a Widespread Panic live album.  I don’t know how something released in 1973 could be lifted from the year 2000, but I’d heard that shit so many times this groove surprised me.  It’s proto jam band Dutch style 1973.  It’s funny, because I used to hear Phish when I’d listen to Caravan, now I hear Widespread Panic in Alquin.  I wonder if those groups listen to those groups.

Check it out    ++++- out of +++++