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Elonkorjuu - Harvest Time

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Artist: Elonkorjuu

Album: Harvest Time

Label: Shadoks

Review date: May. 26, 2011

Hard as it may be to believe, there are still psychedelic rarities out there in record collections that have yet to be reissued, so-called "cult" albums still fetching large sums in online auctions. Harvest Time was the debut album from Finland’s Elonkorjuu (which translates as, ahem, "Harvest"), a young group from Pori that formed in 1969. After beginning in a basement, the band quickly grew popular in Finland, to the point where they played to festival crowds. Toward the end of that year they recorded and released Harvest Time.

Drawing inspiration from bands like Cream, Free, and perhaps even King Crimson, Elonkorjuu took a blues-derived heavy rock sound and pushed it in a progressive direction. These songs will sound fairly familiar to anyone who’s listened to contemporaries like New Dawn, Fraction and others — less psychedelic than enhanced blues-rock, but in this case augmented with organ and a penchant for sudden changes in pacing and time signature.

Given their origin, it’s a bit odd that Elonkorjuu’s vocals are in English, but singer Heikki Lajunen has a strong voice that carries several of these songs, while lead guitarist Jukka Syrenius provides the closest thing to a signature sound; his leads in "Praise To Our Basement" and "Future" are great.

My greatest criticism of this reissue isn’t the music, but the presentation. Shadoks’ liner notes are merely an old promotional write-up printed in Finnish and English. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read about what Finland’s rock scene was like in 1969, which other bands they might have played in or with, and what happened to the group after this album was released? Too bad. The only clue is a pair of photos showing the group onstage in 2008, with no explanation. Rather pathetic, honestly.

The songs stand up fairly well after 40 years, particularly those in which the organ plays a larger role, such as "Captain," with its dreamy feel that transforms into prog-frenzy, and "The Ocean Song," where the organ gets a minute in the sun. The rest of the album is decent, and anyone looking for ‘69-vintage rock with a few twists will be pleased by the heavier guitar parts, the soaring vocals, and the doses of prog complexity. But let’s get one thing straight: Harvest Time is not a long-lost classic.

By Mason Jones

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