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Various Artists: Reissues reviewed from Norway and Finland's golden eras of prog

A spectacular selection of Scandi progressive music from the 60s and 70s.

There was a time when the midnight sun-bathed lands near the Arctic Circle spawned an array of bands who were practically unknown to the rest of the world as they adopted current musical styles, including R&B, psych and jazz rock. As this spectacular trove of rare Scandinavian music from the 60s and 70s shows, several were taking giant steps in what became known as prog.

Norwegian label Round 2 are reissuing three key outfits in their country’s musical heritage on vinyl, starting with the ultra-rare self-titled 1966 debut by freakbeaters Firebeats, Inc, who were influenced by the Hollies, Pretty Things, and The Who but wrote their own songs. The second album, Let Me Tell You, compiles rare singles and rehearsal tape curios.

Undertakers Circus were an 11-piece psych-funk arkestra who signed to Polydor, hoping they’d got their own Blood, Sweat and Tears when they released 1973’s Ragnarock. Instead, the band worked afro-beat and grinding guitars under dense brass fanfares in Norwegian-sung missives about politics and Norse mythology. It didn’t sell but is now hailed as a Norwegian classic.

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