Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Blues, World Music, Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Kensington Market was a Canadian psychedelic group that issued two albums on Warner Brothers Records in the late 1960s. Avenue Road came out in 1968 and Aardvark followed in 1969. These albums have been regarded by some as... more »
Kensington Market was a Canadian psychedelic group that issued two albums on Warner Brothers Records in the late 1960s. Avenue Road came out in 1968 and Aardvark followed in 1969. These albums have been regarded by some as lost gems. Our remastered versions include the original album cover artwork.
Greatest Unknown Band
Tom H. Stegehuis | 05/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Poor Kensington Market. They had two albums, one in 1968 and one in 1969.
Although signing with a big label (Warners/Seven Arts), neither album got
any promotion from the label, save a couple minor articles in local newspapers. Although Avenue Road has at least a few excellent/really good
songs, AArdvark is clearly the best. It may take a few listenings to start liking it; it's kind of low-key, but once those songs get into your
head, They won't let go. Still listening, listening--------"
Aardvark, and the earlier one, Avenue Road
Cthulhu | Roanoke, VA United States | 02/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, it amazes me that anyone could dislike these two albums. But it shouldn't---is there anything in this world that is universally popular? No, not even water, trees, the air we breathe, apparently... And let's not even include supreme deities (oops!). As for me, I would definitely include A & AR on any desert island (or Mars/Lunar outpost) list. But that is merely the opinion of one who was profoundly touched by these offerings, admittedly. They were a special find in the record cut-out bin for me when I was young, and I grew up with them.
I am glad that they are finally available, after many long years, on compact disc. Too bad they weren't both included on a single twofer CD since, as has been pointed out, they would have both fit on one 80 min disc with room to spare for those lost singles and maybe some unreleased tracks, alternate versions, and whatnot. Or, since they were released on separate discs, even more tracks could have been added---perhaps even interviews. As it is, I already have both albums on vinyl.
Being's there wasn't a lot of data about this fantastic group on the album covers, I hadn't been able to find out much about them until relatively recently. Given was that they were produced by Felix Pappalardi of Mountain (check out Nantucket Sleighride, and others) fame, who also produced Cream (good example: Wheels of Fire). On Aardvark, he is credited with "Musical Direction" as well as production, and it shows in the heaviness, and the wistful, surreal weirdness of most of the tracks (similar in atmosphere to Cream's Wheels Of Fire and the Mountain albums), even contributing a short interval piano piece called "Ciao".
Kensington Market were: Gene Martynec (keyboard, guitar, vocals), Keith McKie (rhythm guitar, vocals), Luke Gibson (guitar, vocals), Alex Darou (bass), and Jimmy Watson (drums & percussion). Same personnel both albums. Gene Martynec later showed up as an arranger on Lou Reed's Berlin album. These guys were all standout musicians and played well together. Ponderous of sound, rhythmically oriented, delicate and ethereal. It's sad that they haven't gotten more recognition, hard to figure.
Let me peer into the crystal a little... Sometime back, I remember reading something about the group that doesn't appear on either album cover, though for the life of me I can't recall the source. I think that they were based in Canada (the fact is well established now), but the members were possibly multinational (well, Martynec, at least---I do remember reading that he was from Germany). That's about it, that's all I see. Not much...
The Aardvark vinyl is designated WS 1780. Both are on the Warner Bros. Seven Arts label. Avenue Road is WS 1754.
Aardvark is the more mature album of the two, and I have to wonder where they could have gone from there. I would call it a masterpiece. I must say, in its defense, that I didn't warm up to it right away (nor, most likely, to Avenue Road). But, for some reason, I did keep listening. Sometimes when you're straining too hard to "find" something, it's just not there, and your preconceptions blind you to those intangible qualities that are. If you're looking for a Clapton, best listen to Cream. He was great there, but his frenzied licks would have been out of place here. There's no need for me to do a track by track analysis, because I love them all. Each is a thing of beauty to me; the melodies are strange, otherworldly, the bass lines powerful and seismic. I will say that one of my early favorites, the one that probably got me hooked into the album, was "Half Closed Eyes", a tender, ecstatic, psychedelic country ballad penned by McKie and given an out of this world treatment on organ and Moog that reminded me, in some ways, of snowflakes falling. And it was, simply...out of sight... But the entire record is great, and they deserve to be counted among the many influencial groups of the 60s.
Two standout tracks from Avenue Road: "Aunt Violet's Knee", a lovely, haunting piece in the return-to-childhood mold ("...Early as evening the east winds have come, Warm to the west they bring wet and they're done..."), and "Looking Glass", about a different time, a different war ("...Cooking a ration card meal for herself, and her cat, Now she is dusting the chair where her boy once sat, After all it's war..."). This album tinkles like windchimes, refracts light like a suncatcher in the window, has the charm of a luminous crescent moon candle, glow-in-the dark stars on the bedroom ceiling. They seemed to be casting about a bit on this LP, not sure whether they wanted to present themselves as pop or psych. One or two of the girl paeans struck me as a little banal, but as they are beautifully arranged (in keeping with the rest of the tracks), listenable. All in all, I enjoy these two albums immensely and would love to hear a faithfully done remaster of them (without compression---please!). As I haven't sprung for the 2 CDs, I can't critique their audio fidelity, and leave that for someone else who has.
Kensington Market suffered the fate of most bands and disintegrated. They made their statement, and departed. Most of us didn't even manage that.
© 2010 RAPWreckerds