Here are a few reviews for the two Quintessence albums released by Hux Records in 2009
Cosmic Energy - Live At San Pancras 1970
Infinite Love - Live At Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971
This comes from www.progarchives.com
Review by oliverstoned
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Krautrock Specialist
Absolute masterpiece. Sorry, but i had to begin this review by these strong words. This freshly unreleased 1971 double live album is an unexpected gem (and the word is weak) which expand a lot Quintessence's discography, along with the other « Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970 » CD also by Hux records which is almost in the same vein in term of performance, but not for sound quality.
The performance on "Infinite Love: Live at the Queen Elizabeth 1971" is stellar, that's why at the time some music reviewers claimed that Quintessence was « the best live band in the world ». Indeed, the band combines virtuosity and mystic fervour like nobody. Flute and guitar parts are awesome, the psychedelic jams evoke the best Grateful dead. Quintessence is really the following of the american psychedelic scene, with a unique indo progressive touch. The track list gather pieces from all albums including the masterpiece eponym track « Dive deep » with two versions including one clocking at 24 minutes.
This is rare enough to be precised : not only this concert has been very well recorded in 1971 -as explained into the very informative booklet- thanks to amplifier settings in order to make the flute and vocals clearly audible, but the CD transfer is a success too : for one time the sound is neutral and musical with great presence, no over-compression which makes this CD a delight to listen to, even on ambitious audio systems, which is rarely the case with « rock » records. Thanks a lot to Hux records for this great mastering job. This is the kind of CD releases which may save the CD industry ! The only drawback for picky audiophiles who don't like to put their fingers on their precious discs is the very unconvenient double CD jewel case which is a pain to use : it's very hard to remove the CD from the box without damaging it, which is very frustating with such a quality record. Besides this detail, this « Infinite love » is easily the release of the year in vintage progressive rock.
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This one comes from Jerry Kranitz at Aural
Quintessence - "Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970" (Hux Records 2009, HUX 108) Quintessence - " Infinite Love: Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971" (Hux Records 2009, HUX 109)
From Aural Innovations November 2009 update
Quintessence were unique among the early 70s UK bands, incorporating Eastern themes into their brand of progressive influenced psychedelic rock. But though the band gigged hard on the concert and festival scene, precious little live material has been officially available. Until now…
Hux Records has released two sets of CDs, featuring Quintessence performances from 1970 and 1971 that have been resting in the Island Records vaults, the band's label for their first three albums. The late 1960s through early 70s were among the most progressive and creatively fertile in rock history, and the opportunity to hear live shows from the period is always a treat. But because of the rarity of Quintessence concert recordings, and the fact that live performance was the band's true element, makes these releases genuine historical documents.
The shows represented are a St Pancras performance from 1970, and two shows from the same day at Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1971. Only about half the St Pancras show is available, so the 1970 CD features what was available from that performance plus a portion of the 1971 concerts. And the Queen Elizabeth Hall set is two full CDs of music from the 1971 shows.
The St Pancras set opens with the 20 minute "Giants Suite". Starting off in song mode, the band quickly launch into a heavy psych-rock jam, showcasing a considerably rawer rocking feel than can be heard on the studio albums. And when Phil 'Shiva' Jones' vocals eventually rejoin, it's with passion and intensity, and an improvisational vibe that grooves along beautifully with the music. "Twilight Zones", "Sea of Immortality", and "Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga" round out the 1970 set, all similar in length to the studio album versions, but with the same instrumental excursions that made Quintessence such a thrilling live act.
The bonus tracks on the CD consist of a nearly 40 minute version of "Giants Suite" from the 1971 Queen Elizabeth Hall shows. This is a brilliant addition, as side-by-side with the 1970 version it demonstrates how from one show to the next a song could be given a very different treatment. A year later the music has taken on a mellower, meditative feel. But though the jams are less raw, Quintessence still rocks as hard as they could massage, and at one point breaks off into a percussion and flute driven Latin-jazz inspired groove, that ends up with a hip-shaking, slightly boogie-woogie, psych-rock feel.
The music continues on the 2-CD Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall set, which includes nearly 2 ½ hours of music. It's a stunning combination of shorter songs and lengthy workouts, and we are again treated to different interpretations of songs that highlight the Quintessence flair for painting on fresh palettes from one performance to the next.
Among the standouts is the two treatments given to "Dive Deep". On the studio album the song is barely 5 minutes long, yet hints at further possibilities by creating a catchy melody and then taking off into a jam. On the live set the song literally explodes, with 15 & 23 minute versions that see the musicians abandoning time limitations and the imposed structure of the record album, taking full advantage of the opportunity to explore. "Gange Mai" also gets the double treatment, with the flute soloing on the disc 2 version being particularly inspired. In fact, it's the trade-off between the flute and guitar as lead instruments that helped to set Quintessence apart from other bands of the day. The 15 minute "Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga" is another notable winner, giving a good feel for the Grateful Dead style of jamming that had influenced members of the band.
The biographical material in the liner notes emphasize the band's ego-free, communal approach to music and life, and it's clear from these recordings that the result is a near telepathic level of communication, a requirement for truly successful improvisation. As guitarist Dave Coddling says in the notes to the 1971 shows - "Yes, we would have songs with verses and a bridge, but in between would be a no-man's land and we would allow things to happen". Amen…
Big kudos must go to Hux Recordings for not only making these gems available, but also for taking the care to include detailed liner notes. The 30+ page booklets are chock full of history, interviews, articles and photographs. Though each set is separate, the two are companion pieces that would be incomplete without the other. Highest recommendation to fans, and students, of early 70s progressive and psychedelic rock.
The following is from www.amazon.co.uk
5.0 out of 5 stars The most spiritually uplifting live band of all time, 18 Nov 2009
By M. Pearson- Smith "Michael Pearson-Smith" (Melbourne,Australia)
I've been fortunate to have experienced a lot of great concerts on three different continents since the late '60's. Highlights would include four Floyd, three Dead, two Quicksilver, two Love, two early 70's Jefferson Starship (when they were still great before it all started to disintegrate) Zappa and the Mothers (four different concerts - all great and completely different from each other) Beefheart (twice), Soft Machine (twice),Amon Duul II, Yes and Genesis at their peak, King Crimson (three), Family (twice), Pentangle, Colosseum (twice), Man (four), Hawkwind (twice), Country Joe (twice), Renaissance (twice), John Mclaughlin, Santana, Steve Hillage, Nektar, Blossom Toes, Steve Miller (before he was famous), Blue Oyster Cult, Racing Cars, John Martyn, Stackridge, Patto; Madder Lake and Spectrum in Australia - the list goes on and on, and I haven't even got to the punk/new wave era and beyond - Patti Smith, Television and the Stranglers were all fantastic in the late '70's....etc. etc.
But the one concert that comes out on top of all of the rest - the most uplifting evening of music I ever experienced - was Quintessence Live at Sheffield City Hall on 6th March 1971.
I actually saw Quintessence four times between 1970 and 1972 and was always blown away by their ability to improvise - seemingly forever - sometimes mellow and ethereal, sometimes making it impossible for the audience to stay in their seats, so infectious was the rhythm, and then reaching crescendos that literally put us into a state of ecstasy. I must be honest and admit that some nights it came together better than others. I also saw the Manchester Free Trade Hall gig on that '71 tour and though still a great night, it certainly wasn't as good as the one in Sheffield. The music from Queen Elizabeth Hall on this 2xCD set(plus the bonus 38+mins 'Giants Suite' bonus track on the Cosmic Energy Live at St Pancras CD, which is the companion to this one) is probably somewhere between those two. It's a bit better than Manchester but doesn't quite reach the heights of Sheffield. Nonetheless, this is the closest we can get at this point in time to the Quintessence live experience. There has never been anything quite like them before or since. I know some people found the chants a bit irritating but they were never pushing any kind of religion as such, just paying homage in a general sense to that higher plane of being to which we should all aspire. I should also mention that the music was only part of the trip, which was also very visual. The light show was fantastic; there was the incense (and whatever else the audience brought) and they had a wonderful stage presence - Shiva and Raja Ram really drew the audience into the concert as genuine participants like no other band I ever saw. Too bad this isn't a DVD. Oh yes, and Alan Mostert was probably the most underrated guitarist of all time.
This recording is a crucial historical document in the history of late 60's and early 70's music, as nothing on their albums recorded at the time (even the live cuts) comes close to capturing the essence of their live performance. You all need to buy this.
This review is by Richie Unterberger, All Muisc Guide
No question about it: this two-CD release, with almost two-and-a-half hours of previously unreleased live Quintessence recordings in fine 16-track sound from two concerts on May 30, 1971, is an incredible boon to the collections of fans of this enigmatic British early progressive rock band. It doesn't even contain everything that was recorded at these shows: an additional 38 minutes, comprising a "Giants Suite" appears as bonus material on the Hux label's companion disc Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970. The material includes songs from each of their first four albums, only a couple of which are repeated in different versions, as well as one, "Meditations," that didn't find a place on any Quintessence LP. Viewed strictly in terms of the presentation, packaging, and value to Quintessence aficionados, this couldn't be bettered; not only is it a very pro-sounding document of the group at their live peak, but it also boasts marvelously detailed liner notes by Colin Harper (though you'll have to get both Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970 and Infinite Love: Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971 to read them in full). Judged purely on musical content, however, it's not without its flaws. While musically tighter and a little more accessible material-wise than Cosmic Energy: Live at St Pancras 1970, this is still the kind of loosely structured, oft-semi-improvised-sounding psychedelic-progressive rock that will frustrate those in search of substantial songs. If you think that sort of critique might apply to more famed acts such as the Grateful Dead (with whom Quintessence occasionally share some casual similarities), that's correct, but Quintessence make the early-'70s Dead seem positively song-oriented in comparison. They do switch between tribal-like chants, jazzy passages highlighting flute, wistful West Coast-influenced folk-rock, and funky rock (even approximating "Gloria"-like riffing at times) with deftness, and execute pieces with unpredictably differing sections with confidence. In these respects especially, they anticipate some of the jam bands from decades later who would also rely more on grooves and mood than conventional popular songwriting. But some of the earnest naiveté of the lyrics is embarrassingly dated even by the standards of the genre, and the sheer length of these workouts will be off-putting for those who need something to hold onto in the way of melodic strength.
These two come from Uncut Magazine and Record Collector:
Uncut Magazine Record Collector