08: Reviews of "Cyborgs Revisited"

 

...various reviews from around the web:

Album review – Alternative Press, Cleveland OH, August 2003

 

 

In 1993, A.P. Called this set of 1974-1978 "the greatest Canadian record ever,"

and while our opinion's changed a touch (and the label's added some juicy bonus

tracks) since then, we're still blown away by how well Simply Saucer's heavy

psychedelic proto-punk has held up. At one point, Sonic Youth were dedicating

whole sets to these obscure Canadian space travelers – and the second you

hear the Saucer's shimmering, clanging, guitar-warping freakouts, you'll

understand why. (SONIC UNYON; sonicunyon.com)

Aaron Burgess, Alternative Press, Cleveland OH, August 2003, page 114

(reissue section)

Album review – Cosmik Debris July 2003

 

 

If you haven't ever heard a Simply Saucer... I don't really want to say song,

because the best of it should be called "experiment" or "journey," but let's stick

with "song" for now. No matter what you call them, if you haven't heard one, the

closest I can come to giving you a ballpark idea of what they sound like is to ask

you to imagine melting The Velvet Underground, Mott the Hoople, The Silver

Apples and Syd Barrett and pouring the molten blend into a CD template. Of

course, it's a silly idea because it'd never cool, but we're suspending disbelief

here anyway. You'd have a band that has an undercoat of rock and roll (in this

case, so "under" it sounds like it's buried in mud), a vocal that is sometimes

tuneful and sometimes uttered (and sometimes down there in the mud with the

basic tracks), and then you'd have someone making all kinds of extremely cool

racket with synths, oscillators and theremins. Sounds like something out of the

early 70s, you say? Good call. It was recorded sometime around 1974, and the

Canadian band didn't release a follow up, unless you could the late 70s stuff that

has been added here as bonus tracks. Those songs are okay for what they are, a

competent power pop bar band's competent power pop tunes, but in a blind

listening test nobody would even guess this was the same band that had played

the insanely inspired psychedelic rock that dominates Cyborgs Revisited. This

music is an inspiration to create.

Cosmik Debris, Lynwood WA USA

Album review – Ink19.com, Outsight column, Melbourne FL

 

 

This is a CD reissue of a 1989 vinyl LP that culled together a 1974 recording

session and a 1975 live set from pioneer Canadian psychedelic rock project

Simply Saucer. This is an interesting amalgamation of three strains of thencurrent

underground music. First we hear in the guitars and vocals the American

proto-punk sound: Velvet Underground and Modern Lovers. The British

psychedelic scene of the earliest Hawkwind and Pink Floyd can be heard in the

mix. Finally we hear the wild experimentation of krautrock, as exemplified by

Can. The CD is filled out with a significant amount of bonus material over the

original vinyl release. There is a set of 1977 rehearsal songs and a trio of songs

recorded live in 1978. The last two tracks are off the only official release of the

band's career, the 1978 Pig Records single "She's a Dog" b/w "I Can Change my

Mind". (4.5 out of 5)

Album review – NY Waste July 2003

 

 

CYBORGS REVISITED bring us SIMPLY SAUCER. This one of the original

"Heavy" experiences. While we were diggin our heals into Hawkwind, Pink Floyd

& the Deviants, this was being born in Canada. Trippy, psychedelic, coolness.

www.sonicunyon.com"

-Starr Tucker

NY Waste, New York NY

Album review – Aural Innovations, Columbus OH (July/Aug 2003)

 

 

During their existence, Hamilton, Ontario's Simply Saucer only released one 45rpm

single in 1978, and a full album was only available years later when Bruce Mowat, the

owner of a Hamilton record store released it on vinyl in 1989. Named after Pink Floyd's

"Saucerful Of Secrets" album, Simply Saucer were, at the core, a garage rock band that

had far more in common with the Stooges, Velvet Underground, and classic cosmic

Krautrock than they did with the Floyd.

Cyborgs Revisited consists of the 9 tracks from the 1989 LP, plus 9 additional tracks

compiled from rehearsal and live material from 1977-78, plus the two sides of their lone

single. I didn't know what to expect when I first played the CD. "Instant Pleasure" is the

opening track and starts off as a raw garage rock tune with a catchy melody. But it

quickly kicks into a rockin freakout blitz with the alien space electronics that make this

such a stunning combination of garage rock and Kosmiche music. Ditto for "Electro

Rock". We start off with the song, and then the band blasts off into the cosmos,

thrashing and bashing like a Stooges assault, but also incorporating a mindbending acid

space jam. The swirling synths, driving rhythms, and cosmic acid guitars, all within a

song-oriented garage rock framework, demonstrate just how different Simply Saucer

were. "Bullet Proof Nothing" bears strong similarities to the Velvet Underground but with

a thrashier garage rock feel. "Dance The Mutation" is similar but has a throbbing spaced

out Stoner vibe. "Mole Machine" is less song-oriented and more of a pure space-garage

jam. Taken together, "Here Come The Cyborgs" parts 1 & 2 are over 10 minutes, with

part 2 sounding like David Bowie circa Ziggy Stardust, laced with an extra dose of

thrash rock and alien synths, plus a Bluesy freeform space jam section. And "Illegal

Bodies" is a 10 minute jam that highlights what this incredible band could accomplish

when given the opportunity to stretch out.

While there's some good music to be heard on the bonus tracks, and valuable in terms

of tracing the bands evolution, it's the first half of the CD that showcase Simply Saucer's

unique blend of down n dirty garage rock and tripped out space electronics. There are

some excellent garage-psych tunes, and other tracks get into somewhat more

mainstream garage rock, with more Blues rock elements and the spacey stuff largely

left behind. "Get My Thrills" reminded me of a garage-psych version of the Dead's

"Truckin". The songs from the bands single release have better production than much of

the album, with "I Can Change My Mind" having the usual Simply Saucer garage sound

but with more polish, while "She's A Dog" is a bit of a bubblegum song with cool raw

guitars.

In summary, some of the most unique and progressive bands have been in danger of

being lost to history were it not for labels like Sonic Unyon who have had the foresight to

reissue these gems and document their existence. Space rockers and Krautrock

fans... this may well be THE reissue album of the year.

-Jerry Kranitz

Album review – Classic Rock Magazine, London UK (July 2003)

 

 

Often held up by the deeper-trawling music press as 'the greatest Canadian

record ever' - what, even better than 'Harvest'? Even better than William

Shatner's spoken-word material? - 'Cyborgs Revisited' has long figured high on

many a tantalising list of prog/psych rarities. It's the names always tripped out as

reference points that really gets you going: art noisers from the Velvets and Can

through to Stockhausen; promo-punk from the Stooges and Hawkwind to the

Modern Lovers. Now it's yours to explore for the price of a regular CD, as

opposed to that of a small car.

Recorded in home town Hamilton, Ontario (think Middlesbrough with snow) 1974,

the recordings made in Daniel Lanois' basement (Dan was out) never even saw

the light of day until 1989. During the band's lifetime, only the Richman-ish 'She's

A Dog' 45 was ever release, in 1978. It's collected here with live stuff, demos and

even more rarities. But is the CD actually any good? Yeah. It rocks. It's very prog

and squally, with kitchen-sink electronics and solos, and is genuinely smalltown

avant garde. Think of the name-dropped legends above as influences rather than

competitors and you won't be disappointed.

Four Stars out of Five

Derek Hammond

Classic Rock Magazine, London UK, July 2003 (Deja Vu-Playback section, page

108)

Dusted Magazine, Montpelier, VT (8/11/2003)

 

 

A Northern Psych-Out

It’s not just the music that fascinates me about rare psych/prog/punk reissues –

it’s the singular logic driving their existence. The artifact in question is usually

justified as an important link in a historical chain, by absurd comparisons, or best

of all, local pride. While the first two provide valid reasons why veteran Canadian

indie label Sonic Unyon decided to make Simply Saucer one of the few reissues

in their primarily contemporary catalogue, it’s really the third that explains

Cyborgs Revisited. If it weren’t for the various inferiority complexes at work here,

Simply Saucer would have remained as well-known to U.S. audiences as those

other massively influential Canadian rock sensations, Glass Tiger and Platinum

Blonde.

This material has seen the light of day several times before: in the late 1970s,

when it was recorded; in 1989, when it was reissued on Mole Records as

Cyborgs Revisited (even though it was never officially issued, save for the She’s

A Dog 7"); and when it was given a larger and more widely available pressing

later that year by Cargo Records. There are plenty of fawning quotes about this

band floating around in the ether, most of which appear on the sleeve of the

Sonic Unyon package. Everybody from the NME to Byron Coley show some love

for these guys, with Alternative Press going so far as to call the album "The

Greatest Canadian Record Ever". What, no Loverboy?

So with all this in mind, it’s a bit of a shock when you discover that the Simply

Saucer boys would give The Stooges a run for their money in the stupid

department. If these guys were pretending to be thugs, they were doing a bangup

job – it takes a special kind of person to write a line like "let me sleep inside of

your cage / I want to feel your sexual rage", and an extremely special one to

deliver it like they really mean it. Until they get to the spacey analog keyboard

bits that are obviously the part that the NME types are into, Simply Saucer make

The New York Dolls look like rocket scientists. And unlike The Stooges or The

Dolls or even Rocket From The Tomb, their stupidity isn’t all that fun to listen to.

When they actually do get to the aforementioned spacey bits, it’s actually a lot of

fun, and they do credible impressions of the Velvets and early Floyd. Still, no

matter how much I listen to the album itself, I can’t say that their moron

tendencies take on any extra charm. Some bands are mindless bubblegum fun,

and some are just mindless. Tack on some extra bootleg material of such

abominable quality that it should have been left on whatever cutting room floor it

was rescued from, and you have Another Great Proto-Punk/Psych Reissue.

Album review – Erasing Clouds Online, Okemos MI (August

2003)

 

 

From somewhere between the gutter and outer space came Simply Saucer. For

a couple years in the late 70s they created some extraordinary music that met

the dirty-punk of bands like Ohio's Rocket From the Tombs and the

Mirrors/Styrenes (not to mention the Stooges) with seriously out-there

experimentation a la The Velvet Underground or jazz musicians like Sun Ra and

Pharoah Sanders. With the usual rock instruments plus a member on

"electronics," this Hamilton, Ontario-based band struck a raw and slightly surreal

balance between grit and daydreams. Their one album, Cyborgs Revisited, has

been augmented here by 9 bonus tracks, including demos, live recordings, and

their "She's a Dog" single, which is appearing on CD for the first time. I can't

pretend that I'd heard of Simply Saucer before now, but this re-issue has taken

me by storm. Searing hot guitars, weird-ass lyrics, and raw power fill the tracks.

The band also takes a loose approach to rock that allows their songs to take off

in strange directions. For example, check out "Mole Machine," a space-punk

version of surf rock, with guitars quivering like sirens. Or listen to the 6 1Ž2

minute "Here Come the Cyborgs (Part 2)," a gutteral blues jam with UFO noises.

Simply Saucer's lyrics combine raw urges with off-beat ramblings and sci-fi

imagery, and their music pretty much does the same. The bonus demos and live

tracks show Simply Saucer to be even looser, more primitive and dirtier than the

studio recordings suggest, while the "She's a Dog" single demonstrates that even

more poppier, more cleaned up version of the band sounds delightfully strange.

Sonic Unyon's press materials for Cyborgs Revisited claim that it's the

reissue of 2003… so far I'm not about to disagree. This is amazing stuff.

-dave heaton

Erasing Clouds Online, issue 14, August 2003

Album review – Roctober Magazine, Chicago IL (Summer 2003

issue)

 

 

Legendary (and legendarily obscure) Canadian pre-punks, this CD of rarities and

unreleaseds reveals lost greatness that may not merit a new chapter in Rock

History (like the monks did) but certainly makes the Canucks proud. This band

bridged a gap between Velvet-y attitude and Kraftwerkian robot love as good as

anyone. From ’74 to ’78 (or so) these Maple Leafs eventually would twist the

Detroit sound, Prog, the Blues, Power Pop and all points sideways and inbetween.

Far from Simple and Saucier than you’d imagine.

(Waymon Timbsdayle)

Simply Saucer Feature Story – Toronto Star - July 10, 2003

 

 

Simply Saucer Reborn

BEN RAYNER -POP MUSIC CRITIC

As the movie Magnolia was fond of pointing out: "We may be through with the

past, but the past ain't through with us."

Edgar Breau is, perhaps, better acquainted with this concept than most.

As the frontman and principle sonic architect for the abrasive, wholly

uncompromising Hamilton noise-rock outfit Simply Saucer throughout most of the

1970s, Breau presided over a band that went absolutely nowhere during its

lifetime, but has since slowly gone on to become one of Canadian rock 'n' roll's

most beloved obscurities.

The band only managed one official release — the bracing 1978 Pig Records

single, "She's A Dog" — before calling it quits amid spiralling substance-abuse

issues in 1979. The Saucer cult thus didn't reach past the small knot of music

writers, musicians and savvy Hamil-rock fans who initially kept the legend alive

until Hamilton fanzine mogul and indie-label entrepreneur Bruce Mowat exhumed

some of Breau's mid-'70s demos and live recordings for release on his own Mole

Records label as Cyborgs Revisited in 1989. A mini-revival ensued, with

tastemakers such as Sonic Youth and Julian Cope and publications like

Alternative Press (which pronounced Cyborgs "the greatest Canadian record

ever" in 1993) singing the record's praises to anyone who'd listen.

Now, thanks to another reissue of Cyborgs Revisited — remastered and padded

with unreleased goodies by Hamilton's Sonic Unyon Recording Co. — Breau

finds himself in the midst of a second Simply Saucer revival. And while he

wasn't quite sure how he felt about being haunted by his past before, these days

he seems fairly cool with it.

"This one, in magnitude, is a lot bigger," says Breau. "In 1989, we had the critical

thing — you know, in Spin and some English papers and some fanzines — but it

didn't hit like it has this time in Canada. There wasn't the same Canadian

reaction back then...

"It got so far, but there didn't seem to be a lot of opportunities flowing from it. And

at one point, I just decided I was gonna put that period away and try to just forget

about it and just go on. But it had a life of its own. It didn't want to die. It kind of

made up my mind for me, I guess."

As a songwriter and performer, Breau has been reclusive since the band split,

flirting with giving up music altogether. In the end, though, he settled on

jettisoning Simply Saucer's arsenal of pedals, electronic doodads and manic,

2

Kraut-rockin' Velvets/Stooges homages for a new musical identity as an acoustic

troubadour inspired by the likes of Nick Drake, Tim Hardin, John Fahey and Ray

Davies.

These days, heartened by the attention Cyborgs Revisited is once again

receiving, he's gigging in earnest again and lands somewhere in between, mixing

acoustic and electric and songs both old and new in a band that includes former

Saucer bassist Kevin Christoff. A double-disc collection of his '80s and '90s

recordings entitled Canadian Primitive is scheduled for release in the fall.

I never stopped playing, as far as songwriting went," says Breau. "I just wasn't

sure if there was a place for me, so to speak. I had to resolve that, and I had to

figure out what I was gonna do with the material on Cyborgs Revisited —

whether I was gonna jump back into it and how to handle it. And pretty soon I

decided I wasn't gonna reform the band, that that wasn't a good idea, that I was

just gonna do some of the songs and that I would approach the thing as a

songwriter and do all the phases of my career. That way I didn't have the

dilemma of trying to relive the past and being

somebody I wasn't."

Ben Rayner, Toronto Star, Toronto ON

Split Album review with Outragous Cherry – Echo Weekly, Kitchener ON

 

 

Simply Saucer - Cyborgs Revisited - Sonic Unyon Recording Company

Outrageous Cherry - Supernatural Equinox - Rainbow Quartz

Two blasts from the past, but while one literally had to dust away the cobwebs to

be heard in its present state, the other would give anything just to immerse itself

in the filth of the great rockers of yesteryear. Hamilton’s Simply Saucer have

been given a new lease on life by Sonic Unyon who are very excited to re–issue

the band’s only full–length lp, Cyborgs Revisited. Originally released in 1989, the

album’s songs were actually recorded between 1974–’75 in the basement studio

of Bob and Daniel Lanois. Though Simply Saucer disbanded by 1978, their

pioneering brand of Pink Floyd–meets–the Velvet Under-ground–meets the

Modern Lovers punk rock has gained mythic status, even causing one American

periodical to state, "Cyborgs Revisited is the greatest Canadian record ever." In

spite of this overstatement, the album’s infectious music could provide a blueprint

for everyone of the current crop of supposedly art–damaged "garage bands"

gaining mainstream success, and Sonic Unyon should be congratulated for

salvaging this unique, Canadian musical artifact. On the other end of the

spectrum, Detroit’s Outrageous Cherry take their obsession with the Velvet

Underground and filter it through whatever it is Lenny Kravitz does to those

songs of his to make them sound like faux–’70s rock gems. With songs such as

"Girl You Have Magic Inside You" and "(I Know) You’re Both Of Me" drenched in

the hallmarks of psychedelia, Outrageous Cherry prove to be a more than

competent band that, for better or worse, is unabashedly retro.

Vish Khanna

Album review – Street Miami, Miami Florida (August 1, 2003

issue)

 

 

Simply Saucer's Cyborgs Revisited, the Canadian band's first and only full-length

album, almost never got a release at all. Recorded in 1979 by a very young

Daniel Lanois (who, in the '80s, would become one of the most influential

producers in the business) and his brother, the album sat on the shelves for

nearly a decade before Mole Records came to the rescue with a limited vinyl

pressing. Listening to it now on CD (courtesy of Sonic Unyon), it's easy to see

the reason for hesitation. While most groups from the era could be easily

identified as punk or classic rock, Simply Saucer straddled both camps -- deftly

incorporating the cataclysmic drive of The Stooges into their free form noodling.

The unorthodox mixture no doubt repulsed purists, who envisioned the scabrous

energy of punk as a direct response to the traditionalist, stoned stupor of classic

rock.

If Simply Saucer did sense a contradiction between the two styles, they certainly

don't let on. In Edgar Breau, Saucer has an archetypal classic rock singer, but his

Morrison-esque howl is called upon to accommodate everything from the feral,

bluesy stomp of ''Instant Pleasure'' to the jazzy improvisation of ''Nazi

Apocalypse.'' The band's broad and ambitious musical palette recalls the work of

fringe figures like Can and Sun Ra without the haughty pretension of either. The

album's true highlight, however, is surprisingly its least experimental -- the Velvet

Underground-inspired ''Bullet Proof Nothing.'' The pace is considerably slowed as

the purplish haze of guitar fuzz wafts above the staggering beat. Breau, in his

husky baritone, implores his muse to ''treat him like dirt.'' It's arguably the best

Loaded-era Velvet Underground song that The Velvet Underground never wrote.

This Sonic Unyon reissue comes backed with nine bonus tracks, including four

previously unheard demos and the long out-of-print single, ''She's A Dog.'' These

welcome additions elevate this particular release from excellent to absolutely

essential for any fan of genre-defying, forward-thinking rock and roll.

Jon Garrett

StreetMiami, Miami FL, August 01, 2003

Uptown Weekly, Winnipeg MB (7/24/2003)

 

 

Albums like Simply Saucer's crazy Cyborgs Revisited just don't come along often

enough. The members of the late Hamilton band sound like the outsider's

outsiders on this maniacally glorious psychedelic-punk gem. While it's nearly

impossible to create a picture in words for the skree Simply Saucer produced

between 1974 and 1978, suffice it to say that it is unique. SS approximate the

tortured street howl of classic Stooges, add some truly out-to-lunch moog

disturbances and tie it all up neatly with what can only be termed angular, freejazz

rave-ups. It's loud, too. Listening to this at volume may cause house plants

to wilt and your cat to hid in the darkest, coldest corner of your shabby flat. The

album is the band's complete (and only) release, along with a full does of

previously even harder-to-find live demo tracks and a single.

Report card rating: B+