LE ORME – “SMOGMAGICA” (1976)
Some of the wackiest stuff from the “commercial” side of ’70s prog rock arose when an established European band came to Los Angeles to record an album which they hoped will change their fortunes for the better. Of course, prescription this never works out, but the results are almost always a goofy good time. In the case of Amon Duul II, my favorite album of theirs hands-down is “Only Human” (1978), which was recorded in L.A., sounds absolutely nothing like the material the band had originated with, and is furiously charming.
After five studio albums, the Italian band Le Orme decided to slick up their sound (which for the most part had consisted of only bass, keyboards and drums) by adding a lead guitarist and heading to L.A. to record “Smogmagica”, a more FM-friendly effort than their previous slabs o’ extended prog jams. Of course, the production style doesn’t suit the band like a glove, but the results are pretty entertaining, especially given song titles like “Laserium Floyd” and “Laurel Canyon”.