From campfire jams to clubs

Considering the circumstances – a campfire-jam beginning, spaced-out playing, an undying counter-culture approach in music and beyond, and plenty of reshuffling – the overall outcome for UK fringe band Ozric Tentacles has been quite impressive. This psychedelic-trance-rock-jam band, back in Greece for the umpteenth time next week for one show at Club 22 in Athens on November 19, has managed to put out more than 25 albums over a couple of decades with sales estimated at about a million copies worldwide. In mainstream terms, the sales figure ranks as modest for that many albums and years, although it should be pointed out that this is a band which had neglected record label involvement during its early years. All recordings were made available to concertgoers through cassette-only releases. There were six in all, beginning with 1984’s «Erpsongs.» All six, however, were later included in a box-set edition entitled «Vitamin Enhanced.» The band did not start releasing CDs through a label until 1990. The first CD album, called «Erpland,» foreshadowed what became known as the «crusty» movement, a British style similar to the American hippy movement of the 1960s. Crusties borrowed the organic dress of the hippies and cosmic thinking of New Agers, and spent much of their time traveling around the UK to festivals and outdoor gatherings. In Greece, many of the band’s previous visits, all at the now-defunct Rodon Club, have packed in a snowballing fanbase which will likely also fill Club 22 for the act’s latest show. Ozric Tentacles have just released a new album, «Waterfall Cities: The Hidden Steps,» which follows the band’s previous studio effort, last year’s «Spirals In Hyperspace,» its 25th, which incorporated the act’s broad influences, including rock, world music, and trance. The move to start releasing CDs on the market, back in 1990, started to draw a far wider fanbase for Ozric Tentacles. Constant touring throughout the UK during that decade bolstered the following further and eventually spread around Europe. By 1993, the peripheral act’s «Jurassic Shift» album managed to climb to number 11 on the British charts – quite a feat for a self-produced album released on the Ozric Tentacles’ own Dovetail label. It was, and still is, an admirable accomplishment for a band without a hit single, no celebrity status, and no major label backing. Ozric Tentacles recently marked their 20th anniversary with the release of a career-spanning double CD.

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