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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Tideline - 1979 The Crowded Room
Tideline - 1979 The Crowded Room

ARTIST: Tideline
ALBUM: The Crowded Room
LABEL: Fields Records
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1991, Musea, FGBG 4033.AR (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Hadi El Gammal - lead vocals, 12 string acoustic guitars * Christian Gilbert - drums * Sam Mac Kinney - fender bass, fretless bass * Dider De Roos - keyboards, 6 string acoustic & classical guitars, background vocals

Additional Musician: Frederic De Roos - flute, viola

TRACK LISTING: 01 Seasons * 02 Presence * 03 The Crowded Room * 04 Behind An Open Door * 05 Fields * 06 Dusty Rehearsals * 07 Painting Your Story * 08 As Usual * 09 The Club * 10 Locked (bonus) * 11 Portsmouth (bonus)

Just a guess, but an active unsigned progressive band in late '70s Belgium had to be a brutal experience, a test of wills and a sure-fire one way ticket to the poorhouse. One of the smaller, but no less important European nations with a limited amount of music labels and a culturally diverse record buying public force fed all things punk by an obsessed rock press who according to David Lee Roth all looked like Elvis Costello; groups like the Brussels based Tideline struggled under the weight of incredible odds for their craft. But the group persevered, releasing 1000 copies of their self-funded debut 'The Crowded Room' and even struck-up a deal with CBS to distribute a few boxes. It wasn't the best set-up and predictably Tideline reaped none of the benefits from their relationship with the record giant, parting ways as a unit in late 1979.

The Songs
Thanks to the groundbreaking French label Musea; 'The Crowded Room' received a well-deserved second lease on life in 1991 as a CD reissue coupled with two lovely bonus tracks. Fully fledged art rock with jazz colours and medieval/chamber pop dynamics at its core, this is rainy Sunday morning music with vocal arrangements comparable to Godley & Creme and Al Stewart on 'Behind An Open Door'. The ECM label sound i.e. guitarist Ralph Towner looms large as well and lyrically many of the songs are autobiographical, peppered with humor and a reflection of certain periods in Tideline's history including the grandiose 'Fields' which is apparently about a not-so-nice A&M Records rep while 'Dusty Rehearsals' describes using one of the band members grandmother's house as a playing space. A beautiful, inspiring and fun record with the Steve Porcaro styled piano runs on 'Painting Your Story' embellishing the set's already artful appeal.

In Summary
Musea's bonus tracks include 1977's 'Locked' that rocks harder than anything on the original album recalling early Traffic and 'Portsmouth' which was written in 1976 but recorded in 1991, just in time for the reissue. The newly reformed ensemble released a second disc 'Siren Song' in 1995 which I didn't enjoy as much although is still a fine effort. Sadly, 'The Crowded Room' CD is long out of print and even more expensive than the original LP.

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