Seventh Dawn, The
Band members Related acts
- Ann Zeleney (aka Ann Munson) -- vocals, guitar,
- Bil Munson -- lead guitar, backing vocals
- Eric Munson -- vocals, bass
- Heff Munson -- vocals, drums, percussion, keyboards
- none known
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Project Aquarius
Catalog: P.A. 001
Year: 1995 (reissue)
Country/State: Richmond, Virginia
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: # 263 out of 275 pressing
Catalog ID: 5290
I have an old friend who went to Virginia Commonwealth University (which I guess was known as Virginia Commonwealth College) back in the early 1970s. Jim use to be an avid record collector and once mentioned he'd been looking for an album a bunch of VCU students had recorded in the mid-1970s. He even mentioned the name - The Seventh Dawn. It was just one of those little factoids that stuck in the back of my mind for years. Scroll forward and I have a teenage son who's starting to look at colleges, including VCU. Next thing you know I've stumbled across a copy of The Seventh Dawn LP. It's a band authorized reissue in an original cover ... better than nothing and while expensive, not nearly the price one of the 200 original copies would set you back (were you ever able to track one down).
The background on this one is actually pretty interesting. Front man Heff Munson was attending VCC, taking an art class ... well why don't I simply let him tell the story. This is pulled verbatim from an email Munson posted to a website that had reviewed the "Seventh Dawn" LP:
" ... the "Sunrise" album started as an art school project for [teacher] Mark Wheatley ("Design a cover and promotional materials for an imaginary band"). Mark approached me with the idea of including a real LP instead of a cardboard mockup. The Seventh Dawn in 1975 was very much an imaginary band; almost all the tracks were recorded one part at a time, since everyone was busy attending classes, and Bil [one of the Munson brothers] was 110 miles away. Since I had access to the [VCC] electronic music labs, I took the overnight time slot and patched everything together on a Teac 4-track tape machine. I hauled the small drum set across town and set it up in the lab each time drums were needed. The keyboards used were determined by whatever wasn't broken when I arrived, so some tracks used a Roland, some had an Electrocomp Synthesizer (how many ways could I filter a sawtooth wave?), and some even used a little organ keyboard when nothing else was around. Because my musical education was originally classical, the arrangements were intended mostly for orchestral instruments. I plan to make MP3s available of the songs I had originally planned: a collection to be called "Such a Lonely/Seashore". When the fake band idea came up, we replaced some of my songs with songs by Eric [another Munson brother] and Ann [then girlfriend and future wife Ann Zeleney].
For the 1990's vinyl reissue, I tried to recruit the original members for "Sunrise 2.0", but there wasn't enough interest to overcome the logistical problems. At this point, it's easier to distribute my stuff as I'd originally planned.
Finally, my apologies to every real band who used the name "Seventh Dawn"; our amateur schoolkid project should not be confused with anyone else's serious efforts."
So given all the hype surrounding it (it's listed in one of the Hans Pokora books), what's this high priced obscurity sound like? Well, first let me warn you that if you were expecting a mind numbing slice of acid soaked rock, "Sunrise" ain't it. Perhaps a reflection of the fact the material had been composed over an extended timeframe (1970 - 74) by different writers, musically the collection had a somewhat schizophrenic feel to it. Zeleney penned and performed songs like 'Robin', 'Earth's Lullabye' and 'Sunrise' sported a distinctive English folk feel. Surrounded by pretty acoustic arrangements, her fragile, but pretty voice would probably appeal to anyone into the likes of Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, or Steeleye Span. In contrast material penned by the Munson brothers (guitarist Bil, drummer Heff, and bassist Jeff) was far more diverse. 'The Snail' and 'The Open Road' were conventional singer/songwriter ballads. Heff certainly wasn't as impressive a singer as Ann and the brothers harmony work was occasionally a little rough, but the performances were never less than competent. I'll also tell you the touchy feely introverted lyrics didn't do all that much for me, but then these guys were all in their teens trying to figure things out, so what would you expect. Doubt most of us could have done better. They certainly had more drive, talent and balls than 99.9% of their contemporaries. (Not that I should criticize anyone - geez I actually took a lower grade in one of my grad school classes rather than get up and give an oral presentation.) While most folks seem to fawn over for Ann's material, to my ears the group's isolated up tempo numbers such as 'Latecoming' were actually their strong suite. On those rare occasions the arrangements allowed for it, Bil showed himself to be a pretty good lead guitarist (check out his chunky leads on 'Such a Lonely' and 'Free'). Sure it wasn't a masterpiece, but it's one of those records with a peculiar and hard to describe charm. The other thing to note is that it sports surprisingly accomplished production. Most vanity projects sound like they were recorded in car wash. VCC must have had some impressive music labs !
Just to underscore the fact, this is one of the authorized 1995 reissues. The original pressing was issued under the group's own Fantasy Worlds Unlimited label. There were apparently some extra original album sleeves and inserts left over which were used in conjunction with at least some of the 1995 reissues. Curiously I've read that the reissue pressing was limited to 275 LPs, but my copy is marked # 17 of 25.
"Sunrise" track listing:
1.) Robin (Ann Munson) - 3:24
2.) Such a Lonely (Heff Munson) - 3:27
3,) Latecoming (Heff Munson) - 3:06
3.) The Snail (Heff Munson) - 4:00
4.) Earth's Lullabye (Ann Munson) - 2:17
5.) Sunrise (Ann Munson) - 4:45
2.) The Open Road (Heff Munson) - 1:46
3.) Such a Lady (Eric Munson) - 3:38
4.) Free (Heff Munson) - 4:58
5.) Days and Nights Go Flashing By (Heff Munson) - 3:12
6.) Goodnight (Heff Munson - Eric Munson) - 2:32
Hef Munson has a small website where he's posted some previously unreleased MP3 files. At least some of them came from the band's recorded but never released sophomore album "Dreams".
"Regarding the Seventh Dawn "Sunrise" album, the Unreleased "Dreams" album, and later music: At this point (30 years later), I'm preparing to make more songs available for free in MP3 format. This would include "corrected" versions of my songs from "Sunrise", along with other songs I wrote since then. I'm not sure of the best way to go about it, so I'm open to suggestions. I hesitate to release the "Dreams" tracks without the permission of the other performers.
The promised MP3 site is up for free downloads of new versions of all of my songs from "Sunrise" as well as 60+ other songs written from 1972-2007. I hope you find something you like."
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