Elonkorjuu released one of the all time great blues/psych/prog LPs in 1972 – Harvest Time. You are excused if the name is unfamiliar, unless of course you were hanging out at rock festivals in Helsinki, Finland, in the early seventies. Just prior to recording Harvest Time the five-piece played to a crowd of over 100,000 at the Turku Festival, which is no small feat for any group.
The term “Big In Finland” probably means about as much as “Big In Nome, AK” to most people. To hardcore prog fans, who live and die for such great obscurities, Harvest Time has been something of a Holy Grail. Shadoks Music, who specialize in resurrecting forgotten classics like this one, have just reissued the album, and it definitely lives up to its reputation.
Elonkorjuu were a young band, leader Jukka Syrenius was just 20 years old when Harvest Time was recorded, and drummer Eero Rantasila only 17. Bassist Veli-Pekka Pessi and multi-instrumentalist Ilkka Poijarvi were 23, and vocalist Heikki Lajunen 20.
As was de rigueur for proggers at the time, there are an abundance of solos on the album. The majority are from the guitar of Jukka Syrenius, who makes himself known early on the first track, “Unfeeling.” Ilkka Poijarvi shines with an outstanding organ solo during “The Ocean Song” – which was apparently a fan favorite at Turku.
One of the hallmarks of progressive rock were the LP side-long “epic” tracks. Bands such as Yes or Emerson, Lake, and Palmer were notorious for these, and stoned FM deejays would play them to grab a lengthy doobie break. None of the tunes on Harvest Time even reach the five-minute mark, however. The longest is “Praise To Our Basement” (4:44). It is a fairly self-descriptive title, as groups have been practicing in basements since time immemorial. The guys came up with a strong jam piece here, with lyrics literally praising their basement. Incidentally, all ten of the songs are in English.
The few mentions I have found of Elonkorjuu online compare them to Cream, Black Sabbath, and Colosseum. Of these I would say Colosseum is the most accurate. But honestly, Jethro Tull are the closest match I can think of. Singer Heikki Jajunen often sounds like Ian Anderson to these ears, and there is a fair amount of flute playing as well. Elonkorjuu never get as obnoxious as Tull could however. The flute is used as a nice accompaniment to the songs, along the same lines as what Peter Gabriel was doing with Genesis during the same time period.
Harvest Time is a fascinating glimpse into what was going on in music outside of the well-documented US/English scenes during the early seventies. It is well worth checking out for fans of classic progressive rock.
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