Exposé Online banner

MacArthur — MacArthur (AKA The Black Forest)
(Guerssen Out-Sider OSR044 / OSRCD044, 1979/2016, LP/CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-07-19

MacArthur (AKA The Black Forest) Cover art

I find it very interesting that obscure musical gems continue to surface and be reissued. Case in point is the US garage-prog-psych band MacArthur, who recorded and released an ultra-rare privately pressed LP of 200 copies in 1979. Today Out-Sider Music has released the first ever legitimate vinyl reissue from the master tapes. To give you a bit of band history, a young guitar player and songwriter Ben MacArthur met the 17-year-old prodigy Bill Heffelfinger in Saginaw, Michigan. In addition to being a gifted guitarist, Bill was also a genius arranger and keyboard wizard. Bill took Ben’s songs and transformed them into fully fleshed slabs of progressive rock. To round out the group, they recruited Jeff Bauer (drums) and Scott Stockford (bass). The result is nothing short of amazing, and it is no wonder that collectors have been searching for this album for years. The album consists of eight tracks, evenly split between songs and instrumentals. I detect some Genesis and Italian prog influences and possibly even Quicksilver Messenger Service’s John Cippolina. Most of the songs feature inspired virtuosic guitar solos by Ben. In fact the opening track, “Light Up,” is basically a three minute guitar solo. The five-minute “Laughing Like a Lark” is a two-chord, two-note song with an extended break with sweeping analog synth sine waves and lightning fast guitar work. And there is some similarity with Ben’s vocals to Geddy Lee. The three final tracks are amazing. “The Black Forest” uses fuzzed and Spanish guitars and soaring synths to create a masterpiece. “Prelude No 1 in C Major” showcases both Ben and Bill. The piece begins with Ben on Spanish guitar for almost two minutes and then shifts to Bill on grand piano playing fast keyboard runs, rivaling the master Keith Emerson. And the closing track, “The Shock of the New,” is all keyboards, synths, and piano that build to a majestic piano climax. If you have the opportunity, definitely give this disc a spin.


Filed under: Reissues, 2016 releases, 1979 recordings

Related artist(s): MacArthur

Latest news

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the ago of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Paolo Angeli - Plays Frith & Björk - Tessuti – To paraphrase Shakespeare, there are more musics in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your CD collection. Unless you have one of his previous releases, Paolo Angeli is probably an example of...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues