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

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Djam Karet - The Ritual Continues – Imagine a sound with the force and power of mid-period King Crimson, the fluidity and spaciness of Pink Floyd, and the percussive power of Peter Gabriel's Security. Throw into that mix a generous...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues