A brief history of Volume One
This was the beginning - our first attempt at seriously recording our music. The recording sessions ran from November thru December 1986 and
the album was for the most part recorded live with a few overdubs added. Once we had finished we decided to dupe some cassettes, but we
needed to keep our costs down so we came up with this simple two color cover which some of you may still remember.
The Impact Records name was just something we thought up at the time - from what I've heard there is another label with that name to which
there is no connection.
The official release date of the cassette was April 1987, and once we had the cassette in our hands we started sending it out to magazines. Much to our surprise it got good reviews! The most significant of which was Robert Carlberg's review published in Electronic Musician Magazine in August 1987: "Fast and tight progressive rock with a heavy ELP influence. Writing may actually be stronger than ELP's - it's more focused, has a sharper edge, and benefits from Berends' scorching guitar work." This is what really got us going and from there more good reviews started to pop up - mail order sales were strong - apparently the world was starving for progressive rock and we were more than happy to supply it.
Shortly after that we were contacted by Steve Roberts of ZNR Records. an indie progressive mail-order company in Louisville KY, and Steve started selling our cassettes through his catalog. He sold so many of them that he decided it was time to release the album in CD form. We were of course ecstatic. Having signed with Magna Carta in 1989 and waiting around for a full year while they did nothing to see our stuff get released, (in case anyone was wondering why the Bio seems to be fairly void of any significant activity between 1989 and 1990, this is why - Mastermind was in fact the first band to sign with Magna Carta) we canceled that contract and immediately went with ZNR since they were willing to release the album right away. Looking back it was definitely the right move.
ZNR released the album in CD form in 1990 with new original full color artwork and it sold fairly well - combined with sales of the original cassette estimates of total sales are about 3,500 copies, possibly more. Not bad for nobody from nowhere playing a style of music as one reviewer put it "that is best forgotten".
The ZNR disc has been out of print for about two years now and completely unavailable for about the last year or so, so we are very happy to now see it reissued worldwide by Cylcops/GFT in Europe and Prozone/Dutch East India in North America.
Many people still say this is their favorite Mastermind album since it is the closest to our original influences being our first effort, and perhaps the most "neo" of all our albums. Although there are many shining moments that are uniquely Mastermind, you will notice a strong ELP influence on this album. In fact Carl Palmer once told me "we all sat around one day and laughed because it sounded so much like us". Quite a feat actually for a band without a keyboard player! Of course our later works are moving away from that as we evolve as a band and continue to try new things. And besides, like I told Carl, 'we were doing this all along when you guys weren't. I figured somebody should be doing it'.
The bonus tracks
When we were first approached by Cyclops about re-releasing the Volume One CD we were of course thrilled since the original 1990 release by ZNR Records has been out of print for quite some time now. Part of the bargain was that we should include an extra track to give the new version a bit more appeal for owners of the original release and to make the new version something special. This is standard record company fare in this sort of situation and I was not surprised. Later on when Dutch East expressed an interest, they too wanted a bonus track. Instead of giving each label their own exclusive track, I've convinced everybody we'd be better off with two new tracks on the album.
The most important thing for us here is getting the original music out to as many people as possible. With the modest success of our Tragic Symphony album this now seems possible, and in an effort to make the new release as worthy of reissue as possible, we have remixed several of the tracks and recorded all the original masters direct-to-digital. Without any of the mastering flaws I feel the original ZNR disc had, the new master sounds very much like the original recording but with a more open transparent feel to it. It's clearer. There is more detail and the sound of the vocal is especially improved. And no, we did not re-record anything, it is all the original performances.
The bonus tracks selected are from as near the same time period as possible. The first track The Enemy Within was recorded shortly after the Volume One sessions and is an aggressive yet moody kind of hard rock piece featuring a lot of synthesizers and a blazing little guitar solo. I think it fits right in with the overall tone of the album. The second selection Reach For the Sky is a bit more of a rock song somewhat reminiscent of Jethro Tull with an intense little hard rock synthesizer break in the middle. This piece was recorded a little later on, somewhere in 1988 right before we began working on Brainstorm and has a slightly more updated feel to it.
In both cases these songs just haven't found a home on any album yet simply because we didn't know where to place them. They are not throw away tracks added just to make the album longer or different. We do have a certain standard of quality we wish to maintain! For those who own a copy of the original disc these two tracks alone may not warrant purchasing a copy of the new version, however I believe the remixing and remastering of the original tracks just might! In addition to these bonus tracks we'll also be enhancing the booklet and cover as well, including a few photos and new liner notes.