Posted tagged ‘blues rock’

♪ Random Record A Day #6: Love Sculpture – Sabre Dance / Think Of Love (SP, 1968)

January 16, 2010


Love Sculpture – Sabre Dance

b/w Think Of Love
(SP, 1968, Parlophone)

Cover (not mine)

Today’s entry is brought to you by my good friend Freda, via the highly scientific method of picking a number. I have to say I laughed out loud at the name of the band (which I’d never heard of before), but then as we found out yesterday, I have a very dirty mind indeed.

So, Love Sculpture (1966 – 70) were a hard blues rock band from Cardiff (go Wales!), which according to my research (ie, wikipedia) were basically guitarist Dave Edmunds and his backing band. Their music generally consisted of blues standards, done harder and faster than usual. They released two albums – Blues Helping (1968) and Forms and Feelings (1970) – and two singles. Sabre Dance actually made it to #5 in the UK charts, with a little help from John Peel who gave the single lots of airplay. He also gave the band three Peel Sessions in two years.  However, further fame was not to beckon and after touring their second album in the US, they split. Edmunds went on to release a wildly popular version I Hear You Knocking (yes, that version) and later formed the band Rockpile with Nick Lowe.

So first off, everybody knows the Armenian-Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian‘s classical/ballet piece Sabre Dance. Even if you don’t think you do, you do – and this is a cover of it.

I love a good guitar-driven rock instrumental (think The Just Brother’s Sliced Tomatoes or The Virtues’ Guitar Boogie Shuffle). I absolutely hate guitar wankery (think John Squire’s noodling at the end of the album cut of Love Is The Law*, or the more, erm, ‘excessive’ parts of Second Coming – ahhhh coke, you’ve a lot to answer for). And there’s a pretty fine line between the two.

Happily, this is a simply splendid interpretation of the above-mentioned piece, and firmly in the camp of the former. It’s what I’d imagine would happen if you locked The Shadows in a cellar, forced mushrooms and speed down their throats and up their noses, convinced them a zombified Cliff Richard was coming to get them, and told them to write the theme tune to their own escape.

Side A

Everything in this song is hurtling along at breakneck speed. The guitarwork is just amazing and the drums – for the most part – monotonous, yet frantically intense. It actually sounds as if the guitarist and drummer are racing against each other for dear life. The whole song is just… immense. I think, though this is something I’ve considered for the first time today, that the key to a good rock instrumental is the rhythm section – it must keep the song interesting and steady, not allowing it to stray off into Guitarfetishland or the neighbouring borough of Soundscapesville. And despite the fact that this song is basically saying “look how great I am on guitar”, the galloping drums keep it focused on just being a good fucking tune. There are even bits of this song that sound like East Bay Ray studied it intensely. In fact, it reminds me a lot of his work on Fresh Fruit, especially Chemical Warfare.

Side B

The B Side, Think Of Love, is also pretty damn good. The opening bass riff reminds me of some Nirvana song I can’t think of right now, then it sounds a bit like Honey by Moby – eh, but in a good way – and then it goes slightly mad for the rest of the song. It’s not an instrumental, but it might as well be having only two short verses and no chorus. As with the A Side, its all about frenetic guitarmanship with a great rhythm backing.  I might even slightly prefer it to the A Side.

In my esteemed judgement, this is a fabulous 7″.

Download / Listen – Via DivShare (Mp3)

Side A – Sabre Dance (4:55)
Side B – Think Of Love (3:01)

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* For the first time since that album came out (1997),  I actually re-listened to the full version of Love Is The Law. It’s still as appalling to me now as it was then. Despite thinking to this day that the radio edit is a decent britpop tune, I lost interest in The Seahorses almost immediately after hearing the album in full. But curious as I am, I did a quick wiki to see what happened to them. Turns out they split up in 1999 while writing a second album. It was acrimonious, with the former vocalist Chris Helme describing Squire’s work as “muso wanking”. Good man.

Barb Wire Love

♪ Random Record A Day #2: The Move – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (SP, 1970)

January 11, 2010


The Move – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm

b/w What?
SP, 1970, Fly

This is the cover of a German version of the single, with a different B-Side

The Move (1965 – 72) were a pretty big band in Britain in the late 60s, with nine top 20 singles in five years.  For that reason I’m somewhat ashamed to say that these are the first songs of theirs I’ve ever (knowingly) listened to.  And given that, its also not surprising that before writing this, I knew very little about them – other than they later morphed into ELO (boo!), which Roy Wood quickly got tired of (who can blame him?), and went off to form Wizzard (yay!).

When Alice Comes Back to the Farm, released in 1970, was The Move’s fourth last single and taken from the Looking On album. The A-side, penned by Wood, is a heavy blues-rocker, almost approaching an early heavy metal or glam rock sound, though there is a nice twinkley rock ‘n’ roll piano thing going on in the background which lightens the tone a bit. And the heavy cello breaks are pretty amazing.

Side A

According to wikipedia, this single never made it into the charts “largely due to lack of airplay by BBC radio stations. The song allegedly [makes] mild references to cannabis – “Alice”, “time for tearing out the weeds” and the last line “don’t get around much anymore”, which is a description of the singer’s condition”.

With regard to the B-side, What?, three words and two exclamation marks should suffice – “Oh no! Prog!“.

Which is not surprising really, given that it was written by Jeff Lynne (I should have expected it when I saw his name), and that (I’m led to believe) The Move’s final two albums were basically fundraising operations for the first ELO album… shudder.  I should state my bias (though its probably abundantly clear): I have a very low tolerance for prog. These days I can stomach a lot more than I used to be able to, but still it makes me feel slightly wrong about myself.

Side B

This is almost seven minutes long, the lyrics seem to be a nonsense (e.g. “the overture is burning on the faces of the people in the churches of the land”), and it meanders all over the place.  That said, the more I listen to it (I’m on about listen six), the more it grows on me. Well parts of it do – which is probably one of the reasons I dislike prog so, I get the feeling that inside many prog songs, there’s a decent track drowning in the deluge of pompous self indulgence. And this song is a case in point – the good parts are great, in fact the riff sounds like Super Furry Animals ripped it off for Blerwytirhwng? (Where are you Between?). Another bit sounds like its trying to be I Am The Walrus , and there even seems to be a male choir in there. By no means the worst prog song I’ve ever heard, but overall fails to hit the mark. Shame really, cos the riff is excellent.

Listen / Download via DivShare (Mp3)

Side A – When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (3:46)
Side B – What? (6:49)

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Barb Wire Love

(3:46)

♪ Random Record A Day #1: Fields – Fields (LP, 1969)

January 10, 2010

Fields – Fields
LP, 1969, Uni / MCA

LP Cover

Get it here (MP3)
Pass: citpart

Ok first off, this band bears no relation to the English/Icelandic group of the same name.

This album has been in my possession forever – having been part of my father’s collection, presumably, from the time it was released back in 1969.

Fields were a US psyche-blues-rock-soul trio consisting of Richard Fortunato (lead vocals and guitar), Patrick Burke (bass) and Steve Lagan (percussion). They existed for only about a year or so, released one single (Bide My Time), this eponymously titled album, and they collapsed after touring together.

The LP itself comes in a somewhat horrid gatefold sleeve, with the cover mixing disgusting purple, green and mustard-yellow, with a dodgy sepia band photograph forming the centrepiece. But just as one should never judge a book by its cover, one should never judge an album by its artwork. Well, sometimes you probably should, but not in this case.

Musically, this is a somewhat unfocused blending of styles, but it works. Sort of. An obvious influence is the hard blues-rock of the likes of Cream, but there’s also acid-rock and psychedelia, soul – Motown’s Brenda Holloway and Ray Charles’ backing singers The Raelettes (incorrectly spelled ‘Raylettes’ in the liner notes) make appearances – and even traces of funk in the mix. Mercifully, there are no Baker-esque drum solos and not too much in the way of guitar-wankery, and the album as a whole is very raw.

Side One consists of songs between 3 and 5 minutes and for me the standout track is Take You Home – which was the B-side to the Bide My Time single. It’s a heavy blues rocker, with great riffs, which is basically about just wanting to fuck someone. Jump On You is also pretty good as well – and one can only presume it’s what happens once Fields have taken you home.

Listen: Take You Home – via DivShare (unhelpfully, WP doesn’t allow embedding of DivShare links)

But the real treasure of this album is Love is the Word, the 18-minute epic crazy-fest that takes up the entirety of Side Two. You kind of have to just hear, as it defies explanation – at least as far as my limited writing skills are concerned. If you forced me, Id’ say its the sound of Sgt. Pepper’s, The Doors, acid-Motown and Clapton having been shoved in a blender, gobbled up and then unceremoniously vomited back out. But I don’t think I’d be doing it justice.

What I can say with certainty is, that this is the kind of thing I’d usually hate, but for whatever reason, in this particular case I love it. What it’s not, is some circle-jerky ‘jamming’ session – its an actual song with a structure. A lunatic structure, but a structure nonetheless. Plus it’s got horns and Brenda Holloway!

All in all, this is far from a great album, and certainly not some rare lost treasure. But its interesting, and I for one like it. Plus, they get bonus points for (allegedly) being named after the great W.C. Fields.

Tracklist

Side One

1. Elysian Fields (3:40)
2. Bide My Time (4:31)
3. Take You Home (3:00)
4. Jump On you (3:18)
5. Sun Would Set (5:19)

Side Two

1. Love Is The Word (18:22)

LP Back Cover

LP Inlay

Official Blurb (from a 2002 CD re-issue): “This US power trio’s sole album was released on both sides of the Atlantic in 1969, but sank without a trace. Equally influenced by blues, soul and acid rock, it’s an enjoyable mixture of snappy hard rock songs and the lengthy “Love Is The Word” suite, which occupied a whole side of the original LP. Featuring backing vocals from Northern Soul legend Brenda Holloway and production by former Merry-Go-Round guitarist Bill Rinehart, it’s a must for fans of bluesy psychedelic rock.”

Get it here (MP3)
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Barb Wire Love