Amidst the German debut floodgates of 1970, Cravinkel held the minor distinction of crafting blues ‘pop’. Seriously. If the UK blues rock boom was a brawny revolt against popsike and Merseybeat, then these jolly Germans were disengaged enough to appropriate the singalong spirit of those fresh-faced ’60s into the dingier sonorities of the current pothead menagerie. Engaging if unambitious, Cravinkel sat at the Marmalade-cum-Mayall nexus which encircled various European bands during 1970, from Belgium’s Waterloo, to Norway’s Titanic and Aunt Mary.
Archive for January, 2007
Healing of the Lunatic Owl, the sole outing from England’s Brainchild, must have been the most swinging brass rock album by any band hailing from outside the USA. Or should I say brass pop, since the only elements placing this in the column of heavyweights like The Greatest Show On Earth (rather than lightweights like Samson) is Brainchild‘s superior musical interplay. Yes, Brainchild faintly evinced a schmaltzy ’60s background, yet they boosted themselves with the brawn of blues rock and a timelessly rich production sheen, yielding yet another classic in the year of great debuts and one-offs: 1970.
Audience‘s middle-child between their highly collectible debut and more widely-heard third LP (The House on the Hill) strikes the perfect balance between the spiky melodicism of the former and the darker tones of the latter. The trebly yawl of Howard Werth and the crisp, flowing sax-work of (later Stackridge) brassman Keith Gemmel dominate the proceedings with a set of songs which transcend the idiomatic boundaries of prog, brass rock and folk to arrive at one simple classification – great music!
England’s Accolade presented an infectious set of acoustic guitar and flute driven songs on their 1970 debut which, though ostensibly folk rock, transcended such boundaries with angular tunefulness. A testament to their economy of means is demonstrated in the longest numbers, “Nature Boy” and “Ulysses”, which happen to be the best songs on the album with only minimal additions in tonal color (a sprinking of vibes; a shade of cacophony) and subtle adjustments in percussion, from martial snare to loungey brush stokes.
Quickly following on their mighty debut from the same year, Atomic Rooster‘s Death Walks Behind You confirmed their spot within the top ranks of 1970. The ace component is John Du Cann, who must have been the first guitarist of the nascent hard rock boom to bring subtlety and restraint to that idiom, knowing where to shred, where to bulldoze, and ultimately which junctures to reel himself in. Vincent Crane’s menacing organ and spine tingling piano lend a demonic edge (apropos to the Arthur Browne heritage) while the vocals exhibit a like-minded balance of power and restraint, avoiding both the wailing melisma of so many other demonic bands (like Writing On the Wall) or the ham-fisted machismo of, say, Ian Gillan, which in the end transcends this from a period relic and into an all-time classic of British rock (which also happens to ‘roll’ quite well, a rarity in early hard rock.)