onsdag 11 februari 2009

The Web - Theraphosa Blondi (Progressiv Rock UK 1970)

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210:- (24-Bit Limited Remaster Edition, utgången utgåva. Bra engelsk progressive rock. Utgången utgåva sedan 2008.)

The WEB are perhaps best known for their Progressive rock classic I SPIDER , an album of innovation that continues to draw comparisons with the work of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR at that time. THE WEB began life as a jazz and soul influenced outfit, fronted by singer JOHN L. WATSON, enjoying Top Ten hit singles throughout Europe. By the time of THERAPHOSA BLONDI the band underwent a metamorphosis, with their music taking on more Jazz and Progressive influences, resulting in an excellent album that is rightly seen as a precursor to both the album I SPIDER and the band s evolution into the group SAMURAI.

Remastered by DAVE LAWSON, (who joined the band soon after the release of the album), this reissue of THERAPHOSA BLONDI features two unreleased bonus tracks.

One presumes that whoever was responsible for green-lighting this LP — on a pretty big British label — either didn't last long at their position or was in such favor at the company that they couldn't get fired no matter what impractical decisions they made. For records from the early progressive rock record don't get much stranger, inconsistent, or uncommercial than this one. It's beyond bizarre, which doesn't mean that it's very good. The biggest drawbacks are the vibrato-laden lead vocals, which sound kind of like Ray Collins of the Mothers of Invention might have if he A) wasn't nearly as good a singer, and B) was singing without a trace of satirical irony. And in fact, much of the opener, "Like the Man Said," sounds like a humorless variation on the early Mothers of Invention; the complex, shifting song structure and blend of rock and experimentalism are there, but none of the wit or knowing comedy is evident. 

It gets more distasteful than that when the track incorporates Jethro Tull-like sections and glides into a histrionic cover of "Sunshine of Your Love." Yet the very next cut is a sensitive middle-of-the-road pop ballad for which the quasi-operatic singing is wholly ill-equipped. Next is a percussive instrumental with an African-meets-West Indies flavor; then there's a seeming, and again wildly incongruous, attempt to emulate Burt Bacharach's smooth late-'60s pop with "1,000 Miles Away," though the singer surely ain't no Dionne Warwick. 

By the time it's followed by a swinging jazzy flute-paced instrumental, "Blues for Two T's" (actually the best thing on the album), it's apparent this band was thoroughly confused as to what direction to pursue. More messy zigzagging follows with the exotica of "Kilimanjaro," which is the kind of thing you might have expected to hear at a Hawaiian lounge bar in the 1950s (though the singing would likely have been better), and an ill-conceived cover of "Tobacco Road" that shifts into an early jazz-rock version of "America" (from West Side Story). As to whom might have bought this record when it was released, that's anyone's guess; it's not just an unappetizing mixture, but it must have been thoroughly unmarketable.

01. Like the Man Said / Sunshine of Your Love (13:54)
02. ‘Til I Come Home Again Once More (3:02)
03. Bewala (2:32)
04. One Thousand Miles Away (4:34)
05. Blues for Two T’s (2:51)
06. Kilimanjaro (3:54)
07. Tobacco Road / America (5:40)