Harvest 1972/ Esoteric 2013
Making a bid across the Pond, Brit wailers make it sleek but tight and snatch a notch in “Billboard”.
Whether it was a symptom of a competition level on the home turf or of a solid self-confidence, but in 1972, four LPs into their career, CBB decided to try their might in America. It took a slight change in the band’s identity – harking back, with a twist, to their debut, the quartet became CLIMAX CHICAGO for this album only – and slicker arrangements, but their spots, both soft and hard, remained the same. Not getting the satire laid out on the cover remained at the listener’s own risk as well.
Yet hardly anyone can make such a mistake by the end of it all, not after “Shake Your Love” shuddering with a Diddley beat and swinging around Colin Cooper’s harp with a totally blissful abandon and surely not after infectious “You Make Me Sick”, which boogies its romp through the handclaps and a guitar-and-organ unison. “Standing By A River” is about funky unification too but, while jiving home the same social message as many of the songs on offer, it elegantly lifts the weight off them. And “Rich Man” is one of the sharpest records in the band’s canon, up to its final, a dry, authentic reading of Son House’s “Don’t You Mind People Grinning In Your Face”.
At the other end of it, the title cut, a mantric singalong, rolls on John Cuffley’s drumming march before Pete Haycock’s slide takes over the drive and organ solo soothes the piece’s economic and anti-war rhetoric, but single “Mole On The Dole” shapes the sax-kissed seriousness more delicately, with acoustic strum to the fore. But whereas “All The Time In The World” relies on the ensemble’s vocal power that weaves the lovesick plea – all the time gaining sway, speed and momentum – in between sharp bluesy licks, “If You Wanna Know”, shot through with Derek Holt’s bass runs, combines the hilarious and the mundane and kicks the politics in the balls with a ballbreaking, ivories-smashing rock ‘n’ roll, alternately slow and fast. It was as much (chart) action as they needed to conquer America, and CBB’s next move would be a live one.