B&C 1971 / Esoteric 2013
The Tyneside trio’s cult classic makes it to the buzzing frontline with energy intact.
Heavy prog, for all its dexterity, has always been a sensitive area – just ask STEAMHAMMER or QUATERMASS to get an impression of how hard it was to break through – before progressive metal changed the game. Playing live with those two bands, as he states, was guitarist Geoff Sharkey who, by that time, had become disillusioned with his own trio, GINHOUSE, one of the Newcastle’s best groups that left this gem for collectors, and now a wide audience, to cherish.
The span of the ensemble’s fantasy can be measured by their drastic electrification of THE BEATLES’ “And I Love Her,” a fiercely swinging antipode of sorts to DEEP PURPLE’s handling of “Help!”, or the bits of electric piano and flute, strewn wisely across the tracks to add exotic flavor to the slow-fact dynamic. It begs for orchestral wrapping in “Fair Stood The Wind” and “Portrait Picture” that unfold from the ballad into a dramatic flamenco battle and quietly cocooning again.
Still, there’s jazzy fun in the harmonies-imbued “Sun In A Bottle” and a hymnal uplift in the chorus of “The Morning After” which rock nicely but step back before the intricate interplay of Stewart Burlinson’s bass and Dave Whittaker’s drums in pieces such as “The Journey”, an instrumental bedrock that outweighs occasional vocal pathos. Under other circumstances, opener “Tyne God” might have turned into an anthem to rival “Fog On The Tyne,” if only the album aimed for the good times instead of diving deep into the polyphonic end of folk-tinged charge, propelled with acoustic strum, yet riding the amplified lightning when a solo comes up.
The music, as well as the pastel-hued cover, may lack the immediate brightness but its hypnotic draw is as welcomingly warm and inebriating as the title suggests.