Decca 1972 / Esoteric 2014
Two long-haired loners dream up West Coast mellowness in from the fogs of Blighty.
Perhaps, it was the progressive rush of BULLDOG BREED and T2, whose “It’ll All Work Out In Boomland” didn’t deliver on its commercial promise, that made guitarist Keith Cross looks for a calmer harbor in the company of HOOKFOOT associate Peter Ross; but then, maybe, there was another reason – possibly, the pair’s voices and strum sounded so good together. Either way, their only album weaves a soft, romantic thread from “The Last Ocean Rider” whose web of six-string solos intensifies the ballad’s tension towards the end, to the sweetly orchestrated “Fly Home” through the soft likes of “Bo Radley” with its falsetto and gospel piano, or so-suitably titled “Pastels” offering social commentary along these lines.
While the tidal sweep of the title track is exquisitely ghostly, the easy country of “The Dead Salute” hits much harder, especially after the harmonic idealism of “Peace In The End” that removes the edge from the FOTHERINGAY original to turn it into a communal singalong. Yet “Story To A Friend” finds a wholly different common ground for the duo pitching a scorching funk into its eleven wah-wah-washed minutes which dissolves into a pastoral panorama spiked with a flute and sax, courtesy of future CARAVAN member Jimmy Hastings, and tribal percussion, and then gets hot again. It may pass for a lost TRAFFIC gem, but the organ-elevated “Loving You Takes So Long,” gentle yet moving, sounds very much original and could have taken Ross and Cross into the charts had it been released on a single. Instead, the band’s sole ’45, included on this reissue as bonus, zooms in on an acoustic keening with no hit potential, and that was the undoing of the duo, who went their separate ways soon after the record’s release, just like its cover predicted.
Looks like they had nowhere to go together musically, but for a short run Kross and Ross hit the right harmony, and “Bored Civilians” deservedly remains a cult classic.