Angel Air 2016
Twin-guitar wonder out of limbo offers a trip that’s worth one’s while but leads nowhere.
Rolling snake eyes is a way to lose the game, yet with just one of those it really depends on the other die. For this British band, the outcome was unfortunate: their only album as RED DIRT has long been considered a cult classic, while the record they came up with two years later, in 1972, was left on a shelf for more than four decades. Dusted off now, the six tracks may somewhat justify that turn of events as many promising ideas in a jam setting don’t exactly crystallize into well-structured pieces which adds to the overall adventurousness but gets in the way of listening focus. Strange as it may seem, the most elaborate and at the same time beguiling display of the group’s method is epic “The Journey’s End” where a psyched-up tension and romantic release bring out the best in them.
The clarity is there, in the title track, whose two guitars – that Ron Hales and Gary Boroughs interweave in an intricate if loose pattern akin to early WISHBONE ASH – envelop a jazz-tinged rhythm and introduce mellifluous vocal harmonies, and in the intermittently effervescent”Don’t Be A Fool” that Dave Richardson’s pipes inform with a call to action. The band’s languid approach might fit the folk reverie of “Sweet Dream Lady” quite nicely, yet it doesn’t suit heavier flow too well, taking the edge off riffs and strum in “World In A Mountain” which could benefit, impact-wise, from some chiseling, but “The Heart Of A Young Boy” is able to gain both weight and sharpness – slowly and impressively.
Two non-album cuts rounding off this release may have been produced by THE ALBION BAND – these reels are drastically different from the main course – and had SNAKE EYE taken that route, they still could make it. Instead, they vanished, so as a reminder of the ensemble’s existence “The Journey” is as good as it gets.