EMI 1969 / Esoteric 2013
An exodus to the greatness and a story to be told as future rock Olympians gear up for epic ventures.
Here’s a bit of a conundrum: whereas concept albums often shift melodies down in favor of big ideas, this one is all about songs – unlike THE GODS’ debut that saw them try to enter the already trodden waters. Beating FIRE’s similarly shaped "The Magic Shoemaker" time-wise, the second time around the band gave reins to Ken Hensley who, less constrained by the progressive paradigm of the day, came up not only with memorable tunes but also with the trademark sound he’d perfect in URIAH HEEP.
It’s unmistakably his composer style behind the vocal line of the title track, and the acoustic “He’s Growing”, while still rooted in psychedelia, could have easily find a place on any of the master’s solo records. But for all that, and a few lightweight numbers such as “Penny Dear” with its Caribbean undertow or the TRAFFIC-like “Autumn”, this is an ensemble work, as proven by a single cover of “Maria” from “West Side Story”, in the vein of but not as wild as THE NICE’s take on “America”. Lee Kerslake’s drums add tragic tones to the heavy vibe of “Groozy”, and John Glascock’s bass punctuates the otherwise dry bopping of “Lady Lady”, yet on the pop side of things, the singalong-inducing “Momma I Need”, electric piano purring under the caress of vocal harmonies, sounds like a hit that never was. The band never realized their potential, so obvious here, in the last chapter of THE GODS’ story, but its role as a springboard for all involved is undeniable.