Angel Air 2016
Joe Meek’s protégés come back for good to return to their old haunts.
304 Holloway Road was the London address of a place where many weird things were happening in the early ’60s, as one of the most fearless British producers shaped rock’s sonic future, but this band didn’t have the experimental edge. Instead, Martin Murray’s ensemble specialized in mellifluous tunes which brought them and Meek a million seller “Have I The Right?” in 1964. Before the end of that year, Murray moved on and the group folded around the Summer of Love, yet 2004 saw Martin back in action, and here’s a revived group’s third longplay, where “It’s Crazy But I Can’t Stop” is more a statement than a mere song.
Written, as was a bulk of this CD – including that hit, given a flamenco finish now – by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, it’s a vigorous upgrade of the collective’s classic pieces, although, as far as embracing modern technology goes, the new versions have a deliberately patinated audio veneer, sticking to the ’70 MOR patterns. The scintillating charm of Murray’s “Leslie Anne” – whose punchy groove and twang come kissed by glittery keyboard chords and wrapped in lush strings – is undeniable, yet such trimmings haven’t been applied to the Angelo Deacon-delivered “Without You It’s Night” which delicately bares the band’s depth. Also emotional, cosmic exploration might be well hidden in the boisterous, bass-propelled “Bring Your Heart With You” but it’s manifested in the arrangements of Meek-penned cuts – in the echoing strum of “Totem Pole 9” and the lap steel modulations of “Please Don’t Pretend Again” – while the folk harmonies turn “It’s So Hard To Love You” on its head.
Head games it is, whereas the time has come for the veterans to move to present day to prove their vitality.