Angel Air 2013
The HOOPLE stalwart standing his own ground and making it shake to the organic groove.
You could hardly bet on Verden as a hard rock element of MOTT THE HOOPLE. Possibly sensing that and feeling revitalized by his old group’s glorious reunion, the keyboard master switched into a band mode for his solo endeavor and antonymically call it SOFT GROUND. But, save for familiar Dylanisms which crop out in the likes of “Wine Ridden Talks”, what the veteran came up with is a veritable version of URIAH HEEP, as the album gains weight as it rolls away the stone of Allen’s past. Indeed, some songs on offer hark back to the ’70s – the tight-but-loose “Two Miles From Heaven” even gave name to the HOOPLE compilation and the solemn “Son Of The Wise Ones” didn’t make the “Mott” cut, once its writer jumped ship. More so, the heavy “Soft Ground” appeared originally on “All The Young Dudes”, so it’s not new, too, and a few recordings here have been heard on the Allen albums where Verden played everything himself. Yet in terms of vivacity, “Love You & Leave You” is a winner, and closer “A New Way” a nice outline of such an approach.
It grows on you quite unexpectedly, the reggae groove titular opener not showing an omen of things to come, and “Find Yourself” throws you onto the familiar, if gentler, soil, where Jamie Thyer’s guitar licks adorn the Hammond wall to let the good time roll-and-rock recklessly in “Long Time No See” later on. Thus, the swaying sentiment of “Knocking On Those Old Back Doors” turns all the right knobs, whereas “Do You Want Me 2?” merrily sprinkles the charge with a piano boogie, and “Hold On To This” elevates this collection to wuthering, or thunderbuck, heights. Here, Verden Allen is truly walking with a mountain and shakes the common ground.