Scotia 1974 / Sommor 2016
Deeply spiritual psychedelia from Caledonian quartet with divine aspiration and heavy riff to praise the Lord.
Christian rock bands are a boring breed today, but back in the ’70s they were virtually invisible, which in the case of this ensemble seemed a sin. Their only album is a great example of hefty prog laced with religious motifs in so fine a fashion that indoctrination feels tastily subtle. Perhaps, the listener has to wait until the group’s perky cover of the Quite Beatle’s “Awaiting On You All” for the theme to finally sink in, yet there’s a a side-long “Prodigal” on the way up there.
A twist of “She’s Leaving Home” and a Biblical story at the same time, it’s a riveting multi-voiced morality suite which takes in spoken word alongside strains of all the preceding rock era – with an obvious quote from “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” – while almost banishing its signature instrument from the fold. The guitar of Doug McRoberts, later to become a minister and spread the gospel in a more literal way, is crawling out in the most pivotal passages to ramp up the drama or to just jangle as it does in the “Mighty Big God” boogie where Calvary is merrily referenced. In its turn, “Where Did I Belong” and the raga-tinged “Now I Realise” come on as organ-led solemn mellifluous blues pieces. And when the piano of “In My Father’s House” drives the message home, genuine joy is in the air.
Still, it fell on deaf ears on the record’s release – very limited – and the band split to reunite only once, in 2009, for a charity concert in McRoberts’ parish. Now, it’s time to reappraise the platter and rejoice.