BEDLAM – Live In Binghampton 1974

Angel Air 2013

British supergroup’s swan-song flight to the verge of greatness and the great undoing offers a new look on it all.

BEDLAM - Live In Binghampton 1974

Live In Binghampton 1974

Leaner and tighter: when this quartet set their collective foot in America, supporting BLACK SABBATH, they’d come to grips with the meat of their only album and got to its very bones – jamming, improvising, inventing new hooks but never veering away from the melody. The band struggled with the success of their drummer’s solo single, though: Cozy Powell’s “Dance With The Devil” ruined the fragile balance between him and the Ball brothers, guitarist Dave and bassist Denny, who, with an experience gained with Long John Baldry and PROCOL HARUM, wanted to go on a musical limb that the three friends’ previous outfit, BIG BERTHA, couldn’t offer. With Frank Aiello at the front, they developed into what today would be called progressive metal unit, which the group’s earlier concert tape didn’t catch because that edge revealed itself a little later, around the time of their New York show caught here in all its brilliance.

The Spanish ring of “I Believe In You” is a perfectly thunderous salvo for the performance that climaxes with a 24-minute, solo-heavy reading of “The Fool”: both pieces provide a fertile field for the four-string rumble and fiery shredding, intense and tasty to the riveting point. The playing gets almost jazzy in the unison of “The Beast” before it’s straightened into the blues over which vocal spreads its emotive wings to charge into the vibrant ballad to be called “The Great Game” that didn’t make it to the studio; not that its beautiful bounce needed additional polish, the roughness playing a major part in the song’s allure. The ante’s upped with the catchy funk of “Set Me Free” where rhythm section excels in a cohesive jive while guitar rips and roars before all instrumentalists engage in an infectious dance around the riff. As infectious was the players’ sense of humor as documented in a radio interview augmenting this concert; unfortunately, such an attitude didn’t help the band survive. With the tour over, BEDLAM ceased to exist – only to remain in history.


February 15, 2014

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