B & C 1970 / Talking Elephant 2023
Obscure Brummie ensemble see a glorious reissue of their only offering.
One of those collectors-favored platters that are mostly famous for their artwork rather than actual music, this Birmingham band’s sole album may surprise many a connoisseur with its full-on jazzy assault on a rhythm-and-blues idiom resulting in what some used to brand brass-rock. Related to BAKERLOO and directed in the studio by BLACK SABBATH producer Rodger Bain, the sextet’s legacy might be meager, and the their approach may seem somewhat dated, especially in a vocal department, yet “Hannibal” leaves a lingering impression thanks to sheer force of the ensemble’s performance. With only one of the six pieces on display going under a six-minute mark, the six-strong group give themselves a lot of space to go off on a tangent while keeping aural attacks tight and focused.
That’s why “Look Upon Me” which flows into view on a weave of a sax lick and guitar flourish should grab the listener’s by the lapels for Alex Boyce’s booming, if supple, voice to intimate a few universal truths over a vibrant groove and alluring wail before Cliff Williams’ reeds and Adrian Ingram’s six string take off from a joint riff base for solo spots. The opener passes the impetus to the breezy “Winds Of Change” which springs from the exchange of Jack Griffith’s bass and John Parkes’ drums into an infectious vocal line – topped with memorable refrain – and the uplift of Bill Hunt’s organ, all building up to a pure jazz jam. However, the monumentally histrionic instrumental “Bend For A Friend” is where the collective show off their improvisatory skills and individual talents through the slow momentum-sculpting drift towards finely filigreed blues which gets Gothic to render “1066” historically relevant – and hard-hitting in dynamic terms once the rhythm section movements are isolated to emulate the Battle of Hastings.
For a contrast, the wordless “Wet Legs” opts for a cosmic jive that must place the band into a progressive rock category, until “Winter” pulls them out into the baroque cold to demonstrate the group’s life-affirming swirl which can melt even permafrost – even today. So though it still has a cult appeal, this record is able to captivate anyone.