HASTING’S STREET OPERA – Slippery When Wet

Wynwood 1969 / Out-Sider 2019

HASTING'S STREET OPERA - Slippery When Wet

HASTING’S STREET OPERA –
Slippery When Wet

Fifty years on, Montclair, NJ ensemble regain their teenage poise in the field of psych improv.

There’s a fragile balance between all things precarious and pretentious, bordering on hilarious, on this LP whose creators hid behind such names as Cro-Magnon Man and Woody Carland, and called their singer’s performance schmalz, yet managed to go beyond the obvious on a strange mix of originals and covers the band laid down at home for a private pressing which languished in obscurity for decades. Therefore, it’s quite appropriate that the record’s opener is titled “Nobody Knows”: introducing spoken word to the flow, the piece suggests some sort of ambitious/ambiguous concept to be present here – only to set the listener’s sights on less than stellar guitar rock.

Don’t get fooled, though. The abomination of drum solo – a 3.5-minute-long stretch, rather powerful for amateurs, a first sign of things being not as simple as they may seem – aside, the group engage in marvelous jazzy voyages on “Scarborough Fair” and, most daringly, “Summertime” which could be epic if not for six-string intrepid tenderness. Still, the flute-led self-penned cuts like “Perch” feel a bit feeble to stand their own folksy ground. Had the collective had the time to mature and get rid of psychedelic elements in their music, there would have been one more name in the line of revered fusion giants, but for whatever reason it was not the career this bunch chose to pursue.

***4/5

April 8, 2019

Category(s): Reissues
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