Cube 1975 / Esoteric 2015
Criminally unaccounted cult classic – a Tyneside treasure that stood the test of time to be put on a pedestal.
Prog purveyors’ proclivity for epic scope leaves memorable melodies out of it too often, but a sophisticated arrangement isn’t a good excuse for such an approach. That’s why the management’s negligence with regards to this Newcastle collective is one of the greatest injustices in rock. Not a single line, vocal or instrumental, is wasted on their only LP – not just approachable but breathtaking in an aurally spectacular way.
You’re pulled in with Dave Black’s guitar entanglement on “The Acrobat” before Tom Knowles’ voice spreads soulfully over Fenwick Moir’s bass bubbling and John Cook’s shimmering keyboards, and emerge enlightened after the last chords of “August Carol” carry the song’s raga tincture and a majestic mellotron flush into the silence. Given a wah-wah undercurrent and fusion piano runs on many a piece – so clear on the peaceful resolve on “In The War” – it’s effectively an art-rock appropriation of Philly sound, particularly with strings washing over “Last Request” that has an irresistible bluesy sway to its apologetic uplift. The spiritual buzz of “I Believe In You” doesn’t need brass to get to one’s heart, though, while the liquid atmospheric flow of “Wind Cloud” comes topped with celestial harpsichord and organ, and “Take It Away” makes a proposition on pop terms before a synthesizer wave comes on to sweep the emotions. Boiled down to the delicate “End Of The Affair” that bares the ensemble’s grasp of harmonies, the feelings swell and spill over into your memory.
This expanded edition adds alternative, rougher versions of the album’s bookends to the group’s cache, as well as two outtakes, “Part Of The Machine” revealing the band’s baroque and West Coast rock influences, whereas “The Searcher” goes as far as attempting the boogie roll but soars into solemnity again. Or into eternity as befits a masterpiece.