Transatlantic 1969 / Esoteric 2017
A rock that couldn’t roll but gathered no moss either: missed opportunities from a band who could me massive.
A cult classic, there was no chance this album would stand the test of time, yet “Little Free Rock” retained its appeal – a mere specter of the record’s creators’ live presence. They used to grace “The Marquee” and played for Peter Green’s unfulfilled endeavor – which speaks volumes of the trio’s abilities – but failed to bring the aural attack into studio environment, what with inexperienced engineer and producer, so here’s the only document of the group’s existence.
Incorporating the meanings of members’ names, the band’s designation may suggest spaghetti western, and opener “Roman Summer Nights” lands them in a Morricone soundtrack rather than in a Fellini film evoked by such a title, although there’s something romantic in the piece’s galloping twang and Tim Hinckley’s mellotron gauze that’s wrapped around it. The same psychedelic shroud and Paul Varley’s drums are the driving force behind “Castles In The Sky” where acid-seared Peter Illingworth’s guitar is cutting through lysergic lyricism, while the essentially pop melody of “Evil Woman” could have had much more handclaps-helped impact if it was heavier.
With fuzz to the fore and six strings raving if not raging, “Blud” rides towards early metal, yet the menace of “Lost Lonely” is amplified and at the same time dampened by a slowed-down boogie riff, and “Dream” is remarkable only for Frank Newbold’s bass rumble. Tom toms delivering a solo on a 10-minute cover of CREATION’s “Making Time” also deflate its improvisatory intent – a window into the trio’s on-stage stance. Unfortunately, it didn’t open wide; thankfully, it was there at all.