Cube 1972 / Esoteric 2014
Blaring jazz-rock replanted from the New World onto the Old one.
When it comes to rock groups formed by American GIs in Germany, informed conversation turns onto THE MONKS but nobody remembers much more sophisticated unit called THE GASOLINE BAND today. They sprang into existence when keyboard player Fred Schwartz landed in West Berlin in 1969 to work on a classical piece and met his trumpet-playing compatriot Larry “Fish” Brown there. Cue the multiracial 10-strong team who, a couple of years later, crossed over to London to mine a soul vein in the studio, before AVERAGE WHITE BAND started tapping into it, too – and succeeded, while their competitors, who didn’t tour much, vanished into obscurity. And it’s a great injustice, about to be corrected now.
The group might rock rather hard, high on samba percussion, in the wigout of “Ein Grosses” that rides a powerful riff, and “Folk Song” unfolds its choral dynamic in full once George Thompson Jr.’s bass kicks in to pave the path for a sax to wail lyrically. Yet if “World What You Gonna Do” is as playful as it would get for the ’70s European MOR, still in gestation then, their symphonic connection lies on the surface of the intense build-up and release of “Schrapnel” and in “The Bitch” where the lively brass delivers a brief, if grandiose, salvo and proceeds into the funk terrain. It’s marked with Brian Bevan’s soft voice and supple guitar which sharply shoots through the autumnal “Can’t You See Me” but gets mellow once proto-fusion floats in the short “Loafers End” whose vibraphone-and-trumpet layer reveals a new level of sensuality for the countrified “Road” to graze on.
There’s a lot of fuel in this canister of tunes, even though “Now’s The Time” is running on empty. Maybe that was the reason the group didn’t go far and finished soon after their only record’s release, yet while they charged on it was one great race.