Sunday, December 2, 2012

Last Straw - Alone On A Stone (1973-76 uk, twin guitar space progressive rock, Kissing Spell release)

Last Straw hailed from that very un-rock'n'roll outpost, the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, renowned for being about twenty years behind the mainland at any given time. Kissing Spell have seen fit to exhume nearly an hour of the band's demos from the early '70s and give them a release as Alone on a Stone, although, unsurprisingly, the sound quality is rather inconsistent. There are some excellent moments.

Keyboards on some tracks; these were recorded at several different sessions over a course of three or four years, and I doubt if the band's lineup remained consistent. I think the strings on Life Without Rules and the title track are a string synth of some description, but it's definitely 'Tron on Terence, played by musician unknown. In conclusion, the disc does it well on his journey between space rock to  progressive spin ..
1. Terence - 10:47
2. Life Without Rules - 5:24
3. Alone On A Stone - 7:12
4. Fools - 4:40
5. When August Breaks - 5:01
6. Fly - 3:44
7. Mirage - 5:45
8. Kings Return(live) - 7:47
9. Theme From Chance (live) - 3:45

Last Straw
*Jack Charles Toole - Drums
*Peyte Burnan - Guitar, Vocals
*Geoff Taylor - Guitar, Keyboards, Lead Vocals
*Steve Griffin - Guitar, Vocals
*Phil Truckel - Bass

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Heron - Heron (1970 uk, warm natural folk rock, japan SHM extra tracks issue)

Heron's self-titled debut LP was mild, drummerless British folk-rock with the rural/pastoral feel common to many early-'70s records in the style. That pastoral feel, in this particular case, might have been in part deliberate; the record was actually recorded in a field by the River Thames, and though the sound quality is very good, you can occasionally hear some birds and faint ambient outdoor noises. 

The music is very friendly, acoustic guitar-based stuff that, as improbable as such a blend may seem, is a little like a combination of Simon & Garfunkel with the Incredible String Band, though there aren't many of the weirder elements of the latter. You might also cite the most acoustic and folky Paul McCartney ballads of the late '60s and early '70s (à la "Blackbird") and the harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash as less prominent influences. Some organ, piano, and accordion add a little depth to what's essentially an acoustic folk base. 

In common with a lot of records with obvious points of comparison to famous acts, however, the songs themselves aren't nearly as distinguished as those of the artists mentioned earlier in this review. That doesn't mean it's without its pluses, however. It's a fresh and youthful, if naïve, effort, with "Upon Reflection" being both the most memorable track and the one that is most reminiscent of early Simon & Garfunkel. 
by Richie Unterberger 
1. Yellow Roses (R. Apps) - 4:13
2. Car Crash (T. Pook, R. Apps) - 2:57
3. Harlequin 2 (Moore) - 2:28
4. Smiling Ladies (R. Apps) - 2:31
5. Little Boy (Moore) - 3:13
6. Sally Goodin (Guthrie) - 0:43
7. Upon Reflection (R. Apps) - 2:38
8. Lord And Master (T. Pook, Collins) - 4:50
9. Little Angel (R. Apps) - 4:11
10.Goodbye (Moore) - 3:38
11.For You (R. Apps) - 2:45
12.Sally Goodin (Guthrie arr. by Moore) - 1:06
13.Carnival And Penitence (T. Pook, Moore) - 1:54
14.Bye And Bye - 2:25
15.Through Time - 3:28
16.Only A Hobo - 3:48
17.I'm Ready To Leave - 4:40
Bonus tracks 14-17 

*Roy Apps - Guitar, Piano, Vocals
*Tony Pook - Vocals
*Steve Jones - Piano, Organ, Electric Piano, Accordion, Vocals
*Gerry Power - Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica, Vocals, Piano

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