Saturday, July 15, 2023

Jericho - Jericho (1972 israel / uk, powerful hard rocking killer psych, 2010 bonus tracks remaster)

This eponymous album from 1972 was the end of the road for the U.K.-based band Jericho, but what a long and eventful road it was. Years earlier -- 1965 to be precise -- the group's story began halfway round the world, in the independent state of Israel, as the Churchills: a beat group that enjoyed considerable local pop success and then recorded perhaps the first Hebrew-sung rock album backing up noted singer/songwriter Arik Einstein. In 1969, British guitarist Robb Huxley (of the Tornados fame) hooked up with the Churchills amid a tour through Israel and seemingly lured them back to England, where they eventually renamed themselves Jericho Jones and released a 1971 LP entitled Junkies Monkeys and Donkeys, to little acclaim. 

Finally, the band name was shortened to Jericho and this eclectic, five-song collection of heavy progressive rock resulted as their last musical will and testament…and an enduringly fascinating one it is too. The memorable guitar signature of opening number "Ethiopia" rides a driving beat similar to Krautrock's emergent Motorik style, while ostensive single "Don't You Let Me Down" anchors itself in safer blues-rock territory, but is still both forceful and catchy, thanks to vocalist Danny Shoshan's snarling intensity. Then we're into the epic compositions -- three of them -- beginning with "Featherbed," which weaves serpentine, Middle Eastern-flavored guitars behind harmony vocals intoning alternately blissful and tormented impressions of a presumed acid trip (or 20), with room in its jam section for a little scat-singing and choppy guitar funk. 

The cryptically named, string arrangement-laden "Justin Nova" explores a more anthemic, pedantic prog-rock vibe reminiscent of the era's rising, blue-blooded proggies, particularly Genesis with a little Yes thrown in. And the big daddy of the bunch, "Kill Me with Your Love," probably lacks its counterparts' focus (meandering off into several solo instrumental spots along its route) but ultimately nails its spiteful chorus to the wall of proto-metal intensity -- with attitude. All told, this material may have lacked some overarching cohesion and obviously yielded no glaringly irresistible chart-beaters, but it still helped Jericho stand well above the countless forgotten bands that were churning out mindless heavy rock drivel during this period. What's more, there's little available evidence to refute Jericho‘s status as the first hard rock album produced by an Israel-born band, and it's just too bad that it had to also signal a final stand for its creators. 
by Eduardo Rivadavia
1. Ethiopia (Danny Shoshan, Robb Huxley) - 4:30
2. Don't You Let Me Down (Michael Gabriellov) - 3:36
3. Featherbed (Danny Shoshan, Robb Huxley) - 9:36
4. Justin And Nova (Robb Huxley) - 8:20
5. Kill Me With Your Love (Danny Shoshan, Robb Huxley) - 11:13 - 
6. Mamma's Gonna Take You Home (Robb Huxley, Samy Birnback) - 2:42
7. So Come On (Robb Huxley, Danny Shoshan, Haim Romano, Chris Perry) - 3:53
Bonus Tracks 6-7 from 1972 Single

*Michael Gabriellov - Bass
*Robb Huxley - Guitar, String Arrangements 
*Haim Romano - Guitar
*Danny Shoshan - Vocals, String Arrangements 
*Ami Triebich - Drums
*Rob Eberhard Young - Piano, String Arrangements (Track 4)