Wednesday, 25 January 2017

"The Harvest Years 1969-1973" by EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND (2011 Parlophone/Harvest 4CD Reissue Set with 2004 Peter Mew Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Out Demons Out..."

Re-listening to Warwick's EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND in 2017 and their five-strong haul of albums between 1969 and 1973 is like hearing two different bands – the first lot are a bunch of imps let loose in the studio with too many Smarties and funny cigarettes - the second is a more reflective trio of grown-up men with beards who’ve woken up to real music and its message to the masses.

The barking-mad and lippy debut "Wasa Wasa" and it’s 1970 follow-up "Sing Brother Sing" remind you of Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica" - both challenging listens with moments of brilliance amidst the lunacy - while the later albums like "Edgar Broughton Band" and especially "In Side Out" show serious songwriting maturity and real depth on top of the wit and snarl of old.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that all their records are hard work in some ways – and portions of the first two albums swerve dangerously close to period-dross that's tough to take no matter how fondly you may remember them. But there's much to love and admire here too - there really is...

This Parlophone/Harvest 4CD Anthology with five full albums, rare non-LP singles and Previously Unreleased live stuff on Disc 4 is seriously great value for money – sounds the aural business (Peter Mew Remasters from Abbey Road done in 2004) and makes available in one easy package incredibly rare British LPs on that darling label of all things Alternative and Prog Rock – England’s Harvest Records. Here are the Homes Fit For Heroes...

UK released January 2011 - "The Harvest Years 1969-1973" by EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND on Parlophone/Harvest 949 4882 (Barcode 5099994948820) is a 4CD Anthology with 2004 Peter Mew Remasters (Six Previously Unreleased Tracks) and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (74:23 minutes):
1. Death Of An Electric Citizen
2. American Boy Soldier
3. Why Can't Somebody Love Me?
4. Neptune
5. Evil
6. Crying
7. Love In The Rain
8. Dawn Crept Away
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Wasa Wasa" - released July 1969 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 757.

9. Out Demons Out - Non-Album UK 7" single released April 1970 on Harvest HAR 5015, A-side
10. Up Yours! - Non-Album UK 7" single released May 1970 on Harvest HAR 5021, A-side [B-side is the album track "Officer Dan"]
11. Freedom - Non-Album UK 7" single released November 1970 on Harvest HAR 5032, B-side to "Apache Dropout" - Track 6 on Disc 2

12. There's No Vibrations But Wait!
13. The Moth (a) The Moth (b) People (c) Peter
14. Momma's Reward (Keep Them Freak's A Rollin')
15. Refugee
16. Officer Dan
Tracks 12 to 16 are Side 1 of their 2nd studio album "Sing Brother Sing" - released June 1970 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 772

Disc 2 (74:53 minutes):
1. Old Gopher
2. Aphrodite
3. Granma
4. Psychopath: (A) The Psychopath (B) Is For The Butterflies
5. It's Falling Away
Tracks 1 to 5 are Side 2 of their 2nd studio album "Sing Brother Sing" - released June 1970 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 772

6. Apache Drop Out - Non-Album UK 7" single released November 1970 on Harvest HAR 5032, A-side [B-side "Freedom" is Track 11 on Disc 1]

7. Evening Over Rooftops
8. The Birth
9. Piece Of My Own
10. Poppy
11. Don't Even Know Which Day It Is
12. House Of Turnabout
13. Madhatter
14. Getting Hard/What Is A Woman For?
15. Thinking of You
16. For Dr. Spock (Parts 1 & 2)
17. Call Me A Liar
Tracks 7 to 18 are their 3rd studio album "Edgar Broughton Band" - released May 1971 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 791

Disc 3 (69:15 minutes):
1. Get Out Of Bed/There's Nobody There/Side By Side
2. Sister Angela
3. I Got Mad
4. They Took It Away
5. Homes Fit For Heroes
6. Gone Blue
7. Chilly Morning Mama
8. The Rake
9. Totin' This Guitar
10. Double Agent
11. It's Not You
12. Rock 'n' Roll
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 4th studio album "In Side Out" - released July 1972 in the UK on Harvest SHTC 252

13. Someone - Non-Album 1st B-side on the UK 7" single to "Gone Blue" released March 1972 on Harvest HAR 5049
14. Mr. Crosby - Non-Album 2nd B-side on the UK 7" single to "Gone Blue" released March 1972 on Harvest HAR 5049

15. Hurricane Man/Rock 'n' Roller
16. Roccococooler
17. Eviction
18. Oh You Crazy Boy!
19. Things On My Mind
Tracks 15 to 19 are Side 1 of their fifth studio album "Oora" - released May 1973 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 810.

Disc 4 (65:29 minutes):
1. Exhibits From A New Museum/Green Lights
2. Face From A Window/Pretty/Hi-Jack Boogie/Slow Down
3. Capers
Tracks 1 to 3 are Side 2 of their fifth studio album "Oora" - released May 1973 in the UK on Harvest SHVL 810.

Live At Hyde Park, London, 18 July 1970 (Previously Unreleased)
4. Love In The Rain
5. Silver Needle
6. Drop Out Boogie
7. Refugee
8. American Boy Soldier
9. Out Demons Out

Band: 
EDGAR BROUGHTON - Lead Guitar and Vocals
VICTOR UNITT - Guitars (on "Edgar Broughton Band", "In Side Out" and "Oora")
"In Side Out" and "Oora")
ARTHUR GRANT - Bass
STEVE BROUGHTON - Drums and Vocals

Guests:
Vocalists The Ladybirds are on the "Edgar Broughton Band" album  
Mike Oldfield (Mandolin) and David Bedford (Piano) on the "Edgar Broughton Album"
David Bedford Arranged Strings and Wind Instruments on the "Oora" album 
Vocalists Doris Troy, Lisa Strike and Madeline Bell are on the "Oora" album

The 8-page booklet feels miserly and the recording/discography on the leaves beneath the see-through CD trays at the front and rear of the double jewel case is more of a hassle to access than a joy to read (microscopic print). There are some photos of the boys and new interviews by HUGH GILMOUR with the brothers Edgar and Steve about the band's history as a power trio (later joined by Guitarist Victor Unitt) with anecdotes about Harvest Records - backing Blind Faith in front of a huge crowd in London's Hyde Park - praising Peter Mew's Abbey Road Remasters (the whole set sounds amazing). I can’t help thinking it could have been done much better...

Sounding not unlike Captain Beefheart with a rage at society - "Wasa Wasa" contains very dated material like "American Soldier Boy" where they stick in a few jabs at the mindless Vietnam War and the young minds being sent there but still end up sounding like their slagging of kids with no choice. The single "Out Demons Out" has become a signature for them. The very Psychedelic 2nd platter features the ad-nauseam repetition of the word 'negative' on "There's No Vibrations But Wait!" but the clever lyrics bludgeon rather than hammer home the point. "The Moth" though shows real growth - a brilliant acoustic beginning goes wild after a while only to return to the opening acoustic refrain. Beefheart and even The Stooges get channelled in the angry "Momma's Reward..." while "Refugee" is just crap to me. Edgar goes the full Trout Mask Beefheart on Side 2's "Psychopath" - weird sounds accompanying his strangulated 'my dream...you should have heard her scream...' lyrics against a discordant rhythm (oh dear).

But the 3rd self-titled album is an altogether different beast – a long way from 1968 to 1971. The "Edgar Broughton Band" album is accomplished ("Even Over Rooftops" which features The Ladybirds on Backing Vocals) – has hard-hitting social commentary in "The Birth" - acoustic Brinsley Schwarz whimsy in "Piece Of My Own" where they long for a house of wood in the hills as the American fiddles play and a big black eagle flies in the sky above. Both the acoustic "Poppy" and the Richard Thompson guitar chug of "Don't Even Know Which Day It Is" display world-weariness that feels real - lost in the 'new confusion' - fantastic guitars carrying the 'crying inside'. There's even prettiness in "Thinking Of You" (Mike Oldfield and David Bedford contribute Mandolin and Piano respectively) and clever guitar parts in the very Kevin Ayers "Getting Hard/What Is A Woman For?" that goes all Bluesy halfway through and grows to a huge string-ending (shame about that crappy title though). "Hotel Room" asks would you give me your assistance even though you don't know my name - the acoustic strums and toned back voice sounding not unlike David Gilmour and Pink Floyd circa "Obscured By Clouds" - ending on the T. Rex guitar-funk of "Call Me A Liar" - a great groover with a catchy chorus that would have made a potential chart single (in edited form) akin to say Blackfoot Sue or John Kongos.

"In Side Out" came in 1972 when few were listening - which is a shame – because it’s stab at Social Welfare Britain deserved ears. "Get Out Of Bed..." is a three-part song that finds our boys once again searching - down a tunnel without light - emerging into another morning hoping their guitars and harmonica will lift the mood. After an acoustic ditty about comrade "Sister Angela" – we get another angry Edgar vocal in "I Got Mad" – a no-more-war song to a backdrop of melodic guitars. There’s an almost Rock ‘n’ Roll sloppiness to the guitars of "They Took It Away" as everything from furniture to free speech gets taken away. "Homes Fit For Heroes" is the kind of fighting-for-their-rights acoustic ballad Ray Davies would have written for The Kinks – depressing in subject matter (shafted soldiers) – but poignant. Someone thought "Gone Blue" would make a single (Harvest HAR 5049 in March 1972) – but its ‘hole in the back of her head’ and needle references might have put the squids up the BBC. Far better is the lonely guitar and distant vocals of "Chilly Morning Mama" – the kind of song that stays with you even though it initially feels slight (brilliant little tune).

The elaborate plastic outer sleeve artwork to the final album "Oora" from 1973 is nowhere to be seen – but we audible progress in the group’s sound. David Bedford arranged the Strings and Woodwinds and the Soulful trio of lady backing singers add a lot of weight to the walls of acoustic guitars - Doris Troy, Lisa Strike and Madeline Bell. Highlights include "Hurricane Man/Rock ‘n’ Roller" and "Things On My Mind" where the music feels more Richard Thompson than the Beefheart of old. The near eleven-minute "Face From A Window..." suite that opens Side 2 is ambitious stuff – once again the ladies giving it a very Bowie feel as the guitars strum and funk.

Despite Prog and Alternative dominating these seminal years - the Edgar Broughton Band didn't chart anything in their own Blighty and it's easy to hear why. But it's also obvious too as to how they engendered such cult status – the EBB made a uniquely British Prog sound – angry like Terry Stamp and Jim Avery in 1971's Third World War over on Fly Records (see separate review) - adventurous like Kevin Ayers and socially-minded like Michael Chapman (other Harvest label artists).

"The Harvest Years 1969-1973" won't be for everyone – but those who loved England's EBB will relish the great new audio and those cool rarities all in one place. A job well done...

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