Saturday, 25 March 2017

"Back Door/8th Street Nites/Another Fine Mess" by BACK DOOR (November 2014 Beat Goes On Reissue - 3LPs Remastered onto 2CDs) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Jive Grind…"

Didn’t sell, too obscure, can’t be assed – and besides Jazz-Rock/Fusion bands don’t come from North Yorkshire in 1973. Accomplished three-piece BACK DOOR is one of those groups (like Gentle Giant, Fruupp and Greenslade) that bubbled under all the time back in the day without ever breaking through to huge audiences. And re-listening to their impressive noodlings in 2014 – it’s hardly surprising. Their brand of Vertigo Spiral-BSF-CTI Records Saxophone, Bass Guitar, Flute Jazz Rock - which then morphed into Blues-Jazz by Record Two and Funky-Soul-Rock by album Three was hard to pigeonhole let alone market.

But that doesn’t mean their tunes and especially their musicianship (honed throughout the Sixties in endless London sessions) wasn’t of the highest order – and is now deserved of your precious spondulicks. Beat Goes On of the UK seems to think so – as they once again canter bareback and proud into the world of Progressive Jazz-Rock in all its wonders and transgressions. Here are the fretless improv details…

UK and US released November 2014 – "Back Door/8th Street Nites/Another Fine Mess" by BACK DOOR on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1170 (Barcode 5017261211705) is a 3LP/2CD Set of Remasters that breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (67:23 minutes):
1. Vienna Breakdown
2. Plantagenet
3. Lieutenant Loose
4. Askin’ The Way
5. Turning Point
6. Slivadiv
7. Jive Grind [Side 2]
8. Human Bed
9. Catcote Rag
10. Waltz For A Wollum
11. Folksong
12. Back Door
Tracks 1 to 12 are their debut album "Back Door" released originally on Blakey Records BLP 5989 in 1972 – then reissued in 1973 on Warner Brothers K 46231 in the UK and Warner Brothers BS 2716 in the USA

13. Linin’ Track
14. Forget Me Daisy
15. His Old Boots (Sein Alter Stiefel)
16. Blue Country Blues
17. Dancin’ In Your Van
18. 32-20 Blues
19. Roberta [Side 2]
20. It’s Nice When It’s Up
21. One Day You’re Down, The Next Day You’re Down
22. Walkin’ Blues
23. The Bed Creaks Louder
24. Adolphus Beal
Tracks 13 to 24 are their 2nd album "8th Street Nites" released 1973 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46265 and Warner Brothers BS 2753 in the USA

Disc 2 (36:21 minutes):
1. I’m Gonna Stay A Long, Long Time
2. Blakey Jones
3. T.B. Blues
4. Candles Round Your Hat
5. Detroit Blues
6. The Spoiler [Side 2]
7. Shaken By Love
8. Streamline Guitar
9. Manager’s Shirt
10. The Dashing White Sergeant
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3rd album "Another Fine Mess" released January 1975 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56098

There’s a classy card slipcase, a hugely detailed 24-page booklet with CHARLES WARING liner notes that include interviews with a 69-year old Hodgkinson who discusses with wit and good memory the band and their difficult beginnings. There’s Cream, Melody Maker and NME Press clippings, photos of the boys grinning on the Empire State Building in NYC, album artwork (inside and out) – it’s the usual bang-up-job done by BGO. But the big news as ever is immaculate remasters by ANDREW THOMPSON from original master tapes. These CDs sound gorgeous – clean, expertly transferred and full of warmth.

BACK DOOR featured COLIN HODGKINSON on Bass 12-String Guitar and Vocals, RON ASPREY on Alto/Soprano Saxophones, Flute and Keyboards with TONY HICKS on Drums – their wild free Jazz leanings are evident right from the off in “Vienna Breakdown”.

The 3-minute “Catcote” rag is Colin Hodgkinson doing a Bass solo unaccompanied while “Waltz For A Wollum” is more freeform Jazz. A sad Flute permeates “Plantagenet” while we go all Soho cafĂ© on the early-hours “Askin’ The Way”. Other highlights on the entirely instrumental first album are

Things needed to get better and in some way a tad more commercial – so they headed West for album number two. Recorded at Electric Ladyland Studios in New York and Produced by FELIX PAPPALARDI their cover of Huddie Ledbetter’s “Linin’ Track” on their 2nd album “8th Street Nites” features lead vocals by Hodgkinson (damn good singer too). Felix also plays piano on the pretty “Forget Me Daisy” while they go Stanley Clarke slap bass funky on “32-20 Blues” where again Hodgkinson puts a great Bluesy vocal. Their 2nd Robert Johnson cover “Walkin’ Blues” is excellent and a long way from the free form of the debut album.

Produced in London by PETER THORUP of CCS fame - album number three in probably the most ‘Soulful’ of the three. It opens with an almost AWB “I’m Gonna Stay A Long, Long Time” while “Blakey Jones” shows the musical advances (despite that awful schoolroom album artwork) – a sophisticated Spirogyra Jazz-Rock instrumental with brilliant bass and keyboard breaks. They go Georgie Fame/Van Morrison double-vocals on the slinky “T.B. Blues”. We get George Duke/Roy Ayers on the pinging keys of “Candles Round Your Hat” where the piano notes feel like vibes. Avant Garde hero MICHAEL GIBBS arranged the short but lovely “Detroit Blues” and co-wrote the tune. Funky-Rock comes in with the Side Two opener “The Spoiler” and we get scat vocals on “Manager’s Shirt” duetting with the Sax and Bass. It ends on the silly military march of “The Dashing White Sergeant” kind of spoiling the cool Fusion Rock that went before.

BACK DOOR will absolutely not be everyone’s cup of Darjeeling - but if you’re a fan – or hanker for life after George Duke, Stanley Clarke and Herbie Hancock – then this superbly remastered double on Beat Goes On is your (back door) man…

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