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Saturday, 6 January 2018
"Bored Civilians" by KEITH CROSS and PETER ROSS (April 2014 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...
"…I Planned To Get To
You..." (This review and 299 more like it available in the following e-Book from Amazon No duplicates with Volume 1 or 3)
in a dreadful sleeve (front and rear) that gives no indication of the mellow
musical brilliance that's contained within - our songwriting heroes KEITH CROSS
and PETER ROSS saw their hugely accomplished 1972 platter on Decca Records
disappear without a trace on release. In fact as a long-time collector myself
and rarities buyer at Reckless Records for nearly two decades - I can remember
seeing this album in secondhand racks in the Eighties and Nineties when you
couldn't give it away. Nowadays of course it's been rediscovered and clocks in
a princely £300+ on the collector's market.
re-listening to it on this gorgeous-sounding April 2014 CD remaster (Esoteric
Recordings ECLEC 2441 - Barcode 5013929454149) - it's easy to hear why that
amount of money is being exchanged whenever it comes up for sale. The cliché of
a 'lost classic' immediately jumps to mind - and in my mind - reissue of the
year too (52:34 minutes).
background first - Lead Guitarist Keith Cross had been in the hard-rocking
British band BULLDOG BREED who made a lone album on Decca's Progressive Rock
label imprint Deram Nova in January 1970 called "Made In England".
Cross then left to form T2 who put out a similarly blistering hard-rock effort
shortly after (July 1970) called "It'll All Work In Boomland" on
Decca. So those expecting more of the same genre when Cross teamed up PETER
ROSS of HOOKFOOT would have been in for a short sharp shock with their
combo-credited effort "Bored Civilians". Musically it's more Matthews
Southern Comfort meets Help Yourself circa their first Folky LP meets Elton
John's "Madman Across The Water". There are elements of Nick Drake,
Smith-Perkins-Smith, CSYN, Brinsley Schwarz and Caravan too coming out of these
beautifully recorded tracks.
The Last Ocean Rider [Peter Ross song]
Bored Civilians [Keith Cross song]
Peace In The End [Trevor Lucas/Sandy Denny song - Fotheringay cover]
Story To A Friend [Keith Cross song]
Loving You Takes So Long [Peter Ross song] [Side 2]
Pastels [Keith Cross song]
The Dead Salute [Peter Ross song]
Bo Radley [Keith Cross song]
Fly Home [Keith Cross and Peter Ross song]
Blind Willie Johnson - non-album B-side to "Can You Believe It"
released September 1971 in the UK on Decca F 13224 and in the USA on London
Prophets Guiders - non-album B-side to "Peace In The End" released
May 1972 in the UK on Decca F 13224 and in the USA on London 45-20073
September 1972 on Decca SKL 5129 (Tracks 1 to 9) - the album was produced by
one of Decca's top people at the time - PETER SAMES - and along with Engineer
DAVE GRINSTEAD - they achieved truly gorgeous warmth on every track. That has
been completely captured by PASCHAL BYRNE and his remaster from original tapes
- this CD sounds just glorious.
CROSS and PETER ROSS share Guitars and Lead Vocals while the quality guests
include NICK LOWE on Guitar (then with Brinsley Schwarz), DEE MURRAY of the
Elton John Band and CHRIS STEWART of Spooky Tooth on Bass, JIMMY HASTINGS on
Flute and Saxophone (Caravan, Soft Machine), PETER ARNESEN on Keyboards (later
with If, Ian Hunter and The Hollies), STEVE CHAPMAN on Drums (Judas Jump, later
with Poco), TONY CARR on Percussion and Pedal Steel Guitar legend B.J. COLE.
album opens with the massively impressive "The Last Ocean Rider"
where a soft melody, harmonizing vocals and BJ Cole's Pedal Steel go into a
near seven-minute overdrive. The album's title track floats in like a Simon
& Garfunkel song circa "Bookends" when you're then hit a
minute-in by the gorgeous string-arrangements done by TONY SHARP (he also
arranged and conducted on "Loving You Takes So Long" and "Fly
Home"). It's followed by an inspired cover-version choice tailor-made to
the Folky feel of the whole album - Fotheringay's "Peace In The End".
The cops-hassling-the-band-at-customs "Story To A Friend" has
fantastic mid-song arrangements where Elton John type piano chords mix with
Jenny Mason and Nicholson's ethereal backing vocals and brill Flute playing
from Jimmy Hastings. Side Two opens with the piano-drum beat sound of
"Loving You Takes So Long" which aurally reminds me of another
forgotten classic - the Side One brilliance of "Foreigner Suite" by
Cat Stevens. The pretty "Pastels" follows with immaculate acoustic
guitars swirling around your speakers like some David Crosby "If I Could
Only Remember My Name" outtake. But best of all for me is the seven-minute
album finisher "Fly Home" - it's magnificent in a grand way - a
superb combination of highly produced acoustic guitars, languid melody and
those beautifully complimentary vocals and strings. It sounds so David Crosby
and Graham Nash - so sophisticated West Coast - and quite brilliant. Very, very
nice indeed...lyrics from it title this review.
- Esoteric have included the superb B-sides of both rare singles listed above -
but they haven't thrown in the uber-rare non-album A-side "Can You Believe
It" from 1971 nor have they explained why. And the even harder-to-find
six-track EP on Decca EPS 1 is pictured in the excellent booklet but it doesn't
explain that each cut was a promo-only `edit' and could therefore have been
added on as six extras too. Minor points but worth noting. "Prophets
Guiders" is particularly lovely.
on the sleeve they went down different roads after the failure of the album and
little seems to be known of their post life. But man what a legacy.
Mellow Candle's "Swaddling Songs", their Help Yourself double CD
retrospective "Reaffirmation" and this - Esoteric Recordings are
rapidly carving their reissue name in my Irish heart.
- and well done to all the good people involved...