From Prog Archives
Essential debut and a defining moment of jazz-rock – this was recorded only a few months later than Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and obviously Ian Carr was very impressed (and a unconditional fan of Miles as he wrote two books about his life on top of other jazz encyclopediae) and he formed this band with amongst other Jenkins, Marshal and the chameleon of rock Chris Spedding after he left psych-blues group Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments. The sublime sleeve artwork, a cut-out gatefold that lets you peep into a red-hot lava stream opens up on a breathtaking landscape in a volcano park. After listening to side 1, most rock fans will wonder where the rock part went, as only the second part of Crude Blues was energetic enough to be named rock. But right from the opening track with the bowed double bass rumbling as if the earthquake was happening, to the very calm climates of Striaton and Taranaki, we are dealing with a fairly acoustic fusion much like the first two albums of Weather Report. Only the title track is really more upbeat as well as the second part of Crude Blues. Side 2 is definitely where things pick up, especially with Boogaloo and the self-explanatory Torrid Zone (bound to be a concert favourite) and then comes the hi-energy feel big enough to light a city. We can hear how Jenkins is paving hell with his delicate Fender Rhodes piano layers and Marshall being an extremely intuitive drummer. But the star here especially on the second part of the album is Chris Spedding (that’s right Mr. Punk Motorcycle of ’77 single fame) with a much understated but still flamboyant style. Smith, Carr and Jenkins also adding some aerial horns layers, making this debut album a classic, but much better is to come. The first two albums came out together on BGO, but the artwork is not well respected. One might prefer the German label Line A (on the second-hand market ) but to do full justice to those first two albums , only the Vertigo vinyls are the top solution.