added: 3 Jan 2013
// release date: 5 Nov 2012 // label: Angel Air Records
reviewer: Claudia A
This much sought after blues-rock album from 1969 is available again in all its glory, and with original sleeve notes by the late great John Peel
as a bonus.
In 1969, acid-stoners and musical geniuses Andy Clark
and Mick Hutchinson
decided to embark on a creative detour from their band Sam Gopal’s Dream
to record an album as a duo. Together with their dear friend, Mr. Tetrahydrocannabinol, they recorded the first album release in the space of two twelve-hour sessions in London during the month of May.
The eight bonus tracks on this CD were in fact their slightly earlier March 1969 recording debut – a collection that combines the raw talent of both musicians with a serious feel for punchy blues-rock and beyond. Unfortunately, the somewhat narrow-minded heads at Decca deemed it too bluesy (what?!) and demanded that the dynamic duo produce a fusion of psychedelic, jazz, blues, classic as well as some unique Eastern influences. The result – titled A=MH2
– was without doubt a groundbreaking affair in its day, but it feels like two completely different albums slapped onto one.
Featuring the talents of Andy Clark
, Mick Hutchinson
, Walt Monahan
(bass) and Franco Franco
(drums), as well as an abundance of classic and more ‘exotic’ instruments, this oddly titled album has to be considered not only a milestone in music, but a rare gem in its own right.
The first five tracks are purely instrumental (occasionally experimental) and although musically diverse, they all have a long playtime of seven to ten minutes each. Some even longer!
‘Improvisation On A Model Scale’ is a fine example of not only some highly accomplished chord work, but the blues-rock combined with Indian-style raga transports the composition on a different plane altogether.
The heavily Flamenco influenced ‘Acapulco Gold’ helps you glide into a more sedate state, and is also relatively ‘short’ by comparison.
Things get even more ambitious on ‘Impromptu In E Minor’ – it starts slow and is classical jazz orientated, only to float into rockier guitar sound territory. Towards the end, an inspired a-capella humming sound adds the final touch.
‘Textures In ¾’ boasts with textured layers indeed! We hear various horn arrangements such as sax and trumpet at the forefront, and even a little flute. At some point, dominant guitar riffs kick in, unleashing an intoxicating blend of blues-rock and mysterious Eastern style sounds.
If you think it can’t get any more ambitious and bold, it actually does, namely on ‘Improvisations On An Indian Scale’ (aka ‘Improvisations On An Epic Scale’…). The track is utterly enchanting and heavily guitar driven, and once again demonstrates that Mick Hutchinson has taken to the raga method of playing (and we’re talking FAST playing here!) like a cat to chasing mice. The arrangement is best described as bold and complex, and will either whip you into frenzy or transport you into a state of transcendental enlightenment – watch Krishna waving at you from a corner of the room.
And now for the bonus tracks, each and every one of them a very different kind of beast from the above mentioned numbers. For one, all the bonus tracks – with the exception of one – are graced with impressive vocal work. Second, they remain firmly in the realm of good ole blues-rock, stripped of Eastern-style influences and other exotic additives. ‘Bad Loser’ and ‘Crow Jane’ respectively are prime examples of darn fine finger-picking those strings. A treat like a shot mature Tennessee whiskey!
‘Can’t Carry On’ is bursting with rhythm and groove, while the instrumental ‘Seymour’s Boogie’ shines with oh so cool boogie woogie piano interludes, turning this into an uplifting sonic experience.
Quite straight forward, albeit executed in the best Southern blues tradition, are the tracks ‘Put You Down’ and ‘Someone’s Been At My Woman’, while ‘Make You’ subtly kicks into action with dominant piano sounds, gradually adding some electrifying guitar sneers.
Closing track ‘Summer Seemed Longer’ is slow-burning and simmering, in that “Now let’s kick back and relax” kind of way.
A fitting finale to an album whose musical output is bound to stir the senses!
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