27 March 2020 (released)
27 March 2020
When this was first released in 1970 it didn’t get the attention it deserved but this remaster by Esoteric really shows what the public and the critics both missed.
Davidson came to this fresh from the breakup of The Nice and the band that he put together featured musicians he had been associated with over the years – Graham Bell on keys & Vocals, Geoff Peach on saxes & flutes, Procul Harum’s Alan Cartwright on bass and John Hedley on guitar. Every one of them an accomplished and experienced part of the British Jazz/Blues/Rock scenes and under Davidson’s leadership a remarkable outfit.
The core of the album is in Progressive Blues & jazz, a more mellow and melodic Collosseum if you like, and there is remarkable subtlety in most of the music.
In the manner of the time, most tracks are stretched out semi-jams but there is real structure and meaning in the music and they build some great tension through the playing and the songs – all written by Bell.
Right from the start you feel that all the musicians are working together, no reliance on vocals of individual instruments, all in the same groove to play meaningful and memorable music.
‘Bed Ain’t What It Used To Be’ opens the album with acoustic guitar and Bell’s impassioned vocals and the band create a mesmerising groove through nearly 10 minutes, punctuated by guitar riffs and a stunning sax solo, Davidson showing just how good a drummer and percussionist he was. The kind of track you can listen to for hours. Next up is ‘Castle Sand’ which takes you to a totally different place – still deep in trance but featuring beautiful flute and muted drums.
The sheer versatility of the musicians is a really strong part of this but it also demonstrates the willingness of Charisma to allow bands to follow their own path and Davidson was allowed free rein to make this album.
I was a great fan of The Nice but, in many ways, this album is greater than the bravado and pyrotechnics of that band and by using musicians first and egos second Davidson really did produce something special.