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(51:10; John Shirley and Jerry King)
In many ways this is a Cloud Over Jupiter release, with many shared personnel, while John Shirley of course got a name check on the second Cloud Over Jupiter album. On that one I must confess I wasn’t a massive fan of Shirley’s vocal style, and while he sings in a similar fashion on this album it actually makes far more sense given the music behind it. This is far more Zappa in approach, and there is a real mix of sax and violin often taking the lead while the rest of the band keep it together. It certainly doesn’t sound like an album which came out in the last few years, as this belongs firmly in the late Sixties with the spoken vocal approach and strong lyrics combining with good psychedelic music to create something which will certainly be interesting to the right crowd. A special mention must be made of the bass playing on the likes of “Nothing” as it is often the lead musical instrument, keeping it all together and providing the continuity as other instruments dip in and out. As with the COJ album which features Shirley, I do wonder what this album would have been like if he hadn’t been involved and if there was a different vocal style, as I do struggle with it, and when the band move into instrumental passages such as on “Machinery of the Sea” they become quite a different entity altogether as they produce something of real beauty with layered guitars. This song, where Shirley provides a simple narration with a gentle background in the middle, is easily the most evocative piece on the album. Shirley has a great control of words, and when he allows himself to read in this manner his presence is superb. While never essential, this will appeal to those who want their music and approach to be left of centre and is easily available to hear through Bandcamp.
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