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Monday, February 22, 2010

THE LEGENDARY 64 SPOONS: LANDING ON A RAT COLUMN

Those of you with an aversion to Things of a Prog Nature, avert thine eyes now!

Thanks to my pal Chris for lending me this, a rather wonderful compilation of unreleased tracks (dated '78 - '80) by 64 Spoons, a Late Era Prog band (the band clearly prefer the term "Jazz-Rock" and, given the hostile time-frame they briefly existed within, I can totally understand that, since any whiff of The Dreaded Prog woulda been a death-knell...) who attempted to swim upstream in the opposite direction to the Zeitgeist. And more power to them for doing it.



This really is one of the best Proggish things I've heard in quite a while. They've def. got the Funk, these boys; it's like a weird Brit.amalgam of National Health, Gentle Giant, The Blockheads and mid-70's Mothers with some very Holdsworthesque guitar-runs. The vocals are pretty good too (usually the weakest link on even the best of Prog records) - sounding like a kinda Punkier version of Robert Wyatt. The lyrics on "Tails in The Sky" are oddly poignant, I reckon. Other songs are littered with references to "signing on", drinking, checking out porn mags and other very 70's English college.rock preoccupations. Blokey, rather than whimsical. The best tracks are both musically and lyrically witty.

The band never released a proper album, far as I'm aware, so this is an after-the-fact comp. But, by all accounts, they were an excellent live band with a small, but devoted following. The bonus live tracks confirm they were far more ferocious (and strange) on stage.

The opening synth live-intro-tape piece "It's All Overture" reminds me of one of the reasons why I'm not so fussed about Ghostbox releases as some of my colleagues - why buy wry-ronic post-millennial recreations of music-forms when you can check out the unbridled strangeness of 1st-gen originals like this?

If you have any interest in Brit.Prog / Jazz-Rock / Fusion then this is an essential, ear-pleasing purchase.

The band eventually quit swimming against the tide of history and called it a day (shame!), but most of them went on, unsurprisingly, to have very successful careers as sesh-guys on a number of 80s/90s records that you probably own/love.

Trumpet-player Ted Emmett's name rang a vague bell until I Googled and the penny dropped that he was one of The Teardrop Explode's horn-section back when you used to follow them round on tour. Here, though, he unleashes some truly mouth-warping horn-licks worthy of prime-time Zappa.

Guitarist Jakko Jakszyk has surfaced off n on at various points in the musical sea-bed - and what a terrific player he is too! - most famously as a member of Level 42.

The CD came out in the early 90s, but I think you can still pick it up via Burning Shed.

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