Page 12   R.A.T.W.

REFLECTIONS IN A VINYL DISC

Imports

SADISTIC MIKA BAND

HOT MENU

Harvest 4049

MALLARD

MALLARD

Virgin 2045

When Captain Beefheart returned from an English tour several years ago, he had lost his magic . . . band too. Most fans enjoyed the band's compatability with Van Vliet to make his songs zing. Seeing the new Beefheart bar-band only confirmed the confusion. Where were the Magic Band? Quacked up?   
(phew . . .)

Nope! Mallard is comprised of Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo) on guitar, Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) on bass, Art Tripp III (Ed Marimba) on drums and marimba, and newcomer Sam Galpin on growlin' vocals. Their music is very reminiscent of the Capt.'s bizarre textures with a generous dash of Little Featish restraint. Galpin has intelligent phrasing and tonal strength, enabling him to shout-and-soothe (a la Rod the Mod or Roger Chapman) with much excitement and flexibility. In fact, considering the band itself has remained intact, and virtually flawless in their presentation, the choice of Galpin is nothing short of calculated brilliance. Harkleroad, guitarist and producer, maintains an even keel throughout the record, interspersing instrumentals with hard-driving blues-rockers and countryish ballads. The band displays unique versatility without exertion; this, indeed, is Mallard's forte.

Hopefully, Virgin (through Epic records) will be wise enough to release "Mallard" in the U.S. . . . the Captain & the Magic Band surmounted an intense and dedicated following with years of touring and a healthy supply of schizoid/ fascinating LPs. I am positive the genre's devoted would not want to pass up this album—or a possible American tour. Too good to miss .. .

In Sight: "She's Long and She's Lean", "Road to Morroco", "South of the Valley", "Desperados Waitin' for a Train", "Peon" (written by the Capt.)

WIDOWMAKER

WIDOWMAKER

Jet 15/Super 23http://www.ratw.com/432

Around the turn of this decade, rock was developing both a compositional style and recorded sound that dovetailed perfectly; Spooky Tooth was one of the principal exponents of this phenomenon, and "Spooky Two" an album that helped set the standard. A lot of music and a lot of lives have happened since these times, but now Ariel Bender (a.k.a. Luther Grosvenor), Steve Ellis, Paul Nicholls and Bob Daisley have spanned time to recapture the dark electric atmosphere bands like Free, Humble Pie and Spooky Tooth achieved; the effect is shattering. Ariel Bender never seemed to fit comfortably into the Mott The Hoople; his playing with Mott resembled Mick Taylor during his time with The Stones, good but not up to potential. Luther Grosvenor specialized in a muddy yet distinct style of playing, often matching his guitar lines to the bass,

something that didn't happen too often after he joined Mott The Hoople as Ariel Bender. It comes as no real surprise, then. to find Widowmaker's debut album echoing the same style as Spooky Tooth.

Track by track, this band knows its way around a song. They alternate the hard rockers with acoustic-tinged numbers, keeping the listener aware of each change of mood. Steve Ellis appears to have finally found the right band for his voice, while the rhythm section of Bob , Daisley and Paul Nicholls anchor the beat with stout determination. And, of course, there's the electric antics of Mr. Grosvenor-Bender, who's playing with all the flair of his Spooky Tooth wonder years again. In fact Luther, together with Steve Ellis, has written songs designed to spotlight the assets of this band.

Perhaps Widowmaker's greatest strength, though. lies in a firm knowledge of what they're trying to accomplish; you won't find these guys filling up a record with 24 tracks of sound. Their playing combines restraint with power, always a difficult blend. Zoot Money adds some tasteful keyboards, and those resident madmen from The Streetwalkers, Roger Chapman and Bobby Tench, contribute some vibrant background vocals—that's it for outside help. No more is necessary. Widowmaker is a killer.

DEADLY DELIGHTS: "Such A Shame" "On The Road" (a good 45 possibility), "Shine A Light On Me", "When I Met You" (from the Luther Grosvenor solo LP "Under Open Skies")

irk

COLLOSSEUM II

STRANGE NEW FLESH

Bronze ILPS 9356

Returned from the stagnant remains of latter day Tempest, Jon Hiseman and his new collaboration, Colosseum II have recorded an LP ranking as one of the most pleasant surprises of 1976. Powered by Gary Moore's (ex-Thin Lizzy) smooth rock guitar and the keyboard artistry of Don Airey over Hiseman's tireless drumming, Colosseum II's first effort Strange New Flesh covers territory ranging from hard rock to a jazz style similar in flavor to Return To Forever. Airey's compositions are at times reminiscent of Dave Greenslade and the original Colosseum, but without the horns of Dick HeckstallSmith, there is little other comparison.

In Mike Starrs, Hiseman has perhaps the best vocalist he has worked with since the days of Jack Bruce's solo LPS. Since that affiliation, Hiseman has used a variety of singers with the same strained style as Bruce; and now it appears the abandonment of that search has given Colosseum II a plus over previous Hiseman groups. Witness the powerful interpretation of Joni Mitchell's "Down To You" for proof of the improvement. Gary Moore's guitar work is surprisingly powerful for the seriousness of the music

involved after his stint with Thin Lizzy, a more pop-oriented band. His searing riffs cleave the air and accant each selection with Beck-like tlurries. Bassist Neil Murray rounds out the group and provides an active counterpoint to Hiseman's frenzied percussion.

The only possible awkward factor in assessing Colosseum II is their choice of name. With the potential at their command, this group could far surpass their ancestor.

BEST CUTS: "Wings"

CARAVAN

BLIND DOG

AT ST. DUNSTANS

BTM 1007

"(Cafa-van) A company of travelers on a journey through desert or hostile regions .   .   .

—Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

In the context of today's record business, Caravan's 'desert or hostile regions' could very easily be the various record markets where the band has not made as great an impression as they deserve. One of the things that's wrong in the record biz these days is the faint air of suspicion that wafts over a band which doesn't hype itself into oblivion. Caravan has been making music, excellent music, since 1968, yet did not appear in America until late in 1974;

"Blind Dog At St. Dunstans" is the eighth Caravan album, and is a landmark of sorts; always a band that made intelligent use of keyboards, Caravan last year lost Dave Sinclair, one of the band's original members. He has been replaced by one Jan Schelhaas, who auditioned for the band on a cathedral organ in a church. His playing is somewhat earthier than Dave Sinclair's, and the album as a result sparkles with a new radience. Pye Hastings' tunes, as always, are instantly memorable, and his guitar lines combine quite neatly with Geoff Richardson's viola excursions, each spurring the other on to more exotic musical destinations. A word must be added here to the immaculate multi-reed work of Jimmy Hastings, Pye's brother; he really should join the band full-time.

Taken as a whole, "Blind Dog . . ." is a masterpiece; the songs are melodic without relying on riffs and the vocals complement the music instead of fighting it. America, get ready; the Caravan is approaching and this country should not be a hostile region any longer.

MILKBONE AWARD WINNERS: "Here Am I". "A Very Smelly Grubby Little Oik" (this has gotta be the single, but that title, guys?), "Can- You Hear Me?", "All The Way"

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Is it merely coincidence that the Sadistic Mika Band, one of Japan's top bands, bear similar magical qualities as Britain's Roxy Music, if their disco-verers are Simon Puxley and Chris Thomas. (Roxy's) public relations and record production, respectively? The direction of their last album has been further examined—and enhanced; "Hot Menu" is their finest, most progressive album to date .. .

The Sadistics have slowly created their own style of international-feel. Their instrumentation is now truly evocative, picturesque in an impressionist sense, and voices sway in +out of song, often in different languages. Their rhythm section chugs with the slinkiest of tempos, luring listeners into a complex pastiche of guitars and keyboards, all generously treated with the Thomas touch. Mika's voice (always held in reserve)—part Dietrich/part Tokyo Rose/ part Innocence—is used only discriminately. like a trump card/like frosting-on-the-cake. just adding the final S.M. touch of Oriental delicacy (and lunacy, as in the final track, "Tokyo Sunrise") .. .

At times, they sound like Roxy, like Gong, like Jefferson Airplane—but this incorporation of techniques works as their own brand of music and their direction becomes more assured and developed. As with many Japanese products, don't be surprised to see the Sadistic Mika Band being a prime import sometime, if appreciation and consumer orientation is provided. Rather a unique flavor, say waat?

The Appetizers: "Mummy Doesn't Go to Parties Since Daddy Died", "Hi Jack (I'm Only Dying)", "Style is Changing"(!), "Funkee Mahjong", "Tokyo Sunrise"

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