Friday, July 13, 2012

Hear my thunder (West Bruce & Laing)

I was listening to a multi CD set of 1970s Rock's finest moment type things that you find on the supermarket shelves these days (I'm a sucker for these things) and it struck me how lucky I was to live through the early seventies and listen at first hand to things like Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Group), Radar Love (Golden Earring), Paranoid (Black Sabbath) and so on. This was great great music and a fantastic time to start being a music junkie.

Got me thinking about one of my favourites that has now probably attained secret treasure status.

West, Bruce and Laing were a blues-rock power trio super-group consisting of Leslie West (guitar and vocals), Jack Bruce (bass, harp, keyboards and vocals) and Corky Laing (drums and vocals).

The trio formed in early 1972. West and Laing's previous band was the great Mountain and Bruce, of course, came via Cream.

They toured extensively and released two studio albums, 1972's Why Dontcha and 1973's Whatever Turns You On. They disbanded shortly before the release of their live album Live 'n' Kickin' in 1974.

It's the first one that does it for me. Why Dontcha. No question mark required.

My copy is an Australian one. My family and I went on an Australian holiday in 1973 and I had a shopping list of albums to buy which included: Houses Of The Holy (Led Zeppelin); Made In Japan (Deep Purple); Why Dontcha (West, Bruce & Laing).

When I got back home I was really disappointed with the latest Led Zep opus but Why Dontcha was seldom removed from the turntable.

It's a case of delivering on expectations. Leslie West plays guitar like he's chipping away at a mountain of granite with a sledgehammer, Jack Bruce is an amazingly distinctive and innovative bassist and Corky...well he plays drums.

It really is a great album, where the individuals combine into a stunning band performance.

There are some great rock songs on the album (Why Dontcha and The Doctor are stand outs); some blues showcases for Jack (a la Cream), most notably on the harp fest that is Turn Me Over (think Rollin and Tumblin), a rolling piano lead workout Shake Ma Thing (Rollin Jack), the slowish blues of Third Degree; some wonderfully soaring vocals by Jack (Out Into The Fields), an acoustic guitar and piano driven ballad with more of those soaring vocal harmonies and some great dobro picking by West (While You Sleep) and then there is the classic heavy guitar wig out for Leslie West - Love Is Worth The Blues.

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