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Bakerloo - Bakerloo CD (album) cover

BAKERLOO

Bakerloo

 

Proto-Prog

3.63 | 29 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

mystic fred
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Catch the Bakerloo train!

A fine, underrated album from a fine British blues band, one I kept seeing on the shelves during the 70's but unfortunately passed up, originally issued on EMI's fledgling "Harvest" label and recently reissued on CD by Repertoire RF4870 digipak. The recording has transferred well overall and is brilliant, very clear though sometimes rather gritty, not a bad thing for a blues band!

Bakerloo, which laid the foundations for "May Blitz" and later connections with "Colosseum" and "Humble Pie" were originally named "Bakerloo Blues Line", and were strongly compared to Cream (as were many blues bands at the time including "Free") and Fleetwood Mac, take their name from the London Underground line of that name, originally called "The Baker Street & Waterloo Railway" (the brown one which goes from Harrow & Wealdstone to the Elephant & Castle), which I guess the band members may have travelled on now and then, though they made their first break at Birmingham's "Henry's Blues House", frequented by the likes of Cozy Powell, Jeremy Spencer, Spencer Davis, Robert Plant, John Bonham, though most importantly for the band Jim Simpson, who had earlier discovered an early incarnation of "Black Sabbath". After famously supporting Led Zeppelin at London's "Marquee", John Peel showcased the band on "John Peel's Top Gear", they then returned to the Marquee to support Jethro Tull, eventually leading to a record deal with EMI/Harvest, which brings us to this great album.

The artwork on the sleeve depicts a group of men surrounding a huge drilling machine(?), I guess the building of the Underground cost many lives, this could be a depiction of the dangerous work involved, the Bakerloo Line first being built just so a group of rich cricket fans could visit Lord's more easily it is rumoured! But to the music - an interesting mix of blues, boogie, jazz and classical leanings here and there.

The first track, a jazzy instrumental called "Big Bear Ffolly", was named after Jim Simpson's British tour Bakerloo were on, which included the fledgling Black Sabbath named "Earth" . This piece includes some fantastic gritty guitar playing from Clempson, and some fast and furious bass/drums from Terry Poole and Keith Baker (coincidentally another famous drummer of that name is relevant!). The band do a brilliant version of "Bring It On Home" made famous to us by Led Zeppelin, and have kept the song to the same style here, though Plant sings it better! "Drivin' BACHwards" ( pun intended!) shows Prog leanings into classical music, using Bach's "Bouree" - the track is a clever jazzy improvisation with some fine playing. "Last Blues" is a slow, gloomy, atmospheric song, "...take me to the train...", followed by shimmering cymbals, howling winds then leads into an amazing blues jam featuring some great Cream-style playing from all musicians. As a big fan of the long forgotten art of the drum solo, the next track "Gang Bang" is one of the best I've heard on record, basic drumming techniques very similar to a Ginger Baker style solo, the track also features some brilliant guitar playing, and the sound quality is really good, you can almost see them drums, and that Bakerloo train clattering, rumbling and rolling through the tunnels - play loud! "This Worried Feeling" is a Fleetwood Mac style slow blues style number, complete with atmospheric vocal and "lonely" Peter Green style guitar, the song drifts into a slow blues including some bar room piano and dirty blues guitar playing from Clempson- amazing stuff. The last track on the original album (the poppy/Clapton/Pagey "Once Upon a Time" and an alternate take of "This Worried Feeling" are on the CD) is "Son of Moonshine", a dirty Tony McPhee (Groundhogs) style guitar intro leading to a blues/boogie rocker, heavy blues at its best!

Overall an amazing though until recently overlooked blues gem, but not by musicians. Any Prog fan even remotely into blues should hear this album, which could create a Prog genre all of its own and could tie in some of the bands included in this review.

BRITISH BLUES / MUSIC RATING 5/5 HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE 4/5

PROG RATING 3.5/5

mystic fred | 4/5 |

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