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Paladin - Charge! CD (album) cover

CHARGE!

Paladin

 

Crossover Prog

3.48 | 58 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars An unusual band at an unusual time for music. Paladin had all the right pieces in place to be successful, several of them having toured with the Stones, and all of them veterans of other professional bands. But for some reason never really took off. They probably would have been completely unknown in the States had it not been for the muy excelente Roger Dean cover.

I wish I had their debut album, which from what I’ve read was recorded pretty much live in the studio and has a real improvisational feel to it. It’s been reissued with this one on a combined CD so maybe someday, but it isn’t really high on my list.

There’s an awful lot of ground covered here, and most of it well-played, but overall there isn’t any kind of contiguous theme or sound or genre or anything else to hold it together, which makes it a bit hard to listen to.

The opening “Give Me Your Hand” kicks off okay (is that cowbell?), although it gives the impression this is more of an early seventies psych-blues band, which it really isn’t. I like this song, and particularly the dueling keyboards, but the somewhat suppressed organ and multiple-vocal harmonizing (that is cowbell, by the way) place this squarely in the very early seventies, and most of these types of songs haven’t aged well. This sounds a lot like Blues Image to me.

A little boogying with “Well we Might” including a near Jerry Lee Lewis performance on piano and decent guitar from Derek Foley, but that organ still anchors this one way back in time, and Lou Stonebridge’s vocals sound like Billy Joel, which takes a bit of the edge off.

“Get one Together” is a great instrumental, and makes one wonder if these guys shouldn’t have worked up a few more like this and maybe expended them – that would have made their inclusion in a progressive rock archive made a bit more sense. This track is all about keyboards, loud, fast, and energetic. A great, although short, tune.

This was the early seventies, so somewhere there was inevitably always a strong hint of the Beatles showing up on just about any record, and on this one it’s “Any Way”, but here it sounds more like the ELO-doing-the Beatles version of the Beatles, including violin, slightly brooding Horace Wimp-like vocals, and lots of piano. I love this sound, but I usually look to Jeff Lynne to deliver it. Oh well, Lynne never managed to score a Dean cover, so these guys have that going for them at least.

If you’ve ever heard Steve Morse’s first solo album then you’ll recognize the guitar sound of “Good Lord”, sort of bluesy but threatening to cut loose with some jazz-fusion at any moment. There’s a hint of Caribbean rhythm here as well, and the two sounds combined would have made this the strongest track if the vocals had been left out. Not that they’re bad, they’re just unnecessary.

I’m thinking the progressive label gets put on this band largely because of the last two tracks (and the Dean cover – let’s not fool ourselves). Lyrics about moonbeams and cosmic magic, ripples on the pond of the universe (torch one up Timmy!), this is a very pleasant and keyboard-intense psych/folk head trip, complete with the obligatory and completely self-indulgent Rod Argent-like organ solo, and a little guitar fuzz at the end for added space effect. Good stuff.

And the best for last – “”Watching the World Pass By”. The opening harmonica is misleading, as this track wanders on for over nine minutes and manages to cover quite a bit of territory, beginning with some weird organ and guitar sound effects that quickly morph into a pretty straightforward hard rock “good time lovin” stretch, which itself gives way to a jam session that would have made Duane Allman proud, then finally a soaring guitar solo to wind things up. Tasty, if not prog.

I know very little about this band other than they were sort of on the periphery for a while in the seventies, and that one of them ended up in Player, a one-hit wonder band that I got into as a teenager. Other than that this is a sort of Wishbone Ash with two keyboardists instead of two guitarists, and whose biggest album didn’t have the consistency of vision that Ash’s ‘Argus’ did. This is more like some of the Ash albums that followed that one, and most of them are good but not great. That applies to this one as well. Three stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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