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Brian Auger - Reinforcements (as Oblivion Express) CD (album) cover

REINFORCEMENTS (AS OBLIVION EXPRESS)

Brian Auger

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.00 | 8 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Oblivion Express' gradual slide into nowhere land is not just typical to them, sonce by the mid-70's, many jazz-rock/fusion group (bar maybe Nucleus, busy repeating itself, Soft Machine and Miles Davis) had just softened up and became more mainstream-sounding. Indeed this was something that very few groups avoided, from Mahavishnu's Inner World to Weather Report's Black Market and Santana's Amigos or Inner Secrets or Beck's BBB album, the whole scene was selling out to easier-selling funky fusion as opposed to the torrid jazz rock that had dominated the first part of the decade.

It would be mean to hit on this album, because we are now firmly in their downward trend, but this is still a classic-era Oblivion Express album, and most likely woulg gain more recognition had the album received a train artwork, instead of a family snapshot. Anyway, the album starts out well enough with the dynamic and funky Brain Damage, an instrumental, and one of the rare track yielding enough space for extended solos, something our Brian Auger (ogre?) is not about to waste. While the track is excellent in itself it has a definite déjà-entendu feel, something that can not only apply to BD, but to the whole album as well as its predecessor and successor. Certainly nothing groundbreaking, but by 75, only future RIO groups were still doing that. Another factor is Alex Ligetrwood's very bland vocals (I am not a fan of sung jazz rock in general), which holds a very mainstream and even AOR feel. Note that his appearance in the Santana galaxy will produce the same kind of mainstreamization of Carlos' gang.

Thoughts From Afar could easily come from Jeff Beck's middle group , where bassist Chaman also appeared, where auger sounds like Max Middleton on electric piano, but Beck's proxy remaining way too discreet. Foolish Girl is the most irritating track on the album, even if it starts fairly well, until it gets to the funky reggae (just a tad of the second) verse-chorus passages, with the further aggravation of the track over-staying its welcome halfway through. Don't get me wrong this is flawlessly played and might even hold some interest for those enjoying complex rhythm patterns, but as a proghead, it simply glides on the surface of my shell of indifference.

On the flipside, Big Yin (dedicated to their deceased former drummer) would be an average track on Closer To It with Brian pulling another Hammond-erie ;o)), but little else of interest and Plum only managing my yawns of boredom (much the same way a lot of fillers of AWB did too), we are now faced with the enthralling Something Out Of Nothing, which is a near-instrumental extravaganza, taking us back to much earlier times. The closing Future Pilot is the third touchdown /highlight, making it the hat- trick, saving this album from a sad defeat. The closing track finishes on a brilliant movement that brings us to Santana's Caravanserai or Borboletta days and where Alex's voice is the best on this album.

My guess is that if this album had had only two predecessor (instead of seven), it might have pulled a little more better reviews and fans, but here everything sounds soft and even a tad lame. In respect with Oblivion's impeccable time schedule I will round up this album to the upper star, making it a cautionary "good, but not essential (at all)"

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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