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Writing on the Wall - Power of the Picts CD (album) cover

POWER OF THE PICTS

Writing on the Wall

 

Heavy Prog

3.72 | 19 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This album is more of a curio than anything else, a decent sample representative of any number of blues-influenced bands that worked their way through psych and into mildly progressive territory while searching for a defining sound in the late sixties.

Writing on the Wall formed out of a Scottish soul cum psych band named Jury before relocating to England and releasing this, their only official studio release in 1969. Apparently the band toiled on until finally breaking up in the wake of their equipment being stolen in 1973. Besides this CD reissue there is an LP re-release and a couple of other compilations of this disc and some other material they recorded along the way but never released while the band was still together.

The pervading sound is a bluesy one with plenty of aggressive and energetic organ, heavy guitar and unexceptional vocals. The lyrical themes range from earthy to vague fantasy to weirdly poetic. A few spoken-word passages (especially on the Arthur Brown-like “Aries”) add some variety but don’t do much to really distinguish the music.

The second half of the disc is noticeably more progressive than the first. On “Shadow of Man” the band lays down a turgid rhythm and dances around it with psych guitars and lyrics, the ever-present organ, and more crazy vocals. “Taskers Sucessor” seems to lift the Doors’ sound quite liberally, while the organ sound and vocal timbre on “Hill of Dreams” reminds me a whole lot of the old Bee Gees tune “(You Don't Know What its Like) to Love Somebody”. “Virginia Water” also seems inspired by what was on the band’s turntable at the time, in this case Procol Harum.

The final two tracks on the CD reissue are “Child on a Crossing” and “Lucifer Corpus”, the two sides of the band’s first single released before this album was originally recorded. Both are more psych-leaning than most of the rest of the album and may represent the transitional state of the band as it moved from that to a more progressive sound as they worked on the tracks for this album.

Like I said, this isn’t ground-breaking stuff, but it is mildly interesting from a historical perspective. The reissues are plentiful and easy to find, so if you come across this and are into heavy prog music you might find it worthwhile. As it is I’ll give this three stars but only a lukewarm recommendation.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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