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Jeronimo - Cosmic Blues CD (album) cover

COSMIC BLUES

Jeronimo

 

Krautrock

2.40 | 11 ratings

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2 stars Here we Go!!

Kicking off like a cross between Cream and the Kinks, with maybe a dash of Hawkwind, News is an energetic tour-de-force of magnificently tight and heavy rifferama. The gruff baritone vocals with constant backing harmony flow like gravel-line treacle over riffs with balls and drums like Keith Moon on fire. Spoiled only slightly by lame pentatonic noodly soloing, this is a cracking song.

A heavy piano-driven riff propels The Key through what should be, by rights, a lugubrious slog - but instead turns out to be the obligatory slow number that follows the fast opener in a standard heavy rock opus extolling the virtues of music. Here, the vocalist unleashes a coarse, whiskey-soaked, yet soulful and impassioned bluesy vocal that is compelling.

The 3rd track is, true to tradition, filler. Still in the heavy vein, the happy side of Jefferson Airplane that jumps out of Hands, flowing over the riff to Silver Machine (released 2 years later) is OK, in a Beatles-ish sort of way, but not what I was set up to expect from the opening track - I was rather hoping for a continuation of a darker sound.

So Nice To Know is better - the minor key driven by the piano has the right bluesy and soulful feel to it, with a good'n'heavy edge. All of a sudden, though, it goes off on one - and despite the slightly happy overtones, this really rocks. The instrumental burn-out is another surprise, rather simple, but a fine ending (if cut off too soon).

The next track is a cover of the Steam original, made famous in the 1980s by Bananarama (what credentials!), with a cool, heavy twist - wonderful bass and drum work that give a superb headbanging groove, and some really soulful vocals, worthy of Spooky Tooth (whose 2nd album of 2 years earlier) the style reminds me of very strongly). This took Jeronimo to #1 in the singles chart in some parts of Europe.

Another cover follows, Let The Sunshine In, from the musical Hair, sadly feeling like another piece of filler - it's nicely performed, and I'd rather listen to this than the 5th Dimension original...

The guitar tone and snarl on Highjack really had me sitting to attention, though - more menacing than Black Sabbath, there is pure essence of Heavy Metal running through this song - with the high-pitched screams giving a feel of a heavier (yes, you read right - heavier) pre-Painkiller Judas Priest. This is a song for all metal fans to hear and relish in.

This renewed onslaught of quality material seems to continue with the intense intro to number 5, which sadly fails to live up to the intro.

The rhythm guitar tone is sooo heavy for the time - but that's the most interesting thing about this song until it hits the instrumental section and the changes begin. The final tempo change is masterly, with fine double bass drum work and great rhythmic improv. Sadly, this section lacks melody - but I find the rhythms so engaging and intense that frankly I don't need melody here. Cosmic stuff, indeed.

No, No, No is not a cover of the Deep Purple song, but another original with some nice synchronised vocal/guitar duetting over a rather derived Led Zeppelin style riff.

Never Goin' Back shows the band neing rather undecided in direction, sounding like a Rolling Stones cover, with a small dash of Creedence.

The Light Live Needs is another complete stylistic U-turn, with a strong Abbey Road feel underneath the Dylan-esque vocals - very well written and executed, with a fun two-guitar duet section, it's quite clear which market this song was written for. The boogie-woogie outro is cut off well before it has a chance to get anywhere near its prime and gives a tantalising insight into just how good this band might have been live.

The album closes with another hit single He Ya, which I find rather annoying, but your mileage may vary.

In summary, an inconsistent, but generally high quality 1970s rock album right from the beginning of the decade (so there are still some strong psychedelics in here), which generally stays on the heavy side, with occasional forays into the REALLY heavy. All the really interesting stuff is faded out, though, clearly in the interests of making a pop/rock album - and to file this under Kosmische/Kraut Rock (as some do!) is downright misleading.

It's not an album that I would see as being of any interest whatsoever to a dedicated Prog-Head, but to anyone who remotely enjoys heavy music, there are one or two pieces here that are real gems - I would go as far as to say essential and enlightening listening - and heavy enough in places to rival anything released prior to Metallica. It certainly deserves its cult status, and the high price tag on an original vinyl pressing.

I therefore reluctantly award 2 stars - it's an album with truly terrific moments, and well worth a listen - elsewhere this would probably get a 4 from me. But it's for collectors and fans of decent heavy metal or hard rock (and people who understand the difference!), not Prog.

As far as Progressive Rock is concerned, you'd find at least as much on Metallica... :o)

Certif1ed | 2/5 |

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