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Big Hogg - Big Hogg CD (album) cover

BIG HOGG

Big Hogg

 

Canterbury Scene

3.09 | 3 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

siLLy puPPy
3 stars Sounding as if they've been hibernating near a Scottish Loch for the last 40 years suddenly emerges what sounds like everything contemporary of all the 70s Canterbury favorites such as Soft Machine, Caravan and Hatfield and the North. Hailing from the extremely un-Canterbury Celtic northern city of Glasgow, somehow the members of BIG HOGG had found an affinity with the lovely whimsy of the jazz, psychedelic rock and folk all having a little love affair with each other. Well, it seems the slumber is over and after many decades a few bands have decided to join the ranks of the geographical specific style of bands that never ruled the roost but have since become cult icons in the fringe world of progressive rock revival. BIG HOGG not only displays their worship of everything Canterbury on their self-titled debut album but display a stealthy command of all its different aspects although on the mellow down home type of style as heard on the earlier 70s bands.

So, add all the ingredients of Caravan, early Soft Machine and a healthy dose of blues rock, English folk and even jazz pop and then six band members playing guitars, trumpet cornet, tenor horn, trombone, flute, bass and percussion, oh and then add a few more extra helping hands to receipt spoken word poetry, play a little alto sax, hammond organs, Rhodes piano and skronk baritone and you have all the ingredients for a hugely fat sounding album that proves that the little scene by the River Great Stour is hardly dead at all and increasingly more explored as the 21st century progresses (think The Winstons and Amoeba Split) and what we have here is a stellar example of retro-prog that despite wearing more than a few influences on its sleeves, still finds enough differentiating vectors to create a nice fresh take on things.

It all starts with 'When We Were Young' with a quirky rock guitar riff finding a Robert Wyatt type vocal style punctuated by jazzy instrumental counterpoints. Proving that their no one trick pony, the second track 'Dog People' takes a jazzier approach for a while before reeling into a psychedelic free jazz frenzy accompanied by a spoken narrative delivering a poetic prose before a thumping bass and horn section steal the show and create a full-fledged Canterbury-tinged rocker fortified with jazz-pop sensibilities and then changing vocal styles to a more Captain Beefheart type of schizoid blues man mode. While the music seems to be a little too serious at times to qualify as a full-fledged candidate for Canterbury inclusion, the humor is more subtle as the boogie-rocker 'Turn To Prayer' explains in the situation with a few curse words interspersed nicely. 'Rabbit Plateau' changes gears into acoustic folk territory with sensual flutes on valium mode but joined by a distinct Caravan-esque guitar riff complete with echoey psychedelic atmospheres. Another notable track includes the frenetic 'Bad Salad Boogie' with it's Ornette Coleman sax freak outs accompanied by a more tamed bass and horn groove with all those jazzified time signature jumps so beloved by fans of National Health or Gilgamesh as the track mellows out.

Perhaps my main complaint about some of the newer Canterbury worshippers is that they try overly hard to be too faithful to the original sounds of the 70s and perhaps out of respect never venture too far into experimental realms however as heard on the first Picchio Dal Pozzo album, it has been proven that extreme originality with shocking results can be yielded from these influences. In the end BIG HOGG plays it a little too safe on their debut even if they pay all their tributes with technical precision in the proper Canterbury playfulness. A beautifully designed album that seems to fall just a tad short from competing with the heavyweights of yestercentury. Still though, if you're seeking some freshly constructed retro-prog of the mostly Caravan type branch, then BIG HOGG will not disappoint although with all the instruments on board here, i keep wishing they would expand their sonic tentacles a bit.

3.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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