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Dr. Strangely Strange - Heavy Petting CD (album) cover


Dr. Strangely Strange


Prog Folk

2.77 | 14 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Among the usual gems unearthed from the 70's, DSS happens to come up and get cited quite often, but I find its status greatly exaggerated due to the Vertigo Swirl label appearance and the ultra bizarre gimmick Roger Dean artwork of their first album, Heavy Petting. This being their second album, and given the hopes that their debut KOTS had us wishing for, HP is certainly a bit of a deception. Keeping the original quintet intact, the group added as guest or members a bunch of musicians; the best-known being FC's Mattacks and his very sterile drumming style, an ultra-young Gary Moore on guitar and two Sweeney's men members. The end result is rendering the general musical direction completely directionless, which is rather strange because now-legend producer Joe Boyd wasn't missing many records that were to become masterpieces.

Most fans of this album will describe the music as bonkers, mad, bizarre and inventive, but I will use directionless, lacking fire and drive, amateurish and involuntarily cacophonous and certainly not mad in the Comus or JDDG style. In terms of folk, they would approach the more "Barochial" song-based Amazing Blondel and be a less-impressive ISB, but lacking the latter's zaniness or maybe trying too hard to match it.

It's not to say that things are completely offbeat, but the few things progheads like good interplay, virtuosity and complex rhythms or arrangements are just not really met to our fills/needs. What I mean is that the prog junkie will not get his kicks from this fix. Clearly the better tracks on the album are the longer ones and the 8-mins Sign On My Mind (closing side 1) is the album's cornerstone, but the flipside's opener, the 6-mins Gave My Love An Apple as it develops into a boogie after a rocky roll-out- barrels barroom song. But it's definitely too little & too few for real proghead interest. As for the folk side of things, it is average with a very pleasant flute, mandolin/bouzouki and harmonium/organ, but it never drives you out of your mind.

In some ways, one thinks that DSS actually could've come close to an essential piece of folk, had they not messed up on patchy moments and disputable chaotic ideas; they had it half right, but completely missed out on the second half. Half ISB, half AB, DSS made two half-fine albums since this was already the case with their previous effort..

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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