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Bakerloo - Bakerloo CD (album) cover

BAKERLOO

Bakerloo

 

Proto-Prog

3.63 | 30 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Bakerloo is an album that seems to have shown up in just about every discount bin of every record store I visited in the seventies. For that very reason I never bothered to pick it up, which is too bad because from what I understand the original vinyl is worth a bit of money today. The digipack reissue from Repertoire is nowhere near as valuable, but I imagine the sonic qualities are a bit better.

These guys were basically a blues band, although there's a fair amount of experimentation going on with this album. This is especially true of the middle part of the record, with the Doors-like dirge vibe of "Last Blues" and the percussion-heavy (hence the title) "Gang Bang". The album doesn't start off as promising though with the decent but unadventurous bluesy "Big Bear Ffolly". The band further bolsters the argument for their being a blues band by serving up their own version of the Willie Dixon Delta-blues standard "Bring it on Home".

But once those two are past things start to improve, beginning with the classically-inspired "Drivin' Bachwards" which is brief and clearly only intended to create a transitional bridge to "Last Blues".

"Gang Bang" features an extended drum/bass solo the likes of which you won't hear on too many progressive music albums. Its great virtuosity, but I can't say as there's anything particularly experimental or progressive about it.

The band returns to their blues form with "This Worried Feeling", a rather lengthy tune full of bent notes and 'done me wrong' lyrics. Considering the times and musicians the likes of which these three hung around with I suppose the sound shouldn't be a surprise, but from a purely progressive perspective this and the first two tracks sound quite dated nearly forty years later.

All is pretty much forgiven with the closing "Son of Moonshine" though, a nasty-lick affair that goes on for fifteen minutes and ranges wildly from stomping raunchy blues to early metal to what almost sounds like heavy funk. This is clearly a highly improvised track with some self-indulgent harpsichord, harmonica and guitar experimentation that doesn't always quite work. But for the most part the sound had to have been influential on later groups like Uriah Heep, Grand Funk and others of that ilk.

I put together a genealogy once that started with Bakerloo and managed to show connections to virtually every other band that is generally classified as "Proto-prog". Truth be told that's only because guitarist/pianist and stylishly "Clem" Clempson went on to a career that included Colosseum, Humble Pie, Champion, Rough Diamond and the Assembly; and because half those bands had members who can be traced to hundreds of other late sixties and seventies prog acts. Drummer Keith Baker played on Uriah Heep's 'Salisbury', and bassist Terry Poole ended up playing jazz as far as I know. Only Clemson really had much of a noteworthy musical career after Bakerloo fractured.

As someone who listened to a lot of sixties and seventies blues rock growing up I like this album, but I wouldn't call it essential, either for rock or progressive music fans. Three stars is fair enough, but I would say it is recommended to anyone who wants to hear a little bit of the transition from Delta blues to sixties rock while it was in the process of happening.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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