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Pesky Gee - Exclamation Mark CD (album) cover

EXCLAMATION MARK

Pesky Gee

 

Heavy Prog

2.78 | 13 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars How many albums, question mark. One, full stop

Named after an instrumental by another local band, Pesky Gee! would appear from their discography to be a one shot combo, who then quietly disappeared. They are in fact an early version of Black Widow, the line up who recorded this album going on unchanged to start work on that band's debut album "Sacrifice". Female vocalist Kay Garrett would however leave the band before "Sacrifice" was completed.

The title "Exclamation mark" came about as a result of one of those infamous record company mix ups (as led to ELO's debut album being called "No answer" in the US, and the title of Man's album track "Spunk rock" being hilariously changed to "Spunk box" - the wrong word was changed!), the original intention being that the title should be similar to that of Patrick Moraz debut album.

The band's first release was a single, both sides of which are included on this album, after which a couple of line up changes took place, the most important being the arrival of Jim Gannon (who actually came from a band called Broodley Hoo, who's instrumental "Pesky Gee!" gave the band its name). With no less than seven full time band members, Pesky Gee! recorded the rest of this album in one late night session. It is probably fair to say that neither the band nor their record label Pye were overwhelmed by the results, and the band's recording contract was at an end.

Those familiar with the work of Black Widow will be pleased to learn that this is a sort of lost album by them. The music is admittedly noticeably more primitive, the overall impression being of a band desperate to get something out there. There is though a pleasing naivety in the organ driven sounds and sax infused instrumental passages. The opening "Another country" for example, which runs to some 7 minutes, has a fine organ solo followed by sax backed by some lead guitar. The song itself is not particularly memorable, but the lengthy instrumental break is enjoyable.

As a whole, the music tends to wander between blues rock, jazz rock, and just plain rock. The instrumental "Pig's foot" delves deeply into freeform jazz territory, with organ sax and guitar taking consecutive leads. The band's version of Donovan's much covered "Season of the witch" on the other hand features the first appearance of female vocalist Kay Garrett delivering a Janis Joplin like blues.

The two tracks which made up the forerunning single, "A place of heartbreak" and the cover of Vanilla Fudge's "Where is my mind" (a touch ironic given Vanilla Fudge's reputation was built on covering other people's songs) are actually admirably adventurous for a single release. Garrett takes lead vocal on both, the songs demonstrating how the singles market in the late 1960's and early 70's was so much more exciting then (even if this release did not actually chart!). There is a marked similarity here between the vocals of Garrett and those of Sonja Kristina of Curved Air.

The album also includes a cover of "Piece of my heart", a song originally written for Aretha Franklin's sister Erma, but made famous by Janis Joplin. The song has since been covered by many artists, the version here being a decent but undistinguished submission.

"Dharma for one" is one of the most exciting pieces on the album, sounding like a cross between Chicago and Santana. After the brief pop infused "Peace of mind" we close with a rather prosaic cover of the anthem "Born to be wild".

This is one of those albums you put on, enjoy, but do not really find a reason to go back to. There is nothing wrong with the music as such, but then again there is little to catch the imagination either. For a first effort, and bearing in mind that the recordings date from about 40 years ago, credit is due to Pesky Gee! For coming up with something which demonstrates a willingness to push the boundaries a little further.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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