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Black Widow - Black Widow IV CD (album) cover

BLACK WIDOW IV

Black Widow

 

Heavy Prog

3.24 | 30 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Here's one we made (much!) earlier

Although this album was recorded in 1972, it lay dormant and unreleased for many years, only seeing the light of day in 1997. The lengthy delay was due to the fact after their near legendary debut, Black Widow had delivered two rather anonymous and consequently unsuccessful albums to CBS records, who then decided to cut their losses and drop the band. This album was therefore recorded without a contract for distribution in place. When it came to releasing the album, the band found that no label was interested in picking it up. On the plus side, it is generally acknowledged that the lack of a record company pulling the strings in the background meant that the band had a free reign to make the album they way they wanted to. The result from a prog perspective, and indeed from a musical view generally, is what amounts to arguably the band's strongest album.

We kick off rather disarmingly with Prokofiev's "Sleigh bell ride" played on organ. The use of this melody by Greg lake as part of his "I believe in father Christmas" single may lead you to think this is a lost ELP album. The seasonal lyrics of the song are delivered through melodic high harmony vocals. The song develops through its 9 minute running time, the band sounding rather Yes like at times (an influence they were proud to admit to).

"More than a day" and "You're so wrong" are lighter, folk influenced numbers featuring flute and acoustic instruments. "The waves" and "Part of a new day" are taken from the sole existing acetate recording of the album as the master tapes for these tracks could not be found. The sound quality though remains of a high standard. "The waves" is a moody, atmospheric piece, while the 8˝ minute "Part of a new day" is the most prog track on the album. Once again, there are similarities with Yes in the overall sound, in much the same way as bands such as Starcastle wore their influences on their sleeves.

Renewed interest in all things prog, and in Black Widow in particular, led to the album eventually being made available through the small Mystic Records label in 1997. This release also includes four demos recorded by the band with vocalist Rick E. replacing Kip Trevor (who left after "Black Widow IV" was recorded). These tracks show a clear desire to find commercial success, with wispy pop melodies and harmonised singing. The songs are not without merit though, the flute and sax of Clive Jones enhancing them significantly.

In all, a decent album which would have found respect if not widespread recognition had it been released in the 1970's. I could not go as far as to hold the album up as a lost masterpiece, but if you come across it, it is worth a listen.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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