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The Lodge - Smell Of A Friend CD (album) cover

SMELL OF A FRIEND

The Lodge

 

Canterbury Scene

3.04 | 9 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars While many artists in the Canterbury Scene and progressive rock in general faded away during the 80s while other forms of music dominated the attention span of the MTV generation, these same musicians didn't just go find a pasture and die! Many of them adapted to the scene but some stuck it out in the underground and pumped out projects with others from the scene. Such was the case for the short lived New York City band THE LODGE which found members of Henry Cow, Slapp Happy, Art Bears, Golden Palominos and others briefly getting together from 1987-1989 to create one album of 80s art rock titled SMELL OF A FRIEND.

THE LODGE is most notably the followup of Peter Blegvad's "Kew.Rhone" era or at least it was a intended to be as he and John Greaves were the primary forces that created their one album and the material was inspired by their previous projects together. The material continues in the line of Slapp Happy's pop sensibilities dressed up in Carla Bley's progressive jazz with a touch of Canterbury quirkiness and whimsy. After the lineup was complete the band consisted of Blegvad, Greaves, ex-64 Spoons guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, ex-Pere Ubu drummer Anton Fier, Kristoffer Blegvad and pianist / singer Lisa Herman with a few guest lending a hand.

SMELL OF A FRIEND was recorded and released in 1988 and to no surprise came and went without hardly anyone noticing. While the subject matter and overall style is mined from the previous decade, the production and use of new wave type of guitar playing and electronic styles was clearly an attempt of being somewhat contemporary. While supposedly a successor to the well-received "Kew.Rhone" album of 1977, the album in reality feels nothing like that one as it is primarily driven by straight-forward rock guitar riffs or piano ballads. It would be fair to call SMELL OF A FRIEND a much more pop friendly album with only small touches of progressiveness.

Lyrically the album was more of a strange beast with several songs tackling the unlikely topic of "milk" in the perspective of ritualistic practices found in the occult world. Many tracks were derived from the worlds of philosophers and mythologists. The album also mixes in elements of tone poetry, African rhythms, art rock and chamber chorales. All in all, there is also a loose Steely Dan type of vibe to the whole thing. After THE LODGE released SMELL OF A FRIEND they toured around Europe with old members leaving and new ones jumping on board but ultimately the loosy-goosy nature of the band resulted in a premature breakup.

While connected to the Canterbury Scene of progressive rock, it seems a stretch to include it in such but remains an interesting artifact from the underground of the 80s. Unfortunately THE LODGE's one and only album doesn't really catch on fire like Bevgrad and Greaves earlier albums. There seems to be too much focus on trying to be contemporary and therefore the pop aspects overshadow the obvious attempts to create more subtly complex music. If melodies were the focus of music in the 80s, THE LODGE didn't seem to craft very many exciting ones and while trying to do so extinguished the progressive touches that could have been nurtured. Overall, THE LODGE pumped out on good album but i highly doubt that it will go down as some lost classic.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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