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The Gun - Gunsight CD (album) cover

GUNSIGHT

The Gun

 

Proto-Prog

3.23 | 7 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars GUN had constructed one of the most prescient rock albums of the year 1968 as they found an early conjunct of the disparate styles of rock that were evolving past the status quo of the earlier part of the decade. Having crafted an angsty album that was an equal mix of early heavy metal, progressive rock and psychedelia with excellent compositions that were decked out with orchestrations, GUN surprisingly generated a UK top ten hit with their track "Race With The Devil," a feat they would never repeat again and although their self-titled debut album failed to become the commercial smash that the lead single had, the band had been a staple of the famous UFO Club in London having performed with bands like Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Despite having crafted an excellent debut album, it mostly went unnoticed but found enough interest that CBS Records was willing to gamble with a sophomore album.

GUNSIGHT came out in 1969, the year after the debut and found the band changing their formula around a bit. Still a power trio with the same exact line up of Paul (vocals, bass, arrangements) and Adrian Curtis (guitar) nee Gurvitz and Louis Farrell on drums, the band slung out another ten tracks but unfortunately with mostly stripped down production and less compelling material, GUNSIGHT was a major step down in quality. It immediately goes sour from the very first track "Head In The Clouds," which tries to imitate the style on "Race With The Devil" with a busy guitar cranked up and hefty bass and drum bombast but the songwriting style had become noticeably generic. That invisible magic mojo that had made the debut work so brilliantly had just taken off never to come back.

As the album continues it shows a more simple blues approach "Drown Yourself In The River" and a touch of saccharine with "Angeline," a slow ballad that found the symphonic touches in the mix once again. This one sounds like it could've been on the Led Zeppelin debut album except it lacks any conviction until the ending finds some of the most experimental touches as the symphonic background leads the melody while the backmasking of a guitar riff provides a cool experimental touch however the completely instrumental segment is fairly brief. "Dreams And Screams" probably sounds the most like the debut with a pummeling bass and drum groove and stellar bluesy guitar parts. This is by far the noisiest and most aggressive track where Farrell's drum playing is tantamount to an early form of blastbeats as he incessantly abuses his percussive instruments. Nice vocals too. One of the better songs on board.

"Situation Vacant" is another track where Hawkwind would find future inspiration as it clearly provided a blueprint for their "Sea Of Holes" on "Warrior On The Edge Of Time." In fact, many aspects of GUN's two albums were adopted by Hawkwind which they perfected them but there is no doubt that the hypnotic repetitive groove here with lots of psychedelic bliss flittering around are the seeds of what would become Hawkwind's signature sound. "Hobo" jumps into a Grateful Dead sounding style of country rock with a bluegrass type of drive and plenty of slide guitar. Sounds like a completely different band actually. Even the vocals sound more like Crosby, Stills and Nash than other GUN tracks.

"Lady Link Part One" is a near minute long instrumental that finds Adrian performing some stellar flamenco guitar. Although awkward and unrelated musically, this short track is a mere intro for "Oh Lady You" which is a rather insipid ballad in the beginning but begins to pick up by connecting to the intro with flamenco guitars. Probably one of the worst GUN tracks period as the song drags on and never really goes anywhere. It is followed by another near minute long instrumental outro "Lady Link Part Two" which is another flamenco guitar track. Ironically the two instrumental bookends are quite energetic while the middle track itself lollygags into tedium. They should've spiced it up a bit and it would've been much better. The closer "Long Haired Wildman" is a much better track as it provides some heavy rock heft, a nice melodic hook with bluesy guitar but once again is missing that extra edge that made the debut so special.

While GUNSIGHT is by no means a bad album, it is a major disappointment after the excellent debut. While the tracks here are decent and passable, the album doesn't have the same flow and nothing on this one is better than the debut. Literally everything is a step down from the debut including the horrible album cover however once again this is all in comparison to the excellent debut. It occurs to me that GUNSIGHT sounds like a less developed album that should have preceded the debut. While the debut was ahead of its time, GUNSIGHT sounds like it has stagnated and feels dated especially given the leap of musical fortitude from the 68 to 69 timeline. That one year made all the difference in music history. This would be the end of the road for GUN. The sophomore album was a major flop and the band was booted from its label. The Curits (Gurvitz) brothers would continue on in a band called Three Man Army without Louis Farrell and that band would showcase various drummers.

The brothers would also work on projects with Cream drummer Ginger Baker and drummer Graeme Edge of the Moody Blues but as far the GUN project was concerned, this was the end of the line and if this dip in quality was a sign of things to come, a wise decision indeed. Like a pistol fired in a crowded nightclub, GUN had their quick flash of notoriety but as quickly as a bullet is fired, so too does it lose its momentum when it makes impact. Despite this rather generic sounding sophomore followup GUN has become more recognized as one of the early innovators of fusing the crossroads of early proto-metal with elements of psychedelic and progressive rock. Despite trying to fit in with a more standard sounding set of tracks on GUNSIGHT, the band simply couldn't break through the momentum by all the artists who were receiving more support from the record companies. A true shame because GUN had as much potential as the best of them. Another case of lost opportunities. At least we got one stellar album from these guys in the form of their innovative eponymously titled debut.

3.5 rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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