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Black Widow - Black Widow CD (album) cover

BLACK WIDOW

Black Widow

 

Heavy Prog

2.98 | 44 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

stefro
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Sandwiched between their patchy debut and their third album, the excellent and aptly-titled 'Volume III', this self-titled effort from Leicester's sorely underappreciated Black Widow would see the group sensibly making a move away from the occult craziness that had so far defined the band's stage-show, song-writing and overall image. A promising first record otherwise, 1970's 'Sacrifice' was - rather unfortunately - positively bathed in gruesome, cod-satanic imagery, therefore overshadowing all other aspects of the group's music and rendering their jazz-tinged brand of fulsome progressive rock secondary to their dubious reputation. Thanks to an ill-judged live show that involved fake sacrifice's, devil-worshipping rituals, topless dancers and much joke-shop blood, Black Widow were seen by many as a tasteless heavy metal band. The Sun newspaper had 'exposed' these strange goings-on to the outside world with a sensationalist article(remember, this is 1971) which would give the group much nationwide publicity but would also forever taint them in the eyes of the moral majority. However, despite the group's left-field leanings(whatever they may be), it is often forgotten that Black Widow were actually a very decent prog group who were as far from heavy metal as a rock group could be. The mis-leading heavy metal tag was due in part to the constant comparisons that were - and still are - being made with Black Sabbath, a much heavier group who were emerging into the British rock scene at around the same time and would, of course, introduce the world to Ozzy Osbourne. Released in 1971, 'Black Widow' is an energetic yet rather formulaic album that found the group at a stylistic cross-road. Their previous album had featured some strong individual moments from a disparate and talented group of ambitious musicians, but, unfortunately, not all was well within the ranks. For 'Black Widow', the nucleus of the group had remained the same, with Kip Trevor(vocals) augmented by Jim Gannon(guitar), Zoot Taylor(organ, piano) and Clive Jones(sax, flute), but Jeff Griffiths(bass) and Romeo Challenger(drums) had come in to replace the outgoing Bob Bond and Clive Box who were un-satisfied with the group's overall direction. Production duties would again be undertaken by Pat Meehan, which would provide the album with a sense of continuation from 'Sacrifice', but this time around main song-writers Kip Trevor and Jim Gannon would eschew the occult themes in favour of more straight-forward song-writing. However, despite a barnstorming opening track in the form of the tightly-constructed, Yes-flecked 'Tears & Wine', the album falls well short of it's predecessor in terms of memorable tunes. Trevor's vocals seem strained throughout, and the folky, flute-led vibes give the material a lighter, less meaningful glaze. Indeed, there is a jaunty, piano-led feel to some of the songs, particularly 'The Gypsy', which places the group nearer Jethro Tull! After 'Tears & Wine' there is very little to recommend beyond the strange front-cover artwork and the excellent musicianship, and it wouldn't be until 1972 that the group would make a triumphant return with possibly their best album, the highly-enjoyable 'Volume III'. Black Widow took many hits over the years. They stirred-up Satanic controversy with The Sun, played to thousands at the Isle Of Wight festival, found themselves un-fairly bracketed as a heavy metal group and made four studio albums before being dropped by their record label. Unlike Black Sabbath, they wouldn't find lasting success and their star would burn briefly. But, despite their lack of commercial triumphs, they, like many of the great prog bands who didn't quite make it or simply disappeared after one album - the likes of Khan, Samurai, Mainhorse, Yatha Sidhra, Home, Flash, Jade Warrior - have been re-discovered in the new digital internet age of the 21st century by fans old and new alike. This self-titled effort is probably one of the group's weaker efforts - bar the superb 'Tears & Wine - but within Black Widow's small but surprising canon lies some genuinely innovative and authentic early-seventies progressive rock. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

stefro | 2/5 |

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