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Sensations' Fix - Sheriff CD (album) cover

SHERIFF

Sensations' Fix

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.08 | 5 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Like a lot of prog rockers caught in the flux of changing fashions at the tail end of the 1970s, the ace Italian band SENSATIONS' FIX re-vamped its trademark sound to what guitarist/composer Franco Falsini must have thought would be a less idiosyncratic (ie more commercial) style.

But unlike so many others, who maybe should have followed his lead, Falsini decided to protect his legacy by retiring the band name altogether, adapting instead the more earthbound moniker SHERIFF (go figure) and relocating across the Atlantic to record, in Fall's Church, Virginia, the new group's first and only LP.

With not unexpected results, as any student of post-prog culture shock could probably have guessed: the record disappeared below everyone's radar, into the dangerous gray space between prog and pop that appeared in the latter half of the decade. I doubt if very many diehard Fix fans even knew the disc existed, despite it boasting the same line-up (drummer Keith Edwards and bass player Richard Ursillo), and the same, signature sound of Falsini's guitar.

The anonymous cover art, a painting of an old-fashioned diesel freight train rolling through the American Southwest (reminiscent of PHIL MANZANERA's "Diamond Head" cover photo), certainly wasn't calculated to grab anyone's attention either, although in retrospect it offered a nice change of scenery from all those familiar two-tone New Wave cliches cluttering record store shelves at the time.

But what about the music? Concessions to then-current tastes can be seen in the lack of any credited keyboards, and in the radio-friendly brevity of the track list: eight songs total (including only one short instrumental), most of them in the four-minute range "...to preserve the full dynamics of the music", according to the disclaimer printed on the back cover. "Play it loud!" Falsini himself insisted in a large note on the inside sleeve, somewhat misleadingly, since nothing on the album is particularly "heavy" (or maybe that's his point).

The music, although energetic in spots, is by classic prog standards pretty conventional, in spirit (if not style) analogous to GENTLE GIANT's likewise American produced swansong, "Civilian". The standout cuts are front-loaded onto side one: Girl With The Optional Eyes, Don't Let Go, and Troublemaker Blues are all unmistakably (and unexpectedly catchy) Franco Falsini compositions. But elsewhere the results are often diluted by a sometimes dispiriting sense of compromise: this is music that could have been written by anybody, although it's hard to imagine a tune entitled Infall Defrauders And Audiphones earning any heavy FM airplay.

But to SENSATIONS' FIX completists (in particular) the album is worth a listen, if you can unearth it at a decent price. I think I found my copy in the cut-out bin of an exclusive West Coast record collector's shop, after having owned it once already years earlier and later (rashly) purging it from my own music library.

Who knows, maybe it was the same one I originally bought new, sometime in 1979, at the Tower Records store in Menlo Park, California, a sad reminder now of how readily available such oddities and imports once were in even the most mainstream record outlet.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |

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