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Brian Auger - Straight Ahead (as Oblivion Express) CD (album) cover

STRAIGHT AHEAD (AS OBLIVION EXPRESS)

Brian Auger

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.30 | 16 ratings

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Tom Ozric
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Brian Auger is a name many may have heard about, especially when it comes to significant keyboardists of the 70's. I've only known of his psych hit with Julie Driscoll, 'This Wheel's on Fire' (with some tasteful Mellotron use). Having come across an LP of this 'Straight Ahead' release of his a while back, I was very impressed initially, and listening to it now, dozens of times later, still blown away. The recipe is fairly standard for the softer jazz-rock he composes (or chooses to cover) - drums and percussion/bass/keys/guitar and also vocals. This album is an absolute joy for me, each and every time I listen to it. The album features 2 cuts on side 1, and three on side 2. The first half is pure bliss. This is competent light fusion with impressive talent, though I noticed a 'fluff' in track 1, the 9 min+ 'Beginning Again', an Auger original which has a pleasant groove, lots of percussion and uplifting lyrics with a feel-good chord pattern. Auger's voice is quite polite without detracting from the music, nor offensive. The electric piano solo is excellent, but at one point, is a touch sloppy. Minor flaw aside, quite a memorable opening piece. Track 2 clocks in at almost 11 minutes, and is a phenomenally mellow groove called 'Bumpin' on Sunset', credited to a Montgomery (Wes maybe ??). This is where perfection lies - the Hammond organ playing is fantastic, the atmospheric guitaring, that laid-back rhythm, everything absolutely in the right place. We even get some Moog and String synths to symphonise the piece up to the next level. This is the sort of choice thing to listen to on a balmy, summer evening with no interuptions. Or anytime, really. The title song is quite funky, more tasteful e- piano and vocals, and did I say e-piano ?.... Reminds me of a jazzier ARGENT (circa 'Circus'). The over 8 min 'Change' is again percussion-heavy, groovy, funky and features some cool guitar solos, vocals and psych sounding Hammond soloing that's reminiscent of the late, great Vincent Crane (ATOMIC ROOSTER). The album closes with a ballad, 'You'll Stay In My Heart' - which is again mellow and jazzy with plenty of e-piano. This is 1974, and the closest thing to it maybe some of Santana's early 70's classics, minus the overtly Latin touches. 4 stars.
Tom Ozric | 4/5 |

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