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It Bites - Once Around the World  CD (album) cover

ONCE AROUND THE WORLD

It Bites

 

Crossover Prog

3.69 | 76 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

iguana
5 stars Don't forget these boys.

It Bites, probably best known to joe public for their top ten fluke hit "Calling All The Heroes" (1986) were quickly destined to be filed away in the long line of faceless pop bands that dominated the late 1980s and ultimately made the discerning listener yearn for the advent of the 1990s. Instead they became one of England's great lost rock bands that left a void which could never really be filled. the cumbrian quartet, centred around two young musical boffins, Francis Dunnery and John Beck, quickly made its mark as a highly idiosyncratic Pop and Rock band that was hard to pigeonhole but compelling to behold nonetheless. Indeed, they were probably the last of its kind, drawing equally from quirky contemporary Pop and sprawling Art Rock and ? even signing a nine album deal in its wake. Somebody dubbed them a "Marillion with sex" for a short while, however, Francis Dunnery's highly individual vocal and guitar stylings and John Beck's keyboard wizardry quickly set them apart. they never managed another hit single after that but instead concentrated on creating masterful albums. Two of these followed, this one and the follow up "Eat Me In St. Louis" before the band split acrimonously and seemingly for good. They have since reformed in 2007 with long time admirer and New Art Rock journeyman John Mitchell (Arena, The Urbane, Kino, Frost* etc.) replacing Dunnery ? i.e. the brand has been revived ? but it's just not the same any more, evolution and artistic development notwithstanding.

Want to know why? Listen to this one, their second and best effort by a mile. This really is the album that they are being remembered for. It has a few stabs at another glorious hit single with the unnervingly angular yet catchy "Midnight", "Kiss Like Judas", "Rose Marie" and "Black December" but on this one they explored their Art- and Prog-Rock tendencies even further with producer, famed old hippie Steve Hillage (ex-Gong) certainly not standing in their way. Elaborate songs like Yellow Christian", "The Old Man And The Angel" (edited as a single release by a progressingly nervous record company...) and "Hunting The Whale" bristle with oddball ideas, strange twists and turns and a stark contemporary vibe. Rarely has there been a more definite transition from being a singles act to being an outright album band ? and it is the elaborate, 15-minute title track that sealed matters forever and definitely made some folks at Virgin Records frown for a long time afterwards. The term "tour de force" must have been invented for this one alone and it's one of those pieces of music that really do take you on a journey while additionally providing a potted history of the best of 20th century English music, straddling elements of Music Hall sentimentality, Brass Band, Northern Folk, flat-out Hard Rock riffola and pastoral serenity, seamlessly pieced together. A work of art, no more, no less.

"Eat Me In St.Louis", released only a year later, veered of into a more commercial hard rock territory and the band was quickly at a loss with their apparent versatility eventually turning against them. For a Rock audience they were too pop... and they were certainly too cumbersome and unwieldy for a more commercially orientated public. One more live album, the aptly titled "Thank You And Goodnight" was released, well capturing the band's sheer energy and playfulness in concert and they were never to be heard of again, until recently in a different configuration and several tours of their homeland. The name has remained in very high regard since. Don't forget them.

iguana | 5/5 |

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