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John G. Perry - Seabird CD (album) cover

SEABIRD

John G. Perry

 

Canterbury Scene

4.58 | 5 ratings

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Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
4 stars Hibernating Canterbury gem

Sometimes I find it unbelievably baffling to hear some of the albums that were rejected back in the day. I guess I can see what may have driven the record companies to refrain from putting prog rock albums out during the height of punk and disco, even more so if the record had clear connotations with the abstract and unfathomable part of the progressive universe, - BUT if the album itself was a combination of fantastic song-writing beautifully backed up by some fantastic musical acrobatics, I fail to see the logic. Cue John G. Perry´s second outing Seabird. This album was recorded in 1977, but remained unreleased and kept in the dark for nearly 2 decades. What a waste I say!!! This Canterbury bear has had its fill of sleep, and you may want to greet it welcome coming out of its long and fruitless Sleeping Beauty stint. While Perry may have been considered a second fiddle to many at the time, such as some unfairly look upon John Wesley who backs up Porcupine Tree in their live setting, he proved his remarkable talent for writing pensive and to the point songs with his first solo record called Sunset Wading. On this one, he elaborates on the musical ideas and though many of the tracks here are simple in structure and almost naive in expression, they wield an uncanny power to seduce you. In fact I feel Seabird has a lot of similarities with the song writing of Caravan, which come to think of it isn´t that big of a surprise, seeing as Perry played on their For GIrls who grow plump in the Night album.

On Seabird Perry is helped out in the studio by such magnificent musical enforcers, that anyone in to the Canterbury sound or indeed the melodic side of fusion, should immediately start sponsoring an erected tent pole in their trouser department. I mean, Michael Giles, Rupert Hine, Morris Pert, Geoff Richardson and an enthusiastic Simon Jeffes behind the arrangements. Like the aforementioned Caravan album, this album also plays around with a meaty and funky sound. Together with the arrangements that sweeten the flavours slightly, though without becoming overripe and sticky like jam,- the balance of raw reeling funked up Canterbury with small touches of the whimsical - the high reaching tender sensibilities of the orchestral arrangement coming from the back, - is a true winner here.

About the instrumentation here, there is no surprise - everyone involved sound very much into the thing, and furthermore employ a spirit of togetherness as if they all were a band, which is a bit far fetched as each of these musicians were famous for not being famous band members. They were the session men of the Canterbury scene. This is perhaps why the album never amounted to anything - let alone a release, and as I stated earlier, that is truly a shame.

The fretless bass playing of Perry is inspiring, gentle and booming like a singing rubber band of exuberance. Michael Giles adds his original way of bouncy off kilter rhythm enhancements, whilst still being enormously tight and with it. Geoff Richardson, as always, is just wonderful on both the viola and flute - and helps generate some of the same atmospheres as he did on Caravan´s Girls getting chubby overnight album. Morris Pert conjures up mysticism and spice with his percussive talents and breaks the otherwise smooth surface of the music. Elio D'Anna off the band Nova sports the occasional saxophone tweets, which are tastefully used in accordance with the wide scope of what the specific track is on about. Another guy from Nova perfects this Italian duo: Corrado Rusticci, and boy does this dude shine on the guitar. With a blistering solo that sounds like wobbling star-shine fire on the first cut, -people should get ready for a terrific ride with Corrado under the bonnet, although as all the other instruments here, he is only put to real use when most effective and apt, which rather reflects the subtle splish splashes of piano playing and slowly emanating keyboard work from Rupert Hine.

I´d recommend this album to anyone into the melodic aspirations of Caravan, and if you thought the albums of said band were unnecessary and flat sounding from around the same time - then Seabird should come as a brilliant surprise to you. Furthermore, if you haven´t veered into the somewhat sneaky and on occasion mad bizarro world of Canterbury, this album should serve as a welcoming and embracing start to what hopefully will be a successfully guided tour into English eccentricity and music with a sense of humour.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |

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