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Writing On The Wall - Power Of The Picts CD (album) cover

POWER OF THE PICTS

Writing On The Wall

 

Heavy Prog

3.88 | 32 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Sole album from this Edinburgh quintet (formerly known as The Jury) relocated in London. Their Hammond-based proto-prog was also proto-hard-rock if you like that sort of pigeonholing: but in either case, WotW was amongst the pioneers of the genre, since thir album was released in 69. Indeed, Bill Scott's dominating organ gives the band a solid sound that can make you think of Atomic Rooster or during their wilder moments of Arthur Brown's Crazy World. The band had a raw sound with Patterson's vocals and anarchy-loving lyrics (the opening track of It Came On Sunday), but Finlayson's sizzling fuzzling guitar gives it the extra oomph to go overboard. Of course, the band's choices of artwork and album title (the Pict tribes not reminding the English many merry souvenirs) were somewhat questionable, and it probably didn't help them break out of the local club circuit, though they did manage to find the Middle Earth club and record label.

The album consists mostly of relatively short songs, though calling their format commercial would very misleading. While some are fairly straightforward (Sunday, Ladybird, etc..), others are more elaborate (Mrs Cooper's Pie, Shadow Of Man, Hills Of Dreams) with some of their proggier moments bearing shades of Deep Purple (mkI). Of course, the main selling point of this album to progheads will be the lengthy (8-mins) Aries piece, which goes east, north, west, south and centre, but remaining focused ll the way through. Other excellent stand-outs are the slightly longer Shadow of Man and Viginia Waters. The album's only real flaw of the album is the (thankfully short) dumb folk ditty Bogeyman piece, which should've never seen the album, or even the light of day (for its own sake). An accordion piece, but you'll also find that yucky instrument on Hill Of Dreams.

The Repertoire label CD reissue features the non-album single tracks of the same year and both of them are well in line with the album's overall sound. The band would apparently record a US-release live album (not sure it was legit either) and a further single in 73, before falling apart; with their ex-members migrating to other projects, but never making it "big". While you may have trouble with the album's production standard, the open-minded proghead won't have problems adapting and enjoying, because it is definitely a very interesting brand of proto-hard-prog, and the album will gracefully and rightfully sit in your shelves not too far away from the bands mentioned above.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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