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OUT OF COLD STORAGE

This Heat

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Out of Cold Storage is a handsome 6 CD box set that contains every official This Heat release plus a bonus disc of live material and a highly informative booklet. The CDs all come in cardboard facsimiles of their original packaging and everything has been splendidly remastered. It's superlative value for money and is a fitting monument to a truly great but oddly overlooked band which bridged the gap between prog and punk/new wave, Krautrock and Canterbury, studio wizardry and visceral live performance and much else besides. All of the albums (except for the live disc) have been reviewed in detail individually, so what follows will be relatively brief.

This Heat came (apparently) out of nowhere in 1979. Manager/producer David Cunningham thought that they could be as big as King Crimson, and in a way the comparison is an apt one; like ITCOTCK a decade earlier, their debut album opened with a low, menacing drone that gave way to the thunderous riff of Horizontal Hold. Crimson were rarely this focussed and intense, however, and less concerned with the minutiae of production. It's a remarkable debut, but greater things were to come.

Deceit made the debut sound positively flabby. It's an intense, highly concentrated album which is at once more accessible than the debut and also deeper and more coherent. The most song based of This Heat's releases, it's also probably their most accessible release.

Health and Efficiency was a 12" single released between the first two albums. The title track is a Faust style rocker which takes all kinds of odd twists and turns, backed with a bizarre and disturbing electronic drone. The essence of This Heat distilled into 20 minutes.

Repeat originally contained 2 lengthy pieces based on tape loops - the title piece is partly based on 24 Track Loop from the debut album, while Metal is a piece of urban gamelan performed on metal sculptures. oil drums and similar objects. The box set version also contains Graphic/Varispeed (Health and Efficiency side) played at 33 rpm.

Made Available gathers together their 1977 sessions for the John Peel show. The first half is versions of tracks from the debut album played with raw intensity, while the second half is more improvisation based. Fascinating stuff, with some amazing instrumental performances from Bullen and Hayward.

Live 1980/81 consists of previously unreleased live recordings. The sound quality isn't great, but the intensity and inventiveness of This Heat on stage shines through the sometimes murky recordings.

These albums were unavailable for some years, and second hand copies could be hard to find. This reissue was long overdue, and the remastering (especially of the debut) is a revelation. If you like This Heat or any of Hayward's subsequent work this box set is essential, and anybody into RIO and the wilder side of Krautrock also needs this music. Essential - if you're not going to buy anything else this year, make sure you get this.

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Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permalink

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