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BAKERLOO

Bakerloo

Proto-Prog


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Kotro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Progressive Blues!

Progressive Blues is something whose existance I've been defending for a while now. And while this isn't the place to rant on about, I just have to praise the fact that some of the who fit that "genre" are slowly being added, even if it's just as "Proto-Prog".

Such is the case with Bakerloo and their homonymous album. A one-shot wonder, this combo of three very talented sessions musicians managed to put out in 1969 this fantastic blues-rock masterpiece, which was a natural progression from acts like John Mayall, Cream and Fleetwood Mac, and a percursor of Zeppelin's and some of Jethro Tull's hard-blues approach.

First track, Big Bear Ffolly, along with the third track Drivin' Bachwards are a couple of almost free jazz improvisations, with hints of Django in the first track and an obvious nod to Bach's Bouree (as it's title indicates), harpsicord included, in the third.Gang Bang also begins in that vein, providing some great guitar riffing from Clempson before giving way to some fine drum soloing, ending with the initial riff. All these tracks are instrumental.

Bring It On Home and This Worried Feeling sound a bit more like typical Mississipi Delta Blues with an harder edge, with very basic riffing, with the greatest show of virtuosism in the first coming from the harmonica, while the blues vocals and guiter dominate the second.

Last Blues and Son of Moonshine are the two most progressive tracks in the album. The first starts of with a nice vocal performance from Terry Poole, very gently accompanied by guitar and bass, but then fades into a fast-paced hard- rock section with great soloing from Clempson. This song has some fantastic production for the time, like the use of echo. The hard-rock section fades out into the beggining of the song as quickly as it first appeared. Son of Moonshine, clocking at almost 15 minutes, is generaly considered the highlight of the album. Starts off with guitar soloing before the entrance of some realy heavy druming.The song is basicaly a long jam-session, with vocals at the beggining that 3 minutes into the song give way to some fantastic guitar work by Dave Clempson leading a strict blues rhythm provided by the drum n' bass, even if at points enriched with overlays. At it's eight minutes, the songs begins to fade out before re-emerging as it begun, introducing some more heavy jamming and great guitar work, with all instruments gathering pace until its almost cacophonic near-end. After another fade-out, the song restarts with some gentle guitar, before bursting out again to complete a series of odd variations.

Bonus tracks on the 2000 re-release are the b-side Once Upon A Time and an alternate take of This Worried Feeling. The first is a nice addition, a gentle rock piece with less emphasis on blues but still featuring great guitar soloing with multi vocals chorus. The alternate take of This Worried Feeling is basicaly a shorter version of the original with slightly diferent guitar parts.

One of the rare but highly apretiated attempts at aproaching Blues-Rock with a Progressive twist, this album is satisfaction guarenteed from the first listen on. If you like Led Zeppelin, but especialy Ten Years After, Cream, early Fleetwood Mac and the lesser-known Pink Floyd takes on blues, then you will definitly love this.

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Send comments to Kotro (BETA) | Report this review (#109152)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The album opens jazzy instrumental 'Big Bear Ffolly' followed by Willie Dixon's classic blues 'Bring It On Home'; interesting arrangement of a well known J.S.Bach piece is supported with J.Salisbury trumpet, so bringing us to the highlight of this record side called 'Last Blues' which consists basically of two different parts- first one with slow tempo and strong Terry Poole vocals, fading into second, an guitar driving instrumental eventually ending by repeating slow intro. 'Gang Bang' instrumental offers Clempson furious guitar which leads to Keith Baker's superb drumming performance. Side B opener 'This Worried Feeling' is a hard core blues tune (and a very good one!) while 'Son Of Moonshine' is excellent example of prog blues definition. Thre is also a bonus track on this Akarma reissued record 'Once Upon A Time' not present on genuine album release, at that time it was issued as a single.This album revealed talents of three young musicians, among them Clempson's turned out to be the brightest, shining till nowadays. This sole Bakerloo release I would hihgly recommend!

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Send comments to bsurmano (BETA) | Report this review (#109168)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Catch the Bakerloo train!

A fine, underrated album from a fine British blues band, one I kept seeing on the shelves during the 70's but unfortunately passed up, originally issued on EMI's fledgling "Harvest" label and recently reissued on CD by Repertoire RF4870 digipak. The recording has transferred well overall and is brilliant, very clear though sometimes rather gritty, not a bad thing for a blues band!

Bakerloo, which laid the foundations for "May Blitz" and later connections with "Colosseum" and "Humble Pie" were originally named "Bakerloo Blues Line", and were strongly compared to Cream (as were many blues bands at the time including "Free") and Fleetwood Mac, take their name from the London Underground line of that name, originally called "The Baker Street & Waterloo Railway" (the brown one which goes from Harrow & Wealdstone to the Elephant & Castle), which I guess the band members may have travelled on now and then, though they made their first break at Birmingham's "Henry's Blues House", frequented by the likes of Cozy Powell, Jeremy Spencer, Spencer Davis, Robert Plant, John Bonham, though most importantly for the band Jim Simpson, who had earlier discovered an early incarnation of "Black Sabbath". After famously supporting Led Zeppelin at London's "Marquee", John Peel showcased the band on "John Peel's Top Gear", they then returned to the Marquee to support Jethro Tull, eventually leading to a record deal with EMI/Harvest, which brings us to this great album.

The artwork on the sleeve depicts a group of men surrounding a huge drilling machine(?), I guess the building of the Underground cost many lives, this could be a depiction of the dangerous work involved, the Bakerloo Line first being built just so a group of rich cricket fans could visit Lord's more easily it is rumoured! But to the music - an interesting mix of blues, boogie, jazz and classical leanings here and there.

The first track, a jazzy instrumental called "Big Bear Ffolly", was named after Jim Simpson's British tour Bakerloo were on, which included the fledgling Black Sabbath named "Earth" . This piece includes some fantastic gritty guitar playing from Clempson, and some fast and furious bass/drums from Terry Poole and Keith Baker (coincidentally another famous drummer of that name is relevant!). The band do a brilliant version of "Bring It On Home" made famous to us by Led Zeppelin, and have kept the song to the same style here, though Plant sings it better! "Drivin' BACHwards" ( pun intended!) shows Prog leanings into classical music, using Bach's "Bouree" - the track is a clever jazzy improvisation with some fine playing. "Last Blues" is a slow, gloomy, atmospheric song, "...take me to the train...", followed by shimmering cymbals, howling winds then leads into an amazing blues jam featuring some great Cream-style playing from all musicians. As a big fan of the long forgotten art of the drum solo, the next track "Gang Bang" is one of the best I've heard on record, basic drumming techniques very similar to a Ginger Baker style solo, the track also features some brilliant guitar playing, and the sound quality is really good, you can almost see them drums, and that Bakerloo train clattering, rumbling and rolling through the tunnels - play loud! "This Worried Feeling" is a Fleetwood Mac style slow blues style number, complete with atmospheric vocal and "lonely" Peter Green style guitar, the song drifts into a slow blues including some bar room piano and dirty blues guitar playing from Clempson- amazing stuff. The last track on the original album (the poppy/Clapton/Pagey "Once Upon a Time" and an alternate take of "This Worried Feeling" are on the CD) is "Son of Moonshine", a dirty Tony McPhee (Groundhogs) style guitar intro leading to a blues/boogie rocker, heavy blues at its best!

Overall an amazing though until recently overlooked blues gem, but not by musicians. Any Prog fan even remotely into blues should hear this album, which could create a Prog genre all of its own and could tie in some of the bands included in this review.

BRITISH BLUES / MUSIC RATING 5/5 HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE 4/5

PROG RATING 3.5/5

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#109331)
Posted Monday, January 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Bakerloo is an album that seems to have shown up in just about every discount bin of every record store I visited in the seventies. For that very reason I never bothered to pick it up, which is too bad because from what I understand the original vinyl is worth a bit of money today. The digipack reissue from Repertoire is nowhere near as valuable, but I imagine the sonic qualities are a bit better.

These guys were basically a blues band, although there's a fair amount of experimentation going on with this album. This is especially true of the middle part of the record, with the Doors-like dirge vibe of "Last Blues" and the percussion-heavy (hence the title) "Gang Bang". The album doesn't start off as promising though with the decent but unadventurous bluesy "Big Bear Ffolly". The band further bolsters the argument for their being a blues band by serving up their own version of the Willie Dixon Delta-blues standard "Bring it on Home".

But once those two are past things start to improve, beginning with the classically-inspired "Drivin' Bachwards" which is brief and clearly only intended to create a transitional bridge to "Last Blues".

"Gang Bang" features an extended drum/bass solo the likes of which you won't hear on too many progressive music albums. Its great virtuosity, but I can't say as there's anything particularly experimental or progressive about it.

The band returns to their blues form with "This Worried Feeling", a rather lengthy tune full of bent notes and 'done me wrong' lyrics. Considering the times and musicians the likes of which these three hung around with I suppose the sound shouldn't be a surprise, but from a purely progressive perspective this and the first two tracks sound quite dated nearly forty years later.

All is pretty much forgiven with the closing "Son of Moonshine" though, a nasty-lick affair that goes on for fifteen minutes and ranges wildly from stomping raunchy blues to early metal to what almost sounds like heavy funk. This is clearly a highly improvised track with some self-indulgent harpsichord, harmonica and guitar experimentation that doesn't always quite work. But for the most part the sound had to have been influential on later groups like Uriah Heep, Grand Funk and others of that ilk.

I put together a genealogy once that started with Bakerloo and managed to show connections to virtually every other band that is generally classified as "Proto-prog". Truth be told that's only because guitarist/pianist and stylishly "Clem" Clempson went on to a career that included Colosseum, Humble Pie, Champion, Rough Diamond and the Assembly; and because half those bands had members who can be traced to hundreds of other late sixties and seventies prog acts. Drummer Keith Baker played on Uriah Heep's 'Salisbury', and bassist Terry Poole ended up playing jazz as far as I know. Only Clemson really had much of a noteworthy musical career after Bakerloo fractured.

As someone who listened to a lot of sixties and seventies blues rock growing up I like this album, but I wouldn't call it essential, either for rock or progressive music fans. Three stars is fair enough, but I would say it is recommended to anyone who wants to hear a little bit of the transition from Delta blues to sixties rock while it was in the process of happening.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#175930)
Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars This 1969 release is the only album from UK band Bakerloo, their existence cut short by guitarist Dave 'Clem' Clempson jumping ship to John Hiseman's Colosseum. A band in the classic power trio tradition aka Cream, they played powerful Blues Rock with a Jazzy edge clearly evident on opening track and instrumental Big Bear Ffolly. From Clempson's dextrous playing it's clear why he was soon to be sought by Hiseman for Colosseum.

Bring It On Home is the Willie Dixon number brought to wider attention by Led Zeppelin's bombastic version on their second album. Bakerloo play a more restrained and no doubt more faithful to the original rendition, though I must admit to preferring the explosive qualities brought to the piece by Zeppelin.

Drivin' Bachwards treads the same territory as Bouree by Jethro Tull being based on a piece as the title suggests by composer Johann Sebastian Bach, though with a faster tempo than Tull used.

Last Blues' restrained beginnings soon give way to more dextrous instrumental interplay before returning to where we started to close. Despite the main appeal of the band lying in Clempson's guitar work, bassist Terry Poole and drummer Keith Baker make up a fine rhythm section, clearly evident in Gang Bang which some may be put off by it being a vehicle for a Baker drum solo.

This Worried Feeling is a typical laid back formulaic blues number which is good enough, though not spectacular but as expected Clempson rises to the occasion.

The album closes with the 15 minute Son Of Moonshine, a driving bluesy rocker, the type of track that lends itself to endless jamming that goes on forever..and it almost does!

Overall a decent enough though not spectacular album largely forgotten about today, though no doubt still retaining affection by the largish cult following the band had in the late sixties, in the main down to Clempson's fine guitar playing.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#189983)
Posted Thursday, November 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Gritty, earthy blues from this short-lived outfit that featured future Humble Pie guitarist Clem Clempson, this self-titled released from 1969 is a must for anyone with a penchant for the bluesier side of progressive music. Similar in sound-and-scope to the likes of Steamhammer, Ten Years After, The Groundhogs and Savoy Brown(to name but a few), it's a shock to discover that Bakerloo were actually a three-piece, such is the depth to much of the material on this criminally-undersold record. Fortunately, and although only one album would be released under the Bakerloo moniker, the members - Clempson(guitar, piano, vocals), Terry Poole(bass) and Keith Baker(drums) - would all feature in an array of excellent progressive and psychedelic acts over the years, turning up in, amongst others, the short-lived power-psych-trio May Blitz, prog-rockers Uriah Heep, jazz- proponents Colosseum, the bluesy Vinegar Joe, and heavy-metal pioneers Judas Priest. Some great music would be produced by the trio in their later guises, yet nothing quite matches the electrified blues-prog on offer here, the slight R'n'B-tinged formula producing a succession of powerful rockers('Big Bear Ffolly'), slow, psychedelic workouts('Last Blues') and wigged-out boogie rock epics('Son Of Moonshine'). Original vinyl copies are now highly-collectible(of course) yet for once the quality of the music really does live up to the reputation of the record. Highly recommended. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#640199)
Posted Friday, February 24, 2012 | Review Permalink

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