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TO YOU

Brainbox

Proto-Prog


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friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Brainbox - To you (compilation) (1972)

In the late sixties and early seventies there were some great blues rock bands in Holland. Most famous are Cuby + Blizzards, The Living Blues and Brainbox. Brainbox started with an amazing line-up with heavy soul/blues singer Kaz Lux, our most famous Dutch guitar player Jan Akkerman (of Focus fame) and - a personal favorite - Pierre van der Linden on drums (Focus, Trace). When asking adults interested in rock, Brainbox is often mentioned as the best Dutch band ever.

When listening to this 2lp compilation it's isn't too hard to understand why. Brainbox has that celebrated 'heavyness' or 'bite' to it, that fanatic playing, that great thick sound with a brutal rhythm section and great subtle or shreddings guitar solo's. The vocals of Kaz Lux (who would later team up with Jan Akkerman on 'Eli') are very strong in period. A nice combination of soul, power (with that slightly distorted low) and some great screams in higher pitches. Over the years the band had some line-up changes, eventually Jan Akkerman and Pierre van der Linden left to join Focus. Luckily both members were replaced by strong musicians that do the job well, though before-mentioned players are of course impossible to replace.

Whilst Brainbox was mainly a blues rock band, the repertoire was expended with folk influences (a brilliant version of Scarborough Fair), hard rock and slightly progressive elements (mainly on the long version of Sea of Delight (unwisely not included on this compilation). Brainbox weren't too keen on song-writing and a lot of material presented consists of standards like 'Summertime' (best rock version!) and Reason to Believe.

On this double album, which was later released on a single cd, one can't find a lot of moments that aren't worthwhile for a serious listener of classic era rock and blues rock. Only the opening track 'Virgin' isn't that good, but I think the alternative recording sound of this specific song is largely to blame. No real favorites here, but a lot of great material that covers a variety of moods but remains powerful throughout.

Conclusion. A very strong compilation of this Dutch blues rock giant, with the absence of the full version of 'Sea of Delight' as only weak point. For vinyl collectors this release is highly recommended, though I must admit it doesn't have any recognizable progressive rock features. Perhaps fan of Focus will be excited to listen to earlier material of Akkerman/van der Linden. For those interested with a cd-player I recommend acquiring the remastered edition of the 'Blue dome' Brainbox debut, which practically has the same tracks and the full version of 'Sea of Delight'. Four stars for this one, great blues rock.

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Posted Monday, October 03, 2011 | Review Permalink

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