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Jackson Heights

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Fourth and last album for JH, and apparently it was commonly agreed that this was to be the make or break album. The usual trio (armed with two ex-crimson drummer as Ian Wallace joined-up Giles) intended as concept was the lives of the ladies in a cabaret, but apparently the concept diverged into a complete extravaganza with tons of extra musicians once the label got excited about the project and over- did their part with a luxurious sleeve.

Starting on seagulls and piano into I Could Be Your Orchestra or its string-overloaded follow-up Spaghetti Sunshine, this album seems to be filled to the brim with the whole kettle of prog clichés, but then again, this might be a proghead's easiest way to get into JH. Classically trained Brian Chatton, constantly pushed by his buddy Keith Emerson, he obviously explodes into this album (he hadn't written anything on FAB, then did his bit in RF), but here seems to take on the lion's share in terms of songwriting

Again, when these big projects get on a roll, with the label's consent, it's usually the opposite returns that comes back in return. In the same genre than Bump And Grind, I can think of Audience's Lunch (mega project that broke the band up) and Stackridge's Mr Mick (also a mega project, but apparently botched up by the record company for not releasing the tracks correctly and consequently broke up the band), and indeed Jackson ended up broke with a group whose forces fled them. Swiss wizz Patrick Moraz would then step in and save the day for Jackson .

Report this review (#173663)
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Bump'n'Grind (1973) Esoteric ****

Compact at 33 minutes, this is the most pop orientated of the three albums with lavish production values, and colourful, `baroque-pop' arrangements, and although quite what they were aiming for is hard to tell, it is fine music by anyone's standards. This really shines on a god hi-fi !

The title track is anything but the dirty pub rock that the name seems to suggest, instead being a sweeping majestic widescreen tune, with McBurnie's vocals easily recognisable as the voice of (Patrick Moraz')`Story Of I' at the fore against full string arrangements. `It's A Shame' is a beautiful divorce ballad (if there is such a thing) with a really memorable tune and perhaps Lee Jackson's best vocal, ably served by a lush arrangement once again. `Public Romance' is especially remarkable for featuring a cornucopia of keyboards including a stunning solo played on Keith Emerson's loaned Moog by Brian Chatton, and more `Melletron' (which is mis- spelt on every album as per the original sleeve notes !).

This album closed out their career and Jackson subsequently attempted to resurrect The Nice formula with Patrick Moraz in the keyboard hot seat with Refugee, only to have his hopes dashed again as Moraz did a runner for a short lived stint with Yes. The three albums on display here demonstrate that while Jackson Heights were eminently listenable, they were always going to fall between several stools. This is not to say however that with a retrospective glance and an appreciation of that melting pot that was the early seventies London music scene, there is much to appreciate here. Even albums like this which totally failed commercially offer up standards in writing, performance and production which are seldom matched today.

Report this review (#270550)
Posted Monday, March 8, 2010 | Review Permalink

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