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Walrus - Walrus CD (album) cover

WALRUS

Walrus

Heavy Prog


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Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rip-roaring fun on this 1970 debut from 9-piece heavy blues-jazz-rock orchestra Walrus, blasting forth with ragged and rich numbers from founder Steve Hawthorn's warm basses, guitarist John Scates' dirty riffs, and the over-the-top tribal yell of Noel Greenaway. On backup is a pulsing band of horns, woodwinds and percussion making this, their only release, a surprisingly tight blend of the sophisticated brass-jazz of Blood,Sweat&Tears, the stormy blues of Janis and her Holding Co., and echoes of early Who or Jethro Tull.

'Who Can I Trust' is typical but perfect hard acid rock boldly followed by 13 minute epic 'Rags and Old Iron', a journey of rhythm 'n blues, ancient ancestry, stoic folk rock, weird Brit-pop and sprawling brass-psych. 'Why' is a confident folk bit in paisley with Bill Hoad's pretty intertwined flutes and Greenaway's pining lament, tongue-in-cheek romp 'Turning', refreshing modern jazz in 'Coloured Rain', and beyond kitsch 'Tomorrow Never Comes' reminds of The Nice.

Nothing spectacular and brutally old-sounding, Walrus were destined to evaporate with little trace but the ensemble's impressive arrangements put them on a par with contemporaries as Room, and they deserve their small spot among the progressive orchestras of the era.

Report this review (#285914)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Walrus is one of one shot wonders from UK in the early '70's with a short career. Formed in late '60's by the bassist Steve Hawthorn , Walrus release in november 1970 their selftitled album at Decca records. The band was formed by 8 musicians, like a small orchestra, but only the head of the band Hawthorn was the main composer. The music offered by Walrus is jazz rock with brass intrstuments, horns arrangements and some vague progressive elements added here and there, the resoult is not bad, little dated now but ok most of the time and enjoyble. They remind me of, for instance, Jethro Tull (Benefit era) but less flute orientated and with some bluesy touch , tipical for that period aproach, Audience, Family or even Blood, Sweat & Tears. There are some fine moments , like short opening track Who Can I Trust, the lenghty Rags and Old Iron with some good mellow parts melted with some folky parts, heavy prog passages, a great tune and jazzy cover version from Traffic first album - Coloured Rain, the rest are ok. Overall a good release that desearves one way or another to be discovered, but is nothing realy a spectacular release, that's why the best I can give is 3 stars. My version of the CD is the first issue on this format from Black rose label in 1999 with some comments about the band and pieces inside. Not to be confused with other bands with same name Walrus .

Report this review (#548021)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Tucked away in the darker recesses of any prog collection are sunk without trace gems from the late 60's/early 70's. I was surprised and pleased that over a dozen others have at least heard this and bothered to rate it. It has even had a couple of reviews. I shall add mine then! With previous reviews, especially from such an obscure 9 (or 8 depending on source)piece, you need a touchstone to base any potential purchasing decisions on. Without repeating what has been said before, the obvious Colosseum and early Chicago (Transit Authority) haven't been name checked....along with Blodwyn Pig and the criminally absent from PA Mick Abrahams Band. I think Ginger Bakers Airforce and Dada can be thrown in to the mix also....and of course the delightful Keef Hartley Band and the slightly more mainstream CCS. Without wanting to overload the comparisons, IF have to be mentioned and even Ashton, Gardener & Dyke! So what does that give us? A brassy, heavy prog masterpiece? Not quite, but not for want of effort! There are perhaps a little too many pop/psych hang overs (Tomorrow Never Comes could have been The Nice on a not quite their best day) and the brass parts are mostly just multi layered same riff rather than something counterpointal and longer tracks feel more like different ideas tagged on to each other rather than any meaningful bridged links making for a satisfying whole. Yes we get a prog/blues feel a la early Tull but without their playful and knowing nod and a wink so it can feel a bit leaden. Having said that, there are enough contrasts to make this an interesting listen with the more pastoral 'Why' being one such example. Yes it is firmly locked in a time and a place sound and content wise, but there are and were a lot worse places to be than a Marquee or college gig in say late 1970 with this lot in yer face/ears I imagine. Again, a 5 star review system makes it difficult as would want to give them a half star for sheer effort this pushing it firmly in to 3.5 area. It is what it (was) is.
Report this review (#1519647)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2016 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Interesting obscure band from which has released a single, self titled LP, in 1970 and quickly disappeared without trace soon after that. Their sound was a curious mix of brass rock a la Blood, Sweat & Tears or Chicago with psychedelic rock, jazz and even some acid-folk bits (like in Why). The music of this octet is quite appealing and certainly the band was promising: bassist Steve Hawthorn shows up as a viable songwriter of good material, while the players are obviously skilled enough. Singer Noel Greenaway is another great find, with a fine voice that handles well all styles of music. With time they probably could produce a personal and outstanding sound. Unfortunately this was not to be. I guess at the time there were enough good brass bands riding the charts and their psychedelic takes were already dated by 1970. Even the cover was not that original for the period:it looks like several others Ive seen then.

Anyway, if you like the above mentioned styles you should give this album a chance. I was quite surprised by the strong performances and the overall good songwriting and arrangements. Nothing spectacular or groundbreaking, but nice to listen to. The production is very good for the time and the CD release has a bonus track that was not included on the original LP. Nice find.

Rating: 2,5 stars rounded up. good, but clearly non essential in any way.

Report this review (#1521021)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2016 | Review Permalink

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