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BLACK WIDOW III

Black Widow

Heavy Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really. Progheads will appreciate better this one on the strnghts of the mini-suite and the closing number Old Man. I think they are right , but as I said on the review of their second album , the music has lost its happy feeling present on their debut.

I was told that their fourth album is also good and in the same vein but , although recorded in 73 , was not released until the mid-90's . I don't have any info for I never managed to even find it ( never really actually hunted it down )

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#30442)
Posted Friday, June 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
pasikoivu@luu
5 stars An essential album to those who want to hear well-written melodic rock (not essentially too progressive or hard).But great songwriting is certainly heard here and extra points to Clive Jones with his sax on "Accident"! Of course they had lost theiir unique identity by now but with these songwrituing skills...who cares?

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#30443)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third work released in 1971 "III". It is contrary, and the sound confuses further and is interesting with the jacket of the image like hard rock. In the support of music, the stability and quickness are both excellent rhythm sections. It is overall indifferent in a steady performance though is sober. However, it is a considerably happy by variegated musical and arrange work.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#63354)
Posted Friday, January 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Black Widow is often, and quite inexplicable to me, compared to (the likes of) Black Sabbath. I can't understand why and that's simply because the two groups have nothing, or at least very little, in common with each other. Now, it's true that Sabbath came across as quite occult back in '70 and based on the inverted cross depicted on the inner sleeve, who'd think otherwise? Black Widow on the other hand played around with mock sacrifices on stage and (at least on their debut) lyrics about demons and evil, whereas Sabbath on their debut sang mainly about other stuff. (They were, in fact, basically very much a bluesy heavy rock-band.) The difference between Black Sabbath and Black Widow was, apart from the lyrics, mainly a musical issue. Sabbath was led-heavy, Black Widow was not. Sabbath was heavy rock/metal, Black Widow belonged in the realms of progressive rock. Lyrics of the dark side accompanied by great flute and organ-based progressive, making the nether world look like quite a groovy place. The lyrics changed shape by the time of the second album and turned into less demonic tales but the music stayed the same, thank God (or the Devil?). The songs and music on "III" is quite extraordinary to me. I'd compare it, musically and lyrically, to the likes of Raw Material (their second album) or Diabolus, among others. Very british sounding, I think, and very melodic. In short, outstanding. I love all three albums they made (the fourth post-humously "IV" is enjoyable aswell) and this one may well be my favorite since it's consistent and has got everything great about early 70's prog, and british prog in particular. (Besides, I think people ought to buy something else by the band (aswell) than just the first only because it's labelled "occult".) The songs are beautifully constructed and makes for a very enjoyable listening experience indeed. It's a true gem of the early 70's and I think it deserves a place in any decent prog collection.

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Send comments to Gruvan (BETA) | Report this review (#124569)
Posted Sunday, June 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Leicester-based Black Widow were a talented progressive rock band who nevertheless went the way of many other groups who, basically, had the problem of NOT being YES, ELP or GENESIS in the early-to-mid 1970's. The popularity of the genre's top acts meant that smaller, less-well-known groups such as BLACK WIDOW were more-or-less ignored despite the quality of the music they were producing, showing just how tough the music biz is, was and will be until the end of time. Volume 3 was and is undoubtedly BW's finest moment, but even that was not good enough to stop their record label from dropping them. A year later, and after their self-produced(out of necessity) follow-up to Vol. 3 stiffed, the band went their separate ways in search of musical success. And it's a genuine shame. Vol. 3 brims with passion and invention and some genuinely excellent intra-band musicianship. Opening cut, the epic-10 minute journey that is THE BATTLE is a winding, twisting mixture of hard-rock and theatrical prog, telling the story of a wounded solider and his experiences during the heat of battle. The song dashes thru 4 carefully-constructed sections before finishing up in a thrilling climax of creschendoing guitars and drums, showing off the bands style at the peak of their impressive powers. But it's not just long prog songs these guys are good at; check out LONELY MAN, which contains a bass riff that's blacker and funkier than almost anything produced in R'n'B today and would probably have Prince craving to make it his own. LONELY MAN spans 4, ultra-quick minutes and features a rocking flute-solo alongside the groovy guitars. It's a welcome departure for a band who throughout their careers were often compared with BLACK SABBATH and therefore bracketed in the satanic rock/heavy metal category. The albums second half is weaker - closer I WISH I WOULD sounds naff and repetive - but any self-respecting prog fan, be they into YES, PINK FLOYD, WISHBONE ASH, GRAVY TRAIN or GENESIS will find a lot to like about this obscure, flawed gem. Impressive too is the cover art depicting an old, bedraggled and bearded prisoner sitting upright in a dank, dark and dirty dungeon. And get this: IT'S NOT BY ROGER DEAN!!!! But you cannot write a good Black Widow review without addressing the satanic controversy that dogged their career and the sometimes ridiculous, tabloid-esque accusations that made life, at times, very hard for the band. Also, some people call Black Widow a Heavy Metal band, which just isn't so. Yes, some of their tunes have a hard-rock veneer, but they certainly ain'y heavy! It was comparisons like this that irraparably damaged the bands reputation. They did indulge in the odd-satanic knees-up, and some of their lyrics did show an obsession with the darker-side-of-life, but, especially at the time, these points were overblown to the point of being stupid. Inevitable BLACK SABBATH comparisons also didn't help, and in 1975 the group called it a day. Black Widow's history is littered with average albums, bogus accusations and silly mistakes, but, if they are to be remembered for one thing, then this excellent little album should be it. It's a daring, cleverly-played piece featuring a collection of eclectic styles, all expertly-moulded together by a group of musicians who deserved better. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2008

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#157899)
Posted Sunday, January 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Time to count the dead

With the band's leading light Jim Gannon leaving the line up after their eponymous second album, Black Widow needed to regroup quickly. This they did by bringing in replacement John Culley and calling upon the talented Francis Monkman (Curved Air, Sky) to help out on keyboards unaccredited. Deciding to simply call the album "Black Widow 3", they set about putting together some new songs without their former principal writer.

The album kicks of promisingly with an 11 minute three part piece called "The battle", a suite portraying the folly of war (a popular theme at the time and of course today). There is a Uriah Heep feel to the first section "The onslaught", mainly through the high harmonies and guitar/organ driven heavy rock. Lyrically, the song is rather rudimentary with lyrics such as "And now the battle's over, time to count the dead" hardly being the work of the bard. It is also noticeable how far removed such thoughts are from the devil worshipping antics of the debut. The track develops nicely through some building guitar work backed by ah-ah harmonies, but rather disappointing fades instead of reaching a crescendo ending. A fine piece though.

After that, it is by and large back to business as usual, with lighter pop rock focused numbers being the norm. That said, tracks such as "King of hearts" do have a prog structure, with altering themes and tempos flowing nicely. The song may have a lightweight feel, but it is well put together. The album closes with a further long piece "Old man" which lacks the fine structure of "The battle", but will nevertheless be of interest in these parts.

In all, a much better album than its immediate predecessor, but still lacking any real identity. The lack of success of this album and its predecessor led to the band's label CBS losing faith in them and terminating their contract.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#184677)
Posted Saturday, October 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I quite liked the first two albums from Black Widow. More their debut one, thanks to great lyrics and special mood but the follow-up was not bad either.

When you discover the great opener The Battle you can only be re-assured that the band is still on the good track and develops their great not so heavy (and progressive as well) music as they have always done. It is a highlight of their work, not only from this album.

Most songs are on the good mood, even if the grandeur of the debut is maybe missing. Still, even a short number as Accident is quite strong in terms of beat and melody. Some good old psychedelia is also available with Lonely Man. Huge organ play combined with a sweet flute part are so nice ingredients. The crescendo build is also extremely well crafted. But I am just a lover of this type of song construction.

It is really a shame that commercial success was not on the rendezvous for Black Widow. Only a small database of fans followed them and it lead to the disbanding of the band after this good album (but they will re-unite much later on).

I highly appreciate such music. Of course, a mellow song as The Sun is on the gentle side of their work. Not expected and not really great, I must say. The band is investigating the same sort of atmosphere with King Of Hearts for a while. But at least it kicks on very nicely after a while and this dual aspect is very much of my liking. Another very good song from this album.

The band reverts to some more traditional inspiration with the closing Old Man. Even if the funky feeling prevails, the organ play combined with fine piano make this song to be much more pleasant as it ought to be.

In all, this is a pleasant album (as their previous ones were as well). A solid three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#184801)
Posted Sunday, October 05, 2008 | Review Permalink

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