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Black Widow - Black Widow IV CD (album) cover

BLACK WIDOW IV

Black Widow

Heavy Prog


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pasikoivu@luu
5 stars This is really one of their better albums, great songwriting, tight arangements and Yes-like vocal harmonies. A couple of those songs are taken from sole vinyl copy but that does not really matter when songwriting is as good as it is here. Go and get it!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#30446)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Content Development & Krautrock Team
4 stars A disconcerted album if you are in Black Widow's early sound. Their unique heavy rock mixed with flute and progressive arrengements, released in a rather scary, dark, satanic atmosphere has gone. The album lets the place to softer prog rock compositions. The musical and inovative qualities are always really present with full of catchy vocals' melodies, electric organs parts and abundant acoustic elements (flute, sax). The atmosphere is very calm and sometimes deeply introspective with an epic, delicate & touchful vintage flavor. An enjoyable album despite we can regret the exciting, devil's side of the band which combined to progressive rock had contributed to their own originality.

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Send comments to philippe (BETA) | Report this review (#37452)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is the fourth work of the phantom not released until 1998 though was recorded in 19 72 "BLACK WIDOW IV". This is one of their better albums.An enjoyable album despite we can regret the exciting moment.However, why was not this album released at that time? Four stars. Excellent addition to any prog music collection.

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Send comments to braindamage (BETA) | Report this review (#63355)
Posted Friday, January 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
Atavachron
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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Tepid but not bad 'fourth album' from this cult heavy prog group, a stillborn record pieced together years after the tracks were recorded in 1972, taken from flautist Clive Jones' master tapes and a few from the only acetate made of 'Black Widow lV'. In a stroke of musical irony, this set would be a departure for the band, a move toward the gentler sounds of the California scene but retaining a progressive/pop sound and showing significant growth in a more mature direction away from their tongue-in-cheek coven atmosphere. Think early Tull jamming with the Byrds at a party through a sound system that had seen better days. The out of place but fun 'Sleighride' is Prokofiev's Troika at least twenty years before ELP released it and turns into a groovy organ rocker, a bit long at nine minutes and sporting one too many hippies singing in the sunshine but prog rock just the same. 'More Than a Day' is pleasant and has some nice flute and acoustic guitar, as does the draggy and queasy 'You're So Wrong'. Though 'The Waves' fails at Animals-style psych and 'Part of a New Day' is the kind of track best left off a record, placed in a tightly sealed jar and buried in a stranger's backyard. Really, it's the kind of song that moves you to actually put the donut down, get up and hit the skip switch. 'Floating' foreshadows the prog-pop of Argent and 'Pictures in My Head' borrows again from classical, and at some point the band seems to want to be Caravan, but they aren't. A lukewarm and unfinished headstone for these guys and only recommended to fans of the band.

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Send comments to Atavachron (BETA) | Report this review (#141416)
Posted Monday, October 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Here's one we made (much!) earlier

Although this album was recorded in 1972, it lay dormant and unreleased for many years, only seeing the light of day in 1997. The lengthy delay was due to the fact after their near legendary debut, Black Widow had delivered two rather anonymous and consequently unsuccessful albums to CBS records, who then decided to cut their losses and drop the band. This album was therefore recorded without a contract for distribution in place. When it came to releasing the album, the band found that no label was interested in picking it up. On the plus side, it is generally acknowledged that the lack of a record company pulling the strings in the background meant that the band had a free reign to make the album they way they wanted to. The result from a prog perspective, and indeed from a musical view generally, is what amounts to arguably the band's strongest album.

We kick off rather disarmingly with Prokofiev's "Sleigh bell ride" played on organ. The use of this melody by Greg lake as part of his "I believe in father Christmas" single may lead you to think this is a lost ELP album. The seasonal lyrics of the song are delivered through melodic high harmony vocals. The song develops through its 9 minute running time, the band sounding rather Yes like at times (an influence they were proud to admit to).

"More than a day" and "You're so wrong" are lighter, folk influenced numbers featuring flute and acoustic instruments. "The waves" and "Part of a new day" are taken from the sole existing acetate recording of the album as the master tapes for these tracks could not be found. The sound quality though remains of a high standard. "The waves" is a moody, atmospheric piece, while the 8 minute "Part of a new day" is the most prog track on the album. Once again, there are similarities with Yes in the overall sound, in much the same way as bands such as Starcastle wore their influences on their sleeves.

Renewed interest in all things prog, and in Black Widow in particular, led to the album eventually being made available through the small Mystic Records label in 1997. This release also includes four demos recorded by the band with vocalist Rick E. replacing Kip Trevor (who left after "Black Widow IV" was recorded). These tracks show a clear desire to find commercial success, with wispy pop melodies and harmonised singing. The songs are not without merit though, the flute and sax of Clive Jones enhancing them significantly.

In all, a decent album which would have found respect if not widespread recognition had it been released in the 1970's. I could not go as far as to hold the album up as a lost masterpiece, but if you come across it, it is worth a listen.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#184774)
Posted Sunday, October 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Black Widow was a rather creative band in the early seventies. No less than four albums were composed in two year's time. And good ones!

Still, this fourth piece almost never saw the light (which would have been a real pity IMO). Due to lack of commercial success, the tapes remained unreleased during a period of no less than twenty-five years!

This is by far their proggiest effort. Almost symphonic at times: especially in the very good opener Sleighride. It is a jewel of a song based on a classical theme. Flutes, organ and sweet vocals really made this song a particular one. We are far from their debut album but since the band was capable of changing from genre without losing in quality, who can blame them?

The change is even more drastic when you listen to the pastoral More Then a Day. Some very light song at the opposite of their heavier image. This approach is confirmed during the next You're So Wrong although the chorus is backed up with fine organ work. The flute is so sweet and the band is hardly recognizable.

The psychedelic mood is also very present on this record (remember, we were in 1972). The Waves is another track which features this mood. Very much Floydian I must say. The organ work is again excellent and the flute is not shy of. This album is a very good one so far.

One of the best song from this album is the delicate Part Of A New Day. A mix between the early Genesis and a more mature Tull. Vocal harmonies are excessively well crafted and convey some folkish mood to it, even some Beach Boys sound! It is a very elegant track, a marvellous delicacy. Totally unexpected from a band categorized to be on the heavy side of the music (and who was not too much so really).

They got back to their first source of inspiration during Floating which is more in the heavy vein of their debut. It sounds pretty much psychedelic as well but it isn't the first track like this.

The last couple of songs are not so interesting but overall, it is a very pleasant album to discover. Seven out of ten.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#185141)
Posted Thursday, October 09, 2008 | Review Permalink

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