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Nucleus Chris Spedding: Songs Without Words album cover
3.90 | 22 ratings | 2 reviews | 18% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Station Song (14:39)
2. Plain Song (4:40)
3. Song Of The Deep (8:50)
4. The Forest Of Fables (4:40)
5. New Song Of Experience (8:22)
6. I Thought I Heard Robert Johnson Say (3:14)

Bonus track on 2015 Hux remaster:
7. Sub-Continental Drift (4:38)

Line-up / Musicians

- Chris Spedding / acoustic & electric guitars, co-producer

- John Mitchell / piano, electric piano
- Paul Rutherford / trombone
- Roger Potter / bass, double bass
- John Marshall / drums
- Laurie Allen / drums (7)

Releases information

Maybe a strange inclusion, although musically related to Nucleus, which CS would later be part of.

Artwork: Mark Case

LP Odeon ‎- OP-88007 (1970, Japan)

CD EMI ‎- TOCP-7367 (1992, Japan)
CD Hux Records ‎- HUX 147 (2015, UK) Newly edited by Chris and remastered by Ron Geesin w/ 1 bonus track and different cover art

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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NUCLEUS Chris Spedding: Songs Without Words ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

NUCLEUS Chris Spedding: Songs Without Words reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars Who could believe when Chris "Punk Motorcycle Mama" Spedding was actually a jazz guitarist first and foremost? Indeed, having passed through the ranks of the Battered Ornaments, both with and without their leader and "Beat Poet" Pete Brown (he got sacked from his own band the day before their Hyde Park concert), and then as the amazing junior guitarist of Nucleus (for the first three albums), where he became the first member to leave to start his solo career. Songs Without Words is his very first album, which for some strange reasons only got a Japanese release. So a full year before his "official" debut Backwood Progressions (don't be fooled by the name, it is anything but prog), this absolutely fabulous record was the next logical step to Nucleus and the line-up he managed to assemble for this album is simply stunning, even if there are no "stars", and there is not one single weaker moment through the album. Graced with a stunning artwork (the back cover is equally awesome), this album is one of those true lost progressive jazz rock gems.

Very few details (maybe more in Japanese) are given on the lone and sole Japanese CD re-issue (the "Progressive Rock Series) of the early 90's), and even the full line-up is difficult to read, but the recently deceased Paul Rutherford is on trombone, Nucleus' John Marshall is on drums, and either Potter or Mitchell are on bass and keyboards.

Starting out on an old Battered Ornaments composition (Pete Brown is credited as well), the first minute gives you an idea of the tone of the album to come: inventive jazz-rock with some improvised with plenty of superb interplay and outstanding soloing. The 14-min Station Song is a stunning piece where Rutherfiord's trombone shares the lead role with Spedding's guitar, and it even manages to steal the spotlight. The unrepresentative Plain Song is an incredibly stunning acoustic guitar and bowed contrabass, joined later by a wild over-saturated sax, are inducing spine chills, goosebumps and tears of joy. Too bad this track is the only one of the genre on this album, because as unrepresentative of the album, it certainly is the main highlight.

The 9-min Song Of The Deep starts out on a much jazzier tone, which could be a bit repelling at first, but the band soon has the track veering into a full-blown avant-garde jazz, without going too dissonant, even if Rutherford and Spedding are giving it their all. Another pure example of mastery of their subject. The only track that was written as a group effort is Forest Of Fable picks up where Deep had left it at, and is a collective improvisation going bonkers and atonal. New Song Of Experience is a piano- driven exploration where all the musicians are giving their all in order to keep the original idea on track and ultimately fail and end the song in complete chaos! Once again simply stunning!! The closing I thought I heard Rovbert Johnson Say starts very slowly but as a natural consequence of the previous track's disorder. But soon the band has the track going bonkers and at the limit of rupture, only to slowly die out as a phenomenal album like this one should have.

If you've ever heard the trombone never so well put upfront, jump on this album, as I can only think of Quebec's prog folk group Brèche and their sole album, where that instrument gets so much attention. Oh, BTW, Mr. "Motorcycle Mama" Spedding hates this album and never intended it for release, so it got a Japan-only release, fortunately without him being aware of it!! Yes, "Mr Rockabilly-punk freak" Spedding , you wouldn't know a good album if you recorded one. And it just so happens that those jazz- inflicted records of the late 60's-early 70's are the only worthy records, you've ever done in your life! Most of your rock career was nothing but a bloody waste of your rather exceptional guitar-playing talent. Just thought that one day, you might get to read this and take the full slap in your face to come back to reality! A real masterpiece if you ask me, and the progheads and jazz- rock fans who have heard this will easily agree!!

Review by Bonnek
3 stars "Songs Without Words" is an interesting pre-Nucleus work from guitarist Chris Spedding. This 1969 recording wasn't released till 1972, quite some time after the first batch of stellar Nucleus album, and it pales a bit in comparison. But viewed from a 1969 context it's an album that was well aware of the most recent developments in jazz. It just lacks the energy and superior songwriting that Nucleus would develop. Next to Spedding, the line-up also features future Nucleus drummer John Marshall.

The 15 minute "Station Song" is the best part, starting with quiet jazz piano, bass and drums, it gets wild in the middle when Rutherford's trombone and Spedding's snappy guitars engage in a violent dialogue. The acoustic "Plain Song" is quite different, folky rather then jazzy, with acoustic guitars and bowed contrabass. Nice piece. "Song of The Deep" returns to the style of the opener: relaxing jazz mixed with abrasive and slightly dissonant trombone. "The Forest of Fables" is entirely different again, atonal and experimental, something you'd rather expect on an early Kraftwerk album. "New Song of Experience" brings this experimentation in jazzier territory again, it goes near chaos at time and doesn't entirely thrill me, a failed experiment for me. The closing track is an experimental guitar solo from Spedding.

While there's very deserving music in the first half of this album, the second half is much of a hit and miss with me, containing deserving experimentation but without solid grooves or memorable songwriting that could bring these pieces alive. Nevertheless, interesting for Nucleus fans.

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