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Writing On The Wall

Heavy Prog

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Writing On The Wall Power Of The Picts album cover
3.89 | 36 ratings | 4 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. It Came on a Sunday (4:18)
2. Mrs. Cooper's Pie (3:21)
3. Ladybird (3:47)
4. Aries (8:09)
5. Bogeyman (3:44)
6. Shadow of a Man (3:52)
7. Tasker's Successor (3:43)
8. Hill of Dreams (3:06)
9. Virginia Waters (5:57)

Bonus tracks on CD editions:
10. Child on a Crossing (3:32)
11. Lucier Corpus (5:47)

Total time: 49:16

Line-up / Musicians

- Willy Finlayson / guitars, lead vocals
- Robert "Smiggy" Smith / guitar
- Bill Scott / keyboards
- Jake Scott / bass
- Jimmy Hush / drums, backing vocals

- Dave Howson / arrangements, conductor & producer

NOTE: The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

LP Middle Earth ‎- MDLS.303 (1969, UK)

CD Repertoire Records ‎- REP 8002-SP (1991, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REP 4854 (2000, Germany) Remastered by Eroc, with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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WRITING ON THE WALL Power Of The Picts ratings distribution

(36 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(61%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

WRITING ON THE WALL Power Of The Picts reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars This album is more of a curio than anything else, a decent sample representative of any number of blues-influenced bands that worked their way through psych and into mildly progressive territory while searching for a defining sound in the late sixties.

Writing on the Wall formed out of a Scottish soul cum psych band named Jury before relocating to England and releasing this, their only official studio release in 1969. Apparently the band toiled on until finally breaking up in the wake of their equipment being stolen in 1973. Besides this CD reissue there is an LP re-release and a couple of other compilations of this disc and some other material they recorded along the way but never released while the band was still together.

The pervading sound is a bluesy one with plenty of aggressive and energetic organ, heavy guitar and unexceptional vocals. The lyrical themes range from earthy to vague fantasy to weirdly poetic. A few spoken-word passages (especially on the Arthur Brown-like “Aries”) add some variety but don’t do much to really distinguish the music.

The second half of the disc is noticeably more progressive than the first. On “Shadow of Man” the band lays down a turgid rhythm and dances around it with psych guitars and lyrics, the ever-present organ, and more crazy vocals. “Taskers Sucessor” seems to lift the Doors’ sound quite liberally, while the organ sound and vocal timbre on “Hill of Dreams” reminds me a whole lot of the old Bee Gees tune “(You Don't Know What its Like) to Love Somebody”. “Virginia Water” also seems inspired by what was on the band’s turntable at the time, in this case Procol Harum.

The final two tracks on the CD reissue are “Child on a Crossing” and “Lucifer Corpus”, the two sides of the band’s first single released before this album was originally recorded. Both are more psych-leaning than most of the rest of the album and may represent the transitional state of the band as it moved from that to a more progressive sound as they worked on the tracks for this album.

Like I said, this isn’t ground-breaking stuff, but it is mildly interesting from a historical perspective. The reissues are plentiful and easy to find, so if you come across this and are into heavy prog music you might find it worthwhile. As it is I’ll give this three stars but only a lukewarm recommendation.


Review by stefro
4 stars POWER OF THE PICTS is the one-and-only studio album from the little-known WRITING ON THE WALL, an intense, organ-dominated prog/psych-rock group hailing from Scotland and active for a brief-but- brilliant while circa 1969. The line-up consisted of Linnie Patterson(vocals), Willy Finlayson(guitar), Jake Scott(bass), Billy T. Scott (keys), Jimmy Hush(drums) and Alby Greenhalg(wind instr). The group found their first strains of fame, when, after the usual bout of incessant gigging, WOTW travelled down to London and managed to secure themselves a residency at the famed Marquee Club, subsequently wowing the packed arena with a series of wildly exciting live shows. The reward for their exceptional live peformances was a record-deal with the newly formed Orc Records, and soon the six- piece had the difficult task of translating their live brilliance onto tape. POTP was the result and, remarkably, the bands heady brew of blues-drenched, wigged-out guitar-and- organ groove-psych-rock is captured with all it's blazing, barnstorming beauty in-tact. Soundwise they resemble the likes of Hawkwind, May Blitz, Cream and Steppenwolf, but with a uniquely fuzzed-out sound all of their own, with the album boasting 11 ballsy, tripped-out rockers with Billy T. Scott's Organ and Linne Patterson's vocals the dominant forces. Opening track 'It Came On A Sunday' immediately sets out their sonic stall; bluesy guitar-tones, fuzzed- out organ and deep, throaty vocals divided between fast-burning rock numbers and mellower, organ-led pieces that sound like they were thought-up during the wee, small hours of the night. By the time album-closer 'Lucifer's Corpse' is beginning to fade, the listener would have been on a seriously-psychedelic journey through late-sixties, spliffed-up rock accompanied bymanic-yet-expert instrumental verve and whacked-out lyrical looniness. Sadly though, this would be WOTW's moment in the sun, with poor album-sales and, eventually, the theft of almost all their equipment, contributing to their eventual dis-banding. They left behind one excellent album, and one wonders what more they were capable of if given the chance. The late sixties and early-seventies are filled with talented psych/prog groups that failed to make it big despite some innovative LP's, and WOTW unfortunately fill that unlucky clutch of groups. However, in recent years, this wild Scots six-pieces debut album has found a following and is finally been given the attention and ciritical accalim it deserves with renewed interest leading to a new fans website and two new CD reissues of this album hitting the shops. This reviewer loved POTP; It may be obscure, but it's a great example of hard-edged sixties acid-rock and a genuine, bondafide, sparkling hidden gem.

***The current Orc Records reissue comes with a bonus album entitled 'Buffalo' that was apparently left unfinished. Incredibly, it's musically as good as POTP. The sound-quality, however, is not the best. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2009

a venue seen as the six-piece soon startedfound their niche with a series of rip-roaring shows, briefly gaining them a reputation as a top underground live act. The band's heady brew of wigged-out guitar- and-organ psych-rock drenched in heavy blues suited the live-scene of the era and their fame and reputation inthsi medium secured them a residency at the Marquee Club in London.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Sole album from this Edinburgh quintet (formerly known as The Jury) relocated in London. Their Hammond-based proto-prog was also proto-hard-rock if you like that sort of pigeonholing: but in either case, WotW was amongst the pioneers of the genre, since thir album was released in 69. Indeed, Bill Scott's dominating organ gives the band a solid sound that can make you think of Atomic Rooster or during their wilder moments of Arthur Brown's Crazy World. The band had a raw sound with Patterson's vocals and anarchy-loving lyrics (the opening track of It Came On Sunday), but Finlayson's sizzling fuzzling guitar gives it the extra oomph to go overboard. Of course, the band's choices of artwork and album title (the Pict tribes not reminding the English many merry souvenirs) were somewhat questionable, and it probably didn't help them break out of the local club circuit, though they did manage to find the Middle Earth club and record label.

The album consists mostly of relatively short songs, though calling their format commercial would very misleading. While some are fairly straightforward (Sunday, Ladybird, etc..), others are more elaborate (Mrs Cooper's Pie, Shadow Of Man, Hills Of Dreams) with some of their proggier moments bearing shades of Deep Purple (mkI). Of course, the main selling point of this album to progheads will be the lengthy (8-mins) Aries piece, which goes east, north, west, south and centre, but remaining focused ll the way through. Other excellent stand-outs are the slightly longer Shadow of Man and Viginia Waters. The album's only real flaw of the album is the (thankfully short) dumb folk ditty Bogeyman piece, which should've never seen the album, or even the light of day (for its own sake). An accordion piece, but you'll also find that yucky instrument on Hill Of Dreams.

The Repertoire label CD reissue features the non-album single tracks of the same year and both of them are well in line with the album's overall sound. The band would apparently record a US-release live album (not sure it was legit either) and a further single in 73, before falling apart; with their ex-members migrating to other projects, but never making it "big". While you may have trouble with the album's production standard, the open-minded proghead won't have problems adapting and enjoying, because it is definitely a very interesting brand of proto-hard-prog, and the album will gracefully and rightfully sit in your shelves not too far away from the bands mentioned above.

Latest members reviews

5 stars WRITING ON THE WALL were a one-album Heavy Prog band from Bonnie Scotland. They began life in Edinburgh in the late- 1960's and later moved down to London where they became a popular Live act, playing at the famed Middle Earth club. They were hit by ill fortune in 1973 though when their band gea ... (read more)

Report this review (#2345084) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Wednesday, March 25, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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