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Brainchild Healing Of The Lunatic Owl album cover
3.87 | 43 ratings | 4 reviews | 26% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side 1
1. Autobiography (3:35)
2. Healing Of The Lunatic Owl (5:05)
3. Hide From The Dawn (6:50)
4. She's Learning (4:13)

Side 2
1. A Time A Place (8:55)
2. Two Bad Days (3:55)
3. Sadness Of A Moment (4:08)
4. To B (3:52)

Total Time: 40:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Harvey Coles / bass, vocals
- Bill Edwards / lead guitar, vocals
- Dave Muller / drums
- Chris Jennings / organ, piano
- Brian Wilshaw / saxophone, flute
- Lloyd Williams / trumpet

Releases information


CD issue in 2008 on Second Harvest (Cat No. Second Harvest 444)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to dick heath for the last updates
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BRAINCHILD Healing Of The Lunatic Owl ratings distribution

(43 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(58%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BRAINCHILD Healing Of The Lunatic Owl reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Among the rare and unknown 70's group, one of the most obscure must be Brainchild, who recorded a sole album as the decade just unfolded. The intriguingly-titled Healing Of The Lunatic Owl was record in Western London and produced by Lenny Wright and it contains some brilliant progressive brass-rock, developed by the septet, which had three wind instrument players n its line-up. Graced with a striking owl artwork (the back cover with a handbrainpigeon illustration is not too shabby either), the album came out on the A&M label with the catalogue number AMLS 979. Songwriting-wise, the credits are more or less evenly spread between singer/guitarist Edwards, bassist/singer Coles and saxman/flauter Wilshaw.

Starting on Autobiography, a track that rises from a fade-in coming from hell, the group rides a quick wave, before the middle section gives a slower Spanish-style trumpet solo, gradually picking up peed as other wind instrument step in, leading to a wild guitar solo, underlined by brass throes and Wilshaw's sax leading the wild brassy fade-out outro. The title track starts very slowly on a flute and vocals, before it kicks in and offers an already-heard-before melody on the chorus (most likely strongly derived from BS&T, but not quite as cheesy), but the track is not among their best, anyway. The slow menacing bass line of the 7-mins Hide From Dawn, soon joined by brass and slow sinister drum rolls provide a great climate and constant groove throughout the track, over which Jennings' organ can stroll upon, accompanying Edwards' vocals, and when not busy singing, he plays a few remarkable guitar fills, but the show is really for the brass section. A rapid groove shakes you from your torpor and She's Learning has a real enthralling hot memorable hook, mostly driven by the organ. The tracks suddenly stops halfway to allow for a short bass solo, before resuming the original groove, but slowly morphing into a dissonant mutant form.

The album's flipside opens on the album's centrepiece, the 9-mins A Time A Place which has few problems installing itself as the album's best highlight. The rest of the albums glides on effortlessly with the funny Two Bad Days (and its descending riffs), the slow, enchanting and haunting flute-laden Sadness Of A Moment (another highlight) and the closing To B, also starting slowly, but ending in complete dissonant chaos.

Truly one of those minor unearthed gem, Brainchild's only albums stands as one of brass rock's best albums ever, out-ranking many better-known acts. In terms of obscure brass rock, they stand on the podium with Galliard (two albums) and Warm Dust (three albums). Obviously very rare as a vinyl and having never seen a legit reissue, this group is unfortunately bound to remain for a while, one of the least known UK treasures.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Healing of the Lunatic Owl' - Brainchild (74/100)

I don't believe I had ever heard the term 'brass rock' before reading reviews of Brainchild's first (and only) LP, Healing of the Lunatic Owl. Sure, I've had some run-ins with Chicago, but I was yet-unaware there was an entire scene of this sort of music at one point. Brass rock as a proverbial sub-sect of jazz rock and fusion virtually disappeared towards the second half of the 1970s, and especially now the blend of psychedelic fuzz, British R&B and peppy trumpets sounds fairly dated. In spite of that retrospect, I'm quite surprised this jazz-rock sextet never received more attention than they did.

Although Brainchild's relative instrumental novelty is arguably enough to give them relevance with the jazz family tree, the composition and energy on Healing of the Lunatic Owl is almost entirely rock-based. The songwriting- regardless of quality- is fairly straightforward, and were it not for the glaring use of trumpets, there would be nothing in the music to betray a potential connection to jazz. Rather, Brainchild strikes me as a fuzzy, sometimes Krautrock-ish reflection of the wake of late '60s psychedelic trends in Britain. The turn of the decade met with a stark change in the sound of rock music; between the two decades, Brainchild certainly sounds rooted moreso in the former. Bill Edwards' lead vocals are fairly typical for their time, trying to find a balance between poppy hooks and left-field theatricality- I personally think he succeeded, even if his voice lacks distinctiveness.

Brainchild are clearly skilled musicians across the board, but their greatest strength on Healing of the Lunatic Owl is this ability of theirs to balance out instrumental sophistication and hooks. Whether you want to call this progressive rock, jazz or something else entirely, that golden ratio is a rare find- too often, the artists you'll see trying to make this blend sound bland or scattered. While the uncharacteristically melancholic "Sadness of the Moment" is the only tune here that manages to hit me on a directly emotional level, every song on Healing of the Lunatic Owl is distinct. If there's anything I can think of that implies the makings of a potential classic album, it's that feeling of every song having value. The music generally isn't compelling enough for me to rank it among the 'greats' of its era, but there are quite a few folks out there who acknowledge the album as an obscure masterpiece, and for that, I am thankful.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Brass rock came into existence in the late 1960s when it seems free love was getting a lot of unlikely musical genres cuddling up together. While the most famous bands of this hybridization were indubitably Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, there was in reality a huge roster of bands who joined this heavy brass-filled rock frenzy that was in its peak from 1969-72. In the US alone there were several other bands including Aura, Chase, Dreams, The Electric Flag, Gas Mask, The Ides Of March, Lighthouse, Second Coming, The Sons Of Champlin and Ten Wheel Drive. While usually accustomed to exporting musical ideas across the pond, musicians in England had no problem following a trend from afar and several bands emerged on British soil including Colosseum, Galliard, The Greatest Show on Earth, Heaven, If, The Keef Harley Band, Walrus and the London based outfit BRAINCHILD which joined the party fairly early on in 1970 with their only release HEALING OF THE LUNATIC OWL which packs in a heavy brass jazz sound into their catchy well crafted pop melodies but what really sets BRAINCHILD apart from their contemporaries is how they carefully they weaved in progressive rock elements with slight psychedelic overtones.

The band consisted of Harvey Coles (bass, vocals), Bill Edwards (guitar, vocals), Dave Miller (drums), Chris Jennings (organ, piano), Brian Wilshaw (sax, flute), Lloyd Williams (trumpet) and trombone duties shared by Ian Goss and Pat Strachan. While the brass rock sound of the era could vary from heavy brass tinged pop a la Chicago to more funk-jazz band acts such as Cymande, BRAINCHILD delivered mostly accessible rock tunes embellished with the subordinate brass jazz elements. The music is generally upbeat rock oriented with lots of emphasis placed on a beefy groove-based bass line, jazzy guitars all dressed up with the horn section as to smooth it out and create counterpoints to the rhythm structures. While the music is riff based incorporating many different grooves and hooks that are instantly addictive, BRAINCHILD also unleashes progressive rock song structures that not only have long extended periods where musicians can strut their chops but there are also unexpected time signature changes and a tendency to have a Krautrock edge at times. The title track is an example of the side of the band that gravitates towards the Chicago playbook with a bouncy beat, lounge lizard vocal style with the rock music being accompanied by the the jazz elements at times merely adding a layer to the overall sound and at times totally doing their own unique thing. While tracks like these begin it can almost bring a Las Vegas casino show to mind but once the musicians let loose and add the prog touches, it becomes magical.

Despite this band being highly talented and keeping it tight with well constructed songwriting skills, they were and still remain an obscure curiosity from the brass rock band era where the popular groups more than stole the thunder from the competition. While they may have never properly made it, they did succeed in releasing one fantastic album that is one of the earliest examples of how to properly fuse catchy pop / rock with jazz and prog. While i find the music on this one mesmerizing, the one element of this band that keeps it from being an outright masterpiece is the limited vocal skills where i feel the dynamics of the music demand a more talented vox box that can play around a bit more. Perhaps a more prog oriented version of Ella Fitzgerald could have filled this role, but having said that there is nothing inherently bad or incompetent per se with the role of the vocalists, they simply could have stepped it up a level or two and perhaps if a second album were to have emerged that very well could have been the case. As it stands, the sole release from BRAINCHILD is still an excellent slice of pop, rock, blues and swinging jazz smorgasbord with more than enough progressive rock instrumental prowess to impress the most hardened jazz-fusionist. HEALING OF THE LUNATIC OWL is a woefully overlooked and under-appreciated relic from the early jazz-fusion era.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I'm not going to say a lot about this one as the majority around the "Net" rate this rather highly while I'm not so impressed. Some call the "Horn Rock" as we get plenty of blasting horns a style that right off the bat is a negative for me. Also the vocals while being okay really sound loungy at times especially on that title track when after 2 minutes he sings "... but I know whoa whoa whoa whoa" I mean I laughed right out loud the first time I heard that. Just some cringe on this song for me which overall I'd describe it as lame at best. The cover art isn't much better.

But I'm giving this 3 stars because we get some really good instrumental work on this one plus I feel the album ends quite well with "Sadness Of A Moment" with the strummed guitar and flute standing out along with reserved vocals. And the closer "To B" an instrumental with some jazzy bass before 3 1/2 minutes and dissonant horns late which surprised and impressed me.

The opener "Autobiography" is pretty good especially the drum work but "She's learning" and "A Time A Place" I find disappointing. The other track "Hiding From Dawn" is cool with that slow groove of bass and pulsating keys. So this album is a mixed bag for me but there's certainly not enough here to even consider 4 stars. Just my poor taste in music I suppose. As I said earlier most people really appreciate this recording

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