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BLACK WIDOW

Black Widow

Heavy Prog


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Black Widow Black Widow album cover
2.99 | 47 ratings | 8 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tears and wine (8:58)
2. The gypsy (4:33)
3. Bridge passage (0:30)
4. When my mind was young (5:12)
5. The journey (5:53)
6. Poser (7:46)
7. Mary Clark (4:07)
8. Wait until tomorrow (3:24)
9. An afterthought (1:12)
10. Legend of creation (5:52)

Total Time: 47:26

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Jim Gannon / lead guitar, acoustic guitar, 12 string guitar and vocal harmonies
- Zoot Taylor / organ, piano
- Kip Trevor / vocalist, tabourine, maracas and vocal harmonies
- Clive Jones / flute and saxophone
- Jeff Griffith / bass guitar and vocals
- Romeo Challenger / drums, bongos and congas

Releases information

(LP) CBS 64133 & RR 4031-C, CD 1989

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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BLACK WIDOW
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BLACK WIDOW Black Widow ratings distribution


2.99
(47 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
28%
Good, but non-essential (40%)
40%
Collectors/fans only (15%)
15%
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)
6%

BLACK WIDOW Black Widow reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars Their second albums correct the faults of the first album by taking away the satanic BS but also loses on the freshness of the music . As their debut was fresh , cheery and happy (again except the lyrics) , this sounds more of a serious affair , rawer and harder-edged but by no means anything close to Sabbath to which they were un-justly compared to. Actually , this band made a first album (before Sacrifice) under a different name but with the same line-up plus a woman singer ; they were called PESKY GEE and their eponymous album was slightly more sixties sounding but is unmistakably Widow.

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Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Though the lyrics of this album are no so satanic as on their first album were, these guys are still seeking supernatural forces to fix their problems (gypsy enchantresses etc.). I thought how weird themes for a songs, maybe the circumstances did not allow searching solutions of life from conventional ways. The musicians are good, but instead of virtuosity the emphasis is on the feeling, ideas and aesthetics which are to be appreciated on their case. This dark music could appeal to fans of Van Der Graaf Generator, as there's lots of saxes, keyboards and melancholic and neurotic feelings present on this album. Best tracks in my opinion are "Tears and Wine", "Mary Clark" and the final tracks of the album: "Wait Until Tomorrow" (a good rocker in vein of Led Zeppelin). Also the jazzy middle section "An Afterthought", and the closing song "Legend of Creation" left to my mind. The clumsy album cover painting is also very cool, signaling the sociological truth from where the unreachable are tried being conjured via arts and beliefs. Though there are some very good songs on this record, there also some quite silly moments to be found too. So it's unbalanced, but also done without compromises, like real pieces of art are often made.

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Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Best Gets Saved Until Last

The biggest problem with music in 1971 is that there was so much great material released then. Albums like this one were deleted early from record labels catalogues and became rare simply because they didn't match up to other releases of the time. The big problem with Black Widow's sophomore album is that it feels like there was a rush to get it to market - why else name your SECOND album after the band? Why else fill an album with obviously derivative material when it was clear that the band were capable of something altogether greater?

Black Widow, then, is an album of some interest to proggers - especially those keen on the Hammond-driven grooves of the early Seventies, but on the whole, rather unremarkable. It's where it gets interesting, however, that it does get REALLY interesting.

The Music

Tears and Wine is an organ-riff driven heavy rock track stemming, as so many early 1970s hard rock bands did, from the sound of Spooky Tooth. Despite the near 9-minute timing, don't expect any Prog in here, though - two riffs trade places throughout to create a song with a couple of sixties-flavoured instrumental sections over a third riff;

To kick the song off is a bluesy riff, with flavours of Cream based on a descending motif. A new idea switching between bass and sax gives a funky edge to the verses which are topped with bluesy singing and the ever-present Hammond. The bass puts in a nice walking style idea, but one ends up wishing for a little variation in this.

The third riff is a bit cheesey and immediately makes me think of the Christmas carol "Jingle Bells". It has a second section which is broken down nicely and followed by some Buffalo Springfield style harmonies, which will immediately make some think of Yes. I'm reminded specifically of the Spooky Tooth song "Sunshine Help Me" at this point.

The whole shooting match is repeated, then a new groove is introduced, which is extremely Small Faces in style, reminiscent of some of the music on "Ogden's Nut Gone" - I keep expecting them to break into "Rene, the docker's delight...", the resemblance is so strong.

But instead, this kicks into a "Jazz-inspired" groove (ie, a swinging drum beat with walking bass lines rooted in a single chord) with pentatonic noodling a-plenty exposing at least three licks, but not developing any of these ideas - just having fun, rocking out and playing until it's time to stop.

And that's the difference between "Vanilla" Rock and Prog Rock - and what puts this into the entertaining Rock category. "Heavy Prog" this most certainly ain't.

"The Gypsy" - makes me think of the many, many other bands who wrote songs about gypsies. This is, of course, the romantic notion of gypsies that was widely held in the early 1970s, not the car-park occupying garden-raiding reality that so many of us see these days.

Again, this is mainly based on grooves, and there seems to be a strong Uriah Heep influence here - and some interesting fluttering flutes - dropping frequently into boogie-woogie styles. The wah-driven solo adds a nice flavour, but is peculiarly uninteresting as soon as you listen to what is being played. I don't get much of a Gypsy flavour from this piece, but the flavours are enjoyably closer to Prog in the verses - if only they'd dropped the silly boogie sections which feel altogether too tacked on.

"Bridge Passage" is a curio - it clearly serves the purpose, in that it's a short piece of music that provides a transition to the next song, but works better as an intro to "When My Mind Was Young" than any kind of link.

The harmonies in the verses are strongly Buffalo Springfield in flavour, giving strong hints of Yes, with pedal points driving to chorus passages that are more Beach Boys in style. I suppose you have to give them credit for the wide range of influences - but I'm not quite convinced it all hangs together well. We then have a rock and roll style bridge, which is altogether too jaunty for my tastes and crowned with lyrics of pure cheese.

Skipping quickly through the last verse, which exposes nothing new, it's on to "The Journey", and I'm cringing already. The material has gone from reasonably strong heavy rock to something altogether more limp-wristed and derivative more than influenced. A lumpy, disjointed and unconvincing piece that should have remained in the outtakes bin.

"Poser" begins with a big crashing chord, a bit Deep Purple in style - we're expecting a big chunky riff to drive this piece, and we do, indeed, get a riff - but it's hardly a monster, and the guitarist is not exactly Ritchie Blackmore - putting him towards the back of the mix kinda amplifies this. The verse gets into a nice familiar groove with strong flavours of Free - it's not altogether bad, but there are a number of other albums you could buy to hear music very similar to this.

The big difference comes around 2:30, with some more of the great flute that's been sorely missing from most of this album - why only include it in a few tracks when it's such a strength? More than a nod and a wink to Ian Anderson here, with the fluttering and vocalisations - but it does work extremely well to produce a great sonority - if only the band would change the riff!

The guitarist then shows off his real weak points by playing. Some awfully executed rhythm hits preceed a solo that goes up to 0.11, then back to the verse/chorus for the end. Skip on through... there's only another pentatonic solo you won't miss!

"Mary Clark" sounds like a different band - at last, something a bit different to the typical 1970s style heavy grooves. This is altogether more sinister than anything that's gone before - and reminds me strongly of early Blue Oyster Cult. The contrasts between the verse and chorus sections are great, the bass drives well, and the stripping down of the music provides a real sense of urgency in the dramatic twists in the lyrics, which are surprisingly poignant and very dramatically delivered. Overall, this song has the feel of a late 1960s psychedelic song that has "grown up". At last, something progressive - but alas! MUCH too short!

"Wait Until Tomorrow" is another surprise - it's more like an early Motorhead or even UK Subs number - very heavy/punk rock in style with heavy, powerful and, dare I say it, original riffing. The vocal harmonies are amazingly like Van Halen and the entire song is not just proto, but heavy metal in style - the sax solo just gives it more of a proggy flavour, reminiscent of Hawkwind. The verses are worthy of comment too - almost rap, they are delivered more than sung.

"An Afterthought" is exactly that - heavily crowbarred in (presumably deliberately, but artistically dubiously), with plenty more of the fluttering flute - it's a great idea, and the flautist plays it well, but it's overdone, as it's the only flute idea presented here.

We exit the album with the grandiose-titled "Legend of Creation", which begins along the lines of "In the Court..." - and you'd expect the big riffs for the choruses, but instead it's back to the somewhat unimaginative grooves that this album started out with, and strong flavours of early Yes, but with rather poor execution in the drums. Some nice organ and bass duetting soon turns into a bit of a farce - the bassist unable to live up to the early promise, and the organ buried in the mix, and the two forgetting about their duet as the bass tries to run the show, and boredom sets in by 3:00 as the same few ideas are repeated ad nauseam. 30 seconds of this ticks by, then it's back to the verse/chorus leading to the predictable guitar solo section - but this time, the guitarist feels some inspiration, and it's not just pentatonic noodle - there's some nice Santana-esque work moving into some interesting places for the first minute or so before the ideas run out. Why the tape had to continue rolling to capture the rest of the non-starting stuff, I've no idea - presumably to fill the whole 40-odd minutes or so.

Summary

A good early 1970s Heavy Rock album with a couple of truly standout pieces - "Mary Clark" and "Wait Until Tomorrow". If it wasn't for these two, I'd say that this album was entirely optional for any collector of that era's music - but the two tracks by themselves are well worth investigating by Proggers.

Somewhere between "Good, but non-essential" and "Excellent addition to any prog music collection" - your collection won't suffer without this album, but "Mary Clark" and "Wait Until Tomorrow" really are excellent additions. The rest is take it or leave it groove rock with proggy leanings.

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Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The debut album of this band was quite encouraging but due to commercial pressure, they had to drop their special lyrics for their follow-up work. As a consequence, the mood is not so interesting and Black Widow sounds more conventional than Sacrifice.

It still remains a fine work which is clearly marked by its time; and you will notice it while listening to this work.

In terms of opening number, the band produced another very blend of heavy but upbeat song (which is not necessary the same). The band shows serious skills while playing this sort of music: a superb beat (bass and drumming are truly wild) and a wonderful organ play. Purple, Heep or Jane lovers (hi Febus) should be delighted while hearing such a good track. A highlight.

Black Widow is showing another aspect of their music when they play such a track as The Gypsy. I quite like the flute play, and the beat has some definite similarity with Gallows Pole (Led Zep). Another good song which is more revival oriented for half of it;

Even if there are some songs which are out of tune while considering the style of the band (When my Mind Was Young), there won't be so many blunders here. It's all good old rock'n'roll mixed with some heavy blues during The Journey: the repetitive riff throughout the song reminds me of Jean Genie from whom you might know (but the latter was released in 1973.).

Poser is more on the heavy blues side and might sound as a repetition for The Journey. Still, there is a personal touch with this unexpected flute solo in the midst of such heavy rhythms.

It is also difficult to share one's feeling about Mary Clark: it is a poignant and emotional song and at the same time it sounds as if it was only the introduction of some great epic. I have always felt a mixed feeling about this song: it could have been the start of something great but even as such it is a rather pleasant song.

From the two bonus tracks available on the CD version, I absolutely recommend Legend Of Creation which is fully on par with their best work. Heavy keyboards are the highlight but some good guitar work (which is sufficiently scarce to be mentioned) is more than welcome.

This a good album which could been even better if some atmosphere of their debut would have been present. The lyrics made part of the difference and the religious apprehension is gone. Too bad.

Three stars.

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Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Sacrificing what made them famous

Having secured the publicity necessary to attract sales of their debut "Sacrifice", Black Widow returned to the studio a year later to record a follow up. By this time, significant line up changes had occurred, brought about by the ubiquitous artistic differences. Some of the members felt that the occult references had served their purpose, and were now a liability, the consensus being to move away from such controversial areas and record an album of straightforward songs.

Confusingly, the resulting album was simply titled "Black Widow", although it is in fact the band's second release. This lack of imagination is reflected in some of the songs it contains, which are much more ordinary that the debut. The opening "Tears and wine" is a promising 9 minutes long, but this slow blues dirge which introduces the album is but a shadow of the innovation we found on "Sacrifice". There is simply no novelty here, this is blues rock of the type many other bands were plying around the same time. The production is particularly poor, the energetic lead guitar solo sounding like it has been recorded from the next room. To be clear, it is not a bad track, it just feels somewhat ordinary especially in view of the expectations which preceded it.

"The gypsy" bizarrely takes us into Jethro Tull territory (not just because of the flute!) the song being a semi-acoustic folk rock piece with Mick Box like wah-wah guitar. Later, "Mary Clark" drifts slightly towards the disturbing areas of the debut album, but within the safety of a lightweight melody. The remainder of the tracks are in a similar vein to those mentioned, being decent but unremarkable blues rock and folk rock numbers.

Whether or not the band were right to move on from the imagery which brought them so much notoriety and success is a matter for debate. One can understand them want their music to be taken seriously, but by simply surrendering a strong identity without having anything to replace it Black Widow slid back into the ubiquity of being a good but not exceptional band. It seems the band's main writer and lead guitarist Jim Gannon felt this way, as he left when it became clear after the album would not enjoy commercial success.

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Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Sandwiched between their patchy debut and their third album, the excellent and aptly-titled 'Volume III', this self-titled effort from Leicester's sorely underappreciated Black Widow would see the group sensibly making a move away from the occult craziness that had so far defined the band's stage-show, song-writing and overall image. A promising first record otherwise, 1970's 'Sacrifice' was - rather unfortunately - positively bathed in gruesome, cod-satanic imagery, therefore overshadowing all other aspects of the group's music and rendering their jazz-tinged brand of fulsome progressive rock secondary to their dubious reputation. Thanks to an ill-judged live show that involved fake sacrifice's, devil-worshipping rituals, topless dancers and much joke-shop blood, Black Widow were seen by many as a tasteless heavy metal band. The Sun newspaper had 'exposed' these strange goings-on to the outside world with a sensationalist article(remember, this is 1971) which would give the group much nationwide publicity but would also forever taint them in the eyes of the moral majority. However, despite the group's left-field leanings(whatever they may be), it is often forgotten that Black Widow were actually a very decent prog group who were as far from heavy metal as a rock group could be. The mis-leading heavy metal tag was due in part to the constant comparisons that were - and still are - being made with Black Sabbath, a much heavier group who were emerging into the British rock scene at around the same time and would, of course, introduce the world to Ozzy Osbourne. Released in 1971, 'Black Widow' is an energetic yet rather formulaic album that found the group at a stylistic cross-road. Their previous album had featured some strong individual moments from a disparate and talented group of ambitious musicians, but, unfortunately, not all was well within the ranks. For 'Black Widow', the nucleus of the group had remained the same, with Kip Trevor(vocals) augmented by Jim Gannon(guitar), Zoot Taylor(organ, piano) and Clive Jones(sax, flute), but Jeff Griffiths(bass) and Romeo Challenger(drums) had come in to replace the outgoing Bob Bond and Clive Box who were un-satisfied with the group's overall direction. Production duties would again be undertaken by Pat Meehan, which would provide the album with a sense of continuation from 'Sacrifice', but this time around main song-writers Kip Trevor and Jim Gannon would eschew the occult themes in favour of more straight-forward song-writing. However, despite a barnstorming opening track in the form of the tightly-constructed, Yes-flecked 'Tears & Wine', the album falls well short of it's predecessor in terms of memorable tunes. Trevor's vocals seem strained throughout, and the folky, flute-led vibes give the material a lighter, less meaningful glaze. Indeed, there is a jaunty, piano-led feel to some of the songs, particularly 'The Gypsy', which places the group nearer Jethro Tull! After 'Tears & Wine' there is very little to recommend beyond the strange front-cover artwork and the excellent musicianship, and it wouldn't be until 1972 that the group would make a triumphant return with possibly their best album, the highly-enjoyable 'Volume III'. Black Widow took many hits over the years. They stirred-up Satanic controversy with The Sun, played to thousands at the Isle Of Wight festival, found themselves un-fairly bracketed as a heavy metal group and made four studio albums before being dropped by their record label. Unlike Black Sabbath, they wouldn't find lasting success and their star would burn briefly. But, despite their lack of commercial triumphs, they, like many of the great prog bands who didn't quite make it or simply disappeared after one album - the likes of Khan, Samurai, Mainhorse, Yatha Sidhra, Home, Flash, Jade Warrior - have been re-discovered in the new digital internet age of the 21st century by fans old and new alike. This self-titled effort is probably one of the group's weaker efforts - bar the superb 'Tears & Wine - but within Black Widow's small but surprising canon lies some genuinely innovative and authentic early-seventies progressive rock. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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4 stars The second work released in 1970 "Black Widow". It is a further tasting work to the extent that strange production is lost. A melancholic melody and a delicate chorus are good. The guitar in addition to the flute and the organ also has increased the showing place more than the former work. It ... (read more)

Report this review (#63353) | Posted by braindamage | Friday, January 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is really one of their hardest-to-find albums. Yes, it has been said that that Black Widow became commercial after "Sacrifice" but that is not true when you hear this album. Dark, mysterious and the last to include Jim Gannon on guitar. The sound is not possibly the clearest on earth but ... (read more)

Report this review (#30441) | Posted by | Saturday, February 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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