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Nucleus Ian Carr: Belladonna album cover
3.83 | 65 ratings | 5 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Belladonna (13:42)
2. Summer Rain (6:13)
3. Remadione (3:48)
4. Mayday (5:41)
5. Suspension (6:15)
6. Hector's House (4:33)

Total Time: 40:12

Line-up / Musicians

- Ian Carr / trumpet, flugelhorn

- Brian Smith / tenor & soprano saxophones, alto & bamboo flutes
- Allan Holdsworth / guitar
- Dave MacRae / Fender electric piano
- Gordon Beck / Hohner electric piano (1,4-6)
- Roy Babbington / bass
- Clive Thacker / drums, percussion
- Trevor Tomkins / percussion (1,3,4)

Releases information

Artwork: Denise Valentine

LP Vertigo ‎- 6360 076 (1972, UK)

CD Linam Records ‎- LMCD 9.00744 O (1990, Germany)
2xCD BGO Records - BGOCD566 (2002, UK) Bundled edition with "Solar Plexus" album

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy NUCLEUS Ian Carr: Belladonna Music

NUCLEUS Ian Carr: Belladonna ratings distribution

(65 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

NUCLEUS Ian Carr: Belladonna reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars By the time of this album, Nucleus was no more, as commercial success was elusive and offers abounded - especially from Soft Machine that will have a field day plundering electrons from this Nucleus - I know, that was a little tooooo easy ;-) . And Ian Carr was having severe lung problems (for a trumpet player......) and so when he got better (he was writing music from a cheap piano), he decided that this album would not use the Nucleus name, but everything here spells the group, at least songwriting-wise and sonic department; since only Brian Smith is still around from the original line-up. McRae (see Matching Mole), Tomkins (from the Rendell-Carr Quintet), Holdsworth (future everything), Thacker (Auger's Trinity) and Gordon Beck are the essential guests.

Belladona (the 13 min+ opening track) opened up on some atonal sounds but turns into that typical Nucleus funky jazz-rock, but closing on a lengthy solo trumpet, only accompanied by steel percussions. Summer Rain starts off with great el piano (which is a welcome change since the KB was fairly absent in the previous album Solar Plexus) soon accompanied by a heavy bass, and the track sounds a bit like summer dog day's rain. Remadione is a really slow 5AM jazz piece (Dexter Gordon-style in Round About Midnight) but picks up around the end with a guitar-Rhodes duet.

On the flipside, Mayday is one of the better tracks as the Rhodes piano layers intro veers off to superb rhythm guitar, played by Allan Holdsworth in one of his first appearance, underlining Smith's excellent sax. The highlight of this album is Suspension (recorded in one sole take) with bamboo flutes building up to a mid-tempo fusion that brings small spine chills. The last track is a showcase for Allan Holdsworth searing guitar solo, a reward given to him as he had been reduced mostly (however brilliantly) to a rhythm role up to now.

Not the best Nucleus or Nucleus-related album, but still much worthy a spin!! And if you're into Solar Plexus, you might not have a choice either, since it's the second disc of this 2 on 2 BGO release.

Review by Philo
4 stars Belladonna came out as an Ian Carr album as after the previous Nucleus album chief composer, at least where the first two albums were concerned, Karl Jenkins along with drummer John Marshall had left to join Soft Machine. Guitarist Chris Spedding left along with bassist Jeff Clyne who also [%*!#]ed off. After three albums Nucleus were making little money which only added to the frustrations of the band members, but in my opinion the unit had reached a peak and it was time for a change, or changes. The first three albums are hard to separate and something had to give at this point. Adding to the ranks though would be Alan Holdsworth, a guitarist with with a huge talent by all accounts as well as one who would also join Soft Machine later on, along with Nucleus bassist Roy Babbington who was still here at this point. Despite the huge change in personnel Belladonna is at this stage the most refreshing album Carr released, Nucleus or otherwise. Here, Carr looks to have more room to work within and to improvise, and Brian Smith adds a sweeter shade with his saxophone, just check out the late night moody turn of "Summer Rain" as he and Carr produce some memorable lines while the cool Fender Rhodes solo in the track punctuates the melancholic tone of the tune. The frantic "Hectors House" is where they both Carr and Smith excel while Holdsworth produces one of his more memorable solos. Much of the mood of the album can attributed to Jon Hiseman, the Colosseum drummer, who produced the album and overall there is a more decidedly jazzier tone that the previous albums where the action was rooted in rock rhythms. The beauty of Holdsworth's work on the album is the fact he plays in a minimal fashion, never overdoing it or going into guitar wank territory which he has been known for, though on "Ramadione" he does get a chance to flex his strength, but it is the exception to the rule of the Belladonna album. It would not have matched or even just added to the presence of the horns here, but Holdsworth drops in a few notes when it is needed and never becomes that obtrusive for the most part. Belladonna is often cited as Ian Carr's finest work, and I would agree with that to a certain degree. The music is dreamlike and floating which always suits his trumpet playing and his music direction, but the band also get down and dirty with the streetwise ragged funk of "Mayday" being one such venture. Belladonna more than anything else is a great piece of British jazz rock, but this time the band, albeit a new band, were firmly in a jazz state of mind but smoothly defining a fusion sound here and there.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. After a consistant lineup for the first three album comes "Belladonna" where everyone but Carr and Smith have left. The loss of Jenkins would have seemed huge to anyone who heard just their first two albums because he was the main composer, but on the third ("Solar Plexus") Carr would compose all the tracks. Marshall left with Jenkins to join SOFT MACHINE, while lead guitarist Spedding was the first leave in order to go solo. Big losses you would agree, but Carr was able to get Babbington to replace Clyne on bass. Babbington would also join SOFT MACHINE down the road. Clive Thacker replaced Marshall, with Trevor Tomkins adding percussion. Dave Macrae replaced Jenkins, with Gordon Beck also adding electric piano.The biggest one is Alan Holdsworth replacing Spedding on lead guitar. No this band did not miss a beat. In fact this is my second favourite NUCLEUS album next to "We'll Talk About It Later". They're like 1 and 1a to me. In the liner notes it says "None of the early NUCLEUS albums exemplify Ian's concept of tension and release as well as this, and in particular Ian sees the title track itself, an ensemble effort with no formal solos, as demonstrating both his musical concepts and his new-found role as leader".

"Belladonna" is experimental to open as sounds come and go. A horn melody after 2 minutes also comes and goes. It's still experimental until we get a beat with horns before 4 minutes.This is great ! They're grooving now, especially after 5 1/2 minutes with guitar. Such a catchy beat though. Check out the horns before 9 1/2 minutes ! It settles as the beat stops.That was amazing ! Trumpet ends it. "Summer Rain" is a laid back and relaxing song. Horns lead the way at first then drums with electric piano. Holdsworth starts to make some noise. "Remadione" opens with intricate sounds that come and go. Flute is constant though. Some nice atmosphere here. It kicks in before 2 minutes with drums and some outstanding horns and electric piano. The bass is so prominant but it's Holdsworth who's lighting it up after 3 minutes. Just incredible to listen to all these sounds.

"Mayday" opens with drums and electric piano before bass and guitar joins in. Horns a minute in.The tempo picks up and the sound gets fuller 3 1/2 minutes in. Nice. "Suspension" is as Carr says one of the most magical moments he's ever had in his entire career in the studio.This was done in "one take" and is as close to perfect as he could hope for. It's dark with flute and piano to open. Haunting. Check out the bass after 1 1/2 minutes.Trumpet joins in. "Hector's House" opens with in your face horns before the tempo picks up and it gets fuller.This reminds me of Miles Davis. Nice drum work too. Holdsworth comes in at 3 minutes and sets the soundscape on fire ! He simply rips it up right to the end of the song.

Excellent album and a favourite of many NUCLEUS fans.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Belladonna" was the first Nucleus album after the dispersion of the original line-up. Ian Carr is the only remaining original member, but the music is remarkably similar despite the entirely re-vamped line-up. It wouldn't be a very stable line-up though, from this new band only saxophone player Brian Smith would last a bit longer then one or two albums. One of the one-time honorary collaborators was Allan Holdsworth.

The 14 minute title track find Nucleus in its usual funky psych fusion form. Bit I hear less interplay between the instruments, instead it feels like a jam driven by a steady drum & bass groove. It certainly doesn't offer the dynamic interaction that blew me away on their earlier albums. "Summer Rain" is a fairly undemanding lounge jazz piece, "Rema Dione" is a bit more upbeat and features virtuoso guitar playing from Holdsworth. "Mayday" is another funky jam with interesting rhythm guitars from Holdworth but again it lacks the emotional power of the earlier Nucleus works. The slowly brooding "Suspension" is my favorite here but unfortunately the album ends with dull shredding from Holdworth on "Hector's House". Admitted, I find most shredding dull.

"Belladonna" further established the creative control that Carr had assumed since the previous Nucleus album, and while he would continue delivering quality material from his troops, I find there's too much creative stagnation settling in. On top the band relied too much on the virtuoso qualities of its members and disappoints me on the songwriting side.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Belladonna" is the end product of the first upheaval in Nucleus' storied career, and as par for the course of cheeky British humor, the title refers to a deadly poison that can either kill or cure! The previous album Solar Plexus had already instituted some alternative directions, a jazzier approach with less rock and less Chris Spedding guitar with Ian Carr doing all the songwriting, leaving Karl Jenkins to play more and not write. Both these gents would leave, with Allan Holdsworth and Dave MacRae now joining the core. The rhythm section has been completely revamped as well, au revoir Messieurs Clyne and Marshall, welcome Roy Babbington and Clive Thacker. Add guest pianist Gordon Beck and percussionist Trevor Tomkins and boom, a new line-up! Wholesale changes can be a perilous move but the makeover succeeded in maintaining a certain fusion sound which was still in its infancy stages, searching for its own fold in the rock clouds. "Belladonna" is a new chapter in the Nucleus progression and one I simply find irresistible and like my co- conspirator mellotron storm, this is my fave after the eminence of "We'll Talk About it Later".

The title track lifts off from the ramp and ventures forward on a 13 minute plus excursion into the fusion laboratory, slithering Trevor Tomkins (of future Gilgamesh repute) percussives flirting with the mellifluous trumpet from Mr. Carr. If an example is needed to convey the importance of the bass guitar in a jazz-rock context, one of my all-time favorites Roy Babbington provides the rationale with a funky and incessant bass pattern that is inexorably affixed to the streaming beat, forcing the various other instruments to latch onto the groove and play to their hearts content. The windblown instruments gust ferociously while Holdsworth's fretboard scratches below the surface, lying in wait as his lunge will happen later, all the antagonists bulging into an organized form of cacophony that is just beguiling. When the sonic clouds part towards the end and give way to a gentle breeze that recalls the intro, there is a sense of lusty sensuality that parallels the music, oozing a certain afterglow that comes after good loving.

"Summer Rain" is another laid back piece where the sensational e-piano mirrors the sound of droplets hammering at the windows, roving bass and obedient drums carve out a cool rhythm that showcases Kiwi Dave MacRae's fabulous mastery of the evocative keyboard instrument. Inspiring to say the least, torturing a piano into believing it's a synth!

"Remadione" continues on the same brilliant principle, after a brief intro that has no forewarning of the upcoming deluge, the lads kick into a muscular attack, Babbington's rugged bass lighting up the stage for Holdsworth to finally show is considerable mettle, where speed and technique are welded together by emotion, proof of what a stellar guitarist he was and would continue to become.

"Mayday" has the urgency of a horny teenager, mindboggling guitar wristings that moisten the dissonant platform, Brian Smith's sax blaring like some allegedly unwilling partner but in fact, in heat from the start. This is real good music, kids!

Wondering why I salivate at the mere mention of Babbington? Well "Suspension" proves it without pomp or circumstance, as this one take masterpiece proves, the man just treats his discreet instrument like a leader, non content to merely follow like good lad. He sets the tone. When one has such a perfectly groomed highway to travel on, it comes to no surprise that Carr delivers his finest trumpet solo ever. Unreal impressions of utter glee.

To close off this complete masterpiece, "Hector's House" has by now the band gunning on all cylinders, a well-oiled Nucleus (pffff! That was easy) of dedicated performers, creating timeless music where the whole is just as good as the solo parts but when Holdsworth takes aim, his machine-gun playing is truly remarkable, a preface of things to come. Descriptive? Fast, heavy, metallic, fluid and just plain devastating.

There are rare times when giddy laughter takes over as I listen to some marvel and it's not derogatory at all. Au contraire, the panicky laugh is just a defense mechanism rooted in disbelief. Nucleus does that to me, in so many different ways and for so long now, reminding me that like Bach, Mozart, Bartok or Liszt, good music is a timeless reflection of one's innermost feelings and as such a welcome relief to our judgmental, cold and hypocritical daily routine.

5 undisputed pretty ladies

PS This one is for you John Davie!

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