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Blodwyn Pig - Ahead Rings Out CD (album) cover


Blodwyn Pig


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3.75 | 43 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Ahead Rings Out' - Blodwyn Pig (54/100)

Though they're far removed from the sounds of progressive rock (or progressive anything-else), you can't go into a late-60s exploration of the genre without Blodwyn Pig being mentioned. Sure, the surge of British bands fusing blues rock and psych with jazz could be seen as a precursor to the prog movement, but listening to Ahead Rings Out, a modern listener would much sooner liken them to Cream than King Crimson. Instead, Blodwyn Pig is most relevant to the contemporary progressive rock listener as a sign of what Jethro Tull may have turned out like. It's all in the lineup; Murray Abrahams started Tull with Ian Anderson a short time before. Ultimately, the two had stark disagreements concerning the musical direction they wanted to take. More famously, Ian Anderson kept Jethro Tull rolling into a folkishly progressive hard rock direction- the rest is history. In contrast, Abrahams was more interested in playing a sort of psych-tinged blues rock, far more in keeping with the time. Especially compared to Jethro Tull's distinctive grasp of style, Blodwyn Pig seems to blur into a mess of British bands that had their own sights set on this exact same sound. For the style and period, Ahead Rings Out is a fairly above-average submission, with bluesy licks aplenty and the occasional jazz segment to keep it fresh. All the same, Blodwyn Pig aren't impressive enough to separate them from their hordes of stylistic neighbours.

I was actually thinking a few days ago that an entire book could be written on the British heavy blues explosion of 1969-70. Led Zeppelin is easily the most visible from that scene to current eyes. Many more, however, seems to have disappeared from the public's attention. Blues rock has never had the same sort of pull since, though blues rock fans are bound to be at least aware of Blodwyn Pig. Unlike the 12-bar throwaway would-be blusters, I am pretty sure that Blodwyn Pig had the potential to become bigger than they were. Listening to the album's jazziest moments in "The Modern Alchemist" and "Leave It With Me", the band pulls off some tight interplay. Even the omnipresent blues licks enjoy the soulful punch that only sincerity can provide. Murray Abrahams' vocals are probably more typical, less inviting than the instrumentation, but the potential for great things was still there.

If there's anything that seems to hold back Blodwyn Pig from said potential, it's the band's fixation with blues tropes. Granted, the blues style has a very specific mood and set of tools in its favour, but when Ahead Rings Out suggests alternatives to this (such as their sax-infused jazz rock), I'm left thinking the music would have benefited from some more diversification. The pentatonic scale worship comes in droves. And, of course, Abrahams is here singing his heart about his familiar troubles with a two-timing woman. Especially since the British blues zeitgeist has long since ended, these tropes are more difficult to see as quaint blues staples than as a distinct lack of personality and original contribution.

On the other hand, Blodwyn Pig's greatest successes on Ahead Rings Out come forth in the form of their blues-jazz fusion. While their heart's still clearly in the blues camp, the unexpected merge of styles works surprisingly well, with a sound not unlike some of the 'brass rock' bands that shared the same period. In the case of Blodwyn Pig, it's not that I don't appreciate their love of blues so much as I feel like the way they've approached this genre has precluded their ability to have a strong identity. The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin each carved out a sound for themselves with many of the same ingredients, but in the case of Blodwyn Pig, they lacked the forward-thinking nature to take their sound out of a now-dated late 60s timestamp, and turn it into something immortal. It is worthy to note, however, that Blodwyn would emphasize their jazzy half by the time of Getting to This, their second LP.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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