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Brian Auger - Second Wind (as Oblivion Express) CD (album) cover

SECOND WIND (AS OBLIVION EXPRESS)

Brian Auger

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.57 | 29 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars After the misstep of ABL, our fave Ogre had to straighten things around, and the best thing around that issue was to gain control back of the songwriting. Indeed if Mullen had written the majority of ABL tracks, he only gets a partial credit in this on Second Wind, behind newcomer singer Alex Ligertwood, Brian grabbing the lion's share. And if Alex is the main change to the line-up, he also pulls in this album his best performance in his entire career, which is not that hard given his future inclinations. So with their third album, the Express manages to get back on track and pull of an album that comes very close to the debut's quality, and sadly it misses a train artwork on the sleeve, rather than Brian's mugshot. Had the comic-like drawn back cover done the front face, it might have drawn equal ratings.

Starting wildly on a Ligertwood composition Truth (which in truth sounds lifted from Jeff Beck), the album announces the wild pace from minute 1, where the singer gives us a feel of Stevie Winwood vocals, with Mullen pulling an average solo and Brian shinning on piano.. Don't Look Away is a group effort where the descending riff provides plenty of space for some of Brian's best piano moments on the present album, while Mullen's guitar underlines Ligertwood's verses. With the inaptly titled Somebody Help Us, the album gets to the album's highlight, with Brian's huge hammering of his Hammond . When the Oblivion Express soars like this, they don't need anyone's help and frankly not many could help them effectively, except somebody forcing Ligertwood's to lower down his tone a bit.

The flipside starts on a cover Freedom Jazz Dance with its infectious hard-driving groove defined by the rhythm section, Brian shinning like the sun, and even Mullen finally pulling some attention to his playing and Alex is fittingly on spot. The Trinity days Just Me is a fine rework, this version being much livelier with Brian's brilliant piano piece in the middle. Closing up on the title track, the album hits a bit of a low (Ligertwood again), but Brian's usual dazzling Hammond manages to save the track from sinking.

Even if Litgerwood's best ever performance is on this album, he's still one of the main reason why this album doesn't reach the height of following Closer To It and the debut album, but Second Wind is definitely on the podium of Auger's discography, narrowing-ly beating some Trinity album. Definitely worth seeking out if you liked the two up on my top three Ogre albums, it won't disappoint you, as even Alex can't ruin the Express when it's on a roll.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |

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