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Jackson Heights - 5th Avenue Bus CD (album) cover


Jackson Heights


Prog Related

2.86 | 15 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Having had to rebuild his group from scratch, contemplating their debut album 's little catastrophe, Lee wisely sought some more songwriters in the person of John McBurnie (guitars and percussions and vocals) and also Brian Chatton (Kbs and vocals). So not only Lee made space for a real songwriter, but accepted shared vocal duties, he picked up his bass again and would call upon ex-Crimson drummer Mike Giles to play drums on their future three records, even though he and McBurnie handled percussion instruments as well. Finding a record deal on the legendary Vertigo Swirl label, they came up with one of the ugliest ever artwork on this label (with Lee's face enlarged in the bus entrance. Musically fairly different than their debut album, Fifth Ave Bus is more to do with CS&N than with The Nice or any other prog group around, although on the odd song, they could play up a proggy storm, especially with Giles drumming it up.

The huge majority of the songs are written by guitarist McBurnie, and his feeling has a definitive west coast pop/rock like the afore-mentioned trio, but without Young and most of them shall not raise the proghead's eyebrow, except for the percussion middle section Dog Got Bitten or the middle section of the lengthy Sweet Hill Tunnel, where Chatton shows his keyboard palette, the wind noises allowing some ambiance to take hold and the excellent interplay between Chatton's palette, Lee's bass and Giles' drums. The last point of interest is the closing Pastor Roger, which has a Family feeling, partly induced by the vocals Chapman-esque lead vocals (Jackson trying to have some range and coming up with screeches), but nowhere is there any kind of hint of instrumental mastery throughout the album, even in the Giles participations. It might amaze you to find that it is guest musicians pulling the electric guitar solos or the excellent piano just mentioned above (Lawrie Wright, also writer of one other track); which has me wondering exactly how these guys managed on stage. apparently they appeared as a purely acoustic "folk" trio (there is a bit of that), in which case soloing became unneeded.

Although I've only heard once their debut long ago (which is why I didn't review it), it's difficult for me to say whether FAB is an improvement on KP, but their singer/songwriter stuff is a bit of a change although both albums remains in the soft folk rock domain. With only small art rock glimpse to show for The Nice's former greatness and a very different stage allure, appearing as an acoustic trio, JH was heading nowherte and it was getting there fast.

Sean Trane | 2/5 |


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