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Jackson Heights - Ragamuffin Fool CD (album) cover


Jackson Heights


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3.36 | 28 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Again released on the Vertigo swirl label, JH's third effort at least managed a very promising artwork spread over a gatefold (and posters), but alas the musical propos didn't follow the hopes the fantasy drawings were hinting at. Still reduced as a trio live and inviting a drummer (amongst other musicians) in the studio to beef up their sound. Compared to the previous album, keyboardist Brian Chatton is also involved in the songwriting, which makes them a full and equal trio, but the overall sound of the group won't be altered too much, still hovering on a soft folk rock with west coast influences (CS&N or America or Bread etc..., even some Steely Dan) but without any trace of country rock. Again Giles plays on most tracks (bar two), but he rarely shows what he was up to in Crimson, no anymore than Jackson shows his The Nice chops.

Musically and sonically, RF is quite close to FAB in many regards and it's certainly not the string arrangement on the would-be single of Maureen (the opening track) that will recuse that statement. The following Your Beauty does however spell some kind of proggy ambiance and is linked to As She Starts, both tracks hovering around The Guess Who and Steely Dan. In the same realm, Bebop is a nice tidbit (mellotrons detected >> yummy!!!). Other tracks like Chips And Chicken or the title track to Poor Peter and Bellyful Of Water were ranging from Honky Tonk to hillbilly roadside blues and fun roll-out rollicking rock.

Catch A Thief could almost be a good The Nice track, relying on a wild piano, while Chorale IS a The Nice track (a part of the Five Bridge Suite) with Jackson singing almost Gabriel-like. But most of the second side's tracks remind in some ways the short crazier and zanier The Nice tracks from their first two albums.

Again very deceiving an album, JH was now standing its last leg and everyone decided that they should try out for a full blown-out extravaganza, with full deluxe works; which on the view of the first three albums has me guessing why in the world would someone risk so big with so few in hand (a little more on paper though). In either case RF is a slight improvement on FAB, probably the closest to The Nice in spirit and the album by which you'd want to start to investigate, should you really wish to do so!

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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