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Lucifer's Friend - Banquet CD (album) cover


Lucifer's Friend


Heavy Prog

3.92 | 184 ratings

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3 stars Heavy prog? More like light jazz: 6/10

What do you think that would be the world's reaction if BLACK SABBATH, on their fourth album, decided to swap their sonority to jazz fusion? In short terms, this is what happened here. Heavy & doom metal (too) forerunners LUCIFER'S FRIEND took no time to abandon their dark style and opt for freaking jazz. Doing something like this in the 70s naturally got them criticized; it was an era where familiarity was fundamental for a band's success (no one would buy BLACK SABBATH hoping for jazz fusion) after all. Actually, they did this swap earlier - on their second album - but it was with BANQUET they departed from everything they represented hitherto. A highly venturesome move and progressive indeed.

Sadly, they don't do so well. BANQUET is a mountain peak album. It climaxes rapidly, but its captivation dies equally quickly. There are no flaws found in Spanish Galleon, the album's peak: John Lawton's vocal performance is intense, the guitar is virtuoso, the piano is smooth and quick-paced, and Herb Geller's brass sections sounds terrific. Simply put, it is a perfect multi-layered allegory for what a band can achieve with jazz fusion pretensions. Thus Spoke Oberon - the edge of the cliff - lacks the instrumental eclecticism, being more guitar and piano oriented, but is nonetheless good.

What happens next is that LUCIFER'S FRIEND bluesy sides, which weren't properly exorcised, start to speak louder. The frenzied energy begins to fade, turning mostly into piano tracks a la Elton John (with, uhm, 'jazz', I suppose). High- Flying Lady is an absolute buzz killer after the first two excellent tracks. Sorrow is as large as Spanish Galleon but not nearly as interesting. Dirty Old Down is almost boogie-woogie, if I recall correctly.

The supposedly defunct band, thanks to the internet, hit the road again since 2015. LUCIFER'S FRIEND released an (apparently) good album in 2016. They are also actively searching for their old record songs' lyrics. For as much as BANQUET failed to impress me as a jazz fusion album, I recommend trying it nonetheless. The first two tracks (which by themselves are roughly half the album) suffices to make it a worthy purchase. Well, worthy enough to make me interested on its creators' interesting historic after all, especially now they've been brought back from the dead.

Luqueasaur | 3/5 |


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