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Robert Calvert - Lucky Leif & The Longships CD (album) cover


Robert Calvert


Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.92 | 24 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Good vibrations

The late Robert Calvert recorded this his second solo album in 1975, a year after his debut and two years after leaving Hawkwind. This time he called upon the services of Brian Eno as producer, and took his concept from the pre-Columbus visits of the Vikings to America.

The music is surprisingly accessible, ranging from the more melodic side of Hawkwind to folk and pop. Various notable guests appear along the way, including Nik Turner on sax, Michael Moorcock on banjo, and Simon House on violin. The highly gifted Andy Roberts also appears on a range of instruments.

The opening "Ship of fools" turns out to be one the album's highlights, offering a mid paced pop based song whose simplicity disguises a fine composition. "The lay of the surfers" is a tongue in cheek tribute to the Beach Boys including the lyric "I guess you could call us Barbarians" sung to the tune of "Barbara Ann". "Voyage to Vinland" ventures towards folk territories, the acoustic basis of the song suiting the melody well.

"The Making of Midgard" is an odd, unaccompanied poem recital with the reading multi-tracked and offset, along the lines of Queen's "The prophet's song". It contrasts well with the following "Brave new world", a wispy upbeat song with a country style chorus. "Magical potion" is a funky but cynical look at modern America while "Moonshine in the mountains" lives up to its name by diverting into a backwoods style Dukes of Hazzard sing-a-long.

"Storm Chant Of The Skraelings", the second longest track but still under 5 minutes, has more in common with Calvert's work with the British Amon Duul The slightly distorted vocals and sundry sound effects make the track the most intriguing here. Despite its lengthy sub-title, the reggae influenced "Volstead O Vodeo Do" is the low point of the album, even if I does sound like plenty of fun was had recording it. The brief "Phased lock loop" fares little better, apparently being the sound of someone re-tuning a radio. We close with "Ragna rock", the longest track on the album at a shade under 6 minutes. The song returns us to the accessible rock of the early songs on the album, the track benefiting from some strong guitar rhythms.

"Lucky lief.." was the cause of some divide among Calvert fans, mainly due to its diversity. It seems there was some friendly disagreement between Calvert and Eno about how best to present that diversity, with Calvert wanting to add brief linking narratives. Eno won the day though, and the tracks are left as isolated and disjointed pieces. This has the effect of rather annulling the concept of the album, as there is no continuity whatsoever. On the plus side, the diversity of sound means that there is something for pretty much everyone here. On the whole, a decent album by Calvert, with plenty to enjoy.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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