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Affinity - Affinity CD (album) cover

AFFINITY

Affinity

 

Eclectic Prog

3.70 | 151 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Affinity were a short-lived group of quite talented musicians who played a style of music best described as blues-based but created by folks who knew more than a little bit about jazz, and certainly weren’t above ripping off some fat and funky B3 keyboards when the mood suited them.

Formed from the ashes of forgotten sixties act Ice, the quintet was fronted by the powerful and ranging vocals of Linda Hoyle, who runs the gamut between from heavy rock (“Three Sisters”) to the almost lounge-act jazz of “Cocoanut Grove” to an early version of new-wave with the peppy girl-band sounding “Eli's Coming”. Her voice suits the music very well throughout, although the one place it is nearly absent she isn’t necessarily missed; on the funky and clearly improvised cover of “All Along the Watchtower”.

The musicianship is top-notch on every track, even if the group does not seem to have any clear sense of what sort of band they want to be. Besides the tracks already described, there is the mostly acoustic and folksy toe-tapper “United States of Mind” with catchy guitar work courtesy of Mike Jupp (Hoyle sounds exactly like the Canadian singer Martha Johnson of the 70s group Martha & the Muffins (“Echo Beach”); there’s also the original jam composition “Night Flight” in which a very talented Lynton Naiff totally wails on the Hammond and a variety of other keyboards; and the wafer-light “Mr. Joy” that has a cool bass riff from famous session musician Mo Foster but is otherwise a bit too long and lacking a bit in spark.

I can’t really decide if I like this record or am simply mildly curious about it. Affinity is a band that is often mentioned as a lost ‘gem’ of the late psych days, but really I don’t hear much here that is striking or ground-breaking. The one thing I would say is they managed to put out a very solid album of well-played music in 1970 without being too dependent on either psych, folk or rocking blues; which is in itself a bit of a feat.

Hoyle would depart the band and the music business shortly after this album released, although she did first manage to crank out a solo record that included future Nucleus and Soft Machine member Karl Jenkins. Jupp would go on to play for Michael d'Abo, while Lynton Naiff would appear on a long list of artist’s albums and tours for years including Queen, Real Thing, Blonde on Blonde and Delegation. Drummer Grant Serpell moved on to the 70s pop group Sailor, and Foster, like Naiff, would enjoy a lengthy career in studio and tour work.

This isn’t a masterpiece and it isn’t indispensable, but it is a decent record. I’d probably go with two stars and consider it a curio more than anything, but the solid musicianship deserves more respect than that, so three stars and recommended to folks who are willing to spend a little time and money on music from the past that is worth the time to rediscover.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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