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Skin Alley - Skin Alley CD (album) cover

SKIN ALLEY

Skin Alley

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 42 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars SKIN ALLEY were an English Jazz-Rock band who released four albums between 1969 and 1973. The eponymously-titled "Skin Alley" (1969) album, reviewed here, was followed up by:- "To Pagham and Beyond" (1970), "Two Quid Deal" (1972), & "Skintight" (1973). Their albums only met with very limited success due to a lack of publicity and general apathy from the record-buying public, and despite a change of record label from a U.K. to a U.S. label between the second and third albums, their fortunes didn't improve and the band went their separate ways in 1974. This album, with it's distinctive image of a rude American cop on the cover, included two bonus tracks added to the original nine songs on the album on the 2006 remastered CD edition. Let's cop a load of this album now and have a listen.

"Living in Sin" opens the album with a good solid slice of bluesy and brassy, psychedelic Jazz-Rock. Obviously, the term "Living in Sin" sounds rather old-fashioned and outdated now as we live in far more enlightened times fifty years on where it's no longer frowned upon for an unmarried couple to live together. In time-honoured fashioned, the bluesy lyrics tell a tale of a hard-drinkin' man fallen on hard times who's going to see his woman:- "I'm gonna see my woman, So look out here I come, I'm gonna see my young children, I love them every one, I've been living in sin, Smoking cigars and drinking gin, I was so alone, Had no-one to call my own." ..... The words might be moody and bluesy but this uplifting and energetic psychedelic Jazz number definitely won't leave you feeling blue. Song No. 2 "Tell Me" is a full-toned, emotionally-rich piece of music, featuring a powerful Hammond organ barrelling along to the sound of sweeping violins from the orchestra. It's grandiose and spectacular and the music and heartfelt lyrics could be described as an emotional rollercoaster ride, but that would be just another tired old cliche in a world full of tired old cliches. The impassioned plea of the next song "Mother Please Help Your Child" has a very solemn and religious hymnal feel to it. The music is a sombre flute and organ-driven piece with a slow marching rhythm. It's better than any music you're ever likely to hear in your average church service though. This powerful and passionate piece of music is enough to convert an atheist into a believer. You don't HAVE to be a religious devotee to enjoy this inspirational and spiritual paean, but after hearing this song, you might just believe in the restorative power of music to rejuvinate and revitalise the soul. If only they played music like this on "Songs of Praise". Hallelujah! Closing out Side One is "Marsha", a rollicking, rambunctious Jazz-Rock spectacular! The Hammond organist is given free rein here to go off on a wild keyboard jamboree with a cool saxophonist providing accompaniment. Prepare to blast off into Jazz-Rock heaven with this unrestrained and uninhibited 7-minute instrumental jam session that will light a fire in your soul. Come on baby, light my fire. We have ignition!

And so, we arrive at Side Two with the charmingly rustic instrumental "Country Aire", a short pastoral flute and harpsichord piece which reminds one of taking a long walk in the beautiful English countryside on a warm summer's day. It's the kind of traditional jolly Folk music that you might hear ridiculous-looking Morris dancers shaking their bells and tassles to as you quickly nip into the local tavern to escape them. Song No. 6 "All Alone" is just as moody and sentimental as the song title implies. Don't get too downhearted though, because this organ and saxophone piece is moody and magnificent. It's a timeless and transcendent piece of music with a slow marching rhythm, which builds up into a grandiose crescendo of sound for the tremendous finale. We're in Procol Harum "Whiter Shade of Pale" territory here with this harmonious, grand-sounding blast from the past. This impassioned and intoxicating piece of music might just inspire you to skip the light fandango and turn cartwheels across the floor, but try not to do yourself an injury. Dusk is drawing in now for "Night Time", a flutey and bluesy Jazz-Rock number with a mellow laid-back groove. This impressive and improvisational piece of Jazzy music is hip-shakingly good, so just move to the nice 'n' easy groove and shuffle those shoes, or if you're not in an energetic mood, just lay back and enjoy it and think of England. This music is groovy, baby! There's a change of mood and pace now for "Concerto Grosso", a short classical harpsichord piece which leads us gently into the closing song on the album, "(Going Down This) Highway". Yes, you've guessed it, this is a good old-fashioned rocking and rolling song for listening to as you're cruising down the highways and byways in your car, so if you're born to be wild, get your motor running, head out on the highway, and if you're looking for adventure, just take whatever comes your way.

"Skin Alley" is a nostalgic bluesy and brassy album of British Jazz-Rock with a ballsy take-no-prisoners attitude. It's foot- stompingly good!

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |

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