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Water Into Wine Band - Hill Climbing for Beginners CD (album) cover

HILL CLIMBING FOR BEGINNERS

Water Into Wine Band

 

Prog Folk

3.49 | 5 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars A mid-70's jesus-loving-freaks folk rock quartet that released two albums, WIWB was lead by multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, violin, percussions) Bill Thorp and seconded by three acoustic guitarists, McMunn, Sanford and Wright (bass as well), but the debut album also saw a lot of guest appearances from wind players and a string section. Actually Hill Climbing received two different releases depending on which side of the Atlantic you were, different artwork, same track list and order, but the tracks have been re-recorded for very (and I mean VERY) obscure US public acceptance reasons.

Musically, WIWB is a pretty melodic and gentle Christian folk rock affair with almost laughable contrition-filled lyrics. Often dominated by Thorp's violin, the album's mood is often positive (if not overly or naively), as if celebrating the joys of life, even drawing close to a jig in the middle section of I've Been Walking (no kidding!?!?!). Starting on the over- sweetish Stranger In The World, the album continues on the upbeat bluesy Used To Be Blind (but now I'm short-sighted >>> ROFL), cut into a fast start and a "salutary" violin solo for the second part. Not bad per se, but definitely proselytic. The I've Been Walking track develops a String Driven Thing-cloned eerie ambiance, before turning happily jig-gy. Again, musically, rather interesting. Elsewhere, the title track is a scandalous Leonard Cohen rip- off.

On the flipside, the pastoral-sounding Start Of A Run is mildly progressive, with some brass instrument intervention (trombone and flute), but the mood is soporific. Easily, the highlight of the album is the lengthiest, slow and haunting Song Of The Cross slowly builds a String Driven Thing eerie sound (recalling Grahame Smith's violin), as the previous Been Walking had done so as well, and later (in the second section) features some electric guitar lead and strumming, gentle, but ends by a two-minutes useless coda. The closing Seen The Lord is faster and enthralling piece that includes all-too rare bongos and some electric guitar, sometimes reminiscent of George Harrison's My Sweet Lord (although not as brilliant)

Soooo if musically, the band's music is rather fine and even interesting at times, the sectarian lyrics does bother this writer and kind of ruins his enjoyment, so I'll take a full star away for such an invasive, obtuse and obstructive flaw. BTW, I haven't heard any major significant changes between the US and UK versions of this album, so it remains difficult to understand why they took the trouble to re-record the thing. HCFB has received a CD reissue where both versions of the album are reunited on two discs on the Kissing Spell label (which I reviewed). Whether the difference between the two versions of the album necessitated indeed a double-disc is debatable, but it's rather nice (but fairly useless) to have both, if you're in that type of religious-freak music. Musically inoffensive, but intellectually bothersome (these guys are taking us for fools, or are they real?), you shall not really miss a single thing if you overlook their insignificant oeuvre. If you really want to investigate some religious folk rock freaks, you might want to investigate the US tribal freak folk The Trees (not to be confused with the excellent British band), and get some kind of musical shivers and eeriness.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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