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Peter Bardens - The Answer [Aka: Vintage '69] CD (album) cover

THE ANSWER [AKA: VINTAGE '69]

Peter Bardens

 

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3.23 | 52 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars Keyboardist PETER BARDENS (1944-2002) is best-known as one of the founder members of Camel, alongside guitarist Andy Latimer. In fact, they look so much alike, you could almost believe Peter Bardens and Andrew Latimer were brothers. Peter Bardens appeared on the first six Camel albums:- "Camel" (1973); "Mirage" (1974); "The Snow Goose" (1975); "Moonmadness" (1976); "Raindances" (1977); & "Breathless" (1978), as well as making a guest appearance on "The Single Factor" album in 1982. Peter Bardens launched his solo career with "The Answer" album in 1970, back when Camel was still a twinkle in Andy Latimer's eye. The album is known to have featured guitar legend Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac in an uncredited appearance under an assumed name. Pete Bardens released two more solo albums at the beginning and end of the 1970's:- "Peter Bardens" (1971); and "Heart to Heart" (1979). He also formed a supergroup in the mid-1990's called Mirage, consisting of ex-Camel and ex- Caravan members, although they only recorded one live album together and never quite got around to recording a studio album. Altogether, Peter Bardens' has recorded nine albums throughout his long solo career, with his most recent album "The Art of Levitation" (2002) released the same year as his tragic death from lung cancer at the age of 57. The 2010 CD re-master of "The Answer" added two bonus tracks to the original six songs on the album. So, what can we expect from Pete Bardens first solo outing. Will it be a Camelesque kaleidoscope of keyboard colours? "The Answer" lies within.

The album opens with the title track, and if you like laid-back Psychedelic Soul, then this song will be "The Answer" to your prayers. The cheerful and vibrant opening keyboard chords conjure up a tantalasing image of an English country garden on a warm summer's day, which seems fitting, as Peter Bardens is pictured on the cover sitting on a throne in a veritable Garden of Eden, surrounded by a bevy of beauties. This is a song to savour as you drink in the drops of sunlight, bathed in the golden glow emanating from the scintillating psychedelic guitar. It's mellow and groovy slice of sweetly seductive psychedelia coated in a honey-rich texture of sound, that's guaranteed to permeate the very Soul. If you're in the mood to embark on a wild and soulful psychedelic trip without the aid of any psychedelic substances, then this song is "The Answer". The intriguingly- titled "Don't Goof with the Spook" is up next. This song is no Mellow Yellow. This is a Purple Haze of acid-drenched guitar reverb. This psychedelic freak-out is very reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix with Peter Bardens vocals sounding so laid-back here that he's almost horizontal. This heavy dose of psychedelia is sure to delight fans of the late-1960's American west coast acid guitar sound. Even The Doors in their wildest moments never sounded quite as psychedelic as this. The musicians somehow manage to replicate the genuine sound of American Psychedelic Rock perfectly whilst still remaining firmly rooted in England. I can't remember the last time I heard an album of British psychedelia as good as this and "I Can't Remember" is the title of the next song. We're moving to the blue end of the psychedelic spectrum for this Blues Rock number, although it's positively aglow with some ultra-violet sparkling rays of sunshine, in the form of an extended psychedelic jam from the dynamic duo of Peter Bardens and Peter Green, battling it out in unison to see who's the greatest caped crusader of them all in the hallowed halls of Rock & Roll.

Side Two opens with "I Don't Want To Go Home", a light and airy song featuring a flirtatious flute and with some gorgeous soulful backing vocals from Linda Lewis (best-known for the song "Rock-a-Doodle-Doo). It's a playful and pleasurable melody carried along on a sea of flower-power love and peace that's best-listened to on a warm sunshiny day when all of the brightly-coloured flowers in the psychedelic garden are in full bloom. It's back to basics for "Let's Get It On", a straightforward Blues-Rock number with Linda Lewis providing some mellifluous and soulful harmonising on backing vocals. And now we come to the BIG number to close out the album, the 13- minute-long "Homage to the God of Light". This is an out-and-out rocker going full speed ahead and it's easily the proggiest of all the songs on the album, giving a hint of the dynamic keyboard virtuosity to come from Peter Bardens when he made his presence loudly felt with Camel's debut album in 1973. This storming, pounding and percussive powerhouse of a song is the thunderous highlight of the album, containing all of the sparkling power and dynamic energy of an electricity generating sub-station. This rousing and rollicking, keyboard-driven number pounds along at a relentless pace in a sonic high-decibel assault on the eardrums with all the unstoppable power of a runaway express train thundering down the tracks.

This outstanding album of British Psychedelic Rock has a liberal sprinkling of Soul in the form of soulful backing vocals from Linda Lewis and Steve Ellis (of Love Affair). It might not be very proggy - apart from the last track - but if you like your music "painted" in wild psychedelic rainbow colours, then this superb album might just be "The Answer" to your psychedelic flower-power dreams. This is an album that's as bright and vibrant as an aurora borealis (or an aurora australis if you come from a land down under).

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |

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