Monday, November 20, 2006

"Brian Davison's Every Which Way" 1970

It shouldn't be necessary to inform you about whom of The Nice' ex-members that got the most successful career after the disbanding of that group. However, both Lee Jackson and Brian Davison started their own bands, but without any noticeable success. Jackson formed Jackson Heights that were able to make as much as four albums. Davison's new group Every Which Way lasted on the other hand for only one record, and that's really not much to be sad about if the music on this album was the best they had to offer. Musically it reminds me of a jazzier and more progressive version of Gordon Haskell's "It Is and It Isn't" album, but without the good melodies. Most of the songs are stretched out by lots of tedious soloing on saxophone from Geoffrey Peach, and Graham Bell's vocal delivery sounds depressing, lacking dynamics and range. The pace of the album is slow and laid-back, rarely firing up much excitement or energy. "The Light" has got a quite good sax-riff that is used sparsely and intelligent, but unfortunately gets lost in the tedium of the rest of the song. The only track that I really care for here is "Castle Sand". This mellow and fine song has got Peach' flute floating gently around it, and the melody is one of the few memorable ones on the album. "Go Placidly" also has some good tendencies in the melodic department, but several boring aspects about it too. You should rather check out Refugee's album from 1974 instead if you want the best thing that Davison were involved in after The Nice.

This isn't the sort of album that gets placed at the top of someone's Want List, or even on the list at all. I for one don't have such a list in the first place, but a perhaps morbid sense of curiosity plus the simple knowledge of what this album was led to its purchase when I stumbled across it. It's not worth it, however, which is why this album this album receives my standard rating for music that is well-played but completely unaware of the total indifference it provokes in the listener. It's a bunch of slow to medium paced grooves, led by Graham Bell's acoustic guitar and vocals and then overlaid with John Hedley's rote pentatonic guitar riffs or Geoffrey Peach's smooth soprano sax work. There are few things that I hate like soprano saxophone, and I get suspicious of sax players who tend to turn jazzy into comatose. So what you get is something like a sluggish long-winded Traffic with more sax ("All in Time", "The Light", or the 9+ minutes of "Bed Ain't What It Used to Be"), or a curious rip-off of King Crimson's "Moonchild", although they had the sense to curtail the aimless ending ("Castle Sand"). One of the tracks that does stand out is "What You Like" which may not be any better than the rest, but at least has a dark dissonant tone to it, making them sound a bit like Catapilla. The other is "Go Placidly", a bona fide good song because it's short, to the point, has some energy in it, a couple of nice solos from the Designated Soloists, and consequently is the only song I can remember from the album at all. Musically, everyone's decent, but I don't think it would be much of a stretch to say that Davison is the best musician among the bunch, which says something. In fact, far more interesting than the music are the liner notes, which attempts to market the album as an anti-supergroup. "There isn't a hit song on this album" it proclaims, and boy was it right. It really was the only way to promote the album probably. I mean, it's not like anybody is going to say "I must have Brian Davison's new group's album!", so because they lack a big name they have to promote the music instead, and the groupness of the group. The only problem is that the music sucks. I mean Davison and Alan Cartwright (who later turned up in Procol Harum) do make a nice rhythm section, but aside from that well, there's a reason these guys weren't household names. Davison's production isn't anything special, either; he mixes his drums in a fairly interesting fashion but doesn't have any ideas outside of that. Watered down - the musical equivalent of a gray day.

Graham Bell (vocals) SKIP BIFFERTY
John Hedley (guitar)
Alan Cartwright (bass) PROCOL HURUM
Geoff Peach (flute)
Brian Davison (drums) THE NICE


Blogger wibbler said...

Saw this band's debut gig at the Marquee club - wasn't greatly impressed then. In fact my most clear memory is of Viv Stanshall (very much the worse for wear) falling over in front of me....

20 November, 2006 17:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


02 January, 2007 06:50  

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