Blodwyn Pig – Ahead Rings Out
Label: A&M Records/SP 4210 | Release: 1969 | Genre: Progressive-Rock
Vinyl | LP Cover (1:1) | FLAC | 24bit/96kHz
Blodwyn Pig will probably forever be considered an offshoot of Jethro Tull, as the band was put together by Mick Abrahams. Abrahams was a co-founder of Tull, but his desire to retain the direction that band took on their début album “This was” was at odds with that of Ian Anderson. Anderson prevailed, Abrahams left after just one album, and as far as Tull are concerned the rest is history.
Abrahams did not sit on his hands though, and quickly put together a band to take his vision forward, and indeed initially to rival Jethro Tull in terms of success. We should not though consider this Abrahams plus backing, the rest of the line up is strong including Andy Pyle ex of the Kinks and a future member of Wishbone Ash. The multi-talented Saxophonist Jack Lancaster brings to the band the opportunity for a diversity of sounds, Lancaster going on to become an accomplished session musician.
This, Blodwyn Pig’s first album, consists of 9 tracks primarily written by Abrahams and/or Lancaster, with the other band members (including drummer Ron Berg) receiving co- writing credits on a couple of tracks. The music is firmly rooted in the blues which Abrahams had grown to love, the opening “Its only love” being an upbeat blues rocker with a big band style sound. Abrahams recalls that at the time of recording, he exploited the recent availability of 8 track recording to “thicken out the sound”.
If the first track is unashamedly commercial, the second “Dear Jill” is a delightful downbeat blues with sleepy sax and atmospheric slide guitar. Abrahams vocals here are among the best he has performed. “Sing Me a Song That I Know” is relatively prosaic, and very much of its time (over 40 years ago!).
Without even checking the credits, it is apparent that “The Modern Alchemist” is the first of the Jack Lancaster compositions, the track being a jazz based instrumental with sax and guitar leads. It is hardly original, even for back then, but the frantic pace does allow the band to let their hair down. “Up and Coming” is the first of the songs to be credited to all the band members. Here they revert to the atmospheric blues of “Dear Jill”, the track being similar to Uriah Heep’s “Lucy blues” recorded around the same time.
“Leave It With Me” is the second of the Lancaster written instrumentals; once again the track is a semi-improvised workout for the band, Lancaster’s tracks being noticeably different from the main blues pull of Abrahams. “The Change Song” opens with some undecipherable cockney chatter before settling down to a folk tinged acoustic ditty. The USA version of the album differed from the UK release through the inclusion of “See my way”, a song which would appear on the band’s second album in the UK. The track certainly has a bit of an American feel, being a driving blues rock number. Abrahams is in good voice on the track, which benefits from an adventurous arrangement, including what Abrahams refers to as a “Bolero” section.
The album closes with the 6 minute “Ain’t Ya Coming’ Home, Babe?”, where Lancaster’s jazz drive meets Abrahams blues thrust head on. The result is an oddly progressive melting pot of sounds which works in the main, but can sound a bit messy.
Overall, an impressive début from a band who failed to achieve all they were capable of. One of the highlights of the album is the stereo separation of the main instruments, which makes for a wonderfully clean, uncluttered sound overall. Not necessarily an album for Jethro Tull fans, but those with a bent towards blues, perhaps through bands such as the Groundhogs, should find much to enjoy here.
The CD remaster has a fine supply of bonus tracks. As most of these are written by Mick Abrahams, they inevitably lean towards the blues side of the band, but most would have made for worthy additions to the original album. “Walk on the Water” shines particularity well, although the sudden fade implies a work in progress.
A1 It’s Only Love
A2 Dear Jill
A3 Walk On The Water
A4 The Modern Alchemist
B1 See My Way
B2 Summer Day
B3 Change Song
B5 Ain’t Ya Coming Home, Babe?
Arranged By [Brass] – Jack Lancaster
Art Direction – Tom Wilkes
Engineer [Assistant] – Robin Black
Executive-Producer – Chris Wright
Producer, Engineer – Andy Johns
Vocals, Guitar, Guitar [7 Stringed Slide], Guitar – Mick Abrahams
Recorded at Morgan Studios, London 1969.
Barcode and Other Identifiers
Matrix / Runout (Side 1): T 2 A&M SP-4319-22
Matrix / Runout (Side 2): T 1 A&M SP-4320-22