martedì 29 aprile 2014

Bloodrock - Bloodrock 1970

1969 saw the first rumblings of heavy metal with debut releases from bands like Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad. Bloodrock, a Texas-based quintet, also released their debut during this time (and like Grand Funk Railroad, they were managed and produced by Terry Knight). Bloodrock may not be as well remembered today as the aforementioned groups, but their first release remains a cult favorite amongst fans of hard rock. Their sound is reminiscent to Deep Purple, with electric guitar and organ dueling over a throbbing beat. However, Jim Rutledge's gruff, whisky-throated vocals lend a rural tinge to the group's music that sets them apart. As expected for a heavy metal band, the songwriting themes tend to be pretty ominous: "Double Cross" is a gleeful hymn to revenge, and "Timepiece" recounts the final thoughts of a death row prisoner about to be sent to the gallows. The band doesn't always know when to edit their jams ("Timepiece"), and some of the songs feel more like a collection of riffs than fully thought out compositions ("Wicked Truth"), but the group's powerful attack helps smooth over the rough spots to make an engaging slab of proto-metal. The album's highlights are the final two songs: "Fantastic Piece of Architecture" uses an a combination of Doors-like funereal organ and piano to create a creepy atmosphere, and "Melvin Laid an Egg" blends pile-driving riffs with gentle bridges of piano and harmony vocals to bring its surreal lyric about a freak show dwelling capitalist to life. Overall, Bloodrock lacks the crossover appeal to win fans outside of its cult reputation, but it remains an interesting listen for those interested in the development of heavy metal.

01.Gotta Find A Way 6:31
02.Castle Of Thoughts 3:26
03.Fatback 3:20
04.Double Cross 5:18
05.Timepiece 5:57
06.Wicked Truth 4:45
07.Gimme Your Head 2:42
08.Fantastic Piece Of Architecture 8:45
09.Melvin Laid An Egg 7:25

Jim Rutledge: Drums, Lead Vocals
Lee Pickens: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Nick Taylor: Guitar, Vocals
Eddie Grundy: Bass, Vocals
Stevie Hill: Keyboards, Vocals

5 commenti:

Solidboy ha detto...

flac cue log scans

DanP ha detto...

cool, i was hoping for such an upgrade a while back! :D

adamus67 ha detto...

Bloodrock was a Texas hard rock band that were best known for their only top 40 hit, DOA. The song was about a dying man in an airplane crash. A keyboard riff simulates a heart monitor. The lyrics are the man's last thoughts before he dies. It ended with the keyboard simulating a flat line. A few radio stations refused to play it when it was a hit and after September 11th, no station will play it now. Bloodrock was reportedly a favorite among troops in Vietnam. They were often the opening band for Grand Funk Railroad and broke up in 1973.

Apparently, the band - or rather, its great-grandfather - was formed in Texas as early as the early Sixties, by Jim Rutledge and Nick Taylor and some pals, but it took them almost a decade, multiple lineup changes and also multiple name changes to become Bloodrock around 1970. They didn't possess a heck of a lot of independent musical imagination, and the fact that they were managed and produced by Terry Knight, the unnamed hero of Grand Funk Railroad, doesn't make matters really better. However, they possessed two unarguable advantages. First, they were heavy - not necessarily heavier than GFR at their heaviest, or any other American act at the time, but more like, 'heavy' in the attitude sense of the word. The music was dark, ranging between goofy and creepy, occasionally balancing towards the former or towards the latter, with apocalyptic and demonic references, mystical imagery and bloody album covers which you can see below. Again, they did not invent this attitude, but they did a good job of supporting and embracing it without too much embarrassment.

Despite the band's name and biggest hit, Bloodrock was not a band that focused on morbid songs. Their music is mostly akin to Deep Purple and Uriah Heep in that the music has a boogie beat and tons of organ/guitar interplay. They also share a similarity with the Grateful Dead. Non-member Robert Hunter wrote most of the Grateful Dead's lyrics. Likewise, Texas blues guitarist John Nitzinger wrote most of Bloodrock's music. Yet, he never became a member.

adamus67 ha detto...

The first Bloodrock album is also arguably the best Bloodrock album...contains an absolute majority of Bloodrock riffs and Bloodrock vocal melodies Anyway, the riffs are good. The guitar playing's okay, too; it's not like Lee Pickens and Nick Taylor actually invent anything with their instruments (in between Hendrix and Van Halen, pretty few American hard rockers were inventive with their instruments anyway), but they play 'em nice and hard, with a vast knowledge of techniques, effects, licks, picks, and dicks. Nah, screw dicks, this isn't really a cock-rock experience; the themes of the album lie more in the metaphysical field, assuming a bunch of hairy Texan potheads know what 'metaphysics' really is. Not too much Satanic imagery, either, even if the atmosphere is pretty dark throughout and there's plenty of death 'n' suffering references.

There ain't truly a bad piece on the album, even if the one 'quiet atmospheric' tune on here doesn't do much for me. 'Fantastic Piece Of Architecture', a slow, subtle, potentially "creepy" pseudo-Goth epic, actually makes the mistake of putting atmosphere before melody, and in those post-Doors and near-Sabbath days, you couldn't expect such a band as Bloodrock to really keep up to the standards. The organ shuffles along nicely, the soft silken vocal delivery is tolerable and the occasional echoey guitar twang is a fine touch, but on the whole the tune is really unimpressive.

Not so with the other eight numbers, all of 'em fat, mean, and rockin' along as impressively as you'd expect. With a bit of invention, too. 'Gotta Find A Way' opens the album with a stinging two-note guitar melody that seems prqetty stupid but then turns out to be a mere background support instead of the main riff, and the endless repetitive chorus is catchy enough to stick where it should, but is interrupted by verse melodies and moderate, un-show-off-ey organ solos often enough not to make you vomit. The fast-rolling rollickin' 'Castle Of Thoughts' is my personal favourite, a thoroughly convincing monster of a song with a great drive throughout - and where simpler bands would employ maybe just one naggin' naughty riff, 'Castle Of Thoughts' actually carries the melody through several different sections and riffs, all of them nice. For some reason, too, the lyrical dichotomy of 'here I stand in the castle of my thoughts' and 'here I stand in the college of my dreams' really seduces me, unless Rutledge stole it from somebody else. Other highlights include 'Double Cross' - a MONSTER MONSTER riff which they should have sold to Tony Iommi for a fortune... then again, it's pretty poppy for Tony Iommi, which reminds me that there are actually plenty of pop influences on this album; 'Timepiece' is excellent too, one tune where a similar use of 'feeble atmospherics' for the melody magnificently contrasts with the wild uproar of the chorus; more Sabbath-esque distorted punch in 'Wicked Truth'; and the REAL epic of this album, 'Melvin Laid An Egg', whose main riff seems like it was used as an inspiration for Sabbath's 'Iron Man' later on, doesn't it?

adamus67 ha detto...

Anyway, what this album does is ROCK, and I do mean rock, for according to the standards of 1970 this stuff had some of the heaviest songs around. Too bad the band never really caught on the success later on. One thing's for certain: it's upon hearing records like these that you truly understand how much hard work it is to come up with a good guitar riff, and take this, you lovers of complexity! Anybody can slam up three chords and make a riff; the important thing is to make that riff actually reflect an emotional state, and a precise and exact one at that, not just abstract 'dynamics' or 'power'. I eagerly recommend any hard rock lover to look this up, a rare metallic treasure from the early Seventies. Proves the Yanks can do heavy metal when they want, too!

Marco,good job!

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