Monday, March 23, 2015

Jerusalem - 1972 - Jerusalem


01. Frustration 5:16
02. Hooded Eagle 8:41
03. I See The Light 3:38
04. Murderer's Lament 4:47
05. When the Wolf Sits 4:35
06. Midnight Steamer 5:39
07. Primitive Man 6:04
08. Beyond the Grave 5:31
09. She Came Like a Bat From Hell 2:47

Bob Cook (lead guitar)
Paul Dean (bass)
Bill Hinde (guitar)
Ray Sparrow (drums)
Lynden Williams (vocals)

As any collector of obscure 60's/70's hard rock will tell you, the pickings get pretty slim the further you dig. For every Captain Beyond, Death Walks Behind You, and Growers of Mushroom, there seem to be at least fifteen barely adequate, sub-par unknowns being heralded as "forgotten masterpieces" in the pages of record catalogs, and as such, collectors have learned to take heed of any record being sold that doesn't have pre-exisitng acclaim from the psych community.

But don't dismiss every no-name heavy you read about, or you just might pass up Jerusalem's sole album, an oft-slept-on heavy stomper from 1972.

This record kicks ass. The fact that it was produced by Deep Purple's Ian Gillan should have ensured it at least moderate success, but its raw, lo-fi recording quality and obsession with darkness likely turned most listeners off back in 1972. Comparisons to Purple can be expected, but Jerusalem's minor-key riffs and tortured vocals paint an altogether darker picture than anything Purple ever attempted. Indeed, the lyrics often deal with such morbid subject matter as murder,  the grim reaper, and rotting in a grave. Further adding to the uncomfortable mood is the fact that several songs staunchly refuse to settle into traditional "groovy" rhythms, instead providing an insistent, sharp-edged backdrop to the group's gloomy tales of loneliness, alienation, and death. This is certainly a unique record in a genre who's musical vocabulary relies primarily on the blues.

The album opens with one hell of a vicious one-two punch in the form of "Frustration" and "Hooded Eagle". The former is a hard-driving rocker with a riff to die for, while the latter is an uptempo dark rocker with a soaring, passionate chorus the likes of which this reviewer has yet to hear again in the underground hard rock canon. This, of course, sets a hard-to-top standard  from the get go, but the rest of the record still delivers the goods (aside from the rather boring "Beyond the Grave").

Oh, and did I mention these guys were HEAVY? Those who need convincing need only listen to the positively crushing steamroller "Primitive Man". Man, this could have been on Volume 4!

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