Saturday, September 26, 2015

Jackson Heights - 1972 - Ragamuffins Fool

Jackson Heights
Ragamuffins Fool


01. Maureen
02. Oh You Beauty
03. As She Starts
04. BeBop
05. Catch A Thief
06. Ragamuffin's Fool
07. Chorale (Five Bridges Suite)
08. Chips And Chicken
09. Poor Peter
10. Bellyfull Of Water

Brian Chatton / keyboards, vocals
Michael Giles / brums
John McBurnie / guitar, keyboards, vocals
Lee Jackson / bass, guitar, vocals

Lp: Vertigo Swirl 6360 077
also released as "Jackson Heights" on Verve V6 5089 in 73 in the US

`Maureen' starts the album stridently, with a slightly tougher and more upfront vocal sound than the preceding album, although to say this was a stab at the charts would be underestimating the sophistication on offer here. There are delightful Piano and Mellotron breaks amongst Yes-like harmonies, (and in fact even a direct steal of an ending from Yours Is No Disgrace, can you spot it?). Once again, triple vocals are in evidence here and this is fine accomplished music, vocal and song-led with much to hold the interest throughout.

At times they are good enough to challenge Crosby, Stills and Nash, whom they had obviously been listening to. There is something refreshing and unpredictable about the writing, the vocals (again three way between McBurnie, Chatton, and Jackson) and the piano, mellotron and acoustic guitars once again framed by the immaculate drumming of Michael Giles.

As well as varied and inventive song based material, `Catch A Thief' is a rare jazz based piano workout and while Brian Chatton is no Keith Emerson, it works well enough. Interestingly there is also a version of Lee Jackson's `Chorale' from `Five Bridges' recorded, probably the way he wanted it to be. It's terrific, with added choral work and Mellotron strings which really flesh it out and make it special.

Overall `Ragamuffin's Fool' could be said to be a little more jovial and `good time' than it's predecessor, defining a kind of eccentric English song-writing based rock where bands pretty much did what they liked , had fun, and worried little about record company balance sheets. This music was never going to change the world, but it is entertaining enough to hold the attention throughout.

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