Monday, June 20, 2016

Pete Brown & Piblokto! - 1970 - Things May Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on for Ever

Pete Brown & Piblokto!
Things May Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on for Ever

01. Things May Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes On for Ever 5:03
02. High Flying Electric Bird 4:15
03. Someone Like You 5:46
04. Walk for Charity, Run for Money 5:28
05. Then I Must Go On and Can I Keep 3:50
06. My Love Is Gone Far Away 2:47
07. Golden Country Kingdom 3:09
08. Firesong 5:59
09. Country Morning 6:47
10. Flying Hero Sandwich [bonus] 3:18
11. My Last Band [bonus] 5:05

Pete Brown (vocals, percussion)
Rob Tait (drums)
Jim Mullen (guitar)
Roger Bunn (bass)
Dave Thompson (organ)
Steve Glover (bass)
Brian Breeze (guitar)
Phil Ryan (keyboards)
John "Pugwash" Weathers (drums)

Never have I been more thankful for the phrase “the title track”.  The album’s ponderous title announces that this group must be taken on its own terms.  Perhaps due to this, Piblokto! never came close to “household name” status, especially in the States, but the group’s two albums are essential for anyone who has ever wondered what Jack Bruce’s post-_Harmony Row_ albums might have sounded like had he not taken the ill-advised detour that was West, Bruce, & Laing.  Brown doesn’t have the voice of his longtime songwriting partner Bruce, in fact, Brown has a voice in the manner that Neil Young and Willie Nelson do.  It’s serviceable, but you’ll either acquire a taste for it quickly, or never.

The material though, is largely superlative.  It’s a tribute to Brown’s talent that he could split his lyric writing efforts, and still come up with such an engaging set.  “High Flying Electric Bird” , with its inventive use of slide whistle, is an instant classic.  “Someone Like You” hides a slap at a former lover in pretty notes and uplifting imagery.  Unlike his previous band, the Battered Ornaments, Piblokto! is a top-rank outfit.  Guitarist Jim Mullen is particularly strong.

Although Brown has been quoted as saying that he had no use for the late ‘70’s punk movement, “Walk For Charity, Run For Money” has an insistent, punkish edge that anticipates that genre.  Roger Bunn’s basswork on “Then I Must Go, And Can I Keep” is reminiscent of Bruce’s busy virtuosity.  There’s not a bad track here, but be advised that there is little here that’s short and radio oriented.  The country-tinged “Golden Country Kingdom” comes closest, but Brown’s surrealistic lyrics are anathema to radio success.  It worked for “White Room”, but that was the exception, rather than the rule.  When Brown tries to be more accessible, he usually succeeds in simply making his surrealism sillier, as in the non-album “Flying Hero Sandwich”. 

The Piblokto! albums aren’t for those who are looking for easy listening music.  There’s a lot to appreciate here, if you’ll devote the time to the group’s catalogue that it deserves.  If you fail to give this your full attention, it’ll zoom over your head like an electric bird.