Monday, June 20, 2016

Pete Brown & Piblokto! - 1970 - Thousands on a Raft

Pete Brown & Piblokto!
Thousands on a Raft

01.  Aeroplane Head Woman 6:39
02.  Station Song Platform Two 3:37
03.  Highland Song 17:00
04. If They Could Only See Me Now - Parts One and Two 1:23
05. Got a Letter From a Computer 5:46
06. Thousands on a Raft 7:06

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)

The opening track of this album, “Aeroplane Head Woman” sounds like the kind of Cream / Traffic blend that Blind Faith was searching for.  It would be one of this band’s more commercial tracks if not for its nearly seven minute length, but therein lies the problem.  It’s not a repetitive “Hey Jude” kind of seven minutes.  It needs the time to tell its story.  Pete Brown seems to be searching for a way to make his material more accessible without compromising its artistic vision.

He succeeds on the album’s second track “Station Song, Platform Two”, which is absolutely the most beautiful lyric he’s ever written.  This is the kind of mix of poetry and rock that Liverpool Scene was aiming for, but couldn’t quite grasp.  Jack Bruce fans, you’re missing something if you don’t know this one.

Bruce fans' jaws will drop as well, at the opening notes of “If They Could Only See Me Now (Parts One and Two)” , as it features the same ringing guitar lines that open West, Bruce & Laing’s “Like A Plate”, before heading in a jazz-rock direction.

Most people who find fault with this album blame the 17-minute instrumental workout “Highland Song”.  Of course these are mostly the same people who’ll analyze every note of the 22-minute “Whipping Post”.  The virtuosity on display in both tracks is the same.  Piblokto! is progressive, rather than blues based, so “Highland Song” sounds more like Tasavillan Presidentti than it does the Allmans, but it holds my attention as well as Duane and Gregg do.

The album closes with Brown’s most evocative lyric in the title track.  It seems to begin with a nod to the circumstances of his dismissal from the Battered Ornaments before becoming a metaphor for the general animosity of the entire human condition. A beautiful Jim Mullen guitar solo makes it arguably Piblokto!’s finest hour, and a fitting way to end.

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