Saturday, December 3, 2016

Big Sleep - 1971 - Bluebell Wood

Big Sleep 
Bluebell Wood

01. Death Of A Hope
02. Odd Song
03. Free Life
04. Aunty James
05. Saint & Sceptic
06. Bluebell Wood
07. Watching Love Grow
08. When The Sun Was Out

Phil Ryan - Organ, Piano
Ritchie Francis - Bass, Piano, Vocals
John "Pugwash" Weathers - Drums, Vocals
Raymond "Taff" Williams - Guitar
Gary Pickford Hopkins - Vocals, Guitar

Big Sleep was a second-life 1971 formation of the British Psychedelic Rock band Eyes Of Blue.The two bands shared keyboardist Phil Ryan, singer/guitarist Gary Pickford-Hopkins, drummer John Weathers, bassist/pianist Ritchie Francis and Raymond Williams on guitar.Francis abandoned the guitar and had taken the place of Ray Bennett, who went on to join Flash, while Wlliams switched from bass to guitar duties.Their only album was recorded at the Chappell Recording Studios in London and released under the title ''Bluebell wood'' in 1971 on Pegasus.

Big Sleep had obviously kept many elements from the musical profile of Eyes Of Blue, but they also showed a tendency towards more sophisticated arrangements with a couple of longer tracks and a vast range of different influences, including Blues, Swing, classic Rock, Classical Music and organ-based Psychedelic Rock.Not much of an instrumental masturbation or excessive technical displays, but they were off to a different direction, which now was propelled by the meld of varied themes in the same track, passing from acoustic to electric sounds, always led by a love for refined and striking melodies.For example ''Saint & sceptic'' contains an extended orchestral delivery, arranged by Phil Ryan, backed up by some intense electric guitar and later flavored by Ryan's good organ work.Or the 11-min. title piece, which features light symphonic and jazzy lines, Hard/Psych guitar-based jamming and even some Mellotron- and flute-drenched gears.Somewhere between PROCOL HARUM and KING CRIMSON, producing different kinds of energetic levels and climate changes.A couple of leftover echoes from their previous stint like the short closers ''Watching love grow'' and ''When the sun was out'' sound closer to 60's Psych/Pop and are extremely outdated compared to the rest of the tracklist.

The band dissolved just weeks after the release of the album.Weathers went on to Hard Rockers Wild Turkey, became a stable member of Gentle Giant and later played with Man.Ryan became also a member of Man as well as The Neutrons, where he rejoined Ray Williams and Weathers, the latter met again with Hopkins on the aforementioned Wild Turkey.Only Francis followed a solo career, but this was way too short with just one personal record in 1972, titled ''Song bird''.

Decent Psych/Prog with emphasis on the psychedelic side, but certain influences from the emerging progressive wave.Cool and recommended listening, if you're after the interesting first steps of early-70's Prog/Art Rock.

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