Friday, April 7, 2017

Keef Hartley - 1971 - Overdog

Keef Hartley Band

01. You Can Choose 5:28
02. Plain Talkin' 3:23
03. Theme Song / En Route / Theme Song - Reprise 8:05
04. Overdog 4:20
05. Roundabout 6:06
06. Imitations From Home 3:34
07. We Are All The Same 4:41

Backing Vocals – Ingrid Thomas, Joan Knighton, Valerie Charrington
Bass – Gary Thain
Drums – Jon Hiseman, Keef Hartley
Flugelhorn – Dave Caswell
Flute – Johnny Almond, Lyle Jenkins
Guitar – Gary Thain, Keef Hartley
Keyboards – Peter Dines, Mick Weaver
Tenor Saxophone – Lyle Jenkins
Trumpet – Dave Caswell
Vocals – Keef Hartley

Recorded Morgan, Oct. 5th & 13th 1970, A.I.R. Nov. 23rd 1970, Trident Jan. 17th - 19th 1971.

Say what you will, but Keef Hartley has frequently been willing to try out different genres and that willingness to stretch out was seldom as obvious as on 1971's "Overdog".   Co-produced by Hartley and Nick Slaven, anyone who bought this album expecting to hear another set of English blues-rock was probably going to be at least mildly disappointed by the collection.  And that wasn't meant as a criticism since straight-ahead hard rock tunes like the opener 'You Can Choose' and 'Plain Talkin'' were surprisingly strong and impressive.   That said, the album's not-so-secret creative weapon was Miller Anderson who in addition to writing most of the material, handled vocals, and lead guitar. I imagine longtime fans may not have been thrilled by the changes, but to my ears this was one of the band's most accomplished and enjoyable albums.   Kudos to Anderson  for pushing Hartley and company into a more commercial stance.

Overdog is heavier than the previous album and you’ll notice it right from the wah-wah guitar driven funk soul jazz opener where M.Anderson lets loose all is rocking inner animal. The tempo only increases on the Motown inspired Plain Talkin’ where Mick Weaver fattens the sound on organ, and MA solos, with a Nashville touch; A flute (Johnny Almond) driven medley of two themes follows, starting backed just by acoustic guitar, and going to a percussion heavy up-tempo jazzy jam – Jon Hiseman guests here as 2nd drummer – and MW does his Electric piano show ; the title track starts with backwards guitar, rolling floor toms, and pumping bass and is a nice funky number with a very good organ solo and a huge guitar sound.
The time speeds up in Roundabout, sax and trumpet shine, distorted rocking guitar, pure funky rock jazz over furious drumming and an almost bebop intermezzo. Imitations, written by Hartley, although nice sounding is a bit of a filler, and the countrified last track has nothing to do with what came before –nevertheless, it would sit well in a C.S.& N. album.
Two bonus tracks grace the Eclectic CD reissue – in fact the single version of roundabout, a slightly different mix, that was released on the A and B sides as part 1 and 2.
All in all a very worthy album for any Jazz Rock Soul Blues fan.

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