Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jody Grind - 1970 - Far Canal

Jody Grind 
1970 
Far Canal


01. We've Had It (5:07)
02. Bath Sister (3:28)
03. Jump Bed Jed 7:14)
04. Paradiso (7:31)
05. Plastic Shit (7:18)
06. Vegetable Oblivion (2:09)
07. Red Worms & Lice (7:23)
08. Ballad For Bridget (3:42)

Tim Hinkley / Keyboards, Vocals
Pete Gavin / Drums
Bernie Holland / Guitar


Jody Grind's personnel changed substantially between the recording of their first album, 1969's One Step On, and their second and final one, 1970s Far Canal. Tim Hinkley was still on keyboards, but there was a new guitarist, Bernie Holland (who also did some singing), as well as a new drummer to complete the trio, Pete Gavin. As expected, the sound of the group, while still in the early British serious progressive rock bag, changed as well -- sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse. The jazzy inclinations of the debut were mostly gone, save the atypically tasteful instrumental "Ballad for Bridget." On "We've Had It" and parts of "Vegetable Oblivion," there was a classical melodic influence that was more accessible than anything on the first album, as well as somewhat more in line with what groups such as Yes were doing, though Jody Grind were far less cheerful. "Bath Sister," however, could have been the work of an entirely different band, sounding as if they were trying to imitate Cream with an organ-guitar-drums lineup -- and not doing so very well. And so it went for the rest of this very erratic record, where the quite accomplished chops of the players were totally overwhelmed by the mediocrity of the material, as well as their willingness to spin off into overlong instrumental sections with tedious riffs. They really didn't have enough in the way of songs to justify an LP, but that didn't keep them from filling up space with heavy, somber organ-guitar interplay. And while the presence of three consecutive tracks titled "Plastic Shit," "Vegetable Oblivion," and "Red Worms and Lice" might lead you to expect something Frank Zappaesque, in fact these in the main are pretty boring, insubstantial period progressive hard rock pieces, "Plastic Shit" descending into some shameless (deliberately ironic, one can only hope?) sub-Robert Plant vocalizing.

JD's second album is a fairly different affair compared with their debut: gone are the heavy brass arrangements, leaving the group with a much sober (less jam-oriented) songwriting and a harder sound. The group will suffer two major line-up changes and by late 69, only Hinkley was left from the original group. Holland and Gavin were asked to join up.
Surprisingly enough, the opening We've Had It starts on a classical guitar, but soon veers towards a more realistic form of proto- prog. Bath Sister starts on a blues-rock guitar riff, and while foraying a little, it remains close to the starting motif. Much more enthralling is the 7-min Jumb Bed Jed where past the hard-riffing guitar intro; the track veers very elegantly towards a demonstration of superb interplay and soloing. However the side closer Paradiso is marred by a lengthy drum solo taking up half the track, and it is too bad, because the other half is quite pleasant.

The flipside starts with the live-recorded Plastic Shit, which is understandably rougher and rawer than the rest of the album. Vegetable Oblivion is bit of a short instrumental interlude, very pleasant with the guitar gently dominating but has an overall feel of one of those power ballads of the 80's, but much better. Red Worm And Lice is clearly the album's highlight is JD's best track, with its seven minutes of excellent instrumental interplay where Holland's doubled guitars soars like an eagle in the sky. The closing Ballad For Bridget is a short jazz-inflicted ballad that doesn't find its place easily in this album.

Both albums differing enough, it is difficult to find one superior to the other (most opt for FC over OSO, but this writer prefers the debut because it communicates its enthusiasm better. While both albums are anything but essential to progheads, they are both worth the occasional spin and will certainly add depth to their shelves.

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