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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Robert Calvert

Lucky Leif and the Longships

Review by Gary Hill

Lucky Leif and the Longships was the follow up to Robert Calvert’s Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters. Those hoping for a repeat of that album were probably disappointed. This one isn’t as cohesive as that disc. It’s a lot less Hawkwind-like, too. That said, there is a lot of strong material here, and the quirky pop goes weird (production by Brian Eno might have had something to do with that, too) approach is cool. Once again, some Hawkwind alums show up. This time in the persons of Simon House (violin), Nik Turner (saxophone) and Michael Moorcock (banjo). This might not be as easily accessible as Captain Lockheed…, but it’s worth the effort. This reissue includes a couple previously unreleased bonus tracks.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ship of Fools

A dramatic little intro that calls to mind the sounds of old starts it up. Then it pounds out into a hard rocking space rock section that feels a bit like Hawkwind. The vocals are subdued as the song continues. It gets quite noisy at times.

The Lay of the Surfers
Here’s Calvert’s take on a Beach Boys sort of vibe. It’s still got some Hawk-like sounds and is twisted a bit weird, but I don’t like the Beach Boys, so I’m not crazy about this one.
Voyaging to Vinland
This is more like it. It feels like it could have come from the first solo album. It is dramatic and slowly building with a rather chanting kind of vocal line. It powers out later into a more pure progressive rock jam.
The Making of Midgard
This is based on an echoing, layered spoken vocal section. This is a sound that has been heard by Hawkwind at times. It’s quite an interesting motif. There are no musical instruments heard. Instead all the sounds are from these layered voices.
Brave New World
We get a cut here that’s very much a bouncy sort of psychedelic pop. It’s not that far removed from something by Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd.
Magical Potion
Combine such bands as T Rex and Sweet with a bit of blues tinge and a sound that’s decidedly Calvert-like and you’ll have a good idea of what this tasty number sounds like. It’s fun and a change of pace. It’s got a real groove and the wailing harmonica adds a lot to that bluesy presence.
Moonshine in the Mountains
There’s a downhome folk meets country texture to this. Still, it has that odd Calvert twist to it.
Storm Chant of the Skraelings
The arrangement here is more stripped down, but this is a song that’s more in keeping the music from Captain Lockheed... As the title suggests much of the vocal arrangement is in a chant form.
Volstead O Vodeo Do
Saxophone leads this off and the cut carries on in a weird, but quite tasty jazz meets roots rock and Calvert strangeness pattern. The vocals actually bring in some reggae.
Phase Locked Loop
This is literally a bunch of found sounds (basically television bits) worked around in a loop pattern.
Phase Locked Loop
This is literally a bunch of found sounds (basically television bits) worked around in a loop pattern.
Ragna Rock
A more pure rocker, this one feels like it would have fit nicely on the album that preceded this one. The bass line, though, is rather funky.
Howzat!
The first of two bonus tracks, there’s a bit of Rolling Stones groove to this, think “2000 Man.” It’s got plenty of trademark Calvert on show, too.
Cricket Lovely Reggae (Cricket Star)

As the title suggests, there is a lot of reggae in this number. It’s a bouncy little cut that’s a lot of fun.

 
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