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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Edgar Broughton Band

Speak Down The Wire: Recordings 1975-1982

Review by Gary Hill

The new set of Edgar Broughton Band music features four albums across four CDs. One of the albums has a bonus track, the other three do not. The set is all encased in a cardboard clamshell box and includes a large booklet. Each CD is in its own cardboard sleeve, much like vinyl records. One of those is a gatefold. Three of the four discs are studio releases, but the second album is a live one. It should be noted that the third disc was actually released under the band name The Broughtons. There is a wide range of sound here, and not all of it is prog. The thing is, pretty much all of it has some proggy tendencies, and the final disc, while also containing a lot of Devo and Talking Heads leanings, is a full-on progressive rock or art rock, concept album. That one is worth the price of admission as far as I'm concerned, and you can look at all the rest as bonus material. It's just such a unique and cool album. That's not to say that the rest is lacking. It's just that that album is such a shining star here.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
CD One - "Bandages"
                      
Get A Rise

Keyboards bring this in. As the cut works out from there it has an indie DIY vibe and some hints of bluegrass or down-home music. The first vocal section comes over that backdrop. Backing female vocals bring a real soulful edge. As it shifts into the second part of the piece it turns more toward a 1970s blues rock kind of guitar-based approach. That part of the tune works so much better. The instrumental movement later stretches toward space rock with its hard rocking freak-out approach. After that it moves to something that calls to mind the Grateful Dead just a little to me, but the rock end of that particular equation.

Speak Down The Wires
A psychedelic sort of approach is on the agenda on the trippy opening movement. The cut grows outward after the first vocal movement to an almost folk prog section. It explodes into a strange sort of section that has some odd non-lyrical vocals as it continues. They work back to the mellower section for the next vocals, those delivered in a more standard rocking motif verses the echoey, distant approach to that point of the track. That section ends it.
John Wayne
There is sort of an alternative rock vibe to this cut. It's a hard rocking one that feels just a little punky. It shifts to freaky prog rock styled spacey, psychedelic textures after the first vocal section.
The Whale
Space rock styled sounds bring start this cut. The track has a real folk music turned psychedelic vibe. The weird synthesizer that comes over the top at times brings more of that space rock element to the fore. This gets into some cool rocking modes further down the road that bring both psychedelia and space rock to a blues kind of approach.
Germany

Acoustic guitar brings this into being. As electric guitar joins, the song rocks out of the gate. This has a pretty classic 1970s rock sound at its heart.

Love Gang
This has some glam rock in the mix. It also leans toward heavy metal, at least the early version of metal. I really like this song. It has some great riffs and hooks. It also shifts out to a more melodic sound at one point before driving into a space rock like jam that's on fire. This is one of my favorite pieces of the whole set.
One To Seven
We're into more mainstream 70s rock zones on this rocker, too. The vocals bring some glam rock to the table. The cut shifts to a full psychedelic rocking jam further down the road. That spacey jam takes the song to its closing.
Lady Life
Acoustic based, this has a DIY, punky element to it. It reminds me to some degree of something Neil Young might do. Keyboards later lend an interesting angle. Some of the vocals remind me of Axl Rose, at least on the more rocking section.
Signal Injector

Another glam rocker, this makes me think of what you might get if David Bowie and Hawkwind worked together. The guitar solo section gets pretty crazed.

Fruhling Flowers (For Claudia)
I really like this track a lot. It's a wandering sort of jam that has some jam band concepts along with more hard rocking and space band elements. I'm reminded a little of Pink Floyd. There is plenty of psychedelia and some definite blues in the mix. A mellower movement later in the number features female non-lyrical vocals.
I Want To Lie
More on the mellower side of the equation, this cut has plenty of space rock and prog in the mix. There is still a glam rock edge along with a DIY one here. This thing gets freaky with a punk art rock edge to it.
CD Two: "Live Hits Harder"
                   
Side By Side (Live)

After an introduction the band break into a vocal heavy arrangement with non-lyrical vocals that are decidedly tribal. Hawkwind had a song called "British Tribal Music," and that really fits this extended introduction. The cut works out to a more mainstream approach for the entrance of the lyrical vocals. This is a cool tune with psychedelia and some space rock in the mix. The cut gets into some real glam rocking sounds as it continues further along the road. The powered up jam further down the road brings some proggy goodness, and as that ends we're deposited into some mellower psychedelic textures.

Love In The Rain
Hard rocking sounds that border on metal bring this into being. The cut drives outward from there with glam and psychedelic edges. The vocals and the more aggressive section later really drive this into punk zones.
One To Seven
Another punky cut, this is a driving live piece of music.
Hotel Room
A mellower, balladic cut, this has quite a bit of psychedelic music in the mix. The space rock concepts aren't far removed from Hawkwind, particularly as it grows upward.
Evening Over Rooftops
I love the driving psychedelic meets almost punky rocking sounds of this. The wah sounds on the guitar are classic. The cut gets into some more glammy space rock zones further down the road.
Freedom
I really love this song. It has a jam band meets psychedelic space vibe. It's catchy, energized and so classy. It features some killer instrumental work, too. This is a powerhouse that is among the highlights of the box set.
Poppy
Live album or not, this must be an interesting edit. It seems that they cut straight into this tune by fading it upward near the end of the previous cut. This starts with a party kind of jam that has a lot of reggae built into it. They run that through and then bring a more polished version of it in from there. This is a short piece, running just a little over a minute and a half.
Signal Injector
Now this cool rocker feels a bit like some of the stuff from the punky era of Hawkwind. It's a strong and effective tune that really delivers. There is an intriguing, jam later that calls to mind that British Tribal Music concept.
Smokestack Lightning
What a cool version of this old chestnut we get here. The vocals have a cool wailing quality. The music is blues based with a space rock edge to them. It's also very cool. The band get introduced in the middle of the number. That gives way to a lot of spoken stuff as the band jams in the background. The whole tune is eventually faded down to end.
CD Three: Parlez-vous English?
                      
Little One

This is a huge change from the first two sets. It has a poppy kind of new wave sound. While it's fun, it's not nearly as interesting or unique as the sound of the other music here. Then again, this is The Broughtons rather than Edgar Broughton Band. It is obviously a reaction to the kind of music that was popular at the time.

Waiting For You
Set in the same general musical territory, I really like the guitar solo on this number.
Drivin' To Nowhere
A bit more of an old-school rock and roller, this has a lot of David Bowie in the mix. It's a fun tune. While it still has some of that new wave thing in place, this is closer to the Edgar Broughton Band stuff.
Meglamaster
Now this has a real crazed sound to it that calls back to the EBB sound. There are some punky and new wave edges, but this is much more the kind of thing you'd expect based on the first two CDs of the set.
Didecoi
This has some blues rock edges, but is a lot more firmly set in the punky new wave zones that were such a big part of the late 70s and early 80s. It's a fun number, and the harmonica brings something special to it.
April In England
I really like this song a lot. It has some children's voices in the background. It has some unique almost proggy musical elements. There is an anthemic vibe here, and the number just works really well.
Revelations One
Imagine mixing Devo with EBB. You might get something like this strange, yet fun, rocker.
Anthem
I really love this song. The keyboards bring a lot to it. The song has a great new wave meets space rock edge.
Down In The Jungle
A screaming hot tune, this has a lot of punk energy and vibe. It's a powerhouse number.
Rent A Song
I love the guitar fills on this. The tune is a fast-paced high-energy rock and roller with plenty of punk and new wave edge to it.
Young Boys
Now, this number does feel like something that would have fit well with the early stuff. It has plenty of nearly proggy hard rocking sound. The cut is a classy one with great energy and grooves.
All I Want To Be
This cool rocker is another that has a lot of David Bowie in it. It's also another that seems more line with the EBB material. It's a solid song and a great way to end the set in style.
CD Four: "Superchip - The Final Silicone Solution?"
                  
Metal Sunday

Synthesizer starts this. The cut works out from there with an almost Hawkwind sounding approach. As the vocals join this definitely makes me think of Devo. There is a bit of a Talking Heads thing at play, too.

Superchip: The Final Silicon Solution
I like the bouncing kind of new wave approach on this song. The spoken vocals make me think of C3PO mixed with Frank Zappa.
Who Only Fade Away
Weird effects along with a spoken vocal bring this into being. The cu works out from there to a fast-paced new wave jam that has some real progressive rock in the mix. I again can hear some hints of Frank Zappa in it.
Curtain
Keyboards serve as the backdrop for a spoken vocal movement. This is unusual and decidedly progressive rock based.
Outrageous Behaviour
There is a bouncing kind of progressive rock arrangement to this thing. It still has plenty of new wave music built into it. It's pretty crazed and science fiction based. It has a theatrical element via something akin to dialog between various vocal parts.
Not So Funny Farm
This comes in with crazed progressive rock that has tinges of punk and new wave. The vocals are bizarre and very much Devo meets Talking Heads. This is cool punky prog.
Nighthogs
"Frank Zappa meets new wave" is a good description of this cut. I love some of the guitar sounds and lines on this tune. Devo is definitely a valid reference point here.
Innocent Bystanders (Damian and Soola)
Bouncy and so cool, this has new wave, musical theater and lots of progressive rock built into it.
Pratfall
Dark and tastefully strange, this is theatrical, dramatic and so cool. It's very much an art rock masterpiece, like this entire CD.
Overdose (alias O.D. 476600/1162/111800)
There is some funk in the mix to a minor degree here. New wave, progressive rock and more merge on this fast-paced and unusual number.
Do You Wanna Be Immortal?
Bouncy and tastefully strange, this is the very essence of art rock. There is a spoken vocal, theatrical part. A reggae-like section is heard later. This is ever changing, unusual and also cool.
Subway Information
A bouncy, up-tempo cut, this is very much like Devo. It's also a lot of fun.
The Last Electioneer
Piano brings this into being. The cut grows outward from there in an echoey kind of vibe to it. It's theatrical, dramatic and so effective. I'm reminded a little of what you might get if Alan Parsons worked with Devo..
Goodbye Ancient Homeland
I dig the bouncy, energized sound of this cut. It has some proggy and art rock tendencies. Overall it lands more purely under the new wave heading, though.
Bonus Track:
                          
The Virus

This piece is an epic that runs more than 17-minutes long. There is a sample that sounds like a voice mail at the start of this. Then a strange bit of electronic atmosphere brings it in from there. There are more answering machine messages on this along with a bizarre and menacing phone conversation. The music here is electronic, art-based and cool. Some of the later vocals are sung. Others are spoken. This is such a cool piece. It has plenty of Tangerine Dream or Synergy types of influences. It's very much a science fiction based thing. By around the half-way mark it has worked out into a jam that makes me think of the more electronic, but rocking side of Hawkwind. That drops down and then electronics bring it back upward. There is a more melodic, trippy movement that emerges from there. That gives us a false ending. Then there are some weird voices as a little skit type thing. More silence ensues before keyboards bring the track back into being. Those keyboards, in arrangement that again makes me think of electronic acts like Tangerine Dream and Synergy, hold the rest of the number sans vocals.

 
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