First, let's get the obvious out of the way-yes, that's a damn good Roger Dean cover piece on the sophomore release from early 70's prog rockers Paladin.
Charge! was recorded in the winter of 1971-1972 at The Beatles Apple Studios in London. Paladin had some critical success with their self titled debut earlier in 1971, and quickly went back into the studio to continue the momentum, all the while their musical prowess continued to accelerate as they were moving quickly into the ever growing progressive rock movement. The original album mixes bluesy hard rock, psychedelia, prog, and pop for a sound that today might seem a tad dated, but still comes across as an enjoyable listen to those that love early 70's rock. "Give Me Your Hand" is a rousing opener, a Santana-meets-Atomic Rooster ripper featuring some storming organ & violin solos from Peter Solley. The toe-tapping "Well We Might" sees Derek Foley firing off some searing slide guitar leads in what is a fast moving boogie rock piece ala Uriah Heep, Savoy Brown, or Foghat. Haunting organ and wah-wah guitar licks lead the charge on the mysterious "Get One Together", a kick ass instrumental that comes across like a meeting of Santana and Deep Purple. "Anyway" has a sort of Beatles feel to it, thanks to Lou Stonebridge's effective vocal delivery and plenty of lush strings, and on "Good Lord" the band launches into a spirited jam ala The Allman Brothers or Santana, led by flurries of spirited guitar solos from Derek Foley and some tasty organ from Solley. The keyboard player's majestic grand piano kicks off "Mix Your Mind With Moonbeams", which then becomes a full blown heavy prog piece complete with waves of organ, blistering guitar leads, and some chilling electric piano from vocalist Stonebridge. I'm again reminded of The Beatles on this one, mixed with some Uriah Heep and perhaps Procol Harum. The final track is somewhat of a strange one, as it starts off as a lazy pop rocker with some breezy harmonica, then you are treated to a monstrous organ freakout from Solley, before the whole band then lurches into a driving Heep styled heavy boogie blast.
This reissue has seven bonus tracks, a few are alternate versions of songs from the regular album, but there are some rarities well worth hearing. "Give My Love to You" is a honky tonk blues rocker, as is "Sweet Sweet Music", both catchy and to the point. "Fill Up Your Heart" is a wild instrumental featuring some intricate guitar & organ interplay, as is "Bad Times", the latter showing just how good a player Peter Solley was on the organ. In fact, it was probably his skills on Charge! that led Procol Harum to hire him for the Something Magic album. After Paladin's breakup in 1973, Solley went on to work with Whitesnake, Snafu with guitarist Micky Moody, and acts such as The Jam, Motorhead, Eric Clapton, and Mountain. Bassist Peter Beckett became a founding member of Player, and later joined The Little River Band. Drummer Keith Webb spent some time in Stevie Ray Vaughan's band as well as with some other groups, before passing away in April of 2007. Esoteric Recordings has done a nice job on this reissue, fully detailed with liner notes, photos, and crisp sound. Charge! is a little known rarity that no 70's prog collection should be without.
1. Give Me Your Hand
2. Well We Might
3. Get One Together
5. Good Lord
6. Mix Your Mind With Moonbeams
7. Watching The World Pass By
8. Give My Love To You
9. Sweet Sweet Music
10. Any Way (Variation)
11. Sweet Sweet Music (Variation)
12. Well We Might (Variation)
13. Fill Up Your Heart (Instrumental)
14. Bad Times (Instrumental)