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Warhorse: Red Sea (reissue)

Warhorse returned to the studio in 1971 with a new guitarist, Peter Parks, and recorded Red Sea, the solid follow-up to their self titled debut. Ged Peck had left the band in the middle of the previous tour, finding it difficult to accept former Deep Purple bassist Nick Simper's role as the band leader. Parks is a great replacement, as his stinging guitar leads on rockers like the Hammond fueled title track or the Purple-ish "Back in Time" prove (witness his extended guitar solo on this one, filled with feedback, manic whammy bar excursions, a searing tone, and more than a slight reference to Ritchie Blackmore). I've read many reviews from folks who cast aside this sophomore and final effort as far inferior to the debut, and I just don't see it, as Red Sea works on many levels just as the first album.

"Confident But Wrong" is another proto-prog piece, really a fine moody rocker with ominous Hammond organ from Frank Wilson, and "Feeling Better" is a straight forward emotional rock tune that sees singer Ashley Holt putting forth a great performance alongside the organ & piano melodies of Wilson. Simper's pumping bass grooves lead the way on the funky hard rock of "Sybilla", a tune that would appeal to fans of Coverdale era Dee Purple, which also features some tasty guitar licks from Parks. Drummer Mac Poole gets to intro with a little solo on the heavy rock of "Mouthpiece", a searing instrumental that sees the drummer take another extended solo in the middle sections, surrounded on each end by wicked Hammond and intricate guitar leads. The original album track list ends with "I (Who Have Nothing)", a real nod to Iron Butterfly and Vanilla Fudge, with thick, swirling Hammond, Ashley's high pitched vocals, and tasty blues rock guitar leads. It's one of the moodier pieces on the album, and ends on a real epic note.

The six bonus tracks comprise demo versions of songs that the band was shopping around to record labels after being dropped by Vertigo, and you can tell that the band was changing their sound a bit. If Red Sea was a little bit less heavy and dark as the bands debut, these demo tracks are even less reliant on hard rock cliche's. Still featuring plenty of Hammond and biting guitar leads, there's less crunch and typically lighter arrangements. "Bad Time" sounds a bit like Wishbone Ash, or Come Taste the Band era Deep Purple, "Gypsy Dancer" has a real funky edge to it, and "House of Dolls" reminds a little of early Uriah Heep. These demo recordings are still strong, and it's a shame that the band imploded before they had a chance to finish the album and get the record deal they were looking for. Actually, history has it that a contract arrived from a sub-label of Motown the day that singer Holt bolted to join Rick Wakeman's band. So for some real solid Hammond organ driven early hard rock, check out the two Warhorse CD's and add them to your 70's music collection. Both have been given royal treatment from Angel Air Records.

Track Listing
1. Red Sea
2. Back in Time
3. Confident But Wrong
4. Feeling Better
5. Sybilla
6. Mouthpiece
7. I (Who Have Nothing)
8. Ritual [Live] bonus
9. Bad Time [Demo Version] bonus
10. She Was My Friend (Demo Version] bonus
11. Gypsy Dancer (Demo Version] bonus
12. House of Dolls [Demo Version] bonus
13. Standing Right Behind You [Demo Version] bonus

Added: June 14th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Angel Air Records
Hits: 3519
Language: english

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