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Gravy Train: Gravy Train (remaster)

It's unearthing stuff like this that makes the progressive rock genre so appealing. Gravy Train were a heavy blues/hard rock/prog band from Manchester who formed in 1969 and released their self-titled debut in 1970 on Vertigo. This is pretty exciting stuff overall, as the band relied heavily on the fuzzed out & beefy blues rock guitar leads from Norman Barrett and the soaring flute and sax from J.D. Hughes, giving the sound of the band a sort of early Jethro Tull meets the proto-prog groups of the day like Beggars Opera, Cressida, Colosseum, and Toe Fat. This Repertoire remaster comes in a little mini-LP digisleeve, with a bonus fold out poster, and the sound is actually quite good for such an old recording.

The opening cut "New One" is a prime slice of early 70's psychedelia, with plenty of complex time signatures and tempo changes, led by the burly guitar of Barrett and Hughes' wispy flute. The odd "Dedication to Sid" (Sid Barrett of Pink Floyd fame I would assume) fares less successfully, but is still an interesting slice of acid rock, and "Coast Road" is a rambling heavy blues jam that, despite some ripping blues guitar solos and squonking sax, just kind of plods about aimlessly. Things really pick up on the heavy rock of "Enterprise", a song featuring some crafty time changes to go along with some strong vocals, tasty flute melodies, and plenty of crunchy guitar riffs. The rhythm section of bassist Lee Williams and drummer Barry Davenport also put on a good show on this piece. This leads into the doomy riff monster "Think of Life", which could easily pass as the perfect marriage of Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Black Widow, and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. The album ends with the epic blues rock rave-up "The Earl of Pocket Nook", which features some savage, scorching shards of molten guitar thunder from Barrett. If you dig late 60's/early 70's fuzz-toned blues rock excursions, you need to check this one out!

There you have it, the debut from one of proto-prog's most overlooked bands. The band would follow this one up with A Ballad of a Peaceful Man, Staircase to the Day, and Second Birth before calling it a day. If you like heavy, bluesy hard rock with plenty of progressive elements, definitely check these out.

Track Listing
1. New One
2. Dedication to Sid
3. Coast Road
4. Enterprise
5. Think of Life
6. Earl of Pocket Nook

Added: February 3rd 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Repertoire Records
Hits: 2575
Language: english

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