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(46:31; Singsong Music)
I’ve not previously come across a concept like this before, but I must admit it is an interesting one, in that what we have here is a release by one of three bands with exactly the same personnel. Deckchair Poets material can contain humorous lyrics, Zorbonauts lyrics tend to be more serious, coupled with darker-edged music, while Zebras Don't Smoke is a name used for albums of cover songs. Who are the people behind this wacky idea? You may have heard of most of them given that it is Lynden Williams (vocals, Jerusalem, The Britz, OXOXOX), Ollie Hannifan (guitars & mandolin, Mister Kanish, Synaesthesia, Mamma Mia), Geoff Downes (keyboards, Asia, Yes, The Buggles, Downes Braide Association, Nick D'Virgilio (drums & percussion, Big Big Train, Spock's Beard, Mystery, Genesis, Tears For Fears), Dave Meros (bass guitar, Spock's Beard, Pattern-Seeking Animals, Iron Butterfly, Eric Burdon), and Rachael Hawnt (vocals, Cosmograf, The Beautiful Secret, Great Scott!). If that was not enough royalty for you then on this album they are also joined by Bob Cooke (Jerusalem) on additional guitars, and Rachel Hall (Big Big Train, Stackridge) on violin. I was fortunate enough to see the Spock’s Beard rhythm section of D’Virgilio and Meros play in the original line-up a few times, and not only are they incredible musicians but they lock in tight and keep it solid even when they are producing stunning moments. I have always felt that Downes’ compositions have been a little up and down over the years, but there is no doubt that he is an incredible keyboard player and when working with other strong composers always lifts his game, but in many ways it feels like this album belongs to Lynden Williams. I don’t think I have come across his bands prior to this, but he is a wonderfully strong performer, and according to various sources the debut Jerusalem album is absolutely essential and I was blown away to realise it was released in 1972 as vocally this does not sound as if Lynden could possibly be as old as he must be. He has a very British voice, and I can see why Gillan stepped up to produce that album all those years ago, as he is one heck of a singer. This album contains some new songs, some covers (“Mississippi Summer”, “Badge”, “Stone Free”) and even some Jerusalem songs re-recorded, and while the whole album is excellent, with the covers working well alongside the originals yet never overpowering them, it is the last number which really takes the listener on a new journey. Performed live by Jerusalem but never recorded, this is the longest song on the album at 7,5 minutes, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. It definitely sounds of its time, and the real questions here are why I have never heard of Jerusalem prior to this and why was this never recorded? It is a classic chugging rocker with Jon Lord style keyboards and some hints of Sabbath combined with Purple melody. I now have multiple bands to uncover, as these guys record under three different names plus I need to find Jerusalem, but until then I am going to keep playing this rocky proggy fun album which is an absolute blast from beginning to end.
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