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Friday, 13 January 2012
Saturday, 7 January 2012
Room are yet another band from the 1970 era with female vocals, and a jazzy/bluesy/psych sound that was all the rage at the time (Affinity, Goliath, Catapilla, Frumpy, etc...). And I love every one of them. Room is no different, though they added a little mini-orchestra to spruce things up. Great stuff.
An interesting and diverting album. It delves into lots of styles including hard rock, blues, jazz and prog, with orchestral backing here and there too.
In some ways this comes over as a mellower counterpart to early Black Sabbath albums. The flashes of jazz are there, along with a fair number of doomy riffs. Save for the swaggering blues rocker "Where Did I Go Wrong", there is a prevailing feeling of doom to the tracks which is conveyed not only by the instrumentation but by the charismatic vocals of Jane Kevern, especially on the track 'War' which has a more-than-passing resemblance to Sabbath's War Pigs in form and subject. What I'd like to know is which was recorded first?
In it's diversity it includes some aspects that I don't often go for; brass/wind instruments and female vocals, the proficient musicianship and thoughtful song structuring ensures they all gel and work well. The singer has a great expressive low-register voice, reminding me of Linda Hoyle from the Vertigo-signed band 'Affinity'. I guess another good comparison would be the similarly diverse proto-prog of T2's album "It'll All Work Out In Boomland".
Only album recorded by the obscure British band Room, which presents highly original material and superb performances combining Folk, Blues, Prog and a strong Jazz influence into a unique amalgam. The band consisted of female singer Jane Kevern, guitarists Steve Edge and Chris Williams (who wrote most of the group's material), bassist Roy Putt and drummer Bob Jenkins. The album also features great string and brass arrangements. Altogether this is definitely a little gem, which sadly got lost in the tides of time and this reissue brings it back for all of us to enjoy. Definitely worth investigating!
This album grew on me the more i listened to it. Room's one off album is a mixture of straight rock, blues rock and prog rock with a horn section here and there. The female singer has a good voice and the rest of the band is pretty good. Overall a decent album a few weak moments but hey is their such a thing as perfection.
Another band that took off towards the all sorts of UFO’s overcrowded skies, exactly at the midpoint of the glorious 65-75 decade, Room opened its wings when the bar for the levels of excellence was set so high it hardly provoked any turbulence at all, and this “Pre-Flight” that at any other time could have been the beginning of a triumphant journey was fated to be the highest they’d fly.
In the inevitable and inescapable cerebral process of trying to find similarities with other bands, I, like many other Room arrivers, immediately draw parallels with Affinity; However, repeated listening woke up other memories, and if the initial impression remains well-grounded, namely on some shorter tracks – although singer Jane Kavern cannot really compete with Linda Hoyle and still less to Julie Driscoll, same as the band members are no match for the Affinity crew -,but on the opening and final pieces, on the way the Classical elements and even some vocal parts are worked I find they are closer to the spirit of Gracious or Gravy Train; that said, and in spite of additional influences that may be spotted, the truth is that this group’s music is one-of-a-kind and regardless of the technical limitations it conveys a consistency and vision, that other bands namely Affinity seem to lack, that at the end of the day will certainly weights on any given rating.
So, the album is bookended by two ambitious and intricate pieces of Epic scope and density, with majestic if not outstandingly imaginative strings and horns arrangements, sections of quasi-pure 19th Century Symphonic Classicism or bouncy Rock/Classic Fusion with delicate trumpet ornaments on “Cemetery Junctions” or a-capella vocal sections on title track, that reminisce Gnidrolog’s, as do their Rock-Blues roots that inevitably ,thankfully and with studied elegance pop-up, and which coupled with their searing double guitar attacks carry a fittingly Rocking and rough appeal.
The affinities with Affinity are at their best manifested on the contrasts of “No Warmth in My Life”, a seamless mix of ProgBlues with floating and trumpets embellished Psych acoustic parts and a swinging instrumental section, the whole tempered by sound spectrum widening horn accents, but also on the expansive “Andromeda”, a complex number with daring string & horns arrangements, one of the best and more moving vocal renditions available and a fine instrumental section with embroidered twin guitar solos, and on the alternating of a menacing theme ala “Mr. Joy” with a raging Rocker in “War”.
Depicting yet other interests are “Where did I Go Wrong’” a Cream and early Fleetwood Mac influenced Blues Rock with the lead guitar trying to work out a Clapton like vocabulary and the double guitar attack, overdubs and energetic rhythm section fiercely recreating British Blues templates and the instrumental “Big John Blues” a straight ahead Hard Blues Rock with horn accents, Female vocalization in unison with the guitar theme and a double guitar attack and parallel soloing, a robust number in the best Mick Abrahams or Edgar Broughton tradition.
I end up wishing these guys and gal could have taken advantage of this 1st experience, and with more confidence and the acquired studio knowledge have transformed the Pre into a transatlantic flight.
Quite catchy proto prog. Not very original, though.
It does sound like the band are trying too hard in some places
The musicians are better than average.
But that being said theres only a couple of realy good tracks and one of them would be Cemetery Junction Part I & II
if you can cope hearing it all the way to the end
I normaly skip a couple of songs
Monday, 19 December 2011
Friday, 13 May 2011
With a very mysterious "English" allure one-album-wonder Room recorded this avant garde psychedelic blues rooted album on the DECCA subsidiary label DERAM after winning second place in a NME battle-of-the-bands competition in 1969. Active in and around the Bournemouth popular music scene between 1968 and 1971 they faded into virtual obscurity after the record company failed to market them adequately. These days a mint original vinyl specimen can fetch ridiculous prices on record trading websites that are responsible for resurrections of such bands, elevating them from the " where are they now file" to the more prestigious "lost classic" status.
At risk of employing that annoying " ahead of their time " cliché term, it is fair to say that Room was as experimental and adventurous as it got back in the late 60s and early seventies and could hold it's own with any British art rock band of the day with the possible exception of King Crimson. While the music heard on the 7 tracks on the LP ranged from straight forward ( but solid ) guitar led folky blues/rock to more complex extended compositions that leaned more towards progressive rock, they astonishingly featured audacious string and brass arrangements in lieu of keyboards! Classically trained musicians were recruited conducted by Richard Hartley who would go on to become involved with numerous theatrical, television and film musical projects and is probably best known for his arrangements for the 1975 film version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as well as work with such diverse artists as Meat Loaf & Bananarama! Although Room are to be commended for their ambitious employment of the string and brass sections they sometimes become discordant with the 4 piece rock band they are accompanying which might turn some tastes unless one is into the esoterics of bands like Gentle Giant, Gnidrolog or Egg. Occasionally, I noticed that they can sound like some of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Jesus Christ Superstar orchestrations, veering into 19th century classical from time-to-time. But it is really the mezmerising jazzy alto intonations of singer Jane Kevern with her almost deadpan lyrical deliveries that provide Room with their unique mood and atmosphere that can sometimes be as depressing as Black Sabbath's first three albums. This is best sampled on the title track with it's introductory cappella harmonies as well as the other two extended tracks "Andromena" and "War". On the ethereal "No Warmth In My Life" she really shines with a flugel horn playing clever counterpoint melodies while the two bluesy tracks, "Big John Blues" and "Where Did I go Wrong " are run-of-the-mill Britsh blues of the day. There were several other tracks that didn't make the final cut that are still locked up in the vaults somewhere in England that guitarist Steve Edge claims could have given the album less of a doomy and gloomy ambience .
Although it it does not approach the heaviness or pessimism, "War" can also be distantly likened to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs". It even commences with an air raid siren sound effect but overall, is much more subtle and more in flower power mode. It predates the Sabbath piece so there can be no plagarism accusations here and I'm pretty sure that Ozzy & co. didn't copy Room either, but it's interresting to hear similar philosophies being interpreted and expressed by two very different bands from roughly the same era. The album concludes with "Cemetery Junction", a two part instrumental interpretation of a landscape near Bournemouth where the band emanated from. It gives the album a sort of spooky closure, making extensive use of the string and brass sections demonstrating the group's compositional prowess and could be considered the most " progressive" track on the album that definitely invites a repeat listen.
So difficult to categorize is Room's singular effort. I can't help but thinking of Fairport Convention and Pentangle but only a bit more adventurous. Although Preflight features accomplished musicianship and compositional skill it was still obviously a band still trying to find it's groove and this is evident during some of the improvisational sections that sometimes lose direction. If they could have developed further I'm sure that they would have fit in comfortably with some Canterbury scene bands like Caravan, Camel and Curved Air after some tweeking.
Although the album is easily obtained in CD format the quirky hippie triplane and house artwork by bass player Roy Putt can be best appreciated on a 2006 Italian 18 grain vinyl edition. Forget an original DERAM edition unless you are made of money though. In any case, Pre-flight is a jewel from the dawn of the glorious seventies that should not be missed by anyone into that era.
Member: Phil Jackson (Profile) (All Album Reviews by Phil Jackson)
Format: CD (Album)
Described as an ambitious blend of rock, blues, jazz and classical influences these all come together well on the 9 minute opener “Pre-Flight Parts I and II” where Room are backed by their very own 14 strong ‘orchestra’ of brass and strings.
The trouble is that on “Where Did I Go Wrong?” Room sound like hundreds of other blues rock bands around in 1970 albeit well played with a female singer Jane Kevern. I thought Kevern’s voice was more suited to the jazz-rock of “No Warmth in my Life”. Following the guitar notes in ‘scat’ style of course is also a fairly standard ploy and like the second track ‘Big John Blues’ does not for me fit into the overall concept of the album even though once again it is well played.
“Andromeda” is musically much more interesting with Kevern sounding uncannily like Sonja Kristina at times. “War” has a catchy melody but doesn’t really add much to “Andromeda” and the lyrics could have done with some work!
The album ends as it began with another ambitious piece, instrumental this time with the ‘orchestra’ restored in full (“Cemetery Junction Parts One and Two”). The music has great energy largely due to a propulsive drummer Bob Jenkins and Roy Putt’s adept bass playing.
Room are well worth checking out as a lost progressive ‘gem’, one of those bands you would have expected to be on Vertigo perhaps and ripe for sampling by Andy Votel! Guitarist Steve Edge tells the story in the liner notes. (There are actually two lead guitarists, Chris Williams being the other and they could be pretty heavy at times!)
B E Jackson (Amazon Review)
A BRILLIANT piece of progressive rock from the early 70's- this album contains heavy guitar playing, melodic riffs and solos, and lengthy pieces that are so extremely good (and underrated) I can't put into words how important it is for you to check out this wonderful album.
Even though it's quite expensive to buy, it's worth every penny. I can't imagine a more enjoyable and energetic prog rock band than the Room. You HAVE to hear "Cemetary Junction". It will blow your mind. It's about as heavy as Cream, Zeppelin, Sabbath, or any other rock band from the early 70's. Why nobody has written a review for it yet is a huge mystery. Great great stuff.
Darian Dennison (Amazon)
I definitely agree with you that Room is a highly underrated progressive rock band and they should've been much bigger than what they were, the guitar solo around five and a half minutes into "Cemetery Junction" definitely reminds me of listening to Black Sabbath and it's ranked one of my all time favorite songs, I also love the title track as well as "Cemetery Junction".
I've first discovered Room on SIRIUS Radio and the first song I've ever heard of by Room is "Cemetery Junction".
I went to school with Steve Edge, the lead guitarist. From the age of 12 he always had a guitar with him - a shy guy, though, but with a pleasant crooked smile.
I lost this album years ago, so it is good to see it resurrected. Jane Kevern's vocals (I had a bit of a crush on her back then) was one of the points of difference with this band, as well as the fact that they were very difficult to pigeon hole. Bursting with imagination and invention, rather like "Family", another British band that were impossible to categorise...
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Thursday, 10 June 2010
‘An interesting, laudable but rather joyless set… There’s not an ounce of fun in their music, and precious little enjoyment. They’re not helped by vocalist Jane Kevern, with her sombre voice and ‘God Of War’-type lyrics. Room have clearly put a lot of thought into this album, and they make interesting use of a string and brass section, but really it’s not an album that I want to play again’ – Melody Maker, 26/12/70
To a first-time listener this might sound like a vindication of everything rude that’s ever been said about progressive rock: songs in different parts, dense arrangements, unexpected time changes, heavy orchestrations, unorthodox female vocals… but it’s absolutely worth persisting with. The musicianship is stupendous, with some of the most dextrous drumming and howling guitar on any such record, and the best of the songs are right up there with the best in the genre. The epic title track, which opens the album, has some truly staggering interplay, ‘Andromeda’ and ‘War’ are ambitious and exciting, and the closing ‘Cemetery Junction’ builds to a magnificent climax. Few bands managed to sound so heavy alongside an orchestra, and the lack of keyboards makes this an unusual entry in the prog pantheon. The only weaker moments come with the bluesy ‘Where Did I Go Wrong?’ and jazzy ‘Big John Blues’, which the band apparently didn’t want on the album anyway. Frustratingly, their signature piece, ‘Vehicle’, was apparently recorded at the session but never released, and remains lost to this day. Room were from Blandford in Dorset, and got a recording contract after coming second in Melody Maker’s 1969 talent contest (the winners were Ginhouse). (RMJ)
Monday, 26 April 2010
Friday, 22 January 2010
which is well worth a look for those who remember the clifftop venue.