[…continued from last post]
The band took another left turn with the gospel-tinged march that was “Praying For Rain.” Tony Kiley’s gentle snares and the dobro of Dr. Robert got a powerful boost from the horns and great backing vocals as the song swelled to its lilting climax. I enjoyed hearing Dr. Robert’s Andalusian environment finally manifest in the nimble, Flamenco Pop of “One Of Us Is Lying.”
“Face In the Rock” used the string section to great effect in evoking the sort of early 70s vibe that the album was pulling from. The lowing cello was particularly tasty, but Nevile Henry’s evocative sax solo in the middle eight was the big payoff here. The strings effectively enhanced the intimate “All Blown Down” which was almost down to Dr. Robert and his delicate acoustic guitar picking. Once more, it was the strings that carried this song out of the solo acoustic mode and made of it a Blow Monkeys song; as Mr. Henry’s tenor sax interjections also proved.
The Memphis Soul of “A Lasting Joy;” an unabashed love song, was technically the closure to the album, though I would have liked to have heard more of that guitar solo that the song faded out on. But there was trick up the band’s sleeve. “When We Fall Out Of Love” was a bit perverse in directly following the last song listed on the sleeve, but even in its hidden track status, it had the feel of an album’s final song. The tremolo guitar in the middle eight’s solo was a surprising addition to the album’s vocabulary, but a welcome one.
As ever, the band had made their sixth, distinct album that was filled with disparate, but mostly backward looking pop music that had a decidedly early 70s feel. The modest, but sturdy songs were all time tested and reflected nothing of the 80s crucible that the band were formed in. The overt politics that were once a major arrow in the band’s artistic quiver, were now left behind as Dr. Robert was interested in greater, more personal truths. “The Killing Breeze’s” media metaphors being the most political thing here.
It’s ironic that the band had their greatest success when he was barely writing songs that could hold water! With his solo period from 1992-2008 being his apprenticeship where he had obviously studied the art of songwriting. That he had the wisdom to reassemble the band that could take the songs to their best conclusion is much to his credit as a planner as much as the talents that the members brought to the game. The Blow Monkeys had now released two studio albums and a live one in their three years back. Quite a productive time, but there would be more to come from the revived pop band.
Next: …With A Cherry On Top