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Blodwyn Pig - Getting To This CD (album) cover

GETTING TO THIS

Blodwyn Pig

 

Prog Related

2.90 | 23 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 'Getting to This' - Blodwyn Pig (46/100)

It's funny to think that, as is certainly the case for many lovers of rock music, I have a more informed idea of the popular music of the 60s and 70s than I have with my own decade. For the reason that music has become much more accessible to make, there's never been so much music coming out as there is today, but it usually takes some hindsight and distance in order to know what records will stand the test of time, and which ones will be forgotten by next season. By contrast, the golden age of rock (beginning in '66, when it ended will depend on who you ask) has been heavily codified and studied by now; more than that, the artistic renaissance evolved blindingly fast- to current ears, the difference between something that came out in 1966 and 1969 (or 1973, etc.) might sound a world apart from each other. That Blodwyn Pig's sophomore Getting to This sounds three years late to the party might not sound like a big thing nowadays, but it might go to indicate that these bluesy proto-proggers were inclined to borrow tested ideas, rather than innovate any of their own. Add to that the pretence of anti-Vietnam US west coast flower power (they were actually British), and the album feels a bit like a has-been regurgitation of other bands' ideas, in spite of Blodwyn Pig's talent and interplay.

1970 (and, to a lesser degree, 1971) could be viewed by rock historians as an extension of the late 60s' fascination with psychedelic and blues rock- even bands like Yes (Yes' original guitarist Peter Banks would later play with Blodwyn Pig for a stint) had their origins playing this sort of thing. Even though the British were fetishizing what was largely an American innovation, some of the bands managed to take the style across the Atlantic and do something fresh with it (IE: Led Zeppelin). In the case of Blodwyn Pig, the band's bluesy foundation is well-performed, but lacks the independent sense of character and identity some of the better-remembered bands had. Barring Mick Abrahams' soulful vocal performance, it's little wonder that their 1969 debut Ahead Rings Out sounded so lukewarm to me. The soul and ingredients were there, but damnit- I wanted to hear something refreshing, not a facsimile of something guys on the other side of the ocean had been doing to far greater effect!

If anything may be said to its credit, it's that Getting to This certainly sees Blodwyn Pig attempting to spread their wings, broaden their horizons and diversify their music. Unfortunately, few of these stylistic adventures are very engaging; rather, Blodwyn Pig's second album seems like a more eclectic rehash from the same US-based well as before. As a result of this variety, Getting to This has higher highs, and far lower lows than Ahead Rings Out. While the opener "Drive Me" is very much the sort of psychedelic-tinged rhythm and blues Blodwyn Pig had cut their teeth on, most of the following pieces take an approach of their own. "Variations on Nainos" draws flute in amidst the hard rock (a nod to Blodwyn Pig's natal ties with Jethro Tull?), "Long Bomb Blues" is a 12 string acoustic that's to the point and a refreshing change of pace from the driving rock of the album's first side.

I think it's nigh-indisputable that Getting to This (and possibly Blodwyn Pig's career as a whole) reaches its peak with "San Francisco Sketches", a collection of great (and highly eclectic) musical snippets. Though it starts off in a very prog rock-ish note with acoustic guitars and flute, it builds up into a blues-infused hard rock jam that conjures pretty striking images of that city's vibrant culture. Surprisingly, the blues-rock drifts away for a vocal-heavy passage that recalls the carefree harmonies of The Beach Boys. Although this twist is still in keeping with the band's refitting of American tropes, it was enough to catch me off guard; even so, the best was yet to come. From there, Blodwyn Pig segue fluidly into an incredible jazz fusion jam, headed by Jack Lancaster's impressive sax observations. It doesn't matter that the track lacks coherence; the fact that Blodwyn Pig manage to impress and surprise me so many times during the same song is a major surprise. It also casts a disappointing light on the rest of the album; if they were able to conjure up something like this, why is the rest of Getting to This such a lukewarm affair?

The state of things declines pretty quickly thereafter. "Toys" is among the more memorable songs Blodwyn Pig wrote, but the second side is severely hurt by "To Rassman", a painfully bad song that doesn't even pass for a bad joke (did you ever wonder what British proto-proggers sound like imitating Rastafarians? Neither did I!). There's no getting around the feeling that Getting to This is an absolute mess of an album. In spite of its impressive successes, the album sees fit to congeal into something satisfying. I can appreciate Blodwyn Pig wanted to explore new avenues in their sound, but the initiative's resulted in fewer hits than misses.

If nothing else, check out "San Francisco Sketches".

Conor Fynes | 2/5 |

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