quinta-feira, 26 de março de 2009

REQUEST: MAY BLITZ – Second of May (1971 UK Heavy Rock Progressive)


The second and final May Blitz album basically picked up where its predecessor left off, with the thunderous and foreboding "For Mad Men Only," and then bludgeoned on from there. Except, where May Blitz concentrated on weight, 2nd of May is more interested in mood and even mirth -- "25th of December 1969" would be almost jovial, if the lyrics weren't so harsh, while the balladic "Just Thinking" closes the album with the sweetest of whispers.

It's a tighter disc than its predecessor. Just two of the eight songs really top five minutes, as the band learned how to cram maximum impact into minimal space, and layered the virtuosity on from there. The helter-skelter blur of "Eight Mad Grim Nits" is as electrifying a guitar workout as you're likely to hear, with the axe panning wildly while the rhythm section soars like a steeplechase behind it; while "High Beech" takes the opposite tack entirely, a psychedelic dream that builds so gently that the effect is almost boleric. "Honey Coloured Time," too, has a gentle mood that puts one in mind of labelmates Black Sabbath's "Planet Caravan," as performed by the Full House era Fairport Convention. And, while a lengthy Tony Newman drum solo doesn't really repay repeat listens (well, not unless you like drum solos), still 2nd of May remains one of those albums that you will find yourself returning to again and again, while wishing May Blitz had held on long enough to cut a follow-up.

Great followup to their second. They continue on that same bluesy/psychedelic/hard rock/prog thing like they did on their first album, with extended jams. Again, the lineup is the same with vocalist/guitarist James Black, bassist Reid Hudson, and drummer Tony Newman. "Snakes and Ladders" is an incredible piece, starting off sounding a bit like Hendrix, the vocals especially reminding me of Hendrix, then the second half sounding like how Black Sabbath might have sounded like if they went psychedelic.

I love the bizarre electronic effects added on. "The 25th of December, 1969" is a more light-hearted number with a nice jazzy passage. "In Part" is the album's only real weak spot. Although it starts off actually quite nice, getting in to a nice groove, and even featuring flute, which is the only time you ever hear one on a May Blitz album, the second half of the cut is wasted on a drum solo. "8 Mad Grim Nits" is the band's only instrumental piece, and it really shows off James Black's guitar talent, so unsurprisingly it's his turn to shine here. "High Beech" is a nice psychedelic piece complete with reverbed guitar and some hippie-oriented lyrics. "Just Thinking" starts off really mellow, but I like the way it ends in this wonderful psychedelic climax, with some more hippie-type lyrics.

Unlike their first album they don't write songs about getting stoned ("Smoking the Day Away") or going back to the country ("I Don't Know"). But they still recorded a wonderful followup to their self-entitled debut. But of course this would be their final album. The two Canadian guys (James Black, Reid Hudson) would return to British Columbia (apparently to disappear from the music scene), and Tony Newman would find himself with other acts like Three Man Army.

Jamie Black (vocals, guitar)
Reid Hudson (bass)
Tony Newman (drums)

1 For Mad Men Only 4:11
2 Snakes and Ladders 4:47
3 The 25th of December 1969 3:07
4 "In Part" 6:00
5 8 Mad Gim Nits 4:20
6 High Beech 4:50
7 Honey Coloured Time 4:09
8 Just Thinking 6:00

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