THE SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BAND: ROCK DRILL (1977)
1) Rock Drill; 2) The Dolphins; 3) Rock'n'Roll; 4) King Kong; 5) Booids; 6) Who Murdered Sex; 7) Nightmare City; 8) Water Beastie; 9) Mrs. Blackhouse.
After SAHB Stories, Harvey and the Sensational Band temporarily parted ways, for reasons which are not easy to understand in retrospect. All I know is that
Still, none of them seemed happy.
Yet it is not a bad album. It is pretty bad if one approaches it expecting another typical slab of flashy SAHB cabaret, alternating crazy headbanging with good biting humor and just an occasional streak of darkness to make things more serious. Rock Drill thrives on the darkness: it cranks up SAHB's progressive, complex side to the max, with the only light number, an innocent country rocker called 'Mrs. Blackhouse', thrown on at the end in a totally who-the-heck-cares manner. Hence, the possibility of disappointment — unjust. What kind of music would you be writing under the circumstances listed above, anyway?
It may be true that the results downplay
Also, Harvey is much more prominently featured on the second side, where it is his presence, after all, that adds the proper bite to the faceless boogie of 'Who Murdered Sex?', the faceful punkish boogie of 'Nightmare City', and the album's generally acknowledged highlight — 'Water Beastie', probably a leftover from Harvey's solo album on Loch Ness, forever memorable upon first listen due to the unbeatable chorus: 'Look at the monster, look at the monster, look at the monster in distress'. If these numbers are generally less flashy and more "dim" than we'd like them to be, this does not mean that they will not, in time, be able to speak to you the same way some of Harvey's more immediately impressive material can. Come to think of it, 'Who Murdered Sex' and 'The Dolphins' are, in a way, more intellectually rewarding than 'Framed', even if the latter is so much more basic fun.
All of this means that Rock Drill is unquestionably a thumbs up for me, particularly for the brain department, although the heart sometimes gets a mighty adrenaline rush as well — especially mid-way through 'Dolphins', when Cleminson's solo breaks through the grayness and mud and soars up to heaven in a last desperate swan song for the original band. No great shakes, the record, but a fittingly, instructively grim (and thought-provoking) terminus.