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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blodwyn Pig: Lies


1) Lies; 2) The Night Is Gone; 3) Deep Down Recession Blues; 4) Latin Girl; 5) Gnatz; 6) Funny Money; 7) Witness To A Crime Of Love; 8) Aby's Lean; 9) The Victim; 10) Love Won't Let You Down; 11) Dead Man's Hill; 12) Maggie Rose; 13) I Wonder Who; 14) All Said And Done.

I have no idea why this album was credited to «Blodwyn Pig» in the first place. Once the original Blodwyn Pig split up because of creative differences between Abrahams and Lancaster (actually, the band went on for a short while without its founding father, with ex-Yes guitarist Peter Banks replacing Abrahams, but did not even manage another LP), Mick went on with a solo career, putting out a few records either as a part of the «Mick Abrahams Band» or completely by himself (allegedly, the uniquely educational record Learning The Guitar With Mick Abrahams, re­leased in 1975, even managed to find some moderate popularity).

Then, after a long break during which Mick tried out several alternate professions, he reunited with Andy Pyle, added a couple new players, and went on to play some gigs as Blodwyn Pig once again. Then he became so fond of the old name again that he retained it for his next LP — even though, as far as I can tell, by that time Andy Pyle already went his own way, and the primary credits go to Graham Walker on drums, Dave Lennox on keyboards, Mike Summerland on bass, and Nick Payne on saxophone. None of these guys ever had anything to do with the original Pig, but it is possible that Mick was simply on a linguistic nostalgia roll.

Another possibility, of course, is that Mick thought the new album was so damn good that it de­served the Pig stamp on it. And you know what — if that were the case, he wouldn't be too far off, because Lies is indeed a damn good record. It does not sound at all like the «classic» Pig. There is no guitar / sax or guitar / flute dialog whatsoever — in fact, the second most notable instrument after Mick's guitar are Lennox's keyboards, and this is not very promising, since the tones are too smooth and synthetic. There is also little, if any, will to experiment and innovate; but, since we already know that the classic Pig never succeeded in wooing audiences with their innovation, this might actually be an advantage. In fact, it is.

Essentially, Lies is just a simple blues-rock album, masterminded by a veteran and pursuing no other purpose than relieving the veteran's hands from the recording itch, accumulated therein for the previous decade. From this angle, it reminds me of the Allman Brothers' early 1990s come­back with Seven Turns — especially since I would judge it almost as respectable a comeback as the Allmans' was, adjusting for the initial disparity, of course.

There are some healthy, strong songs here, such as the title track (an old-school funk-pop num­ber with catchy interaction between main and backing vocals in the chorus); ʽDead Man's Hillʼ (fun­ny fast boogie with a sly, enticing slide riff for the main hook); ʽDeep Down Recession Bluesʼ (a true slide guitar lover's paradise here on this laid back pub rocker); and ʽLatin Girlʼ, a celebratory «roots-pop» number with a suitably Santana-esque solo, and a fine alternative to populating the record with unsavory ballads.

Corny trappings of mainstream rock still have to be suffered on occasion — usually on those songs that rely too heavily on keyboards (ʽFunny Moneyʼ would stand a better chance if its main riff were not played on the synthesizer; ʽThe Night Is Goneʼ is too overtly glossy, although key­boards are not the song's only flaw). Also, the inclusion of several «generic» covers may irritate those who still look for a little melodic originality — although Mick's choices are curiously un­predictable, including Dr. John (ʽVictimʼ) and the long-forgotten Alexis Korner (ʽI Wonder Whyʼ) — a weird salute from one obscure British bluesman to another. But they are well performed and do not take up too much space: ʽI Wonder Whyʼ does go on for nearly seven minutes, but come on, the guy should be allowed to have at least one lengthy guitar workout per record, and this one shows that his sheer technical skills have only increased ever since he taught those vinyl-loving kids how to play guitar back in 1975.

Throw in a couple of pleasant instrumentals (the multi-tracked acoustic ʽGnatzʼ is nifty, and ʽAby's Leanʼ is a bit of fast-going, feel-good country-western), and Lies is a definite keeper — much better, at least, than whatever could be expected from a guy who never managed to find a proper face for himself in rock's golden era, and, now that rock is past its golden era, has sudden­ly turned that flaw into an advantage. Lies does not set out to prove, confirm, or discover, it just wants to have fun with you, and in that, it is successful — thumbs up.

The bad news is that, ap­parently, Mick had one more original «Blodwyn Pig» album after that, called Pig In The Middle and released in 1996, but it seems to be super-rare: I have not been able to locate it, and have no idea if it matched the quality of its predecessor. Even if it does, not hearing either of these albums is not a crime, but, considering how stiff and boring most of the post-early 1970s blues-rock records usually turn out to be, there would be no crime in building up some curiosity about it, either.


  1. "Then he became so fond of the old name again"
    Very understandable - that name deserves a better band.
    If we are charitable we may assume that the title of the album refers to the fact that this isn't the original line up at all.
    I'll listen to this album later. AfaIc you're review fully applies as well to Around the Next Dream by Bruce, Baker and Moore.

  2. "called Pig In The Middle and released in 1996, but it seems to be super-rare: I have not been able to locate it,"

    You're not looking hard enough. Makes me wonder what do you used to "locate" rare album like this. It can be found if you look hard enough

    1. Old copies go for about $50.00 on Ebay. Coupled with the fact that it's pretty hard to imagine somebody paying that much for a 1996 album by Blodwyn Pig, this is what I call "super-rare".

    2. Oh you mean you actually purchase a physical copy. Uh... I guess it is rare

  3. The opener Lies is solid, but the next three songs are not to promising: all solid, but rather generic mid tempo rockers with a back beat drummer who only just avoids getting on my nerves and riffs that are too similar. The somewhat silly Gnatz is a relief. It appears to me as based on some folk melody. I don't mind the riff of Funny Games being played by synths; I like the blazing guitar solo but the bass is too monotonous. I would have liked the main riff of Witness, which is excellent, played in a more uncivilized way. Abay's Lean essentially repeats Gnatz, but on Victims the guys finally catch steam. Great bass riff and Abrahams lets his hair down. Love won't let you down might have been less civilized again. I thoroughly the energetic Dead Man's Hill is a bit too generic again.
    Isn't I wonder Who not the Muddy Waters song also done by Rory Gallagher on Irish Tour and Calling Hard (aka The G-Man Bootleg CD 1)? Anyhow the two are similar and unsurprisingly RG is far, far superior. Especially this comparison shows the main defect of the album: it's way too polished.
    I wonder Why is (also?) the title of a song recorded by BBM written by some sources by Albert King but according to the CD itself by a certain Robert Lyons I could not trace.
    In general John McFerrin's hypothesis applies on this album: the best way for old geezers to record a good album is avoiding writing bad songs. Lies qualifies indeed even with its defects. Still I ask myself: why would I listen again to this if I own BBC-sessions plus Calling Hard by Rory Gallagher?

    1. Oops - Maggie Rose is a bit too generic again.