BLOODROCK: BLOODROCK 2 (1970)
1) Lucky In The Morning; 2) Cheater; 3) Sable And Pearl; 4) Fallin'; 5) Children's Heritage; 6) Dier Not A Lover; 7) D. O. A.; 8) Fancy Space Odyssey.
Bloodrock got their biggest — in fact, their only — break with the rather unexpected (and rather tacky) popularity of ʽD.O.A.ʼ, or, rather, the heavily abbreviated single version of ʽD.O.A.ʼ as opposed to the eight-minute long «epic» version on the LP. In terms of «cheap thrills», it was probably the most Sabbath-style song they'd ever committed to tape — a story told through the dying brain of an airplane crash victim, experiencing his last moments on Earth, with heavy use of «intimidating» musical tricks and volume tricks that recall ʽBlack Sabbathʼ (the song) in matters of «setting» rather than musical substance.
Most people were probably perversely attracted to the tune because of the gory lyrics, with each single reference to blood, pain, and death articulated so slowly and gravely by Rutledge as if he were reciting from the Iliad. But even if your English is not good enough to allow you to understand what is going on, the tune is still appropriately moody, driven by an organ riff that cleverly emulates an ambulance siren and Rick Cobb's expert percussion work, as the drummer subtly prepares us for the chorus explosions. It certainly doesn't have enough original ideas to fill up all of its eight minutes — but then you can always have the short single version. And it does feel a little eerie; at the very least, one could always argue that its subject matter is much closer to home (Lee Pickens claimed that it was inspired by a real accident that he had witnessed) than the grotesque Satanic imagery of ʽBlack Sabbathʼ.
That said, ʽD.O.A.ʼ is hardly typical of Bloodrock 2 — it's just that, in their prime days, the band took special care that each album include at least one lengthy mood piece, so this one merely sits here in the same spot where they last had ʽFantastic Piece Of Architectureʼ. The rest of the music is almost strictly in the basic rock'n'roll scheme, heavily marinated in the «Americana spirit». In particular, John Nitzinger, another of their Fort Worth friends who had previously contributed three songs for the Bloodrock album, was now involved heavier than ever, and began supplying the band with expansive roots-rock anthems, such as ʽLucky In The Morningʼ, and novelty tunes, such as ʽFancy Space Odysseyʼ, which combines barroom boogie with seemingly absurdist lyrics (as it happens, they actually relate to the band's early days when they were called «Fancy Space» and played in a Fort Worth nightclub).
This bunch of new songs, while not at all bad per se, still indicates a downward slide in the curve, mainly because the heaviness and crunch of the first album are frequently downplayed in favor of a slightly more rustic — dare we even say «redneckier»? — atmosphere. The guitar tones are still low and distorted, but more in a «brawny» than an «evil» kind of way, and, in agreement with that, Rutledge's singing keeps generating a braggadoccio effect rather than the angry / snappy effect it had earlier on tracks like ʽCastle Of Thoughtsʼ. The absolute low point is ʽSable And Pearlʼ, the band's attempt at hitting it from the soulful side, where Rutledge overscreams in the bridge section (a "TEACH ME TO LOVE YOU!" that sounds more like a "get out of the kitchen!", if you get my drift) to a very irritating effect — the rest, thankfully, is a little more restrained, but still, a bit on the «flat» side of things.
Riff-wise, I feel partial to ʽFallin'ʼ and Nitzinger's ʽChildren's Heritageʼ (the former A-side of ʽD.O.A.ʼ), even though both tunes are essentially just fast-paced slices of blues-rock; and ʽFancy Space Odysseyʼ is catchy, but excessively silly — its somewhat carnivalesque riff suggests a comic tune, yet Rutledge sings all the lyrics in his usual grave voice, without any hints at irony, and the end result is confusing. Come to think of it, the whole album is confusing: lots of decent ideas, none of which are taken to their logical conclusions: the band is clearly stuck in the treacherous space between «cock rock» and «artsiness», afraid to push too hard in the latter direction but also a little embarrassed to root itself too deep in the former. Ultimately, Bloodrock 2 is a bit of a bore, and the presence of ʽD.O.A.ʼ in all of its stretched-out quasi-glory does not necessarily serve as a relief. But then again, it could have been so much worse — I mean, rough Texan hard rock? God only knows to what sort of lower depths that could descend, so let us all say thank you to the healthy musical climate of 1970.