Bevis Frond – The Leaving of London

January 01, 1970

(Woronzow Records) 




After an eight year hiatus from
Frond projects, Nick Saloman, a bit put out by a largely ignored legacy (20 to
22 albums, he isn’t quite sure himself), decided that the time seemed right to
have another run at it. Having kept his hand in the game playing with his
daughter Deb’s band and unplugging from living in London, Nick packed up and
relocated to the southern coast of England, to the lovely countryside of East
Sussex, to Hastings, hence the album title. While garnering a solid
cult-following through the years with their fuzz-psych-blues, and Nick’s
frightening virtuosity on the guitar, and seemingly bottomless reservoir of
music writing creativity, The Bevis Frond mostly were stuck in a holding
pattern of being underground darlings, overlooked by the mainstream after years
of hard work. Not an uncommon tale in the music biz, as many struggling bands
have discovered through the decades, blinding brilliance without much to show
for the effort sometimes.



After some prompting from
friends, Nick geared up for another run at it, again ably assisted by longtime
BF member Adrian Shaw on bass, newly added Paul Simmons on guitar and Dave
Pearce pounding the drums. And the Frond return with a renewed energy and
perhaps their best album to date. Eighteen tunes, clocking in at 80 minutes,
cover territory both familiar and freshly minted, exhibiting clearly that
there’s still plenty of voltage in the generator and that they’re only
improving with age. I’d go as far to say that the album should have been
entitled after the song “Reanimation,” as that’s an impression you get from the
first listening. It’s an explosive number that radiates energy and power and
some outstanding, fluid guitar work. Likewise, there’s plenty of juice shooting
out sparks in live-wire songs like “Barely Anthropoid,” “You’ll Come,” “More To
This Than That,” “Heavy Hand” with its prog. rock guitar shadings, and the
dueling wah-wahs in “Stupid Circle.” “Preservation Hill” is such a return to
familiar Frond form, on the other hand, I could swear that I’ve heard it on
several older albums. 



Amongst the numerous
compositions, many styles are represented besides soaring rock paeans. There’s
the introspective and very delicate “Testament,” and “The Divide,” a divine and
sublime confection simply featuring just Nick singing along with his adroit
acoustic guitar work. The playing throughout the album is pristine and
masterful, criss-crossing back and forth from skull-shattering to soothing
balladry and lyrics that carry a warm wisdom. This should be a celebrated
effort, embraced by any who worship at the feet of The Scientists, The Black
Angels, Wooden Shjips, Thee Hypnotics or Spacemen 3. While more diverse
musically, and perhaps not as cosmically psychedelic across the board, the
Bevis Frond let their freak flag fly high and give you a knowing wink with an
acid-glint in their third eye. I’ve long supported the notion that you can get
your freak on better in the country than the city, and I believe this album
sustains that view rather well.



        DOWNLOAD: “Reanimation,”
“You’ll Come,” and “More To This Than That” BARRY ST. VITUS



Leave a Reply