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Friday, April 3, 2009

National Head Band - Albert 1

Featuring different members which would later join the prog kings of; Caravan, Uriah Heep, and the blues rocker group the Gary Moore Band, the likes from Jan Scelhaas, Dave Paul, Lee Kerslake, and Rusty Ford, National Head Band were one of the strangest bands to come out of the UK. Formed in 1969 out of the ashes of The Business, they started to come up with their own material and with a new name, they also signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records and released their only album which is now considered a lost classic which has a cross between the West Coast sound meets the Beatles White Album period meets Prog Rock-Grateful Dead homage in 1971. With Albert 1, the album disappeared and never heard from again until it saw the light of the tunnel with the help of the Cherry Red label, Esoteric to give it a shot. And they did!
Almost like a hard rock/melodic play of twisted turns, Albert 1 has a lot of surprised moments and beautiful productions. And with a little help from Eddie Offord who at the time produced ELP’s Tarkus and Yes’ The Yes Album, decided to give these guys a shot and give them anyway they would play the music and how it would be a fitting tribute to the Liverpool scene and of course to the Beatles, and somehow it worked like a charm, but the album suddenly faded away along with the group. However, it became a heartfelt message to Keith Emerson, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney.
Albert 1 begins with Got No Time, one of those bar songs that would take a piano blues rock number to make it so warm and very Zeppelinish from their hard rock technique than no other band were doing and turning it into a sort of a cross between Traffic and a Rolling Stones jam session that seemed straight out of Sticky Fingers. You is a melodic take on a folk rock setting of the mind that comes straight out of a Neil Young and Crazy Horse album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere; Too Much Country Water an homage to Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection. The rest of the tracks are almost like a Prog-Pop album that the label was afraid to put out. Lead Me Back is a suicide ballad Lennon-McCartney-Harry Nilsson style; Listen to the Music which almost sounds like a cross between ELP’s Lucky Man and The Beatles’ Something, deals with a love one leaving to go on the road with the band to do a nationwide tour and feels that if its really worth it. In the last few minutes, there’s a Moog solo which goes to show they have a bit of Prog in them to another world and beyond the infinite; Ilsington Farm, a psychedelic wah-wah number that almost seems that the band were telling a weird story of hippies making sweet love in the farm; Try to Reach You seems more like a country rock ballad, with the signature in 4/4 with its musical taste, Hammond organ setting the scenery and almost making them sound like a british version of The Eagles playing Peaceful Easy Feeling as a sequel, carrying the down home country roots, but a fun song too while Brand New World intersperses almost like an acoustic folky space rock Dylan song with a church like organ music to set it almost like a new adventure that awaits for a young person to encounter on his new beginning which seems very Arthur C. Clarke like feel.
And if that wasn’t over, it simply closes beautifully with the 7-minute composition Mister Jesus, a prog rock arrangement which features the band shifting the sounds of early Yes to Pink Floyd to The Moody Blues which seems worthy for the son of god to enjoy. All of the music and a cover featuring weightlifting man lifting weights that looked like something out of the 1920’s? Not bad at all.

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