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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THOSE WERE THE DAYS, 30 Mar 2010
This review is from: Western Flier (Audio CD)
Back in the trippy days of 1969/70 this was THE album to 'relax' to (at least in my corner of the world)! While their first album sounded like a lot of extremely stoned people jamming in the studio (very close to the truth) "Flier" has a structure, with proper tunes (some traditional) and much stronger musicianship.

Some of this was due to featuring Tony McPhee on slide guitar who supplies some superb touches. There's also a young Mike Batt on piano; that's him on the front of the album sitting at the desk. The vocals are very powerful, too, and is a major part of its appeal for me.

The music varies from an almost Cajun feel on a couple of tracks, via simple nursery rhyme tunes through to very spacey songs with an ethereal female vocal backing. One of the songs (Car Car) used to be a popular children's song but they treat it to a very erotic style which wouldn't have passed muster with Pussy Cat Willum!

Definitely of its time, this brings back lots of happy memories but, if you weren't there, it probably has limited appeal except as an artifact of the era. For nostalgia's sake I'm giving it four stars.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somehow... It Works, 4 July 2011
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This review is from: Western Flier (Audio CD)
I first heard of Hapshash and the Coloured Coat via the appearance of 'The Wall' from this album on the Liberty label sampler Gutbucket back in 1968 or 1969. Being an impoverished school-kid, I couldn't afford to buy the various LPs from which this and the other tracks were taken, but I was intrigued by this song. 'The Wall' was strange, like a musical version of a Hogarth or Doré print, a contemporary sound but with a gloomy Victorian feel about it. Nobody I knew could tell me much about the LP from which it was taken, The Western Flyer, except someone who told me that it wasn't much good. So I pretty much forgot about it. Years, four decades in fact, went by, and I saw a CD of The Western Flyer going reasonably cheap. So I took a chance and bought it.

It is a very odd album, some of it rather like 'The Wall', other bits quite different, with cajun or blues influences here and there, and with a bit of Woody Guthrie thrown in for good measure. It shouldn't work, but somehow it does. It's very melodramatic at times. Michael Ramsden's lead vocals are a bit theatrical and at times rather overwrought. Tracks suddenly cut off or fade unexpectedly, with one, the final 'Fare You Well', coming back from a fade for a few more minutes. The sound balance is off, with Tony McPhee's guitar (very good, by the way) a bit low in the mix. The drum sound isn't too hot either, although Andy Renton pounds away with enthusiasm. On the other hand, Mike Batt (yes, the Mike Batt of Wombles fame, but don't let that put you off) plays a lot of good piano, and the female backing singing will take you by surprise.

Those who know about the music scene of the late 1960s will know how some individuals tried to cash in on the experimental music scene of the time, and there are some embarrassing reminders of that. Considering Batt's later career, one may ask whether this album was an attempt to do this, or whether it was a genuine experiment. I really don't know. What I do know is that for me, The Western Flyer, against all the odds, does work, and listening to it over 40 years since its first release, it has a peculiar charm and attraction that I can't define but which is definitely there. If it was a commercial cash-in, it has certainly managed to transcend its origins; if it was an experiment, it has, in its own odd way, stood the test of time.

Give it a go, you may like it.
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Western Flier
Western Flier by Hapshash & The Coloured Coat (Audio CD - 2000)
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