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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great value package, 19 Nov 2002
By 
Mr P "radletteer" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
Two separate albums by Ian Carr with Nucleus in one package.
The previous two albums (Elastic Rock & We’ll Talk About It Later) were released under just Nucleus with all band members contributing compositions.
Here Carr does all the writing.
Solar Plexus (1971) features the original Nucleus line-up plus a few others. Not as good as the peerless Elastic Rock it is however an excellent album. It explores two themes throughout with the closing tour de force Snakehips Dream attempting to fuse them together. Changing Times features solos from guests Tony Roberts and the awesome Kenny Wheeler. Throughout the rhythm section of Spedding on guitar, Clyne on bass guitar and double bass and John Marshall on drums give this band its unique feel. They are augmented by Ron Matthewson on bass guitar and Chris Karan on percussion. Bedrock Deadlock is a typical Nucleus belter with Karl Jenkins oboe and then all the horns doing the business over some exceptional rhythm playing. Spirit Level is a ballad with a fine turn from Roberts on bass clarinet. Torso is a swinger with Brian Smith hitting top form on soprano sax leading into a brief John Marshall drum solo. Then comes the fantastic Snakehips Dream. The long gradual intro features the keyboards, guitar, basses and percussion and you dont want it to end. Eventually the horns chime in with the other theme. Brian Smith (hugely underrated) on tenor sax and then Carr himself (trumpet) play the two excellent solos.
Belladona (1972) has only Ian Carr and Brian Smith remaing from the original line-up. To my mind this shows up only too clearly. There are not the same great melodies of the 3 previous albums, nor is the group interplay nearly as compelling. Its OK but the reason to buy this is by far Solar Plexus. (Needless to say, Ian Carr disagreed with me when I approached him in 1973 after a gig.)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good value package, 18 Feb 2003
By 
Mr. Paul D. Curtis (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
What you have here is Ian carr and Nucleus at the peak of their powers in 1970/1972.

Solar Plexus is Ian Carr with an expanded Nucleus line up to give that extra dimension to the music. Everyone has a chance to blow too but somehow no-one dominates and the whole piece hinges upon group interplay rather than extended histrionics.
It is significant, and indicative of the quality of the personnel involved that this record was completed in just two days during December 1970. In fact this record and Belladonna were both recorded using to quote Carr himself "maximum use of minimum material".
Quite honestly Solar Plexus IS Snakehips' Dream. Just listen to the jazz-rock brilliance that is the lead in to this piece, and also bear in mind the innovation as well; the dual electric bass work of Jeff Clyne and Ron Matthewson, and the twin percussion of John Marshall and Chris Karan. Some thirty years on this is still an exciting and melodic theme to listen to, perhaps moreso than some of Miles's more excessive early '70's moments.
Belladonna is maybe less complete overall than Solar Plexus but is most definitely the most elusive and sought after of Ian Carr's Vertigo label vinyl releases. By the time this record was recorded only Brian Smith remained of the Solar Plexus line-up, but in the new blood recruited, Carr was able to instill that same kind of energy and spirit that had made the previous Nucleus recordings such critical (if not commercial) successes.
The title track in particular has that rhythmic quality not dissimilar to Snakehips' Dream, a kind of irisistable foot tapping almost danceable beat that is totally and hypnotically infectious from its percussive Ian Carr led intro to it's pure jazz rock electric mid section.
The piece Suspension is apparently Ian Carr's most satisfying studio track; one of those single takes that only happen once or twice in a career ... do I have to say more?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nucleus' Best!, 20 Dec 2003
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This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
I bought Solar Plexus in 1971. I felt it was very atmospheric

-especially "Snakehips' Dream", which I wore thin. I actually preferred it to Miles' "post Bitches Brew" work of the time.

In retrospect, it represents the pinnacle of their early work, refining the techniques an ideas of the first two albums.

The only other Nucleus I bought on first issue was 1973's "Roots", with Dave McRae's compositions which gave it a different feel.

Good Though these are, It is to the eternal shame of the UK music industry that regular recording opportunity and promotion was not given to some of real UK jazz greats of that time such as Kenny Wheeler, Alan Skidmore, John Taylor, John Surman, Gordon Beck, Keith Tippett, and eventually Ian Carr himself, who for 20 years or more depended mainly on small European labels and promoters.

However, 32 years on, after hearing almost all Nucleus' work, I still think Solar Plexus represents their peak, as maybe they began to run out of ideas, although Belladonna still holds up well.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent British Jazz, 2 Oct 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
These albums still sound good today. Unlike a lot of jazz-rock recorded in this era these albums are still very enjoyable to listen to. Ian Carr had a flair for melody, and real talent as a composer and musician. It is something of a tragedy that he is more famous today as a biographer.
Solar Plexus was recorded in 1971 and featured Brian Smith, Kenny Wheeler, Karl Jenkins, John Marshall, Chris Spedding and Jeff Clyne. Belladonna came in 1972 with Smith, Roy Babbington, Allan Holdsworth, Gordon Beck and Dave Macrae.
Spedding became a minor pop star with the hit "Motorbikin." He later became an early producer of the Sex Pistols, and was accused of playing the guitar parts on their records. Four of the above became members of Soft Machine.
The first album I purchased was Elastic Rock, on a school trip to Scandinavia for 50p in 1972. I had previously seen them on a BBC TV programme about the state of British Jazz. As a teenager whose favorite bands included King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, I could not really relate to Derek Bailey or Iskra 1903 (still can't - where's the tune?). But Nucleus played music that was interesting and challenging.
Nucleus were not "cool" in the early seventies, and something of a guilty pleasure. Most jazz bands at that time, who tried to play rock, sounded as if they had bought their tinny guitars and tinkly electric pianos at Woolworths. It was a bit like watching your dad strut his stuff on the dance floor. However Holdsworth (Eddie Van Halen is a fan) and Spedding sounded like real rock musicians. This was also a time when British rock was enjoying its period of world leadership.
It is a mystery why Carr and Nucleus never got the credit they deserved from the jazz critics; the Penguin Guide to Jazz does not mention them. Maybe they sounded too much like a rock band.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 1 Dec 2002
By 
C. Herbert "mooseblaster" (Robin Hoods Bay UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
At long last BGO have restarted their Ian Carr / Nucleus reissue programme, Carr always produced interesting music, and despite what many said at the time he was much much more than a Miles Davis copyist.
Of these two Solar Plexus is easily the strongest, Nucleus at that point was chock full of the best of British and they play like there's no tomorrow, five stars easily. This was the third Nucleus album, and all the first three are simply a joy.
Belladonna is billed as a Carr solo album and lacks the spark/needle/tension or whatever of a band of equals pushing - I suppose its a bit like brainstorming. Whatever, it is missing in this one, and the album drifts some - it was always the least played of my Nucleus/Carr albums. There's still plenty of good playing of course, there would be with a cast like this. Three stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 1970s british jazz, 15 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
excellent cd containing two original albums of brilliant 1970s british jazz fusion.worth every penny.anything by ian carr or nucleus is worth a try
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Nov 2014
This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
Have solar plexus on vinyl so CD updates my collection. Belladonna new to me and interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars jazz blast, 11 Dec 2014
By 
Jon K. Banks - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Solar Plexus / Belladonna (Audio CD)
Two of Nucleus' best
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