Customer Review

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another near miss...but close enough., 14 July 2003
This review is from: Octoberon (Audio CD)
It's very nice to see Polydor finally re-issueing BJH's classic mid-70s albums. Probably most buyers will be old gits like me revisiting their past, but what else are CDs for ? As a teenager I was a big BJH fan. Later I was a bit embarassed about it. Now I can take a balanced view! "Octoberon", like so many BJH albums, has got "almost but not quite" written all over it. If _only_ they had worked with a good strong-willed producer who could have curbed their indulgences they could have really cleaned up (sounds mad but John Cale would have been an interesting choice). Octoberon has got some absolute classic songs on it - "Rock'n'Roll Star", the best of BJH's series of "West Coast" songs has a cool, persistent vibe and a bittersweet theme which easily matches up to the Eagles. "The World Goes On" and "Mayday" are early BJH updated with a pared-down sound (despite the orchestra & choir). "Mayday" is probably one of John Lees' best songs. The rest, well Polk Street Rag lets Lees show that he can inspire air guitar as well as anyone. "Believe in Me" is just sweet. "Suicide?" is...well finally what is it ? It has to be at least part tongue in cheek - the "please for god's sake let me move my car" line for example! Which leaves "Ra". Hmm. By this point every BJH album had to have a Wooly Wolstenholme track which was way out of touch with the rest. Ra is actually pretty good in parts - the middle part has some organ which Pink Floyd would be proud of - but the intro / outro are awful over the top dirges that the rest of the band must have cringed at. Clearly WW has frustrated and trying to cram a whole album into one song. When he had space, on his solo "Maestoso", he produced some gorgeous stuff, but at this point with BJH he was a fish out of water.
Anyway, buy this album if only to hear some of the best work of one of most underated guitarists in British rock.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Mar 2011 16:01:19 GMT
sydfloyd says:
I've always thought that 'Ra' was absolutely sensational - one of BJH's finest, most emotive pieces and I sincerely doubt any of the band ever cringed at it! Beautiful from start to finish...

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Sep 2011 18:55:20 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2011 18:57:34 BDT
Me too! The slight variations of a theme placed so as to overlap each other is one of the defining characteristics of BJH songwriting, and Ra is the perfect example of it. WW's drum pattern in the verses is brilliantly restrained, communicating a marvelous sense of withering, desert-like heat.
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