The second album by one of those up and coming EMI Harvest bands from 1970 (check out your old inner sleeves) who sadly never made it, probably because the mood of the market then was for three, four and five piece straightforward heavy rock bands such as Sabbath, Zeppelin, Heep, etc. The GSOE, in contrast, were an eight piece outfit with not just two guitar players but a (full time) three piece horn section as well, including two sax players, and lots of supplementary percussion ~ decidedly different. Lead vocalist Colin Horton-Jennings also played flute in places, quite nicely too.
In fact, in some ways, the GSOE might be likened to a British foil to (Woodstock-era) Santana though, of course, it doesn't have quite the popular flavour of Abraxas (which I always thought was overrated) or the amazing blazing inspiration of the Third. That having said, the opening track Borderline is still awesome after all these years for its power, energy and pace, all of which have been handsomely preserved on the transfer to CD. The insert doesn't say the recording's been digitally remastered (though I suppose it had to be to some extent or another for transfer to CD), but the quality is such that whoever did the transfer obviously made a pretty good job of it. I'll never forget the stunning impact that Borderline made on me the first time I heard it in 1973 ~ perhaps, on first acquaintance, like no other piece of music I've heard before or since, except Telling Your Fortune from Chicken Shack's Imagination Lady with which I first became acquainted at the same time. Oh yes, one has to mention also Bill Meyers' stunning Images from much later, which blew me away to an equal extent. But I digress.
Whilst Borderline is the true gem of the entire album, the rest is still an interesting and lively slice of the times. Love Magnet, a longish track occupying the centre of (what was originally) Side 2 is charming, with some nice electric organ to compliment a romantic lyric. A longstanding fave of mine and joyous to have on CD all this time after having lived for 20 years with a vinyl pressing of rather less than top quality (typical EMI). Superb, really, and a great shame they never had the opportunity to make more albums. Should you be wondering, their debut album, Horizons, was a rather tepid affair by comparison ~ I had it, but not for long, and I've never yearned since to buy it again. But this one's great.
I agree with Julian Stevens in that this is the better of the two G.S.O.E albums, what would a third one be like?, oh well we'll never know. What he failed to mention was that at the time they were reckoned to be one of the loudest bands on the circuit. I saw them at the Il Rondo in Leicester, and my ears were ringing all the way home, but it was worth it.
It would be easy to liken them to Blood,Sweat and Tears, Chicago etc by their line up, but that is where the similarities end. G.S.O.E. obviously had a much more british sound of rock with elements of jazz, blues and soul in the mix.
"Borderline" opens the album and sounds like the lads are having a good old funk/rock jam session before settling down to a bluesy midsection complete with vocals building up to one hell of a finale, Mick Deacons keyboards and Garth Watt-Roys guitarwork take the honours here.
"Magic woman touch" is a more acoustic number, mid tempo, showing that they could play it softer as well.
"Story times and nursery rhymes" starts off at a steady pace with good use of vocal harmonies before moving through various phases which puts the brass section to the fore.
"The leader" again has alternating movements with all the lads getting a good work out, though piano not organ is prominant here.
"Love magnet" is the longest track on the album at 9.25 minutes, beating borderline by 8 seconds. Starting slowly with guitar and brass leading to two verses of vocals, followed by organ, brass and guitar driven passages before returning to vocals.
"Tell the story" was the final track on the original album and is by far the funkiest number on the album, you can imagine the girls dancing round their handbags to this one, never mind it's not a bad song.
"Mountain song" has been added to the cd as a bonus track, a steady mid tempo number that doesn't seem out of place.
While the main emphasis on the album is placed on the keyboard, guitar and brass section, it is fair to say that the groups engine (drums/bass) do a good job holding it all together. On that subject Norman Watt-Roy was later to find fame for his bass lines on Ian Dury's "hit me with your rhythm stick. Are there any plans to release his next bands albums "Glencoe" and "Spirit of glencoe"
This is one of my favourite driving albums, it moves along at a nice pace, and theres not much chance of falling asleep at the wheel when this is on. If you've not heard it, give it a try, it won't disappoint.