Gravy Train

Gravy Train

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Jethro Tull and Comus had a baby, and they named it Gravy Train. That's not strictly accurate, of course, but as the band's eponymous debut opens with the fluid changes of "The New One," it's not too far of a reach, either. Richly harmonic, daringly jam-laden, and peppered with guitar roars that simply defy comparison, Gravy Train is the sound of the British underground at its most joyously liberated peak -- a time when a bunch of apparent freaks could simply go into a major recording studio and let rip. Except Gravy Train's concept of "letting rip" has more in common with a symphony orchestra than the Edgar Broughton Band. Without, of course, the orchestra. But there's a moment in the midst of "Think of Life" that cannot help but put one in mind of later Deep Purple, as the flute and guitar battle for supremacy, while the blues workout "Coast Road" is as breathtaking as any of that genre's better-feted exponents. If Gravy Train has any faults whatsoever, the fascination with peculiar vocal effects can grow a little wearing, especially as frontman Norman Barrett already appears to have a fabulous range of his own -- "Dedication to Sid," in particular, glories in such trickery, although the heartbeat bassline that runs through the number is so hypnotic that it's easy to forget everything else that's going on. In fact, Gravy Train is littered with moments like that, an album of so many surprises that even when you think you know it, you can still find something else you'd never noticed. And it all adds up to a genuine minor classic.

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