Climax Blues Band

Plays On

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Following on from the hard-hitting blues of their debut album, Plays On caught the Climax Chicago Blues Band in somewhat transitional waters, testing any number of different musical styles, but never really setting on any. Certainly the funk thump that characterized their better later work was still an idea waiting to be explored, as the group instead fluttered between the scurrying jazz of the opening "Flight," the psychedelic tinge of "Hey Baby, Everything's Gonna Be Alright Yeh Yeh Yeh," the semi-Santana fusion of "Cubano Chant," and the heavy blues of "So Many Roads," all interrupted by "Mum's the Word," a dynamic Moog sequence that builds out of the theme from 2001, and then freefalls into total space rock. Even amid all the other moods that litter the album, it's an unexpected find and a glorious treasure. So much variety does not necessarily work to the album's advantage, while its transition to CD is even more disorienting. On vinyl, "Mum's the Word" closed the first side and at least let you catch your breath before continuing. On disc, it is immediately succeeded by the blistering blues/barrelhouse boogie of "Twenty Past Two Temptation Rag," and the culture clash is almost palpable. Still, if audacious ambition be your guide, Plays On stands proud among the Climax Blues Band's most accomplished albums, and merits your unreserved attention.

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