Aynsley Dunbar

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation/Doctor

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's first two albums, The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation and Doctor Dunbar's Prescription, are combined into this two-CD reissue, which adds lengthy historical liner notes by British blues-rock expert Harry Shapiro. On their self-titled debut album, the group flashed a British blues-rock approach that was rather similar to that of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers circa 1967. That was unsurprising considering that leader and drummer Dunbar had played on the Bluesbreakers' 1967 A Hard Road album, and that bassist Alex Dmochowski would later play with Mayall himself. Although everyone in the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation was a skilled player, the record ultimately comes off as rather second-division late-'60s British blues, though in a little heavier and darker a style than Mayall's. That's not to say it's mediocre, but the material (mostly original) is only average, and not quite up to the level of the musicians' instrumental proficiency. Too, Victor Brox isn't the greatest singer, though he's okay, and while Jon Morshead plays guitar well, his style sometimes seems quite influenced by Peter Green (listen especially to his work on the cover of Percy Mayfield's "Memory of Pain"). Additionally, some of the original material wasn't all that original; the work song-style "Watch 'N' Chain" certainly bears similarities to the tune that Donovan popularized under the title "Hey Gyp" (itself similar to a song that Lonnie Young, Ed Young, and Lonnie Young, Jr. had recorded under the title "Chevrolet" on Atlantic's 1960 Roots of the Blues LP of Alan Lomax field recordings [reissued in 1993 under the title Sounds of the South]). It's not a bad record overall, however, with the players getting a chance to take extended solos on the instrumentals "Sage of Sidney Street" and "Mutiny."

The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation's second album was much the same as their first, offering competent late-'60s British blues, given a slightly darker cast than was usual for the style via Brox's somber vocals. Like their debut, it was dominated by original material, and as on its predecessor, the compositions were rather routine blues-rock numbers, though they benefited from arrangements by highly skilled players. The best of these tracks were the ones that utilized Brox's gloomy, almost gothic organ, if only because it made them stand out more among the company of the many similar bands recording in the prime of the British blues boom. Otherwise the main fare was straightforward blues-rock that was well-played, but rather average and forgettable, the most distinguished ingredient being Dunbar's hard-hitting, swinging drums. If only because it has some original songs that were better than anything on the first album ("Fugitive," "Till Your Lovin' Makes Me Blue," and "Tuesday's Blues," the last of which has some songwriting and guitar work quite similar to Peter Green's late-'60s style in those departments), it's a slightly better listen, though not up to the standards of somewhat similar groups like Fleetwood Mac and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.

blue highlight denotes track pick