Edgar Broughton

Bandages

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After five years, five albums, and a pair of Top 40 singles, the Edgar Broughton Band left the Harvest label. It wasn't a happy parting, the group didn't really want to go, and one suspects that Harvest's parent company EMI weren't overly keen to see the back of them either, but there you go. As is often is the case in these situations, it was management that were to blame. Or so Rob Broughton's recollects on the excellent sleevenotes for this reissue.

Three years would pass between 1973's Oora, their last album for Harvest, and Bandages, their first and final set for the Nems label. It was to be the band's swan song, for EBB disbanded six months after the album's release. (A posthumous live set, recorded during their farewell tour, would appear in 1979, just in time for the core of the band to reappear as The Broughtons).

Obviously this was an exceptionally unsettled period, but you'd never know that from listening to this extraordinary set. Across 11 tracks, EBB explore an eclectic variety of musical styles, although the careful sequencing creates such a masterful flow, it's only when one reaches the end that the wide sweep of music becomes clear.

From folksy sing and drink-alongs, into more Renaissance-ish fare, the set subtly shifts gears for "John Wayne", which itself slides gracefully from glitter strewn rock into what can only be described as New Wave tinged pop, even though that genre was years away.

"The Whale" is even more astounding, flopping gracefully back and forth between emotive ballad and fist in the air anthem, all amazingly in an acoustic mode. The Pogues would spend their entire career trying to capture the power of this whale of a song.

That's the quiet half of the set, for "Germany" EBB kick it up a gear, then launch into a clutch of bluesy numbers, with "One to Seven" tossing in some highland fling into the mix, and "Signal Injector" tipping a hat to the Rolling Stones.

"Lady Life" is the power ballad on this half of the set, while "Fruhling Flowers (for Claudia" a glorious bouquet of romantic lyrics and sensational blues guitar solos.

That entire group of songs returns the band to their R&B roots, "I Want to Lie" takes them deep into uncharted territory. The song begins as an atmospheric soft-rocker, laced with iridescent acoustic guitar, but soon the mood shifts, the drum patterns strengthens, the vocals become more strained, and imperceptively EBB spiral straight down into an abyss that into what the following decade would call Gothrock.

It's a breath-taking set, for in one fell swoop EBB come full circle, from their beginnings, through their more recent sounds, and into a future even they never quite imagined. All bands wish to go out on a high point, few succeed, and even fewer hit an apex whilst simultaneous creating entirely new genres they'll never explore. The ultimate grand finale.

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