Stone the Crows

BBC Sessions, Vol. 2 1970-71

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Stone the Crows had a pivotal year in 1971, as they underwent both a major shift in their lineup and the release of their sophomore set, Teenage Licks. The opening two tracks of this compilation of the band's Radio 1 sessions capture the original unit performing a pair of show-stopping numbers with both frontwoman Maggie Bell and the musicians at their emotive best. However, soon after recording that session, bassist Jimmy Dewar and keyboardist Colin Allen departed, to be replaced by Steve Thompson and Ronnie Leahy, respectively. The fresh faces sent the Crows to even greater heights, with Thompson's best work arguably found on "Mr. Wizard," a swirling brew of swamp, funk, and psychedelia, the latter stirred into the mix by Leahy's acid-drenched organ. The keyboardist's finest moments, though, come during his barreling performance on "Goin' Down." Both tracks also feature Les Harvey's stellar guitar work, which is prominent throughout most of this set -- but not, of course, all. Thanks to the arrival of Jimmy McCulloch, Stone the Crows soldiered on for almost a year after Harvey's death in an on-stage accident in 1972. McCulloch's bluesy bends and fiery licks are featured on the set's final three numbers; he made "Penicillin Blues" his own, and even stamped his imprimatur on Leahy's own showcase, "On the Highway." The result, spread across the entire disc, is a remarkable reminder of one of the most endearing and (if not thanks to circumstance) enduring British acts of the '70s.

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