The Blue Aeroplanes


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Curious but all the more interesting for it, Cavaliers (aka Roundheads and Cavaliers) consists of two short CDs worth of rarities, false starts, and odd projects. The oddest project of all takes up the first disc entirely -- a half-hour sequence of musical moments and extended themes, "Cavaliers, Pts. 1-12." Either one of the more ambitious prog rock efforts recorded in the English-speaking world or just an excuse for the late-'90s version of the band to demonstrate its chops (or both!), it's more than a series of fragments if not quite a series of full songs. Edited together to flow as one long piece, at its best it's a steady, trance-inducing groove through the band's own classic rock-inspired obsessions. Langley's sometimes husked, sometimes drawled singing carries the band through extremes of sweet chiming prettiness and Celtic folk jams to full-on rock & roll fire (check out the third and 11th parts for great examples of the latter). New lead guitarist Calvin Talbot is a more than reasonable foil for Langley, playing everything from his standard instrument to violin and mandola, while the band as a whole provides the expected energetic backing. The second disc is a bit more haphazard, with Langley's liner notes indicating the tracks come from all sources -- late-night drunken improvisation, a planned solo album consisting of covers of 1971 songs, and more. Among the highlights: a ripping take on the Smithereens' enjoyable U.K. homage "Top of the Pops," the rough cool of "Jazz Baby" (Langley's delivery perfectly sly over all the noise, right down to the banjo), and a remake of Luther Grosvenor's folk-rock obscurity "Here Comes the Queen." The exchange of screamed titles on "Get Out!" and the dabble into disco (!) that's "Star-Cross'd" add to the fun.

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