Blackwater Park

Dirt Box

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    8
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Blackwater Park's sole LP, 1972's Dirt Box, would later bask in some measure of belated cult acknowledgement, but upon its release, in the thick of Germany's flourishing Krautrock movement, it was a little more than a footnote; a competent but relatively undifferentiated effort when stacked next to the groundbreaking music history "chapters" being written by the likes of Can, Kraftwerk, and Neu!. In retrospect, though, the album's seemingly unexceptional blend of familiar musical components still yielded some intriguing combinations that would crop up in the work of future heavy prog bands of the mid-'70s. To wit, blues-rocker "Roundabout" was either Free on uppers or Cactus on downers (take your pick), while energetic numbers like "One's Life" and "Indian Summer" mixed older post-psych tendencies (think Hendrix) with premonitory funk accents portending of future acts like Captain Beyond and Armageddon. Also of interest, although Blackwater Park lacked a resident keyboard player, electric organ figured prominently in its opening cut, "Mental Block" (a ringer for contemporaneous stars Atomic Rooster and Uriah Heep), and a busy barroom boogie piano graced "Dirty Face," which, as a result, came off like a sonic precursor of David Coverdale's work with Deep Purple and early Whitesnake, if ever there was one. However, none of these tracks was nearly as interesting as the epic "Rock Song," which effortlessly moved from proto-metal riffing, through psychedelic guitar neck swoops, to a hypnotically lysergic, eastern-themed middle section, and, finally, to dueling six-string solo runs -- making it the only track here truly worthy of being deemed a "classic." (An amped-up, tough-as-nails cover of the Beatles' "For No One" then closes the album on a strong note.) Classics or no classics, though, Blackwater Park's eclectic songwriting and impressive musicianship (most notably in the guitar department) helped extend Dirt Box's afterlife well beyond the group's imminent demise -- especially following the unexpected new millennium endorsement given by progressive death metal giants Opeth, who named perhaps their best known album after the group.

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