Ashton & Lord

First of the Big Bands

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A genial album with unvarnished self-production that finds Ashton & Lord landing more between the Band and Van Morrison than between their erstwhile regular bands; the soul and funk touches are similar to Alan White's solo venture from Yes, which was recorded at about the same time. Ashton & Lord are remarkably restrained in the use of keyboards. Instead, the emphasis is on the brass arrangements, as in the offbeat urban sound of "Downside Upside Down," and soulful backing vocals, which are used to fine effect in "Silly Boy." The album ends on a surprisingly dark note, though, with the tale of a seemingly kind-hearted man driven to murder in the "Ballad of Mr. Giver."

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