The Web

I Spider

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Out with the old, in with the new: gone was John L. Watson, standing, or rather sitting at the keyboards. In his stead came Dave Lawson, and in celebration of his ensnarement by the band, gone too was the "The" in Web. The new-look Web released the group's third and final album, I Spider, in 1970. It was also their best, bringing to fruition the group's sound and leaving behind the rather stumbling genre experimentations of yesteryear. Moving strongly into progressive rock, the band strode far afield from the psychedelic meanderings they'd undertaken on their last set, Theraphosa Blondi. Lawson's fabulous organ playing was now the band's fulcrum, filling the album with rich and (especially on the title track) haunting atmospheres, as well as providing a fixed point from which the rest of the band could swoop off in their own directions. If "I Spider" is the album's most evocative track, the epic set opener "Concerto for Bedsprings" is its most magnificent. Its passages shift in moods and style, with the jazz-inspired "Sack Song" section particularly impressive, while the aggressive "You Can Keep the Good Life" is as hard-edged as any punk-fueled no wave band. Dramatic shifts in dynamic also drive "Love You," another showcase for horn player Tom Harris, with John Eaton's vicious, buzzing bassline powering the whole second half of the piece and providing furious encouragement to Tony Edwards' fuzz-drenched guitar. That number lies in the rock realm; "Ymphasomniac" leans toward jazz fusion but has unusually tasty bongoes and percussion solos as well, providing the bridge into the second pomp-rock half of the song. And that is the glory of this album, as most of the songs comprise two diametrically opposed halves, cleverly brought together either with a crash or with an inspired middle passage. The set's final track, "Always I Want," follows this pattern to perfection, as Lawson bemoans his lack of luck with the ladies, his rather crude lyrics hilariously at odds to the sophistication of the music itself. The group went out on a high with this superb set, which Akarma has reissued with its original, wondrously surreal artwork. Although Web disappeared soon after, the other members did not, swiftly returning under their new moniker, Samurai.

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