The Human Bed

Back Door

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The Human Bed Review

by Richie Unterberger

Three previously unreleased BBC sessions from 1973-1974 are assembled on this CD. The first two of these (from 1973), spanning nine of the 14 tracks, feature the original trio lineup of bassist Colin Hodgkinson, saxophonist/pianist Ron Aspery, and drummer Tony Hicks; the final five songs, from 1974, also feature electric pianist Dave MacRae. From the point of view of the hardcore fan, the big attraction of this disc is the inclusion of four songs not on their studio albums: the Aspery-Hodgkinson originals "Captain Crack Up" and "Fanny Wiggins" and covers of Muddy Waters' "Louisiana Blues" and Robert Johnson's "When You Got a Good Friend." Hodgkinson is slightly critical of the fidelity of the five tracks from the earliest session in his liner notes, but actually the sound quality's decent throughout. Instrumental fusion jazz is what Back Door was most known for, and that's what they usually play on these cuts. But there's some variety that goes beyond that genre, like some fairly straight blues (on which Hodgkinson takes some occasional functional vocals), some Soft Machine-like fusion on the performances with MacRae (like "Silvadiv"), and even Lieutenant Pigeon-like novelty on "The Dashing White Sargeant." As there were other bands who did fusion and blues better, the big selling point is Hodgkinson's assertive bass playing, which often took a role more associated with standard guitarists via his full chording style.

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