Reading the liner notes of this recent reissue of Peter Bardens’ 1970 debut The Answer, reveals a prolific artist kept busy prior to his finding fame as the keyboardist with progressive rock group Camel. Aside from the psychedelic Ladbroke Grove act, The Village, he played in a whole host of bands during the British “Blues Boom” of the mid-sixties, alongside future household names such as Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green and Premier League rogerer, Sir Rodney of Stewart.
And there’s an element of blues rock bubbling away beneath the psychedelic/progressive mix that forms The Answer, particularly with regards to Bardens’ vocal delivery, which is a full-bodied blues drawl and, on occasion, remarkably similar in sound to another royal lady-roisterer, a certain Michael Jagger.
The title-track, first up on the album, is awash with energetic blues guitar licks, in this case provided by an uncredited Peter Green, which is bolstered throughout by Bardens’ elaborate organ artistry and pseudo-philosophical lyricism, popular in progressive and underground rock circles of this era.
The blues guitar continues through the eerie mire that is ‘Don’t Goof With a Spook’, where the Jaggerisms are possibly at their strongest, and the excellent acid-soaked freak-rock of ‘I Can’t Remember’, with its hedonistic tribal undercurrent in addition to the masterclass of swirling keyboard extravagance.
‘I Don’t Want to Go Home’ and ‘Let’s Get It On’, both of which also feature an uncredited Peter Green on lead guitar, are more in the standard blues-rock vein and as such a little more formulaic, but following on from something as undeniably strong as the three aforementioned tracks that open The Answer, is always going to be a thankless task.
Which brings us nicely to the B-side spanning closing track of the original album. Running just shy of 14 minutes, ‘Homage to the God of Light’ is a spectacular journey into the outer reaches of psychedelic-prog, bringing to mind the early instrumental excursions of Pink Floyd and the exalted voyagers of space rock, Hawkwind. Bardens really gives the organ a punishing workout on this captivating, and lengthy, illustration of finest, ye olde underground gallivanting. A worthy highlight to an all round worthy album.
The reissue also throws in The Village’s excellent psychedelic single ‘The Man in the Moon’ and its instrumental B-side, ‘Long Time Coming’.
by Nick James
1. The Answer - 5:25
2. Don’t Goof With A Spook - 7:21
3. I Can’t Remember - 10:41
4. I Don’t Want To Go Home - 5:13
5. Let’s Get It On - 6:36
6. Homage to the God of Light - 13:32
7. Man In The Moon (Bonus Tracks as Village) - 4:13
8. Long Time Coming (Bonus Tracks as Village) - 2:33
All compositions written by Peter Bardens.
*Peter Bardens - Keyboards, Vocals
*Steve Ellis - Vocal
*Andy Gee - Guitar
*Reg Isadore - Drums
*Linda Lewis - Vocal
*Alan Marshall - Vocal, Percussion
*Bruce Thomas - Bass
*David Wooley - Vocal
*Rocky - Congas
*Bruce Thomas - Bass Guitar (Village)
*Bill Porter - Drums (Village)