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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chicken Shack - Imagination Lady (1972-73 uk, outstanding hard blues rock, Esoteric 2012 bonus tracks edition)

Imagination Lady is the fifth long-player for Stan Webb's Chicken Shack. Much in the same tradition as the great British bluesmen Alexis Corner and John Mayall, Webb's revolving-door personnel landed the band several notable members, including: John Almond (tenor/alto sax), Hughie Flint (drums), and Christine Perfect (keyboards/vocals). For this album, Webb (guitar/vocals) gathered a trio consisting of himself, future Gods and Jethro Tull member John Glascock (bass), and Paul Hancox (drums). 

Enthusiasts of the more traditional 40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed and Ready to Serve and OK Ken albums have been quick to dismiss the latter-era band, often citing the whole over amplified power metal trip as detracting from their blues origins. While certainly valid assessments, the power trio featured on Imagination Lady brings more than sheer volume to this release. 

As with the previous Chicken Shack long-players, this disc features several Webb originals augmented with some well-chosen cover tunes. The album opens with a ferocious cover of B.B. King's "Crying Won't Help You." This version is highlighted by Glascock's thrashing basslines and Webb's wah-wah driven lead guitar and gin-soaked vocals. In a style akin to the Faces or even some of the rowdier moments from the Peter Green-led Fleetwood Mac, this trio grinds out the blues with a decidedly English edge. 

The folkie "If I Were a Carpenter" is speared with searing electric guitar leads that rip throughout the likewise spirited contributions from Glascock and Hancox. The tune is also afforded an unexpected sensitivity that contrasts well between the all-out sonic onslaught of the chorus and the restrained polyrhythms of the verses. In regards to original material, "Daughter of the Hillside" is without a doubt Webb's most impressive contribution to the album.

It is arguably the strongest side on the disc. This straight-ahead rocker is an ideal trio effort with equal contributions from all three recalling the intense instrumentality of Cream or early Led Zeppelin. With so much potential, it's unfortunate that the 11-minute epic "Telling Your Fortune" -- which is nothing more than a 12-bar blues platform for solos from Webb and Hancox -- is so erratic. In an ironic contrast, the closing number "The Loser" is upbeat and almost pop-oriented, again displaying the immense strength of this short-lived incarnation of Chicken Shack. 
by Lindsay Planer

1. Crying Won’t Help You Now (King, Ling) - 5:09
2. Daughter Of The Hillside - 3:52
3. If I Were A Carpenter (Hardin) - 6:33
4. Going Down (Nix) - 3:31
5. Poor Boy - 5:09
6. Telling Your Fortune - 11:10
7. The Lose - 2:37
8. Poor Boy (Single Version) - 4:11
9. Telling Your Fortune (Single Version) - 2:08
All songs by Stan Webb excepr where noted

Chicken Shack
*John Glascock - Bass
*Paul Hancox - Drums
*Stan Webb - Guitar, Vocals

Chicken Shack
1968  40 Blue Fingers, Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve (2013 reissue)
1969  Chicken Shack - 100 Ton Chicken (2013 expanded edition)
1970  Accept (japan remaster and expanded)
1973  Unlucky Boy (2013 reissue)
1974  Go Live "Goodbye Chicken Shack"  (2013 remaster)
1978  That's The Way We Are (2015 edition)

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