Holy mackerel this is some psych/folk-rock LP, so expect no holding back. Lots of Steeple has the combination of swagger and folksy chivalry associated with bands from the early 70’s: there’s no point naming them all here now, but if you like the Groundhogs you’ll love this record. Suffice to say there’s more than a whiff of patchouli oil hanging around… and a fair amount of grand sweeps and gestures. And there are fair hints at the bands pagan leanings: mentions of Cromlech(s), Silbury, Painted Cross(es), it’s all part of the territory. But hell I like it; it’s fun, honest and well made, and very charming. The band knows what a good time is I’m sure.
It’s an album that is also bookended by two absolute monsters: opening song Silbury Sands is a tremendously assured beast; sleek, strident and tough, it’s not afraid to be put through its paces. And the two-part take on the traditional Banks of Sweet Dundee is a fabulous, rousing and multidimensional ending.
The percussive element is very strong throughout the album, as the drummer does batter with certain exuberance, very much like Lothar Meid at times. Tiny Circle bounds along like an enthusiastic puppy, recalling in its heady abandon a strange mix of Amon Duul 2’s Phallus Dei & Jethro Tull. And there are a lot of tempo changes, stops and starts and concomitant changes of mood: One By One from Dorney Reach switches from one approach to another with great aplomb. Still the music is never downbeat, rather the reverse with plenty of determined, smouldering wig-outs: (Cromlech is effectively a 3 minute guitar burn out). There are some cracking tunes here too: Morning Born is an absolute belter, flitting between lament and assertive clarion call in seconds.
A really, really good record and an exhilarating listen.