Climax Blues Band – The Albums 1973 – 1976 boxset review

3 07 2019

Esoteric Recordings are releasing a 4CD clamshell boxed set by the Climax Blues Band, titled The Albums 1973 – 1976. This release is the second collection of Climax Blues Band albums and features their work issued between 1973 and 1976, consisting of the albums FM Live, Sense of Direction, Stamp Album and Gold Plated.

The first disc contains FM Live, a recording of a concert that was broadcast on WNEW-FM in New York in 1973. FM Live gave the band their first major US success. The album highlights the more blues orientated sound of their late 60s / early 70s output.

The original UK release was a single album – this version is the USA double vinyl running order. Highlights on this live album include the wonderful harmonies on I Am Constant and the high-octane, Bo Diddley influenced Shake Your Love.

Disc two in the set is where it gets more interesting for me, with the 1974 studio album Sense of Direction. At this point the band are heading off in a more rock and jazz fusion direction and providing the sounds that would blast out of classic rock / FM radio stations for the next few years.

Amerita / Sense Of Direction opens the album, with a 6 minute track that owes more to the sound of artists such as America or Chicago than to the Climax Blues Band’s Chicago blues origins.

Reaching Out is one of my favourite tracks on this collection, with the song served up on a lovely early 70s groove, with some great guitar lines from Peter Haycock. At this point in their career, the band were really stretching out and hearing this music now instantly transports you back in time to those heady seventies times.

Bonus tracks on this disc consist of the single version of Sense of Direction and a rawer, less polished version of Shopping Bag People.

The third disc is the Stamp Album from 1975, where the band headed further towards a more mainstream sound. From the Rhodes piano and sax driven Using The Power, to the pop-reggae of Mr. Goodtime, the band were now inhabiting the same musical universe as contemporaries such as the Average White Band and the mid-70s work of Robert Palmer.

The smooth harmonies of I Am Constant and the Doobie Brothers style funk of Running Out Of Time are another two early album highlights. The addition of new member Richard Jones opened up the bands pallet at this point, with an added emphasis on keyboards that is really noticeable on the fusion of Rusty Nail / The Devil Knows. The album closes with the expansive arrangement of Cobra, a short instrumental.

The final disc is the bands most successful album, Gold Plated from 1976. Notable for giving the Climax Blues Band their biggest hit, Couldn’t Get It Right, which peaked at No10 in the UK and No3 in the US, the shift to a more pop-friendly sound continued.

The dual guitar and clavinet of Together and Free finds the band setting out their stall early on. Couldn’t Get It Right remains the bands signature tune to this day, and has appeared in film (and game) soundtracks.

Bonus tracks for this album include an extended version of Chasing Change and a rare (and very short) Climax Blues Band ballad, Shadow Man, which reminds me a little of mid-period 10cc.

The Albums 1973 – 1976 is a good introduction to the music of the Climax Blues Band, which will be of interest to lovers of early to mid-70s rock music. This collection houses each disc in replica album sleeve wallets and also includes a new poster.

Buy The Albums 1973-1976 at Amazon

Also available:

The Albums: 1969-1972

Tracklisting for The Albums 1973-1976

Disc One

FM Live (1973)

  1. All The Time In The World
  2. I Am Constant
  3. Flight
  4. Seventh Son
  5. Standing By A River
  6. So Many Roads
  7. Mesopopmania
  8. Country Hat
  9. You Make Me Sick
  10. Shake Your Love
  11. Goin’ To New York (Full Version)
  12. Let’s Work Together

Disc Two

Sense of Direction (1974)

  1. Amerita / Sense Of Direction
  2. Losin’ The Humbles
  3. Shopping Bag People
  4. Nogales
  5. Reaching Out
  6. Right Now
  7. Before You Reach The Grave
  8. Milwaukee Truckin’ Blues (Chipper’s Song)
    Bonus Tracks
  9. Sense Of Direction (Single Version)
  10. Shopping Bag People (Alternate Version)

Disc Three

Stamp Album (1975)

  1. Using The Power
  2. Mr. Goodtime
  3. I Am Constant
  4. Running Out Of Time
  5. Sky High
  6. Rusty Nail / The Devil Knows
  7. Loosen Up
  8. Spirit Returning
  9. Cobra

Disc Four

Gold Plated (1976)

  1. Together And Free
  2. Mighty Fire
  3. Chasing Change
  4. Berlin Blues
  5. Couldn’t Get It Right
  6. Rollin’ Home
  7. Sav’ry Gravy
  8. Extra
    Bonus Tracks
  9. Fat Mabellene
  10. Together And Free (Single Edit)
  11. Chasin’ Change (extended take)
  12. Shadow Man

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