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




Porcupine Tree – The Incident

1 10 2009
Much has been made of the song-cycle approach of disc 1 (The Incident), and how SW wanted the album to be treated as a
whole.  It certainly pays off listening to Disc 1 in isolation, and in order, but some tracks do stand out in
isolation, especially “The Blind House” and the two most melancholic tracks on the album, Kneel and Disconnect and I
Drive the Hearse.
Kneel and Disconnect is a gentle piano and guitar driven piece, that seems to be refer to the younger Wilson leaving
his steady job and dedicating his life to music.
I Drive the Hearse has already become one of my favourite Porcupine Tree tracks.  There is a real pastoral feel to
this track, with some beautiful layered synths and mellotron from Richard Barbieri.
“You were always my mistake”
As a long-standing Porcupine Tree fan, this, to me, is the album where SW has really found his voice – the chorus of
The Blind House and the delicious close-knit harmonies on Kneel and Disconnect contain the most accomplished vocals
I’ve heard on a PT song so far.
Some sections repeat throughout The Incident, with recycled musical motifs and repeated or similar lyrics in a couple
of songs, but this is not laziness, rather a way of joining all the songs together to make one song cycle, especially
as there is no clear concept to the album.
Nods to SW’s childhood and musical upbringing, especially in “Time Flies” (Beatles, Hendrix & Pink Floyd references,
both lyrical and musical).  Great Expectations was mentioned in an online interview as referencing a childhood friend
whose life followed a troubled path.
“Hey there’s you, with placid eyes
Oblivious to what’s to come”
Drawing the Line features a haunting sample and an uplifting radio-friendly chorus that will surely work wonders live.
“Recording all my problems onto memory cards”
The Incident is inspired lyrically by a fatal road traffic accident that was described by a police sign as an
“incident”.  Musically it’s far removed from any other Porcupine Tree song, and maybe owes a sonic debt to Trent
Reznor, or Berlin era Bowie.
Time Flies was made available as an edit in Classic Rock magazine prior to the album’s release, and if you read fan
feedback on the various Tree forums, wasn’t universally accepted.  The version on the album that weighs in at a
healthy 11 minutes 41 seconds is the real deal though, and it feels like the centre-piece of “The Incident”, lifting
the mood after the darkness of the 8 tracks that preceded it.  Now this IS what I would refer to as Classic Rock.
Octane Twisted is a slow-burner that reveals its charms after repeated listening, and will surely appeal to new fans
that the band picked up from Deadwing onwards.
The Incident was clearly made to be listened to in isolation (you wouldn’t read a book or watch a film whilst checking
your Facebook messages so why do this with music) and it does sound amazing in 5.1, but by the same token over time I
think I will add key tracks to my ipod playlist (no, this is simply verbotten in PT Land!).
I must admit to being disappointed with Disc 2, as the songs just aren’t as strong as those on the main disc. Maybe
its me, but Flicker is a bit too PT by numbers for me. Black Dahlia is the strongest track of the 4, and the only
track from Disc 2 that I play regularly. Remember Me Lover seems to be lacking the magic of the tracks on the main
Incident disc, and whilst its probably a good song to hear live, I don’t choose to play it often.  I think Disc 2
suffers in comparison to the quality of the main part of the album.
The limited edition special edition of the album (the most expensive album, by far, that I have ever bought, so my
credit card statement regularly tells me!) comes with the 2 disc CD of “The Incident” plus a stunning 5.1 mix on DVD,
and a 116 page hardback book that includes lyrics and Lasse Hoile photography, and a 48 page softback of drawings
inspired by the album by Hajo Mueller.  Carl Glover, who produces the excellent artwork for no-man, is responsible for
the graphic design.
Tracklisting: CD1 – The Incident: Occam’s Razor / The Blind House / Great Expectations / Kneel and Disconnect /
Drawing the Line / The Incident / Your Unpleasant Family / The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train / Times Flies /
Degree Zero of Liberty / Octane Twisted / The Seance / Circle of Manias / I Drive the Hearse
CD2: Flicker / Bonnie the Cat / Black Dahlia / Remember Me Lover

The Incident (2009)Much has been made of the song-cycle approach of disc 1 of Porcupine Tree’s new album, The Incident, and how Steven Wilson wanted the album to be treated as a whole.

It certainly pays off listening to Disc 1 in isolation, and in order, but some tracks do stand out in as songs you could listen to on their own, especially The Blind House and the two most melancholic tracks on the album, Kneel and Disconnect and I Drive the Hearse.

Kneel and Disconnect is a gentle piano and guitar driven piece, that seems to refer to the younger Wilson leaving his steady job and choosing music as his full-time career.

I Drive the Hearse has already become one of my favourite Porcupine Tree tracks. There is a real pastoral feel to this track, with some beautiful layered synths and mellotron from Richard Barbieri.

“You were always my mistake”

As a long-standing Porcupine Tree fan, it feels as if this is the album where SW has really found his voice – the chorus of The Blind House is supremely confident and the close-knit harmonies on Kneel and Disconnect totally hit the mark.

Some sections repeat throughout The Incident, with a couple of recycled musical motifs and repeated or similar lyrics in a couple of songs, but this is not laziness, rather a way of joining the pieces together to make one complete song cycle, especially as there is no apparent over-arching lyrical theme to the album.

The are references to SW’s childhood and musical upbringing throughout the album, but especially in Time Flies (The Beatles & Hendrix mentions in the tracks lyrics and the Pink Floyd musical allusion). Great Expectations was mentioned in an online interview as referencing a childhood friend whose life followed a troubled path.

“Hey there’s you, with placid eyes
Oblivious to what’s to come”

Drawing the Line features a haunting sample and an uplifting radio-friendly chorus that will surely work wonders live.

“Recording all my problems onto memory cards”

The lyrics to the title track of The Incident were apparently inspired by a fatal road traffic accident that was described by a police sign as an “incident”, which is a cold, impersonal way of describing something so damaging and catastrophic.  Musically the track is far removed from any other Porcupine Tree song, and maybe owes a sonic debt to Trent Reznor via Berlin era Bowie.

Time Flies was made available as an edit in Classic Rock magazine prior to the album’s release, and if you read fan feedback on the various PT forums, wasn’t universally accepted.  The version on the album that weighs in at a healthy 11 minutes and 41 seconds is the real deal though, and it feels like the centre-piece of the album, lifting the mood after the darkness of the 8 tracks that preceded it.  Now this IS what I would refer to as Classic Rock.

Octane Twisted darkens the mood again, and reveals its charms after repeated listening, and is one that will surely appeal to new fans that the band picked up from Deadwing onwards.

The Incident was clearly made to be listened to in isolation (you wouldn’t read a book or watch a film whilst checking your Facebook messages so why do this with music) and in the order it was sequenced, and it does sound amazing in 5.1, but  over time I think I will add key tracks to my ipod playlist (no, this is simply verbotten in PT Land, what am I saying, forgive me!)

I must admit to being disappointed with Disc 2, as the songs just aren’t as strong as those on the main disc. Maybe its me, but Flicker is a bit too PT by numbers for me. Black Dahlia is the strongest track of the 4, and the only track from Disc 2 that I return to regularly. Remember Me Lover seems to be lacking the magic of the tracks on the main disc, and whilst its probably a good song to hear live, I don’t choose to play it often.  I think Disc 2 suffers in comparison to the quality of the main part of the album. But this is only a minor criticism, as this album is slowly becoming one of my favourites from the band.

The Incident (Special Edition)The limited edition special edition of the album (the most expensive album, by far, that I have ever bought, so my credit card statement regularly tells me!) comes with the 2 disc CD of The Incident plus a stunning 5.1 mix on DVD, and a 116 page hardback book that includes lyrics and Lasse Hoile photography, and a 48 page softback book of drawings inspired by the album by Hajo Mueller.  Carl Glover, who produces the excellent artwork for no-man, is responsible for the graphic design.

Tracklisting: CD1 – The Incident: Occam’s Razor / The Blind House /
Great Expectations / Kneel and Disconnect Drawing the Line / The Incident / Your Unpleasant Family / The Yellow Windows of the Evening Train / Times FliesDegree Zero of Liberty / Octane Twisted / The Seance / Circle of Manias / I Drive the Hearse

CD2: Flicker / Bonnie the Cat / Black Dahlia / Remember Me Lover

Lyrics quoted © Porcupine Tree
Roadrunner Records B002GZQY6Q Release Date 14th Sep 2009
Porcupine Tree website
Buy The Incident on Amazon UK
Buy The Incident on Amazon US








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