There is no more underground act than The Bevis Frond, aka Nick Saloman. For many a year he’s been releasing quality psychedelic rock across more than 20 releases, relentlessly ploughing his own guitar driven furrow much to the delight of a devoted fanbase.
There are no radical departures from previous works across his career, just steady as she goes, bloody good rock songs with riffs a plenty and solos to make your knees go weak.
With a band comprising ex-Hawkwind and Arthur Brown band man Adrian Shaw on bass, Dave Pearce on drums and Paul Simmons on yet more guitars Nick has surrounded himself with a rock solid foundation on which to build the current house of Frondian love and release album number 22.
Opener Are We Nearly There Yet is a mid tempo rocker that half way through confounds the listener with an unexpected lull in the proceedings as Nick takes his solo down a couple of notches and double tracks his guitar to pick out some lovely lines. Waiting for Sinatra is the polar opposite, an all too short blast of power pop with another great vocal, note the high notes!
Nick’s long time friend and collaborator Barri Watts makes the first of two appearances, firstly on I Blame The Rain, where his guitar playing is distinguished by two factors, volume and mind melting fretwork. Both are present and correct on this track which rattles along in a most headbangingly pleasing manner
Where is Egon Scheile is not only a fine name of a song, it’s also a great slow blues, whileWinter Breaks should not be played in a 30 mph zone unless you want a ticket for speeding and Pale Blue Blood builds on a repeated classic Bevis riff, the playing appearing effortless as those notes go spiralling away like a bunch of irate mosquitos who have just bitten your arse whilst on a day trip to Venice. It’s deliriously heady stuff and one of the highlights of the whole album.
Barri reappears on Second Son, in which he and Nick conjure up some really aggressively inspired lead magic. By God they must get through some strings; between them these two must be keeping Ernie Ball in business.
There are quieter moments of reflection and reverie such as on Vital Signs and Down Here but the focal points remain the big buggers, ManualLlabour and especially Well, a heavy blues rock workout that works itself into a (surprise surprise) guitar frenzy.
So 16 tracks in total to devour, I’ll be gnawing on this one for quite a while.
The album is dedicated to Martin Crowley, long time Bevis Frond drummer who sadly passed away in 2014.
By John Haylock