TERRY REID - River CD (Water)
My love of this album has some friends baffled. Reid remains one of rock's great underachievers. A rising cult star in the UK in the late '60s with two rather inconsistent albums under his belt (there's some gems amongst some pop drivel obviously pushed on him by clueless music exec's), he was basically offered to be the singer in Jimmy Page's as-yet-unnamed outfit at the time but brushed the tantalising offer away and instead recommended a young singer he'd recently witnessed playing live, Robert Plant. The rest of that story has been told before.
After touring w/ the likes of Cream and the Rolling Stones (on the '69 leg which ended at Altamont), he hung w/ Gilberto Gil in London before relocating to the west coast of the US and releasing this classic in '73 on Atlantic. Reid is/was a singer one could only define as "white soul". Not in a Hall & Oates kinda way, but in the same soaring sense as Van Morrison (when he was good) and Tim Buckley back in the day. River is split into two fairly distinct sides, the first of which contains his more "rock" material. With a loose and funky backing band (featuring percussive great, Willie Bobo, slapping some bongos) at his side, sonically this brings to mind the 'Stones during their peak Beggars Banquet/Let It Bleed phase when they still possessed a keen and exotic sense of space within their music and didn't clutter it w/ hard-rock guitar. Think of the bongo fury of "Sympathy For The Devil" and perhaps extract a good 9/10ths of the fury.
The second half of the album sees the pace slow with a laidback acoustic sound caught somewhere 'round the musical nexus of Blue Afternoon-period Buckley, Veedon Fleece-era Morrison and John Martyn ca. his Inside/Out masterwork. You might call it pastoral white-boy folky blues, though I'd be kinder in my words. There's the same stretch in this music, the same reach that the previously-mentioned artists achieved at the time, a period when the better '60s singer/songwriter survivors were working a sense of jazz improvisation into a folk form. Reid kinda disappeared after a few mid/late-'70s clunkers, though he still has River as his grand statement. Now, take heed in those references I've just thrown around like an old rag: Tim Buckley, John Martyn, Van Morrison, peak-period 'Stones. Does that sound good? I hope so. When I've played this to friends the reactions I received have referred to the musical works of Steely Dan and the Black Crowes. Huh.