Release Date: 6th December 2019
Label: Westpark Music
Formats: CD, DL and a few bespoke handcrafted cassettes
Taking a break from his recent commitments with Steeleye Span, The Excess sees Benji joined by Pete Flood (often seen out and about with Oysterband these days) and Pete Thomas on bass.
It has to be said, lest we should fail to state the obvious, Benji and Pete have some history of course with Bellowhead and while Benji has been occupied both on his own and with Faustus, it’s good to see a new band project.
Plugged as a sort of folky power trio (“Having played mainly acoustic music for a long time, I wanted to kick things up a bit with a rocky sound”) although not quite in the vein of Cream or Hendrix in terms of electrified mind altering music, you can guess at some of the influences on the path that’s led to The Excess. Not least Benji’s own ‘Bendrix’ persona in his excellent interpretations of Hendrix material a few years back on Hendrix Songs where he stripped back some of the master’s more familiar sounds to their roots.
The album title sees the trio reflecting on the fading promises of Western capitalism and the impact on a more personal and private level. The shiny gloss disappearing to reveal a dulled core. The drive of Human Cost (perhaps just missing a touch of Lakeman fiddle) perfectly illustrates the sign of the times that they’ve picked on social commentary to drive the songs that while focusing on the earthy and rootsy – some may even say ballsy – yet Gold Has Worn Away also contains its fair share of melodious and smooth moments.
Tracks such as Fill My Heart and the new wave vibe of A Classic Cut see them closest to the power trio tag, the former getting all funky yet with an understated solo and it’s the Thomas bass that adds that groove not for the first time having opened the account on Pinned Down. In fact, it’s the higher tones of the electric bass on In Your Cave that stand out before developing into a heavier riff led song.
Back To The Fold has an easy Beatle-y White Album feel in a melancholy Lennon way even lyrically (“only knew her for a week” / “will we ever meet again – said she’d like to keep in touch”). Visions of desolated landscape belies the ‘worth the price of admission’ melodies on Valley Of Green and the Hendrix inspired Got To Be All Mine is a brief instrumental that offers up the chance to imagine the sound of mixing Jimi with a bit of a reel/jig. Despite any intentions, hard to shake off your roots as we gain a fascinating insight into the direction a couple of former Bellowers have taken.
Listen to In Your Cave from the album here: