Legendary album from Jerusalem (the band) comes home with a spit and polish.
Release Date: 28th October
Label: Talking Elephant
Jerusalem – an evocative word for many reasons. Oft accompanied by an inevitable chest swelling pride and goosebumps. Not least in musical terms. “How far Jerusalem?” sang pomp rockers Magnum while William Blake’s iconic hymn has been used from pillar to post and even adapted (a single no less) by prog rock icons Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Jerusalem – the band – might have been suppressed by the attention given to other songs from which they chose their name. Theirs is a story from which the likes of Brian Pern and Spinal Tap take inspiration and pay tribute. Their one and only album becoming an almost mythical Holy Grail in its scarcity to the extent that inferior quality bootleg copies have been the only way to experience their semi-legendary music.
Produced and feted by Ian Gillan (“a band which excites me very much“) – yes, that very same one who continues to from Deep Purple to this day – their flirtation with fame was brief, not even allowing for a follow up. Any fledgling attempts remain on some shelf somewhere or other. However, Talking Elephant has taken the initiative in helping reboot the album; remastered with the addition of the brilliantly titled Kamikaze Moth single along with four tracks given a modern (well, 2009 is modern to most of us…) sheen.
Gillan’s “rough, raw and doomy” evaluation is fully born out by the five young men seeking to make their mark in a period we now consider to be ‘classic’. The names may not ring the same bells as Gillan, Blackmore, Iommi et al, but with Bob Cooke on lead guitar, Bill Hinde seconding him, Paul Dean on bass, Ray Sparrow on drums and the line-up fronted by vocalist Lynden Williams, the only missing part of the puzzle was perhaps a smidgeon of luck. The right place right time combo that provides the essential piece.
So what’s the fuss about? Travelling back in time to drop the needle on Frustration, the hint of Robert Plant in Williams’ vocal seems unforced and the general tempos are unforgiving. Very rhythmic – think fledgling Motorhead, before stop for a second and head for the big major chord finish. Maybe a bit cliched but at the time, perfect for the era. There have been comments about sitting on the outlying edges of punk and sludge which is fair enough to spot as the tempos quicken and slacken.
I See The Light the bluesy call and response and by this point, Jerusalem’s place amongst the Zeps, the Sabs, the Tulls and the Heeps of the era is firmlyin place. Understandable and given the benefit of hindsight, is Gillan’s vision that the guys could easily break through into the big league and break bread with some of the bands who would attain legendary status. Perhaps the reason might lie in the legs of the material. While there are some noteworthy performances and decent writing, consistency is the key.Where they rock, heavy metal, prog or psych or a jack of all trades?
Murderer’s Lament is a quirky little piece that heads off the well-beaten track, the protagonist rueing his lack of appeal to the fairer sex… A slightly looser arrangement with some ‘dramatic’ interludes of power chording. When The Wolf Sits adds to the comic book niche while Midnight Steamer fades out after the short bout of improvised soloing and vocalisms lose a little of that midnight steam. The depths of Sabbath doom are plunged on Beyond The Grave where the quasi-drama passes into a dancing medieval-flavoured passage, the vocals some distance from the Plant-isms and into incantations of doom.
The 2009 versions are given a beefier coating and again, unsurprisingly given the passage of time. Midnight Steamer and Kamikaze Moth are perfect examples of how the brittleness and brightness have been channelled into a more contemporary setting; and by jove, they could easily sit alongside and not be out of place amongst some of what 2022 has to offer in the Classic Rock field.