Full credit is due to Mike King and Reel Recordings for this exercise in historical reclamation. For a brief period back in the mid-1970s, Radar Favourites was a band with a pedigree. For one thing, it was saxophonist Geoff Leigh
's first venture after his departure from Henry Cow
, while guitarist G.F. Fitz-Gerald
was responsible for the album Mouseproof
(Sunbeam Records, 1970), a highly singular title from an era not lacking in singularities. Drummer Charles Hayward, a man who once played in Quiet Sun alongside Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera, went on to be in This Heat
. So did all of this result in some kind of sound clash? Not a bit. This was a band of individuals that knew its collective mind like few others, and even though its music covered a wide variety of bases it's still shot through with an impish appreciation for the infinite possibilities of group interplay.
It's this quality, amongst others, that makes keyboardist/singer Cathy Williams' "Umbrella Walk" frustrating in its brevity. Over the course of its almost six-minute duration, however, the music moves from being deliciously reflectivetopped off with the composer's voiceto a kind of loose but informed jamming that is far from common. Fitz-Gerald also gets the chance to show off his rock chops, even though his sensibility has always been so distinctive that such a description doesn't fully capture the extent of his abilities.
The band's aptitude for jamming doesn't result in any of its negative connotations. Leigh's "Tree and Tanks" is a case in point, with a little of Lol Coxhill
detectable in his soprano sax. The rhythmic precision of the track is entirely the band's own, with bassist Jack Monck proving, with his mobility, just what a difference such interventionist playing can make.
The group-credited "Blastest" is a snapshot of what the band was capable in a live setting. Tapping a seam not dissimilar to the free rock of Leigh's previous band, the music progresses by mutual consent. Williams' keyboard and Fitz-Gerald's guitar cooperatively compete for attention, but on one level it's the work of their compatriots that catches it. The issue of personalities is irrelevant , given that the overall effect is a reminder of just how creative things were back in the day.
Track Listing: Peggy Delaney's Hothouse Tinkers; Umbrella Walk; Trees and Tanks; Blues for Henry; Blastest.
Personnel: Geoff Leigh: soprano sax, alto sax, flutes, oboe; G.F. Fitz-Gerald: guitar, baby binson echorec; Cathy Williams: piano, keyboard, glockenspiel, vocal; Jack Monck: bass; Charles Hayward: drums. Colin McClure: bass (2).
Year Released: 2010
| Record Label: Reel Recordings