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Chris Spedding: Songs Without Words

Duncan Heining By

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Recorded for Harvest in 1970, Songs Without Words was only originally released in Japan. At the time, Chris Spedding was a much sought after guitarist in jazz and rock with one of the most impressive of CVs—Mike Westbrook, Michael Gibbs, Jack Bruce, Ian Carr's Nucleus, Pete Brown and Frank Ricotti amongst others. The reason for its shelving/limited release seems to resulted from the guitarist's desire to move his career in other directions than the jazz-rock with which he was increasingly associated. For this release, Spedding has made one or two edits and added a bonus track. Of the musicians—John Marshall on drums, Roger Potter (a colleague from Battered Ornaments) on bass, John Mitchell on piano, Paul Rutherford on trombone—Rutherford, a free improviser by profession and inclination is the surprise choice. And yet, consummate player that he was, Rutherford's presence provides an additional edge to the music, as well as a contrast tonally with Spedding's electric guitar.

I won't pretend that it's all great but Songs Without Words is well worth your hard-earned. Spedding's grasp of dynamics has always been a great strength and those spidery, edgy guitar lines that are his trademark are well to the fore here. The compositions seem to be essentially based around heads and riffs but these are more than sufficient to stimulate some fine solos from Spedding and Rutherford, alongside strong support from Mitchell, Potter and the great John Marshall. The four longer tracks, "Station Song," "Song of the Deep" and "New Song Of Experience" are of most interest here, while "I Thought I Heard Robert Johnson Say" deserves a much longer outing. As a fan of Spedding's guitar work, it is great to hear him have the chance to stretch out on these tunes. As always with Hux Records, the release is beautifully packaged with excellent sleeve notes from writer Colin Harper.

Track Listing: Station Song; Plain Song; Song Of The Deep; The Forest Of Fables; New Song Of Experience; I Thought I Heard Robert Johnson Say; Sub-Continental Drift.

Personnel: Chris Spedding: guitar; Paul Rutherford: trombone; John Mitchell: piano; Roger Potter: bass, double bass; John Marshall: drums.

Title: Songs Without Words | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Hux Records

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