Poobah – Steamroller – 4.5/5
First introduced to me on a mix shown to me by Mr. Costigan, it seems we weren’t the only ones to re-discover this lost late 70’s, prog rock gem, which saw itself re-issued only last month. Featuring most prominently a dirty and psychedelically toned guitarist with plenty of solo time, working with a vocalist whose versatility resonates throughout. From the slow and soft ballads, the virtuoso leads, and the track that initially caught my attention, the oddly addictive “Jump Thru the Golden Ring.” Ignore the bad artwork, for this is one band that still feels fresh 40 years since its creation.
The vocals vary from an almost whispered tone, to an all out rock scream, the short high pitched rock shrieks to the schizophrenic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ style ‘talking to yourself’ tone (e.g. Jump Thru the Golden Ring). He even manages to pull off an impressive cover of Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll,” which actually feels weaker as a song than most of the material present here. Most commonly utilising a distinct yet catchy tone his contributions are second only to the impeccable guitar work.
With a crunch he lays down a deep distortion filling the job of both rhythm, and most prominent member. Alternating with the vocals he provides short solos with no shortage of style as he plays something in between a jazz-fusion inspired frenzy of creativity, and a bass-filled, proto-stoner groove, proving capable of slow bluesy tones as well as being a match for the Schenkers of the genre in an all-out shred-match. One of the truly great unknown guitarists, this album demonstrates he is deserving of recognition well beyond what he receives.
The drumming is competent but relegated to the background, and the bass for the most part is only heard keeping the rhythm during the guitar solos, but their presence doesn’t feel too sorely missed. Even including – on top of the cover – 30mins of live material, this is an album of two members, and they dominate and walk all over the place, chaotic, frantic, melodic and psychedelic this is one blast of prog rock goodness that shouldn’t have been forgotten.
Highlights: Jump Thru the Golden Ring, She’s That Kind of Lover, Don’t Change