Remember Samurai? I reviewed their excellent eponymous album all the way back in June 2021. As I mentioned in that article, Samurai had previously performed under the name Web, a jazz-rock outfit that released three albums in the late 1960s/early 1970s. I Spider, Web’s last release, was also the group’s first album to feature keyboard whiz and vocalist Dave Lawson, later of Greenslade fame. Although Lawson’s talent on keys, organ, and piano, could not ultimately salvage the band, he did settle in nicely to a lead role, brief as it may have been. The combination of his keys and Tom Harris’s saxes gives the album a Canterbury/fusion feel that many prog lovers would appreciate. Here are some of the highlights:
“Concerto for Bedsprings” is a curious opening number about a chap’s struggles with insomnia. The organ dominates for a moment before sax and piano lead us into a jazz-lounge like interlude. We then transition from the dark, smoky ambience of the lounge for the sweat and funk of the dance floor when the bass guitar breaks in. A smooth sax solo follows shortly thereafter. I can’t imagine this musical odyssey cured this fellow’s sleep deprivation, but it would certainly keep him from remaining bored while awake at odd hours of the night.
The only instrumental track on the album, “Ymphasomniac” features an eclectic mix of mellotron, bongo drums (a fun interlude about two minutes in), drums, piano, and finally sax and organ to cap it off at the end. Harris again shines with his sax work here.
Distorted guitar and organ introduce the final track, “Always I Wait,” which is without question the most brooding and ominous piece on the album. Those with a slightly twisted sense of humor should listen closely to the lyrics….
Lawson’s vocals will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but his work on the keys, organ, and piano more than make up for what he lacks in singing ability. Fans of The Nice, Atomic Rooster, Greenslade, or jazz fusion in general will appreciate the musicianship on this obscure gem.
Stay tuned for number thirty-two!