Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Dust In the Air Suspended Marks the Place Where a Story Ended
Company: Warner Brothers
Catalog: BS 2650
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve; white label promo copy
Catalog ID: 6325
Even though his musical career stretches back to the late-1950s and includes stints with some of the UK's best known blues greats such as Graham Bond, Alexis Korner, and even John Mayall, I'd hazard to say that even in the UK, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith isn't exactly a name brand. Similarly his late-1960s/early-1970s stint with the band Colosseum attracted stellar reviews from critics, but did little to cultivate widespread attention from an America audience. Against that backdrop the fact this album even saw an American release is amazing ... Clearly in the early-1970s American record labels were operating under a different, more utopian marketing model than today's game. In this day and age it would be impossible to imagine a major label like Warner Brothers even thinking about spending their time, energy, and money releasing a collection by an obscure English artist like Heckstall-Smith. The thought of Warner Brothers marketing issuing an album with the catchy title "Dust In the Air Suspended Marks the Place Where a Story Ended" simply makes me giggle.
Heckstall-Smith apparently began writing material for his debut LP while still in Colosseum (two of the tracks co-written with Colosseum alumni David Clempson and Joe Hiseman), finally getting the impetus to record it when Colosseum MK I folded in 1971. The links to that band were quite apparent. Colosseum drummer Hiseman produced and played on the set, as did Colosseum members Mark Clarke, Chris Farlowe, and Dave Greenslade. Former boss Graham Bond also guested on the collection. With Heckstall-Smith writing all six tracks (the four side one compositions in collaboration with Pete Brown), the album showcased an occasionally interesting blend of progressive, jazz-rock, and more experimental sounds. As usual, Brown's lyrics were impenetrable to me - material like 'Crabs' and 'Moses In Bullrushourses' sure sounded deep and heavy, but I don't have a clue what it was actually about. Yeah, it sounded a bit like a harder-edged Colosseum album with plenty of Heckstall-Smith's sax embedded throughout which may have held instant appeal for some folks. Not so much for others ...
- Built on a nifty little guitar riff, and featuring Mark Clark on lead vocals, musically 'Future Song' was probably the album's most rock oriented performance. Yeah, the extended sax solo wasn't exactly something you were going to hear on your local FM radio station, but the song ended up generating quite a bit of energy. rating: **** stars
- Showcasing Paul William's rugged voice (which reminded me a bit of Gary Brooker on this outing), 'Crabs' managed to bounce between outright rock and a more jazz-oriented edge, with some great keyboards. As was usually the case, I had absolutely no idea what Pete Brown's lyrics were about, but that didn't detract from the song's eclectic charm. rating: **** stars
- So if the prior song was a mystery to me, 'Moses In Bullrushourses' was an even bigger lyrical enigma. Regardless, this one had some nice guitar and even better electric piano (Bond?). rating: *** stars
- Opening up with a pretty Heckstall-Smith sax solo, 'What the Morning was After' was a stark, pensive ballad that reminded me a bit of a Jack Bruce solo effort (I think Williams handled the lead vocals on this one). Very pretty melody ... rating: **** stars
- One of two tracks co-written with Colosseum's Dave Clempson and Joe Hiseman, 'The Pirate's Dream' showcased Farlowe's best vocal and served as one of the album's most entertaining performances. The sound was pure UK jazz-rock, but there was something engaging in the song's ever changing directions. It also featured Heckstall-Smith's prettiest twin sax solo, some great bass work from Mark Clarke, and Bond on synthesizers. rating: **** stars
- With another Williams vocal, 'Same Old Thing' was a change in direction with Heckstall-Smith and company taking aim at the blues. Normally a standard blues number like this probably wouldn't have made much of an impression on me, but this was so unlike the rest of the set that it actually stood out. Not sure if it was Caleb Quaye, or Chris Spedding, but one of the two turned in a fantastic guitar solo. rating: *** stars
Certainly not an album I'd want to play every week, but interesting enough that I can see it sneaking on to the turntable on cold, quiet Sunday mornings ...
"Dust In the Air Suspended Marks the Place Where a Story Ended" track listing:
1.) Future Song (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Pete Brown) - 6:07
2.) Crabs (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Pete Brown) - 5:12
3.) Moses In Bullrushourses (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Pete Brown) - 3:40
4.) What the Morning was After (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Pete Brown) - 5:31
1.) The Pirate's Dream (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Dave Clempson - Joe Hiseman) - 11:12
2.) Same Old Thing (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Dave Clempson - Joe Hiseman) - 6:32
The album was reissued by the Esoteric label (catalog number ECLEC2137). The reissue came with three bonus live tracks. 'Moses In The Bullrushourses' and 'The Pirate's Dream' were drawn from the debut album. 'No Amount of Loving' was a live track from his Manchild band, 'I'll Go Back To Venus' and 'I Can't Get It' were Manchild studio efforts. The package also included an interesting booklet.
1.) Moses In The Bullrushourses (live) (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Pete Brown) -
2.) The Pirate's Dream (live) (Dick Heckstall-Smith - Dave Clempson - Joe Hiseman) -
3.) No Amount Of Loving (live)
4.) I'll Go Back To Venus
5.) I Can't Get It