Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Edgar Broughton Band - In Side Out

The Edgar Broughton Band
In Side Out

Released 1972 on Harvest
Reviewed by welbourn TEKH, 04/06/2004ce

‘In Side Out’ was The Edgar Broughton Band’s fourth album and was the follow up to their magnificent eponymous ‘Meat’ album released in 1971. It was my first introduction to this incredible band and I have to admit, that I bought the LP, purely because of the wonderful, multi-fold cover, designed in a similar fashion to a ‘Chinese wallet’ - it presents you with two gatefolds for the price of one! The outer cover portrays a stark black and white, ‘grim up north’ scene of a world-weary, ex-con resting a reassuring hand on the shoulder of a flat-capped androgynous child. The pair are observed from a footpath by working class figures set against a brutal retaining wall. The sky is replaced by dark foreboding, horizontal, airbrushed bands, that give the scene a surreal, claustrophobic edge. The image is enhanced by the Chinese wallet design, for opened one way, the figures stand at the corner of the uncompromising wall. Opened the other way, the figures appear at the front of a long, daunting corridor. The inside again has two aspects – in one, the band are depicted in sepia tinted pictures on ‘home turf’ against a wet city-scape of flyovers and everydayness. Folded the other way, our ‘hairy heroes’ are pictured in pastoral settings, a sharp contrast to their previous setting. It is these contrasts that are the key to ‘In Side Out’.

In 1972, when I first purchased this album, I was fourteen years of age, and this brutal recording shattered the security of my snug world. These hairy men that stared out from this enchanting cover, revealed to me an insight into sex, drugs, violence and anger. As I played the LP in my bedroom, it was as if an element of the outside world had entered my cocoon – like someone walking over your new carpet with shit on their boots! At the tender age of fourteen, I felt kind of secure in the knowledge that these boys didn’t live next door!

Even with this affront, I always felt an affinity with this album, there was no frills here, these unpretentious songs were a sharp contrast to the glam of Bowie and Bolan and the pomp of Yes and ELP whose records also adorned my record collection at the time. Maybe it was this unpretentiousness that made me still hang on to this LP when my ‘hippy’ records were disposed of during the later punk years. A period where many a ‘baby’ was thrown out with the proverbial bath water!

'Side 1:
Get Out of Bed/There’s Nobody There/Side by Side': A nonchalant, strummy introduction stumbles into a sloppy clumsy groove as this three-part number empowers us to get out of bed and ‘kick in’. For those who choose to ignore this gentle wake up call, they are in for a big surprise as the drums eventually tumble in, almost compelling our lazy asses into gear. A get up and get on with it song which evolves into a big ‘Tommy’ type raging riff which is accompanied by a wailing harmonica. This album certainly ain’t no hippy trip.

'Sister Angela': This short little ditty is about Angela Davies the black activist.

'I Got Mad (Soledad)': This really is an angry wah-wah, stomper, as Broughton threatens “If they take me, I’ll take ten-for-one” as he makes reference to Soledad Jail and the injustices that he sees around him.

'They Took it Away': Growly ‘Exile on Main Street’ guitar powers through a catalogue of injustices inflicted upon ‘the people’, but Broughton ain’t no moaning Minnie, for this is a wake up call for those deemed responsible. “The people are going to get you one day.”

'Homes Fit For Heroes': A song highlighting the false and broken promises of the working classes. An angry, lonesome harmonica highlights the futility of this struggle. “You asked me what I’m doing, I just picked out my nose” is Broughton’s brutal but honest response, to a futile question - you wanted to know, so I’m telling you it straight. This is a song of desolation and despair but the slightly phased drums crash and thunder like clogs on cobbles giving it an optimistic, otherworldliness that takes you above the empty pits and houses to a far groovier place.

'Gone Blue': A brutal, dirty little song by big hairy boys. This is raw, trash-can rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. Here, sex, death, drugs and violence are all linked together. The scuffling noises and breaking bottles in the background add to the general unease, a technique used to similar effect by The Faces (‘Pool Hall Richard’ - 1973) and Joy Division (‘I remember Nothing’ – 1979). The distortion on the bass guitar gives the song a grubbiness that rubs off onto the listener – an inflicted filth that can never be washed away. You will return to this song again and again with the same morbid curiosity as if observing a car crash on a motorway.

'Chilly Morning Momma': Loud, rolling, ‘boxy’ drums accompany this gentle introduction, but did no one tell Steve Broughton that this was a love song? But hey - brother Steve was right all along…..

'Side 2
The Rake': We slide into this filthy little song with the killer chorus and the killer riff. Broughton portrays himself as the ultimate ‘bit of rough’ – the universal, tongue in cheek, back-door-man. Jim Morrison - eat your heart out!

'Totin’ this guitar': A whimsical guitar introduces a wonderous tale of adventure – a bridge-burning, fireside song!

'Double Agent': Bridled by acoustic ‘Faces’ melancholy, this is the nearest The Edgar Broughton Band get to writing a love song, but even here the brutal world is never too far away. “Another man can pay the rent and you’re left Mr. one per-cent.” Ah well – nice try lads.

'Its Not You': This song contains a killer riff hidden deep within its depth, but what a fucking groove!(1) The spontaneity of this song lifts it above all of the other tracks on the album. It says on the lyric sheet, as the written words expire, ‘the rest was as it came’ - this really is free-fall rock ‘n’ roll at its finest. A rambling, passionate vocal hollers menacingly, “Oh Yeah, All right!” Each time you listen to this track, it sounds so fresh and unexpected. It drops down to a ‘Meters’ type groove, so angry and primal. “Can you dig it out here on a limb” yells Broughton as the rhythm drops down to a stonking bass line that the ‘Happy Mondays’ would have died for. The working class dream is in tatters - “you think I’m up – I’m down’” yells Broughton as the big riff comes in followed by an importunate guitar. Broughton is now reduced to guteral sounds and pleads “somebody help me!” Man! – you are out there on your own.

'Rock ‘n’ Roll': Where can you go after the sky-high ‘Its Not You’? Back down to earth. Lines like’ “Rock ’n’ roll won’t save your soul – it turns plastic into gold” puts the head in the clouds, rock ‘n’ roll ‘concept’ into a feet on the ground perspective, but not in the ‘Have a Cigar’ kind of way. In 1972, The Edgar Broughton Band, unlike many of their peers, were too cool to bite the hand that fed them.

‘In Side Out’ may not be the best Edgar Broughton album, but it is certainly their most political and captures a ‘people’s band’ in conflict between the demands of their label – Harvest and the injustices of the world around them. Raw emotions and brutal honesty are the order of the day here and for those who are about to experience this classic for the first time, you are in for a caustic shock. Would you have wanted to live next to The Edgar Broughton Band in 1972? On second thoughts, get me a TARDIS and that estate agent’s number!

Note: (1) I recently purchased this album on a CD (BGO Records 1993) where it was accompanied by the ‘Meat’ album. This track has been edited down so as to get both recordings onto the CD format, but this space saving edit totally ruins this stunning track. My advice - keep clear of this release!

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