Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Frijid Pink - Earth Omen

Frijid Pink
Earth Omen

Released 1972 on Lion
Reviewed by Certif1ed, 28/03/2008ce

Frijid Who? I hear younger readers ask, incredulously.

Yet this is the band who, following their massive hit with a guitar-drenched cover of the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" had such minor bands as Led Zeppelin for support act.

Indeed - a huge and monstrous sound is to be expected, and is also delivered in spades. Yet this, their 3rd album, is considered by fans as one of their weakest.

But there's no ignoring the hi-energy that belts out of the grooves from this magnificent opus, fully heavy progressive rock of the highest calibre.

Guitars bludgeon heavy riffs into your cranium, while swirling organs (oo-er!) provide a shimmering shine and jet-propelled propulsion simultanetously. Masterful, tight, but never over-busy beats keep your feet a-tapping, and even though the music is finely crafted and accessible, surprises lurk around every corner.

It's easy at times to completely forget that this was released in 1972, such is the quality of the music, and yet, the music itself could not have been written at any other time. It is infused with the heady scent of patchouli and sandalwood, it speaks of those parties with just a few close friends, the intoxications of your choice that last into the wee small hours until the last person passes out with the pleasant fatigue of good times.

There is no answer to the question "what is the music like", for it covers a multitude of bases. The closest bands I can think of are Spooky Tooth, Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster and Vanilla Fudge.

Miss Evil hits you straight away with swathes of Hammond curling from a rotating Leslie, quickly joined by a piano duplicating the Hammond's part for a stalkfest in a dark alley. The fuzzed-out guitar riff that follows, the hard-edged, crystal-clear vocals and the little solo lines quickly get mixed up in a maelstrom of sounds that sit at the edge of controllability - and that is why this music is so great; You can practically feel the musicians at the edges of their abilities and pushing hard, but never succumbing to the temptation to overdo it and ruin the whole thing by sounding amateurish. The musical interlude gives visions (probably illegal) of "evil women" and their seductive, tempting dances.

This is followed by the haunting shanty "Sailor", which features some of the tastiest piano licks ever buried in a mix. Shame on the engineer responsible. This being 1970s rock, we have a Tufnell special of a guitar solo. I recommend not listening to this on headphones, as the engineer decided it would be fun to pan it all over the place as the poor guy was recording it. I mean OK, it's not the most exciting solo ever, but it's pretty good, and didn't deserve that.

Earth Omen carries a cheese warning - but at the same time you have to give the band props for being environmentally aware and putting this much sheer passion into getting the message across; "Oh lord, what have we done?" indeed. Very stirring stuff indeed, providing you can ignore lines like "first we killed the sea and now we kill the sun".

And so it goes on - Frijid Pink demonstrate their mastery of forms and styles by chucking in some mandolins on "Lazy Day", and produce a magnificently soporific tune. "Train Woman" is a piece of heavy blues par excellence, "Eternal Dream" hearkens back to a more innocent psychedelic era, while maintaining a progressive symphonic feel like Procol Harum or the Moodies at their best, "New Horizon" ventures into a funk-rock territory and gets you dancing around your clothes, which are probably in a pile on the sitting room floor by now. Close the curtains, would you?

To round off the album, Rainbow Rider delivers a gospel-style soul that's utterly infectious, and Mr Blood produces some of the scariest and heaviest rifferama outside of Sabbath. The vocal harmonies give Uriah Heep a run for their money too. The burn-out practically justifies the price of the album alone.

In short, one of the most polished rock albums of 1972-3, and definitely one of the most overlooked. There are no real classics on this album - no monster hits, but each song is a personal moster hit waiting for you to discover it and share it - but only with people you really like :o)

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