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Stretch - 'That's The Way The Wind Blows' / 'Unfinished Business' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/40/d9/87/2360_stretchthatsthewaythewindblows_1339872847.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 16, 2012    
 
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Stretch does indeed have unfinished business.

Stretch is a UK band of the 70´s that although having three well-received albums and a hit single did not fully capitalise on its initial success. The band comprised singer/guitarist Elmer Gantry and lead guitarist Kirby Gregory. Gantry´s early career included jamming with Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck before forming The Elmer Gantry Band whereas Gregory was in Curved Air.

‘The Way The Wind Blows’ is a compilation of Stretch´s three albums – ‘Elastique’, ‘You Can´t Beat Your Brain For Entertainment’ and ‘Lifeblood’ recorded from 1975 to 1977. Stretch supported Rainbow on the ‘Rising’ tour in the UK which adds to their pedigree because Ritchie Blackmore was famously very choosy in the picking of his support bands. Their one big hit ‘Why Did You Do It?’ appears of course in this compilation which also includes a bonus EP containing a jazz version of the hit recorded in 1985.

First impressions are that Gantry has a great voice very reminiscent of Rod Stewart; the songs broadly categorise into raw blues rock in a Nazareth style or mid-seventies funk. Interestingly, ‘Why Did You Do It’ is played and sung very much in the style of the classic Ian Drury songs of the same era. The album starts with the very in your face, ‘Fixin´ To Die’ with a great slide guitar accompaniment and then leads to the more soulful ‘End Up Crying’ before moving back to the raunchy ‘Miss Jones’. The professionalism of the playing is consistently high; moving through the album, some tracks though are a bit self-indulgent – ‘Showbiz Blues’ being really just a showcase for a slightly over-sung vocal. There is a bit of variety in some of the tracks; ‘Miss Dizzy’ is a very much of the time song about David Bowie clones for which Gantry employs a more subdued vocal to fit with the vibe. Following this, the powerful ‘The Way Life Is’ and later on ‘If The Cap Fits’ with a great guitar riff are standout tracks. With twenty tracks and the bonus EP, this album is good value and it does remain a bit of mystery why Stretch is not better known.

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Hence, ‘Unfinished Business’ is an apt title for the new album containing covers of well-known songs such as ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘Showbiz Blues’ and an inevitable new version of ‘Why Did You Do It’ which is a bit more rock oriented than the original. The overall sound of the album is similar to the 70´s albums with a quite sparse production and Gantry´s vocal cords clearly have not diminished in any way. ‘Flames’ and ‘Can´t You Feel It’ are upbeat tracks - timeless rock in which Stretch excel. Slower tracks such as the cover of ‘I Need Your Love So Bad’, ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ and ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’ although excellently sung and played seem purposely produced to sound like they are from the original era of the band. The penultimate track, ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You’, on paper not a good choice, actually works very well and the instruments are played as powerfully as the vocals are sung with power chords aplenty. The final track ‘I´ve Got My Mojo Working’ has a funky guitar sound and is a good and exciting end to the album.

With Gantry and Gregory´s mojos working and this new album under their belt, Stretch does indeed have unfinished business.

Rob McKenzie

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Comments (1)add comment

Vilhelm said:

...
I just discovered Stretch a while ago, and why they did not make the big league, is a mystery to me. They had (have) everything going for them musically. Hopefully they will have success this time around, cause they do deserve it. Great songs, great vocals, and Gregorys guitar playing is just top notch!

Vilhelm from Sweden.
 
August 07, 2012
Votes: +1

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