Fireworks

Wally - 'Montpellier' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/5f/2b/a4/2633_wallymontpelier_1345225070.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 17, 2012    
 
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Wally return after 36 years.

As gaps between records go, thirty-six years goes down as one of the longer waits for fans.

The Harrogate band originally released two albums in the early seventies with the debut being produced by Rick Wakeman and, surprisingly, whispering Bob Harris. Back then they mixed the prog sound of the era with a country feel that gave them their own niche. Fast forward three decades and this hybrid is still there, and they’ve created an album of depth and warmth that makes you think they’ve been away far too long.

A rock record doesn’t need to hammer you with noise and bluster. Wally know it can slowly build and wash over you. The band draw you in with dreamy atmospherics that have a strong resemblance to Pink Floyd. The tracks are a mix of re-recorded and newly written songs (something of a trend this year). The expansive sounding ‘Sailor’, complete with seagull calls, is a meditative joy. The trippy, prog ballad ‘Sister Moon’ has a terrific spacey guitar, and an unmistakable, English charm. Both of these tracks were written by vocalist and guitarist Roy Webber and it’s his songs that have the largest influence in defining Wally’s music. He co-writes ‘She Said’, a tale of wistful reverie and the lengthy hypnotic closer ‘Giving’.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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However, his contribution is only half the story. Guitarist and piano player Will Jackson, and guitarist and vocalist Paul Middleton also have writing credits. It’s their influence that brings the other dimension to Wally. ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ has a languid JJ Cale meets Mark Knopfler country vibe. Female backing adds colour, before the song is steered into the more spacey guitar rock territory of the opening songs. Middleton’s ‘Surfing’ and ‘Human’ add eccentricity to the band. There’s black humour in the former, a track that has a spoken, conversational verse before an intense, female backed chorus. The latter is darker in tone, with the same spoken verse approach and it sounds like how a middle-aged man should sound when singing; a mixture of experience, regret, angst and wisdom.

The album is a great ensemble piece, the rhythm section pulses like a big healthy heart; slow and steady. Some of the guitar playing is achingly beautiful, and the varied vocals match each song’s mood delightfully. Even Wally fans might be caught by surprise at how good this return sounds.

Duncan Jamieson

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