Graham Bond - "Holy Magic" (Vertigo 1971)
Graham Bond was well known for his innovative R&B with The Graham Bond Organisation in the 60's. In the early '70s he attempted to turn his mixture of blues and jazz into a more progressive direction while at the same time also incorporate strong occult influences in the lyrics. He released two albums on Vertigo, where "Holy Magic" was the first one and the better of the two. An untitled 20-minute suite took up the first side of the album. The 13 movements of the piece varied from spoken incantations to vocal parts dominated by chanting female backing vocals mixed with Bond's own raspy and bluesy voice and then to long solo parts dominated mainly by saxophone and Bond's organ. It's a quite intense piece that moves forward in the same tempo all the time, and with no breaks or stops. If you can imagine a combination of Colosseum and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown with a small dose of soul added, then you'll have a slight idea what the suite sounds like. The second side consists of four songs of a more traditional and basic kind. The best of these ones are undoubtedly the energetic and organ-driven "The Magician". "Return of Arthur" is a rather typical blues tune, but it's at least a bit interesting and unusual to hear lyrics about King Arthur and the knights in such musical surroundings. The two last tracks on the album are rather boring and forgettable, and don't do much for me. "Holy Magic" is ok and completely tolerable, but nothing essential or outstanding.