Gun - "Gun" (CBS 1968)
Gun were strictly speaking a 60's band, but their sophisticated and powerful hard rock has undoubtedly its main appeal among fans of classic '70s rock, even if Gun's music naturally also had several 60's influences. Brothers Adrian and Paul Gurvitz (who preferred to name themselves Curtis at this stage in their career) who played guitar and bass formed the trio together with drummer Louis Farrell. All the songs on their self-titled debut featured grandiose orchestral arrangements that gave the band an impressively and unusually big sound for being a hard rocking trio. The album often sounds more like a high-budget Bob Ezrin production from 1975 than something from 1968, and that's no small achievement for an album recorded entirely in mono! It opens with the band's hit and signature tune "Race With the Devil". It's a quite simple and basic boogie, but spiced up with brass-fanfares, hysterical evil laughter and an infectious, razor-sharp guitar riff from Adrian Curtis. "The Sad Saga of the Boy and the Bee" shows the band at their best and most creative, both in the songwriting and arrangements. "Rupert's Travels" is a high-energy instrumental where the use of strings and brass reaches new heights, and Adrian Curtis' flamenco-inflected style on acoustic guitar is also demonstrated. "Yellow Cab Man" features fast and staccato drumming that was quite unusual for its time, and has an absolutely gorgeous melodic instrumental bridge that leads up to the chorus. "It Won't Be Long (Heartbeat)" sounds mostly like a heavier version of early Chicago, and "Sunshine" is a powerful and energetic pop tune. The most grandiose moment on the album (and that says quite a lot) is the ballad "Rat Race" that is stuffed to the rim with choirs, strings and swirling harps. The contrast couldn't have been bigger to the 11-minute closer "Take Off" that is the hardest rocking and most intense moment the album has to offer, but even this one ends with some classical influenced strings. "Gun" is simply one of the best rock albums of the 60's. The cover is nearly historic too, as it was the first ever to be designed by Roger Dean.
Gun - "Gunsight" (CBS 1969)
The orchestral arrangements from the debut were gone on "Gunsight", resulting in a more basic and less intricate sound. The material was not of the same standard either, but still good enough to make the album a worthy encore to Gun's short career. The opener "Head in the Clouds" is probably the best song here, being a simple and straightforward hard rocker, but with a good melody and punch. The partly acoustic blues of "Drown Yourself in the River" is less interesting, even when it powers up to a much more electric rocker in the middle. The strings on the ballad "Angeline" are the only remains of the orchestral arrangements from the debut. The hardest, most aggressive and noisiest track the band recorded comes in "Dreams and Screams" where Farrell hits the drums like it's the last thing he'll ever do in his life. "Situation Vacant" features interestingly enough a riff that Hawkwind later would borrow in "Sea of Holes" from their masterpiece "Warrior on the Edge of Time". "Hobo" is a nice little pop tune with slight country and blues influences. The trio also went into pure folk-territory in the acoustic "Oh Lady You" that is sandwiched in between the two parts of the instrumental "Lady Link" where Adrian Curtis again delivers some flamenco-styled playing. The closer "Long Hair Wild Man" is basically a hard rocker with a pop melody and showed that the band perhaps was starting to occasionally be a bit dated and stagnated, especially when Led Zeppelin released their two first albums the same year. Still, Gun were far more interesting and sophisticated than most others of the many late 60's power trios. "Gunsight" is not a bad album at all, but be sure to start with the debut.