Friday, July 31, 2009

Alex Harvey - Roman Wall Blues (1969)

Alex Harvey - Guitar
Leslie Harvey - Guitar
Mickey Keene - Guitar
Bud Parks - Trumpet
Derek Watkins - Trumpet
Derek Wadsworth - Trombone, brass arrangements
Frank Ricotti - Alto sax, percussion, brass arrangements
Ashton Tootle - Baritone sax, flute
Laurie Baker - Bass guitar, electronics
Maurice Cockerill - Keyboard
Pete Wolfe - Drums

Roman Wall Blues was an awkward though intermittently interesting effort that still found Harvey in the midst of his long, halting transition from soul-blues artist to a more original songwriter who fused satire and hard rock with R&B. Many of the arrangements have a dated horn-adorned soul-rock feel, and the trendy band-on-the-road hippie phraseology isn't as funny as it was probably intended to be. But there are some genuinely enjoyable tracks here and there, like the goofy minstrel folk-rock of "Broken Hearted Fairytale," the desultory lament "Maxine," and the uncommonly grim title track, where Harvey plays the part of an actual Roman soldier on patrol. And Harvey's vocals are never less than exuberant, in the manner of that hyperactive kid who's barely toned down even after reaching adulthood, particularly on the '50s rock & roll-style "Donna." Covering the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was an utterly superfluous endeavor, however. It's among the rarest of Harvey's albums, and as a little-heard link in his evolution it deserves reissue, in spite of its inconsistency. 

1. Midnight Moses
2. Hello L.A. Bye Bye Birmingham
3. Broken Hearted Fairytale
4. Donna
5. Roman Wall Blues
6. Jumping Jack Flash
7. Hammer Song
8. Let my Bluebird Sing
9. Maxine
10. Down At Bart's Place
11. Candy
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