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Exploding Eyes - Exploding Eyes

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2017-02-17

This is a heavy rock monster from 1972 that sold zilch way back when, but has now achieved legendary status amongst collectors. This one has the goods! Originals are impossible to find. It’s taken from original master tapes and available as a legitimate release for the first time.

Well, not quite. It’s actually the self-titled debut album by Ireland’s Exploding Eyes. It’s quite a good rock album, and it sounds like a direct descendent of some heavy rock monster from 1972 which would have sold zilch and would now have achieved legendary status amongst collectors. The Exploding Eyes’ website labels the music “progressive garage.” That may be an oxymoron, but to quote (of all people) Billy Joel, “it’s still rock and roll to me.”

Just an idea: This is just a great record I would have loved way back in my youth. And the added beauty is that I only need to buy it once! You see, I bought all those old vinyl albums. Then I bought the first CD release. Of course, I had to purchase the re-master that claimed “to be from the master tapes,” which proved not exactly to be the “master tapes.” So I bought another copy that was actually from “the master tapes.” I don’t even want to talk about the seductive sirens’ song of yet another edition in “a miniature LP cardboard sleeve with bonus tracks!” Yes, this one comes without the baggage. This one is rabula rasa time.

Thankfully, for the listener’s sake, the blank slate is filled quite quickly. This band fires on all cylinders in the opening track, “We Need Love.” I hear The Stooges and The Pink Fairies. Mr. Radue, aka Jazz Guy (and my record buying compeer), says he hears early Rolling Stones and Link Wray. Fair enough. This is just classic hard rock that tosses the needle into the far end of the pulsimeter with heavy engine room stuff and loud insistent guitar work. Al and Robert, both credited with vocals, are commanding singers. This is tough music with nuance. Yes, this is the stuff I loved in 1972, but it is here and now, and very much alive. “Fear” is a microcosmic song for the band. It’s rock music, plain and simple. Then, fifty-five seconds into tune, there’s a sonic interruption, a momentary bit of noise, a great big PTOOFF! (as Mick Farren’s Deviants once said) that produces a pretty great headphone experience. The pace is slowed in order to build tension which suddenly explodes into a heavy melodic guitar solo that catapults the song into a much higher orbit. Enter then, what I believe is a theremin, the cosmic note bending electronic gizmo that Brian Wilson used in “Good Vibrations” and Jimmy Page, I think, used it in Zeppelin’s moody “No Quarter.” This is not “stoner rock.” It’s hard, urgent, and very clever music. Another song, “Hello Mr. Jesus,” just brought to mind one of my all-time favorite unknown bands, Stray. Their album, Saturday Morning Pictures is classic 1972 rock. But there’s no plagiarism. Stray and Exploding Eyes simply mine the same great vein of honest rock music that, for some odd reason, seemed to matter in the early 70’s.

There is more. This album has a lot more. My personal favorite song, “Levitate,” shifts the mood to a Fifties’ slow danced seclusion and has a thick sublime slowly melting guitar solo. It’s another bit of headphone bliss. Yeah, I like that song a lot. “Need Somebody” has a raunchy Iggy vocal and an early Beatles sound with a chorus that builds with escalating tension and then reaches for a Little Richard high note that, in the old days, made girls scream. Two songs, “Play Dead” and “Madman’s Lament” touch folk (hard) rock to quell the proceedings before finishing with the album’s most progressive track, “It’s Alright” which bids farewell with a great guitar riff, vocals that wave goodbye and wish good luck to us all, and a melody that pulses deeply into the heart of the song and then, sadly, into non-existent run-off grooves of the silver disc. So here it is. There’s no re-mastering, no bonus tracks, no 5.1 Digital Surround Sound mix, no scholarly essay discussing its place in the rock pantheon. It’s just a great record, a record I would have loved way back when.




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