Gothic Chicken - Lift the Cobweb Veil - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Gothic Chicken - Lift the Cobweb Veil

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2016-01-25

Dorset’s darlings have been yucking it up for nearly two decades, usually in local pubs playing obscure psych covers from the 60s – sort of like a living, breathing Nuggets jukebox. Along the way, they managed to release a brilliant pop-psych masterpiece under the rather forgettable moniker Cheese, with an even more indelicate title (Enlarge Your Johnson). So you know they’ve brought f-u-n back to rock 'n' roll.

But then life got in the way and singer-songwriter Marco Rossi started contributing to music journals like Shindig! and Record Collector, and the rest of the band (formerly recording and releasing numerous progy pop albums as Lucky Bishops) moved on to other projects: bassist Alan Strawbridge recorded several album with his new project Schnauser, keyboardist Tom Hughes played a few Nektar reunion gigs and released an album of lovely eclectic psych tunes as Mr. Thomas Hughes, and performed with the surreal, multi-media concoction, Triops. Drummer Luke Adams took the easy way out and sired a brood of future musicians!

During the last decade or so, they occasionally crawled into a recording studio to lay down tracks which were polished off and cobbled together into their debut album, presented here for your delectable imbibing pleasure. To prove they haven’t lost their sense of humour, they start the whole thing off by combining strings, crashing waves, banjos (!) and barrelhouse piano into something that sounds like it was scraped off John Williams’ floor during his recent Star Wars sessions, a cunning little stunt called, what else, ‘Overture?’ [The punctuation is theirs!] ‘Overthrow’ is quite like the progged-up psych pop that we loved so much on those Lucky Bishops’ albums like Unexpect the Expected and Grimstone with maybe a tad Anton Barbeau and Soft-Hearted Scientists tossed in to lighten up the proceedings.

Rossi’s lyrics are still as insightful, acerbic, and self-defecating, er, deprecating as ever, and the ex-Bishops harmonise throughout in lovely Beach Boys fashion. The in joke on ‘Take a Little Time to Give Your Drake a Treat’ is lost on this trans-Atlantic reviewer (is it about a male duck or a Canadian rapper or is he saying they're the same?!?), but it’s psychedelic and batshit crazy as hell, with Hughes’ cheesy (sorry!) keyboards swirling up a tornado of trippy effects. And while it may take you longer to read the title to the 14-second ‘The Sooner We Start, The Sooner We Leave’, I’d love to hear the sublime little flute solo/snippet expanded into a full song. But it’s a nice way to close Side 1.

The merrily-we-hum-along childlike quality of the day-in-the-park-on-a-merry-go-round charmer ‘Like a Fool’ features more winning keyboard flourishes from Mr. Thomas Hughes, ‘Priest Hole’ is just freaky/creepy in every way imaginable (and a few unimaginable – I swore he was singing ‘Greased Hole’) – think of it as their Zappa/Mothers tribute. But they wrap up nicely letting their prog flag fly on the multi-faceted, suite-like closers, ‘Westward Ho?’ and ‘It’s All Up to You, Saint Jude’.

All told, not bad at all for a bunch of lads who only started this for a larf after more than a few lagers. And I’d love them to share their mix tapes with me, too!

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