EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND
The Edgar Broughton Band emerged out of the Blues based Underground Progressive Rock tradition in the late sixties and has been active virtually without break since 1968. Their first five albums are widely considered as seminal:
Wasa Wasa (1969)
Sing Brother Sing (1970)
Edgar Broughton Band (1971)
Inside Out (1972)
The original line-up had the creative driving force Edgar Broughton as lead singer and guitarist. Brother Steve Broughton played the drums and Arthur Grant was on the bass. Victor Unitt was part of the original line-up but left before the recording of the first two albums as the band moved away from Blues to Hard Rock. While The Edgar Broughton Band gained fame as one of the leading power trios of its day, Unitt did in fact return for the next two outings.
The band initially gained fame as perhaps the greatest live act of the era that saw them in their pomp, the late sixties and early to mid seventies. The band’s members moved from their native Warwick to Notting Hill in west London in 1969 and their peers tell two stories from those days with great affection. The Broughtons’ mother was the most famous van-driver of the era and the band continued the motoring theme by staging impromptu life gigs from the back of a flat-bed truck once notoriously stopping the traffic in Piccadilly.
A prodigiously talented band generally, and lead singer and guitarist Edgar Broughton himself in particular, it is something of a mystery why this relatively successful in their day Proto-Punk band are not more famous now. The two generally cited reasons are that the band was so talented in every department, and able to turn its hand to so many different styles, occasionally even during the same track, that it failed to mine an obvious niche. A second argument often proposed and one which has great merit is that The Edgar Broughton Band had such political integrity that the disillusion following the summer of love and the 1968 protests caused the group to implode, and perhaps more significantly rendered this anti-establishment hard-left socialist band without the commercial tools or desire to exploit their solid intelligent and informed fan base.
Musically there is little The Edgar Broughton Band recorded that fell short of first class. The first two albums “Wasa Wasa” and “Sing Brother Sing” are a splendid mix of timeless classics and excellent period pieces. On the third album the eponymous “The Edgar Broughton Band” known for reasons obvious to anyone who’s seen its cover as “The Meat Album” the band developed as close as they were ever to come to a homogenous commercially acceptable sound. Often listed as a fan and critic’s favourite, “The Edgar Broughton Band” shows off the band’s musicianship, with Edgar Broughton himself claiming that Dave Bedford’s arrangement on “Evening Over Rooftops” the most beautiful string accompaniment he’s ever heard.
“Inside Out” sees the band returning to cussed revolutionary intensity turning away from the materialist commercial temptations hinted at by its predecessor. Listed in my top twenty greatest albums of all time, “Inside Out” is as relevant now as it was in the early seventies. “Homes Fit For Heroes” has a particular resonance as we watch the returning heroes from Afghanistan, maimed, dead, and alive. John Lennon and David Bowie were just two of the band’s great admirers, and “Inside Out” has a freshness and a poignancy that few protest albums can claim as they enter their fifth decade.
Critically comparable to its two predecessors “Oora” suffers from having to follow the truly iconic “Inside Out” and tends to get overlooked. It does however contain my favourite EBB track of all, and one that will accompany me to my desert island should I ever be asked, “Green Lights”.
I challenge you to listen to “The Edgar Broughton Band” and “Inside Out” three times each and then argue you’re not in the presence of true genius.
Edgar Broughton himself has continued with his socialist worker ethos by promoting his recent music with his fair day’s pay gigs at parties and in his fans’ homes. Have a look at the website www.edgarbroughton.com
© JD Shanks August 2011
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