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New River Head [Slipcase]
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Performer Notes
  • The Bevis Frond: Nick Saloman (vocals, guitar, electric piano, organ, bass).
  • Additional personnel: Adrian Shaw (bass); David Tibet.
  • Personnel: David Tibet (chant); Bari Watts (guitar); Cyke Bancroft (harp, saxophone); Barry Dransfield (violin); Martin Crowley (drums).
  • Recording information: Gold Dust, Bromley (1991).
  • Though Nick Saloman can never be said to necessarily, or at least obviously, progress from release to release, he does have a knack for ensuring that each Bevis Frond album has something interesting. It's when he puts everything together to create a consistently strong record that notice is due, and Frond's 1991 effort stands out in that regard. His slightly mournful, weary vocals remain unchanged, as does the general feeling of pop/psych-rock with jamming tendencies. The core duo of Martin Crowley on drums and Saloman on everything else also continues, supplemented by a variety of guest performers. There's just that little something more here, though, that marks New River Head as a good starting point for anyone interesting in discovering more about the Frond. The first couple of songs are mostly Saloman-by-the-numbers, but then he hits a great winning streak, starting with "Waving," a gentle folk ballad which adds a violin for an effect that's just melancholy enough and results in an honestly heart-catching little track. Following that is the title song, a strong feedback crunch that welds Saloman's ear for a good hook with his considerable playing abilities well. The disc continues in the same, fine general vein from that point on, ranging from the Byrds-inflected guitar chime of "He'd Be a Diamond" to the soft, then shroomy, head-nodding "Stain on the Sun." The standout is "The Miskatonic Variations II," a nearly 17-minute ambient-to-full-blown-noise jam recorded with a guest bassist, guitarist, and sax player, not to mention Current 93's lead figure, David Tibet, adding some chants on top of it all. Throw in a variety of other niceties here and there, like the brief garage-rock blasts "Undertaker" and "Chinese Burn," and New River Head winds up being a slice of Frond at his high-powered best. ~ Ned Raggett
Professional Reviews
Option (1-2/92) - Recommended - "...Saloman pens lyrically crisp songs and plays spacey guitar solos that go on and on, reminiscent at various times of Jimi Hendrix, Syd Barrett, and other psychedelic pyrotechnicians....none of the 14 songs here are throwaways."

Mojo (Publisher) (12/03, p.132) - 4 stars out of 5 - "Saloman's skills both as virtuoso guitarist and a songwriter in the great English tradition of Lennon & McCartney, Ray Davies and Syd Barrett are abundantly apparent here."
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