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Nucleus with Leon Thomas - Live 1970

(180g Vinyl 2LP)

23Reward Points
Availability: Out Of Stock
Item: LDN17284

This immaculate double album of Nucleus' June 1970 Montreux Jazz Festival appearance with vocalist Leon Thomas is like being served a lost slice of British jazz history. To place this recording in historical context, Nucleus' debut album Elastic Rock was recorded in January 1970 for the Vertigo label and released in spring of that year at a time when the jazz-rock amalgam was new and fresh. Nucleus was chosen to represent the UK in a competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival to find the most promising new band and despite stiff competition from Wolfgang Dauner and Eberhard Weber, won the competition. Later that same evening they played a set with vocalist Leon Thomas, with whom they had shared the stage at Ronnie Scotts' for the previous two weeks. Thus this is the original Nucleus caught live at a major gig in Europe midway between Elastic Rock and their second album, We'll Talk About It Later, recorded in September 1970.

With what many critics believe was the finest version of the band, Nucleus cede much of the group identity established on Elastic Rock with pieces such as "1916," "Crude Blues (Part 1 & 2)" and "Persephones Jive" to a set of Thomas originals where they effectively act as a backing band, often a mixing of freely improvised passages with loose jamming, such as the classic "The Creator Has A Master Plan" (originally recorded in 1969 by Thomas with Pharoah Saunders). Thomas' vocalizing is something of an acquired taste, since it involves a singing style associated with Joe Williams mixed with somewhat disconcerting passages of yodel. Whatever you think of Thomas, the band, despite their backing role, is the real star here exposing the depth of talent Ian Carr had assembled in solo rather than in the loose ensemble passages. Carr is especially energized, whether in obligato behind Thomas' vocals (especially "The Creator") or in extended solos – his harmon muted solo on "The Creator" firmly places his imprimatur on the proceedings as he emerges as the band's catalyst.

A piece such as "Damn ‘Nam (Ain't Going To Viet Nam)" has lyrics very much of its time, thus Thomas' vocal becomes a voice raised in protest at injustice. An orthodox 12 bar blues, it turns out to be a fine showcase for Chris Spedding, an important voice in Nucleus. "One" will not go down as a great composition, nor Thomas' vocal a highlight of jazz singing with its occasional intonational lapses, but Carr and Carl Jenkins on oboe temporarily rescue the tune from oblivion. "Chains of Love" is another 12-bar blues jam, with Spedding shining with a powerful solo, Thomas mercifully laying off the yodeling to put in a sound performance in Joe Williams mould. Here, then, is a valuable historical documentation of a band whose significance in British jazz is yet to be fully appreciated. As Thomas says when introducing the band before the final piece "The Journey," Nucleus were to shortly appear at the Newport Jazz festival where few Brit bands had appeared before them and where they attracted considerable attention with their suave jazz-rock mix, with musicians, critics and audience alike asking 'What do you call this music? They were truly ahead of the game.

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1. The Creator Has A Master Plan
2. Echoes
3. Damn Nam (Ain't Going To Viet Nam)
4. One
5. Chains Of Love
6. The Journey

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