collusion Collusion (CD, £7.75)label: Audio Archives
A fiery cover of an attractive maiden emptying out a cornucopia announces the arrival of yet another CD of obscure music from the irrepressible and much-respected Audio Archives. This time it is the talented Collusion from 1971, an interesting six-piece band that inhabited the milder end of the rock spectrum and was not afraid to pull out of its hat the occasional unexpected influence. As usual the sleeve notes are informative and interesting, and capture well the scene at that time. Even better, the sound quality is good. But what of the band? What is noteworthy is that Collusion operated as a finely blended team, with no obvious lead or ego-bias. This is apparent with the two competent guitarists who were as much at home sparring as they were complimenting each other, yet remain as part of the sonic mesh, like vines developing around a trellis. Meanwhile the bass provides a solid enough foundation along with drumming that is both fluid and supportive. And then there are the vocals, one male, one female, sometimes harmonizing, sometimes in opposition if the lyrics and mood demand polarity. The opening track with the fine title of 'I've Got That Cold Porridge Feeling' holds subtle complexities that demand one's attention; add harmonies and interweaving guitars combining both calm and liveliness and you have a neat package lasting just over three minutes. Track two struck me as a pleasant enough song to listen to while considering the usefulness of expiration - blame the title, although the lyricist explains his songs in the sleeve notes. Fortunately a provocative tambourine ensures one is not likely to succumb passively to negative thoughts, while more cheerfully there is a solid bass/drums foundation and some interesting guitar work. Sandy Baker comes more to the fore on the third track with a nicely toned voice juxtapositioned with good guitar work that moves quietly below the surface. A more ambitious offering arrives in the form of 'The Way It Used To Be', which seems to be trying to attain something akin to a symphonic-like sound combined with an energetic mid-tempo rock vibe. It is a song of stages. Following this is a track featuring good harmonies within which one can detect the individual tones without it detracting from the blended quality of the two singers. This leads into a guitar stream that is characteristically busy and again shows the talent that existed in this band. Sandy returns again to the fore on the penultimate track, singing with Tony Davison, giving way to some nifty guitar work, then re-establishing the harmonies. The final track kicks out a bit of tasty rock rhythm vying with soft vocals and a lighter touch, and features a lengthy guitar workout with the rock element finally breaking out and leaping across the decades. It confirms a nagging thought: if Collusion wanted to be a full-blown rock band with an emphasis on quality playing and dynamics, they could have been, easily. Instead they chose a softer path, with dashes of folk-rock, prog-rock guitar, maybe even a jazz thing creeping in under the radar. Had Fate smiled differently on the band back in the early seventies, they might well have achieved far greater things. As it is we should be grateful to the man behind Audio Archives for preserving this unique sound and giving us the opportunity to listen to it.
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