Medicine Head CD: "Live At The Marquee 1975"

Sleeve and track listing

Angel Air SJPCD091. (3.5 stars!)

  1. How Does It Feel
  2. Pictures In The Sky
  3. Two Men Now
  4. Home's Odyssey
  5. Mornin' Light
  6. Oh My Heart To Peace
  7. His Guiding Hand
  8. Walking Blues
  9. To Train Time/Rave On
  10. Blue Suede Shoes
  11. Five Long Years
  12. You Got Me Rockin' And Rollin'/Jenny Jenny
  13. One And One Is One
  14. Pictures In The Sky (demo)

Review

Medicine Head are best remembered as a two-piece from the first half of the 70's. Never minds that at stages in their career they played as a three-piece or even a five piece, John Fiddler and Peter Hope-Evans were the definitive line-up of Medicine Head.

Now, playing as a two-piece may be taking minimalism to an extreme (I've heard of a power trio, but a power duo?) but boy, could they make a noise. This CD captures them at their live, thunderous best and was recorded in the latter part of their career.

Make no mistake, this is no one-dimensional performance, with John playing guitar, drums and handling vocal duties while Peter accompanies him with harmonica, jews' harp and claves, at times you need to pinch yourself to remember this is just two guys, not a five-piece band.

The delivery is paced just right, too, with heavy, fast, crunching numbers mixed in with the slower ones. Like set opener How Does It Feel and Pictures In The Sky getting everyone present nicely warmed up. Two Men Now slows things down nicely (Peter's jews harp is clearly audible) before picking up again for Home's Odyssey.

The pace slows again for Mornin' Light (Peter this time on harmonica) and the mood is maintained for Oh My Heart To Peace and the gentle, lilting His Guiding Hand. The pace quickens dramatically for Walkin' Blues which is delivered at a frantic pace - very much in the Rory Gallagher/Taste mould I thought.

The pace is maintained for a lengthy (13 minutes plus) To Train Time/Rave On, you can hear (feel, even) the audience leaping up and down enjoying every minute of this. How can two guys rock out like this? I guess you just had to be there...

The pace is maintained for the encore tracks. Blue Suede Shoes is delivered with power and menace while You Got Me Rockin'... is delivered at a frantic pace before a similarly frantic One And One Is One.

A demo of Pictures In The Sky rounds the CD off nicely, but its the live material you'll be buying it for. A 12-page booklet (written by MTHAS' Keith Smith) summarises Medicine Head's career, complete with discography and rare photos.

Medicine Head was a band that was championed by DJ John Peel (they were even signed to his Dandelion label for a while) and which, despite finding some fame in 73/74 with hit singles he never tired of. One of the reasons is they never lost touch with what they were really about. All the evidence is here on this disc. I like live albums anyhow, and I think you'll like this one too.

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Copyright © 2001-2017 Adrian Perkins