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Climax Blues Band - A Lot of Bottle

Climax Blues Band - A Lot of Bottle

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Genre: blues-rock
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Title:  A Lot of Bottle
Company: Sire
Catalog: SASD-7518
Year: 1970
Country/State: Stafford, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: small cut out notch along bottom edge (1976 reissue)
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6071
Price: $9.00

Produced by Chris Thomas, 1970's "A Lot of Bottle" wasn't a major change in direction from The Climax Blues Band's earlier releases. Seemingly like every other early-1970s English band, these guys appeared determined to underscore their credentials as authentic blues-rockers. That said, the thing that's always intrigued me about this outfit is their occasional willingness to embrace more conventional and rock conventions (check out the screaming rocker 'Reap What I've Sown' with one of the funniest lyrics I've ever heard - "drinking in bar my friends all around ; it's the smell of my money the way they found me"). Yeah, competitors like Fleetwood Mac, Keef Hartley, John Mayall, Savoy Brown, etc. also occasionally went commercial, but that tended to be later in their recording careers, Elsewhere keyboardist Anton 'Humpty' Farmer was brought in to supplement Arthur Wood, but at least to my ears, with the exception of some barrelhouse piano on 'Long Lovin' Man' and some Hammond on the closer 'Cut You Loose' most of his contributions were simply lost in the mix. The 1976 Sire reissue featured a slightly different track listing - adding 'Like Uncle Charlie' which which had been an earlier, non-LP UK single: 

- 1969's 'Like Uncle Charlie' b/w 'Loving Machine' (Parlophone catalog number R 5809)

- I'm guessing it was meant to underscore their credentials as an authentic blues band, but to my ears the opening instrumental '' was one of the album's dullest performances. Yeah, technically you couldn't criticize Pete Haycock's acoustic slide guitar, but that still didn't make it very exciting ... rating: ** stars
- 'Everyday' found the band continuing in the blues-rock vein, though this time out they cranked up the amplified and slapped Cooper's bone dry vocals on top of the track. Curiously, the song faded out just as it was beginning to generate some traction and energy. rating: ** stars
- As mentioned above, Climax was occasionally willing to sell out in favor of recording a more conventional number. The pounding, fuzz guitar drenched 'Reap What I've Sown' was that number this time around ... great track and should have provided the band with some commercial exposure. rating: **** stars
- The instrumental 'Brief Case' was one of the collection's puzzles. Built on a tasty hook, it served as a showcase for Haycock's richly textured guitar and Cooper's sax (he's one of the few sax players that doesn't bug me). While I've always liked the track, it certainly sounded lost on this collection - way to adult contemporary for 1970. rating: *** stars
- The instrumental medley 'Alright Blue / Country Hat' found them returning to straight forward country-blues. Cooper's harmonica served as the focal point for the first half of the track. Again, technically quite impressive though not particularly exciting. rating: ** stars
- Another nod to a more accessible sound, 'Morning Noon and Night' had a nifty blues-rock foundation, with horns, and some tasty Haycock lead guitar. Unfortunately, the 'group' sung vocals were pedestrian. Curiously this one also faded out just as it started gaining some steam. rating: *** stars
- 'Long Lovin' Man' was a standard boogie rocker showcasing Farmer's barrelhouse piano. Great beer drinking song with absolutely nothing original going for it. rating: ** stars
- Their cover of Willie Dixon's classic 'Seventh So' started out as a plodding number, but about midway through exploded into a platform for what was an extended Haycock solo. The solo was certainly impressive, but simply came too late to salvage the track. rating: ** stars  
- Yeah it had a blues base, but 'Please Don't Help Me' found the band turning surprisingly funky. rating: *** stars
- Probably the stand out performance on the album, 'Like Uncle Charlie' was easily the most commercial performance. Yeah, the abrupt tempo change was kind of jarring, but the ballad segment of the song was among the prettiest things they've ever recorded and Haycock turned in a stunning solo. rating: **** stars
- Kicked along by Derek Holt's thundering bass and with plenty of Cooper harmonica, 'Louisiana Blues' returned to conventional country-blues terrain. The highlight on this one came in the form of some stunning Haycock acoustic slide guitar. rating: *** stars
- 'Cut You Loose' was another blues-rocker built on a nice Haycock chiming guitar pattern. The song was structured to give each a couple of players a solo shot. Farmer turning in some eat quasi-jazzy Hammond B3 (?) and Cooper showed off his prowess on sax (his performance sound amazing with a pair of quality headphones). rating: *** stars  

When originally released in 1969 the English single was:

- 1969's 'Reap What I've Sown' b/w 'Spoonful' (Harvest catalog number ???)

I've never seen a stock copy, only promo versions, but when reissued by Sire in 1976 the single was:

- 1976's 'Reap What I've Sown' b/w 'Reap What I've Sown' (Sire catalog number SI 351)

Not my favorite Climax Blues LP by a long shot, but still worth tracking down since you can still find it on the cheap.

"A Lot of Bottle" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Country Hat (instrumental) (Climax Blues Band)- 1:56
2.) Everyday (Climax Blues Band) - 2:21
3.) Reap What I've Sown (Climax Blues Band) - 4:30
4.) Brief Case (instrumental) (Climax Blues Band) - 3:57
5.) Alright Blue / Country Hat (instrumental) (Climax Blues Band) - 4:05
6.) Morning Noon and Night (Climax Blues Band) - 2:33
7.) Long Lovin' Man (Climax Blues Band) - 3:34

(side 2)
1.) Seventh Son (Willie Dixon) - 6:41
2.) Please Don't Help Me (Climax Blues Band) - 2:56
3.) Like Uncle Charlie (Climax Blues Band) - 4:05
4.) Louisiana Blues (Morganfield) - 5:11
5.) Cut You Loose (Climax Blues Band) - 5:09
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