Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Inspiration's last LP - 1972's "New Inspiration"

Released in 1971, the cleverly-titled "New Inspiration" marked the band's fifth and final album (I'm still looking for copies of 1968's "Vol 3" and 1970's "Rainbow").   Once again produced by longstanding manager Jack Verdonick, the album was somewhat of an odd effort given it featured a mixture of five previously released tunes ('Rainbow' had  been released as a single and was the title of their fourth album) and seven newer tracks.  In contrast to their earlier pop-oriented catalog, numbers like the instrumental ' Ode To Linda', 'From Chicago To L.A.' and 'Hustler'  found the band going in a heavier rock direction.  Clearly reflecting the influences of keyboardist Marc Maleyster and guitarist Gus Roan (both had been members of Waterloo), you weren't going to mistake these guys for Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, but the revamped, tougher sound wasn't half bad and should have given their Belgian and UK contemporaries a run for the commercial marketplace. Well produced and full of energetic performances, it made for a nice way to end the band's recording career..  

Yeah even though Guido Wolfaert had a heavily accented voice, I've always liked his delivery and it seldom sounded as pretty as on the big, church-flavored  ballad ' Come Let's Sing Us Hallelujah'.  The track sounded a bit too much like a Hollies number for its own good, but it was still hummable and quite commercial and was released as the album's second single.   rating: *** stars
- The title of their previous album, ' Rainbow' sounded a bit like a Shocking Blues number (obvious without Mariska Veres' sexy vocals).  With a slightly acid tinged melody, this one had a distinctive mid-60s flavor.   Quite enjoyable, if the na-na-na chorus quickly wore out its welcome.   rating: *** stars
- Buoyed by some interesting, Focus-styled keyboards, the instrumental ' Intro for Linda' was really good, though far too short.   rating: **** stars
- Also an instrumental, ' Ode To Linda' continued to spotlight keyboards, but this time around the song  exhibited a breezy, almost Santana-styled feel.  Very unexpected and very funky (well at least as funky as a group of Belgians can get).   rating: **** stars
- Penned by manager/producer Jacques Velt, ' Judy Please' was one of the album's most straightforward commercial efforts (perhaps explaining why it was released as a single).  Kicked along by pounding piano and some stinging Eddy Vanderlinden slide guitar, the track had a bouncy, top-40ish feel.  It would have been even better without the acidic female backing vocals.   rating: *** stars
- Well, the female backing singers were back for ' Bottle of Whiskey' but this one had such a strong Western-tinged melody (I'm talking cowboys and Indians Western),  that it didn't matter.  Easily one of the best songs they ever recorded.  It was also released as the album's third single.   rating: **** stars
- Showcasing more of Vanderlinden's excellent slide guitar, 'Song for Everybody' started out sounded like the band was dipping their collective toes in hard rock, but then morphed into a socially conscious slice of pop (and yes the shrill female backing singers had an even bigger role this one, repeating the title what sounded like hundreds of times).    rating: ** stars
-The epic instrumental  'Intro from Chicago' found the band trying on a harder blues-rock vibe that sounded a bit like Focus on a good day.  Nice, but way too brief.    rating: *** stars
- Even better, 'From Chicago To L.A. 'sounded like something that Crosby and Nash might have recorded in the early-'70s (the chorus would have sounded perfect on one the Crosby & Nash LPs).  Full of  fuzz guitar and frenetic drums, the song may have had some bizarre lyrics (blame it on the English translation), but this one was a keeper and deserves to go on some sort of hard rock compilation album.   rating: **** stars
- Sporting what was probably the album's best melody, the organ and guitar-powered 'When You're Gone' could have been mistaken for a really good Spooky Tooth track.  Complete with glorious harmony vocals, it's one of my all-time favorite New Inspiration performances.   rating: ***** stars
- Guitarist Vanderlinden's only contribution to the album was also one of the standout  performances.  Kicked along by some barrelhouse piano, a galloping blues-rock melody, and one of the 'dirtiest' guitar solos you've ever heard, this was great stuff.    rating: **** stars
- 'Die In Ordinary Way' (I think it was actually entitled 'Die In An Ordinary Way'), continued the Spooky Tooth styled blues-rock formula with even better results.  Quality driving '70s blues-rock that would have made far better known bands envious of Gus Roan's songwriting skills.    rating: **** stars   

As mentioned, the album was tapped for a number of singles: 

- 1971's 'Song for Everybody' b/w 'Do You Know What I Mean' (Decca catalog number 105 26.305)
- 1971's 'Judy Please' b/w 'Lonesome Me' (Decca catalog number 105 26.275)
- 1972's 'Come Let's Sing Hallelujah' b/w 'From Chicago To L.A.' (Pink Elephant catalog number PE 22.621)
- 1972's 'Bottle of Whiskey' b/w 'Something's Burning' (Pink Elephant catalog number PE 22)

The best of the three New Inspiration albums I've heard and would have been even stronger had they cut back on the female backing singers.    

"New Inspiration" track listing:

(side 1)
1.) Come Let's Sing Us Hallelujah   (Jacques Velt - Gus Roan - Guido Wolfaert) - 
2.) Rainbow   (Jacques Velt)
3.) Intro for Linda (instrumental)  (Marc Maleyster)
4.) Ode To Linda (instrumental)  (Marc Maleyster)
5.) Judy Please   (Jacques Velt)
6.) Bottle of Whiskey    (Jacques Velt - Gus Roan - Guido Wolfaert) - 

(side 2)
1.) Song for Everybody   (Gus Roan - Jacques Velt) - 
2.) Intro from Chicago (instrumental)  (Marc Maleyster)
3.) From Chicago To L.A.   (Jacques Velt - Gun Roan) -
4.) When You're Gone   (Gus Roan) -
5.) Hustler   (Eddy Vanderlinden)
6.) Die In Ordinary Way   (Gus Roan) -

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