[Review] Peter Bardens: The Answer (1970)

Psychedelic blues-rock from the former Thember and future Camel driver.

Kronomyth 1.0: It’s not easy being Green.

Peter Green. There, that wasn’t so hard. For some reason (probably the usual contractual stuff), Green’s name doesn’t appear on Peter Bardens’ first album despite the fact that his fingers are all over it. In fact, I’d tell you that Green’s guitar playing is the best thing about this album, which is otherwise pretty run-of-the-mill as psychedelic blues-rock albums go.

Now, a run-of-the-mill psychedelic blues-rock album is an obvious oxymoron. The music is meant to be a shock to the senses, a drug-induced mixture of the blues and a rainbow. If you’re a connoisseur of psychedelic blues-rock, The Answer may be right up your alley. If you’re here chasing the steeples of sound associated with Camel’s classic albums, however, you’ve come to the wrong place. There’s a whiff of the stuff on the opening track, The Answer, and Camel did revisit Homage to the God of Light in their early days. The rest of the record relies mostly on basic blues-rock riffs with Green’s guitar solos liberally sprinkled on top. The island pop of I Don’t Want to Go Home is a pleasant exception.

At the time of this recording, Bardens was probably best known as the original organ player for Them. He was active in the English music scene (The Cheyne, Village, Peter B’s Looners), and those associations (Green, Bruce Thomas) paid off when it came time to record his own album. Also featured here are guitarist Andy Gee (Bardens wisely separates Green and Gee in the left and right channels, respectively, so you can better enjoy their individual contributions), drummer Reg Isidore and several vocalists including Steve Ellis and Linda Lewis. As backing bands go, you could file them somewhere between Graham Bond and Ginger Baker’s Airforce.

Personally, I found The Answer to be an interesting diversion. It’s an entertaining slice from an adventurous epoch when sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll formed a holy trinity of earthly pleasure. None of it is to be taken too seriously, of course, and the real answers to life lie elsewhere, but I’m thankful that Bardens threw his floppy hat into the ring and tried to make a far-out record on his own.

Original elpee version

A1. The Answer (5:15)
A2. Don’t Goof with a Spook (7:23)
A3. I Can’t Remember (10:42)
B1. I Don’t Want to Go Home (5:15)
B2. Let’s Get It On (6:39)
B3. Homage to the God of Light (13:33)

All songs written by Peter Bardens.

Expanded CD bonus tracks
7. Write My Name in the Dust
8. Man in the Moon
9. Long Time Coming

The Players

Peter Bardens (organ, piano, vocals), Steve Ellis (vocals), Andy Gee (guitar), Peter Green (guitar), Reg Isadore (drums), Linda Lewis (vocals), Alan Marshall (vocals & percussion), Rocky (congas), Bruce Thomas (bass), David Wooley (vocals & antiques). Produced by Peter Bardens; engineered by Gerry Boys; production coordinated by John Whitehead.

The Pictures

Photography by Keith Morris. Sleeve design by Rainbow. Birds by Annie Walker.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in September 1970 in the UK (Transatlantic, TRA 222) and the US (Verve Forecast, FTS-3038). US elpee version has a different cover.

  1. Re-released on expanded remastered compact disc in 2010 in the UK (Esoteric) with 3 bonus tracks.

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