Artist:  Bedlam
   Title: Bedlam In Command 1973
   Label: Angel Air

Just in case no-one has heard of Bedlam, the band consisted of Cozy Powell, Dave Ball (ex-Procol Harum), brother Denny Ball, and Frank Aiello (ex-Truth). 

Touted as the ultimate rock band by some, they formed in 1973, but their star shone a mere 12 months, breaking up not long after Cozy Powell had a solo hit with 'Dance With The Devil'.  Strangely this features as a bonus track on the album as a band effort.

'Bedlam In Command 1973' was recorded live at the Command Studios, London on 22nd October, and shows why there were high hopes for the band.  There's no beating round the bush as the album kicks off, its a case of "hello and here we go" with 'I Believe In You', a no-nonsense rocker, full of screeching solos that were a must for rock bands back then.  You can tell why Black Sabbath has them on their US tour, the fans would have loved them, though how well the funky rock intro to 'Hot Lips' would have gone down is another thing!

It does "get down n' heavy" for most parts, the "jam" session midway probably more to their taste, but that 70's porn "boom chick-a-wow-wow" riff returns at the end courtesy of Dave Bell.

Hot on its heels is 'Putting On The Flesh', the staggered drumbeat and heavy bass collusion becoming a battle of wills to see who comes out top, Aiello growling out his lyrics about it all.

Powell shows his true genius on the skins with mesmerizing intro to 'Seven Long Years', the audience silent until another funky-blues riff breaks the spell that's been put on those witnessing what's going on before them.

As if to say "you lot, what about me?", Aiello comes up with a tongue in cheek solo spot on 'Mother-In-Law', cockneyed to the hilt in his cheeky chappy way, stating his "love" for most married men's nightmare!  A brave moment during the show considering its a rock show, but most seemed to let it go by as a harmless bit of fun. 

It is a rock show though, so that's exactly what you get, 'Sarah' so full of venomous solos and another huge drum-roll, you think is never going to end!  It's not all about Powell here though, 'The Fool' shows the all round panache of this band, turning the old country and Western tune into their own monster of huge hooks, riffs drums, you name it, they do it their way.  A great boogie-woogie-rock manifestation for all to be blown away by, and after 11 minutes of raw energy the crowd showed how much they enjoyed it.

'The Beast' really is a beat of a song, full of immense blues guitar and walking bass lines that would've put the likes of Cream to shame if they has lasted past 1968.  Talking of said band, the final song of the set, 'Set Me Free' could easily be mistaken for them if you didn't know better, Denny Ball's bass flirts with the workings of 'Sunshine Of Your Love' even though the tempo of this song is a bit more lively.

Mentioned earlier was the fact that 'Dance With The Devil' appears as a bonus track here, recorded on 4th February 29174 for the USA TV show Midnight Special.  Quite why is a bit of a mystery to me, as the song wasn't really anything to do with Bedlam except it was their drummer's solo hit single, yet the band went along with it here.

The recording isn't exactly top quality, fuzzy and sub-standard at best, but it still allows you to hear the sheer magic that the late, great Powell conjured up on his drum-kit.

Just as an added thoughtful bonus, intentional as such or not, the CD cover booklet has an interesting section of a diary taken from October 1973, explaining the exploits of the band during that month.

Interesting reading and just a bit different from what you'd usually get if you're lucky these days!  Nice one to go with a good album.

Review by: Bob Baldwin

Tracklisting:

1. I Believe In You
2. Hot Lips
3. Putting On The Flesh
4. Sarah
5. Seven Long Years
6. Mother In Law
7. The Fool
8. The Beast
9. Set Me Free
10. Dance With The Devil (bonus track)

                   

 

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