Sunday, 31 May 2015

Spooky Tooth - Ceremony (1969)

This is often one of the most maligned album in the Spooky Tooth discography, probably because the combination of avant garde composer Pierre Henry with Spooky Tooth is regarded as a mismatch, much like Lou Red and Metallica decades later and the maligned Lulu in 2011. One listen to Ceremony and you get the impression that a.) Neither Pierre Henry nor Spooky Tooth listened to each others work, and so it sounds as if Pierre Henry did his thing, then Spooky Tooth their thing, and then have them combined, and voila! or b.) you get the impression that neither Pierre Henry had an understanding of rock music nor Spooky Tooth had an understanding of avant garde. So I can understand why people might run at the thought of this album, even I admit that some of Pierre Henry's part threatens to drown out Spooky Tooth's music. Thanks to the Electric Prunes releasing Mass in F Minor, I imagined this was the reason for Spooky Tooth to do their own rock Mass, but unlike the Prunes, they didn't use Gregorian chanting in a rock context. Now let me tell you that Spooky Tooth's end of things is nothing short of amazing. They really rock like there's no tomorrow. I can't believe this is that same Gary Wright later of Dream Weaver fame, because he really rips it on organ here! The problem comes with Pierre Henry. It's like he never even heard what the band put down before he did his part, as mentioned earlier, so it sounds like a bunch of random sounds that rarely seem to go appropriately with the music. One could say it sounds like a bad Krautrock album, because the best Krautrock out there the musicians involved had a full understanding of both rock and avant garde (in fact several Can members were Stockhausen disciples) and took that knowledge to their full advantage. There's a couple parts of this album that annoys me, particularly "Jubilation". Although the band puts on some killer bluesy guitar riffs on that song, you keep hearing this "bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi bi" voices that NEVER stops. Despite the obvious flaws, there are some really brilliant and amazing moments put by the band, and if they did this by themselves without Pierre Henry, this could probably felt as one of Spooky Tooth's defining moments. Yet I still want to give it a four star rating (it would be five if Pierre Henry took his approach better) because I was blown away by what the band were doing.

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Have Mercy (7:52)
2. Jubilation (8:27)
3. Confession (6:56)
4. Prayer (10:52)
5. Offering (3:22)
6. Hosanna (7:37) 

Line-up / Musicians
- Pierre Henry / synthesizer, electronics
- Gary Wright / vocals, organ, keyboards
- Luther Grosvenor / guitars
- Mike Harrison / vocals, keyboards
- Andy Leigh / bass, guitar
- Mike Kellie / drums and percussion

Total time 45:06

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