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Review: The Bevis Frond - Bevis Through the Looking Glass

Artist: The Bevis Frond
Title: Bevis Through the Looking Glass
Format: Double LP
Label: Reckless Records
Catalogue Number: Reck D9
Year of Release: 1987

Bevis_through_the_looking_glass_sle Bevis_through_the_looking_glass_s_2 Bevis_through_the_looking_glass_lab
Bevis_through_the_looking_glass_ins Bevis_through_the_looking_glass_i_2

Tracklisting
A1 1970 Home Improvements (14:20)
A2 Now You Know (3:14)
B1 The Shrine (19:41)
C1 Rat in a Waistcoat (5:24)
C2 In Another Year (2:41)
C3 Express Man (2:15)
C4 Mudman (5:23)
C5 Song for the Sky (3:35)
D1 Purtle Sline (8:20)
D2 I Can't Get into Your Scene (3:20)
D3 Soot (3:45)
D4 Die Is Cast (3:05)
D5 Alistair Jones (3:10)

There's an interesting insert with this album, pictured above, in which Bevis goes through his reasons for reissuing this record, as he originally promised to press only 500, which sold out pretty damn quick. In it he has a go at record companies who reissue stuff with one or two bonus tracks on, and bootleggers, and record dealers who sell bootlegs. I concur with all sentiments expressed.

However, I'm not a big fan of this album. The first two sides are mostly taken up with massively self-indulgent prog-style tunes. 1970s Home Improvements has a diverting mid-section and odd bar-room piano ending, and The Shrine has some silly spoken word passages, but they're mainly just Bevis laying down some slow basslines and drums so he can play long guitar solos.

Sides 3 and 4 are more song-based, but you can't help thinking the material was left off the first couple of albums for good reason. There are some highlights. I enjoyed the wistfulness of In Another Year. Soot wasn't in 4/4, which was nice, as was the organ opening. The coda to Mudman was better than the rest of it. And the final track, recorded when Bevis was 14 and given to him by his mum, is a passable Syd Barrett impression. The rest of it is a mess of badly recorded drums, overdriven guitars, and bad rhyming.

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