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 Post subject: Jericho - s/t (1972)
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:02 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:42 pm
Posts: 192
Location: North London, UK (was NZ till 2009)
Tel Aviv's The Churchills were one of Israel's first notable rock bands. They made a well-respected garage psych album in 1968, by which time they had picked up the English guitarist Robb Huxley (Ex-The Tornados) and also made a name for themselves in pop by working as the backing band for Arik Einstein, a big star at the time. They were good enough to attract the attention of A&M's UK office, who financed two further albums that were both to be recorded in London. On management suggestion they changed their name for the UK, to "Jericho Jones", and made a competent album with a few great tracks, called "Junkies Monkeys & Donkeys". For the second record, which we talk about here, the band fully relocated to London and became just "Jericho". A&M must have been reasonably serious about them at one point as they played at Reading festival in 1972. Not only is the self-titled "Jericho" the heaviest album ever to come from an Israeli band in the '70s, it's one of the essential proto-metal grails from anywhere! It combines the best psychedelic, prog, and hard rock elements of the times, and adds a twist of middle-eastern promise for a truly unique record.

Opening the album with an absolute barn-stormer, "Ethiopia" (named after the source of some great African weed that the band were enjoying when they wrote it) is up there with the urgent best of Deep Purple, à la "Speed King". Over anything else, this is what's going to instantly ingratiate the album with any early-metal lovers listening to it for the first time. Danny Shoshan's growling vocals set the mean intent, and the accumulating layers of heavy prog riffs are totally unrelenting. It doesn't get any better than this!

Without trying to top that amazing opener's heaviosity, which would frankly be impossible, the band make the wise decision to slip into a different groove with bassist Miki Gabriellov's composition "Don't You Let Me Down". A great example of the album's diversity, guitarist Robb Huxley claims this song has a middle-eastern feel. It also has a large dose a US country rock, with its heel-kicking guitar hooks and pop harmonies. In an ideal world, this could have been a break-through single for FM radio in the US. It was A&M's choice of a single in the UK, but got nowhere apparently.

The intro to "Featherbed" lulls you into thinking it's going to continue in a similar vein to "Don't You Let Me Down", around three minutes-in the proposition changes dramatically and crashing in comes an epic jam which sounds like Ritchie Blackmore's wammy bar mayhem battling it out with some funky Hendrixian wah peddle improv. A demonstration of what a great team guitarists Haim Romano and Robb Huxley made.

Then "Justin And Nova" beams down in a haze of space rock. With musings on light machines and galactic travel, it makes a fine ballad and introduces some sweeping orchestration. The dreamy feel continues in the beginning of the eleven minute closer, "Kill Me With Your Love". After some beautiful airy flute accompanied by the sounds of a creaking galleon wearily embarking on a new voyage, the pace picks up. Book-ending the album nicely with the second super-heavy track, it's back into the heaviness of Ethiopia, this time with extra sex. Suggestive lyrics bring the song and album to a compelling 'climax', with Danny Shoshan blowing his musical load like Robert Plant in Whole Lotta Love.

Even with two UK-produced albums on a big label, Jericho were not to last. According to an interview with guitarist Robb Huxley, regardless of some interest shown by Led Zep's manager Peter Grant (wouldn't that have been interesting?) they suffered too many problems with band members, management and contracts, and the walls of Jericho tumbled in 1973. A huge loss for Israel's rock history, but at least a great thing for those that treasure the best forgotten hard rock of the 1970s.

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