Heaven - Brass Rock 1. 1971 England


As noted below, I first ran into Brass Rock 1 at a local record convention sometime in the mid 1980s. With the long tracks and expanded lineup, I figured it would be right up my alley. It was only a few bucks, so I decided to take a chance. And it was indeed up my alley, except it wasn’t what I expected. This wasn’t a typical 1970s progressive rock album. In fact, the only album I had like it back then, were the early Chicago Transit Authority albums. But Heaven were different from CTA as well. The compositions were more complicated, and the horn section was more diverse (Heaven featured a 5 piece horn section verse Chicago’s three). There really aren’t any pop tracks on Heaven, the closest they get to "normal" rock were the more blues influenced numbers. And even those were because of the vocalist, who sounded like he drank an entire fifth of scotch minutes before the recording. Almost without exception, each track features lengthy instrumental bits, with quite a bit of horn interplay, changes of meter, dynamic shifts, the whole nine yards. And, maybe best of all in the horn rock genre, a wild guitarist who does his best to attack the wah wah pedal during the solo sections ala Terry Kath. Heaven could mellow out too, and weren’t afraid to mix an acoustic guitar / flute number to set the mood. Since that time of first stumbling onto the Heaven album, I’ve discovered many more horn rock bands, including the UK variety of a US original sound. Other than maybe Brainchild, Heaven is the most developed and, for my tastes at least, the best England has to offer in the brass rock genre. Heaven is wilder than Brainchild, but they do miss that band’s touch for crafting magical melodies.

Personal collection
LP: 1971 CBS
CD: 2008 Esoteric

As shown above, Heaven's sole album features quite an amazing multi-foldout cover. I found a copy at a local record show in the 1980s, and still possess that same double LP. It took many years before a legit CD was released (courtesy of Esoteric), so the album languished in the bootleg market for way too long. The Esoteric CD is fantastic as usual, and offers plenty of history, photos, and the clever idea to design the booklet as multi-foldout poster, just like the original LP. No bonus tracks this time around however.

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