Blackwater Park - Dirt Box. 1972 Germany
LP reissues: 1990 Second Battle; 2015 Long Hair
CD reissues: 1992 Second Battle; 1996 Spalax (France); 2015 Long Hair
I first heard Dirt Box not long after the first Second Battle LP release in 1990. The album had quite a lofty reputation even then among rare LP collectors, and so after hearing its contents, I was sorely disappointed. Of course "Krautrock" had a completely different meaning to me at the time than "early 70s German hard rock". About a decade later, a famous (then) death metal band inexplicably named their album after this band, and suddenly the album reached the stratosphere in reputation. And now, some 15 years on from that, everyone is rushing to the front of the line to state it isn't really that great, it's overrated, bla bla bla.... Well, sure, given that. Not their fault though.
But what do we have here exactly? An early 70's German hard rock album. In retrospect, Opeth should have named their album after Night Sun, or Epitaph's debut, if anxious to exploit the region's immense hard rock talent from the early 70s. But then again, those bands didn't have a cool moniker like Blackwater Park, now did they?
By the time I finally got my head around to what this band was trying to accomplish, all the reissues had long sold out due to their sudden fame, and CDs were fetching collector's prices. So it is with this, some 26 years after first hearing the Second Battle LP, I finally picked up the album for my own collection, via a fresh reissue from Long Hair.
A completely objective viewpoint demonstrates that Blackwater Park were a very good hard rock band, but not necessarily extraordinary beyond one track. At that would be 'Rock Song', which is absolutely exemplary, and one of the finest early 70s "pure heavy metal" tracks you'll ever hear - and does remind me of Night Sun actually, and the psychedelic sequences here are devastating. The opening two tracks are also quite excellent. But there's some trash to wade through as well, in particular the horrific 'Dirty Face'.
Go in with your eyes and ears open, and let the album come to you verse the other way around. But the band had no chance to live up to an expectation it didn't ask for.
The Long Hair CD comes with a full set of liner notes in German and English. No bonus tracks, as with the other reissues.