BEVIS FROND – The Leaving Of London (Woronzow)

I have been a fan of Nick Saloman (a.k.a. The Bevis Frond) since he first appeared from nowhere in the mid 80’s. At the time his brand of no-nonsense rock music with extended guitar solos and classic rock tunes was just what I needed after drowning in a sea of New Romantic tosh and crappy synth pop for the previous few years. He has continued to produce great albums for nearly twenty years, and so when five years passed since 2004’s ‘The Hit Squad’ I assumed he had hung up his guitar and taken a well-earned retirement. I stumbled upon this album by chance and couldn’t believe he was still going at nearly 60 years of age, so I snapped it up and have to say not only is it in no way a disappointment to his legacy but it puts many modern rock group to shame. ‘Johnny Kwango’ starts, and is a mid-tempo rocker with a surprisingly commercial edge to the tune, but still managing to slot in a great guitar solo. ‘Speedboat’ is a classic Frond rocker, with the verses lulling you before the chorus explodes and leads into a manic guitar solo. ‘An Old Vice’ slows the pace, but is hardly a ballad, and the subdued guitar-work adds to the melancholic feel of the song. The title track is something of a departure for Nick, being a piano and vocal piece, but because he remembers to put a good tune in there it works really well. ‘Why Have You Been Fighting Me?’ is built around a memorable riff, and he uses it as a launching point for one of his best solos. ‘The Divide’ is another touching ballad, this time just acoustic guitar and vocal, and it makes the guitar onslaught of ‘Reanimation’ which follows sound even more powerful. ‘Son Of A Warm Gun’ is another slowie, but incorporates a stunning guitar solo, making it a highlight of the album, while ‘Barely Anthropoid’ may clock in at just under three minutes but it crams in so much it seems to speed by in half the time. ‘You’ll Come’ is another superb fast rocker with the obligatory guitar solo, ‘Heavy Hand’ more than lives up to its name with some great hard rock, and he saves the best ‘til last with the touching ‘True North’. With eighteen tracks running at a tad over 77 minutes, this album showcases Nick’s songwriting abilities with a collection of shorter songs rather than the overblown epics of some of his previous releases – not that I don’t love an overblown epic now and then. If you love classic guitar rock but have never heard of The Bevis Frond then you need to rectify this gap in your education without delay, and a good place to start is right here.