The Norman Haines Band — Den of Iniquity
(Esoteric Recordings ECLEC2301, 1971/2011, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-05-09Norman Haines was the keyboardist and main songwriter in the band Locomotive on their only release We Are Everything You See, from around 1970. As things sometimes go, it wasn’t working out for Haines and he left the band before their album was released, took a little time off to rethink and plot a new direction, and then started assembling his new band. Meanwhile his former bandmates recruited new members and went on to become The Dog That Bit People, another story for another day. Here, Haines and band dwell mostly in a gritty organ-driven proto-progressive rock sound, with jazz, folk and blues influences. Vocals are shared by Haines (also the chief composer), guitarist Neil Clarke, and bassist Andy Hughes; the band is rounded out by drummer Jimmy Skidmore, who along with Hughes, propels the bottom end with verve. The album really has three phases; the original first side has five song-length compositions, the first four being catchy rock tunes kicked off by the powerful title track, followed by the Hughes co-composed "Finding My Way Home" which was the a-side of one of the band’s singles. A reworked and retitled version of Locomotive's "Mr. Armageddon" –now "Everything You See" follows, much improved over the original. The bluesy hard driving "When I Come Down" is next, before the side closes with the tasty acoustic Hughes composition "Bourgeois." The second side of the original LP features two extended pieces, kicked off by the four-part thirteen-minute Clarke composition "Rabbits," which evolves into a ripping jam that is without a doubt the album's high point. Closing the side is the eight-minute introspective keyboard instrumental "Life Is So Unkind." What follows on the CD are a gaggle of bonus tracks which include a single version of "Rabbits," the a- and b-sides of a non-LP single "Daffodil" / "Autumn Mobile," and another single recorded by Haines with different musicians after the band split, which was almost as soon as Den of Iniquity was released. Overall, this is an essential slice of British rock history.
Related artist(s): The Norman Haines Band
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From the press release:
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water takes from Echo Us' past and spins it into a whole new direction, one closer to traditional acoustic Celtic music than ever before.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water was composed and recorded during the first few months of 2017. Although Celtic influenced and comprised of a number of re-workings of Irish folk tunes and Breton aires, the album is still in large part new and original Echo Us music that fits right in the Echo Us ‘canon’. “Wake” is a natural progression from “A Priori Memoriae”, which was released to critical acclaim in Europe in 2014.
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is Echo Us’ ‘Celtic’ album that was planned for a long time but never executed because of the work on the trilogy that came before it. The album title is a typical ‘Echo Us’ play on words which one can find their own meaning.
“It is also both evocative of the Oregon rain, which I am told is not too unlike the rain in Ireland.”(Matthews)
To Wake a Dream in Moving Water is also a comment on conception- which was unintentional when the lyric was written. Matthews surprised himself a few months after writing it, realizing that the song was actually about the nitty gritty, biological workings of what happens when a child is conceived. The folk song it derives from musically describes a courting ritual, one that even today we can all relate to in our own way.
“Come With Me Over the Mountain" in acapella was the musical inspiration for the song, and came into my consciousness after the lyrics were written a few months prior. “ (Matthews)
As with all Echo Us recordings, a number of seeming coincidences resulted in connections being drawn where prior there were none. Another experience of similar capacity was found in oboe samples from A Priori Memoriae that echoed the traditional “May Morning Dew’, also reworked for guitar on the new album.