Extraordinary then and extraordinary now, Beltane Fire’s Different Breed remains a startlingly original record that still defies pigeonholing. With their roots in the UK’s early-80s rockabilly scene, but determined to push sound and image away from the trad rockabilly template, they ignited Beltane Fire to signify a new start, the main clue to their genesis being Mitch Caws’s double bass, which had many a prog fan somewhat perplexed when they supported Marillion in ’85, dressed like extras from Robin Of Sherwood.
Cinematic and atmospherically ambitious, Different Breed combined thumping bass, iron-clad drums and wailing guitars with Clint Bradley’s brilliantly ripe vocal delivery, imbuing every syllable with shameless conviction; when he spat out the words ‘We are a different breed to you!’ he wasn’t kidding. Add to this a slightly bonkers Arthurian fixation and you had an approach unlike anything else. There isn’t a duff track in earshot, even now, and Excalibur (I Believe), Fortune Favours The Brave and the piratical Captain Blood absolutely demand fist-raising participation.
Completing the picture, this first-time-on-CD collection throws in another album’s worth of B-sides and extras, the best being Further Up Further In, which perhaps hints at where Beltane Fire might have headed had they not been dropped soon after by their label Sony.