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Bob Downes: Deep Down Heavy

First CD release for the flute star’s psychedelic 1970 album.

Notable for his work with artists as diverse as the John Barry Seven and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, avant garde flute/sax virtuoso Downes created a unique psychedelic document here. Available on CD for the first time, Deep Down Heavy was originally released on the budget label Music For Pleasure in 1970. It was partly the product of Downes tripping through London, playing his bamboo flute in different parts of town, with producer John Boyden dutifully trailing behind with his Nagra.

Nothing’s off the creative table: The Wrong Bus is a field recording of the pair getting on, you guessed it, the wrong bus; on the bone-dry Poplar Cheam, Downes sings about various stops on the London transport system.

But all the whimsy here isn’t wearing: there’s good psych rock on here too (the amped-up Beefheartian opener Too Late, featuring Chris Spedding on guitar), and soulful, raw blues rock (Don’t Let Tomorrow Get You Down). Downes is a wailing banshee on Got No Home, but hits a sweet spot between Scott Walker and Jim Morrison on We All Enter In.

It’s all raggedly compelling, and represents yet another solid entry in Esoteric’s ever more meaningful catalogue.