“An impressive set documenting a group during a clamorous creative peak”: Edgar Broughton Band’s Gone Blue – The BBC Sessions

Four-CD collection covers the period 1967-73, including 32 unreleased tracks

Edgar Broughton Band - Gone Blue
(Image: © Esoteric)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

“There are few bands I’d rather see than the Edgar Broughton Band,” John Peel once declared in his Disc & Music Echo column. Such fandom wasn’t difficult to understand. Apart from their raw theatricality, EBB were an underground outfit who stood for the community, sounded like a wild British iteration of Beefheart and saw music as an agent of social change.

Beginning with a spot on Peel’s Top Gear radio show in January 1969, EBB recorded nine sessions and two In Concert shows for the BBC over a four-year period. This impressive set features all of those surviving appearances, documenting a group during a clamorous creative peak that spanned psych-weird debut Wasa Wasa and 1973’s more expansive Oora.

West Coast vibes predominate early on. The trio – singer/guitarist Rob ‘Edgar’ Broughton, brother Steve on drums and bassist Arthur Grant – channel Zappa and Pearls Before Swine on For What You Are About to Receive and There’s No Vibrations, But Wait!

The two In Concert gigs are testament to the band’s dogged power

Victor Unitt’s arrival as extra guitarist in 1970 brings a heavier element to songs like The House Of Turnabout and the following year’s savagely distorted Call Me A Liar, by which point EBB were firmly established as socio-political activists who’d rather play for free than align themselves to music biz norms. “We’re trying to put idealism into practice,” Edgar explains to Top Gear interviewer Brian Matthew.

Aired in July 1971, the folk-leaning Poppy is an anti-pollution song way before it became a matter of national debate. Got Mad is a percussive anti-war piece that rushes into an explosive finale. By 1972’s The Rake, recorded for Sounds Of The 70s, Broughton looks set to escape what he perceives as a ruinous world.

The two In Concert gigs are testament to the band’s dogged power, with Freedom and an immense version of Beefheart’s Dropout Boogie as lengthy standouts. As is 14-minute calling card Out Demons Out, which feels less like an exorcism than a noisy hymn to simple communion.

Gone Blue is on sale now via Esoteric.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.