Listen to almost any album recorded during the UK’s underground scene in the late 60s and more often than not there’s a tangible sense of urgency and excitement. Though the music can vary in quality, that extra animation comes from musicians letting their hair down, enjoying pushing beyond the confines of playing it straight and safe on the club and dance hall circuit.
Organist Tim Hinkley, like others of his generation, paid his dues in such places. Now freed up with Jody Grind, so-called in honour of Horace Silver’s 1966 album of the same name, Hinkley joins in the freak-out fun of the day. One Step On, originally released in 1969 on the predominately folk-orientated Transatlantic label is in essence a souped-up blues-based variation on the underground theme.
Though familiar in feel, it’s solid and dependable much like Hinkley’s Jimmy Smith-tinged playing. The 18-minute title track benefits from punchy yet highly articulate horn arrangements. Scored by Jethro Tull collaborator David Palmer, they not only add definition but carry some helpful momentum. Guitarist and co-writer Ivan Zagni executes a series of creditable, inventive runs through the boogie-soaked tracks with an original flair.
If the debut was a serviceable but relatively uneventful affair, the temperature goes up a notch with 1970’s Far Canal. This is explained by a wholesale personnel change with guitarist Bernie Holland and drummer Pete Gavin now joining Hinkley. Pulling all the draw-bars out, Hinkley’s playing really bursts into life. Holland also offers up a harder edge than his predecessor and it’s this combination that really pays off. Following a classical acoustic guitar intro, We’ve Had It could easily pass for early Focus, with Holland’s electric lines bringing to mind Jan Akkerman’s plangent tones, while percussion-laden O Paradiso gives Santana’s Soul Sacrifice a run for its money.