The Bevis Frond: Inner Marshland

Bevis butts heads with history in this engorged reissue.

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Arguably Britrock’s most prolific one-man cottage industry, Nick Saloman has amassed a back catalogue of around 30 self-produced albums over the last three decades, all painted in 50 shades of vintage psych-pop and guitar-heavy stoner-rock.

One of three releases dating from 1987, the second Bevis Frond album contains a typically uneven spread of inspired gems, solid retro homages and workmanlike jams. Saloman’s sprawling banquet of sound includes bubbles and birdsong, submerged chants and TV samples, musical jokes and lysergic lyrical screeds: ‘sister of the exiled duke, who bathes in tepid asses’ puke’. It’s pungent stuff in places. A Nightmare on Carnaby Street.

Saloman’s quaint Englishness is a key selling point, invoking Syd Barrett on trippy inner-space journeys like Window Eye or the dainty organ ballad Defoliation Part Two, then dropping a wry vocal clip of Harry Corbett from The Sooty Show into the shape-shifting psych-rock supernova Once More.

But the more ear-grabbing tracks here shake off their self-consciously historical trimmings and really blaze, like the free-jazz wig-out Termination Station Grey or the J Mascis-style guitar-shredder Mediaeval Sienese Acid Blues.

Of the six patchy bonus tracks, only spangled garage-psych pastiche Run At The Sun and deft, fast-paced instrumental Solid Vimto really merit rediscovery./o:p

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.