Wally: Montpellier

Reunited prog veterans finally release their third album.

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Wally released two albums for Atlantic in the early 70s, enjoying the patronage of ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris and Rick Wakeman (they played at his Journey To The Centre Of The Earth concert at Crystal Palace in summer ‘74). Yet that all counted for nowt and the band split shortly afterward, re-forming in 2009. Wally’s mega-delayed third studio album contains leftover tracks from their formative years and more recent material.

The songs are epic but never overblown, often possessing the sentimental charm of prime-time Moody Blues. There’s a distinct singer-songwritery approach; She Said could even be described as Manilowesque.

However, there’s a schizophrenic feel to this release. A brace of compositions by vocalist/bassist/slide guitarist Paul Middleton - Surfing and Human - are eccentric affairs that really do disrupt the flow of the album.

Still, when Wally are on song they’re very good indeed. Thrill Is Gone, with its grumbling Hugh Banton-style keyboards, femme backing vox and motoring rhythm, is simply spectacular, and In The Night which could almost be described as a prog power ballad – isn’t far behind.

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.