Album Review: The Edgar Broughton Band — Live in Hamburg: The Fabrik Concert 1973

Greetings, gentle reader. If you’ve found your way here, I offer you my most heartfelt welcome. The odds were against you stumbling across this particular review by happenstance. What’s on offer today is a forty year old concert recording by a band you’ve probably never heard (or even heard of). The Edgar Broughton Band were among that second- or third-string lineup of 70s also-ran bands, the sort who found themselves part way down the bill at some or other festival. That observation is no comment on the merits of their music; it’s merely a summation of how things were for this UK-based outfit.

Big in Germany, the band never really enjoyed much in the way of chart success ( a bit in their home country; none stateside), but they were a popular live act. Releasing six albums between 1969 and 1975, they soldiered on. Their music was a mixture of hard-boogie with some more outre, exploratory trappings. The track for which they’re most remembered (when they’re recalled at all) is “Out Demons Out,” a psychedelic chant based on The Fugs‘ “Exorcising The Demons Out Of The Pentagon.” That track is (of course) the set closer on a new archival release, Live in Hamburg: The Fabrik Concert 1973.

Never the subtlest of acts (which may explain their popularity in early 70s Germany, where audiences had an appetite for straight-ahead rock), The Edgar Broughton Band nevertheless did try to offer plenty of musical shade and light in their live shows. Their longish songs sometimes featured gentle guitar picking, contrasted by strident vocals of the band’s namesake. Fans of Uriah Heep – especially the soft/loud, gentle/strident approach – may enjoy this less arty take on rock’n’roll. Founding member and drummer Victor Unitt – late of The Pretty Things – had recently come back on board, and his powerful drums are well-recorded. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for the lead guitar, which is occasionally lost in the mix. The band’s exhortations to put-your-hands-together for the la-la-la drug ode “Poppy” give the proceedings a slightly Spinal Tap vibe, but it’s all in good fun, and is vaguely reminiscent of Country Joe & the Fish‘s “Fish Cheer.”

Oddly, Broughton introduces “I Got Mad” as “Soledad,” despite the fact that it had been released with the previous title. Still, it’s nice to hear stage dialogue; so often this sort of thing is edited out of live albums; its inclusion adds to the authentic feeling of the recording.

While the band sometimes covered other artists, this Fabrik set is (the Fugs rewrite notwithstanding) a collection of all original material. Production values are harsh, clattering and noisy, perfectly befitting the vibe of a 70s club date.

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