Edgar Broughton Band - Speak Down The Wires( CD boxset) [Esoteric Recordings/ Cherry Red - 2021]Speak Down The Wires is a four-CD boxset charting the slowly shifting sound of the Edgar Broughton Band- a UK collective from Warwick, who began life in the late ’60s, having an initial run until the early 1980s. This four-album set begins with their 6th full length 1976's Bandages and finishes with 1982’s Superchip- The Final Silicon Solution?- with the bands sound moving from genre shifting-rock, onto bounding blues rock & proto-punk, thorough to creative 70’s rock/ punk crossbred, onto dystopian/ sci-fi themed electro-touched post-punk/ new wave.
This boxset appears on Esoteric Recordings, which is Cherry Reds prog & related sub-label. The set comes presented in a glossy flip side box- with each of the four albums been presented in recreated mini LP sleeves- with one of the albums coming in its original gatefold. Also with the set, we get a glossy twenty-page inlay booklet- this features a new ten-page write-up about the band and the period between 1975 & 1982 by Mark Powell. As well as full album credits and few pictures/ vinyl labels. So a nicely presented set- though oddly the box it’s self is too big for the four disc, with room for another few more- maybe the label had a job-lot of boxes.
The band started life in English market town of Warick in 1968 as The Edgar Broughton Blues Band, and as its name suggested the early focus was blues-rock. Under this name, they gained a small following playing in & around their hometown. But as the ’60s moved into the ’70s, the band started to lean towards the emerging psychedelic movement, dropping the 'Blues' from their name as well as their music, with original guitarist Victor Unitt leaving. The band's first album Wasa Wasa appeared in 1969 on Harvest Records- with the collective severing up a heady blend of Acid, blues,& psychedelic rock. This was followed by four more full-lengths- 1971’s Sing Brother Sing, 1971’s Edgar Broughton Band, 1972’s In Side Out, and 1973’s Oora.
This boxset starts off with 1976’s Bandages- this is eleven track LP was released by NEMS Records- it saw the band offering up a decidedly rock genre varied album. The four-piece line-up for this release was Edgar Broughton – lead vocals, electric/ acoustic guitar, bass, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, and moog. Arthur Grant – vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, organ, bowed bass guitar, and bass moog. Steve Broughton – vocals, drums, piano, tambourine, bass, acoustic guitar, harpsichord, bells, maracas, timbales, jawbone, marimba. John Thomas – vocals and guitar. With a guest appearance from a certain Mike Oldfield on dulcimer, harp, and, steel guitar. We move from sliding glam-meets- soaring blues-rock of “John Wayne”- which later drops in shambling sort of Cuban rock-meets-prog chops vibe. There’s the boot stamping blues-rock chug of “Love Gang” with it’s ripped/ raw vocals, and spiralling ‘n’ spinning percussive touches. With the album finishing off with the rising clear guitar, galloping rhythm, later moodily building atmospheric guitar layers, and pained vocals of “I Want To Lie”- which has an almost proto Goth rock feel. All told Bandages is consistent & well-realized album, which nicely shifts through various rock–sub-genres.
Next up we have 1979’s Live Hits Harder- this nine-track live album appeared on BB Records, and expectedly for a live record, it’s a decidedly raw 'n' rowdy record. With the band once more blending the rock sub-genre traits, but there is much more of proto-punk/ 70 metal vibe here. We go from grimy riff chugging & crashing drums of “Loving In The Rain”, onto the strutting & smoked rock groove of “Freedom”, finishing off with wailing /wondering vocals meets down & dirty rock blues of “Smokestack Lightning”. A great barnstorming live record- and that comes from someone who isn’t normally a fan of the form.
Disc number three features 1979 album Parlez-vous English?, which saw the band switch their name to The Broughtons- and this album is presented in its original gatefold form. It was released by Infinity Records taking in twelve track- and had much more of punk/ new wave edge to proceedings. We kick-off with the ska-punk meets swooning pumped up blues of “Little One” with its likely lad & ladette Brummie vocals. Moving onto throbbing & choppy guitar/ synth manic-ness of “ Revelations One”- which had rather Cardiacs like leanings. There’s the boisterous jiving punked-rocking blues of “Rentasong”, or the bounding piano & guitar 70’s rock-out of “Young Boys”. Again another consistent LP, sure at points it almost sounds like a different band- but it’s an album that certainly keeps you on your toes.
Finally, on disc number four we have Superchip: The Final Silicon Solution?- this appeared in 1982, it was put out by Sheet Records, and was the band's final studio album. It was a fourteen track affair( with one bonus track here), and the sound is very much new wave/ meets electro-rock type vibe- with most of the bands original psychedelic rock/ blues sound been dropped. Lyrically the focus is very sneering & mocking dystopian/ sci-fi future-focused- and sonically I’d say it feels like a blend of New York Gong’s roaming bass focused post-punk edge-ness, elegantly yet twitchy new wave, and slightly playful though grimly tolling art-rock- that’s very wordy & sound effects heavy. It’s certainly an interesting ending to both the bands' studio career & this boxset. I’m not sure if all totally works, as at points it gets a little unbalanced by lyric smug-ness...but there is worth here
I’d been aware of the Edgar Broughton Band name in passing, but had never heard the band, and for the most part, I was impressed & taken by what’s on offer here. If you like rock music that’s both gutsy & creative, I think you’ll also enjoy this boxset too.Roger Batty