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Thomas F. Browne: Wednesday's Child

Album Notes

It's one of the unwritten laws of record collecting that some labels guaranteed quality simply by existing -- and, if a record bears that sainted logo, then it's worth any investment you care to make. Of course, it doesn't always work that way, as collectors of the legendary U.K. prog label Vertigo will ruefully inform you. But anybody taking a chance on one of the final albums to be released beneath the label's spiral logo, the one-and-only album by singer/songwriter Thomas F. Browne, might well find themselves wondering why the company wasted so much wax on half-hearted jazz-rock, and so little exploring the further reaches of the folk-rock hybrid. Browne himself was drummer with the '60s beat band Nero & the Gladiators, a heavily classics-influenced band that also featured future Spooky Tooth/Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones for a time. Indeed, Jones and Browne alone later worked together as the State of Mickey & Tommy, and Wednesday's Child continued the partnership, with additional (and supremely characteristic) help from fellow Spooky Gary Wright, and the Sandy Denny-less Fotheringay. Such heavyweight backing, of course, dictates much of the ensuing mood, a gently rolling collection of ballads that fall into much the same bag as the period Strawbs and Mike Heron. Browne's voice is not always at its best, lacking the depth of expression that his lyrics generally demand. But the power of the arrangements and some wonderfully atmospheric backing vocals from Doris Troy and Sue & Sunny readily salvage things, and songs like "Carry My Load" (with a breathtaking Jones guitar solo) and "Dark Eyed Lady"'s cheeky approximation of "Pinball Wizard"'s acoustic guitar hook are both supremely contagious, while "The Alamo" is as epic as the land it immortalizes. ~ Dave Thompson


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