Rock On

David Essex

1973: Columbia/CBS 32560

  1. Lamplight
  2. Turn Me Loose
  3. On and On
  4. Streetfight
  5. Rock On
  6. Ocean Girl
  7. Bring in the Sun
  8. For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her
  9. We All Insane
  10. Tell Him No
  11. Sept 15th

As gin is my witness I have no idea whether this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek or seriously self-indulgent manic thrashing. One thing I do know is that it’s almost impossible to listen to except on headphones, and then it at least sounds like there was some intentional structure behind the whole mess.

Originally I got this album because I’ve always thought “Rock On” was one of the most incredible recorded songs EVER, so far ahead of its time that we’re still not there yet. And I wanted to finally hear it in its original setting, with the full context around it. And now I really don’t know what to think. There’s so much going on all over the map on this album, and very little of it sounds like it could possibly have been done on purpose, and yet there’s a streak of intense excellence threading through it all here and there. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to hear, as on “Tell Him No” (but even there there’s a hint of purposeful twisting). But the stereo presence of the various voices and instruments throughout strongly suggests that this was all intentional and therefore has merit worthy of listening for.

My naiveté on this subject is no excuse, I know. I wish I understood what the hell was going on on this album, but I’m OK with just being baffled rather than simply appalled. After all, I listen to the Shaggs voluntarily, but this one just stops me cold with confusion.