Monday, 30 May 2011

Rio Takes It To The Max

I've owned this LP for centuries but still can't quite get a handle on what I'm hearing.

Critical evaluation is not aided by the drab-as-putty production that sucks all the energy and dynamism from songs that may otherwise offer up moments of inspiration. We have to wait until the second side, track 2, for the one undeniable diamond in the dirt that is Paradise, a ditty that starts unpromisingly with a Smokie-alike voice and dry-as-toast acoustic guitar combination but quickly morphs into a heavenly chorus with delicious phased guitars and epic, dreamy harmony vocals which create the illusion of listening to a long-lost ELO track.

How I've failed to mention my love of ELO thus far I don't know, but with the paucity of unreleased material and Jeff Lynne's stubborn refusal to give the fans what they want and put the orchestration back into a full-on Electric Light Orchestra reformation, we ELO fans get our jollies where we can, feeding on scraps here and there which remind us of our heroes, whether that means playing Grandaddy's He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot to satisfy our hunger, or gorging on the full-on pastiche of LEO's Alpacas Orgling

There are many albums that I prize despite containing just one indispensable track, and Take It To The Max is one of them. To be fair to this LP, the next track, The Lizard Song comes close to maintaining the high standard with the overblown pomp of its squelchy analogue keyboards, but things fizzle out with album closer Hear My Song. However, even if The Max Demian Band hadn't furnished me with the one-and-a-half gems on this LP, there would still be a couple of compelling reasons for me to provide them with permanent residence in my collection. Firstly, as you can see, they possess some impressive and, on the whole, neatly maintained facial topiary. The slide-rule precision of the pudding bowl fringe on the gentleman at top right suggests that he holds down a proper job during the week, but there's no shame in being a weekend warrior. It's only sensible to have a fallback plan.

And secondly, how could I ever part with an LP which, unless I'm much mistaken, features Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand (above, bottom left)? Prior to turning up to give Barcelona some target practice in Saturday's Champions League Final, Rio Ferdinand appears to have had a hitherto hush-hush career in music. If the football doesn't work out, perhaps a Max Demian reunion could be on the cards. It's only sensible to have a fallback plan! The wispy beard and Justin Hayward hair-do are clearly the results of a tentative youthful experiment, a stepping stone to his subsequent chin-muff and cornrow look.

 It strikes me that an appearance of the Face Fungus-Ometer is way overdue, so let's wheel it out, feed in the data and see how The Max Demian Band stands up to scrutiny.

A solid and workmanlike seven

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