Bob Drake 13 Songs and a Thing Review

BBC Review

One man band Bob Drake enthralls with strange, resonant avant prog rock stylings.

Nick Reynolds 2002

I don't like records which include dogs barking. It's like the artist is saying "Hey, look at me, I'm so weird, I can do anything - so here's a dog!" There's a dog barking on this album. There's also a lot of startling and impressive guitar work. Bob Drake can really play: country picking, Beefheart style action painting ("Rtuuf"), Derek Bailey abstraction and noise.

Once you get past the disjointed rhythms and the ferocious technique, things can start to sound a bit ordinary. For example, the gibbering Spanish which appears to be thrown in at random; it's irritating.

But there are some good tracks here. "Ten For A Dime" rises to an alarming climax of mellotron and sinister vocals, like a prog rock band reaching the end of its collective tether. The best song is the most conventional but also the strangest. "Griffin" is straightforward. Well, as straightforward as an erotic dream of a statue of a Griffin could be. It's rather good, and leaves you wondering whether Bob is really just a sweetie, albeit one you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. It's followed by an instrumental "Pechan and Willy" which is a subtle and successful development of tune and weird. Similarly "In Case The Insulator Fails", a country ballad gone off the rails.

In contrast "Building With Bones - OrA Thing" is a thirteen minute long free-form distorted improv drum wig out. It sounds like it comes from a completely different album. And things then trail off with an inaudible piano piece and some more distorted Spanish. I like this, but against my better judgement. Bob has invited me into his strange world. But is he going to extremes just to impress me, or because it's the only way his music must be made? It's the people that look normal that you've really got to watch out for...

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