chicken wishbones

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Blodwyn Pig: Ahead Rings Out (1969)

Blodwyn Pig is one of those bands that’s just about ancient, obscure, oddly-named, and British enough to, at first mention, seem like an imaginary parody group associated with a future member of Spinal Tap.

But of course they were very real, if short-lived, and their driving force wasn’t named St. Hubbins or Tufnell, but Abrahams – as in erstwhile Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams.

After losing a power struggle with Ian Anderson after just one Tull LP, 1968’s This Was, Abrahams found himself a more agreeable co-conspirator in dual-threat saxophonist/flautist Alan Lancaster, and together they explore a more academic view of the blues on the jaunty, B.B. King-recalling “It’s Only Love” and the deliberate country slides of “Dear Jill” and “The Change Song.”

Not to be pigeonholed, however, Blodwyn Pig (which was completed by drummer Ron Berg and bassist Andy Pyle, later of Savoy Brown, Wishbone Ash, the Kinks, and others) quickly reveal broader ambitions with the jazz techniques of “The Modern Alchemist” and the flute-enhanced “Leave it with Me.” *

But my blood really starts boiling when Abrahams wields his axe for battle, cranking up his attack and guitar distortion on “Walk on Water,” “See My Way” (complete with bolero section!) and “Summer Day” – all of which were interestingly exclusive to the album’s U.S. pressing, seen here.

And you know what they say say about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery (if not royalties)? Well, check out the hypnotic hammering delivered by “Ain’t Ya Coming Home?” and you’ll note it was shamelessly cannibalized by Black Sabbath for “Fairies Wear Boots”! **

Such is the frequently frustrating fate endured by bands that are currently residing in the “where are they now” file, but don’t let that dissuade you from exploring Ahead Rings Out – it’s a keeper.

* This song and two others were used on the U.K. pressing, and mine is the American version.

** To be fair, Blodwyn Pig’s “Summer Day,” cited above, appears to borrow its intro from Spooky Tooth’s “Better by You, Better than Me,” released six months earlier, proving everything is recycled in rock and roll.

More British Blues: Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On, Savoy Brown’s Street Corner Talking, Chicken Shack’s Imagination Lady, Juicy Lucy’s Juicy Lucy, Ten Years After’s Cricklewood Green.

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Artist:

Kate MccGwire

“Brood”

23,000 Chicken Wishbones

540 x 700 cm, 2004

- Sister Work: “Brood (36 days)”, 2007

   “Kate made ‘Brood’ for her Royal College of Art degree show and it has since become one of her most well-known installations. Initially it may seem like an innocently patterned spiral of some 23,000 chicken wishbones bearing all the happy optimism this material evokes, but look again and you will see that the symbolism of hope has been subsumed by the sheer quantity of materials used. En masse the bones recall a cull, a killing field, the horrors of genocide and slaughter of innocents.”