Don Falcone always gets some amazing musicians to help out on his Spirits Burning albums and this one is no exception. Earth Born does have a twist though, there was such a major contribution from Bridget Wishart that it’s almost her solo album with Spirits Burning as the backing band.
As many of the space rock freaks know, Bridget sang for Hawkwind on a few of their albums in the early 90s. Her most notable contributions to Hawkwind came on the albums Space Bandits and Palace Springs, an excellent live recording. After parting ways with Hawkwind, Bridget just sort of dropped out of making music and concentrated her efforts on the visual arts. Recently she returned to the space rock scene, making an appearance on several tracks of the Mooch CD Dr. Silbury’s Liquid Brainstem Band. That intense album paved the way (and showed that there is still interest) for more music from Bridget and now we have Earth Born.
Don and Bridget are not the only musicians on this album; there are many, many more contributors. Daevid Allen of Gong plays gliss guitar on several tracks and sings a duet with Bridget on a mostly acoustic track “Crafted from Wood” which also features Richard Wileman of Karda Estra. Other Hawkwind affiliates that make an appearance here include Alan Davey, Richard Chadwick, Jerry Richards and Simon House. Cyndee Lee Rule (who’s been keeping herself very busy as of late) adds her amazing viper violin to a few tracks. Caron Hansford of Karda Estra also makes a contribution here as well. Lots of other musicians make appearances on this disc but if I name them all there would be no more room for a review on this page.
Those looking for 50-minute long space freakouts with loads of tripped-out soloing and wild endless jamming might want to look elsewhere. This one has more of a homogenized sound, almost something I might call light atmospheric rock. The tracks are in the 3 to 6 minute range and are easily digestible. There is a lot of spacey-ness to the tunes and quite a bit of synth, as is to be expected with a Spirits Burning album. A lot of the music reminds me of Chroma Key and the Legendary Pink Dots for some reason. Bridget is in excellent voice and if you liked the stuff she did for Hawkwind, you should really dig this. She also plays some wind instruments like clarinet and sax as well as an Akai EWI wind controller on some pieces.
It’s difficult to pick favorite tracks from this because it’s all good. “Hit The Moon” is a nice tune that showcases some fiery guitar playing from Steve Bemand (of Star Nation) and also some almost-rapping in spots from Bridget. “Behind The Veil” has a nice Eastern feel with beautiful violin parts from Cyndee and some raga vocals supplied by Alison Lewis. Jerry Jeter takes over on lead vocals for the track “Candles” and he has a deep voice that sounds a bit like Richie Havens. Bridget adds some nice clarinet to this track.
Probably the most unusual tune on this disc (and also one of my favorites) is “Storm Shelter” which has swinging spring to it, like a 60’s pop tune. There’s a nice synthesized brass section arranged by Falcone and Cyndee’s violin works out even better on this track. This one has a pleasant contagious feel that’s impossible to deny.
I guess I would say that this CD took me by surprise a bit. Not because it’s better than I though it would be, I have a few Spirits Burning albums and I think they are great. What surprised me was how poppy the material here is. For once that isn’t a bad thing at all and I really appreciate the lighter mood present here.
A web site has been set up specifically for this album at www.earthborn.org.uk. You can log on and check out all kinds of things related to this album. There are photos, sound samples, additional artwork and in-depth descriptions of all the tracks.
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