The Vagaband – Something Wicked This Way Comes
Eggsong Recordings – 16 March 2018
Based in Norwich, The Vagaband are a nine-piece crew whose punning name aptly sums up their wandering musical pathways. The politically satirical title track gets things rolling, an uptempo fiddle-driven slice of Laurel Canyon close harmony folk rock that calls CS&N. Hanging around the same era, once past the intro, Bright Are The Stars, which features The Arlenes on harmonies, recalls the melody line of The Byrds’ I Am A Pilgrim. And then there’s One For The Road which evokes the same queasy narcotic disorientation of Three Dog Night’s Mama Told Me Not To Come. That was, of course, written by Randy Newman and the same influence can be heard on the lazy New Orleans piano rag and brass styled Spiritual Man.
Then, that’s surely Dylan circa Desire underpinning the scuffling Not My Day To Die while, featuring Morganway’s Yve Mary Barwood on vocals, the bluesy An Eye For An Eye flirts with spaghetti western moods with its tolling bells and desert parched guitar twang, even if the line about getting back to the garden is clearly pinched from Joni’s Woodstock.
In contrast, things come closer to home with the strummed guitar ballad Through The Back Doors which sails close to Lennon’s Jealous Guy and There’ll Only Be One Elvis (Costello not Presley) has a touch of Oasis lurking behind its Americana sway. However, it’s back to swampier climes for the low key sung, Mexicana doped and dobro shaped Black Eyed Sally.
Musical echoes of Lennon’s I Heard The News Today in evidence, it finally ends with the nostalgia-themed Zoetrope. Frontman José McGill says the album’s about “American cultural imperialism on our own turf”, acknowledging the irony that much of their music appropriates this while still planting its feet in British roots rock soil. Wickedly good.
They are on tour now, head over to their website to get those dates: