Chris Farlowe may very well be the most under-appreciated vocalist in rock and roll. His eccentric style is striking for its extreme suppleness, as agile as a sax or guitar. Though his foundation years, back when he was vying with Long John Baldry and such, never much caught my ear, he later joined Atomic Rooster and then Colosseum, fusion outfits with out-of-the-box thinking, and I quickly took notice. All I had to do was hear the pyrotechnics on Skelington and Lost Angeles (Colosseum Live, 1971) and that was it, I was a hard-core Farlovian. Up to that point, I had never imagined I'd be able to hear a singer in rock and roll who could pull up alongside Leon Thomas (a killer jazz vocalist), but here he was. From that point on, whenever Farlowe showed up on an LP, I got it.
Miller Anderson, however, has always ranked very low on my regard for stringpullers. His solo work (Bright City), groups (Dog Soldier, Broken Glass, etc.) and sessions haven't ever been inspiring, barely even noticeable. For decades, the guy was a Bernie Marsden, but something's happened, probably this alliance with the fiery singer. On the opening cut, Crazy About My Baby, he's hotter than hell, ripping out incandescent blues riffs, and Hard to Get Along With has him pulling up tasty slide ornamentation, with the esteemed Chanter Sisters singing the background. Thus, Eingang presents not only Farlowe's powerful voice losing not an iota since he showed up 40 years ago but also Miller Anderson's epiphany. Nestling in perfectly with them are Sarah Jory's easy-on-the-ear pedal steel licks, grrrreat stuff.
Few singers are aging as muscularly as Farlowe, though Joe Cocker's work on Heart and Soul comes immediately to mind. This guy is just a drop-dead powerhouse, singing with conviction and consummate artistry. If you caught his residency in the recently re-banded Colosseum, a joyous event in and of itself, then you already know that among those resuscitated powerhouse musicians, he and Dave Clemson commanded the stage through sheer presence. Then there was the marvelous 2006 At the Rockpalast DVD for two hours of unmitigated pleasure (er, despite Norman Beaker's sometimes plodding riffery), pure unalloyed Farlowe with every ounce of vim and vigor he'd ever displayed down the years.
There's a very interesting wrinkle, though, that I've never heard from the guy before. On 9 Lbs. of Steel and It Should've Been Me, he modulates himself into an entirely new timbre, adopting a secondary tone as solid as his norm. Not very many singers will attempt this, it's a dangerous ploy that might ruffle the audience or, more problematically, not be carried off correctly. Farlowe nonetheless nails it from the first note, re-evidencing his innovative soul in a new light. At 65, he's still trying out new applications and plumbing the depths! Just amazing.
Leave it to the immortal Chris Farlowe to issue this riveting CD just as the blues are starting to wane from earlier heights. Along with Danny Brooks, Bernie Pearl, and a few others lately, he's igniting that red-hot raw core of the genre that forever stands imperilled when any particular mode becomes just a shade too familiar. Hotel Eingang reminds us why the unique style can't help but keep resurging. Every so often, someone just absolutely wails, electrifying jaded audiences back into the basics. This is definitely one of those times, no doubt about it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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