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Floodgates

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Album Review

Luther Grovesnor's second solo album was a long time coming. The first, back in 1972, caught him midway between stints with Spooky Tooth and, in the guise of glam rock hooligan Ariel Bender, Mott the Hoople. The second, almost a quarter of a century later, caught him somewhere between forgotten hero-dom and absolute obscurity, and in the handful of interviews he gave around that time, he seemed to prefer it that way. He talked of living a normal life and playing guitar for fun. But back in the studio for the first time in years, it was as though he'd never been away. This is not, if any stray Mott fans are passing, an Ariel Bender album. Returning to his given name, he also returned to the style which distinguished both Spooky Tooth and Under Open Skies, the understated melody that has always been his songwriting signature, the underexposed flash which peels out of his guitar, and the underground exuberance which made his the first number the Stones called after Brian Jones left in 1969. Slammed down in ten days with a revolving door of guest friends (Jim Capaldi, Mike Kellie, Jess Roden) dropping by, it relies on Grovesnor's own persona for charm and effect, keeps fancy production tricks at farthest arm's reach, and it never shows off. Understated, underexposed, underground. Comparisons can be found. "Ninsky Prospect" has a vaguely Lou Reed feel to it, while Kellie's "Fullness of Time" brags a distinctly (but, ironically, pre-Bender) Mott swagger. Elsewhere, a cover of Bob Seger's "Fire Down Below" follows the old Spooky Tooth trick of taking someone else's song and making it their own forever, and there's a thunderous Roden-led romp through Joe Tex's "I Wanna Be Free," which could, in fact, be Free, so there's irony for you. And those are only the most obvious highlights — one could also dwell forever on the autobiographical opener "Evesham Boy," the stunningly tuneful title track, and if you missed it first time around (a lot of people did), the 2001 Floodgates Anthology reissue turns up even more marvels. Eight bonus tracks include an acoustic version of "Floodgates" previously available only on a rare promo sampler, two tracks recorded for the Peter Green tribute Rattlesnake Guitar, and three cut in 1997 for an attempted Spooky Tooth reunion — all good enough to make you wish the project had been taken to fruition. Then comes one track recorded by the teenaged Grovesnor with schoolmate Jim Capaldi in 1966, produced by Giorgio Gomelsky and never before released in any form, while the album closes with another marvel, a live version of "Here Comes the Queen," taken from Grovesnor's debut album, and performed by Mott the Hoople in 1974. And from the collectors' point of view, it's probably true that those two cuts alone are worth the price of admission. True, but very, very misleading.

Biography

Born: 23 December 1946 in Evesham, Worcestershire, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s

He was one of the most inventive guitarists of his generation, one of the clutch of flashy young axe-slingers who emerged at the tail end of the 1960s, and turned everything on its head. Up alongside Brian May, Mick Ronson, and Paul Kossoff, Luther Grosvenor rewrote the guitar players' rule...
Full bio
Floodgates, Luther Grosvenor
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  • £7.90
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Blues-Rock
  • Released: 15 August 1996

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