Friday Full-Length: May Blitz, May Blitz

May Blitz, May Blitz (1970)

The story of May Blitz should be recognizable to anyone who’s ever immersed themselves in the history of any number of acts from their era. Or, I suppose, any era. Dudes from other bands got together in this band, put out a couple of records, called it quits and moved onto other projects. Up to and including the connections to Uriah Heep, it’s a pretty familiar tale, but what it doesn’t take into account is the quality of the two records May Blitz offered during their time together. Issued through Vertigo Records — see also Black Sabbath, Warhorse, Nucleus, Status Quo, Gentle Giant, the aforementioned Uriah Heep, Nazareth, etc., etc. — the first of them was a 1970 self-titled seven-tracker with terrible artwork that over the course of about 43 minutes managed to sum up the shift that was taking place between heavy blues groove and what would in the next several years take shape as British progressive rock. Elements of psychedelia remain in cuts like “Dreaming” and “Tomorrow May Come,” but even more than that or the post-Hendrix smolder of “Fire Queen,” what’s most abiding in May Blitz‘s May Blitz is the chill factor. Even when guitarist Jamie Black (also vocals) tears into the solo on “I Don’t Know,” the vibe is thick as molasses and the groove is so laid back that one can’t help but lazily nod along 47 years later.

May Blitz got together the year before the self-titled arrived, founded by bassist Terry Poole and drummer Keith Baker, both of whom had been playing in blues rockers Bakerloo. They’d be gone by the time the band recorded, with Black bringing in bassist Reid Hudson and drummer Tony Newman. As a rhythm section, they add formidable drama to the rushing freakout midsection of “Dreaming,” and are largely responsible for the comfortable pace at which the material is executed, though that’s not to take away from Black as a frontman either. Power trio? Power trio. Whether they’re dug into the ambience of “Dreaming,” marked out aside from that unhinged midsection by its acoustic strum, spacious drumming and harmonized vocals, or digging into the blown-out jam at the culmination of “Virgin Waters,” there’s little doubt the guitarist makes his presence known as one would have to expect.

In the bouncing centerpiece “Squeet,” the elements find perhaps their best balance, with Black noodling away on a repetitive figure as Hudson‘s bass rumbles out a particular tonal warmth and Newman makes his way around the kit and back to the crash cymbal prior to smoothing out on a who-the-hell-knows-what-they’re-talking-about hook that remains catchy nonetheless. Sandwiched by “Dreaming” and “Tomorrow May Come,” it’s a reminder how much of the appeal of this kind of band could rest in their not taking themselves too seriously, but neither is it void of progressive edge. Again, that was the moment at which May Blitz happened to arrive. The Deep Purples, Led Zeppelins and Black Sabbaths were taking over the terrain that had belonged to the Creams and Hendrix, and the parallel development of progressive rock from King CrimsonJethro Tull and countless others was very obviously a factor here as well. None of this happened in a vacuum, but few and far between are the records that seem to emphasize this creative conversation as fluidly as does May Blitz.

But still, the ultimate victory of the outing is that consistency of mood. As exploratory as it might get or as heavy as it goes, May Blitz doesn’t lose that relaxed character, perhaps until “Fire Queen” and the ending of “Virgin Waters,” but even then what May Blitz do remains informed by the context preceding. They’d release The 2nd of May in 1971 and be done by the end of that year, moving onto different projects and outfits and leaving these two records to languish in heavy ’70s obscurity, along with so many others on the collectors market. Like I said at the outset, it’s a pretty common narrative, but a pretty special record.

As ever, I hope you enjoy.

I went to the doctor yesterday, and in addition to taking what seems to be the standard three vials of blood for sundry vitamin and other tests, he gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant to help with the anxiety issues I’ve been having the last however long. I’ve been taking herbal supplements at the recommendation of someone on here, and that’s a thing on which to spend money, but I had a buddy come through with some Xanax last weekend and after a day or two of that I could tell a real difference. I’ve been on this anti-depressant before, which I think is basically how I wound up on it again, and we’ll see if it helps. It’s been rough of late.

Because my appointment was in the morning, I took the day off work, so after some copious errand-running with The Patient Mrs., the bulk of the afternoon was spent working side-by-side, which I like. She had grading to do, while I put together the posts for today and started in on Monday’s whatnottery as well. Sunday being Mothers Day, our schedules for the weekend are kind of wonky, going to Connecticut, coming back north early Monday morning to get me to work on time, etc. I don’t really like to do that — because who the hell likes to go anywhere at 6AM? — but, you know, moms.

Some good stuff coming up next week. At some point soon I’m going to be posting a travel guide for Psycho Las Vegas — basically how to do the festival on the cheap and survive the desert heat — and that should be fun, but I’m not sure when it will start. Anyway, keep an eye out. Here’s what’s in my notes, subject to change as usual:

Mon.: Steak review and full album stream, Cosmic Fall video premiere.
Tue.: Geezer review and full album stream.
Wed.: Six Dumb Questions with Telekinetic Yeti; The Cold Stares track premiere.
Thu.: Abronia review and full album stream.
Fri.: Siena Root review and track premiere.

I’m hearing now that the Steak stream might not happen, so that’s a definite maybe. If that doesn’t work out, I might just nix the review for the day and do a podcast or another Six Dumb Questions post instead. It’s been a while since I did a podcast and at this point I’ve got a backlog of SDQs waiting to go up, so one way or the other a day will happen. The Cosmic Fall video is cool, so I’m happy about hosting that, and the rest of the week is pretty locked in. UPDATE: It’s a podcast. It rules. Will be up Monday.

There’s more to say but I think I’ll leave it there. If you’re celebrating Mothers Day, I hope your mom is kicking ass, and in any case I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Shit is weird so be careful out there. Thanks for reading and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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3 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: May Blitz, May Blitz

  1. Reid Hudson (May Blitz bassist) says:

    Whoever wrote this review did not look at the credits for the albums. Terry Poole was indeed the original bassist but left before any recording took place. Keith Baker was never a member of May Blitz which was formed by drummer Tony Newman (ex Jeff Beck). Lineup for both May Blitz albums was and is Tony Newman drums, James Black guitar and myself Reid Hudson on bass.

  2. We need a repress of this one!!!

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