Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Brian Auger and the Oblivion Express: Straight Ahead

It was shortly after Brian Auger and the Oblivion Express released their monumental “Straight Ahead” album that I gained an affinity toward jazz. I remember hearing the title cut, our Tasty Licks Tuesday selection, on Harry Abraham’s radio program on WHAM in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t know the title and I jotted down what appeared to be the hook – “it was a gas” or “straight on.” At the time, I didn’t know the artist and would later learn that it was Brian Auger and the Oblivion Express.

This was not typical style that Harry Abraham played as it may have had a little too much of a commercial flair for what I remember his tastes being during the mid 1970s. What attracted me to this tune was Brian Auger’s treatment of the Fender Rhodes Piano – at least I think it was a Rhodes – it is a little more percussive sounding and may actually be a Wurlitzer. I loved this cut

In time, I learned it was Auger and crew and when I purchased the double album “Live Oblivion, Volume 2,” I learned the name of the tune. The tune has an ominous beginning that sounds like the music of the seventies – bass by Barry Dean, high-hat cymbals of drummer Steve Ferrone, and wah-wah guitar as provided by Jack Mills. Rounding out the session are percussionists Lennox Laington on congas and timbles by Mirza Al Sharif. All vocals were by Auger.

It’s a great introduction to the tasty licks of Brian Auger and to the progressive jazz of the 1970s – “straight on.”

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