Band Website: www.charlie-music.com
Label: Voiceprint Records
Label Website: www.voiceprint.co.uk
Release Date: 2009
Hands up everyone who remembers the seventies band Charlie? Well they’re back, and in fine form too. For the uninitiated,Charlie crafted 4 albums in the mid to late seventies, and then went through some personnel changes limping along through the early
eighties with a few more releases before becoming more of a project headed up by original member Terry Thomas. Their last recording,
a contractual obligation was released in 1986, since that time the band has been more or less dormant, until now with the release
of Kitchens of Distinction. Thomas (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals) has called upon former Charlie members Martin Smith (guitars)
and Julian Colbeck (keyboards) along with Charlie Barratt (bass), Janne Jarvis (bass), Andy Bloom (guitar) and Steve
Kitchens of Distinction is by no means a progressive rock album; instead it’s a disc of 12 edgy-rock tunes that display many art-rock elements. Most of the songs are in the four or five minute range although two are over six and one even over seven-minutes. There are two or three that tend to be a little adventurous from an arranging sense. These are tunes that will appeal to fans of bands such as Crack the Sky. The compositions are finely crafted with some talented instrumental performances. In addition while I don’t usually say much about lyrics I did find Thomas’ lyrical bent deliciously hard hitting reflecting on many of today’s social issues such as media, cult of celebrity and so forth. Intriguing. The music runs the gamut from hard hitting and aggressive with twin guitars fighting their way to be heard such as the opening “Get a Life” [4:47] to more subdued smooth funky pieces such as “Cars” [6:22]. There are moments of moody drama such as in “Don’t Let Go” [6:30] with it’s almost Pink Floyd mid-tempo feel to the bluesy “Alcohol” [4:59] with its Sensational Alex Harvey Band vibe. Each of these pieces holds something a little special in that all the musical pieces fit neatly together.
Charlie is a band that I think many prog rock fans will enjoy. Colbeck of course went on to play keyboards with Steve Hackett and AWHB so there is a slight proggy connection if you need there to be one. Kitchens of Distinction may not be the most complex disc you’ll put in the player, but it ably makes up for that with some great melodies and churning guitar work. It’s good to see the band Charlie back in fine form.