Pigthology

Blodwyn Pig

Maybe it was the name or the brevity of their run — Blodwyn Pig was one of those bands that shuffled through the early 70s, somewhat under the radar, yet marginally successful with two albums and playing bills alongside Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Most significant to the public at large is that the band was led by Mick Abrahams, Jethro Tull's original guitarist who left shortly after This Was, Tull's debut album. One can speculate as to why the guitarist left a band that would go on to dominate the 70s, but if you listen to the 12-song compilation, Pigthology, you may realize Abrahams and the rest of the band — Jack Lancaster on saxes, flutes, violin, keys and wind controllers; Andy Pyle on bass; Ron Berg on drums); later, another former Jethro Tull original, drummer Clive Bunker — were moving into an entirely different direction.

Produced by Abrahams and Lancaster, Pigthology is filled with their most popular songs like "Dear Jill," (which got air time in Almost Famous), "See My Way" and "Drive Me," along with unreleased live and studio tracks. Listening in, the band easily transcends its blues-rock label with forays into jazz, folk and rock, and, aside from the sway and execution of "See My Way," you'd probably never pick up on the Tull connection. "Baby Girl" is a boogie blues number with Abrahams on guitars and an overdubbed piano. "Dear Jill" is low-down blues featuring a smooth, countrified delivery from Abrahams, refined by Lancaster's master strokes on the violin.

"Monkinit," framed as a tribute to Thelonious Monk and recorded in Hollywood, sounds like modern jazz. Without a confirmed date, it could have easily been recorded at anytime between 1970 and now. Lancaster plays horns and keys while Abrahams lays down a heavy lead. As a live band, Blodwyn Pig was clearly as musically adept as their peers. "The Change Song," from the Marquee Club in 1969, is acoustic blues with Lancaster's violin vamped in for melody and allure. A 1973 live performance of "Cosmogrification" reaffirms the group's jazz leanings. And just when you think you have it all figured out, they pull out a zesty rock gem recorded at the BBC called "Same Old Story." For all the maneuvering to be contemporary, it's clear by the end of this collection, Blodwyn Pig were a pure blues band dosed with a wide array of influences. The blues are more ingrained in "Hound Dog," an instrumental that sounds nothing like Big Mama Thornton or Elvis Presley, while "Stormy Monday" is a clean interpretation without the extra window dressing. Love it or wonder about it, you definitely get the whole picture of what Blodwyn Pig was all about on Pigthology.

~ Shawn Perry

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