Title: Smoking at The Edge
Catalogue Number: EMI EMA770
Review Format: LP
Release Year: 1974
There's many a musical curiosity in the Vinyl Vault and many of them have a story. This album from Highway didn't exactly set the world alight at the time but it does have a strong connection to Glasgow as Ray Minhinnett (lead guitar and vocals) and Jim Hall (keyboards) later set up shop with one Frankie Miller to form Frankie Miller's Full House. See, you can always connect quality music to Glasgow if you try…
Musically, this is an album of blues rock much as you would expect from long haired musicians of the time. It's a little bit Free, a little bit Allman Brothers and even a little bit Gram Parsons. They just didn't write little songs - come to think of it, why would you anyay? - in those days and practically every song could be a stadium anthem with "Quantrill's Men" having truly epic qualities. Jon Elstar's vocals are those of a rock leading man and even when he is being playful, as in the country rock flavoured "Anna Lee", he stamps his authority on the proceedings. P.P. Arnold even guests on this album and makes a very welcome contribution too but it's the snarling blues guitar of Ray Minhinnett really makes this album. Keeping it real, that's what it is.
A brief bit of research indicated that Ray Minhinnett is still playing the blues like the devil has got his soul. Cream always rises to the top (and stays there!), so it would seem. Despite the glorious vinyl sound on this original copy (complete with textured gatefold sleeve), it would be nice to see this album gain a new audience with a shiny, remastered CD reissue. It is also a reminder that big record companies did once allow their artists the luxury of actually making music. Top stuff!
September 11, 2008
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