"Heavy on period mellotron, and fired by some delicious violin and guitar, the album opens with a trio of introspective Richard Strange ramblings of which the dreamy 'Afterglow' sets a standard for some unrelenting soul searching." That is roughly how the opening sleeve notes go and are a fair enough description of an album that took me pleasantly by surprise! The first 3 songs segue effortlessly and the music has a strange attraction with Strange's angst driven voice, mostly sung but sometimes almost spoken making a great impact upon the listener.
'Waiting' is a real surprise when it comes, a Country And Western-tinged punky rocker with obvious comparisons to String Driven Thing because of the violin. Bowie is another obvious influence, maybe even Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen. Lyrically Strange claims to be inspired by Dylan and Burroughs. Maybe I'm imagining things but I thought I detected a Peter Hammill 'ism' (briefly) on the 8 minute 'The Noises of the Evening', quite one of the most unusual tracks I've heard in a while. 'Billy Watch Out' is a more standard verse-chorus-verse song but again with a difference and the virtuosity of the band take it beyond 5 minutes with ease.
'B-Movie Bedtime' is a riot with some rousing violin and guitar. 'Mainline' ends the original album (there are 6 bonus takes including 3 acoustic and 2 live cuts) in style, an excellent reflective ballad that lasts nearly 16 minutes and ends with the brilliant chorus: "Mainline trains could never find drivers to run a service out to here'. There's some scorching violin on this track too. This album, originally released on Polydor, has been remastered with the cooperation of leader Richard Strange and is informatively packaged.
It is not strictly speaking a progressive album (or is it?) but could well fit into a pre-punk art-rock categorisation. Recommended.