Primitive Origins is a column where we’ll look back at proto-metal and early metal that deserves a bit of your battered eardrum’s attention. We’re keeping it loose and easy here: there’s no strict guidelines other than it’s gotta be old, it helps if it’s obscure, and it’s gotta rock out surprisingly hard for its context. Pscyh-ed out proto-metal from the late ’60s? Of course. Early attempts at doom metal from the ’70s? Hell yeah. Underground Soviet metal from the early ’80s? Sure. Bring it on. Bring it all on.
We haven’t done a huge amount of early prog rock in this column, so let’s take a trip today, a big trip, with British prog rockers T2 and their 1970 debut It’ll All Work Out in Boomland. I don’t know much about T2, which makes them a great candidate for the column, and after a tip from a reader pointed me to this album, I realized it was definitely worthy of further exploration.
Will it all work out in Boomland? What the hell does that title even mean? Read on to find the answer to the former; as to the latter, well, some prog mysteries just gotta remain unsolved.
“In Circles” kicks things off with around nine minutes of frantic prog mania, the song going to some pretty jammy spots but managing to keep things rocking as well. Tons of stoned-guy guitar work going on here, and the vocals, well, they come in now and again but are pretty inconsequential. We’re here for the bonkers buildup and guitar work, and for that endlessly bouncing and inviting bass line, and we’re leaving this song extremely satisfied.
“J.L.T.” nears six minutes of trippy, psychedelic prog. It starts off tripping through the daisies pretty hard, and I haven’t smoked enough weed (in other words, any) in the past 25 years or so to really get fully in the mood here, but it still does a good job of laying down the light touch in the first part then absolutely nails the ’70s-sitcom-set-in-New-York dirty soft-rock vibe, which I just eat up. Man, two songs in and two winners here, lots of variety, lots of weirdness, era-appropriate explorations but not getting too meandering. Approved.
“No More White Horses” is an extremely cool song title, and this eight-and-a-half-minute song features an incredible moment where horns come in, unexpectedly, which gave me legit goosebumps and reminded me of Cerberus Shoal post-full-on-emo but pre-full-on-unlistenable, right when they were at their best-band-ever point. That’s not a reference I thought I’d ever make in this column, which speaks wonders to T2’s unique and diverse sound. The phenomenal horn-to-guitar solo climax just nails it: this song is a winner. Wow. I’m extremely impressed.
“Morning” closes off this record with 21 minutes (did we mention this is a prog album?) that sort of starts like a sideways “Thank You” from Zep, and actually does a very good job at conveying some emotion, not prog’s strong point, generally speaking. Now, of course, because this song is so unbelievably long, there’s time for big solos, crazy jam parts, lots of wandering through the prog labyrinth, and so on and so on, but damned if T2 don’t manage to keep it interesting and, importantly, fun to listen to. It’s not overbearing, like 21-minute prog songs can so often be. It’s rockin’, it’s a journey, it’s fun to be taking it with the band. Very well done. And the return of the horns? Beautiful.
All told, I’m sold on T2 and their odd take on early prog. Sure, genre reference points are here, but this band take things in new directions, and they keep it refreshing and listenable. I love it when prog is a chore, but as the years go on I find I have less patience to figure out the math. T2 ain’t afraid to pull out the slide rules, but they do it in a way that is endlessly fun, rich and rewarding on It’ll All Work Out in Boomland.
T2’s It’ll All Work Out in Boomland – The Decibel breakdown:
Do I need to be stoned to listen to this?: No, but that sounds fun.
Heaviness factor: Not heavy, but rockin’, and proggin’.
Obscura Triviuma: “No More White Horses” is a cover of a Please song; that band featured members of T2.
Other albums: The band was together from 1970 to 1972 and only released this album in that time; since then, they’ve reformed and released other records.
Related bands: Please, Neon Pearl, Keith Cross & Peter Ross, Pete Dunton, The Flies.
Alright, fine, if you must: ‘Shrooms.
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