Chris Farlowe

From Here To Mama Rosa With The Hill

(Repertoire Records)

This is another lost treasure (from 1970) in many ways and represents something of a left-turn by the now-established soul stylist. Here Farlowe collaborates with a band christened The Hill. Now this ensemble included some very useful players – keyboardist Peter Robinson, Steve Hammond on guitar, Bruce Waddell on bass, drummer Colin Davy plus one Paul Buckmaster on cello (an Elton John stalwart of note).

The producer Mackay must have been pleased at the sheer adaptability of Farlowe’s vocal approach to this material, Chris shows an entirely different singing technique when making these songs by others come to life. From the eerie strings intro to Travelling Into Make Believe Farlowe sings with a calm confidence and in a progrock style, you would have to call it. The busy organ figures give it an authoritative early Seventies ambience, thumping drums and all. But Chris is never about to disappear into the fairy woods!

I don’t think he ever sang with The Nice or ELP but it may well have sounded like a lot of this. Fifty Years finds him again over a bustling backdrop, absolutely gripping the song as the pretty acoustic guitar weave. Where Do We Go From Here takes a choppy guitar intro and almost funky swirl and again Farlowe has the perfect tone to put the number over. Questions is dark and moody and maybe my favourite here, Chris rides the rhythm with boss phrasing over the psych swells and prominent bassline.

Head In The Clouds is an airy piece peppered with harmonics and maybe a nod to CSN in its ethereal vibe…a long way from those gritty Flamingo sessions. Are You Sleeping starts folky and you almost expect to hear Rod Stewart start singing. A lovely melody, somehow reminds me of Paladin, or am I getting too obscure for you? Black Sheep Of The Family is a tad more menacing and a highlight of the programme, double stops whine away and Farlowe sings with strength and definition. Winter Of My Life is wistfulness and poetic. Mama Rosa turns out to concern a dealer! The pacing is Season Of The Witch and a light-touch vocal suits the song well. Additional tracks on this release comprise Put Out The Lights, Down and April Was The Month. Something of a revelation, this re-release.

Pete Sargeant



Chris Farlowe's new album 'From Here To Mama Rosa With The Hill' is out now on Repertoire Records.

For more information and to purchase the album visit the record label's official website here:

Chris Farlowe