There are very few albums which give me pause. There are fewer which make me stop everything and recognise instinctively that I have discovered Album of the Month. Brian Davison’s Every Which Way is one such album. How did I alight upon such an album? The story is quite ordinary I assure you. Matthew and I went for a walk to the closest piece of green on the map to us (the perils of city centre living include not much fresh air). On our way back from Calthorpe Park (established 1857, don’t you know) I spotted the Diskery. Now, being someone who is inwardly wary of shocking colour combinations, I never thought much of it in the past. But when I went in, I was amazed by the sheer variety of vinyl available. And you’ll never guess what was playing on the shop stereo at the time…

Bass Guitar – Alan Cartwright

Drums, Percussion – Brian Davison

Electric Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals – Graham Bell

Engineer – Malcolm Toft, Roy Baker

Lead Guitar – John Hedley

Painting [Cover] – Nan Cuz

Producer – Brian Davison

Reeds, Flute, Backing Vocals – Geoffrey Peach

And so my love affair with Brian Davison’s Every Which Way began. Bear in mind that in these COVID times one is loath to spend too much time in confined indoor spaces outside the home. Therefore I heard only one track from the album but this was enough to activate my spidey senses. More on this later.

The vocals are handled by Graham Bell, who sang for the equally obscure Skip Bifferty and whose voice has the same quality as a young Stevie Winwood: in-tune, soulful shout-style belting. Brian Davison—recently of The Nice until that band fell apart—delivers the kind of percussion work that I don’t often get the pleasure of hearing on hard rock records- nuanced, powerful and engaging, rather than self-indulgent and boring. The rest of the line-up is equally up to the task. The Vinyl Press

The first track, of six, on this wonderful album is Bed Ain’t What It Used To Be. The opening is extraordinary, laying bare the foundation of fantastic talent which would carry through the rest of the album. The opening notes are an example of the extraordinary production which is to follow. The drumming is just sublime. There is a bluesy feel in the guitar playing and the repetition of lyrics to emphasise the sorrow Davison must have felt at the time of writing. Watch out for the saxophone, which is withering at points. The first time I listened to this album in full was directly after hearing Alice Coltrane’s Journey In Satchidananda. The withering, tortured saxophone of Bed Ain’t What It Used to Be followed so well.

Castle Sands is a wonderful contrast to the preceding track. The flute is in direct contrast to the guitar and drum mastery of the previous track which is so surprising. Who expects flutes in prog rock? Jethro Tull almost certainly took inspiration from this. Then again they might not have. Who is to say? There was also a mention of mental health in the lyrics also, which really surprised me. Listen out for the waves crashing at 2.35. Groovy.

Sat and watched the passing day
Where people cried and tried to say
Expression of a different kind
Crying in their mind

Go Placidly is a more up tempo track to lead us into All In Time, which we shall discuss shortly. The sequencing in this album is really stellar. Not lyrically rich but there are some special phrases which stuck out to me. This is the perfect song to precede All in Time.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams
It is still a beautiful world

All In Time is the first track I heard of this album while at the Diskery. I maintain this is the standout on the album. A 9-minute anthem, this is epic on a scale reminiscent of The Tale of Brave Ulysses by Cream (listen to Toad for a drumming masterclass) or selected pieces from Spirit’s 12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus. The ‘Ooh Child’ followed by the drum and guitar combination is masterful. This builds up to a crescendo at 5 minutes where the track really takes off. The saxophone mimicking the guitar is inspired. The abrupt ending is almost rude!

What You Like is a slower track to calm us down after the scale of the previous track. The drums are the highlight for me as well as the insistent whining saxophone which really adds to the track. The saxophone and guitar solos towards the end of the track are on another level.

 

Finally, The Light is an exemplary ending. The guitar at the beginning is magnificent. Overall in the track, one gets a sense of the extraordinary collective talent that was felt in the first track and indeed throughout the album. The undercurrent of the drums and guitar throughout the track add to the strong drive which propels this track forward.

Overall, Brian Davison’s Every Which Way is an experience best heard. It totally took me by surprise. My three key observations are as follows:

  1. This album is a totally unique, one of a kind collectible.
  2. When considered collectively, the talent displayed by this band is breathtaking.
  3. It is a great shame that Brian Davison Every Which Way made only one album before breaking up.

I hope you enjoy and appreciate this beautiful jewel in the crown of rock history.