I first saw Purson at HRH Prog in 2016 and marvelled, then a few days later in The Cavern, Exeter, they were again superb. I anticipated more to come, only to have my hopes dashed when they called it a day and went their separate ways. The focal point of Purson was Rosalie Cunningham, lyricist, guitarist, front person; firmly in love with the psychedelic sound and era and the clothes to match. 2019 and Rosalie is back with her eponymous album (unless she goes the way of Peter Gabriel and has several self-named).
So where best to start than the end; the last track on the album is A Yarn From A Wheel, by far the longest at over 13 minutes, and either considered as a long progressive piece or a series of short pieces woven together like a Victorian sampler. It is a great piece of music, capturing the sound that was the early Seventies, off chart sound and sounding of the now. Even though the lady prefers analogue recording, the sound is sharp and clear, no sign of the compression that can occur in the digital studio.
Yarn is remarkable, so many different styles, all performed with a psychedelic edge, but not so much as to deter your casual listener not wearing a kaftan. I love the switches and changes of this little beastie. At 13 minutes plus it’s worth every penny of your hard-earned lucre, filthy or otherwise. The most prog? Who cares, just enjoy the ride. I suspect there is a story, but often too much time is spent on analysis and I would rather soak it all in, returning to the lyrics when need arises. It is going to be a very theatrical piece should it make live performance, opening like a rock teddy bears’ picnic, it just grows and grows, feet tap, it moves on, forward, around, up and down, then by turn bluesy. Music to love with all its darkness, and a little dance with the devil. A little Spanish and smiling flamenco rhythm and warm beer. (I am paying attention and smiling). Then comes a touch of, of all people, Deep Purple, bizarrely with Rosalie’s voice, a taste of Easy Livin’. Wrap me in calico and call me a duvet! DP morphs to Jethro or The Amazing Blondel, boy, is it eccentric, but joyously fun.
Yes, at times there are ’60s and ’70s elements, but the enjoyment I get from the solos and the rhythms make me ignore overall any nostalgia trip. Butterflies is Blackbird, delightful in its early simplicity before expanding in other elements from The White Album by some lads from Liverpool. I wonder what became of them?
Now you can listen in order as per the track listing, I have, but each time I visit I find myself listening in a different order and hearing different things. My download review copy gives a running time of 41 minutes for Ride My Bike, more like four, but as openers go it is indicative of the ride that this album is, with no dull bits. 1 leads to 2, and Fuck Love, not sure if it is a rebuke, statement, or something else. Great tune won’t get much radio play, though I shall request that my friend plays it Thursday night on her Progzilla Radio show.
I’m on my third run through of the evening, and my first glass, House of the Glass Red, a tune that speaks of student parties and late night Hammer Horror movies, 19 to 24, some of the best parties and an awful lot of weird combined music. Curved Air and Blondie amongst others. And all this talk of alcohol can only lead to the Dethroning of the Party Queen. A sort of Psychedelic Renaissance tune if you can but imagine. The richness of the production and layering bring me closer to understanding the analogue requirement. Some nice guitar solos here too, some of which may be the lady herself. Understatement is that she plays well.
Nobody Hears, a homeless tale, hear the words and understand. It would be nice if someone from Shelter picked up on the lyrics, a prayer for the lost and lonely that really requires that somebody hears. Powerful words in search of a wider audience, but in this fluffy media world we inhabit needs a champion.
And so, in my randomised review, Riddles and Games, Rosalie Cunningham does Led Zeppelin, Curved Air, Janis Joplin; love to hear Deborah Bonham cover this, but Rosalie’s is superb, superior bassline, stunning for such a short tune.
Rosalie Cunningham has produced a great album that covers the broadening spectrum that is the genre, more proof of music without boundaries. I hope the opportunity comes to see this lady in person (pun intended), though visits to my West Country retreat are rare. The Wharf (Tavistock), Phoenix (Exeter), get her booked!
If for nothing more in daring to be different, this eponymous album should be well inside my end of year top 10. There is a story being told, a saga indeed, and I will readily accept a dance with the devil should she ask. I’ll even practice my plate spinning!
Treat yourself, I can’t say fairer than that. And anyone who thinks Prog doesn’t do short tracks, listen up!
01. Ride On My Bike (41:37 not!)
02. Fuck Love (5:00)
03. House of the Glass Red (4:02)
04. Dethroning of the Party Queen (4:24)
05. Nobody Hears (5:50)
06. Riddles and Games (4:04)
07. Butterflies (2:50)
08. A Yarn From A Wheel (13:44)
Total Time – 41:37
Rosalie Cunningham – Guitar, Vocals
And some others…