This could be just the start of an on-going series of unreleased recordings from the Gothic Godfather not just because it contains re-workings and recorded as radio sessions material from Paul Roland’s extensive songbook but because it comes at a time when the muse is strong with a copious amount of new albums and re-thought reissues having appeared in recent years, alongside Roland’s parallel creative pathway which has seen him releasing books on Marc Bolan, Steampunk, and, most recently, H P Lovecraft.
The first ten tracks were recorded in January 2013 with a full band line-up that had been assembled for a charity show in London that winter and which, when a mooted series of British gigs failed to materialise, came together to lay down some potential radio session tracks. Largely, the versions they cut are more muscular, rocking, interpretations: ‘Re-animator’ from the album of the same name, ‘Captain Nemo’ from its Nevermore successor. ‘The Puppet Master’ and ‘Cairo’ which hail from Burnt Orchids, much further back in Paul’s catalogue. There’s a sense with these re-visitations that he really had a ball in playing them again, with an upfront and vigorous vocal performance full of menace and attack. And, while this reviewer gives thanks to the terrific reissue programme that has brought much of Paul’s canon back into circulation, there’s songs such as ‘Aleistair Crowley’, from the still pending reissue Gargoyles that reaffirms the yearning for the remainder to make their way along the queue.
These ten songs are so strong in the craft that created them and the verve with which they are played, as well as the gothic / steampunk / occult themes that tie them together, that they would have made a satisfying and internally consistent album by themselves. Recorded back in 2007, the following track here, a rip-roaring cover of Marc Bolan’s ‘Meadows Of The Sea’ almost feels like it comes from the same session, even while being perhaps more aggressively delivered while a version of Joy Division’s ‘Day Of The Lords’, originally released on Shadowplay, a Joy Division tribute album, is a brooding, pent-up and coiled take on the original that brings something new – as a good cover should. A largely acoustic version of ‘Kali’ from the recent Bates Motel [where ‘Tortured By The Daughter Of Fu Manchu’, from the January 2013 sessions here also appeared] is a exotic delight among the remaining selections, while another acoustic cut, the Bates Motel title-track is full of foreshadowed doom.
So it’s two different albums really, a internally consistent set that makes up the first half of the record and a more scattergun assembly of the remainder that has a lot of great material but has the feel of being bonus tracks to the main event. As a whole, though, this would make an excellent entry point into Paul Roland’s music… if you’ve not heard his work previously this one is recommended from that point of view. If, like me, you’re a fan, this one is an essential part of a Roland collection.