While never, perhaps, as overtly popular as some sub-genres of hard rock, there has always been a demanding fan-base of stoner rock lurking in the wings – occasionally breaking out in the form of the runaway success of bands such as Queens of the stone age and Monster magnet but usually sitting comfortably in the underground chilling out to the sound of excellent, if unhurried, musicianship and lengthy, semi-improvised grooves. Increasingly, however, there seems to be a market for all things retro with bands such as the excellent Black Rainbows and Thee Oh Slime revelling in lengthy, smoke-infused workouts and Carlton Melton invoking the ghost of early progressive with their psychedelic work-out from a geodesic dome, so this is no bad time for JPT Scare band to rear their collective heads and remind the world of their long-forgotten contribution to the world of rock.
A seventies outfit, JPT scare band are the unsung heroes of the cult rock scene and now they have decided the time is right to put together a disc of unreleased jams, rarities and covers to remind the world of their phenomenal abilities. Kicking off with the melodic hard rock of ‘Long Day’ the first thing that hits is how fresh the whole thing sounds. Ironically, while today’s stoner bands seem to spend a lot of time recreating that golden retro sound, JPT Scare band seem to have been striving for studio perfection as, despite the layers of distortion, the album sounds absolutely pristine. Culminating in a lengthy and frazzled solo, ‘Long day’ is a great introduction to the band and you’d be hard-pressed to say that this was recorded nearly forty years ago if you hadn’t been forewarned. ‘Not my fault’ has more of a swing to it, almost bluesy in sound and a lot more relaxed than the blistering first track. It’s a perfect summer chill out song complete with soulful female backing vocals and a lazy riff that is in no hurry to reach the end of the song. ‘Death letter 2001’ is different again – recalling 1950s Gospel, deep-south blues and epic hard-rock with its story-telling vocal and crunchy riff giving way to a beautifully rendered solo that demonstrates the skill at the heart of the band.
‘Stone house blues’ is a lengthy centrepiece to the album. Over ten minutes long and recorded very live (the mix is rather grainy but still perfectly serviceable) it sounds largely improvised with the band attacking all manner of trad-blues riffs with gusto. It’s a great song that recalls the excellent Led Zeppelin at the BBC disc with its loose vibe and thundering bass. ‘I’ve been waiting’ is better recorded and has a riff that is so heavy it could be encased in lead. A thundering, hard-rock epic it sits comfortably alongside Black Sabbath as a tune that takes the blues and kicks it firmly in the direction of metal via a dark sound and frenetic solo that seems to last half the song. ‘Acid blues is the white man’s burden’ is another beautifully produced slice of blues with a woozy intro riff that leads into a tasty blues jam with an extended solo that is as impressive as it is hypnotic. Final track ‘Amy’s blue day’ closes with another largely improvised blues jam which serves mainly to highlight the skills of guitarist / vocalist Terry Swope who rival some of the day’s greats including Clapton and Hendrix.
Overall JPT scare band are a versatile and exciting band who deserve to be heard. Their sound is not for everyone – those seeking the fire and brimstone of bands such as High on fire will find this a touch too bluesy for their tastes, but for anyone who wishes to delve into the heritage of the current crop of stoner bands then this is an unmissable compilation which shows a band who embraced the traditional blues of their forebears as well as the powerful metallic sounds of their contemporaries. An album to relax to and just let the hypnotic music swirl around you, it is a gem to treasure. As an added bonus, for the real retro fans there is a double, coloured vinyl edition which features extra tracks and is surely a worthwhile purchase for those of you with a turntable. Which ever version you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
JPT Scare Band is out now through Ripple Music