Saturday, January 21, 2012

Horton - Dancehall for Midgets (1976)

For 1976 this was certainly an odd album - in fact I wouldn't be surprised to see it date back to 1971 or earlier. The band consists of maestro Bill Horton on guitar and a couple of his friends handling bass and drums. Being a private release (and quite a legendary album among psych collectors), "Dancehall For Midgets" has that familiar raw and unpolished sound, which is so characteristic of low-budget hard-rock obscurities - however, unlike most albums of the genre, Horton isn't too keen on simplistic three-chord riffs and 4/4 rhythms. Instead, their brand heavy rock is stuffed with weird Beefheart-ian psychedelicacy - and since the band obviously had a knack for free-form jamming, the album often sounds almost like an outsider's take on "Trout Mask Replica”. Rambling, unstructured guitar improvs is what it's all about - add a healthy dose of expressive vocals (Mr. Horton obviously wasn't afraid of singing out of tune), and you'll probably get the full picture. Sure, the 1976 album couldn't be all like this, so be prepared for a couple of fairly conventional heavy-blues-rock numbers as well - good thing is that they are very few and far between, hence they don't spoil the impression. Overall this is quite a unique and unparalleled document of America's 1970s rock underground. Was it successful or not - please decide for yourself. By Lev Gankine Gnosis2000

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