Saturday, 21 November 2020

SAHB - Rock Drill Reviewed

Eddy Bamyasi

Rock Drill was the last proper SAHB album (SAHB did record another album Fourplay between Stories and this one, although bizarrely without Harvey who was equally bizarrely otherwise engaged working on a Loch Ness monster documentary!).

Although often considered a bit of a non event and largely disowned by the band who were slowly disintegrating at the time (keyboardist Hugh McKenna had already left being replaced by Tommy Eyre who would stay for Harvey’s following solo albums), Rock Drill does, to be fair, contain some inspired moments despite some degree of general incoherence.

In its best moments the album continues where SAHB Stories left off, extending further into a more progressive heavy rock sound. The first three tracks are excellent ranging from the heavy metal title track, through the progressive The Dolphins (considered “one of the best things we ever did” by guitarist Zal Cleminson) and the straight forward rocker Rock N Roll with its Adam Ant like jungle drumming (a percussive style that appears on several tracks).

But tracks like the instrumentals King Kong with strings and Booid with Scottish pipes are confused and ultimately pointless, and the album finishes weakly with the country style Mrs Blackhouse although not before a welcome return to basics with the Zeppelin/Stones swagger of Who Murdered Sex and Nightmare City. Oddity Water Beastie was no doubt inspired by Harvey’s recent Loch Ness monster research.

Disappointingly another track No Complaints Department was oddly pulled from the final pressings at the last minute apparently at Harvey’s personal request:

So my best friend died in a plane crash
my brother was killed on the stage
So don’t be upset if I’m angry
and seem in some kind of a rage

Although by no means as weak an album as some critics have made out Rock Drill, not unlike many of Harvey’s records, is a two thirds decent record that doesn’t quite match the consistency of his best work.

About The Author

Eddy Bamyasi

Eddy is a music writer from Brighton, England, named after a Can record. Each Sunday he logs and reviews the albums that happen to be in his vintage Pioneer 6-CD magazine changer, amongst other things.

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