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Major Surgery: First Cut

Album Review

First-time CD reissue of long-lost London jazz-rock.

In 1976 Major Surgery spent a couple of days in a small studio recording to lay down their one and only album in 1976. By this point they’d been a fixture of London’s pub jazz circuit for over five years, and earned music press praise and plaudits from everyone from pianist Gordon Beck to Hawkwind’s Del Dettmar.

Their rough-and-ready brew of no-frills grooves, courtesy of drummer Tony Marsh and bassist Bruce Collcut, and swirling melodies delivered by Don Weller (saxes) and Jimmy Roche (guitar) is potent, though nothing like as tricksy as their pigeonholing in the jazz-rock genre might imply. 

Weller and Roche had worked together before as members of East Of Eden, and as part of Jamie Muir’s short-lived, legendary pre-King Crimson band, Boris. Weller has a big sound, rushing at complex, twisting themes with garrulous enthusiasm. Roche’s guitar playing, though originally rooted in blues, scrabbles over inventive runs, veering away from generic cliché. 

There’s a certain frisson emanating from these crackling and energetic first-take performances. What it lacks in compositional subtlety it makes up for in raucous, amped-up period charm.

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