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BJ Cole: The New Hovering Dog

Album Review

Revived solo debut of a man of steel.

BJ Cole is a true Zelig character among British sidemen, his steel guitar work flavouring dozens of records we all know across the pop and rock gamut. The New Hovering Dog, worth it for this cover photo of an eponymously levitating pooch, is the very first appearance on CD of a relatively rare moment where his name features above the title.

It was released in 1973, just after he’d been a member of the important incubator of British talent that was the band Cochise, and the new edition adds two instrumentals from ‘77, featuring another session staple, keyboardist John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick. 

As BJ’s own present-day notes explain, the album saw him sailing away from his country rock moorings and dropping anchor at a far more experimental berth, with arrangements by Robert (Nick Drake) Kirkby. Fellow voyagers included Danny Thompson on double bass, Crimson’s Mike Giles on drums and Curved Air’s Francis Monkman, whose harpsichord embellishments are among some stimulating sonic juxtapositions. 

Idiosyncracies abound, and not a little waggishness, even in such a highly musicianly context. BJ’s country instincts still occasionally push to the front, as on Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie, and he excels on his own showcase suite, Five Pieces For Steel Guitar And Percussion.

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