Review Summary: If you like hard rock from the late 60s, then you will love this little gem of an album.
1968 was a good year for music. Jimi Hendrix released Electric Ladyland, and Velvet Underground released White Light/White Heat. But amongst these well known artists was a small band from London that never made it big. That band's name was Gun, or The Gun. Gun released their self titled album in 1968, it made one top ten hit and the band released a second album in 1969, but Gun broke up soon after and its members moved on to different projects.
The late 60s were a turbulent era for music, the pop rock music made famous by The Beatles was fading slowly, to be replaced by proto-metal bands such as Led Zeppelin and progressive rock like Pink Floyd. Gun hold a very small niche in between these two genres, and can very easily be seen as one of the first metal bands in existence.
When I say metal, what I really mean by today's standards is a form of early hard rock. But when you listen to the fast beat of the drums and chords of the guitar of the opening song 'Race with the Devil' you can see how this music could turn into something much heavier, down tune the guitars a little bit and you have the powerful beginnings of a metal band.
But there is another aspect to the hard rocking trio from London,and that is the psychedelic scene that was rampaging through London at the time, Gun toured with Pink Floyd and even had Jon Anderson playing with them for a time. From the second track onward, there is everything you would expect to find in a 60s psychedelic band, crazy guitar solos, brilliant and eccentric drumming and a brass section so extravagant it would have made Yes jealous
Yellow Cab Man is a truly brilliant song about a cab man trying to make a living, the drumming is catchy and the guitar blasts its way across the song. Adrian Gurvitz really is a master of the genre, his powerful solos are really extravagant, intricate and really mix well with the drums throughout, never are they found wanting.
The vocals are truly 1960s, they are simple and very Beatles like, occasionally sung using all three of the members, such as on the song Sunshine, which really shines through as a brilliant song (pun intended). The skill of the writing is also apparent and the Gurvitz brothers show their skill as writers of the psychedelic genre, with feel-good lyrics that make you smile.
The song ends on the eleven minute long Take Off, which takes you on a brilliant journey of exploration, starting with a backwards countdown in several different languages, and taking you on a space journey to the furthest depths of the psychedelic world. At some points they sound very much like Hawkwind would do in another ten years, with spacey guitars, chirpy blasting bass lines, thumping guitars and distorted lyrics.
Alas, like a gunshot it is all over before it begins. At a running time of under 40 minutes this album is pretty short, but very sweet. The Gun wouldn't survive to the 70s, and this little gem began to slowly fade into obscurity as the years rolled on by. Looking back on it now, it is a shame that Gun weren't able to continue their crusade of psychedelic proto-metal, because it would have been a very fun ride if they had.
Race with the Devil
Yellow Cab Man