Review Summary: You can tell by that artwork that this will be good.
The Web was a british rock band that started on a psychedelic-rock vein with their first two albums Fully Interlocking
and Theraphosa Blondi
. While these two albums were, as said before, psychedelic records, both of them were filled with an interesting proto-prog energy that would later turn into some frenetic jazz-prog on 1970's i spider
The members of the band were aware of their hidden prog talent and wanted to expand it for their next release, so they set let John Watson, the vocalist of the band, to pursue a solo career and replaced him with keyboardist Dave Lawson, whose voice was a better fit for the group's new desired sound.
"Madness" is probably the first word that will come to your mind when you listen to i spider's
initial notes; the chaotic riff in Concerto for Bedsprings
joined by Lawson's absolutely detuned voice are certainly unsettling at first but just when you start to think that there's nothing else to offer in here besides some weird cacophony a beautiful jazzy piano gets in the middle of the song turning euphoria into a calmed, ethereal atmosphere. This "interesting" structure on the LP's opening track is probably the one that defines the best the album as a whole, frenetic instrumentation, a powerfull sax and wild vocals clashing with jazzy passages that would relax even the wildest soul.
Released in 1970, i spider is certainly ahead of its time, by that year Van der Graaf Generator wasn't a much bigger band than Web so it is difficult to know which band influenced the other. The truth is however, that this release is probably the only album ever to reach the quality of Hammill's unique style.
In here we can see many emotions presented in the form of progressive rock: anger, love, desperation, happiness, depression, all of this is what makes of the record such an interesting listen. Each member of the band has a way to deliver these feelings, Tom Harris's sax is certainly one of the band's most notorious points, driving from ferocious to appeased he is like a chameleon playing the sax; Edwards's guitar is wild and raw and will lead some of the album's most energetic moments. Even though all of the integrants shine on their own probably the most legendary aspect of i spider
is Lawson, he provides some of the most beautiful aspects of the album with his work in the keys but will grab the listener's total attention with his gorgeously ugly voice too and the thing is that a detuned voice might be just what you need when you want such emotions to feel real, the moment that serves as the prove of this is the title track in which Lawton's voice gets as crude as possible in which might be the best moment in the whole LP.
Even though comparisons aren't good there's a need to talk again about Peter Hammill, not only because Van der Graaf Generator might be the only band with a sound similar to the one found in here but also because it shows us the record's weaker points: i spider
feels like a teenage version of Van der Graaf, at some points reaching wonderful harmonies that only a younger soul could think of but at others it just feels like too much, this is an album with a slightly immature sound, one that's certainly full of potential but that requires more experience; the band's experimentation goes off limits at moments and the pleasing chaos turns into pure nonsense.
Despite all of this i spider
is still an essential and unique album, here we can see a band with a gigantic amount of potential that could've been one of the biggest names in progressive rock music but that sadly never reached that goal. In 1971 the sax player Tom Harris left the band and the group changed its name to Samurai
and released one album that, without one of the essential members of the band, just couldn't reach the quality of its predecessor. After that, an underserved lack of recognition plus many financial struggles would lead the band's central star, Dave Lawson, to leave and join Greenslade leading to a sad end for The Web, a band that could've been as big as the biggest names in the genre but that could never reach its true potential thanks to the same reasons that destroyed many unknown prog bands. A tragic fate and certainly a waste of talent.
In 1970 Web were:
Dave Lawson - Vocals, Keys
Tony Edwards - Guitar
Tom Harris - Sax
John Eaton - Bass
Lennie Wright - Drums
Kenny Beveridge - Drums