Chemical Alice - Curiouser & Curiouser

Year of Release: 1981
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 19:47:00

Before there was Marillion or Landmarq (or IQ and Arena, for that matter) there was Chemical Alice, which featured David Weston on guitar, Jack Grigor on bass, Richard Crighton on drums, Andy Grant on vocals, and Mark Kelly on keyboards. In 1981 an EP was recorded called Curiouser & Curiouser, which contained 4 tracks.

The music contained in these four tracks is quite indicative of where at least one their members was headed. From the opening keyboard notes of "Goodnight Vienna" there's no doubt that it's Mark Kelly. But he shouldn't be the only point of reference. If someone had told me this was recorded in the sixties, I wouldn't be the least surprised as "Vienna" has a very unexpected Beatles crossed with the Clash kinda of juxtaposition.

Of course, while the Kelly factor might be the hook for most, we mustn't overlook the other band members. Grant has a pleasant voice to listen to, a voice that on "Vienna" does hark back to the 60s, and refreshing because it is so. Though on "The Judge" I'm thinking more of either Epilogue or Galahad - sort of a melding of the two, except it came before.

We can hear more of Weston on "Henry The King" where Weston plays a nice lead about a minute in and then at about 3 and half minutes in. Then we move into a more acoustic section - yes, we might say in Genesis like fashion, but oddly, in a Marillion like fashion. Weston doesn't sound a bit like Rothery, nor should we expect him to, but like Rothery, and like some of the better prog guitarists, it is emotional playing, playing with some depth and expression.

"Lands Of Home" is somewhat like early Deep Purple ? just before they moved towards their harder rock style? and yet, there's a bass line here that we'll hear again in Marillion, in that hoary beast that fans shant probably ever hear live again - "Grendel." But, more than that, this is Grigor's chance to show his stuff, whilst Weston comes close to shreding, and Kelly goes wild with an odd assortment of blurbs, bubbles, and other sonic effects. All kept tightly in reign by drummer Creighton, who also is more clearly heard on this track.

This is very raw and live sounding, so I can imagine what would have happened with a highly priced studio session. However, as the MP3s this review is based on were created from a vinyl copy, not from the master tapes, that also could account for the lack of fidelity.

The website Bathtub of Adventures, from which you can download the files [not any longer -ed Dec '05], contains a brief history of the band, along with photos, and follows the career of guitarist David Weston to the present. We know where Mark Kelly is now, of course. The band split in 1982, after which drummer Crighton went on to Tamarisk, along with Grant. Kelly left in 1981 to be replaced by Steve Leigh (who went to Tamarisk, then Quasar, and then Landmarq). Weston and Grigor continued together in various permutations until at least 1985.

Beyond historical significance, this is some fairly interesting stuff to listen to.

Goodnight Vienna (3:38) / The Judge (6:32) / Henry The King (5:47) / Lands Of Home (3:50)

Richard Crighton - drums
Andy Grant - vocals
Jack Grigor - bass
Mark Kelly - keyboards
David Weston - guitar

Curiouser & Curiouser (1981)

Genre: Neo Prog

Origin UK

Added: April 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1519
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]