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May 2011

Drum Media album review

With 777, Jeff Martin has formed his most complete musical union since The Tea Party. However, instead of fruitlessly attempting to absorb himself as “just another member” within a band format (David Bowie unsuccessfully tried just that in Tin Machine, as did Martin himself with The Armada), he’s embraced the considerable appeal his name carries. It matters little in the end, because the quality remains and his co-conspirators are more than up to the task. Said collaborators are The Sleepy Jackson’s Malcolm Clark and J. Cortez, with whom he bears a natural chemistry. On the new outing’s debut, the foundations of Martin’s sonic template remain. It’s world music-infused blues with splashes of ‘70s hard rock (the Zeppelin-esque, 12-string acoustic guitar-drenched Queen Of Spades) country and roots, driven by Martin’s trademark baritone and richly layered guitars, with a few added doses of slide guitar amid the tales of mysticism. The drama of the grooving The Cobra is an obvious throwback to The Tea Party, but the sinister atmosphere carries its own sonic weight. The stellar opening title track fuses Zeppelin-isms and a hefty groove with Middle Easterninfused melodies, and the South-East Asian fl avoured The Mekong is equally captivating. Riverland Rambler is an unashamed, yet tasteful reference to Martin’s blues upbringing, 1916 channels Jim Morrison and Santeria surprises by building to a wonderful crescendo. She’s Leaving is almost brooding ballad autopilot mode, but
The Pyre is a fi ttingly wide-reaching fi nale, bristling with exotic instrumentation and genuinely heavy guitars. Although there’s a Tea Party revival tentatively being
attempted, it can only deservedly raise the profi le of 777.
Brendan Crabb

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