Dawn Chorus #2: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity – Streetnoise

Dawn Chorus #2: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity – Streetnoise

The Dawn Chorus record for Tuesday 24 September 2019 is the 1969 double-LP from Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity, Streetnoise, which takes in genres from prog rock to jazz and makes for a varied listen across its 16 tracks. 

Artist: Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity
Album: Streetnoise
Label: Marmalade / Polydor
Year of release: 1969
Genre: Jazz, Prog rock, RnB

Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity Streetnoise album cover

From the diffusion of percussion off-setting the chunky Hammond-riffs, through the lounge-singer croon, to the drum solo opening track ‘Tropic of Capricorn’ sets the scene for an album which is a timeless album even if often overlooked in the mainstream.

Streetnoise is the 1969 album by, well, something of a supergroup I suppose. Brian Auger & The Trinity were the band made famous by being the first Jimi Hendrix played with on arrival in England, with Auger later going on to form Oblivion Express, while Julie Driscoll later performed as Julie Tippetts and this album captures her vocal feats. Together on this, the second of their three albums together, fused jazz and prog in sometimes viciously experimental ways, and balanced with balladeering and a smattering of soul and gospel. It’s an absolute trip.

There are familiar songs on here serving to reorientate around the more experimental passages – chief among them a version of ‘Light My Fire’ by The Doors through which you sink full-bodied through the now-elastic hook, as Driscoll languorously croons the well-known refrain toward a vocal performance climaxing breathlessly, consumed. While on ‘Flesh Failures (Let The Sun Shine In)’ the fit between Auger’s playing and Driscoll’s vocal is never more apparent – a joyous take with just a hint of the desperation and clawing toward hope the song should evoke.

Distinctively toned the range with which Driscoll employs her voice across this double LP gives a hint of what is to come from her, without over-shadowing the music or distracting from the fascinating and catchy takes happening throughout. It’s a wonder she doesn’t show up in more reviews of the time, or best vocalist lists, for on this album alone she can rival soul divas, Motown girls, and gospel Goddesses remaining controlled and raw in equal measure.

Musically too this album is generous without being self-indulgent: ‘Ellis Island’ is a freefall jam, ‘Indian Rope Man’ showing off Auger’s radical working of the Hammond, and the slow build of ‘When I Was Young’.

If there are weaker moments – and in an album this length there is bound to be a weariness which creeps in for listener even if not for artist – it is as we slip into the second half and it becomes more settled in the times it was conceived in. The prosaic ’60s pop of ‘In Search of the Sun’ – sweetly sung but no match for the best of the times, or the dinner theatre distance in the cover of ‘I Got Life’ – desperately heart-rent from Nina Simone, but here vocal and lyric miss their connection somewhat for most of the track.

If you’re yet to spend time with this album set aside an evening, press play, and enjoy the journey. It may be half a century old but it retains its genre-pushing edge to be of its time and yet timeless too.

 

Dawn Chorus is a week day feature sharing an album to listen to on your morning commute, the school run, or at other times with the intention of surfacing classics you might not have given time to yet, indulging in old favourites, and helping you discover the best of new releases. If you’d like to suggest an album for the feature, or contribute a guest write up, get in touch

If you have enjoyed reading this piece on Popoptica you can buy us a virtual coffee via Ko-fi – every donation helps us to do what we do. We’d love it if you shared on social media too – and do join the conversation with us on Twitter and Facebook. Follow the Dawn Chorus every weekday on Twitter at #SchoolRunSessions.

Find me...

Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
Find me...

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *