This is a bit of a rarity for me ……. and in more ways than one. Firstly it is most unlike me to own only one album by an artist that has made so many, especially when I like it. And secondly, it is totally instrumental. I probably do have more instrumental albums than I think I do but it will be a very small proportion.
‘First Cuckoo’ is an album full of funky jazzy tunes. Think seventies hollywood soundtrack or theme music and you won’t be far out. To be fair things never actually get any better than the opening ‘Funk Yourself’ but it is a pretty strong opener. The curiosity that brought me to the album in the first place is the second track. A strange funky instrumental version of the Led Zeppelin track ‘Black Dog’. It is a very curious little track and fundementally shouldn’t work …….. but it does. Strangely the sleeve notes credit it to Robert Plant – John Jones & Gene Page !!!! ‘Crabwalk’ is an interesting lengthy workout of almost eight minutes which reminded me of the theme tune to M.A.S.H for some reason. ‘Caravan/Watusi Strut’ and ‘Speak Low’ are also enjoyable tracks.
It is only really the uninspiring ‘Adam’s Hotel’ and the completely out of place title track that stops this getting a higher rating. The title track ‘First Cuckoo’ closes the album and is a full orchestra workout of a piece by Delius. It quite simply does not fit with the rest of the album and although all the musicians are undoubtedly very talented I just found it far too classical to fit with the rest of the album.
‘First Cuckoo’ is well worth a listen if you like some seventies instrumental jazz/funk. The cover is a strange one too. A nude woman pushing a pram across a desert being chased by a giant cuckoo. Must have been some great stuff that seventies acid !!
© Martin Leedham. First published on RYM July 2010