Belgian prog band Waterloo fused Jethro Tull and Blodwyn Pig into their sound, no doubt due to the inclusion of the flute.
Written by: Eric
ALBUM: First Battle
LABEL: Vogue Records (France)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Belgium
LINEUP: Dirk Bogaert – lead vocals, flute * Gus Roan – guitar * Marc Malyster – organ * Jacky Mauer – drums * Jean-Paul Janssens – bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Meet Again * 02 Why May I Not Know * 03 Tumblin’ Jack * 04 Black Born Children * 05 Life * 06 Problems * 07 Why Don’t You Follow Me? * 08 Guy In The Neighbourhood * 09 Lonesome Road * 10 Diary Of An Old Man * 11 Plastic Mind * 12 Smile
Waterloo were formed in 1969 following the musical collision of two Belgian heavy blues rock outfits Adam’s Recital and Today’s Version. The band presented their work to Wallace Collection producer Jean Martin. He flipped out after hearing the band, and duly signed them up to a management deal and eventually to the French label Vogue Records.
Traveling between recording sessions in the UK and support slots in Brussels with Michel Polnareff and Wallace Collection, Waterloo saw the pieces fall into place for bigger things. ‘First Battle’, released in Belgium only sold moderately well, coming to the attention of a Portuguese label (you can’t make this stuff up) who ended up releasing a single and a couple of EP’s.
Opening for Family as well as playing the legendary Ghent festival under Stray, The Greatest Show On Earth, Fynn McCool and Judas Jump, you would have thought these guys would have stuck with it.
Instead they moved in jazzier realms releasing a couple of flop singles before morphing into the Soft Machine/Frank Zappa influenced band Pazop.
If you’re into early Jethro Tull and Blodwyn Pig, then ‘First Battle’ is an album for you. It’s not entirely plagiaristic and while the range of vocalist and flautist Dirk Bogaert is nowhere near Ian Andersons, he’s pretty damn close.
Vocals are in the good queen’s English thank the gods and organist Marc Maylester grinds away behind the Mick Abrahams influenced riffs as if Jethro Tull never even existed. Sure, you can easily blow the record off but musically it has it merits. ‘Meet Again’ is a fine slab of blues based pop and even made its way to single status, albeit a re-recorded version released only in Portugal.
‘Tumblin’ Jack’ is a lofty little number similar instrumentally to Jethro Tull‘s ‘Bouree’ surprise, surprise, but tasty nonetheless. I like the classical dirge of ‘Guy In The Neighbourhood’ and the rudimentary blues workout of ‘Diary Of An Old Man’.
By now you’re probably wondering if I already own a copy of ‘Stand Up’ and ‘Benefit’ so why would I need this album? A couple of reasons. First of all, an original copy of ‘First Battle’ will set you back big money if you can find it that is.
However, the French label Musea has saved you the trouble and reissued the album with a brace of bonus tracks that includes their later singles. Unfortunately it was not taken from the masters, but Musea did a superb job with the LP and 45 transfers so buy with some confidence.
Second, unlike Yes, Genesis and ELP there haven’t been that many Jethro Tull impersonators to come down the pike in the history of progressive rock which makes ‘First Battle’ unique despite its unoriginality.