Sound — 8
The debut of Flower Travellin' Band released in 1970 is an effort of a band yet again still changing there sound that had yet to fully acuminate to their full potential but were just starting to really find their niche in hard psychedelic rock. The whole lineup is a radical change from their previous sporadic lineup, but still retaining the drummer Joji Wada and guitarist Hedeki Ishima whose aptitude would prove to be highly fruitful for the band along with powerful lead vocals from Joe Yamanaka who would front the band and play blues harp as heard here on this LP with just as much ferocity as his vocals.
When fully analyzing the album there are yet again more covers of hard rock contemporaries at the time and they are just as complex so the attainment of a full proficiency isn't quite there but it's close providing a comprehensively sturdy hard rock album that has its moments of blinding intensity with some of the hardest rock around at the time, helping to pioneer the metal genre. The band would of course use Black Sabbath's eponymous song and an important King Crimson one as well so they weren't completely original pioneers but they would assume their ultimate energy culminated on there next album slowly built from a firm basis on this album. The album cover yet again features a daring and provocative cover with full-blown bravado especially during the time they did it and in their own more conservative country Japan, setting it as an iconic memorable cover of an album that is actually pretty promising.
Lyrics — 8
The only original composition that is an original band one on here is "Anywhere" which is short a soulful blues harp piece that appears both on the beginning and the end, while it's not quite clear what the lyrics are actually saying as with other parts of the album it still shows the great performance with powerful amount of lung capacity matched with chops and bold playing. The slightly progressive psychedelic element is quite potent and gracefully astute with a band picking up on everything so well and providing lengthy psych jam tracks. The Muddy Waters song "Louisiana Blues" shows blues in a more aggressive and powerful new rock form merged with the long psychedelic interludes of powerful jams but starts off on a lucid and more mellow part with calm guitar riffs of subtle beauty then going into the main raging riff of all out bluesy powerful and piercing rock and Joe's resonant vocals finishing off the warmth of tone.
"Black Sabbath" honors their idols as heavy metal rock gods of Black Sabbath had just released possibly the first doom metal album ever the same year just months earlier, so they were pretty up to date and always knew what they wanted looking for the heaviest sound they could get sort of learning from the masters and becoming a great band themselves with Joe's attempts at Ozzy still not as good but a strident and brilliant voice and Hideki's soloing doesn't exactly match up to Iommi's but the whole point is for them to just jam out and have their own rendition of what they do in psychedelic setting but the song still has quite impressive guitar licks and soloing. The bluesy and rhythm and blues soul type of track comes in with a long winding but original slow cover that would slowly add more and a sentimental touch with some chilling vocals. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is another early metal standard song and an almost impossible song to cover, few have actually done it decently, this is probably among the best of the covers ever done even though it's still not as good, they don't follow everything as in original form but still manage improvisation with quite canny ability to pick up on whatever is attempted in a divergent and obviously flawed form but still an excellent take on a hard rock jam band and the guitar solos that are substituted throughout are still just as adequate and more than proficient. From the whole album, the main track that calls out to me is that offers stark contrasts from the smooth mellow guitar work to the plain noisy blues hard rock elegy that shortly envelopes setting the epitome of all addicting hard blues rock.
Not bad of a take for guys who were far away and had to get a concept of what they were trying to do by listening to albums of their favorite western bands, with Joe Yamanaka's vocals not clear on the English but just as unbelievable reaching a an impeccable range singing about the river of whiskey and that blues harp soloing that would come in is just stellar, it shows what a lot of hard work and skill can produce even if some of it is repetitive the soloing on the guitar that kicks in is extraordinary and there are some hard and unique riffs produced with nice sliding power chords.
Overall Impression — 8
The whole mindset must once again be open while listening to this until you hear "Satori" which is the release of all the tension formed on this album. The lyrics are yet again spotty but not bad for a singer who never really spoke English although his father was American, he was only proficient in Japanese having been raised mainly there so there shouldn't really be any racism when looking at this as most people like to point out the flaws in the pronunciation but I doubt any of use who don't know Japanese at all could pick up on it as well as Joe Yamanaka manages to do with English here. I have to be fair and not give this album such a high rating but I must say although some of it is a bit tentative it still manages to be firmly in place at the same time with nice hard rock jams and the focal points of Yamanaka's vocals and Hideki's crushing guitar riffs that offer a new style and abrasive tone that would help form the metal genre.
They did do covers of their favorite groups and songs with excellent taste for blues rock and early metal like Black Sabbath and even though the covers may not be as good as the originals respect has to be given for attempting such difficult songs like "21st Century Schizoid Man" and managing to not sound bad at all giving each track their own flavor. There is an interesting fusion of sounds that were taken from other bands from all of their heaviest aspects and turned into something that was a sound that could be distinguished as the band's own with great lengthy hard rock guitar noodling that leaves you a bit breathless, it may not be the greatest but the album manages to push rock forward and modernize it more so it it a pioneering effort done with respect to the bands that came before them or were also around that also made heavy psych rock.