One of the things I picked up at the Kelvin Hall Record Fair at the weekend was a copy of Where The Ragged People Go, the debut album by Norwegian prog-jazz-rock monsters Shining. Neither this, nor its follow-up Sweet Shanghai Devil, has been readily available in the UK, and there was a bloke with about three brand new copies in his box. Since it was among a load of promos for 2007 and 2008 albums (many as yet unissued), I’m guessing that it could be in line for a reissue, but it may just be a coincidence.
I imagine I’m one of many who know the band purely through their two Rune Grammofon albums. I think I came across them first on one of the Wire Tapper compilations. Both last year’s Grindstone and its predecessor In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster are big faves round here. Bonkers, unclassifiable, but terrifically exciting albums. I was kind of expecting the band’s early material to be a bit less ambitious, a bit rougher, perhaps a bit more grounded in pure jazz. But I didn’t expect what I heard.
Shining mark one share only reed player Jørgen Munkeby and bassist Torstein Lofthus with the current incarnation. They were then an acoustic jazz quartet with a standard sax, bass, drums, piano line-up. No guitars. Anywhere.
It is what it is. You don’t rant at a potato for not being an orange. Even so, I can’t say I got much at all from Where The Ragged People Go. It’s quite an aggressive album, with a strong free jazz bent prominent. In fact, it’s this near-anarchic spirit that is really the only remaining connection with what the band is today. To my ears, though, they were just not that good at straight-ahead acoustic jazz. There’s no real personality stamped on the grooves. It could be any young group with a healthy dose of Coltrane and Ornette Coleman in their collection. An interesting curio, but no more than that.
1 Spooks In Tha Hall (5:03)
2 The Fool (5:21)
3 Small Steps (4:13)
4 Dalton City (7:05)
5 Randomizer (4:35)
6 Song Of A Long Gone Girl (8:00)
7 Hell’s Bells (8:00)
8 The Fool (6:34)