Annette Peacock has worked in both modern jazz and progressive rock fields, but is probably best known for providing numerous compositions – Butterflies, Blood, Touching etc – for pianist Paul Bley in the sixties. As a vocalist, she is very special: her half-spoken delivery of her uncommonly intelligent lyrics is highly original, she possesses great range and rhythmic sophistication, and her voice can whisper, croon, cajole and threaten in a style both sensual and adventurous.
Unfortunately, her solo albums have failed to fulfil the potential displayed on her remarkable 1972 debut recording, I’m The One (RCA SF 8255), and this latest offering is her most uneven to date. The pieces range from invigorating duets with percussionists Natasi and Turner on Half Broken and Both respectively, to unconvincing free-form instrumentals which feature a bunch of rock musicians who should have known better.
So Hard, It Hurts combines wailing guitars and broken rhythms to create an ugly parody of the jazz musician’s approach to group improvisation. Even a duet with Evan Parker is disappointing: instead of balancing Annette’s vocals with the saxophonist’s usually barking, biting tenor, she plays limpid piano alongside his smooth and conventional lines.
Much as I admire Miss Peacock, she has produced much better work elsewhere, especially the ultra-sophisticated jazz-funk on The Perfect Release (Aura 1251) and her entirely solo album, Sky Skating (Ironic No. 2).
Been On The Streets Too Long; So Hard, It Hurts; A Song To Separate (23.10) – Half Broken; Safe Inside The Fantasy; Both; No Winning, No Losing (20.15)
Annette Peacock (vc/p); Sol Natasi (pc); Roger Turner (pc); Dave Terry (g); Evan Parker (ts); Bill Bruford (d); Steve Cook (elb); Chris Spedding (elg); Brian Godding (elg); Robbie Schwimmer (elp).
(Ironic Records-No. 3)