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Articles Home » 1978 Articles » Bethnal - 1978 Crash Landing
Bethnal - 1978 Crash Landing

ARTIST: Bethnal
ALBUM: Crash Landing
LABEL: Vertigo
SERIAL: 9102 029
YEAR: 1978


LINEUP: Everton Williams - bass, vocals * George Csapo - violin, keyboards, vocals * Nick Michaels - guitars * Pete Dowling - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Crash Landing * 02 Summer Wine * 03 I Gotta Go * 04 Sometimes * 05 The Fiddler * 06 Clown In The Crowd * 07 Talk Of The Town * 08 Odd Man Out And You're A Dreamer * 09 Nothing New

Originating from the Bethnal Green area of London, this band started life off as a mixture of 70's pop and pub rock styles, but for some reason the Press got it into their thick skulls that these boys were a punk band! Formed way back in 1972, Bethnal were considered second tier to many bigger and more successful bands doing the rounds in the UK during the mid 70's, and as the history of time duly notes, Bethnal made two albums which went nowhere, didn't sell, the band barely receiving a mention in the annals of 70's British rock. Often compared to The Who, their energy was tamed by Pete Townshend, who assisted the band on their two 1978 albums 'Dangerous Times' and this one in particular 'Crash Landing'. By the time this second album was released, Bethnal had changed musical styles, moving sideways from their straight-ahead origins to a more melodic direction. With band member George Csapo in tow, his violin touches gave the band a point of difference, but don't get me wrong, Csapos doesn't turn Bethnal into Kansas or Shooting Star wannabes! My immediate comparison would be to the American band Private Lightning, playing a slightly unorthodox style of rock with the violin as a lead instrument. Perhaps the reason for the change of musical direction was their choice of producers. Phil Chapman and Rick Astley were the men behind the dials, and their body of work would become more prominent in the 80's. Astley was also the brother-in-law of Townshend, hence the connection. The other prominent aspect of the album is the cover - one of those Hipgnosis designed gems from the 70's decade!

The Songs
The opening title-track 'Crash Landing' is a classic track in my books. It's full of interesting keyboard parts and melodies, interspersed with the odd violin and crashing (literally) guitar lines. By contrast, 'Summer Wine' is a delicious counterpoint; a melding of 70's british pop with a slightly harder edge veering toward a glam style. Bethnal's unusual style is best demonstrated on 'I Gotta Go', an upbeat track with a youthful energy. Proving that they can pull out a ballad with the best of them, 'Sometimes' is a neat little ditty that even the late great John Lennon would be interested in listening to. On 'The Fiddler', Csapo places equal emphasis on piano (verses) and violin (during the solos). The good time rock is infectious, melody is rife and there is a good alternation between the two. 'Clown In The Crowd' features a regimented sounding back-beat not unlike a soldiers march, while the big sounding drums get some emphasis amid the radio friendly pop of 'Talk Of The Town'. The longest track here is 'Odd Man Out And You're A Dreamer', clocking in at just under 8 minutes, though it is broken into two distinctive parts. The first section ('Odd Man Out') is a high-stepping jangly pop jaunt with the same quirky elements as E.L.O. The second part ('You're A Dreamer') is a smoother mid-tempo affair which is more laid back than its predecessor. Csapo's violin is prominent on the closer 'Nothing New'. As mentioned previously, it is unusual to hear it as a lead instrument within the context of this album, which is probably why it is so unique.

In Summary
Bethnal struggled through to 1980 before calling it a day, beyond that the band became the backing band for former Hawkwind member Bob Calvert on his 1981 album 'Hype'. 'Crash Landing' is easy enough to pick up as a vinyl download off the Internet. Well worthy of a listen, and interesting to hear a slightly different take on 70's British rock.

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Tags: Bethnal 
#1 | Eric on May 14 2008 13:06:11
A very good album and yes, a great cover! Some of it reminds me of Nash The Slash (FM) and his weirder stuff too. Very nice to see this here!
#2 | DEMONAOR on July 21 2008 11:22:58
Good album
#3 | Eric on October 09 2008 14:10:11
Bethnal did a UK tour with Cheap Trick. Good pairing!
#4 | Eric on April 18 2011 14:01:00
According to a recent piece in MOJO Magazine, Bethnal did a tour of clubs and small halls in England with none other Dire Straits as support act(!) with most of the band after the 1980 break-up becoming ex-Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton's back-up band. A tie-in to Calvert's solo album...
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