Angel Air Records
When writing about music or art, there will be times when something appears that serves more a historical curiosity than anything resembling cultural significance. The archival release of Heavy Jelly is a case in point; it is a curious listen, even if it’s not a long-lost jewel of epic proportions.
Heavy Jelly was the project of Liverpudlian bluesman Jackie Lomax. After fronting the British Invasion band The Undertakers, he embarked on a solo career. Thanks to his friendship with the Beatles—and George Harrison specifically—he wound up on Apple Records, where he would release three singles and an album, Is ThIs What You Want. Though the first artist signed to the label, his tenure was brief. Heavy Jelly was recorded after his debut album was released. He was technically still under contract, and though Apple had no desire to release the album, they kept it tied up a legal quagmire that left it in the vaults, to gather dust—only officially seeing release late last year, sadly after Lomax’s passing.
Musically speaking, Lomax sounds a lot like Greetings From LA-era Tim Buckley, engaging in lascivious and powerful blues-rock, and though he doesn’t reach Buckley’s angelic vocal heights, he does come close, such as on the lilting “F-F-F-Females” and “Too Complicated.” Elsewhere, Heavy Jelly delves into Southern rock with “If You’d Like To” and “You Better Let Me Know.” The real winner, however, is the closing epic, a slow burning number called “Take Me Down To The River,” with a low, steady beat and some superb guitar playing courtesy of Badfinger.
Heavy Jelly’s lifespan was brief; they called it a day shortly after this album was completed. Though it’s hardly revelatory in terms of British blues rock, Heavy Jelly is an enjoyable collection of songs from a band that could have–and should have–been able to grow into maturity.