I suddenly feel the need to dig out my black light and lava lamp, and just chill out. No, I’m not high on anything, it’s just that Sweden’s MAGNOLIA does such a great job of capturing the spirit of the late 1960s/early 1970s (or what I know about it anyway, since I was far from being born at that time). Named after a BLUE CHEER song, MAGNOLIA kicks out the jams in a very convincing way, ala CREAM, MOUNTAIN, very early DEEP PURPLE and even a touch of BLACK SABBATH’s classic debut. We’re talking bluesy, soulful, psychedelic Hard Rock played with the utmost conviction.
MAGNOLIA is the project of one man, Ronny Eriksson, who handles most of the instrumental duties and vocals on the self-titled debut. He’s supported by a cast of guests, mostly made up of friends and acquaintances, which makes that strength of the album’s material all the more impressive, since few "professional" musicians were involved. The production is also absolutely perfect for this type music, very earthy and just slightly muddy (but in a good way).
Absolute highlights have to include the excellent bluesy guitar playing, and the all-over-the-place bass playing. The guitar leads and solos during the instrumental sections are otherworldly, and when everything comes together in one of the albums extended jams, such as the track “Magnolia”, all seems right with the world for a few moments in time.
As enjoyable as this album is, there are a few quirks. Most notably is the fact that all the lyrics are in Swedish, which seems a little out of place in this style of music. But the rough and forceful vocals of Eriksson sound quite good, regardless of what language he’s singing in. The only other problem with the album is the fact that many classics have been released in the genre MAGNOLIA occupies, and it’s not likely that too many genre fans will bypass the classics for a little known Swedish group. That’s their loss though, as this is pretty good stuff.
(Online February 15, 2007)