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Century Expanded - Concerto For Wah Wah (1971/2013) review


Century Expanded "Concerto For Wah Wah" (Gear Fab Records, 2013)

Invented in 1966, the wah wah pedal became a key device in forming and shaping the structure of many a rock song. Primarily employed in a hard and heavy context, the innovative gadget defined such a genre at the peak of its popularity, which was obviously the late sixties and early seventies, although a number of guitarists still utilize the apparatus today. The name of the pedal stems from the fact it sounds like "wah wah" when doing its thing, and allows the six-string slinger to effortlessly create interesting colors and tones.

Produced by Jimmy Curtiss, who is best remembered as lead singer of the great psychedelic folk rock band the Hobbits, Century Expanded's "Concerto For Wah Wah" was released in 1971 but staged very little impact at the time. Finding original copies of the disc is a real chore, so how cool it is the Gear Fab label will soon reissue this super rare album, which features all instrumentals duly drenched in wah wah guitar action.

The opening track of "Concerto Wah Wah" measures in at over forty minutes in length and initially took up the whole first side of the record. Titled "Melodic Variations In D Minor," the jam happy work out steers the listener through a mind-messing maze of shifting patterns and trippy and phased effects. Quite a demonstration it is, as are the remaining two cuts, "Rhythmic Variations In D Major" and "Prelude," which shimmer, sizzle, shake, screech, squeal and soar with inspired noodling and progressive arrangements. Wobbly notes and chords spill and scatter across the loopy landscape, as well as spurts of scratchy feedback and funky blues riffing. Birthed solely for the studio, Century Expanded was one of dozens exploitation acts of the era, but don't hold that against them, as "Concerto For Wah Wah" is a sheer delight and an invitation to indulge in some serious air guitar playing.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2013
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