Solar Plexus


The outstanding Solar Plexus, the much-loved third album from Ian Carr and Nucleus, was first released on Vertigo in 1971. Genius trumpeter and visionary composer Ian Carr was one of the most respected British musicians of his era.

Ian Carr describes Solar Plexus: "I wrote Solar Plexus last year with the help of an Arts Council grant. It is based on two short themes which are stated at the beginning ('Elements I' and 'II'). The first theme is angular and has a slow, crab-like movement: the second theme is direct, simple and diatonic. 'Changing Time' and 'Spirit Level' explore the first theme and 'Bedrock Deadlock' and 'Torso' explore the second one. 'Snakehips Dream' tries to fuse both themes. (The title is a reference to the famous dancer 'Snakehips' Johnson)."

Solar Plexus features the same lineup as Elastic Rock and We'll Talk About It Later, but they're augmented by six guests, three of which play brass. Carr himself had almost full control of the writing and it does feel very different to the previous albums. It's more of a jazz record loosely based on a rock foundation rather than jazz fusion jamming. The haunting synth-and-bass soundscape "Elements I and II" opens the album in dramatic, experimental fashion. It gives way to the bright, funky feel-good jazz of "Changing Times". An elegant onslaught of horns, courtesy of guests Kenny Wheeler and Harry Beckett, ride a solid groove for the duration. The melancholic "Bedrock Deadlock" features the brooding majesty of Jenkins's oboe and Clyne's mournful, skittering double bass. Wah wah guitar, drums and funky percussion then take over before the horns ride you out over frenetic beats. The dark, angular "Spirit Level" is a real highlight, by turns harmonic and beautiful then dissonant and wayward. The breezy soul of "Torso" feels like a breath of fresh air, skipping along in the up-tempo style with guitar, horns, drums and bass. A track which truly sounds scintillating, featuring sax solos, fantastic propulsive interplay from all the group around the halfway stage before Marshall gets his chance to really shine in closing out with a polyrhythmic drum solo. Final track "Snakehips' Dream" stretches cooly out over 15 minutes to round out a spellbinding album. An epic, suave groove, it's a relaxing piece with warm electric keys, laconic guitar and languorous horns. Truly sophisticated soulful jazz. Remastered from the original Vertigo master tapes by Simon Francis. Cut by Cicely Balston at AIR Studios. Gatefold sleeve.