*In process of stocking* Liverpool-born drummer Aynsley Dunbar was one of the most respected musicians on the international rock scene of the late ‘60s. His work with trailblazers such as John Mayall, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Frank Zappa, with whom he had a lengthy association, have assured his place in history. But Dunbar also laid down a marker as a bandleader in his own right. His debut album, Doctor Dunbar’s Prescription was a confident set of electric blues that was full of snappy tunes and high energy riffing.
Recorded in 1971, Blue Whale is considerably more experimental, though. It is really a case of Dunbar drifting towards a hybrid of progressive rock and psychedelia not far removed from Zappa’s surreally comic, bitingly sardonic world. And indeed the cover of his seminal ‘Willie The Pimp’ is one of the highlights of the set. Accompanied by excellent rhythm section players and soloists such as guitarists Ivan Zagni and Roger Sutton, bassist Peter Friedberg, pianist-organist Tommy Eyre, and vocalist Paul Williams, Dunbar hit a creative peak here that is emphatically maintained elsewhere on the album, which has mostly long pieces full of notable light and shade.
As the album unfolds it becomes clear that this is the era in which technology was taken to another level by skilled engineers who shaped audio landscapes with increasing imagination. Here the incumbent is Colin Caldwell, and if the artful vapour trails of reverb on the horns and subtle simmer and crackle around the guitar sound familiar then that is because he was the man who also mixed a superlative album by Dunbar’s label mates Alice.
“This newly re-mastered version of Blue Whale puts one of the highpoints of Aynsley Dunbar’s illustrious career back under the spotlight. He was rightly inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2017 and there could be no more fitting example of his achievement than an album that sounds impressively fresh 50 years after it was made.” - Kevin Le Gendre